Morning News Digest: Friday, July 15, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Running for Caputo’s Freeholder seat, veteran operative Gill takes on Steve Rogers
When Brendan Gill told party members he wanted to run for Essex County freeholder, insiders concluded all he had to do was throw on the ceremonial sash and lead the latest parade down to county in downtown Newark to claim the 5th District seat relinquished by Freeholder Ralph Caputo. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Roque takes formal action to eject Vega’s BOE appointments
West New York Mayor Felix Roque today filed a formal challenge with the state Commissioner of Education to 11th hour appointments to the Board of Education made by outgoing Mayor Silverio “Sal” Vega. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie’s trips to Salt Lake City, Iowa continue to spark speculation of plans for presidency
No matter where Gov. Chris Christie goes these days, the question of whether he’s running for president still follows him like a State Trooper protective unit.
Two trips coming up — to Salt Lake City and Iowa — are not likely to tamp down speculation about just what the Republican governor from New Jersey is up to. (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)
$31M to fund green projects
A number of environmental projects will receive $31 million through the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2011 despite Gov. Chris Christie’s vow to pull the state out of the cap and trade program by the end of the year.
In his fiscal year 2012 budget, Christie declined to divert the RGGI revenue from the Global Warming Solutions Fund to the general account, and instead left the money in the hands of two agencies charged with spending it. (Reilly, New Jersey Herald)
N.J. to appeal federal government’s decision to take back $50M for school therapy programs
The battle has taken place almost entirely on paper, in footnotes debating arcane Medicaid rules, and in snippy remarks deep inside legal filings.
New Jersey and the federal government have been fighting over $50 million for so long that the battle hinges on medical records that date to the Whitman administration.
Now, after years of waiting and wrangling, the last briefs are to be filed within weeks, and a federal judge is expected to weigh in soon afterward. (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)
Lesson plans of September 11
Teachers typically light up when talking about the lessons that hit home, the ones that elicit energy and curiosity. But there are lessons that elicit even deeper responses, such as those about September 11, 2001 — both the day itself and its profound influence.
Yesterday, a coalition of educators, advocates, and survivors’ families known as the 4 Action Initiative gathered at Liberty Science Center to release a 236-page guide to teaching September 11. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Public workers pensions reform will save local governments and school boards millions of dollars each year
A new law requiring public workers to contribute more to their pensions will save area local governments and school boards more than $4 million in the first year, numbers released Thursday by the Governor’s Office show.
Statewide, the savings will total $43 million in fiscal 2012 and will reach a projected $43 billion over 30 years, a statement from the governor said. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Local governments face loss of N.J. aid if they fail to show improvements to Christie administration
The Christie administration is sending the governments of New Jersey’s 566 cities and towns and 21 counties to summer school and failure to follow instructions will cost them state aid.
The administration on Thursday issued a 2011 Best Practices Checklist to each local government as part of an effort to make them operate more efficiently, strengthen their accountability, and better manage their finances. This is the second year of the initiative. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
State again surveys local governments on best practices
The state is again sending out a questionnaire to local governments, asking about their operations and withholding state aid if they are not employing enough of the 50 “best practices” that the checklist lays out.
This is the second year that the Department of Community Affairs has sent out the survey, and this year it is also asking counties to fill one out as a voluntary way to examine their own procedures. (Procida, Press of Atlantic City)
Sen. Jim Whelan says Gov. Chris Christie’s budget cuts will harm Medicaid patients
Standing Thursday outside the Atlantic County-owned Meadowbrook Nursing Home, state Sen. Jim Whelan told supporters that one of Gov. Chris Christie’s line-item veto budget cuts will have a “real impact” on nursing home residents who receive Medicaid.
Democratic Atlantic County Freeholders Alisa Cooper and Jim Schroeder, who joined Whelan in assailing the cuts, said they fear taxpayers will have to help pay for the gap at the local level, possibly resulting in a county tax increase. (Watson, Press of Atantlic City)
N.J. Assemblyman David Rible accused of violating PBA oath
Monmouth County PBA official, Michael Deroian, has levied union charges against Assemblyman David Rible alleging the 43-year-old politician violated an oath he took when he voted for pension and benefit reform in June and is requesting that the New Jersey State PBA hold a hearing on the matter.
Rible, a retired Wall Township police officer, and active PBA member, responded to the allegation by letter saying he was insulted that a fellow PBA member would try to “bully” a state legislator during a time when officials are trying to repair and secure the state’s pensions system. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
35 N.J. tourism promoters to share OK in state aid
35 tourism-related organizations have been awarded a share of approximately $400,000 in state marketing grants to help expand tourism in New Jersey, the Division of Travel & Tourism announced on Thursday.
The money is to be used to promote and market tourism events, attractions and activities throughout the state. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
New Jersey museum prepares to open 9/11 exhibit to honor victims from the attacks
A decade after the Sept. 11 attacks, a yearlong exhibit will bring oral histories, local photographs and industrial artifacts from ground zero to New Jersey, home to about one-quarter of those who died in the terrorist attacks.
Visitors entering the exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum will first observe the birth of the World Trade Center, told through the perspective of a New Jersey photographer. Steel from the New York City building and some personal belongings of New Jersey victims will be on display along with a slideshow of memorials and space to leave personal reflections. (Lederman, The Associated Press)
N.J. appeals court sides with Ocean Twp. Against Loch Arbour in school funding dispute
A state appeals court today said the tiny town of Loch Arbour’s hefty bill to educate its students in nearby Ocean Township does not violate the state’s constitution.
The decision upholds a decision last year by Superior Court Judge Thomas Cavanagh who said Loch Arbour, like all other municipalities in New Jersey, had to pay its share of school funding based on property values — even if that meant a 447 percent increase in school taxes. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Camden may see return of $69M being withheld from state
More than two weeks after learning most of the $69 million promised in transitional aid to Camden last November was being withheld by Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Dana Redd has yet to comment on the matter.
But if the mayor appears calm in the face of coming calamity, it’s because the calamity may not be coming. (Roh, Gannett)
Freeholder warns of dire consequences over debt ceiling
About 43 percent of Ocean County’s population could be immediately impacted if Congress fails to raise the $14.3 trillion federal debt ceiling, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said Thursday.
“President Obama has said both Social Security and veterans benefits checks could be delayed, unless the Congress raises the debt ceiling by Aug. 2,” Vicari said. (Larsen, Gannett)
PSE&G projects are expected to create hundreds of jobs
The state’s largest utility yesterday won approval to extend a highly successful energy efficiency program and expand upgrades to its gas and electric infrastructure on an accelerated basis, work that will create hundreds of jobs.
n approving these plans the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) extended the timeframe of two programs that officials have initiated in hopes of jump-starting the economy and advancing the state’s goals of reducing the amount of energy its residents and businesses consume. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Report names Bergen County Academics as one of nation’s high schools
At a time of budget cuts and potential teacher layoffs in New Jersey high schools everywhere, some good news has come to Hackensack’s Bergen County Academies.
Last month, Newsweek magazine named the school as one the nation’s best public high schools, scoring it 23rd out of 500 schools listed. (Bonamo, Hackensack Chronicle)
Cut in half
As protesters rallied against tuition increases and wage freezes outside Winants Hall at Rutgers University Thursday, the Board of Governors voted to cut its proposed tuition hike for in-state, undergraduate students in half.
In an eleventh-hour amendment to the 2011-2012 Working Budget, the Board voted 7-2 to slash the proposed increase of 3.6 percent to 1.8 percent. (Racz, Gannett)
Latest from State Street Wire
Budget battles reborn over Transitional Aid
Paterson laid off a third of its police force last year after receiving $22 million from the state. This year, things are just as bad fiscally for Passaic County’s Silk City, but the state has only committed $10 million for aid in total to the state’s legion of distressed cities. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Oroho, Bucco bill would give state more fiscal control over certain town receiving aid
Legislation introduced this week would give the state greater financial control when giving distressed towns financial aid.
Sens. Steven Oroho, (R-24), Franklin, and Anthony Bucco, (R-25), Boonton, introduced a bill, S3009, that would give the state greater fiscal control over towns that receive additional state financial assistance via Transitional Aid, particularly distressed municipalities. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Caputo’s ‘Caylee’s Law’ would give 12-hour window to report missing child
The third proposed law in New Jersey based on the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida has been announced.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, (D-28), Essex, said today he will introduce what would be the most stringent measure in the state. (Staff, State Street Wire)
State says town will realize $43M in pension cost savings this fiscal year
The state has issued a town-by-town breakdown of its pension cost contributions and savings projections for fiscal year 2012.
The governor’s office stated in a release that municipalities will see approximately $43 million in pensions cost savings in this fiscal year, part of a projected $43 billion in savings over the next 30 years. (Staff, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Report: FBI approaches former Toms River engineer Patel
The FBI today visited the home of former Toms River Regional school district engineer Pravin H. Patel, sources told the Asbury Park Press. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Mazza working for Bergen County
Rocco Mazza, former chief for state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), started last month as the communications coordinator for the Bergen County Human Services Department, which includes the following Divisions: Senior Services, Disability Services, Office for Children, Family Guidance, Alternatives to Domestic Violence, Veterans Services and Community Transportation for seniors and the disabled. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Bachmann, Christie and the leaves of tea
There’s a reason Republicans keep asking Governor Christie to run for president sooner than later. It’s called Michele Bachmann.
As House Republicans continue to play a game of chicken with the national economy, Bachmann has emerged as a veritable Frank Perdue in drag. No offense to the late poultry king. (Doblin, The Record)