Morning News Digest: Nov. 27, 2012

Poll shows 72 percent approval rating for Gov. Christie

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie’s post-Sandy performance is rated excellent or good, according to 95 percent of respondents to a new poll that gives Christie a 72 percent approval rating.

It’s the highest score ever measured for a New Jersey governor in a Quinnipiac University poll, which was released today.

On Monday, a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll gave Christie a 77 percent approval rating.

(PolitickerNJ staff;




Christie says Sandy played role in running again

PORT MONMOUTH – Gov. Chris Christie said he’s not Hamlet, and so wasn’t prepared to hem and haw about re-election.

He talked to his wife and children this past Thanksgiving weekend and they all told him he should run.

“It was unanimous,” said the governor of the Christie family decision for him to seek re-election next year.

(Max Pizarro;





Christie would beat Booker by 19 points, Eagleton poll says


In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, 59 percent of New Jersey registered voters support a second term for Gov. Chris Christie, while only 32 percent oppose his re-election, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Support for Christie’s re-election has risen dramatically from late September, when 44 percent favored re-election and 47 percent opposed it.

In a series of head-to-head tests against several Democrats thought to be potential 2013 gubernatorial candidates, Christie wins a clear majority in every contest. Newark Mayor Cory Booker does best in this group, but still loses 53 percent to 34 percent, with 13 percent choosing neither candidate. Christie’s margin widens against others, including state Sen. and former Gov. Richard Codey (56 percent to 31 percent), State Sen. Barbara Buono (60 percent to 22 percent), , Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (60 percent to 21 percent) and former Democratic state chair Tom Byrne (58 percent to 22 percent). Moreover, few voters know the Democratic candidates well enough to have formed impressions of them, with the exception of Booker.

Driving Christie’s strong re-election support is the dramatic increase in the number of voters with a favorable impression of him, now at 67 percent, up 19 points from before the storm. And 61 percent now give Christie an A or B grade for his job performance, up 14 points from late September.


(Politicker staff;



Fulop courts Connors, slams Healy

Jersey City mayoral candidate Steve Fulop today said he hopes to find “common ground” with Assemblyman Sean Connors, (D-33) who earlier today withdrew support for Fulop’s opponent, Mayor Jerry Healy.

“I am looking forward to having discussions with the Assemblyman to determine where we have common ground and how we can work together going forward for the residents of Jersey City,” Fulop said.

And though Fulop was quick to court Connors, he also wasted no time piling on to Connors’ scathing criticism of Healy’s performance post Hurricane Sandy.

(Darryl Isherwood;



Hamilton mayor says he fired business administrator to regain public trust

Acting Mayor Kevin Meara said today that he had to fire business administrator John Ricci to regain the public trust lost when former mayor John Bencivengo was convicted of bribery.

Meara spoke at the municipal building this afternoon, saying he dismissed Ricci to start moving “the ship” in the right direction and away from the corruption

 scandal that has cast a cloud over the town for most of the last year.

“By making this change, I think we’re starting to let the residents know that change can happen in Hamilton Township,” Meara said. “As the mayor, I find myself in the position to be able to start to steer the ship to try and get the confidence back of the residents.”

(Mike Davis; Times of Trenton)


State flooded with insurance complaints following Sandy

TRENTON — Sandy has created a superstorm of insurance complaints.

Consumers are hounding state insurance regulators to combat slow action by insurers or for help on other claim matters.

The state Department of Banking and Insurance has fielded 481 Sandy-related inquiries and complaints. Seventeen cases are formal written complaints that have been assigned to investigators, department spokesman Marshall McKnight said.

The department received 570 inquiries and complaints after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee last year.

(Bob Jordan; Asbury Park Press)


Ewing police officers are the latest public officials to be disciplined for taking home public generators

Two Ewing police officers have been disciplined for taking a pair of department-owned portable generators from police headquarters for personal use in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Chief Robert Coulton said today.

An internal affairs investigation was prompted after the unauthorized use of the generators was reported to Mayor Bert Steinmann. Neither officer has been identified, and township officials would not specify the nature of the discipline that resulted.

Steinmann said the officers probably needed supplemental power at unofficial locations, such as their homes.

(David Karas; Trenton Times)


Both sides lay groundwork in Fiscal cliff debate

Private talks between President Obama and top congressional leaders in search of a deal to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff” are accelerating, officials said Monday, even as the president began ramping up pressure on Republicans to extend tax cuts for the middle class.

Obama telephoned House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) over the weekend, in a sign that high-level negotiations are advancing with only weeks to go before an automatic series of spending cuts and tax hikes starts to hit nearly every American.

(Zachary Goldfarb and Lori Montgomery; Washington Post)


Move to Big 10 will have effect on all Rutgers sports, economists say

While the focus is on football for Rutgers University’s imminent move to the Big Ten conference today, a sports economist said the school can expect the increased media exposure and profits to leverage sponsorship opportunities for its facilities and improve all its athletics programs.


“There’s somewhere between one and 20 college athletic programs in the country that run a profit or break even without receiving any subsidies from a state or the rest of the college, but every sports program outside of football and basketball loses money,” said Victor Matheson, associate professor of sports and gaming economic at the College of the Holy Cross, in Massachusetts. “After this move, Rutgers men’s soccer is not going to be nationally recognized or living a lavish lifestyle like the football team, but it will be a more well-funded program from the profits generated from football.”

According to Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College, also in Massachusetts, Rutgers’ athletics program as a whole “is getting a tremendous promotion going into an equity conference when its historical records in football and basketball don’t warrant inclusion in it.”

(Katie Eder; NJBIZ)



O’Scanlon slams red light camera report


A report about the effectiveness of the state red light camera pilot program is being criticized by a Monmouth County lawmaker for painting too optimistic a picture of the program’s effect on safety.

A report, released this month by the state Department of Transportation, said that accidents declined at two Newark intersections where the cameras have been in use for two years, compared with pre-camera conditions.

However, the report also showed that accidents increased at 24 camera-enforced intersections, when one year of data is compared with pre-camera crash data. Those intersections include three in Brick, three in Linden, two in New Brunswick and two in Woodbridge.

(Larry Higgs; Asbury Park Press)

Nonpartisan budgeting office says October’s tax revenue projection is “artificially boosted

The state’s top legislative budget analyst said today the Christie administration’s optimism over a hefty surge in income tax revenue was misguided and claimed the figures were “artificially” boosted by special circumstances.

State Treasurer Andew Sidamon-Eristoff on Friday hailed October’s tax collections as “record-breaking” and noted revenue rose nearly 7 percent when compared with the same period last year.

He also said income tax revenue was up nearly 10 percent in the first four months of the current fiscal year, which began on July 1.

(Jarrett Renshaw; The Star-Ledger)






Study says New Jersey’s Medicaid expansion not as pricey as other states


As health care reform implementation continues full steam ahead, a study produced by Kaiser Family Foundation shows New Jersey would not see a moderate increase in state spending if Medicaid coverage is expanded.

According to the study, if New Jersey implements the Medicaid coverage expansion, the state will spend an estimated $1.5 billion more than it would without the expansion between 2013 and 2022.

The Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that the seven states that have already expanded Medicaid coverage to levels established in the Affordable Care Act will actually see a savings in state spending, as more federal dollars will enter those states to cover the newly eligible people. For states like New Jersey that already have parts of the expansion implemented the cost increase of new Medicaid recipients will be smaller than states that have not increased coverage at all.

(Melissa Caliendo; NJBIZ)


Late fall crops struggling in wake of Sandy

When Superstorm Sandy ripped through New Jersey, this area of the state was mostly spared from devastating damage, but for some local farmers the rain, wind and cold the storm brought with it caused some late autumn crops to fall behind or fail.

Kale, collard greens, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower are some of New Jersey’s most popular late year crops, which finish up their harvest season in mid-to-late November.

(Rebecca Forand; South Jersey Times)


Analysis: Utilities tackle communication breakdown

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency needed to reach North Jersey residents left in the cold and dark by superstorm Sandy, it printed fliers and sent agents into the streets to distribute them. In Ridgewood, elected officials also printed sheets of paper to give residents, telling them where to find ice and other necessities they needed to get through an extended power outage.

New Jersey’s utility companies, however, communicated with out-of-power customers through email and online social media. They also held regular briefings with reporters where company officials stressed how tough their jobs were and how many employees they had out in the field working long hours to make repairs.

That message didn’t reach many customers who had no Internet, no radio and no way of charging their smart phones because their homes were flooded or their power was still out. And, in the estimation of several crisis management experts, it probably didn’t resonate much with customers who had power but wanted to hear less about how hard the task was and more about how close, realistically, it was to being completed.

(John Reitmeyer, Juliet Fletcher, and Melissa Hayes; The Record)


Republican lawmakers are having second thoughts on anti-tax pledge

WASHINGTON — For decades, conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist vowed to drive Republicans out of office if they didn’t pledge to oppose tax increases. Many lawmakers signed on.

But now, several senior Republicans are breaking ranks, willing to consider raising more money through taxes as part of a deal with Democrats to avoid a catastrophic budget meltdown.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker says the only pledge he will keep is his oath of office. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says no one in his home state of Virginia is talking about what leaders in Washington refer to simply as “The Pledge,” a Norquist invention that dates to 1986. Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss says he cares more about his country than sticking to Norquist’s pledge.

(Phil Elliot; Associated Press)




New Jersey retailers saw big holiday win


Concerns over a dampened holiday shopping season were hung out to dry this past weekend. New Jersey retailers saw marginal sales growth that met expectations, and promotions got shoppers into stores and online.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 247 million shoppers hit the sales between Thursday and Sunday, spending more than $59 billion in the first weekend of holiday shopping.

Hurricane Sandy “was exhausting for everybody … so I think everyone’s ready to shake that off and move forward and really enjoy this holiday season,” said Beth Anne Macdonald, executive director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance.

(Melissa Caliendo; NJBIZ)



Grapevine: Christie inner circle career shuffling

Before accepting his new job with Gibbons, Bill Palatucci met with Ed Deutsch about possible employment at McElroy, Deutsch, the firm with the most New Jersey attorneys, according to a tipster. (Editor’s note: On Nov. 26, Palatucci contacted NJBIZ to say he had never met with Deutsch and never even had a conversation with Deutsch about employment.)

Palatucci isn’t the only one in Chris Christie’s inner circle with a new gig. A well-placed source reports Todd Christie has landed a job at Ernst & Young. The tipster did not know the exact title, but it was something high level, like vice chairman. A call to E&Y’s New York City office last week revealed Todd Christie is not on the phone list for all of the accounting and consulting firm’s North America offices. Todd Christie’s Facebook page lists his most recent job as director of trading at Sica Wealth Management from March 2011 to July 2012.

Mary Pat Christie left Cantor Fitzgerald to become a managing director at Angelo, Gordon & Co., an investment firm that manages about $25 billion. The Star-Ledger reported the governor’s wife moved to the new job in September.

(NJBIZ staff; NJBIZ)’s-career-shuffling



Sandy’s scars to linger for months at fuel terminal



At the small Gulf Oil terminal just south of Newark, New Jersey, mobile power generators are being packed up and tanker trucks are again loading gasoline, one month after Superstorm Sandy. But for the seven workers who run the terminal around the clock, life is still far from normal.

The electronic gauges that allow them to see how much fuel is stored at the site’s eight vast tanks are down, forcing them to manually check each unit when new fuel arrives by pipeline. The motor for the electric gate to the facility, normally opened and closed for each truck, is still broken after being flooded.

They now oversee the disbursement of more than 1 million gallons of gasoline, diesel and heating oil a day from a tiny temporary trailer. The concrete building that had been their office – scarcely larger than a corner convenience store – was destroyed in the storm, says terminal manager John Lamparella.

(Jonathan Leff: Reuters) Morning News Digest: Nov. 27, 2012