Morning News Digest: February 25, 2009

Senators, critics grill CEOs of Ticketmaster, Live Nation

WASHINGTON — Executives from Live Nation and Ticketmaster faced strong opposition from lawmakers and concert industry colleagues during a Senate hearing Tuesday on the proposed merger of the two entertainment giants. Ticketmaster, the nation's largest ticketing service, wants to join with Live Nation, the county's leading concert promoter and venue operator, to create one business that they say will provide better services for artists and fans alike. (McGlone, Star-Ledger)

Lautenberg foundation sues Madoff brother about $7M in investments

Sen. Frank Lautenberg's family foundation, which invested more than $7 million with Bernard L. Madoff, filed a lawsuit today against the brother of the disgraced financier. (Ryan, Star-Ledger)

Essex County prosecutor is nominated for Superior Court judge

An Essex County prosecutor who heads the trial division and has been recognized for her work with survivors of violent crime has been nominated to become a state Superior Court judge. Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Wright, 48, is one of five prosecutors statewide who were nominated Monday, according to a news release from Gov. Jon Corzine's office. (Juri, Star-Ledger)

Environmental groups oppose hydroelectric plant in Sparta

At least two environmental groups have come out against plans for a proposed $2 billion underground hydroelectric plant that could be built in Sparta. "The energy created by this project is not considered renewable energy because it is not sustainable — it actually takes more energy to pump the water up at night than will be reaped when released in the daytime," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. (Moszczynski, Star-Ledger)

Essex to propose cutting 4 paid holidays for county workers

The Essex County executive wants to save $1 million a year in overtime costs by taking away four of workers' 14 paid holidays — including Good Friday and the day after Thanksgiving. (Read, Star-Ledger)

Judge: Man may sue over arrest at Corzine town hall event

A judge says a lawsuit filed by a New Jersey man arrested while protesting an appearance by Gov. Jon S. Corzine can move ahead. Lawyers for Corzine and other state and local officials had asked U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle to dismiss the suit filed by Seth Grossman. (AP)

Public hearing on Journal Square Redevelopment Plan at tomorrow's Council meeting

Although the City Council is considering tabling the vote on the Journal Square Redevelopment Plan at tomorrow's City Council meeting, the issue will still be discussed, and the public will have a chance to comment. The meeting takes place at the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 280 Grove Street, beginning at 6 p.m. What's in the plan? (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Area's congressional contingent gives Obama's speech positive reviews

WASHINGTON The local congressional delegation stood behind President Obama on Tuesday evening after the new leader laid out his plans to rebuild the faltering economy. (Coomes, Gloucester County Times)

N.J. Supreme Court reverses convictions of Ocean County man

TOMS RIVER — The state Supreme Court today reversed the burglary and assault convictions of an Ocean County man, who was on the lam during his 2003 trial and captured in Puerta Vallarta a year and a half later as a result of a tip from a viewer of "America's Most Wanted.'' (Hopkins, Gannett)

Carteret mayor warns of 'tough decisions' in borough outlook address

CARTERET — Because of the recession, the borough may have to make "more tough decisions" in the year to come "to ensure a brighter economic future," Mayor Daniel Reiman said Tuesday in his annual State of the Borough address. (Rommel, Courier News)

$75M school aid cut won't be restored

TRENTON — New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine says a $75 million cut in school aid isn’t likely to be restored if the Legislature fails to approve a plan allowing school districts to skip this year’s pension fund payment. The governor says the pension deferral bill would ease the blow of midyear aid cuts to school districts, towns and counties. The bill allows local governments and schools to defer half their contribution to the employee pension fund. On Thursday, the state Senate approved a bill cutting $812 million from the current budget. All 17 Republicans voted against the bill because it lays the framework for the pension deferral legislation, which stalled in the Senate in December. (AP)

New Dem chief vows reform – to a point

Move aside, Boss Joe. "Merit Mike" is in charge. "When it comes to my decision-making process, it's all about merit. Do you merit the position? Are you earning your stripes? It's not a question of do as I say, or else," said Michael Kasparian, the new chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization. (Stile, Record)

Ticketmaster settles dispute over tickets

New Jersey is probably the last place Ticketmaster wanted trouble selling seats to a Bruce Springsteen show. Nearly 2,200 people complained to the state this month after they encountered problems trying to buy tickets to see the Garden State's favorite son at the Meadowlands. (Graham, Inquirer)

Toll-hike foe wins round on his arrest

CAMDEN – A radio show host arrested while protesting an appearance at which Gov. Corzine discussed a plan to raise highway tolls can move ahead with his lawsuit, a judge ruled yesterday. (Mulvihill, AP)

Ethics panel meets, does little

TRENTON – The newly reconstituted Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards held its first official meeting yesterday, but postponed action on two longstanding complaints. (Lu, Inquirer)

Is Watson Coleman's 'second chance' tour an audition for LG?

Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman's marathon of "Second Chance" hearings across the state is widely seen first and foremost as an initiative brought about by a personal struggle: watching her two sons return from 5 1/2 year prison stints for robbing a clothing store at gun point. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

In Morristown, Cresitello poised to run again for mayor

MORRISTOWN – For several weeks now, the signs have been solid in the form of friends circulating petitions and allies receiving phone calls: Mayor Donald Cresitello is running for reelection. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: February 25, 2009