Morning News Digest: March 28, 2011



Morning News Digest: March 28, 2011


By Missy Rebovich

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Christie entrenched with redistricting team

Gov. Chris Christie is hunkered down in the conference room of the Heldrich Hotel, where the reapportionment team – five Ds, five Rs, and Rutgers professor Alan Rosenthal – are kicking off the final week of decennial redistricting.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Christie exits redistricting meeting quietly

With a foursome of reporters parked outside the second floor conference room, Gov. Chris Christie made his move, having completed his stay with the redistricting squad that soon also exited from the Heldrich Hotel, albeit, not as swiftly or quietly.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Firing circle of humor as pols flock to Adubato’s North Ward event

For 37 years, the most powerful people in New Jersey have been standing around the banister of a sweeping staircase in Newark doing their best to further impress arguably the most powerful of all, Steve Adubato Sr., their host at the North Ward Center.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Redistricting: The inside game

Publicly, the redistricting process in New Jersey is a state-level battle between two political parties vying to win approval from a neutral tie-breaker for a map that will best position them to win control of the legislature or a majority of congressional seats over the next decade.  (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



Christie to hold town-hall meeting Tuesday in Hammonton

Gov. Chris Christie will visit southern New Jersey this week for a town-hall meeting in a municipality its leaders believe was chosen as host for its conservative character and progressive business climate.  (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)



Budget hearings to begin in Trenton

The chief financial officer for the Office of Legislative Services and state Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff will kick off a round of state budget hearings before the Legislature this week designed to set spending priorities in a state still reeling from a nationwide economic slump.  (Staff, Courier-Post)



State offers differing messages on budget

Governor Christie is telling the New Jersey Supreme Court that a “perfect storm” of declining revenue and huge budget deficits caused the state to short education funding by roughly $1 billion last year.  (Reitmeyer, The Record)



Both sides gear up for big budget fight

The chief financial officer for the Office of Legislative Services and state Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff will kick off a round of state budget hearings before the Legislature this week designed to set spending priorities in a state reeling from a nationwide economic slump.  (New Jersey Press Media)|topnews|text|State



Strings attached to N.J. ‘transitional aid’

Financially distressed towns in New Jersey that want to get extra state aid now must impose tougher restrictions on campaign donations.  (Gregory, Newsworks)



Some NJ towns weigh asking voters permission to exceed 2% budget cap

For the first time in New Jersey history, a municipal ballot question will be up for public vote April 27 as part of school election ballots in as many as 30 towns throughout the state.  (Ruscitti and Clurfeld, Asbury Park Press)



Assembly leader seeks audit of school construction

The leader of the New Jersey Assembly has asked the state auditor to look into how $584 million in school construction projects in poor districts were selected.  (Delli Santi, The Associated Press)



Legislation targets employers who shortchange illegal immigrants

One woman said she had been threatened with deportation if she continued to press for pay at her restaurant job. One man said he made repeated calls for back pay to a former employer who kept putting him off. Another said a former boss set aside a week’s salary as a “deposit” and then kept it.  (Koloff, Daily Record)



New Jersey lawmakers continue to pursue green and clean technologies

New Jersey has embraced cleaner ways of generating electricity, such as solar and wind power, but now legislators are looking at other ways to produce energy without increasing global climate change.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Local library budgets get separate line on property tax bill: Law might shelve impulse to merge

Checking materials out of public libraries may be free, but like anything in life, it comes at a price. 

In recent years, as towns scrambled to find ways to balance their budgets, some began taking serious looks at consolidating their municipal libraries into county systems.  (Penton, Asbury Park Press)



Secaucus audit shows questionable spending

State auditors examining the town’s spending in 2008 and 2009 found “a pattern of questionable expenditures,” officials said.  (Boburg, The Record)



New NJ health chief has ultimate say on Pascack Hospital reopening

New Jersey Health Commissioner Poonam Alaigh announced her resigna­tion Friday due to a family member’s “urgent illness” and Mary O’Dowd, a deputy commissioner, was immediately named as acting health commissioner. Governor Christie said he would ask the state Senate to confirm O’Dowd as com­missioner.  (Washburn, The Record)



Anti-poverty advocates regroup

Poverty is rising, demand for food stamps has rocketed and the job market remains tepid at best more than three years after the economy began to crater.  (Symons, Gannett)



Meadowlands Commission moves to improve biz environment

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission has moved to make the zone more business friendly, reducing some fees and hiring a liaison to work with the business community.  (Morley, The Record)



Downsized New Jersey Casino Control Commission entering new era

The dismantling of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission is nearly finished.

The agency that once served as the chief regulatory body for Atlantic City’s $3.6 billion casino industry now functions in a dramatically reduced role, with only a fraction of its original staff and budget.  (Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City)



N.J. health centers in bind on helping the poor

Kimberly Bozearth cleans houses for a living, but can’t afford health insurance to cover the cost of treating her high blood pressure.  (Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Hearing set on budget for Camden schools

The Board of School Estimate will hold a public hearing today to approve the tax levy and set a tax rate for the proposed 2011-12 school budget.  (Rothschild, Courier-Post)



Kinnelon’s municipal white collar workers have unionized

The white collar workers of the borough have unionized apparently as a reaction to the borough stripping two part-time employees of health benefits.  (Walsh, The Record)



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New Jersey’s government workforce shrinking

New Jersey saw the second largest year over year drop in government employees of any state in the nation according to federal employment data released Friday.  (Isherwood, State Street Wire)



Communications Workers of America criticizes DCA layoffs

The Communications Workers of America harshly criticized layoff notices sent to dozens of  inspectors in New Jersey’s Division of Codes and Standards, the agency charged with ensuring the safety of carnival rides, fireworks displays, buildings and elevators, construction sites, and other hazardous locations.   (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Weinberg rips Christie on Xanadu transparency

On the day after Governor Chris Christie ripped the ugly exterior of the Xanadu complex at a town hall meeting in Nutley, State Senator Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck said in a release that the Governor should be more concerned with the relative lack of transparency surrounding his administration’s negotiations with third-party developers to rekindle the stalled project.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



Allen wants accelerated consideration of early-release repeal bill

Sen. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park said Friday she wants expedited consideration of her bill to repeal the state’s early inmate release program.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



In Monmouth, Rich will run with Burry

Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich today won the Republican nomination to run for Monmouth County freeholder.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Christie’s team of negotiators won’t take on unions alone

Governor Christie says he’s eager to get into the room with union leaders during negotiations for the next state worker contract.  (Stile, The Record)



Stop the sound bites on property tax solutions

With property tax bills rising every day, one thing is crystal clear: New Jersey families need real property tax solutions, not sound bites or slogans.  (Greenwald, NJBIZ)



Master and Commander: The far side of education

No one would confuse Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne for Russell Crowe. The bespectacled, gray-haired jurist looks like, well, a jurist, not a movie star. But while Crowe played a fictional master and commander battling the forces of Napoleon, Doyne was charged as the real-life special master to take on no less a formidable adversary than Chris Christie.  (Doblin, The Record)



In case you missed it 



Chris Christie raising cash for New Jersey GOP at April fundraiser

Chris Christie is heading across the Hudson to raise money for the New Jersey GOP, at a $25,000-a-head event hosted by longtime bundler and donor John Catsimatidis and financier Patrick Durkin, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO.  (Haberman, Politico)



New Jersey legislative elections could be a proxy fight attracting out-of-state money

New Jersey politics, known for its partisan knife fights and big spenders, could become the playing field for even bigger, badder combatants from out of state.  (Burton, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



State plans layoffs of nearly 30 inspectors

Nearly 30 code inspectors are being laid off by the state, a reduction apparently driven by a lack of construction in New Jersey affecting a function two panels have advised Gov. Chris Christie to privatize.  (Symons, Courier-Post)|topnews|text|State



As poverty rises in NJ, cuts target aid

Poverty is rising, demand for food stamps has rocketed and the job market remains tepid at best, more than three years after the economy began to crater.  (Symons, Asbury Park Press)



State lawmakers call Local 54’s lawsuit against Revel tax break fiendish

State lawmakers had an icy reaction to news that the largest casino-workers union, Local 54, would sue to block the $200 million proposed tax rebate for the developers of Revel casino. Senate President Steve Sweeney said Friday he was disappointed in the decision, which he attributed to Bob McDevitt, the head of Local 54 and a longtime opponent of state assistance for the new but delayed casino.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



Rival Republicans challenge party line

Passaic County Republicans have entered the primary season with a split in the party ranks, with two factions fielding separate slates of candidates for the Freeholder Board and the county surrogate.  (Cowen, The Record)



Bergen County budget cuts may go too far, agencies warn

County Executive Kathleen Donovan’s proposed budget, if approved, may fulfill her campaign promise to keep the county tax bill level, but it also calls for at least 65 layoffs and cuts to agencies already struggling to maintain services during hard economic times.  (Gartland, The Record)



Carteret mayor backs former opponent for Democratic committee chairmanship

Mayor Dan Reiman has folded his bid to become the next Middlesex County Democratic committee chairman, throwing his support behind former Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes Jr.  (Bichao, Gannett)



Pascrell sees Afghan progress; Defends operation against Gadhafi

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. was upbeat Friday about the prospects of a military withdrawal from Afghanistan and defended action by the United States and allies to destroy Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s air power.  (Jackson, The Record)



N.J. lawmakers draft book characters to promote tourism

Children’s book characters Nicky Fifth and T-Bone have been promoted to “junior ambassadors” to promote New Jersey tourism and repair a tarnished state image that officials blame partly on Snooki and the Situation.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Gov. Christie’s campaign to end tenure has some Central Jersey teachers worried

Classroom sizes at Hillsborough Middle School have grown to the extent that students have had to actually sit at teachers’ desks, according to Gina Kay, a longtime heath educator there.  (Racz, Gannett)



Legislators, community leaders discuss South Jersey economy

Improving New Jersey’s infrastructure and bringing more traffic to Atlantic City International Airport were just a couple of the topics under discussion Friday as the Southern New Jersey Development Council held its annual Sound Off session at the Ram’s Head Inn.  (Rose, Press of Atlantic City)



Tea Party ramps up activities in southern New Jersey

At a recent meeting of a Tea Party Patriots of Southern New Jersey chapter, Ken Ross took a seat at the opposite end of the room from his wife, Georgieanne.  (McKelvey, Press of Atlantic City)



South Jersey property-tax bills rose 25 percent in 2010, largely because of delays and decreases in state aid

The average property-tax bill in southeastern New Jersey increased 24 percent in 2010, following reductions and delays in the state tax-relief program, data released earlier this month show.  (Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)



New Camden budget proposal calls for 10% property tax hikes

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)



Woodland Park school board candidate suing the board and its attorney

Board of Education candidate Sanjay Desai is suing board members and the board attorney, claiming unfair, illegal and retaliatory treatment by them at a recent meeting because he filed to run as a candidate.  (Lawrence, The Record)




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Morning News Digest: March 28, 2011