NJ Politics Digest: What Will the Defendants Say at Bridgegate?

As the new week starts in New Jersey, political watchers are gearing up for what could be an important week in the Bridgegate trial, as defendants Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly could take the witness stand and, maybe, answer the question of who else in state government knew of the plan to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge.
The week also brings us one day closer to implementation of the gas tax hike,
signed Friday evening by Gov. Chris Christie. And transportation issues will likely remain a focus in the state, as lawmakers and commuters look to see what happens at NJ Transit following the fatal train crash in Hoboken. Then there’s Donald Trump’s weekend visit to New Jersey, talk of granting driving privileges to undocumented residents and even speculation on Chris Christie’s next career move.  For all this and more news, read on

Quote of the Day: “If she has any chance of an acquittal, she has to acknowledge her errors in judgment and try convince the jury that there is something fundamentally unfair to hold her responsible for conduct that was widely known within the governor’s office and directed by others,” – Attorney Robert Mintz,  speculating on the possibility that Bridget Kelly might implicate higher-ups in the governor’s office during her testimony in the Bridgegate trial.

Bridgegate trial: What if Kelly implicates Christie on the stand?
The hint came in the midst of a routine cross examination of a government witness in the Bridgegate trial.
Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com Read more

Accused ex-Port Authority official to tell his version of Bridgegate
Bill Baroni, a former top executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who is on trial in connection with 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, will take the stand Monday to testify in his own defense, his attorney said Friday.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

For Bridgegate defendants, taking the stand involves a leap of faith
It’s one of the riskiest decisions a defendant can make.
Yet lawyers for two former allies of Governor Christie’s — accused of conspiring to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in an act of political retribution — have already vowed to jurors that their clients will testify.
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Christie signs gas tax hike! Prepare to pay 23 cents more per gallon
Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation late Friday raising New Jersey’s gas tax by 23 cents per gallon — a week after the state Legislature approved the deal he brokered.
Louis C. Hochman, NJ101.5.com Read more

9 things you need to know about N.J.’s rising gas tax
It’s official: New Jersey’s gas tax will go up by 23 cents a gallon in a few weeks to restart the broke fund that pays for road and rail projects.
The Auditor, NJ.com Read more

Trump energizes Hindu community at charity event in Edison
Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump attended a charity event Saturday hosted by members of the Hindu community in Edison, where he praised India for helping to combat terrorism.
Spencer Kent, NJ.com Read more

Trump out of Atlantic City but an issue in House race there
The legacy of Donald Trump’s casino empire disappeared from Atlantic City with last week’s closing of the Trump Taj Mahal, but donations he made years ago are factoring into a New Jersey congressional race.
Associated Press Read more

Is Chris Christie gunning to replace Mike Francesa at WFAN?
A little over a year from now, Chris Christie’s second term as the governor of New Jersey will end. Considering the odds of a Donald Trump presidency growing longer each day (the New York Times currently ranks his chances at 11 percent), speculation has been rampant about where Christie will land once his tenure ends.
Rob Tornoe, Inquirer Read more

Push To Grant ‘Driving Privilege Card’ to NJ’s Undocumented Residents
Supporters say the card would help thousands of undocumented to drive legally, that it would improve road safety, and stimulate the state’s economy.
Chase Brush, NJ Spotlight Read more

NJ Transit service in Hoboken back to normal starting Monday
Full service from NJ Transit will be restored to Hoboken Terminal on Monday following service disruptions from the Sept. 29 fatal crash.
Dan Alexander, NJ101.5.com Read more

N.J. Transit Getting Scrutiny and Pledges of Aid for Its Problems
State lawmakers in New Jersey moved on Friday to hold hearings focused on investigating the problems plaguing New Jersey Transit, and a top federal official announced that a key project meant to improve the railroad’s service was moving forward.
Emma G. Fitzsimmons, New York Times Read more

As safety concerns grow, state lawmakers vow joint investigation of NJ Transit
Democratic lawmakers in Trenton agreed Friday to launch a joint, two-house investigation of NJ Transit — the state’s troubled and secretive rail and bus agency — as federal officials also began to sound the alarm.
Ryan Hutchins and Katherine Landergan, Politico Read more

Foxx doesn’t entirely rule out a federal takeover of NJ Transit
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Friday declined to completely rule out a federal takeover of NJ Transit.
Dana Rubenstein, Politico Read more

Single-family homes stay in the game, but North Jersey land scarce to build them
Buyers looking for new, single-family homes in New Jersey once had plenty to choose from. As the state’s suburbs boomed in the second half of the 20th century, developers blanketed farm fields with new houses aimed at middle-income buyers.
Kathleen Lynn, The Record Read more

487 bears killed so far in NJ’s extended hunt … including Pedals?
Hunters have killed 487 bears during New Jersey’s expanded black bear hunt.
Figures show 55 bears were killed on Friday, the fifth day of the hunt and the second in which muzzle-loading guns were permitted.
Associated Press Read more

Garrett foe Gottheimer just broke N.J. record in hard-fought House race
Josh Gottheimer, whose race against seven-term incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett is rated a toss-up, has raised more money than any other New Jersey candidate for the U.S. House ever.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Morris County’s grants to churches under judicial microscope
A Superior Court judge has started considering the lofty issue of whether Morris County’s 14-year history of giving historic preservation grants to churches is a secular effort to protect valued resources or a forced tax on residents that violates the state Constitution.
Peggy Wright, Daily Record Read more

N.J. lawmakers seek to stop felons from running for school board
After a felon had made it on this year’s township school board ballot, lawmakers introduced bills that would require all board of education candidates to “certify under oath they have never been convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from campaigning for school boards.”
Spencer Kent, NJ.com Read more

Family attorney for slain Trenton woman wants to ban police chases through cities
An attorney for the family of a city woman who was killed in the fatal police pursuit of an “unarmed junkie” will write to a local political leader about banning high-speed chases through New Jersey cities.
Isaac Avilucea, The Trentonian Read more

Blue lines for police: Unifying or divisive?
A handful of South Jersey towns have painted a blue line on roads near their police departments to express support for officers, drawing mostly praise from residents but also concerns from critics that the lines could be polarizing rather than unifying.
Michael Boren, Inquirer Read more

Mock elections in schools concentrate on teaching citizenship – and leave Trump, Clinton out of it
In a presidential season marked by divisiveness, insults and even references to genitalia, what’s a school to do when it comes to teaching young kids about the election?
Hannan Adely The Record Read more

Huge deal with hospitals could put Rutgers in ‘big 10’ for medical research
New Jersey’s largest hospital chain intends to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to help catapult Rutgers University’s medical schools into the “big 10” of research and educational institutions in the nation, NJ Advance Media has learned.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Jack Ciattarelli: A Republican candidate for governor who gives Christie a “D”
Most Republicans in New Jersey have shown strict loyalty to Gov. Chris Christie since the start, a record that could come back to bite them in the next election.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who announced last week that he is running for governor, will argue that he is something very different – a maverick who has voted to override the governor five times and believes that Christie’s combative style and national ambitions have done great harm.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Read more

Has Christie finally paid off his presidential campaign debt?
Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign made no progress paying off its debt over the last three months, owing $170,505 at the end of September, new Federal Election Commission filings show.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

N.J. black activist to NAACP: Stop denying families education options
I come from a long line of black activists.
My grandfather Charles “Big Apple” Scott, stood behind Martin Luther King Jr. at the podium on the National Mall when he made the “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. Today I advocate for children in New Jersey — my own children and that of thousands of other families I meet every day in my work.
Charles Love, Star-Ledger Read more