Morning News Digest: Monday, November 19, 2012
By Matthew Arco
Loch Arbour on the hook for $700k severance for clerk
Commissioners in the tiny Monmouth County village of Loch Arbour have called a special meeting tomorrow night to discuss the legality of a nearly $700,000 severance package due the municipal clerk should the town merge with one of its neighbors.
The package was approved a year ago by the township’s former board of commissioners and includes a severance payout of two weeks per year of employment – currently 46 week’s salary – a $66,000 payout for 150 days of unused sick and vacation time and lifetime health benefits for clerk Lorraine Carafa and her husband. According to Mayor Paul Fernicola, who outlined the package in a letter to residents, the deal is worth as much as $694,000. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
Rutgers merger approved by boards
Gov. Chris Christie today applauded the approval by Rutgers University’s two governing bodies of the merger of Rutgers and the University of Medicine and Dentistry, saying it will unleash the full potential of the state’s largest university.
Both the 11-member Board of Trustees and the 59-member Board of Governors approved the merger in a joint meeting Monday. (PolitickerNJ)
Closing arguments made in Bencivengo criminal trial
TRENTON – Prosecutors used the words “government by bribe” to describe Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo’s alleged decision to use his official influence in exchange for money Monday morning, asking jurors to return a guilty verdict against the embattled mayor on all five counts.
Bencivengo was in the courtroom again Monday for the fourth and final day of his criminal trial. Prosecutors painted the still-sitting elected official as a cash-strapped mayor hoping to pay off increasing debt by accepting bribes from a former friend and insurance broker for Hamilton schools. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)
Senate Budget Committee passes minimum wage increase bill
TRENTON – The Senate Budget Committee today released the bill to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and link future increases to the cost of living.
In a landscape politically charged by the president’s re-election and environmentally damaged by the Sandy superstorm, the bill’s support and opposition fell largely along partisan lines. (Mooney/State Street Wire)
Pennacchio, other GOP lawmakers sought compromise on minimum wage
TRENTON – Republicans argued unsuccessfully today that the minimum wage hike bill would harm – not help – the economy.
Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, (R-26), Montville, sought an amendment during today’s Senate Budget Committee hearing to consider a bipartisan amendment to address minimum wage concerns, but the motion was voted down in the Democratic-controlled committee. (Mooney/State Street Wire)
The celebrity governor: Gov. Christie lands on Barbara Walters’ ‘fascinating people’ list
TRENTON — David Petraeus. Paris Hilton. Mother Teresa. LeBron James.
And now, Gov. Christie Christie.
On fire after a weekend appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” the New Jersey governor — already a YouTube favorite — racked up even more pop-culture street cred Monday courtesy of Barbara Walters. (Rizzo/ Star-Ledger)
Poll: N.J. residents highly approve of state’s Sandy response
TRENTON — Despite the vast destruction, New Jersey residents overwhelmingly approve of the state and federal government’s response to Hurricane Sandy, according to two polls released this morning.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll of 241 registered voters found 77 percent of respondents thought the state did either an excellent or good job responding to the storm. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)
Christie seeking aid cools feud with Menendez, Lautenberg
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie paced the Princetonian Diner on U.S. Route 1 in mid-October, imploring patrons to pick his Republican ally and friend Joe Kyrillos over incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez.
Just two weeks later, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast, decimating New Jersey’s shoreline, crippling mass transit and cutting power to 8.5 million homes and businesses in 21 states. Eight days after the biggest Atlantic storm in history, Menendez coasted to an 18 percentage-point victory over Kyrillos, a 20-year veteran of the state senate who was chairman of Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign. (Dopp/Bloomberg)
Grapevine: A McGreevey comeback?
A tipster said Jim McGreevey is telling people he’s interested in running for U.S. Senate, but the former governor denied it.
“It’s not zero — it’s negative on my meter in life,” McGreevey said. (NJBIZ)
At conference, panelists focus on value of tourism as economic engine
Gearing up for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in Secaucus, even as the state’s businesses recover from Hurricane Sandy, was the subject of Mdest12, North Jersey’s travel and tourism conference, presented today by the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Among the speakers at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford were Jeff Anding, director of external affairs for the convention and visitors bureau of New Orleans, which will host the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, and Susan Townsend, vice president of visitor services for Visit Indy; Indianapolis hosted the annual football championship game in February 2012. (Fitzgerald/NJBIZ)
Experts on leadership give high marks to Bloomberg, Christie and Cuomo after Superstorm Sandy
NEW YORK — For New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, leadership often came with an empathetic hug. For New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it came with an angry tirade at utilities slow to restore power. For New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it came with cool, businesslike assurance.
Experts in leadership and disaster response interviewed by The Associated Press gave all three chief executives high marks for their performance so far in Superstorm Sandy, a disaster that left more than 100 people dead and presented perhaps the biggest crisis-management test yet for three Northeastern politicians who have all been rumored to hold presidential ambitions. (AP)
N.J. Democrats, consumer advocates urge Gov. Christie to support Medicaid expansion
TRENTON — A Senate panel approved a resolution today that urges Gov. Chris Christie to expand the Medicaid program and extend health coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income and disabled people as part of the federal health care reform law that takes effect in 2014.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the “Affordable Care Act” in June, but it gave governors a choice to decide whether to adopt one aspect that would invite people with slightly higher incomes to enroll in Medicaid. (Livio/Star-Ledger)
Senate panel wants to steer alternative vehicles in the fast lane
The state is moving to accelerate the deployment of refueling stations to promote the use of greener vehicles, including those propelled by natural gas, propane, and electricity.
To help make that happen, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee adopted a trio of proposals yesterday. (Johnson/NJSpotlight)
N.J. nursing initiative sees progress in cutting professor shortage
New Jersey needs nurses to train the next generation of nurses, and a three-year-old program is helping to do just that, state legislators were told on Monday.
Representatives of the New Jersey Nursing Initiative said the program is working to address a projected shortfall in faculty members, which is an obstacle to increasing the total number of nurses in the state. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)
After Obama, Christie wants a GOP hug
A few days after Hurricane Sandy shattered the shores of New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie picked up the phone to take on a different kind of recovery work: taming the Republican Party fury over his effusive embrace of President Obama.
On Nov. 3, Mr. Christie called Rupert Murdoch, the influential News Corporation chief and would-be kingmaker, who had warned in a biting post on Twitter that the governor might be responsible for Mr. Obama’s re-election. (Barbaro/NY Times)
Romney camp is fairly confident that Christie made them lose the election
Mitt Romney has suggested that the presidency was stolen from him by primary debate moderators and President Obama’s devious plan to improve Americans’ lives, but his former staffers know that isn’t the only reason he lost the election.
Chris Christie also deserves some of the blame. (Hartmann/NYMAG)
From the back room
Congratulations to Brent Bramnick and Anne Marie Gibbon
It’s a match made in Union County GOP political heaven.
Brent Bramnick, son of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), has successfully proposed to Anne Marie Gibbons, daughter of GOP fundraiser and 2008 U.S. Senate candidate Anne Estabrook. (PolitickerNJ)
Editorial: Waiting for the Chris Christie-Cory Booker match to ignite
Gov. Chris Christie wowed the “Saturday Night Live” crowd this past weekend, joking about the fleece jacket “fused” to his skin since Hurricane Sandy and sending up his own reputation for rudeness by interrupting host Seth Myers with choice words, chewing out “idiot” mayors who didn’t follow his evacuation orders and ridiculing reporters who ran out in the storm to tell people … there was a storm raging outside. “We don’t need you to tell us there’s a hurricane. We have windows,” Christie snapped. It was all in good fun, and the governor closed by thanking first responders and quoting Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City.” Christie’s performance was catnip for the show’s live audience, who applauded wildly. (Star-Ledger)