Morning News Digest: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Christie approval numbers at highest level ever according to new poll
Gov. Chris Christie is riding high this week after his dalliance with a presidential run as his poll numbers are showing a robust increase in voter approval.
According to the latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll, Christie’s approval rating hit 54 percent against just 38 percent disapproval in the week following his announcement that he would not seek the presidency, his highest rating since taking office 20 months ago. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
50% of NJ voters say Obama deserves second term
President Barack Obama’s support in New Jersey has rebounded from its low in August, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
Half of Garden State voters now say the president deserves a second term, up from 43 percent two months ago.
At the same time, nearly two-thirds of voters are happy with Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement that he will not run for president in 2012. Voters are somewhat unsure whether Christie has the personality to make a good president, with 47 percent agreeing, and 49 percent disagreeing, much along partisan lines. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Chris Christie gives Mitt Romney pre-debate boost
Arguing that Mitt Romney is the best prepared candidate to defeat President Barack Obama, Chris Christie threw his support behind the former Massachusetts governor ahead of Tuesday’s debate.
Getting just the backing of the New Jersey governor, who only last week announced his own decision not to seek the presidency, was an important boost for Romney. With Rick Perry dropping in the polls, Romney is working feverishly to round up support from GOP donors and elected officials to create an aura of inevitability. Christie, who enjoys an almost cult following among an influential swath of Republicans, was his biggest get yet. (Martin and Haberman, POLITICO)
Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey
New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The poll, which was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, was commissioned by a group of smart growth, environmental and transportation advocates.
The poll found 88 percent of residents said attracting new business is a top concern, while 91 percent say protecting the state’s drinking water supply is very important. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
Remapping New Jersey’s congressional districts
It looks as if at least one New Jersey congressman is going to get coal in his stocking this year.
John Farmer, the Rutgers-Newark Law School dean appointed as the independent tie-breaker for the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission, said yesterday he expects the commission to meet from December 19 to December 21 in an attempt to complete a new congressional map before Christmas, rather than pushing up against the January 17,, 2012 deadline. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
Public hearings on N.J. redistricting process draw few attendees
One of New Jersey’s 13 Congress members is going to lose a job next year, but from all appearances the public seems unfazed.
A commission held public meetings on redistricting today in two cities — Newark and New Brunswick — but only about 30 people showed up at each.
Even those involved in the slicing and dicing of House districts — a 13-member panel is formed every 10 years to redraw boundaries for House members — acknowledge interest seems to be lacking. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Wall Street job cuts may affect New Jersey’s economy
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said on Tuesday that he expects Wall Street to cut nearly 10,000 more jobs by the end of the year and pay less in bonuses, a blow to the tax coffers of New York City and State. Securities-related activities accounted for 14 percent of New York State’s tax revenue last year.
The industry contributes less to New Jersey’s tax base, however, and the jobs and pay cuts are “not a major risk factor” for tax revenue, said Charles Steindel, the state Treasury Department’s chief economist. (Newman, The Record)
An end to No Child Left Behind could spell an end to outside tutoring in NJ
With all the talk of New Jersey and other states seeking waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, one result could be an end to the growing reliance on outside tutoring firms for students in the lowest-performing schools.
In the last available count, more than 23,000 New Jersey students in 2009-2010 availed themselves of the free after-school tutoring that NCLB requires schools to offer if they fall short of achievement requirements. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Legislative District 16
The 16th District has been staunchly Republican for decades. But last spring’s redistricting moved Princeton and South Brunswick, two typically Democratic voting blocs, into the 16th. That, coupled with the retirement of an incumbent and frustration about the overhaul of public employee benefits in June, have the Democrats hoping they can pull off an upset.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman of Branchburg has served in the Senate since 2008. He is currently deputy conference leader for the Republicans in the upper house. He was elected with 59 percent of the vote in 2007. Bateman voted for the bill that increased public employee contributions to pensions and eliminated cost-of-living adjustments for retirees. (Haggin, NJ Spotlight)
Legislative District 23
Back in 2002 when he was a freeholder, Michael Doherty was willing to go to jail rather than have the county issue bonds for $5 million in order to build an addition to the main campus of Warren County Community College.
When Doherty balked at bonding for the expansion, a Superior Court judge ordered him to do it or go to jail. Doherty was spared time behind bars when the New Jersey Supreme Court overruled the judge and said Doherty and the freeholder board could ignore the earlier court decision. (Daigle, NJ Spotlight)
Legislative District 27
Some well-known political faces from the Democratic Party have been knocking on some unfamiliar doors in the new 27th district. And Republican newcomers say the newly redrawn map leaves a crack in those doors to unseat the incumbents.
“I think it’s more than a little opening now that I’m into it,” said Lee Holtzman, a Republican running his first campaign for state Assembly.
The new 27th District is viewed as more competitive, with GOP enclaves in Morris County testing the reach of state Sen. Richard Codey and Assembly incumbents Mila M. Jasey and John F. McKeon. The district still favors the Democrats, but the lawmakers have spent “time and energy introducing ourselves” to new constituents, Jasey said. (Lehren, NJ Spotlight)
Senate candidates in New Jersey Fifth District emphasize jobs, education
State Sen. Donald Norcross became a union man 32 years ago when he started work as an electrician’s apprentice. The freshman senator’s ties to trade unions are still strong, but his relationship with state workers unions has grown frosty.
Norcross was one of 22 Democrats to approve a bill in June that requires state workers to pay more toward their pensions and health care, a plan backed by Republican Gov. Christie. (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
11th District candidates talk taxes, fort
The field of candidates for Assembly and state Senate in the new 11th Legislative District may be as diverse as the towns they seek to represent.
Incumbent Republicans, Democratic challengers and an independent are running to represent a district that includes the coastal cities of Asbury Park and Long Branch and the inland towns of Ocean, Colts Neck and Freehold townships.
Republican Sen. Jennifer Beck is challenged by lawyer Ray Santiago, a Democrat, in her bid for re-election. (Higgs, Gannett)
Washington Township Chamber connects voters with Fourth District Legislative, Gloucester County Freeholder candidates
The Washington Township Chamber of Commerce hosted the “Meet the Candidates” lunch Tuesday to let voters get to know and mingle with Freeholder candidates Lyman Barnes, Adam Taliaferro and Freeholder Heather Simmons, all Democrats, and their Republican challengers Michael Pantaleo, Penni Heritage and Barbara Capelli.
Also in tow were Fourth District state Senate candidates Giancarlo D’Orazio, a Republican and Democrat Sen. Fred Madden, and General Assembly hopefuls Republicans Shelly Lovett and Patricia Fratticcioli, and Democrats Gabriela Mosquera and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty. (Romalino, Gloucester County Times)
New Jersey bill seeks to expand domestic-violence restraining order to protect animals
Victims of domestic violence in New Jersey may soon have one less reason to stay with their abusive partners.
A bill that would expand domestic-violence restraining orders to protect animals emerged from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month and may be voted on by the end of the year, according to Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D., Cape May).
The bill is also awaiting a vote in the Assembly.
“When partners are having really severe problems with each other, the pet is used as a pawn in that process,” said Van Drew, who sponsored the measure with Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr. (R., Union). (Brill, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Working group rejects revolving loan program to fund clean energy
For the past few months, Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon has often talked about creating a new revolving loan program to pay for New Jersey’s clean energy initiative, a move that could eliminate, or at least reduce, a sometimes hefty surcharge on customers’ gas and electric bills now used to fund the effort.
But in a surprising development, a working group handpicked by the state agency is suggesting a revolving loan program may not be the best way to finance energy efficiency projects, certainly not immediately, according to a report released yesterday. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Cherry Hill is battling a proposed charter school
Cherry Hill school officials are fighting to stop the opening of a charter school in the township, the latest sign of growing tension in New Jersey between traditional public schools and charters.
Cherry Hill, one of the largest districts in the state, is appealing to the state Board of Education the approval this month of the Regis Academy Charter School, saying the loss in state funding to public schools would force teacher layoffs and program cuts. (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Camden will get a big chunk of state aid for another year
Despite Gov. Christie’s goal of weaning Camden off state aid, more than two-thirds of the city’s budget will be funded by Trenton again this fiscal year.
Camden will receive $61.4 million in transitional aid, which goes to New Jersey’s most economically distressed cities, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced late Friday. (Vargas, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Atlantic City casino revenue drops less than 1 percent in September
After nearly five years of plunging revenue caused by ever-growing competition in nearby states, Atlantic City’s casinos are regaining their footing.
Revenue at the 11 gambling halls fell less than 1 percent in September, a heartening development in the nation’s second-largest gambling resort, where revenues have been falling for nearly five years.
The casinos took in $294.7 million, which was down just 0.6 percent from September 2010. (The Associated Press)
NJSIAA seeks ticket price hike
The NJSIAA submitted its request for higher ticket prices to state championship events to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education this week, hoping to take at least a small bite out of a projected $405,000 shortfall in its 2011-2012 budget.
“It would certainly bring us a lot closer than we are right now,” Steve Timko, the executive director of the NJSIAA, said about the higher ticket prices.
Under a state law written by Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), the NJSIAA must get the approval of the Commissioner of Education to charge higher ticket prices for state championship events at major venues like MetLife Stadium, Rutgers and The College of New Jersey. (Schutta, The Record)
NJSIAA pairs with coalition to promote driver safety
In reaction to the death of four Mainland Regional High School football players in an August automobile accident, the NJSIAA is taking action to try to improve driver safety for teenagers.
The NJSIAA will pair with the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition to produce a pamphlet for athletic directors and coaches to help them emphasize driver safety to athletes, the organization announced Wednesday. (Anastasia, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie likes Romney’s Day 1 plan
Why does Gov. Chris Christie like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president? Two words: executive experience.
Christie said Romney is the only GOP candidate with a plan for Day 1 in the Oval Office. Christie is endorsing Romney because he’s the candidate most reflective of the core conservative values: lower taxes, smaller government, less debt and deficit, liberty for growth, and “opportunity for everybody.” (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Princeton-area charter school, 3 districts argue before administrative law judge
The battle over charter schools in New Jersey was brought into focus today before an administrative law judge hearing a case involving a Princeton-area charter that intends to open in September 2012.
The Princeton International Academy Charter School this summer sued the Princeton Regional, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional and South Brunswick school districts. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
EDA OKs tax credit for Goya
The Economic Development Authority today approved an Urban Transit Hub tax credit of more than $80 million over 10 years for Goya Foods that is designed to help preserve and create jobs.
EDA CEO Caryn Franzini said 369 jobs at the Spanish foods manufacturing company were at risk. “We want it (Goya foods) to continue to be made in New Jersey.” (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Christie ‘can’t imagine’ VP call from Romney
Would he be Mitt Romney’s number two? Chris Christie said it’s not a question he has to answer yet.
“I can’t imagine that happening,” Christie said today when asked whether he would obliged if drafted by Romney for the veep spot. “I don’t have to worry about that now because I can’t imagine that happening.” (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Christie endorsement invaluable for Romney
“Governor Chris Christie STANDS WITH MITT,” the web-site cash solicitation beckons. “Will you?”
Shortly before Christie formally endorsed Mitt Romney on Tuesday, a photo of a smiling Christie, his hair flattened and gelled as if Romney’s own barber groomed him, was posted on the Romney For President website, just above a “donate” button.
It said it all. Christie, the self-described “principled conservative” was saying it’s OK for nervous donors to e-pledge their cash and fealty to the suspect conservative, the shape-shifter with a profile chiseled out of central casting. Christie was embracing the cool Romney with his hot buzz — before it faded into a campaign footnote. (Stile, The Record)
Christie’s won’t stick his neck out in a losing effort
Governor Christie fanned great expectations as a potential presidential candidate.
But as commander in chief of the New Jersey Republican Party’s Nov. 8 campaign for the Legislature, Christie is tamping down expectations.
Christie stayed out of the presidential race because there was a good chance he was going to lose everything — the primaries, his big momentum in Jersey, maybe even his reelection bid.
He’s staying on the sidelines in the legislative races because there is little chance that the GOP is going to win enough seats to recapture majority control of the Legislature. (Stile, The Record)
Even if New Jersey legalizes sports betting, the illegal kind will persist
Those who study such matters estimate that Americans wager nearly $380 billion annually on athletic events.
Football and basketball are the big attractions. Baseball does OK. Hockey, not so much.
But anyone with an itch to put some money down on an athletic contest will usually find someone willing to take the action.
That someone is called a bookmaker. (Anastasia, The Philadelphia Inquirer)