State Senator Barbara Buono continues to demonstrate her commitment to her constituents in her legislative district, and to the people of New Jersey, rather than any interest group, power monger or political party.
She demonstrated great courage when she voted against the Pensions and Benefits Reform Package, recognizing that it would deprive workers of collective bargaining rights, one of the mainstays in any democracy. She also refused to support the freeze in pensions without cost of living wages, recognizing that it would condemn many retirees to future poverty. Furthermore, Senator Buono demonstrated courage when she introduced legislation that would make municipal contracts more transparent and thus more accountable to the taxpayer.
In essence, Barbara Buono puts the people first. Now, she has been dismissed as the Chairperson of the Legislative Oversight Committee by Senate President Steve Sweeney, ostensibly because she would be likely to make independent decisions that would support the needs of her fellow New Jerseyans, rather than the leaders of the South Jersey Democratic caucus.
It is no secret that Sweeney is a member of the power group led by Camden political boss George Norcross, whom Buono will not take orders from. Interestingly, Norcross has much in common with former Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero, who over time was known to purge those who disagreed with him. In addition, the Norcross group has been known to support the governor on key issues that the Democratic Party mainstream disagrees with.
Buono has been a champion for the vulnerable members of our society, including the frail and needy, and homeowners at risk of foreclosure. She has attempted to protect school children from bullying and has served as a voice for the little people who no one else listens to.
Stripping Buono of the chairpersonship of the Legislative oversight Committee is an act of vengeance that portrays the Norcross group for what it really is. Buono is being punished for being a champion of the people.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.