Morning News Digest: October 26, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Greenwald jousts with Christie over out-of-state campaigning
A national player in Republican Party politics and backer of Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy, Gov. Chris Christie punched a town hall clock in Warren County this morning between out-of-state events: a campaign stop for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass) yesterday, and fundraisers for Romney in New York tonight and North Carolina tomorrow.
Democrats puounced on the governor's idling jet engine narrative.
"It was once again nice to see Gov. Christie stop by New Jersey, but unfortunately he’ll find nothing has changed since the last time he took a break from touring the nation on behalf of anti-women and anti-middle class Republicans," Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) said. The middle-class, sadly, continues to suffer under Gov. Christie. Unemployment is still 9.8 percent. Women have still lost vital health care funding. Property taxes are still up a net 20 percent. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Gov’s office calls Port Authority subpoena a ‘political attack’
The governor’s calling the decision by Democratic lawmakers to subpoena top officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey a political stunt.
Gov. Chris Christie’s office issued the statement Thursday after Assembly Democrats, led by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, announced they issued subpoenas to four top officials at the Port Authority earlier today. The lawmakers claim the authority has failed to appropriately respond to record requests inquiring about the agency's spending practices.
Two weeks out from an election, it’s not the least bit surprising that the Democratic state chairman would renew a clearly political attack on an agency that is already in the process of reforming itself at the direction of Governors Christie and Cuomo,” Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Assembly Dems subpoena Port Authority
Assembly Democrats followed through on their promise to subpoena the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Democrats announced subpoenas were delivered sometime this morning after they say the PA failed to respond to inquiries from lawmakers about toll increases and Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cancel the Access to the Region's Core project.
Tension has been brewing between lawmakers and the authority as Democrats, led largely by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, have moved to force the authority to turn over records legislators say they have intentionally withheld. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
In CD 2, LoBo crushing opponent by 20 points
The Stockton Polling Institute released its second poll of the 2nd Congressional District showing Republican incumbent Frank LoBiondo leading Democratic challenger Cassandra Shober by a margin of 54 percent to 34 percent. In the September poll, Congressman LoBiondo had a similar lead of 55 percent to 34 percent.
In the race for the United States Senate seat, incumbent Democratic Senator Robert Menendez still leads Republican challenger Joseph Kyrillos by a 56 to 33 percent margin in the 2nd Congressional District. The margin is the same as the first poll conducted in September. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Christie urges voters to support ballot question on whether judges should pay for pension, benefits
Governor Christie urged voters Thursday to support a ballot question that would require judges to pay for their pension and heath benefits, jokingly warning there would be consequences if they don't.
“If you people don’t vote yes, I am hunting you all down personally, personally,” he joked, getting laughs out of the crowd.
Christie was speaking at his 98th town hall-style event since taking office, to about 600 people gathered in the gymnasium of Warren County Technical School in Washington Township.
Christie pushed attendees to support both statewide questions on the Nov. 6 ballot. The other is a $750 million bond referendum for capital improvements at colleges and universities in New Jersey. (Hayes, The Record)
Incumbent Holt: GOP policies turning American Dream into ‘mirage’
Candidates in the 12th Congressional District all say they want to take the nation in a new direction.
For the Democratic incumbent, , that means using government to help the middle class and not return to what he calls the failed policies of past Republican administrations. The Hopewell Township resident advocates federal investment in infrastructure and education, and believes government must play a role in reversing climate change
Republican Eric Beck, his chief challenger, says he wants government to get out of the way of business. The South Brunswick resident supports a 15 percent flat tax, repealing the Affordable Care Act – known informally as Obamacare -- and cutting federal spending. (Kalet, NJ Spotlight)
Incumbent 4th District Assemblywoman rates tax reform as a top goal
Assemblywoman Gabriela , the Democratic incumbent running in the 4th Assembly District’s special election next month, has knocked on a lot doors this election season -- over 1,800, she said.
"It's a great opportunity to meet with my residents," Mosquera said.
Mosquera is running, for the second time, against Republican , who challenged the legitimacy of Mosquera's victory last fall on the grounds that Mosquera had not lived in the district long enough to represent it.
There is little doubt that Mosquera will win again this fall; the South Jersey district, which includes parts of Camden and Gloucester counties, is largely Democratic. (Kassel, NJ Spotlight)
Sweeney asks state probe of W. Deptford-Sunoco tax deal
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) is asking the New Jersey attorney general to investigate a possible "illegal tax kickback" scheme involving West Deptford and Sunoco, the owner of a shuttered oil refinery there.
Sweeney's request is connected to a bitter political feud in his hometown, where Republicans took control of the township committee this year after Democratic control for more than two decades. An incumbent Democrat is up for reelection next month, and the Sunoco issue has become a focus of the campaign.
The attorney general already is investigating an alleged quid pro quo scheme involving West Deptford's water department in which hundreds of people, including employees, are accused of getting free water and sewer service, according to Republican Mayor Raymond Chintall. That investigation was prompted by an audit that the Republicans commissioned after they took over. (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Appellate court upholds superintendent salary caps
Ever since Gov. Chris Christie in late 2010 imposed tight limits on school superintendent pay, there was the presumption that this issue would ultimately have to be decided in the courts.
As more and more superintendents left their districts, and the state Legislature remained largely silent, a stream of legal challenges was the superintendents’ best hope for loosening the caps that cut back salaries across the state.
Yesterday, those hopes proved fleeting. A state appellate court ruled -- with particularly strong language – to uphold the caps, leaving school leaders grappling with what to do next. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Senate approves controversial EMS regulation proposal in narrow vote
A controversial emergency services regulation bill is surviving, even if on life support, with the New Jersey Senate giving the measure narrow approval Thursday.
The bill from Democrats has been criticized by volunteer first aiders for enabling their replacement by paid professionals. A similar bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in January.
The Senate’s 22-14 vote was mostly along party lines but gave the measure one vote more than the 21 required for passage, sending the proposal to the Assembly for consideration.
The New Jersey State First Aid Council, representing 320 volunteer ambulance squads, said in a statement that it opposes sections of the bill that “would lead to a diminishing role for volunteers to the benefit of paid services,” and that the proposal “calls for services that cannot be afforded in the current economy.” (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)
NJ Senate passes bill that would bar employers from asking for social media access
Employers would be barred from demanding their workers’ or job applicants’ Facebook passwords under a bill passed unanimously by the Senate Thursday.
The bill, aimed at protecting the privacy of employees and applicants, also goes further: It prohibits employers from even asking if employees or applicants have social media accounts.
An earlier version passed the Assembly in June, but amendments added by the Senate will require the Assembly to approve the bill again before it heads to Governor Christie for his signature.
A companion bill that prohibits colleges and universities from demanding access to their students’ or applicants’ accounts also passed the Senate. That now heads to Christie. (Linhorst, The Record)
NJ Senate passes Patrick’s Law; bill would increase animal cruelty penalties
A bill named after Patrick the Pit Bull — a dog that was starved, thrown down a garbage chute and left for dead in Newark last year — unanimously passed the state Senate on Thursday.
If the Assembly concurs, abusing an animal or depriving it of food, water or other necessities would be elevated to a fourth-degree crime, not remain a disorderly persons offense. And if the animal dies as a result of the abuse, the crime would be increased to the third degree.
Patrick’s Law, which has been praised by animal rights activists, would toughen the penalties for animal cruelty, bringing fines of $1,000 to $3,000 for a first offense, and $3,000 to $5,000 for a subsequent offense. (Linhorst, The Record)
Funds to preserve parks and farmland run dry
The state is running out of money to invest in preserving open space and working farmland.
Yesterday, the state Senate approved a package of bills that would appropriate nearly $109 million to buy up open space and help local communities develop parks, but the appropriation of the funds would virtually deplete a $400 million bond issue approved by voters in 2009.
That raises the question: What’s next?
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin has told lawmakers that the administration is developing a (Johnson, NJ Spotlight) , but has not divulged any details.
Tax Foundation reviews upper-income tax increase impact
Upper-income New Jersey residents would pay $3.54 billion more in taxes next year if they see their tax rates increase and deductions reduced, according to a report released today by the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
President Barack Obama supports allowing tax cuts enacted under then-President George W. Bush to expire for couples with more than $250,000 in income and individuals with more than $200,000. Obama also would limit deductions for upper-income earners.
The report by the Tax Foundation, which advocates low tax rates, found that 1.15 percent of state residents' income would be paid under the increase. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
Another Jersey City light rail stop could aid development, builder says
As federal and state officials today announced $400,000 in federal funding to study an expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, a New Jersey real estate executive said the potential for development around new train stations is limitless.
"What we've seen over the last four or five years is that there has been a true gravitation to high-quality multifamily and mixed-use construction in close proximity to light rail stations — which is beyond what we hoped would happen, as developers, when light rail construction began many years ago," said Carl Goldberg, managing partner of Roseland Property Co. "The Department of Transportation's continued effort to expand our light rail is going to be strongly positive for development, regardless of where the expansion is happening." (Eder, NJBIZ)
Mayoral candidate awaits grand jury hearing
The independent mayoral hopeful arrested in August for selling marijuana to an undercover police officer is awaiting a grand jury hearing in connection to drug distribution and possession charges, according to authorities.
Thomas J. Litwin of East Bay Avenue, a registered Republican, remains on the November ballot as one of two independent candidates challenging incumbent Republican Mayor John R. Spodofora for a three-year term.
The other challenger, Paul Marchal, is running on the “We Are Stafford” slogan with a group of six council seat hopefuls, including incumbent Councilwoman Joanne B. Sitek.
Democrat Joseph Rua, 21, a Rutgers University student, also was vying for the mayoral seat, but dropped out of the race. (Giadden, Asbury Park Press)
From the Back Room
Report: GOP Freeholder candidate says MLK wasn’t an ‘ethical man’
Bergen County Republicans are in damage control mode today following a statement about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., made by Freeholder candidate Peg Watkins.
The Bergen Record has the story. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
That's Christie inserting himself into a running-board war between Sacco, the triple-Signalling his intent to nail down Hudson County organizational support toward a re-election campaign, Gov. Chris Christie continued to whip oratorical darts at Nick Sacco this morning at his town hall.
That's Christie inserting himself into a running-board war between Sacco, the triple-dipping North Bergen mayor/32nd District state senator, and Brian P. Stack, the double-dipping Union City mayor/33rd District state senator. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, pleaded guilty today to organizing an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.Read More >
Christie on bridge controversy: ‘I know you guys are obsessed with this, I’m not’ TRENTON – There’s “no doubt” in Gov. Chris Christie’s mind that the controversy over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge is being used by New Jersey Democrats as partisan game. “Inside the Statehouse there’s...
By Christopher Durkin Many New Jersey lawmakers have fought to make it easier to vote. And there has been considerable progress in terms of voter access and information. Voter registration has been made easier, with forms available online that... Read More >
"I know you guys are obsessed with this. I'm not." - Gov. Chris Christie on the George Washington Bridge story.- PolitickerNJ.com
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