Morning News Digest: April 22, 2010

Bringing thunder-ous change to New Jersey The bridge spanning the Delaware River connects New Jersey’s capital with this town where

Bringing thunder-ous change to New Jersey

The bridge spanning the Delaware River connects New Jersey’s capital with this town where the nation’s most interesting governor occasionally eats lunch at Cafe Antonio. It also connects New Jersey’s government with reality. (Will, Washington Post)

Christie claims mandate for school budget reforms 

Governor Christie said Wednesday that voters statewide were “crystal clear” in their desire to stem the growing cost of New Jersey’s public schools, and that he will move aggressively on reforms to roll back teacher pensions, cap labor costs and aid school boards at the bargaining table. Record turnout led to school budget defeats in more than 58 percent of districts in the state on Tuesday, the largest proportion in more than three decades. Last year, only about a third of budgets failed. (Alex/Brody/Reitmeyer, The Record)

Sweeney says Christie scapegoated teachers – and won; Drewniak says Senate President should take some responsibility for mess 

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) today praised Gov. Christopher Christie, not for any moral victory but for the governor’s political savvy in making teachers the problem – even as Christie himself in part perpetuated the problem. “He’s cut school funding dramatically but he has people thinking it’s other people who are the problem,” said Sweeney, referring to the governor’s $820 million in state cuts to education funding. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Claiming victory in school budgets’ defeat, Christie urges governing bodies to seek wage freezes from teachers 

The most generous taxpayers in America said “stop!” in rejecting a majority of school budgets in yesterday’s elections, and public officials who fail to hear the human cry do so at their own peril, said Gov. Chris Christie. “I would urge and encourage municipal governments to heed the words of the voters who voted yesterday,” the governor said at a noon press conference, a day after voters rejected nearly 59 percent of the 537 school budgets presented statewide. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Codey wants Christie, NJEA to ‘let bygones be bygones’ 

A former governor is advising Gov. Christopher Christie and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) need to hold hands and sing kumbaya.

State Sen. Richard Codey (D-Roseland) says that Christie and the NJEA should settle their differences and unite on behalf of the state’s students. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Fla. man charged in N.J. with Ponzi scheme

Federal prosecutors say a Florida man accused of running an $880 million Ponzi scheme once gave a professional athlete diamond-studded handcuffs. Nevin Shapiro is due in a federal courtroom here today for an initial appearance and bail hearing on charges of bilking investors in New Jersey and elsewhere. (AP) 

High turnout in many N.J. school races 

In the one of the most contentious contests of its kind, tough campaigning led some schools budgets to hard-won victories while others may face even deeper cuts in defeat, according to early returns Tuesday night. Many districts reported high voter turnout as residents passed judgment on budgets that in most cases called for higher taxes and fewer staff and programs because of universal cuts in state formula aid. (Giordano/Osborne, Inquirer) 

NJN ending four decades of state ownership 

New Jersey’s public television network is planning its transformation into an independent nonprofit, the network’s top executive told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. Howard Blumenthal, interim executive director of New Jersey Network, told the panel that NJN would continue to focus on news, public affairs, and Jersey-centric programming, not just on television but across various media platforms, including the Internet. (Lu, Inquirer) 

Christie: 80% of budgets passed in districts with wage freezes

 Gov. Christie said today that Tuesday’s historic defeat of school budgets across the state is a clear sign voters want reductions in state and local spending, and an endorsement of his call for teacher wage freezes and other initiatives. Christie urged local officials to recommend the cutting of the equivalent of the teachers’ wage increases when reviewing defeated school budgets, and he called on the Legislature to place a constitutional cap on property taxes on the November ballot. (Method, Inquirer) 

Ingle: No place for race card in Trenton politics 

A while back my blog dealt with how offensive it was that my friend and civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis of Georgia was the victim of a shouted racial slur and a fellow black congressman was spat upon apparently because the two supported health care reform. Now comes N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver with comments also reprehensible. Oliver, the first black woman to hold the post, is quoted in a newspaper column as saying the governor has an inner circle of white men and asked, “How many of the guys sitting around that table have ever sat on a bus?” (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: April 22, 2010