Morning News Digest: Thursday, July 14, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Potential 2012 GOP showdown: Doherty v. Kyrillos
They sit a handful of seats away from each other in the Senate chamber but that sedate distance hardly resembles what could turn into a big, smoldering political primary gulf between state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) and state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23) as both men consider 2012 runs for the U.S. Senate.
This one would feature all of the classic delineations of national Republican Party division, in a microcosm precisely the size of Cape May to High Point – and with the additional outsized political close quarters presence of Gov. Chris Christie. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie operative to GOP chairs: keep your powder dry on Prez politics
Republicans take Gov. Chris Christie at his word that he won’t run for president, but Christie’s political arm continues to make sure county chairs do not entertain presidential picks at this time.
On a conference call this week, a Christie political strategist told the Republican chairs not to endorse presidential candidates, to according to sources familiar with the call. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
N.J. Dems may rebut budget but budging is up to Gov. Christie
The budget is done, but the budget battle? Not so much.
Democratic leaders in the Assembly said Wednesday that lawmakers will return to the Statehouse on Tuesday for the first of several hearings to try to gauge the effect of Gov. Chris Christie’s spending cuts. (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)
Truth in advertising? Christie in radio ad claims all is well with school funding
Gov. Chris Christie champions increased school spending in a new radio advertising campaign but critics say Christie isn’t telling the whole story.
Christie a year ago issued a directive essentially taking back $475 million in surplus held by the school districts and he incurred legal expenses in fighting $450 million in court-ordered spending increases for schools in the state’s poorest urban districts. (Jordan, Gannett)
N.J. revises Education Department
New Jersey’s Education Department received a makeover Wednesday aimed at making it less of a regulatory agency while putting in place Gov. Christie’s goal of successfully teaching and graduating children from all walks of life
The state Board of Education unanimously approved the reorganization requested by acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf and approved appointments to several key jobs in the new structure. (Mulvihill, The Associated Press)
Sweeney stays on warpath over cuts
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney continued his post-budget media tour Wednesday to deliver good news for disgruntled Democrats: Gov. Chris Christie won’t be around for long.
That was his theory, anyway, for why the Republican governor cut so deeply into programs assisting the needy and funding for cities on the brink, including Camden. (Roh, Gannett)
The man with the plan…to reorganize the Department of Education
Six months into office acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf has begun filling out his department with a mix of out-of-state transplants and New Jersey veterans, including former commissioner David Hespe.
Cerf yesterday announced a new organizational chart for the 700-employee department, actually a series of charts that he said will better align the Department of Education with his priorities. Central will be four new assistant commissioners focusing on broader state policy: Chief Academic Officer, Chief Performance Officer, Chief Talent Officer and Chief Innovation Officer. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney still angry over budget cuts, still not talking to Gov. Chris Christie
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has not spoken with Gov. Chris Christie since he denounced the governor in a profanity-laced tirade over Christie’s budget cuts, Sweeney told a Press of Atlantic City editorial board meeting Wednesday.
Partisan tensions have escalated since the Legislature’s majority Democrats passed a budget beefed up with spending last week and, on Thursday, Christie used his line-item veto to cut $900 million in Democratic fiscal priorities. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
More discord over school aid plan
The numbers are out for how much state aid New Jersey schools will get this year, but a new round of discord is just getting started.
A day after Gov. Chris Christie released a plan giving every school district more aid than last year, Democrats in the Legislature said Wednesday that Christie wasn’t giving residents the full picture. Meanwhile, a Republican lawmaker urged superintendents to use the extra money to lower property taxes instead of to restore school programs. (Lederman, The Associated Press)
N.J. Assembly committee to examine $17.9M budget cut to children’s programs
The Democratic-controlled Assembly Budget Committee will meet on Tuesday to hear testimony on the possible ramifications of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cut $17.9 million in proposed state aid for children programs. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Murdoch probe sought
New Jersey’s two Democratic senators asked two federal agencies Wednesday to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s media empire after a growing scandal has forced him to close one British newspaper and pull out of a major satellite network takeover deal.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether the ban on bribing foreign officials contained in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was violated by reporters at the now-defunct News of the World newspaper. (Jackson, The Record)
Democrats, N.J. state treasurer trade criticism over who is to blame for MVC computer crash
Legislative Democrats and state Treasurer Andrew Eristoff on Wednesday traded barbs on who should be blamed for the lengthy computer crash at the state Motor Vehicle Commission that left customers without service statewide on Monday. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
In letter to Governor, NJ businesses oppose subsidized power plant scheme
In a break with a few trade groups here, 14 businesses in New Jersey are calling on the Christie administration to halt its efforts to develop new power plants in the state through hefty ratepayer subsidies.
In a letter to Gov. Chris Christie, the executives of those firms argued the competitive wholesale and retail electricity markets are critical to their viability in tough economic times. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Acting Gov. Guadagno visits Morris County to stress Christie’s pro-business platform
Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno on Wednesday visited Solix Inc. and the Wyndham Worldwide Corp. in Parsippany where she praised company officials for what she described as their commitment to Morris County and New Jersey.
The stops were billed as part of her “100 Business Tour” to visit businesses that are viewed as committed to staying in New Jersey. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Senator wants shareholders to have a say
Corporations would have to get shareholder approval for campaign spending under a bill U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez unveiled Tuesday in response to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling.
Corporations had been barred from spending on federal campaigns before the 2010 Supreme Court ruled last year they could fund non-profit groups running issue-based advertising. (Jackson, The Record)
NJ PBA at odds with assemblyman because he voted for pension reform
Before Assemblyman David P. Rible took an oath and became a state lawmaker, he had taken another vow — to uphold and protect the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association and its members.
Now, at least one PBA official believes Rible, a Republican from Monmouth County, violated the union pledge by voting for pension and benefit reform last month. (Method, Gannett)
NJ Transit to eliminate sick time payout
The NJ Transit Board of Directors voted formally Wednesday to eliminate payouts to non-union employees for unused sick time and vacation time not taken.
In late March, NJ Transit suspended vacation payouts to non-union employees less than a week after a New Jersey Press Media story revealed that the agency paid out $2.2 million in 2010 to current and retired workers for unused vacation time. The agency also paid out $1.47 million for unused sick time in 2010. Together, both categories of payouts totaled $3.67 million. (Higgs, Gannett)
NJ Transit budget speeds up debt payments
NJ Transit board members approved a $1.895 billion operating and a $1.16 billion capital budget Wednesday for fiscal year 2012, which emphasizes keeping the mass transit system in good condition as a hedge against future higher repair bills.
Officials also announced plans to aggressively pay down debt over the next 10 years to allow the agency to use “pay as you go” financing for capital improvement items and projects to save money to the spent to keep the system in good repair. (Higgs, Gannett)
Preparations under way in NJ for Sept. 11 exhibit
Preparations are under way at the New Jersey State Museum for an exhibit commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks.
It will run from Sept. 7 through Sept. 30.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will announce the details at the Statehouse on Thursday. (The Associated Press)
Curriculum will address 9/11
Students in New Jersey, a state that lost about 700 residents in the Sept. 11 attacks, can soon get classroom lessons on the attacks, from the history of terrorism to the heroics of regular people.
Acting state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf is scheduled to join with a volunteer task force today to unveil a curriculum revolving around Sept. 11. (Mulvihill, The Associated Press)
Redd defends hiring of city police director
Despite Camden City Council’s decision Tuesday not to support the appointment of a new police director, Mayor Dana Redd defended her decision to hire former state trooper Lanuel Ferguson.
Ferguson, 59, is the third police director in three years to serve in Camden and the first since the summer of 2009. (Murray, Gannett)
Legislation would uncork potential for brew pubs in New Jersey
Proposed changes to state brewpub and microbrewery laws mean Montgomery Dahm, the owner of the Tun Tavern, would finally – after years of requests – be able to sell kegs of his wares to the resort’s casinos, bars and restaurants.
If the bill introduced last month becomes law, Dahm said, the 14-year-old brewpub at the Sheraton Atlantic City will buy extra equipment needed to boost the amount of beer the company could make – from 700 to 1,000 31-gallon barrels. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
Jersey City officials targeted by Libertarian Party chairman’s complaint
A Somerset man has filed an ethics complaint against dozens of Jersey City officials who have not yet filed a financial-disclosure form they are required to submit annually.
ohn Paff, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party, said the forms, which require many government employees and members of municipal boards to disclose where they own real estate and who they receive income from, can be essential for citizens to uncover conflicts of interest. (McDonald, The Jersey Journal)
Latest from State Street Wire
Carlstadt, Bergen County reach shared services agreement on policing
The Bergen County Police Department has reached an agreement to provide regular policing in the eastern section of Carlstadt that is dotted with warehouses and other industrial facilities, officials said Wednesday. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Discrepancy over pulling of healthcare bill
The sponsor of a bill that would have appropriated $6.3 million for women’s health services said she had to withdraw it because of difficulty in getting a hearing postponement. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Students protest against school funding cuts
A sea of yellow T-shirts could be observed in front of the Statehouse, as students between kindergarten and 12th grade participated in a day of social action against education program cuts. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
That was Jersey news tbat was
The ensemble cast film “Horrible Bosses” is a black comedy film written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein. Recently, Daley and Goldstein revealed their inspiration for all the horrible bosses in “Horrible Bosses”: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. (Novick, PolitickerNJ)
Cardinale the GOP rule, not the exception
As establishment Republican senators solemnly filed into their well-appointed State House bunker Tuesday to discuss Veto-Override-A-Thon Day 2, the true leader of the ascendant, resentful and reactionary Christie Era Republicans was missing. (Stile, The Record)
Runyan has an anemic Q2
Freshman Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., raised less than $150,000 last quarter. What gives?
The former Philadelphia Eagle brought in just $148,346.84 in Q2, according to his campaign. That’s a significant fall-off from the $212,894 he raised in Q1. Just short of $28,000 of that Q1 haul, by the way, was a refund for TV air time his 2010 campaign did not use. (Roh, Strictly Politics)
Christie punches back in MVC computer war
Responding to a Democratic call to investigate a computer crash that wrecked motor vehicle operations on Monday, the Christie administration slammed legislative critics Wednesday for eliminating $5.5 million in funding designed to modernize the state’s aging information technology. (Cichowski, The Record)