Morning News Digest: March 25, 2011



Morning News Digest: March 25, 2011


By Missy Rebovich

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Source: Kanka gearing up for legislature run

Richard Kanka, the father of Megan Kanka, the little girl whose murder 17 years ago by a twice convicted pedophile became the impetus for Megan’s law, is gearing up for a run at the state legislature, a Mercer County Republican source told PolitickerNJ.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



As governor takes center stage in Nutley, DiGaetano hovers at edge of redistricting

It was eerily quiet at the start of this Town Hall meeting while former Highlands Mayor Anna Little and others waited onstage and Gov. Chris Christie’s staff began clearing the back rows of empty chairs and stacking them in a corner.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



N.J. health commissioner is expected to announce her resignation

State Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh is expected to announce her resignation Friday, according to two sources familiar with her decision.  (Gibson and Livio, The Star-Ledger)



NJ shifting to riskier options for pension fund

New Jersey officials continued Thursday to move the state’s $71.6 billion pension fund into more aggressive – and riskier – investments, as returns have missed their targets for a decade.  (Method, Asbury Park Press)



New Jersey governor promises new exterior to Xanadu complex 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the deal to finish developing the troubled Xanadu retail and entertainment complex at the Meadowlands will include a new exterior.  (The Associated Press)



Christie disagrees with county superintendent’s approval of Parsippany school board

The Parsippany board of education thought it had a deal — a deal allowing it to use an accounting trick to pay LeRoy Seitz, the town’s superintendent, the $220,000 he was slated to make this fiscal year.  (Goldberg, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. tourism rose in 2010, its $35.5B

Tourism in New Jersey was a $35.5 billion industry last year, up nearly 1 percent from 2009, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told a tourism conference in Atlantic City on Thursday.  (Parry, The Associated Press)
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Union sues N.J. over $261M Revel casino aid

A union representing Atlantic City casino hotel workers is suing the state to try to block $261 million in tax aid for the half-finished Revel casino project.  (Parry, The Associated Press)



N.J. Tansit payouts total $.3.6M

NJ Transit wrote checks for unused vacation time to 722 current and retired employees last year, including its former executive director, and paid sick time cash-outs for 1,743 workers, which totaled almost $3.6 million, a practice that Gov. Chris Christie called an abuse of public funds that must end.  (Higgs, Courier-Post)



New Jersey proposes $109 million to start work at I-295, I-76, Route 42

The long-awaited reconstruction of South Jersey’s busiest interchange is scheduled to begin this year with about $109 million in contracts, according to the proposed transportation budget released by the Christie administration Thursday.  (Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Jersey City super comes up against Christie salary cap

While Gov. Chris Christie has been outspoken in taking on high superintendent salaries across the state, a quieter tug-of-war has taken place in the state-operated Jersey City schools, where Superintendent Charles Epps Jr. remains in limbo over the fate of his contract renewal.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Camco GOP delays chairman election

The Camden County Republican Committee has postponed its election of a new chairman following an internal dispute over who is eligible to vote.  (Roh, Courier-Post)



Third budget trims Camden tax increase

Camden City Council reintroduced an amended budget Thursday — the third version of the fiscal year 2011 budget to be considered by the financially beleaguered municipality.  (Murray, Courier-Post)



Councilwoman seeks reimbursement of legal fees

Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula wants the City of Clifton to pay for legal fees she accrued as a result of proceedings regarding appointment of residents to the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment.  (Greenberg, The Record)



Toll collectors charge N.J. Turnpike with being vindictive with privatization plan

Toll collectors for the New Jersey Turnpike have filed suit against the authority that oversees the state’s major toll road, saying the agency vindictively removed a clause that would have given existing collectors the first opportunity for jobs under a new privatized system that begins this summer.  (Frassinelli, The Star-Ledger)



Toll collectors ask judge to save jobs

A union representing more than 600 toll collectors wants a federal judge to block the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s plan to have a private company manage collections unless the workers regain the “right of first refusal” for the privatized jobs.  (Michels, Asbury Park Press)



State urges backs to consider Obama lending program

The state’s top bank regulator is urging state-chartered banks to consider taking part in the Obama administration’s $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund as the application deadline nears.  (Newman, The Record)



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Bonnie Watson Coleman defends early-release legislation

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), Ewing wasted no time Thursday responding to Gov. Chris Christie’s repeated criticism of her support for the early release program.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



Lawmakers prep for hard-core work of writing budget

The Senate and Assembly budget committees begin an intensive department-by-department series of hearings next week.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



In wake of pension-fund value hike, Pennacchio urges action on reforms

Sen. Joseph Pennacchio (R-26), of Montville, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, hailed a report Thursday from the state Treasury Department’s Investment Division that found the value of the state’s pensions  funds  increased by 15 percent, thanks to a booming stock market.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



Health care group holds inaugural meeting

A group formed to explore ways to improve health care in New Jersey held its first meeting this week.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



Report: Christie’s health commissioner done

The Star-Ledger reports tonight that state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh is expected to announce her resignation Friday, according to two sources familiar with her decision.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Here is what the New Jersey Constitution states about education

When will judges, editorial writers, politicians, pundits and others get it right about what the New Jersey State constitution states about education?   (Sabrin, PolitickerNJ)



Home rule shouldn’t apply to county jails

Unless Elvis comes back and does a video inside a North Jersey cell block, there is little chance that local county jails are going to be flush with cash. These jails were never meant to be revenue generators. They were meant to house inmates awaiting court appearances or serving out relatively short-term sentences. Nothing more.  (Doblin, The Record)



Of tea leaves and an altered landscape

Let it be noted that there was still snow on the ground when the machinery regarding North Jersey’s legislative election year was being thrown into one of the forward gears. The front-page headline in Thursday’s Herald News, “Evans to retire from Assembly,” while not exactly a lightning bolt, was something of a surprise nonetheless and the first real political talker in Passaic County this year.  (Lowry, The Record)



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Morning News Digest: March 25, 2011