Morning News Digest: July 12, 2010

Winners and Losers – Cap Edition

Gov. Chris Christie: His critics – among them former back-in-the-day running mate and later gubernatorial primary conquest Rick Merkt – say Christie blinked last week when he shifted suddenly from a proposal of a hard cap to a soft one. But most observers gave the governor credit for adjusting in the face of oncoming traffic, and landing an aggressive next-day deal with state Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) that had four – not 17, as the previous cap of four years ago contained – concessions. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

New Jersey Governor Defies Political Expectations

A momentous deal to cap property taxes was all but done, but Gov. Chris Christie was taking no chances, barnstorming the state to commiserate with squeezed homeowners and keep pressure on the Legislature. Outside a farmhouse here in central New Jersey last week, buttoned up in a dark suit despite the triple-digit heat, Mr. Christie promised to tackle rising pension costs, transportation financing, municipal spending — all while poking fun at his opponents, the news media and, mostly, himself. (Perez-Pena, The New York Times) 

A chat with state DEP Commissioner Bob Martin

 Editor’s note: This is another of our “Sunday Conversations,” a question-and-answer interview with a prominent person from New Jersey. Today, we feature Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection. Martin was appointed in January. Q: How are you approaching your job? A: The bottom line at the DEP is that there need to be changes. There absolutely need to be changes. The DEP’s broken. It needs to be fixed. (Gannett) 

 In case you missed it…

Runyan has nearly half a million COH 

Third Congressional District Republican nominee Jon Runyan raised $501,409 last quarter – $200,000 of it his own money – and had $472,056 cash on hand as of June 30, according to campaign consultant Chris Russell. It’s Runyan’s biggest quarterly output since he became a candidate and early had the opposition jeering at his inability to raise dollars. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Deprived of debates, Sipprelle settles for diners 

Wall Street businessman Scott Sipprelle today hyped a mixing with the masses “Diner Tour,” which he kicked off last month at the Americana Diner in East Windsor, and which he continues next week at the Manalapan Diner in Englishtown and the All Season Diner II in Freehold in lieu of no 12th District debate schedule. “New Jersey’s diners are proving to be a great place to spread my message of economic renewal and political reform and to get instant feedback from an audience that is opinionated and yearning to make their voices heard,” marveled Sipprelle, who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Princeton). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Long-shot GOP candidate Little has just over $16k COH 

Submitting her latest Federal Election Commission (FEC) quarterly report, 6th Congressional District GOP nominee Anna Little has $16,301 cash on hand in her bid to upend $4 million dollar man U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch). An upstart Tea Party-endorsed candidate, Little has raised a total of $68,264 through June 30th. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

 N.J. Gov. Christie’s privatization plan faulted

 Raising the specter of higher fees and worse services for New Jersey residents, Democrats and advocates Friday criticized a Christie administration report recommending the state privatize millions of dollars in government functions. “It’s becoming clear this governor hasn’t met a fee hike on average New Jerseyans that he couldn’t embrace,” Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, D-Camden, said. “Fee is just another three-letter word for tax.” (Megerian, The Record) 

Christie looks to privatize motor vehicle inspections, other services 

New Jersey would close its centralized car inspection lanes and motorists would pay for their own emissions tests under a sweeping set of recommendations set to be released by the Christie administration today. State parks, psychiatric hospitals and even turnpike toll booths could also be run by private operators, according to the 57-page report on privatization obtained by The Star-Ledger. Preschool classrooms would no longer be built at public expense, state employees would pay for parking and private vendors would dish out food, deliver health care and run education programs behind prison walls. (Heininger, The Record) 

Plan to limit state spending back on table 

When Governor Christie first proposed a constitutional cap on property tax growth, his plan included a limit on state spending. That restraint evaporated amid the debate and ultimate compromise this week that gave New Jerseyans a 2 percent cap on property tax growth, with various exceptions. (Friedman, The Record) 

NJ report: Privatize some state duties, save $210M

 A New Jersey task force created by Gov. Chris Christie said Friday the state could save at least $210 million a year by privatizing motor vehicle inspections, turnpike toll booths, preschools, state parks and some services at state prisons. The five-member task force, commissioned in March to examine the potential savings of privatization, submitted a 57-page report to the governor. The group is made up of lobbyists and business interests. (DeFalco, AP)

 W. Caldwell Attorney Appointed GOP Committeeman 

No sooner did state Republican Committee Chairman Jay Webber announce that Bill Palatucci would become the next New Jersey Republican National Committeeman that some began to speculate what it could mean for Palatucci’s good friend, Gov. Chris Christie. Webber announced on Thursday that Palatucci would replace David Norcross, who has been the New Jersey Republican National Committeeman for 30 years. (Schweber, Caldwell Patch) 

From the Back Room… 

 Torres in search of work 

Dumped by the public, former Paterson Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres is on the look-out for work as head of purchasing at the Passaic Valley Water Commission. He needs the backing of three mayors to get a shot at the $130,000 -a-year job: Passaic Mayor Alex Blanco, Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi, and Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones. (Editor, PolitickerNJ) 

Codey separates Doherty and Lesniak in Senate chamber

 Senators Mike Doherty and Ray Lesniak went nose-to-nose in the chamber this afternoon after Lesniak apparently catcalled during Doherty’s presentation. Doherty approached Lesniak’s chair and demanded respect. According to two sources, Lesniak threatened to “pop” Doherty. Former Gov. (and state Sen.) Richard Codey intervened, wrapping his arms around Doherty, a former West Point boxer. (Editor, PolitickerNJ)


Stile: Elmwood Park scuffle over sign may haunt GOP 

The Elmwood Park campaign sign scuffle is scheduled for a July 29 court hearing, which will formally elevate a petty pre-primary footnote into a bona fide general election distraction. At least that’s how Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin classifies the June 5 confrontation between Michael Agosta, the Republican nominee for the 9th Congressional District, and Aleksandra Baraskovaya, a campaign worker for Agosta’s vanquished primary rival, John Aslanian. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Assembly intrigue and Lonegan’s Bronx cheer 

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver came around to supporting the 2 percent property tax cap worked out between Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney. But Steve Lonegan, conservative activist, former mayor and gubernatorial candidate, thinks it stinks. “We believe the plan to cap increases at 2 percent and provide exemptions incorporates many of our ideas to control property taxes and is a significant change from the governor’s initial plan. The proposal has our support,” said Oliver, who was nowhere to be found when Christie and Sweeney announced the 2 percent solution last weekend. (Ingle, Gannett) 

 Moran: Fragmented N.J. Democrats struggle to find leadership, unity with elections approaching 

The phone rang just after 9 p.m. last Friday at the East Orange home of Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. It was Senate President Steve Sweeney, her counterpart, and he was telling her that the boys in Trenton had struck a closed-door deal on property taxes. Without her. (Moran, The Star Ledger)

Morning News Digest: July 12, 2010