NJ Politics Digest: He’s Not on Trial, But Christie Bridgegate Bill Continues to Grow

It’s Friday, the end of another eventful week in New Jersey politics. Residents continue looking for a verdict in the Bridgegate trial, as word comes that Gov. Chris Christie’s legal bills from the scandal have increased another $1 million – despite the fact that he’s not on trial in the scandal. Meanwhile, defense attorneys in the trial sought a mistrial in hearings that were kept closed to the public.
There’s word that the FBI is investigating a Paterson program praised by Christie and launched by former Gov. Jim McGreevey and that state education officials are concerned about some of the results of the latest round of PARCC testing.
A state Senate panel has approved an aid in dying bill, an Ocean County freeholder discussed his close brush with death and there’s a move afoot to give southern New Jersey a larger say in transportation projects. For all this, and the rest of the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day:  “Because the filing refers to a matter that was addressed in a sealed courtroom on Nov. 2, 2016, and because its disclosure would complicate the court’s efforts to ensure a fair trial, the government submits that, in an abundance of caution, the filing should be maintained under seal,” – Assistant U.S. Attorney David Feder, trying to keep arguments and the content of motions for a mistrial in the Bridgegate trial secret.

Christie’s Tax-Funded Lawyers Increase Work on Bridgegate Case
Gov. Chris Christie’s taxpayer-funded legal bills for Bridgegate spiked as the case moved to trial and proceedings began, according to the latest documents provided to WNYC from the Attorney General’s Office.
Matt Katz, WNYC Read more

Bridgegate trial: Defense seeks mistrial
Defense attorneys Thursday asked for the declaration of a mistrial in the Bridgegate saga in the wake of a furtive, day-long battle that took place behind-the-scenes on Wednesday over whether jurors had been incorrectly instructed.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

News groups seek court order to unseal Bridgegate mystery
A group of news organizations, including NJ Advance Media, have filed with the court in the Bridgegate scandal to unseal the record dealing with a request this morning for a mistrial.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Jury in Bridgegate trial goes fourth day without a verdict
The jury in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial went a fourth day without a verdict as defense lawyers privately sought to convince the judge to declare a mistrial, deepening the mystery of one of the most high-profile criminal cases in recent memory.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

N.J. Senate panel OKs ‘aid in dying’ despite looming Christie veto
A Senate panel approved a bill Thursday that would allow doctors to write a prescriptions for lethal drugs for terminally ill patients who want “aid in dying,” despite the likelihood Gov. Chris Christie will veto the measure.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

FBI probe in Paterson seeks records on renovations for prison re-entry program
FBI agents closed off the city’s community development offices Thursday as they looked through documents in a fraud investigation involving Paterson’s use of federal funds for a controversial new prison reentry project, officials said.
Joe Malinconico, The Record Read more

Campaigns trade accusations over ‘Satan’ flier in NJ House race
The campaign for Fifth District Democratic candidate Josh Gottheimer called on his opponent Thursday to condemn fliers depicting Gottheimer as a devil who is owned by “big media.”
Kim Luddeke, The Record Read more

What Clinton and Trump wins would mean for New Jersey
Less than a week before Election Day, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave Hillary Clinton a 67 percent chance of winning the presidency over Donald Trump and the Democrats a 63 percent chance of winning back the Senate majority they lost two years earlier. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report said the House likely will remain under Republican control.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Why this election could help pave way for legal marijuana in N.J., nation
This vicious, epic presidential race won’t be the only reason voter turnout is expected to be massive on Nov. 8. Legalizing recreational marijuana is on the ballot in five states.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Why these ‘staggering’ PARCC scores have N.J. officials worried
In reviewing the results of last school year’s state math and English exams, New Jersey’s Department of Education can point to plenty of positive trends.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

NJ PARCC test results released for every school
The second batch of results from the state’s standardized school exams showed improved scores in language arts and math but despite the gains, many students still failed to meet grade-level expectations.
Karen Yi and Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press Read more

Why did teachers suddenly force NJ school district to close for Election Day?
Public school teachers in this South Jersey district are blaming the “volatility” of this year’s presidential election for why 300 of them decided to take off work on Election Day.
Dan Alexander, NJ101.5 Read more

Guadagno says her outspokenness has nothing to do with running for governor
After seven years of quietly standing behind Gov. Chris Christie and toeing the administration line, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno appears to be positioning herself to ride a populist wave of anger over the gas tax hike passed by the Democratic Legislature and signed by Christie.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

Howell political ads: Are they anti-Semitic?
Howell’s top leaders denounced what they describe as anti-Semitic propaganda being disseminated by Democrats and asked that the candidates apologize to the public and drop out of the race.
Kala Kachmar, Asbury Park Press Read more

Give South Jersey a voice in Turnpike, Parkway, lawmakers says
South Jersey drivers, you may get a voice on the agency that runs the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Spending in north Jersey casino battle continues to soar
The already record amount of spending from interest groups for and against next week’s north Jersey casino referendum has now ballooned to $24 million, according to an updated tally released Thursday by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

In North Jersey, proponents still holding out hope
The clock is ticking down the minutes for supporters of the ballot question on North Jersey casinos, which according to recent polls is predicted to be dead on arrival.
Anjalee Khemlani, NJBiz Read more

Hackensack city attorney ‘reluctantly’ resigns in wake of Zisa decision
City Attorney Alexander Carver said he is “reluctantly” resigning after the City Council called on him to step down following his recommendation not to pursue a disciplinary hearing against embattled former Police Chief Ken Zisa.
John Seasly, The Record Read more

American Dream Meadowlands to miss another bond sale target
The sale of $1.15 billion in bonds to fund the remaining construction of the American Dream Meadowlands shopping and entertainment complex will not take place as scheduled on Friday, a state official said Wednesday.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

Sheriff’s race emerges as most heated in Bergen County
Among the otherwise quiet races for Bergen County offices this year, the sheriff’s contest has emerged as the most heated, with a challenger who has accused the incumbent of political cronyism in hiring and “double-dipping.”
Todd South, The Record Read more

Passaic County sheriff’s race pits incumbency against call for change
The 2016 election for Passaic County Sheriff features a rematch between Democratic incumbent Richard H. Berdnik and Republican challenger Frank Feenan, plus a newcomer, Darren Woolridge, a former sheriff’s officer who is running as an independent.
Richard Cowen, The Record Read more

Ocean Freeholder Bartlett near death last month
Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who has been battling colorectal cancer, disclosed Wednesday that he was close to death last month after suffering complications from chemotherapy.
Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press Read more

Richard L. Nelson, long-time, tightfisted Bergen County administrator, dies at 94
Richard L. Nelson, a longtime Bergen County official who was known for his careful — some might say stingy — stewardship of taxpayer money, has died. He was 94.
Jay Levin, The Record Read more

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