Morning News Digest: February 12, 2009

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Stile says Corzine should go on a diet

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Governor Corzine has never tangled toe-to-toe with his opponents on a level playing field. His campaign strategy has been to thump them over the head with his checkbook. But with his poll numbers plunging faster than the economy, Corzine's clutch of high-paid campaign advisers might consider this radical idea: Run a reelection campaign without the checkbook. Keep your loot locked up in your blind trust. Try running without greasing every county chairman's palm with $37,000 donations or funneling cash to church foundations. (Stile, The Record)

Kean backs Christie for governor

Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean Sr. endorsed Christopher J. Christie for governor yesterday, throwing a popular Republican voice behind the front-runner in the early going of the party's primary campaign. "Chris Christie's strong leadership will finally end business as usual and bring real change to Trenton," Kean said in a statement the Christie campaign released. (Tamari, Inquirer)

Christie stands with Kean – but says he won't campaign with Bush and Ashcroft

BERNARDSVILLE – It's a well-documented story, about how then-Assemblyman Tom Kean went to a Livingston classroom 32 years ago and awoke the imagination of a precocious 14-year old student, who would volunteer on Kean's successful gubernatorial campaign, grow up to be U.S. Attorney, and himself run for governor. Now he runs with the former governor's backing, as Kean stood with Chris Christie in the Bernardsville Inn this afterrnoon and reminded reporters that the only other time he involved himself in a Republican Primary was when his son ran for the U.S. Senate three years ago. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Five Bergen County Republicans line up to take on O'Brien and Walton

Five Republican are seeking the Bergen County Republican Organization’s nod to take on incumbent Democratic Freeholders Julie O’Brien and Vernon Walton in November. Altogether, six candidates filed letters of intent with Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin, although one has already withdrawn her name. The party will award the line to the two candidates that win a convention later this year. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Corzine in Bergen

Governor Corzine called today on the oft-divided Bergen County Democratic Organization to unite and support him in his re-election bid. “There are 900,000 people in Bergen County,” he told an audience of about 200 party loyalists. “We’re going to win Bergen County … I need your help, folks. Let’s fight like hell in the fall.” (Gartland, The Record)

N.J. investigates $185M in health-care spending on dependants

The state has been conducting an audit of all public employees, believing as much as $185 million is being spent on health benefits for dependents who are ineligible for coverage. The state is in the process of sending letters to some 224,000 state and local workers and school and college employees, requesting documentation for their dependents who receive state health coverage. (Larini, Star-Ledger)

Xanadu weighs when to open

The Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex space is 70 percent leased, a top official at the Meadowlands Sports Complex said Wednesday. Xanadu officials still face a difficult decision, however, about whether to open in August, as scheduled. The alternative is to wait until the rest of the space is leased — which could be a long wait, given the nation’s financial crisis. (Brennan, Record)

Poll finds Corzine's approval rating in decline

A poll finds Gov. Jon Corzine's approval rating has fallen and that nearly three in four New Jerseyans believe the state is generally on the wrong track. zine The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll out today found 34 percent of respondents approved of the governor's performance — which marks a return to the low ratings he held last spring — while 48 percent disapprove. (AP)

Expert: N.J. job losses on pace to top 265,000

New Jersey stands to lose another 205,000 jobs before it emerges from the devastating recession, a leading state economist told a gathering of bankers today. The final tally of jobs that fall prey to the economy could top 265,000, making it the worst ever in the state, said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)

Town, union clash over Howell "sickout"

HOWELL — Union members — already upset by upcoming furloughs — were fired up Wednesday over what they called harassment from the township manager, who workers said threatened disciplinary action after she had gotten wind of a possible sickout. (Predham, Asbury Park Press)

Army Corps of Engineers wil move beach munitions from spot near school

SURF CITY – Quick action by local and federal officials succeeded Wednesday in forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move military munitions that were being stored a few hundred feet from the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School. (Weaver, Press of Atlantic City)

GOP mayors: Oglesby out

Some local mayors have joined in a former freeholder candidate's call for Gloucester County Republican Chairwoman Loran Oglesby's immediate resignation. They say Oglesby, who was first named to the post four years ago, had plenty of time for make changes,but has produced no results. (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

DeGise: Sharpen knives to trim requests by 10%

Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise sent a letter to county directors yesterday asking them to conduct top to bottom reviews of their departments with the goal of reducing up to 10 percent from their 2009 budget requests, officials said. The county, which operates on a calendar year rather than a fiscal year schedule, will introduce its budget in the spring. (Jersey Journal)

County freeholders finalize programs to help those in need

NEWTON — Contracts and agreements for several programs to help the elderly and those who need counseling were approved by the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders during its meeting Wednesday. Several of the agreements are for the Center for Evaluation and Counseling to provide programs for young people, including drug counseling, alternatives to detention and life skills. The center also will provide services for adults. (Scruton, NJ Herald)

Christie should tell Murphy: No, thanks

Republican Christopher J. Christie sat astride his high horse two weeks ago rather than ride a Chamber of Commerce train to Washington, that unsavory symbol of New Jersey's status quo. "Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie wants to bring real change to Trenton and that comes with ending politics as usual, which this trip has become a symbol of,'' his spokesman said. (Stile, Record)

Central Jersey officials offer general praise of Obama in first news conference

It was President Barack Obama's first prime-time press conference, and he was frank with the American people, but not too frank. "We have an illusion that a president can be a complete truth-teller," said David Greenberg, an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. (Malwitz, Courier News)

Former Perth Amboy mayor resigns from redevelopment agency

PERTH AMBOY —Seven months after losing the title of Perth Amboy mayor, Joseph Vas has resigned from the agency that was key to his administration's efforts to rebuild the city. Vas, an assemblyman in the 19th Legislative District, notified Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz this week that he was resigning from the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency, effective immediately. (Russell, Courier News)

Morning News Digest: February 12, 2009