Morning News Digest: October 15, 2009

Webber: Corzine rigged unemployment statistics

Republican State Chairman Jay Webber today accused Governor Corzine of “manipulating official data for the Governor’s reelection,” but Department of Workforce and Labor Development Commissioner David Socolow said that would be impossible. At issue was a downward revision of the number of private sector jobs created in July from 13,000 to 5,600. The Governor used the 13,000 in his reelection campaign as evidence that his economic policies are working. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Daggett thinks support will solidify

Independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett consistently polls in the double digits, but his support is soft. That will change over the next two-and-a-half weeks, according to Daggett. “I don’t think these polls are capturing the independent sentiment out there, to be honest with you. I think at some point people are going to say they’re going to stand up for New Jersey, and that’s not voting politics as usual,” he said. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

GOP making Hornik allies work Marlboro

His name isn’t on the ballot this year, but the race for three council seats in Marlboro has much to do with Mayor Jon Hornik, who believes his local brand’s solid enough to withstand a barrage that starts at the top with GOP candidate Chris Christie and his potential to create a down-ballot shock wave. Going back to when he beat incumbent Mayor Robert Kleinberg in 2007, Hornik has excelled in the last two election cycles – first trouncing Kleinberg with over 60% of the vote and winning all of the town’s 28 districts, then helping Freeholder candidate Amy Mallet secure solid footing in Marlboro, Monmouth County’s third most voter-concentrated town after Middletown and Howell. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Essex County agony: senate prez fallout is personal for political animal Durkin

It was fitting that the main man at the microphone tonight at Nanina’s in the Park was County Clerk Chris Durkin, a walking hybrid of two opposing political camps, which 20 days before a gubernatorial election can already see the delineations of a county executive battle in 2010. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

7th District incumbents support constitutional convention

The Assembly incumbents in the 7th Legislative District said Wednesday they favor a constitutional convention to address the issue of the state’s burdensome property tax system. Democratic candidates Herb Conaway Jr. and Jack Conners also called for further consolidation of government and school services at the local and county level.”Taxes should be based on ability to pay,” Conners said Wednesday at a meeting with the Courier-Post editorial board. “We’ve got to find some other way than property taxes.” (Comegno, Gannett)

Burzichelli and DeCroce spar over ‘wasteful spending’

Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro) says that the Assembly Republican leader should follow his own example and criticize gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie for billing $400-per-night hotel rooms to the federal government while serving as U.S. Attorney. The Assembly Republican office has frequently used the state Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to uncover wasteful spending in state government, Burzichelli says, noting that Minority Leader Alex DeCroce “questioned state education officials over hotel stays of $200 – less than half of the cost of Christie’s rooms – and criticized one school employee for billing crab cakes to the taxpayers.” (Editor, PolitickerNJ)

Trial lays bare the underbelly of NJ politics

Joe Ferriero was the Bergen County power broker who helped make Jim McGreevey governor in 2002. And that same year, McGreevey’s young administration helped Ferriero make money. The raw politics of reward, realized at the dawn of the McGreevey-led Democratic Party restoration, was the unflattering — yet legal — plot line that emerged from Ferriero’s daylong testimony Wednesday at his federal fraud trial. “Obviously, I knew people in state government as part of the relationships I developed over the years,” Ferriero told Rachel Honig, the assistant U.S. attorney who peppered him with questions for nearly 4 1/2 hours. “Obviously, some of those people were in the McGreevey administration.” (Stile, The Record)

Pendulum of public votes swinging in Corzine’s favor

I n 1842, Edgar Allan Poe wrote the short story, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” a horror tale that could have meaning in the 2009 gubernatorial election. Poe’s unnamed prisoner eventually escapes from his prison cell. But he’s first threatened by a pendulum blade swinging ever closer to his chest while the walls close in, revealing another danger, a large deep pit in the middle of the room. (Albright, Jersey Journal)

Two-party system is waste, fraud, and abuse

Yesterday morning about 30 Assembly members and candidates held a press conference in the Statehouse. The minute I got the e-mail announcing the meeting I knew what to expect. They would promise to end “waste, fraud and abuse.” That is the mantra politicians repeat when they want to avoid tough questions about economics. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that tired cliché leaping off the lips of various candidates. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

Fishman sworn in as new NJ United States Attorney

New Jersey has a new top federal prosecutor. Former federal prosecutor Paul Fishman was sworn in yesterday as U.S. attorney in a private ceremony. Fishman was nominated by President Obama earlier this year and confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate. He succeeds Ralph Marra, who has served as acting U.S. attorney since Christopher J. Christie stepped down to run for governor. (AP)

Ferriero testifies he was in dark about partner

A prominent northern New Jersey politician testified Wednesday that he knew his partner in a consulting business worked for one of the towns that paid them more than $100,000 for grant writing work, but didn’t feel it was necessary to check if the partner had disclosed the conflict of interest. Joseph Ferriero made the assertion during a lengthy cross-examination at his federal corruption trial in U.S. District Court. Ferriero is charged with conspiracy and mail fraud for allegedly scheming with former partner Dennis Oury to profit from the consulting business while hiding their connections to it. (Porter, AP)

Obama to stump in NJ with Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson

President Barack Obama will stump for Gov. Jon Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University next Wednesday, the governor’s campaign announced today. The rally will be held at Rothman Center on the school’s campus. Obama already visited New Jersey in July, speaking with Corzine at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. Corzine has closely associated himself with Obama, hoping the president’s popularity in New Jersey would rub off on him.(Megerian, Star Ledger)

How the next governor plans to help your town

The pain is everywhere. In Clifton, officials fired dozens of workers to balance the budget. Oradell laid off three clerical workers in an effort to spare its residents a crushing tax increase. And Teaneck let go of several police officers after months of negotiations failed to secure a deal.Municipal leaders say the next governor must address the lethal combination of a faltering economy, rising health care and pension costs and the perennial salary increases for public employees that have choked towns’ finances. (Ax, The Record)

NJ GOP senator calls for investigation into contribution of Corzine campaign

A Republican state senator today asked Attorney General Anne Milgram to investigate whether Gov. Jon Corzine violated state pay-to-play laws by accepting campaign contributions from people associated with Dune Capital Management. Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) filed a complaint with Milgram’s office over the donations connected to Dune, an investment company that has a key financial stake in the stalled Xanadu retail and entertainment project in the Meadowlands. That development is being overseen by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. (Heininger, Star Ledger)

New GOP campaign ads target Daggett

A week ago, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie called the candidacy of independent Chris Daggett “an amusement.”Apparently the Republican Governors Association doesn’t find it so funny. The national governors’ group — which has been running ads attacking Democratic Governor Corzine for months — Wednesday launched a new set of ads calling Daggett “Corzine in sheep’s clothing.” The radio advertisements as well as an upcoming television ad knock Daggett’s plans for “more spending” and “higher taxes and tolls,” with the tagline: “Chris Daggett. Like Corzine, only worse.” (Heininger, The Record)

NJ awards $104M in state aid to road construction projects

The crane will soon become the most prominent bird in New Jersey, now that municipalities have been awarded a record $104 million in state aid for construction projects on local roads. With the help of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and a good bidding environment, the amount being awarded to local projects for the 2010 fiscal year is up about 31 percent. The program will benefit 457 of the state’s 566 municipalities and boosts last year’s $78.75 grant program by $25 million. (Frassinelli, Star Ledger)

Former A.C. official denies seeking sex

Eugene Robinson said sex was the last thing on his mind as he drove the pretty young girl who had asked for a ride to her motel. “I was waiting for God to send me the one that’s supposed to be my Christian wife,” he said. “That’s what it says in the Bible.”Yet within minutes of taking the girl to a cheap motel in neighboring Absecon, the 67-year-old Atlantic City councilman and Baptist minister was receiving oral sex. He didn’t know that the woman was a prostitute allegedly hired by his political rivals to lure him into a sex sting, or that a camera hidden in a clock radio near the bed was recording the tryst. (Parry, AP)

Morning News Digest: October 15, 2009