Morning News Digest: October 18, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
In PA Mayor’s race, Wisniewski embraces Delgado
Standing out in front of his home today, mayoral candidate Billy Delgado welcomed the support of Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman and Middlesex County Democratic Committee Vice-Chair Leslie Dominguez-Rodriguez.
“She’s a very nice lady,” Wisniewski said of incumbent Mayor Wilda Diaz.
“But this is not about emails, it’s about who can provide better leadership,” he added, a reference to Delgado campaign consultant Jim Devine’s email to the mayor calling her too dumb to serve.
Chairman of the State Democratic Party, Wisniewski complained about Diaz’s refusal to endorse marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose, and criticized her for standing with Republican Gov. Chris Christie for ten percent cuts across the board. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Moriarty files 27 complaints against arresting officer
Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, (D-4), has followed through with his promise to fight charges that he drove while intoxicated in July.
The former Washington Township mayor filed 27 criminal complaints against the officer, Patrolman Joseph DiBuonaventura, who arrested the lawmaker on charges that he drove while under the influence.
Among the accusations the assemblyman accused DiBuonaventura of are official misconduct, filing false police reports, perjury and tampering with public records.
Moriarty was arrested on July 31 and charged with failing to maintain his lane, refusing the breath test and DUI. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Assembly Dems say GOP has yet to join them on their tax relief bills
In response to Assembly Republicans’ claims that the Democrats are not interested in providing tax relief, a spokesman for Assembly Democrats said the Republicans have not yet joined them on passing bills they sponsored concerning that issue.
“As the people of New Jersey want and expect, the Assembly Democrats will continue to be fiscally responsible and prudent. We all want tax cuts, which is why the Assembly Democrats approved a responsible plan to triple middle-class property tax relief credits, only to see the Assembly Republicans recklessly oppose and Gov. Christie reject it,” Assembly Democrats spokesman Tom Hester said in a statement. (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)
In CD 12, Holt and Beck differ on the role of government at Rider debate
The candidates for the 12th Congressional seat this morning clashed over the role of government: too much of it, particulalry lately, in the view of GOP challenger Eric Beck, versus smart investment to create a more productive future, according to U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12).
“There’s a limit to what the federal government can do for Trenton,” said Beck here at the David Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.
“They are in the middle of a major corruption scandal,” the Republican businessman added, who acknowledged the capital city can benefit from some help. But “The problem is when you’re running trillion dollar deficits, that support can’t go on forever.”
Beck praised Newark Mayor Cory Booker as a contrast to Trenton Mayor Tony Mack, who’s up on federal corruption charges. “I give him credit for not being a corrupt individual,” Beck said of Booker. “We need to talk to the people of Trenton and tell them there’s a limit to what the federal government can do for you.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
GOP Congressman seeks 10th term in district where Democrats outnumber Republicans
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd) has held his seat in Congress for nine terms despite one counter-intuitive fact: The district counts more registered Democrats than Republicans.
While registration data show the gap between the parties has narrowed since last year’s redrawing of district lines, there are still 9,000 more Democrats than Republicans.
And with a late-September Richard Stockton College of New Jersey poll showing has a 62 percent favorability rating and beats his closest opponent, , by a 20-point margin, political observers expect no deviation from the past.
“He’s got the seat as long as he wants,” predicted The Cook Report House Editor David Wasserman. (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
Seniority, Obamacare focus of 11th District debate
The Democratic challenger for New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District Wednesday night promised he would not be a career congressman, while nine-term incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen countered that his seniority has been of benefit to New Jersey.
Frelinghuysen and challenger John Arvanites met in an hourlong debate at William Paterson University, where the two went head-to-head on the economy and other domestic issues.
Arvanites, a certified public accountant and former mayor of Roseland, said that the newly configured district needed change, not a 10th term for Frelinghuysen. “I will not be a career congressperson. I believe in getting there, coming up with solutions, and moving on,” Arvanites said, citing his experience in Roseland. (Townsend, Asbury Park Press)
Holt says he’s aiming to make R&D tax credit permanent
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-West Windsor) said today he will keep pushing for legislation making the federal research and development tax credit permanent, during an address to the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce in which he advocated for the role of government in making investments like the R&D credit
Holt said he wants to expand the R&D tax credit, make it more generous and create a new tax credit for investors who put their money into research companies. “The R&D tax credit returns at least two dollars for every dollar spent,” he said.
Debbie Hart, president of BioNJ, the association of the state’s biotech research firms, said the fact that the R&D tax credit is not permanent increases uncertainty, and “companies may not get the investment they might otherwise have gotten. It takes $1 billion and more than 10 years to bring a new drug to market, and the more certainty during that process, the better.” (Fitzgerald, NJBIZ)
5th District challenger says Garrett can be beat
The 5th Congressional District last elected a Democrat in the 1930s.
But Teaneck’s Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen says his race to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Garrett “really is winnable.”
“The greatest challenge to overcome is the perception that this district is and always will be Republican,” Gussen said Wednesday during a more than hour-long meeting with The Record’s editorial board.
The state’s redrawn Fifth Congressional district is a boomerang shaped area covering the northern most part of the state. It includes 44 Bergen County towns (from Mahwah to River Edge), four Passaic County towns (part of Bloomingdale, Wanaque, Ringwood and West Milford), part of Sussex County and all of Warren County. Seventy-two percent of its voters are registered in Bergen County. (Pries, The Record)
Kyrillos faces future voters at Lincroft high school
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R – Monmouth) came to High Technology High School in Lincroft Tuesday as part of his campaign to unseat incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, of Hudson County. Kyrillos discussed the issues with a bright student population most of whom are not yet able to vote, but who represent the ultimate voter focus group: the future.
Kyrillos faced a battery of questions from about 100 ninth-grade students who come from all across Monmouth County, their entry to their high school achieved through a special, state-standards-approved entrance examination and high grades. From the economy to education, the students fired off queries to Kyrillos, 52, a Middletown resident, three weeks before the voters decide whether or not to send him to Washington, D.C.. (Bonamo, NJ.com)
Christie stumping in Indiana at facility run by company that cut 258 N.J. jobs
Governor Christie’s political trip to the Midwest today will include a scheduled stop at an Indiana distribution center for Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical benefits company whose merger with Medco Health earlier this year cost New Jersey 258 jobs.
Christie is scheduled to participate today in political events with Republican candidates in both Wisconsin and Indiana, including U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana, according to the New Jersey GOP.
The governor is also scheduled to attend a rally this afternoon with Indiana gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence, a syndicated radio host turned Republican congressman. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
Incumbents have big fundraising advantage in NJ
The incumbents in New Jersey’s Congressional races have major advantages over their challengers heading into next month’s elections, according to filings made with the Federal Election Commission this week.
Each of the 11 incumbents outraised and outspent his challenger between the start of 2011 and Sept. 30, and it was remotely close in only two races.
In the 7th District, Democratic challenger Uprenda Chivukula raised $728,000 — about $400,000 less than incumbent Republican Leonard Lance. In the 3rd District, incumbent Republican Jon Runyan has raised $1.8 million and Democrat Shelley Adler has brought in $935,000 for her campaign.
It’s no surprise the incumbents have such major cash advantages. Few of the state’s congressional districts are normally competitive, and last year the district boundaries were redrawn in ways that made them even safer for the incumbents. (Associated Press)
Republican committees raise 150 percent more so far in 2012 than they did in 2008
With a Republican now in the governor’s seat, state Republican committees are raising much more money this year than they did four years ago, according to numbers released by the state’s Election Law Enforcement Commission.
Total fundraising by all six of the state’s major Republican and Democratic committees is down eight percent compared to this point in 2008. But the Republican committees have raised nearly 150 percent more than they did four years ago.
The three major Republican committees – the New Jersey Republican State Committee, the Senate Republican Majority and the Assembly Republican Victory – raised almost $1.2 million in the first three quarters of 2008. They have raised nearly $3 million in the same period of 2012. (Linhorst, The Record)
N.J. voters to decide if judges should pay more for benefits
New Jersey voters will get the last word on whether state judges can be forced to pay more for their pensions and health care.
A question on the Nov. 6 ballot asks voters to amend the state constitution to allow a 2011 law to be applied to judges and Supreme Court justices. The law requires more money to be deducted from public workers’ salaries to help pay for benefits.
A Superior Court judge in Hudson County challenged the law and won. The state Supreme Court subsequently agreed that the law violated the constitution by effectively reducing judges’ salaries while they are on the bench. The provision was meant to protect judges from the possibility of retribution by the executive or legislative branch for issuing decisions with which they disagreed. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Bond backers push support for $750M college construction ballot question
A bi-partisan group of supporters came to an aging classroom building at William Paterson University on Wednesday to push for passage of a $750 million bond to fund construction and renovation projects at all of New Jersey’s state colleges and universities.
The bond referendum will appear on the crowded presidential ballot – that also includes local and state races – next month.
Opponents say the state can’t afford more borrowing, but others say New Jersey is overdue for the investment in higher education, which will also generate an estimated 10,000 construction jobs.
“Sometimes you have to spend money to make things happen,” said State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester who came to the Wayne campus with minority Senate leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union. (Alex, The Record)
N.J. seeks pro leagues’ history on sports betting
The nation’s professional sports leagues may have to dig deep to come up with proof of their opposition to sports betting through the years.
Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, along with the NCAA, are suing New Jersey to try to block the state from offering legalized sports betting in defiance of a federal ban on it here.
But court filings show that as part of that lawsuit, the leagues may have to turn over 10 years’ worth of documents regarding the potential impact of sports betting, fantasy sports leagues and even “March Madness” office pools on consumer perceptions of the integrity of the games, their loyalties, ticket sales, attendance, revenue or broadcast ratings. (Parry, Associated Press)
EPA awards $78M to N.J. for clean water projects
The Environmental Protection Agency reported today it has awarded $78 million to New Jersey to help finance improvements to water projects essential to protecting public health and the environment.
The funds will primarily be used to upgrade sewage plants and drinking water systems, EPA said. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Newark tries merit payouts for teachers
Newark and its teachers union on Thursday are expected to sign a tentative contract deal blessed by Gov. Chris Christie that would overhaul teacher pay, introducing lucrative merit bonuses and giving teachers a role in grading each other.
The contract, fueled by about $50 million from the foundation started by Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, covers the next three years and would offer a compensation system that removes lifetime pay increases for those who earn advanced degrees and blocks poorly rated teachers from receiving automatic pay raises for years of experience, officials said.
Teachers could, however, choose to stick with the current pay scheme, which offers small, annual pay bumps for years served and for advanced degrees earned, officials said. They wouldn’t be eligible for some bonuses. (Fleisher, The Wall Street Journal)
Bill would prohibit ‘conversion’ therapy for minors
An Assembly lawmaker introduced legislation this week that, if implemented, would make New Jersey the second state to prohibit a controversial form of therapy for young residents.
The bill would prohibit minors from undergoing so-called conversion therapy, which aims to change the sexual orientation of an individual. The measure was introduced by Assemblyman Timothy Eustace, (D-38), Paramus, and models a proposal signed into law by California’s governor earlier this month. (Arco, State Street Wire)
NJ bill would require notice of surveillance
The Assembly is poised to vote on a bill that would require out-of-state law enforcement to notify New Jersey officials before conducting counter-terrorism surveillance here.
Assemblyman Charles Mainor, a Jersey City police officer, says his proposal was prompted by the New York Police Department’s surveillance of New Jersey Muslims and mosques.
New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa (kee-AY’-sah) found that the NYPD operation did not violate any state laws. He also reported that New York police agreed to meet regularly with New Jersey law enforcement to discuss counterterrorism operations.
The surveillance by NYPD has reportedly ended. (Associated Press)
New Jersey gives Giants hometown a week to approve budget
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration has given East Rutherford, home to the National Football League’s New York Giants and Jets stadium, a week to approve a budget or it may impose one.
East Rutherford is the last municipality without a budget out of more than 550 in the state that operate on a calendar year, said Thomas Neff, director of the state’s Local Government Services division. The borough has been locked in a legal battle with the Giants over whether its training center is exempt from a $1.5 million property-tax bill.
Moody’s Investors Service on Oct. 11 said it may downgrade East Rutherford’s debt because of its failure to collect $4.1 million of revenue, more than 16 percent of the 2012 total projected. That also includes $2.6 million from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for costs related to the American Dream Meadowlands mall under construction. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Lawmaker presses telecoms to not avoid paying taxes on lines, poles
Telecom companies that provide land-line phone service to New Jersey homes should not be able to duck paying local tax on the lines, poles and infrastructure they use, argues a state lawmaker who represents Nutley.
In the face of a tax-court ruling upholding Verizon’s decision to stop paying taxes on that infrastructure in certain towns, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Belleville, announced Wednesday that he had introduced legislation to lock in that tax obligation, even to companies losing ground to online and wireless providers.
The Legislature passed a law in 1997 requiring companies that provide dial-tone service to 51 percent of a town’s population to pay a tax on those parts of infrastructure. Those payments can range from small amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Fletcher, The Record)
Quest Academy Charter to get its day in Supreme Court
New Jersey’s charter school law and the state’s system of oversight have been commented on and debated in political and education circles.
Now the state’s highest court is about to join in the argument.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from the founders of a proposed charter school in Montclair against the state Department of Education for its repeated failure to grant it a charter.
The Quest Academy Charter School — a planned high school for up to 250 students — has been denied a charter a record five times by the state on a variety of grounds, ranging from questions about the completeness of its application to mounting resistance from the local district and others. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Commercial outfits could get big break on energy efficiency projects
The state is moving to allow large commercial and industrial facilities to offset huge surcharges on their gas and electric bills to pay for projects to reduce energy use.
The program, established under a law signed by Gov. Chris Christie in January, would allow certain large energy users to establish a credit against their so-called Societal Benefits Charge (SBC) to pay up to one-half of the costs incurred for purchase and installation of energy efficiency products and services.
The surcharge is a long-running sore point for businesses, particularly those using a lot of electricity and gas, amounting in some cases to more than $1 million a year. The money funds a variety of programs, but most prominently New Jersey’s clean energy program and a low-income energy assistance program. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Federal EPA says it will conduct further studies at South Plainfield Superfund site
In response to public criticism of its plan to simply monitor at a South Plainfield Superfund site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to conduct further studies.
Despite extensive soil removals and building demolitions, the former site of Cornell-Dubilier Electronics remains one of the most highly polluted in New Jersey because of chemicals dumped during almost a century when various businesses used the 26-acre property.
In a cautious announcement earlier this month, the EPA committed only to “deferring action on a portion of the ground water that may be adversely affecting the Bound Brook until further information is collected.”
How large that portion is remains unclear. Both the nature of the investigation and the extent of the area to be studied are “to be determined,” said EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez. (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)
DRPA board shuffles leadership, approves changes
The Delaware River Port Authority board shuffled its leadership and approved a series of long-awaited management reforms Wednesday.
The board also voted to spend about $26 million on items ranging from a bike ramp on the Ben Franklin Bridge to employee health insurance.
After a two-month delay due to a dispute between New Jersey and Pennsylvania commissioners, the board voted to replace Gov. Corbett as chairman.
David F. Simon, a board member who is executive vice president and chief legal officer of Jefferson Health System, was sworn in replace Corbett as chairman. Andrew J. Reilly, a lawyer who chairs the Republican Committee of Delaware County, took the governor’s seat on the board. (Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Christie not a rock star on tax-cut proposal
Governor Christie has done a great job of selling the image of Chris Christie.
But selling his proposed tax cut to the New Jersey public? Not so much.
A poll released Wednesday again found that Christie remains enormously popular with voters, including women who at first were put off by his bombastic persona. He has achieved what few politicians have done in New Jersey with its limited television coverage. He’s a household brand. (Stile, The Record)