Morning News Digest: October 24, 2012

Morning News Digest: October 24, 2012 By Missy Rebovich     Christie defends Oxley judicial nomination in face of Dem


Morning News Digest: October 24, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Christie defends Oxley judicial nomination in face of Dem resistance

Gov. Chris Christie said on Tuesday the Senate Judiciary Committee should hold a hearing on his nomination of Sheriff Joe Oxley to the state Superior Court, saying Democrats should not find “excuses” to keep from doing their job.

The planned hearing has hit a roadblock, after Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20),  Elizabeth, requested from the Justice Department information collected on Oxley regarding an allegation made by Solomon Dwek, the FBI informant who helped bring down several public officials in a huge political scandal in the summer of 2009.

Dwek has alleged that Oxley had tipped him off on foreclosure sales. Dwek, a former real estate investor, was recently ordered to serve six years in prison.  (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)



Payroll data better indicator of job growth, Christie says

When it comes to the state’s unemployment rate, Gov. Chris Christie expressed some frustration regarding why it’s not gone down significantly despite 10 out of 12 months of job growth.

“Problem is, I just can’t make any sense of it,” Christie said, adding that in some months in which there was significant job growth in the private sector, the unemployment rate went up, and vice versa.

He had one theory of why that dynamic exists.

We still have a significantly higher labor participation rate than (the national rate),” he said. “That contributes to it.  (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)



Christie: Presidential contest ‘dead-even dogfight’

When it comes to who did better in Monday’s foreign policy debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney it was no surprise whom Gov. Chris Christie thought won the debate.

“I would have been in the 40,” Christie said, referring to a CNN poll taken after the debate in which 40 percent of respondents believed the former Massachusetts governor won the debate.  

Overall, he described the race as “a dead-even dogfight.”

He said the president did “fine” but, “I agree with Gov. Romney’s vision.”  (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)



Veterans’ Group endorses Runyan in CD 3

The National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition endorsed Congressman Jon Runyan (R-3) for re-election today, citing his bipartisan efforts to improve the quality of life for military veterans and their families, his campaign announced. The coalition consists of 70 veterans’ organizations and advocacy groups representing over 250,000 veterans and their families nationwide.  

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition,” said Runyan.  “I thank them for their support and look forward to working with them to ensure that our veterans are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. The brave men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, as well as their families, are true American heroes and it is my honor to work on their behalf.”  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Christie says he’ll meet with Express Scripts execs prior to more layoffs

Governor Christie said he will meet with executives from a major drug benefits company that has shed more than 300 New Jersey jobs this year — many from Bergen County — prior to any future layoffs.

The company, St. Louis-based Express Scripts, merged with Medco Health Solutions this year, a move that included the layoffs of 244 Bergen County workers, many from Medco’s headquarters in Franklin Lakes.

Christie’s announcement came Tuesday, a week after Democrats questioned the Republican governor for visiting an Express Scripts facility in Indiana during a campaign event for GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence.  (Hayes and Reitmeyer, The Record)



Judge blocks N.J. media from interviewing voters exiting polls on election day

A federal judge in Trenton ruled Tuesday against a coalition of more than 100 New Jersey newspapers that sought to allow reporters to interview and photograph voters as they leave polling places on Election Day.

District Judge Joel A. Pisano said at a hearing that the state’s restriction on certain activities near the state’s 3,200 polling places was content neutral and designed to protect voters from obstructions as they head to the polls.

“Voters are entitled and have a right to a free, unfettered, unrestricted path to and from a polling place,” he said, adding that he was concerned with creating a “fire drill” by changing voting rules in the state less than two weeks before a presidential election.  (Campisi, The Record)



Incumbent touts record while GOP foe links him to unpopular governor

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is seeking a second full term, challenged by a veteran state legislator, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth.

But as the campaign wears on, Kyrillos increasingly has chosen to run against a different man: former Gov. Jon Corzine.

The South Jersey state legislator accustomed to easy victories in his Shore district is far behind Menendez in every poll and so is trying to link his opponent with New Jersey’s last governor, whose popularity plummeted as the recession worsened in 2008 and 2009.

At the same time, nine other contenders, ignored by the major parties and not even afforded the publicity of the three senatorial debates, are trying to insert themselves into the conversation in whatever way they can.  (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)



Down in the polls, Kyrillos still has Christie’s confidence

Despite being way behind in the polls with little time left to make up ground with voters, Governor Christie said Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Kyrillos can still pull off an upset against incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez.

Kyrillos, a veteran state lawmaker from Monmouth County, trails Menendez by 18 points, according to a poll released last week by Quinnipiac University’s Polling Institute. And with only two weeks left before voters go to the polls, nearly 60 percent of those polled said they still don’t know enough about Kyrillos to form an opinion.

But Christie, during a campaign event with Kyrillos at a Burlington County diner on Tuesday, said he still has faith in the GOP candidate.  (Reitmeyer, The Record)



Clear differences mark race for seat in 7th Congressional District

Jobs and the economy are the top issues in the 7th Congressional District, but Democratic challenger Upendra Chivukula is counting on his stance on other social issues to make inroads in the conservative-leaning district represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance.

Two third-party candidates — Dennis Breen, an independent, and Patrick McKnight, a Libertarian — contend that an increasingly disenchanted electorate will be a major factor in the campaign, giving them a greater chance to siphon votes from the major party candidates in this election year.

Besides job creation, the incumbent congressman, who was first elected to the seat in 2008, says his priorities are fiscal responsibility — lowering the federal debt and deficits, reducing federal spending and enacting a balanced budget — and tax reform.  (Barr Mann, NJ Spotlight)



New Jersey’s candidate-residency rule is again the subject of a legal fight

A decade after a federal court judge ordered New Jersey to stop enforcing a controversial residency requirement for state legislative candidates, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa is fighting to reinstitute it.

The Attorney General’s Office is preparing to argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this year has left election officials with contradictory court opinions that need to be reconciled or leave future elections open to litigation between candidates.

The push to resolve the legal standing of a state statute requiring legislative candidates to live in their district for a minimum time before their election – one year for Assembly, two years for Senate – follows the high-profile legal battle earlier this year to unseat Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D., Gloucester).  (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Bergen sends $1.1 billion more in taxes to Trenton than it gets back in state aid

Bergen County taxpayers sent $1.1 billion more in sales and income taxes to Trenton in fiscal 2010 than the county received in state aid, while lower-income Passaic County got back more than twice as much in aid as it sent in taxes.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, called “Fiscal Flows in New Jersey.” The study did not look at the entire state budget, but at two taxes — sales and income — and three forms of aid: school, municipal and county.

“It’s not unexpected,” said Joseph J. Seneca, a Rutgers economist who co-authored the report. He said it confirmed the results of similar research done eight years ago.  (Lynn, The Record)




$19.5M in state aid for AIDS program

Governor Christie and Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd announced $19.5 million in state funding for community programs that prevent and treat HIV and AIDS.

Christie and O’Dowd made the annual funding announcement Tuesday morning at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, which is receiving the largest award this year, $2.1 million.

The grant is split into two categories, with $11.2 million allocated for HIV counseling, testing and education and $8.3 million earmarked for medical care and social services, including housing aid and legal services. In total, 54 community organizations, hospitals and health agencies will get funds.  (Hayes, The Record)



Sweeney says Coulter shameless

Senate President Steve Sweeney has worked long and hard as an advocate for the disabled. He’s sincere. He knows of what he speaks from real life. Here is what he said about author and political activist Ann Coulter’s referring to President Obama as a “retard” on Twitter:

“It really does not get any more despicable than this. I honestly don’t know if there is another person on this planet as shameless as Ann Coulter. She has no morals, no boundaries, and no sense of common decency.”  (Ingle, Asbury Park Press)



Democrat accused of stealing GOP signs

A state Democratic campaign worker was arrested early Tuesday morning, suspected of stealing signs supporting two Republican Bergen County Freeholder candidates, police said.

Mahwah Police Detective Kevin Hebert and Officer Michael Blondin were investigating another matter near the Mountainside Avenue entrance to Route 17 south around 12:40 a.m. when they saw David M. Gins, 27, of Washington, D.C., remove a “Re-elect [Rob] Hermansen and Elect [Peg] Watkins” sign from the ground and put it on the floor behind the driver’s seat of a Chevrolet Traverse with New Jersey license plates, Chief James Batelli said Tuesday.

The officers approached the vehicle and discovered eight identical signs to the one that had been removed and several blue blue signs supporting the reelection of Sen. Bob Menendez, he said.  (Pries, The Record)



NJ’s top three supers open up about life inside the system

All told, the three men represent more than 50 years of school leadership — in different New Jersey communities with different challenges.

Whatever their differences, however, the three share a common bond: They were named yesterday as the top school superintendents in their regions. They also share a common sentiment: the expectations and pressures now facing New Jersey’s schools are unprecedented, especially in the face of constrained resources and strict caps.

They weren’t complaining about their jobs, something they made clear in a joint interview with NJ Spotlight. Recent changes in the state’s tenure laws and coming changes in curriculum offered some equally unprecedented opportunities, they said.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Economist says N.J. housing recovery will drag through 2020

Though the pace of sales activity in New Jersey’s residential real estate market has picked up dramatically over the past year, home prices across the state have barely nudged toward their prerecession levels, leading one local industry watcher to forecast their recovery will drag through 2020.

With the exception of Mercer and Cape May counties, average home prices throughout New Jersey dropped significantly between July 2008 and July 2012, according to a national report by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.

But Jeffrey Otteau, president of East Brunswick-based Otteau Valuation Group, said the RealtyTrac data don’t account for “the mix of house sales that has changed over time.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Central Jersey continues to gain speed as industrial market has strong quarter

Momentum in central New Jersey’s industrial market continued in the third quarter, as vacancy continued to fall while interest grew among prospective tenants around the New Jersey Turnpike, according to a new report from Cassidy Turley.

The firm’s Franklin office recorded 584,000 square feet of positive absorption from July through September, a modest but strong total in the normally slow summer months. Overall vacancy fell to 7.8 percent from 8 percent, following 2.3 million square feet of second-quarter activity that brought vacancy to pre-recession levels.  (Burd, NJBIZ)



Contract signed to boost South Jersey freight-rail links

South Jersey business, government, and transportation officials on Tuesday celebrated the signing of an agreement that will provide $18.5 million to improve vital freight-rail links in the region.

South Jersey business, government, and transportation officials on Tuesday celebrated the signing of an agreement that will provide $18.5 million to improve vital freight-rail links in the region.

The federal money, coupled with local and corporate contributions, will provide $117 million to upgrade a 42-mile rail line that runs from the port of Salem through Swedesboro, Paulsboro, and Camden to the 116-year-old Delair rail bridge, which spans the Delaware River next to the Betsy Ross Bridge.  (Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Water companies will earn faster ROI on infrastructure upgrades

A state agency yesterday voted to allow three water utilities to recoup their investments in upgrading aging infrastructure more quickly and without extensive regulatory review. The change, advocates say, will improve reliability and reduce costs to consumers in the long run.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities passed the new rules after a nearly decade-long push on the part of state-regulated water companies, who want to adopt the policies used by other states to rapidly replace aging water systems. Some of New Jersey’s conduits and valve are more than a century old.

The agency — in a separate matter before it — rejected a similar proposal from the gas utilities. Many of these companies face the same problems: how to overhaul infrastructure that contains corroding pipelines, which are more vulnerable to leaks and ruptures.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



(Click here to request a free trial)



Daily State House Schedule



From the Back Room 



Boteach to speak in Miami

A day after he railed against U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) for not being more engaged in the general election, and with two weeks until Election Day, the Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is scheduled to give a speech in Miami this evening.

The Hillel Community Day School confirmed that the rabbi is in Florida for the event.

A Republican, the animated Boteach is running against Pascrell in the general election.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



N.J. No. 2 on Tax Foundation’s most-taxed list

Move to Alaska.

That’s not the advice the Tax Foundation has for New Jersey residents, but according to its latest study of state tax rates, New Jersey is No. 2 nationally in terms of overall tax burden, while the 50th state is also the least taxed as a percentage of income.

New York holds the top spot in terms of carrying the highest state-local tax burden, according to the Foundation study. Connecticut checks in at No. 3, making New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut the only three states in which residents shoulder a burden of more than 12 percent of their income paid in state and local taxes.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Democrats miss Corzine’s cash

It’s hard times for New Jersey’s county political parties.

Fundraising has taken a hit, with the total amount raised through the third quarter of 2012 nearly 34 percent less than the cash taken in during the same period in 2008.

“These third quarter totals are the lowest we’ve seen for at least the past half decade,” said Jeff Brindle, executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Figures released by ELEC Tuesday show that in the last presidential election year, 2008, county party fundraising brought in $5,534,652 from January to September, with that number dipping to $3,662,456 in 2012.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)



Chris Christie’s help

Linda McMahon’s ability to soften her image has made all the difference between her last Senate race in Connecticut two years ago, which she lost by 12 points, and her current Senate race against Rep. Chris Murphy, where a new Rasmussen poll has her neck-and-neck two weeks from Election Day.

This week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared with Ms. McMahon in Stamford, Waterbury and the Hartford suburb of Glastonbury, and we wonder if he was aware of her image makeover and more recent attempts to appeal to Obama supporters and independents.  (Riley, The Wall Street Journal)



Morning News Digest: October 24, 2012