Morning News Digest: October 4, 2012

Morning News Digest: October 4, 2012 By Missy Rebovich     Underscoring ‘differences’ in labor, Christie woos Building Trades in


Morning News Digest: October 4, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Underscoring ‘differences’ in labor, Christie woos Building Trades in PA Ironworkers Hall

In a politically visually optimal wood paneled Ironworkers Local 11 hall at the grimy, industrial edge of the Raritan River, Gov. Chris Christie wrapped his arms around the forces of Building Trades labor here this evening in an attempt at a show of private sector union force heading into 2013.

“We’re going to spend more money, but to do that you have to be smart. Let’s talk honestly about the differences in the labor movement,” said the Republican governor. “I am not an anti-labor person. But here’s what I am against. I am against some people carrying other people unfairly on their backs. 

Public sector unions wanted raises and no -cost health insurance, said Christie, locating an old, intra-labor pressure point.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Christie honors old foe Murphy with first Alex DeCroce Leadership Award

Interpret it as you will: a Machiavellian political maneuver designed to send unity vibes through Morris County in anticipation of 2013, or a genuine Christian paean of forgiveness and magnanimity.

Gov. Chris Christie this afternoon bestowed the first Alex DeCroce Leadership Award on former local rival Freeholder John Murphy at the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Luncheon in Whippany.

The man who once threw a roadblock in front of a revved up Christie now bears the scars 15 years later of a brutal political brawl with the Buccos and the backroom wounds sustained in a party that statewide began to very keenly appreciate the control Christie later wielded as U.S. Attorney.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Wisniewski zeroes in on Romney’s 47% gaffe

In the aftermath of Obama v. Romney I, Democratic Party Chairman John Wisniewski (D-19) rushed to the president’s aid.

Obama didn’t grab hold of Romney’s infamous 47% quote in the pair’s 90 minute scrap.

Wisniewski did.

“After the first debate between the President and Mitt Romney, the choice is clear,” the state party chairman said. “Mitt Romney wants to double down on the trickle-down policies of the Bush administration that caused the recession in the first place. Months ago, he wrote off nearly half of all Americans-including seniors, students, and active duty service members- as ‘victims.’ His economic proposals would raise taxes on families making $200,000 or less by $2,000 a year. It’s no wonder he spent months memorizing zingers rather than straight answers.”  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)



Bramnick wants Oliver to post EITC bill on Oct. 18th

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) wants Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) to post a bill to restore the New Jersey Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 percent to 25 percent of the federal tax credit.  

“Members of my caucus have introduced a tax cut plan, A-3235, that is based on a plan first proposed by members of your party and later endorsed by Governor Christie,” Bramnick wrote tonight in a letter to the speaker. “It provides substantial property-tax relief to middle class homeowners and renters, and increased income tax relief to low-income families. This plan benefits everyone in New Jersey and must be top item on our agenda because it’s the top item on the people’s agenda. We should post this legislation immediately in bipartisan cooperation.”  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



NJ governor Christie says he’s not anti-union

Standing in a wood-paneled union hall, Gov. Chris Christie wanted the audience to know one thing.

“I am not, by any stretch, an anti-union person,” Christie said to the hundreds packed Wednesday into the Ironworkers Local Union 73 hall in Perth Amboy.

Clad in T-shirts bearing their union logo, they chowed down hot dogs off a sizzling grill while rock music blared outside before and after Christie’s town hall meeting.

The governor sought to shore up his ties to private-sector unions, drawing a distinction between them and the public-sector unions he has fought with in overhauling their pensions and benefits systems.

“I am against anybody in this state having to carry other people’s benefits unfairly on their own backs,” Christie said.  (Zezima, Associated Press)



N.J. projecting hike in tax revenue

New Jersey is one of only nine states predicting tax revenue increases of more than 5% this fiscal year, with the state’s projection of 8.6% for five major tax streams the third highest growth anticipated in the nation, an analysis released Wednesday shows.

Only Delaware and California predicted a higher increase in tax revenue from 2012 fiscal year levels, each anticipating 10% growth, according to the report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures, a government association.

New York and Connecticut predicted more modest tax revenue growth at 3.2% and 4.1%, respectively.

New Jersey Democrats have criticized Gov. Chris Christie for unrealistic revenue predictions in this year’s budget and haven’t yet implemented a property tax credit the Republican governor has pushed. The stalemate on one of Christie’s signature pledges has resulted in an escalating war of words between both sides.  (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)



N.J.’s vanished public jobs impede economic recovery, study says

New Jersey’s economic recovery is hindered by the elimination of 61,200 local and state government jobs and Republican Governor Chris Christie’s spending cuts, according to a report issued today.

The 2011 average unemployment rate of 9.3 percent would have been 8 percent with those public positions untouched, according to the study by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan Trenton nonprofit that analyzes issues affecting residents with low to moderate incomes.

“Cuts to the public sector make New Jersey a less attractive state for businesses to locate because they want good schools and safe communities,” the study said. “Eliminating public jobs also contributes to the shrinking of New Jersey’s middle class and increasing income inequality.”   (Young, Bloomberg)



Economists find little to cheer in latest ADP jobs report

Private-sector employment growth in September again surpassed market expectations, as the national economy added 162,000 jobs, according to data released today by Roseland-based Automatic Data Processing.

But Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, which co-authors the monthly report with ADP, said the pace of national job growth leading up to the year’s end is not enough to decrease the unemployment rate, and he’s “not expecting to see robust growth in this economy anytime soon.”

“While this number is above consensus, it’s hardly a strong number, and it’s barely above the pace that would pull the national unemployment rate down,” Prakken said. “Since we’re looking ahead at a fiscal drag even if we don’t jump off the highest ledge of the fiscal cliff … there’s not going to be really any strong growth in employment and very little, if any, improvement in the unemployment rate until 2014.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



Senate hopefuls to hold first debate tonight

Republican U.S. Senate challenger Joe Kyrillos gets a chance to boost his name recognition in his campaign to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez when the two candidates hold their first televised debate tonight at Montclair State University.

The one-hour debate, co-sponsored by The Record and Herald News, starts at 8 p.m. on the state’s public television network, NJTV. It also will be streamed online at

Menendez, who is seeking his second term, leads Kyrillos by 12 percentage points, according to an average of recent public opinion polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics. Nearly every poll, however, has shown a large bloc of voters do not now enough about Kyrillos to have an opinion of him.

Kyrillos is a state senator from Monmouth County who has been in the Legislature for 24 years. A former chairman of the Republican State Committee, he led Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign in the New Jersey primary, and the Republican presidential nominee came to New Jersey to raise money for Kyrillos this spring.  (Jackson, The Record)



Menendez and Kyrillos: Where they stand on the issues

Where Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican Joe Kyrillos, a state senator trying to unseat him, say they stand on a selection of issues.  (Mulvihill, Associated Press)



Incumbent Democrat faces familiar foe in Assembly District 4

In a repeat of last November’s campaign, Republican Shelley Lovett is challenging Democrat Gabriela Mosquera, the incumbent state assemblywoman, for the remainder of an unexpired term in South Jersey’s District 4.

This is one of three state Assembly seats races on the ballot in a year dominated by federal elections. And the fact that it is even on the ballot makes for a strange tale.

This is one of three state Assembly seats races on the ballot in a year dominated by federal elections. And the fact that it is even on the ballot makes for a strange tale.

Last November, Mosquera was elected to the Assembly,defeating Lovett by a margin of 6,300 votes or 15 percentage points. Mosquera’s ascendancy to the lower House, however, became knotted with complications. In the wake of Mosquera’s victory, Lovett quickly moved to challenge her opponent’s victory on the grounds that Mosquera had not lived in the district long enough to have sought the office.   (Kassel, NJ Spotlight)


Turner seeks constitutional amendment to suspend indicted elected officials

A state senator says elected officials who are indicted on crimes should be suspended from their duties without pay.

Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15), announced Wednesday the introduction of a constitutional amendment that would suspend elected officials indicted for wrongdoing from their official duties and would also prohibit them from collecting a paycheck.  (Arco, State Street Wire)



Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle introduces bill to curb human trafficking in N.J.

A North Jersey legislator wants increased fines for those convicted of human sex trafficking, and says the legislation should be in place before the Super Bowl comes to MetLife Stadium and a possible increase in such crimes.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Englewood, introduced the measure which calls for a $25,000 fine for anyone convicted of a crime associated with human trafficking. Such crimes include recruiting someone for trafficking, financing trafficking or allowing it to occur on property owned by the defendant.

Those offenses already carry prison terms — which can be as long as 20 years — but the hefty fine would be new.

The money from the fines would go to a “human trafficking survivor’s assistance fund” intended to help victims and increase New Jersey residents’ awareness of human trafficking.  (Linhorst, The Record)



The clock is ticking for Rutgers/Rowan/UMDNJ merger

The grandfather clock outside the office of new Rutgers University President Robert Barchi is ticking loudly, counting down the minutes to July 1, 2013. That’s the deadline for reorganizing 16 distinct college campuses, medical schools, and patient-care centers across the state into three research and educational institutions.

t took more than six months of wrangling in Trenton to craft a law – the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Restructuring Act — that finally satisfied most parties, followed by a summer to recuperate and make amends. It’s now time for the state’s higher-education policymakers and their staffs to figure out how to redistribute the wealth of intellectual and physical properties owned and managed by Rutgers, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Rowan University, and, to a lesser extent, Cooper University Hospital in Camden.   (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)



Anti-bullying law’s sponsor cites success in raising awareness

The day after new data was released detailing the extent of bullying in New Jersey schools and educators’ responses to it, the chief sponsor of the new NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights said the law is succeeding in its core aim.

State Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-Bergen) said yesterday that the numbers released by the state Department of Education showing a big spike in reported incidents indicated the law was finally identifying the scope of the problem in schools.

“The law is working, and now we see it in the number of incidents reported,” she said in an interview.

Statistics included in the state’s annual report on violence, vandalism and substance abuse, showed the number of reported incidents more than tripled last year in the first year of the law, to slightly above 12,000 cases overall – or on average of roughly five incidents per school.   (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Democrats struggling to push ahead with privatization bill

State Senate Democrats are attempting to put together legislation that would ensure that privatizing public services translates into actual savings for taxpayers. But they’re getting some pushback from across the aisle, with Republicans complaining there are too many strings attached, as well as from the business community.

It was expected that the bill would go before the Senate today, but it’s not on the agenda.

Among other things, the legislation would require public agencies get a fiscal analysis before they contract for more than $250,000 with a private vendor to take over services.

Subsequent performance would be subject to a state audit, which could lead to penalties or even loss of the contract for failing to produce promised savings. The bill also would require that private vendors pay “comparable wages” to public employees and give hiring priority to those laid off because of the privatization.  (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)



Anti-bullying events at N.J. schools – since 2011, it’s the law

At Moorestown’s South Valley Elementary School, third graders listened Wednesday to author Staci Schwartz read from her new book about a misbehaving goat named Billy who picks on other “kids.”

Earlier this week, in Washington Township, Bells Elementary students made new friends, worked on their manners, and helped out grown-ups.

In schools throughout the region, assemblies have been scheduled, posters made, and discussions held, all on a central theme: Bullying is out and respect in.

This is the second annual Week of Respect for New Jersey children. All public districts and charter schools are required to provide age-appropriate instruction aimed at preventing harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

The week is but one aspect of the state’s far-reaching Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Signed into law in early 2011 by Gov. Christie – not long after the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, whose roommate used a webcam to watch him kiss another man – the measure has been called one of the strongest of its kind in the nation.  (Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



First presidential debate stirs up Monmouth

The stakes are high tonight as Democrat U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney take the stage in Denver to do verbal battle in the first of three debates as both men seek the presidency.

In Monmouth County, Democrats and Republicans alike will flock to televisions at home or out on the town, seeking both a good argument and a good time as their candidates spar about issues affecting America’s future. And they will watch with the expectation that their candidate will vanquish the other before a local, national and global audience.

The rhetorical smack talk between Democrats and Republicans escalated after Gov. Chris Christie‘s recent prediction that Romney’s performance tonight will create “a brand-new race” after the former Massachusetts governor “lays out his vision” tonight.  (Bonamo,



N.J. voting advocates seek to clear up misinformation

Citing concerns over an email that’s been circulating containing inaccurate voting information, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey is putting the word out that the state’s voting laws haven’t changed.

The email, which says that “the rules have changed” and warns that residents who haven’t voted since the last presidential election in 2008 have to re-register, is “very upsetting to me,” League president Toni Zimmer said at a press conference this morning.

She added that her group’s toll-free voting hotline has been “ringing off the hook.”

Zimmer and representatives of state civil rights groups also registered their concern that New Jerseyans will think a controversial new voter identification law in Pennsylvania — which has been put on hold by a judge — also applies to this state. It doesn’t.  (Campisi, The Record)



Payments proposed at power-capacity auction impact NJ ratepayers

Perhaps it is a good thing that one of the three power plants awarded ratepayer subsidies failed to clear in an auction run by the regional operator of the power grid this past May.

In results released by the state Board of Public Utilities, NRG Energy proposed a capacity payment nearly double what was awarded in the last auction, a cost to utility customers that likely would amount to more than $800 million over the life of the 15-year contract if the Princeton company can clear upcoming auctions each May.

When combined with subsidies awarded to two other natural gas plant developers by the BPU, the total cost could exceed $3 billion over the 15 years of the contracts, all paid by ratepayers. Despite the high costs, state officials still say the subsidies will end up benefitting ratepayers in the long run, bringing down sky-high energy bills by increasing capacity in the region.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



SBA program offers opportunities for urban business

New Jersey’s urban entrepreneurs can take advantage of a program sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration that will coach them on how to raise capital, then bring them to New York to pitch their businesses to bankers and investors.

The deadline is Oct. 19 for entrepreneurs to apply to the Inner City Capital Connections program, jointly sponsored by the SBA, Bank of America, Fortune magazine and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. This year, the ICCC expects to select 180 investment-ready companies nationwide to participate in the program, which begins with an Oct. 24 training workshop in Detroit and concludes Nov. 9, when participants will meet with lenders and investors in New York.  (Fitzgerald, NJBIZ)



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Sharpe James makes push for his son for City Council seat

The imminent victory of 10th Congressional District candidate Donald Payne, Jr. means the affable double dipper’s Essex County freeholder and Newark City Council seats will become vacant next year.

Sources tell that former Mayor Sharpe James button-holed power broker Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo at Pal’s Cabin over the weekend and made his case for John James to fill the council seat.

That’s the former mayor’s son, retired Army, Iraq War veteran and unsuccessful 2010 candidate for an at-large council seat.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)






The first debate: A clear win for Romney, but not a knockout

In my September 23, 2012 column, I flatly stated that in order to defeat the Obama-Biden ticket, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would have to score knockouts in their respective debates. 

Last night, I thought Mitt Romney scored a clear victory, based on style, rather than substance.  Barack Obama was unduly defensive, while Romney was effectively aggressive throughout the entire debate.  In boxing terms, the debate reminded me of the September 23, 1957 bout at Yankee Stadium in which World Welterweight Champion Carmen Basilio moved up in weight and defeated Sugar Ray Robinson for the World Middleweight Championship.  Mitt Romney was the counterpart of Basilio last night – constantly moving forward, taking his opponent’s best blows, and landing effective punches.  Obama was the counterpart of Robinson in the 1957 bout – landing some good counterpunches, but for the most part being far too defensive.  (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)



Novel social media discovery request must still follow the old rules

Posts, tweets and “status updates” are increasingly becoming the subject of discovery requests. Considering that much of this new media has only been around for less than 6 or 7 years, most of the court decisions in this are recent and the law is evolving rapidly, especially in the areas of evidence and discovery.

Most recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal (Central District of California) denied an overly broad social media discovery request by Home Depot to gain access to a former employee’s social media posts. The case, Mailhoit v. Home Depot, involved claims of gender and disability discrimination.  (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)



Transparency vs. safety in lottery debate

Imagine that you’ve come into a little bit of money – enough to change the way you live, if you choose, but not enough to quit working and move to an island somewhere, separate and carefree.

Now imagine that everyone knows you have this money. Not just your friends, family and neighbors, but anyone who listens to the radio, reads a newspaper or watches television.

Imagine the phone calls from sharks and sobbers, pitching you every kind of opportunity of a lifetime and sad story, all of which you, with your newfound riches, can aid with a quick scribble of your name on a check.

This, in part, is what legislation proposed by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, would give lottery winners, whose names and hometowns are public information, the option to avoid — as well as other, potentially more harmful consequences.  (Schoonejongen, Asbury Park Press)


  Morning News Digest: October 4, 2012