Morning News Digest: May 20, 2010

Focused on re-election, Gerbounka rules out ’11 senate run

Running for re-election this year in this Union County factory town with a council controlled by Democrats, independent Mayor Richard Gerbounka ruled out pursuing a senate run in the 22nd District in 2011 against Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). “I am not interested in any senatorial seat,” said Gerbounka, standing beside Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who came to Linden today to promote his proposal for a constitutional amendment to cap local spending at 2.5%. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Kean: ‘shutting down government not an option’

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield) won’t say it isn’t contentious in Trenton now, but he does not anticipate a government shutdown over the state budget, where Democrats want Gov. Chris Christie to impose a millionaires’ tax – which the governor says he would veto; and where Democrats object to a myriad of the governor’s cuts. “When we had a government shutdown a few years ago, it was because people weren’t really working to find solutions,” said Kean, who appeared with Christie here as the governor pitched his 2.5% local spending cap. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

In election year fight for mayor in Dem stronghold, Gerbounka doesn’t shy away from Christie

In the front row of the senior center auditorium sat Council President Robert Bunk, the political nemesis of Mayor Richard Gerbounka. Bunk wants wants to dethrone Gerbounka in the November general election with the backing of the Union County Democratic Organization. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Hearings ordered on Horizon executives’ pay 

 New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney today called for legislative hearings to look into the compensation packages of executives for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. The request came after the Asbury Park Press, citing documents filed with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, reported William J. Marino, Horizon’s president and chief executive officer, received a compensation package of $8.7 million in 2009, or 59 percent more than the previous year. (Diamond, Gannett) 

Scarfo’s bail set at $350,000 in betting operation

 Nicodemo S. Scarfo told a Superior Court judge here Tuesday that he was an unemployed “research analyst” who did “legal consulting work for attorneys.” State prosecutors said he was an organized crime figure who played a key role in a $2 billion Internet-based sports betting operation while also engaging in extortion and money-laundering. (Anastasia, Inquirer)

 Runyan, Murphy back oil drilling off N.J. coast 

 New Jersey congressional candidates Jon Runyan and Justin Murphy said Tuesday that they support oil drilling off the New Jersey coast, a politically volatile topic after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Third District Republican candidates, in a meeting with the Inquirer Editorial Board, said that the April 20 spill was a tragedy but that offshore drilling would help the country end its dependence on foreign oil. (Burton, Inquirer)

 Camden County facing 2.3 percent tax hike /

The Camden County freeholders announced Tuesday that they would raise the county property tax levy by 2.3 percent, further hitting residents who face nearly across-the-board tax hikes from their respective townships and school boards. The decision follows a year in which the county, like virtually every government entity in New Jersey, has seen its revenues slipping and state funding scaled back. (Osborne, Inquirer)

 Ingle: Hopes dashed on tax collections

 More bad news for the state and the Christie administration. Income tax collections in April were more than $550 million below even Gov. Christie’s expectations. And apparently they haven’t recovered in May. Residents in 12 counties got an automatic income deadline extension until May 11 because of storms and floods. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: May 20, 2010