Morning News Digest: February 28, 2011

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



Cops and firefighters to rally Thursday

The state PBA has announced that police and firefighters are planning their own Statehouse rally, scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Rosenthal meets with redistricting teams

Rutgers Professor Alan Rosenthal hosted the first two private meetings this week with members of each party’s redistricting team to begin discussions on how the effort will proceed.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)




Christie leads U.S. governors to fractious statehouse politics

Barely 400 days into a tenure that began with his squeaking into office with 49 percent of the vote, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is emboldening other Republican chief executives to challenge the compact between governments and their workers.  (Jones, Bloomberg)



Christie makes no waves at governors’ meeting

A year ago, newly elected Gov. Chris Christie spent plenty of time at the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, attending various sessions and maintaining a low profile.  (Chebium, Gannett)|head



A three-man band of budget cutters

In private, three of the Republican governors at the center of a growing national debate over public sector workers commiserate in telephone calls and e-mail messages. In public, the three — now members, it seems, of a newly established fraternity — sound like one another’s biggest boosters.  (Davey and Zeleny, The New York Times)




Connecticut and New Jersey, at war, and joined at the hip

In popular culture, one is Mars and the other is Venus — Tony Soprano, Snooki and the Boss meet the Gilmore Girls, Mr. Blandings and Peter Duchin. “On the Waterfront” meets “The Ice Storm.” Xanadu comes to Greenwich.  (Applebome, The New York Times)



Christie avoids direct answers on collective bargaining

On the eve of contract talks with unions representing 70,000 New Jersey workers, Gov. Christie avoided directly answering questions on Face the Nation on Sunday about whether he thought state workers should have collective-bargaining rights.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee stand up for Michelle Obama in food fight

Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee have a message for fellow Republicans who bash Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity crusade: go stand in the corner and eat your broccoli.  (DeFrank, NY Daily News)



Budget cuts would hit N.J. hard

A spending bill recently passed by the House would make drastic spending cuts in a variety of programs, including education and transportation, that New Jersey and other states have come to rely on.  (Chebium, Courier-Post)



Politics has role in district makeup

As U.S. Census figures roll out and states begin the politically charged process of redrawing state legislative maps, the politics of race is rising up as minority groups demand that their lawmakers look more like the communities they represent.  (DeFalco for The Associated Press)



Temperatures still rising over N.J. health costs

New Jersey pays 21/2 times more for current and former public workers’ health benefits than it did a decade ago.

And the $2.5 billion-plus cost, about 9 percent of the state budget, is expected to keep growing.  (Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Impact of cuts proposed for Medicaid in N.J. is unclear

Few cuts proposed by Gov. Chris Christie for the upcoming state budget are as important, or as uncertain, as his plan to slash projected spending on Medicaid health care services for poor people by as much as $550 million.  (Symons, Gannett)



N.J. public workers are in a hurry to retire

More than 20,000 police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public employees put in their retirement papers last year as momentum was building for sweeping health and pension reform in Trenton, state figures show.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger_



Prison release program causes anger

As a father, Nelson T. Albano fought to change the law, demanding dangerous offenders — specifically repeat drunken drivers — go to jail. 

Now, as a state assemblyman, he’s launched a battle to make sure those offenders do their time behind bars.  (Marko, New Jersey Press Media)



Atlantic City casino regulatory savings to be much less than expected

Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed state budget showed Tuesday that savings made through a new form of casino regulation would not save as much money as everyone hoped.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



NJ Transit suspends plans for interstate billboards in Boonton, Denville

NJ Transit has “indefinitely suspended” plans for two highway billboards in Morris County and ordered a statewide review of the controversial but lucrative program, agency spokesman Dan Stessel said Friday.  (Jennings, Daily Record)|head



From the Back Room



Menendez hosts Black History Month event

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez celebrated Black History month Sunday with “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants,” a salute to black New Jerseyans.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






My response to union rally

I didn’t have the opportunity to speak last Friday at the rally on the state house steps but if I had, I would have begun by telling the crowd of mothers with children in tow, teachers who for so many years educated and mentored my children, municipal and state workers who plow our streets, firefighters and police who keep us safe—that you are not alone —and that we do not support what amounts to an assault on the middle class.  (Barbara Buono for PolitickerNJ)



Cerf having anything to do with a private firm that backs charter schools for Newark looks bad

Let’s not rush to judgment. Christopher Cerf, chosen by Gov. Chris Christie to run New Jersey education, co-founded a profit-making, private firm hired by a private Newark entity seeking to change Newark’s schools. He worked on the project and Cerf’s firm — how much it was paid is not yet known — produced a document calling for a controversial reorganization of the schools in the state’s largest city.  (Braun, The Star-Ledger)



A bird in the band is better than two in the tunnel

The bad news is the transportation hub being constructed at the World Trade Center site is going over budget. The good news is the transportation hub at the World Trade Center is being constructed.  (Doblin, The Record)



Corner Office

For much of the past two years, Americans from Main Street to Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue have been engaged in a debate about the future of the heath care system.  (Snow, NJBIZ)



Here we go again

Gov. Christie is taking on another independent authority. This time it’s the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission. The governor wants the seven commissioners to provide detailed information on hiring and compensation practices and whether they played a role in finding jobs for family members.  (Ingle, Politics Patrol)



In case you missed it



Christie supports ‘adversarial’ talks

Chris Christie said Sunday that he believes in “fair, adversarial” collective bargaining for New Jersey, but that he’s confident Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is doing what’s best for his state.  (Staff, Politico)



More than 3,000 union supporters hold unity rally in Trenton for Wisconsin workers

New Jersey’s AFL-CIO struck back Friday at union-weakening measures advancing across the country, hosting a rally at the Statehouse to lend solidarity to Wisconsin state workers while boosting the psyches of beleaguered public workers in New Jersey, whom the governor has described as greedy, overpaid and unwilling to bend.  (Delli Santi for The Associated Press)



Christie on Face the Nation: Unions make it impossible to fire bad teachers

During his interview Sunday morning with Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer, Gov.
Chris Christie said his stance on reigning in school spending has not demonized
teachers.  (Gladden, Asbury Park Press)



Christie talks Palin, presidential politics and unions on Sunday talk show

Congress should have been working last week to avoid the potential government shutdown instead of taking its regular Presidents Day recess, Governor Christie said on a national news broadcast Sunday.  (Jackson, The Record)



Christie plan forcing workers to pay ‘fair share’ is example for governors

One of Governor Chris Christie’s “tough choices” for balancing New Jersey’s $29.4 billion budget is making public workers cover 30 percent of health-care premiums, about what their private-sector counterparts pay.  (Dopp, Bloomberg)



Gov. Christie says he supports Wisconsin governor, but has no plans to try to stop collective bargaining in N.J.

Gov. Chris Christie voiced support for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and discussed some of the potential Republican presidential nominees for 2012.  (Gibson, The Record)



Experts say Gov. Christie is making all the right moves for a place on national stage

Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t travel light when he rolls in for one of his town hall meetings. 

A staff of three or four arrives in a box truck packed with gear: risers for the crowd, a sound system to project Christie’s already formidable voice, a music stand for his notes and, of course, giant New Jersey and American flags.  (Gibson and Megerian)



NJ’s gov speaks loudly and carries big stick

It was the kind of dilemma that could make a new governor wring his hands.

The state Senate was considering a bill to restore higher taxes on millionaires. Sign it, and Chris Christie would break his no-new-taxes campaign promise; veto it, and he’d break another promise to protect tax rebates in the state with the nation’s highest average property tax bill.  (DeFalco and Mulvihill for The Associated Press)



Water panel has a week to answer Christie

Governor Christie is looking for “full and complete disclosure” from the state commission that supplies most of the water to North Jersey, the latest authority to come under scrutiny, his spokesman said Saturday.  (Layron, The Record)



Consumer protection concerns spur N.J. bill

More help may be on the way for New Jersey consumers.

The Assembly recently passed legislation that would allow them to file complaints with officials or in court, even if they waived that right in acquiring goods and services.  (The Associated Press)



Christie administration threatens to withhold approval of Parsippany schools budget

The Christie administration delivered an ultimatum today to the Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education: rescind Superintendent LeRoy Seitz’s contract or the state will not approve the school district’s budget.  (Friedman and Calefati, The Star-Ledger)



As unions rally in Trenton, tea party protesters gather nearby

The expanding battle between budget-cutting governors and union members who believe they’re fighting for survival landed on the Statehouse steps in Trenton on Friday.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



O’Malley dings Christie’s ‘stand-up routine’

Democratic Governors Association Chairman Martin O’Malley may not like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) policies, but he does respect him — as a comedian.  (Sobel and Sullivan, National Journal)



Why isn’t the GOP learning from Chris Christie?

Daunted by the bitter budget battle in Wisconsin, GOP leaders in “several states” are softening their positions on public employee unions, reports the Associated Press.  (Hudson, The Atlantic)–20110226?mrefid=site_search



PILOT agreements may hurt Camden in long run

For years, residents of Camden have complained part of the city’s financial problems stem from the fact that about 50 percent of land within the city’s nine square miles isn’t taxable.  (Murray, Courier-Post)



Christie veto of payment surprises DRPA

There were a few puzzled looks among Delaware River Port Authority executives when word was received earlier this month that Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed a $37,500 payment to a Washington firm for lobbying services.  (Barna, Gloucester County Times)



NJ Senate President Sweeney presents his own reforms

State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has his own ideas about comprehensive health care and pension reform for New Jersey.  (Racz, Asbury Park Press)



Grant would mean jobs for Camden

Camden Mayor Dana Redd’s administration is stalling on spending a $5.1 million federal SAFER grant to rehire dozens of laid-off firefighters, as contract talks between the administration and union leaders remain at a standstill.  (Rosen, Courier-Post)



Gov. Christie says trade not a partisan issue

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says trade shouldn’t be a partisan issue if America wants to get a leg up in the global economy.  (Miga for The Associated Press)



Unemployment panel gives findings

New Jersey should phase in over three years tax hikes on employers to restore the financial stability of the fund that pays unemployment benefits, a task force convened by Gov. Chris Christie reported Friday.  (Diamond, Asbury Park Press)



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 28, 2011