Morning News Digest: April 25, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Christie names members to Anti-Bullying Task Force
Gov. Chris Christie announced his appointments to the state’s Anti-Bullying Task Force Tuesday.
The governor’s four appointments are Rutgers University’s Bullying Prevention Institute Director Bradford Lerman; Bancroft President and CEO Toni Pergolin; East Hanover Township Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Ricca; and New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Executive Director Patricia Wright. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Realtors survey shows strong support for Christie’s, Assembly Democrats’ tax cut plans
A poll conducted by the New Jersey Association of Realtors found strong support for Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed 10 percent income tax cut plan – and the Assembly Democrats’ proposed plan to decrease property taxes by 20 percent.
NJAR surveyed 800 random voters in what it described as a non-partisan poll. (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)
Oliver endorses Payne in CD 10
Today in East Orange, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) formally endorsed Newark City Council President and Essex County Freeholder Donald M. Payne Jr. in the Democratic primary for Congress in the vacant 10th Congressional District.
“I eagerly endorse Donald Payne Jr. to continue the great level of service to the 10th Congressional District that we have had for the last 23 years,” said Oliver. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Wisniewski bashes Romney ahead of GOP prez candidate’s visit
A day ahead of Mitt Romney’s scheduled campaign and fundraising swing through New Jersey, New Jersey Democratic Committee Chairman John Wisniewski slammed the prospective GOP presidential nominee.
“Despite being asked repeatedly on the campaign trail, Gov. Romney seems to be afraid to share his budget plan,” said Wisniewski on a conference call with reporters. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Words and wheels: Will NYC revive the out-of-state commuter tax?
More than 300,000 New Jersey residents would have to pay a revived commuter tax to New York City, if a proposal by the Manhattan Borough president is enacted.
Right now, though, there seems to be little chance of that happening.
Still, if Borough President Scott Stringer is successful in getting the New York state legislature to reinstate the 0.45 percent tax on workers who do not live in New York City, it would affect people living in every New Jersey county, including the state’s southernmost — Cape May. (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)
The new math: Counting NJ’s school children
New Jersey’s school funding formula is based on the premise that the state’s money follows the child, give or take a few big conditions.
But now one of the latest debates in Trenton is how the state is going to be counting how many children there are in the first place.
As part of his proposed 2012 budget, Gov. Chris Christie has proposed scrapping the state’s longtime practice of basing the annual enrollment count in every district on the number of children enrolled on Oct. 15 of a given year. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
State Police boss: Responsibility for high-speed caravan deemed ‘Death Race 2012’ rests with local command
The leader of the State Police said today the scandal over two high-speed caravans of sports cars led by troopers on New Jersey’s busiest highways was “an aberration” and responsibility for escorts rests with his local station commanders, not top brass.
In his first appearance since revelations of the caravans emerged Sunday, Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes also said troopers perform hundreds of escorts every year, but refused to say if those could include private groups of luxury cars, calling the question a “hypothetical.” (Renshaw, DeMarco, Hutchins and Goldberg, The Star-Ledger)
Cop-led ‘Death Race’ renews focus on N.J. police misdeeds
The police-escorted “Death Race” of exotic cars that sped to Atlantic City put the latest smudge on a New Jersey agency marred by racial profiling, claims of hazing and a high-speed wreck that left a governor near death.
Less than three years ago, the U.S. Justice Department ended a decade of monitoring traffic stops made by state troopers, prompted by complaints that some members of the 2,700- strong force had targeted minorities. Colonel Rick Fuentes, head of the New Jersey State Police, said then that his officers were upholding “best practices of police professionalism.” (Young and Dopp, Bloomberg)
N.J. trooper says caravan was authorized
A key question now facing New Jersey State Police over accusations that officers escorted a high-speed caravan on state highways last month: Did the motorcade have sufficient authorization?
State investigators have argued that the March 30 caravan, in which some two dozen Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris allegedly traveled at speeds exceeding 100 mph to Atlantic City, didn’t have proper authorization. Those charges prompted the suspension Monday of two state troopers who led the group. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
Newest Kids Count report finds evidence of ‘persistent and pervasive’ poverty in N.J.
Mario Vargas says he’s identified a “new group” among the thousands of families who come to the Puerto Rican Action Board in New Brunswick in need of low-cost child care, preschool, housing and other services.
It’s made up of working people who always found a way to pay the bills — before the Great Recession arrived.
Now, the 40-year-old social services agency is meeting a growing demand for mortgage and foreclosure counseling, food, and help paying the utility bills. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
Return of NYC commuter tax could aid N.J. employers, says economists
If Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer‘s proposal to restore an income tax on New Jersey residents who work in New York City comes to pass, employers in the state will have an easier time attracting top talent, employment experts said.
According to James W. Hughes, dean of Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, in the short term, the 0.45 percent income tax on noncity residents who work in the five boroughs would not give New Jersey employers a direct economic boost. But Hughes said as commercial leases expire in the next few years, the tax burden on commuters could cause New York City-based employers to shift offices to New Jersey — giving the state a competitive advantage. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Report: Financial aid reduces likelihood of donations to universities
As institutions of higher education become more reliant on alumni contributions, new research from a Princeton University economics professor has found students who receive financial aid in the form of loans and scholarships are less likely to donate to their alma maters, regardless of personal income.
According to Harvey S. Rosen, a professor of economics and business policy at Princeton University, scholarship recipients are less likely to be in the top 10 percent of givers in their class in any given year — but it’s not because they have relatively low incomes after they graduate. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Recent poll shows NJ voters want property tax relief
A poll released Tuesday by the New Jersey Association of Realtors Governmental Research Foundation, shows that among the four highest priorities for the legislative agenda, namely property tax relief, education and schools, jobs and the economy or state taxes and spending, more voters (29 percent) chose property tax relief than any other topic. Only 20 percent chose jobs and the economy as the most important issue. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent. (MacKenzie, Gannett)
Gov. Bobby Jindal to attend school summit in New Jersey
Gov. Bobby Jindal will travel to New Jersey next week to speak to a pro-voucher group, only two weeks after the Louisiana governor signed a bill that creates a statewide voucher program that will use tax dollars to send children to private schools.
The American Federation for Children said Monday that Jindal is participating in its 2012 national policy meeting, which is set for May 3 and 4. (Associated Press)
Funding to complete harbor deepening passes hurdle
New Jersey’s U.S. senators say funding to complete the deepening of waterways shared by New York and New Jersey ports is a step closer to reality.
Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez announced Tuesday that $68 million has been approved for the project by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and
Perth Amboy BOE to discuss superintendent’s possible ouster Wednesday night
When Superintendent of Schools Janine Walker Caffrey faces the Board of Education on Wednesday night in a fight to keep her job, she’ll have the backing of two organizations, one from Perth Amboy and the other a statewide group based in New Brunswick.
A special meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at William McGinnis Middle School, 271 State St., Perth Amboy, during which the board is expected to seek to oust Caffrey, who is in the first year of her three-year contract. (Staff, Gannett)
For immigrants, nonprofit provides help on path to American Dream
Cuban-born jazz artist Paquito D’Rivera was a child in the ‘50s and musical prodigy when his father played “Benny Goodman Live at Carnegie Hall” for him. Listening to the famous American clarinetist instilled D’Rivera’s lifelong dream to come to New York to be a musician.
“That was my American dream,” he said. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Seismic exploration raises specter of drilling off Jersey Coast
The Obama administration is gauging the interest of the energy industry to conduct seismic exploration for oil and natural gas in the Mid- and South Atlantic Ocean, a move that has riled some environmentalists and lawmakers.
They will get a chance to vent their opposition to the move at a hearing in Atlantic City this week, but despite the concerns, there is no chance residents will see any oil or gas rigs off the coast of Jersey anytime soon. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Report: S.J. air quality still poor
The South Jersey/Philadelphia region continues to be ranked among the worst in the nation for air pollution despite improvement in some areas, according to a new report.
The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report Tuesday, which grades regions across the country for ozone and smog levels as well as daily and year-round particle pollution. (Cooney, Gannett)
MF Global execs face fines
Top executives at failed financial firm MF Global, such as former Chairman Jon Corzine, could face fines or more if it turns out they played a role in the firm’s misuse of an estimated $1.6 billion in client money, regulators and bankruptcy trustees told lawmakers Tuesday.
Jill Sommers, who is leading the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s investigation into the bankrupt MF Global, told members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that enforcement actions could be taken against individuals who “aid and abet” violations by their companies. (Herman, Gannett)
Sarlo: Focus on budget, not on trooper suspensions
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo said today that he wanted today’s hearing with Attorney General Jeff Chiesa to focus on budget issues and not on the recent scandal involving the suspension of two troopers for allegedly escorting at high speed a group of luxury cars along the Garden State Parkway. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Transportation capital plan draws budget committee scrutiny
At the onset of Tuesday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing, some lawmakers called out the commissioner of the state’s Department of Transportation on Gov. Chris Christie’s five-year Transportation Capital Plan.
Specifically, Democratic lawmakers said the governor’s proposal lacked a long-term solvency plan, saying that for the fiscal year 2016 budget, about $1.2 billion will need to come from the state’s general fund or from increased revenues to support DOT capital improvements. (Arco, State Street Wire)
Audit shows DOC-farm operations headed for deficit in FY12
The state-run farm system that produces food for consumption at Department of Corrections facilities is expected to end this fiscal year with a deficit that will necessitate a state appropriation, according to a new audit by the Treasury Department.
In addition, the audit released Monday showed other problems, such as inaccurate cattle inventories, missing purchase orders for some invoices, and utility charges going unpaid by some Corrections employees who live on the Agri-Industries properties (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Electric-car charger OK’d for Statehosue garage
The State Capitol Joint Management Commission approved a plan today to install an electric car charger in the Statehouse parking garage.
The exact location of the charger, and when it will be put in, has not yet been decided.
In the state’s current fleet of approximately 6,000 vehicles, there are some hybrids but there hadn’t been any electric cars. That is until recently. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Menendez to serve on Surface Transportation Conference Committee
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, was appointed today to serve on the Surface Transportation Conference Committee, which is charged with negotiating the final surface transportation bill with the House of Representatives. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Why a cash-strapped GOP deserves as much attention as that high-speed caravan
Chris Christie and his fights, the latest with U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, get attention. So do state troopers as they escort exotic sports cars in a video featuring a high-speed caravan more fit for Top Gear than the Turnpike.
But here’s a story that every taxpayer, every voter, every person with an interest in what goes on in New Jersey should be paying attention to. Bergen County’s Republican leader says he can’t raise money thanks to a local law that limits political contributions from public contractors. (McAlpin, The Record)
how they got things done in the ‘old’ days
After two years of Chris Christie as governor, we have become almost used to his bullying tactics, from calling a former Navy Seal “an idiot” to routine denunciation of the teachers union as “political thugs,” from ridiculing an openly gay assemblyman as “numb nuts” to labeling other legislators “pigs at the trough.”
Through it all, his poll numbers have remained largely positive. In the eyes of many, the Republican is “a real Jersey guy,” standing up for what’s right. He may be abrasive, but perhaps that’s what’s needed to get things done. (Ahearn, The Record)
A marvelous new golden era awaits the nets in Brooklyn
Tonight, I plan to attend at the Prudential Center in Newark the final game to be played in New Jersey by the National Basketball Association (NBA) New Jersey Nets. A magnificent arena, the new Barclay Center, grows in Brooklyn. The renamed Brooklyn Nets will begin playing their home games in this new sports and entertainment palace in November, 2012. (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)