Morning News Digest: April 19, 2010

Seeking council allies in the aftermath of Vas, Diaz must contend with a friend

The retirement of three old regime city council people suddenly and starkly revealed the delineations of two opposing forces to claim control of those seats on May 11th, one team backed by Mayor Wilda Diaz and the other supported by retired Superior Court Judge Mathias “Eddie” Rodriguez. A well-liked bank teller turned grassroots leader on a wave of Obama power and old administration exhaustion, Diaz as mayor now by necessity nurses caution within the four walls of any government or political institution, where former Mayor Joe Vas left a Godzilla-like footprint. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Rosenzweig withdraws her nomination and steps down as acting DCF commish

The troubled nomination of acting Department of Children and Families Commissioner Janet Rosenzweig ended today when she withdrew her nomination, according to the governor’s office. The senate had voted 38-0 to send her back to the Judiciary Committee as questions persisted regarding her role at an organization specializing in sex research. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

On the the campaign trail in Trenton, Jackson seeks traction beyond his natural base

 Bookended on the other side of a voluble Shahid Watson during the last debate at Mercer County Community College and faced with the task of trying to outflank his opponents in soundbite time, city DPW Director Eric Jackson craved the chance to break out of the format. But one of his adversaries, businessman Frank Weeden, says Jackson should be thankful for being forced to stay under the radar. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

 Franks recalled fondly by allies and rivals alike 

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Franks was remembered Saturday by members of both parties as a man who transcended partisan divides. While he was best known for leading a resurgence of the New Jersey Republican Party in the early 1990s, friends and political rivals recalled the married father of three as a man who transcended party politics. (AP) 

Christie’s Department of Children and Families nominee withdraws 

Gov. Chris Christie’s nominee to lead the Department of Children and Families has withdrawn from consideration and resigned as acting commissioner.
The nomination of Janet Rosenzweig had been in doubt since the state Senate last month refused to consider her, as questions lingered about her credentials and her role at an organization that specializes in sex research. (Heininger/Megerian, The Record) 

N.J. Democratic lawmakers, advocates question cuts to safety net programs in Christie budget

 With millions of dollars in proposed cuts to health care, housing and public assistance programs, Democratic lawmakers and advocates for poor and disabled people Thursday sharply questioned Governor Christie’s contention that his budget represents “shared sacrifice” for all state residents. Democratic members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee pressed Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez to defend reductions in what they called key safety net programs. (Livio, The Record)/ 

Christie-NJEA debate intensifies over his kids’ private education 

Gov. Chris Christie enrolls his four children in two private Catholic schools in Morris County, a personal choice that some say has public policy implications amid steep state aid cuts to public education. A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association, locked in a public feud with Christie over his call for a teacher pay freeze among other disputes, said it undermines the governor’s repeated assertions of “shared sacrifices” in regard to school layoffs and program reductions. (Jennings, Gannett) 

Longtime NJ lawmaker Joe Azzolina dies at 84 

A longtime New Jersey lawmaker and naval veteran who worked to bring the battleship USS New Jersey back to the Garden State has died. Joseph Azzolina was 84. Azzolina, who had been battling pancreatic cancer, died Thursday night at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where had been treated for several months. (AP) 

Atlantic City can proceed with vote on Revel casino tax break 

City residents finally could get to vote on whether the stalled Revel casino project should get a $300 million state tax break. The City Clerk’s Office determined today that opponents of the tax break had gathered enough valid petition signatures to force a referendum on it this fall. (Mikle, Gannett) 

 Stile: Top 10 reasons not to get invited to Corzine’s wedding 

Former Gov. Jon Corzine announced his engagement last week to girlfriend Sharon Elghanayan. The happy news inspired my colleague, Herb Jackson, The Record’s Washington correspondent, and I to cobble together a top 10 list of Corzine’s “frenemies” and other high-profile figures who are not likely to get a wedding invitation. Trenton Bureau Chief John McAlpin assisted with some of the commentary. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Get ready for the showdown Tuesday 

Tuesday brings a showdown in the battle between Gov. Christie and the NJEA, the teachers union. The governor says voters should defeat the budgets of districts where teachers refused to take a one-year pay freeze to save some teacher positions. Moreover, he maintains, his education commissioner doesn’t disagree, no matter what you may have heard. (Ingle, Gannett) 

 Ingle: State divided over Obama’s health plan

New Jersey is divided over President Obama’s health care plan but the people angry about it are double the number who are enthusiastic. That’s what a new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll shows. Overall, 47 percent of Jersey residents describe themselves as either satisfied (35 percent) or enthusiastic (12 percent). While the satisfied number is 28 percent and downright angry is 20 percent. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: April 19, 2010