Morning News Digest: May 30, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Rodriguez and Tavarez appear with Rothman in campaign lit as Bergenite readies for formal endorsements
Having stayed officially on the sidelines of the 9th Congressional District race, Dominican American councilmen Julio Tavarez and Rigo Rodriguez are now formally with U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman.
Signs appeared in Paterson this weekend featuring Tavarez and Rodriguez standing alongside Rothman with other Latino elected officials. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Congressional Black Caucus members stump for Payne
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Emanuel Cleaver and fellow Black Caucus member and Democratic Chief Deputy Whip G.K. Butterfield endorsed and rallied for Donald Payne Jr. and his campaign for Congress in the 10th District Saturday.
“I’m here for one reason. We need Donald Payne Jr. in Washington,” said Cleaver. “I could be in my back yard this Saturday, but it’s more important to me to be in this churchyard in Newark.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Booker communications director resigns
Anne Torres, communications director for Newark Mayor Cory Booker, is resigning, effective today.
Sources say her resignation comes amid internal administration strife in the aftermath of Booker’s appearance on Meet the Press.
Booker said he found campaign messaging on both sides of the aisle, including the Obama Campaign against Bain Capital, “nauseating.” The remark infuriated Team Obama, who wanted Booker to represent the views of the president as a surrogate of the campaign. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie holding public events as budget deadline approaches
On the same day his Supreme Court nominee could finally get a confirmation hearing, Governor Christie plans to travel to East Brunswick to host his 80th town hall meeting.
The event comes after Christie pledged to be out “talking to the real people of the state” as the July 1 deadline for the Legislature to adopt a budget approaches. Christie made that comment while giving the keynote address at the New Jersey Alliance for Action’s transportation conference in Trenton last week.
He started off by touting a parody video he made with Newark Mayor Cory Booker, which pokes fun at rumors Christie could become presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, as well as the governor’s use of videos and Town Hall meetings to spread his message. (Hayes, The Record)
Christie, others to open Newark’s Riverfront Park
Ten months after a groundbreaking, a new riverfront park has sprung up in Newark.
Essex County Riverfront Park is a $15 million project that sits on a former 12-acre industrial site along the Passaic River in the city’s Ironbound section.
Gov. Chris Christie, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and other officials are scheduled to formally open the park on Wednesday. (Associated Press)
Executive order could give Christie the online health insurance exchange he wants
When Gov. Chris Christie earlier this month vetoed a bill to create the online health insurance exchange mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act, he cited the impending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the ACA’s constitutionality as one reason for his veto.
The governor also raised significant objections to the bill itself. If the ACA is upheld by the court in a ruling expected in June, the Legislature could go back and try to hammer out a compromise bill that Christie is willing to sign. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Judge upholds suspension of pension increases for N.J. public employees
In a victory for Gov. Chris Christie’s pension revisions, a Superior Court judge has ruled that about 800,000 retired public employees are not entitled to increases based on the cost of living.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd in Mercer County affects all current and future retirees in pension systems funded by the state, including state workers and judges as well as local police, firefighters and teachers. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
Clinton to speak at public rally at Paterson HS
Rep. Bill Pascrell’s campaign has announced that former President Bill Clinton’s visit on Friday will be a get-out-the-vote rally at 4 p.m. at Paterson’s Kennedy High School on Preakness Avenue.
Members of the public who want to attend must RSVP to ClintonPascrellRally@gmail.com or call 201-933-0333. Tickets will be issued on a first come, first served basis.
Pascrell, D-Paterson, is vying against Rep. Steve Rothman, D-Englewood, in next week’s 9th District Democratic primary. (Jackson, The Record)
Supreme Court nominee Bruce Harris unfazed by criticism
Two days before his confirmation hearing, state Supreme Court nominee Bruce Harris said Tuesday that the mounting criticism from Democrats had not gotten to him.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones,” Harris, the mayor of Chatham, said of the attacks on qualifications to be a justice of New Jersey’s highest court.
And yet Harris, in a brief interview before Tuesday’s Chatham Borough Council meeting, was not overconfident about his odds come Thursday, when he will face a state Senate Judiciary Committee led by Democrats, some of whom are already writing him off. He let out a hearty laugh when a reporter observed that he might be presiding over one of his last municipal council agendas. (Patberg, The Record)
University Hospital will remain part of UMDNJ under merger, president says
Newark’s largest hospital will remain part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey if the controversial plan to reorganize the state’s higher education system moves forward, the school’s president said today.
Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has assured the school in recent weeks that UMDNJ will keep University Hospital under its umbrella, even if another hospital system comes in as a partner, said Denise Rodgers, the university’s interim president. (Heyboer and Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)
Fine Print: A-1534
Sponsor: Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester)
What it does: The bill would require the state Department of Environmental Protection to do an analysis of the 21-year-old Pollution Prevention Act, a law aimed at encouraging industry to curb the pollution coming from its operations by using less hazardous substances. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Candidates: U.S. Congress Democrats District 5
All three Democrats vying for the right to challenge the conservative Republican who represents the 5th District in Congress may be from Bergen County, but the similarity ends there.
There’s a former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq. There’s a political organizer who follows the LaRouche movement. And there’s a local elected official who is also a champion pumpkin chucker. (Manochio, NJ Spotlight)
Candidates: U.S. Congress District 7
In 2008, the Cook Political Report ranked the 7th Congressional District among the nation’s most competitive House races.
But that was a year when the seat was open — Michael Ferguson, who had won re-election in 2006 by less than 3,000 votes, chose not to seek re-election.
This year, the race isn’t even on the national radar, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance considered virtually unbeatable by all but his opponent, David Larsen of Tewksbury. (Zambito, NJ Spotlight)
Candidates: U.S. Congress District 10
A vacancy seems to occur only once in a generation in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District and this is that rare year.
Since 1915, the district has had just four different representatives. The longest serving was Democrat Peter Rodino, who was in office for 40 years and gained national prominence during the Watergate hearings in the 1970s. After he retired, Donald Payne, another Democrat and New Jersey’s first and only African-American congressman, held it for 23 years until his death in February. (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)
Head of N.J.’s chapter of ACLU steps down after 13 years
Deborah Jacobs, the head of New Jersey’s chapter of the ACLU is stepping down after 13 years to become Vice President for Advocacy and Policy at the Brooklyn-based Ms. Foundation for Women, according to a statement released by the ACLU today.
“New Jersey is a uniquely challenging and deeply rewarding place to fight for civil liberties, and I’ll miss every part of it,” said Jacobs. “However, I’m thrilled to direct my energies into much-needed advocacy for women and girls. Especially now, as women come under intense attack from so many corners of politics and society.” (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)
Steep ratepayer subsidies for new plants could spike power prices
At least for the short term, consumers are going to pay big subsides for new power plants in New Jersey.
Two of the three plants awarded ratepayer subsidies cleared an auction held by the operator of the nation’s biggest electric power grid, a result that makes it more likely the power plants will be built.
The ratepayer payments have been eagerly awaited by consumers and business groups as a way of seeing whether the state’s much contested effort to spur new power plant development in New Jersey will lower bills for customers, or as some suspect increase the cost of energy in a state with some of the highest energy costs in the nation. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Survey of CFOs finds N.J.’s tax climate is dismal
While New Jersey is home to one of the highest business tax rates in the nation, financial executives attribute the state’s lack of competitiveness in retaining and attracting business to the complexity of its tax system, according to a survey of chief financial officers conducted by Alvarez & Marsal Taxand LLC.
“With competition for corporate headquarters and the jobs that come with them increasing in the face of a challenging economy, it will be interesting to see if states modify their taxing systems in an aggressive attempt to retain contracts and attract new business,” said Don Roveto, managing director at A&M Taxand, in a statement. “When companies look to relocate corporate functions or expand operations, initial credits and incentives may be the most relevant factor from a tax perspective, although the ongoing tax burden must be considered.” (Eder, NJBIZ)
Federal commission OKs expanded gas pipeline through Highlands
The controversial expansion of a 7.6-mile natural gas pipeline from West Milford through Ringwood and into Mahwah cleared its last major regulatory hurdle late Tuesday when it was approved by federal authorities.
In issuing a certificate of approval, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it doesn’t believe the project would have a major impact on the forests and state parks that it would have to be built in, or the Monksville Reservoir in West Milford, which it would have to be built under. It would also pass directly by houses, businesses, even a baseball field. (Fallon, The Record)
Newark excited about opportunity to link manufacturing, education
Business groups, government agencies and other organizations in New Jersey can apply for federal funding under a new $26 million program that aims to build clusters in advanced manufacturing industries.
The funding program was announced today as part of an effort to “foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships” across the country, according to a news release from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Under the program, applicants can receive grants if they demonstrate a plan to grow a regional industry cluster, in part by building ties between “local economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets.” (Burd, NJBIZ)
Perth Amboy school board tries, again, to get rid of superintendent
Perth Amboy school board members tonight took a half step toward removing Superintendent Janine Caffrey for the third time.
By a 7-1 vote, the board approved a carefully worded resolution to invoke a “doctrine of necessity,” a state regulation permitting board members to vote despite a conflict of interest. (Haydon, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. seeks to provide seniors, disabled with improved access to programs
Senior citizens and adults with disabilities will now have improved access to a variety of programs.
Residents throughout the state will have access to the Aging and Disability Resource Connection. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Van Drew, Oroho bill would abolish inheritance tax
A bill that would do away with the state’s inheritance tax has been introduced.
The bill, S1996, also would increase the filing threshold for the estate tax. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Drug court, permit extension, mobile gaming among bills facing Senate vote
The Senate on Thursday is expected to vote on a variety of bills focusing on an array of subjects, including drug courts, changing the limits of popular tax credit programs, controversial environmental issues, and gambling, among other subjects. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Task force confronts problem of drug abuse among youths
Health experts, addicts and a former governor convened a public brainstorming session today to address the problem of drug abuse among youth.
Former Gov. James McGreevey was back in the Statehouse today as a member of the Task Force on Heroin and Other Opiate Use Amongst New Jersey’s Youth and Young Adults. (Smith, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
The Star-Ledger this weekend endorsed Bill Pascrell in CD 9 and Ronald C. Rice in CD 10.
The Ledger slammed Rothman for running a negative campaign and for opposing a fellow Democrat rather than run against Tea Party darling U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5). (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
The endorsement act has turned rancorously muddy in CD 9 in the City of Passaic.
Sources close to U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell griped about a billboard that appeared last week in the downtown business district featuring U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman flanked by Assemblyman Gary Schaer and Julio “Kiko” Luciano, an ally of former Mayor Sammy Rivera. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie using offense to play defense
Gov. Christie must have enjoyed seeing Beyonce at The Revel in Atlantic City over Memorial Day weekend after a particularly rough few days in Trenton, where he found himself constantly playing defense.
I was outta town, so let me catch you up on what we missed last week. Mostly, we missed Christie using a strong offense to play defense. (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Cory Booker’s communications director resigns
Cory Booker’s communications director Anne Torres resigned today, a departure that comes just eight days after the Newark Mayor created a major national controversy with his comments regarding the 2012 presidential campaign.
“I just decided it is best if I pursued other opportunities,” Torres told the Newark Star Ledger. “We have very different views on how communications should be run.”
In an official statement released by the mayor’s office, Torres was significantly more on message, saying in part that “it has been a pleasure to serve in this administration for six years, and as a Newarker, there is no greater reward than to work for the city that you love.” (Cillizza and Weiner, The Washington Post)