Morning News Digest: April 14, 2010

Schundler counters Christie’s advice to voters on rejecting N.J. school budgets

 The state’s education chief on Tuesday said voters should take a careful look at their district school budgets, but, unlike his boss, did not recommend they reject spending plans solely because teachers refused to take a pay freeze. Governor Christie said Monday that voters should defeat budgets on April 20 in towns where teachers spurned his call for the one-year freeze. But a day later, Education Commissioner Bret Schundler stopped short of Christie’s tough talk. (Alex/Fleisher/Heininger, The Record)

Democrats attack Christie’s spending plan for schools

Democratic legislators attacked Gov. Christie’s spending plan for schools Tuesday, arguing, in a reversal of roles, that the proposal would hurt middle-class suburban school districts. (Lu, Philadelphia Inquirer)

McNerney turns Schundler testimony into Donovan dress-down

In an ongoing effort to lasso Bergen County Clerk Kathleen Donovan into the miasma of local School Budget issues and weaken her with Bergen blowback against Gov. Chris Christie, Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney used Department of Education chief Brett Schundler’s budget address today as a springboard to go after Donovan. “Based on what the Governor said when he came in to office, Bergen County’s school districts were prepared to lose up to fifteen percent of their state aid,” McNerney fumed.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Runyan underground, gripes Adler 

A day after the filing deadline and with the official dimensions of campaigns now solidified, the Adler Campaign today lunged at Jon Runyan, the Republican neophyte who’s on a heat-seeking course to get rid of the freshman congressman, but who wants to do so as inconspicuously as possible, according to Adler. “Jon Runyan’s public schedule continues to be limited to meetings with local political insiders, party loyalists, and numerous sportscasters and national reporters,” complained Geoff Mackler, U.S. Rep. John Adler’s (D-Cherry Hill) campaign manager. “While New Jersey families and small businesses are struggling to make ends meet and improve our local economy, Runyan appears unwilling to meet with local residents and talk about the issues that matter to them.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Segura and Weeden want Election Day state monitors 

Six Trenton candidates want deputy attorneys general deployed in all polling locations on Election Day to “ensure that the election is free and fair, and that the results of the election will not be contaminated by errors that could have been avoided.” Mayoral candidates Manuel Segura and Frank Weeden; At-large Council candidates Kathy McBride and Algernon Ward; West Ward Council candidate Joyce Kersey and East Ward Council candidate Joseph Harrison signed a letter to the Attorney General’s Office, which requests the Department of Law and Public Safety’s presence on Election Day. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: Voters say don’t cut education 

While recognizing that the state budget needs to be balanced, in the words of Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Prof Dave Redlawsk, New Jersey residents believe cuts should be avoided in the areas of education and poverty relief. “These new results give a good sense of residents’ priorities in this difficult time,” said Redlawsk. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Most NJ congressmen facing primary challenges

Nine of New Jersey’s 13 U.S. Representatives are facing challenges in the June 8 primary. Fifty-two Republicans and Democrats registered by Monday’s deadline. Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray says despite the competition, none of the 13 incumbent congressmen appear to have serious threats from within their own parties. (AP) 

Poll: More blame Christie than teachers for impending layoffs 

Gov. Chris Christie is in danger of losing the first major battle he’s waging as governor, according to a new poll. The governor is more likely to be blamed by registered voters for impending teacher layoffs statewide than either the teachers unions or local school boards, according to the results of a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll. (Clurfield, Gannett) 

Education chief to be quizzed about Christie’s budget cuts 

Education commissioner Bret Schundler is scheduled to be quizzed this morning about Gov. Chris Christie’s controversial budget cuts in this year’s first legislative budget hearing devoted exclusively to the schools. Schundler, the former mayor of Jersey City, will be called on to explain the administration’s proposal to cut nearly $820 million from state aid to K-12 school districts, which sparked a major and prolonged fight with the state’s largest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association. The state does not have more than $1 billion in federal stimulus money it used last year for education. (Fleisher, The Record) 

Sharpe James lawyer works to reverse ex-Newark mayor’s conviction 

Prosecutors want to send the longtime mayor of Newark, N.J., back to prison to serve more time for steering sweetheart land deals to a mistress. But a lawyer for 74-year-old Sharpe James asked a U.S. appeals court to reverse his conviction. James is in a halfway house finishing up a 27-month sentence after leaving prison 
this month. A jury convicted him of helping mistress Tamika Riley get the redevelopment 
deals. (Dale, AP) 

Ingle: What kind of future does NJN have? 

Will Gov. Christie’s budget make the NJN Network fade to black? There are those who think so, as well as some who hope so. Christie wants to convert the state-owned TV and radio operation into a private nonprofit organization. He would remove 129 NJN employees from the state payroll and save $2 million by cutting the station’s funding in half for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2010. He wants NJN to have a plan in place by Jan. 1, 2011, for becoming an independent non profit agency. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: April 14, 2010