Morning News Digest: September 23, 2011

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Morning News Digest: Friday, September 23, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

Try State Street Wire, Follow PolitickerNJ on Twitter and Facebook. Text “PNJ” to 89800 to receive alerts 


Christie said he’s been the most accessible governor in recent memory

Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday dismissed the accusation by Democrats that he is being inaccessible by holding town hall meetings during the day, when most people are at work.

He said he doesn’t have any plans of holding them at night, adding that he’s been more available to the public than prior governors.

“I don’t think there’s a governor who’s made himself more available,” he said. “How many town halls did Jon Corzine do?”

He also disagreed with an observation in a recent media report that his town hall meetings are homogenous and are solely packed with supporters.

“I don’t think there’s any lack of diversity at the meetings.”

He called the stacked accusation made yesterday by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), of Sayreville, “crazy,” saying there would not be any Youtube moments if they were.  (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)



Christie continues to hammer teachers union 

Gov. Chris Christie continued his normally combative tone toward the teachers union today when asked during a Rider University event with Gov. Mitch Daniels about repairing the relationship with the educators before continuing on with his plans for education reform.

Christie said his attitude toward the union hasn’t changed since he first entered the race for governor.

“I’m willing to repair a relationship that is willing to be productive,” said Christie at the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. “But my position regarding the teachers union has been the same form the time I got into the race until today.  When they are ready to come forward and be participants in meaningful reform that will improve especially urban educational opportunities for our kids then I will sit at the table with them anytime.  If they want to continue to pass on to me warmed over protections of the failed status quo then they can continue to stand outside my office and look in the window.”  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Govs. Christie, Cuomo had dinner together one week before Port Authority announced toll hikes

Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York had dinner a week before the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which they jointly control, announced a steep increase in tolls to cross the Hudson River, according to information posted on New York State government website today.

Christie and Cuomo have both denied knowing about the toll increases until a few days before the Port Authority publicly unveiled its proposal.

The dinner meeting, at the Beacon Restaurant in Manhattan, became public when Cuomo released detailed copies of his schedule for the first eight months in office on a new site intended increase government transparency.

The sharply higher toll increases were announced on Aug. 5, and at the time Christie issued a statement critical of the large rise. He later said he was shocked by the proposal and had only learned of it on Aug. 3.  (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)



Christie, Cuomo order audit of Port Authority

A wide ranging audit of the Port Authority ordered by the governors of New York and New Jersey will zero in on employee compensation and why costs are rising to rebuild the World Trade Center, officials said Thursday.

The audit, to be completed within 90 days, will also re-prioritize future construction to limit money-losing projects and identify new revenue sources besides the region’s residents and businesses, the agency’s chairman of commissioners said.

“We’re in a different place as an agency,” Chairman David Samson said after the commissioners’ first public meeting since the largest-ever toll hikes went into effect on Sunday. “We’ve got decreased revenues. We’ve got increased operating expenses. Both governors directed us, challenged us, to look at ways of approaching our business in different ways, being more creative than we have been in the past.”

The bi-state agency’s $2.5 billion operating budget has remained flat for three years, but its top management are among the region’s highest-paid public employees. According to payroll records, more than 60 have base salaries above Chris Christie’s $175,000 salary — the benchmark he used to limit school superintendent pay.  (Boburg, The Record)



Gov. Christie announces $195,000 grant for program that helps veterans get construction jobs

A program that connects military veterans with construction jobs is getting a boost from a state grant.

Gov. Chris Christie, who has faced criticism from Democrats who say he hasn’t done enough to create jobs in the state, announced the $195,000 grant today.

The money will help the organization Helmets to Hardhats fund outreach efforts like job fairs.

“A lot of times when veterans come back they’re a bit at a loss about what to do next,” Christie said. “Part of what we’re trying to do is reach out and show they have a real option here in the building trades.”

William Mullen, head of the state Building Trades Council, said 275 veterans have started apprenticeships in the last four years thanks to the program. Although Christie has clashed with public sector unions, Mullen was complimentary of the governor’s efforts to help construction workers, who face unemployment rates more than twice the state average.  (Megerian, The Star-Ledger)



Spokesman: Christie cancels appearance before Connecticut hedge fund group

Despite reports to the contrary, Governor Christie isn’t speaking at a conference of hedge fund managers Friday, spokesman Michael Drewniak said.

According to the Global Alpha Forum, a conference sponsored by the Connecticut Hedge Fund Association, Christie was scheduled to give a keynote address titled “Education in the Community” on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. in Greenwick, Conn.

“The governor is not doing a speech in Connecticut tomorrow,” Drewniak said in an e-mail when contacted about the discrepancy.

Christie canceled his appearance at the event to attend a funeral on Friday, Drewniak said.

After a report surfaced earlier this month that Christie spoke to a group of conservative donors in Colorado without notifying the public, the governor’s schedule has become a hot topic.

Christie has contended repeatedly that he doesn’t need notify the public when he leaves the state. He said each time he leaves he tells Lt. Gov. Kim Gaudagno, but only if he goes overnight does he need to tell anyone else, including Democrats Senate President Stephen Sweeny (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver (D-Essex).  (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)



Gov. Christie offers to give $5M to ease sale of Hoboken University Medical Center

Gov. Chris Christie today said he would pledge $5 million in state funds to jump start bankrupcty negotiations key to the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center to the ownership group of Bayonne Medical Center.

Christie’s announcement came less than 24 hours after the talks nearly collapsed and Hoboken City Council shot down a proposal to issue $5 million in bonds to help entice reluctant creditors to settle with the hospital. Minutes after that vote, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said hospital would surely close.

“It is completely unacceptable that the city council placed local politics ahead of the 1,300 employees at the Hoboken University Medical Center and the people in the community who rely on the critical services provided by this hospital,” Christie said in a statement.

It’s the second time Christie has committed state dollars to the deal. He supported an $11 million earmark in the current budget for the city to pay the interest on $52 million of debt that would be retired as part of the sale.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Christie, Indiana governor talk politics at college forum

Introduced as a “dynamic duo,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took to a college stage on Thursday and answered questions about what they are not doing: running for president.

Although they aren’t running, the two Republicans are seen as cutting-edge leaders on an issue important to their base — reducing government spending. They offered advice along the same lines to the current field of candidates: Reduce the spin and tell it like it is — something both men said they weren’t seeing enough of.

Christie, 49, said the popularity he and Daniels were receiving had nothing to do with their good looks.

“We’re not talking about, on our side or any of the folks, these things in a forthright way,” Christie said. “They’re dancing around on other stuff and just trying to get four or five sound bites.”

Daniels, 62, said he worries that the GOP nominee will “play it safe” as a default option to President Barack Obama.

“My one question right now is, who will step out a little more with specifics and speak a little more boldly both about the urgency of our national situation and the best set of answers as they see it to address these problems,” Daniels said later.  (DeFalco, The Associated Press)



Aim to save seniority, congressional redistricting panel told

There was far more talk of minimizing turnover than encouraging competitive races Thursday at a public hearing of the commission in charge of redrawing New Jersey’s congressional districts.

The commission, in charge of redrawing the state’s congressional districts, took testimony for the first time this year in a mostly empty theater on the Rutgers University campus.

A common theme — voiced by the three Democratic elected officials as well as the one political scientist who spoke — was that the commission ought to make continuity a goal.

The state’s loss of a seat in the House of Representatives, from 13 to 12 as a result of population shifts to states in the South and West, makes that trickier because two incumbents must wind up in the same district.

But that loss also makes continuity more important, said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski of Middlesex County, the Democratic Party state chairman.  (Symons, Gannett)



Wild fluctuations mark past decade of N.J. political fundraising

For state legislative candidates and political parties, the first half of the last decade was like the roaring 1920s in terms of contributions, according to a report released today by the state’s campaign finance watchdog.

By the end of the decade, politicians were suffering a “donor depression.”

“The past decade began like a lion and ended like a lamb in terms of fundraising for New Jersey legislative general election campaigns,” read the Election Law Enforcement Commission report, an analysis of the last 10 years of state legislative campaign contributions.

The turning point was 2005 – when the state instituted pay-to-play laws to limit public contractor’ contributions. Some of that money, however, was channeled into political action committees instead to bypass pay-to-play restrictions.

The decline was compounded when the recession hit a few years later.

“This was true despite the fact that fundraising soared to a record $51 million in the 2007 campaign. By 2009, with just the State Assembly running, fundraising dropped to $20 million, the lowest total since 1999.”  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Appeals court, in reversal, orders Carl Lewis’ name taken off the ballot

Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis’ bid for the New Jersey state Senate ended Thursday when a federal appeals court panel ordered the Democrat’s name removed from the ballot, reversing a decision it made last week.

Lewis, 50, of Medford, will not appeal the decision and will not seek another office this year, said his campaign manager, Chris Walker. Lewis will detail his plans at a news conference at Kings Grant Park in Evesham on Friday, Walker said.

“We feel like our attorneys . . . did all that they could do and presented the facts. It’s just unfortunate that all of the facts were not considered,” Walker said. “Carl is going to stay involved, he’s not going away. New Jersey is his home and he’s very passionate about education and health care.”

The decision ended a months-long legal battle that began as soon as Lewis, a Willingboro native, entered the Eighth Legislative District race in April.  (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)


N.J. flood recovery gains nearly $10M in federal grants

Officials on Thursday announced nearly $10 million in federal grants to aid New Jersey’s recovery from Hurricane Irene.

A $2 million grant to the New Jersey Department of Transportation will be used to reimburse the state for the cost of road repairs performed after the flooding, Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez said in a statement. The money is a “critical” first down payment on storm recovery, they said.

But exactly where the money will be allocated throughout the state is unclear.

I don’t have a breakdown of what the damage assessments are,” said Joe Dee, a state DOT spokesman.

The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development will use a separate $7.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to create 500 temporary jobs for people displaced by Hurricane Irene. The temporary workers will remove debris and clean and repair damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure, officials said.  (Bautistia and Gartland, The Record)



NJ Dems holding out for more disaster aid than last House bill

Democratic House members in New Jersey’s congressional delegation say they’re holding out for increased disaster-aid money to help their state fully recover from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and earlier storms.

That’s partly why Reps. Rob Andrews of Haddon Heights and Rush Holt of Hopewell Township say they voted against a funding bill that had $3.6 billion for the Federal Emergency Manangement Agency, of which $1 billion was to be released immediately.

The other aspect of the bill that irritated Democrats was the $1.5 billion in “offsets” Republicans sought in exchange for providing the disaster-relief package. Republicans proposed cutting a federal loan program aimed at boosting the production of fuel efficient cars in the U.S.

After that bill failed 195-230 — due to lack of support from virtually all House Democrats and nearly 50 tea party Republicans yesterday – House GOP leaders are bringing a new funding bill to the floor tonight. It’s unclear how much disaster aid the new bill will contain or whether GOP leaders will retain their “offset” proposal.  (Chebium, Gannett)



Menendez, Lautenberg announce $3.8M NJ Transit upgrades

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, has allocated nearly $3.8 million to upgrade public transportation infrastructure in three New Jersey communities, U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) said on Thursday.

The funds will provide NJ Transit with the necessary resources to purchase new clean-fuel buses, upgrade its existing vehicle fleet, renovate facilities for passenger safety and comfort, and preserve historic resources.

“New Jersey Transit operates the nation’s second-largest transit systems in terms of service miles,” said Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. “Every day, public transportation connects thousands of New Jerseyans to jobs, educational opportunities and vital services in a safe and reliable manner. Reinvestment in our existing transit infrastructure is a vital down payment in support of communities of lasting value — where businesses want to invest and where families want to live.”  (Staff, Gannett)



Time to get New Jersey’s teachers off the clock?

The recommendation is tucked deep into the report commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie, one of nearly 50 suggestions to ease the red tape tying up public schools.

But it may be one of the more significant or provocative recommendations made by the Education Transformation Task Force: rethink New Jersey’s decade-old requirement that its teachers rack up 100 hours of professional development every five years.

Headed by former state education commissioner David Hespe, the task force appointed with much fanfare by Christie earlier this year said it was time to move beyond “clock hours” in determining if teachers are getting enough professional development.

“The Department and the State Board should seek to amend this regulation to focus on student learning rather than on hours of professional seat-time,” the report read. “The goal should be on driving outputs, not mandating inputs.”

The report suggested more focus on teacher collaboration and support through “professional learning communities,” where teachers can learn from each other on a daily basis.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



It costs lots of money to run for state office in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties 

The 1st and 2nd districts in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties have produced some of the most expensive legislative election campaigns in state history, a report released Thursday by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission said.

That trend suggests another spending spree is imminent, as both parties have targeted the state Senate race in Atlantic County for money and resources. Stakes are high with the entire Legislature up for control this election.

A total of $12.85 million was spent in the 1st District covering all or parts of Atlantic, Cape, and Cumberland counties from 1999 to 2010, the commission said. In Atlantic County’s 2nd District, $12 million was spent during that period.

Only the 14th District in Mercer and Middlesex counties has had more expensive campaigns, with $14.3 million spent during that period.

One-year spending in the 1st District in 2007, at $5 million combined, and in the 2nd District in 2005, at $4.5 million, were among the top five most expensive legislative campaigns from 1999 to 2010, the commission said. The 2nd District’s 2007 election was the sixth-most expensive, costing $4.3 million,  the commission’s report said.  (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)



Senator retreats from remark

A lawmaker who had lashed out at New Jersey’s awarding of a $420,000 tax credit to the producers of “Jersey Shore” walked back from the comments Thursday, saying it was a mistake to get hung up on content.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, said the MTV hit show hasn’t cast New Jersey in a favorable light but — despite the “Snooki” subsidy — film and television production tax credits are a good way to boost the economy and create jobs, Sarlo said.

Sarlo led advancement of a bill to expand the tax credit program when the Senate panel he chairs voted Thursday along party lines to increase program funding from $10 million to $50 million a year.

Gov. Chris Christie suspended the program in 2010 to close a budget deficit. The “Jersey Shore” 2009 season still qualified for the money.  (Jordan, Gannett)|head



N.J. Sen. O’Toole urges Congress to implement 9-11 Commission recommendations

Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Passaic) announced Thursday that he will introduce a resolution urging Congress to adopt all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that was chaired by former Gov. Thomas Kean.

O’Toole said he is troubled published reports that Kean called attention to the failure of the federal government to adopt all of the recommendations of the 9/11 report. In particular, he is especially troubled by reports that legislation that would require first responder radio frequencies to be cleared during a crisis is stalled. Kean characterizes this legislation as a “no brainer.”

O’Toole said that according to the National Security Preparedness Group there are nine 9/11 Commission Recommendations that remain unfulfilled, including radio spectrum interoperability and universal standards for secure identifications.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Former Gov. Byrne to serve at Monmouth University

Former Gov. Brendan Byrne will serve as Monmouth University’s Public Servant in Residence during this academic year, the school announced.

Byrne will give guest lectures in classes and will host several talks on campus during the year.

MU President Paul G. Gaffney II said the former governor is a “remarkable communicator” who will inspire students with practical views on political issues.

“We also look forward to a good dose of his famous wit and humor,” said Gaffney in a release.

From 1974 to 1982, Byrne, a Democrat, served two terms as New Jersey’s 47th governor and maintains his proudest moment is the adoption of the Pinelands Protection Act, the law restricting development in some of the state’s protected regions.

As the state’s chief executive, Byrne also played a role in the development of the Meadowlands sports complex and Atlantic City’s casino-hotel industry.

Byrne is an Army veteran of World War II who entered college after the war, earning an undergraduate degree in international affairs from Princeton University and his law degree from Harvard.  (Williams, Gannett)



Anti-bullying measures mark NJ suicide anniversary

Does one second-grader saying another has “cooties” rise to the level of bullying? That is just one question emerging from new legislation prompted by the suicide of a Rutgers University student one year ago Thursday.

New Jersey’s anti-bullying laws were tightened following the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010. Prosecutors have said his roommate used a webcam to spy on Clementi’s same-sex liaison. He has been charged with bias intimidation and invasion of privacy.

Soon after Clementi’s suicide, the New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was passed and signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January. Advocates say it’s one of the toughest of its kind in the nation.

Earlier this week, state Attorney General Paula Dow distributed a set of instructions to school and law enforcement officials on how to comply with the law.  (The Associated Press)



Union City welcomes lieutenant governor for kickoff of Spanish-speaking helpline

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno yesterday helped kick off a Spanish-speaking helpline for at-risk young people between the ages of 10 and 24.

“Regardless of where you live or what your native tongue is, young people today are subject to cyber-bullying and other pressures that were unheard of a generation ago,” Guadagno said at the launch of the Spanish-speaking helpline run by the nonprofit group 2NDFLOOR at Union City High School.

“A bilingual helpline will allow young people who do not speak English, or those who prefer to speak in Spanish, to find support and comfort no matter what their problems are,” Guadagno added.

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who jumped from the George Washington Bridge after a roommate allegedly used a webcam to broadcast Clementi’s intimate encounter with another male.  (Staff, The Jersey Journal)



Exemption adds to Bergen pay-to-play discussion

An exemption that could be included in the proposed Bergen County pay-to-play ordinance is causing further debate.

The ordinance, which was most recently publicly discussed at the Sept. 7 freeholder meeting, would compel those who sign contracts with the county to submit a more thorough disclosure of campaign contributions than earlier versions did. But the latest version also would allow a significant number of county contracts to be exempt.

The exemption included in the revised pay-to-play ordinance states that the proposed regulations would “not apply to those contracts awarded pursuant to a fair and open process.” According to state law, a “fair and open” process includes at least several provisions

The process must include public advertisement in newspapers or on the entity’s website, with “sufficient time to give notice.” The contract process must also be publicly opened to bidding and publicly reported when awarded, according to State of New Jersey guidelines.  (Bonamo, Hackensack Chronicle)



Plug-in electric vehicles still in the slow lane

New Jersey is taking some small steps toward building a network of charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, joining 10 other states and the District of Columbia in the an effort to come up with a development plan.

The U.S. Department of Energy yesterday awarded nearly $1 million to jump start the venture. Officials hope it will eventually enable electric cars to drive from northern New England to Washington, D.C.

The initiative comes at a time when New Jersey has already made a tentative effort to build a network of charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles, which are expected to be rolled out by automakers in the coming months. While several bills providing incentives to build the stations at malls, rest areas, and other locations have been acted on by the legislature, none have been enacted into law.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



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Bergen Dems plan proposals to assist flood-damaged areas

In response to Congress’ slow pace of providing aid to flood-ravaged towns in New Jersey, Bergen lawmakers are proposing several measures.

Sen. Robert Gordon, and Assembly members Connie Wagner and Joan Voss, all 38th District Democrats, are proposing a “Green Acres”-style measure of the kind instituted by various local governments wherein municipalities would be allowed to establish municipal open space trust funds specifically for the purchase of flood-prone properties. In order to establish such a fund, local governing bodies would have to seek voter approval for an annual levy at a rate deemed appropriate.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



Christie’s office rebuts Sweeney on jobs growth efforts

Following a fast-paced morning in which Senate President Steve Sweeney helped kick off a busy Senate Budget Committee session that featured more than a dozen jobs or tax-break related bills being cleared, the governor’s office weighed in.

“Senator Sweeney has had a lot to say on jobs lately, but his absence from the trenches of Trenton belies his remarks,” a release from Gov. Christie’s office begins.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Health care, building inspections, DHS data collection measures advanced

The Senate Budget Committee cleared several bills today:

On the health care front, S3038, which seeks to restore NJ FamilyCare eligibility for adults without dependent children and who do not earn more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, passed the Senate Budget Committee.  (Staff, State Street Wire)







Christie shouldn’t be snookered by Snooki

Before Walt Whitman became a rest stop on the turnpike, he was a great American poet. Whitman is buried in New Jersey. Good thing. He can’t be booted out of the state by contemporary politicians who don’t like his work.

There is a reason why New Jersey is called the Garden State. It has an unlimited supply of manure. No surprise that Trenton, the city with the motto “Trenton Makes, The World Takes,” was once known for its vitreous china. And in case you don’t know, those bowls were designed for sitting, not eating.

Elected officials are not artists. They should not be judging poetry, painting, film or television. Yet they do it all the time. Some politicians — remember Rudy Giuliani before he became “America’s mayor” — have made personal crusades against art exhibits they abhor. They threaten to take away a museum’s public funding. Sometimes they are successful, and a lot of people jerk their knees in unison in a veritable flash mob of censorship.  (Doblin, The Record)



NJ State Sen. Mike Doherty’s Ron Paul endorsement is revealing

State Sen. Mike Doherty, a conservative Republican who is mulling a challenge to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez next year, has endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for president.

A revealing move. Paul is perhaps the most whacked out Republican in the running. And in this crowd, that says something.

Paul wants to eliminate the income tax, for example, and considers Medicaid and Medicare to be unconstitutional. He would allow prostitution, but would eliminate the Federal Reserve. And he famously suggested during the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan library that the government should hand over air traffic control to private firms, and allow drug companies to regulate the safety of drugs on their own products.

Doherty doesn’t buy all that. He says Paul’s opposition to the Federal Reserve and to U.S. military intervention abroad were the key for him.  (Moran, The Star-Ledger)



Tom Moran’s revealing essay

Tom Moran, editor of the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, does his best to be a journalistic “hit man” in his piece, “NJ State Sen. Mike Doherty’s Ron Paul endorsement is revealing.”  Moran, an unabashed left-winger, lists a couple of Rep, Paul’s core positions—eliminating the income tax and abolishing the Federal Reserve.  In addition, Moran correctly points out that Rep. Paul “considers Medicare and Medicaid” to be unconstitutional.”  

In other words, Ron Paul wants to reduce the size of the federal government to its constitutional duties.  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there any authority for the federal government to provide healthcare for the American people.  If Moran can find in the U.S. Constitution the explicit authority for these programs, I will donate all my salary to the charity of his choice.  (Sabrin, PolitickerNJ)



Christie’s next showcase

For a man who says he’s not running for president, Chris Christie isn’t keeping a low profile. The New Jersey governor will give presidential tea-leaf readers another chance to speculate about his intentions when he delivers a speech next Tuesday at the Reagan Presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Word is that Mr. Christie plans an expansive address on themes bigger than his battle to reform New Jersey’s budget and pensions. Trentonologists will be looking to see if he takes on the U.S. economic predicament or America’s role in the world. Mr. Christie knows he lacks foreign policy experience, but in recent months he’s sought meetings with various national security sages. One of those who attended such a dinner with the governor says he showed keen interest in filling his knowledge gap.  (Gigot, The Wall Street Journal)



State’s parking garage costly mess

In 1995, the geniuses assembled here on State Street conceived a three-level parking deck that would be the finest structure ever to hold a lawmaker’s car, but they went about it in an incredibly stupid way. You won’t believe what influenced that.

The result was a bottom floor over a flood plain, since it’s about 200 yards from the Delaware River. Not to worry, they said, it is designed to withstand everything but a 100-year flood. Since 2004 there have been 12 floods, five in the past two years.

“We’re dealing with these 100-year floods on a monthly basis,” said Assembly Democratic Office Executive Director William Caruso, vice chairman of a state committee charged with keeping track of this stuff.

Beneath the lowest parking level is the mechanical equipment room where they have the electrical gear that runs the elevators, among other things. The rain from Tropical Storm Lee left 40 inches of water in the lowest level of the garage and 7 feet of water in the equipment room.  (Ingle, Gannett)



Snooki to Snookered: States’ film tax credits produce embarrassment

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is threatening to revoke a $420,000 subsidy his state’s Economic Development Authority is giving to MTV’s “Jersey Shore” for filming there. Italian-American groups have been complaining, since the tax credits were announced last week, that New Jersey is subsidizing stereotypes. While the Newark, N.J.-based Star-Ledger newspaper acknowledged in an editorial that the reality show features “a bunch of 20-something nitwits,” it didn’t side with Gov. Christie. Instead, it said that his threat to veto the tax credit made him “the state’s Censor-in-Chief.”

That’s an accusation leveled every time officials rethink pumping money into dubious entertainments. Michigan, having written a check for a charming film about young cannibals gorging themselves on the flesh of the unsuspecting, last year balked at subsidizing the sequel. “This film is unlikely to promote tourism in Michigan or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light,” the state’s film commissioner said. She was derided for prissy parochialism.  (Felton, The Wall Street Journal)



Morning News Digest: September 23, 2011