Morning News Digest: February 24, 2009

Faison rules out bid for 3rd term

Mayor Gwendolyn Faison announced her decision not to seek re-election Monday night. "I'm not seeking a third term," said Faison, 84, who's been mayor since December 2000. She announced her decision to a crowd of more than 250 people at a Fairview community center for a forum on how state management has affected the city. Faison alluded that she would support state Sen. Dana Redd, the front-runner in the Democratic mayoral primary. But in an interview after the meeting, she said she was still not officially backing anyone. (Hirsch, Courier Post)

Jersey City Council considers tabling Journal Square plan

The Jersey City Council is considering tabling Wednesday night's vote on the Journal Square Redevelopment plan in order to get more information on the plan. The council will still have the public hearing on the plan at the council meeting, however. "There is a level of comfort that the council needs before it can vote," said Council President Mariano Vega Jr. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Corzine says federal stimulus will help cushion state against budget cuts

Gov. Jon Corzine today said the federal stimulus package will soften the damage to the budget he will deliver next month by providing more than $1 billion in direct relief. Corzine said his spending plan for the 2010 fiscal year will be around $29.5 billion, up from the $28.5 billion New Jersey expects to collect in revenues. (Heininger and Murray, Star-Ledger)

N.J. lawmakers vote to shelve ballot printer plan

The New Jersey Senate today voted to postpone a program that would help certify votes cast on touch-screen polling machines. The bill, which passed 29-7, indefinitely delays a deadline for attaching paper printers to the state's 10,000 electronic voting machines. It says the state can't afford the retrofit because of its "critical economic situation and lack of appropriate technology." (AP)

N.J. Senate approves bill allowing use of medical marijuana

The state Senate voted today to legalize marijuana for medical use, despite warnings the drug would fall into the hands of recreational users instead of the chronically ill patients who suffer from debilitating symptoms. The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act targets patients suffering from a debilitating disease defined as cancer, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, and other chronic illnesses that cause "wasting syndrome, severe or chronic pain, seizures and severe and persistent muscle spasms," according to the bill. (Livio, Star-Ledger)

Bill restricting handgun purchases stalls in N.J. Senate

A bill that would restrict handgun purchases in New Jersey to one per month stalled in the state Senate today. The bill was held by its sponsor, Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Hudson), after it received 20 votes, one shy of the 21 needed for passage. No Republicans voted for the bill, drawing a rebuke from Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex). (Heininger, Star-Ledger)

N.J. Senate approves bill allowing medical marijuana use

The New Jersey Senate has approved a bill allowing chronically ill patients legal access to marijuana. Advocates say medicinal marijuana has been shown to alleviate pain and nausea in patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS when other drugs fail. Critics claim the measure would condone and promote illegal drug use. (AP)

Who's running in Jersey City's municipal elections?

Less than a month before the filing deadline for Jersey City's 2009 municipal elections, 70 people have picked up petitions to run for city council and mayor. But so far, only nine people have turned the petitions back in: six who have had their signatures certified by the City Clerk's office and three more who are waiting for certification, according to the City Clerk's office. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Ticketmaster agrees to stop re-selling through subsidiary

Ticketmaster, the country's leading ticket retailer, reached a settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General today ending its practice of sending consumers to a subsidiary where tickets are re-sold for hundreds of dollars over face value. The settlement also creates a lottery making 2,000 tickets available for purchase at their box-office price by customers who complained about the way Ticketmaster handled the Feb. 2 sale of tickets to Bruce Springsteen's May 21 and 23 concerts at the Izod Center in East Rutherford. (McGlone, Star-Ledger)

Corzine not interested in commerce secretary position

Although he helped sell the stimulus package by appearing on national television on behalf of President Obama, Governor Corzine said today has not been approached about the open Commerce Secretary position in the Obama Administration, and today nipped in the bud any speculation that he might be interested in it. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Faison backs Redd for mayor of Camden

South Jersey sources report that Camden Mayor Gwendolyn Faison tonight announced she would not run for reelection in June, and endorsed the mayoral candidacy of state Sen. Dana Redd. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

State Senate approves medical marijuana bill

TRENTON — Chronically ill New Jerseyans could alleviate their suffering legally by smoking marijuana under a bill passed Monday by the state Senate. The proposal by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, would allow patients with certain chronic and terminal illnesses to grow six marijuana plants or have marijuana grown for them at an authorized treatment center. (AP)

Conservationists fight to save the forest for the trees in Downe Township

DOWNE TOWNSHIP – Down in the woods of Downe Township, some trees are nearly a half-millennium old. On Sunday, about three dozen people ignored the rain and hiked deep into the friendly confines of Bear Swamp to see those ancient gum trees, but they took a different path than they have in years past. The quickest road in now has new owners, and the new owners do not let the public take that path. (Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)

Budget meeting boils over

WEST DEPTFORD TWP. Officials delved into the 2009 budget Monday during a public planning meeting that was punctuated by outbursts from the audience. During the marathon meeting, which began at 6 p.m. and continued past 9:45 p.m., Police Chief Craig Mangano stepped in on several occasions to remind the crowd of 100 or so to maintain order during the meeting. (Counihan, Gloucester County Times)

Lawmakers consider Internet safety measures

TRENTON — New Jersey lawmakers this week plan to consider a series of measures aimed at protecting children and teenagers from Web-trolling predators. A package of 10 bills introduced in the Assembly Monday would stiffen the penalties for harassing or communicating with minors in sexually explicit ways online and allow wiretapping to investigate some suspected crimes against children. They’re part of an aggressive assault Attorney General Anne Milgram is making against Internet abuses, especially those involving children. (AP)

Chris Christie and the miracle of the 234 Republicans

I'VE BEEN following from a distance the early days of Chris Christie's campaign for governor. At the bottom of the press releases I receive with increasing frequency, I read a note saying whatever event has just occurred is part of the "30 Days of Good News." It almost sounds messianic. (Doblin, Record)

Camden forum discusses controversial state law

On a night when longtime Camden City Mayor Gwendolyn A. Faison announced that she would not seek another term, the city got a lesson in a powerful, controversial state law that has marked the mayor's tenure. (Katz, Inquirer)

Corzine assesses effect of bailout

TRENTON – The federal stimulus package could provide New Jersey $1 billion for its next budget, Gov. Corzine said yesterday, but deep spending cuts still will be needed because of rapidly falling revenues. (Tamari, Inquirer)

Commission hears tales of school bullying

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – For four years, Dan Jacobson was told everyone hated him. He was called a variety of names, and had to deal with threatening phone calls to his home. Jacobson was even physically assaulted twice while a student at Jackson Memorial High School, according to his parents. (DeMarco, Inquirer)

Cherry Hill council adds Fleisher

A former Cherry Hill councilman was named last night to fill the unexpired term of Councilwoman Shelley Adler, whose husband was recently elected to Congress. Dave Fleisher, 39, a father of three, is a financial-services executive who served on the Township Council for nine years until 2006. At 27, he was the youngest councilperson ever to be elected in the township. (Inquirer)

Somerset County freeholders set to introduce budget at Tuesday meeting

SOMERVILLE — Freeholders are expected to introduce the county's 2009 budget during a special meeting Feb. 24. "The prior 12 to 15 years of paying down the debt, watching our surplus and making sure we don't run things down to the bone have provided us with the proper buffer to deal with a downturn as significant as this," Freeholder Director Rick Fontana said. (Bricketto, Courier News) Morning News Digest: February 24, 2009