Morning News Digest: February 23, 2009

Some motor vehicle fees will go up later this year to cover costs

TRENTON — Motor Vehicle Commission fees for things such as documents, motorcycle registrations, commercial-driver exam permits and bad-driver programs may rise substantially in a few months. Costs wouldn't increase for driver's licenses or car registrations. But fee increases of 50 percent or more are proposed for some MVC transactions, among them a jump in costs for motorcycle registrations from $10 a year to $65. (Symons, Gannett)

Corzine: Stimulus is "close enough"

Governor hopes N.J. will get at least $10B over next 27 months WASHINGTON — Gov. Jon S. Corzine said Sunday he's happy with the size of the economic stimulus plan that became law earlier this month, though it's $213 billion less than what he and four other Democratic governors had recommended. Their proposal, announced in January, called for a $1 trillion stimulus plan, with $850 billion in spending and $150 billion in tax cuts for the middle class. (Chebium, Gannett)

John DiMaio wins vacant N.J. Assembly seat

Republican county committee members from Hunterdon and Warren counties voted Saturday to have John DiMaio of Hackettstown fill the 23rd Legislative District seat. DiMaio, who serves as a Warren County freeholder, defeated two Hunterdon County freeholders for the seat during a meeting held in Clinton Township. (AP)

Green Brook hires new clerk/administrator

GREEN BROOK — The township has hired a new clerk/administrator who will start her new job next week. Kelly Cupit, who will start March 2, also will have a better commute to work: she will be Millburn's clerk through Thursday, Feb. 26. (Levoy, Courier News)

Burlco clerk draws heat over GOP deputy

Just weeks into his new job, Burlington County Clerk Tim Tyler already is drawing criticism from fellow Democrats. He is the first member of his party to hold the position in 40 years, after Democrats made sweeping election gains in November in a county government traditionally run by Republicans. (Rao, Inquirer)

Mason is yet to jump in – here's some reasons why L ike Hamlet, this is a story of someone who cannot make up her mind. Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason, who is looked upon as a favorite for mayor in May, appears to be in trouble. A political watcher reminded me that in the Mile Square City, everyone who runs for mayor has usually publicly announced their intention by the St. Patrick's Day dinner. (Jersey Journal)

Philadelphia newspapers' owner files for bankruptcy

Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., which owns The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday in a bid to restructure its $390 million in debt load. The company, bought by a group of Philadelphia-area investors for $562 million in 2006, said the voluntary Chapter 11filing would not interrupt its daily operations. (Brubaker, Inquirer)

Chris Christie wins Union County GOP convention

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie coasted to an easy victory at the Union County Republican Convention today, winning almost three-fourths of the vote and defeating former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan. "The vote you made today is a vote you will always, always be proud of," he said in his victory speech at Lawton C. Johnson Middle School in Summit. (Megerian, Star-Ledger)

Kazmark ratchets up his bid for county clerk

Keith Kazmark, Woodland Park councilman and Elmwood Park municipal clerk, had to discuss his future with two mayors this week after becoming a strong contender in the race for Passaic County clerk. (Stile, Record)

Capital Games

NEW JERSEY's share of the $70 billion in Alternative Minimum Tax savings in the stimulus bill is $4.4 billion, Sen. Bob Menendez's office said. That's how much extra New Jersey taxpayers, including couples making as little as $75,000, would have had to pay on this year's income if Congress had not extended an AMT exemption that expired at the beginning of the year. (Jackson, Record)

State seeks motor-vehicle fee hikes

TRENTON — More than two Motor Vehicle Commission fees, for things such as documents, motorcycle registrations, commercial-driver exam permits and bad-driver programs, may rise substantially in a few months. Costs wouldn't increase for driver's licenses or car registrations. But fee hikes of 50 percent or higher are proposed for some MVC transactions, among them a jump in costs for motorcycle registrations from $10 a year to $65. (Symons, Gannett)

Not all are happy with idea to move Philadelphia-area air traffic to Atlantic City

Two Philadelphia-area legislators would like to see 10 percent of Philadelphia International Airport's annual flights diverted to Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township. The South Jersey Transportation Authority, which owns the Atlantic City International Airport, says bring it on. Two area politicians, however, are saying they don't want the air traffic over their backyards. The Philadelphia-area congressmen, U.S. Reps. Robert Andrews, D-1st, N.J., and Joe Sestak, D-7th, Pa., are opposed to a Federal Aviation Administration plan to redirect some of the Philadelphia Inter-national Airport's flights over their districts. (Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)

Corzine talks Economic Stimulus on Face the Nation

Governor Corzine joined Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation this morning. In addition to Corzine, Governors Ted Strickland of Ohio and Mitch Daniels of Indiana talked about the struggles their states are facing. The whole segment is just over eleven minutes. (Springer, Blue Jersey)

Fleisher to return to Cherry Hill council

It will be alumni night at the Cherry Hill Township Council tomorrow: Democrat David Fleisher, 39, who served on the council for nine years until 2006, will be sworn back in to replace Shelley Adler, 49, who resigned after her husband, John, was elected to the U.S. House in November. The Democratic Party, which controls all seven seats on the council, had selected three nominees last week: Fleisher, Richard Supnick, and Gerald Faber. (Inquirer)

N.J. autism aid getting a boost from state

Betsy Smetona of Haddon Heights quit her job last summer to stay home with her children. Her 23-year-old twins, Megan and Michael, have graduated from the Bancroft School in Haddonfield and can't be left alone. Both have autism, although in different degrees. (Henry, Inquirer)

N.J. cuts expected in lieu of tax hikes

Several Democratic officials said Friday that they did not expect major tax increases in Gov. Corzine's new budget, although a spokeswoman for the governor said all options remained on the table. "There will be no increase in personal-income tax or sales tax," Senate President Richard J. Codey said. "At no point in any discussion about options did [Corzine] say that was an option." (Tamari and Lu, Inquirer)

Several county schools look to share services

Anxiety is running high in New Jersey's school districts as they wait to learn how much state money is available for next year's budget. Gov. Jon Corzine's delay in announcing school budget aid will force districts to scramble to finalize their budgets by the state's March 18 deadline. The announcement will coincide with Corzine's budget speech March 10. (Tatu, NJ Herald)

Is Shore economy bucking the tide?

Forecasts of economic gloom don't faze Megan Eberz and her partners, owners of three restaurants at the Jersey Shore. The outlook for the Shore this summer is a bit sunnier than for other places, insisted Eberz, now busy making decisions about staffing and menus for the season. (Urgo, Inquirer)

Vega's got a big problem and a small political future

West New York had pure drama this past week and it is worth reviewing what happened. It was more like the famous scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent" than Jacque Demy's "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" – more sinister than romantic. Walking down an incline on West New York's 57th Street toward the Middle School near Broadway, there was a small sea of mostly dark-colored umbrellas, hundreds of them, all wet, glistening and bobbing. (Jersey Journal) Morning News Digest: February 23, 2009