Morning News Digest: October 19, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Booker endorses Diaz in battleground mayor’s race
Mayor Cory Booker today at a breakfast rally endorsed Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz for re-election.
“Wilda Diaz has turned around a city that was on the verge of bankruptcy and mired in debt and corruption only four short years ago,” said Booker, speaking at the Raritan Yahct Club. “Whether it is cutting the municipal debt by more than a quarter, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in investments or passing the strongest ethics reforms in city history, Wilda Diaz has clearly demonstrated that she is improving the quality of life for every single one of her residents. As a fellow mayor, I am proud to stand with Wilda, Fernando Irizarry and Lisa Nanton and proud to support them this November.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Former director of NJ Division of Taxation sentenced
Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that the former Director of the New Jersey Division of Taxation and an Assistant Deputy Director were sentenced today for accepting lavish gifts from a collections company, OSI Collections Services Inc., while continuing to take action on the company’s contracts with the state to collect unpaid taxes. The two men were found guilty of official misconduct in July following a bench trial. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Disgraced developer Dwek gets 72 months
Monmouth County real estate developer Solomon Dwek was sentenced today to 72 months in prison in connection with his scheme to defraud PNC Bank of more than $50 million, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Dwek, 40, pleaded guilty in October 2009 before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an Information charging him with one count each of bank fraud and money laundering. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
‘Smile’ prohibition frowned upon: poll
N.J. voters frown on the ban on smiling for driver’s license photos, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released today.
They disapprove 62-17 percent on the prohibition, the poll showed.
The strongest call for the right to smile, 69–15 percent, is among voters making more than $250,000 per year, the independent Quinnipiac poll found. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Christies earned $567,772 in 2011, tax return shows
Governor Christie and his wife reported their highest earnings yet since he sought the state’s highest office in 2009.
Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, earned a combined $567,772 last year, up $118,165 from 2010 and closer to the $544,047 they made in 2009, according to a joint tax return released by the governor’s office Thursday.
The couple paid $141,158 in federal taxes in 2011, about 25 percent of their earnings, up $25,086 from 2010.
They paid $32,770 in state taxes in 2011, close to 6 percent of their earnings, up $2,937 from the year before. (Staff, The Record)
Christie faces decision on health-care exchange
Gov. Christie must decide whether he wants the state or the federal government to manage a website that will compare the price of health-benefit plans in New Jersey, an element of President Obama’s health-care overhaul.
A bill that establishes basic parameters for the online resource, known as a health-care exchange, if run by the state received final approval Thursday from the Assembly in a 44-33 vote with two abstentions. The measure was passed by the Senate earlier this month.
Christie, who vetoed similar legislation in May, said he would decide after the Nov. 6 election whether to create a state-run site. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he would repeal Obama’s changes to health care. (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie attending Pennsylvania fundraisers before Virgina rally for Romney
Governor Christie will help raise money for Pennsylvania congressional candidates Thursday before heading to Virginia for a rally for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Christie will raise money for the Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee at 5 p.m. today before attending a fundraiser for the Pennsylvania House Republican Campaign Committee at 6:30 p.m. Both events are in West Conshohocken, Pa.
On Friday, Christie will attend a campaign rally for Romney in Richmond, Va. at 5 p.m. Christie headlined a fundraiser for Romney in New York City Tuesday afternoon.
The governor has been in high demand as a campaign surrogate and fundraiser. As vice chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, he’s travelled the country campaigning for GOP gubernatorial and congressional candidates, in addition to his appearances for and with Romney. (Hayes, The Record)
Christie stumpin’ for McMahon
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making the rounds, stumping for Republican candidates nationally, and that includes stops in Connecticut.
He’s set for appearances on Monday with former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, who is running as the Republican candidate against Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy for the Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn.
Christie’s arrival in the state will bring back recollections of headlines Christie made early last year when he poked at Democratic Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s plan to raise taxes by saying, “I’ll be waiting at the border to take to take Connecticut’s jobs when he does it.” Malloy later responded, “I suppose I’m the anti-Christie.” (House, National Journal)
N.J. lost 1,200 jobs in August
New Jersey’s unemployment rate has stabilized at a high point, economists warned Thursday as new state figures showed only a fractional drop in jobless residents.
The jobless rate fell slightly to 9.8 percent in September from 9.9 percent in August, but the state also lost 1,200 jobs, officials announced Thursday. New Jersey’s rate sits two full points above the nation’s.
Since hitting 9.8 percent and a 35-year high in July, the rate moved up to 9.9 percent in August before ticking down last month. Economists saw the three-month picture as more than a blip.
“The state’s jobs recovery has three speeds: slow, park and reverse. It has been in park since May,” said Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at financial advisors CohnReznick. (Fletcher, The Record)
Unemployment rate drops despite N.J.’s shrinking public payroll
New Jersey’s private-sector employers added 1,100 jobs in September, while the state’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percent, but public-sector employment dropped by 2,300, more than offsetting the private-sector gains, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced.
According to today’s announcement, total employment fell by 1,200, while the August employment gain was revised downward by 3,000 jobs, from 5,300 to 2,300. The unemployment rate is now 9.8 percent. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
New Jersey schedules record $2.6 billion note sale to repay loan
New Jersey plans to sell $2.6 billion in notes this month, its largest-ever short-term debt sale, to repay a loan from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and bolster cash flow, said a spokesman for the state treasurer.
The offer of tax-and-revenue anticipation notes is $450 million more than the $2.15 billion borrowed last fiscal year. It would also be the most since New Jersey sold $2.65 billion in two separate deals under Republican Governor Chris Christie’s predecessor, one-term Democrat Jon Corzine, in fiscal 2006.
“We’re going to do $2.6 billion this year to pay off a $2.1 billion line of credit we’ve already drawn on with Bank of America,” Andy Pratt, a spokesman for Treasurer Andrew Sidamon- Eristoff, said in a telephone interview. “The rest of it will go towards continuing cash-flow needs throughout the year.” (Dopp and Kaske, Bloomberg)
Redrawn map unlikely to hurt Congressman’s reelection chances
For the past decade, most of Hudson County has been in New Jersey’s 13th Congressional District. But the 2010 U.S. Census dictated a reduction in the number of seats the state has in Congress, reducing it to 12.
Something had to change. In the redistricting that followed, most of what was the 13th ended up in the newly-drawn 8th District, a winding sliver of territory along the Hudson River that jumps the Newark Bay to cross into Elizabeth and circles around parts of Jersey City and Bayonne that are in the 10th District.
But the newly drawn 8th District seems to epitomize the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Since the district covers much of the territory of the old 13th District, it appears to set up (Mallnconico, NJ Spotlight)
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/10/17/redrawn-map-unlikely-to-hurt-congressman-s-reelection-chances/ for a cakewalk to re-election.
Lunsford Act held from a vote
A bill that calls for mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years to life for people convicted of sexually assaulting children was held from a vote on the Assembly floor.
The Jessica Lunsford Act, A2027, didn’t come up for a vote Thursday during the Assembly voting session. It’s sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-21). (Arco, State Street Wire)
Assembly passes bills involving water rate hikes and care for community care center residents
The Assembly passed bills today involving proposed water rate increases, protections for community care center residents, and cooperative purchasing agreements. (Staff, State Street Wire)
N.J. Assembly OKs bills to create health care exchanges, require notice of surveillance
A bill creating a state health insurance marketplace cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday, passing the Assembly on a largely party-line vote.
The bill now heads to Gov. Christie, who vetoed similar legislation in May and has said he will wait until after the November election before deciding what to do next.
Under the legislation, the state would create its own online marketplace to help small businesses and some consumers buy health insurance coverage. The bill already passed the state Senate, where it received no Republican support.
Under President Obama’s health care overhaul, New Jersey has until Nov. 16 to declare whether it will create that statewide marketplace or will join a federal program instead. (Linhorst, The Record)
Bill responding to NYPD spying advances in NJ
Out-of-state law enforcement agencies that wish to conduct counterterrorism surveillance operations in New Jersey would be required to notify state officials under a bill approved Thursday by the New Jersey Assembly.
Sponsor Charles Mainor, an assemblyman who is also a Jersey City police officer, said the measure was introduced in response to revelations that the New York Police Department had conducted surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey without notifying local authorities.
Mainor, a Hudson County Democrat, said Thursday he wanted to remind people that the spying was an affront to New Jersey residents, regardless of their religion. “No doubt we must protect our country against the threat of terrorism, but not at the expense of civil liberties,” he said. (Henry, Associated Press)
N.J. Legislature passes Tara’s Law, improving oversight of foster homes for disabled adults
A bill that would strengthen oversight of New Jersey’s 600 adult foster homes and the 1,200 people with developmental disabilities who live in them won final passage in the Legislature today.
The Assembly passed Tara’s Law (S599) by a 78-0 vote, and now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
The bill is named for 28-year-old Tara O’Leary, who died in 2008 from starvation and neglect while she was under the care of a licensed foster home or “community care residence” in Bloomsbury. A state case management also was supposed to making monthly visits to O’Leary, who died weighing 43 pounds. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
Bill would bar N.J. public colleges from allowing credit card companies to solicit students
Public colleges and universities in New Jersey would be prohibited from allowing credit card companies to directly solicit students under legislation passed by the state Assembly today.
The bill (A1688), approved 73-1 with five abstentions, is intended to prevent credit card companies from targeting students while providing colleges with millions of dollars in return. (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)
Newark teachers contract, a game-changer for NJ’s often-troubled school district
It is touted as a historic agreement, one that will remake how Newark teachers are judged and paid — one that may even serve as a model for other school districts around the country.
Announced yesterday, the tentative contract between the state-run Newark public school system and the 3,100-member Newark Teachers Union was hailed by such disparate players as Gov. Chris Christie and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
Among its (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/10/19/newark-teachers-contract-a-game-changer-for-nj-s-often-troubled-school-district/: performance bonuses, peer reviews, and the first steps to end to the salary guides that all but guarantee a raise every year.
State Sen. Buono kicks off young women’s leadership program
The fourth class of state Sen. Barbara Buono’s Young Women’s Leadership Program met for the first time on Thursday at an orientation session at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics. The program is geared toward encouraging participation in politics and public service among the next generation of New Jersey women.
“This diverse group of young women represents some of the best and brightest that New Jersey has to offer for the future,” said Buono (D-Middlesex). “They are poised to become their generation’s leaders and I hope that this inside look at the day-to-day work of a legislator will encourage them to seek public office.” (Staff, Asbury Park Press)
6 Perth Amboy mayoral hopefuls debate over taxes, Landings, library
The city’s six mayoral candidates gave voters a sense of where they stand on issues such as property taxes, attracting small businesses, the Landings at Harborside development, jobs and the library during a spirited debate before a large crowd Thursday at the high school.
Mayor Wilda Diaz, who is completing her first term, is being challenged by Billy Delgado, Sharon Hubberman, Robert McCoy, Miguel Morales and Frank Salado in the Nov. 6 nonpartisan election. And the one issue most of the candidates agreed on is that a change to partisan elections may be needed so voters won’t have to choose from such a large field again. (Russell, Asbury Park Press)
Fed approval for NY/NJ gas pipeline stands
Federal environmental officials have declined to reconsider their approval of a 16-mile natural gas pipeline across portions of northern New Jersey and into New York City.
A spokesman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the decision was made at the agency’s meeting Thursday in Washington.
The pipeline, being built by Spectra Energy Corp., will run from Staten Island through parts of Linden, Bayonne, Jersey City and offshore in Hoboken into Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood.
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and other opponents of the project had challenged FERC’s approval on several grounds, from environmental concerns to an accusation the agency failed to properly notify affected homeowners. (Associated Press)
Helping consumers comparison shop for power
The state wants to make it easier for consumers in New Jersey to pay less on their electric bills by making it less difficult to find the cheapest suppliers of power.
In a bill () approved unanimously by the Assembly yesterday, the measure would direct the New Jersey Board of Utilities to adopt regulations requiring electricity suppliers to provide information to customers to compare prices and services.
The proposal mirrors an effort already underway at the state agency to copy a (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/10/18/helping-consumers-comparison-shop-for-power/ widely regarded as a model for providing information to residents and businesses about choosing a new energy supplier.
New Jersey Grand Prix race stalls for a year
Plans to hold the first Formula One race in the New York City metropolitan area have been shelved for a year, with the race now scheduled to be run in 2014, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The highly anticipated race was to be held in Weehawken and West New York, N.J., in June, but was postponed to allow more time for construction work, one of the people said.
The state and race officials had said recently that the event would go forward as scheduled. But money could be an issue, as race organizers have looked for additional sponsors—including large property owners along the route—according to two people familiar with the talks. The organizers have declined to comment about any possible financial gaps in putting on the Grand Prix. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
Sports authority still gridlocked over impact of American Dream on traffic
The state authority reviewing the American Dream Meadowlands project does not yet have a timetable for its decision in the fight over the proposal’s traffic impact, its head said today.
The New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority met publicly today for the first time since a contentious three-hour hearing last week, during which board members heard vastly different estimates of how much traffic the project would add on game days for the New York Jets and Giants. Experts for the teams, which oppose an expansion of the project, said nearly 8,000 new cars would be on the road in the peak hour after a game, while developer Triple Five said that total is closer to 60. (Burd, NJBIZ)
In South Jersey, manufacturing inches up, but jobs still falling
Manufacturing activity at South Jersey firms expanded in October after five straight months of contraction, though employment in the industry fell to its lowest point in three years, an economist said.
The latest Business Outlook survey today released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia indicated nearly 30 percent of manufacturers saw business activity increase through Oct. 16, outpacing the 23 percent reporting a decline.
But Michael Trebing, an economic analyst for the bank, said “the fact that orders and shipments have not changed much suggest things are still somewhat flat.” (Eder, NJBIZ)
Port Authority: $7.8B promised to repay Trade Center work
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has improved transparency after reforms were enacted in March, and it’s getting back almost $8 billion for work done for other agencies at the World Trade Center site, agency officials said.
The Port Authority has commitments to collect more money owed to it by third parties than the the amount recommended in the audit by Navigant Consulting to keep the agency from being exposed to financial risk, said Patrick Foye, executive director.
“We expect $7.83 billion back; of that we have a firm commitment for 90 percent of it,” said Anthony Hayes, authority spokesman. Of that, $4.75 billion has been received so far, he said. (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
Port Authority to rehabilitate Newark taxiways
The Port Authority’s commissioners have voted to spend $31.5 million on two high-speed taxiways at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Officials say the project will help aircraft maneuver to and from gates more quickly and will cut pollution by reducing idling time.
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni said the old taxiways require planes to slow down to handle right angles. High-speed taxiways are angled more gently.
A Port Authority spokesman said the new taxiways would save about 30 seconds on an average flight. (Associated Press)
From the Back Room
Hendry leaving Senate Dems
Senate Majority Office Executive Director Andrew Hendry is leaving the office for a new role as President and CEO of the New Jersey Utilities Association.
Hendry has held the position since January of 2010. Before that he was an aid to then Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Will the sun shine for Mitt Romney?
Which state is the must-watch harbinger for this year’s election? Is it Ohio, or Iowa, or even Wisconsin? All of those states are keys to victory in one way or another. But the make or break state this year is Florida.
This is not the same situation as the nail-biter in 2000. It is unlikely that Florida’s 29 electoral votes will ultimately be responsible for putting either candidate over the top in this year’s Electoral College count. Florida, though, will determine whether Mitt Romney can win. (Murray for PolitickerNJ)
Election 2012 Primer: Provisional ballots
Many are predicting that provisional ballots could play a crucial role in the 2012 Presidential election, particularly in states with stricter voter identification requirements.
Provisional ballots are provided to voters when their eligibility cannot be verified at the polling location. Following the election fiasco of Bush v. Gore, a federal law was passed mandating that voters be given the option of casting a provisional ballot if they believe that they are entitled to vote in the election. (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)
Christie not a rick star on tax-cut proposal
Governor Christie has done a great job of selling the image of Chris Christie.
But selling his proposed tax cut to the New Jersey public? Not so much.
A poll released Wednesday again found that Christie remains enormously popular with voters, including women who at first were put off by his bombastic persona. He has achieved what few politicians have done in New Jersey with its limited television coverage. He’s a household brand. (Stile, The Record)