Morning News Digest: Friday, July 22, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
ELEC: County Party committees raise almost the s ame amount of cash but Dems have more COH
Democratic County Party Committees raised $775,794 and Republican County Party Committees raised $745,127 over the course of the past three months, leaving Democrats with $883,810 cash on hand, compared to $560,598 for the GOP, according to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Meeting with a Jersey senior, Christie returns to ‘kitchen table talks;
Gov. Chris Christie called his first 18 months on the job “productive,” but he said he wants to get back to the kitchens of real New Jerseyans, not the kitchens he’s been hustled through on his way to jam-packed town halls.
Today, he sat with Tana Kizides, a senior citizen, and another one of Christie’s urban center allies, Perth Amboy mayor Wilda Diaz. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Baraka stages day of outrage in Newark
South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka said he wants to repel the momentum away from what he calls the ongoing and aggressive storyline that public sector workers are the problem. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie, Dems tell tale of 2 budgets
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited a retired woman at her home on Thursday to highlight his doubling of a property tax relief program for senior citizens over last year, while Democrats in Trenton were attempting to show the negative impact the governor’s budget is having on nursing home patients and Medicaid recipients. (Lederman, The Associated Press)
Christie budget cuts to slash $25M from state judiciary funding
For the second year in a row, Gov. Chris Christie’s budget cuts will reach into the state’s courthouses, forcing judges and their staffs to tighten their belts and delay plans for modernization.
While the $25 million cut was expected, a spokeswoman for the judicial branch said Thursday the reductions would take their toll on day-to-day functions at the state Supreme Court, the appellate courts and Superior Courts across New Jersey. (Rizzo and Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Dems continue to hit at Christie’s social policy
New Jersey Democratic lawmakers continue to pound away at Gov. Chris Christie’s social policies, using a Thursday hearing to fault the Republican governor for budget cuts affecting nursing homes and specialty care facilities.
Jason Francis, 32, has been living for the past six years at Cheshire Home, a Florham Park non-profit serving young physically disabled adults. Francis suffered a crippling spinal cord injury in 2003. (Jordan, Gannett)
Christie and Democrats each insist they care for N.J. seniors the most
Who cares most about New Jersey’s 606,361 senior citizens – Gov. Chris Christie or the Legislative Democrats?
Both the governor and the Democrats spent most of Thursday trying to convince seniors that seniors have their unwavering support and that their rival would lock them in the attic if they had the chance. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Sweeney, still angry, will work with Christie
Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney says shared services and education reform should be the next big things on the Statehouse agenda.
Both, though, must wait until the last big thing blows over — the off-color tirade Sweeney unleashed after Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally deleted more than $900 million from the state budget, a move that Sweeney says still has him angry three weeks later. (Symons, Gannett)
Group forms to counter Christie backers
The launch of a new independent nonprofit advocacy group in New Jersey this week may be part of a broader national trend: Democrats waving the white flag in the battle for campaign finance reform.
Founded by progressive political strategists, One New Jersey vows to combat Gov. Chris Christie’s policies via paid messaging. But the 501(c)4 is being criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike because its founders say they will not identify donors. (Roh, Gannett)
NJ gained 1,700 jobs in June; unemployment climbs to 9.5%
New Jersey’s economy added 1,700 jobs in June, the state said Thursday in a report that shows the labor market recovering slowly but steadily from the devastating recession.
The job growth wasn’t strong enough to keep up with the number of residents looking for work; the state’s unemployment rate rose to 9.5 percent from 9.4 percent in May. (Diamond, Gannett)
Judge bids to exempt self from pension reform law
A veteran Superior Court judge, claiming the new pension and benefit reform law would undermine “the independence of the judiciary,” has filed suit seeking to exempt the judges from the law.
Judge Paul M. DePascale, a Hudson County Republican, claims the law violates the state constitution, which explicitly forbids lawmakers from decreasing judges’ salaries during their terms on the bench. The lawsuit was filed in Superior Court, Mercer County. (Shoonejongen, Gannett)
N.J. Bar Association backs judges, government lawyers in their bid to avoid health and pension benefit hikes
New Jersey’s judges and government-paid attorneys want to see the recently approved increase in the cost of health and pension benefits as it affects them repealed by the Legislature and the governor and the New Jersey State Bar Association on Thursday announced it plea has its support.
The judges and Bar Association argue the legislation threatens the independence of the judiciary and will impair the ability of courts and the government to fulfill their duties to the public. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Candidate calls for superintendent’s ouster
A GOP state Assembly candidate has called for the ouster of Paterson school Superintendent Donnie W. Evans, alleging that he is running a “job mill” for Passaic County Democrats.
William Connolly, a retired Passaic County employee, made the assertion in a June 30 letter to acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, in which he asked for Evans’ removal from the state-appointed superintendent’s job. (Ensslin, The Record)
Patient-centered medical homes win unlikely support
When it comes to healthcare, the principles of a Patient-Centered Medical Home seem as common-sense as bed rest and chicken soup: a coordinated, easy-to-access and multilingual system of caregivers with a well-informed family doctor — and patient — at the center. The result: better management of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes and a focus on identifying and preventing potential health problems before a patient even gets sick. (Stainton, NJ Spotlight)
Report on special education oversight comes with warnings
New Jersey’s oversight of local special education programs — ever a complex and contentious topic — won some praise but also received warnings from federal monitors in their latest compliance report.
The report from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services includes year-old data, in this case 2009-2010. Still, the federal monitoring represents an annual report card on how well a state serves its special education population, numbering more than 200,000 students in New Jersey. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
His contract is gone but Superintendent Seitz remains
The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education heeded the warning in a letter dated July 1 from Morris County Executive County Superintendent Kathleen Serafino and rescinded the employment contract of Dr. LeRoy Seitz last week after a two-hour closed session discussion. (Forrest, Parsippany Life)
Latest from State Street Wire
Christie hopes schools bank bucks for tax relied on 2012
Only 20 of the 591 school districts are using the expansion of state aid to schools for tax relief this year, which is not surprising to Gov. Chris Christie, although he hopes that many districts will bank the aid as surplus to reduce property tax bills next year. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Former governor Kean joins board of trustees of NJTV operator
Former Gov. Tom Kean has been elected to the board of trustees for Public Media NJ Inc., operator of NJTV, which took over New Jersey Network this month.
I’m extremely pleased to be joining the board of trustees of PMNJ,” said Kean in a release. “I think it’s important to support public media in New Jersey, to keep the network thriving and serving the citizens of the entire state. I’m looking forward to taking a leadership role in guiding PMNJ and the renamed New Jersey public television network, NJTV, as it grows and prospers.” (Staff, State Street Wire)
Unfair labor charge in limbo, CWA negotiations continue, Christie to be briefed Friday
Gov. Chris Christie was away for vacation when his staff met with representatives of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in the latest round of collective bargaining negotiations, Christie said today.
With whirlwind press conferences and budget patch-ups awaiting him, he said today in Perth Amboy that he would be brought up to speed on the status of those negotiations by his staff Friday when he plants himself in Trenton. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Energy master plan foes seek to rally public opposition
Environmental groups are encouraging the public to attend three upcoming hearings in hopes of preventing Gov. Chris Christie’s energy master plan from being implemented, a plan which they said relies more on coal, incineration, and nuclear sources than renewable energy. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Spotted at the Copa
It’s Katy bar the door as New Jerseyan Steve Lonegan of Bogota surfaces at the Copa America in Argentina as the coach of the Paraguyan national team this week.
When asked what strategies he intends to employ during Sunday’s final against Uruguay, Lonegan said, “I don’t intend to visit every county committee chair this time.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Disclosure shoe on other foot now
A new 501(c)(4) – i.e. a “shadow PAC” – is on the block in New Jersey and the criticism has been fast and furious. I’m referring to One New Jersey, started by a group of Democratic strategists as a counterpoint to similar Republican-sponsored efforts.
The main charge leveled against this group is hypocrisy. During the past year, Democrats assailed two GOP non-profit groups – Reform Jersey Now which promoted Governor Christie’s agenda and The Center for a Better New Jersey which assisted the Republicans’ legislative redistricting efforts – for not revealing their donor lists. (Murray, PolitickerNJ)
Exit the Grinch and enter Santa Christie
He left New Jersey as the Grinch and returned as Santa Claus. Governor Christie must have had some vacation.
For two weeks, Christie has been off the radar while New Jersey Democrats continued to vilify him for line-item vetoes in the state budget. They focused on cut funding to distressed cities, to AIDS patients and abused children. In the heated rhetoric, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney called Christie every name in the book — and then some. (Doblin, The Record)