Morning News Digest: March 30, 2009

Doblin: Up the creek in a Swift Boat without a paddle

Remember Sen. John Kerry? He was the preening peacock who unsuccessfully ran against President Bush in 2004. Before he began his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry saluted to the cameras and said he was reporting for duty. Republican sharks were circling Kerry's Swift Boat faster than you could say "Lou Dobbs." All's fair in war and politics, especially when at stake is the presidency. It was foolish for Kerry to hang his entire candidacy on a single issue: his service in Vietnam. It takes only one well-aimed salvo to dismantle a one-issue candidacy. Chris Christie, take note. He has built his campaign for governor on a single issue: fighting public corruption. While he was U.S. attorney, Christie had an unblemished record for catching corrupt public officials.

GOP combatants go toe-to-toe for the dough

With just two months to go before Republican voters choose who should challenge Governor Corzine, the top GOP contenders are waging a tough fund-raising battle to fill their campaign war chests. But while Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan are competing for the same votes, they are aiming at different donors, using vastly different strategies and, in some ways, playing by different rules. (Heininger and Margolin, Star-Ledger)

Casinos want piece of stimulus pie

WASHINGTON New Jersey's tourism sector is crying foul over casinos largely being excluded from the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package. Tourism drives the economy around Atlantic City, and as people cut back on travel, local businesses are suffering. Casinos' revenue dropped 19.2 percent in February compared with the same month last year, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission reported. (Coomes, Gloucester County Times)

Water projects vying for stimulus

Ramsey has a sewer pump station that is so old, many of the companies that make replacement parts for it have gone out of business. The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission asked for $4 million to improve Wanaque Reservoir security. Hackensack needs $500 million worth of new sewer lines. (Pries, Record)

Corzine addresses 500 at Muslim event

An immigration advisory panel’s report will be released Monday, a blueprint for how New Jersey can meet the needs and challenges of its diverse population, Governor Corzine said at today’s American Muslim Union’s annual community brunch in Teaneck. “The challenges are real,” Corzine said. “We have not met all of them.” (Layton, Record)

Group plans to fight low tuition in NJ for illegal immigrants

A national group that favors strict immigration policies has launched a campaign in New Jersey and five other states aimed at drumming up opposition to in-state college tuition rates for illegal immigrants. (LLorente, Record)

Kenny may replace Spinello on Jersey City City Council

Jersey City City Council hopeful Philip J. Kenny might be joining his running mates in the council chambers even sooner than he might have expected. City Council President Mariano Vega said Friday the council is strongly considering appointing Kenny to replace Ward B Councilwoman Mary Spinello who announced her resignation Wednesday to head the Jersey City Parking Authority. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Araujo allowed to stay on Jersey City ballot

Overcoming a petition challenge from opponent James Carroll, Jersey City Ward D candidate Christian Araujo will be on the ballot for the May 12 election, the City Clerk's office said Friday. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Rep. Bill Pascrell's mother dies day before scheduled signing of Great Falls national park bill

As a catcher on his high school baseball team, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and his mother would walk over Paterson's Great Falls on their way home from Hinchliffe Stadium after a game. But Monday, as years of his legislative efforts are scheduled to result in the majestic 77-foot waterfall becoming a national park, Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) may not be present when President Obama signs the enabling law in Washington, D.C. (Brubaker, Star-Ledger)

State Theatre in New Brunswick reduces programming, mulls layoffs to close deficit

NEW BRUNSWICK — The State Theatre has reduced programming and may consider layoffs to manage an accumulated operating deficit of more than $800,000. (Granieri, Courier News)

N.J. favors the carrot over stick to collect tax

In a sure sign of budget troubles, New Jersey has declared its fourth tax amnesty in 22 years, hoping to raise $100 million. Mayor Nutter and Gov. Rendell, on the other hand, are cracking down on scofflaws, seeking penalties as well as back taxes. Both tactics raise cash fast in strapped times. While amnesty has worked well for New Jersey, the approach can backfire, experts say. (Henry, Inquirer)

State reimbursement sought

Several tri-county towns are questioning an arrangement within a state-mandated, locally administered program that helps totally disabled veterans and their partners stay in their homes. (Rosen, Courier-Post)

The Stanley factor: regardless of party backing, former assemblyman ready to run

NEWARK – Democratic Party stronghold Essex was supposed to be quiet this season as Newark and the environs reflect on a North Ward-City Hall lovefest and prepare for the reelection campaign of Gov Jon Corzine. Now the Payne family appears mobilized on the primary horizon here in the 28th District and potentially in the 29th, though insiders say it's unlikely they will be able to escalate a fullscale battle, even if they choose to fight. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Former party chair Giblin endorses Watson Coleman for lieutenant governor

PASSAIC – Former Democratic Party state chairman Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-Montclair) prefers another former state chair for the position of lieutenant governor on a ticket with Gov. Jon Corzine. He said if the governor asked him, he would recommend Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

In Ocean County, politics is all a-Twitter

TOMS RIVER — From his office overlooking Route 37 on the second floor of Ocean County Republican Headquarters, political director Frank Luna can galvanize thousands of the party faithful with just a few keystrokes on his computer. Thanks to the social networking Web sites like MySpace, Facebook and now Twitter, retail politics on the World Wide Web is like shopping online. Whatever your ideology, whatever your hope or outrage, there is something out there for you and kindred spirits to gloat or commiserate with — in 140 characters or less if using Twitter. (Larsen, APP)

Franklin Twp., Clayton team for building project

Franklin Township and the Borough of Clayton have passed resolutions that will allow the municipalities to begin work on a joint project. According to Franklin's Mayor Joseph Petsch, a parcel of land on Broad Street that straddles the Franklin-Clayton border will be the site of a three-story independent living facility for seniors on the portion of the property in Franklin Township. On the Clayton side of the parcel, the borough plans to build commercial units that could be a mix of retail and office space, which will bring much-needed ratables into the municipality. (Romalino, Gloucester County Times) Morning News Digest: March 30, 2009