Morning News Digest: June 28, 2010

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NJEA Continues its assault

As the budget nears its final lap, the state teacher’s union trained its sights on property tax caps, taking aim at proposals from both parties in a statement issued Friday. While it criticizes all proposed caps, the release from the New Jersey Education Association is mostly aimed at Gov. Chris Christie who has scuffled with the teachers’ union since taking office. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Report: Chiappone pleads guilty

 The Jersey Journal just reported that Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone (D-Bayonne) has pleaded guilty in Superior Court to filing false campaign finance reports with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). The court is requiring Chiappone to forfeit his Assembly seat. He is barred from holding future office. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

 After weathering abuse, Sweeney makes a point as Republicans scramble on budget 

State Sen. Tom Kean (R-Westfield) strolled in the vicinity of his Republican colleagues on the Senate Budget Committee, and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) made him wait. And wait. “It’s like a World Cup soccer game in here,” deadpanned Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, slouched in a seat and watching the lingering Kean again pass the chair abandoned by state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Washington Twp). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Plan to divvy up Teterboro put on hold 

The proposal to dismantle Teterboro and distribute its parts to four other municipalities will be pulled from the state Senate and Assembly agendas Monday, state Sen. Paul Sarlo said Friday. Sarlo said the bill, which passed both houses’ budget committees this week, will be refined this summer with advice from the governor’s and the Legislature’s lawyers to ensure it withstands legal challenges. (Gartland, The Record) 

Christie on running for the White House: No. Or at least, not yet. 

In an interview with FOX News’ Neil Cavuto in Greenwich Township earlier this week, Gov. Christie once again deflected questions about running for the Presidency. “I think listen, you would have to be really in your gut and in your heart ready to be president of the United States, if you decide to run for that,” Christie said. “And I simply do not have the desire to do it nor do I think I’m ready. Yes, four years ago, there were a lot of people who wanted me to run for governor in 2005, when I was U.S. attorney. And I made the decision, even though many in my party were urging me to do it, not to run because I loved the job I was in and I didn’t think I was ready to be governor.” (Lu, Inquirer) 

N.J. assemblyman pleads guilty to tampering with public records 

New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone pleaded guilty to tampering with public records under a plea agreement Friday. In return, prosecutors dropped charges against the Bayonne Democrat’s wife, Diane. (AP) 

Weinberg wants Zisa off of county board 

Hackensack’s representative in the State Senate has called for the city’s ousted police chief to lose his spot on the Bergen County Board of Elections. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D–Teaneck) joined her Senate colleague Paul Sarlo (D–Wood-Ridge) in calling for former Hackensack Police Chief Charles “Ken” Zisa to be removed as a board commissioner because of the criminal charges filed against him in recent months. (Bonamo, Hackensack Chronicle) 

Geithner Urges G-20 Leaders to Keep Focus on Domestic Demand Not Deficits

 U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner urged Group of 20 leaders at a summit this weekend in Canada to commit to policies that ensure the global economic recovery won’t be derailed. Countries, particularly Japan and others in Europe, need to do more to boost domestic demand instead of just looking for ways to slash their budgets, Geithner said at a press conference in Toronto. China has already adopted such growth-oriented policies, while the U.S. is doing its part to rebalance the global economy by boosting national savings and investment, he said. (Christie/Brinsley, Bloomberg) 

 Former Perth Amboy mayor Joseph Vas’ corruption trial may be affected by Supreme Court ruling

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark is reviewing how a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday in a case involving former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling could affect corruption cases including one against former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas and his aide Melvin Ramos. Half the 12 counts in the federal indictment against Vas and Ramos could be affected by the ruling. They involve the “honest services” provision of the mail and wire fraud statute. (Serrano, Gannett) 

Christie weighs whether to join suit challenging health-care law

 Gov. Christie says he has not decided whether to sign on to a 20-state lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health-care law signed in March by President Obama. That makes New Jersey one of seven Republican-led states that have not joined the largely partisan fight. Interest groups on both sides of the debate are lobbying the governor, but some of his advisers say he should not join the suit. Capping property taxes and managing a difficult budget have rightly been his top priorities, they say, and New Jersey residents are more open than people in other parts of the country to health-care regulation. (Conaboy, Inquirer)

Sweeney has no opinion on ouster of second South Jersey judge

 When Gov. Christie decided not to reappoint Judge John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) was front and center in protesting the decision. Sweeney vowed not to hold hearings in the Senate on the governor’s choice to replace Wallace, for example, until Wallace’s term would have ended in two years when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Lu, Inquirer)

 Lawmakers seek reforms for state, local agencies 

Legislation that would impose limits on salaries and benefits offered by independent state and local authorities in New Jersey will go before the Assembly this week. The measure came about after Gov. Chris Christie and other critics cited “a disturbing pattern” of what they called wasteful or lavish spending by many of the agencies, which oversee billions of dollars they receive from the state or collect from ratepayers and system users. (Shipkowski, AP) 

Stile: A legislator’s paycheck isn’t what it used to be 

Add legislators to the long list of those whose earning power has eroded over the past two decades. That point was made by veteran Republican Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk of Hillsdale during a brief interview before last Monday’s vote to override Governor Christie’s veto of a one-year surcharge on income of $1 million or higher. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Pension collapse closer than you think 

Did you think the potential collapse of the public employee pension system is so far in the future you don’t need to be concerned? Or, if you’re not in the system that it doesn’t affect you? A new report from George Mason University says it’s closer than you think. (Ingle, Gannett) 

Ingle: We have answer on Dow now

 For those who wondered whether Attorney General Paul Dow would be any difference that those who came before — mostly a lackluster crowd always looking the other way, letting politicians off easy — we have the answer. Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, a Hudson County Democrat, has pleaded guilty to tampering with finance campaign records. He was elected while under indictment. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: June 28, 2010