Morning News Digest: July 6, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Menendez has COH advantage over Kyrillos
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) leads his general election rival in the cash-on-hand race, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Menendez has $9,443,774 to $1,641,059 for state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13).
Those numbers are through May 16, and the candidates have had fundraising events since, Menendez with former President Bill Clinton and Kyrillos with Gov. Chris Christie. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Former Assemblyman Steele must make payments to ELEC
The state Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) fined former Assemblyman Alfred E. Steele (D-35) $8,560 in connection with his alleged failure to properly disclose his finances in his infamous 2007 campaign.
Steele, bagged by the feds in 2007 for accepting $15,500 in bribes in exchange for contract steerage, must pay up in full before April 15, 2013.
Bounced out of the Assembly after his arrest, Steele did jail time and later returned to Paterson, where he has been known to give the prayerful invocation at Democratic Party events. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
ELEC slaps Arvanites with penalty
The Election Law Enforcement Commission today resolved its complaint against Democrat John Arvanites of Roseland, a successful 2006 candidate for mayor of Roseland, who’s now running for Congress against U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11).
ELEC slapped Arvanites in connection with his campaign of six years ago when the candidate allegedly failed to properly file his financial disclosure paperwork.
Prior to reaching its final decision in the case, ELEC this year received payment from Arvanites of $3,201.80 toward $3,930 in imposed penalties from the 2006 primary; and $6,400 from the general election of the same year. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
After two defeats, Christie plans July high court pick
Gov. Christie, still angry at Democrats for rejecting two of his nominees to the state Supreme Court, said Thursday that he would submit a new name for consideration this month.
Christie told radio host Harry Hurley on WENJ-AM in Atlantic City that he was close to a decision. He did not say whom he was considering.
The Legislature’s majority Democrats rejected Christie’s two previous court nominees, First Assistant Attorney General Phillip Kwon and bond lawyer Bruce Harris. Christie’s only other Supreme Court nominee, corporate lawyer Anne Patterson, was made to wait a year before she was given a hearing and confirmed. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Chris Christie, YouTube star?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is pumped about hitting “5 million views on YouTube!” he tweeted on Thursday. To mark the occasion, his office compiled a video featuring some of his most memorable on-camera moments.
While a few notable zingers are left out (such as “Are you stupid?” and “…you, idiot”), one of Christie’s jabs at the “Jersey Shore” cast made the cut. (McDevitt, Politico)
Gov. Christie says he doesn’t think Mitt Romney will ask him to be vice president
Gov. Chris Christie doesn’t expect Mitt Romney to ask him to run on his ticket.
In a series of radio interviews this morning, Christie wouldn’t say whether the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is vetting him to be his running mate for vice president, but downplayed the chances of Romney asking him.
“I don’t think he’s going to ask, Harry,” Christie told South Jersey radio host Harry Hurley on 1450 AM. “And I think at the end of the day Gov. Romney knows how much I love being governor of New Jersey. And I didn’t run for president because I felt like I had an obligation and feel like I have an obligation as the governor of New Jersey to fix the things that were broken when I took this job.” (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Another post-budget fight, but Christie and Democrats swap roles this time
This time last year, Democrats were launching a full-scale public relations effort after Governor Christie vetoed spending priorities out of the budget bill they sent him at the end of June.
There were veto override attempts, legislative committee hearings and other public events set up to highlight how Christie cut somewhat modest spending items out of the Democrats’ budget – including funds for senior aid and struggling cities – but kept a $640 million surplus fund.
“Our focus must be on how Gov. Christie’s cuts are further hurting our middle-class and poor, children, senior citizens and most vulnerable residents,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, back in July 2011. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
Anti-bullying law runs out of cash
The deal was announced in the governor’s office in early March, a bipartisan agreement to save New Jersey’s anti-bullying law with an infusion of cash and a promise to take a harder look at ways the state can support school districts.
Four months later, the cash for last year has been spent, none is appropriated for the next, and the task force created to examine the law and its impact is still to meet.
Such has been the checkered history of the new law, considered one of the toughest in the country for its strict rules to investigate and closely track accusations of bullying. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
State high court protects records at Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic
In a decision with significant legal and environmental implications, the New Jersey Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic does not have to provide access to its records to a developer.
The case, involving a developer whose plan to build an outlet mall in Frankford Township in Sussex County was challenged by the clinic, centered on whether cases at public law school clinics are subject to the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
In deciding the records are not, the court gave a victory not only to the Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic, but also to hundreds of other law clinics around the country that provide free legal representation to clients who lack the resources to hire an attorney. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Booker to Robin Quivers: Let’s hang out
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who’s single, is looking to get together with radio host Howard Stern’s sidekick Robin Quivers.
“I’m a big admirer of hers, and I’m hoping that she and I at one point can meet,” Booker told AfterBuzzTV at an “America’s Got Talent” event in New Jersey earlier this week. He explained that “there have been numerous attempts to connect Robin and I–connect us not necessarily romantically, but connect us to even get together.” (McDevitt, Politico)
Unions for 9 N.J. colleges reach tentative contract with state
The union representing full-time faculty, librarians and professional staff at nine state colleges and universities in New Jersey has reached a tentative labor contract with the state.
If it’s ratified, the four-year contract would be retroactive to July 1, 2011.
Like other state employees who have settled contracts recently, the deal for workers represented by the Council of New Jersey State College Locals would have no raise in the first two years followed by pay increases of 1 and 1.75 percent in the final two years. (Associated Press)
New legislative district office to open in Bergenfield
The state’s 38th legislative district is opening a new service office in downtown Bergenfield, officials said Thursday.
Senator Bob Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus, and Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Maywood, will host an open house on July 10 to celebrate the new office. (O’Brien, The Record)
N.J. ramps up its sports wagering effort
New Jersey residents may be betting on sports events in the state as soon as the early fall, according to state officials.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement published sports wagering regulations July 2, starting a 60-day public comment period that will end Aug. 31.
Following the review of public comments and a legal review, the rules allowing gaming could to go into effect in early fall, according to Lisa Spengler, a division spokeswoman.
But this comes with a major caveat, she said. The federal government or the professional sports leagues may act to block the gaming expansion. (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
ADP survey shows job growth, but economists remain skeptical
U.S. private-sector nonfarm employment grew by 176,000 jobs in June, according to national employment data released today by Roseland-based Automatic Data Processing, which revised its May numbers up slightly from the initial report of 133,000 to 136,000.
Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, which co-authors the monthly report with ADP, said June’s job numbers show “a reacceleration following two months of tepid employment gains,” but “in the second half of the year, our forecast is the economy is going to grow sluggishly.” (Eder, NJBIZ)
Perth Amboy school board tries, fails, to quiet superintendent
A resolution to prohibit embattled Perth Amboy School Superintendent Janine Caffrey from making public statements about the school board failed to pass by one vote tonight.
School board Vice President Kenneth Puccio proposed a measure outlining seven limitations on Caffrey, including publicly commenting on behalf of the board or on controversial issues involving the district.
Noting Caffrey has spoken with news reporters and even had an interview posted on YouTube disparaging the board, Puccio also called for the superintendent to be prohibited from seeking new educational programs for the district, taking any actions with “obvious” legal consequences or influencing district staff to file suit against the board. (Haydon, The Star-Ledger)
Experts: Rising office vacancy won’t abate any time soon
With companies becoming more efficient with less space and the outlook on employment growth remaining dismal, New Jersey’s commercial real estate sector will face increased vacancy rates for nearly a decade, an industry expert said.
“No one out there is saying, ‘Tomorrow, I need 300,000 square feet of space,’ ” said Robert Burchell, co-director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at the Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. “The reality is people have gotten used to getting along with less space, and there are fewer people in the business now. If that’s what the demand side is like, then people in the supply side for space are finding it very tough.” (Eder, NJBIZ)
Bill would mandate written notice to patient if physician a non-participant in insurance plan
A bill is being introduced to help patients cope with one of the problems sometimes encountered with health insurance plans and non-participating physicians.
The bill would require that patients be informed when seeking care at a hospital that is covered by their medical insurance if the doctor who would actually treat them is not participating in their health care plan. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Bill would grant sales/use tax break for artists
A Southern New Jersey lawmaker says he wants to create and foster an atmosphere in the state for artists.
Assemblyman Chris Brown, (R-2), Northfield, introduced legislation late last month that would provide a 50 percent sales and use tax exception on the sales of certain artwork. (Arco, State Street Wire)
N.J. higher education’s latest lesson: 7 plus 7 equals…15?
The new higher education bill increases the number of members on the Rutgers Board of Governors to 15. Seven, according to Section 87, will be appointed by the state governor. The other seven by the university’s trustee board.
Seven plus seven equals 15?
All at the same time, it is comical, embarrassing, a little scary, and yet inevitable that the proposed law already touted by Gov. Chris Christie as “an historic reform of higher education” sailed through the Legislature containing a mistake of simple arithmetic in one of its key provisions. (Braun, The Star-Ledger)