Morning News Digest: March 16, 2009

Most in N.J. want to keep gambling in A.C., poll shows

Most New Jerseyans think gambling should be allowed only in the 11 Atlantic City casinos, a poll found. The Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll found 70 percent of those surveyed oppose extending casino gambling to other areas of the state. (AP)

N.J. Turnpike paid $11M in overtime in '08, down from $13M in '07

Toll collectors, maintenance mechanics, supervisors and hundreds of other New Jersey Turnpike Authority employees racked up $11 million in overtime in 2008 — an expenditure that agency officials attribute to a 24-7 schedule and chronic absenteeism.(Rouse, Record)

Assembly to consider allowing Sunday deer hunting

TRENTON – A state law banning most types of hunting on Sunday could soon be changed to allow hunters to kill deer with a bow and arrow on the Christian Sabbath. The original ban, enacted in 1903, prohibits hunting with dogs or weapons or bringing a gun into the "woods or fields or on the waters on the Sabbath day, commonly called Sunday, under a penalty of twenty dollars for each offense." (Inquirer)

Would Corzine budget smack middle class?

From his decisions on who would keep their property-tax rebates all the way down to the call on which drinks to tax – wine, for example, but not beer – Gov. Corzine and his aides have said his new budget makes tough choices, but protects the typical New Jerseyan. (Tamari, Inquirer)

Corzine's scheduling irks GOP

Governor Corzine’s offered to raise Republican lawmakers’ awareness of his $28.9 billion budget last Tuesday morning — the same time Republicans had scheduled an event to raise money. Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce complained that the scheduling conflict was no accident. (Stile, Record)

Gambling to ease debt, Corzine pitches Powerball

Buy a lottery ticket in New Jersey and dream about the winnings: quit-your-job rich with Pick-6 Lotto, or buy-a-private-island rich with Mega Millions, the game played in a dozen states. Now, Governor Corzine wants to add the 30-state Powerball, potentially making New Jersey the first place where players could buy tickets for the two consortium lotteries — the kind whose single jackpots often top $200 million, and have flirted with $400 million. (Young, Record)

New Jersey favors A.C. gaming monopoly

Atlantic City should be the only place in New Jersey where gamblers can play the slot machines and table games, according to a new poll that shows voters strongly oppose the expansion of casino gaming to other parts of the state. “For now, the results are loud and clear: What happens in Atlantic City, stays in Atlantic City,” said Peter Woolley, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. “But with the expansion of gambling all over the country and in neighboring states, this issue is not likely to go away.” (Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City)

A.C. mayoral campaign 2009 begins Monday night

ATLANTIC CITY — It was less than a year ago when Lorenzo Langford smiled as he hoisted City Councilman Marty Small’s arm during a victory celebration at his campaign headquarters. Langford had just defeated incumbent Scott Evans in the Democratic primary by a larger margin than expected, with help from Small’s 2nd Ward leadership team. Langford went on to win last year’s special election to serve the final year of Bob Levy’s unexpired term. But now the stakes are higher. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

BPU head touts accomplishments, identifies goals for second term

EAST BRUNSWICK — Up for another term as chief of the state's Board of Public Utilities, Jeanne Fox touted the agency's accomplishments during her first six years and defended against concerns raised by critics during the recent nomination process. (Burd, Courier News)

Empty chairs plague Camden school board

Three appointed Camden City School Board members have been absent for almost half of their public meetings since April, a problem that also plagued the board in 2004. (Gidjunis, Courier-Post)

Unspent funds for train safety, security make N.J. lawmakers furious

WASHINGTON — In 2006, Congress appropriated $127.8 million to keep trains — including NJ Transit, Amtrak and the New York City subways — safe. Not so much in this country, but in other places — Madrid, London, Mumbai — bad guys blow up trains because that's where people are. Some say it's only a matter of time before somebody tries to blow up an American train. (Braun, Star-Ledger)

District officials expect layoffs

MONROE TWP. Even though the township's school district was awarded the highest increase in state aid for 2009-2010 out of all districts in Gloucester County, Superintendent Charles Earling said that there is no doubt about it: there will be staff layoffs. (Paciolla, Gloucester County Times)

County seeks $3M in cuts

Although Gloucester County officials anticipate a stable tax rate, this year's budget is expected to surpass the $200 million mark for the first time when it is introduced next month. There have been cuts announced, including up to 85 positions eliminated mostly through attrition between last year and this year. (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

State's controversial voting district maps may be challenged On the eve of New Jersey's legislative elections, the long-contested map setting the boundaries for the state's voting districts may be challenged as unconstitutional in the wake of a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision last week. (Margolin and Sherman, Star-Ledger)

In the final countdown, how many Jersey City candidates will get enough signatures to run for office?

It's coming down to the moment of truth in the race for Jersey City City Hall. By 4 p.m. Thursday, anyone who hopes to have their name on the ballot for mayor or council in the May 12 election must hand in the petitions they've been gathering. (Jersey Journal)

Monmouth Democrats shuffle top jobs; GOP lambasts move

FREEHOLD — Democrats on the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders have pulled the trigger on a high-level administration shakeup despite heavy criticism that the changes were politically motivated. But Democrat John D'Amico Jr. said Republicans had expressed no concerns about the political spoils system for several decades when they had control of the county government. (Jordan, APP)

"They are stealing my property"

Fairview has switched sides and is supporting Cliffside Park in its bid to seize private property in Fairview, days before a judge was scheduled to release what could have been a precedent-setting decision on the uses of eminent domain. The owner of the property said the two towns are now “ganging up” on her. (Firschein, Record)

Right now, everything's about Amboy: politics converges where the rivers converge

PERTH AMBOY – The rivers run into each other there and disgorge urb and burb remnants alike into the bay. In the middle of a global economic crisis, in the middle of a local budget crisis, in the middle of state corruption charges leveled against her predecessor, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz stands in the parish center of Our Lady of Fatima Church in front of a crowd of 400 residents Friday night and urges them to work with government to keep their homes. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Christie criticizes Corzine's budget

TRENTON — Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie said he'd lay off state workers and eliminate $250 million in overtime to help balance the New Jersey's budget. Otherwise, Christie was not specific about what he'd do to close the state's $7 billion budget gap though he was critical of the $29.8 billion budget Gov. Jon Corzine proposed Tuesday. Appearing on WNYC's Brian Lehrer radio show, the front runner for the Republican nomination said it's his job to critique Corzine's budget, not propose alternatives. (AP) Morning News Digest: March 16, 2009