The Best…and the Worst

Our columnist has a few picks and pans of his own.

Photo by Mark Davis/Picturegroup.

The Guy Has Guts award goes to Steve Sweeney for standing up to a variety of unions on sensitive issues. Despite being a top official with the International Association of Ironworkers, the new president of the state Senate says we can no longer afford the current level of funding for pensions and healthcare benefits. His union friends hate him for it, but the physically imposing Sweeney shows no signs of backing down.

The How the Mighty Have Fallen
award goes to state Senator Dick Codey. The former governor and former Senate president likes to say that he is the state’s most popular politician, except he hasn’t put that popularity to the test by running for statewide office. Now he’s got one of the worst seats in the Senate chamber thanks to his nemesis—Steve Sweeney.

The Bull in the China Shop award goes to Chris Christie. The new governor has an agenda, and he is working it every day. Democrats are peeved that he didn’t give them a heads up on some of his most controversial and bold fiscal proposals. Technically they are right, but being obsessed with procedure hasn’t worked all that well in state government. It’s one of the reasons we are bordering on bankruptcy.

The Most Embarrassing New Jersey Reality TV Show award goes to Jersey Shore. Yes, they made Italian-Americans look bad, and yes, most of the cast members didn’t even come from New Jersey, but I have to admit I watched it every week. As an Italian-American growing up in Newark and hanging at the Jersey Shore in the summer, I knew a lot of girls like Snooki. And as for Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, his abs weren’t that interesting, if you ask me. Certainly, there are a lot of Jersey Shore “situations” that tell a richer, funnier, and often more realistic story than this series. But would they make money for MTV?

The Classiest New Jersey Reality TV Star award goes to Caroline Manzo from The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I know her sister-in-law overturned a table in a restaurant, and that wacko Danielle Staub has a questionable if not criminal past, but when I sat down for a one-on-one PBS interview with Manzo, she was smart, articulate, and down-to-earth. Her message was more about charitable work than anything else.

The Most Interesting New Jersey Media Personality award goes to Buddy “The Cake Boss” Valastro. I love this guy, and so do my kids. They love his elaborate cakes, his endearing personality, his loud family, and his Hoboken shop, Carlo’s Bakery. Valastro bleeds old-school Hoboken—with the ethnic neighborhoods and bakeries that I remember as a kid growing up in Newark.

The Development Debacle award goes to Xanadu. What a mess. The place looks like candy-colored crap as you drive by on Route 3, and its business model is even uglier. I understand that Bergen County politicians don’t want to let it die, but this thing is never going to happen. The timing is off, the plan is off—even the name “Xanadu” is off. The Prudential Center in Newark is where it’s at, plus you can get there by train.

The New Jersey Drug of Choice award goes to legalized gambling. Let’s face it: We are addicted, and the worse our state’s fiscal situation gets, the worse our addiction becomes. Forget that the horse racing industry is on life support. The latest scheme to expand the New Jersey Lottery with this new game called Powerball speaks volumes about how far we’ll go to grab a buck.

The Profile in Cowardice award goes to the state Senate for failing to legalize gay marriage. What a disgrace. Former governor Jon Corzine and the Democrats promised they could get this done. But Corzine asked them to wait until after the November election. The Catholic Church put pressure on legislators who had said they would support gay marriage. Many folded fast, and the bill went down in defeat.

Do you have any awards you’d like to give? Write to me at [email protected].

Steve Adubato, PhD. is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/WNET and a media analyst and columnist for, who also appears regularly on CBS 2. He is the author of the book Make the Connection, as well as his newest book What Were They Thinking?, which examines highly publicized and often controversial public relations and media mishaps. For more information, log on to

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