Morning News Digest: June 4, 2010

Christie: if property taxes rise, ‘I’ll tell you where to go’

Presenting himself as the people’s champion against an entrenched culture of Trenton government, Gov. Chris Christie asked residents to lean on their elected officials to pass a referendum question that would cap government spending at 2.5% and require a ballot question for spending outside the cap. “The state didn’t elect me to run a charm school and they didn’t elect someone to nuance this thing to good health,” said Christie, reflecting on a 70% uptick in property taxes statewide over the past decade. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Earp challenged for his OC Dem chairmanship

Former Lavalette Councilwoman Britta Wenzel is mounting an upstart challenge of Ocean County Democratic Party Chairman Wyatt Earp in a contest to be deceded June 15th. While conceding that they’re virtually helpless right now in the Republican Party stronghold that drove big numbers for Gov. Chris Christie last year, Democrats say Wenzel is taking aim at over 400 empty district/ward committee ward seats in Ocean. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Christie speaks at Rutherford town hall meeting 

Residents of the Borough of Trees got a taste of Governor Chris Christie’s now well-known governing style last week when the governor spoke at a town hall-type meeting at the Rutherford First Presbyterian Church on East Passaic Avenue. The meeting took some heated turns as both supporters and detractors commented on the governor’s first few months in office. Accompanied by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, and flanked by supporters standing in front of a banner reading “Cap 2.5,” Christie was introduced by fellow Republican, Mayor John Hipp. He described Rutherford as being “on the front line of the long war against property taxes.” (O’Keefe, South Bergenite) 

Gov. Chris Christie plan to merge watchdog agencies sets off turf war with Dems 

Governor Christie’s plan to merge New Jersey’s government watchdogs has touched off a turf war with Democratic lawmakers who say they won’t let him take away the State Commission of Investigation — an agency that is part of the legislative branch. In a Senate Legislative Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono said Christie had “chutzpah” to try to cut $3.5 million from the SCI — more than 75 percent of its budget — and merge it with the state comptroller’s office, which is a quasi-independent agency within the executive branch. (Friedman, The Record) 

Rahway’s mayoral race tops Democratic primary

 Following Mayor James Kennedy’s decision not to seek re-election this year, the city on Tuesday will have its first Democratic mayoral primary in 20 years. Freeholder Rick Proctor, who works as the city’s director of health and human services, is running against Renee Thrash, a former Rahway Housing Authority chairwoman, in Tuesday’s mayoral primary. (Russell, Gannett)

 Dems to fight watchdog merger plan 

 Democratic leaders in the Legislature, joined by key members of the GOP, say they’ll stand firm against Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to eliminate the public’s only independent watchdog agency. If the Legislature’s State Commission of Investigation is merged with two other investigative agencies, all of the government’s investigative subpoena powers would be controlled by the executive branch, according to testimony Wednesday before the state Senate Legislative Oversight Committee. (Clurfeld, Gannett) 

Critics assail Christie’s plan for fiscal watchdogs 

Gov. Christie’s proposal to merge three state watchdog agencies with the Comptroller’s Office would hurt New Jersey taxpayers because less fraud would be exposed and too much power would shift to the executive branch, critics of the plan said Wednesday. The governor has said he hopes to save $3.5 million a year by abolishing the State Commission of Investigation, the Inspector General’s Office, and the Medicaid Inspector General’s Office and transferring their duties to the Comptroller’s Office, which is within the executive branch. (Rao, Inquirer) 

Most on N.J. judicial panel quit over Christie move 

 All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court. The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office. (Lu, Inquirer) 

 Stile: Schundler violated Christie’s No. 1 rule 

Education Commissioner Bret Schundler committed the cardinal sin of publicly opening his mouth before giving his boss a chance to muzzle him in private. “I think if he is guilty of anything, he’s guilty of just going public too quickly,” Governor Christie said Tuesday. “So we had a conversation about that. I was very direct with him and I think he understands exactly what I said and why I said it.” (Stile, The Record)

 Ingle: Buono – ‘that’s chutzpah’

 One of my favorite presidents, Harry Truman, tried to seize the steel mills and the U.S. Supreme Court stopped him saying that a good and decent man sits in the White House today but that it may not always be so (Boy, did they get that right!) The same argument can be added to those opposing the State Commission of Investigation being merged into other so-called state watchdog committees. Chris Christie won’t always be governor. (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: June 4, 2010