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In lame-duck appointments, Governor Corzine nominates three Hoboken residents to state commissions, Maurice Fitzgibbons, Michael Cricco, and Scott Kisch. Who is Scott Kisch?
In lame-duck appointments, Governor Corzine nominates three Hoboken residents to state commissions, Maurice Fitzgibbons, Michael Cricco, and Scott Kisch. But who is Scott Kisch?
December 26, 2009
Ed Mecka @ edmecka.com
In the waning days of his administration, Governor Jon Corzine's office released more than 180 names for direct appointments and nominations to paid and unpaid posts.
Three Hoboken residents were on the list.
Former Hudson County Freeholder (District-5, Hoboken) Maurice Fitzgibbons was nominated as a new appointment to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.
Former Hoboken Councilman Michael T. Cricco was nominated for reappointment to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.
Scott Kisch was nominated as a new appointment to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
I personally know Fitzgibbons and Cricco, but had no idea who Scott Kisch was until I came accross the following February 28, 2006 NY Times article entitled "Driven to Success."
Driven to Success
Publication: New York Times
Date: February 28th, 2006
TRENTON, Feb. 27 — Of all the jobs in New Jersey politics, one of the most demanding may well be the position of personal driver — the behind-the-wheel assistant who must deliver the candidate on time and without incident to Main Street parades, chicken dinner fund-raisers, back-room meetings and other stops in between.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey chatted recently with his former longtime driver, Scott L. Kisch, who now is charge of a state commission.
Scott L. Kisch, a former driver for Governor Corzine, is the chief of staff of the state's Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission.
The pay is bad. The hours are worse. And the diet is usually drive-through. Still, volunteers are never in short supply, because so many drivers have parlayed their on-the-road experiences into better jobs higher up the ladder of politics or public service.
Former Justice Peter G. Verniero of the New Jersey Supreme Court was fresh out of college when he signed on as Thomas H. Kean's driver in the 1981 campaign for governor.
Assemblyman Bill Baroni was also just out of college when he drove a car dubbed the Chuckwagon in the unsuccessful campaign of Chuck Haytaian, the former Assembly speaker, for the United States Senate in 1994.
Scott L. Kisch came to the job later in life, after serving in the Marines and working in public relations. He ended up as Jon S. Corzine's one and only driver until the state police took over the duties when Mr. Corzine left the Senate to become governor.
"He's as close a counselor as I've had," Mr. Corzine said of Mr. Kisch, who is now chief of staff for the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission. "It's an important role to have an alter ego that you can be secure in, and you care about what they have to say."
In politics, more than in most pursuits, there are many examples of young drivers who used their experience to blaze their way to success. Bill Clinton was a driver in the 1968 re-election campaign of one of his home-state senators, J. William Fulbright. Pete Wilson, later the governor of California, drove Richard M. Nixon when the former vice president unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1962. Bernard Kerik, a future New York City police commissioner, was a volunteer driver for Rudolph W. Giuliani's first campaign for mayor. And Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, now the House chief deputy majority whip, started his career as a college intern, then a campaign driver, for former Representative Tom Bliley, also from Virginia.
The importance of a driver resonates all the more in New Jersey, a state often defined by its traffic and toll roads. Because the state can be traversed in less than four hours, the car is the preferred method of transit — in contrast to New York, for instance, where politicians routinely rely on planes and trains to shuttle between New York, Buffalo and Albany.
What makes the car even more indispensable in New Jersey are a profusion of official and partisan events related to the state's multilayered thicket of government: 566 municipalities, 21 counties, hundreds of boards and commissions.
"For the right person, it can be a steppingstone," said Alan Marcus, a veteran Republican lobbyist. "You are in close proximity to the candidate and have plenty of opportunity to make a positive impression. But for the wrong person, it's the worst, because a lot of these candidates or office holders treat the driver like he's nobody, and all they say is, 'You're driving too fast! You're driving too slow!' " For the politician in the back seat (or, in the case of Mr. Corzine, the front, since he considered Mr. Kisch more of a confidant than a chauffeur), having a driver eliminates the potential embarrassment of getting stopped for speeding, or something worse. The Star-Ledger of Newark recently surveyed the driving records of all 120 state legislators, and found that 26 had their licenses or registrations suspended, including five who were found to be driving drunk.
With someone else at the wheel — it is almost always a man, sometimes an assistant doubling as the driver — political candidates or government officials can read briefing papers and newspapers. Concentrate on making phone calls. Take a nap. Or eat.
"You could say that we ate our way through the state," said Mr. Baroni, who changed his lifestyle after Mr. Haytaian's campaign and eventually lost 130 pounds.
In the annals of New Jersey drivers, the most unconventional may have been John Spagnola, who while still a student at Yale drove Bill Bradley during his 1978 campaign for the Senate. Mr. Spagnola later played for the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is now a managing director in Philadelphia for a financial consulting firm.
Jeff Tittel drove former state Senator Alexander J. Menza of Union County, and is now the director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.
Mr. Kean, meanwhile, hired not only Mr. Verniero but also William J. Palatucci, who became the state Republican Party's finance chairman. "The car was our sanctuary," recalled Mr. Verniero, who also served as the state attorney general. "It was our home away from home."
If Mr. Kean was low-key, his polar opposite was former United States Senator Robert G. Torricelli. In an interview, he described the driver as "the burn-out job of politics," and said that he probably changed his driver and press secretary every six months. "I probably drove them harder than most," he said.
Once, according to several former assistants, Mr. Torricelli became upset that a driver had become lost in Newark. So he kicked him out of the car, drove off by himself and earned a reputation as, well, the ultimate back-seat driver.
"If it's true, I don't remember it," he laughed. "But it's a great political legend
And yet, the intensity and intimacy of the car forges strong bonds. On occasion, that intimacy has attracted the interest of prosecutors. Federal agents wired the car of a former Hudson County executive, Robert Janiszewski, who was convicted of extortion.
Several of Mr. Torricelli's former drivers still work closely with him, while others say that the experience toughened their political hide.
The alumni include Eric Shuffler (former counselor to Gov. Richard J. Codey); James P. Fox (chief of staff to Gov. James E. McGreevey and now deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey); Paul Fader (chief counsel under Mr. Codey); and Joseph A. Fiordaliso (now the chief of staff at the state's Department of Transportation.)
"I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world," said Mr. Shuffler, now a political consultant.
For Mr. Kisch, 40, the chance to serve Mr. Corzine was enhanced by their ties to the Marines. Mr. Kisch, an Annapolis graduate, is a former officer and Mr. Corzine had enlisted in the Reserves. They also shared the status of political outsiders, being socially liberal in professions dominated by conservatives.
After Mr. Kisch served as deputy campaign manager in 1999, Mr. Corzine asked him to be his driver and on-the-road adviser, at an annual salary of $90,000, eclipsing the usual driver's figure of $30,000 to $40,000.
When Mr. Kisch was driving the senator, the back seat of Mr. Corzine's sports utility vehicle doubled as a mobile library, with the 9/11 Commission Report and state and federal budgets part of the permanent collection. Mr. Corzine read so much that the upholstery was stained with newspaper ink. On the telephone, Mr. Corzine was steady but firm. Rarely did he lose his cool. "He's a count-to-10 kind of guy," said Mr. Kisch. "He keeps an even keel. But if, by chance, he forgets, he's got me there to remind him."
These days, even though they do not see each other as much, Mr. Kisch said that he can still offer something that all friends and employers treasure: discretion.
"He knows I'll never write the book that I could write," said Mr. Kisch, who also lives in the same building in Hoboken as Mr. Corzine. "I get credit not only for what I do, but what I prevent."
|JON S. CORZINE
|For Immediate Release:||For More Information:|
|Date: December 14, 2009||Robert Corrales
ATLANTIC CITY CONVENTION AND VISITORS AUTHORITY
Nominate for reappointment Ken Condon (Northfield, Atlantic)
BOARD OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY
Nominate for Appointment Christy Van Horn (Highland Park, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment Salaheddin Mustafa (Clifton, Passaic)
Nominate for Reappointment Maria Ivette Torres (Mays Landing, Atlantic)
CASINO REINVESTMENT DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Nominate for Appointment Edward H. Gant (Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic)
Nominate for Appointment Diane C. Lusk (Atlantic City, Atlantic)
CUMBERLAND COUNTY BOARD OF TAXATION
Nominate for Reappointment Patrick Finley (Vineland, Cumberland)
Nominate for appointment Reverend Evelyn E. Booze (Vineland, Cumberland)
Nominate for appointment Jill H. Sungenis-Dean, AIS, CISR, CPIW (Bridgeton, Cumberland)
ESSEX COUNTY BOARD OF TAXATION
Nominate for Reappointment Catherine F. Willis (East Orange, Essex)
GLOUCESTER COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF ELECTIONS
Nominate for Appointment Stephanie Salvatore (Sewell, Gloucester)
HORIZON BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD INC. OF NEW JERSEY - BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nominate for Reappointment Barry R. Mandelbaum, Esq. (New Vernon, Morris)
Nominate for Appointment Philip Alagia (Fairfield, Essex)
LOCAL FINANCE BOARD
Nominate for Reappointment Theodore H. Light, P.E. (Piscataway, Middlesex)
Nominate for Reappointment Idida Rodriguez (Paterson, Passaic)
LOCAL UNIT ALIGNMENT, REORGANIZATION AND CONSOLIDATION COMMISSION
Nominate for Reappointment John H. Fisher, III (Mantua, Gloucester)
NEW JERSEY COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Nominate for reappointment Laurence M. Downes (Princeton Junction, Mercer)
NEW JERSEY HEALTH CARE FACILITIES FINANCING AUTHORITY
Nominate for Appointment Suzette T. Rodriguez, Esq. (Perth Amboy, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment Simon J. Samaha, M.D. (Haddonfield, Camden)
NEW JERSEY HOUSING AND MORTGAGE FINANCE AGENCY
Nominate for Appointment Patricia A. Mueller (Merchantville, Camden)
NEW JERSEY MARITIME PILOT AND DOCKING PILOT COMMISSION
Nominate for Reappointment Timothy J. Dacey (Metuchen, Middlesex)
Nominate for Reappointment Honorable Joseph Azzolina, Sr. (Middletown, Monmouth)
Nominate for Appointment Scott Kisch (Hoboken, Hudson)
NEW JERSEY PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS COMMISSION
Nominate for Appointment Adrienne Eaton, Ph.D. (Highland Park, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment Paula Voos (North Brunswick, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment Sharon Krengel (Highland Park, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment as Member and Chair Ira D. Stern (Piscataway, Middlesex)
NEW JERSEY RACING COMMISSION
Nominate for Appointment Peter J. Cofrancesco, III (Sparta, Sussex)
NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
Nominate for Appointment Michael Capelli (Pitman, Gloucester)
Nominate for Appointment Robert A. Nixon (Jackson, Ocean)
Nominate for Appointment Mario S. Vargas (Highland Park, Middlesex)
Nominate for Appointment Kevin P. Egan (New Brunswick, Middlesex)
NEW JERSEY SPORTS AND EXPOSITION AUTHORITY
Nominate for Reappointment Carl J. Goldberg (Randolph, Morris)
Nominate for Appointment Steven D. Plofker (Montclair, Essex)
NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE AUTHORITY
Nominate for Reappointment Bishop David G. Evans (Sicklerville, Camden)
Nominate for Reappointment Louis A. Cuccinello (Haledon, Passaic)
Nominate for Reappointment Michael T. Cricco (Hoboken, Hudson)
Nominate for Appointment Maurice Fitzgibbons (Hoboken, Hudson)
PASSAIC VALLEY SEWERAGE COMMISSION
Nominate for Appointment Councilman Ronald C. Rice, Jr. (Newark, Essex)
Nominate for Reappointment Anthony J. Luna (Lodi, Bergen)
Nominate for Appointment Kenneth John Lucianin (Passaic, Passaic)
Nominate for Appointment Jeffrey Laurenti (Trenton, Mercer)
Nominate for Appointment Kelly A. Mooij, Esq. (Trenton, Mercer)
Nominate for Reappointment Robert Jackson (Del Haven, Cape May)
POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION
Nominate for Reappointment the Honorable John R. Sette (Morristown, Morris)
PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
Nominate for Reappointment Raymond M. Pocino (Lawrenceville, Mercer)
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY - BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Nominate for Appointment Jonathan R. Boguchwal (Hoboken, Hudson)
STATE ATHLETIC CONTROL BOARD
Nominate for Reappointment Anthony M. Orlando (Linden, Union)
STATE LOTTERY COMMISSION
Nominate for appointment Al Alvarez, Esq. (New Brunswick, Middlesex)
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