Morning News Digest: February 19, 2009

Stile: Christie doesn't like the L-Word

Republican Christopher J. Christie appears to be under strict orders not to mention the "L" word — Lonegan. Christie, who is rolling down the campaign trail with help of a few established Republican retreads, refuses to acknowledge that former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan is also running for the GOP nomination for governor. He tries to not mention his name, although I did get him to say "Steve" on Wednesday. I asked him his thoughts on Lonegan’s central criticism, that there is very little conservative DNA in Christie’s Morris County marrow. (Stile, The Record)

Poll finds half in N.J. support gay marraige

About half of New Jerseyans believe that gay couples should be allowed to marry, according to a poll. The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll released today finds that 48 percent of New Jersey residents favor gay marriage, with 43 percent opposed. (AP)

Jersey City's Mayor Healy gives 'State of the City' address

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy bows his head while the National Anthem is sung before the start of the mayor annual State of the City address earlier tonight. One month after Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy kicked off his campaign for re-election, he used his "State of the City" speech tonight to tout his accomplishments, focusing on a drop in crime, stable taxes and increased development that has brought hundreds of new jobs to Jersey City. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Diorio leaning toward rematch with Schaer and Scalera in 36th

In 2007, political novices Don Diorio and Carmen Pio Costa were largely overlooked in District 36 until after Election Day, when they surprised by coming relatively close to beating the Democratic incumbents, Fred Scalera (D-Nutley) and Gary Schaer (D-Passaic). (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Roughneen says he'll run for Somerset Freeholder

Attorney and Iraq War veteran Thomas Roughneen says he'll seek the Republican nomination for an open seat on the Somerset County Freeholder Board. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

N.J. education board moves toward high school reform

Gov. Corzine's plan to beef up New Jersey high schools with more math and science moved a step closer to reality today when it was granted a key preliminary approval by the state Board of Education in Trenton. With a handful of protesters maintaining new tests will leave urban kids even further behind, the board unanimously approved reforms that won't be fully implemented until 2016. In addition to more specific science and math curriculum, the reforms introduce additional, more-rigorous subject tests required for graduation. (Chambers, Star-Ledger)

N.J. Supreme Court hears landmark sex abuse case

In a case closely watched by advocates for child sex abuse victims, the state Supreme Court heard arguments today over whether a man can pursue a lawsuit filed 14 years after alleged abuse by his stepfather. A state child sex abuse law enacted in 1992 allows victims to sue their abusers, but requires that legal action be taken within two years of the victims' "reasonable discovery" they have been harmed by the abuse. (Larini, Star-Ledger)

Corzine stands firm on possibility of state worker furloughs

Gov. Jon Corzine dug in his heels against the state workers unions today, saying a two-day furlough is within his authority to balance the budget and that he will turn to layoffs if a stalemate over wages continues. (Heininger and Megerian, Star-Ledger)

Union County to try biofuel in some heavy duty vehicles

Union County will begin a six-month-long pilot project in which its heavy duty vehicles at Ash Brook Golf Course will run on biodiesel fuel in an effort to improve the county's environmental footprint, officials said. "Biofuels have much less of a severe impact than oil based fuels," Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski said today at the Ash Brook fueling station in Scotch Plains, where the announcement was made. "It's part of a new picture." (Friedman, Star-Ledger)

Congressional hearings on Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger scheduled

Two Congressional committees will hold hearings next week on the proposed merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, two giants of the entertainment industry. The merger, announced last week, has received boos from lawmakers, artists and fans. (McGlone, Star-Ledger)

Plainfield high school named after President Obama

A Plainfield public high school for at-risk students has been renamed for President Barack Obama, becoming the first school in the state to adopt the change, according to school officials. "Good morning, this is the Barack Obama Academy," were the words that greeted a caller today, following Tuesday night's school board vote to rename the Plainfield Academy for Academic & Civic Development. (Friedman, Star-Ledger)

N.J. eliminates gasoline cards for state employees

New Jersey officials have shredded about 1,000 government-issued gasoline cards, saying the move will save New Jersey tens of thousands of dollars. The cards were issued for emergency purposes only, such as running low on fuel while driving a state-issued vehicle. But officials said the cards were frequently used at retail fueling stations, such as Shell or ExxonMobil, which are easier to find but more expensive than state-owned gas stations. (AP)

Let the fun begin in Jersey City

Things are picking up in Jersey City. Lou Manzo has a slate of candidates joining him as he challenges Mayor Healy, and they came out firing: "It's time to replace the criminals in City Hall with the real crime fighters!" Ouch. He didn't stop there. (Springer, Blue Jersey)

How much does NJ really get from the stimulus?

The compromise has been done for days and the ink on the stimulus bill is dry. So how much is in it for New Jersey? Depends on who you ask and how you measure it – although there is broad agreement on the big picture. Two groups with an eye on the plan say the figure is probably around $6.3 to $6.6 billion. But another group says it may be as large as $17 billion – and Gov. Corzine quoted this figure Tuesday. What gives? (Tamari, Inquirer)

Christie looking beyond primaries

Republican Christopher J. Christie appears to be under strict orders not to mention the "L" word — Lonegan. Christie, who is rolling down the campaign trail with help of a few established Republican retreads, refuses to acknowledge that former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan is also running for the GOP nomination for governor.(Stile, Record)

State modifies high school graduation requirements

TRENTON – High school students will not be required to take a specific algebra II class, or an online course, under revised graduation requirements introduced Wednesday to the state Board of Education. But the requirements for a third year of advanced math and three lab science courses still are being questioned, and the process is facing possible legislative oversight. (D'Amico, Press of Atlantic City)

Cape agency boots member for revealing investigation

The board for a nonprofit group that helps Cape May County's poor ousted a member who revealed the agency was under state investigation. The volunteer board for Cape Human Resources voted Tuesday to remove Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky, who last month went public with details about a state probe into the agency and its executive director. (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)

State Revenues Fall, But the Debt Remains the Same

The current economic crisis has put a lot of New Jerseyans in a very tough spot. Just because a person may be brining in less money doesn't mean credit card companies or banks will help you out by lowering your minimum monthly payments. People are being forced to use a higher percentage of their income to pay down their debt. Revenues are falling off for the New Jersey too, but the State still has to pay its debt. The problem; State debt is taxpayer debt and that means you're footing the bill. (NJ101.5)

Camden candidate says in statement that she will not discuss parents' tragic deaths

New Jersey state Sen. Dana Redd, who recently announced her candidacy for mayor of Camden, yesterday issued a statement about the deaths of her parents in 1976. (Nark, Philadelphia Daily News)

GOP gov candidates outline fiscal plans for NJ

TRENTON, N.J. – With New Jersey's economy severely weakened by the national recession, the two top Republican candidates for governor will present their fiscal visions for the state. Christopher Christie's campaign says the former U.S. attorney will discuss the state budget and the need for fiscal watchdogs. (AP) Morning News Digest: February 19, 2009