NJ Politics Digest: Why He’s the Guy State Commuters Now Love To Hate

It’s Thursday, and the presidential debates are finally over, bringing us one step closer to the presidential election, and then New Jersey’s 2017 gubernatorial race.
But here in the Garden State, commuters are focusing their ire on Gov. Chris Christie, who is experiencing basement-level approval ratings following his support for a 150-percent hike in the state gas tax, new of a fatal NJ Transit accident that might have been prevented if officials had installed needed safety improvements, the ongoing testimony about his administration’s alleged role in the Bridgegate traffic tie-up (for which Christie will now appear in court) and the long lines that have grown on his watch at state MVC offices.
In other state news, the Asbury Park Press takes a look at how many dead residents might show up at the polls, the fate of Atlantic City’s now-closed Taj Mahal Casino is not so certain, some state agencies aren’t letting residents know how well, or badly, they are operating, and the lack of rainfall could soon pose problems. For all this and the rest of the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day: “Christie’s only getting what he deserves,” limousine driver Stew Resmer, on commuter frustration with Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie inspiring commuters’ wrath now more than ever
For Chris Christie, being governor lately might not be as uncomfortable as getting crushed every rush hour in the sardine can known as the Port Authority Bus Terminal. And it’s probably not as dispiriting as waiting for some kind soul to let you squeeze in front of him at that awful, alternating merge in Clifton where Routes 20, 21 and 46 all funnel into one crowded lane.
John Cichowski, The Record Read more

6 reasons the dark days of N.J.’s old DMV hell may have returned
As little as three years ago, an NJ.com story declared the “bad old days of the DMV” — long lines, rude employees and a bureaucracy from hell, were a thing of the past.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Christie’s approval rating sinks to new low, poll finds
Gov. Chris Christie’s job approval rating sank to a new low, according to a poll that shows it slipping from 26 percent in June to 21 percent in October.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Depressed about the 2016 election? Chris Christie understands
Voters feeling a bit down about the 2016 election cycle, take solace. Gov. Chris Christie is with you.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

After months of silence, Bridgegate defendant’s testimony could prove pivotal
Each day, she sits in a windowless fifth floor courtroom in downtown Newark, surrounded by her lawyers and offering few hints of what she thinks except for a faint smile, a solitary tear or a telltale nod.
Mike Kelly, The Record Read more

Bridgegate defense: Christie officials knew, but asked few questions
The defense in the Bridgegate trial argued Wednesday that high-level officials inside the Christie administration did not question the 2013 politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge even as the scandal unfolded and public pressure escalated.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Baroni names Kelly in key episode of scandal
Prosecutors have presented jurors with plenty of evidence showing the political motivations behind the closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.
Paul Berger, The Record Read more

Christie to appear in court over misconduct complaint
An initial appearance by Governor Chris Christie on a citizen’s complaint that he didn’t intervene in the George Washington Bridge lane closures has been adjourned until next month.
Allison Pries, The Record Read more

The Billy Joel Defense
Three guys in suits are standing around, having a laugh.
GUY 1: Get a load of Cuomo, on his Harley.
GUY 2: And look who’s with him — Billy Joel!
GUY 3: Haw, haw.
Lawrence Downes, New York Times Read more

Former Christie spokesman contradicts testimony of Bridgegate mastermind
Gov. Chris Christie’s former spokesman denied Wednesday that he was told the George Washington Bridge lane closures were an act of political retribution, an assertion that directly contradicts the government’s star witness in the federal trial.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

Dead voters remain on NJ election rolls
Thousands of the dead remain on New Jersey’s active voting rolls with a handful of votes cast in their names over the years, an Asbury Park Press investigation found, but all were likely due to clerical errors rather than fraud.
Paul D’Ambrosio and Susanne Cervenka , Asbury Park Press Read more

Trump Taj Mahal hints at reopening shut casino
Billionaire Carl Icahn’s Atlantic City management team is holding out the possibility of reopening the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino.
Associated Press Read more

Pros and cons of North Jersey casino referendum
Election Day voters will have the choice of doubling down or folding on gambling in the Garden State, as they decide whether to allow two new casinos to be built in the northern part of the state.
Mike Davis, Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J. gov’t agencies lag on sharing performance data, review shows
Despite a promise from Gov. Chris Christie’s administration in 2010 to post performance reports for all of its government agencies monthly, three New Jersey agencies have failed to post any reports this year, including one agency that hasn’t posted anything since March 2015.
Associated Press Read more

How big is too big? N.J.’s 25 largest high schools
New Jersey’s largest public high school is about to get a lot bigger.
Passaic County Technical Institute, a sprawling vo-tech high school, already has more than 3,300 students from around the county taking classes in more than 200 classrooms in Wayne. Under a new plan, the massive school will build an addition to house a new STEM academy for another 1,200 students who want to study science, technology and math.
Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com Read more

Mother of Tyler Clementi criticizes Scott Garrett at LGBT rally in Glen Rock
The mother of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman whose suicide brought national attention to cyber-bullying and the treatment of gay youths, criticized Rep. Scott Garrett at a protest rally Tuesday.
Kim Lueddeke, The Record Read more

Pallone: Companies that sell insurance should cap profits
Insurance companies that sell and administer flood insurance should have their profits capped because the federal government pays claims and Superstorm Sandy showed companies are not properly taking care of customers, Rep. Frank Pallone said Wednesday.
Herb Jackson, Asbury Park Press Read more

Frustrated Sandy victims interrupt event to challenge Pallone on FEMA reforms
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone’s attempt Wednesday to tout legislation for more oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned into an opportunity for Hurricane Sandy victims to vent about the agency.
Alex Napoliello, NJ.com Read more

Oceanfront community destroyed by Sandy can’t be rebuilt as planned, judge says
An oceanfront bungalow community planned to be rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy has too many homes and can’t be developed according to the current design, a Superior Court judge has ruled.
MaryAnn Spoto, NJ.com Read more

Mental health advocates call for New Jersey to maintain funding for outpatient services
Nearly 300 mental health advocates on Wednesday called for the state to maintain funding for outpatient services, saying the potential loss of more than $6 million in Bergen County alone will impact thousands of clients who can’t afford private psychiatric or addiction treatment.
The Record Read more

Will NJ soon be under drought warning?
The state is holding a public hearing on Thursday to determine whether a drought warning will be issued for 12 New Jersey counties.
Kala Kachmar, Asbury Park Press Read more

Atlantic City gives initial approval to plan to sell airport
Atlantic City lawmakers have given initial approval to a proposal to sell its airport as part of a plan to avoid a state takeover.
Associated Press Read more

Watch Bruce Springsteen Explain Why Donald Trump Is ‘Going to Lose’
Bruce Springsteen called Donald Trump a “flagrant, toxic narcissist” intent on destroying the democratic process in a new interview with Channel 4 News. “The trouble at the moment is you have Donald Trump, who is talking about rigged elections … He has a feeling he’s going to lose now, which of course he is going to lose.”
Ryan Reed, Rolling Stone Read more