Despite an ongoing investigation into claims over an alleged ‘no-show job’ as Linden’s municipal prosecutor, South Jersey power broker George E. Norcross III has selected Union County party boss Nicholas ‘No Show Nick‘ Scutari as the next Senate President, after the unexpected defeat of Senator Stephen M. Sweeney in the general election.
Norcross, a member of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-logo Club and the Democratic National Committee with a net worth of more than $250 million, is the undisputed boss of New Jersey’s corrupt political establishment.
Progressive Democratic activists ridiculed the pick and praised Senator Nia H. Hill, who announced that she would challenge Scutari for the leadership post but Senator Ronald L. Rice appears to be the only lawmaker that supports her bid for senate president.
“On Tuesday, the voters spoke, and with their voices, resoundingly rejected the business of politics as usual,” said Gill. “This past election resulted in a mandate for change from the voters.”
Political insiders contend that there is no weight to the Essex County senator’s campaign for the Senate presidency because identity politics and constituencies are insignificant in comparison with financial resources and political establishment connections.
“Thank you for expending the political capital and personal cost of stepping forward to oppose the closed-off, less than 1-week selection process that was ready to give power to yet another mediocre white man,” said West Orange progressive Matthew Dragon, in a Twitter message directed to Gill.
The youngest member of Camden City Council, Felisha Reyes-Morton, described the election results as a referendum on unelected George Norcross, who is New Jersey’s most powerful influencer and kingpin of the South Jersey Democrats.
“South Jersey Democrats do not represent the interests of South Jersey and that’s real talk, especially women,” said Reyes-Morton. “Where are the women at the table?”
“Tuesday’s election claimed their leader, a third of the entire legislative delegation, and their power,” the Fourth Ward Councilwoman told NJInsider.
“Women of color who thwarted a white backlash vote to protect — for the first time in over 40 years — the Governor’s seat and the Democratic majority in the Senate,” said Reverend Dr. Charles Franklin Boyer, founding director of Salvation and Social Justice. “The Senate Democrats need to recalibrate and make sure a woman of color gets the Senate presidency.”
“The time is now,” said Boyer. “Black people and people of color have waited long enough to have legislative leadership reflect the racial demographics of our state. New Jersey leads the nation in racial disparities across almost all indicators of well-being. We need leaders that truly understand what that means for our communities and are committed to policy solutions that address it.”
“The fact that we can end up with three white men running the state again is spitting in the face of Black and Latina women voters,” said Boyer, speaking of Governor Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Scutari.
“As New Jersey and the nation continue to grapple with race, we must be vigilant in our efforts to hold leaders accountable,” said Rev. Eric Dobson, Deputy Director of Fair Share Housing Center. “Almost half of New Jersey’s residents are people of color. Our legislative leadership must reflect those demographics. We have a white, male Governor and a white, male Assembly Speaker. We must not allow another white male to ascend to Senate President.”
“We call on our legislators to select a person of color for the Senate President position,” said Christian Estevez, President of the Latino Action Network. “As New Jersey’s Latino population continues to grow, legislative leadership must also change to reflect the current makeup of our state. We must hold our leaders accountable in making decisions that advance the interests of all New Jerseyans, not just the white residents.”
Scutari was a member of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders before he was nominated for the seat vacated when Senator Joseph Suliga dropped his 2003 bid for re-election. In Trenton, Sweeney named him as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
‘No Show Nick’ earned that moniker as Municipal Prosecutor for the city of Linden, until he was fired from the part-time $84,000 job in January 2020, after a report documented that he failed to show up for more than half of the court sessions.
Scutari tried to use his legislative muscle to suppress a municipality’s authority to investigate theft by no-show job-holders, and he and the city are embroiled in litigation over his 15 years in the no-show city prosecutor job.
Linden has investigated Scutari using a consulting firm that alleged in 2019 he was paid $147,494 between 2014 and 2018 for 167 “unauthorized days” Scutari didn’t show up in municipal court.
His missing court frequently led to municipal hearings being routinely conducted without the presence of a prosecutor, the report alleged. He also often left the courthouse before the docket was up, according to the report.
Then the city hired Calcagni & Kanefsky, which issued its report in March 2021 alleging Scutari’s time off cost Linden nearly $200,000.
The investigations were sparked by a municipal trial in which two cousins were convicted of minor offenses without a prosecutor, due to Scutari’s absence. The city settled with the cousins in 2017 for $575,000.
Scutari’s uncle Donato Scutari, is a member of the Italian Communist Party who was elected to the Parliament of the Italian Republic, serving for many years before his 2012 death.
Another uncle, Anthony Scutari, was chair of the Union County Improvement Authority and his family members and minions occupy numerous government jobs.
Gill began her career in government as a Legislative Aide to the late Senator Wynona Lipman and practicing attorney before she was elected to four terms in the General Assembly starting in 1993 and moved up to the New Jersey State Senate in 2001.
Gill sponsored the law that expanded health insurance coverage for young adults, ages 18 to 30, capturing more than 100,000 uninsured individuals in the state, a provision Congress adopted in the federal health care reform law.
Gill also sponsored the toughest in the nation law making human trafficking a crime in New Jersey and legislation to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, earning recognition as a human rights advocate.