Morning News Digest: July 22, 2010

Christie- Parochialism could kill Meadowlands – A.C. overhaul Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that parochialism among factions in and out

Christie- Parochialism could kill Meadowlands – A.C. overhaul

Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that parochialism among factions in and out of Trenton could derail his ambitious plans for an overhaul of the Meadowlands and Atlantic City.The governor was referring to a study issued by his advisory commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment that recommends massive changes to both areas including public private partnerships and the possible privatization of some state owned venues, the creation of a “Clean and Safe” Tourism District in Atlantic City potentially run by the state and aid to the Xanadu shopping and entertainment complex to help the troubled project come to completion.
(Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Baraka won’t budge on MUA 

South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka said he has no intention of changing his vote against Mayor Cory Booker’s proposed municipal utilities authority (MUA) to generate $70 million in revenue. “Mismanagement,” Baraka said. “He’s had a full term in office and frankly it speaks to mismanagement.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

Sweeney’s South Jersey wager

 The north/south divide widened this morning with Gov. Chris Christie’s embrace of a plan that back benches horseracing and reinforces Atlantic City at the center of the state’s gaming universe. Standing – once again – on the same side of the divide were Christie – and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), whose South Jersey base is built in part on the 40,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs ratcheted into the seaside city. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) 

In wake of gov’s commission report, Booker alert to potential boon for the Rock

 Newark Mayor Cory Booker welcomed one recommendation today – but not necessarily from the city council. This one came from the governor’s advisory commission on gaming and sports, which ironed out an agreement with the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise. The Nets, according to the advisory commission, would play home games for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons in the Prudential Center in Newark, and agree to support the potential of another NBA team locating to New Jersey, “if and when the Nets leave the state.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

 New GOP caucus defends tea party, says it is not racist 

A group of two dozen House Republicans, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), officially launched the congressional Tea Party Caucus on Wednesday, strongly defending the grass-roots conservative movement as a positive force in American politics and repeatedly insisting it does not have racist motives. Many congressional Republicans have long associated themselves with the “tea party” activists who emerged during last year’s stimulus and health-care debates and sharply oppose President Obama’s agenda, but Bachmann’s move to create this caucus formalizes their relationship with the GOP. (Bacon, Washington Post) 

For Christie, a Bold Move on 2 Fronts Carries Risks

Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday called for a daring approach to a long-festering set of problems, with thousands of jobs and millions in state revenue at stake: a state takeover of Atlantic City’s withering casino district and a retreat from the government’s longtime role in running sports sites. But with the audacity come risks, practical and political. Mr. Christie aims to stem the downward slide of the casinos and the neighborhoods around them, but it is not clear that he can overcome the fast-growing competition and other market forces. A commission convened by the governor wrote that “it is reasonable to ask if Atlantic City gaming is savable.” (Perez Pena, New York Times)

Christie Urges Rescue for Stalled Meadowlands Complex

With the Xanadu entertainment and shopping complex three years behind schedule and in need of an estimated $875 million to open, Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday that it was time for the state to help resuscitate the project. The owner of Xanadu, a partnership led by Colony Capital, has already spent $2 billion on the three-story, 2.2-million-square-foot complex, which was originally supposed to open in 2007 on a 104-acre site in the state-owned sports complex in the New Jersey Meadowlands. (Bagli, New York Times)


Christie betting Democrats will support his gaming overhaul plan

 To get what he wants in Atlantic City, Gov. Chris Christie is making a calculated political bet. Many of his team’s recommendations on reviving the seaside casino capital will have to clear the Democrat-controlled state Legislature, a minefield of competing regional interests long divided over the gaming industry’s future. But the most important player in the mix is Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), the head of a powerful bloc of South Jersey lawmakers who have fiercely protected their turf, squashing any number of past plans to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City. (Heininger/Friedman, The Record) 

Gov. Christie pledges to turn Atlantic City casino district into ‘Las Vegas East’

 With more flair than a traveling road act, Gov. Chris Christie stood on the 50-yard line of the New Meadowlands Stadium today and declared the state government’s long romance with horse racing dead. “I don’t have the money to subsidize failure,” he said, summarizing the findings of a special commission which has concluded the state’s long financial support of horse racing has had its day. It’s a river of red ink and can’t be saved. (Margolin/Sherman, Star Ledger) 

State faces daunting challenge: Create and maintain a new Atlantic City tourism district  

By this time next year, Gov. Chris Christie expects to see a “clean and safe” Atlantic City, the first phase of his drastic overhaul of Atlantic City’s tourism management. It’s an ambitious deadline within an aggressive proposal that will require a lot of heavy lifting. Christie faces the challenge of rewriting decades old laws to rearrange state oversight and strip the city of some of its autonomy while battling a combative Democratic state Legislature, including North Jersey politicians angry over Christie’s opposition of video lottery terminals at the Meadowlands. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City) 

Public safety director vows to turn Atlantic City Police Department ‘inside out and upside down’

 The city’s public safety director agreed with residents Wednesday night that police are not doing enough to keep the residents safe. “I have concluded I need to reorganize and turn that Police Department inside out and upside down,” Christine Petersen said as several in the audience shouted agreement. “There are not enough uniform officers outside because they’re inside.” (Cohen, Press of Atlantic City) 

 N.J. eyes takeover of casino district

 Gov. Christie on Wednesday is expected to unveil sweeping plans for a state takeover of the Atlantic City district that encompasses its casinos, beaches, marina, and Boardwalk. Under the proposal, devised by an advisory commission created by Christie, the state would strip the city of its control of municipal functions around the casinos, such as police and garbage pickup, the Star-Ledger of Newark reported late Tuesday afternoon. (Moran/Rao/Parmley, Inquirer) 

Potosnak Formally Kicks Off Campaign Against Rep. Lance 

In a small ceremony designed to highlight small business issues, Democratic nominee Ed Potosnak formally kicked off his months old campaign to unseat Republican Congressman Leonard Lance on Wednesday. Potosnak choose the Organigaya Cafe in North Plainfield for the launch ceremony, explaining he wanted to highlight the issues facing owner Paul Alirnagues and other small business owners. Potosnak, a Bridgewater native, lives within walking distance to the cafe. (Solomon, Westfield Patch) 

Poll: Most in NJ oppose offshore drilling 

 In an about-face, close to two-thirds of New Jersey’s residents oppose offshore drilling near the state’s coast, a new poll finds. Sixty-three percent oppose drilling either for oil or gas, according to the latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Press Media poll, with 31 percent in favor. Two years ago, a majority of residents — 56 percent — favored offshore drilling as an energy option, and 36 percent opposed it. (Clurfeld, Gannett) 

Former South Harrison mayor files civil rights suit 

The first black mayor of South Harrison Township, who stepped down in November after he was a target of racial intimidation, has filed a federal lawsuit against local police and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office because they did not discipline or prosecute a police officer he says pushed him. At the time of his resignation, Charles Tyson, who became mayor in January 2007, said he was worn down by racially motivated death threats, vandalism, and nasty politics directed against him. (Hefler, Inquirer) 

Atlantic City takeover brings Camden to mind 

At first blush, a takeover of Atlantic City’s casino district calls to mind the state’s 2002 takeover of another struggling New Jersey city – Camden. But there are significant differences between the plan that Gov. Christie will outline for the gaming resort on Wednesday, according to published reports, and former Gov. McGreevey’s far-reaching effort, which ended in January after failing to succeed at revitalization. (Katz, Inquirer) 


 Stile: Political power flies south this summer 

Governor Christie stood on the 50-yard line at Giants Stadium on Wednesday but made it clear that Bergen County is no longer the center of New Jersey’s political universe. As he introduced and blessed the findings of a 39-page report to overhaul and rescue New Jersey’s gaming industry, Christie effectively acknowledged that the political power has flown south to Atlantic City and its casinos, a duchy firmly in control of the South Jersey Democratic Party machine that dominates the Legislature and holds a virtual veto over Christie’s ambitions. (Stile, The Record) 

Ingle: Let colleges handle charter school applications 

New Jersey lags behind other states in charter school creation and one big reason for that is only the state Department of Education can approve them. For the past few years the department has been under the thumb of the teachers union, the NJEA. The NJEA doesn’t want charter schools or any other challenge to its domination of the education system. Gov. Corzine’s education commissioner, Lucille Davy, was little more than a tool of the union. Bob Bowdon’s excellent film, “The Cartel” demonstrates this very well. Davy was like a deer in the headlights when Bowdon asked why charter school applications were rejected but applicants weren’t told why. (Ingle, Gannett) 

 Kinney: A time for Christie to party hearty 

For his six-month anniversary, what do you get the governor who has everything? A fully stocked Republican state Supreme Court? Charter schools on every block? One of those naked-lady pens – the kind where an overpaid New Jersey schoolteacher’s clothes magically disappear as you tip her to the right – to use on his next 5,000 executive orders? (Kinney, Inquirer)

Morning News Digest: July 22, 2010