Morning News Digest: October 15, 2012


Morning News Digest: October 15, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Poll: Voters support minimum wage hike

As Democrats in the legislature debate how they will push for an increase in the minimum wage, a new poll shows voters overwhelmingly support a hike and say the current rate of $7.25 is too low to support a family.

The Philadelphia Inquirer poll found three out of four voters surveyed support a $1 per hour hike in the wage, while just 19 percent oppose it.

Two out of three voters say the wage is too low to support a family in New Jersey, while one in four say an increase in the minimum wage will harm businesses and slow job growth.

But despite support, voters are mixed on how the wage should be increase with just under half saying it should be placed on the ballot for approval and another 43 percent believing it should be passed by the legislature.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



OLS: Lagging returns mean state must see nearly 10 percent growth in coming months

Lagging revenue returns now mean state revenues need to grow by nearly 10 percent for the remainder of the fiscal year to compensate for the current shortfall, according to a memo from the Office of Legislative Services.

The nonpartisan office issued a revenue snapshot Friday just hours after the state Treasury released data that showed that revenue collections are off nearly $175 million in the first quarter of the fiscal year.

The report indicates that the state must record big gains in the coming months since Fiscal Year 2013 targets for major revenues assume 8.4 percent growth over the prior fiscal year collections.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Revenue report adds fuel to debate over a tax cut proposal

A continued showdown between legislative Democrats and Gov. Chris Christie over a tax cut proposal appears to be on the horizon.

News that state revenues continue to lag behind the administration’s projections have again cast doubt over whether legislators in the Democrat-controlled Senate and Assembly will come to terms on a tax cut proposal with the Republican governor.

“We need to take a closer look, but if what we’re hearing is correct and if you include the shortfall from last fiscal year, New Jersey is $415 million short,” stated Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, responding to news from the state Treasurer that year to date revenue collections are off nearly $175 million from projections.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Christie slow to show for Kyrillos, but welcome now

The West 22 Diner in Springfield was overflowing with a breakfast crowd one morning in February. Gov. Chris Christie was there to endorse his close friend, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who had announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

“We need to send reformers like Joe to make tough decisions and fix our national problems,” Christie told diners over their scrambled eggs and coffee. “When New Jersey sends Joe Kyrillos to the U.S. Senate, I am confident the national comeback will begin.”

That was also the last time the two shared the spotlight at a campaign event. But that all changed when the governor decided to join Kyrillos this morning on the trail at the Princetonian Diner on Route 1.

For the past eight months, Christie has crisscrossed the nation more than a dozen times campaigning for Republican candidates and delivering the type of media coverage that Kyrillos has only been able to dream about.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Menendez, Kyrillos point fingers for economic woes in final debate of Senate campaign

In their final debate, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez tried to tie state Sen. Joe Kyrillos to the economic policies of Mitt Romney, while Kyrillos compared Menendez to former Gov. Jon Corzine.

The taped-for-television debate was more restrained than the Senate candidates’ radio face-off Wednesday. They rarely interrupted or talked over each other this time.

Kyrillos, a longtime Republican state senator from Monmouth County, went into Saturday’s debate trailing far behind Menendez in the polls.

The Inquirer New Jersey poll, released Thursday, showed Menendez with a 14-percentage-point advantage in his bid for reelection to the U.S. Senate. Menendez was supported by 49 percent of likely voters compared to Kyrillos’ 35 percent.  (Linhorst, The Record)



Menendez, Kyrillos have stark political differences but shared governing style

In their U.S. Senate scrap, Robert Menendez and Joe Kyrillos can debate for hours and never see eye to eye.

Menendez is an Obama Democrat, Kyrillos a Christie Republican. They clash on everything from the direction of the economy and raising taxes on the rich to gay marriage and Obamacare.

But the two candidates actually have a lot in common.

In their long careers, both are known more for what they’ve done for their political parties than for electrifying crowds or authoring landmark laws. They’re both good at quietly cutting deals for bills in the backrooms. And neither has the kind of charisma that allows them to command the spotlight — one reason many New Jersyans have no idea who they are.   (Friedman and Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Pascrell, Boteach debate focuses on jobs, Israel

Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson, and GOP challenger Rabbi Shmuley Boteach sparred over jobs, taxes and U.S. policy toward Israel in a spirited first debate Sunday.

A crowd of over 200 people packed the Temple Sinai in Tenafly to hear the two candidates vying to represent the 9th Congressional District, which now includes parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties.

Boteach, an Englewood author and media personality, accused Pascrell, an eight-term incumbent, of not waging much of a campaign so far and relying instead on the “structural advantage” of the redrawn district, which favors Democrats in terms of voter registration.

“I’m fighting the whole Democratic establishment,” Boteach said, complaining that Pascrell would not even state his opponent’s name during the campaign.  (Ensslin, The Record)



Democratic newcomer pins hopes on 11th District’s new boundaries

If political newbie John Arvanites has his way, there’s a David and Goliath scenario taking shape in the 11th Congressional District.

The Democrat, a former mayor of Roseland, aims to emerge victorious over incumbent Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen. But if history is an accurate predictor, the scenario will play out quite differently.

Frelinghuysen’s formidable experience, deep pockets, popularity in the district and strong political family ties will likely mean a quick demise for Arvanites, as well as independent Barry Berlin, just as it has for other challengers over the past nine elections.

Still, Arvanites, like the biblical David, remains unbowed.  (Federico-O’Murchu, NJ Spotlight)



4th Congressional District opponents challenge Rep. Smith’s record

Two challengers are trying to unseat Rep. Christopher H. Smith after 32 years in office in the Nov. 6 election, one focusing on Smith’s Washington record, one focusing on the congressman’s record for delivering in New Jersey.

“He’s (Smith’s) doing a lot of good work, he’s just not doing it for New Jersey,” said Leonard P. Marshall, 60, the independent candidate from Neptune.

New Jersey loses jobs and businesses, while not getting its fair share of federal monies, said Marshall, a self-employed insurance inspector and claims adjuster.

“We always seem to be shoveling out, not getting back,” Marshall said. “We have to stand up for New Jersey.

Marshall said issues have to be viewed as good for the world, country, state, local area, and people.  (Sapia, Asbury Park Press)



It’s a replay of sorts in NJ’s 3rd District race

The 3rd Congressional District is the only in New Jersey where most handicappers give the challenger a chance of winning next month.

But it’s seen as a slim chance for Democrat Shelley Adler, who is trying to unseat Republican Rep. Jon Runyan in the district in Burlington and Ocean counties.

Two years ago, Runyan defeated Adler’s husband, Rep. John Adler, who died months later.

Like many elections this fall, the economy, taxes and the future of Social Security and Medicare are prime issues.

Adler says Runyan supports breaks for the wealthy and oil companies over the middle class. Runyan says that the way to grow the economy and balance the budget is by cutting taxes.  (Mulvihill, Associated Press)



GOP appointee challenged by teacher who jousted with Christie in YouTube video

When veteran Assemblyman Peter Biondi (R-Somerset) died of cancer last year, two days after he had been re-elected into the lower house to represent the 16th District, Republican committee members in the district chose Donna Simon, a Readington Township committeewoman, to fill Biondi’s seat.

Democrat Marie Corfield, an art teacher from Flemington who ran against Biondi and lost in last November’s race, is trying to unseat Simon in this November’s special election for the remainder of that Assembly term.

Corfield entered the public arena after harshly criticizing Gov. Chris Christie and his education cuts at a town hall meeting the governor held in Flemington two years ago. The confrontation was taped, and when it went up on YouTube, the video went viral — prompting a slew of media attention.  (Kassel, NJ Spotlight)



You decide: Should judges pay more?

Judges have long enjoyed special treatment compared to other government workers in New Jersey. But the idea that judges — whose salaries range from $165,000 to $192,795 — can escape an austerity measure and a statewide reduction in take-home pay is taking a beating in the court of public opinion.

Voters in the Nov. 6 election are expected to return a verdict approving a constitutional amendment allowing for higher payments from judges for their employment benefits. That would end an exemption the state’s 400 Superior Court judges and Supreme Court justices enjoy from the hiked pension and health payments incurred last year by other employees in the public sector.

“It’s hard to imagine the judges’ benefit amendment failing to pass,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “People are simply going to see it as a fairness issue and are unlikely to believe judicial independence is threatened by having judges pay more for benefits like other state employees.”  (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)



The Boss will campaign for Obama in Ohio, Iowa

Bruce Springsteen will be back campaigning for President Barack Obama.

The musician will join former President Bill Clinton at a Thursday rally in Parma, Ohio, two days after the second presidential debate. Obama will not attend the rally.

Springsteen also will appear at a campaign event Thursday in Ames, Iowa.

Springsteen campaigned for Obama in 2008, but these will be his first political appearances of the 2012 cycle. Clinton is a prominent campaigner for Obama.

Clinton and Springsteen’s joint appearance in Ohio underscores the importance of the key swing state.  (Associated Press)



Businesses back to supporting property-tax cuts

The New Jersey business community would still love an income tax cut.

But given their druthers, they’d prefer cuts in property taxes.

At a recent round table of business leaders in Edison, heads of small, medium and large companies agreed that if they had to pick, they would cut property taxes over income taxes, which is hardly surprising. While New Jersey’s tax rates on income and local rates on property rank close to the highest in the nation, property taxes typically provide the lion’s share of the tax burden for small businesses as well as residents.

When asked how to stimulate the economy, 39 percent thought property taxes were the higher priority, over the 22 percent who saw income tax as the greater issue, and a further 39 percent who didn’t bite for either proposal.  (Fletcher, The Record)



NYPD monitoring bill goes to N.J. lawmakers

A law that would require the New York Police Department to alert New Jersey officials before conducting surveillance in the state will be taken up by an Assembly panel on Monday.

The bill comes in response to secret NYPD surveillance of New Jersey Muslims and mosques uncovered earlier this year.

Governor Christie and other state officials have denied knowing the full scope of the NYPD program before it became public, but the NYPD has insisted New Jersey officials were informed.

The legislation would require any out-of-state law enforcement agency to inform New Jersey’s attorney general and state police superintendant before monitoring anyone inside the state.

It will be considered in the Assembly’s Homeland Security Committee on Monday.  (Linhorst, The Record)



Craft distillers ask state to repeal Prohibition-era laws

The owner of New Jersey’s largest estate winery would like to do it. So would the mayor of Princeton Township. But so far, the only person to open a distillery in post-Prohibition New Jersey is James Yoakum. The 27-year-old Philadelphia real estate broker is waiting final approval to start legally making his Petty’s Island Rum and other spirits in a former garage in downtown Camden.

As a one-man operation that will at first produce no more than 2,500 gallons of liquor annually, Yoakum’s Cooper River Distillers falls well within the bounds of a “craft distillery,” according to a working definition adopted by The American Distilling Institute (TADI), the nation’s leading proponent for small-batch distilling.   (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)



Consumers learn high cost of being poor in N.J.

More than a decade ago, Joanne Jubert made six figures as an art director for a New York advertising agency. She pursued her passion of scuba diving. She joined film societies. She bought a modest home in upscale Little Silver.

After 9/11, though, she began a slow descent on the career ladder — first losing income, then losing her job — and found life without a steady paycheck made her think twice before even buying food.

The spike in food prices at times this year “had such a tremendous impact on me that I didn’t eat most of the summer,” Jubert, 58, said. “I lost a tremendous amount of weight. My friends were so concerned about my well-being they had me signing up with every single social service.”  (Diamond, Asbury Park Press)



At conservative summit in N.J., speakers examine the role of women

Female soldiers in the conservative movement must straddle two critical responsibilities — being standardbearers for family values and leaders in the workplace if they choose to work — panelists speaking at an annual conference for conservative voters said today.

Liberal feminists who believe having a career is an essential foundation for being a “modern woman,” are misguided, said Hadley Heath, senior policy analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Women’s Forum.

“If women want to be in the work force, they should be. If it’s financially feasible for women to stay in the home and raise their families, we should let them without criticism,” Heath said. “Men and women are different. They are equal, but different, with different responsibilities.”   (Calefati, The Star-Ledger)



Slow economy speeds up road plans

The bad economy has proven to be good for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which saved enough money on major projects to allow it to start work on other plans that wouldn’t have started for another two years.

State Department of Transportation officials said they’ve also benefited from competitive lower bids, which permitted them to plow the savings into a $1 billion capital program instead of a $700 million one for fiscal year 2013.

Money saved on the big work, such as the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike between Exits 6 and 9, has allowed officials to accelerate the other projects, said Richard Razcynski, chief engineer of the Turnpike Authority.

Money saved on the big work, such as the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike between Exits 6 and 9, has allowed officials to accelerate the other projects, said Richard Razcynski, chief engineer of the Turnpike Authority.  (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)



Study says investing in offshore wind could deliver huge payday

If the mid-Atlantic region develops a large-scale offshore wind industry, it could create up to 170,000 jobs and provide a big boost to the area’s economy, according to a new study prepared by HIS, Inc.

The Atlantic Wind Connection, a Google-backed developer hoping to build an offshore wind transmission system stretching from Virginia to New York commissioned the study, which could bolster arguments that investing in the technology could reap huge economic benefits.

If 7,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity were developed in the region, the study projected it could increase Gross Domestic Product by $19 billion and boost federal, state, and local revenues by $4.6 billion. The new capacity could power up to 2 million homes.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



NJ health agencies cope with soaring rate of diabetes

New Jersey is seeing an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes, which now affects more than 9 percent of the adult population, mirroring a nationwide increase.

The dramatic rise in the diabetes rate is now considered a public health crisis, particularly since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about one-third of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

Reasons for this increase in the diabetes rate are varied: the inclusion of data to include those with undiagnosed diabetes, increasing rates of obesity coupled with physical inactivity, increasing income disparities reflected by the rate of people living in poverty, low education levels, an increase in immigration from countries with vulnerable populations], people living longer with the disease, and the fact that people are living longer in general.   (Schulz, NJ Spotlight)



More NJ couples delaying weddings

Across New Jersey, brides are getting fitted for dresses, caterers are preparing for receptions and DJs are setting their playlists.

But according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are many fewer weddings than just a few years ago.

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that the number of New Jersey residents who said they had gotten married in the past year dropped by a large margin, from 59,179 men and 55,511 women in 2008 to 49,761 men and 45,524 women in 2011. That represents a nearly 16 percent decline in the number of men getting married and an 18 percent drop in the number of women wedding.  (Associated Press)



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From the Back Room 



Pallone, Dem leaders endorse Healy re-election at HCDO dinner

At a Hudson County Democrats Fundraiser Dinner Friday night in Jersey City,  speakers led by Bayonne Mayor and County Democratic Chairman Mark Smith spoke one by one endorsing Mayor Jeramiah Healy’s re-election to the audience of over 800 attendees.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6) told the roaring audience that he is 100% in support of Healy’s re-election.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






NJ’s unemployment numbers likely up this month

The white smoke won’t come out until Thursday, but there are early signs the news won’t be good.

State officials were mum on one of the biggest questions to have made the rounds in Trenton last week: Did the unemployment rate hit 10 percent, or did it stop its five-month climb in September?

According to a preview from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, New Jersey’s unemployment rate probably rose to 10 percent in September, up from 9.9 percent the previous month.

The Philly Fed’s latest “nowcast” — a monthly analysis of unemployment insurance claims and historical trends in federal data — also says Pennsylvania and Delaware held steady at 8.1 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.  (The Auditor, The Star-Ledger)



Gov. Christie’s attack on Eagleton pollsters is small, mean

In the latest installment of “Gov. Christie Goes Haywire,” we see our fearsome leader attacking the Rutgers-Eagleton poll and then refusing to answer any questions that refer to it. Harrumph!

“The Eagleton poll is crap,” he barked at NJTV’s Michael Aron. “It’s never good. It’s never accurate, and when I see the headline says ‘the Eagleton poll,’ I just fold the paper up, I don’t read it. It’s never right ever. When it’s good for me, it’s not right. When it’s bad for me, it’s not right. It’s never right. So save it, Michael, I’m not going to answer questions on the Eagleton poll.”

Before diagnosing this one, readers should know that this rant is not based in reality. The poll is respected by other pollsters and by most politicians. When asked, the governor’s office could not back up the boss’s tirade.  (Moran, The Star-Ledger)



Romney camp says Bergen is lax on ballots

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s team of ballot watchdogs complained to Bergen County clerk’s officials last week that they failed to email absentee ballots to overseas military personnel before the Sept. 22 deadline.

Bergen County Clerk John S. Hogan, a Democrat, and other officials disputed the claim, and asserted that they complied with the law a day ahead of schedule.

The Romney campaign summarized its complaint in an Oct 5 letter to Hogan, demanding that “you do everything in your power to correct your violations of military voting rights,” wrote Anthony Principi, a former U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs working with the Romney campaign.

County officials are required under federal law to mail out ballots — to overseas members who request them — at least 45 days before the election. They can request paper ballots or have them sent by email.  (Stile, The Record)



Beware the backlash from politics of derision

It was, in the largest of pictures, inconsequential on most fronts.

After all, no one votes for a vice presidential candidate. But there were implications from Thursday night’s vice presidential debate for our national political dialogue — a furry extension of the belief that one must get tough with an opponent to win.

That is why Vice President Joe Biden filed his teeth into points and went for blood against GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. That was all good enough. Biden fought hard for the positions of his boss, President Barack Obama. He fought harder than Obama himself did in last week’s debate against GOP nominee Mitt Romney.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)


  Morning News Digest: October 15, 2012