Morning News Digest: August 29, 2011

Morning News Digest: Monday, August 29, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Winners and Losers: Week of August 22

Casting a hard eye on the narrow fortunes and defilements of public men and women hasn’t deprived us of the ability to cast that same coldness in response to nature.

We respect, certainly, but in the midst of our human struggles, reserve no sense of awe for her so-called purity.

So, Hurricane Irene, work your will, as we will work ours.

Here’s to a Jersey fight and the hope that all are safe, so we can come back here next week for another just-as-grimy installment of winners and losers.

And for now… (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Garwacke on Manville: ‘We are an island’; Jet-skiing the Ironbound; Passaic County cities severely flooded; tree narrowly misses Lesniak’s house

No man is an island, said John Donne, but Manville is an island right now.

In the aftermath of last night’s storm, the former factory town is cut off, according to Borough Administrator Gary Garwacke. Manville was one town of many inland burghs affected by the storm.

In Passaic County, Paterson and Passaic City both got hit, Paterson probably harder, according to the mayors of those two towns.

“We flooded like crazy all over,” said Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones. “This is not a typical situation by any means.”

Jones said the fire department has deployed boats as part of the city’s rescue operations.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Gov. Chris Christie surveys Hurricane Irene’s damage

In another day of marathon activity, Gov. Chris Christie took to the skies to survey the trail of destruction left behind by Hurricane Irene. And from the air, it appeared Irene for the most part had a soft touch.

Aboard a State Police helicopter, the governor flew over Cape May and Atlantic counties, right where the Category 1 hurricane entered the state and caused the most direct damage. Christie had ordered a mass evacuation of New Jersey’s shore communities, moving 1 million people inland by Saturday evening.

The chopper flew south from State Police headquarters in Ewing toward Ocean City. Farmland appeared lightly flooded; residential areas largely unscathed. High school tracks and fields were mostly dry, too.

Flying along the coast on the way back, property damage seemed minimal. Atlantic City was mostly deserted, with emptied-out casino parking lots and only a trickle of foot traffic.  (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



Lawmakers demand program cuts to refill disaster funds

Federal relief to repair damage and offset costs dealing with Hurricane Irene could become a political battleground in Congress this fall.

House Republicans demanded earlier this year that new disaster relief be funded by cuts elsewhere, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office said Thursday the Virginia Republican continues to believe that.

Rep. Scott Garrett agreed. Garrett, R-Wantage, said through a spokesman it was the “responsible thing to do.”

“With $16 trillion in debt and budget deficits as far as the eye can see, the last thing we should be doing is spending money we don’t have,” Garrett spokesman Ben Veghte said.

Some North Jersey Democrats, however, said Congress should deal with major disasters the way it often had in the past, with emergency funding provided outside the normal budget process.  (Jackson, The Record)



Gov’s sick of ancient Chris-tory

Irene wasn’t the only storm on Chris Christie’s mind.

New Jersey’s governor spoke about the hurricane yesterday — peppering his comments with a bunch of wisecracks about the times he’s been caught in swirling political firestorms.

He said his critics were goofy for criticizing his trip to Walt Disney World during last year’s monster blizzard.

“A lot of you were much more concerned that I wasn’t here for the blizzard than I was,” he told a press conference. “The people of New Jersey, the overall majority, didn’t care much, either.”

Even so, Christie said he’s had a hard time living down his trip to the Magic Kingdom, which magically keeps appearing in stories.  (Greene, New York Post)



Nine-time gold medalist Olympian Carl Lewis deals with controversy in New Jersey senate campaign

Carl Lewis, Olympic superman and persistent headline magnet, is walking around a senior community in Hainesport, N.J., knocking on doors, telling sleepy residents why he wants a $49,000 per year job as their state senator. He is walking fast, because that’s how Lewis rolls. By his campaign manager’s estimate, Lewis already has knocked on 1500 doors in 18 of the 20 towns in District 8, and will hit the last two before the November election.

The chip in his shoe and a pedometer in his pocket keep track of his mileage, but don’t log all the disputes. This is Lewis, after all, and so the storms develop quickly – the way they did while the brash athlete was collecting nine Olympic gold medals in sprints, relays and long jump, holding off the likes of Ben Johnson and Mike Powell during the Wild West era of steroid suspicion.  (Bondy, New York Daily News)



Poll: School reforms backed

Most New Jersey residents support education reforms proposed by Gov. Chris Christie, including tenure reform and school voucher programs, the latest Monmouth University/NJ Press Media poll has found.

The public also supports some form of merit pay for educators based on student performance, but is uncertain that current state tests are the best way to determine that.

Thirty-eight percent of New Jerseyans say teachers are paid too little, while 15 percent say they are paid too much. Forty-one percent believe they are paid about the right amount for the job they do. These figures are very similar to the results of a state poll conducted in 1992. 

Christie wants teacher salaries to be based on student performance and classroom evaluations, rather than a teacher’s years of experience and academic credentials.  (Mikle, Gannett)



Two-day housing meeting scheduled in Atlantic City

The 2011 New Jersey Governor’s Conference for Housing and Community Development is scheduled for Sept. 20-21 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

“The theme of this year’s conference, ‘Blueprints for the Future,’ is designed to inspire attendees to achieve success in today’s challenging housing market,” state Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Lori Grifa said. “And, for the first time, we are focusing our efforts on economic development topics that are inextricably linked to housing, community development and neighborhood revitalization.”

Workshops will address trends in housing and economic development, including: credit and finance; supportive housing; housing resources; property management; and future planning.  (Staff, Gannett)



Hurricane Irene price gouging warning issued by NJ Attorney General

Attorney General Paula T. Dow and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs warned gasoline retailers, grocers, and other merchants that price gouging is prohibited during the State of Emergency declared in advance of Hurricane Irene.

Dow and Thomas R. Calcagni, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, reminded retailers that the State of Emergency declared by Gov. Chris Christie automatically activated New Jersey’s price gouging law. The law makes it illegal to sell merchandise at excessive price increases during a state of emergency or within 30 days of the termination of the state of emergency.

“During life-threatening emergencies like this, New Jerseyans should be looking out for each other — not looking to scam each other,” Dow said. “We will look closely at every complaint about alleged price gouging. Anyone found to be violating the law will face significant penalties.”  (Staff, Gannett)



N.J. damages in ‘billions’ as state is inundated

New Jersey emerged from Hurricane Irene with less damage to its famous ocean shore than expected, but the state suffered extensive flood damage along swollen inland rivers.

Gov. Chris Christie said the economic toll from the storm could reach the “billions.” More than 930,000 households, businesses and buildings were without power as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

Authorities said the storm claimed the life of a 20-year-old Quinton, N.J., woman who died after a flash flood swept her car off the road early Sunday morning in Pilesgrove. She called 911 after 1 a.m., saying water was over her car and coming inside, authorities said. But when rescuers arrived, they found no sign of the car.  (Fleisher and Banjo, The Wall Street Journal)



Hurricane Irene an economic blow or boost?

The power outages and shuttered airports may stop the engines of commerce for several days, but Hurricane Irene might have provided some short-term economic stimulus as billions of dollars will likely be spent to repair the damage to the East Coast over the weekend.

Cumberland Advisors Chairman David Kotok saw the storm as likely jolting employment in construction, an industry paralyzed by the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008.

“We are now upping our estimate of fourth-quarter GDP in the U.S. economy,” he said in an email Sunday. “Billions will be spent on rebuilding and recovery. That will put some people back to work, at least temporarily.”  (Boak, POLITICO)



Politicians push to stay out in front of events

As Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast, governors, mayors and President Barack Obama made sure they were seen driving disaster preparations. They were spurred not only by the need to ensure public safety, but by the lessons of Hurricane Katrina six years ago and of lackluster responses to more recent natural disasters.

Mr. Obama, facing the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since he took office, made an unannounced visit to the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington on Saturday and sat in on a daily video conference call. The personal touch carried little operational value, but Katrina has set a new standard for elected officials.  (Lee, The Wall Street Journal)



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Internet wagering bill introduced

Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, is again trying to win approval for  internet wagering at Atlantic City casinos.

When his earlier attempt drew a gubernatorial veto in March, he said the state left essentially $35 million in possible revenue on the table.

Lesniak this week introduced S3019, which among other things would permit internet betting of all games that can be played at a casino; provide that the equipment involved be in a restricted area of the casino inaccessible to the public; mandate that a bettor be physically present in the state; and the facility conducting the wagering must be able to verify that presence.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



  Morning News Digest: August 29, 2011