Morning Digest: Nov. 16, 2012

Latest from PolitickerNJ and State Street Wire

Bill would tighten upkeep requirements on foreclosed homes

Creditors would be responsible for upkeep and repairs of vacant property engaged in foreclosure proceedings under a bill moved by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today.

The bill (S1740) is sponsored by Sen. Ronald Rice and supplements existing law that requires the creditor to perform upkeep on foreclosed property. (Isherwood, State Street Wire)



Vitale to reintroduce Good Samaritan bill

TRENTON – As towns pass resolutions in support of his vetoed Good Samaritan bill, Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, said he plans to reintroduce it.

The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act, which would give people immunity from prosecution when they are reporting drug overdoses, was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie on Oct. 5. (Hassan, State Street Wire)



N.J. jobless rate at 9.7%

TRENTON – The state’s unemploymenet rate dipped to 9.7 percent in October, down .1 percentage point from September, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state said that preliminary estimates indicate that total nonfarm wage and salary employment in New Jersey contracted in October by 11,700 jobs, to a seasonally adjusted 3,892,200. (State Street Wire)



Kyrillos: ‘We needed a perfect storm and instead we got Hurricane Sandy’

MIDDLETOWN – Better now from a name ID standpoint than before.

That’s how state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) assesses his unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the face of critics who say he didn’t run hard enough or throw sufficient elbows at the incumbent. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)




Feds charge IBEW official with using influence

Two union officers from Local 164 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) were arrested today in connection with an embezzlement scheme that defrauded the union and its Apprentice Program of $350,000, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. (PolitickerNJ)





Bencivengo’s defense rests


TRENTON – Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo will not take the stand in his criminal trial.

The mayor’s defense attorney, Jerome Ballarotto, called his last witness to the stand shortly before noon Thursday. Ballarotto indicated on Wednesday that Bencivengo, and possibly his estranged wife, could take the witness stand today during the mayor’s criminal case. (Arco, PolitickerNJ)

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Verizon, AT&T say cell networks back up

NEW YORK — Verizon and AT&T said Thursday that their wireless networks are fully back up after Superstorm Sandy blew into the New York and New Jersey on Oct. 29.

Verizon Wireless said its network is at pre-storm levels, while AT&T Inc. said “as of today, we’re pretty much back to normal.” (Associated Press)|newswell|text|Frontpage|p




Real estate agents match Sandy victims with empty winter rentals

When Nikki Dawson returned to her rented first-floor apartment on Eighth Street in Brigantine the Thursday after Hurricane Sandy, the house didn’t look too bad at first.

“It was dark by the time I got into town,” she said. “But when I stepped inside, I could feel the carpet squish under my feet.” (D’Amico, Asbury Park Press)



Strip search lawsuit against Burlington County can continue

CAMDEN — Burlington County’s battle over the constitutionality of strip-searching inmates in its county jails may not be over.

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of the country’s jails and detention centers to strip-search all inmates, no matter the seriousness of the charges, in a case stemming out of the Burlington County and Essex County jails. (Camilli, Burlington County Times)



‘Surge,’ by ATF, sought for Camden

CAMDEN — A federal law enforcement agency is expected to boost its presence here, according to the city’s police chief, but a key figure in this crime-ridden community says more help is needed.

Immediate assistance is unlikely, though, because Superstorm Sandy has diverted the state’s resources, including troopers who might otherwise patrol city streets. The storm also has sidelined talks with New Jersey officials over $7 million in startup funds for a county-run police force for Camden City. (Shelly, Camden Courier Post)|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE&nclick_check=1



Rowan to expand Camden campus

Rowan University’s campus in Camden is set to receive a $5.1 million grant from the state toward the university’s $13.5 million plan to transform the former First Camden National Bank into classroom space.

According to Rowan spokesman Joe Cardona, the $5.1 million had been earmarked for the school since Gov. Christie Whitman’s administration. However, before receiving the money, university officials had to show the state that it had a plan. (Laday, South Jersey Times)



Cherry Hill proposes limits on public smoking

Cherry Hill is telling smokers it’s time to get their butts off public property – inside and out.

A proposed ordinance presented to the public Thursday – on the 37th annual Great American Smokeout – would ban smoking in parks, playgrounds, and other township-owned properties. (Boyer, Inquirer)




Lower Manhattan recovery patch; people still barred from homes

Almost three weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit, workers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency are a common sight in hard-hit parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. But on Wednesday morning, four of them were handing a disaster relief flier to the superintendent of 33 Rector Street, a luxury condominium building near Battery Park City. (Yee, N.Y. Times)




Newark sewage plant could be hampered for weeks

As superstorm Sandy pounded Jersey Shore towns to bits, it also pushed a 5-foot wave of water from Newark Bay over the bulkhead of the fifth-largest sewage treatment plant in the country, crippling its equipment, cutting off its power, and shutting down the system that handles sewage from some 1.5 million customers in northern New Jersey, including the state’s three largest cities. (O’Neill, Record)




Medical marijuana holdup: Sales tax questions

Like most of steps in the almost three-year-long struggle to legalize the sale of medical marijuana to chronically and seriously ill patients, the final one has turned into a stumble.

Joe Stevens, a co-founder of the Greenlead Compassion Center, the first licensed alternative treatment site, says the only obstacle in the way of opening its doors in Montclair is the state’s decision on whether to impose a sales tax. (Livio, Star-Ledger)




Chris Smith deserves to be chairman of House Foreign Affairs

There was passing press notice of a Democratic colleague’s defeat last week of Howard Berman, the much-respected Californian who formerly chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But while Democrats on the committee vie for his current slot as ranking minority member, a more consequential struggle is going on behind closed doors on the Republican side for the chairman’s post. (Laurenti, guest opinion, Trenton Times)





Morning Digest: Nov. 16, 2012