Morning News Digest: May 3, 2010

Sweeney: if Christie doesn’t re-appoint moderate Wallace, he’s caving to the right

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said the only way New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John Wallace would fail to get renominated is if Gov. Chris Christie kowtows to the extremities of the Republican Party and decides to jettison the veteran judge. “John Wallace is not an activist judge,” said Sweeney. “He is not a liberal. He is very much a moderate. His record displays that. The only way John Wallace doesn’t get re-appointed is if Chris Christie caves into the right wing of the Republican Party. If we’re going to politicize the judiciary, we might as well live across the river where they elect their judges. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Trenton power play: stop Mack, weaken Segura

The mayor’s race just turned into the finale of a Marx Brothers movie, with two apparent frontrunners taking incessant body blows from at least three others in the crowded field as the establishment attempts to hang on to power. Pay attention. With the city facing a $23 million deficit, 20-year Mayor Douglas Palmer last year announced he would leave office at the end of this, his fifth term. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Gov. Chris Christie to claim federal funds for high-risk insurance pool as part of national health care reform

Taking a different approach than most Republican governors, Gov. Chris Christie plans to claim federal funds so the state can run a high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing medical conditions as part of the national health care reform. The deadline for states to inform the federal Department of Health and Human Services that they plan to set up the programs was yesterday. New Jersey sent its letter Thursday. (Friedman, The Record) 

Menendez helping to craft immigration law overhaul 

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congress, is part of a small group of Senate Democrats who are crafting a sweeping measure to overhaul the nation’s immigration system in response to a tough new law adopted in Arizona. Menendez and other supporters blasted the Arizona statute and said a federal law is required to prevent other states from adopting similar measures. (Chebium, Gannett) 

Obama cancels upcoming visit to central NJ

 Obama was scheduled to talk about the economy when he visited central New Jersey on Wednesday. But the White House announced Sunday afternoon that the trip would instead be rescheduled for sometime soon. (AP)

 Gov. Chris Christie rebuffs critics on state supreme court appointment 

Facing competing pressures on whether he should grant Justice John Wallace lifetime tenure on the New Jersey Supreme Court, Gov. Chris Christie today rebuffed critics who say refusing to renominate Wallace would signal the governor’s desire to politicize the judiciary.
”Whatever decision I make will be based on a whole number of factors, and politics will only be a part of it,” said Christie, who said he is “close to making a decision” but gave no indication of which way he would go. Wallace’s term expires May 20. (Heininger, The Record) 

Democrat blocking Gov. Chris Christie’s choice for Parole Board chief 

Gov. Chris Christie’s choice to lead the state Parole Board is being blocked by a South Jersey Democrat seeking reappointment for a political ally. Christie wants U.S. Marshal James Plousis, a Republican, as his parole chairman. But Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) has refused to sign off on the nomination by using the power of senatorial courtesy, an unwritten yet closely followed rule that gives senators veto power over nominees from their legislative districts or home counties. (Megerian, The Record) 

Candidate’s brother and sister-in-law, Paramus cop among 7 charged in Park Ridge voter fraud case 

Seven people have been arrested in a Park Ridge voter fraud case tied to the Nov. 3 Borough Council election, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Thursday. The investigation determined that the seven violated the criminal election statute when they voted in Park Ridge, although they were no longer lived there. (Superville, The Record)

 Van Pelt’s lawyer: Cash payments common in politics It happens all the time in Ocean County

Cash payments changing hands between the public and elected officials, according to the defense team for former state Assemblyman Daniel M. Van Pelt. In discussing defense strategy and a potential witness list for the trial that starts Monday, Van Pelt’s attorney Robert R. Fuggi Jr. told U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano during pretrial discussions that this is the political culture. (Larsen, Gannett) 

Stile: Bergen Democrats unite to forge power-sharing deal 

Top Bergen Democrats have negotiated a new power-sharing “alliance” designed to avert a self-destructive party chairmanship battle. Under the terms of the deal, Fort Lee attorney Paul Kaufman will not challenge Michael Kasparian for Bergen County Democratic Organization chairman in June, party officials said. Kasparian has held the post since February 2009. (Stile, The Record) 

Doblin: Give me liberty or give me free health-care benefits 

THE UNITED States has a long history of civil disobedience. Our nation was created through revolution. In 1773, a group of Bostonians threw tea; today some citizens throw tea parties. Such is the progression of democracy in America. As a boy, I remember marches against the war in Vietnam. I remember violent images on the evening news of the riots ravaging American cities. Back then, young people marched to save the lives of thousands of draftees. Back then, young people marched to ensure that blacks had equal access to good schools, jobs and housing. (Doblin, The Record) Morning News Digest: May 3, 2010