By Angela Delli Santi, Associated Press

TRENTON – A dozen or so high-level Democrats and top university officials have been meeting privately in recent weeks to discuss ways of tweaking Gov. Christie’s plan to restructure three New Jersey universities so it is more acceptable to opponents.
The meetings involve well-known Democratic leaders and at least four members of the Rutgers Board of Governors, whose approval is needed to make the plan happen. Legislative sign-off is also likely necessary for at least parts of the plan, which Christie wants agreement on by July.

Democratic power broker George Norcross III and Senate President Stephen Sweeney have been in on the meetings, according to several people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, now on the Rutgers Board of Governors, and Rutgers’ outgoing president, Richard McCormick, a supporter of the plan, have also been involved. The people spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss private conversations.

The meetings have been held at a West State Street law firm less than a block from the state Capitol, where Democrats sometimes congregate to hash out policy positions.

No one from the governor’s office has sat in on the meetings, those with knowledge of the sessions say, though it is possible Christie’s office has been briefed.


The focus of the meetings has been on how to make the proposal better for the most vocal opponent, Rutgers-Camden, and satisfy Democrats with constituencies that oppose it.

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