Morning News Digest: April 26, 2010

Schneider strafes Unger as temperamentally unsuited for mayor’s chair; challenger focuses on eminent domain

Mayor Adam Schneider didn’t want to run for a sixth term. Twenty years long enough. Burned out. Council allies ready to retire. Plus, the political environment. Terrible. Then he thought of what it would be like to live in a town with upstart Councilman Brian Unger serving as mayor. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Gooch soaks up shout-out from Christie

How does she want people to refer to her, 6th Congressional District candidate Diane Gooch is asked at the Surfrider Beach Club moments before the arrival of Gov. Chris Christie who in about a minute will put his imprimatur of approval on her candidacy. Wall street wife? (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

 Manzo faces additional count in new indictment 

A federal grand jury has added an additional count of mail fraud to charges against former Assemblyman Louis Manzo (D-Jersey City). Manzo, a former Jersey City mayoral candidate and Hudson County Freeholder, was indicted on six counts of corruption charges last October. He was arrested in July as part of the government’s Operation Bid Rig investigation. (Editor, PolitickerNJ) 

Christie plan may prompt mass teacher retirements, analysis shows

 Governor Christie’s plan to get long-serving teachers to retire this summer could drain lots of experience from some districts, while largely sparing charter schools staffed by younger educators, an analysis shows. Christie wants to cut pension and health benefits for current teachers, but would allow those who retire by Aug. 1 to get a free pass. The state’s largest teachers union says the plan, which has not been submitted to the Legislature yet, could prompt mass retirements. (Fleisher/Sposito, The Record) 

New Jersey lobbyists get NJ pensions, too — and even lifetime heatlh benefits 

Some of New Jersey’s most influential lobbyists — including a onetime Democratic operative now making more than $500,000 a year — are set to collect public pensions, their reward as political appointees to part-time government commissions. Several get an even sweeter deal: lifetime enrollment in the state’s health care plans, leaving taxpayers on the hook for yearly premiums that average $5,200 for individuals and $13,000 for families. (Young, The Record)–_and_even_lifetime_heatlh_benefits.html 

NJ reps score well on environment

 A watchdog group says most of New Jersey’s congressional representatives are excellent stewards of the environment. Environment New Jersey ranked members of Congress and the state’s two senators on issues including clean energy, global warming and protecting the coast from offshore drilling. (AP) 

Unions sue to halt N.J. pension reforms 

The state’s largest police and firefighter unions escalated their battle with Governor Christie on Friday by filing a lawsuit seeking to block reductions in pension and health benefits. The suit, filed in state Superior Court in Mercer County, claims three laws signed by Christie last month violate the collective bargaining process used when negotiating contracts for police officers and firefighters, making them unconstitutional. (Megerian, The Record) 

Watchdog group want to close pay-to-play loopholes

 A state watchdog agency wants to close pay-to-play loopholes and force lobbyists with public contracts to disclose them. The Election Law Enforcement Commission proposed those ideas and five others to the Legislature in its annual report. (Friedman, The Record) 

Christie opposed to natural gas proposals 

Gov. Christie said Thursday that he opposes allowing liquefied natural gas terminals off New Jersey’s coast, saying their limited economic benefits are not worth the environmental risks they pose. The Republican governor said that although natural gas is a critical piece of the state’s energy future, he is not convinced the offshore gas facilities are needed or could significantly lower prices for customers. (Parry, AP) 

Stile: While Christie battles NJEA, candidates look for cover 

The Bergen County GOP freeholder candidates are less-than-enthusiastic foot soldiers in Governor Christie’s war with the New Jersey Education Association. In fact, they are doing their best to steer clear of it. The candidates — Maura DeNicola of Franklin Lakes, Frank Valenzuela of Rochelle Park and John Felice of River Edge — are not marching in lock step with Christie’s battle plans. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Guadagno can stand up to the bully boys 

What a pleasure to watch Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno work. She brings to the job common sense, frank observations and professionalism. When Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo tried to play to cameras at her expense, Guadagno made him look silly and small. Guadagno, testifying before Sarlo’s committee in her role as Secretary of State, refused to answer questions about the state budget since she was testifying as a Cabinet officer, not lieutenant governor. Sarlo asked Guadagno if she would come back and answer budget questions. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: April 26, 2010