IN THE MATTER OF GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE'S APPOINTMENT OF MARTIN PEREZ AS PUBLIC MEMBER 7 OF THE RUTGERS UNIVERSITY BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Argued: May 12, 2014.
Approved for Publication July 29, 2014.
On appeal from an appointment of Governor Chris Christie to the Rutgers University Board of Governors.
Leon J. Sokol argued the cause for appellant Stephen M. Sweeney, in his capacity as Senate President ( Sokol, Behot & Fiorenzo, attorneys; Mr. Sokol, of counsel; Mr. Sokol and Steven Siegel, on the brief).
David S. Franke l, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent Governor Chris Christie ( John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney; Melissa H. Raksa, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Mr. Frankel, on the briefs).
Before Judges YANNOTTI, ASHRAFI and LEONE. The opinion of the court was delivered by YANNOTTI, P.J.A.D.
[436 N.J.Super. 578] OPINION
[436 N.J.Super. 579] YANNOTTI, P.J.A.D.
Stephen M. Sweeney, in his capacity as Senate President, appeals from Governor Chris Christie's appointment of Martin Perez as a public member of the Rutgers University Board of Governors. For the reasons tat follow, we hold that the Governor's appointment was a proper exercise of his authority under N.J.S.A. 18A:65-14.
The New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act (the " Act" ), was enacted on June 28, 2012, and signed by the Governor on August 22, 2012. L. 2012, c. 45, codified as N.J.S.A. 18A:64M-1 to -43, and in other sections of Title 18A. The Act restructured the higher education system in New Jersey in order to improve the quality and increase the efficiency of public educational services. N.J.S.A. 18A:64M-2(k); N.J.S.A. 18A:64M-29. To accomplish those purposes, the Act required that its provisions be liberally construed. N.J.S.A. 18A:64M-29. Among the many reforms implemented by the Act were governance changes to Rutgers University. N.J.S.A. 18A:64M-2(q).
At issue here is L. 2012, c. 45, § 87, codified at N.J.S.A. 18A:65-14, which altered the composition of Rutgers' Board of Governors. The statute provides:
The membership of the board of governors shall be classified as follows and consist of:
a. the president of the corporation, serving as an ex officio non-voting member; and
b. 15 voting members,
i. seven of whom shall be appointed by the Governor of the State, with the advice and consent of the Senate, with one of these members being a resident of Camden County, and one of whom shall be appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly and who shall be a resident of Essex County, and
ii. seven of whom shall be appointed by the board of trustees, from among their members, one of whom shall be a resident of Essex County and one of whom shall [436 N.J.Super. 580] be a resident of Middlesex County, elected and serving under the provisions of subsection I.c. or I.d. of 18A:65-15.
The first additional appointments made by the Governor pursuant to P.L.2012, c.45 (C.18A:64M-1 et al.), shall not require the advice and consent of the
Senate, but thereafter such advice and consent shall be required.
All members shall serve for terms of six years[.]
[ N.J.S.A. 18A:65-14.]
Section 87 amended subsection (b) of the statute, which previously read:
11 voting members,
i. six of whom shall be appointed by the Governor of the State, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and
ii. five of whom shall be appointed by the board of trustees, from among their members elected and serving under the provisions of subsection I.c. or I.d. of 18A:65-15.
All members shall serve for terms of six years[.]
[ N.J.S.A. 18A:65-14 ( L. 1967, c. 271, § 18A:65-14, eff. Jan. 11, 1968; amended by L. 1994, c. 48, § 177, eff. July 1, 1994).]
Although the amendment suggests that the Governor appoints seven members of the fifteen-member Board, the parties agree that a close reading of subsection (b)(1) establishes that the amendment actually increased the number of gubernatorial appointments from six to eight, the seven specified appointees plus one from Essex County upon the recommendation of the legislative leaders.
The penultimate paragraph of the amended N.J.S.A. 18A:65-14 permits the Governor to make his " first additional appointments" directly, without the advice and consent of the Senate. Section 153 of the Act provides that this provision and others shall take effect on July 1, 2013, but allows administrative action to be taken in advance of that date as may be necessary for implementation of the legislation.
The Governor made his first direct appointment to the expanded Board on December 19, 2012, when he appointed Perez, a resident of Middlesex County, as Public Member 7. On May 13, 2013, the Governor nominated Camden County resident William M. Tambussi to an existing vacancy on the Board " with the advice and [436 N.J.Super. 581] consent of the Senate." The Governor made his second direct appointment to the Board on July 15, 2013, when he appointed Richard W. Roper, a resident of Essex County, who had been ...