Morning News Digest: October 3, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Christie concerned Newark still lacks budget
Gov. Chris Christie says his administration is very concerned that Newark apparently fails to have a budget plan in place and that the state is “looking very carefully” at the city’s budget this year.
Christie was asked Tuesday about reports that the state has stepped in to look at the books of the largest city in the state in preparation to provide Newark aid. The governor said he hopes a plan will be hashed out between the state and Newark sometime this week.
“I’m very concerned about it,” Christie said. “I want to make it clear to folks; they don’t have a budget for this year. They’re not (on) a fiscal year budgetary system like the state, they’re a calendar year budget, which means we’re at Oct. 2 and they don’t have a budget for this year – which ends on Dec. 31.”
“So, saying that they’re late is like being kind,” he continued. “It’s crazy.” (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Christie won’t ‘grandstand’ on NHL lockout debates, says ‘my constituents are smarter than that’
A day after U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) called on the NHL to come to an agreement with players that will end a lockout, Gov. Chris Christie said he’s largely staying out of the fray on that one.
The governor made his comments Tuesday after being asked by a reporter if he planned to issue a similar call to NHL executives to broker a deal with players that would allow regular activities to resume. The federal lawmakers issued a statement Monday saying the lockout is hurting New Jersey businesses.
“I’m a hockey fan so I’d like the lockout to end and I have a 12-year-old son who’s a huge hockey fan and is asking me every day when it’s going to end, just to stop hearing the questions I’d like it to end,” Christie said. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Newark source: Christie trying to change subject more than fire a shot at Booker
A source close to Newark politics said Gov. Chris Christie’s remarks on Newark’s foot-dragging over the budget amounted to Christie again trying to escape the snare of a bad two weeks.
“I’m very concerned about it,” PolitickerNJ.com quoted the governor saying in Flemington today. “I want to make it clear to folks; they don’t have a budget for this year. They’re not (on) a fiscal year budgetary system like the state, they’re a calendar year budget, which means we’re at Oct. 2 and they don’t have a budget for this year – which ends on Dec. 31.”
Julien X. Neals, the city's business administrator, fired off a statement. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Featured Race: CD 5 and what might have been
REPUBLICAN: Incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5)
DEMOCRAT: Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen
Post congressional redistricting, this was supposed to have been New Jersey’s answer to Homer’s Iliad, with U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman in the role of Achilles and Garrett playing Hector.
But as everyone knows, it didn’t work out that way, as Rothman opted out of an assault on North Jersey’s Republican ramparts and instead chose to go move out of his redistricted home turf and challenge U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9)… (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
In Perth Amboy Mayor’s race, Diaz campaign keeps Delgado in its sights
The Perth Amboy mayor’s race has turned into Diaz versus Delgado with the 19th District warlord figures of state Sen. Joe Vitale and Assemblyman John Wisniewski looming over the wharf front contest.
Alert to the Delgado Campaign’s organizing efforts, Diaz tripped up the challenger by making public an email Delgado operative Jim Devine sent to the mayor calling her too dumb for the job.
Diaz welcomed women Democratic leaders from around the state to denounce Delgado, whose allies in response wondered aloud about the mayor’s stance on abortion.
If the mayor purports to represent women, what is the daily Catholic communicant’s position on a woman’s right to choose? (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie says he’s balancing campaign travels with support of local candidates
Governor Christie will hit four different states on behalf of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and gubernatorial and congressional candidates this week, which has some people wondering how concerned he is about contests here in New Jersey.
But Christie said Tuestdday that he has campaigned for all the incumbent Republican members of Congress in the Garden State, as well as Assemblyman Joseph Kyrillos who is challenging U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. Christie has also been out supporting Assemblywoman Donna Simon, R-Hunterdon, who is running against Democratic challenger Maria Corfield, a teacher from Hunterdon County.
“I’ll spend a significant amount of time campaigning for local candidates as well,” Christie said at an event Monday. “And they know all they have to do is ask. I’m happy to respond to requests and if I think it’s an appropriate race for me to be involved in, I’ll be involved either here or out of state.” (Hayes, The Record)
Christie hospital tour aimed at highlighting funding increases
Governor Christie toured Hunterdon Medical Center’s cancer unit Tuesday to raise awareness about the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection program.
The program provides breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer screenings for the uninsured and under-insured.
The state budget that went into effect July 1 includes $12 million for the program statewide, an increase of $3.5 million. There is a Cancer Education and Early Detection or CEED program in every county.
Christie, who visited a community health center in Dover Monday, said he’s trying to highlight programs where funding has been increased at a time when budget cutbacks have caused cuts in many areas.
He said these programs are priorities and he believes he owes it to taxpayers to explain why he is spending more on them. (Hayes, The Record)
Christie orders Newark budget cuts on price of state aid
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said his administration will order spending cuts in Newark as the state’s largest city starts its 10th month without a budget.
Christie told reporters today that it is “ridiculous” that the city of about 277,000 people, 12 miles (19 kilometers) west of Manhattan, hasn’t approved a plan for the year that began Jan. 1. Newark will have to agree to unspecified cuts if it wants state aid to balance its budget, Christie said.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, 43, proposed a spending plan in February. The City Council hasn’t approved it.
“Saying they’re late is like being kind,” Christie, a 50- year-old Republican, told reporters today after touring a hospital in Flemington. “We are looking very carefully at this budget and I’m unsatisfied with the efforts of this administration and the city council to cut back that budget.” (Dopp and Young, Bloomberg)
Christie wants NHL lockout to end, but won’t get involved
It’s no secret that Governor Christie is a Rangers fan, but he won’t be sending a letter to the National Hockey League or the players association calling for an end to the contract dispute.
“I’m a hockey fan so I’d like the lockout to end and I have a 12-year-old son who is a huge hockey fan and is asking me every day when it’s going to end. Just to stop hearing the questions I’d like it to end,” he said at an event in Flemington. “I think it’s always dicey when politicians get involved in the middle of these negotiations. It seems to me the only reason to do it is to grandstand. Does the NHL really care, or the players association?”
Christie was responding to a question over whether he would join United States Senators Frank Lautenberg, D-Cliffside Park, and Robert Menendez, D-Hudson, who sent a joint letter to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Donald Fehr Monday, calling for an end to the lock-out. (Hayes, The Record)
Poll: Obama leading Romney in N.J. by 17 points
President Obama now has a 17-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in New Jersey, according to the most recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll.
Obama leads Romney 56 percent to 39 percent among likely New Jersey voters, adding to his lead by 3 percentage points since the contest was last polled by Rutgers-Eagleton in August.
The poll of 790 registered voters was conducted from Sept. 27 to Sunday, and had a margin of error of 3.8 percent.
Voters picked Obama by a 52 percent to 43 percent margin on the issue of jobs and the economy, and 56 percent identified that issue as their top concern this year.
“This poll reflects recent national trends,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. “Romney’s missteps on Libya and his ‘47 percent’ comments may have had effects, though he was already well behind here.” (Reitmeyer, The Record)
New Jersey’s poorest kids are missing out on breakfast
It’s a lesson that kids learn at a very early age: start every day with a good breakfast.
Apparently, more than a few New Jersey school leaders have forgotten it.
Despite the requirements, the common sense, and even ample federal money, New Jersey’s public schools provide free breakfast to just a third of the low-income students entitled to it, leaving roughly 200,000 children without a guarantee of that first meal.
Some of the worst offenders are in cities where the nutrition may be needed most, including two districts operated by the state, Paterson and Jersey City.
The Advocates for Children of New Jersey, a Newark-based organization, yesterday hosted a star-studded presentation of its (Mooney, NJ Spotlight) in the breakfast program.
NJ counts school bullying incidents for 1st time under new law: 12K in 2011-12 academic year
New Jersey education officials now have some handle on just how much bullying happens in the state’s public schools. Data made public Tuesday show there were 12,024 instances of harassment, intimidation and bullying reported in the 2011-12 school year — the first year the state’s tough new anti-bullying law was in effect.
New Jersey used a new definition of the behaviors, so there are no previous data for comparison. The numbers of incidents reported Tuesday vary widely by district and may reflect how diligent each school is at reporting, rather than how much bullying there is.
Bullying in school, once written off as just something kids have to deal with, has evolved into a serious issue. New Jersey was among a wave of states that passed anti-bullying laws a decade ago after the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. (Associated Press)
Leagues say N.J. sports betting law is hypocritical
The major professional sports leagues and the NCAA say New Jersey's proposed sports betting law is hypocritical because it prohibits gambling on New Jersey college games yet allows it on all other college and pro contests.
The NCAA, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are collectively suing to block New Jersey's sports betting law from taking effect; the state says it could take bets as soon as December.
In their response to New Jersey's efforts to have the case dismissed, the leagues note New Jersey says sports betting won't harm the pro or college leagues. Yet the leagues say the state forbids gambling involving New Jersey college teams or any college game played in New Jersey. (Associated Press)
Bills to stave off foreclosures limp through legislature
With New Jersey facing a new wave of , Democratic legislators are pushing the Christie administration to do more to keep people in their homes, such as using almost $300 million in available federal aid.
But after preliminary sparring before the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, legislation addressing the issue, sponsored by state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), limped forward with a push from bankers, builders, realtors and municipalities, but without much bipartisan backing.
The committee cleared two Lesniak measures, including one already vetoed in an earlier incarnation by Gov. Chris Christie. (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)
Assemblyman plans to introduce NJ bill to limit “conversion” therapy
New Jersey could become the second state in the nation to limit practitioners of "conversion" counseling, a controversial form of psychological therapy that aims to persuade gay people to adopt a heterosexual identity.
Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace (D., Bergen), an openly gay father of two, plans to introduce a bill next week that would outlaw use of the technique on those under 18 years old.
"I see it as a form of child abuse," he said. Being gay "is not an illness, so what are they fixing?"
"Conversion" or "reparative" therapy has been discredited by all major mental health organizations, according to the American Psychological Association. Since parents may force their children to undergo the therapy, the state should protect them, Eustace said. (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Port Authority officials say they plan to be more transparent, accountable for agency
Port Authority officials said Tuesday they plan to operate the sprawling transportation agency with a renewed sense of transparency, even as it struggles with finances and continues to defend toll hikes that have been derided by commuters and questioned by lawmakers.
The latest fare hike occurred Monday, when PATH tickets rose 25 cents, to $2.25. Tolls on bridges and tunnels, already $9.50 for E-ZPass holders during rush hour, are set to rise another 75 cents in December. And more are in the offing, with automatic increases set to kick in each of the next three years.
“It’s incumbent upon us to demonstrate… ways that we have undertaken to be less independent, to be more transparent, to be more accountable, to be more responsive and responsible to our constituents,” David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority, told members of The Record’s editorial board on Tuesday. “Yeah, we have to do that.” (Sforza, The Record)
National Park Service gives final OK to 145-mile high-voltage power line in NJ
As expected, the National Park Service gave final approval to a controversial high-voltage power line through three segments of the national park system yesterday, but it will cost the two utilities building the transmission line a bit more to offset the negative impacts of the project.
In issuing a Record of Decision, the NPS upped the amount of money Public Service Electric & Gas and PPL Electric Utilities, a Pennsylvania-based utility, will have to set aside -- $56 million -- to compensate for adverse effects of the project.
With the approval, the utilities said they will step up construction on the 145-mile line, which is expected to be in service before the summer of 2015. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Survey: Companies plan to boost college grad hiring by 13 percent
A new survey says companies plan to hire more college graduates next spring, suggesting employers are preparing for growth in 2013.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers surveyed 244 companies throughout the U.S. Overall, respondents reported plans to increase their new graduate hiring by 13 percent next spring, versus spring 2012.
Retailers showed the largest year-to-year increase, saying they plan to hire 47 percent more 2013 graduates than they did 2012 graduates. Finance, chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and computer and electronics manufacturing, among others, all reported plans to boost hiring by double-digits. (Kaltwasser, NJBIZ)
Labor leaders say union activities being punished by Meadowlands hospital
Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center has hired nurses as interns for minimum wage, limited employee prescription drug access to the facility's pharmacy, and laid off a handful workers to punish their union activities, labor leaders alleged today.
The Health Professional and Allied Employees union filed these and other grievances against the hospital's owners with the National Labor Relations Board on Monday, and held a press conference today to call attention to the for-profit hospital's conduct.
Their ultimate goal is to convince the state Health Department to install a monitor to supervise hospital operations, said union President Ann Twomey. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. will receive $5M in grants to combat drunk driving, improve safety
The state will get millions of dollars in federal assistance to combat drunk drivers, increase the proper use of seatbelts and child safety seats, and improve pedestrian safety.
The nearly $5 million in funding comes from four U.S. Department of Transportation grants, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) announced Tuesday. (Rouse, The Record)
N.J. task force on drug abuse study the problem, seek reforms
Salvatore Marchese completed treatment for heroin addiction, but his success was shortlived: An overdose left him dead in a car in Camden.
The 2010 death of the 26-year-old Blackwood resident was part of a growing epidemic of heroin use and abuse of prescription pain killers in the suburbs, according to experts who met Tuesday.
Members of a task force created by the governor held the last of several public hearings to study the problem and potential reforms. The concerns they heard included denials from insurance companies to pay for drug rehabilitation, and too few facilities to treat drug addiction. (Boyer, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
From the Back Room
Will the real responsible party please stand up
Democrats today are howling over Gov. Chris Christie's attempt to take credit for boosting funding for the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) program by $3.5 million.
The money was part of an overall $12 million allocated to cancer detection and education.
In a release, the governor claims credit for the increase in funding, saying it "continues and strengthens the Christie Administration’s commitment to the delivery of lifesaving care provided at the state's 21 NJCEED agencies that collectively serve tens of thousands of women, children, families and low-income New Jerseyans every year." (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
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"This is the only Tea Party group that endorsed Mitt Romney. These guys are the Vichy French of the Tea Party movement. They're the guys who say 'Viva la France,' and then you can't find them when the fighting starts. Come on." - GOP strategist Rick Shaftan, on the Independence Hall Tea Party group.- PolitickerNJ.com
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