Morning News Digest: July 13, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Acting Gov seeks disaster declaration for three counties
Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno Wednesday sought a federal disaster declaration for Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem Counties in the wake of fast moving, powerful storms that devastated the southern portion of the state.
In a letter to President Obama, Guadagno asked for $4.3 million to help pay for relief in the counties that suffered significant damage to homes, buildings and infrastructure. According to Guadagno, the state’s response included shelters, generators, water, State Trooper Details, debris removal and cooling centers. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Kyrillos raises $1.2 million in 2Q
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos raised nearly $1.2 million in the second quarter.
Kyrillos maintains about $2 million in cash on hand.
“Bob Menendez has raised millions of dollars from special interests,” said Kyrillos Campaign Manager Chapin Fay. “Oil companies, banks and Wall Street are all kicking in big bucks. And like Jon Corzine did in 2009, Menendez will have more money in this race. But no amount of money can explain away Bob Menendez’s failed record on jobs and the economy. We are right on pace for Joe Kyrillos to have the resources necessary to get out his job growth message.” (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Bencivengo pleads not guilty on all counts
Embattled Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo appeared before a federal court judge today and pleaded not guilty to bribery and extortion charges.
The serving mayor’s appearance comes after being charged in April with soliciting $12,400 in bribes to help an insurance company retain a contract with the township’s school district. Judge Anne Thompson set a jury trial date for Nov. 5.
Pretrial proceedings are slated for September and Thompson left the mayor’s bail unchanged. Bencivengo is free on $100,000 unsecured bond and required to report weekly to a court official. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)
Rutgers prof sees ‘tsunami’ coming to towns in a few years
While several towns were impacted during the “Great Recession”, forcing them to lay off and furlough workers, one expert predicts towns will go through another “municipal tsunami.”
Professor Raphael J. Caprio of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said the reasons largely stem from severe state aid cuts to municipalities over the years. Also, many towns have exhausted much of their surpluses and there isn’t much hope other types of revenues will grow enough, such as hotel taxes and construction permit fees, to make up for the loss. (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)
State’s sluggish recovery means more bad news for municipalities
New Jersey has fared worse than the country at large during the three-year economic recovery, a trend not expected to change anytime soon, making the future challenging for municipal governments.
That’s the message municipal officials heard yesterday at a forum sponsored by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities Educational Foundation. The half-day seminar, held at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, was designed to help officials understand the economic landscape and consider options for dealing with slow growth. (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)
November school board elections attract fewer candidates
When the Legislature last year allowed school elections to move to November, one of the worries was that people would be reluctant to run for the typically nonpartisan jobs on the same ballot as partisan races like the presidency.
Now that some early results are in, it looks as if a few of those fears may have been realized — although not to the degree expected. In fact, the slight dip may have more to do with a quirk in the filing deadlines than anything else. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Energy efficiency program means no more dim bulbs in Jersey schools
The Christie administration is setting aside $6 million to help public and private schools in New Jersey reduce their energy bills by replacing antiquated lighting.
The initiative, financed out of the state’s clean energy program, will be available to participants on a first-come, first-served basis. It will cover the entire cost of the upgrades, including materials, labor, permitting, and proper disposal of the lights, known as T-12 fixtures. Incentives range from approximately $100 to $500 per fixture, depending on the type, and are offered in association with complete fixture replacement (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Buses need to use flashing lights when picking up, dropping off disabled persons, new law says
Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno today signed a bill that she said closes a loophole by requiring that buses and other vehicles equipped with flashing lights turn them on when picking up or dropping off developmentally disabled persons.
“It clears up an area of the law that might have been unclear,” she said in a Statehouse news conference. “Turn the lights on. And when you see the lights come on, stop and stay stopped until you see someone get off that bus and get to an area of safety.” (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Guadagno defends business climate improvement, advocates for tax cuts
Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno defended the state against a poor business-climate ranking and said the economy would benefit from a combination of existing business tax cuts and an additional income tax cut.
Guadagno dismissed the drop — from 30th to 41st place — in a business climate ranking by financial news network CNBC. Guadagno said the network wouldn’t answer a request by her staff for the information, or “matrix,” used to determine the ranking.
“If you’re not going to tell me this, I’m not going to respond,” said Guadagno, who applied the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” to the ranking. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
Cory Booker chosen to help draft national Democratic party platform
Newark Mayor Cory Booker is among a raft of Democratic Party leaders chosen to draft the party platform for the next four years, according to a report in the the National Journal.
The four-year tradition involves party leaders drafting a series of priorities or “planks” such as job creation, developing more renewable energy or immigration reform. Those priorities are codified at the national convention, which will be held from Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C. (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)
NJ creates anti-trafficking law enforcement unit
New Jersey’s attorney general has created a new unit to expand the state’s work on combating human trafficking.
Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa (key-AY’-sah) on Thursday announced the formation of a team within New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice that will focus on sex- and labor-related human trafficking.
Chiesa also issued a directive for the training of law enforcement officials statewide in detecting, investigating and prosecuting such cases, or recognizing the signs of trafficking within the course of other investigations. (Associated Press)
NJ tech companies have trouble finding qualified workers
New Jersey technology employers say it’s tough to find skilled workers. Educators say they aren’t looking hard enough. And a survey released Thursday by an industry trade group pointed out the huge disconnect.
A survey by the New Jersey Technology Council found nearly six in 10 technology executives said their biggest employment obstacle is either finding qualified workers or training them.
But even more said they weren’t aware either of job fairs for veterans that could provide a key source of help or of government incentives that are available to them. (Diamond, Asbury Park Press)
State offers $24.5M incentive to retain electrical product maker ASCO
Florham Park-based Automatic Switch Co., or ASCO, would receive $24.5 million in Grow New Jersey Assistance Program tax credits if it stays in the state under an incentive approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
At today’s meeting, the EDA board also approved a $6.78 million incentive for Berkshire Hathaway-owned aviation training company Flight Safety International Inc. to expand at Teterboro Airport.
EDA Chief Executive Caren S. Franzini said the ASCO jobs were at risk of being lost because the company’s current building is functionally obsolete, and it is expanding in North Carolina. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
Six more N.J. cities being sued over red-light cameras
Class-action litigation over New Jersey’s red-light cameras has expanded to six more cities and towns and could grow in the weeks ahead.
Marlton lawyer Joseph A. Osefchen has filed suits in Glassboro, Monroe Township, Newark, Edison, Stratford, and Woodbridge in the last 10 days contending that motorists were illegally fined for running red lights after municipal traffic officials failed to complete required inspections of the cameras and intersections.
Osefchen filed his first such lawsuit last month in Cherry Hill. (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
ACLU sues over attorney general’s refusal to release records
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey has filed a lawsuit arguing that the state Attorney General’s Office is breaking the law by refusing to release records concerning topics ranging from state police overtime to investigative procedures.
The suit, filed this month in the Appellate Division of Superior Court, argues that a regulation that the office adopted at the end of last year violates the state Open Public Records Act.
The ACLU is seeking to overturn four parts of the rule that allow the office to withhold certain documents, including training manuals, employment records and duty assignment and overtime data. (Campisi, The Record)
Lawmakers call for national Lyme disease strategy
A group of lawmakers is pushing for a national strategy to combat Lyme disease aimed at speeding advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the sometimes serious illness that infects tens of thousands of people every year.
“The tick problem is growing. The Lyme disease problem is growing,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a cosponsor of the bill in the U.S. Senate. “This requires resources.”
The legislation provides for the establishment of an advisory committee made up of researchers, patient advocates and agencies, as well as the coordination of support for developing better diagnostic tests, surveillance, research and other efforts. (Smith, Associated Press)
Transitional Aid awarded to five towns
he Department of Community Affairs (DCA) on Thursday awarded more than $6.6 million in Transitional Aid to five municipalities operating on a calendar year budget, as opposed to a fiscal year spending plan. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Housing prices will probably decrease even more, analyst says
While the recent uptick in New Jersey single-family home sales bodes well for a recovery, one expert said Thursday the housing sector will continue to be stifled for some time. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Rice joins call for feds to review Jersey’s halfway houses
An Essex County state senator joined the ranks of other officials who are calling on federal government to give a thorough review of New Jersey’s halfway house program. (Arco, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Congrats to Assemblyman Sean Kean and family
The staff at PolitickerNJ would like to wish Assemblyman Sean Kean and his wife Bridget our heartfelt congratulations on the birth of their triplets.
Sean, Mary and Terrance Kean were born at 1:30 p.m. today at Jersey Shore Medical Center. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Should judicial pay be left to New Jersey voters?
In November, voters could be asked to decide if the salaries of New Jersey judges can be reduced by the state legislature, breaking a long-standing rule that protects judicial salaries from legislative interference. The Senate Budget Committee recently approved a resolution that would support a constitutional amendment clarifying that a judge’s “salary” does not encompass pension payments and other benefits, thereby allowing lawmakers to reduce judicial pay in order to fund benefits. (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)