Morning News Digest: May 17, 2010

Bad timing: Lesniak argues that Christie’s ‘belligerence’ hinders school choice bill

A bull in full-fledged battle gear. That’s how state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) describes the approach of Gov. Chris Christie, whom he credits with fostering a Pamplona-like atmosphere – not outside the Statehouse where children yesterday rallied for the passage of Lesniak’s school choice bill and teachers fought for attention – but within the chambers of government. (Pizarro,


Cross current kids’ rallies overwhelm Statehouse courtyard

It almost turns into a public sector-private sector bullhorn war in front of the Statehouse Annex, but at least early, the charter education champions outnumber the ranks of pro-teacher, anti-Christie budget children. The much bigger group mobilizes here in support of a bipartisan bill that would set up opportunity scholarships enabling students to bail on foundering public schools. But counter-demonstrators are pouring in now. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Florio hopes GOP committee taps Gaburo to succeed him

 After serving as chairman of the Somerset GOP Committee for 18 years, Dale Florio told committee members last night in a letter that he intends to retire. Al Gaburo stands in the wings to take charge of the party where Florio helmed an organization that never lost a county race during his nearly two decade tenure. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Former NJ Senate president Frank Dodd dies at 72 

Former New Jersey Senate president Frank J. “Pat” Dodd has died. The O’Brien Funeral Home in Wall said Dodd died Friday at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, but a cause of death was not disclosed. The Manasquan resident was 72. (AP) 

Bergen County school board member will lead NJSBA 

A long-time school-board member in Bergen County was elected president Saturday of the New Jersey School Boards Association. Raymond R. Wiss, who has been a member of the Northern Valley Regional Board of Education since 2001, won the two-year term during the organization’s semi-annual meeting in Plainsboro, which was attended by about 170 delegates representing the state’s 21 counties. (Alvarado, The Record) 

NJ Gov. Chris Christie nominates Rutgers prof to head Dept. of Children and Families  

Gov. Chris Christie this morning nominated Rutgers University professor Allison Blake as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families. Blake, a Raritan Township resident, is Director of the Institute for Families at the Rutgers School of Social Work, where she oversees a $30 million in grants and contracts, according to the governor’s office. She is an 18 year veteran of the state Division of Youth and Family Services. (Friedman, The Record) 

Goldman Sachs big contributor to NJ Congressional campaigns

 All but one of New Jersey’s 15 congressional lawmakers have received campaign contributions from employees of Goldman Sachs and the firm’s political action committee, according to a nonprofit watchdog group. Since the 1990 election cycle, the lawmakers have received a total $435,140 in contributions linked to the New York-based firm, according to an analysis of federal campaign data by the Center for Responsive Politics. (Chebium, Gannett) 

3 hope to snag Lance’s re-election bid 

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance faces three Republican primary challengers in his re-election bid for a 7th District congressional seat. The Clinton Township resident and former state Senate Minority leader is no stranger to contested primaries. But whereas the pack of candidates in 2008 that included Lance seemed driven by a lack of an incumbent in the race, Bruce E. Baker, Alonzo “Lon” Hosford and David Larsen are waging anti-incumbent, Tea Party-inspired campaigns questioning 
Lance’s conservative credentials. (Bricketto, Gannett)

Lawmakers tout tax credit plan for NJ homebuyers 

Concern over New Jersey’s struggling housing market has spurred state lawmakers to develop a proposed refundable tax credit program for home buyers. Proponents say the measure, which was passed Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and sent to the full chamber for a likely vote this week, gives potential homeowners a strong incentive to buy now. (Shipkowski, AP) 

34 reported mobsters, associates indicted by NJ officials 

Authorities say they have uncovered an alliance between members of the Bloods street gang and the Lucchese crime family to smuggle drugs and pre-paid cell phones into East Jersey State Prison in Rahway. The alleged alliance was discovered in an investigation into a gambling, smuggling and racketeering scheme which led to the indictment of a Neptune man who admits being a high-ranking member of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods gang, his brother and other Shore residents. (Webster, Gannett)

Ingle: Might not be best to do it the way the Greeks do 

When I was in the third grade and studied geography for the first time, I couldn’t wait to visit Greece, the cradle of democracy, the home of Aristotle, Socrates and Alexander (OK, Alex was Macedonian, but he went to school in Athens and wound up being king there.) We were taught this relatively small country paved the way for our future; it was a beacon, a harbinger. That may be the case still, but it’s not a future any of us want to embrace. (Ingle, Gannett)  

Stile: Complication for Yudin’s in appointment to the NJSEA

Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin’s nomination to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority is not dead, but the journey to Senate confirmation has gotten more complicated. Bergen’s three Democratic senators are taking an all-or-nobody “package” approach to Governor Christie’s nominees from the county. In other words, the Democrats will not “sign off” on Yudin and others unless nominees they have recommended get the same blessing from Bergen’s two Republican senators, Gerald Cardinale of Demarest and Kevin O’Toole of Cedar Grove, who represents five Bergen towns. (Stile, The Record) 

Riordan: Christie in his own ivory tower

 Since 1962, Rutgers University has presented an honorary degree to nine of New Jersey’s sitting governors. Christopher J. Christie on Sunday becomes the 10th; commencement festivities begin at 1 p.m. under the Voorhees Mall elms on the New Brunswick campus. Rutgers is being magnanimous, to say the least; the governor cut $18.5 million from the university’s state funding this fiscal year. If Christie keeps it up, perhaps president Richard L. McCormick will give him the keys to Old Queens in 2011. (Riordan, Inquirer) Morning News Digest: May 17, 2010