Morning News Digest: September 28, 2012


Morning News Digest: September 28, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Carville and Matalin agree: Christie ‘to be taken seriously’ in 2016

Will Gov. Chris Christie be a likely presidential candidate in 2016 if Mitt Romney loses to Barack Obama in the November election?

Absolutely, says James Carville.

Speaking at a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce forum Thursday night, the Democratic strategist predicted the former Massachusetts governor will lose his bid for the White House to Obama in the fall and that it will open the door for Christie “to be taken seriously.”

“I think he is attractive in the sense that he doesn’t sound like a typical politician,” said Carville, adding if Republicans fail to clinch the election then “they’re going to conclude” that their appeal is too narrow.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



‘I’ve been nice up to this point’: Christie goes after Sacco in Lacey Twp.

Under siege by Democrats in an economic downturn with unemployment rising, Gov. Chris Christie went on the attack today, trying to grab hold of ethics as an issue to nullify complaining Democrats.

“You can’t serve three masters,” the governor said, targeting embattled Mayor/state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), whose Department of Public Works is at the center of a continuing investigation into improper use of public resources.

Noting his administration hasn’t had to weather a single scandal, Christie made his ethics-centric counteroffensive amid Democrats kicking him on everything from 9.9% unemployment, a state failure to distribute $300 million-worth of federal foreclosure relief, and the governor’s rosy predictions of state revenue intake.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Pascrell names co chairs of his campaign

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-9) today announced the co-chairs of his campaign for re-election to represent the new 9th District in the House of Representatives.

“I am privileged to have Bernadette McPherson, Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly serve as Co-Chairs to oversee and direct my upcoming campaign for Congress,” said the congressman, who in June drubbed U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-9) out of office in a ferocious Democratic Primary. “Bernadette, Nellie and Benjie have been right with me on the front lines in the fight for middle-class taxpayers against corporate greed and Tea Party Conservative ideals.  Their long-term commitment to residents across northern New Jersey makes them a perfect fit to lead my campaign.”  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)’s interview with Bob Menendez

Leading Republican opponent state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) by 15 points, according to a Monmouth University poll released this week, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) nonetheless insists he’s running a campaign on par with his most aggressive ever.

He’s running scared, he says, the only way he knows how to run, going back to the only election he ever lost, against then-Union City Mayor Bill Musto in 1980, when Musto beat Menendez, then went to jail.

In a bustling downtown New Brunswick office where allies worked the phones Wednesday, the incumbent Democrat sat down with as he contends not only with Kyrillos, but a state dominated by the Republican presence of Gov. Chris Christie and a fractured Democratic Party.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Christie to veto every spending bill until tax cut passes

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who faces re-election next year, said he will veto every spending bill that reaches his desk until Democratic lawmakers approve a tax cut.

New Jersey can reduce taxes, the governor said today at a business group luncheon in Cherry Hill.

“They’ve got the money to lower your taxes,” Christie said. “All they need to do is cut spending.”

Christie, 50, has traveled the state pushing for a tax cut. Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, have said they won’t agree until they know revenue will meet Christie’s forecasts. His predictions have been called optimistic by Standard & Poor’s, which lowered the state’s credit outlook to negative from stable on Sept. 18.

Tax revenue in July and August, the first two months of the fiscal year, was 4.9 percent below targets set in Christie’s $31.7 billion budget, the state Treasury Department said on Sept. 19.   (Dopp, Bloomberg)



Christie calls on South Jersey chamber for support, says Trenton spending must stop

Gov. Chris Christie delivered a stinging rebuke to Democratic legislators and called on business leaders to back his agenda at a speech to the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey today.

“Now I’ve been pretty nice up until this point. That ends today,” Christie said to a crowd of 550 at the Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill. “I am tired of them lying to the public and that’s what they’re doing.”

Christie criticized a series of bills introduced by Democratic legislators, including the Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act, sponsored by Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union), and a bill establishing a state council for responsible fatherhood, sponsored by Assembly members Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Trenton). He said the measures were unfunded and would lead to tax increases.  (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)



‘Stupid’ doggie seat-belt bill won’t get Christie backing

New Jersey’s cats and dogs won’t have to submit to seatbelt-like harnesses when they ride in the car so long as Chris Christie is governor.

Christie said he won’t sign a “stupid” proposal pending in the Legislature that would require motorists to secure the animals while in moving vehicles.

Democrats who control the Senate and General Assembly are wasting their time with the measure, said the first-term Republican confronting a shortfall in revenue and whose constituents face the highest residential property taxes in the nation and the worst unemployment rate in three decades.

“This will tell you everything you need to know about how New Jersey runs under the Democrats,” Christie, 50, said yesterday in his monthly “Ask the Governor” broadcast on Ewing-based WKXW-FM radio. “They’re actually spending their time on this.”   (Young, Bloomberg)



Pilot program to recruit minority teachers advances in committee

Assembly lawmakers moved legislation that would recruit minority men as teachers for struggling schools in the state.

The Assembly Women and Children Committee released A3195, which would establish a pilot program to recruit and match minority men to teach at chronically failing schools.  (Arco, State Street Wire)



Two months after arrest, Assemblyman Schroeder returns to State House

Almost two months after he was arrested and charged with passing nearly $400,000 in bad checks, Assemblyman Robert Schroeder was back in the State House on Thursday.

Schroeder was in Trenton for a hearing of the Homeland Security and State Preparedness committee, one of two committees he sits on. Thursday was his first Assembly meeting since he was arrested on Aug. 3.

Schroeder, R-Washington Township, declined to answer any questions about his legal situation.

“I have no comments on the case. I’m here to do my job as an assemblyman,” he said as he walked into the committee room. “I’m an elected official. I have a responsibility to my constituents.” 

In addition to the state’s criminal charges, numerous banks and other lenders have filed lawsuits against Schroeder. Collectively, they are seeking millions of dollars in unpaid loans. At least two other lenders have also accused Schroeder in their lawsuits of writing bad checks.  (Linhorst, The Record)



Bill would toughen riles for farmland tax break

An Assembly committee on Thursday approved a bill (3090) increasing the amount of income farmers need to generate to qualify for a lucrative farmland assessment. (There is an identical bill in the Senate, S589).

Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-Cumberland), chair of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, said the two bills are likely to be revised before final passage by both houses.

“This is a piece of legislation that has been in process for a long time,” Albano said. “Both the sponsors and leadership want to see this bill moved. I believe the sponsors continue to work with interested parties to make this a better bill.”

The greatest sticking point, Albano said, is whether the state Division of Taxation or Department of Agriculture should be overseeing the program.  (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)



Bills on emergency responders, sentences for child rapists advance in N.J. Assembly

Child rapists could face longer jail terms. Emergency responders could quickly learn driver’s medical histories. And domestic violence victims would be able to testify on closed circuit television.

All were measures part of a broad collection of legislation advanced by Assembly committees on Thursday.  (Campisi and Linhorst, The Record)



Bill would let some testify via camera

A New Jersey Assembly committee approved a bill Thursday allowing some domestic-violence victims to testify remotely on camera, despite questions over whether the measure is constitutional.

Sandy Clark, executive director of the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women, said the legislation might encourage some victims to participate in the prosecution of their attackers.

Some lawmakers questioned whether the measure would violate the provision in the Constitution allowing suspects to confront their accusers. The Democratic-led panel voted to advance the bill while the constitutional question is researched.

Thursday marked the bill’s first hearing. There is no companion bill in the Senate.  (Delli Santi, Associated Press)



Roadwork ahead: Bill would give new job to Environmental Infrastructure Trust

For years, the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust has earned widespread praise for helping local governments clean up New Jersey’s waterways by issuing low-interest loans to upgrade wastewater treatment plants, not to mention creating a huge amount of jobs in the process.

Now, lawmakers are wondering if the trust can deliver the same sort of results for local roadways.

In a bill that came up before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee yesterday, the state would allocate up to 10 percent of the federal dollars it receives for transportation purposes to a new bank to be established in the trust.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Transplant bill a boost for disabled

A bill — prompted by the plight of a South Jersey family — would prohibit transplant discrimination based on mental and physical disabilities of the patient.

The legislation advanced through the Assembly Human Services Committee Thursday and could soon become law.

The measure stems from an incident involving 3-year-old Stratford native Amelia Rivera, who suffers from Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome, a rare genetic defect that can cause physical and mental disabilities.

Amelia was refused candidacy for a kidney transplant by a doctor at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia due to her disability, despite it not having medical bearing on her eligibility as a transplant candidate.  (Dunn, Courier-Post)



Animal cruelty bill held

A bill dealing with cruelty to animals was held from today’s Assembly Agriculture Committee hearing.

A3250/S1921: This bill establishes the animal cruelty offense of cruel confinement of a gestating sow as a disorderly person’s offense.  It was held at the sponsor’s request.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Commercial fishing industry needs more regulatory flexibility, committee told

The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee took testimony today on issues facing commercial and recreational fishermen in the state.

While there is good news – the Port of Cape May is the No. 2 commercial fishing port on the East Coast – the state’s commercial fishing industry is hampered by a lack of regulatory flexibility, among other issues, the panel was told.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



NJ Environmental Federation endorses democrats for congress, blasts GOP

The New Jersey Environmental Federation is not showing much love for the GOP these days.

The group, one of the largest environmental organizations active in the state, yesterday endorsed Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep Frank Pallone, a couple of Democrats it has backed in the past.

The federation, long considered a key ally of the Democrats, raised eyebrows when it endorsed Republican Chris Christie for governor three years ago.

It seems to have rediscovered its roots, saving its most blistering criticism for the Republican members of Congress in a statement announcing its endorsements yesterday.   (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Environmental case unlikely to ease liability, exposure for business in contaminated sites

One skipped step while testing possible sources of contaminated groundwater in the 1980s cost the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection a state Supreme Court case against a dry cleaner Wednesday, but an environmental law expert said it won’t ease the site remediation liability and costs businesses potentially face under the vague language of the state Spill Compensation and Control Act.

“Environmental laws are intentionally broadly written, to make sure taxpayers don’t end up paying for cleanups, so businesses hold a lot of the responsibility, even if they’re not directly responsible for the contamination,” said Richard Ericsson, chair of the environmental practice group at Hackensack-based Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard P.A.  (Eder, NJBIZ)



N.J.’s first legal medical pot dispensary in Montclair delayed

The opening of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary has been delayed for several weeks and state health officials will be on site daily until the facility in Montclair is operational, the state health department announced Thursday.

The Greenleaf Alternative Treatment Center, which was expected to open earlier this month on Bloomfield Avenue, still needs a certificate of occupancy from Montclair before the state health department can conduct final inspections. Township building code officials were unavailable for comment Thursday and it was unclear what caused the delay.

“It’s disappointing,” said Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey, which advocated for the legalization of medical marijuana.

“A lot of the patients we are working with are thrilled the patient registry is open and the center will have the capacity to serve up to 600 patients,’’ Scotti said. “This is unfortunate.’’  (Layton, The Record)



Roche workers eligible for $2.6 million in state grants

The Christie administration is setting aside $2.6 million in grants to retrain and help find new employment for workers, including those at Roche, who have lost pharmaceutical-related jobs since 2010.

Qualified candidates may receive up to $5,000 in education grants or other opportunities, state officials said Thursday. The funds are to assist workers laid-off from specific pharmaceutical operations to land jobs or to obtain training to get into growing industries. The services available include skills assessment, individual career counseling and occupational skills training.

In addition to idled workers from Roche in Nutley, former employees at Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, Merck/Schering-Plough and Pfizer are also eligible for the grants. Roche is in the midst of laying off 1,000 full-time workers because it is closing its Nutley facility, whose closure was announced in June.  (Moss, The Record)



Port Authority gets $2.75 billion in orders on $2 billion issue

Banks managing a $2 billion bond sale for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the biggest issue in its history, took about $2.75 billion in orders for the 50-year debt, according to the Royal Bank of Canada.

RBC, which coordinated the underwriting of the taxable bonds, set the yield at 4.46 percent, or 1.65 percentage point over 30-year Treasuries, said Jaime Durando, head of RBC’s municipal-bond syndicate desk, in a telephone interview.

Before the pricing, the Port Authority said the bonds might offer a yield spread of 1.6 percentage points to 1.8 percentage points above 30-year U.S. government bonds.   (Braun, Bloomberg)



Camden board rejects Urban Hope Act school proposals

Camden’s surprise decision this week to block any new schools under the controversial Urban Hope Act has left local officials — and maybe even the Christie administration itself — with a difficult decision about what happens next in a drama that has become as much about politics as education.

The city school board late Tuesday night failed to approve any of four proposals that would add up to six new schools to the beleaguered district.

The proposals were the first test of the Urban Hope Act, enacted last year, which permits private organizations to build and manage public schools – called “renaissance schools” — in Camden and two other districts, Newark and Trenton.

With Camden the only district to participate so far, three of the proposals were rejected outright by unanimous votes of the nine-member board. But much of the attention centered on the fourth proposal, which fell a single vote short of a majority.   (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



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Christie calls for independence from Middle Eastern oil

Gov. Chris Christie inserted himself into the Presidential debate today at a scheduled town hall meeting, calling on a change in the White House to help address the country’s energy crisis.

“We have… natural gas under this country that will allow us to become completely independent of Middle Eastern oil,” said Christie to cheers.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)






In Election 2012, Dick Morris is all sophistry and no credibility

I watch Fox News night after night, hoping that I will see something that will change my avowed belief that Barack Obama is headed towards an Electoral College reelection victory.  In my view, Romney and Ryan will have to score knockouts in their respective debates in order to avoid defeat.

Instead of hearing good objective conservative Republican analysis, however, I find myself being appalled by the sophistry of Dick Morris, who appears night after night on various Fox News shows.  Since his original prediction that Romney would “cream” Obama, Morris has continuously developed ludicrous arguments as to how adverse events and negative polls actually benefit the Republican nominee.  (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)



Jersey dogs aren’t the ones in need of restraint

The Democratic-controlled Legislature should just cut to the chase and pass a law that makes it illegal to drive while smoking while accompanied by children and unrestrained pets on your way to a professional football game officiated by temporary officials at a stadium showing a film about Governor Christie and where the governor has just arrived by state helicopter.

With all the real issues facing New Jerseyans, legislators – and from what I can see they are mostly of the Democratic variety — want to focus on the trivial, unnecessary and completely partisan. There are proposed bills about how to drive with a dog and how to regulate professional football. There are Democrats who want to launch an investigation into the governor’s recent use of a benign self-promoting video, and if possible, make a stink over Christie’s continued use of a state helicopter.  (Doblin, The Record)



What gets lost in aid talk for Paterson

The bombast that’s become so much the persona of Governor Christie — when he is in his element, and when it can be delivered for fullest effect — came down this week like a ton of bricks on Paterson and the city’s leadership. I suppose we should take some solace from the fact that he didn’t call the mayor an “idiot” or call the council president “stupid.”

Christie’s bluster was in response to a question regarding a draft resolution by City Council President Anthony Davis that would ask the Republican governor to declare a state of emergency in the Silk City and to provide money to help the city deal with an uptick in violent crime. The council defeated the resolution, but not before the governor got in a few punches.  (Lowry, The Record)


Morning News Digest: September 28, 2012