- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2011

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie is picking a fight with the husband of one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reality show.

Christie this week suspended Albert Manzo, the husband of Caroline Manzo, from the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, saying he and another commissioner abused the public’s trust.

The governor criticized Manzo for not revealing that he lived in Franklin Lakes instead of Paterson. Manzo’s posh Franklin Lakes home is often shown on the reality series.

He also owns The Brownstone restaurant in urban Paterson, which hosts weddings and special events, and lists that as his official address _ something Christie on Thursday called absurd.

“Do you really believe he’s sleeping on a cot at the Brownstone in Paterson?” Christie asked.

Manzo told The Record newspaper he has an apartment in his Paterson restaurant and plans to fight to keep his job.

Christie also suspended Michael Cricco, who was paid for attending commission meetings while still on the clock for his $80,000-a-year job at the Schools Development Authority. Cricco was fired from the SDA on Wednesday after Christie said Cricco ignored an order to use only personal time to attend the meetings.

Cricco told the newspaper a state ethics panel had approved his attendance at meetings.

During his year in office, Christie has reined in spending by various agencies and authorities through the use of his veto pen, rejecting minutes and budgets.

Not all agencies are subject to gubernatorial scrutiny, however, and many have become patronage farms for both political parties.

Christie plans to sponsor a bill giving him veto power over all the authorities, but some lawmakers say they’re reluctant to give Christie more power. They note that he’s been able to forcibly remove several commissioners already.

More than 100 employees at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission were fired after an investigation by the governor’s office highlighted mismanagement and nepotism. Christie pressured most of the commissioners to resign.

Still, Christie says he needs the ability to veto things as they happen, so that he can prevent wasteful spending, instead of looking into to after-the-fact.

“We’re not going to put up with the abuses from the shadow government anymore,” Christie said.

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