Morning News Digest: November 10, 2011

Morning News Digest: November 10, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Winners and Losers: Post-Election Edition

All right, so voters not directly earning a paycheck from politics stayed home this election, but the setpieces – especially LD 2 and LD 38 – contained all of the same human emotion and implication.

For us it was just politics, regardless of how many people participated.

Pericles once said, “We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.”

That may have been okay for ancient Athens – the cradle of Western Civilization. But here in SuperFund site-riddled New Jersey, self-preservation comes first.

And for us, that means – tireslessly, indefatigably – politics…   (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Sen. Allen’s aim is off again when it comes to her coattails

Republican Sen. Diane Allen swept into the Election Day after-party at the finely appointed dining and social complex called the Cafe Madison here about 9 o’clock last night, an hour after the polls closed.

She was about to shoot down her latest challenger and was in good spirits among the campaign elite enjoying their spirits from the bar across the spacious room, gas fireplace blazing behind a glass panel in the background.

The 63-year-old veteran was on her way to once again soundly beating an opponent. This time around it was Democrat Gail Cook, the youthful 70-year-old mayor of the tiny hardscrabble Delaware River town of Beverly City, who lost by 5,500 votes.  (Hooker, PolitickerNJ)



New Jersey 2011: Post-Election review

In the game of Monday morning quarterbacking on the Wednesday after the election, New Jersey’s politically savvy of all stripes were pointing fingers, taking credit, and placing blame.

The map favored the Democrats.

Gov. Chris Christie didn’t do enough to help his party.

The Democrats (or Republicans) spent a ridiculous amount of money that did (or didn’t) buy them seats.

If only more people had voted.

What the off-year legislative election results — the Democrats gained one seat in the Assembly — really boil down to is the independence of New Jersey’s electorate and the truly local nature of these races.  (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)



Meaning of New Jersey election unclear, but debated

To hear Democrats tell the story of Tuesday’s election, voters went to the polls to make sure Democratic legislators continue to keep a Republican governor and his attack-style politics under control.

“Last night was a clear indication that New Jersey has had enough with Gov. Christie and Republicans who march in lockstep with them,” said the state Democratic chairman, Sen. John Wisniewski (D., Middlesex).

But from Christie’s seat at the governor’s mansion, where he watched the results come in over NJTV, the election indicated absolutely nothing about the electorate. The numbers, he said, were foretold in April, when a Rutgers University professor acting as a tiebreaker for a legislative redistricting commission endorsed a Democratic map for new legislative districts.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



New Jersey voters tune out

Voters in New Jersey appeared to show record apathy in Tuesday’s elections, potentially shattering previous turnout lows thanks in part to a shortage of competitive races and a district map favoring incumbents.

About 26% of the state’s registered voters cast a ballot, according to unofficial county results compiled Wednesday. Of the 5.2 million registered voters in New Jersey, county figures sho
wed, only 1.4 million made it to the polls.

Official voter turnout numbers won’t be certified until Dec. 6, a New Jersey Division of Elections spokesman said.  (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)



Chris Christie on NJ Legislature election results: Not a referendum on me

Cheerful Democrats celebrated their slightly expanded ranks in the next Legislature, an election result that Gov. Chris Christie framed Wednesday as preordained since the legislative map for the 2010s was adopted in the spring.

The only incumbent seeking re-election to lose Tuesday was Republican Assemblyman Domenick DiCicco Jr. of Gloucester County, who was pushed under the new map into an unfamiliar district with three Democratic incumbents, including Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney. Republicans narrowly missed gaining a seat in the 1st Legislative District and fell short in challenges elsewhere.  (Symons, Gannett)



Christie, as promised, hits campaign trail for Romney

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made good on Wednesday on a promise to pitch in for Mitt Romney’s bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Christie made two stops in the early primary state of New Hampshire in what seemed to be an effort to solidify Romney’s support among the state’s many moderate Republicans.

Long discussed as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2012, Christie instead endorsed Romney in October and promised at the time to be an active campaigner for the former Massachusetts governor.  (McLure, Reuters)



To stop Christie, N.J. Democrats will need to come together in wake of legislative victories

Democrats Wednesday basked in the afterglow of Tuesday’s election victory, having held off a well-financed Republican push to narrow its majorities in the Senate and Assembly. 

But before Democrats take the battle to Gov. Chris Christie — widely seen as having outmaneuvered them in his first two years in office — they’ll have to stop fighting among themselves.

Changes at the very top are unlikely when the newly elected lawmakers show up in Trenton today to select their leaders, although some well-known Democrats will probably find themselves on the outside looking in.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Gov. Christie to visit California next week to meet with Facebook executive, answer questions on first 2 years in office

Gov. Chris Christie will travel to California next week to visit with a top executive at Facebook, the popular social networking website, and discuss the issues he’s dealt with during his first two years in office.

The governor said through his Twitter account that he would meet with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, at 5 p.m. Monday for a broadcast of Facebook Live, the website’s official online video channel.  (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)



Hampton Township couple thanks Christie after newborn’s life is saved thanks to bill requiring heart checks

Little Dylan Gordon apparently was eager to be born — two months before he was due, he was already causing contractions.

But mom Lisa Gordon of Hampton Township and doctors knew he needed more time before he entered the world, and they delayed his arrival as best they could, with Gordon even taking a drug called Procardia to delay preterm labor.

It turns out the wait was healthy for Dylan in ways his parents couldn’t even imagine.  (Augenstein, The Star-Ledger)



Education department working flat out to finish federal waiver

The Christie administration is scrambling to complete a proposal to the federal government that would essentially remake how New Jersey grades and monitors its public schools.

But in the rush to complete its waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act, the state is being accused of skimping on a critical aspect of the application: public input. It also has frustrated some critics who say the Department of Education hasn’t shared enough information about what will be in the waiver application.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Congressman to offer bill on N.J. sports betting

Hoping to avert a costly legal battle over whether New Jerseyans should be able to bet on sports, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. said he would introduce a bill Monday giving the state an exemption from a federal ban on sports betting.

Pallone, a Democrat in the GOP-led House, said his bill would take effect immediately upon passage.

How likely it is to get through Congress remains to be seen. It would represent the most direct path to approving sports betting in New Jersey. No other states would be included in his measure.  (Parry, Associated Press)



GOP came close in redrawn 38th District, but Democrats had the numbers

The Republican contenders for the state Senate and Assembly seats in the 38th District thought they had a real shot at unseating their opponents, considering they had a redrawn district with more GOP voters, the governor’s support and significant campaign funds.

They came close, but in the end, GOP Senate challenger John Driscoll received 47 percent of the vote to state Sen. Robert Gordon’s 53 percent. In the Assembly races, incumbent Connie Wagner, D-Paramus, and running mate Timothy Eustace staved off the tough challenges by Driscoll’s running mates, Richard Goldberg and Fernando Alonso.  (Sudol, The Record)



NJDEP, researchers launch 10 studies of Barnegat Bay

In an effort to develop what it describes as the most comprehensive scientific analysis of Barnegat Bay, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday it is teaming up with several research institutions to perform 10 studies on the ecologically stressed waterway at a cost of $1,160,802.

The studies will be performed by the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, Montclair State University, Rider University, Monmouth University and the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, in cooperation with the DEP.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



NJTV turned to experienced team for first Election Day coverage

Executives at NJTV hoped reaction to its Election Day coverage was nothing like the criticism the young station faced in its reporting on Hurricane Irene and its decision to air cartoons instead of a live broadcast when Gov. Chris Christie announced he wouldn’t run for president in 2012.

“It’s possible to do what we can do with a smaller amount of people than what we’ve done in the past, with a reasonable budget attached to it and with quality people,” said station general manager John Servidio. “I thought things went better than I expected. We really only had three weeks to put this entire night’s coverage together.”  (Caliendo, NJBIZ)



N.J. home-schooled students to be eligible for high school sports

Home-schooled students will be eligible to play high school sports under a new policy announced Wednesday by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

In addition, the NJSIAA announced that students who leave their home district to attend one of the state’s new choice schools will be subject to the same transfer rules as other students.

NJSIAA executive director Steve Timko said the new policies were needed because of “a kind of a gray area” that existed with home-schooled students and choice schools.  (Anastasia, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Marcellus Shale fracking rules published by  Delaware River Basin Commission

The regional agency that oversees the Delaware River watershed has drafted regulations that could lead to new exploration and drilling for natural gas with potential impact on New Jersey, setting up a showdown between energy companies and environmentalists.

The Delaware River Basin Commission published rules Tuesday for Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and has scheduled a vote to adopt at its Nov. 21 meeting in Trenton.

Gov. Chris Christie has a seat on the commission, but routinely assigns his voting power to John Plonski, an assistant Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.  (Jordan, Gannett)



State rejects teacher contract

The acting state education commissioner has ruled that the 2010-11 year of the Ramsey teachers’ contract broke state law in a decision underscoring that school boards cannot make salary deals that last longer than three years.

Experts say the decision, which has infuriated Ramsey teachers, has implications for districts statewide that are wrestling with protracted negotiations.

It comes after years of fraught negotiations between Ramsey’s board and teachers union. The legal dispute hinged on the fact that the salary deal was signed in April 2009, with one retroactive lump-sum covering two years, plus another agreement for 2009-10 and 2010-11.  (Brody, The Record)



GOP to seek sanctions against Sparta teachers

The attorney for Republican state legislators from Sussex County said he plans to attend a Sparta Board of Education meeting later this month and push for sanctions against teachers who, he claims, improperly used school facilities and “abused the public trust” during the recent political campaign.

While attorney Michael Hanifan was continuing the push for an investigation, Sparta School District Superintendent Thomas Morton said he doesn’t see anything illegal about the use of a classroom since the Sparta Education Association is allowed to have meetings on school property and said the teachers used their own cell phones to make calls seeking support of Democratic candidates in Tuesday’s election.  (Reyes and Scruton, New Jersey Herald)



N.J. inspector charged with taking $700 bribe from undercover officer

A Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office investigation led to the arrest of a longtime Freehold Soil Conservation District inspector.

John Tonon, 51, of Lakewood Road in Wall, is being held at the Monmouth County Jail for allegedly taking a $700 bribe from an undercover law enforcement officer, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the criminal complaint filed against him on Monday.

Tonon was arrested Monday, after he allegedly took a cash bribe from an undercover officer on Oct. 26 to expedite the processing and approval for one of three new homes being built in Hazlet, prosecutors said.  (Gladden and Webster, Gannett)



Water utilities to get paid faster for fixing infrastructure

The state yesterday approved a change that will allow water utilities to more quickly recover the costs of upgrading pipelines, hydrants and other infrastructure, a step that officials hope will speed up repair of New Jersey’s aging water systems.

Approved unanimously by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the proposed rule will be published in the New Jersey Register. It is modeled on similar programs now in place in other states, including Pennsylvania, that allow utilities to recoup investments in upgrades without going through a full-blown regulatory review.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



In Moorestown, there’s much work to do to prepare for liquor sales

Tuesday night, after it became clear that Moorestown voters had overturned their town’s 100-year-old ban on alcohol sales, key backers of the change toasted their hard-fought victory – out of town.

“We went to a fine-dining establishment outside of our town and we all laughed about next year, when we will be able to go to a fine-dining establishment inside our town,” said Seth Broder, a former councilman who led a taxpayer group’s effort to go wet.

Joining the celebration were officials of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns Moorestown Mall. For months, PREIT and Broder’s group had campaigned to persuade voters to authorize liquor licenses at the struggling mall to lure upscale restaurants.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



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Monmouth County Mall wins $4M grant

The Monmouth County Mall is looking to expand and the state Economic Development Authority will help them accomplish that goal.

The board on Wednesday approved a $4.1 million Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant (ERGG) for the mall to add a 50,000-square-foot property that will house “a national retailer,” according to EDA CEO Caryn Franzini. One of the co-owners of that expansion is Kushner Properties.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



EPA revises Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program

The Economic Development Authority approved a revised policy for the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit program at its Wednesday meeting that provided some clarification and will provide more consistency in the future.

The two revisions were: 1.) a clarification that a developer must create 200 “new” jobs over the amount they had the year prior to receiving the credit.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



EPA OKs grant for Allergan

Although their past history of penalties and fines came up, the state Economic Development Authority on Wednesday approved a Business Employee Incentive Grant for the Allergan Inc. drug company.

The California-based drugmaker will create 387 jobs in New Jersey with the help of the grant, it said.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



Cryan’s lost gamble

Headed for defeat in his caucus tomorrow, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-20) will watch more than votes evaporate in his unsuccessful effort to unify Assembly Democrats behind him.

Cryan finally raised $3 million for the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. 

He gave $2.2 million to targeted districts – 1, 2, 4, 7, 14, 38 – $400,000 to non-targeted and $400,000 for overhead.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)






Democrats boast about humbling governor

Democratic Sen. “Boy Scout Bob” Gordon is not the kind to gloat. But for a brief moment on Tuesday night, he was “Barb-Throwing Bob.”

“There’s not much of a party in Drumthwacket tonight,” Gordon said in his victory speech at t
he Fiesta banquet hall in Wood-Ridge. The jab was aimed at Governor Christie and the Republican machine that spent more than $1 million in a failed bid to end Gordon’s career in public office and install John Driscoll, the Bergen County freeholder director from Paramus, as a Republican in the Senate.  (Stile, The Record)



Christie can’t blame the map for this performance

A lot of his fellow Republicans were critical of the governor for flying off to campaign in Mississippi just five days before the Election Day.

But that long trip out of state he took last week wasn’t the real reason for  the drubbing his Republican Party took  at the polls Tuesday. The real reason lies in the short trip Chris Christie didn’t take the week before.

On Oct. 24 a number of  Republican legislative candidates held a rally on the Statehouse steps to highlight the need for tax reform in the state with the highest property taxes in America.  Christie did not walk the 200 feet from his office  to the podium. He thus passed up an opportunity to hit the opposition party where they are weakest.  (Mulshine, The Star-Ledger)



Senators may not be on board with tunnel plans

It wasn’t long ago that U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both D-N.J., and assorted critics of Gov. Chris Christie were predicting doom and gloom and misery on end because Christie said no to the ARC rail project, also known as the tunnel to Macy’s basement.

They look ridiculous now because there are two tunnel prospects. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a proposal to extend New York’s No. 7 subway to Secaucus. Published reports say New York spent $250,000 for a study that concluded the extended subway line would relieve crowding on NJ Transit.  (Ingle, Gannett)



Money for nothing in Glouco

While investigating a pattern of possible illegalities in Monroe, I stumbled upon cases of Gloucester County waste.

This county that Senate President Stephen Sweeney has led and touted as a model of efficient government and consolidation pays members of two boards for no apparent reason.

Salaries total about $87,000 per year to members of the county’s Construction Board of Appeals and commissioners of its Utilities Authority.

In contrast, Burlington and Camden counties don’t pay anything for those boards. (Burlington County, the state’s largest, doesn’t have an MUA due to its geographical makeup. Some local MUAs in the county pay nominal stipends to board members.)  (Rosen, Gannett)


  Morning News Digest: November 10, 2011