Morning News Digest: March 7, 2010

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In Newark, Cerf apologizes for leak – and meets skepticism

Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf received an early earful of jeers this morning at Louise Spencer Elementary School when he attempted a mea culpa over the leak of but didn’t publicly address the fact that a company that hatched ideas for Newark schools reform formerly belonged to him.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Dedicated to weathering fractures of his own party, Fey insists Sweeney is beatable

The earth just opened and swallowed up the guy standing next to him, but Gloucester County GOP Chairman William Fey doesn’t stress the fate of Camden County GOP Chairman Rick DeMichele.   (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Hearings on N.J. budget planned

New Jersey lawmakers start their budget review process this week.

Budget committees in the Senate and the Assembly will hold public hearings on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $29.4 billion budget, which cuts spending by 2.6 percent over last year and calls for heftier contributions from state workers for pension and health care benefits.  (Shipkowski, The Associated Press)|topnews|text|State



N.J. municipalities scramble to notify voters on property tax referendum

New Jersey enters a new era today as voters get to find out if they may be asked next month to raise their property taxes beyond the Christie administration’s new 2 percent limit.  (DeMarco, The Star-Ledger)



Port security funds may take severe hit

Two agencies overseeing heavily trafficked waters at opposite ends of New Jersey could see Homeland Security grants cut by more than two-thirds.  (Roh, Courier-Post)



In New York, a break may be waiting for New Jersey

New Jersey may soon get a significant boost in income tax revenue from its wealthiest residents without having to raise their taxes Ð all courtesy of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.  (Renshaw, Today’s Sunbeam)



Court OKs raid on New Jersey Clean Energy Fund

That was then. This is now.

It is a common refrain from politicians explaining a shift in positions, but it essentially summed up an appeals court ruling affirming the diversion of $158 million in clean energy funds to plug a hole in the current state budget by the Christie administration and legislature.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Trenton rally will back choice in vaccinations

Parents and autism advocacy groups are expected to gather in Trenton today to rally behind a bill that would give adults a choice of what vaccines their children would receive.  (Patberg, The Record)



State may regulate Zamboni emissions

Managers of several New Jersey indoor ice rinks say they have enough safeguards in place to ensure that skaters don’t get sick from emissions from Zambonis and other ice-resurfacing machines like the entire hockey team that fell ill recently at a Rhode Island arena.  (Fallon, The Associated Press)|topnews|text|State



Police force nearly halved, Camden feels impact

Since the city laid off nearly half its police force in January, the mayor and police chief have tried to stay positive, with the police chief even suggesting that his leaner force will be a model for others facing similar circumstances.  (Goldstein, The New York Times)



Newark’s angry parents

Charters v. traditional public schools. Leaked reorganization plans. The choice of the next superintendent.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Parsippany school district presents budget to executive county superintendent

The school district is hand-delivering its proposed $129.8 million budget to Executive County Superintendent Kathleen Serafino today, despite Serafino stating she will reject the spending plan if Superintendent Lee Seitz’s contract is not rescinded.  (Jennings, Daily Record)



From the Back Room



Sterns memorial set

A memorial for Joel Sterns, former chief counsel to Gov. Richard Hughes and founding partner of Sterns Weinroth, is set for March 19 in Princeton.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






Take my benefits from my cold, dead hands

Cops and firefighters rallied in Trenton last week to protest proposed layoffs in municipalities across the state. They wanted Governor Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, to get the message: I’ll give you my benefits when you take them from my cold, dead hands.  (Doblin, The Record)



Cops issuing more tickets, red-light cameras all about more money

Last week we discussed how so many towns have so many cops and so little crime and pondered what they all do. The answer is they write a lot of tickets to make up for lost municipal aid from Trenton.  (Ingle, The Daily Journal)



In case you missed it



Parties agree political redistricting is in expert hands

Alan Rosenthal doesn’t exactly exude power. 

The 78-year-old professor of public policy at Rutgers University has never held an elected office. (Friedman, The Record)



A fact check of NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s favorite budget claims

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likes to use numbers — a lot of them — to explain to people the enormity of the state’s fiscal crisis. But like with many things, context can change the meaning.  (DeFalco, The Associated Press)



N.J. favors Christie’s teacher tenure changes

A majority of New Jerseyans generally support Gov. Chris Christie’s proposals to change tenure and pay standards for public school teachers, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Saturday.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Christie’s vetoes rely on her authority

Gov. Christie’s enforcer talks quickly and carries a big smile.

She’s there for the marathon meetings of the Delaware River Port Authority. She’s on the phone at the Statehouse getting an earful from the entrenched head of some governmental agency that few taxpayers have heard of. She’s at a news conference, standing in her boss’ shadow, listening to him rail against the scourge of political greed.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



People and Power: Republicans walk Christie-mandated tightrope of cutting taxes, cutting spending to match

Cutting taxes to attract business may be a popular concept among Trenton Republicans, but numerous lawmakers can prove how hard those tax breaks are to pass in practice. Especially now.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



Projected 8.9 percent increase in N.J. pension bills underscores need for reform, treasurer says

Local governments and school districts will see their pension bills climb by 8.9 percent next year, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Treasury.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Government shutdown impasse may cost jobs

Here’s what traditionally changes during brief government shutdowns caused by budget impasses: Almost nothing.  (Jordan, Gannett)



N.J. Dems split on unions

The voices of some New Jersey Democrats were accented by rowdy chants from 15,000 police and fire union members who rallied Thursday to keep their benefits and collective bargaining rights.  (Rosen, Courier-Post)



N.J., political convention: perfect together?

If state Sen. Richard J. Codey has his way, New Jersey in 2016 will host its first national political convention since 1964.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)



NJ Turnpike Authority toll collections errors amount to thousands

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority lost at least $358,472 in toll revenue last year — and $439,122 in 2009 — as a result of toll collectors’ cash drawers coming up short. Those figures reflect the net loss, including the instances when motorists are overcharged.  (Rouse, The Record)



N.J. lawmakers delay bill to establish prison sentences for drivers on cell phones who injure others

Joyce Vence and her husband, John Guslavage, had been looking forward to last week for quite a while.

The two were planning to travel from their Elizabeth home to Trenton on Thursday to speak before an Assembly committee that, they thought, was planning to discuss and vote on a bill called Kulesh and Kubert’s Law.  (Hutchins, The Star-Ledger)



Jobs in NJ: Temp hires grow, reining in costs

Many of the newest jobs these days come with an expiration date.

Facing economic uncertainty, many companies in this economy have turned to temporary staffing agencies to meet work demands without taking on costly health care benefits, state-mandated unemployment and worker’s compensation payments.  (Remaly, Gannett)|head



Gov. Christie revives proposal to shut down state-run hospital

A year after Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to shut down the Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital was met with a firestorm of criticism, the governor again wants to close a state hospital.  (Mikle, Gannett)|head



Christie taps assemblyman from Morris County for Superior Court bench

Governor Christie has nominated Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Morris County Republican and one of New Jersey’s most conservative lawmakers, to be a judge on the state Superior Court.  (Rizzo, The Record)



Sens. Lautenberg, Menendez support Juan Mattos Jr. for U.S. marshal in N.J.

It’s a presidential appointment that is often overshadowed in New Jersey by more high-profile appointments, such as U.S. attorney.  (Grant, The Star-Ledger)



Former U.S. Rep. Adler joins North Jersey law office

Former New Jersey congressman John H. Adler joined the Morris County law office of Greenberg Traurig LLP as a shareholder on Feb. 14.  (NJ Press Media)



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Morning News Digest: March 7, 2010