Morning News Digest: August 27, 2010

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Redistricting underground: GOP down bodies on offense in the Christie era

New Jersey redistricts every ten years following the United States Census, according to the state Constitution, and we are due up again next year. Republicans want a map that gives them the edge on the state’s 40 districts, and Democrats want a map, and those two maps can’t abide in the same political universe, forcing a coming clash as the players fiercely – but quietly – gear up for legislative redistricting. (Pizarro, 


Dems to Guadagno: No help for the ladies?

On women’s equality day, not all women were elected equally. As women lawmakers celebrated the 90th anniversary of the day women were given the right to vote, some had critical words for the state’s highest ranking female elected official: Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.  Guadagno is the state’s first Lt. Gov., and in her role, is often seen at Gov. Chris Christie’s side during press conferences and bill signings, but rarely does she weigh in.  Her silence has led some lawmakers to call her an “armpiece’ to the governor. (Carroll,


Dems: Gov. silencing voices on women’s health care

Commemorating 90 years of women’s suffrage, Democratic leaders took an opportunity to highlight a veto override in the works to restore funding to state women’s healthcare clinics. Party chairman and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), Sen. Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange), and Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) and Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) all spoke before a small crowd. (Carroll,


Berdnik defeats Spagnola in Paterson

PATERSON – Clifton Police Lt. Det. Richard Berdnik defeated former Paterson Police Chief Larry Spagnola at tonight’s meeting of the Passaic County Democratic Committee to decide on a nominee for sheriff. The vote was 138 for Berdnik and 33 for Spagnola. (Pizarro,


U.S. officials refute Christie on attempt to fix Race to the Top application during presentation

TRENTON – New Jersey failed to win up to $400 million in federal education money, Gov. Chris Christie blamed Washington bureaucrats, saying they refused to allow the state to fix a simple error in its application. But today, the U.S. Department of Education released video footage contradicting Christie’s claim. (Fleisher/Calefati, The Star-Ledger)


N.J. Senators schedules vote to override Gov. Christie’s veto of $7.5 million family planning funds

Trenton Democrats will try to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of $7.5 million in funding for family planning clinics Sept. 20, despite a pledge from Republicans to sink the effort. Most of the Republicans in the state Senate who originally voted in favor of funding have said they will vote against the override, to support the governor’s call for fiscal restraint. (Fleisher, The Star-Ledger)


NJ Gov: make cities’ aid hinge on cuts, performance

Hundreds of millions of dollars of state aid for cities, towns and villages in New Jersey should depend on them meeting performance targets, the administration of Governor Chris Christie said on Thursday. The proposal for a Best Practice checklist issued by the state’s Department of Community Affairs covers a wide range of subjects from whether municipalities have multi-year financial plans to if they put limits on public workers’ wage hikes. “Each municipality will need to meet an established percentage of the checklist items in order for all or part of your last State Aid payment to be released,” Lori Grifa, Commissioner, Department of Community Affairs, said in a letter that was publicly released. (Grala, Reuters)


N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, wife made more than $500k in past 12 months

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie and his wife made more than $500,000 over the past 12 months, according to financial disclosure reports released this morning by the State Ethics Commission. The bulk of the money came from Mary Pat Christie, who reported making more than $500,000 from her job as a vice president at the financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Chris Christie made between $50,000 and $100,000 from his job as governor, which he began in January, and did not take a salary while campaigning. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)


Reports show N.J. Lt. Gov. Guadagno, husband earned $230k combined income

TRENTON – New Jersey’s second-highest ranking official, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and her husband, Superior Court Judge Michael Guadagno, reported earning at least $230,000 in combined income, and having at least $51,000 in two stock market funds, according to financial disclosure reports released this morning by the State Ethics Commission. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger) 


N.J. counties group head advised officials to skirt public-records laws by keeping documents ‘personal’

A freeholder who oversees the taxpayer-financed New Jersey Association of Counties told 22 trustees — most of them elected officials — they could skirt public-records laws with this advice: “Keep these documents solely in your personal possession.” His letter, in envelopes marked “Personal,” was mailed to the county offices of 22 government employees: 17 freeholders, two administrators, an executive, a surrogate and a clerk. It arrived with an accounting firm’s analysis that raised a number of concerns about the lobbying group and its nonprofit foundation and a related limited-liability corporation, including an executive’s compensation, misstatements on IRS filings and questionable credit-card practices. (Young, The Star-Ledger)


N.J. teachers union: Christie dragging his feet in seeking federal aid that could save jobs

The New Jersey Education Association prodded Governor Christie again Thursday to apply immediately for $268 million in federal aid that could restore an estimated 3,900 teachers’ jobs this fall. The union accused Christie of “dragging his feet” in seeking the money because it would undermine his cost-cutting mission. “Christie apparently wants to financially starve New Jersey’s public schools,” the union charged in an email to members. “He seems to take delight in slashing their budgets, no matter what the educational or human cost of his massive cuts.” (Brody, The Bergen Record)


Candidates Adler and Runyan show their differences in debate

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Adler portrayed himself as one of the most centrist members of Congress in a debate taped Thursday afternoon, even as his Republican challenger, Jon Runyan, accused him of marching in lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The otherwise tame half-hour debate, which will be televised on Larry Kane’s Voice of Reason on the Comcast Network, featured a lot of agreement: Both men said that federal spending was out of control, that the proposed Manhattan mosque would be too close to ground zero, and that Social Security should never be privatized. (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Port Authority reportedly promises to spend at least a billion dollars to fix Bayonne Bridge

The Port Authority is ready to spend at least $1 billion to fix the Bayonne Bridge’s height problem, a news agency reported yesterday. reported that New Jersey representatives on the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners struck a deal with their counterparts on the board representing New York to provide funding for landlord Larry Silverstein’s project to build towers at the World Trade Center site in exchange for a commitment to fund a solution to the Bayonne Bridge’s height problem. (Hack, The Jersey Journal)

‘Best practices’ checklist for municipal aid gets mixed reviews in Central Jersey towns
TRENTON – The Christie administration Thursday day released a “best practices” checklist that municipal governments must fill out or risk losing some of their state aid. The checklist, part of Gov. Chris Christie’s toolkit designed to help municipalities keep property taxes in check, is made up of a series of yes-or-no questions on everything from whether local governments have ethics policies to whether or not shared services agreements have been signed. (Schoonejongen, Gannett)
Governor Chris Christie: GOP darling
Chris Christie is the lead actor in a new movie. It’s a short film, no more than 20 minutes or so, yet its backer—the Republican Governors Assn.—expects to reap millions in donations from his brief appearance. The moody film features black-and-white images flashing by—storm clouds, campaign rallies, and urgent news clips from election-night broadcasts. A Republican has won the governor’s race in New Jersey, a Democratic stronghold, and the party of Barack Obama has been rendered powerless by his take-no-prisoners style. (Coy, Bloomberg)
Newark submits plan to eliminate nearly 1,000 city jobs
Newark submitted a layoff plan to the state Civil Service Commission this week, taking a crucial step toward the biggest purge of workers the city has seen in decades. In the next two years, nearly 1,000 city jobs — a quarter of the current workforce — will be eliminated through layoffs and attrition, according to city budget officials and documents. Personnel costs comprise roughly 70 percent of the city’s annual spending. Since winning re-election in May, Mayor Cory Booker has sounded the alarm on reducing those costs, saying they are the single biggest contributor to the city’s persistent deficit. (Giambusso/Queally, The Star-Ledger)
Newark firm admits $25k of work at ex-Perth Amboy Mayor Vas’s house
A Newark contracting company pleaded guilty today to performing $25,000 worth of masonry and paving work for free at the home of embattled former assemblyman and Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas. Jenicar Builders Contractors Company pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct before Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci Jr. in Monmouth County, the state Attorney General’s Office announced. (Johnson, The Star-Ledger)
South Ward shooting marks 13th homicide in Newark this month
NEWARK – A Newark man suffered a fatal gunshot wound in the city’s South Ward yesterday afternoon, hours after the victim of a shooting earlier this month was pronounced dead just a block away at University Hospital, authorities said. Nii Sowah, 24, was sitting on the front porch of a Mapes Avenue home at 2:43 p.m. yesterday when a lone gunman walked onto the property brandishing a gun, according to Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. (Queally, The Star-Ledger)
From The Backroom




Learning a lesson from Dwek

While Eliyahu Weinstein awaits his bail hearing in Newark today, his likeness may soon be hanging on a Democratic organization corkboard near you. Weinstein, a former used car salesman, was arrested on Aug. 12 for allegedly masterminding a $200 million Ponzi scheme. The Lakewood man allegedly targeted members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Ocean County, not completely unlike his predecessor, Solomon Dwek, who went on to be the key witness in NJ’s biggest corruption bust to date. (Carroll,


What if the boat sinks?

State Sen Sandra Cunningham’s Sept. 16th fundraiser features a guest list packed with Democratic luminaries and will be held aboard the yacht Valiant out of Jersey City. The list of honored guests for the $500 per head affair includes retired U.S. Sen. Bob Torricelli, Senate President Steve Sweeney, State Sen. and former Gov. Dick Codey and State Sen. Ray Lesniak.  The special guest for the evening is U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. (Editor,

Morning News Digest: August 27, 2010