Morning News Digest: August 7, 2012

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Morning News Digest: August 7, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



‘Nobody votes for vice president,’ says Christie

As the country awaits GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s selection of a running mate, Gov. Chris Christie told a curious press corps that it’s not his job to choose.

“I’m not the candidate,” Christie reminded reporters. “Governor Romney has said the most important quality is that the vice president be ready to be president on day one.”

Christie denied that the vice president will have much impact on the campaign, calling the 2012 presidential contest a head-to-head between President Barack Obama and Romney

“In the end nobody votes for vice president,” said the governor. “No matter who Governor Romney picks they’re not voting for him.”  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



As weakened Schroeder fights for his political life, the buzz begins in Bergen

Phones started ringing this weekend as politicos in stealth mode started angling for the Assembly seat currently occupied by Robert Schroeder.

Or at least asking questions.

Following news Friday that Schroeder allegedly wrote nearly $400,000 in bad checks, a source described information gatherers as persistent, if simultaneously cognizant of the fact that no one’s found Schroeder guilty.

Bergen County Republican County Organization Chairman Bob Yudin refused to comment.

“I would not want to go there,” Yudin told when prodded about possible successors to Schroeder in the event that embattled assemblyman resigns.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Legal Services audit raises questions about eligibility verification

An audit of Legal Services raised questions about uncertainty over verifying financial eligibility of clients.

An audit released today of the Legal Services program found that although expenditures were recorded properly, there were problems ascertaining the “reasonableness” of those expenditures because Treasury could not verify the financial eligibility.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Christie: Flow of out-of-state guns not Camden’s main problem

A day after a gunman went on a rampage in a Wisconsin house of worship before a police officer killed him, Gov. Chris Christie refused to single out inter-state gunrunning as the main source of crime in Camden, which is on pace to have the most violent year in the city’s history.

“In the end the approach to Camden has to be holistic,” the governor said. “No one’s going to live in Camden willingly. Businesses aren’t going to develop there unless they believe there’s a safe environment.”

Christie said higher education reorganization in Camden will help the city.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Compromise, caffeine, and trade-offs: Behind NJ’s new tenure reform bill

With the signing yesterday of New Jersey’s new teacher tenure law, there was the expected fanfare about the stakeholders and bipartisan efforts that went into crafting the final bill.

Less attention was given to the two weeks of marathon meetings in early June that finally turned the legislation, the break coming when the governor relented on an issue that was once almost non-negotiable.

A half-dozen key players led by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the main crafter of the bill, met for hours at a time in a handful of locations to work out the details, according to several of those who attended.   (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Teacher-tenure law helps bridge gap between Christie and union leaders

Teachers’ union leaders and Gov. Christie appeared in the same room Monday – and even shook hands – as they heralded legislation on tenure passed by lawmakers from both parties.

But the smiles and signs of détente in the ugly feud between Christie and the unions belied reality, as the bulk of Christie’s education agenda remains sidelined.

The bill-signing at a middle school in central New Jersey was a historic moment, marking the state’s most significant changes to teacher-tenure rules in a century. It links tenure to performance, increases the time it takes to earn tenure, and makes it faster and cheaper to dismiss a poor teacher.

Yet the law, the biggest educational achievement of Christie’s term, retains something that the Republican governor has long railed against – seniority.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Gov. Christie not among the featured speakers at the GOP convention; could still deliver keynote address

An A-list of speakers for the Republican National Convention is out, and Gov. Chris Christie’s name isn’t on it. For fans of the brash governor, that’s good news.

In a statement issued today, the Republican National Committee announced seven featured speakers at the nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., later this month, including three women and three former presidential candidates.

No one was identified either as the keynote speaker or as the person who will nominate Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate.  (Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Kyrillos unveils women’s coalition in U.S. Senate run

Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos continued his efforts on Monday to establish himself as a strong candidate for women’s issues as part of his campaign to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez in the race for a U.S. Senate seat this fall.

Kyrillos unveiled his “Women for Kyrillos” coalition during a midday rally behind the offices of M3 Realty on Oak Tree Road, where more than 100 supporters turned up. M3 Realty, a residential real estate firm, is owned by a female businesswoman who founded the company in 1989. The company now employs several full- and part-time associates and has added a second office in Plainsboro. 

Kyrillos and Menendez have traded barbs publicly over their stances on policies affecting women’s issues. “Women for Kyrillos” will be chaired by Christine Giordano Hanlon, an attorney and mother of four. Kyrillos’ wife, Susan Doctorian Kyrillos, also will take a leadership role in the coalition.  (Racz, Asbury Park Press)



Assemblyman Schroeder sued over unpaid loan

An assemblyman under pressure to pay mounting business debts borrowed money from his running mate and another person, who filed a lawsuit Monday saying the loan was never repaid.

Monday’s lawsuit comes days after state authorities charged Robert Schroeder, R-Washington Township, with knowingly writing bad checks totaling nearly $400,000 to two investors in his military supply company.

Six lawsuits filed in federal and state courts show that Schroeder’s Hillsdale-based company, All Points International Distributors Inc., had owed at least $1.78 million in unpaid bills in recent years. Some of the lawsuits were filed by suppliers to Schroeder’s companies claiming they hadn’t been paid. Others were filed by those that purchased items, saying they were never delivered. Some of those lawsuits have been settled with structured payment plans.  (Hayes and Reitmeyer, The Record)



Republicans say Lesniak opposition to EDA appointee unfounded

Sen. Ray Lesniak, the head of the Senate’s Economic Growth Committee who only six weeks ago pushed to expand the Economic Development Authority’s funds by $250 million, now says he would reconsider that policy in the light of the authority’s leadership change.

Lesniak, a Democrat from Union County, has been quick to criticize the appointment of Michele Brown, Governor Christie’s appointments counsel, to lead the authority starting Oct. 1, and took the unusual step Monday of distancing himself from a proposal he sponsored to boost the authority’s Urban Transit Hub tax-credit program.

Saying he feared what he called “politicization” at the authority, which administered $882 million last year in financial incentives to New Jersey companies, Lesniak said he would have had “serious second thoughts” about putting the draft law forward if he had known the head of the authority, Caren Franzini, was set to depart after 18 years as EDA president and chief executive officer.  (Fletcher, The Record)



New Jersey’s young-driver law not flawed, court concludes

New Jersey’s young-driver law, which requires novice motorists to display a red decal on their cars’ license plates, doesn’t violate privacy protections, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled.

The state’s highest court rejected a challenge to the statute, known as Kyleigh’s Law, which argued the provision unfairly singles out a class of motorists in the state, where the driving privileges for young motorists expand in stages, and violates constitutional protections.

The law properly covers only “the group of drivers who are at specific stages of New Jersey’s graduated driver’s license system, which governs only drivers who have permits or licenses issued by this state,” the court concluded.   (Feeley, Bloomberg)



Local East Greenwich Committeeman wants Grant gone

East Greenwich Committeeman Tom Decker wants Democrat Mayor Fred Grant to resign.

Cops reportedly clocked Grant speeding 91 mph in a 45 mph speed zone last week and booked him with driving drunk charges

“This is a serious matter,” said Decker, a Republican. “The mayor didn’t roll through a stop sign; he was drunk driving 91 mph through a residential zone.” 

The East Greenwich cop pulled the mayor over after midnight on July 31.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



N.J. towns blame state for part-timers on pension rolls

Part-time work for the New Jersey towns of Leonia, Saddle Brook and Elmwood Park helped attorney Brian Giblin rack up pension credits worth $33,143 a year, even after a 2007 state law made contractors like him ineligible.

Giblin was among five attorneys singled out in a July 17 audit by Comptroller Matthew Boxer that found 202 people improperly enrolled in the state pension system. The potential cost of retirement payments to those attorneys, engineers and other professionals is at least $1.9 million annually, Boxer said, and probably much more because his office surveyed only 159 of New Jersey’s more than 1,000 towns and school districts.   (Young, Bloomberg)



Should school lunch enrollment determine state aid?

It’s been quiet since they were first appointed, but Gov. Chris Christie’s Education Funding Task Force will make its first public appearance with a hearing tomorrow in Fort Lee.

The seven-member task force was created by executive order in March in the aftermath of Christie’s state budget proposal for fiscal 2013 with the task of studying the state’s school funding formula.

It specifically was charged with studying how the state measures poverty as part of the formula by districts’ and schools’ enrollment of children in federal subsidized lunch programs.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



State agency adopts new rules for renewable energy

The state has adopted new rules aimed at increasing investments in renewable energy systems in New Jersey.

The regulations, adopted in the New Jersey Register issued yesterday, deal with how owners of solar systems, wind turbines, and other renewable sources of energy connect with the regional power grid and get credit for the electricity their systems produce.

Beyond encouraging new investments in renewable energy, the rules should avert the need to build new power plants powered by fossil fuels and alleviate the demand for new spending on huge transmission projects, according to the rules adopted by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Red tape review ‘not as flashy’ as in early days, but still key to business

Though the excitement over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s Red Tape Review Commission has calmed down, leaders of the state’s business groups believe the commission’s efforts are still going strong, as they continue to spot improvements in New Jersey’s regulatory environment.

“The commission really brought common sense back to the regulatory process, and it’s good to have an outside set of eyes continually looking at regulation,” said David Brogan, first vice president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.

“There’s the practical benefit to it and the perceptual benefit, and both are very good for business growth. It’s not as flashy as it was when it first started, but it’s still very important.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



How dark horse Norcross went from selling insurance at the track to top in business, politics

George E. Norcross III should have been celebrating. Instead, he was staring down representatives of Republic Insurance Co. 

The thoroughbred Spend A Buck had just won the Jersey Derby — skipping the more venerable Preakness and a chance at the Triple Crown — and a $2.6 million payday at Garden State Park, in Cherry Hill. International Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. had promised a $2 million bonus to a horse winning the Kentucky Derby, Jersey Derby and two other races at its track, and suddenly, Republic was balking at paying the bonus.  (Waters, NJBIZ)



Judge hopes to rule this week on Giants, Jets suit to block NJ megamall

Has the American Dream Meadowlands developer breached its 2006 agreement with the Giants and Jets by gaining preliminary state approval last year for a new amusement park at the site — even though the football teams did not provide their written consent?

That was the key question on Monday in the Hackensack courtroom of Superior Court Judge Peter Doyne, who following the one-hour hearing informed the parties that he hoped to have his written ruling completed before the end of the week.

The six-year-old agreement — reached after the teams had squabbled with previous “Meadowlands Xanadu” developer Mills Corp. over the original development plan that dates back to 2003 — states that Triple Five would need a formal go-ahead from the teams for modifications to the entertainment and shopping project plan that would have an “adverse” impact on game-day traffic.  (Brennan, The Record)



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Daily State House Schedule



Tug-of-war over $142M in unspent housing funds focus of Assembly hearing

The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday regarding the transfer of municipal affordable housing funds to the state government.

Under a law passed in 2008, A500, towns had to “commit” their built-up affordable housing funds for various projects within their borders, or face forfeiture by the state.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Some signs of legislative support to amend Kyleigh’s Law

While the attorney fighting the state’s driver decal law for young motorists vows to continue the battle in federal court, the state Legislature has showed little signs in recent months of repealing the controversial provision of the state statute.

The state Supreme Court Monday affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a provision in New Jersey’s Kyleigh’s Law that requires young drivers to affix a special decal on their license plates does not violate state and federal laws.  (Arco, State Street Wire)



Attorney fighting Kyleigh’s Law says he’s ‘not ready to give up the fight’

The attorney who pursued the legal battle against New Jersey’s Kyleigh’s Law says the courtroom fight is not over.

Greg Trautmann told State Street Wire that in light of the state Supreme Court’s ruling today that upheld the driver decal law for young drivers that he intends to pursue the lawsuit in federal court. Trautmann said he respects the court’s authority, though he called the law dangerous, saying, “At some point in time someone is going to get hurt.”  (Arco, State Street Wire)






Christie praises the NJEA, his favorite punching bag

The formal signing of the teacher tenure reform law on Monday marked a historic occasion.

It was the first time that Governor Christie actually praised the leadership of the New Jersey Education Association, the powerful teacher’s union.

Yes, that’s right, he praised the same leaders who he once dubbed as “thugs” and union bullies who would do anything to protect their salaries and seniority – including rounding up students as “drug mules” to peddle their propaganda.

And not only did he lavish praise on the union, but he did so as the NJEA’s top brass sat in audience inside a stuffy middle-school classroom in Central Jersey.  (Stile, The Record)



Upholding decal law could save young lives

Now that the New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled the state can constitutionally require itsy-bitsy red tags on cars operated by the least-experienced drivers on the road, shouldn’t we move on to Step 2?

If we think the most important thing we can do is to protect young people from being targeted for tickets, then maybe Step 2 should be to persuade the state Legislature to overturn Kyleigh’s Law because it obviously singles out drivers under 21.  (Cichowski, The Record)



Morning News Digest: August 7, 2012