Morning News Digest: October 16, 2012


Morning News Digest: October 16, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Christie on the trail

Gov. Chris Christie will hit the road again Tuesday to begin a two day fundraising swing.

Tuesday, he heads to New York for a 1:15 p.m. fundraiser for GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Wednesday Christie will jet to Green Bay, Wis., where he will help raise cash for Republican Senatorial candidate Tommy Thompson.  Later in the day, the governor will head to Indiana for an early afternoon rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence.  In the evening Christie headlines two events in honor of Republican candidate for Senate Richard Mourdock.

The governor’s full schedule is below.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Devine says he’s out of Perth Amboy mayoral contest

Excoriated for calling incumbent Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz intellectually ill-suited to lead, embattled campaign strategist Jim Devince told reporters today he is disconnecting himself from Billy Delgado’s mayoral campaign.

To severe the blurry connection, I am removing myself from my role as the strategic adviser for Billy Delgado’s campaign,” Devine wrote. “This will allow Billy Delgado to continue advancing his message of hope and change for economic progress, government reform and true accountability in Perth Amboy. He is on a path to victory and I have no doubt that voters will elect him.”

Two sources close to the campaign said Delgado’s departure will now enable Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) and Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman to publicly endorse Delgado, possibly as early as Wednesday.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Veterans’ group endorses Adler

Shelley Adler, candidate for Congress (NJ-03), has won the endorsement of Veterans’ Vision, a national veterans public policy advocacy publication, citing that she would be a strong advocate for veterans in Washington. 

Veterans’ Vision endorsed fifty-six candidates for seats in the United States House of Representatives equally splitting endorsements between Democratic and Republican Party candidates.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Poll: Obama maintains lead over Romney in N.J.

The national momentum for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney after the first presidential debate appears not to have reached New Jersey, according to a poll released this morning that shows President Obama retaining a comfortable lead in the Garden State.

The Quinnipiac University poll shows Obama leading Romney by among likely voters by eight points, 51 percent to 43 percent. A Quinnipiac poll released on September 6 showed Obama up seven points over Romney, 51 percent to 44 percent.

“It’s still a blue state and the color didn’t fade after the first presidential debate,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “President Barack Obama’s lead among likely voters is still in the single digits. Not overwhelming, but it’s enough and doesn’t seem to be changing.”  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Menendez enjoys significant lead against Kyrillos, poll shows

Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has significantly increased his lead over Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

Menendez leads Kyrillos by 18 points, 55 percent to 37 percent. That’s a big improvement from last month, when Menendez led by 10 points, 50 percent to 40 percent.

Fifty-three percent approve of Menendez’s job performance and 47 percent percent view him favorably, compared to 26 percent who view him unfavorably.

A quarter of voters don’t know enough about Menendez to have an opinion, while a majority — 58 percent — say the same about Kyrillos.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Christie predicting another strong debate performance for Romney

Governor Christie said a few days before the last presidential debate that GOP hopeful Mitt Romney would score a decisive victory and turn around the trajectory of the presidential campaign, a prediction that largely came true after the Oct. 3 debate in Colorado.

Now, he’s predicting another strong performance as Romney prepares for tomorrow night’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, saying the former Massachusetts governor is getting “better and better as we go along here.”

Christie was asked about the importance  of the second debate for Romney during an event this morning with GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County.  (Reitmeyer, The Record)



Christie tells diner patrons to vote for ‘my friend Joe’ Kyrillos

Governor Christie has been campaigning for GOP candidates throughout the country this fall, but he stopped Monday at a diner near Princeton to give a boost to  Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Kyrillos.

The governor and Kyrillos walked through the Princetonian Diner, with Christie urging patrons to vote for “my friend Joe” as many asked the popular governor to pose for a picture or sign an autograph.

Kyrillos, a veteran state lawmaker from Monmouth County, is trying to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of North Bergen. But Kyrillos is trailing in the polls — with many voters still unaware of who he is —  and only has three weeks to make up the gap against Menendez.  (Reitmeyer, The Record)



N.J. minimum wage resolution gets hearing

Senate Democratic leaders argued Monday that the state’s minimum wage needs future regular increases – and are banking on the state’s residents agreeing with them.

Under a resolution proposed by Senate President Steve Sweeney, voters would face a question on the 2013 ballot proposing an amendment to the Constitution to not only raise the minimum wage by $1 to $8.25, but also to tie future increases to the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation.

In a state where high numbers of unemployed residents are seeking low-paying jobs or second jobs, Sweeney said his plan would help those people out of poverty while ensuring regular incremental raises rather than erratic hikes.

“There is a misperception out there that the minimum wage is for high school kids looking to make a few bucks over the summer. That is entirely false,” Sweeney said at a three-hour hearing by the Senate Budget Committee.  (Fletcher, The Record)



Donations to N.J. congressional campaigns made public

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez entered the home stretch of his reelection campaign with $8.3 million in the bank, but challenger Joe Kyrillos had a single Republican donor put down $250,000 to help him, campaign filings made public Monday showed.

In the 9th District House race in North Jersey, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of Paterson raised $350,000 while a single supporter is spending $470,000 to help his Republican opponent, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood.

The large donations epitomize the world of campaign finance in 2012, with individuals barred from giving more than $5,000 directly to candidates, but free to spend unlimited amounts through SuperPACs.  (Jackson, The Record)



NCAA moves championships from N.J. due to sports gambling law

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will relocate five championships from New Jersey after the state adopted regulations for sports wagering at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

NCAA rules prohibit holding any championship session in a state with legal wagering that’s based on single-game betting involving a point spread or money line.

While sports gambling is still prohibited in New Jersey by a 1992 federal law, the state has filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. Yesterday’s action by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement will allow casinos and racetracks to apply for licenses to provide sports wagering starting Jan. 9, 2013, with the applications costing $50,000.   (Matuszewski, Bloomberg)



No takers yet on sports betting in N.J.

Though New Jersey gaming regulators today began accepting applications from casinos and racetracks to establish sports wagering, it’s unclear when the state’s properties will permit gamblers to place bets, as none have applied for licenses yet.

Dennis Drazin, who heads the group that manages Monmouth Park, said in an e-mail the track plans to submit an application soon, and implement sports wagering as early as January, when the DGE is slated to approve and distribute licenses.

But Drazin is the lone operator who has been vocal about pursuing a license to allow sports betting, even though New Jersey enacted a law to legalize the practice back in January.

In July, Revel Entertainment CEO Kevin DeSanctis said he would consider moving forward into sports betting as long as the state’s rules aren’t challenged by a professional sports league. Currently, the rules are being challenged in federal court by five of them.  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Bonding together

Borrowing measures aren’t always embraced by New Jersey’s business community, but a group of nearly 200 corporations, associations, unions and schools is working to build support for the $750 million higher education bond referendum appearing on next month’s ballot.

Supporters of the measure, which include Public Service Enterprise Group Chief Executive Ralph Izzo, say greater investment in New Jersey’s schools can develop public-private partnerships, cultivate a better-educated labor pool and deter employers from taking jobs across state lines.

The ballot question appears just weeks after Roche announced it would build a new research center in New York’s Alexandria Center for Life Science, rejecting overtures from New Jersey, which does not yet have such a hub in place.  (Caliendo, NJBIZ)



Kyrillos says he’d be a better fir for N.J. than Menendez in Senate

U.S. Senate candidate Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. says the economic maladies facing the nation arrived in New Jersey first — and contends that since he’s helped Gov. Chris Christie grapple with similar issues at home, he’s equipped to repeat that task in Washington.

Kyrillos, a longtime Republican state senator from Monmouth County, said in a visit with Gannett newspapers’ editorial board members at the Asbury Park Press that “the country’s failing” but U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez won’t deliver a needed new economic direction.

“All the challenges that affected New Jersey — people leaving the state, companies not expanding here, not growing here, choosing to set up shop in California or New England or abroad, they’re all affecting the country now,” Kyrillos said. “We saw it in New Jersey already. You wrote about it for the last decade. All these same challenges now affect the country as a whole. We’re seeing in essence the New Jersey-ization of the country. And we’ve seen the movie, so we’ve got to get competitive.”  (Symons, Asbury Park Press)



9th District candidate Boteach talks taxes, term limits in editorial board meeting

If Rabbi Shmuley Boteach unseats Congressman Bill Pascrell, he doesn’t plan on becoming a career politician.

The Englewood Republican said he’d like to see term limits put in place and he has serious concerns about gerrymandering, the practice of stacking a legislative district to favor one party over another.

Boteach is challenging Pascrell, D-Paterson, in the heavily Democratic 9th District, which was reconfigured after New Jersey lost a Congressional seat following the 2010 census.  (Hayes, The Record)



GOP leader’s widow seeks to keep 26th Assembly District seat

The sudden death at the end of the last legislative session of Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce, R-Morris, left a gaping hole in the “red” 26th Legislative District that GOP committee members decided overwhelmingly to fill by appointing DeCroce’s widow.

Betty Lou DeCroce left a much higher-paying job in state government to fill her late husband’s seat but wants to stay in the Assembly. She is opposed by Democrat Joseph Raich, who unsuccessfully challenged her husband last November.

This is an all-Parsippany battle to complete the unexpired term to represent the district, which is centered in Morris County and also includes portions of Essex and Passaic counties.  (Kassel, NJ Spotlight)



Land preservation bills released from Assembly commmittee

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released three related land preservation bills totaling more than $120 million today. The vote was unanimous.

A Senate committee released the same bills earlier in the day.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Flood area delineation bill advances

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released two bills today related to flood area delineations and contaminated sites.

A3262: This bill amends the “Flood Hazard Area Control Act” to direct the Department of Environmental Protection to take certain actions concerning delineations of flood hazard areas and floodways. The vote was 6-0-1 with Assemblyman Scott Rudder abstaining.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Assembly Labor Committee releases disclosure bill

The Assembly Labor Committee released bill A3365, which would require an employer to provide a disclosure statement prior to the job seeker accepting employment, or, if requested by the job seeker, provide a copy of the disclosure statement at any time before or after the job seeker accepts employment.

The vote, 6-3, was along party lines, with Democrats voting yes, and Republicans no.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Senate committee struggles to gain traction for cleaner vehicles

Few dispute the notion that New Jersey needs to expand efforts to usher in a new era of cleaner vehicles, a step advocates say will improve air quality and potentially create tens of thousands of well-paying, green jobs.

Now comes the hard part.

How is the state going to achieve that goal? Who will pay for it? Which alternative fuels should be selected for state backing? And what mechanism should the state use to spur growth in this sector? Awarding tax credits to consumers who buy vehicles? Diverting other state revenues to the effort? Or by granting exemptions from state sales taxes?  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Bill aims to block HMO cuts in Medicaid reimbursements

A state Senate committee has moved to set up roadblocks in the face of reimbursement cuts planned by HMOs that oversee New Jersey’s Medicaid program.

Often-emotional testimony by health-care providers and workers helped convince the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee that cuts by Horizon NJ Health and the other HMOs would hit services for the frail elderly, children with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.

The committee already was inclined to act as its chairman, Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) sponsored legislation — S2241 — with Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) to require state administrative approval before the HMOs can lower reimbursements.  (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)



N.J. Assembly panel clears bill to punish airport security breaches

An Assembly panel released a bill that would allow state prosecutors to bring charges against people who sneak through airport security, calling for tougher penalties than what a Rutgers doctoral student received after he disrupted global travel by bidding his girlfriend a surreptitious last goodbye.

The bill, A606, was inspired by a January 2010 incident at Newark Liberty International Airport involving 28-year-old Haisong Jiang, who was fined $658 and ordered to do 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a disorderly persons offense. By sneaking under a security ribbon at a vacated post, Jiang prompted a six-hour shutdown of Newark Liberty that had a ripple effect around the world.

“The commotion that he created required more than 100 hours of community service,” said Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), one of the bill’s sponsors.  (Strunsky, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. Senate panel OKs sports, concert tickets’ bill

A bill aimed at better protecting consumers buying sports and concert tickets passed a Senate panel Monday, but pitted consumer advocates against the operators of venues who say the measure will drive performers away from New Jersey.

Sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, the bill would allow consumers to transfer paperless tickets to others, but would also require venues to provide information about the number of tickets performers and teams hold back from normal sales.

The move comes as increasing attention is being paid to sophisticated new scalping practices that employ sophisticated computer programs, called “bots,” that can snatch up thousands of tickets moments after they go on sale. The bill would work to prohibit that.  (Campisi, The Record)



Assembly bill moved to require NYPD to inform NJ of surveillance in Garden State

A bill that would require the New York Police Department to alert state officials before conducting surveillance inside New Jersey was unanimously approved by an Assembly panel Monday.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, told the Assembly’s Homeland Security Committee that requiring out-of-state police agencies to provide advance notification is a matter of respect and safety.

Agencies should “respect us enough and notify us that they’re coming in to conduct a surveillance,” he said. Mainor, also a detective with the Jersey City Police Department, added that the notification is necessary to ensure law enforcement officials are aware of one another’s presence.  (Linhorst, The Record)



N.J. Assembly panel OKs higher penalties for human trafficking

The Assembly Judiciary Committee cleared a measure that would increase penalties for human trafficking in advance of the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium despite constitutional concerns raised by two lawmakers.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, introduced the measure, which calls for a $25,000 fine for anyone convicted of a crime associated with human trafficking, saying that human trafficking usually increases in advance of large sporting events.

The money would be used to fund initiatives to help human trafficking victims.  (Campisi, The Record)



New Jersey’s first medical-marijuana dispensary wins clearance to begin selling

New Jersey’s first medical marijuana dispensary has been cleared to begin selling the drug to patients who register with the state Department of Health.

After weeks of setbacks, Greenleaf Compassion Center received a permit Monday to open for business in a former drug paraphernalia shop in Montclair, Essex County. The nonprofit organization will be allowed to offer only strains with reduced potency.

Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd said Greenleaf had passed its final inspections, but could not say when the dispensary would open for business. Asked if it would do so before the end of the year, she said: “I would expect that.”

In August, when patients could begin signing up, O’Dowd had anticipated that Greenleaf would start dispensing marijuana in September. On Monday, she would say only that Greenleaf would open when it was ready.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Right on schedule, environmental coalition takes National Park Service to court

As expected, a coalition of conservation groups in two states yesterday filed suit in federal court challenging the approval by the National Park Service (NPS) of a much-contested high-voltage power line cutting through parts of three national parks.

The lawsuit, anticipated ever since the NPS approved the $1 billion project last month, hopes to overturn a decision by the federal agency allowing two utilities to expand a transmission line cutting through the heart of the New Jersey Highlands, an area that provides drinking water to more than half of the state’s residents.

The controversy revolves around the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line, a 145-mile line stretching from Pennsylvania to Roseland in Essex County, a project advocates say will improve reliability on the regional power grid and reduce costs to consumers by easing congestion on power lines.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



New Jersey case may upend home loan discrimination rules

The remaining structures form a patchwork amid vacant lots, where once there were row upon row of houses built for New Jersey’s returning World War II veterans and their growing families.

Some boarded-up homes have red signs tacked on the front saying “Owned by Mount Holly Township — NO TRESPASSING.” Others have signs, in the style of a real estate agent’s, that say “This House NOT For Sale.”

A fight between the government and residents of what remains of Mount Holly Gardens has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which may decide in the next several weeks whether to take up a case with nationwide implications for the housing industry. The court deferred action on the case today.

Civil rights advocates are battling the industry over whether the 1968 Fair Housing Act authorizes discrimination suits even without allegations of intentional bias. Lower courts have said suits can claim that a government policy or company lending practice has a discriminatory effect, known as “disparate impact,” even if that wasn’t the intent.   (Doughety, Stohr and Dopp, Bloomberg)



NJ parents petition state for better education for children

The parents of three Camden public school students filed a petition Monday asking the state Department of Education to immediately transfer their children to higher-performing schools at state expense, arguing that Camden had failed to meet New Jersey’s constitutional requirement of providing a “thorough and efficient” education.

The petition was filed in the hope of eventually getting educational “relief” for most of Camden’s 15,000 students, who are attempting to learn in some of the worst schools in the state, Patricia Bombelyn, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said Monday.

The parents, their attorneys, and advocates for charter schools and voucher programs have asked the state to use the roughly $22,000 per pupil it spends in Camden to fund the children’s education at better-performing schools, whether private schools in the district or public schools elsewhere.  (Vargas, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Big charter network looks south to Camden for expansion

The Urban Hope Act has drawn a lot of attention to Camden and plans for its public schools.

But another story line is the opportunity the new law is affording the TEAM network of charter schools that are at the center of the city’s most prominent proposal.

Part of the national Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) model made famous in Houston and New York City, the TEAM Charter Schools network has not-so-slowly become a dominant charter network in New Jersey, with its five schools now operating in Newark with more than 2,000 students.

From its modest roots as one of New Jersey’s first charter schools more than a decade ago, the Newark campus has become a small district unto itself and is slated to double in size in the coming years, to as many as 10 schools overall, said its president and director, Ryan Hill.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



No new toll increase, but no service area upgrades either, turnpike authority chief says

No new toll increases are planned for the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, but motorists shouldn’t expected rest areas to undergo major upgrades until near the end of the decade, the Turnpike Authority’s executive director told the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday.

Veronique Hakim said the state’s dated service areas will not get a redo until at least 2018, when the first contracts with the service area operators expire.

She faced some criticism from Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Union, who said she is struck by the buildings’ age and appearance.  (Linhorst, The Record)




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Simon v. Corfield in LD 16

In the much-watched LD 16 contest, incumbent Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16) leads Democratic Party challenger Marie Corfield in the money race.

Simon raised $253,066 and has $123,338 cash on hand.

Corfield, a teacher by trade, raised $65,409 and enters the closing weeks of the campaign with $18,896 cash on hand.

Two Democratic Party sources told that Corfield is having trouble raising money from her party, which worries about having to bankroll her re-election next year against a GOP ticket topped by Republican Gov. Chris Christie.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Minimum truth: N.J. Senate Republican’s lie on minimum wage support

Here’s a little snippet that helps explain why no one trusts politicians: They lie.

Today’s example comes from the Senate Republicans in Trenton, who are doing all they can to prevent an increase in the minimum wage. So they sent out a mass e-mail this afternoon under the heading, “Major Newspapers Pan Plan to Write Minimum Wage into Constitution.”

And to my great surprise, there was The Star-Ledger editorial from Oct. 7, which I wrote. The surprise was that we endorsed the idea.  (Moran, The Star-Ledger)


Morning News Digest: October 16, 2012