Morning News Digest: March 14, 2011

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Winners and Losers: Week of March 7th

We already made him a winner last week, but the appearance of Prof. Alan Rosenthal as the redistricting commission’s 11th member was proof that it’s not all bad.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Spicuzzo in court Tuesday

Charged with bribery and misconduct, former Middlesex County Sheriff Joe Spicuzzo is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday, March 15th.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Change in law may rev up business

It took six years of regular letter-writing to New Jersey lawmakers, but Barb Borowiec is finally able to sell motorcycles on Sunday.

For years, New Jersey banned the sale of motorcycles on Sunday. But a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on March 3 now allows Harley fans to pick up their choppers on the seventh day.  (Mathur Desai, Courier-Post)



Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.) proposes release of oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of five-point plan to lower gas prices

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) yesterday proposed the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower gas prices.  (The Star-Ledger)



SDA scorecard raises more questions about how projects are picked

The announcement from the Schools Development Authority (SDA) earlier this month about how it would proceed with construction projects was supposed to clarify a process that for years was anything but clear.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



New Jersey Hospital Association opposed bill that would force non-profit hospitals to reveal finances

Bayonne Medical Center and Meadowlands Hospital in Secaucus are among the for-profit hospitals that would have to reveal financial information under proposed state legislation praised by labor leaders but opposed by a statewide hospital lobby.  (McDonald, The Jersey Journal)



As New Jersey cable-deregulation bill advances, critics sound alarm

State regulation of the cable and telecommunications industries in New Jersey would be scaled back under a bill moving through the Legislature, prompting critics to warn of possible rate hikes.  (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Watch sports videos you won’t find anywhere else



Bill would expand “accountable” HealthCare in New Jersey

With 400-plus visits to Trenton area hospitals during 2010, Betty racked up some serious healthcare bills. She also wasn’t getting any healthier. And as a homeless drug addict with no income or insurance, the cost of her care — hundreds of thousands of dollars annually — fell largely to the public.  (Stainton, NJ Spotlight)



Bill lets ‘sexting’ teens avoid charges

The Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would let some teenagers caught texting or posting sexually explicit photos online avoid prosecution if they complete a diversionary program.  (The Associated Press)



Small N.J. towns doubt census figures that show population loss

When it was time to stand up and be counted, thousands of New Jersey residents may have been MIA.  (Clurfeld, Asbury Park Press)



Harsh words for political bosses from ex-governor

Richard J. Codey enjoyed wide popularity during a 14-month tenure as New Jersey’s governor.

His reward: a clobbering by the Democratic machine after he returned to the state Senate, Codey says in his upcoming book.  (Jordan, Gannett)



All eyes on Newark, as city hosts March Madness NCAA tournament

In less than two weeks some of the nation’s most talented college athletes will shed their practice suits and take to the lacquered parquet courts of Newark’s Prudential Arena.  (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)



From the Back Room



Sweeney on the offensive with policy web site

Senate President Steve Sweeney Friday launched a web site to help clarify his positions on pension and benefit reform.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






Upgrade outdated policies to encourage competition

Let’s face it: In the current political climate, it’s hard to get agreement on anything. Yet while everyone seems to agree that it’s important to take actions to improve New Jersey’s economy and stimulate job creation, not everyone sees eye-to-eye on how to do it.  (Galandak, NJBIZ)



No one’s drinking Kool-Aid at the tea party

While a small percentage of Americans have decided to sip tea, a larger number of citizens have opted for the Kool-Aid. Not surprisingly, they aren’t too lively afterward.  (Doblin, The Record)



In case you missed it



Aide: Christie a tough negotiator

Gov. Chris Christie will serve as taxpayer advocate when he opens negotiations with the state workers’ labor unions whose contracts expire later this year, the governor’s top aide said Friday.  (Burd, Asbury Park Press)



Christie crosses lines with other governors

Through the years, the 50 members of the ultraexclusive club had an understanding: No trash-talking in public.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Christie tours region, promises new study

About 1,500 people were evacu­ated in Pequannock because of flooding, and students in Denville were sent home early. The main thoroughfare in Dover was cov­ered with water, streets across the county were closed, and residents were bailing out basements after a heavy rain ended Friday morning. Rivers continued to rise.  (Vera, Daily Record)|head



Public presents wish list to New Jersey redistricting panel in Atlantic City

Respecting diversity, keeping communities together and making the political landscape fair were mainly what more than 35 southern New Jersey residents asked a state commission to consider Friday before it redraws the state’s legislative districts next month.  (Procida, Press of Atlantic City)



N.J.’s municipal spending decrease is historic, says officials

Total spending by New Jersey local and county governments and school districts decreased by $190 million between 2009 and 2010, a reduction of 0.4 percent.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



N.J. Senate President Sweeney debuts ‘fact-based’ website to help public employees understand pension and health issues

Declaring that he wants to cut through politically charged rhetoric and confusion on potential changes to public employee pension and health benefits, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester) Friday unveiled a new website he said will provide “fact-based information.”  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



N.J. acting schools chief faces questions about transparency, imperiling his confirmation

In February 2007, Christopher Cerf was a newly hired deputy chancellor in the New York City school system when he was asked at a public forum to describe his financial interest in Edison Schools Inc., a for-profit education company he once headed.  (Calefati, Livio, and Mueller, The Star-Ledger)



Sen. Rice’s concerns go beyond Cerf to ‘wealth relationships’ behind changes to Newark schools

A state senator said his concerns about educational spending and policies go beyond acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf to the “wealth relationships” behind proposed changes to Newark schools.  (Tyrrell, New Jersey Newsroom)



White House: States can vie for rail money Fla. Rejected

States can compete for $2.4 billion in high-speed rail money that Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected last month, the Obama administration said Friday.  (Chebium, Gannett)



Business-friendly bill up for vote in N.J. Assembly

A sweeping bill to prevent New Jersey from adopting rules that are more stringent than federal standards is up for a vote in the Assembly on Monday and has environmentalists worried that it could undermine the state’s efforts to control pollution and development.  (O’Neill, The Record)



N.J. Assembly considers bill to better monitor steroids

The Assembly will vote this week on legislation that would require New Jersey pharmacists to submit monthly reports on prescriptions for the human growth hormone steroid.  (The Associated Press)



NJ Turnpike Authority pay $9.7 million extra to some workers in 2010

Employees of the state’s two major toll roads received $9.7 million in extra pay last year, a practice the state comptroller criticized in October.  (Mikle, Asbury Park Press)



Advocates unite to battle phone, cable deregulation

Consumer and senior advocates in New Jersey have banded together to fight the deregulation of the state’s telephone and cable industries, a move they fear will raise prices and hurt service quality.  (Willis, Courier-Post)|topnews|text|State



N.J. quits emissions lawsuit

New Jersey has withdrawn from a lawsuit by several states that seeks to have five electric utilities cut greenhouse gases emitted by their power plants in 20 states.  (Shipkowski, The Associated Press)



Gloucester City project a prime example of New Jersey’s school-building woes

The store with homemade lace curtains on Market Street was once a neighborhood hangout, where owner Patricia Heiser served up hoagies and chili to people who sat and talked like family at the long counter.  (Mao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



In case you missed it: Opinion



Labor lawyers oppose proposal to increase health premium share

More than 45 New Jersey labor lawyers say state Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s proposal to force public employees to pay sharp increases for their health care will “eviscerate” collective bargaining in New Jersey.  (Stile, The Record)



Christie’s hard-right nominee for judgeship

Imagine for a moment that Republicans win control of the Legislature in this year’s election, and Gov. Chris Christie can throw off the chains and unleash his inner-conservative.  (Moran, The Star-Ledger)



Hudson Democrat pushing a Republican map

State Sen. Brian Stack may be a Democrat from Hudson County, but he has been pushing the Republican version of the legislative map, The Auditor has learned.  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



Stakes are high for winners and losers in N.J. Congressional redistricting

Next month, after we learn what New Jersey’s 40 Legislative districts will look like when the State Apportionment Commission completes its work, we also will get a sense of which political party fares better under the new map.  (Lee, New Jersey Newsroom)



Poor judgment from the governor

Many are touting our governor as a guy who’s got the ability to be the next leader of the free world.

He’s got to get out of Morris County first.  (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)



All hail Christie: Governor’s bigger-than-life persona has national media starry-eyed – and missing some facts

As the segment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” opens, co-host Joe Scarborough applauds his in-studio guest, Gov. Chris Christie, while stumbling over the words of a song playing in the background — “My Hero” by Foo Fighters:

There goes my hero
Watch him as he goes
There goes my hero

(Manahan, The Star-Ledger)



They’re not that serious about driving with cell phones

Witness the scramble to make the law stricter for drivers who abuse the state’s hands-free cell phone law. It’s more a movement to bring in additional revenue than get tough with what is a serious and often deadly problem.  (Ingle, Asbury Park Press)



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Morning News Digest: March 14, 2011