In 2011, then-Governor Chris Christie signed into law NJSA 52:14-7 (also known as the “NJ First Act”), which requires most state officers and employees to have their principal residence in New Jersey, yet Christie subsequently appointed several members to the Rutgers Board of Governors who did not live in New Jersey and had no intention of moving here.
A lawsuit filed by a Rutgers alum seeks to correct this double-standard and asks the Superior Court of New Jersey to remove five out-of-state members from the Rutgers Board. Yesterday, New Brunswick Today Editor Charlie Kratovil filed a civil action in lieu of prerogative writ with the Mercer County Superior Court (docket #MER-L-1254-18) seeking the removal of the five members illegally serving on the powerful Rutgers Board of Governors. Kratovil graduated from Rutgers in 2009 with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies.
“Chris Christie signed this bad law to punish rank-and-file public workers, but in typical Christie fashion, he felt his own political appointees were above the law and could just ignore it,” said Kratovil, who declared his candidacy for Mayor of New Brunswick last week.
“If municipal public officials such as our teachers and firefighters must abide by this law, then certainly the appointees who run our state university should have to follow it as well,” said Kratovil. “Members of the Rutgers Board of Governors should be required to live in New Jersey so that they can experience first-hand the consequences of their actions.”
The 18-member board can hire and fire the university’s President, who is considered an ex-oficio board member, and they oversee a $4.4 billion annual budget and what has grown into a massive campus based in New Brunswick.
According to Rutgers’ own website, five members of powerful board maintain their primary residence out-of-state: https://governingboards.rutgers.edu/board-governors/membership-photos-bios
- Mark A. Angelson (New York, NY)
- Gregory O. Brown (Barrington Hills, IL)
- Susan M. McCue (Alexandria, VA)
- Joseph M. Rigby (Elkton, MD)
- Sandy J. Stewart (New Hill, NC)
Under the NJ First Act, each out-of-state board member had one year from the date that they took office to re-locate to New Jersey before they became eligible for removal. A judgment of ouster is sought against all five in the civil action filed yesterday by Kratovil.
Stewart is the only one of the five out-of-state Board of Governors members who was appointed by the university’s Board of Trustees and not ex-Governor Christie.
During their meeting today, it was announced that one of the five, Christie appointee Joseph M. Rigby, was resigning from the board at the end of June. Asked after the meeting why he was quitting, he declined to comment.