PolitickerNJ News Digest: Aug. 4th

An elderly Clinton supporter plays a halting tune on an electric keyboard inside the market

An elderly Clinton supporter plays a halting tune on an electric keyboard inside the market

It’s Thursday, and a busy time in state politics, with Senate President Steve Sweeney taking on the teachers and police unions, the state adopting tougher graduation standards and former allies of Gov. Chris Christie switching their allegiances to the Democrats. For that, and more of what happened Wednesday in and around Trenton, read on.

Quote of the Day: “I am not attacking teachers and I am not attacking public employees. What I am saying is their leadership crossed the line when they specifically said ‘We are not going to give you any money until you pass this.’ That is not allowed,” – State Senate President Steve Sweeney, after calling for an investigation into two state unions who refused to donate to Democracts until action is taken on an amendment to the state constitution to bolster pension payments.

Sweeney Calls on Feds and AG to Investigate NJEA and FOP

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) today reached out to U.S Attorney Paul J. Fishman and N.J. Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino asking the top federal and state law enforcement officials in New Jersey to investigate what the senate president identified as attempts by leaders of public employee unions to coerce legislators and political organizations into approval of legislation that would seek voter approval of a plan to require scheduled payments to the state pension system.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

The Ironworker and the Teachers: Steve Sweeney’s Backroom Brawl

Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) move today against the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) indicated the depth of backroom angst between the senate prez and at least two public sector unions, a Trenton source said.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Sweeney: NJEA, FOP Statements Won’t Impact Guv Considerations

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) today announced that he had contacted U.S Attorney Paul J. Fishman and N.J. Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino to investigate the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). That call came as a response to news that the unions would not make campaign contributions until a much-debated pension amendment made it onto the November ballot allowing voters to decide if the state must make quarterly pension payments to public employees.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

DiVincenzo Amid Sweeney Flap: ‘Steve’s Running for Governor’

“The NJEA [New Jersey Education Association] stepped over the line, and it’s not good,” said DiVincenzo, referring to what Sweeney cited as public sector union threats to lawmakers of withheld campaign contributions unless the senate puts pension payments on the fall ballot.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Fight of the Week: Christie and Sweeney Spar Over TTF

With the standoff between Governor Chris Christie the Democratic majority in the legislature showing no signs of progress on funding New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund, the rancor between Chrisite and State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) is coming to a head.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Fulop to Sweeney on Pensions: A Promise is a Promise

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop this afternoon tweeted out his take on Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) call on the U.S. Attorney’s and Attorney General’s offices to investigate the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Longtime Pay-to-Play Critic Kean Gets in on the Game

On the heels of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) firing off letters to the U.S. Attorney and Attorney General concerning allegations of strong-arming tactics by the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean called for the immediate passage of pay-to-play legislation (S-341).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Reports: Former Top Chris Christie Aide to Vote for Clinton

Maria Comella, one of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s top former aides, told CNN that she plans to vote for Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Republican nominee Donald Trump in November’s general election.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Old Christie GOP Pal Meg Whitman Endorses Hillary Clinton

A key Gov. Chris Christie ally going back to the governor’s chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association has opted to support Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Atlantic County Assemblyman Blasts Icahn for Closing of Trump Taj Mahal

Following the news that the Trump Taj Mahal casino will close its doors at the end of this summer, one Atlantic County lawmaker is laying the blame at owner Carl Icahn’s feet. The shuttering of the Taj Mahal will be the fifth casino closure in Atlantic City since 2014. Workers at the casino have been engaged in a strike over cuts Icahn made to pension and health benefits after purchasing the property earlier this year.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Ciattarelli Says He Supports Sweeney’s Call for Investigation of NJEA

One of the likely Republican contenders for his party’s 2017 gubernatorial nomination is weighing in in favor of a call from Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) for a federal investigation of the NJEA, one of state Democrats’ most prominent fundraising sources. Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) said Wendesday that he supports mounting state and federal investigations into whether the NJEA illegally held campaign contributions hostage.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Lesniak Says Sweeney Should Have Checked Law Before Firing Off

The heavy iron boardwalk mallet that Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) dropped on the neck of the NJEA and FOP earlier today prompted at least one rival in the budding 2017 gubernatorial drama to call Sweeney heavy-handed.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Democratic Challenger to Leonard Lance Holds Somerville Fundraiser

One of New Jersey’s more conservative congressman is facing a Democratic challenge in this year’s elections, and his young opponent is honing his ground game. Political newcomer Peter Jacob, of Union, is running against Republican U.S. Representative Leonard Lance in the state’s seventh congressional district and held a fundraiser in Somerville Tuesday night where he laid out his vision for North-Central Jersey.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Disappointment – but not Surprise – over PARCC Decision

As an activist and former board of education member who made frequent trips to Trenton along with hundreds of education advocates, parents, teachers and school board members I was disappointed but not surprised to hear that earlier today the state BOE (who is appointed NOT elected) voted to make PARCC a requirement for graduation.
Corey Teague, PolitickerNJ Read more

New Jersey passes tough new graduation standards

Graduating high school will become harder for millions of New Jersey students under a measure adopted Wednesday by the State Board of Education that requires students to pass tests in English and math to earn their diplomas.
Hannan Adely, Asbury Park Press Read more

Former Christie aide Jamie Fox charged in flight shakedown makes court appearance

Jamie Fox, a two-time former state transportation commissioner and ex-lobbyist and consultant for United Airlines, made his first appearance in federal court on Wednesday to answer charges in an alleged scheme to aid a longtime political ally of Governor Christie.
Peter Sampson, The Record Read more

N.J. to slash pension investments in hedge funds that were criticized by unions

The State Investment Council on Wednesday agreed to slash New Jersey’s investments of public-sector pension dollars in hedge funds by more than half, responding to labor union concerns that the alternative investments aren’t paying off.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Complaint alleges ex-Bergen County Executive violated election-finance laws

A state election watchdog commission has filed a six-count complaint alleging that former County Executive Kathleen Donovan and her two campaign aides violated state election-finance laws during her failed 2014 bid for another term in the top county post.
Todd South, The Record Read more

N.J. taking in more Syrian refugees as U.S. increases resettlements

Ignoring objections by Governor Christie and presidential nominee Donald Trump that refugees from Syria pose a security risk, the Obama administration has sharply increased resettlements, with New Jersey taking in almost as many people in the past month as it did in 2014 and 2015 combined.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Sweeney risks his bid for gov. with shocking jab at unions

Did Senate President Steve Sweeney just commit political suicide?
Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is the highest-ranking Democrat in Trenton, and wants to be governor.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

N.J. town drops hammer on police chief over pro-racial profiling email

Police Chief Benjamin Fox should be demoted to patrolman and suspended without pay for 180 days for violating the Attorney General’s guidelines against racial profiling, township officials have decided.
Anthony G. Attrino, NJ.com Read more

President Obama commutes sentences of 3 N.J. prisoners

Three New Jersey men convicted of drug-related crimes will be released from prison on Dec. 1 after President Barack Obama on Wednesday commuted their sentences.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

New ad campaign pushes for expanding gambling in New Jersey

A footwear magnate and a racetrack operator are behind a new effort to persuade New Jersey voters to approve casinos in the northern part of the state.
Associated Press Read more

Passaic mayoral candidate fined for violating election finance rules

Jose M. Sandoval, who made an unsuccessful run for Passaic mayor in 2013, recently paid a fine of more than $3,700 because his campaign finance reports in that election were filed late.
Minjae Park, The Record Read more

North Jersey town may take 300 residents to court brewing toxic battle

Residents are waging a fight over the latest plan to clean up a toxic site polluted by the Ford Motor Company, NorthJersey.com reported.
Myles Ma, NJ.com Read more

Booker talks business – and Trump – in Morris County

Day One of Sen. Cory Booker’s seven-day #JerseyRoadTrip brought him to one of Morris County’s many corporate business centers, where he briefly detoured from his scheduled rounds to discuss a certain New York businessman running for president.
William Westhoven, Daily Record Read more

Environmentalists Fault DEP Flood-Prevention Plan

A compromise aimed at ending a dispute between lawmakers and the Christie administration fails to protect drinking water and to prevent flooding as intended, according to environmentalists.
Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight Read more