Morning News Digest: May 11, 2010

Standoff flares between Sweeney and Christie over millionaires’ tax, and gov’s toolkit

An already prickly Statehouse standoff just intensified. Democratic Party leaders want a tax on the very rich – less than one percent of New Jerseyans – to raise about $600 million benefit property tax strapped seniors and low and moderate income earners, but Gov. Chris Christie promises to veto the bill. Thirty minutes after the Dems’ presser across from the senate chamber, the governor stood at a podium accompanied by small town mayors in his outer office and unveiled his own “toolkit” reform package designed to provide what he argues would be longer term, sustainable relief without a new tax. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Quintana’s name appears on signs with Sharif’s in Latino-dominant region of Central Ward

A swashbuckling political survivor for two decades up here in the North Ward who has jumped from one team to the next in the name of independence, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana knows some alliances matter at least long enough to get a win. A member of the Booker Team, the Quintana brand is not exclusive to Booker’s candidates. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Actor, pitcher on N.J. Gov. Christie’s appointment list

A former major league pitcher and an actor from “The Sopranos” are among New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s nominees for the New Jersey Hall of Fame Advisory Commission. The pitcher is Al Leiter, a Toms River native who played for the Yankees and Mets, among others, during a 19-year big league career. (AP) 

Athletes turn to politics for second career 

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley ducked through the coffeehouse door, and the barista shouted a greeting. Several people waiting in line looked up — way up — and smiled in recognition. The first thing everybody notices about Dudley is his height. At 6-foot-11, with a broad body that battled the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and David Robinson for 16 years in the NBA, Dudley fills a lot of space. (Haight, AP) 

N.J. Gov. Christie, Democrats offer dueling tax plans 

New Jersey’s political divide grew wider Monday as Republican Governor Christie advanced sweeping plans to slow the growth of property taxes while Democrats proposed raising income taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to pay for senior programs. The dueling proposals — and sharp-edged rhetoric in back-to-back news conferences — showed the governor and Democratic lawmakers drifting apart with less than two months to go before the state budget deadline. Neither the budget nor Christie’s reforms can move forward without bipartisan support. (Heininger/Fleisher, The Record) 

Solomon Dwek testifies at ex-NJ lawmaker Daniel Van Pelt’s corruption trial

Solomon Dwek said under cross examination this morning that he attempted to bribe as many as 20 public officials who ultimately did not accept the money he was offering as part of an FBI sting operation to root out corruption in New Jersey politics. “I walked away from 15-20 other honest public servants,” Dwek said. (Larsen, Gannett) 

N.J. governor proposing spending, labor restrictions 

 Democratic legislative leaders have proposed a special tax for Garden State residents who earn $1 million or more. Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver say the tax would apply to 16,000 taxpayers. The lawmakers also want to reinstate property tax rebates for senior citizens and eliminate a proposed $310 copay for seniors in Gov. Christie’s budget. (AP) 

After jail, new world awaits N.J. lobbyist

 After living lavishly as a political operative and lobbyist, Robert Stears landed a new job – as federal inmate No. 41335-050 – serving food to fellow prisoners for $45 a month. He went to prison after telling a judge in 2008 that he overbilled the Burlington County Bridge Commission in a scheme to kick back contributions to the county Republican Party. (Rao, Inquirer) Morning News Digest: May 11, 2010