NJ Politics Digest: Who Should Investigate Police Shootings Latest in Trenton

It’s the end of another busy week in Trenton. With the shooting of unarmed black men dominating the news, the state Senate on Thursday voted to require the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate such incidents. Proponents say it would result in unbiased investigations, but it’s unclear how far the bill will advance.
The senate also worked to quash attempts by casino mogul Carl Icahn to reopen the shuttered Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City as a gambling hall. While applauded by labor unions, who claim the casino closing was an attempt to expel them from the casino, it’s unlikely this bill will ever receive the governor’s signature.
Meanwhile, Phil Murphy got the Wikileaks treatment, pollsters say Christie’s relationship with Donald Trump is a prime cause for the governor’s plummeting favorability ratings and plans for a new Hudson River rail tunnel are advancing. Throw in more testimony from the Bridgegate trial about feuding between New York and New Jersey reps at the interstate agency, and you have another full day of political news.

Quote of the Day: “Any investigation of police-involved fatalities should be fair, it should be thorough, and it should result in justice being served,” – Senate President Stephen Sweeney, on a senate bill transferring responsibility for investigating fatal police shootings to the state Attorney General’s office.

NJ Senate passes bill shaking up who probes killings by police
The New Jersey Senate approved a bill Thursday that would stop county prosecutors from investigating deaths at the hands of police and require the state Attorney General’s Office to do so instead.
Michael Boren, Inquirer Read more

New Jersey Senate passes anti-Icahn casino shutdown bill
The New Jersey Senate approved a measure Thursday that would punish billionaire Carl Icahn for shutting down the Trump Taj Mahal casino by prohibiting him from holding a casino license for it for five years.
Associated Press Read more

Lawmakers pledge overhaul of N.J. 911 system but have no plan to pay for it
State lawmakers pledged to expedite an overhaul of New Jersey’s antiquated 911 system after a report revealed that hundreds of millions of dollars raised to pay for the live-saving upgrade had been spent elsewhere.
Alex Napoliello and Stephen Stirling, NJ.com Read more

Bill limiting solitary confinement in N.J. heads to Christie
A bill strictly limiting the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s prisons is headed to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk after being passed by the state Assembly.
S.P. Sullivan, NJ.com Read more

Uber bill pulled as trial lawyers make last-minute lobbying push
Legislation to regulate Uber and Lyft hit an unexpected snag on Wednesday, as Senate President Steve Sweeney pulled the bill from this week’s voting board list.
Katherine Landergan, Politico Read more

In Wikileaks Emails, a Glimpse of Phil Murphy’s Campaign for Governor
Hacked emails released by Wikileaks from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta were a controversial topic in the third and final presidential debate. But the inner workings of Clinton’s campaign aren’t the only ones on display in the emails.
Dusty Christensen, WNYC Read more

How Christie’s Trump ties have hurt him with N.J. voters
Gov. Chris Christie’s support of Donald Trump appears to be a major reason his job approval has hit record lows, top pollsters say.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

PA commissioner testifies Christie, Cuomo discussed Bridgegate aftermath
Within days of Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge reopening, Gov. Chris Christie’s political confidant and top appointee to the Port Authority, David Samson, warned New York agency officials they “made a big mistake” in the leaking the “Fort Lee issue” to reporters.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Wildstein termed a ‘cancer,’ as Bridgegate defense focuses on key witness
David Wildstein pleaded guilty more than a year ago to orchestrating the Bridgegate scandal.
But for much of the day Thursday, it seemed as if Wildstein was on trial, as defense attorneys for two former Christie administration insiders facing federal charges sought to portray the prosecution’s key witness as a political con artist and “dangerous” figure who misled jurors.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Funding approved for new Hudson rail tunnels. Will tolls go up?
Tolls on the Port Authority’s bridges and tunnels will not be increased to help fund construction of new Hudson River rail tunnels, officials said Thursday after approving a financing plan for the Gateway Project.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Retracing Donald Trump’s history in Atlantic City
As Levi Fox stood on the Boardwalk discussing Donald Trump’s bankruptcy issues in the resort, a man walking by shouted: “Why don’t you talk about Hillary’s bankruptcy issues?”
Nicholas Huba, Press of Atlantic City Read more

New Jersey’s unemployment rate holds at 5.3 percent
The New Jersey economy generated 2,700 total jobs in September, according to preliminary estimates from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, continuing to produce jobs at a moderate, unspectacular pace. The jobless rate, which had risen the previous six months, was unchanged at 5.3 percent.
The Record Read more

Growing calls for railroad probe in wake of station crash
New Jersey’s commuter railroad is facing growing calls for more scrutiny at federal and state levels amid questions about its safety after one of its trains crashed into a station last month, killing a woman on the platform and injuring more than 100.
Associated Press Read more

Transit agency: Judge overstepped in bridge paint award
The bistate transit agency that operates bridges between New Jersey and Philadelphia says it’s appealing a federal ruling that overturned a $17.9 million contract award for bridge painting.
Associated Press Read more

Sweeney says assisted suicide bill will get committee hearing
The Assembly passed an assisted suicide bill by one vote Thursday that would allow some terminally ill patients to seek a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs that they could then administer to themselves.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

Port Authority commissioner calls Wildstein ‘a cancer’
An outgoing commissioner of the Port Authority said he viewed David Wildstein, the government’s main witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial, as a political operative who was a “cancer” to the agency during his time there.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Former Mercer County official sent to prison for corruption disbarred
A former Mercer County official and attorney who spent almost seven years in federal prison for a public corruption conviction was disbarred in New Jersey Thursday.
Anna Merriman, NJ.com Read more

New Jersey weighing issuing drought warning for 12 counties
The state will decide within a few days whether to issue a drought warning for the 12 counties in central and northern New Jersey, as warmer than normal temperatures, increased water demand and less than normal rainfall this year have caused reservoirs and stream flows to drop significantly.
James M. O’Neill, The Record Read more

4 years after Sandy, some still fight dunes at Jersey shore
Opponents of New Jersey’s plan to create protective sand dunes launched a new legal battle against it Thursday, hours before similar work advanced at the opposite end of the shore.
Associated Press Read more

Muslim? No apartment for you! — Woman refused housing over religious beliefs
Fatma Farghaly saw a Craigslist ad for a one bedroom apartment in Elizabeth. When she called she was told it was still available and to come check it out. When she arrived wearing her khimar head covering, the landlord asked if she were Muslim. She told him yes. He then said flat out, “I don’t rent to Muslims.”
Jeff Deminski, NJ101.5 Read more

After federal probe, Jersey City revamping off-duty job program for cops
Jersey City is again revamping how the administration manages off-duty assignments given to police officers, one month after the feds revealed a city cop admitted taking $230,000 in corrupt payments related to off-duty work.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

House candidate Gottheimer: Job is to help 5th District
Josh Gottheimer lives in Bergen County, but pledged to give Sussex County plenty of attention if elected to Congress.
Rob Jennings, New Jersey Herald Read more

Congressman Pascrell visits Passaic High School
Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) visits AP history students at Passaic High School in celebration of the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Record Read more

$105M flood control project moving forward for Bayshore
For Charles Rogers, who’s been dealing with disastrous flooding all his life in his hometown, news that a major flood control project is advancing to another phase was music to his ears.
MaryAnn Spoto, NJ.com Read more

Charity to sue North Jersey hospital over nixed hotel plan
The nonprofit developer of a planned hotel in Paterson is suing St. Joseph’s Medical Center for pulling its support for the project.
Myles Ma, NJ.com Read more