Morning News Digest: May 5, 2010

Not liking it, but intent on protecting process for judges, Scutari digs in for war with Christie

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, liked his relationship with Gov. Chris Christie and enjoyed their discussions, sometimes from opposite sides of the issues. But the governor’s decision not to re-appoint Justice John Wallace landed with a decided edge – forcing Scutari and the Senate Majority to assume a confrontational pose with the Republican governor, creating what looks right now like an unresolvable impasse as Dems refuse to give a hearing to Christie’s choice for justice. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Christie will name Anne Patterson to Supreme Court; drops Wallace

Anne M. Patterson, a partner at one of New Jersey’s largest law firms and a former deputy state Attorney General, will be nominated today as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Gov. Christopher Christie will announce that he will not renominate Justice John Wallace and that Patterson will be his choice.
For the first time, a majority of the New Jersey Supreme Court Justices will be women. Wallace is the only African American on the New Jersey Supreme Court. (Editor, PolitickerNJ)

 NJEA, Gov. Chris Christie disagree on school choice speech

The New Jersey Education Association expressed outrage Tuesday with Governor Christie’s use of the phrase “final solution” in a speech in Washington on Monday night promoting school choice. The governor’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, said “there was certainly no intention of offending anyone and that’s all, there’s no need to go any further.” (Brody/Jackson, The Record) 

State Senate will not hold confirmation hearings for Anne Patterson, Senate presidents says

 It’s Justice John Wallace or nobody, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said today.
The state’s top Democrat said he will not allow anyone to fill Wallace’s seat on the New Jersey Supreme Court for almost two years. That’s when Wallace turns 70 years old, the mandatory retirement age for justices. (Megerian, The Record) 

Fundraising for county political parties sees 39 percent drop 

Battered by a tough economy, new anti pay-to-play laws and the emergence of alternative means of campaign financing, fundraising for county political parties has dropped 39 percent from four years ago. “It is clear that State ‘pay-to-play’ restrictions, which are intended to discourage public contractors from making large political contributions, and the economic downturn are continuing to depress fundraising,’’ said Jeffrey Brindle, executive director of the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, a state agency that keeps tabs on campaign contributions. (Friedman, The Record)

 Ex-councilman Philip Kenny sentenced in NJ corruption sting 

A former Jersey City councilman was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison for his role in New Jersey’s largest corruption sweep. In a courtroom packed with family members and supporters, former Councilman Philip Kenny said he was deeply sorry for accepting $5,000 for his council campaign from a man he promised to help with a city development project. (Henry, AP) 

NJ Dems refuse to consider replacement justice Anne Patterson 

 New Jersey Democrats say they will not even consider the Republican governor’s nominee for the state Supreme Court. Gov. Chris Christie created a political firestorm Monday by failing to reappoint the 
court’s only African American justice and nominating a white private practice lawyer as a replacement. (AP) 

Ingle: Our senators want polluters to pay more 

Our U.S. Senators have filed legislation that would make firms found responsible for oil spills have to pay a lot more in economic damages. Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez want to raise the liability cap for economic damages from $75 million to $10 billion. Under current law, responsible parties must pay all cleanup costs but aren’t required to pay more than $75 million to help economies in affected areas return to normal, the senators said in a statement. (Ingle, Gannett) 

 Stile: BCDO peace is not permanent

 Baleful Bergen County Democratic Organization chieftains have finally taken a deep drag on a peace pipe. But do not confuse last week’s unprecedented power-sharing “alliance” as a blueprint for permanent unity. It does not signal the long-awaited dawn of the post-Ferriero era of reform. It was not a love-in. (Stile, The Record) Morning News Digest: May 5, 2010