NJ Politics Digest: Bridgegate lies, Marijuana at a Store Near You and Tortured Pets

It’s Wednesday, and as the Bridgegate trial continues, the public was given a look at the political maneuvering that led to the Bridgegate traffic jams, the fights over the decision to end them, and the initial lies that led to the alleged cover up.
A conservative state legislator is proposing measures to allow the sale of marijuana in stores, and two Rutgers law professors say owning a pet is immoral and would be considered torture if humans had to live under the same conditions.
A south Jersey politician and longtime police officer has died following allegations he had brought a prostitute into a police building. Meanwhile Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs apologized after he was seen on video apparently sipping beer at a pre-game tailgate event. For all this and the rest of the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day: “Immaterial,” – Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, when asked if lying in a press release to cover up the real reason behind the Bridgegate traffic jams was in the public interest.

Legislators want N.J. to look at health risks after cancer-causing metal found in drinking water
Two legislators want the state to reexamine its health standards for a cancer-causing metal that has been found throughout New Jersey’s drinking water supplies — including all 25 providers in Bergen and Passaic counties.
Scott Fallon, The Record Read more

P.A. director: Bridgegate lane closures were ‘abusive decision’
Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority, wanted a witness when he confronted his colleague about a series of inexplicable toll lane shutdowns at the George Washington Bridge.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate trial testimony exposes ugly side of New Jersey politics
The second day of testimony in the conspiracy trial of two former allies of Governor Christie exposed the ugly side of politics in the region when subordinates try to please — or placate — the governors of New York and New Jersey.
Paul Berger and Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Port executive admits to approving inaccurate press release, blames Christie appointee
The highest ranking official at the Port Authority — an appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — admitted on Wednesday that he approved the release of a false statement to the media that was used to cover up the George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

Fort Lee mayor testifies he tried to discourage Christie visit
After the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal exploded in January 2014 with the release of a seemingly damning email written by an aide to Governor Christie — “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” — the governor wanted to fly to the town in a helicopter to issue a personal apology.
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Fear, Lies and Intrigue: Takeaways from Day 3 of Bridgegate Testimony
“Trenton” tried to close the lanes again after they were opened. Twice.
Andrea Bernstein, WNYC Read more

Mayor admits he changed story about Bridgegate motive
For days, Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich said he tried working behind the scenes to end the nightmare of gridlocked traffic that had crippled his town, blocking ambulances, delaying school buses and angering commuters.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Christie’s pal wants to kill me. What bully culture?
It was still dark when I arrived at the federal courthouse in Newark Monday morning, but I wanted to be sure to get a good seat for the start of the Bridgegate trial. This was going to be delicious.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

Marijuana could be sold in NJ convenience stores under bill put forward by GOP lawmaker
Should marijuana be treated like beer or cigarettes?
That right now is the biggest difference between how recreational marijuana would be legalized and regulated under two bills in the Assembly.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

After bombings, N.J. homeland security office urges towns: Tell us about big events
State authorities are asking officials and community groups to register large public events in their towns with New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness after a string of bombings that rattled New Jersey and New York.
S.P. Sullivan, NJ.com Read more

Facebook post on bombing suspect, Kaepernick roils N.J. school board race
A now-deleted Facebook post that included an altered image of accused bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami and football star Colin Kaepernick is at the center of a brouhaha in the Jersey City school board race.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Was American symbol deemed too ‘offensive’ for N.J. college?
An American-themed barbecue at Ramapo College last Friday was nearly scrapped after the students’ ‘Uncle Sam’ promotional material was deemed “too offensive” and militaristic, according to Campus.org.
Anthony G. Attrino, NJ.com Read more

Pair of Rutgers law professors call pet ownership immoral, form of torture
Two Rutgers law professors say that owning pets is immoral and would be considered torture if humans were forced to endure the same treatment.
Craig McCarthy, NJ.com Read more

Gloucester County official facing prostitution allegations dies
A longtime Trenton police officer and former mayor in Franklin Township, Gloucester County, died Wednesday, following allegations he had brought a prostitute into a police building.
Michael Boren, Inquirer Read more

Rutgers athletic director sorry for sipping beer at student tailgate
Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs apologized Tuesday for an incident prior to Saturday’s football game against New Mexico in which he was seen on video apparently taking a sip from a beer at the student tailgate section, dubbed “The Alley.”
J.P. Pelzman, The Record Read more

Progress Slow on Affordable Housing, Towns Wait on Court
Eighteen months after New Jersey’s courts regained control of affordable housing plans, 36 municipalities have agreed or been ordered to provide nearly 17,000 units, while most towns wait for a ruling by the state’s justices on a key question that could require the construction of tens of thousands of additional homes.
Colleen O’Dea, NJSpotlight Read more

U.S. House expands sick leave for more veterans
Military veterans at the Federal Aviation Administration would be entitled to the same sick leave benefits as others working in government jobs under legislation sponsored by Rep. Frank LoBiondo and approved by the U.S. House.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

N.J. lawmaker takes stand on ballot selfies
Jersey City Assemblyman Raj Mukherji wants to make sure no voters get in trouble for taking selfies in the voting booth.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Cape May council “needs more time” to consider gay ex-cop settlement
City Council “needs more time” to consider a $369,000 draft settlement with a former police officer who accused the city of discriminating against him based on his sexual orientation, City Attorney Anthony Monzo said Wednesday.
Jack Tomczuck, Press of Atlantic City Read more

Christie signs bill to boost oversight of Bergen Regional Medical Center
Gov. Christie signed into law Wednesday a measure to create a hospital authority with sweeping powers over the management of Bergen Regional Medical Center, which has come under increased scrutiny amid allegations of violence at the facility.
Mary Jo Layton, The Record Read more

President of Estonia visits his old N.J. high school before UN talk
The president of Estonia said he credits his New Jersey math teacher for helping the country he now runs become technologically advanced.
Sara Jerde, NJ.com Read more

Paterson council wants city police to crack down on panhandlers
Frustrated by the proliferation of panhandlers in Paterson, City Council members are calling for stricter enforcement targeting the quality-of-life issue.
Joe Malinconico, The Record Read more

Hackensack scraps plan to privatize garbage pickup, easing fears of job cuts
The city plans to reject all bids it has received from private companies seeking to provide sanitation services after a financial analysis found the savings would be minimal, Mayor John Labrosse said in a release.
John Seasly, The Record Read more

One of N.J.’s richest residents charged with insider trading
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed insider trading charges against hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman of Short Hills, one of the 500 wealthiest people in the world, the commission announced Wednesday.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

One year after launch, how is Citi Bike Jersey City faring?
One year ago today, Jersey City launched its version of Citi Bike with lots of hoopla and a mayor-led bike ride from the Grove Street PATH station to City Hall.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

EPA has $37M plan for North Jersey chromium cleanup, but no money
The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday finalized a plan to clean up groundwater contaminated with chromium from a former electroplating plant on Clark Street, though it still lacks the funds to pay finish it.
Myles Ma, NJ.com Read more

Is Chris Christie Wearing $4,000 Cuff Links?
You can take the man out of New Jersey, but you can’t take the New Jersey out of the man. Even as Chris Christie has crisscrossed the country on behalf of his new boss, “Mr. Trump”, the failed presidential candidate has tried to remain true to his brand as his state’s gubernatorial Everyman.
Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair Read more

Chris Christie Made First Responders the Butt of His Nasty 9/11 Joke
The photo of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his crony David Wildstein yukking it up at Ground Zero during a memorial observance of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was insult enough to the thousands who were murdered there.
Michael Daly, Daily Beast Read more