Morning News Digest: July 21, 2010

Follow PolitickerNJ updates on Twitter and on Facebook. Gay Marriage Advocates Rally Advocates of marriage equality rallied at the statehouse

Follow PolitickerNJ updates on Twitter and on Facebook.

Gay Marriage Advocates Rally

Advocates of marriage equality rallied at the statehouse yesterday, hoping to further their cause while drowning out an opposition rally taking place at the same time. Garden State Equality, which has partnered with the Lamda Legal Defense fund in a lawsuit to force the allowance of same sex marriage, put on the event that was attended by about 200 supporters. (Isherwood, The Record)

Donovan applauds gov’s commission suggestion to abolish Expo Authority

Calling it a “major benefit for Bergen County taxpayers,” Kathe Donovan, Republican candidate for Bergen County executive, applauded a governor’s commission proposal to dismantle the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Donovan called for the elimination of the Sports Authority in May. By privatizing authority facilities in East Rutherford, “local and county taxpayers will finally have the opportunity to realize reasonable tax benefits from newly taxable ratables.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Budget Clash Redux

Just three weeks removed from a momentous clash of fiscal philosophy during this year’s budget season, Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald has called a meeting to discuss next year’s spending plan. Greenwald called the committee into session on August 5 to discuss a reported $10.5 billion hole in the fiscal 2012 budget. The $10.5 billion shortfall was reported by the Office of Legislative Services. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Bishop backs up traditional marriage activists

Bishop John Smith of the Catholic Diocese of Trenton stood between the marble pillars in front of the Statehouse this afternoon in support of traditional marriage. “Marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of the country,” Smith, backed by white-tuxed Knights of Columbus, told a crowd of clapping supporters. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

From the Back Room…

Report: Atlantic City overhaul

The Star-Ledger is reporting tonight that Gov. Chris Christie in back-to-back Wednesday press conferences, first at the Meadowlands and later in Atlantic City, intends to announce a massive proposed overhaul to the state’s gaming and race track industries. Ted Sherman reports that Christie’s proposal includes a state takeover of AC’s gaming and entertainment districts, “the sale or closure of the Meadowlands Racetrack, the near disbanding of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, and refinancing the stalled Xanadu entertainment complex project.” (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)

Is Brown gearing up for another crack at Greenstein?

As an activist on the outskirts of the 2007 Assembly race, Brian Brown spent over $400,000 on targeted advertising against Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), who is challenging state Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamilton) in the 14th Legislative District. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)

Governor to Offer Plan to Overhaul Atlantic City

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is expected to announce plans on Wednesday for an overhaul of the troubled Atlantic City gambling district and the possible closing of the ailing Meadowlands Racetrack, an adviser to the governor said Tuesday. The governor is expected to propose that a state-appointed authority that would include county officials, industry leaders and university officials would take control of Atlantic City’s casino and entertainment district and devise a block-by-block plan to revive the city as a beachfront resort with gambling. Local government would lose virtually all control over the district. (Bagli, New York Times)

Christie Won’t Raise New Jersey Taxes to Fill $10.5 Billion Budget Gap

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie won’t raise taxes to close a $10.5 billion deficit next year, a gap almost matching the record hole he and lawmakers filled in the current $29.4 billion budget, his spokesman said. The fiscal 2012 deficit estimate by David Rosen, chief budget officer for the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, is based on using existing revenue sources to fund all state programs and obligations. Christie, a Republican who took office in January, cut services and spending to close a $10.7 billion gap in this year’s plan without raising taxes. (Dopp, Bloomberg)

N.J. Gov. Christie plans takeover of Atlantic City casino district, sale of Meadowlands Racetrack

Gov. Chris Christie will announce plans for an unprecedented overhaul of New Jersey’s troubled gaming industry Wednesday — including a complete takeover of the Atlantic City casino and entertainment district, and the sell-off or shutdown of the struggling Meadowlands Racetrack. The Atlantic City takeover removes virtually all local control from the gaming district, from police protection to garbage pickup. (Margolin/Sherman, The Star Ledger)

Essex Tea Party looking to expand

Sitting in a small room next to the bar at the Town Pub Monday night, a large contingent plotted a takeover while drinking soda. Their objective? To take back America from what they perceive is an ever-encroaching government, which is turning the country into a “nanny state.” “We want our elected representatives to hear us,” said Bloomfield resident Sue Ann Penna, president of the newly-formed Essex County Tea Party Coalition, now meeting regularly in Bloomfield. “We stand for three things: limited government, lower taxes and individual rights.” (Frankel, Bloomfield Life)

Update: Sen. Menendez says Lockerbie bomber probe ‘still possible’

British Prime Minister David Cameron told senators from New Jersey and New York on Tuesday that he has not totally ruled out an independent investigation into the release of the Lockerbie bomber, though he has seen no reason to order one yet. “It is still possible an independent inquiry is on the table,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said after a 45-minute meeting he and three colleagues had with Cameron at the British embassy. (Jackson, The Record)


NJ GOP appears to be closing fundraising gap with Democrats

While the big state Democratic fundraising committees outraised and outspent Republicans during the first half of 2010, the GOP appears to be closing the longstanding fundraising gap with Democrats. The three top Democratic fundraising committees picked up $1.3 million the first half of 2010, while their Republican counterparts raised $858,724. But the Republicans’ numbers are up 84 percent from four years ago, while the Democrats’ numbers are down 58 percent. (Friedman, The Record)

Senate panel considers allowing cities to furlough public workers

With the New Jersey Legislature being pressed to endorse measures that will help municipalities control costs, a Senate panel on Monday considered bills allowing local governments to furlough police and firefighters and post legal notices online instead of in newspapers. Public worker unions told lawmakers that authorizing governments to temporarily lay off police and firefighters tramples on collective bargaining rights and could compromise public safety. (Delli Santi, AP)


Stile: That’s not the way to ‘Reform Jersey Now’

Team Christie is telling donors of the deep-pocketed variety that it’s safe again to come outside with their checkbooks. Don’t worry about those meddlesome landmark pay-to-play laws designed to curtail the corrosive power of campaign cash — can’t touch you, they say. A convenient, safe way around all those legal land mines has been designed for you. (Stile, The Record)

Editorial: Mayors on leave from city jobs / Another A.C. lawsuit

Atlantic City can still rack up the legal bills, despite its multimillion-dollar budget shortfall. Now the city is suing former Mayor Scott Evans, charging “quid-pro-quo-style transactions” arising from the generous contracts his administration negotiated with the city’s fire and police chiefs just before Evans was about to go back to his job in the Fire Department. (Press of Atlantic City)

Symons: How the $10.5B projected deficit is tallied

In case you’re curious, here’s the memo about the elements that go into the projected $10.5 billion budget deficit already being projected for FY2012 — that’s the state budget year that begins in 49 weeks, so things could change slightly. It’s the annual academic exercise about how deep a hole the state is facing, presuming it fully funds all of its obligations as written in current law. The state never does fully fund those obligations. (Symons, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: July 21, 2010