Morning News Digest: June 22, 2011

Morning News Digest: Wednesday, June 22, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Sources: No movement against leadership likely

As the final vote on pension and health benefits approaches, discussion among politicos has turned to the fallout from the months-long battle over legislation that is decidedly unpopular among Trenton’s majority party. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



NJN veto vote likely for Thursday

The Assembly will likely vote on a resolution Thursday that would veto the transfer of New Jersey Network’s operations to the New York-based WNET, a source familiar with the board list said. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Polistina back on board with pension and health reform

Assemblyman Vinice Polistina (R-2) who last week hinted he may not support landmark efforts to reform public employees pension and health benefits, is back on board with the rest of his Republican colleagues, sources told PolitickerNJ. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



NJ governor hold town hall as big issues loom

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie heads to North Jersey to hold his 20th town hall of the year as big issues loom at the Statehouse.

Wednesday’s town hall event is being held at the Fair Lawn Community Center. (The Associated Press)



Lawmakers have 9 says to get budget to Christie

The debate over public employee pension and health benefits legislation wound up taking so much time that the New Jersey Legislature is under the gun to approve a state budget in nine days. (Delli Santi, The Associated Press)



Democratic legislators to introduce budget, includes tax relief, money for police

Under pressure to regain control of the issues in Trenton, Democratic sources said Tuesday that legislators plan to introduce their own budget next week that will include money for beleaguered police departments and property tax relief for the elderly. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



The imposition option: Why Gov. Christie doesn’t have to negotiate

Already reeling from legislation that will require state workers to pay thousands of dollars more each year toward their pensions and healthcare coverage, union leaders fear that Gov. Chris Christie will be the first governor in state history to unilaterally impose contract terms on their members. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



Sweeney, ex-union official, draws hisses from state workers

When Stephen Sweeney was sworn in as the state Senate president in 2010, New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said it “marks a milestone for the labor movement in New Jersey.” (DeFalco, The Associated Press)



N.J. childcare centers would lose $30M in funding under Christie’s proposed budget

It’s morning rush hour at the Greater New Brunswick Day Care Council, and the sidewalk is crowded with parents cradling sleeping babies and leading bleary-eyed kids into a converted church basement that has been the center’s home for 41 years. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Grant program to encourage new methods of teacher evaluation

The New Jersey Education Department has announced a $1.1 million grant program to encourage school districts to take part in a pilot program tying teacher evaluations to student performance. (Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



As much as money, Abbott Districts need spending guidelines

Next year’s school budgets have already been struck, and districts across New Jersey are planning how to best put to work the money they’ve been allocated.

Most districts, that is. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Students and schools hopeful, nervous about Choice program

When the New Jersey Department of Education announced in April that 56 additional districts — including 16 in the tri-county area — will join the state’s current 15 Interdistrict Public School Choice districts, there was a simple concept behind it. (Rothschild, Gannett)



Despite a report citing Camden’s school failings, N.J. has declined to act

Despite Gov. Christie’s frequent calls for no delay in repairing New Jersey’s failing schools, the state for over a year has had the information and means to step in and provide increased help and oversight to improve Camden’s schools, but has not. (Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Democratic lawmakers introduce bills to squash deal handling management of NJN over to WNET

A political showdown over the fate of New Jersey public television is in the works in Trenton, where two lawmakers have introduced resolutions to kill the Christie administration’s deal giving WNET rights to management manage New Jersey public broadcasting. (McGlone, The Star-Ledger)



Christie signs bill: Free beach badges for military

Oceanfront towns can now provide free or discounted beach badges to active duty military personnel and their immediate families under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Chris Christie. (Larsen, Gannett)



Christie signs order honoring Clarence Clemons

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed an executive order honoring the life of Clarence Clemons, the beloved saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. (The Associated Press)



N.J. voters say no to Chris Christie for VP

An overwhelming majority of the people who know him best think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would not make a good vice president, according to Quinnipiac Poll on Tuesday. (Epstein, Politico)



Essex County executive recognizes gay-rights leaders in Newark

Shortly after being released from the hospital, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. gave out awards to prominent gay-rights leaders yesterday in Newark. (Brown, The Star-Ledger)



D.C. lawmakers cash in pensions

Democratic Rep. Albio Sires and Republican Rep. Leonard Lance both did the same thing within a month of taking the congressional oath of office: They retired, and started collecting state pensions. (Jackson, The Record)



Sussex County legislator introduces measure to make federal health care law ‘null and void’

Insurance fraud. Drug possession. Conspiracy to distribute a controlled dangerous substance.

Those can be third-degree crimes in New Jersey. And this week a Sussex County legislator proposed adding another infraction to the list: Enforcing the federal health care law that was enacted last year. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



NJ doctors group suing to block health reform law

Attorneys for a New Jersey physicians group are scheduled in court to argue that the recently enacted federal health care law is unconstitutional.

The suit by New Jersey Physicians Inc. challenges the health care law’s requirement that citizens purchase health care insurance. (The Associated Press)



Report: More leaks likely as nuclear plants’ pipes age

Expect more leaks from underground piping at nuclear power plants, including those in New Jersey, as plants age and pipes corrode, says a federal report released Tuesday. (Bates, Gannett)|topnews|text|State



Solar firms given reassurance by NJ environmental commissioner at conference in Franklin

The commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday sought to calm fears among some in the clean energy industry that small-scale solar projects are getting left behind in the state’s new energy master plan in favor of off-shore wind power and large-scale solar arrays. (Remaly, Gannett)



Nine are appointed to state commission tasked with reviving Atlantic City’s casino district

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority today appointed the members of the state’s Atlantic City advisory commission that will try to pump new life into the ailing casino district. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)



CRDA sets aside $275,000 for arts program

The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment and Development Authority set aside $356,000 Tuesday to establish an artistic community in the city’s downtown district that will in turn bring business and more development here. (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)



Offshore wind turbines: Not in my backyard

The state is looking to bolster renewable energy resources like wind, but it is getting some pushback when it comes to locating wind turbines in areas surrounded by homes.

Blame it on shadow flicker. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



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Petty’s Run supporters work to keep dig site from being covered over

After seeing thousands of pro-labor demonstrators occupy West State Street outside the Statehouse Thursday and again Monday it may be understandable if passers-by Tuesday did not  immediately notice the half-dozen or so folks who set up a table just a few dozen yards from the Statehouse entrance. (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Lautenberg, Menendez want answers on how aging nuclear plants win extensions

Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) want answers from the federal government about how some aging nuclear power plants have received extensions to continue operating. (Staff, State Street Wire)



Out-of-state restrictions remain an emotional issue in pension/benefits reform

Emotional testimony over the out-of-state restrictions in the proposed pension and benefits reform was leveled at the Assembly Budget Committee Monday. (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Nominees for judgeships, boards

Gov.  Christie filed the following judicial nominations with the State Senate. The Governor’s nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate. (Staff, State Street Wire)






Union leaders opt for cheap publicity rather than a better offer

Leaders of New Jersey’s public employee unions have chosen form over substance and stunts over common sense; they had rather put on a show than work for changes to preserve pensions and health benefits that are fair to workers and taxpayers. (Ingle, Gannett)



Christie and Sweeney are New Jersey’s political Batman and Robin

Last week, Mayor Nutter sputtered in attempting to sway even nine former friends on City Council to see the schools crisis his way. He craved a soda tax to plug a budget hole and, critics allege, polish his national reputation. Council members balked, grudgingly hiking property taxes (again), but raising far less than the mayor sought. (Yant Kinney, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



N.J. joins national pension, benefits battle

The stage is set in Trenton for final legislative action tomorrow on a bill that would sharply increase payments by teachers, police officers and other government workers for pension and health benefits. (Ahearn, The Record)



N.J. has seven schools in Newsweek’s Top 100

For its annual best high schools report, Newsweek magazine looked at more than 1,000 schools across the land to determine which ones best prepare kids for college and life. We hear a lot about how good New Jersey’s schools are from the NJEA and other defenders of the status quo. There were seven Jersey schools in the Top 100. There were 36 in the Top 1,000. Considering how much more money our schools cost taxpayers, that should raise some serious questions. (Ingle, Politics Patrol)

  Morning News Digest: June 22, 2011