Morning Digest: May 1, 2014

Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries slate mate Ramos questions Latino support for Baraka

NEWARK – The campaign of Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries criticized the endorsement on Wednesday by Hudson County Freeholder Junior Maldonado of Jeffries’ mayoral race rival, Ras Baraka.

The focus of the Jeffries campaign’s critique was two-fold, centering on Maldonado’s political history with Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who endorsed Baraka in February, as well as the depth of Baraka’s support in Newark’s growing Latino community.

The Jeffries team produced an April 2005 op-ed letter written by then-council candidate Fulop, who was wrestling with Maldonado for control of downtown Jersey City’s Ward E council seat.

“The fact is that [Maldonado] has no plan to improve the ward at all,” Fulop wrote nine years ago. “If he does, it is a well kept secret.”

Fulop defeated Maldonado in the May 2005 election, beginning an upward political trajectory that has led him to the mayor’s chair in New Jersey’s second-largest city and a potential Democratic candidacy for governor. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries slate mate Ramos questions Latino support for Baraka | Politicker NJ

In the Mack aftermath, Trenton mayoral candidates preparing for a runoff

TRENTON – More than two months after a judge ordered disgraced former Mayor Tony Mack to exit city hall, voters in the state’s capital city are readying to elect a new executive.

Mack, who faces 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced in May after a jury found him guilty earlier this year on six counts of bribery and extortion, reined over the city under a cloud of doubt from critics who lobbed claims from the onset of his term of unethical behavior as the city bore witness to a spike in violent crimes and homicides.

Six candidates are vying for an opportunity to succeed the ousted mayor – James Golden, Eric Jackson, Oliver “Bucky” Leggett, Kathy McBride, Paul Perez and Walker Worthy – as many on the campaign trail concede the race is headed for a runoff election.

A mayoral hopeful needs 50 percent plus one if he or she hopes to avoid the runoff. Otherwise, there’s a race between the top two vote getters.

The latter, most agree, is the more likely of the two outcomes. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

In the Mack aftermath, Trenton mayoral candidates preparing for a runoff | Politicker NJ

Bulked up by endorsements, Sayegh says it’s him versus Torres

PATERSON – They’ve run against each other before, but not like this.

Back then it was Jose “Joey” Torres on the inside and Andre Sayegh in the hinterlands of the 6th Ward clawing to get in.

Now Torres, on the outside, sees the insiders lined up behind the man he once saw as mostly a nuisance, and at least in the context of that 2010 race, little more than a spolier.

But when Torres’ allies walked from campaign headquarters to City Hall on Monday, those forces demonstrated a hard-edged battle line.

Sayegh says he’ll take it.  (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Bulked up by endorsements, Sayegh says it’s him versus Torres | Politicker NJ

Budget math takes a U-turn: Christie blames federal tax law that brought windfall last year

The same federal tax policy that Governor Christie is now blaming for New Jersey’s $807 million budget shortfall helped save his budget last year when he was facing another sizable gap, according to a Record analysis of income tax data.

Last year, budget documents show Christie boosted his income tax projection by $406 million, even as he was lowering the forecast for other state revenues by $812 million.

New Jersey would eventually do even better than Christie had thought once all April and May income tax revenue was counted, taking in a combined $600 million more than was collected over those two months the previous year, according to The Record’s analysis.

At the time, officials from the state Department of Treasury acknowledged that federal tax changes — namely higher rates for the wealthy — played a role in producing the windfall.

But this year, Christie and his administration are saying something entirely different about the same higher tax rates, which were enacted in early 2013 when President Obama and Congress decided to end Bush-era cuts for the nation’s highest income earners to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

Now, it’s those higher federal rates that have brought on New Jersey’s $807 million budget shortfall and thrown the state’s $33 billion budget into disarray with just two months left in the current fiscal year, Christie told reporters at a State House news conference on Tuesday.  (Reitmeyer/The Record)  





N.J. lawmakers press higher education secretary on state aid to colleges

Legislators took Governor Christie’s higher education secretary to task on Thursday for failing to revamp lopsided financing formulas that shortchange some colleges and universities on state aid.

Secretary Rochelle Hendricks conceded that the formula was outdated and in need of an overhaul, but said she hadn’t had time to address the issue despite promising to do so.

“Disparity continues because we don’t have a change in the funding formula,” Hendricks told the state Assembly’s budget committee. “In my naivete I said it could be done last year … but it’s going to take a lot longer.”

Assemblyman Gary Schaer, D-Passaic, who chairs the committee, voiced frustration.

“I don’t understand why year after year the same question is asked but there is no answer,” Schaer said. “I’m looking at some universities getting more than three times what others are getting.”

Schaer noted that Montclair State University, the largest state college in North Jersey, gets less than $2,500 in state aid for each full-time student, compared with more than $8,000 for Rowan University, the largest state college in South Jersey.

A chart citing federal and state data that was provided by Montclair puts its per-pupil state allotment even lower at $1,984; Rowan’s is pegged at $7,084 – higher than Rutgers University at $6,244. According to the data, each degree earned at Rowan has received $30,109 in state subsidies, compared with $5,591 at Kean University, which had the lowest in per-pupil state aid.  (Alex/The Record)  





Gun control bills up in NJ Senate committee Monday

TRENTON — After a month-and-a -half break, the debate over stricter gun-control laws will roil Trenton once again on Monday.

The Senate Law and Public Safety will hold a hearing on two measures: one to reduce the permitted size of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10 (A2006), and the other to clarify circumstances in which drivers can make stops while transporting firearms (A2777).

Families of victims of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., pushed for the magazine limit, noting the shooter used high-capacity magazines.

Gun-rights advocates say the bill will do nothing except punish law-abiding gun owners. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)  


Former Christie campaign staffer subpoenaed by Bridgegate committee

Former Christie for Governor campaign staffer Matt Mowers has been subpoenaed to testify before the legislative committee investigating controversial lane diversions at the George Washington Bridge, the co-chair of the committee confirmed today.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg confirmed Mowers, who has served as the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party since November, was issued the subpoena yesterday. He will testify before the committee on May 13, the date originally set to hear testimony from Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Weinberg said Foye had a scheduling conflict and will appear before the committee in June.

Mowers was one of more than two dozen current and former administration, campaign and Port Authority officials subpoenaed for documents in February and according to reports met with the committee voluntarily once since then. (Isherwood/  



From the Back Room



AFSCME Supervisors back Torres for Mayor of Paterson

AFSCME Local 7434, 7434-A and 7434-B White Collar Supervisor’s Union today announced their endorsement of Jose “Joey” Torres for Mayor of Paterson.

“Through his years of service to the city on the council, as mayor, a lifelong resident and an engaged community leader, Torres has shown his unwavering commitment to the residents of Paterson,” said Joseph J. Mania, President.

“I thank AFSCME Local 7434, 7434-A and 7434-B White Collar Supervisor’s Union and its members for their vote of confidence in my proven efforts to work hard on behalf of the working families of Paterson,” Torres said. “The hard working people that built our city knew that quitting was not an option and I will never quit on Paterson.  I look forward to partnering with AFSCME’s local affiliates to elevate the quality of life of our neighborhoods.”

AFSCME Supervisors back Torres for Mayor of Paterson | Politicker NJ

Thanks for the bullhorn, Joey

PATERSON – Andre Sayegh’s campaign event on Monday in which he welcomed the support of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) sparked a counter attack coordinated by the candidates and operatives of at least five other mayoral campaigns. Some were in cloak mode, others more obvious as the following video demonstrates…

This street movie shows activist Dave Gilmore appearing to return a borrowed bullhorn to the campaign headquarters of would-be rival former Mayor Jose “Joey’ Torres.

Gilmore and Torres are both running for mayor of Paterson.

Thanks for the bullhorn, Joey | Politicker NJ

Report: Insurance company MacArthur ran accused of cheating hurricane victims

CD12 Republican Primary candidate Tom MacArthur ran an insurance company accused in lawsuits of cheating disaster victims, MailOnline reported in a story today.

From 2002 until late 2010, MacArthur was chairman of the board of York Risk Services Group, a unit of the global insurer American International Group. He was also the company’s president and CEO from 1999 to 2009 and a major shareholder until at least 2006.

The two suits against York relate to 2008’s Hurricane Ike.

Check out the story here.

MacArthur’s opponent, former Bogota mayor/movement conservative Steve Lonegan, promptly pounced.

“Tom MacArthur’s sleazy insurance practices have been blatantly exposed by this devastating story,” said Lonegan campaign manager, Chris Santora. “The article speaks directly to the character of Tom MacArthur, his shady business practices, and his true lack of compassion for his fellow man.

“Tom MacArthur made his millions with his own unique brand of insurance salesman double-talk and deception of unsuspecting, hardworking, God-fearing men and women across America,” Santora added. “This story clearly leaves liberal Tom MacArthur’s campaign, character, and image in shambles.”

The story landed in the middle of a week in which the MacArthur Campaign is running television ads in the storm-pounded congressional district highlighting Lonegan’s public oppposition to federal Hurricane Sandy funds.

Report: Insurance company MacArthur ran accused of cheating hurricane victims | Politicker NJ

The Dogs of War

They used to be friends – friends, and professional partners in politics. Now they are in a war in Paterson.

The split of these onetime business partners goes back to another battlefront, the 2012 Democratic Primary, when Passaic County Democratic Party operative Ryan Yacco – sticking with his home county organization – saddled up with underdog U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell.

Although a Pascrell ally, Bryan Walensky, then the Democratic chairman of the Garfield Democratic Committee, stuck to Bergen County in backing home county brand name U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman.

Pascrell famously beat Rothman.

Now Yacco is on Team Sayegh, the mayoral campaign publicly backed by Pascrell.

On the other side of what many observers appears to be a two-man May 13th contest and opposing the Congressman’s team, Walensky labors for Team Torres, which includes other discarded Pascrell allies.

It’s Sayegh v. Torres.

And under that it’s also Yacco v. Walensky.

The Dogs of War | Politicker NJ

Morning Digest: May 1, 2014