Morning News Digest: Thursday, September 22, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Linker ends his conservative bid for the U.S. Senate
Ian Linker, the Bergen attorney who earlier this year announced his 2012 candidacy for the United States Senate, is exiting the contest to confront a family health issue.
“I launched my campaign for the U.S. Senate because America is on an unsustainable course,” said Linker in a statement. “And for the future of our country I could not sit idly by and allow politicians to destroy the last best hope for freedom on earth. Without bold, principled leadership in Washington, America could become, in the not-too-distant future, a second-rate power along the lines of a half dozen European countries now facing severe crises. Career politicians more concerned about their own re-election have failed to solve our problems and have in many cases actually caused them. They have brought America to the brink.
“My family inspired me to run for the U.S. Senate. Now, I must exit this race for them as well.”
Linker said his wife eight years ago received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
In LD38, against backdrop of flood relief debate, Gordon hits the Tea Party alarm bell
A day after eating a tough luck headline about a Democrat changing party affiliation and backing 38th District Republicans, state Sen. Robert Gordon, (D-38), Fair Lawn, and his team went on offense.
At issue is opponent Bergen County Freeholder Chairman John Driscoll, who’s GOP Primary challenge in particular had him enaged on the rightward flank of his party.
Gordon said it’s too far right, as far as he’s concerned, adopting in this battleground contest what has become a common Democratic Party attack line in races statewide and the second time the senator has hit the Tea Party alarm: highlighting the Republican Party’s Tea Party problem.
Driscoll Campaign Manager Edith Jorge said the Democrats are desperately fixating on the Tea Party, noting that Driscoll defeated a Tea Party challenger just three months ago.
“In the primary he wasn’t Republican enough and in the general he’s not liberal enough,” Jorge told PolitickerNJ.com. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Expert: neither side talking about property taxes
Democrats today reveled in hearing Gov. Chris Christie talk about ethics, unleashing a barrage of press releases that hounded the GOP governor on the economy and highlighted the marority party’s latest round of pro-business bills.
“With New Jersey’s unemployment at 9.4 percent and residents still reeling from the Christie property tax hikes, the governor’s performance today shows how out-of-touch he truly is with working class New Jersey,” said Democratic Assembly spokesman Tom Hester, Jr.
The majority party has succeeded in at least one regard, according to one expert, who says Christie’s ethics reform redo is a counter-offensive to the Democrats’ criticism of his appearance at the Koch Brothers convention.
In short, the governor’s not talking about property taxes, which is the chief issue in New Jersey, said Patrick Murray, professor of political science and pollster with Monmouth University.
The trouble is the Democrats aren’t either, he added. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie, Daniels to share ideas, stage
Gov. Chris Christie will share a stage today with another Republican governor mentioned as a possible presidential contender who also insists he won’t run against President Barack Obama in 2012.
Christie will host Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels at Rider University in Lawrence. Daniels is on tour to tout his new book, but Christie won’t need to hurry to read it, since he’s using much of Daniels’ political playbook.
Daniels, elected in 2004, just passed a series of teacher tenure reforms, much like those Christie is proposing. Daniels has already dramatically introduced enough competition in education that some public schools are now advertising on billboards.
Before that, Daniels passed a law that limited public workers’ collective bargaining rights and dramatically slashed the state budget.
Brian Howey, editor of the Howey Political Report in Indiana, said the two governors seem to be working together.
“I’m sure there’s a flow of information,” Howey said. “There’s a lot of respect. I’ve heard (Daniels) talk much about Christie favorably, so I’m not surprised they’re hooking up.” (Method, Gannett)
Christie hammers home ethics reforms in town hall
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie roused the crowd Wednesday at his second town hall event of the week to push his stalled year-old package of bills to strengthen the state’s ethics laws.
“It seems like a ban on dual-office holding and two public salaries, we can all agree on that, right? It’s not a Republican or Democratic issue. We should all be able to come together and say it’s wrong,” Christie told the crowd packed into a senior center in Sayreville, as two local priests looked on from the front row.
After all, who doesn’t want more ethics?
“Not even a hearing — they acted as if it’s not even there,” the governor said of the Democratic leaders in the Legislature. “What that tells me that they again don’t want to tell you what’s going on.”
But while the concepts seem simple — lawmakers should only be able to hold one elected office, should only get paid for one public job, and should disclose their conflicts of interest and as much information as about their finances as the Executive Branch — Democrats say the bills are an oversimplified smokescreen brought back around by the governor as an election nears. (DeFalco, Associated Press)
Gov. Chris Christie’s shadow falls over state Senate, Assembly races
Republican Gov. Chris Christie isn’t up for re-election until 2013, but his agenda is what candidates for all 120 seats of the state Senate and Assembly are talking about.
Christie’s actions on state taxes and spending have fueled campaign disagreements over budget priorities. Changes to pensions and health benefits that the governor negotiated with Democratic leaders have put those Democrats on the defensive against angry unions.
And in Atlantic County’s 2nd District, Christie’s criticism of abuses of government salaries, pensions and contracts has set the stage for negative charges in the state Senate campaign.
“I think the big issue in the state elections is Chris Christie, his handling of the economy and the state budget,” said Brigid Harrison, political science professor at Montclair State University.
Mid-term elections are often tests of a president’s or governor’s popularity. But Christie’s influence on the election goes deeper. The plain-spoken governor is a larger-than-life figure in New Jersey politics. His every move is covered and amplified by the state and national media. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Gov. Christie promotes ethics reform, gives flood victims hope
Flood-weary residents in the borough and in Monroe took the opportunity to bring their plight to Gov. Chris Christie’s attention at Wednesday’s town hall meeting.
“I feel homeless, I feel tired, I feel hungry, I feel aggravated,” said Nicole Sosnowski, whose home on Tyndale Avenue in Monroe is among those that was left uninhabitable after Hurricane Irene. “At least the governor listens and is interested. He knows our situation now and hopefully he will help us get some answers, so I won’t have to take my 11-year old daughter and 74-year-old mom from couch to couch and place to place.”
Hundreds of people packed the Sayreville Senior Center for the town hall meeting, during which Christie scolded state lawmakers for failing to move forward on a series of ethics reform proposals announced last year. He also gave residents a chance to grill him on issues that concern them.
Christie outlined a series of bills he supports that would require lawmakers to disclose more of their personal financial information and ban politicians from holding multiple offices. The bills also would prevent public officials convicted of crimes in office from receiving pensions. He also wants to close pay-to-play loopholes and fine-tune conflict-of-interest standards. (Loyer, Gannett)
Disaster aid bill fails in House, Democrats ask for larger proposal
The fate of disaster aid in Congress became murkier Wednesday after the House rejected a temporary budget that Democrats complained provided too little money for Hurricane Irene’s victims and conservatives said spent too much overall.
Democrats tried unsuccessfully to get the House to provide $6.9 billion for disaster relief – with no cuts to other spending – in the seven-week temporary budget designed to keep the government operating after the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
That $6.9 billion funding passed the Senate last week with bipartisan support. But the House measure provided $3.7 billion, and partially paid for it by eliminating $1.5 billion from a grant program for energy-efficient automobile manufacturing.
That measure was defeated in a 195-230 vote, with 48 Republicans joining all but six Democrats in opposing the bill.
New Jersey’s delegation voted largely along party lines: Six Republicans voted “yes” while six Democrats voted “no.” Rep. Donald Payne, D-Newark, did not vote. (Jackson, The Record)
N.J. using little of tobacco tax for prevention, report says
New Jersey raised $750 million last year from taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, but it spent only $1.5 million on antismoking programs, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Cancer Society.
Health advocates on Wednesday called on Gov. Christie and the Legislature to direct at least a dime of each dollar the state collects in tobacco taxes to programs aimed at reducing youth smoking and helping tobacco users quit.
The money is there. The smokers are paying the money,” said Howard Levite, a medical director at the Heart Institute of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic County.
“It isn’t defensible to take all that money and then say . . . ‘If you can’t quit, too bad,’ ” Levite said. “The state has a moral obligation to ensure these programs are adequately funded.”
Of the $5 billion in tobacco-related revenue received by the Garden State in the last five years, less than 1 percent was spent on tobacco control, according to the report, titled “Up in Smoke.” (Rao, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Smith urges Senate to pass autism bill
The Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass bipartisan legislation that would extend federal autism research programs for the next three years, Rep. Chris Smith said Wednesday.
The Hamilton, Mercer County, Republican’s comments were directed at a small group of conservative senators — led by GOP Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — who are blocking an autism bill sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.
Smith, co-author of an identical measure that passed the House unanimously Tuesday, said a prolonged holdup in the Senate would slow research into the developmental brain disorder.
“There is very suggestive research as to what the genetic factors might be, what (are) the environmental factors,” Smith said. “But more research needs to be done … and the sooner the better.”
Autism is thought to affect about 1.5 million people in the United States. New Jersey has the highest prevalence rate — 1 in 94 residents — but scientists aren’t sure why.
DeMint and Coburn have holds on the bill. A hold is a procedural roadblock that allows a senator to block any bill from advancing for any reason. (Chebium, Gannett)
State assemblyman’s poll finds support for repeal of new-driver decal law
A state assemblyman said Wednesday that an online survey he conducted found widespread noncompliance with the law requiring new drivers to display red decals on their cars and strong support for the law’s repeal.
Assemblyman Robert Schroeder, R-Bergen, said 86 percent of respondents to his survey said it was important or very important to change the law requiring the decals to be placed on license plates when new drivers are behind the wheel.
He said there was more support for other provisions in New Jersey’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program, such as limits on the hours in which new drivers can drive and the number of passengers allowed in the car. But only 21 percent of young drivers said they always or often complied with the decal law. Sixty-three percent said they never do, and another 7 percent said they rarely use the decals, Schroeder said.
Reasons cited for noncompliance included fear of being targeted by stalkers or someone who would harm the young driver and fear of being profiled for enforcement by police. (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
Conservative N.J. Sen. Michael Doherty endorses Ron Paul for president
State Sen. Michael J. Doherty (R-Warren), one of New Jersey’s strongest conservatives, is preparing to publicly endorse U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday in Trenton.
Paul will appear with Doherty at a press conference set for noon on the Statehouse steps.
“Now more than ever, the United States needs a leader who respects the Constitution and who will return liberty and prosperity to the American people,” Doherty said. “We need a leader who will use our military only when it is absolutely necessary to defend the national security interests of the United States, and who will stop engaging our military in wasteful and unconstitutional nation building exercises.
“We need a leader who will stand up to the Federal Reserve to stop the destruction of the dollar, and to protect savers, retirees and the middle class” Doherty added. “We need a leader who recognizes that there can be no liberty and freedom unless we respect private property rights. There is only one candidate for president who meets that description. His name is Ron Paul, and it is my great honor and privilege to endorse him for president of the United States.” (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
N.J. schools fulfill mandate to teach financial literacy
Millions of American adults are learning the lessons of their financial mistakes as the current recession lumbers on.
So are their kids.
The 2011-12 school year is the first in which New Jersey public schools are required to administer personal finance courses, part of the legacy of former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, previously CEO of Goldman Sachs. The global financial crisis spurred schools to develop curricula voluntarily, well before it was required by state law.
“We already had it in place. Now we just make sure it’s aligned with state requirements,” said Kevin Kitchenman, superintendent of West Deptford Public Schools.
West Deptford High School has offered personal finance classes as an elective for at least three years. This year’s freshman class will be the first required to fulfill 2.5 credits in financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy in order to graduate. Washington Township High School has taken the further step of offering a full-year course, as opposed to a half-year class. (Roh, Gannett)
State Red Tape Review Commission heard plenty of sticking points in Atlantic City
The harassed, the confused and the anxious met with the people they thought could help them out of a morass of government regulations Wednesday afternoon.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s Red Tape Review Commission met in Atlantic City, listening as about a dozen business owners complained about the ways government hindered them.
Complaints voiced at the Carnegie Library Center of Richard Stockton College ranged from persistent criticism that the state Department of Environmental Protection is slow and bureaucratic to specific instances in which people complained that government seemed like it could not get out of its own way.
The commission was created last year as part of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign promise to take on unnecessary regulations that hinder business development. It was the commission’s first local meeting, following a number of meetings elsewhere in the state.
Daniel Maloney, who co-owns Atlantic City’s Ocean Breeze Realty, said that when government regulators from the New Jersey Real Estate Commission changed the way he renewed his real estate license, his license lapsed. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
Newark schools state to put $100 million gift to work
A year ago, the announcement of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark public schools was held in a hotel ballroom, replete with TV cameras and visiting dignitaries.
Yesterday, its one-year anniversary was celebrated in the cramped library of a Newark elementary school — sans Zuckerberg and many of the other visitors.
The century-old setting reflects the hard realities of Newark, and all the good the gift could bring.
There have already been some accomplishments to mark. The first $7.4 million of the money is going out, the latest for a $600,000 innovative teacher fund that will offer $10,000 grants to individual teachers. A local foundation is in place to manage the funds, and the required matching contributions now total $47 million. And there has been no shortage of pledges to transparency and community involvement.
“I really have a great confidence that this will start a great year, two years, three and four for the benefit of the children and families of our city,” said Mayor Cory Booker, who initially attracted the gift in a meeting with Zuckerberg and has been its biggest cheerleader since. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
New Jersey in top 20 for bad air days
Did you feel a little short of breath last summer? You’re not the only one.
Four New Jersey metropolitan areas — from the Philadelphia suburbs to the state capital and over to the Shore — had enough unhealthy smog days in 2010 to land in the top 20 among American regions with the worst air pollution, according to a new study released Wednesday by the group Environment New Jersey.
“Smog leads to more asthma attacks and difficulty breathing,” said Megan Fitzpatrick of Environment New Jersey, who presented the findings at a news conference in Lakewood.
“This report shows clean air and clean water are not just tree-hugger issues. They are real issues for real people,” said Greg Auriemma of the Sierra Club.
Synthesized from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, the report shows that southern California cities still reign supreme when it comes to having bad air days, followed by Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (Moore, Gannett)
Solar gains in N.J.
For the first time, California no longer reigns as the U.S. state with the largest commercial solar market, and it’s lost that spot to New Jersey, according to a new report on the booming solar industry.
The commercial solar market in New Jersey jumped 170 percent from the first quarter of this year to the second quarter, said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. As a result, New Jersey’s photovoltaic (PV) installations now account for 24 percent of all those in the U.S. — up from 15 percent at the end of March.
The administration of Gov. Chris Christie termed New Jersey’s statistics as good news.
Overall, California still maintains a lead in power produced from solar, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, but the Garden State’s progress is notable.
“This is one of those things where I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” Tittel said. (Koch and Schoonejongen, Gannett)
New Jersey natural gas customers will pay less to stay warm this winter
Natural gas customers in New Jersey will see some welcome drops in their energy bills this winter—even after absorbing increases to pay for accelerated expenditures to upgrade their pipelines and infrastructure to jumpstart the economy.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) yesterday approved new tariffs for the four gas distribution utilities, all of which will lower costs for their customers this winter because of a continuing decline in wholesale gas prices.
The declines are largely a result of expectations that discoveries of new untapped natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale formations in the Northeast will prolong a drop in prices of the fuel. Besides heating a majority of homes in the state, natural gas is also a big source of producing electricity.
“It is largely the result in the drop in wholesale prices of natural gas,” said Jerry May, director of the Division of Energy at the BPU. “The trend is one of stabilization and the continued reduction in the price of natural gas.” (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
State seeks to set low ceiling on long-term price of solar energy
The state is proposing a steep cut in the top price power suppliers must pay to comply with mandates to promote the development of solar energy, a move advocated by the Christie administration in its draft Energy Master Plan (EMP).
In a step anxiously awaited by the industry, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) yesterday proposed a 15-year price schedule, which essentially establishes the ceiling of what it could cost suppliers who are required to buy an ever increasing amount of their electricity from solar installations.
The schedule lays out what suppliers must pay in so-called solar alternative compliance payments (SACPs) if they fail to meet the state’s solar requirements by the other option available to them–purchasing certificates from owners of solar installations for the electricity their systems generate.
Since ratepayers ultimately pay the cost of both SACP payments and solar certificates, it is important to consumers and the industry that the state agency establish a payment price that is reasonable and balanced. Making the decision more problematic is the fact that under state law, the agency cannot adjust the SACP downward, once it establishes the payment schedule. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Irene cost DRPA more than $800G
Irene is history, but the Delaware River Port Authority is still smarting from lost bridge tolls and overtime that resulted from the late August hurricane.
While Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm, she still cost the bistate authority $848,000 in emergency worker overtime and lost revenues from drivers who avoided the authority’s four bridges and PATCO Hi-Speedline.
“The good news is no one was hurt. But we can’t make that money back,” said CEO John J. Matheussen at a DRPA board meeting Wednesday on the Camden waterfront.
After coping with an earthquake and a tropical storm, DRPA was put on high alert by the FBI the weekend of 9/11, the 10th anniversary of America’s worst terrorist attack.
Security was a major item at the board meeting. Matheussen informed members of a $6.7 million federal Homeland Security grant the authority has targeted to train DRPA police in proactive terrorist recognition tactics and in tunnel and underground evacuation practices in the event of a PATCO attack. The money also can be used to purchase a fully-equipped mobile command vehicle and to continue paying for the “See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign. (Stilwell, Gannett)
Corbett to release $15 million to continue deepening of Delaware River shipping canal
To continue the 103-mile deepening of the Delaware River shipping channel, Gov. Corbett announced Wednesday that Pennsylvania would immediately release $15 million to dredge the next four- to five-mile stretch of the river.
As the project’s local sponsor, Pennsylvania footed the $30 million cost of deepening to 45 feet, from 40 feet, the first 13-mile section of channel last year.
The federal government, which is supposed to pay two-thirds of the $300 million tab, has to date ponied up about $4 million for construction.
Now a push is under way to coordinate Pennsylvania and Delaware congressional leaders, the business community, and port interests to persuade the Army Corps of Engineers to “reprogram” unallocated funds from the corps’ budget.
Appeals have also gone to Vice President Biden, who is from Delaware.
In a new development, Delaware, which originally sued to block the deepening, now publicly supports it to accommodate larger ships and commerce that will come to the East Coast from Asia after the Panama Canal is expanded in 2014. (Lloyd, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Port Authority plans WTC bond change
In a move to avert a work stoppage on a new World Trade Center office tower, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is planning to back down in a monthslong financial dispute with its bond investors, people familiar with the agency’s plans said.
Port Authority officials intend to restructure a planned financing package for 4 World Trade Center in order to address the concerns of existing Port Authority bondholders who blocked the $1.37 billion effort in the spring, the people said.
The new structure will likely cost tens of millions of dollars more than the previous one, although municipal bond rates have improved significantly since April, when the bonds were initially slated for a sale.
The change in structure is still in early stages. It needs approval from the agency’s board, it hasn’t yet been presented to ratings agencies, and the bond investors who were holding up the sale have yet to be informed of a final decision. A Port Authority spokesman declined to comment. (Brown, The Wall Street Journal)
Census provides overview of S.J.
New economic data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show the tri-county region remained on par with state averages between 2006 and 2010.
Statewide, the estimated population of working-age residents 16 and over grew from 6.8 million in 2006 to nearly 7 million four years later, while unemployment rose 3 percentage points, from 4.1 percent to 7.2 percent.
There’s a disparity, however, between unemployment numbers kept by the state and figures estimated by the Census. Figures from the latter show that between 2006 and 2010, unemployment in Gloucester County rose 4 points, from 3.7 to 7.7 percent. Camden County unemployment went from 4.7 to 9 percent, while Burlington County saw the smallest increase, from 3.9 to 6 percent.
State Department of Labor numbers tell a different story, with 2010 unemployment averages in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties at 9, 10 and 10.6 percent, respectively. (Staff, Gannett)
Median incomes dip with recession
Dave Kelly has devised an exit strategy in case the struggling economy pulls him under: move his wife, himself and his 16-year-old son to his elderly parents’ home in Florida.
The 50-year-old roofer still has steady work, but the fear of a loss of income makes him think: What if?
“It’s all planned out,” he said, appearing to view the prospect of buying the home from his parents with more anticipation than dread. “If there wasn’t government work, I’d be out of a job.”
His neighbors in Hillsborough are feeling the soft economic times more acutely.
“I’d say in every third or fourth home in my neighborhood someone is out of work,” Kelly said as he got ready to start work in Somerville.
The U.S. Census Bureau released figures Thursday that mirrored the national economic picture revealed last week: falling median incomes and rising poverty that economists say are tied to the poor job market. (Serrano, Gannett)
Latest from State Street Wire
Health care coverage bill slated for hearing
Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, is seeking to restore health care coverage to a group of adults that he said were excluded during the budget process earlier this year.
Vitale’s bill, S3038, which would restore subsidized coverage to approximately 1,200 adults, will be heard Thursday in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Medicaid waiver family-planning exclusion angers Weinberg, Sweeney
Earlier this month, opponents of the administration’s planned Medicaid waiver application were heartened when it was learned Gov. Christie had scrapped some controversial elements of the proposal.
But today Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, and Sen. Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck, were angry upon learning the waiver application submitted this month excludes family planning language. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Committee approves $15M for Gateway Tunnel
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said on Wednesday that the Senate Appropriations Committee, of which he is a member, has approved at least $15 million for Amtrak to begin design and engineering work on the Gateway Tunnel project.
“When Governor Christie cancelled the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) tunnel last year, New Jersey was thrown into a transportation crisis with no solution to meet our state’s growing transit needs and to break the gridlock on our congested highways,” Lautenberg said in a statement. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Buono bill would require insurers to provide consumers with buyer’s guide
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, a senator has introduced legislation that would require insurers to develop for consumers a “homeowners insurance buyers guide’’ to provide clear policy details.
Senator Barbara Buono, (D-18), Metuchen, said in a release she put forth the proposal because of homeowner confusion after the hurricane about what property damage was covered. (Staff, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Poll shows Romney opening up 27-point lead over nearest rival in Granite country
A Suffolk University/7 NEWS (WHDH TV) Poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney surging among likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a distant fourth.
Romney has opened up a 27-point lead over his nearest rival in New Hampshire.
Garnering 41%, Romney gained 5 points since June, followed by Ron Paul (14 percent), and Jon Huntsman (10 percent). (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Weinberg hits back at Christie
Today on the Governor David Paterson show, state Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37) said Gov. Chris Christie “has a problem with women legislators.”
Weinberg’s comments were in response to Christie fighting against legislation Weinberg supports that would require the Governor to report his out-of-state activites prior to taking leave of New Jersey. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Considerations
Another redistricting process is upon us. Earlier this year, a state commission approved a new map for New Jersey’s legislature that emphasized incumbent protection. This map ensures that no more than one or two seats in either chamber will change parties this November and all but guarantees that Democrats will control the legislature throughout the decade.
Now the state’s Congressional districts are on the table. The Congressional redistricting commission – comprised of six Democrats, six Republicans and an independent chair chosen by the other 12 members – holds the first of at least three public hearings today. (Murray, PolitickerNJ)
Special session on ethics will have to wait
Democrats who rule the Legislature should return to Trenton to consider some of Governor Christie’s plans to strengthen ethics standards for lawmakers and public officials.
But they won’t, and he knows it. That’s why he’s mocking and goading the Democrats right on their home turf, effectively calling them laggards, hypocrites and cowards on tightening New Jersey squishy ethics standards. He traveled to blue-collar Sayreville on Wednesday, and quickly and repeatedly called out hometown Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who also doubles as the state Democratic Party chairman. (Stile, The Record)
If school oversight is not Chris Christie’s job, whose job is it?
When did we elect Freddie Prinze governor of New Jersey?
Prinze, you may recall, was a comedian who became famous for his signature line “It’s not my job” back when he starred in the TV series “Chico and the Man.”
Gov. Christie used a variation on that line at a town hall meeting Monday. When he was asked about the arrest of the president of the Elizabeth school board and two others on charges of falsely enrolling their children in the federal school-lunch program, Christie responded, “It is not my position to be judging that as governor.” (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)
Christie heats up tea with big oil pals
The truth is out.
Chris Christie is being actively courted by Tea Party financiers David and Charles Koch, having met with the billionaire oil barons at least twice since the beginning of 2011. Mother Jones magazine recently released audio from a closed-doors meeting held in Vail, Colorado this past June wherein David Koch, introducing Christie as the keynote speaker, tells the audience that he and Christie had a two-hour meeting in his office “five months ago” where they addressed everything that was wrong with the Garden State. (Stewart, The Record)