Morning News Digest: September 17, 2012



Morning News Digest: September 17, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Winners and Losers: Week of the Mack Attack

Well, it finally happened.

But don’t assume it’s a loss…  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Difficult not to read 2013 intentions in Dems’ movements as they insist it’s about Obama

Another poll appeared today showing Barack Obama drubbing Mitt Romney in New Jersey by 14 points, but at least four Democratic leaders appeared in political war paint mode this afternoon at a rally for the incumbent president.

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), West Deptford; Democratic State Party Chairman/Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), Sayreville; state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18), Metuchen; and Newark Mayor Cory Booker all took to the stage at the invitation of Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22), Plainfield, to make sure this crowd saw them land a tomahawk on Romney.

Excited to re-elect Obama, this large, well-heeled political audience nonetheless knew the outdoor event heavily highlighted early auditions for governor 2013.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Inky Poll: Obama leads Romney by 14 points in NJ

In a new Philadelphia Inquirer New Jersey poll presented by PSEG and published this morning, President Obama leads Romney by 14 points among likely voters in New Jersey, 51% to 37%, with a margin of error +/- 4%.

It’s the second poll in a week that shows Obama leading Romney by a 14-point margin. An FDU survey yesterday found Obama over Romney, 53-48% in New Jersey.

The Inky conducted its poll September 9 through September 12 among 600 New Jersey voters likely to cast a ballot in the November 6 presidential election.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Christie’s high stakes choice: Will he run for reelection?

Chris Christie spurned overtures from Republican big shots to launch a presidential campaign, then told New Jersey audiences he loves being governor so much he wasn’t interested in auditioning as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Now, he says he wouldn’t resign before his term ends in January 2014 for a cabinet post in a GOP administration.

With those political decisions made, Christie is back to the business of being a high-profile governor and in-demand Republican campaigner. Last week, he packed a Howell gym for one of his signature town-hall meetings, laid out his priorities for the Legislature for the rest of the year, and jetted off to North Carolina and Indiana to stump for GOP gubernatorial candidates there. 

With a Washington job seemingly out of the picture, Christie still has a major decision to make in coming months: whether to run for reelection next year.  (Delli Santi, Associated Press)



Christie is banking heavily on his budget

Governor Christie brushes aside reports that say state revenues aren’t close to his buoyant economic projections because New Jersey’s constitution gives the governor alone the power to say how much to expect in taxes.

With a certitude bordering on bravado, Christie says he’s sticking with his forecasts — economic growth estimates significantly higher than nearly all other states and historically high for New Jersey. He’s pushing his call for income tax cuts, and banking on a rebounding economy to pay for an additional $2 billion in state spending and those tax breaks.  (Hayes, The Record)



Once jeering, firefighters cheer Christie

There were a few barely audible boos when Gov. Christie arrived at the New Jersey Firemen’s Convention at the Wildwoods Convention Center.

But two years after the same crowd jeered him so heartily that Christie has proudly recounted the incident to illustrate his willingness to do the unpopular – like force public workers to pay more for their benefits – the governor received an overwhelmingly positive reception Friday at the annual gathering.

Some gave him a standing ovation as Christie bounded up the steps to the portable stage erected for the occasion.  (Urgo, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Gov. Christie tells Wall Street that N.J.’s surplus may be lower

Gov. Chris Christie didn’t hesitate this week to blast the state’s legislative budget officer, who said his revenue estimates were falling short, but his administration has told Wall Street something different.

The administration advised potential investors in a preliminary bond offering statement filed Wednesday that lower-than-expected revenue collections may cause a “significant” reduction in the state’s projected surplus for the fiscal year that ended in June.

The revelation came the same week Christie once again attacked Office of Legislative Services budget officer David Rosen, who warned the governor’s estimates fell short by $254 million last fiscal year and may endanger the already meager projected surplus of $570 million for the current budget year.   (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



NJ job program criticized

New Jersey’s signature tax-incentive program, designed to cluster economic growth around transit hubs, has not lived up to its promise and may contribute to “job sprawl,” researchers for the non-profit center Good Jobs First said in a report issued last week.

Researchers looked into how states’ economic-development incentives have fared in targeting job growth, focusing on programs run by California, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey.

They described New Jersey’s 2008 Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit as “noteworthy” nationwide for having a “singular focus on providing incentives to businesses making large investments accessible by transit.” But, citing what they said were a lack of safeguards in the original program rules and newly weakened rules to divert some benefits to suburban areas rather than high-traffic urban centers, the report’s authors concluded that the changes have “perverted the program so badly that it can no longer be considered smarter economic development policy.”  (Fletcher, The Record)



Guadagno wields power in NJ business world

Over the past two years, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno’s public schedule has been filled with visits to hundreds of businesses, from bakeries to playhouses to New Jersey’s only bison farm, pressing the flesh as the ubiquitous symbol of the Christie administration’s “business-friendly” push.

But behind the company tours, photo ops and glad-handing, the 53-year-old former prosecutor has carved out an ever-expanding and increasingly powerful role as Governor Christie’s key link to the business community.  (Fletcher, The Record)



Bill fostering business-academic ties advances

A bill that would publicize New Jersey universities’ scientific research and capabilities was advanced by a Senate committee on Thursday.

The bill, S-1858, would establish a public database of this research, which is designed to foster ties between the business community and academia.

The measure was supported by both business and academic groups during a meeting of the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

Bill O’Donnell, vice president of biotechnology trade group BioNJ, said the database would improve the commercialization of research.  (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)



Reality TV bill would prevent N.J. towns from creating a ‘Situation’

While local companies throughout the state see a business boost when reality shows are filmed in their communities, Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Jackson) today announced plans to introduce legislation that would allow municipalities to control the shows’ production.

“Life is more than ‘gym, tanning and laundry’ to communities hosting reality TV shows,” Dancer said in a statement. “The reality is these shows may cost taxpayers money by requiring additional services when cameras are rolling in town and town leaders should have the option to license and regulate if deemed necessary.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Senate Committee takes up more than a dozen bills for alternative-fueled vehicles

New Jersey has one of the most ambitious clean energy programs in the nation, but some have criticized the state for not doing enough to promote the development of electric vehicles and other alternative-fueled cars.

That may begin to change this week, when the Senate Environment and Energy Committee takes up a wide-ranging package of bills to help spur consumers and businesses to buy and develop the infrastructure for alternative-fueled vehicles.

With 15 different bills on its agenda, lawmakers will consider measures to give tax credits to motorists and corporations that purchase vehicles not fueled by petroleum. Also on the docket: proposals aimed at promoting the development of the infrastructure to make consumers more likely to buy the cars.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Queen City Democrats rally to support Obama re-election

Assemblyman Gerald Green invited some of Central Jersey’s most influential Democrats to the Queen City on Saturday to open the re-election headquarters for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden.

State Senator Barbara Buono, Senator Robert Menendez, Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula ­— who is running against Congressman Leonard Lance to represent N.J. District 7 in Congress — and Newark Mayor Cory Booker were among the Democratic stars who took part.  (MacKenzie, Asbury Park Press)



McGreevey denies rumors of possible return to politics

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey sounded like a man certain about his intentions when asked about rumors flying around his home city that he has been mulling a return to politics after nearly eight years out of the public eye.

“Absolutely not,” McGreevey said Friday.

McGreevey and his longtime partner, Mark O’Donnell, moved to Plainfield in 2006, settling into a breathtaking, ivy-covered Colonial mansion on Prospect Avenue. The former governor had stepped down from that post about two years earlier with the bombshell admission that he is “a gay American,” words he used during a nationally broadcast television appearance in which he revealed his sexual orientation and an intent to resign.  (Spivey, Asbury Park Press)



Corruption trial of former Middlesex County Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo to begin

Joseph Spicuzzo loomed large in Middlesex County for 30 years, winning election as sheriff 10 times, and serving as head of the powerful Democratic committee.

In this year’s election season, however, Spicuzzo faces a different challenge in a different venue. He is going to court in Monmouth County for trial on charges he accepted bribes of as much as $25,000 in exchange for jobs and promotions in his sheriff’s department.

Jury selection in the trial begins Wednesday, before Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci in Freehold. The case was transferred out of Middlesex County because of Spicuzzo’s long history there.  (Haydon, The Star-Ledger)



Hottest topics in state education shaping Newark teachers contract

The future of superintendent Cami Anderson’s and the Christie administration’s hopes for Newark public schools may rest on a document that has been under negotiation for the past nine months: the Newark teachers contract.

The agreement will not only define pay and benefits for Newark’s 3,300 teachers — the usual concerns — but also will likely contain a host of new issues as to how individual teachers are evaluated, compensated, and assigned.

Both sides appear close by most accounts, with Anderson and state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf directly involved in talks with the Newark Teachers Union, discussions that have included Randi Weingarten, the president of the NTU’s parent, the American Federation of Teachers.   (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



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Daily State House Schedule



Weekly Advance: Week of Sept. 17



Weekly Roundup: Week of Sept. 10






Election may put compromises on hold

Last week, it seemed, the state Legislature had gone to the dogs — and maybe a few tigers, too.

With two Senate committees conducting business on Thursday, lawmakers were back in Trenton for their last push of 2012, and they started that push with animal measures.

One of the first bills to come up was Patrick’s Law, so named for an abused pit bull rescued out of a garbage chute in Newark. The bill, passed by the Senate Economic Growth Committee, would increase penalties for animal abuse.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)



GOP shelves plan to raise cash by buying gold and silver

The Bergen County Republican Organization planned a “gold rush” that didn’t pan out.

Looking for creative ways to raise campaign cash, the Republicans scheduled — and then quickly scratched — a cash-for-gold exchange.

It was supposed to work this way: BCRO committee members were urged, via an email, to bring old jewelry, gold, wristwatches, even plate ware, to the organization’s Hackensack headquarters and exchange them for cash.  (Stile, The Record)



What a former opponent told the FBI about Nicholas Sacco

Nick Sacco gets around. He’s the influential mayor of North Bergen, the deputy superintendent of its schools and a state senator. And thanks to Denis Jaslow, a former low-level operator in Hudson County politics, Sacco’s name appears prominently in an FBI report that The Auditor has caught a look at.

In an FBI interview from August 2009, Jaslow — who admitted accepting bribes to introduce the federal informant Solomon Dwek to a Jersey City council candidate — claimed Sacco approved his “low-show” job at the county Board of Elections.  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



Chris Christie, the Sloganeer in Chief

During his inaugural address back in 2006, then New Jersey Governor Jon “I lost $2 billion” Corzine promised that he would do what is best for the state, and said to the audience, “Hold me accountable.”

That one, simple line became the rallying cry for Republicans, who trotted it out every chance they had until Corzine, a Democrat, got what he asked for, and was booted out of office after just one term. 

The takeway – slogans are important.  (Tornoe, NewsWorks)



Morning News Digest: September 17, 2012