Nothing says quid pro quo or fleshes out a mutual back scratch quite like getting a much-coveted invitation to attend the star-studded funeral of a dead diva after having ordered that all flags throughout New Jersey be lowered to half-staff today in her honor. It was an act of pure and shameless pandering that ultimately paid off for Governor Zeppelin: not only did he ingratiate himself – if only fleetingly – with the Hollywood crowd, but now he has an opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Kevin Costner, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.
Famed rock ‘n’ roll singer Rod Stewart is attending Whitney Houston’s already star-studded funeral in Newark Saturday, according to two sources with knowledge of the family’s plans.
Gov. Chris Christie may also attend the services, sources with knowledge of the guest list said.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the funeral plans with the media.
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Newark City Council President Donald Payne both confirmed they will attend Saturday’s services, and Fontoura also said Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio and Police Chief Sheilah Coley will be on hand. Payne is standing in for his father, Congressman Donald Payne, who is suffering from colon cancer.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker confirmed Thursday that he will attend the services at noon at New Hope Baptist Church.
At noon today the mayor of New Jersey’s largest city will be present to bid farewell to Whitney Houston. Will Governor Zeppelin be seated next to him? I suppose we’ll find out then.
But an even bigger question looms: What are the governor’s plans for Monday? Will he be heading to North Arlington?
More than 150 mourners and bystanders Friday paid tribute to Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca, a Marine killed in Afghanistan last week, as his flag-draped casket arrived at the Parow Funeral Home from Dover Air Force Base.
The body of Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca arriving at the Parow Funeral Home in his hometown of North Arlington. His aunt, Sonya Montes De Oca, in the dark coat, consoling another aunt. Maria Samaniego, girlfriend of the fallen Marine, is to the left. Montes De Oca was killed last week in Afghanistan.
A Marine honor guard, state police and dozens of motorcyclists formed the fallen Marine’s procession.
Family members waiting on the funeral home steps cried and moaned during the military rite that included a maneuver by honor guard to move Montes De Oca’s remains from a hearse.
Across the street on Ridge Road, where a church bell tolled, scores of schoolmates, residents and sympathizers paid tribute to the fallen hero, some crying and waving flags.
“We understand,” said Marjorie Sietsma of Wyckoff, president of Blue Star Mothers of North Jersey, who along with a dozen members of her group embraced family members before the procession arrived. Mothers in the group have children serving in the military and wear blue jackets emblazoned with their branch of service. They handed out miniature flags to people in the crowd.
Vern Nelson, 66, an ex-Marine who served in Vietnam and a member of Warrior’s Watch Riders motorcycle club, joined the procession in South Jersey.
“I wanted to make sure that when they come home, our servicemen are not forgotten,” he said as he climbed on his Harley-Davidson to return home to Lansdale, Pa.
Viewing will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.
A Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church.
In the wake of the Whitney Houston flag-lowering flap, we have yet to hear a peep from Tons-o-Fun regarding a similar gesture for Osbrany Montes De Oca. If he and his staff have any brains or political common sense, he’ll do the following:
- Commence damage control today by declining to attend the funeral and sending Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in his place;
- Hold a press conference later today or tomorrow announcing that he will order all flags in New Jersey lowered to half-staff in honor of Osbrany Montes De Oca and kept at half-staff until Friday evening;
- Announce that he will be present at De Oca’s funeral on Monday to pay tribute to the fallen Marine.
I suspect that Christie – a star-struck political panderer – will not be able to resist the opportunity to meet so many celebrities in one setting while simultaneously appearing to be simpatico with hoi polloi. My guess is that he’ll show up today AND on Monday.