Morning News Digest: January 24, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
‘The 9th needs a fighter’: Pascrell goes after Garrett and Rothman in one swoop
Sprinkling his speech with Spanish buzzwords like “alcade” and “servesa,” and radiating eye-of-the-tiger combativeness, Rep. Bill Pascrell rallied 9th District Latinos tonight and took an oratorical double barrel to U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) and U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9), targeting the former for toiling on the country’s rightward fringes, and the latter for lacking the spine to stop him when given the chance. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Gov. Christie files nominations
Governor Christie today filed the following notices of intent to nominate, nominations, and direct appointments with the State Senate and Secretary of State’s Office. The Governor’s nominations are subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Shipp nominated to District Court
President Obama today nominated Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp of New Jersey as a District Judge.
Shipp is supported by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, who applauded the decision from the White House.
“I am incredibly proud to support the nomination of Magistrate Judge Michael Shipp who has an exemplary record in the public and private sector and is well known for his strong work ethic and superior knowledge of the law,” said Menendez. “I am confident he will distinguish himself as a diligent, fair and effective District Judge.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Rothman formally unveils campaign team in CD 9
U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) today announced his campaign team for the Democratic Primary in the 9th Congressional District, a group of veteran local campaign professionals with experience in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic Counties.
Running in a Democratic Primary against U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), the congressman also announced the endorsements of 90 Democratic town council members from Bergen and Hudson counties, reprinted below. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie’s two nominations to state Supreme Court include first Asian-American and first openly gay man
Kwon would be the first Asian-American to serve on the state’s highest court and Harris is African-American and openly gay.
Harris would replace former Justice John Wallace, who is African-American, and Kwon would replace Justice Virginia Long, who faces mandatory retirement next month.
Christie said his nominations will bring an historic level of diversity to the court.
“I am extraordinarily proud to announce these two historic nominations to the New Jersey State Supreme Court,” the governor said at the Statehouse. “Bruce and Phil are each accomplished and talented individuals with skilled legal minds who are highly respected in the legal community. Just as importantly, each of them has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to serving their state and communities.” (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Christie to meet public in Bridgewater town hall on Tuesday
Gov. Chris Christie will travel to Bridgewater Tuesday to hold his third town hall of the new year.
He is expected to focus on the argument he made in his In his State of the State Address last week that New Jersey is making an economic comback and speak about his proposed 10 percent state income tax cut for all working New Jerseyans and his plan to turn around failing public schools. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Christie: Gingrich has been ‘influence peddler’ during his career
Gov. Chris Christie today kept up the assault on Newt Gingrich that he started Sunday on “Meet the Press” when he said the former Speaker of the House had “embarrassed” the Republican Party.
“The fact of the matter is the Speaker for the last 10 years has been an influence peddler in Washington D.C., that’s what he’s been and he’s been paid tens of millions of dollars to be an influence peddler,” he said in a Statehouse press conference. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Sarah Palin says Gov. Christie made a ‘rookie mistake’ by attacking Gingrich
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called out Gov. Chris Christie today saying he made a “rookie mistake” when criticizing Republican presidential candidate New Gingrich over the weekend.
“You know, sometimes if your candidate loses in just one step along this path, as was the case when (Mitt )Romney lost to Newt the other night, and of course, Romney is Chris Christie’s guy,” Palin said in an interview on Fox Business News. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
2 bills would exempt N.J. from federal sports betting ban
Two House bills that would legalize sports betting at New Jersey racetracks and casinos were announced Monday by members of the state’s congressional delegation.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-Monmouth, is seeking to add New Jersey to a list of states that would be exempt from a 20-year-old law, known as the Bradley Act, that bans wagering on professional and college sports. Under that law, Nevada has extensive sports betting, while Delaware, Montana and Oregon can offer a limited amount of multiple-team betting on National Football League games. (Brennan, Associated Press)
N.J. Dems advance bills lifting parole requirements, job restrictions for convicted felons
Parole requirements would be eased for some prisoners and job restrictions lifted for convicted felons under a package of bills that Democratic sponsors said Monday would redirect state funds from incarceration to rehabilitation.
The measures — introduced last week amid the start of the new legislative session and an address by the the governor — were described by state Sens. Ray Lesniak (D-Union) and Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson), the sponsors, as a way to revamp the criminal justice system by encouraging drug treatment and removing employment barriers. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Bill to create N.J. teacher loan forgiveness program clears Senate committee
Legislation designed to establish a loan redemption program under which teachers could have a portion of their undergraduate loans forgiven by the state in exchange for work at a school in New Jersey was approved Monday by the state Senate Education Committee.
The bill (S-543) would create the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) Teacher Loan Redemption Program in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. The program would allow loan recipients to redeem 10 percent of their NJCLASS loan amounts for each year of service as a teacher in a school in New Jersey. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Senate committee holds hurricane-response bill – for now
The legislature appears ready to overhaul how New Jersey’s four electric utilities respond to widespread power outages, such as those that occurred last summer when a hurricane made landfall in the state, leaving nearly 2 million customers without power.
But not just yet. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
American Civil Liberties Union gives Gov. Christie mixed grades
Gov. Chris Christie won relatively high marks from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey for how he’s handled freedom of religion and issues facing the gay community, but failing or near failing marks for freedom of speech, reproductive rights matters, open government and separation of powers matters.
“Christie has two years to turn a mediocre civil liberties record into a testament to individual rights,” ACLU-NJ Executive Director Deborah Jacobs said in a statement released today. “The people of New Jersey expect a leader who will stand up for their freedoms, not one who will let them know that despite his unfair policies, his heart is in the right place.” (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Guadagno welcomes Vitech Systems Group to Woodbridge
Vitech Systems Group, a provider of insurance, investment and benefit administration software, is moving to Woodbridge, the company announced on Monday.
“Vitech’s announcement is further proof that the New Jersey Comeback is in full swing,” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said. “Companies across the nation and around the world are increasingly recognizing New Jersey’s serious commitment to helping businesses succeed here, and that success creates more jobs for New Jersey workers.” (Staff, Gannett)
NJ loses superintendent of year to NY
A month after being honored on the floor of the state Senate, New Jersey’s school superintendent of the year is headed to New York, another consequence of the Christie administration’s cap on school administration salaries.
Roy Montesano, the superintendent of Ramsey schools, was expected to be formally approved last night as the next superintendent in Hastings, NY, right over the Tappan Zee Bridge. The district put out a release last week announcing the hire. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Medicare ACOs: Coming soon to a healthcare provider near you
Medicare accountable care organizations — which promise to transform the way medical services are delivered and medical professionals are compensated — are taking shape across New Jersey, as several major healthcare providers either ramp up their own ACOs or give the idea serious scrutiny.
Atlantic Health System, the parent of Morristown, Overlook, and Newton Medical Centers, said Monday that it has applied to Medicare to launch an ACO in April, in partnership with Ridgewood’s Valley Hospital. Hackensack University Medical Center has applied as well. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick said it is evaluating its ACO options, as is UMDNJ-University Hospital in Newark. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Abortion foes mark Roe v. Wade anniversary in Trenton
Abortion protesters held an hourlong rally in front of the Statehouse Monday to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, with several speakers calling for New Jersey to institute parental notification when a minor tries to get an abortion.
Legislation from Republicans calls for a constitutional amendment on parental notification, but it hasn’t gained traction with majority Democrats. A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said there are no plans to post the bill for a vote. (Jordan, Gannett)
$25B foreclosure settlement goes to states
The nation’s five largest mortgage lenders have agreed to overhaul their industry after deceptive foreclosure practices drove homeowners out of their homes, government officials said Monday.
A draft settlement between the banks and U.S. states has been sent to state officials for review. (Associated Press)
Disability pension reinstated, at reduced rate, for wife of former Vas aide
Starting March 1, the wife of former Perth Amboy mayor’s aide Melvin Ramos will receive $1,362.23 a month from the state Pension Board as part of her request to have his disability pension reinstated.
Bill Quinn, state Treasury Department spokesman, said Ramos, who served as aide to former Mayor Joseph Vas, received a disability pension from May 2009 to July 2011. Ramos has suffered three heart attacks and a stroke. (Staff, Gannett)
Christie blames past execs for $80M employers’ tax hike
Gov. Chris Christie said today that any criticism over a recent boost in unemployment insurance payments by local businesses should be directed to previous governors and not to him.
The state failed to repay a $1.7 billion federal loan for unemployment insurance and New Jersey employers are footing the $80 million bill. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Bill giving preference to ‘environmentally’ responsible businesses advances
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee released a bill today, S252, that would give preference to local and environmentally responsible businesses for various state contracts.
New committee member, Sen. Sam Thompson (R-12) of Old Bridge, questioned why businesses have to be located within a 50-mile radius of the state, and said that businesses statewide should be considered. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Higher-ed officials plead case for bond issue
Higher education leaders painted a grim picture today of the state of New Jersey college and university infrastructure.
The information was not new, because the officials have been before legislators before, but the setting was: the first convening of the Senate Higher Education Committee. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Declawed, Sweeney straight-faced on nominees
Met at the point of critique by Gov. Chris Christie, state Sen. President Steve Sweeney issued a vanilla statement on the governor’s Supreme Court nominations.
“As with all nominees, the process must still run its course,” Sweeney said, no doubt confronting the all-but-the-votes manifest destiny for Christie’s two minority candidates, Phil Kwon and Bruce Harris. “While we undergo that process, it is vital that we ensure the Court remain as philosophically independent as possible.” (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Christie stakes out a spot in the center
Governor Christie sent a signal to the self-immolating national Republican Party on Monday: Moderation, in the pursuit of a Republican nomination for president, is a virtue.
Days after Newt Gingrich, the demagogic descendant of 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, successfully pandered to anxious-to-intolerant “grass-roots” South Carolina Republican voters, Christie nominated Bruce Harris, an African-American from Chatham, who is openly gay, and Phillip Kwon of Closter, a Korean-American, to the state Supreme Court. (Stile, The Record)
Gay rights takes on new urgency
Gov. Chris Christie stood between his Supreme Court nominees Monday and talked about his solemn duty as New Jersey’s chief executive to bring superior legal talent to the state’s highest court.
The facts that Phillip Kwon would be the first Asian-American and first immigrant nominated and that Bruce Harris would be the third African-American and the first openly gay man nominated were secondary to Christie’s decision-making process, the governor said. (Schoonejongen, Gannett)