Morning News Digest: May 10, 2010

Ground zero in the Ironbound: fracas in Booker territory drives votes for the mayor

Challenger Peter Pantoliano swamps the East Ward with signs and lit drops – an overwhelming presence rivaled only by the near ubiquity of the man himself – in an effort to bump East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador. Throwing his own money into his candidacy, Pantoliano has essentially tried to stitch together a coalition of Brazilians, Blacks and business people, in addition to outcast Portuguese and others. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Rice: Newark needs a leader, not a tweeter

With the cameras turned off, the people of Sundance Channel’s Brick City sat down with state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Newark) and told him they would like to film him for their show based in Newark. Rice said fine. They scrambled for their equipment. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Confined to the redevelopment zone, Krebs tries to find an opening in Schneider v. Unger Testimony by disgraced developer 

Solomon Dwek last week that he offered bribes through middle men to Mayor Adam Schneider outraged Long Branch with just days to go in a municipal election in which Schneider faces two challengers. Vehemently denying the charges, Schneider is threatening to take legal action against the campaign of Councilman Brian Unger for stirring up the issue in the hours before Election Day. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie proposes 2.5% yearly cap on public raises

 Governor Christie on Monday will propose a permanent 2.5 percent limit on annual raises for public workers, including police, firefighters and teachers, and will allow towns to discard civil service rules governing employee hiring and firing. The 33-bill package of legislation marks the Republican governor’s most audacious move yet against the state’s public employee unions since it strikes at the heart of time-honored practices — the power to bargain for substantial raises for workers and the assurance they are covered by civil service protections. At the same time, the administration argues, those curbs on union power would give towns, school boards and public colleges new leverage to control costs. (Heininger/Friedman, The Record) 

Senator Buono expresses frustration towards NJSEA at budget meeting 

Two months after criticizing the finances of the Meadowlands Sports Complex at a state Senate hearing, Sen. Barbara Buono’s frustration bubbled over further on Thursday at a Senate budget hearing in Trenton. Buono, D-Middlesex, grilling state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, expressed exasperation that neither the Treasury nor the state Auditor’s Office had provided her with a copy of the 2010 budget for the beleaguered New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — for a budget year that began in January. (Brennan, The Record) 

Christie to announce 33-bill “tool kit” of government reforms

Gov. Chris Christie plans to unveil a 33-bill package Monday making up his long-anticipated “tool kit’ of systemic government reforms that are intended 
to reduce government spending and, in theory, tame property taxes. According to administration briefing details obtained Saturday by Gannett New 
Jersey, the legislative package contains a mix of ideas that Christie rolled out in 
his March budget proposal and a host of new wrinkles. Christie’s overall plan is 
also expected to include changes that can be achieved through executive orders or 
other adjustments within administrative agencies. (Symons, Gannett) 

Christie set to unveil reform measures 

Plans to place stricter limits on property tax increases and put a permanent 2.5 percent limit on annual raises for public workers will be part of a 33-bill legislative package that Gov. Chris Christie will announce Monday. Christie also will discuss several potential reforms, including raising the retirement age to 65 from 62; having public employees pay more toward their pensions and allowing towns to discard some civil service rules. (AP) 

Hunterdon sheriff, undersheriff indicted 

Hunterdon County Sheriff Deborah Trout and Undersheriff Michael Russo were indicted on charges of official misconduct and other crimes, coinciding with the changing of the guard in the Prosecutor’s Office. Trout, Russo and John Falat Jr., a former investigator in the Sheriff’s Office were indicted on charges of official misconduct and other crimes by a grand jury in March, but the indictments were sealed at the time. Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone unsealed the indictments Friday morning. All three are to be arraigned on May 17 in the Somerville court of Superior Court Judge John Pursel. (Grant, Gannett) 

Stile: BCDO chief’s confidant may replace Zisa on elections board

 Joe Ariyan, the Saddle River attorney who resigned as Bergen County Democratic Organization counsel in a recent party shake-up, may soon be headed to the Bergen County Board of Elections. Ariyan is on BCDO Chairman Mike Kasparian’s short list of candidates to replace Ken Zisa on the board if Zisa resigns from the $17,600-a-year post, sources said last week. Kasparian had not met with Zisa as of Thursday. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle:  Democrats should wait for an issue people care about 

Around the Statehouse for the past few years, the joke has been no matter how bad Democrats mess up and whatever ammunition they give Republicans, the GOP will find a way to drop the ball. But snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a disease that knows no party affiliation. Democrats now have a bad case of it. It is usual and customary for politicians to put their opponents’ errors to good use, but smart politicians know what’s worth the effort and what’s best to be left alone. The Democrats’ latest goof is getting hot and bothered over Gov. Christie’s not nominating Associate Justice John Wallace Jr. for tenure on the state Supreme Court. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: May 10, 2010