Morning News Digest: February 24, 2011

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



State’s Public Defender says Christie’s bullying tactics violated the law

In a scathing letter to Gov. Chris Christie sent Monday, state Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars accuses the governor of “bullying tactics” and of orchestrating a coordinated effort to force her to resign.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Vega rallies with commissioners in preparation for mayoral face-off with Roque

Say what you want about West New York Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega, but don’t say he gets pushovers for opponents.   (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



How Chris Christie did his homework

Like a stand-up comedian working out-of-the-way clubs, Chris Christie travels the townships and boroughs of New Jersey­, places like Hackettstown and Raritan and Scotch Plains, sharpening his riffs about the state’s public employees, whom he largely blames for plunging New Jersey into a fiscal death spiral.  (Bai, The New York Times Magazine)



Governors don’t back Christie’s claim he’s a role model

Gov. Chris Christie is a prolific denier that he is interested in running for president in 2012, but this week he billed himself as a different kind of national leader. When other states close budget deficits and curb rising costs, he said in unveiling his budget plan on Tuesday, they are reading from the New Jersey playbook.  (Pérez-Peña, The New York Times)



Christie backs ‘responsible’ collective bargaining

Gov. Chris Christie, who gained a national reputation fighting the state’s teachers and public employee unions, said Wednesday that organized labor should have collective bargaining rights.  (DeFalco and Delli Santi, The Associated Press)


Budget address a mixed message

New Jersey’s Democratic lawmakers may consider fleeing the state, like the 14 left-leaning legislators who hightailed it to Chicago to avoid a controversial anti-union vote in Wisconsin.  (Rosen, Courier-Post)



Christie’s strategy: Divide Democrats

Gov. Christie, a polarizing figure, made a divide-and-conquer play when he set up conflicts between Democrats and their union supporters in his budget message this week.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Some N.J. Democrats clamor to renew fight with Christie to enact millionaires’ tax

One day after Gov. Chris Christie called for givebacks from public workers in his budget address, Democrats said another group should have to share in the sacrifice: millionaires.  (Friedman and Megerian, The Star-Ledger)



School funding improves in budget

Closing schools. Laying off teachers. Taking away the option of riding yellow school buses for children who live close enough to walk.  (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)



Christie’s budget declines to punish rogue district

He’s known for his tough talk and take-no-prisoners attitude toward budget cutting. But for one school district, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bark has not matched up to his budget bite.  (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)



Opportunity Scholarship Act may leave out one district

The jockeying continues over who’s in and who’s out of the proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), and one likely casualty may be a district and its high-profile supporter who has been at the center of the drive to bring private school vouchers to New Jersey.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Christopher Cerf faces ethical controversy

When does a personal connection become a professional conflict? New Jersey’s Acting Education Commissioner Christopher D. Cerf, 56, may confront that very question during his upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. If confirmed, Cerf’s annual salary will be $141,000.  (Harris-Zlotnick, New Jersey Newsroom)



Christie says no to federal PAC

Governor Christie says he has no plans to start a federal political action committee, further dispelling rumors that he plans to run for president in 2012.  (The Associated Press)



N.J. ranked highest in taxes for third straight year

New Jersey residents had the highest state and local tax burden in the United States for the third straight year in fiscal 2009, according to a new study.  (Robinson, Bloomberg)



NJ Transit to unveil “scorecard” that will provide performance data online

NJ Transit officials will unveil a “scorecard” for the commuter agency on March 9 that will make information about on-time performance, spending, finances and customer satisfaction available to the public online so they can rank the bus or rail line they ride against others.  (Higgs, Daily Record)|head



N.J. top public defender battling Christie for her job

New Jersey’s top public defender says Gov. Christie is autocratically and illegally trying to push her out of her position while blocking key appointments in her office.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Shared services talk spreads

Sharing of services at the local level is going beyond county borders.

For the first time, the administrator from a Camden County town, Collingswood, attended a shared services forum last week sponsored by Cinnaminson, considered a leader of shared services in Burlington County. Attended by officials from 10 Burlington County municipalities, the forum even featured speakers from Camden County and Morris County towns.  (Comegno, Courier-Post)



NJ residents unsure if police consolidation will save tax dollars

Nearly five years ago, Neptune township officials began working to upgrade their police complex.  (Gadden, Asbury Park Press)



Christie to appear in W. Deptford today

Gov. Chris Christie is to hold a town hall meeting today on his agenda for change.  (Staff, Courier-Post)



Plainfield, Sen. Lautenberg host gun control rally

The name of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the congresswoman who is continuing to rehabilitate after being shot in the head outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket last month, was mentioned often during the Wednesday morning news conference at which Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., urged support for his proposed renewal of a federal ban on high-capacity gun magazines.  (Spivey, Gannett)



Bidders jockeying to claim Monmouth Park

A British-based company that runs the world’s most popular betting exchange is a potential bidder for Monmouth Park, the state-owned thoroughbred track that Gov. Chris Christie wants to unload.  (Jordan, Gannett)



Bill would allow solar energy development on old landfill in the pinelands

The afternoon sun shined into an opening of the forest along Backline Road, its light, and potential energy, reflecting off the snow-covered earth, beneath which lies decades-old household and industrial waste.  (Procida, Press of Atlantic City)



Parsippany’s $2M question: Defy governor, or risk school aid

A showdown between Governor Chris Christie and the Board of Education could take place as early as Thursday night, as the board will be asked to consider a motion to rescind Superintendent Lee Seitz’s contract extension, or risk losing more than $2 million in state aid by continuing to defy the governor.  (Jennings, Daily Record)|head



N.J. toll booth collectors, N.J. Turnpike authority accuse each other of misleading info amid privatization proposal

As a deadline nears for bids to privatize toll collection on the state’s two major toll roads, existing toll collectors and the authority that oversees them accused each other of putting out misleading information.  (Frassinelli, The Star-Ledger)



From the Back Room



Dems attack House Republicans over budget cuts

The New York Times is reporting that Democrats have begun a series of robo-calls, web videos and blast emails attacking House Republicans over proposed cuts in the federal budget.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






N.J. public defender says Christie is trying to forcer her to resign

The office of the state’s public defender is unique — both here in New Jersey and across the nation. Special laws protect it from interference from a state’s political leaders.  (Braun, The Star-Ledger)



Despite Christie’s blustering, the Democrats are still eating his lunch

The most accomplished graduate of Rutgers University famously stated, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”  (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)



Gov. Christie’s act is not a hit with everyone

Gov. Christie boasts his “New Normal” fiscal reforms are inspiring the nation.

But in West Deptford – where he’s scheduled to take to the mike Thursday – some people still need persuading about our celebrity governor’s proposed $29.4 billion budget.  (Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



In 2000, PolitickerNJ emerged on the political stage, changing how New Jersey’s power elite receive their daily political fix. Starting on March 1, 2011, we’re shaking up Trenton once again. Stay tuned for State Street Wire.


Morning News Digest: February 24, 2011