Spirit Of Cooperation May Prevail In Power Struggle Between Sweeney, Rutgers

By Joe Tyrrell

Sweeney offers — and university’s board of governors accepts — 90-day window for action before legislation advances

Amid blasts of high-powered rhetoric, Rutgers officials and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) floated peace overtures on Thursday in their battle over control of the state university.

Sweeney’s came in the form of an ultimatum to Rutgers’ two oversight bodies, the boards of trustees and governors. It was not “Do what I say,” however, and was more like, “Do what your own task force has already told you to do about university governance.”

The threat came with some leverage, following the state Senate’s passage of Sweeney’s bill, S-1860, which would increase the number of Rutgers governors to 19, with the addition of four more political appointees. Sweeney gave Rutgers officials 90 days to act before he moves that bill to the state Assembly, where its fate would be uncertain.

Late in the day, the board of governors responded with a resolution calling the legislation “unlawful,” but also pledging to “review and evaluate” the task force proposals during the 90 days “and thereafter.” The board also promised to discuss the measures with legislators as part of the process.

The developments had observers crediting both sides for being willing to give their long-running feud a cool-down period.


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