Morning News Digest: March 20, 2009

Doblin: Listen to the sonds of snap, crackle and pop Waste, fraud and abuse. If only they were like Snap,

Doblin: Listen to the sonds of snap, crackle and pop

Waste, fraud and abuse. If only they were like Snap, Crackle and Pop, little animated elves who could be held to account if their product didn't make the requisite noises. But waste, fraud and abuse aren't characters. And New Jersey's state budget is no box of Rice Krispies. Last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie went on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. Christie isn't happy with Governor Corzine's budget. He wants Corzine to go after waste, fraud and abuse. Christie said that he if were governor, he wouldn't be increasing taxes and that Corzine has offered New Jerseyans "false choices" in what has to be sacrificed to retain other services. Christie is skillful with a sound bite. Snap, crackle and pop, he has. Details are another issue.

'Jersey Fresh' takes hit under Corzine's budget

Gov. Jon Corzine isn't looking to close the state Department of Agriculture this year, but his budget does go after "Jersey Fresh" — one of its most successful and widely known programs. The $29.8 billion spending plan the governor proposed last week calls for a $250,000 reduction for the Jersey Fresh program, which was started in 1984 to boost local farmers through enhanced marketing of their produce to consumers, supermarkets and restaurants. (Reitmeyer, Star-Ledger)

N.J. has 24 cities with double-digit jobless rates

The number of larger New Jersey cities and towns with double-digit unemployment rates rose to 24 in January from 11 the prior month. That's according to data released Thursday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics on the 97 New Jersey communities with more than 25,000 residents. (AP)

GOP gubernatorial candidate Lonegan says N.J. should repeal paid family leave

New Jersey should repeal paid family leave and four other laws because they discourage business, Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan said today. (Young, Star-Ledger)

Whew! Made it. 48 candidates meet filing deadline for municipal elections

Forty-eight mayoral and city council candidates filed petitions at the Jersey City Clerk Office by today's 4 p.m. deadline. Mayoral and council-at-large candidates need 1,392 valid petitions to make the ballot for the May 12 election. City council ward candidates need between 198 and 276 valid petitions. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Indicted N.J. Assemblyman Joseph Vas' aides charged with soliciting fake contributions

Two long-time aides to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas were charged today with soliciting fake contributions to the Democratic politician's failed congressional campaign. In the second blow to city politics in as many weeks, Melvin Ramos, 53, and Raymond Geneske, 73, both of Perth Amboy, were charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and money laundering for their roles in a scheme to inflate Vas' campaign war chest, Attorney General Anne Milgram said. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)

N.J. senior citizen nutrition programs get $2.8M in federal stimulus funds

New Jersey has received $2.8 million in federal stimulus money to provide meals to 3,000 senior citizens. The money is part of $100 million being made available for senior nutrition services nationwide by the U.S. Administration on Aging. (AP)

GOP candidate Chris Christie opposes N.J.'s medical marijuana bill

Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie says he opposes a bill that would allowing chronically ill patients in New Jersey to use medical marijuana. Appearing Thursday on radio station NJ101.5 FM, Christie said he supports the concept but criticized the legislation as too lax. (AP)

Budget assault not threat to USS N.J.

Despite a sinking economy, the Battleship New Jersey could find it easier this year to stay afloat. The museum, docked at Camden's waterfront, dodged a financial bullet in Gov. Jon S. Corzine's proposed budget, with a $150,000 funding reduction Ð a stark contrast to the $1.3 million hit it took last year. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

Property tax deduction to stay in revised state budget proposal

TRENTON — Homeowners with household incomes of $150,000 or less will be able to retain their property tax deduction in 2010, under a revised budget proposal Gov. Jon S. Corzine announced Thursday. But the one-year income-tax surcharge on household incomes over $500,000 will be increased an additional 0.5 percent from what he proposed last week. (Symons, Gannett) N.J. opposes pre-trial intervention for dentist in ocean-dumping case

N.J. opposes pre-trial intervention for dentist in ocean-dumping case

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — A judge will decide if the Pennsylvania dentist accused of dumping medical waste off Cape May County last summer will enter a diversionary program that would allow him to avoid a criminal conviction. The probation department recommended that Thomas McFarland Jr. be admitted into the pre-trial intervention program because he met its basic criteria, but Deputy Attorney General Edward Bonanno said the state opposed his entry into the program. (Gilfillian, Press of Atlantic City)

Camden trash plant is criticized

Environmentalists long opposed to pollution in the southern part of Camden returned to an old fight last night at a hearing on a permit renewal for a trash incinerator. The Camden Resource Recovery Facility, also known as a trash-to-steam plant, annually emits hundreds of tons of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur as it converts solid waste into electricity. (Katz, Inquirer)

Enmity casts long shadow on GOP vote

It's probably too late to redesign paper ballots for tonight's Bergen County Republican Organization convention, which is a shame. To more accurately reflect what is at stake, candidates should be grouped in columns under these slogans: "The Bob Yudin-Conservative Old Guard" or "The Kathleen Donovan-Moderate-to-Liberal Leaners." (Stile, Record)

State's budget pain extends beyond property tax

Cuts to property tax rebates are getting most of the attention, but Governor Corzine's new budget includes many other "revenue solutions" that could have residents and business paying more. Anyone planning to register a motorcycle, obtain a commercial driver's license or conduct other business with the state Motor Vehicle Commission is facing fee increases that Corzine wants to use for the new budget. (Reitmeyer, Star-Ledger)

Town's challenge to COAH refused

A powerful state agency Wednesday refused to declare a new law violates the state's constitution by requiring towns to build affordable housing without providing the necessary funding. In dismissing the complaint against the state, the Council on Local Mandates said it has no jurisdiction to overturn a specific mandate of the state's affordable housing regulations challenged by Medford officials. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)

It's 5-on-5 in Lyndhurst commissioner election

LYNDHURST – The town's mayor and four commissioners are being challenged by five newcomers in the May non-partisan election. Mayor Richard DiLascio, Joseph Abruscato, Thomas DiMaggio, Robert Giangeruso and Brian Haggerty all filed to be reelected for four-year terms. (Gavin, Record)

Two of Ex-Perth Amboy Mayor Vas' allies charged with fraud, misconduct

PERTH AMBOY — Two close allies of former Mayor Joseph Vas have been charged with reimbursing contributors to Vas' unsuccessful 2006 congressional campaign by giving them cash in the exact amount for which they wrote out personal checks to "Vas for Congress,'' according to charges announced Thursday by the state Attorney General's Office. (Russell, Courier News)

Camden County Jail set for $200,000 upgrade

The Camden County Jail, recently hit by plumbing and sanitation problems, is about to get more than $200,000 in upgrades and new equipment. The county freeholders agreed Thursday to spend more than $155,000 on the facility's kitchen, with as much as $17,515 earmarked for new flooring there. (Smeltz, Courier-Post)

Christie criticizes Lonegan's decision not to compete at conventions

HACKENSACK — After winning the convention in rival Steve Lonegan’s home county with 78% of its Republican committee votes, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie chastised Lonegan for refusing to compete in county committee conventions without once mentioning his name. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Smith builds up Buono for LG

EDISON – At the Middlesex County Democratic Organization’s (MCDO) annual convention at the Pines Manor here tonight there was palpable frontrunner fever for Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) as the state’s first Democratic Party candidate for lieutenant governor. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: March 20, 2009