NJ Politics Digest: The ‘Summer of Hell’ Begins

Evening commuters wait for New Jersey Transit trains at Penn Station. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The day commuters and transit officials have been dreading is here.

The so-called “Summer of Hell” kicks off with this morning’s commute, and riders can expect delays and headaches for the next eight weeks as Amtrak rebuilds tracks at New York Penn Station after three derailments this year. It’s a make or break moment for NJ Transit, as its ability to handle – or not handle – a crisis like this is put to the test. But the state agency goes into this mess already behind the 8 ball in many commuters’ minds, so coming out of it looking good won’t be easy.

Democrats in the Legislature, meanwhile, are still hoping to ensure state workers get paid for time they missed during the three-day government shutdown. But there’s disagreement over how to get it done. Senate President Steve Sweeney is calling for a vote in the Senate Thursday on a bill to protect workers’ pay, while Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is asking Gov. Chris Christie to go it alone and use his executive authority to compensate workers.

And Christie’s much-maligned stay at Island Beach State Park during the shutdown now has gubernatorial candidates from both parties saying they have no interest in the beach house perk that comes with holding the state’s highest office.

Quote of the Day: “If the easy solution is to just get rid of it, just get rid of it,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagno, on the governor’s residence in Island Beach State Park.

Survival guide: Everything you need to navigate this summer’s chaotic commute to NYC
The so-called “summer of hell” for commuters is upon us as NJ Transit prepares to divert most of its commuters on the Morris and Essex county lines from New York Penn Station to Hoboken Terminal as repairs kick into high gear at the world’s busiest train station.
The Record Read more

Senate to Vote on Paying State Workers for Shutdown
The Senate will return to the state house next week to vote on paying state workers for time they missed during the government shutdown.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Bill would allow public to rent Christie beach house
Gov. Chris Christie’s trip to the beach during a state government shutdown has inspired new legislation.
Associated Press Read more

Guadagno and Murphy: Governor does not need beach house
New Jersey’s Democratic and Republican nominees for governor agree on at least one issue — if elected, they have no need for a taxpayer-funded beach house.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Chris Christie a frequent flyer on taxpayer-owned helicopters
Photographs of Gov. Chris Christie lounging on Island Beach State Park unleashed a wave of public outrage against the governor — with far less attention paid to how the governor got there during a holiday week state government shutdown.
The Record Read more

Egos, revenge & secret deals: The inside story of The Jersey Shutdown, 2017
When Gov. Chris Christie signed the final state budget of his career shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday, it ended the most contentious political drama New Jersey has seen in more than a decade.
NJ.com Read more

State parks will reimburse campers for shutdown disruptions
Campers who lost money on their overnight reservations at state parks because of New Jersey’s government shutdown will be reimbursed their money, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Horizon wins court fight to keep $15.5M in contract violations secret
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has obtained a court order blocking the public from seeing a letter which explains why the Christie administration fined the insurance company $15.5 million for contract violations last month.
NJ.com Read more

Freeholder Bartlett Announces Challenge to Frelinghuysen
John Bartlett on Friday became the second Democrat to announce a challenge to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11), who has come under fire in his district due to his support for the American Health Care Act that passed the House in May, for declining to hold town halls, and for a letter he sent complaining about a constituent to her employer.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Christie state Board of Ed pick was banned from working in public schools
One of Gov. Chris Christie’s recent picks for the state Board of Education was quietly rescinded after officials learned she was previously convicted of child abuse and banned from working in public schools, NJ Advance Media has learned.
NJ.com Read more

Most voter data requested by Trump administration already public in N.J.
Much of the detailed voter information requested of New Jersey and the other states by the Trump administration is already public in New Jersey. So despite the fact that numerous state and federal officials, as well as civil rights organizations, have urged New Jersey not to comply with the request, the federal commission looking into possible voter fraud in last year’s presidential election should be able to get most of what it’s looking for.
NJ Spotlight Read more

Marijuana Industry Gears Up After N.J. Candidate Backs Legalization
Stacks of résumés from retired state troopers sit on a desk just outside the Terra Tech farm here, though the need for experienced armed security appears excessive amid the serene setting and the scent of basil and rosemary growing at the five-acre indoor farm.
New York Times Read more