Morning News Digest: January 26, 2011
By Missy Rebovich
Pascrell will not cease to be a thorn in Rothman’s side, as BCDC celebrates
The Bergen County Democratic Committee is on the rise and U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, (D-8), Fair Lawn, is hoping to ride the upswing to victory. The problem: it’s a primary victory, the messiest kind.
The only thing standing in Rothman’s way is U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, (D-9), Paterson, and if it were necessary, Pascrell would actually stand in his way. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Betty Lou DeCroce batters Casha 2-1 to win LD26 special convention
An exceedingly low-grade GOP civil war ended predictably tonight at the Zeris Inn when a brace of big names towered in the vicinity of Betty Lou DeCroce like a circle of human klieg lights signifying the area’s reinforced center of political power.
A retired Roxbury clerk who serves as a deputy commissioner for the state Department of Community Affairs, DeCroce defeated fellow contestant Larry Casha in a head-to-head to fill a vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-26). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Oliver apoplectic over Christie’s civil rights referendum comments
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver today joined her Senate counterpart in decrying a move By Gov. Chris Christie to place same sex marriage up for a vote on the November ballot.
Like Senate President Steve Sweeney, Oliver slammed the move as an attempt to put basic civil rights up for a popular vote. Oliver took particular exception to a comment by Christie implying that the civil rights movement would have been better served had it been put to a referendum. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Christie splits up Rutgers in higher ed overhaul
Gov. Chris Christie announced his plans for the re-organization of the state’s higher education facilities, including splitting up the Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-New Brunswick campuses.
The plan would: (1) fold a portion of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) into Rutgers-New Brunswick; (2) allow Rowan University to take over Rutgers-Camden and partner with Cooper University Medical School; and (3) create the Health Sciences University in Newark out of other UMDNJ departments to partner with University Hospital. (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)
Christie says like same-sex marriage, civil rights movement could have been settled through ballot referendum
In a comment related to his call for a voter referendum on the proposal to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday, “People would have been happy to have referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”
The governor, who on Tuesday called for a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot that would ask voters to decide if the state should legalize same-sex marriage, also said he will veto the Democratic legislation to allow it when the proposal reaches his desk. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Black leaders criticize plan to put gay-marriage to a vote
Two of New Jersey’s most influential black leaders blasted Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday for proposing gay marriage be put to a popular vote in November, but the Republican governor insisted he’s offering a reasonable compromise amid his personal opposition to same-sex nuptials.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver and Newark Mayor Cory Booker said in separate forums that civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and don’t belong on the ballot. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Gov. Christie, N.J. business advocates head to Washington for annual speech
Lawmakers, lobbyists and businesspeople this morning will continue the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce’s 75-year strong tradition: a four-hour chartered train trek to Washington, D.C. for networking and a speech from the governor.
Gov. Chris Christie tonight will address more than 800 people registered for the Congressional dinner. Guests include both U.S. Senators from New Jersey, three members of the U.S. House, five members of the governor’s cabinet and 35 state lawmakers, according to the chamber. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie takes town hall tour to Vineland
Gov. Chris Christie is heading to another one of his town hall meetings with yet another major policy proposal to try and sell.
This time, he’ll talk directly with voters in the southern New Jersey community of Vineland.
Thursday afternoon’s event comes a day after the governor called for a sweeping reorganization of the state’s higher education system. He wants to elevate southern New Jersey’s Rowan University into the state’s second major research university, among other proposed changes. (Associated Press)
School districts sign on to move board elections to November
With the law barely a week old, nearly 60 schools districts in New Jersey have already signed up to move their board elections to November and effectively end the annual public vote on their base budgets.
The state’s School Boards Association is keeping a running tally of the districts that have adopted the necessary resolutions on their websites, with the number clicking to 56 late yesterday. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney will unveil cleanup bill
Sunoco is hoping to reap what could be millions of dollars from a long-standing, but still-pending property tax appeal for its closed Eagle Point Refinery.
If that happens, State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, wants to ensure those monies are forwarded to the state Department of Environmental Protection for cleanup of any site contamination. (Comegno, Gannett)
LaRouche backer joins race in 5th District
A Hackensack Democrat will vie for the opportunity to take on Republican incumbent Scott Garrett in the 5th District congressional race.
Diane Sare issued a statement this week saying she is running on the LaRouche Slate, along with others seeking House seats across the country.
The slate is backed by Lyndon LaRouche, who has run for president numerous times and advocates for the impeachment of President Obama. (Hayes, The Record)
New attorney general hopes to halt corruption, violence
For the past two years, Jeff Chiesa had just one client: Gov. Chris Christie. And when he wasn’t working for him as the governor’s chief counsel, or as Christie’s executive assistant at the U.S. Attorney’s office, he was working alongside him in private dating back 20 years.
Now, as the state’s newest attorney general, Chiesa is the one setting the agenda and overseeing a dozen divisions, more than 650 attorneys, and the state police. (DeFalco, Associated Press)
NJ businesses face nation’s biggest tax burden, according to report
New Jersey’s businesses have the nation’s heaviest tax burden, according to a survey released Wednesday, a week after Gov. Chris Christie proposed cutting income taxes by 10 percent.
The survey didn’t take into account recent tax changes that have been lauded by the business community. Even so, the state ranked near the bottom in three of five categories.
“Although New Jersey has consistently ranked at the bottom of the index, recent actions by the state show the beginnings of improvement in the business tax climate,” the report said. (Diamond, Gannett)
N.J. tax battle revs up
Following Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to slash income taxes, the fight shaping up here won’t be about whether to cut taxes, but how.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney told The Wall Street Journal that Democrats are drawing up a competing plan to cut property taxes, as they seek to reposition themselves against the Republican governor’s headline-grabbing proposal to slash levies on income. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
Audit: N.J. daycare program could be wasting millions of dollars
New Jersey could be wasting millions of dollars a year on its subsidized child care program for thousands of working poor families by overpaying day care providers and failing to catch parents lying about their income, according to an audit state Comptroller Matthew Boxer released today.
The comptroller’s team found glaring problems with the oversight of the N.J. Cares for Kids day care assistance program that eluded the state Department of Human Services and 15 regional agencies that manage its vast referral network, according to the audit. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
Group plans $1.5M TV ad campaign to promote Christie
A group that promotes Gov. Chris Christie’s agenda announced today it plans a $1.5 million television advertising campaign to tout the governor’s accomplishments and push for his income tax cut proposal.
The ad, by the Committee for Our Children’s Future, equates Christie with a father who forces an unruly group of children — representing politicians who “have run amuck in Trenton” — to clean up a living room they’ve trashed.
“Governor Christie and bipartisan reformers made difficult choices to lead New Jersey out of the mess it was in two years ago,” said the group’s spokesman, Brian Jones, who added that they would also run an internet campaign. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Low prices keep natural gas in NJ’s energy picture
Here’s a reason why New Jersey’s energy policy may be shaped by natural gas, at least in the immediate future.
The nearly half-million customers of New Jersey Natural Gas will receive another credit next month on their utility bills. When combined with credits from the previous two months, the typical residential ratepayer will see their cumulative bills trimmed by a total of $206, from $558 to $353, a savings of 37 percent. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
NJ task force to study the challenges of multiple sclerosis
A task force on multiple sclerosis is being appointed in New Jersey to tackle the challenges of this chronic, often disabling, disease.
Multiple sclerosis advocates are looking to the task force to tackle such issues as access to treatment and drugs, strategies for remaining employed, and the need for more community services to help people with MS avoid moving to nursing homes. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Refinery clean-up, tax-appeal status sparks legislation
A refinery that once was the economic focal point for this Southern New Jersey community is now ground zero for political anger over environmental problems and corporate responsibility.
Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli and Gloucester County Freeholder Robert Damminger stood outside the looming storage tanks of the shuttered Sunoco Eagle Point Refinery here to champion legislation that the state lawmakers will introduce Monday to prevent businesses from walking away without paying for necessary clean-ups. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Tax Foundation ranks New Jersey dead last in tax-friendly analysis
New Jersey, notorious for high property taxes, car insurance rates, “Jersey Shore” (the MTV show) and several other cost of living measures, is also the unfriendliest state for businesses, according to the Tax Foundation.
New Jersey ranked dead last at 50 out of 50 states in the foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index, a comparative analysis between the different taxes in each state. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Childcare program riddled with ineligible participants
The state-funded child-care program is riddled with as many as 4,000 ineligible participants and has been rife with overpayments, according to an audit released today by the state comptroller.
The program, designed to aid low-income families in paying for child care is funded jointly by the state and federal government and is administered by the state Division of Family Development. (Isherwood, State Street Wire)
Sorry, Chris Christie: Obama’s no coward on Simpson-Bowles
Gov. Chris Christie’s latest shot at the president came on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, when he said Obama was a “coward” for failing to embrace a bipartisan debt reduction plan put forward last year by the Simpson-Bowles commission.
At first glance, this seems like a fair criticism. The Simpson-Bowles plan was a reasonable plan that relied about $1 trillion of tax increases aimed at the wealthy, in addition to $3 trillion in spending cuts. And unlike the Republican budget passed in the House, it preserved the guarantee of Medicare coverage and tried to avoid harsh cuts in programs for the poor. (Moran, The Star-Ledger)
At the end of the day, a gay-marriage vote it about people
At some point during Tuesday’s marathon marriage-equality hearing in Trenton, I had a revelation.
This entire show is about me!
But stardom is not an unalloyed joy, particularly when total strangers make assumptions about who you are, how you ought to live, and whom you should love.
Or if you exist at all. (Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Chris Christie’s court picks confuse conservatives
I had a question for Gov. Chris Christie at his news conference yesterday: How would Harris rule on Harris?
The first Harris I’m talking about is Bruce Harris, who is one of Christie’s nominees for two vacant seats on the state Supreme Court. The second is the 2006 Supreme Court decision known as Lewis vs. Harris. In it, the court ordered the Legislature to pass a law granting marital benefits to same-sex couples. (Mulshine, The Star-ledger)
No subtlety in new Pascrell website
The gloves don’t literally come off with the new website created by Rep. Bill Pascrell’s campaign.
Rather, boxing gloves are drawn onto a cartoon with the head of Rep. Scott Garrett, who stands smiling as a cartoon with Rep. Steve Rothman’s head runs away.
Welcome to www.realdemsstandandfight.com, which has all the sublety of Paterson’s Great Falls after a week of steady rain.
“Running From Fights with The Radical Right…Moving to a neighborhood near you,” is the headline on the one-page site, which is filled with excerpts from news clippings that criticize Rothman’s decision to move from Fair Lawn and run in a primary against Pascrell after the new redistricting map came out. (Jackson, The Record)