Morning News Digest: August 26, 2011

Morning News Digest: Friday, August 26, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Former Burlco GOP chairman says county party has run off the rails

Burlington County Republican leadership is full of “pirates” concerned only with their own power and have taken the party in the wrong direction a former county GOP chairman said in an interview Tuesday.

Former Burlco Republican Chairman Garfield DeMarco, who built the party into a statewide force during 17 years as its chairman, said party leadership “lacks imagination” and has kowtowed to “extremists” in an effort to stay in power.  DeMarco said the current leadership is out only for themselves and not the GOP or its causes. The recent resignation of Assemblyman Pat Delany over an email sent by his wife is a prime example of the party’s recent woes, DeMarco charged.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNI)



Is Santorum the GOP’s version of Biden ’08 in NJ?

Although he claims some friends in Iowa, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) by appearances has turned into the GOP version of Joe Biden in New Jersey, where his street cred as a scrappy, blue collar Catholic neighbor translate into zero support early here among power players and key renegades. 

Certainly, the top-down dynamic in the state is different this time, and not just because it’s a different party at Drumthwacket.

Sources say the political minders around Gov. Chris Christie have told lieutenants, county chairs, elected officials and others to keep out of prez politics – a reluctantly observed edict.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



In LD27, Hagner and Holtzman go after unused public sector sick time pay

The Republican candidates in District 27 tried to make a statement today with a pre-Labor Day, rain-spattered press conference, trying to put the stomachs of Democrats in knots even as most insiders say the newly conceived Morris County portion of the 27th with additional GOP numbers won’t be enough to dethrone state Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) and his allies.

Problem number one for the GOP here was the post primary disconnect between the establishment-backed Assembly candidates and state Senate candidate Bill Eames of East Hanover, a proud Tea Partier.

“At this point there are discussions going on…not sure how coordinated they are going to be…but there is communication,” a source close to the campaign said.    (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Gov. Christie vetoes fracking ban, calls for one-year moratorium instead

Gov. Christie sought to stake out some middle ground Thursday, signing a conditional veto of a bill that would have banned the natural gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey.

Instead, he wants the Legislature to enact a one-year moratorium.

While the action may seem largely symbolic in a state believed to have no natural gas reserves worth exploring – for now – environmental and industry groups said Christie was sending a strong message, though its meaning depended on the observer’s perspective.

His action, some critics said, signals that the state is unlikely to push for strong regulations as one of the five members of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which oversees the watershed supplying much of the Philadelphia region’s drinking water. The commission has a moratorium on natural gas exploration. That would change after new rules are passed, which could happen next month.  (Bauers, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Christie wants changes in disabilities legislation

A task force set up by the New Jersey Legislature to facilitate closing residential centers for people with developmental disabilities was put on hold Thursday by Gov. Chris Christie, putting in limbo the movement to shift disabled individuals from institutions to less restrictive, community-based settings.

The governor sent the bill to create the task force back to lawmakers with a conditional veto, asking for changes he said would better equip the state to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Almost immediately after, the state Senate voted unanimously to adopt Christie’s changes, but those changes still need another vote in the Senate and approval from the Assembly before the bill can go back to Christie’s desk.  (Lederman, The Associated Press)



Christie extends lifeline to Vineland center

The future of the city’s developmental center looked grim after Gov. Chris Christie signed a budget in June calling to shutter the facility by 2013.

But now, for the first time in months, good news about the Vineland Developmental Center surfaced in Trenton on Tuesday. It has a second chance.

Christie conditionally vetoed bill S-2928, which Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-1, sponsored, to create a task force that will comprehensively review all seven state developmental centers. The governor’s action means he would approve the legislation, but called for some changes to improve it.

“It is a lifeline,” Van Drew said. “It is a second chance for the developmental center. Now it will undergo an evaluation process, as will the other six in New Jersey, of its ability to stay open.”  (Funderburk, Gannett)



Christie conditionally vetoes bills concerning pet euthanization and human life-sustaining treatment

Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday conditionally vetoed bills concerning pet euthanization and the use of Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment forms in New Jersey. He also signed legislation codifying income eligibility levels for the AIDS Drug Distribution Program (ADDP).

Christie conditionally vetoed bill (S-2923), citing the need to maintain a seven day hold period before dogs and cats received by animal shelters can be offered for adoption, transferred, or euthanized in New Jersey. Under existing law, any animal captured by an animal control officer must be held for seven days before it can be offered for adoption, transferred to a more suitable shelter, or euthanized.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Vandervalk won’t run again

Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk announced on Thursday that she will not run for reelection in the 39th Legislative District in November.

Vandervalk, R-Westwood, 74, has served the Republican district for 21 years. She is on the Assembly’s Higher Education, and Housing and Local Government committees.

“I just felt it was time,” she said. “I don’t have any health problems or anything like that — at least that I know about. I just would like more time with my family.”

Before joining state government, Vandervalk served five years as a Bergen County freeholder and six years as a Montvale councilwoman. She has four children and nine grandchildren.

Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin said Vandervalk will serve out her term. “I have started the replacement process,” he said on Thursday, declining to comment on potential candidates.  (Gartland, The Record)



N.J. lawmaker opposes Gov. Christie’s plan to let some bypass state environmental regulations

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to block the Christie administration’s controversial plan to allow businesses, towns and residents to bypass state environmental regulations.

Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) introduced a resolution today to declare the proposed “waiver rule” inconsistent with environmental laws passed by the Legislature.

“It is ripe with the potential for abuse and takes unnecessary risks when it comes to protecting the environment and the citizens of New Jersey,” Buono said in a statement.

The state Department of Environmental Protection proposed the waiver rule in March to cut down on red tape. Under the rule, developers or homeowners would be able to negotiate exemptions from state environmental regulations if they are “unduly burdensome” or if they conflict with the rules of other state agencies. Department officials would decide who qualifies for waivers on a case-by-case basis.  (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)



Awkward Romney tries on Chris Christie’s persona

Ways people have described Mitt Romney: wooden, stiff, out of touch, awkward, unfunny. One label he hasn’t earned: Mean. So far! The Hill‘s Christian Heinze notices that at a townhall in New Hampshire Wednesday, Romney tried out another persona — Chris Christie’s. Christie is a hero on the right for standing up to hostile pro-union questioners (or, as liberals say, yelling at teachers). Wednesday, Romney tried his hand at being belittling and sarcastic. It doesn’t really suit him.

A voter sounded frustrated when she asked Romney how he could support an amendment to the Constitution that would force balanced federal budgets when a natural disaster or other emergency could require an unexpected surge in spending. Romney interrupted her, asking, “Did somebody in the room say that we don’t need any government?”  (Reeve, National Journal)



Bill would let Atlantic City casinos provide Internet gambling

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak on Thursday proposed legislation to allow Atlantic City casinos to operate Internet wagering as long as bets are placed from within the state.

Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed a similar bill in March, saying it had constitutional issues and could have led to online gambling clubs around the state. Gambling is constitutionally allowed only in Atlantic City.

Lesniak, D-Union, said the new bill addresses the governor’s concerns.

The bill states that any online bet placed with a casino will be considered as having been placed in Atlantic City. All Internet gaming equipment would have to be located within Atlantic City but could be housed outside of a casino.

“Internet wagering in this state shall be deemed to take place where a casino’s server is located in Atlantic City regardless of the player’s physical location within this state,” the bill says.  (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)



Casino Reinvestment Development Authority will still load $10 million to Teachers Village in Newark

The state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority decided Thursday to go ahead with helping pay for a 

$142 million mixed-use project in Newark.

The project is one of the last approved for financial assistance before CRDA funds stopped flowing out of Atlantic City upon the launch of the Tourism District — and mirrors the type of development some planning experts want to see in the resort.

CRDA officials reconsidered the $10 million loan to Ron Beit, founding partner and CEO of New York City-based RBH Group and developer of the Newark Teachers Village, because some aspects of the project’s financing had changed since the CRDA issued final approval March 11, authority attorney Paul Weiss said.   (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)



Woodbridge’s mayor recognized

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently said that Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac was named as recipient of the 2011 Outstanding CPA in Local Government Award.

The honor was presented at the AICPA’s 28th annual National Governmental Accounting and Auditing Update Conference in Washington, D.C., by Ernest Almonte, past AICPA chairman and former auditor general of Rhode Island.

The award recognizes CPAs working in federal, state and local government who have contributed significantly to increased efficiency and effectiveness of government organizations and to the growth and enhancement of the CPA profession.  (Staff, Gannett)



NJ decision on witness identification could have broad impact

A New Jersey Supreme Court decision ordering sweeping changes to how the state uses witness identification in criminal cases could have a broad impact and trigger legal challenges.

The state supreme court decision calls on New Jersey courts to take measures to address doubts surrounding the reliability of witnesses who identify criminal defendants, highlighting a growing awareness of flaws with relying on memory.

Judges must now consider several factors when determining witness reliability such as stress and timing of a positive identification, as well as race, the court said in a move hailed by criminal justice groups like the Innocence Project.

The decision could provide a roadmap for other states wrestling with the same issues, including concerns that misidentification of defendants can sometimes cause wrongful convictions.  (Kolker, Reuters)



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Lance pressing reauthorization of preterm birth bill

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, (R-NJ), of Clinton, was at Hunterdon Medical Center today to discuss his PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, a bill designed to research and reduce preterm birth, associated disabilities of preterm birth, and deaths of babies born preterm.

The bill, the Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Infants Early (PREEMIE) Reauthorization Act, was first passed in 2006.  (Carroll, State Street Wire)



N.J. gets $877,000 grant for immunization efforts

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, (D-6), said Thursday the state Health Department will receive an $877,000 grant made possible by the federal Affordable Care Act to boost immunization efforts.

“Prevention is one of the most effective ways of protecting people from health problems and immunization is a key part of preventive measures,” Pallone said in a statement. “The grant will support improved immunization registries, which will aid the planning, implementation and evaluation of services.”  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Gordon wants to attempt veto override of ‘fracking’ bill’

Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38), Fair Lawn, a prime sponsor of the legislation to ban the controversial natural gas extraction method known as “fracking,” has requested Senate President Steve Sweeney schedule an override vote, after Gov. Chris Christie issued a conditional veto on the bill, S2576.

He said the one-year moratorium Christie has recommended, instead of an outright ban, would do virtually nothing to halt future natural gas exploration possibilities through hydraulic fracturing, the official name of for the “fracking” procedure.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Coalition pushes for hydraulic fracturing

No sooner had Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a measure that would have banned hydraulic fracturing gas exploration in New Jersey than a coalition of pro-fracking advocates launched an effort today on behalf of the controversial practice.

Christie issued a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, during which time supporters such as the Natural Gas for New Jersey coalition hope to convince lawmakers and the public that the process can be safe and cost-effective.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



Politico: Christie heading to Simi Valley in Sept.

Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to give a speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California on Sept. 27, Politco is reporting.

“That date puts Christie’s speech after the next trio of presidential debates, which happen in quick succession in early to mid-September. He’d command attention in any case, but could draw even more notice than usual if the GOP field disappoints for one reason or another over the next month.”  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Turns out, there is a free lunch

Last week, a reader called me asking if I knew about a program in Detroit that provides a free breakfast, lunch and snack to every student in the Detroit school system regardless of financial need. He didn’t understand why the government was giving free meals to children whose parents could afford to pay.

I didn’t have an answer then. Now, I have the same question as he. Three states, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky, are participating in a new federal program. The idea is to get food to children from low-income families. So far, so good.  (Doblin, The Record)


  Morning News Digest: August 26, 2011