Morning News Digest: March 4, 2009

Christie leads Corzine by nine percentage points, poll finds

Chris Christie, the leading Republican challenger in the November gubernatorial election, leads Gov. Jon Corzine in a head-to-head matchup, with 41 percent favoring Christie and 32 percent for Corzine. The Fairleigh Dickinson-PublicMind Poll out today also found Corzine's approval rating sinking. Forty six percent of voters disapprove of the incumbent Democrat's job performance, compared with 40 percent who approve. (Star-Ledger)

Jersey City mayoral candidates face off at public safety rally

About 300 people crowded into Christ the King Catholic Church tonight to protest Jersey City's crime rate and hear what mayoral candidates plan to do about it. For the most part, the candidates — Phillip Webb, Daniel Levin, Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith, former Assemblyman Louis Manzo and Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy — touted similar ideas for crime prevention: more cops walking the beat, better cooperation between cops and the community, and the need to bring more jobs, youth recreation and drug rehabilitation programs to Jersey City. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Hoboken mayoral candidate Cammarano introduces his slate

A cop, a school board president, and a businessman joined City Councilman Peter Cammarano today in his quest to become mayor of Hoboken. At an event held at Leo's Grandevous Italian restaurant, Cammarano announced his slate of at-large City Council hopefuls: Union City Police Detective Angel Alicea, Board of Education president Frances Rhodes-Kearns and Hoboken businessman Michael Novak. (Baldwin, Jersey Journal)

N.J. election panel to meet over governor race funding

New Jersey election officials are calling an emergency meeting to discuss concerns over public financing in this year's gubernatorial election. (AP)

Whitman won't run for freeholder

After considering running for a seat left vacant on the Somerset County Freeholder Board, Kate Whitman of Peapack-Gladstone today announced that she has decided not to screen for the seat before the Republican Committee here, she wrote in a letter to supporters. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

School board candidates get another day to file

A day after a snowstorm closed school districts statewide and caused some school board candidates to miss the filing deadline, Gov. Jon Corzine stepped in to end the budding problem. (Alloway and Heininger, Star-Ledger)

Bill sets a beeline for the wine

New Jersey wine connoisseurs could soon have cases of their favorite product shipped directly from Napa Valley vineyards to their front doors, under proposed legislation that would lift the state's direct-shipping ban on wine. The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney and Assemblyman John Burzichelli, would also give New Jersey wineries the ability to send their products directly to in- and out-of-state customers, opening the door to a whole new marketplace for small wineries that legislators hope will put them on the map. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

N.J. troopers fight retirement rule

More than 120 New Jersey State Police troopers filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to have the agency's mandatory retirement policy overturned. The troopers, saying they are fit and want to stay in law enforcement, contend the requirement that they retire by age 55 is discriminatory and outdated. (Hefler, Inquirer)

Funds for local cops top $2.1M

Police departments in 21 Bergen, Hudson and Passaic county towns will share more than $2.1 million in federal stimulus grants to prevent layoffs, including nearly |$1 million |for Paterson alone, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. The police grants were the latest details from Washington about where the $787 billion stimulus package will be spent, and came on the day President Obama touted the job-creation benefits of $27 billion in highway funding that includes $652 million for New Jersey projects. (Jackson, Record)

Somerville officials at work on pay-to-play agreement

SOMERVILLE — Officials will try to hammer out a gentleman's agreement capping contributions from political parties to local candidates, rather than legally impose restrictions on what companies who want to do business with the borough can contribute to county parties. (Bricketto, Courier News)

Earlier last call in Pt. Beach?

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Mayor Vincent R. Barrella says he will recommend a requirement that bars close two hours earlier — at midnight — because police and public works jobs will need to be eliminated if a controversial boroughwide expansion of paid parking is not approved by March 31. At the Borough Council meeting Tuesday night, Barrella accused "some businesses making money" here as a drain on police and public works services. (McGrath, Asbury Park Press)

A.C. officials must appear before grand jury

ATLANTIC CITY – The state Attorney General's Office issued subpoenas Tuesday to former and current city officials – including Mayor Lorenzo Langford – to appear before a criminal grand jury. The subject of the investigation could not be confirmed, but the grand jury is scheduled to convene next week. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

Christie coattails will keep Burlco GOP majority, chairman says

Burlington County Republican Chairman Bill Layton doubts his party will have to defend two open freeholder seats this year, when control of the board hanging in the balance. But even if they do, Layton said it won't make a difference. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: March 4, 2009