Morning News Digest: September 3, 2010

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Holt kicks off re-election bid

Standing amid the gizmos and detritus of one of the high-tech start-ups that are the hallmark of his time in Congress, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, (D-12) kicked off his candidacy for reelection Thursday. Holt began his speech, given at Princeton Power Systems in West Windsor, by telling the gathered supporters that with his small government approach to education and job creation and his denial of global warming, Republican challenger Scott Sipprelle was far too conservative for a time of economic crisis. (Isherwood,


Christie veto changes the question

CAMDEN – So about that $400 million… Twap! Gov. Chris Christie just changed the question. Outside the Delaware River Port Authority headquarters, CEO John J. Matheussen was front and center today, as was the strong arm of the governor making anyone with excessive taxpayer-funded employment benefits at any authority or commission uneasy. Matheussen even publicaly warned the other authorities and commissions to shape up before Christie found them. (Carroll,


Cops vs. Zimmer: Layoffs, veiled threats, and late-night Hoboken drama

HOBOKEN – Mayor Dawn Zimmer is head of a reform movement in Hoboken, a movement that has caught so much momentum that some critics have anointed her the newest political boss in Hudson County. The City Council majority is working lockstep with the administration and Zimmer’s allies control the school board. She has inroads with Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise through Council President Carol Marsh and Councilman Michael Lenz. (Carroll,


Backing up Runyan in Ocean County, Webber and GOP target Pelosi as much as Adler

STAFFORD TWP. – The cable TV attack ad from the Adler campaign hit earlier the same day, but 3rd Congressional District Republican candidate Jon Runyan towered among friends at the evening opening of Ocean County campaign headquarters, where the GOP delighted in calling out a common political enemy. A sign on the wall here read “Fire Pelosi,” and that was a theme fiercely echoed and re-echoed as this party delights in the prospect of retaking control of the U.S. House. (Pizarro,


Lance will debate Potosnak, details post Labor Day 

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Lebanon) said they intend to debate Democratic Party challenger Ed Potosnak and will hammer out the details right after Labor Day. “We absolutely are going to debate, it will absolutely happen,” said Todd Mitchell, Lance’s chief of staff. “We are most certainly not going to miss votes to debate, but I would imagine the campaigns will work that out.” (Pizarro,


Christie pressures DRPA to reform

Stuck with a governing body he did not create, Gov. Chris Christie used his single, most powerful tool over the Delaware River Port Authority Thursday: He vetoed the minutes of the last two board meetings, effectively nullifying several actions taken by the board of the bistate authority.Not since former Gov. James McGreevey, one day after taking office in 2002, vetoed the minutes of a meeting conducted by a then-Republican-controlled board has a New Jersey governor wielded that power. (Stilwell, Courier Post)


New Jersey Transportation Fund Almost Empty After $1.7 Billion Bond Deal

Transportation Trust Fund Authority approved $1.75 billion in new and refunding bonds, using up almost all the borrowing capacity in the state’s main funding source for highway and mass-transit improvements.  The debt, consisting of as much as $1.25 billion in new money and $500 million in refunding, is scheduled to price later this month. The authority approved the transaction at a meeting near the state capital of Trenton today. (McNichol, Bloomberg)


Seton Hall sues N.J. over legal immigration benefits

Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice filed a class action suit Thursday that says the state’s move this year to drop thousands of legal immigrants from NJ FamilyCare, a health insurance program for low-income parents, is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The complaint, filed in Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton, maintains that without access to the program, nearly 12,000 low-income, lawful permanent residents, who were dropped because they have had their legal status for less than five years, will find it difficult to afford checkups, preventive care and treatment for illnesses. (Lllorente, The Bergen Record)


Gov. Christie pushes bill to convert New Jersey network into independent entity

Gov. Chris Christie submitted legislation today designed to end the state’s four decades of support for the public television network, NJN, by year’s end. The Governor’s plan calls for the Treasurer to take inventory of the network’s assets and find the best way to complete a sale or transfer of them, according to a release from Christie’s office. The bill requires this step be completed by Nov. 1 and the list shared with the public broadcasting authority and the Legislature. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)


Political group spins wind energy as waste of public funds, failure in the making

A political group protested the state’s plans to spend public money on New Jersey’s new offshore wind industry. About 20 members or supporters of Americans for Prosperity rallied Thursday in front of the five windmills at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority to denounce offshore wind as a public waste of money. They also called on lawmakers to kill a program that sells carbon credits. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a 10-state cooperative with a goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent by 2018. (Miller, The Press of Atlantic City)


Impact of budget cuts greets students heading back to school

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Lisa Casale exchanged waves, smiles and concerns with other parents and teachers while students filed into Swift Elementary School for their first day of classes Thursday morning. Casale, 37, of the Bargaintown section of the township, and others watching their children head back to school said Egg Harbor Township public schools have provided a solid educational experience for their families so far. But already, they’ve noticed some things have changed this year – fewer buses, family-funded school supplies and eliminated Spanish classes among them – due to more than $8 million in district budget cuts. (Previtti, The Press of Atlantic City)


Hoboken City Council votes 5-4 to introduce half-year tax levy that’s reduced by five percent

HOBOKEN – Preparing to transition from a fiscal year budget to a calendar year budget, the City Council voted 5-4 Wednesday to introduce a municipal tax levy that covers July 1 to the end of the year. The council introduced a $28.5 million municipal tax levy, which could be adopted at the council’s next public meeting on Sept. 28. (Colaneri, The Jersey Journal)


Bayonne’s new business administrator will continue to serve as mayor’s chief of staff and head of MUA

Stephen Gallo may be a man of many hats, but luckily for Bayonne taxpayers, he’s a man of just one paycheck. The Bayonne native has headed the city’s Municipal Utilities Authority since 1997, and also serves as Mayor Mark Smith’s chief of staff. And last week he was confirmed as the city’s business administrator, replacing Terrence Malloy, who will continue as the city’s chief financial officer. (Clark, the Jersey Journal)


Hefty cut in state aid may spell tax hike as Woodbridge prepares to unveil budget

Township officials aren’t saying whether property owners should expect to pay more taxes this year. But their comments regarding a $6 million loss in state aid might be a harbinger of bad news. Council President Jim Major said Tuesday that the administration expects to introduce the 2010-2011 municipal budget at the council’s Sept. 21 meeting. The township’s budget year begins in July. The current year’s budget wasn’t introduced until last November and wasn’t adopted until the end of December. (Bichao, Gannett)


Trenton city council supports federal grant application in order to save 78 firefighters’ jobs

TRENTON — The city council endorsed a last-ditch federal grant application last night in an effort to keep 78 firefighters from being laid off and reluctantly approved a payment to the company that runs the city’s automated citizen notification system. The firefighters are currently slated to lose their jobs on Oct. 15 as part of a 400-person layoff planned for budget reasons. (Rinde, The Trenton Times)


Trenton Mayor Tony Mack pulls contracts of law firms tied to his supporters

TRENTON — Mayor Tony Mack backed off awarding contracts worth $125,000 to two law firms with members who supported his candidacy, pulling both proposals in a move that prevented extensive discussion by City Council members. Law firms Riley & Riley, located in Mount Holly, and Atlantic City-based Cooper, Levenson, April, Niedelman & Wagenheim are forced to wait on lucrative municipal and defense litigation deals. A resolution could award Riley & Riley $75,000, while Cooper Levenson stands to earn $50,000. (Parker, The Trentonian)

10-day reprieve for Trenton employees slated for layoffs

TRENTON — Trenton cops and other city employees slated for layoff have gotten a 10-day reprieve, an aide to Mayor Tony Mack said Thursday, conceding the workers should have been told when City Hall found out almost two weeks ago. Minutes after Mack flack Lauren Ira made the “by the way’’ disclosure, key police supervisors and the city council president told The Trentonian they hadn’t heard anything along those lines. (The Trentonian) 

Parents protest plan to consolidate classes in South Orange, Maplewood districts 

SOUTH ORANGE – A group of South Orange and Maplewood parents says that the district’s seventh grade deleveling initiative threatens to dilute the learning experience of the brightest students by combining what essentially were honors courses with regular classes. Merging the two sets of students could leave the highest achievers bored and unmotivated, the group’s co-chair, John Davenport, said. (Khavkine, The Star-Ledger)


Somerville library’s future likely to be a topic at meetings next week

Alan Jankowski likes the idea of the Somerville Public Library becoming part of the county library system.But he doesn’t think the borough’s voters need to weigh in on the issue with a special election. “Who’s going to really turn out for a vote like that?” asked Jankowski, 49, as he smoked a cigarette near the library’s front steps. “The voter turnout would be so small you could probably argue it’s not representative of most of the users anyway.” (Reed, Gannett)


From The Backroom

The 2013 Ten

In a state of continuing disrepair and retreat, Democrats milked last Friday morning’s Christie administration meltdown into a week-long respite from their own apparently terminal condition. Below are listed their top ten candidates for governor, according to Democratic Party insiders. But 2013 is a long way to limp. (


Christie’s Hispanic building blocks

The communication breakdown between Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie and former Sheriff Jerry Speziale was not the only short circuit Republicans will try to exploit on Nov. 2nd. An older feud between Currie and Paterson At-Large Councilman Rigo Rodriguez now helps propel two countywide Latino candidates for the GOP – sheriff’s candidate Felix Garcia and freeholder candidate Thomas Gomez. (


‘Neff said

Trenton GOP insider who fire-bombed the Corzine administration with OPRA requests and earned a reputation as a hard-nosed operative, Thomas Neff of the Senate Republican Office is heading to the state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to back up Commissioner Lori Grifa as director of local services. The new assignment will be effective Sept . 10th, according to Republican sources. (


Christie v. Sweeney

Beaten up by for being too diplomatic around Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) gave the governor both barrels over the guv’s attempt to twist his inner cabinet collapse into anti-Obama Fox News code speak – and the governor didn’t appreciate that, according to GOP sources. (



Doblin: Christie wants his pound of Elmer’s Glue

TINSELTOWN has Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva. New Jersey has Chris Christie and Bret Schundler. It seemed a match made in heaven; Governor Christie and his education commissioner were two high-profile individuals who believed passionately in education reform. But it all went sour last week. Like most failed relationships, it probably went sour before the public noticed, but last week, as the details over New Jersey’s failed bid for Race to the Top education funds surfaced, a nasty “he-said/he-said” battle of wills played out in the media. (Doblin, The Bergen Record)


September 3, 2010 Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio proclaims ‘Bret Schundler Day’ 

September 3, 2010   “Today is a day that is stupendous, for all of Ohio–––and all its descendents,” announced Gov. Ted Strickland in proclaiming today, September 3, officially “Bret Schundler Day” in the Buckeye State. The former education commissioner of the state of New Jersey may be reviled in the Garden State, but in Ohio he is a hero to the several hundred thousand children of the Ohio school system. (Novick,


Chris Christie picked the wrong guy to throw under the bus

You can certainly understand why Chris Christie threw his education commissioner, Bret Schundler, under the bus last week. After all, it was Schundler’s department that botched the state’s “Race to the Top” application, costing New Jersey five points on its application — the difference between $400 million in federal money and nothing. (Kornacki, Salon)


Why stop with Matheussen? Dump Nash too

Gov. Christie went to DRPA headquarters in Camden to tell CEO John Matheussen to clean up the place or hit the bricks. He did that after he vetoed what he called a “weak” set of conflict-of-interest limits and other reforms he said did not go far enough. Among other things, the governor demanded the board pass a policy to ban workers from performing political activities while on duty. (Ingle, Gannett)


Racing to bankruptcy

The federal government will finish this fiscal year, ending September 30th, with a $1.4 trillion deficit.  Instead of reining in federal spending to get its fiscal house in order, the Obama administration is desperately trying to “stimulate” the economy with money it does not have, including sending more money to public school’s via a competition, “Race to the Top,” supposedly to enact “education reform.” (Sabrin,

Morning News Digest: September 3, 2010