Morning News Digest: May 25, 2009

Mayor Cory Booker is popular choice as commencement speaker

Like most successful politicians, Newark Mayor Cory Booker loves the bully pulpit. He has spoken fervently in his State of the City addresses and used his words to inspire civic pride and rake in political contributions. (Ortega, The Star Ledger)

Codey proposes tougher penalties for repeat drunken drivers

Senate President Richard Codey is targeting motorists who repeatedly drive drunk, proposing mandatory jail time for some offenders. (Megerian, The Star Ledger)

Christie: A need to lead, honed by family and success

It is just after 1 p.m. Tuesday when Chris Christie drops himself into a swivel chair in a back room in a forgettable office park along Route 10 in Morris Plains. The room runs about 8 by 8, its white walls bare except for a few calendars and state maps. Christie sits at an L-shaped corner desk, leaning into a speaker phone. (Martin, The Star Ledger)

20,000 attend Newark's African-American Heritage Parade

An estimated 20,000 people turned out today for Newark's 43rd annual African-American Heritage Parade, a happily pulsating procession that splashed a mile of Broad Street with songs, waves and bits of history. (Whitley, The Star Ledger)

Public schools join hunt for grants as programs budgets are trimmed

West Orange schools wanted a new way to teach physical education to sixth-graders. The Cranford district hoped to expand its service learning program to include more students. Piscataway was looking to make American history more meaningful. All three districts looked beyond their budgets and sought grants to pay for the new programs. (Alloway, The Star Ledger)

Public's voices rarely heard at comment hearings

Every year, New Jersey taxpayers can get five minutes before a microphone to tell lawmakers how to spend their billions of tax dollars — or not — at on-the-road public hearings designed to bring Trenton to the people. (Young, The Record)

Stile: ‘Robo’ calls a bit much for low-level post

Pearl Spector has gone "robo" in her pursuit of the Republican state committeewoman post in Bergen County. And she's also gone negative. (Stile, The Record)

Wayne Democrats push for write-in votes

Township Democrats have launched a write-in campaign in an attempt to get a full slate of candidates on November's ballot to challenge Republicans for mayor and council. (Alexander, The Record)

Servicemen pay tribute to fallen at Memorial Day ceremonies

Maybe they were wearing their original issued uniforms, maybe they were clad in dress blues that have met with a tailor's skilled hand. What was true about each and every veteran present at the Gloucester County Veteran's Cemetery Sunday, whether they be there in mind, body or spirit was that all gave some, and some gave all. (Murray, The Gloucester County Times)

A busy ballot for the county GOP

Usually, the problem for the Gloucester County Republicans is finding enough candidates to run. That's not the case this year. (McCarthy, The Gloucester County Times)

Report: Woman says she was raped at Jets DB's home

New Jersey police are investigating a woman's claim that she was raped by two men at the home of Jets safety Kerry Rhodes. (AP)

Laid-back race for Camden County freeholder board

A whole lot of people want to break onto the Camden County freeholder board this year, but there's not a whole lot of energy being expended to do it. (Katz, The Inquirer)

State senator suffers heart attack

State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, R-Morris, is in a Boston hospital after suffering what his son called a "stress-related heart attack." (Snowflack, Asbury Park Press)

GOP's hopefuls oppose open-space borrowing, split on concept

Even where Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan agree, they sometimes disagree. Christie and Lonegan, the top two contenders for the Republican nomination for governor in next week's primary, say they oppose a proposal likely to be on November's ballot asking voters to approve borrowing $600 million to preserve open space. (Symons, Asbury Park Press)

Courts told to cut costs as backlog increases

Swift justice could be slowed by a flailing state economy. (Cohen, Press of Atlantic City)

Sayreville man recalls capture of German soldiers in 1945 for History Channel show

Twenty-year-old Edwin Kolodziej, the son of a Polish immigrant butcher in Sayreville, was prepared to die. He was fighting with 95th Infantry Division in November 1945 when it was vital the Allies capture the French city of Metz from the Germans. (Malwitz, Courier News)

Hunterdon freeholders pass budget that carries tax-rate hike

Hunterdon County's freeholders have passed a budget that carries a tax-rate hike for the first time in nearly a decade. (O’Brien, Courier News)

Leadership dispute splits GOP slate in 4th District contest

With taxes up and the economy down, South Jersey Republicans insist this is their year to oust long-entrenched Democrats. (Walsh, Courier-Post)

Rible becomes Deputy Conference Leader; O'Scanlon joins leadership Assemblyman

David Rible (R-Wall Twp.) has been elevated to the position of Deputy Conference Leader of the Republican Assembly caucus by Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany). (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Morning News Digest: May 25, 2009