Morning News Digest: Nov. 28, 2012

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Following Newark At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana’s vote in favor of Monique Speight, Sharpe James’s former deputy mayor received a communique from the man himself, the city’s former chief executive, who wanted Quintana to walk back the vote.

Quintana won’t do it.

“He has talked to me… My conscience is clear,” said the veteran councilman. “I’m not backpedaling, I don’t backpedal. Nothing against Sharpe’s son, but I made my decision. You can’t continue to play the politics of yesterday with people.”

(Max Pizarro;


Rible underwent surgery Tuesday

Assembly Minority Conference Leader Dave Rible (R-30) today underwent spinal fusion surgery today (Tuesday) at Riverview in Red Bank. 

The surgery involved the removal and replacement of existing hardware, including a steel rod, which was inserted during a previous surgery to address multiple herniated discs and nerve damage. A former Wall Township police officer, Rible sustained the injuries when he fell off a cliff while chasing a suspect. 

Rible’s surgery went well and he’s in recovery.

( staff)


Assembly bill aims to protect homeowners from being overcharged

TRENTON – An Assembly lawmaker says he wants to cap the amount public adjusters can charge homeowners seeking insurance claim assistance in times of emergency.

Assemblyman Jerry Green, (D-22), announced plans Tuesday to introduce legislation he says will prevent homeowners from being overcharged by public adjusters charged with appraising their insurance claims. Green said the proposal comes after hearing numerous complaints of price gouging in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

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(Matthew Arco; State Street Wire/


Democrats facing uphill battle with Christie’s surging –albeit temporary- approval numbers

Gov. Chris Christie is enjoying a level of popularity that is unprecedented by just about any measure.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows 95 percent of voters said he did a good or excellent job in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, and his approval rating is 72 percent.

The last governor to enjoy anything close to that level of support was Gov. Tom Kean in the 1980s.

Even more noteworthy is the level of support he enjoys from Democrats, who gave Christie a 52 percent approval rating. 

And just Monday, he made it official he wants to remain in his current role.

“We decided. We’re going to seek re-election,” Christie said in Port Monmouth.

(Minhaj Hassan; State Street Wire/

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Christie landslide could hurt Democrats in the Statehouse

Publicly, New Jersey Democrats struck a calm, let’s-not-panic pose on Tuesday after new polls showed that Governor Christie could be poised for a landslide reelection victory — if the race were held this week.

Sure, they said, Christie may be beloved right now as New Jersey’s take-charge crisis commander, but his post-Sandy bounce could become a forgotten blip in the midst of a punishing campaign. He still has to defend high unemployment and a flagging economy, and could face the real possibility of a public heading to closed beaches next summer. And the “new American majority” that propelled President Obama’s victory — women, blacks, Latinos and gays — could sour on Christie once they fully recognize his rightward tilt on social issues they cherish.

“Poll numbers a year out are interesting but they are also visions in a rearview mirror,” said John Wisniewski, the state Democratic Party chairman.


(Charles Stile; The Record)


Christie as rock star as Republicans set to ride wave

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the outspoken Republican, would beat all likely challengers if a vote for his re-election were held tomorrow, according to a new poll. Still, that won’t ensure an easy win next November.

Democrats hold a 3-2 edge among registered voters. The state hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972 and went for the Democrat in the past six presidential votes. Christie’s 2009 ouster of Democrat Jon Corzine was the first time a Republican won the governor’s office since 1997.

Yet riding a wave of goodwill from his handling of storm damage from Sandy, Christie led his nearest potential Democratic challenger, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, 53 percent to 35 percent, a survey released today by Quinnipiac University shows. Maurice Carroll, director of the school’s polling institute, said the governor has a strong position heading into an election year.

(Terrence Dopp; Bloomberg News)


Sandy’s wrath offers political windfall to Gov. Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, once a darling in the Republican Party, is now everybody’s darling in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

With his highly visible visits to storm-damaged coastal towns with President Barack Obama, not to mention a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” the blunt, brash governor has been winning over independents, Democrats and others who like the bipartisan image.

For all the havoc Sandy unleashed upon New Jersey, the storm put Christie in a politically enviable position, especially now that he is formally seeking re-election next year and touted as a top prospect for the White House in 2016

(Ellen Wulfhorst; Reuters),0,7050230.story


New Jersey will tax medical marijuana

TRENTON – Medical marijuana will indeed be a cash crop in the Garden State.

The Christie administration has determined New Jersey’s 7 percent sales tax will apply every time a pre-screened patient buys marijuana from an approved dispensary, state Treasury spokesman Andrew Pratt said late today.

The decision could remove the last roadblock to launching New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.

(Susan K. Livio/ The Star-Ledger)




Subpoenas issued to North Haledon regarding use of generators

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office has ordered the Borough of North Haledon to turn over any written policies that govern the use of borough equipment by residents, as part of its ongoing probe into the use of borough generators by Mayor Randy George and police chief Robert Bracco in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

A subpoena delivered to the Borough Clerk’s office when the investigation began two weeks ago demands that North Haledon turn over any documents regarding the private use of borough equipment by 1 p.m. Wednesday when the prosecutor’s office is scheduled to present the case to a grand jury.

North Haledon Council President Robert A. Dyer said he’s seen the subpoena and confirmed its contents on Tuesday. But Dyer said he was not aware of any policy in North Haledon regarding use of borough equipment.

(Richard Cowen; The Record)


Chris enjoys big lead against potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates

Gov. Chris Christie leads his potential Democratic rivals by anywhere from 18 to 42 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

The poll, which found 67 percent of New Jersey voters think the governor deserves to be re-elected, found him leading Newark Mayor Cory Booker – his closest challenger – 53 percent to 35 percent.

Christie leads state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), a former governor, by 27 points – 57 percent to 30 percent. Three other prospective challengers – state Sen. Barbara Buono and Assemblymen John Wisniewski and Lou Greenwald – trail Christie by 38, 41 and 42 points, respectively.

(Susan K. Livio; The Star-Ledger)


To run or not to run, Booker faces the question

It’s been said that the Presidential campaign is a mere warm up act for the hottest of all political contests that takes place very four years—the New Jersey governorship.

A potential battle royal is looming for Jersey’s top job between incumbent Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Coy Booker. A Christie/Booker match-up would pit two political stars of New Jersey, both of whom have gained significant national prominence, against each other in a clash of titans.

“It would be a very evenhanded race,” said former Governor Jim Florio. “Cory has a 50/50 chance against Christie, but I would tell the Governor the same thing,” he said

(Michael LaRossa; MSNBC)


Lesniak wants to lay down the law to utilities: ‘Never again’

Its most prominent proponent calls it the “Never Again Campaign”, a curious choice of words given that one of the most trusted tenets in Trenton shared by lobbyists and politicians alike is: “Never say ‘never.’’’

Nonetheless, the Legislature may soon move a bill that would require the state’s electric utilities to make significant improvements to the power grid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to a veteran lawmaker.

The bill’s goal is to prevent the type of widespread outages in the wake of the storm, which left more than two million customers without power, some of which (on the state’s barrier islands) have yet to get their lights on

(Tom Johnson; NJ Spotlight)


Congressional delegation urges Obama to fund Sandy recovery

Rep. Scott Garrett joined his New Jersey colleagues Tuesday in urging President Obama to request additional funding from Congress for the superstorm Sandy recovery.

Garrett, who had previously said it might be possible to pay for recovery efforts from regular federal spending programs, declined earlier this month to sign a letter urging House leaders from both parties to move quickly on any additional funding requests.

But on Tuesday, Garrett, a Republican from Wantage, joined the rest of the New Jersey delegation in signing a letter circulated by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the Democratic vice chairman of the Senate subcommittee that would write a disaster spending bill.

A spokeswoman for Garrett, Maggie Seidel, called questions about signing congressional letters “a non-issue.”

(Herb Jackson; The Record)



New Jersey may revise regulation of angioplasties

Hospitals that had been granted temporary permission to perform artery-clearing angioplasties are hoping they’ll be able to continue the service now that a national study has found that patients who undergo the procedure at hospitals without an open-heart surgery team on call face no additional risk of death or complications.

The state health department plans to consider changes in the regulation of cardiac services at New Jersey hospitals in light of the new findings and other research, state Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said Tuesday.

A series of hearings will be held early in 2013 to “develop a scientifically based statewide policy” that takes into account patient safety, access to care and cost, she said at a cardiac summit at the American College of Cardiology’s New Jersey chapter and the state health department. No dates for the hearings have been set.

(Lindy Washburn; The Record)


Cory Booker: Decision to seek re-election as Newark mayor not political

Newark Mayor Cory Booker said today that Gov. Christie’s decision to run for re-election will have no bearing on any decision he makes regarding his political future.

“I’m giving a run for governor thorough consideration,” Booker told The Star-Ledger. “I will make a decision as quickly as possible. Critical to my decision is not the difficulties of the politics or positioning in polls but choosing the position — mayor, governor, U.S. senator or one outside of electoral politics — from which I can make the best contributions to the city and state I love.”

Booker has been widely touted as the favorite Democrat to beat Christie in November next year, but Christie has been posting impressive numbers after his performance during Superstorm Sandy.

(David Giambuso; The Star-Ledger)



The Fiscal Cliff Roadshow

The two top fiscal cliff deal makers are meeting with everybody they can find — except each other.

President Barack Obama is talking this week with small-business owners, Wall Street honchos and middle-class taxpayers before flying to Pennsylvania on Friday to see a toy manufacturer. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team are consulting with the some of the same executives who are meeting with Obama.

But face-to-face negotiations between the players best able to avert a fiscal cliff that’s just 33 days away? Nowhere in sight.

This is the public relations phase of the latest fiscal showdown in Washington, where direct engagement is no longer viewed as the optimal route to reaching a deal. As Wall Street shudders and Congress once again risks looking feckless in the face of crisis, both sides are locked in a battle to win over key interest groups — and the public.

(Carrie Budoff Brown and Jake Sherman; Politico)


Debt ceiling gives Republicans leverage

Facing backlash from Republicans as the fiscal cliff nears, anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist defended his position Tuesday, claiming that the constant pressure of hitting the debt ceiling gives the GOP “leverage” to press President Obama on tax rates and spending cuts.

“Taxpayers are best protected if the ‘negotiations are on CSPAN so they cannot be misrepresented by ‘spokesmen,'” Norquist wrote in a column for The Hill. “The debt ceiling that Obama’s plans bump into every month or so for the next four years provides plenty of ‘leverage’ for the GOP to trade for spending cuts — as done in 2011 — or continuing the lower rates.”

Norquist continued: “The debt ceiling and continuing resolutions to fund the government are more secure tools than a hope that Obama has become Bill Clinton.”

As the January 1 deadline for a potential fiscal meltdown looms large over lawmakers, several Republican leaders have publicly rebuked Norquist and his anti-tax pledge, signaling willingness to break the agreement if necessary to avoid going over the cliff.

(Molly Reilly; The Huffington Post)


NJTV receives grant to archive NJN assets

 Four decades of New Jersey television history could soon be preserved for decades to come, thanks to new funding from a New Jersey nonprofit foundation.

The New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority and WNET on Tuesday announced the awarding of a $380,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. New York-based WNET, which took over operation of New Jersey’s public television stations last year, will use the money to create an initial inventory of the now-defunct New Jersey Network’s archives, and begin the process of digitizing the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 videos and other media items, and 40,000 to 50,000 hours of recorded material.

“The NJN video archive is a unique historic and cultural repository that chronicles more than 40 years of New Jersey history,” said Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff, the state treasurer and chairman of the state’s public broadcasting authority.

(Jared Kaltweiser; NJBIZ)

Morning News Digest: Nov. 28, 2012