Morning News Digest: July 8, 2010

McKeon backs Oliver in angry caucus room; seeks front office contact

After their caucus convened today and following a budget committee hearing that included the testimonials of mayors, Assemblyman John Buzichelli (D-Paulsboro) and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) went to see Kevin O’Dowd, deputy chief counsel to Gov. Chris Christie. The caucus meeting from earlier in the day had not gone well, and the Democratic Party lawmakers wanted to try to assert themselves to salvage a situation run amok. They wanted to diplomatically feel out O’Dowd on the governor’s receptivity to some additional provisions that kept coming back to them, both in the caucus and in the hearing. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Goodwin Running With ELEC Ball

State Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamilton) is hoping to pick up where his two predecessors in the 14th district left off. Goodwin, who is facing a tough special election fight from Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) in November, announced Wednesday he would introduce legislation to toughen the state’s pay to play laws. Goodwin said his legislation will mirror recommendations made earlier this month by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

Adler and Runyan clash in first debate of season

After debating this morning on Michael Smerconish’s 1210 am radio show, the forces of U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) and his 3rd Congressional District Republican challenger, ex-football stud Jon Runyan, attempted to proclaim victory. “As a long-time State Senator in Trenton, John Adler voted with Jon Corzine and Jim McGreevey 99% of the time, rubber-stamping fiscally irresponsible state budgets that saddled New Jersey residents with the highest taxes in the country and pushed state government to the brink of bankruptcy,” said Runyan, fuming over Adler’s self-identification as “an independent-minded centrist.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

From The Back Room… 

Will Paterson be another Hawthorne for Kykendall?

 Tonight’s Paterson Democratic County Committee battle features incumbents Rev. James A. Kykendall and Delores Sykes-Williams against challengers School Board Commissioner Errol Kerr and 6th Ward upstart Al Abdelaziz. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ) 

U.S. Capitol Police probing hoax e-mails reporting Lautenberg, senators’ deaths 

U.S. Capitol Police are investigating hoax e-mails to news outlets and blogs reporting that Sen. Frank Lautenberg and other senators had died. Some websites reported on the deaths Tuesday of Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The incorrect information continued to be retransimitted via Twitter late Wednesday, long after original sources had corrected it. A San Francisco television station reported Monday that a hoax e-mail Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had died. A spokesman said a similar e-mail Tuesday described the death of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas. (Jackson, The Record) 

Tax cap deal making progress; Oliver backs 2% growth limit

 A bipartisan plan to cap property tax growth at 2 percent per year moved a step closer to reality Tuesday with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver breaking more than two days of silence to say she generally supports it, and with a conditional veto by the governor on an earlier version of the bill. In delivering that conditional veto, Governor Christie gave lawmakers a framework to change legislation they passed last week with a higher cap. Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, announced the compromise cap and its exceptions Saturday after marathon talks. (Friedman, The Record) 

Report: Unused government phone lines costing N.J. $3.2M a year 

One out of every six state government phone lines is funded but unused, according to a state comptroller report released today.
Disconnecting the phones will save $3.2 million a year, the report said.
”Examples of government waste don’t get much clearer than that,” Comptroller Matthew Boxer said. (Megerian, The Record) 

Assemblywomen storm N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s office to push for restoration of family planning funds 

More than 10 Democratic Assemblywomen stormed Governor Christie’s office Wednesday morning to demand an appointment with him to push for the restoration of $7.5 million in family planning funds he cut from the budget passed last week. But Christie was holding an event at a private residence in Somerset County to tout a compromise to lower the property tax cap currently winding its way through the Legislature. (Friedman, The Record) 

Peg Schaffer re-elected as Somerset Democratic chair 

 Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer said anti-incumbent sentiment could help her party’s candidates defeat local Republican office holders during this year’s general election. “Because we only have five of the twenty-one towns, I think in a lot of situations we have really good candidates running against entrenched Republicans,” Schaffer said, adding later, “people are just unhappy, they want a different kind of change.” Schaffer also said there could be a backlash over the effects of Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s budget. (Bricketto, Gannett) 

$200 million for transit and highways in South Jersey 

 South Jersey transportation projects, from the massive to the minuscule, received more than $200 million in the state’s capital budget for the fiscal year that began Thursday. Burlington County will get $91 million to aid nine projects, Camden County will receive $51.7 million for 13 projects, and Gloucester County was funded $17.6 million for nine projects. In addition, the River Line – the $1 billion, 34-mile light-rail line that runs between Camden and Trenton – was allocated $53.4 million for debt-service payments and $1.1 million for vehicle repairs, diesel engine overhauls, and other equipment needs. (Nussbaum, Inquirer) 

Christie conditionally vetoes property-tax-cap bill 

Gov. Christie issued a conditional veto of a property-tax-cap bill Tuesday, paving the way for the Legislature to approve a compromise worked out between the governor and the Senate president. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said in an interview that while she was “blindsided” by the announcement Saturday of the deal between Christie and Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester), she intended to post the legislation for a floor vote “as soon as possible,” within weeks. (Lu, Inquirer) 

 Ingle: Checking in with the oil crisis 

FSU scientists are looking into how long it will take microbes to eat the Gulf blowout oil washing up on beaches. And they want to see if there is a way to speed it up. “Native microbes have evolved that consume this oil and thereby degrade it,” FSU oceanographer Joel E. Kostka said. I think I saw this in a movie when I was a kid. They make super microbes who eat oil out of the sand and then the water. They are still hungry so they eat the world’s oil supply. Or maybe that was “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” I get confused. (Ingle, Gannett)

Morning News Digest: July 8, 2010