Morning News Digest: October 23, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Edible yarmulkes, Pascrellizations and ‘despicable’ charges in animated CD 9
The candidates in the 9th Congressional District contest traded with a combination of chutzpah and fibra in this North Jersey stand off of fierce wills sponsored by the Bergen-Record and The Herald-News.
Longshot Republican challenger Shmuley Boteach’s chief complaint about incumbent U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) is the entrenched entitlement of office, a condition chronically reinforced every ten years by redistricting.
“It looks like a bald eagle that has had its wings clipped,” Boteach griped in reference to the shape of the new 9th District, crafted for a Democrat to coast to re-election. “It’s absolutely absurd.”
Made in part to suggest that Pascrell has an easy lift here, the argument might have had resonance in any other district but this one this year, when the congressman, counted out in the lead up to a Democratic Primary with U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, prevailed against the odds for the right to face Boteach. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Judge issues 13 of Moriarty’s 27 complaints against Washington Twp. cop who arrested Morriarty
Superior Court Judge John A. Casarow today issued 13 of 27 complaints that Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4) filed against the officer who arrested him this past summer for DWI.
The charges against Washington Twp. Patrolman Joseph Dibuonaventura include filing false reports, committing acts of perjury, tampering with pubic records, and committing official misconduct.
Moriarty’s pending DWI is being sent to the Gloucester County Prosecutors Office, according to court records.
The lawmaker last week filed his 27 criminal complaints against the officer, following through on a statement he made after his own arrest. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Monmouth U Poll: Second debate didn’t nullify Obama’s self-inflicted damage
The latest Monmouth University Poll of voters nationwide shows Mitt Romney holding on to a three-point lead over Barack Obama in next month’s presidential race. The GOP challenger continued to make gains in every issue area after the second debate.
Currently, Romney leads the incumbent by 48% to 45% among likely American voters. Following the first debate earlier this month, Romney held a one-point lead. The current results mark a reversal from Monmouth’s mid-September poll when President Obama held a 48% to 45% advantage in vote intention. Currently, 3% of likely voters say they will vote for another candidate and 5% are still undecided about their choice – results which have held steady since June. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Menendez won’t campaign in Miami-Dade
With Florida a battleground and President Barack Obama losing to GOP challenger Mitt Romney in today’s Monmouth University poll, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said he won’t campaign in the Miami-Dade area as he did in the closing days of the 2008 general election.
“No,” the senator said in response to a PolitickerNJ.com question. “I’m going to be in New Jersey from now until Nov. 6th.”
Menendez has his own race to focus on, a showdown with GOP challenger state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13).
“Two more weeks – 15 days to be exact, but who’s counting?” the senator cracked. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
CLF targets Adler in TV ad
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) released today the first ad of a nearly $700,000 television and digital ad campaign in New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district.
The ad, “Cherry Hill Tax,” targets Democratic challenger Shelley Adler on broadcast television in the Philadelphia media market, and will be accompanied by a paid digital advocacy campaign, according to a release by the CLF.
“Shelley Adler has a troubling history of raising taxes when New Jersey families can least afford it,” said CLF Spokeswoman Brook Hougesen. “Regardless of whether Shelley Adler can remember raising taxes or not, voters will remember in November.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Asians rally in N.J. race
A New Jersey congressional race between a state assemblyman and a congressman—both of whom most Americans have never heard of—has turned into a tough political fight drawing campaign contributions from across the U.S., thanks to a keenly interested ethnic group: Southeast Asians.
In his uphill effort to unseat Rep. Leonard Lance—a two-term Republican and heir to a state political dynasty—Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula is trying to become the first Southeast Asian to serve in Congress from a state east of the Mississippi River.
Southeast Asians have opened their wallets to help the Indian immigrant. Of the $406,000 raised during the second quarter, more than 22% came from outside New Jersey—much of it from Southeast Asians, according to the Chivukula campaign and a Wall Street Journal analysis of contributions. Supporters have held fundraisers for him in Dallas, Virginia and Philadelphia. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
Christie campaigning for Kyrillos, then hitting the trail in New Hampshire
Governor Christie will make his second diner stop in a week with state Sen. Joe Kyrillos who is hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.
Christie will join Kyrillos for a campaign event at Mastoris Diner in Bordentown. Last week they visited the Princetonian Diner where Christie encouraged patrons to vote for “my friend Joe.”
The 3 p.m. stop in Burlington County tomorrow comes as the governor returns from a full day on the campaign trail in Connecticut with U.S. Senate hopeful Linda McMahon. McMahon, a former wrestling executive, is in a close contest with Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent.
He’ll be back in town to campaign with Kyrillos Tuesday afternoon, but then Christie is off to New Hampshire to campaign for GOP gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne. (Hayes, The Record)
NJ governor campaigns in Conn. for McMahon
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, appearing Monday with fellow Republican Linda McMahon in her campaign for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, slammed her opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, as so partisan “he might as well be Nancy Pelosi’s butler.”
The one-liner got big laughs at all three stops he made with McMahon in Stamford, Waterbury and Glastonbury. In contrast, he portrayed McMahon, a wealthy former professional wrestling executive, as someone who can work across party lines and use her business experience running World Wrestling Entertainment, now WWE, to help rebuild the nation’s economy.
“This is a woman who does not need this job,” Christie told hundreds in Glastonbury. “This is a woman who is doing this because she sees the perilous path we’re on, she knows the right way to fix our country and you cannot hand this job over to just another career politician who is going to continue this failed course. You’ve got to send Linda McMahon to the United States Senate.” (Christoffersen, Associated Press)
Joint session of state Senate-Assembly briefed on military suicides
On Monday morning, a soldier apparently committed suicide in King of Prussia, PA; on Sunday, it was one in Illinois; on Saturday, one at Fort Knox, KY.
That stark information came from Brig. Gen Michael Cunniff, adjutant general of the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
In July, there were 26 suspected suicides reported among active-duty Army personnel, and another dozen among reservists. He was speaking yesterday at a joint session of the state Senate and Assembly military and veteran affairs committees in Lawrenceville.
“That’s more than one a day,” Cunniff said. “If that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.”
Already in the first half of the year, the American military was on a pace of almost one suicide a day, usually a low-ranking, male soldier, according to the Associated Press. That rate jumped in July, prompting a series of “stand downs,” set aside throughout the services to address the issue. (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)
Menendez, Kyrillos both declare support for Israel at Jewish forum
Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and his Republican opponent, Joe Kyrillos, both pledged strong support for Israel and tough action against Iran if it comes close to developing a nuclear weapon at a Jewish forum in Livingston last night.
“Since I was elected to the Senate, I believe Isreal has had no better friend in the United States Senate than I have been, no greater ally,” said Menendez, a seven-year incumbent who noted he authored sanctions against Iran’s economy which he called the “most crippling in history.”
Kyrillos, a 25-year state senator, gave Menendez credit for the sanctions but said they were “too little, too late” and that the United States should have done more to help the Iranians who rose up during protests after their 2009 election. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
The legal question for Camden: What constitutes a toxic school?
Does a child attending a low-performing New Jersey school district — arguably the state’s lowest-performing district — have a constitutional right to pursue a better education elsewhere?
That question was at the heart of a legal hearing held yesterday in a nondescript administrative courtroom in Mercerville, where a group of Camden families led by some outspoken advocates have filed a demanding that they be freed from attending Camden schools and instead receive payments to attend schools of their choice, public or private.
The complaint was filed last week with state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, and the hearing yesterday was in administrative court to consider a request for immediate relief for the three lead plaintiffs. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
NJEA boss no fan of Newark contract deal
The union representing Newark’s 3,000 teachers has often found itself out of step with the New Jersey Education Association, which represents the vast majority of the state’s teachers.
The new contract agreement reached in Newark last week and up for a rank-and-file vote in the next has only made those differences more explicit, especially when it comes to performance bonuses.
Vincent Giordano, the executive director of the NJEA, yesterday spoke candidly about the agreement reached with the Newark Teachers Union, which is part of a separate national union, the American Federation of Teachers.
When contacted last night, Giordano said he was at first hesitant to comment on another union’s work — “It’s technically not our business” — but then did not much hide his opposition to key parts of the proposed contract. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Sweeney touts higher-ed bond issue, minimum wage hike, more at bankers’ meeting
Senate President Steve Sweeney championed the higher-education bond issue referendum today, telling the N.J. Bankers Association it is long overdue.
Sweeney told the Association during its annual Legislative Day at the Masonic Temple here that it is the main issue the state needs to focus on as election day nears. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
N.J. Supreme Court wrestles with privacy issues in cellphone, GPS case
Justices of the state Supreme Court wrestled Monday with drawing new privacy protections in a world where police can engage in the sophisticated tracking of suspects using the most ubiquitous of devices: the cellphone.
Attorneys for privacy rights groups and for defendant Thomas W. Earls said that the warrantless use of cellphone location information violates cellphone users’ constitutional rights and their expectations of privacy.
They’re seeking to build on a U.S. Supreme Court case decided earlier this year that restricted the use of GPS tracking technology to track a suspect’s car without judicial approval and hope a victory in this case would set an important national precedent that would expand privacy rights. (Campisi, The Record)
Treasurer: Taxing millionaires more hurts N.J. economy
Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told the N.J. Bankers Association this morning that taxing N.J. millionaires more would ultimately hurt the state’s recovery, and that if anything, the state needs more, not fewer, millionaires to accelerate the recovery effort.
During the Association’s annual legislative day held at the Masonic Temple here, the state treasurer provided a glimpse into what one millionaire means to New Jersey. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Sports participation bill advances
Legislation that would allow charter school and county vocational school students to participate in local interscholastic sports programs advanced out of the Assembly Education Committee today.
The bill, A3421, would require school districts to permit students who receive “equivalent instruction other than at school” to participate in sports programs in the student’s resident district. (Arco, State Street Wire)
At legislative banking day, officials outline challenges, opportunities for industry
Ken Kobylowski, acting commissioner of the state Department of Banking and Insurance, told a banking conference in Trenton today that the New Jersey banking industry is in good financial shape, but faces serious challenges from expensive regulations under the federal Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law, and from Basel III, a proposal now before federal banking regulators to impose higher capital requirements on smaller banks, potentially constraining their ability to lend.
“The majority of New Jersey banks continue to be well capitalized and in generally good financial condition,” Kobylowski said during the annual Trenton legislative day sponsored by the New Jersey Bankers Association. But, he said, bankers tell him businesses are uncertain about future tax and health care costs, which has prompted them to put on hold decisions to expand and borrow. (Fitzgerald, NJBIZ)
SCS Energy scraps plan for controversial coal-fired plant
The developer of a controversial coal-fired power plant in Linden has quietly pulled the plug on the project.
SCS Energy LLC, a Concord, Mass.-based private power development company, noted on its that the PurGen One project in Linden is no longer active. SGS Energy is moving the commercial design to a project in California.
The scrapping of the project is not much of a surprise given the widespread opposition to the facility — not only from environmental groups, but also more formidably from the Christie administration. It has vowed not to allow any new coal plants to be built in New Jersey.
At a hearing in the summer of 2011 on a revised Energy Master Plan, former New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Lee Solomon flatly said, “That project is not going forward. There will be no PurGen.’’ (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Fighting to stay on track
It’s hard to imagine an economic engine spring- ing alongside the rail yard and parking lots on the south side of Hoboken’s Observer Highway. But when executives at NJ Transit and LCOR Inc. look at the land, they see a multiuse transit-oriented development on a site that Kurt M. Eichler, an LCOR principal, calls “the best in the country.”
LCOR, the project’s master developer, has been working with the transit agency for seven years to craft a plan that will take advantage of the site’s prox- imity to a unique range of transportation modes: Hudson River ferry service; the PATH subway; and NJ Transit’s regional rail, light rail and bus services.
“We don’t believe there’s any other place in the country where there’s a series of five modes,” Eichler said, adding that as many as 50,000 commuters pass through the site each day. “There’s just no way to rep- licate that.” (Kitchenman, NJBIZ)
From the Back Room
Booker loses another press secretary
Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Friday accepted the resignation of Kimberly DeHaarte.
A statement from Booker Chief of Staff Mo Butler follows:
“Last Friday, October 19th, Kimberly DeHaarte resigned from her position as Press Secretary for the City of Newark, citing personal reasons. Kimberly was a true professional and a valued member of the administration. We wish her well in all of her future endeavors.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
The Buzz around Buzzy
The once popular union leader Richard “Buzzy” Dressel has not been seen for at least two weeks at IBEW Local 164, where he serves as the business manager, a source told PolitickerNJ.com.
Two sources close to Bergen County politics said they are worried about Dressel.
On Friday Dressel resigned from the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation’s board of trustees after earlier abruptly ending a similar position at Bergen Community College, according to the Bergen Record. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Obama won the third debate, but the political impact remains uncertain
I have five basic comments on Monday night’s third presidential debate:
1. In terms of “debating points”, Obama clearly won the debate. He had better command of the issues, and he had highly effective rebuttals to every Romney criticism.
2. Romney refrained from criticism on Benghazi. Evidently, he felt that such criticism could backfire.
3. In spite of losing the debate, Romney did appear “presidential” and in that sense solidified his status as a potential commander-in-chief, avoiding a potential vote loss on the leadership issue….(Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)