Morning News Digest: May 7, 2010

Dwek tells court he used a middle man to give bribes to Long Branch mayor, who denies it With just

Dwek tells court he used a middle man to give bribes to Long Branch mayor, who denies it

With just days remaining before Election Day in Long Branch, disgraced developer Solomon Dwek threw a political bombshell into the mix when he testified at the corruption trial of former Assemblyman Dan Van Pelt that he gave bribes through a middle man to Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, who adamantly denies the charge. “There were times where I had a middleman make a bribe payment like to the Mayor of Long Branch or council people of Long Branch or sometimes I would give out auction tickets,” Dwek told the U.S. District Court of Judge Joel A. Pisano yesterday. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

The Record endorses Jones for Paterson mayor

The Record of Bergen today endorsed At-Large Councilman Jeff Jones for mayor of Paterson. Jones is challenging incumbent Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in a three-man contest that includes Ward 6 Councilman Andre Sayegh. “The City Council president is a former Marine, an educator, and also has worked within the criminal justice system,” says the editorial. “He is disciplined and thoughtful, but he is also a fighter. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Mack fights tax delinquency charge, says Trenton establishment is desperate because he’s winning 

Up against the establishment, Tony Mack knew the hard questions would come down the stretch. 

Beset by financial difficulties since he lost his job with the city after challenging the sitting mayor in 2006, the Trenton mayoral candidate said those troubles have nothing to do with his present candidacy for mayor or with his ability to lead the city.
”My family’s personal matters have always been resolved in a timely manner and this is not the time to take shots at politicians, it’s the time to listen to their ideas,” said Mack, when asked by about being delinquent by over $5,000 on residential property taxes. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Senator Buono expresses frustration towards NJSEA at budget meeting 

Two months after criticizing the finances of the Meadowlands Sports Complex at a state Senate hearing, Sen. Barbara Buono’s frustration bubbled over further on Thursday at a Senate budget hearing in Trenton. Buono, D-Middlesex, grilling state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, expressed exasperation that neither the Treasury nor the state Auditor’s Office had provided her with a copy of the 2010 budget for the beleaguered New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority — for a budget year that began in January. (Brennan, The Record) 

NJEA concerned school aid cuts will hurt state’s application for federal funds 

The New Jersey Education Association expressed concern Thursday that the Christie administration’s cuts in aid to schools will hurt the state’s new application for federal Race to the Top funding. Barbara Keshishian, president of the NJEA, met with Education Commissioner Bret Schundler Thursday afternoon to discuss the state’s second bid for $400 million in competitive grants. The application is due June 1. (Brody, The Record) 

State still waiting to see if income tax payments will lead to balanced budget

New Jersey has a $567 million question — the amount that state tax collections are off for April — and it’s running out of time to figure out whether a late burst of income tax payments will allow the state to end the fiscal year with a balanced budget, the state treasurer said Thursday. Testifying before the Senate Budget Committee, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said he doesn’t know the depth of the problem because the state gave residents and businesses in 12 counties an extension to file their income taxes after March storms caused severe flooding. (Fleisher/Ackermann, The Record) 

Librarians protest N.J. Gov. Christie’s proposed $10.4M in cuts 

Hundreds of librarians protested a $10.4 million proposed budget cut at the State House Annex on Thursday, being far from quiet as they told story after story about the value of book sharing. “There’s no shushing,” said Pat Massey of Edison, president of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians and a South Plainfield school librarian who took a personal day to attend the rally. (Ackermann, The Record) 

Ex-gov Jon Corzine cuts campaign donations to Dems

 Former Gov. Jon Corzine has closed his checkbook to New Jersey Democrats just months after losing re-election. The Star-Ledger and The Record Statehouse Bureau finds Corzine’s fiancee and four multimillionaire former colleagues who worked. (AP) 

Van Pelt corruption trial continues, jurors hear taped conversations

 Jurors in the corruption trial of a former New Jersey lawmaker were replayed conversations between the defendant and an FBI informant leading up to a $10,000 payment. Former New Jersey Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt is accused of accepting the cash from the fictional developer to expedite approvals for a commercial building project in his hometown of Waretown. (Delli Santi, AP) 

Christie’s disclosure form largely same as before

 Gov. Chris Christie last week issued an executive order that largely keeps in place the financial disclosure rules that were in place under recent administrations. After criticizing financial disclosure standards as a candidate and pledging to replace the disclosure forms with a more detailed version, Christie’s order — put out April 27 without an announcement — mostly reinforces the system that has been in place since 2005. (Symons, Gannett) 

Christie bars referendums on tax breaks 

Gov. Chris Christie has barred residents from voting on a controversial $300 million tax break for the unfinished Revel Casino, but the city could still hit a jackpot. Revel officials said this week that any future tax savings would be reinvested in the struggling neighborhood near the casino. (AP) 

Stile: Christie’s latest battle could end in cease-fire

 Governor Christie opened a new front this week in his Endless War on the Trenton status quo by refusing to keep a centrist on the state Supreme Court. Christie’s got so many fights running that it’s hard to keep track. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Christie catches heat for keeping promise

 During his campaign, Gov. Christie said the state Supreme Court overstepped its bounds repeatedly and should return to what a supreme court is supposed to do — interpret the state constitution and the law. Following through on promises to change that, he becomes the first Jersey governor not to renominate a justice for the high court. Give Christie credit for keeping his word even though the status quo types are unhappy to the max. That includes state lawmakers who like having an activist court so they can avoid making unpopular decisions and those who play to their audience when attacking Christie. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: May 7, 2010