NJ Politics Digest: Judge Rules for Christie on State House Renovation

Gov. Chris Christie’s office door. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Lawsuits seeking to derail Gov. Chris Christie’s $300 million state house renovation were dismissed as moot on Wednesday, with a judge ruling that there was nothing the courts could do since the state already sold bonds to pay for the project.

It wasn’t all good news for Christie, though. A financial analyst panned his plan to use the New Jersey lottery to shore up the state pension system and a new Quinnipiac poll found the governor’s approval rating in the gutter to end all gutters. At 15 percent, Christie’s approval rating is the lowest for any governor in the states that Quinnipiac has polled for 20 years.

Quote of the Day: “I don’t think he can get any lower, but you never know.” – Quinnipiac University pollster Mickey Carroll on Christie’s approval rating.

Christie’s Lottery-Pension Plan an ‘Accounting Scheme,’ Analyst Says
Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to convert the New Jersey lottery into an asset of the cash-strapped pension system is a fiscal gamble that “could make things worse,” according to a bond market analyst.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Christie Wins Legal Battle to Renovate State House
A state judge has dismissed several lawsuits challenging Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to renovate the New Jersey state house at a cost of more than $300 million, making it unlikely that any further legal action could stop the demolition and restoration work scheduled to begin within days.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Menendez Approval Rating Rises as Corruption Trial Looms
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez was indicted on corruption charges in 2015 and is scheduled to stand trial in September. But the people of New Jersey still think he’s doing a good job, according to several recent polls.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

US Marshals arrest two in Turkish embassy brawl
The State Department confirmed in a statement to TheDC that arrests have been, and the Washington, D.C. Metro police department identified the two men as Eyup Yildirim and Sinan Narin. … Yildirim, a 50-year-old construction company owner from New Jersey, faces charges of assault with significant bodily injury and aggravated assault.
Chuck Ross, Daily Caller Read more

Prieto, Sweeney Strike Deal on NJ School Funding
Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto struck a deal on school funding Wednesday after a months-long dispute that became the dominant issue in this year’s budget negotiations.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

NJEA Blasts Prieto-Sweeney Deal on School Funding
Hours after Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced a deal to revamp New Jersey’s school funding formula, the state’s largest teachers union called it a “senseless and cruel” way to punish some students.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Christie’s Approval Rating Nosedives
Gov. Chris Christie made history on Wednesday.
With the worst approval rating for any governor in any of the states where Quinnipiac University has been polling for 20 years.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

NJ congressman was at Democratic team practice as shooting unfolded
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell was practicing with the Democratic baseball team as the shooting was going on at the Republican practice in Virginia.
Dan Alexander, NJ101.5 Read more

Murphy Has Commanding Lead Over Guadagno, Poll Finds
Democrat Phil Murphy has more than twice as much support as Republican Kim Guadagno among New Jersey voters, leading 55 percent to 26 percent in the first poll taken after last week’s gubernatorial primaries.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Penn Station commuters faced worst delays in recent memory, NJ Transit says
Commuters taking NJ Transit trains into New York Penn Station on weekday mornings have experienced the worst on-time performance in recent memory, arriving late nearly 54 percent of the time during the month of May, the agency said on Wednesday.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

A New Jersey thing: An official state germ?
Known for its oddities and quirks, New Jersey may soon have another one: an official state germ.
Melanie Burney, Inquirer Read more

South Jersey mayor says ‘Crying Jordan’ meme was racist, or at least a bad joke
A popular internet meme or racism? A South Jersey mayor is still upset after he was the subject of a “Crying Jordan” meme following his loss in last week’s Republican primary, alleging that the incident was racist and a joke made in poor taste.
Michael Burke, Inquirer Read more

Christie makes few changes to DRPA board
For the first time during his seven years in Trenton, Gov. Christie appointed board members to the Delaware River Port Authority.
Jason Laughlin, Inquirer Read more

Poll: Most NJ Voters Favor Funding Planned Parenthood
Most New Jersey voters support federal and state funding to low-cost women’s health centers including Planned Parenthood, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Wednesday.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Sources: Former Eric Trump Foundation VP Under Consideration to Run HUD in New York and New Jersey
Lynne Patton, former vice president of Eric Trump’s personal philanthropy, is under consideration to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s New York/New Jersey Office, several sources have told the Observer.
Will Bredderman, Observer Read more

Bringing balloons down to earth: Bill would end mass release
Intentionally releasing helium-filled balloons as part of celebrations, remembrances or any organized event could soon be illegal in New Jersey.
Scott Fallon, The Record Read more

NJ Assembly OKs bill on voter-posted ballot selfies
The New Jersey Assembly has approved a bill that would allow voters to post ballot selfies on social media sites.
Associated Press Read more

Atlantic City residents, activists file petitions for vote on sale of MUA
Residents and activists crowded city hall’s lobby Wednesday afternoon to illustrate the support they’ve gathered against the state takeover.
Erin Serpico, Press of Atlantic City Read more

Atlantic City casino revenue up 4.3 percent in May
Summertime’s nearly here, and the living is getting easier for Atlantic City’s casino operators with the busiest and most profitable time of the year arriving as the industry is on a roll.
Wayne Parry, Associated Press Read more

Passaic mayor could take office with 60 percent raise
The City Council is considering giving a 60 percent pay raise to acting Mayor Hector Lora, who just swept the local election last month, and will begin his first full term July 2.
Nicholas Katzban, The Record Read more

Neptune paid $27,000 for police report, and it’s a secret
In recent years, the local police department has faced a host of major issues ranging from an officer killing his ex-wife to a $660,000 payout to settle sexual harassment claims from two female officers.
Austin Bogues, Asbury Park Press Read more

Editorial: Another shooting, another call for unity
A gunman, James T. Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, allegedly opened fire Wednesday morning on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia. Republican members of Congress and their staffs were practicing for Thursday’s charity Congressional Baseball Game. At least five people were wounded, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. As a nation, we must unite in the wake of another senseless tragedy.
The Record Read more

EDITORIAL: Give flood victims a fair shake
Many victims of superstorm Sandy have been cheated — sometimes repeatedly — by state and federal authorities as well as insurers. The list of abuses has been long and varied, from blatant underpayments to interminable delays.
Asbury Park Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Judge Rules for Christie on State House Renovation