Morning News Digest: November 1, 2012

Morning News Digest: November 1, 2012 By Missy Rebovich     Obama to N.J. residents: ‘We are here for you’


Morning News Digest: November 1, 2012

By Missy Rebovich



Obama to N.J. residents: ‘We are here for you’

President Barack Obama told New Jersey residents Wednesday that the federal government is going to do everything it can to help speed up the state’s recovery following the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy.

The president just delivered remarks alongside Gov. Chris Christie. Obama toured the Jersey Shore and other parts of the state today to survey damage from the storm.

“We are here for you and we will not forget you,” Obama said during a brief news conference.

“We will not quit until this is done,” he said, referring to the recovery effort.

Obama said he issued a “15 minute rule,” explaining he issued an order to his administration to respond to requests from local government officials in 15 minutes or less.

“We are not going to tolerate red tape,” Obama said. “We are not going to tolerate bureaucracy.”  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Christie asks residents to be patient for ‘return to normalcy’

Gov. Chris Christie is urging residents to remain patient as New Jersey moves out of a state of “suffering” and gradually works to return to a point of “normalcy.”

The governor outlined his biggest three concerns – restoring power, opening roads and ensuring clean water – the administration will be focusing on in the coming days following the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

“The challenges that we face are bigger than we ever faced before,” Christie said.

“We’ve had a lot of suffering in the state,” he said. “We’re moving in the right direction (and) we have a lot of work to do.”

The governor held an evening news briefing Wednesday following another day of touring the devastation left in the wake of the superstorm. Christie traveled the Jersey Shore with President Barack Obama, who Christie praised for stepping up to the plate and being there to help the state recover, he said.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



NJ TRANSIT bus service to be restored

A majority of NJ TRANSIT bus service will be restored Thursday, Gov. Chris Christie’s office announced.

NJ TRANSIT rail service will remain suspended until further notice due to significant damage, officials said. Newark Light Rail and Hudson Bergen Light Rail service will also remain suspended.

The news of bus service being restored comes after the administration announced earlier today that River Line light rail between Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden and Trenton Transit Center has resumed operations.

“This is tremendous progress,” said James Simpson, commissioner of the Department of Transportation, in a statement.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Obama and Christie: A Sandy love story

It was like Valentine’s Day on Halloween.

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cemented their new-found mutual admiration society on Wednesday, as the men gushed with praise for one another while touring damage from Hurricane Sandy on the devastated Jersey Shore.

After days of effusive comments from Christie — who’s been a top Mitt Romney surrogate throughout the campaign — the president wasted no time returning the favor.

“At the top of my list, I have to say that Gov. Christie throughout this process has been responsive. He’s been aggressive in making sure that the state got out in front of this incredible storm and I think the people of New Jersey recognize that he has put his heart and soul into making sure the people of New Jersey bounce back even stronger than before,” Obama said as he stood alongside Christie during a brief press statement Wednesday afternoon near a largely destroyed marina. “So, I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership and partnership.”  (Epstein and Gerstein, POLITICO)



Gov. Chris Christie, an Obama critic, praises the president amid N.J. storm damage

Since Hurricane Sandy devastated his beloved state, Chris Christie, the bombastic, shout-first-worry-later Republican, has gone soft on President Obama.

When a resident in this hard-hit town approached Christie on Wednesday to complain that FEMA had failed to help his neighborhood in the past, the governor assured him that his buddy in the Oval Office would make it right.

“Don’t you worry, pal,” said Christie, wearing white Nikes, gray suit pants and a blue fleece jacket. “I will be with the president this afternoon.”

The sudden love-in between Christie and Obama entered its second day Wednesday, when the two surveyed the destruction from helicopters that glided over submerged streets, blown-out windows, and homes flattened and aflame. They walked together and posed for photos with locals and schoolkids along the coast, with Christie taking the lead, connecting physically and emotionally and acting like the president’s ambassador to his cherished New Jerseyans.  (Horowitz, The Washington Post)



Christie dominates post-Sandy limelight via TV, Twitter, and Obama

Gov. Chris Christie often trains the full fury of his snark on President Obama, but Hurricane Sandy has turned the two men into temporary bipartisan buddies. They made quite the unlikely pair on Wednesday afternoon, boarding Marine One as fellow chief executives for a survey of the devastated New Jersey coast.

Christie and three other potential White House aspirants — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — are being put to the leadership test this week by the hurricane known as Frankenstorm. The disaster tour with the president capped a week in which the storm thrust Christie into the brightest limelight. In typically Christie fashion, he did not mute his personality in the face of a crisis.  (Khan, National Journal)



Mitt Romney campaign on Christie: He’s doing his job on Hurricane Sandy recovery

On a state-of-the-race conference call with reporters, Mitt Romney adviser Russ Schriefer was asked whether Boston is “annoyed” that Romney surrogate Chris Christie has been effusive in his post-Sandy praise of President Obama.

“Gov. Christie’s doing his job. he’s the governor of a sate that has been hit by a very very horrific storm,” said Schriefer, who worked on Chrisie’s 2009 gubernatorial race and remains close with Christie’s circle. “There’s tremendous damage, people have lost their lives and he’s doing exactly what he should be doing as the governor of New Jersey….this is the case of a governor doing his job.”  (Haberman, POLITICO)



N.J. election officials reviewing plans to ensure every voter can cast a ballot

State and county election officials are reviewing plans to make sure voters can cast ballots Tuesday in parts of the state that might not have the power needed for the electronic voting machines.

And since many locations across the state suffered widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy, polling locations may have to be changed.

Governor Christie said flood victims are not thinking about voting and he wants to focus on other things first, like restoring power and clearing roads.

He said Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno who is also sec­retary of state and responsible for overseeing elections, would develop a contingency plan.

“We’ll be ready for Election Day one way or another, and people will have the opportunity to vote,” Christie said Wednesday night during a media briefing at state police headquarters.  (Reitmeyer and Patberg, The Record)



Is Hurricane Sandy the election’s tipping point?

One really has to ask the question: When you can manage to have the keynote speaker at the Republican convention — the man who accurately predicted that Mitt Romney would turn things around in the first debate — publicly expressing gratitude to you and tagging along while you conduct a very presidential-looking tour of disaster areas just six days before the election, is Mother Nature on your side?

It’s certainly not a question that Barack Obama or his campaign team would ever dare raise themselves, so I thought I would do it. I don’t want to get mystical, and I certainly don’t want to make light of the devastation, death, and anguish caused by Hurricane Sandy. But the long-anticipated October Surprise that some of us thought might come from the Israelis (an attack on Iran) or Obama himself (retaliatory action for Benghazi, perhaps?) seems to have been delivered up by Nature.

And it’s all very likely to redound to the president’s credit.  (Hirsh, National Journal)–20121031?mrefid=site_search



Update: Gallup unsure it can resume

Gallup may begin polling again on Thursday after it had ceased calling voters a day before Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, but its editor-in-chief was unsure whether the results will be published.

Gallup may begin polling again on Thursday after it had ceased calling voters a day before Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, but its editor-in-chief was unsure whether the results will be published.

“We have lots of area codes which we think are affected in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and the history of those area codes compared to other parts of the states,” Newport told POLITICO. “We’re doing some testing tonight [Wednesday], we’re going to look at it tomorrow to see if we should go ahead.”

Newport wrote Wednesday afternoon that Sandy had obviously affected Gallup’s “ability of a national survey to provide a nationally representative assessment of the nation’s voting population.”  (Cervantes, POLITICO)



Kyrillos: Some towns will take years to rebuild

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos said he’s been impressed by the spirit of storm victims and the coordination of rescue workers and volunteers after touring an emergency shelter opened at Bergen Community College in Paramus for people made homeless by Hurricane Sandy.

He described seeing about 200 people with heat, food and water, but no electricity.

“It’s subdued, but people came up to me and said, ‘Listen, we’re going to rebuild,’” Kyrillos said in a phone interview. “There was a guy with coffee truck there, it’s very symbolic of what’s happening, with people helping other friends and neighbors. He was giving out free yogurts and cups of coffee to people.”

Kyrillos said the vendor said he was sitting at home and told his wife he wanted to get out and help some how.  (Jackson, The Record)



Menendez expects wider disaster declaration

After speaking with President Obama and FEMA director Craig Fugate today, Sen. Robert Menendez said he believed that the federal disaster declaration issued early Tuesday would be expanded to include Bergen and other counties in the state.

“I’m hoping it’s going to come in the next day,” Menendez, D-N.J., said in an interview after joining Obama, Fugate, Governor Christie and others at a battered marina in Brigantine.

Obama and Christie also had flown over the Shore from Atlantic City up to Point Pleasant Beach before arriving in Brigantine, and Menendez said got to speak with Obama briefly as they walked toward the marina.

“I said No. 1, I want you to get a sense of what things are like in other parts of the state. I gave him a sense of what I’ve seen in Hoboken, and Little Ferry, and Moonachie, so he understands the scope of what we have to deal with,” Menendez said.  (Jackson, The Record)



It’s no contest in New Jersey for prime TV time in U.S. Senate race

Prime-time television viewers tuning in to “Dancing with the Stars,” “Revenge” or “Castle,” may see a familiar face — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

The incumbent is not tripping the light fantastic, plotting harm or solving crime. But in the closing weeks of his re-election campaign, Menendez has begun spending the funds in his impressive war chest on some high-profile advertising buys, even in the expensive New York and Philadelphia markets, even while he holds a double-digit lead over GOP opponent Joe Kyrillos.

Menendez’s 30-second spots, detailing his rise from a humble background, are covering the airwaves, including national news and interview programs as well as syndicated favorites like “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

As Hurricane Sandy approached, Menendez started showing up on The Weather Channel, surrounded by smiling children as he cheerfully talked about his support for education.  (Tyrrell, NJ Spotlight)



A battle of personalities in 9th District

In June, he decisively won a campaign that could have sent him into retirement by telling voters he is a fighter, and Rep. Bill Pascrell shows no sign he would change if he wins another term Tuesday.

“People in politics who like to play defense usually do it because they don’t want to make a decision,” said, Pascrell, D-Paterson. “I like to go on offense.”

He battled against House Republicans trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and was specifically given a position on the budget committee last year to be a vocal opponent to deep budget cuts.

And he beat Rep. Steve Rothman in a hard-fought and bitter June primary after Rothman moved to Englewood from what became a Republican-leaning district after redistricting.  (Jackson, The Record)



Names the same in New Jersey’s Third: Runyan and Adler

The boundaries are new, but South Jersey’s Third Congressional District remains home to one of the most intense and expensive House races in the state.

The names, too, are familiar. Republican Jon Runyan is seeking a second term in Congress after a lengthy football career, mostly with the Eagles. He faces Shelley Adler, a former Cherry Hill councilwoman whose late husband, John, a longtime state legislator, represented the district in Congress for a term before losing to Runyan in 2010. He died five months later of complications from a bacterial staph endocarditis infection.

“My husband left a legacy of public service,” Adler said. “We believe that public service is about helping people, and there are so many people out there that need help right now.”

Running against Runyan, she said, is not personal: “He’s just an opponent with a voting record.”  (Tamari, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Incumbent Rep. Frank Pallone, GOP’s Anna Little offer clear choice

Voters in the 6th Congressional District have a choice between competing theories of government

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone says government has a role to play in improving citizens’ lives. His chief opponent, Anna Little, disagrees. The Republican wants to limit the role of the federal government and reduce the tax burden on citizens.

There are four other candidates: Libertarian Len Flynn, Reform Party candidate Herbert Tarbous, and perennial independent candidates Mac Dara Lyden and Karen Zaletel. None of them responded to repeated requests by NJ Spotlight to discuss the issues.

The major party candidates differ on nearly all issues.   (Kalet, NJ Spotlight)



$750 million boost to state’s colleges, universities on ballot

Despite the big price tag, the higher-education bond on next week’s ballot has widespread support among politicians from both parties, as well as from the public.

The first of two public questions asks whether voters support the Building Our Future Bond Act, which authorizes the state to issue $750 million in general obligation bonds to fund new building projects and renovations at New Jersey colleges and universities.

A group of nine Republicans and Democrats sponsored the bill, and it enjoyed widespread bipartisan support in the Legislature, with only one member of each house – Republican Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, and Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris – voting against it. Gov. Chris Christie signed it, putting the bill on the general election ballot, a requirement since the bonds are insured by state tax revenue.  (Hernandez, NJ Spotlight)



EPA grants 16 states clean gas waivers after Sandy

The Obama administration is temporarily waiving some Clean Air Act requirements in 16 states and the District of Columbia to reduce fuel disruptions from Superstorm Sandy.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says in a letter to governors that extreme circumstances related to Sandy will prevent enough gasoline from reaching consumers.

The waiver lets conventional gasoline be sold instead of cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A blend of reformulated and regular gasoline will be allowed in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina.  (Associated Press)



Ruling on Sandy aids owners of homes with wind damage

The National Weather Service labeled Sandy a post-tropical cyclone, not a hurricane, when it made landfall Monday evening at the Jersey Shore. That distinction will mean thousands of dollars in cost savings for homeowners who suffered wind damage and who have homeowner’s policies that include hurricane deductibles.

Kenneth Kobylowski, the state’s acting commissioner of banking and insurance, took the cue from the federal agency and ruled late Tuesday that the storm was not a hurricane for insurance purposes, because the weather service changed the designation of the storm before it hit New Jersey.  (Newman, The Record)



In storm-battered NJ, agonizing question over whether to rebuild Jersey Shore

In its tear of destruction, the megastorm Sandy left parts of New Jersey’s beloved shore in tatters, sweeping away beaches, homes, boardwalks and amusement parks.

The devastation left the state a blank canvas to redevelop its prized vacation towns. But environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how — and if — to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

“The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we’ve seen in the past 50 years,” said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.  (Associated Press)




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Election 2012 Primer: What voters should expect at the polls

Election coverage on television seems to focus more on horserace polls and opinions than on the positions candidates have on issues.  In NJ, some newspapers were hoping to enjoin a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the media from interviewing and photographing voters within 100 feet of the polls on Election Day.

The New Jersey Press Association argued that the ban thwarts its members’ ability to provide comprehensive election coverage and violates their First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. However, Federal District Judge Joel A. Pisano recently ruled that the ban should remain intact, at least through the current election.  (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)




Morning News Digest: November 1, 2012