NJ 101.5's Gearhart Influenced Governor In School Grant Dispute, Ex-Commissioner Testifies
October 8, 2010 at 8:11 AM (PT)
The dispute over the firing of NEW JERSEY's former Education Commissioner BRET SCHUNDLER and the loss of a $400 million federal education grant was linked to criticism of a compromise deal with the teachers union by MILLENIUM Talk WKXW (NEW JERSEY 101.5)/TRENTON host JIM GEARHART in testimony by SCHUNDLER before the State Senate THURSDAY (10/7).
SCHUNDLER told the panel that Governor CHRIS CHRISTIE cited GEARHART's saying that he had "caved in to the union" (the NEW JERSEY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION) by agreeing to the deal, which would have made the state eligible for the federal grant, although SCHUNDLER admitted that a mistake on the "Race to the Top" grant application, using the wrong year's financial information, also led to the state losing out on the grant.
Democrats in the Senate, who pushed for the hearing to get SCHUNDLER to testify, criticized CHRISTIE, a Republican, for listening to GEARHART's opinion. "It's unconscionable that the decision to scrap a hard-won compromise that would have propelled our application was based on the criticisms of a radio talk-show host. And, it's unconscionable that $400 million for our schools took a back seat to politics," said Senate Majority Leader BARBARA BUONO.