Morning News Digest: March 19, 2010

Christie vetoes 5 service contracts approved by Turnpike Authority 

Governor Christie on Thursday vetoed five professional services contracts that were approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority a month ago. The governor’s office said Christie exercised his eighth veto because the contract fees ranged from 11.5 percent to 84 percent higher than the fees proposed by other highly-ranked, competing firms. (Davis, The Record) 

Runyan to Adler: ‘you can run but you can’t hide’ 

Branding U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) a career politician, retired Eagles football star Jun Runyan launched his campaign for Congress in the 3rd District tonight in his hometown by positioning himself as the embodiment of midwestern values and as an outsider to the political system. “How are qualified politicians running this country now?” he asked the crowd here in the ballroom of the Westin. “Whoever said you need to be a lifetime politician to be a congressman? I’m qualified because I care.” Moments earlier, double doors opened. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Chiappone files petitions to run against Smith in Bayonne 

Maintaining his innocence in the face of state corruption charges, Assemblyman Tony Chiappone (D-Bayonne) moments ago filed his petitions to run for mayor of Bayonne. “I’m in this to win – I’ve never gone into an election not to win,” Chiappone told “I have a record of service: 11 years on the city council; and in the assembly.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Sipprelle outduels Halfacre at home county screening 

Princeton venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle defeated Fair Haven Mayor Mike Halfacre tonight when both 12th District GOP hopefuls presented themselves to the screening committee of the Mercer County Republican Committee. The unofficial tally was 49-12 vote for Sipprelle, in his home county. Siprelle and Halfacre are waging a contentious primary fight for the party backing to run against U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Slamming Obama and government healthcare, Gooch launches her campaign against Pallone 

Running against U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Republican newspaper publisher Diane Gooch kicked off her campaign tonight at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Bed Bank in front of a crowd of 200 people. “I am not for government healthcare,” Gooch told in a telephone interview. “I’m not for more spending. I’m worried about taxes.” Gooch said she doesn’t believe in government creating jobs. She wants tax cuts as a jobs stimulus. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Property tax rebates may vanish this year 

Property tax bills in New Jersey have gone up 56 percent since 2001. But the rebate checks that once offset those bills by as much 20 percent may vanish this year. New Jersey households could also be paying even more for schools, trash removal, road maintenance and other local government services – whose costs have grown nearly 70 percent since 2001 – if Governor Christie’s proposed budget clears the state Legislature unchanged. (Reitmeyer, The Record) 

200 protest Obama’s health care reform package outside Rothman’s office 

About 200 protesters gathered Thursday outside U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman’s office in Hackensack to protest President Obama’s health care reform package. Holding signs with such slogans as “Obama lied, freedom died” and “Wake up America, our freedom is at risk,” the demonstrators chanted “kill the bill” and filled out feedback forms that Rothman’s aides passed out. (Gartland, The Record) 

Ex-Jersey City candidate sentenced for corruption 

A community activist who ran unsuccessfully for a Jersey City Council seat became the second person Thursday sentenced to prison in a massive New Jersey corruption probe. Former council candidate LaVern Webb-Washington, 61, was sentenced to a year in federal prison after she admitted taking bribes from a man posing as a real estate developer who was actually an undercover witness for federal investigators. (AP) 

Assembly panel will consider pension bills 

Union leaders are waiting to testify about legislation that would make public worker pension and health care benefits less generous. The Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up a package of bills Thursday, but the hearing has been delayed while opponents press their case behind the scenes. (AP) 

NJ public employees decry program cuts, plan protests 

Public employees in New Jersey plan to protest Gov. Chris Christie’s budget proposal Thursday. The Communications Workers of America union is organizing over 20 separate demonstrations in front of state agencies. (AP) 

Same-sex marriage advocates go back to court in NJ 

Advocates for same sex marriage are taking their case back to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Lambda Legal filed a motion Thursday seeking a court ruling to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. (Tamari, Inquirer) 

Ingle: Can you hear him now? 

Gov. Christie exercised his eighth veto today. He killed five professional services contracts approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. “The New Jersey Turnpike Authority decided to approve contract costs that ignore New Jersey Administrative Code guidelines for negotiating fair and reasonable fees,” Christie said. “We simply can no longer tolerate this unreasonable spending and must hold these agencies accountable for their actions.” (Ingle, Gannett) 

Riordan: Burlco success – The inside story 

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Burlington County Hot Air Committee (HAC). Please step off the drawbridge. Here in our palace, we HACs enjoy the loftiest of perspectives on the recent struggles of our (mostly) Republican brothers and sisters at the Burlington County Bridge Commission and Board of Chosen Freeholders. (Riordan, Inquirer) 

Kinney: Christie lobs a budget bomb at N.J. spending

The first time I watched a New Jersey governor deliver a budget, it was Jim McGreevey’s unintentionally hilarious “Perfect Storm” speech. After McGreevey dared to compare himself to George Clooney, I reminded the governor that in the film, the fishermen drown, “swallowed by a force of nature, felled by their own foolish pride.” (Kinney, Inquirer) Morning News Digest: March 19, 2010