Morning News Digest: Tuesday, August 23, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
New Poll: Christie favorability at 45%
More New Jersey registered voters say their opinion of Gov. Gov. Chris Christie had worsened than improved since he took office, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released today, in which 45% of voters have a favorable impressio of the governorn, compared to 47% who say they feel unfavorable.
The negativitiy rating represents a jump of 21 points since February 2010, when 45 percent of voters had a favorable impression of the governor, while only 26 percent felt unfavorable.
While one-third of Garden Staters say there has been no change in their opinion of the governor, 38 percent say they have a worse opinion now of Christie and 28 percent say their opinion has gotten better. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Doherty wants Dow to investigate Elizabeth BOE
Letters indicating a clean break from the upper echelons of establishment Republican Party power consolidated by Gov. Chris Christie issued today from the office of state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23).
“I’m a little surprised that a team that prided itself on corruption busting is now looking the other way as corruption is happening,” Doherty told PolitickerNJ.com on the same day he fired off a letter to state Attorney General Paula Dow.
“If this is not her job, I don’t know what she is doing.”
Doherty said he similarly brought up the issue of what he sees as corruption inherent in the schools funding furmula to state Department of Education Acting Commissioner Chris Cerf, the governor’s Chief Counsel Jeff Chiesa, and state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
In LD8, Delany derailed by wife’s email to Lewis
Former Assemblyman Pat Delany abruptly resigned last month from his post representing the 8th district after his wife sent a racially tinged email to senate challenger Carl Lewis, the former Olympic Gold medalist.
Responding to an email blast issued by the Lewis campaign, three sources said Jennifer Delany on July 7th sent the following response to the Democrat’s campaign: “Imagine, not having to pay NJ state income taxes…It must be nice. Imagine getting a court ruling overturned so your name could get put on the ballot. Imagine having dark skin and name recognition and the nerve to think that equalled (sic) knowing something about politics. Sure, knowing someone with fat purse strings is nice, but you have no knowledge. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie gets mixed reviews on environmental record
Gov. Chris Christie recently walked New Jersey’s beaches to draw attention to the state’s tourism industry, but his visits to the coast also put a focus on his environmental record.
Christie has championed the environment in some ways, winning praise for efforts to protect ocean and water quality and to preserve open space. But he also has been criticized on issues concerning greenhouse gases, renewable energy, and beach access.
Environmentalists were unhappy with his vetoing of two bills Friday that would have kept New Jersey in a regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative and would have allowed creation of local stormwater utilities that could have imposed fees in Ocean County. Assemblyman Jack McKeon, D-Essex, is seeking a legislative vote to override the greenhouse gas bill veto. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Christie firm on leaving RGGI
When Gov. Chris Christie says New Jersey is withdrawing from a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas program, he means it.
That’s how the Republican governor explained his veto Friday of a bill advanced by Democrats requiring the state to remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Christie wrote in his veto message that the legislation was “a political response to my administration’s announcement on May 26, 2011 that the state withdraw from RGGI.”
Christie also repeated his reasons for bailing out of the 10-state program, which caps carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants and charges the plants for the emissions they produce. (Jordan, Gannett)
Christie seeks aid for flooded areas
Gov. Christie is asking the Obama administration to declare Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem and Gloucester counties major disaster areas after recent storms dropped 11 inches of rain in some spots and wiped out some roads. A letter was sent Monday from the governor to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Seabrook area in Cumberland County and Elmer and Pittsgrove in Salem County are among the worst hit areas. Water runoff inflicted about $20 million in damage to roads and bridges in Cumberland County and more than $5 million in Salem. That tab doesn’t include emergency spending. Numerous roads, especially in Pittsgrove, are closed or partially closed.
Across Gloucester County, storms have damaged more than 350 homes and buildings, Assemblyman Domenic DiCicco noted. Rowan University sustained more than $2 million worth of flood damage. (Smith, Gannett)
State announces $14.65M for infrastructure, safety projects
As a freight train noisily rumbled past during the middle of her press conference on Monday, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno turned toward the tracks behind her and said, “That’s good news!”
For Guadagno, the movement of goods in the stream of commerce represented New Jersey’s gradual movement out of the recession. The train passed under the Park Avenue Bridge that Guadagno chose as the location to announce the state’s allocation of $14.65 million for transportation infrastructure and safety-project funding.
The money will come in the form of 95 grants awarded to municipalities, counties and airports — the biggest of which will be the Park Avenue Bridge. The 65-foot bridge, built in 1933, will be replaced at a cost of about $20 million through grants of $3.5 million per year for five years on top of the $2.5 million that already has been spent on design work. (Racz, Gannett)
Horse industry leaders want to take Christie to court over purse subsidies
New Jersey thoroughbred racehorse breeders want to take on Gov. Chris Christie for his stance on cutting off subsidies for the racing industry.
The breeders have filed a notice of appeal with the Super Court Appellate Division challenging the governor’s veto of minutes of the June 29 New Jersey Racing Commission meeting when regulators approved subsidies.
Casino-friendly legislation approved in February included up to $15 million in purses supplements for horse racing this year. The commission approved disbursing the total amount, but Christie vetoed the action two days later. (Jordan, Gannett)
Pallone addresses home-grown success
Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., visited Siemens Hearing Instruments on Monday, when he toured the plant, met with executives and hosted an employee forum.
The visit highlighted the home-grown success of Siemens, which manufactures hearing aids. The company employs more than 400 workers at the Constitution Avenue location, where it combines manufacturing, research and development, and marketing. The company has a total of about 700 employees between its New Jersey and Minnesota facilities.
Pallone’s visit was conducted in conjunction with the Make it in America agenda in Congress. Make it in America is a multi-dimensional action plan that will help build a modern manufacturing base, which Pallone supports. The plan would help keep America competitive, help small businesses prosper and add jobs, and set incentives for research and development. (Loyer, Gannett)
Compliance with NJ young drivers law in spotlight after 4 die in crash of SUV driven by teen
A New Jersey lawmaker who sponsored a law barring new drivers from carrying more than one passenger will look to see if the law needs to be strengthened, following the deadly crash of an SUV being driven by a high school football player and carrying seven of his teammates.
Four teens died in Saturday’s single-vehicle accident, including driver Casey Brenner, 17, who had a restricted license that allowed him to carry only one passenger unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, according to the Motor Vehicle Commission.
New Jersey has had a graduated driver’s license program for a decade. It was revised in 2009 to limit the number of passengers — even relatives — a teen driver can have in the car in order to limit distractions for drivers who don’t have a lot of experience on the road. (DeFalco, Lederman and Mulvihill, The Associated Press)
Builder seeks $1B to complete ‘Dream’
The potential operators of American Dream Meadowlands — the project formerly known as Xanadu — are seeking to raise as much as $1 billion in public financing and tax breaks this fall, with the goal of resuming construction of the $3.8 billion project by the end of the year.
Kurt Hagen, a senior vice president for Mall of America, said Monday that while the plan may remind some North Jerseyans of the failed EnCap project just a few miles to the south, there is a critical distinction between the two projects.
“This is not public funding, it’s public financing,” Hagen said. “I know there were a lot of mistakes made in that [EnCap] project, and no one will want to make that mistake again. That’s a good thing, from the public’s standpoint.” (Brennan, The Record)
New law allows public money to be invested in credit unions
A new law could provide a better return on public money by allowing local governments and school districts to deposit funds in nonprofit credit unions.
Gov. Chris Christie enacted the law Friday.
Previously, government agencies were limited to using financial institutions with Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. backing. Now, municipal and county governments, school boards and other local government agencies can use credit unions as depositories. While credit unions don’t have FDIC insurance, they are insured to the same limits as banks through the National Credit Union Administration.
Chris Abeel of the N.J. Credit Union League said Monday that taxpayers could benefit because credit unions are nonprofit organizations that typically pay better interest rates than banks and charge lower or no fees for services. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Homeowners face mortgage problems
Richard Redy expects his foreclosure notices to arrive soon. The 60-year-old Brielle resident lost his job as a construction manager in 2009 and, with his industry in the doldrums, still hasn’t found a replacement.
So Redy stopped paying his mortgage, even after his mortgage company agreed to lower his monthly payments from $2,800 to $1,800. He now hoards his money to help fund the inevitable move.
“When your living is taken away from you through really not any fault of your own, it’s a rough thing,” Redy said. “I should be in the prime of my earnings career now. To have that stripped away from you, it’s sobering and kind of leaves you feeling, I don’t know, empty inside.”
A lot of other New Jerseyans are feeling empty inside, or at least in their wallets. (Method and Diamond, Gannett)
Newark Mayor Cory Booker hosts city’s first toy gun exchange
Mayor Cory Booker wants even the youngest residents of his city to lay down their arms — their toy arms, that is. So today, kids lined up and traded up.
Eric Maxwell, 7, handed over his water gun for a shiny remote control car.
Troy Walker, 10, swapped a plastic pistol for a hockey stick and puck.
And sisters Janay, 5, and Jameerah Harris, 7, traded cold, hard plastic for Barbie dolls.
In a city riddled with gun violence, Newark officials and the anti-violence group Stop Shootin’ Music hosted the city’s first toy gun exchange today.
Music played at Mildred Helms Park as kids and parents gathered. Booker and several city council members praised Stop Shootin’ Music’s crusade. (Lee, The Star-Ledger)
Phillipsburg Urban Enterprise Zone unsure of its fate but still doling out cash
The future of New Jersey’s Urban Enterprise Zone, or UEZ, program may be unclear, but the Phillipsburg branch is still going about business as usual.
The UEZ board at its meeting this afternoon approved $4,381 in funding for Bullock Financial Services LLC.
Owner Ed Bullock said he is expanding his business to downtown Phillipsburg after providing insurance and financial advice for nearly 30 years out of his home in town.
Bullock bought 344 S. Main St. in June because he was outgrowing his home office and recently acquired another financial services business, he said. Bullock said he plans to open Oct. 1.
“We’re making a commitment to Phillipsburg,” he told the UEZ board. (Molnar, The Express-Times)
Jersey girls who emerged after 9/11 stay activists
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 turned them into widows and the four Jersey Girls, as they became known, turned themselves into activists.
A decade after the attacks, at least two of them are still trying to make change in public policy. In doing so, they’ve broadened their focus from post-attack truth-finding, the cause that brought them together nearly 10 years ago.
Lorie Van Auken is now a beekeeper who is pressing the federal Environmental Protection Agency to ban a pesticide that some blame for Colony Collapse Disorder, which has been killing honeybees.
Kristen Breitweiser blogs on politics and national security. Though those are issues tied to 9/11, she doesn’t write just about the attacks. (The Associated Press)
Paul Ryan really for real not running for president
After Rick Perry got in the 2012 race and promptly called the Federal Reserve chairman a traitor, it seemed like some Republicans–perhaps Karl Rove in particular–would have very much liked Paul Ryan to reconsider his earlier decision not to run for president. And for a little while, Ryan–the deficit slashing superhero to conservatives who has said for months he won’t run–essentially said, “hm.” On Monday, Ryan clarified; that “hm” was actually a “no.” As The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait tweeted, “Weekly Standard on suicide watch.”
Early last week, Karl Rove speculated that the Wisconsin congressman–or another conservative dreamboat, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie–could still get in the presidential race. (Reeve, National Journal)
Latest from State Street Wire
Housing authority appointments approved
Gov. Chris Christie today approved Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa’s appointments for local housing authorities. These direct appointments do not require Senate confirmation. (Staff, State Street Wire)
‘Fracking’ bill deadline looms this week
Gov. Chris Christie signed many bills and vetoed two others last Friday. But one of the most controversial that was passed by the Legislature last session and that still remains to be addressed is a ban on “fracking” as a means to access natural gas deposits. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
McKeon says Barnegat Bay will suffer as a result of veto
A sponsor of a Barnegat Bay cleanup measure that was vetoed Friday by the governor lamented the consequences for that watershed.
“Malfunctioning storm basins meant to retain rain water are a major factor in the pollution run-off into the 660-mile Barnegat Bay watershed,” Assemblyman John McKeon, (D-27), West Orange said in a release. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Measley’s mea culpa
Charles Measley of Rumson, who shot the YouTube video of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in Belmar last week, issued a formal apology today after accompanying the vid with a printed mistaken interpretation of the senator’s words.
“Towards the end of the video I misunderstood what the senator was saying,” Measley said in a statement, which he sent to PolitickerNJ.com. “I thought the Senator at one point said ‘eliminate the rich.’ However, after others brought up concerns regarding the video, I examined the footage more carefully and have since determined that the Senator did not say ‘eliminate the rich.’ Rather, he muddled what sounds like a mix of the words “ways” and ‘waste.'” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
10 reasons Chris Christie could win the presidency
On Sunday, my colleague Kevin Manahan penned an entertaining piece in which he listed 10 reasons Chris Christie will never become president.
I beg to differ. The source of the difference lies in the way in which my colleague and I perceive Christie. Manahan argues the governor is too conservative. I have always argued that he’s not conservative enough.
That may irk us right-wingers here in Jersey. But nationally, it should be a strength. So without further ado, let me list the reasons so many Republicans around the country are pushing Christie to join the race for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination…(Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)
Politics in Wonderland
It was the media equivalent of Alice in Wonderland’s grinning Cheshire cat, here one minute in all its surreal glory and gone the next.
MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter’s Twitter post on Wednesday about Gov. Chris Christie supposedly conducting focus groups for a presidential bid was followed quickly by more tweets, retweets and blog posts, all breathlessly speculating that the moment they had been waiting for was here: The big man was joining the band, to borrow a Bruce Springsteen line. Christie was making the leap into the 2012 GOP race for president.
But some were skeptical, and a few phone calls confirmed what many of us thought: Alter’s report was not accurate, which Alter himself admitted an hour after his initial tweet. (Schoonejongen, Gannett)