Morning News Digest: June 18, 2009

Bergen County key to governor's race

A conclave of veteran Bergen County Democrats are mapping out campaign strategy at twice-monthly dinner meetings in Hackensack, prompted by fears that the Bergen County Democratic Organization’s legacy of scandal could imperil Governor Corzine’s re-election. The two-month old supper club — where once-bitter foes brainstorm over pasta and wine — is taking a rare, pre-emptive step to bolster Corzine’s turnout hopes in Bergen, which strategists from both parties agree is the most important battleground in this year’s governor’s race. (Stile, The Record)

Bill aims to revamp law on ticket sales

Two politicians will introduce legislation today to overhaul the state's law on ticket sales by revoking any special privileges currently given to ticket brokers and requiring venues to disclose the number of tickets available to the general public at the time of the initial sale. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)

N.J. Senate to vote whether East Windsor developers can sell unbuilt senior housing to any buyer

Faced with an oversupply of senior, or age-restricted, housing, the Senate is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would allow a court ultimately to overturn a town's decision and allow developers of unbuilt, unsold housing to open sales to all buyers, regardless of their age. (Fleisher, The Star-Ledger)

Mental health programs, hospitals launch campaigns for more funding

Mental health programs and hospitals have separately launched photo and multimedia campaigns to make their case for more funding. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)

N.J. arts community says bookkeeping move hides budget cuts

After a public battle over arts funding that included a former governor threatening a lawsuit, lawmakers Thursday will vote on a $28.6 billion budget bill that seems to restore cultural funding to the minimum levels required by the law. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)

Judge throws out motion to dismiss conviction of former N.J. Sen. Coniglio

A federal judge today rejected post-trial motions to dismiss the indictment and conviction of former state Sen. Joseph Coniglio, according to a report on (The Star-Ledger)

Newcomer takes council seat vacated last month

Acting Mayor Charles Devine swore in Republican Glenn Beckmeyer on Wednesday afternoon to fill the council seat he vacated last month. (Kindergan, The Record)

Elections chief fires four union workers

Four union workers responsible for maintaining Passaic County’s electronic voting machines were abruptly fired on Friday by county Superintendent of Elections Laura B. Freytes. (Cowen, The Record)

Democrats say they have the votes to pass state budget

Top Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday they believe they will have enough votes to pass a $28.6 billion state budget on Thursday, nearly two weeks ahead of the June 30 deadline. (Heininger, The Record)

Corzine pitches plan to county seniors

On the eve of the Legislature's vote on his spending plan, Gov. Jon S. Corzine took his budget message to senior citizens in Gloucester County Ð a group whose direct property tax relief was spared in the cost-cutting proposal. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

Discrimination case against N.J. union advances

A former shop steward at a Trenton construction site had probable cause for alleging racial discrimination after his demotion within a local union last year, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced yesterday. (Spolar, The Inquirer)

Cherry Hill latest to urge its workforce to move there

Dawn Regan loves her job as a clerk at the Cherry Hill municipal building, but she does not love the half-hour commute from her one-bedroom apartment in Gloucester Township. (McKelvey, The Inquirer)

Democratic bill to stimulate N.J. economy has givebacks

At a time when the state's revenues are at historic lows and the governor has proposed increasing taxes, some Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill that would give back to developers about $19 million in fees intended to build affordable housing. (Lu, The Inquirer)

NJ bank worker admits stealing $2.5M in scam

A man who worked at two New Jersey banks has admitted stealing more than $2.5 million from customers by persuading them to invest in fraudulent certificates of deposit. (AP)

Insurance tax likely to make more uninsured

Among the tax hikes scheduled for votes today in the Legislature that balance the state budget is one that raises rates on certain insurance premiums that will most likely increase the number of New Jerseyans without health coverage. (Symons, Asbury Park Press)

Legislators vote today on $28.6 billion state budget plan, stimulus package

As lawmakers gather today for the final push before the summer recess, they will vote on the budget and a major economic stimulus program. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)

UPDATE: Dozens of Edison employees may face layoffs; Mayor Choi taking pay cut

Up to 75 municipal employees may face layoffs July 16, if municipal unions do not comply by that date with cost-cutting measures — including a 12-day furlough and wage freeze. (Amuthan, Courier News)

Recount reconfirms winner of Plainfield fourth ward council seat

A recount of the Democratic primary result for Plainfield's Fourth Ward City Council race boosted the winner's margin from six to seven, according to Union County Board of Elections Administrator Dennis Kobitz. (Spivey, Courier News)

Lobbyists battle health-plan tax

Health insurance companies are lobbying furiously to block a proposed tax hike on non-HMO premiums that ultimately will increase consumer costs. (Stilwell, Courier-Post)

Poll: 94% of New Jerseyans can't name a state Supreme Court Justice

A survey released by pollster Kellyanne Conway says that 94% of New Jersey's registered voters cannot name a single State Supreme Court Justice, and that the public is largely ignorant of about most aspects of the court. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: June 18, 2009