Morning News Digest: September 11, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Trenton Councilman says Mack will be another Bencivengo
Trenton Councilman George Muschal doesn’t want to bother calling on Mayor Tony Mack to resign.
It won’t happen, he said.
“Right now Tony’s not going to resign so I can’t run for a seat that’s not available,” said Muschal, amid word on the street that he would pursue the mayor’s seat in the event of a vacancy.
The feds busted Mack this morning on a bribery conspiracy.
“Right now, I’m the south ward councilman and that’s what I’m doing, and content to be doing,” said Muschal, 40 years a cop, and 30 years the owner of his own local laundromat. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Pascrell names general election campaign team
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9) announced the members of his campaign team for the November 2012 election.
“I am proud of the team we have assembled to deliver a victory this November,” said Pascrell, who’s running against Republican challenger Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. “Our team is comprised of experienced and enthusiastic experts in Democratic politics, who will be working hard on my re-election as well as the re-election of President Obama, Senator Menendez and Democratic candidates throughout Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Bathgate serving as finance chair of Kyrillos campaign
The Joe Kyrillos for U.S. Senate campaign today formally announced that attorney Lawrence E. Bathgate II, of Lakewood, has been named Finance Chairman.
“Susan and I could not be more pleased and humbled that such a well-respected and influential fundraiser, business and community leader, has joined our ranks as Finance Chairman,” Kyrillos said in a statement. “My friend, Larry Bathgate is a man of integrity, and I know with his hard work and leadership, we will have the means necessary to beat our opponent, Bob Menendez, in November. I appreciate his acknowledgment of how important this election is not only to the future of our state, but also of our nation. Larry brings decades of experience to my campaign and will be a tremendous leader of our finance team.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Stack retaliates in North Hudson scrum with Sacco
Sacco-Stack thermonuclear hi-jinks continued today as the allies of state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-32) coped with a mailer unloaded in their direction by state Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-33).
In advance of next year’s district-wide elections, the rival Democratic senators traded openly in North Hudson over the backroom fulminations of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who wants a united Hudson County for his own November general.
Sacco initially went after Stack in mailer last month with the following warning to District 32 taxpayers: “If you live in North Bergen, West New York, Weehawken or Guttenberg, you should know that more than one million tax dollars could be wasted because of Union City’s failure to pay its fair share of North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue costs on time. As reported in the Jersey Journal, Union City owed the NHRFR almost $6 million as of 8/2/12. This is Union City’s share of the cost of fire protection.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
N.J. 2012 tax revenue may miss target by $254 million
New Jersey tax receipts fell $254 million short of Governor Chris Christie’s fiscal 2012 budget forecast, according to a nonpartisan report on year-end figures.
The 12-month total through June was $25.4 billion, or about 0.8 percent less than the $25.6 billion estimated by Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff in May, David Rosen, the Legislature’s chief budget officer, said yesterday in a memo. He said revenue from 14 major tax sources rose 2.9 percent from fiscal 2011.
Christie, 50, dismissed the memo as “blatantly political,” in comments to reporters in Haddonfield. The first- term Republican said some receipts still haven’t been counted, and that the budget officer’s figures aren’t credible. A report from Rosen last month said collections were as much as $540 million less than targeted. (Young, Bloomberg)
Christie, Guadagno mark 11th anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks
Governor Christie will attend the annual memorial service at Ground Zero this morning, honoring the nearly 3,000 victims who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks 11 years ago.
Christie announced yesterday that work would resume on the National September 11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero, after the project was stalled for a year over funding disputes.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will participate in the Bergen County 9/11 Memorial Ceremony this morning before heading to the Somerset and Ocean county observances later today. Click here for a full list of North Jersey 9/11 remembrance events. Guadagno was at Keyport High School yesterday to launch the New Jersey State Museum’s “Remember 9/11: Reflections and Memories from New Jersey,” a collaborative learning program that includes video stories, lesson plans and teacher training workshops. (Hayes, The Record)
Construction on stalled 9/11 museum to start right away, Christie says
Work on the billion-dollar National 9/11 Memorial Museum, mired for nearly a year in a dispute over cost overruns and control of the site, will resume immediately under an agreement announced late Monday, the eve of the 11th anniversary of the attacks.
Governor Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York joined New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in signing off on the agreement between the Port Authority and the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation. Christie pledged that the project would move forward “around the clock” with conviction and “proper transparency.” (Bautista, The Record)
Christie lauds teacher evaluation pilot program
Gov. Chris Christie paid a visit to the high school here – one of the ten districts in the state’s teacher evaluation pilot program – to highlight the ongoing education initiatives of his administration.
He pointed out that Haddonfield is an example of what he is trying to accomplish statewide. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Christie pushes for changes to Supreme Court during Haddonfield school visit
School is back in session and Governor Christie spent the afternoon at Haddonfield Memorial High School, chatting with students, highlighting some of his education reforms, laying out his goals for the future and driving home a point he’s made many times – he wants to change the New Jersey Supreme Court.
“I picked Haddonfield today because of what they’re achieving educationally in their schools,” Christie said in the school’s library Monday afternoon. “I think it serves as an extraordinary example for the rest of the state of what is possible.”
But Christie also said Haddonfield is an example of the state’s inequitable school funding formula, which gives 50 percent of total state aid to 31 poor, urban districts. Even though Haddonfield is a wealthy suburb, the state’s addition of nearly $200 million more in school aid gave the district a boost in funding (Hayes, The Record)
Gov. Christie defends plan to campaign for controversial Iowa congressman
Gov. Chris Christie today defended his plans to campaign for an Iowa Congressman who recently suggested that the family of a high-ranking Democratic adviser is “entrenched in the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“I don’t have to agree with everything somebody I campaign for says,” the governor said at a news conference, adding: “I haven’t taken a lot of time to study his comment.
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) last month repeated statements first made by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the chairwoman of the tea party caucus in the House, and four other conservative lawmakers about Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The lawmakers said they believed Abedin’s relatives have alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to The Los Angeles Times. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Trenton Mayor Tony Mack arrested by his lawyers say he won’t resign
New Jersey’s capital city, already struggling with massive police layoffs, rising gang violence and municipal mismanagement, woke Monday to find its mayor arrested after a federal sting where he and others allegedly bragged to FBI informants about acting like “Boss Tweed” and using code names for each other like “Napoleon” or “Honey Fitz.”
Mayor Tony Mack, his brother Ralphiel and a political supporter once convicted in the sexual abuse of a teen stand accused of taking $54,000 in cash payments — and agreeing to accept $65,000 more — after allegedly discussing taking bribes on tape with FBI informants who posed as developers looking to buy a vacant city lot near the State House. (Campisi, The Record)
Kean: GOP wants bills posted for vote
A group of Republican senators has sent a letter to Senate President Steve Sweeney asking him to post for a vote several bills dealing with tax relief and other issues.
The Senate has a voting session scheduled for Oct. 4. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
N.J. delegates: Booker eyeing gubernatorial run
Cory Booker has been working his way back into the good graces of national Democrats after earlier this year criticizing the Obama campaign for attacking Mitt Romney’s private-equity background.
Now, according to delegates who attended the Democratic convention here, the Newark mayor, long considered a rising star in his party, is positioning himself to run against New Jersey’s popular Gov. Chris Christie in 2013. They say he’s in good shape to do so.
As the co-chairman of the platform committee in Charlotte, Booker seemed to be everywhere. NBC called him “the man you can’t miss in Charlotte” and the “most ubiquitous and energetic politician” at the convention.
“He’s warmly received and I think he is a bright star in the Democratic Party,” Obama confidant and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin told POLITICO. “Everyone has a stumble and he’s recovered well.” (Glueck, Politico)
NJ court rejects challenge to 2011 redistricting
An appeals court on Monday unanimously rejected a challenge to the state’s legislative map by a tea party group and others who claimed it violated the state and federal constitutions and gave an unfair advantage to Democrats.
The map was approved by a 6-5 vote in April 2011 after a panel of five Republicans and five Democrats voted for competing maps. The tie-breaking vote was cast by Rutgers University political science professor Alan Rosenthal, who sided with the Democrats’ version.
The following month, a lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs identifying themselves as the Bayshore Tea Party Group along with registered Democrats, Republicans and independents. It claimed the new map splits counties unnecessarily and gives voters in less-populous northern districts more weight than voters in more-populous southern districts. (Associated Press)
Jobless appeals backlog angers lawmakers
Three lawmakers blasted the state today over a backlog in processing unemployment benefit cases.
State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, and Assembly members Joe Cryan and Annette Quijano (all D-20), said today they have received several reports from constituents that there is a six-month backlog within the Division of Unemployment Insurance for appeals concerning the denial of unemployment benefits. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Angry critics call New Jersey’ blueprint for growth too radical
The Christie administration’s draft strategic investment plan is touted by officials as a blueprint for spurring economic development in New Jersey, a goal seemingly embraced by many.
But critics say it represents a much more radical plan, and a very unlikely GOP agenda at that. It’s a proposal they say redistributes wealth, usurps individual property rights, and reflects a decade-old United Nations resolution that aims to promote so-called sustainable environmental growth around the globe.
In the seventh public hearing on the (Johnson, NJ Spotlight) in Toms River yesterday, more than 50 people showed up, mostly to denounce the proposal. Often they shouted down a Christie administration official who sought to answer questions, loudly applauded those who criticized the proposal, and frequently interrupted the official when he sought to address those concerns.
Ailing public and private schools consider conversion to charter
Converting traditional public and private schools to charter schools is a hot topic across the nation and even now a Hollywood movie, but the conversions are drawing little interest in New Jersey.
Charter school conversions allow struggling public and even private schools to convert to charter schools with approval of their parents and staff, freeing them up to try different programs and governance independent of the local districts.
Still, in New Jersey’s long history of charter schools, no traditional public schools have taken the bait, with some saying the requirements are too daunting for any district school to overcome. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Help for New Jersey’s mortgage crisis?
A bill to streamline mortgage refinancing for borrowers from the two largest federal lenders has won industry support by dropping penalties on banks and insurers, according to the sponsors, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
New Jersey mortgage-holders would be among the major beneficiaries, saving an average of $4,143 a year, the third highest in the country after the District of Columbia and Massachusetts, according to A May study by Columbia University’s Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate.
The study found that New Jersey ranks sixth in the number of affected borrowers with 402,341. California is first, with more than 10 percent of the total. (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)
Business owners’ faith in N.J. government tested again with Trenton mayor’s arrest
This morning’s FBI arrest of Trenton Mayor Tony Mack on federal corruption charges will only weaken the private sector’s willingness to engage with the state government, a New Jersey business leader said.
“A violation of public trust by any elected official at any level — even at the local level of a town council person — makes everybody more wary and suspicious, and that makes it more difficult to engage people and businesses with the state and the city of Trenton,” said John Galandak, president of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. “We need the level of engagement in Trenton to get stronger, but things like this will only make it weaker and make the (public) body less effective.” (Eder, NJBIZ)
Top-ranked community colleges succeed by watching demographics
All two-year colleges across the country have seen a growing pool of associate’s degree candidates, but only a handful of community colleges in New Jersey have translated increasing demand into high degree completion rates.
According to Community College Week’s annual analyses of U.S. Department of Education data, out of the state’s 19 community colleges, only Brookdale Community, Bergen Community and Camden County colleges have ranked among the top 3 percent of two-year colleges by associate’s degree completion since 2007, while Middlesex County College and Ocean County College joined the top 100 list in 2011 and maintained their ranks this year. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Hospitals revisit energy-efficiency opportunities
Utility companies and energy industry experts are working with hospitals to find out if solar energy fits the bill as hospitals search for the best ways to reduce spending.
On Friday, the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Health Research and Education Trust hosted a seminar with solar industry veterans, focusing on how to decrease energy bills through the use of solar installations.
The seminar featured Mark Crowdis, president of Reznick Think Energy LLC; David Khasidy, founder of SunRay Power LLC; and Kevin J. Moore, chair of the renewable energy practice at Sills, Cummis & Gross P.C. (Caliendo, NJBIZ)
Putting New Jersey’s historic sites back on the map
Sitting last month in the Steuben House, one of the nation’s most historic homes, state Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen) looked southeast for an explanation of why it has been closed for five years.
“One thing that’s always bothered me is that tourism [policy] in New Jersey always seems to focus just on the Jersey Shore,” Gordon said. “We have no such commitment of resources when it comes to our history.”
The state Department of Environmental Protection responded that although the (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight) has not had regular hours since a 2007 flood, repairs, maintenance and even some improvements have been done in and around it.
Post-convention: Obama maintains his Electoral College advantage
This is my first post-conventions Electoral College projection. As a result of poll data and other political developments during the month of August, 2012, I have shifted to toss-up status the states of Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. I had previously projected Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Hampshire as Obama states and North Carolina as a Romney state.
The candidate who wins 270 or more electoral votes is elected President of the United States. I currently project Barack Obama as the likely winner of the District of Columbia and the following states, for a total of 237 electoral votes. (Steinberg, PolitickerNJ)
Christie talks of a comeback, but jobs data may say otherwise
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has caught a case of the cognitive dissonance blues.
For months he’s thumped on about the New Jersey comeback and the jobs he’s created. And we noisome critics keep pointing to the state’s unemployment rate, which has remained stubbornly high. The state now ranks fourth in the nation in unemployment.
So the governor, fresh from his me-me-glorious-me keynote address at the Republican National Convention, has taken a new tack, implying that the unemployment rate is flawed and that critics should focus on job creation. (Powell, The New York Times)