Morning News Digest: January 24, 2011

Follow PolitickerNJ on Twitter and Facebook. Text “PNJ” to 89800 to receive alerts



Waterfront Commission argues busts prove effectiveness but Lesniak not sold – yet

The mob is thriving on the New Jersey docks, according to the feds, or at least it was until Thursday when agents ran down a trail that allegedly included 15 New Jersey associates, a historic case that clashes mightily with last September’s Senate testimony by a dockworker union president who said waterfront crime was as antiquated as a hook he held up as a prop.  (Pizarro and Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Mercer GOP takes next step in ouster of chairman

Mercer County Republicans Thursday took the next step in the drive to oust Chairman Roy Wesley, amending the party’s constitution to allow for the replacement of the chairman.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



NJ Gov. Chris Christie proves adept at using social media

As a candidate 18 months ago, Gov. Chris Christie had relatively few fans on the Internet.

Now, Christie has amassed tens of thousands of Internet followers who could bolster a 2013 re-election bid or a run for the White House, but his support on the Web pales in comparison with other Republican stalwarts.  (Schnaars, NJ Press Media)—-but-will-more-followers-mean-more-votes



Gov. Christie, Democratic lawmakers to battle over millionaires’ tax in budget

New Jersey’s millionaires are at the center of another budget debate between Gov. Chris Christie and the Democrats who control the Legislature — where every lawmaker is up for re-election this year.  (Reitmeyer, The Star-Ledger)



Tea party group wants input on N.J. redistricting process

In the run-up to the November elections, the Bayshore Tea Party was enthusiastic about Anna Little.  (Friedman, The Record)



NJ moves to privatize toll taking

Toll road officials took the first step to privatizing toll collection by releasing a request for proposal containing what is expected from potential contractors.  (Higgs, Daily Record)



Assembly looks at loopholes on layoffs

There is a state law requiring companies shutting down to give 60-day notice with pay or severance pay to workers losing their jobs.  (Jordan, New Jersey Press Media)



Package of bills would combat teens texting lewd photos

Legislation aimed at curtailing sexting by New Jersey teens will go before a state Assembly panel this week.  (Shipkowski for The Associated Press)



Lawmakers approve bill on rewards for preventing, controlling illnesses among N.J. poor

Declaring the health care system “hopelessly broken,” lawmakers in Trenton are advancing legislation that would provide financial rewards to doctors, hospitals and insurance companies for preventing and controlling illnesses — rather than just treating them — in New Jersey’s poorest communities.  (Livio and Augenstein, The Star-Ledger)



State Senate President Stephen Sweeney plans bill that would pull funding for towns that don’t share

New Jersey Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney says he is working on legislation that would pull state funding from municipalities that do not share services with neighboring towns.  (Weaver, Press of Atlantic City)



Lawmakers including Paulsboro’s Burzichelli seek to roll back oil-refinery rules

In 2009 New Jersey began requiring new equipment on oil-storage tanks at the refinery in Paulsboro and facilities like it in a move to curb emissions that can cause respiratory illness.  (Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



N.J. lawmakers looking for answers about post-blizzard problems

As New Jersey readies for another storm, New Jersey lawmakers want to know more about what went wrong with the clean-up of the post-Christmas blizzard.  (The Associated Press)



Menendez says Christie was wrong to kill ARC Tunnel

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez gives Gov. Chris Christie credit for “taking on a tough series of challenges.”  (McDonald, Hudson County News)



County superintendents: Who needs ‘em?

In October, Frenchtown and Delaware Valley Regional High School districts agreed to share a superintendent, becoming one of about two dozen school districts statewide using the cost-savings model. Working behind the scenes to help broker an agreement was then-Hunterdon County Executive Superintendent Gerald Vernotica.  (Bruno, Daily Record)–Who-needs–em?



Montclair fears tough school cuts

The Montclair, N.J., school district is considering closing schools to bridge a budget gap, and parents are up in arms.  (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)



Some Morris districts delay school election for spring break

Voters will head to the polls April 27 to decide the fate of 38 school budgets in Morris County, one year after a record number of spending plans were defeated.  (Jennings, Daily Record)



Council asks for inquiry of concrete plant approval

Borough officials have called for an investigation into whether donations to local Democrats helped a business win Zoning Board of Adjustment approval for a $1 million expansion of a concrete plant.  (Clunn, The Record)



On eve of resuming projects, schools development authority scales back staff

As a decision nears on restarting New Jersey’s stalled school construction program, the beleaguered Schools Development Authority (SDA) will be doing it with fewer people.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Debate over New Jersey plan to revise endangered-species list

For the first time in eight years, New Jersey officials are tinkering with the state’s endangered-species list, resulting in praise and criticism from environmental groups.  (Urgo, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



From the Back Room



Report: Christie won’t rebut Obama

MSNBC’s Morning Joe reported this morning that Gov. Chris Christie has turned down giving the response to the President’s State of the Union address.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)





Calculating the difference in charter schools

It’s New Jersey School Choice Week. Gov. Chris Christie signed a proclamation encouraging all citizens to “join the movement for educational reform.”  (Braun, The Star-Ledger)



Trenton preaches the gospel of education

IF YOU don’t like what people are saying, change the conversation; any smart politician will tell you as much. Key to doing that is choosing words that spin well. “Choice” is the literary Maytag of spin.  (Doblin, The Record)



Idealism, not cash, should rule education

Gordon MacInnes is known for accomplishing a rare feat in Morris County — winning two countywide elections as a Democrat. The last was a state Senate race in 1993.

While MacInnes, not surprisingly, served only one term in the Senate, he was an articulate spokesman on a variety of issues, education among them.  (Snowflack, Daily Record)–not-cash–should-rule-education



Make “compassion” part of medical marijuana law dispute

The sausage grinder here turning out laws moves slowly by design and in most cases serves the public well for it, but not in the case of New Jersey’s attempt to bring medical marijuana to the ill and dying.  (Ingle, Daily Record)–compassion–part-of-medical-marijuana-law-dispute



In case you missed it



Behind-the-scenes pol George Norcross has staying power

George Norcross might be one of the most powerful New Jersey politicians never elected to any office.  (McAlpin, The Record)



Uncertainty grows after city layoffs

The nation’s eyes fell on Camden last week, as the embattled city saw unprecedented levels of public safety layoffs in the face of a budgetary crisis.  (Roh, Courier-Post)



Port Authority’s billion-dollar projects could lead to conflict or cooperation for Govs. Christie, Cuomo

In his rookie year in office, Gov. Chris Christie has treated the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as if he were governor of both states.  (Megerian and Strunsky, The Star-Ledger)



Simmons tabbed to fill Sweeney seat

Though she only lost November’s race for a Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders seat by little more than 100 votes, Heather Simmons ultimately got there because of Democratic Party leadership.  (Murray, Courier-Post)



Runyan named to Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs

Freshman Congressman Jon Runyan of New Jersey has received some key committee appointments thanks to a GOP majority in the House.  (DeFalco for The Associated Press)



N.J. officials to speak in New Brunswick on funding for families who need help paying heating bills

With temperatures plummeting to into single digits during this harsh winter, more families are seeking help to pay heating bills, and more federal assistance may be available.  (Haydon, The Star-Ledger)



State Labor Department awards New Jersey businesses millions to improve worker skills

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development has awarded $3.4 million in job training grants to 79 businesses.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Morris County towns’ agreement to share court expected to save millions

An agreement among four Morris County municipalities to share their court is expected to save millions during the next few years.  (Goldberg, The Star-Ledger)



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: January 24, 2011