Morning News Digest: March 21, 2011

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Winners and Losers: Week of March 14th

It was the battle of the network stars as Fox Media darling Gov. Chris Christie took on Real Housewives of New Jersey leading man Al Manzo in a fight that is not yet over.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Barnes on chairmanship: ‘I’m in’

Former Assemblyman Peter Barnes today formally entered the race for Middlesex County Democratic Committee chairman.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Christie tilts right as nation notices

When Gov. Chris Christie stood outside the Statehouse on a frigid January day to let a group of anti-abortion protesters know he stood with them, observers wondered if his message was meant to travel farther than Trenton.  (Jordan, Gannett)



Despite denials, Christie could use Reagan model in ‘12

If Gov. Chris Christie decides to run for president in 2012, despite his repeated denials, he will follow an example set by Ronald Reagan more than four decades ago.  (Chebium, Courier-Post)|head



Congressman Rob Andrews a rising star on national stage but not in N.J.

“One of the things the House [Republican] leadership tries to do through the Rules Committee is to provide members the cover they need so they don’t have to take votes that could hurt them” in the next election, said Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker. “The motion to recommit is the only way the minority can force a member to vote on something.”  (Jackson, The Record)



Proposal for moratorium on N.J. state insurance pool draws fire

A proposal to alter health-care benefits in New Jersey is under fire for a provision that some experts say would push government workers out of the state insurance pool and into plans with private carriers.  (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Legislature considers testing of newborns for heart defects

Newborns in New Jersey would have to be tested for congenital heart disease under legislation that continues to advance in the Legislature.  (Shipkowski, The Associated Press)



Environmental regulatory shift in N.J. draws praise and concern

Home to a densely packed population and heavy industry, New Jersey has been a longtime leader in adopting strong regulatory standards to protect residents against pollution of their soil, air, and water.  (Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



State’s charter schools avoiding salary caps

While New Jersey’s public schools are facing salary caps for their superintendents, charter schools don’t have the same restrictions.  (The Associated Press)



“Dance of the Lemons” keeps ineffective teachers moving from school to school

In education circles — and a few parent ones — it’s been called the “dance of the lemons,” a derisive description of the way districts’ central offices shuffle ineffective teachers from school to school.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Charter schools fight for their place in the public school system

Three new charter schools in Atlantic County and one in Millville have been approved to open in September.

They face tough odds.  (D’Amico, Press of Atlantic City)



Consumer groups: Vote ‘no’ on cable deregulation

Consumer groups are appealing directly to New Jersey’s 40 state senators to reject a bill that would deregulate cable television and telephone service.  (The Associated Press)|head



From the Back Room



Fink to leave NJN

Longtime NJN reporter Zach Fink is leaving the station effective April 1.   (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






Christie’s charter school agenda fuels anger over N.J. school budgets

Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, is nothing like the small Raritan River suburb of Highland Park. Yet both communities are divided over the same issue: charter schools. In recent weeks, arguments over the publicly funded but deregulated — some say privatized — schools have packed school board meetings and led to angry words.  (Braun, The Star-Ledger)



The real househusbands of New Jersey

The executives of Bravo, the cable network that has mined the nail salons of every major city in America in search of outrageous, wealthy women, have missed an opportunity. While Bravo expectorated real housewives like phlegm, the real governors of the United States were becoming far more entertaining.  (Doblin, The Record)



In case you missed it



Repeal of N.J. prisoner early release program under review

The death of a 21-year-old Newark man two weeks ago has prompted two Republican lawmakers to introduce a bill rescinding the automatic early release bill for nonviolent offenders six months prior to the end of their prison sentence, the Jersey Journal reported.  (Cruz, New Jersey Newsroom)



N.J. waits for IRS review of troubled public worker pension funds

Like taxpayers, states don’t usually volunteer to open their books to the Internal Revenue Service.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Report sees benefits for N.J. in health law

As opponents work to undo key provisions of the federal health reform law that passed last year, a progressive think-tank in New Jersey has released a report detailing the law’s anticipated benefits for working families.  (Washburn, The Record)



N.J. to propose $10K annual stipend for families taking care of developmentally disabled adults

The state is about to propose a solution to one of its most troubling social services dilemmas — the backlog of thousands of developmentally disabled adults waiting for as long as 10 years to get admission to group homes.  (Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Small towns facing the question of merging

Towns rarely merge in New Jersey, where the last municipal merger came in 1997 when Hardwick Township took in the six people still standing in Pahaquarry Township in Warren County out by the Delaware Water Gap.  (Shields, Daily Record)|head



Forced sharing won’t work, some town officials say

You don’t have to tell Mayor Julie Schreck about the value of towns sharing services.

Schreck, in the middle of her first term as mayor, said the small seaside borough has been sharing services and equipment with neighboring towns for years.  (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)



Healthy biotech, pharmaceutical industry good for NJ, panel says

Biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical companies are a crucial component of New Jersey’s economy, supporting more than $7.5 billion in tax revenue, and their growth should be supported by the state and local municipalities, leaders of state organizations and lobbying groups said Friday.  (Verdon, The Record)



Pallone calls for monitoring of food imports in wake of radiation crisis

Reports of radiation in food near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant Sunday prompted Reps. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., to call for stringent monitoring of food and plant imports  (Gladden, Asbury Park Press)



Gloucester County in midst of political change

With a surge in population and a red breeze blowing through it, once reliably Democratic Gloucester County is becoming a political battlefield.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Newly minted Democrat considers taking on Woodbridge mayor in primary

Heads turned last year when newly elected Gov. Chris Christie announced Mayor John E. McCormac as one of the top officials of the governor-elect’s transition team.  (Bichao, Gannett)



Budgets show ups and downs of N.J. schools

The one-school Laurel Springs district hopes to restore its librarian and music and art teaching positions, sacrificed last year to state aid cuts. Collingswood would bring back freshman sports and add a few teachers.  (Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Obama’s trip to Brazil key to N.J. businesses

President Obama begins a three-country Latin American tour today with trade-boosting meetings in Brazil, an increasingly important destination for New Jersey exports.  (Jackson, The Record)



Camden gets aid while crime rises in other N.J. cities

Months after firing nearly 44 percent of their police force, and 60 firefighters, Camden Mayor Dana Redd issued a press release announcing that she would re-hire 50 police officers and 15 firefighters utilizing $2.5 million of payments from South Jersey Port Corporation in lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to fund the salaries of the re-hired public workers.  (Cruz, New Jersey Newsroom)



Newark History High School staff, students concerned about move into new building

A new draft of a proposal to close and consolidate some failing Newark public schools looks nearly identical to a controversial draft leaked last month, with one major exception — American History High School’s address.  (Calefati, The Star-Ledger)



Verizon-backed deregulation due for vote

It seems simple enough: Craft legislation that moves regulation of the telecommunications industry from an era when Ma Bell ruled and into a world where rotary phones are obsolete.  (Staff, Asbury Park Press)



In New Jersey politics, memories are short

In New Jersey politics, memories can be really short.

Take the case of Franklin Lakes developer Anthony Rottino, who won the Republican line for Bergen County freeholder last week with the support of Assemblymen David Russo (R-Bergen) and Scott Rumana (R-Passaic).  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



New Jersey’s parties both fall short on blacks, Latinos

Republicans in New Jersey don’t have a single African-American or Latino in the state Legislature. Their governor has none in his inner circle and he has removed the only African-American from the state Supreme Court.  (Moran, The Star-Ledger)



Cardinale stirs pot at Bergen dinner with last-minute tax board nomination

A recent working dinner for Bergen County’s senators was held to finalize an agreement on a sweeping package of Governor Christie’s nominees and it glided along glitch-free — until dessert arrived.  (Stile, The Record)



Create super teachers and pay them what they’re worth

The Trenton Community Charter School failed to meet federal testing standards and is under pressure to have an improvement plan in less than two weeks, one that must be implemented within 90 days. Otherwise, “Failure to achieve adequate progress may result in the non-renewal of the school’s charter,” acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf wrote to the school’s board.  (Ingle, Asbury Park Press)



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  Morning News Digest: March 21, 2011