Morning News Digest: December 13, 2010


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Winners and Losers: Week of Dec. 6th

Gov. Chris Christie arguably broke even this week, as he stemmed gathering blowback from his bullying confrontation with a voter by generating conciliation headlines on arbitration reform, a key piece of the governor’s toolkit.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)


Sweeney on Rivera-Soto: ‘the worst and most ethically challenged Justice in history’

Following a written decision today by state Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto that he intends to abstain from court decisions as a protest, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney today called on Rivera-Soto to resign.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Christie seeming a bit too crusty?

At first glance, the YouTube video of a man berating a smaller man looks like a TV talk-show confrontation.

But this video is of Gov. Christie, known for his blunt but calculated outbursts and big personality, speaking to a citizen who asked a question at a public meeting.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Fixing NJ’s broken tax system ends in compromise

The property tax revolt that ousted Gov. Jon S. Corzine last year took a revolutionary turn on Thursday.  (Clurfeld, Asbury Park Press)



Earmark ban would affect N.J.

Military bases, colleges, social service groups, hospitals and other New Jersey agencies and programs could face hurdles over the next two years getting money that congressional lawmakers have traditionally set aside for home-state projects.  (Chebium, Courier-Post)



A look at bills in N.J. tool kit

The breakdown of bills in the 33-bill tool kit pending in the Legislature.  (New Jersey Press Media)



Democrats shape marijuana law

New Jersey Senate Democrats are pushing ahead with a challenge to the Christie administration’s rules for the state’s new medical marijuana program, despite a supposedly bipartisan compromise the governor announced earlier this month.  (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)



N.J. Senate committee to explore lack of oversight in weatherization program

Nearly 95 percent of $119 million in federal stimulus money sent to New Jersey to help low-income residents make their homes more energy efficient remains unspent.  (The Associated Press)



Proposed parent-trigger bill adds school vouchers to available options

A Republican-backed bill that would give parents unprecedented rights to remake low-performing schools would offer them three options: replace the school’s staff, convert the school to a charter, or request vouchers to attend other public or private schools.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Camden continues to face challenges

Less than a year after the state restored economic self-determination to Camden, the administration of Mayor Dana Redd is in the midst of its first major sink-or-swim moment.  (Roh, Courier-Post)



Lawmakers say Atlantic City bills still need work, will miss Christie’s end-of-year deadline

Two landmark bills aimed at putting Atlantic City’s future on a new track likely will have to wait until early January for full votes, two lawmakers familiar with the progress of the legislation say.  (Press of Atlantic City)



Assembly to consider rebate legislation

Legislation aimed at helping New Jersey consumers get instant rebates is due to go before the full Assembly this week.  (The Associated Press)



Legislation looks to restructure state’s regulatory system and prevent skimming at casinos

A move under way to gut the state Casino Control Commission could put the flow of millions of dollars of tax revenue from the casinos at risk, the commission contends in a new report.  (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)



From the Back Room


PolitickerNJ on the Roundtable

PolitickerNJ reporter Tim Carroll is on NJN’s Reporters Roundtable this weekend with the APP’s Michael Symons, Politifax’s Nick Acocella, and New Jersey Newsroom’s Josh McMahon.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



36th District breakdown

Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO) Chairman Mike Kasparian has selected Dec. 21st to hold a convention to fill the 36th District vacancy caused by the retirement of Assemblyman Fred Scalera (D-Nutley).  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Jockeying for 36th Dist. Assembly seat intensifies

Despite the chaos spurred by the search for an interim assemblyman in the 36th Legislative District — straddling south Bergen County, the city of Passaic and Nutley in Essex County — a few certainties have emerged.  (Stile, The Record)



Freedonia, now and forever, at Bergen PAC

On election day, the people of Bergen County spoke. They voted out incumbent Democratic County Executive Dennis McNerney. They also gave the heave-ho to all three Democratic freeholder candidates.  (Doblin, The Record)



@Issue: What are NJ public schools doing right?

Since Gov. Chris Christie has come into office, there has been a lot of negative rhetoric about teachers and the public school system. Yet, there are plenty of numbers and figures out there that show a lot of successes, educators contend.  (Deak, Daily Record)



Watch what you read, governor

A Parsippany school board member saw chicanery last week because the governor reads the newspaper.

Really.  (Snowflack, Daily Record)–governor-



In case you missed it



Hoboken connections to ‘Reporters Roundtable”

Politics wonks who favor the Sunday public television lineup of shows concentrating on state government affairs might recognize a couple of familiar faces on their TVs this morning.  (Tavani, The Jersey Journal)



Justice stymies New Jersey high court

A mini-revolt broke out on the New Jersey Supreme Court Friday when an associate justice said he would abstain from all future decisions while a temporary justice is serving, leading top Democrats to call for the associate justice’s resignation.  (Fleisher and Herring, The Wall Street Journal)



Backlog of Chris Christie’s nominees await approval

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey wants big changes at the state’s Sports and Exposition Authority, calling for it to sell or close the Izod Center and two horse racing tracks. In March, he named three allies to join the authority’s board to help carry out his agenda.  (Pérez-Peña, The New York Times)



Feds: NJ gov knew tunnel deal required repayment

Gov. Chris Christie knew New Jersey would have to repay the $271 million in federal funds spent on a canceled tunnel to link the state with New York, federal officials said, while Christie charged that the Obama administration has cherry-picked his state to pay back the money because he is Republican.  (The Associated Press)



State must budget $57M to finance $36.9B debt

New Jersey’s total debt rose by nearly 4 percent to $36.9 billion this year, according to a report issued Friday by the state Treasury Department.  (Method, Asbury Park Press)



Menendez says he will vote for tax package

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez said Friday he will vote for a $900 billion tax relief package that some of his Democratic colleagues disparaged, because it will boost the economic recovery and includes provisions he pushed to have added.  (Jackson, The Record)



Effort to consolidate school districts put on hold

A statewide school regionalization effort, touted by former education leaders as a boon for property tax relief, has been halted by the Christie administration.  (O’Dea, Daily Record)



Falling revenues forced tax hikes in some states

Falling revenues and a lingering recession have led some states to consider the
previously unthinkable: raising taxes.  (Mikle, Asbury Park Press)



Worse is yet to come for local budgets

Drastic cuts in state aid to towns and school districts have led to large-scale layoffs and service cuts throughout the state this year. Class sizes have risen, fewer officers are on patrol, municipal office hours have been limited.  (Mikle and Koloff, Daily Record)



Christie’s efficiency test vexes towns

The results of New Jersey’s new local-government efficiency test are in, and the municipalities that received poor grades are getting their allowances docked this month, so to speak.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Study: Police consolidation could save $17M

Combining police departments in one New Jersey county could save $17 million in overall personnel costs.  (The Associated Press)–Police-consolidation-could-save–17M



Officials: Budget accord not enough

Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic lawmakers may have reached an accord last week on capping arbitration awards for police and firefighters, but some local officials believe that measure and the other so-called “tool kit” reforms won’t be a cure-all during what is expected to be another difficult budget year.  (Levinsky, PhillyBurbs)



Appointment fight divides judges

Here is one for the “only in New Jersey” file: A state Supreme Court justice refuses to participate in any rulings because he objects to another jurist’s serving temporarily on the court.  (Pérez-Peña, The New York Times)



Why it’s so tough to rescue Camden

More than $1 billion.

That’s how much state aid came to Camden, a city with fewer than 80,000 people, in the last decade alone. (Forget about the schools, which received far more.) That’s just to run city government.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



People and Power: Assemblyman Vince Polistina says Democrats “botched the process” on Atlantic City bills

Trenton’s committee members often hit a whole spectrum of tones in political debate, from quiet agreement to red-faced protest by angry officials who decide shouting might solve their disagreements over policy.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



Farm assessments brought NJ land owners nearly 100% tax break

This year, New Jersey had 985,798 acres of farm-assessed land, down 13,101 acres from last year, according to the Department of Agriculture.  (Staff, Asbury Park Press)



N.J. Senate rushing bill to build new power plant

Area residents consistently pay about a third more for their electricity than the nation as a whole, so if a change to the power supply system could be shown to reduce costs, they may be all for it.  (Post, Press of Atlantic City)



A ‘shadow inventory’ dampens winter market

New statistics provide a glum holiday-time snapshot of the real estate market: shrunken sales pace, bloated inventory and a “shadow inventory” of foreclosed homes looming menacingly in the background.  (Martin, The New York Times)



Newark Mayor Booker still friending Oprah

While Newark Mayor Cory Booker may not be the most popular figure in town right now, he can still take solace in the warm embrace of the Oprah Winfrey empire.  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



Justice must be weeping under that blindfold over this

New Jersey has unusually strong — some say stupid — gun laws, and while it’s debatable how much safer it makes us, in the case of one young man the way the law was applied is a disgrace to the legal system and the state.  (Ingle, Daily Record)




In 2000, (now entered the political stage, changing how New Jersey’s power elite received its daily political fix. Starting in January 2011, we’re shaking up Trenton once again. Stay tuned for State Street Wire.

  Morning News Digest: December 13, 2010