Morning News Digest: June 17, 2010

Smith becomes HCDO chairman

Staggered by last year’s multiple corruption charges and with the sentencing of Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini a two-day old headline, members of the Hudson County Democratic Organization piled into Public School No. 6 in Jersey City tonight and backed Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith – without incident – to be the new chairman. Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, the outgoing chairman, handed the scepter of the battered party realm to Smith, a former beat cop, who bucked up those jaded or doubtful members of the group with the fact that – between May 11th and last night – his slate dominated the council races in Bayonne. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Mercer Dems choose Muoio to succeed McClellan

At its reorganization meeting tonight at Rider University, the Mercer County Democratic Committee tonight unanimously backed Liz Muoio of Pennington as party chairman. The former Mercer Freeholder takes over for Richard McClellan, who served as party chairman for eight years. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

New GOP chief Thompson reaches out to Little

 Ordinarily outshone in the Republican constellation by the bigger and more muscular Monmouth County, Middlesex coming out of the Republican Primary last week could lay down the boast that while the Monmouth Republican organization sputtered on Election Night, Middlesex delivered. It was no overwhelming effort in a low turnout environment, but the GOP Middlesex establishment – such as it is – nevertheless performed well enough to produce victories for the same two A-line candidates who on the same night went belly up in Monmouth: Rumson newspaper publisher Diane Gooch in the 6th Congressional District, and Princeton venture capitalist Scott Sipprelle in the 12th District. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Assembly panel will hear testimony Thursday on affordable-housing bill 

The chairman of an Assembly panel today said his committee will hear testimony on a controversial affordable-housing bill Thursday, but it will not vote on the legislation. “We we will do this right, with input from everyone,” said Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Union), chairman of the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee. “I don’t want to be back here next year debating yet another affordable-housing bill. I don’t want an endless court fight. I want a system that works, and if that means taking time to do it right, then that’s what we’re going to do. (Ackermann, The Record) 

How a cap fares elsewhere 

For an idea of how the Christie administration’s proposed property tax cap would work, New Jersey residents can look to Massachusetts, where a similar model has been in place for more than 30 years. But finding consensus on whether it has helped or hurt the state once labeled “Taxachusetts” is more difficult. (Akin, The Record)

NJ Transit hopes real-estate deals generate $100M

NJ Transit officials took another step toward public-private partnerships with its real estate holdings that Executive Director James Weinstein said could earn the agency $100 million in revenue, which could go toward covering operating costs. NJ Transit’s Board approved retail leases for spaces in three major stations in Hoboken, Secaucus and Trenton, which Weinstein called a “solid business decision that allows use to generate commercial revenue.” (Higgs, Gannett)

NJ Gov. Chris Christie visits Perth Amboy to talk up 2.5 percent tax cap

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took his proposal to cap property tax increases at 2.5 percent to Perth Amboy on Tuesday, declaring that his plan is imperative in order to get a grip on government spending. The Republican governor told more than 250 people inside the Alexander F. Jankowski Community Center on Olive Street that “Cap 2.5” is the crux of a 33-bill legislative agenda he has proposed to reduce property taxes and give towns and school boards the tools to control costs and live within the cap. (Rommel, Gannett) 

Cherry Hill mayor seeks property-tax hike, staff cuts 

Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt, citing declining revenues and state aid, has introduced a township budget calling for property-tax hikes and reductions in township staff. The budget announcement, made at a Township Council meeting Monday night, comes as local governments across New Jersey are grappling with similar financial issues. (Osborne, Inquirer) 

 Ingle: One diamond that isn’t a girl’s best friend

 If only she had taken time to read that people connected to the infamous Hope Diamond came to regret it, Leona Beldini might be baking cookies for a church charity sale instead getting ready to spend three years in the Big House. Beldini danced and stripped under the stage name Hope Diamond in the ’50s and ’60s, but it was her time as deputy mayor of Jersey City that led to her downfall. The 75-year-old Democrat was found guilty of bribery in federal court. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: June 17, 2010