Morning News Digest: May 29, 2012



Morning News Digest: May 29th 2012

By Missy Rebovich

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Winners and Losers: Week of May 21st

Here we go into the vortex.

“Nobody could sleep. When morning came, assault craft would be lowered and a first wave of troops would ride through the surf and charge ashore on the beach at Anopopei. All over the ship, all through the convoy, there was a knowledge that in a few hours some of them were going to be dead.”

Not literally in this case, but figuratively.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Rothman has twice the cash on hand as Pascrell

The Rothman Campaign feels good about the final stretch as allies of Bill Pascrell brace for a big money barrage from the Bergenite.

According to reports the campaigns filed with the FEC, Pascrell raised and spent more than Rothman, but Rothman has more money for the remaining days of the competitive race.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Goldstein personally supports Rothman in CD 9

Steven Goldstein, Chair and CEO of Garden State Equality, today personally endorsed U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) in the 9th Congressional District Primary.  

“After much consideration, I am endorsing a candidate in the 9th Congressional District Democratic primary between Congress members Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell,” said Goldstein.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Clinton coming to CD 9 to campaign for Pascrell

The Pascrell for Congress campaign today announced that President Bill Clinton will be coming to the new 9th Congressional District to campaign for Bill Pascrell on Friday, June 1. 

“I know Bill Pascrell, and he is the fighter we need to support President Obama,” President Clinton said.  “Bill helped write President Obama’s health care law, he’s a leader protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, and he never stops fighting for the middle class.  Nothing is more important to Bill than creating jobs in New Jersey. I saw that in the eight years we worked together to build unprecedented prosperity for America. We can’t afford to lose his ideas, energy, and experience just when they’re needed most.”  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Web videos give Governor Christie a way to bypass media

Governor Christie showed off a spoof video he made with Newark Mayor Cory Booker at the annual legislative correspondents club dinner. But the 3½-minute clip was about much more than getting laughs.

It’s the latest example of Christie bypassing the traditional media to get the message he wants directly to the public. The message this time was that he’s not afraid to work with what he calls “good Democrats” like Booker who are willing to compromise. But the self-produced satire highlighted a larger theme: Christie has removed the media filters, standing nearly alone among politicians in his vigorous use of Internet video, an effective and comfortable home for the first-term Republican.  (Hayes, The Record)



Would Chris Christie’s ‘ramrod’ approach help or hurt Mitt Romney in swing states?

As lunchtime patrons streamed into Catfish Charlie’s overlooking the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa, last week, owner Charlie Cretsinger noted how successful partnerships rely on balance.

“He’s fusion and I’m old school,” Cretsinger said of his young, professionally trained chef. “I tone him down with some of his ingredients and he takes me up a notch when I need it.”

Cretsinger suspects Gov. Chris Christie would do the same for Mitt Romney should the Republican presidential hopeful ask the outspoken governor to be his running mate.  (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. State Auditor report criticizes oversight of charter schools

The review found that third-graders in 13 of 40 charter schools underperformed on state tests in 2010 compared with their peers enrolled in traditional schools in their districts.  

The State Auditor has released a report criticizing the Christie administration’s oversight of charter schools, saying charter applications and renewals underwent “inadequate” scrutiny.

The auditor, an arm of the Office of Legislative Services, also said the state Department of Education was not rigorously monitoring student performance and enrollment at charter schools. Department officials were quick to call the critiques outdated because the report looked at charters from July 2010 through February.  (Brody, The Record)



Michelle Obama, Chris Christie attend Beyonce concert

Michelle Obama was with the single ladies this weekend, joining 5,500 fans at a Beyonce concert in Atlantic City.

The first lady was with daughters Sasha and Malia at Revel Resorts, where Beyonce performed two dozen songs Saturday night. Obama’s husband, President Barack Obama, did not attend the show at the new Atlantic City casino.

Gov. Chris Christie was among the sell-out crowd packed into Revel’s Ovation Hall, along with his family.  (Associated Press)



N.J. Senate President Stephen Sweeney planes to unveil framework for university merger

Senate President Stephen Sweeney is preparing to introduce bare-bones legislation to serve as the proposal for merging New Jersey’s medical school with Rutgers University, but first he will meet with lawmakers staunchly opposed to the reorganization, according to several Senate Democrats familiar with the plan.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, said Friday that Sweeney’s proposal is on track to be introduced June 1, and would form the framework of lawmakers’ discussions on how to combine the separate higher education facilities in a far-reaching reorganization that would affect campuses in North and South Jersey.  (Fletcher and Hayes, The Record)



Merger of Rowan and Rutgers-Camden not likely to happen by July 1

Democratic legislative leaders appear to be on a collision course over a controversial plan to overhaul the state’s higher education system and medical institutions.

Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver (D-Essex) told Democratic colleagues in a closed-door meeting Thursday that she had no plans to meet a July 1 deadline Gov. Chris Christie set for the sweeping reorganization, according to two sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak for the caucus.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Cory Booker tells Oprah Winfrey he can’t visualize running for president

Touching on a range of topics from his political future, to his eating habits to his hyper-publicized rescue of a neighbor from a burning building earlier this year, Newark Mayor Cory Booker made an hour-long appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s “Oprah’s Next Chapter” tonight.

While the interview handled a wide-range of issues, and provided some further insight into the constant speculation that Booker may seek higher office, producers said the show was taped in April and therefore did not deal with the mayor’s attack last week on President Obama’s re-election campaign or his subsequent walk-back on YouTube.   (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)



Candidates: U.S. Congress District 4

Terrence McGowan says he is serious about defeating U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th, who McGowan believes has been in Washington for too long.

The seemingly unbeatable Smith, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years, is the dean of the New Jersey Congressional delegation and wins re-election handily each time in the Republican-leaning district. He frequently has no primary challenger.

This year is different.  (DeMasters, NJ Spotlight)



Candidates: U.S. Congress Republicans District 5

Bonnie Somer and Michael Cino, Bergen County Republicans, know they have a near-impossible task ahead of them as they attempt to unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett in the June 5 primary.

Garrett is a five-term incumbent in a GOP-leaning district who, at the end of March, had more than $1.8 million cash on hand to defend his seat in District 5.

“The fact is that to actually run for office, unless you’re backed by the party … it’s very difficult to do that,” said Somer, 59, of River Edge.   (Manochio, NJ Spotlight)



Candidates: U.S. Congress District 8

Michael J. Shurin, one of two Democrats running in the District 8 Congressional primary race this year, considers himself a moderate candidate.

“I can assimilate into either party,” Shurin said. He used to be a Republican and called himself a “RINO,” (“Republican In Name Only”). But in the heavily Democratic 8th District, which was not dramatically changed in the wake of reapportionment last year, Shurin will have a tough time unseating his well-established opponent.

Rep. Albio Sires, the Democratic incumbent, has a strong foothold in the district, which is dominated by Hudson County. He’s not expected to lose his ground.  (Kassel, NJ Spotlight)



Democrats fight to stand out in 6-person District 10 race

As contenders for the 10th District congressional seat approach the finish line, their public positions on issues show that not all Democrats in the liberal-leaning district see eye to eye.

In debates, forums, editorial board meetings and literature leading to the June 5 primary, the six candidates have staked out different positions on issues ranging from gay marriage to military intervention.

The front-runner, Donald Payne Jr., has raised the most money — $188,688 as of May 16. He’s running on the legacy of his father, Donald Payne Sr., who died in office in March. Candidate Payne cited the issue of job creation as his biggest priority, but in an editorial board meeting with The Star-Ledger said he would rely on his future staff to hammer out a clear position.  (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)



Business ownership gives legislator broader perspective on regulation

Before taking office in 2006, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) spent more than 25 years in the public eye directing funerals for her local community at Vainieri Funeral Home, in North Bergen.

“As a woman in a business dominated by male funeral directors, I had to prove myself every step of the way, from the first death call to the cemetery,” Huttle said. “When you’re dealing with families and standing in the lobby for a viewing — many times speaking in front of 1,000 people — you become very visible in the community. That helped with my campaigning in Bergen County, because I had helped people at such a difficult time in their lives, so they remembered me even if I couldn’t remember them.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Polls on gay marriage not yet reflected in votes

Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage steadily increasing, to the point where it’s now a majority viewpoint. Yet in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it.

It’s possible the streak could end in November, when Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state are likely to have closely contested gay marriage measures on their ballots.

For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It’s a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.  (Associated Press)



Cory Booker’s brand takes a hit

It only took 15 seconds on “Meet the Press” to turn Cory Booker’s gold-plated political brand into an imperiled commodity.

Booker has cemented a reputation as a rising Democratic star with crossover appeal, whose open secret is his desire to become either senator or governor.

But the Newark mayor may have done himself serious damage before he gets the chance to act on his long-held ambitions, thanks to his pointed criticism of the Obama campaign’s assault on Mitt Romney’s private-equity tenure, which he equated with the GOP using the Rev. Jeremiah Wright against Obama. Booker’s words, combined with his painful, videotaped walk-back hours later, may have done the Democrat more harm than good.  (Haberman and Schultheis, Politico)



‘Facebook’ fund releases wish list for Newark public schools and charters

The Foundation for Newark’s Future, the fund created from Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark public schools, will soon commit approximately $15 million to the city’s charter schools — nearly doubling its overall outlay so far.

As the new partnership with the Newark Charter School Fund is wrapped up, the foundation last week also released new details and developments about the nearly $15.9 million the foundation has committed to date.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



State, private colleges ask N.J. for $6B upgrade

The state’s 45 college presidents have compiled a bulging $5.9 billion wish list in the hope that lawmakers and taxpayers agree to invest in a long-sought expansion and upgrading of New Jersey’s public and private schools.

The list of 300 projects obtained by The Star-Ledger was provided to legislative leaders and Christie administration officials as they consider asking voters to approve the first bond issue for higher education in more than two decades.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Baby-friendly maternity units aid and encourage breastfeeding

When Mary O’Dowd became state health commissioner last year, none of New Jersey’s 54 hospitals with maternity units had been designated “baby friendly” — fostering an optimal environment that encourages new moms to breastfeed.

O’Dowd became a champion of breastfeeding, awarding grants to hospitals to help them forge stronger breastfeeding initiatives, and speaking out on the issue.  (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)



Rutgers gets $2.4 million for military suicide study

Rutgers University has received a federal grant to study if there are genetic factors that may predispose Army soldiers to psychological problems or suicide.

The Rutgers Cell and DNA Repository will use the $2.4 million grant to collect and analyze blood samples from 55,000 active-duty soldiers. The repository, located in Piscataway, houses genetic samples from more than half a million people in a collection of 70 tanks cooled by liquid nitrogen. It is the largest such facility in the world.  (Washburn, The Record)



Agritourism helps NJ farmers cover costs

Sure, Jim and Caroline Etsch farm traditionally, mainly raising hay and field corn on 1,100 acres in five municipalities in Middlesex and Monmouth counties.

But for a half-dozen or so years on the 30-acre home farm on Route 522 in Monroe, the couple — Jim, 52, and Caroline, 53 — has diversified in a way his grandparents, who founded the farm 82 years ago, would not have seriously envisioned.  (Townsend and Sapia, Associated Press)



Morris County GOP freeholder primary provides a mix of visions

The Morris County Republican primary for freeholder brings together nine candidates with different ideas on how to improve government.

All agree spending must be kept under control and all support greater governmental transparency.

The only incumbent running in the June 5 election is Freeholder Director William Chegwidden, who is seeking his third term. Chegwidden, a high school teacher and mayor of Wharton, said his institutional knowledge puts him in a unique position to serve Morris County and guide the freeholder board.  (Goldberg, The Star-Ledger)



Democratic primary for Burlington County freeholder board

The contested Democratic primary for two seats on the Burlington County freeholder board is mostly a race between candidates from the last two election cycles. A slate that ran in November will vie against a candidate who ran for the board in 2010 and her running mate.

Mary Anne Reinhart and Machell Still-Pettis, whom the county Democratic Committee endorsed in 2011, want another chance and are challenging the party’s more recent decision to support Aimee Belgard, its 2010 candidate, and newcomer Joanne B. Schwartz.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Finding creative ways to get drivers to embrace electronic tolling

Before transitioning to all-electronic tolling, New Jersey must increase the number of drivers who use E-ZPass — and to do so, transportation officials are looking to enact efforts from other states’ authorities to make the transponders more accessible to the public and accepted in more states.

“What you’re seeing in New Jersey is what other agencies have been doing with getting the (E-ZPass) tags into retail locations and walk-in centers,” said P.J. Wilkins, executive director of the E-ZPass Group for New Jersey. “Right now, everyone’s looking for more places to distribute tags … and we’d like to see the number of tolls in our region done through the use of E-ZPass increase.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Indiana official makes pitch to N.J. executives

New Jersey businesses looking to expand have been wooed by Indiana’s top economic development official this week, although he said he isn’t trying to poach Garden State companies.

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Dan Hasler said he met 40 to 50 executives, those based in New Jersey with operations in Indiana and those considering adding operations outside the Garden State.  (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)



Corzine’s Hoboken penthouse sells at 14% loss for $2.8 million

A Hoboken, New Jersey, penthouse belonging to Jon Corzine, the former chairman of bankrupt MF Global Holdings Ltd. (MFGLQ), sold for $2.8 million, 14 percent less than what he paid for it in 2008.

The buyer of the 2,400-square-foot (223-square-meter), two- bedroom apartment is listed as POJ Holdings LLC, which paid in cash, according to Kevin Dowd, a broker with Prudential Castle Point Realty in Hoboken, citing the multiple listing service. Dowd wasn’t involved in the deal, which was completed on May 7.   (Carmiel and Gopal, Bloomberg)



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Daily State House Schedule



Weekly Advance: Week of May 28th



Weekly Roundup: Week of May 21st



N.J. Legislative Black Caucus opposes Harris’ nomination

The New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus announced today that it opposes the nomination of Bruce Harris for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Harris, who is black, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.  (Smith, State Street Wire)



Cardinale bill would consolidate Bergen County police into sheriff’s office

Bergen County taxpayers are spending too much money on county-level police, according to a bill submitted by Sen. Gerald Cardinale, (R-39), Demarest.

Cardinale announced a bill that would consolidate certain county police departments with their respective county sheriff’s offices.  (Smith, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



Lance stresses conservative record in ad campaign

The Lance Campaign today released a new television and radio advertisement in the 7th District that emphasizes Lance’s conservative record and the endorsement of conservative leaders.

Lance’s also released a new radio spot called, “Principled Conservative,” which will run on New Jersey radio between now and Election Day June 5.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Christie put-downs aim to deflect bad news

David J. Rosen, the Legislature’s veteran budget analyst, is a cautious, silver-haired technocrat who prefers to stay in the background until summoned by lawmakers to share his forecasts for the state’s fiscal future.

But last Wednesday, a clearly irritated Governor Christie tagged him as the Legislature’s “Dr. Death,” the bearer of a gloomy revenue report that threatened to kill Christie’s promised income tax cut.  (Stile, The Record)



Christie’s judicial nominee is about to be benched

Bruce Harris is about to be “Kwoned,” as in rejected as was Phillip Kwon by the state Senate Judiciary Committee. Kwon was one of Governor Christie’s two most recent choices for the state’s highest court. In a hearing lasting longer than a performance of Wagner’s “Gotterdammerung,” Kwon’s nomination was not moved to the full Senate for approval.  (Doblin, The Record)



The Jersey Comeback may be on, but for whom?

Don’t come to Trenton if you want to know how the state economy is doing.

The Auditor noticed that when Gov. Chris Christie pushes a 10 percent income tax cut for all residents, he’s the local economy’s strongest cheerleader, proclaiming a “Jersey Comeback” — even amid a revenue crunch.

But when the conversation turns to raising the state’s minimum wage, as Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) is proposing, Republicans see nothing but dark clouds on the horizon.  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



Time to do away with sports betting stigma

Hard to fault New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for following the time-honored tradition of politicians everywhere: When in doubt, give the people what they want.

Turns out what they really want in the Garden State is to be able to bet 100 bucks on the Jets in the sports book at the Meadowlands race track before strolling over to the stadium for the Sept. 9 home opener against Buffalo.  (Dahlberg, Associated Press)



Big fiscal phonies

Quick quiz: What’s a good five-letter description of Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, that ends in “y”?

The obvious choice is, of course, “bully.” But as a recent debate over the state’s budget reveals, “phony” is an equally valid answer. And as Mr. Christie goes, so goes his party.   (Krugman, The New York Times)



Donations to rival party are fodder for campaign ad

Democratic voters in Bergen County are not the only ones finding a flier featuring Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr.’s smiling face in their mailboxes. About 1,100 Republican homes are getting ones, too.

But these are not authorized by the Pascrell campaign. Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin pasted Pascrell’s photo on a recent mailer, attacking Anthony Rottino, the Franklin Lakes businessman, who is challenging Yudin in the June 14 contest.  (Stile, The Record)



A snapshot of the gay marriage debate

A crowded open seat House race is often a good indicator of how a national issue is playing out among a specific constituency, providing insights from the trenches that can’t be captured through polling.

So it’s notable that in the Democratic primary to succeed the late New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne in the Newark-based, African-American majority 10th District, all six Democrats support gay marriage.  (Mahtesian, Politico)



Morning News Digest: May 29, 2012