Morning News Digest: March 28th 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Sources: Gill to run with Essex Sheriff’s candidate
Essex County sources say state Sen. Nia Gill (D-34) is preparing to run off the line in her home county of Essex with a local ally joining her on the ticket.
Roger Terry, deputy mayor of Gill’s hometown of Montclair, was prepared this afternoon to submit petitions to run for sheriff against Armando Fontoura. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
In CD 9, Cantor gives Shmuley campaign $5,000
Running in the 9th Congressional District, GOP Rabbi Shmuley Boteach this week received a maxed out campaign contribution from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The rabbi received a check in the amount of $5,000.
“We are experiencing a great deal of momentum and will have the resources to wage a competitive campaign,” said Jason Kitchen, Shmuley campaign manager. “We are in the process of a major fundraising push this week, including a fundraiser on Thursday in Englewood, and want to secure every dollar possible before the March 31st deadline.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Irvington’s Mayor Smith gets in CD 10 race
And then there were four.
Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith this morning formally declared his intention to run for the vacant 10th Congressional seat.
“I pray my legacy will remember me as a man who was dedicated to serve his constituents well,” said the veteran mayor. “My political career and support of my constituents are evidenced by my advancement in the Township of Irvington. I humbly submit, I have never lost an election to date and ran unopposed for a second term in May 2006. I am grateful to be the first chief executive of Irvington to accomplish this feat since Mayor Robert H. Miller in 1978. In November 2006, I was installed as the president and chairman of the 26-member NJ Urban Mayors’ Association and still serve in that capacity today. By the grace of God and the will of the people I was elected to an unprecedented 3rd term in office.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Office: Christie numbers too rosy
The research arm of the New Jersey Legislature estimates that the Christie administration will take in a half-billion dollars less than it has projected over the next 15 months.
If the Office of Legislative Services’ (OLS) more conservative revenue estimate proves accurate, it could affect the increases Gov. Christie has budgeted in aid to college students and a tax credit for the working poor.
OLS and the Treasury Department reported separately to the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday, presenting their annual revenue projections before the Legislature begins its consideration of Christie’s $32.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. A balanced budget must be approved by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor before the start of the fiscal year. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Christie has harsh words for Office of Legislative Services, calling it a ‘tool’ of Democrats
Gov. Chris Christie sharply criticized the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services Tuesday for offering a more modest snapshot of the state’s revenue growth than he has, accusing the office of being a “tool” of the Democrats who control the Legislature.
The blistering attack came as David Rosen, the longtime budget officer for OLS, testified before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee that he expects the state will generate about $537 million less
revenue than Christie has predicted over the next 15 months.
Rosen’s lower estimate served to cast more doubt on Christie’s robust revenue projections, which have caught the attention of Standard & Poor’s. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)
Christie to ask attorney general, governor’s counsel if he can reorganize higher ed without Legislature’s approval
Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday said he will ask the state attorney general and the governor’s counsel whether he has the power to revamp the state’s higher education system without approval from the state Legislature.
The governor will make the request after a report by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services concluded he will need will need legislation for the reorganization, citing a recent appeals court decision that prohibited his office from unilaterally dismantling the Council on Affordable Housing.
“Now OLS has their opinion and we’ll certainly have governor’s counsel office look at that in detail and have the AG’s office look at it in detail and give me their opinion on it,” Christie said during a news conference in Atlantic City. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Financial questions arise in plan to shift UMDNJ to Rutgers
A union representing healthcare workers is raising more concerns over the proposed restructuring of higher education in New Jersey, including questions about the apportionment of debt between Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
A white paper titled “The Reorganization of UMDNJ: Getting it Right” by the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), representing 4,000 nurses, medical researchers, and other health professionals at UMDNJ, poses 65 questions it contends need answering before the university should be carved up, with pieces given to Rutgers. The 15-page report also includes more details about the schools involved than the 57-page document by the UMDNJ Advisory Committee, which suggested the changes. (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)
Christie’s economist doesn’t support millionaire’s tax
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chief economist, Charles Steindel, said he doesn’t advocate passage of a temporary tax increase on the state’s wealthiest residents.
While at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Steindel co- wrote a research report in which he said a tax surcharge on the wealthy would help offset lower revenue during an economic slowdown. Bloomberg News published an article on the study yesterday.
Today, speaking to the Senate Budget Committee in Trenton, Steindel, 60, said New Jersey doesn’t need such a tax increase. He said he didn’t recommend the surcharge while at the New York Fed and only mentioned it in the report as an option. He joined the Christie administration in November 2010, four months after the report. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Newly defiant Democrats slam Governor’s budget
It looks like Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) meant it when he vowed that the Democratic-controlled legislature would stand up to the nation’s most popular Republican governor.
Four days after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unprecedented step of rejecting one of Christie’s state Supreme Court nominees, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and his colleagues sharply questioned Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff not only on revenue projections, but also on net property tax increases, school and municipal aid cuts, one-shot revenues, the size of the surplus, and who would benefit from Christie’s proposed income tax cut. (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)
Christie: Revel part of A.C.’s ‘strong future’
From a terrace on the new 47-floor Revel casino and hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie said New Jersey is ready to play its best hand in the economically bruising competition with other states for gambling dollars.
The luxurious $2.4 billion Revel with its 14 restaurants and 10 pools is opening soon, but Christie said the winning factors may be a cleaned-up beach location and the breathtaking view from above, adding, “Other places that offer gambling don’t offer this.” (Jordan, Gannett)
Gov urges Springsteen to play at new casino
Gov. Chris Christie plans to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Thursday at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center — his 127th time at a Boss show, Christie said — but this visit may mix business with pleasure.
Christie said he wants Springsteen to book an added date on his current world tour. He wants Springsteen and the band to play in Atlantic City on Labor Day weekend at the 5,000-seat arena at the new Revel casino. (Jordan, Gannett)
Safe Surrender program to launch next month, offering softer punishments for lesser crimes
Fugitives hiding from the law will have the opportunity to turn themselves into state authorities next month in return for softer penalties, the state Attorney General’s Office said today.
The initiative, Fugitive Safe Surrender, allows those wanted by law enforcement officials for non-violent crimes or disorderly person offenses, such as family matters or child support, to voluntarily surrender.
State authorities will hold the surrender from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 21 and April 23 through April 25 at Grace Assembly of God Church, 201 Atlantic Ave., Atlantic City, the office said in a news release. (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)
Guadagno ‘powers up’ supercomputer
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Tuesday pressed the “power button” on what is expected to become one of the 10 most powerful academic supercomputers in the world at Rutgers University. The symbolic “powering up” ceremony marked the opening of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDII), which will house the IBM supercomputer and provide expertise to companies that want to take advantage of its abilities. Only eight of the nation’s 62 scientific computation centers have industrial partnership programs. (Staff, Gannett)
Revenue is up, but traffic is down on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway
Business is down, but revenue is up.
That is the paradox the New Jersey Turnpike Authority finds itself in for the first two months of 2012: Revenue is up, thanks to a 50 percent toll increase that took effect Jan. 1, but traffic volume is down, which officials blame on the economy, high gasoline prices and, yes, the same toll hike.
The authority, which runs the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, took in $4.736 million more than the projected take for total revenue of $236.7 million for the first two months of the year, said Chief Financial Officer Donna Mauelli. A bump in toll revenue was attributed to the mild winter weather, she said. (Higgs, Gannett)
NJ garbage plant to upgrade pollution filters
New Jersey environmental officials announced a multi-party agreement Tuesday to improve emission controls at a Newark plant that converts garbage into energy.
The upgrades will add a state-of-the-art particulate emissions control system, to each of the three facilities at the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood by 2016. The facility is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey but under long-term lease to Covanta Energy. (Associated Press)
EPA wants to limit greenhouse gases from new power plants
The federal government yesterday proposed limits on emissions of greenhouse gases from new power plants. But the rules will not apply to existing generating units — the single biggest source of climate-changing pollution other than the transportation sector.
The rules, the first major step by the Obama administration to deal with climate change, will likely make it d
ifficult to build new coal plants, which currently provide nearly half of the country’s electricity. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
All-boys public school coming to Newark
David Banks is a nationally known name in the school reform movement — the father of all-boy public education in New York City, and a tireless cheerleader for the differences his schools make for black and Latino males.
Now Banks is bringing his single-gender ideas to New Jersey.
Newark superintendent Cami Anderson announced last week that Banks’ Bronx-based Eagle Academy for Young Men will open an all-boys school next year as part of her reorganization of New Jersey’s largest district. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Bankruptcy judge awards Christ Hospital to Hudson Holdco
After reopening the bidding process on Friday, a federal bankruptcy judge awarded Christ Hospital, in Jersey City, to Hudson Holdco LLC, the for-profit owner of Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center.
Holdco outbid a joint offer from Jersey City Medical Center and Community Healthcare Associates LLC by roughly $600,000 after the Jersey City group had the “highest and best” bid during the original bankruptcy auction.
In a statement, CHA’s managing partners said they were “happy that our efforts pushed Christ Hospital to receive a more fair and equitable final bid.” (Caliendo, NJBIZ)
Research on NJ children could help nation battle obesity
With children in some of New Jersey’s poorest cities being encouraged to eat their fruits and vegetables, a Rutgers University research team will follow 1,200 kids to see how changes in how they play and what they eat can help policymakers carry out successful strategies to battle the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.
The Rutgers team has received a $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to follow the children for five years. Dr. Michael Yedidia of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy is leading the research with Dr. Punam Ohri-Vachaspati of Arizona State University. The study builds on their previous work in 2009 and 2010, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which documented the level of childhood obesity in five cities – Newark, Camden, New Brunswick, Vineland and Trenton. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Beach house ruling could affect NJ dune projects
A court ruling that upheld a $375,000 judgment for oceanfront homeowners in an eminent domain dispute could jeopardize beach replenishment projects on one of New Jersey’s most vulnerable pieces of land, an attorney involved in the case said Tuesday.
The appellate ruling Monday upheld the monetary award to a couple in Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island, site of a $22 million beach replenishment project aimed at minimizing storm damage. (Associated Press)
Christie dismisses Oliver’s pro-Meadowlands gaming quest
Gov. Chris Christie, having toured Atlantic City’s newest casino today, Revel, reminded the Assembly Speaker this evening that the stat
e’s gaming-based attention must be toward revitalizing that city, not exploring options elsewhere. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Sweeney: Senate plans no hearings into casino gaming at Meadowlands
First it was Republicans who weighed in against Speaker Sheila Oliver’s call for public hearings into casino gaming possibilities at the Meadowlands.
Then organized labor added some opposition.
Now opposition has come from Oliver’s upper chamber colleague. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Emissions controls expected to be installed at Essex facility
Gov. Chris Christie said on Tuesday a new emissions control system will be installed at the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility to reduce air pollution, contingent on the approval from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (Staff, State Street Wire)
OLS most nervous about casino revenue projections
Office of Legislative Services budget officer David Rosen said today he feels “shaky” about the more optimistic revenue projection the Christie Administration is making regarding Casino Revenue funds.
Much of that enhanced revenue projection is based on the grand opening of the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, which the governor toured today. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Webster to Genova Burns
Genova, Burns & Giantomasi today announced that seven new attorneys will be joining the Firm in the coming weeks, including Elnardo J. Webster II, who will be joining as partner.
A confidant and political advisor to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Webster is leaving the firm of Trenk DiPasquale Webster Della Ferra Sodono to join Genova Burns. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
In NJ court vote, judicial and partisan balance
When Chris Christie was campaigning for election as governor in 2009, he would complain that the New Jersey Supreme Court was too liberal, too activist, that it invented legal doctrine to suit its inclinations.
If elected, Republican Christie said, he would do his best to rein in the court. And the only way to do that was to change its membership.
In May 2010, four months after Christie took office, he got his first opportunity, and he took it. He decided not to nominate for a second term Justice John E. Wallace Jr. (Ahearn, The Record)
Bergen County real estate investor snagged in bid-rigging probe
A federal investigation into bid-rigging at auctions of municipal tax liens has snagged the owner of a Bergen County real estate company.
Robert E. Rothman, owner of the Englewood-based Rothman Realty Corp., admitted his role in the decade-long conspiracy and pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark Tuesday in an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors. (Tangel, The Record)