Morning News Digest: April 22, 2011



Claiming redistricting foul, Tea Party files suit

The Bayshore Tea Party group filed a civil action today in state Superior Court against the Democratic Party members of the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, the 11th Member, Alan Rosenthal, Secretary of State Kim Guadagno, Attorney General Paula Dow, and Robert F. Giles, director of the Division of Elections of the State of New Jersey.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Driscoll: LD 38 is ‘going to come down to who wants it more’

It was a jaw dropper at the time, Assemblyman Jay Webber’s (R-Morris Plains) insistence both on the Saturday that the redistricting decision came down while Democrats spilled out of their conference room like the champagne-soaked 1986 Mets, and a day later when the commission ratified it: the new map is better than the old map for the GOP.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Christie says he’s open to compromise on teacher tenure, but insists they be graded on student performance

Governor Christie said Thursday he’s willing to compromise with the New Jersey Education Association on changing the entrenched tenure and evaluation systems but insisted on sticking to the core principle of measuring teachers by student learning.  (Brody, The Record)



Former Gov. Kean suggests N.J. borrow money to improve public colleges, universities

The best way to begin a sweeping overhaul of New Jersey’s public colleges and universities is to bring back a cabinet-level office for higher education, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean told legislators Thursday, suggesting the state borrow money to pay for the changes.  (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



Guadagno delays decision on Lewis

In a surprise move, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is waiting until next week to decide whether Olympian turned Democratic Senate hopeful Carl Lewis meets residency requirements to run for office in New Jersey.  (Roh, Gannett)



Group singles out Runyan for praise on Medicare vote

A conservative group is running radio ads thanking Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., for saving Medicare.

One problem: Runyan recently voted for a bill that would end Medicare as it currently exists.  (Roh, Gannett)



Seton Hall Law School dean Patrick Hobbs to chair N.J. State Commission of Investigation

Seton Hall Law School dean Patrick Hobbs has been appointed chairman of the State Commission of Investigation by Gov. Chris Christie, it was announced Thursday.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



N.J. DEP chief takes on changing agency culture

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin arrived at the agency last year as an unknown.  (Fallon and O’Neill, The Record)



Private toll plan may cut 800 jobs

A plan to privatize manual collections on New Jersey’s two major toll roads could save the state millions, but it’s likely to cost 800 full- and part-time toll collectors their jobs.  (Delli Santi, The Associated Press)|topnews|text|State



Toll collectors union boosts concessions

As Turnpike Authority commissioners prepare to vote next week whether to privatize cash toll collections, a Thursday hearing on the matter revealed a new union proposal that officials said could save a total of $34 million.  (Higgs, Gannett)



Judge dismisses lawsuit brought by union representing Turnpike toll collectors

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the union representing New Jersey Turnpike Authority toll collectors, who asked that the authority’s plan to have a private company run cash toll be blocked unless the workers regained the “right of first refusal” to apply for the privatized jobs.  (Higgs, Gannett)



Environmentalists question gov’s stance on Highlands protection, other N.J. issues

Today is the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, and it’s safe to say Mother Earth has taken a beating in the last year. Some of the largest environmental disasters in history unfolded in Japan and the Gulf of Mexico, exposing serious weaknesses in safety engineering and government oversight.  (Bates, Gannett)



Lawmakers taking aim at plastic

More than 12 million barrels of oil and the death of thousands of marine animals can be attributed to two words: customer convenience.

That’s the stance of local industry, legislators, residents and officials, all of whom are confronting the issue of the approximately a trillion plastic bags used worldwide each year, most of which are not biodegradable and destined for a landfill.  (Prato, Gannett)



Asbury Park official last to know?

Gov. Chris Christie on April 15 approved the Department of Community Affairs’ appointments for a commissioner’s seat on each of 13 local housing authorities.  (Shields, Gannett)



N.J. agrees that Xanadu is ‘ugliest damn building’

Gov. Chris Christie describes Xanadu in the Meadowlands as the “ugliest damn building in New Jersey and maybe America,” and an overwhelming number of residents who know anything about the place agree, according to a Quinnipiac University poll made public Friday.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Al Sharpton plans Vineland visit

The Rev. Al Sharpton is scheduled to visit the city Tuesday morning to support a developmental center slated for closure.  (Funderburk, Gannett)



Lawsuit threat prompted reversal on college tuition for illegal immigrants

One County College of Morris trustee mentioned the prospect of being sued and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills. Others said legal considerations played a part in their deliberations over tuition rates for illegal immigrants.  (Koloff, Gannett)



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FEMA denies aid to victims of March floods

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied flood assistance to communities in the northern part of the state that were damaged by flooding after torrential rains.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Rice’s call for answers on weatherization program may wait

State Sen. Ron Rice Sr. (D-28), of Newark, wants answers on over $300,000 in unaccounted federal funds for the state’s weatherization program, which is run by a non-profit organization under the purview of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA).  (Staff, State Street Wire)



Former Gov. Kean expects Secretary of Higher Ed to be appointed soon

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee heard testimony on the Higher Education Task Force report, including from task force chairman and former Gov. Tom Kean Sr.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Congressmen back Amtrack’s bid for trans-Hudson tunnel funds

Several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation have written a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation in support of Amtrak’s requested funding for components of a new trans-Hudson tunnel.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room



Stack drafting Gov. Kean for political comeback

State Sen. Brian Stack (D-33), of Union City, was highly complimentary of former Republican Gov. Tom Kean at a Senate budget hearing today, recalling their days campaigning together in Hudson County. Stack said he’s trying to figure out how to get Kean back in the political arena.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



Poll finds support for more public school funding

In a new poll, state voters support more spending for public schools, but oppose court-ordered funding increases.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Christie: Supreme Court on shaky grounds

Gov. Christie says he was attacked by lawmakers because they can’t defend a law they have where only elected officials can retire from their jobs then go back to doing the same job. He said Sen. Loretta Weinberg was going after an official for doing that but didn’t mention to a reporter that she was doing that herself. He said it was obvious that when he told the media to take a bat to her he was telling reporters to treat her the way they do others.  (Ingle, Gannett) Morning News Digest: April 22, 2011