Morning News Digest: January 8, 2013

Christie’s spokesman rips Dems’ pre-State of State criticisms


TRENTON – A Gov. Chris Christie spokesman is decrying Democrats’ pre-State of the State news conference as “politics at its worst.”


Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak issued a statement Monday blasting Senate Democratic leaders shortly after the lawmakers hosted a news conference aimed at bringing to light what they characterize as the governor’s shortfalls. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)



Sweeney: GOP exploiting a misstatement


TRENTON – Sen. President Steve Sweeney this afternoon responded to the GOP criticism of his Sandy-related comments today. 


“It’s unfortunate that the governor has found time to exploit my misstatement, which I apologized for immediately,” Sweeney said in a release. (PolitickerNJ)



In Bergen, Yudin won’t re-up Romano for Board of Elections post


Bergen County Board of Elections Commissioner Rosina Romano received a call today from Bergen County GOP Chairman Bob Yudin notifying her that the chairman does not intend to resubmit her name to the governor’s office for reappointment as a commissioner.


“I’m totally disheartened and very disappointed,” Romano told “I worked very hard and I also was very active with the Bergen County Republican Organization.” (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



Sanchelli, others, interested in Morris County clerk’s seat


Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette today said he received an additional name from a candidate interested in the Clerk’s position to be vacated by the retirement of veteran Joan Bramhall.


Longtime Jefferson Twp. Councilman Michael Sanchelli (pictured) wants a crack at the seat. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



FDU Poll: Christie crushes nearest competitor Codey, 59-26%; Buono, 64-21%


A Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll this afternoon shows that almost three quarters (73%) of registered voters in the state approve of the job Gov. Chris Christie’s doing as governor, and more than two-thirds (68%) rate his job performance as “excellent” or “good.”


This is the second highest approval rating the poll has measured for Christie, according to PublicMind. His best rating came only recently, in the days after Hurricane Sandy, when PublicMind registered a 77 percent approval rating for the governor. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



Christie set to deliver State of the State address today


A week after chastising members of his own party in Congress for failing to deliver needed disaster relief, Governor Christie is expected to focus the final State of the State address of his first term on the state’s recovery efforts.


Christie will deliver the speech to the Senate and Assembly in the Assembly Chambers at 2 p.m. today. (Hayes/The Record)



N.J. court won’t stop Christie ouster of Morris County prosecutor


TRENTON  — Two New Jersey judges say they won’t reverse Gov. Chris Christie’s decision last month to oust the Morris County prosecutor.


But the appellate court panel issued an order Monday stating it will hold a hearing on the matter soon. (AP)



Cory Booker: I haven’t talked to Frank Lautenberg


Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker — who recently announced he plans to run for Frank Lautenberg’s seat — said Monday that he hasn’t been able to speak to New Jersey’s senior senator about a potential campaign.


“I’m focusing on my job for now, and I hope to talk to him. We’ve reached out to him a number of times. In fact, I had a planned trip going down to meet with him and unfortunately with a number of the challenges going down in Washington he had to cancel the meeting,” Booker said on CNN’s “Starting Point.” (Cirilli/POLITICO)



Supreme Court nominee praised for efforts to reduce backlog


David F. Bauman was a lawyer in the Marine Corps until he left to join one of New Jersey’s largest law firms, where he counted Whitney Houston among his clients and won a case that expanded free speech in the state.


Then, after 17 years, he became a Superior Court judge in Monmouth County, where he so impressed his supervisor that he won a quick promotion. In a politically charged case there, he ruled against the Christie administration by stopping the state’s seizure of millions of dollars in affordable housing funds as part of its effort to balance a tight budget. (Campisi/The Record)



Sweeney: Gov. Christie ‘prayed a lot’ and ‘got lucky’ when Hurricane Sandy hit


TRENTON — One day before Gov. Chris Christie delivers his State of the State address, the state’s top Democrat set off a verbal brawl in Trenton on Monday by saying Christie “got lucky” when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey because it distracted voters from his record on the economy.


Quickly sensing he had committed a major gaffe, Senate President Stephen Sweeney immediately apologized. But too late: The Republicans pounced, calling the remark “unconscionable,” “absurd” and “extremely disturbing.” (Friedman/Star-Ledger)



N.J. Dems tell Codey, Sweeney they need to decide if they’re challenging Gov. Christie


TRENTON — Several top Democrats had a clear message Monday for state Sen. Richard Codey and Senate President Stephen Sweeney: Either jump into the governor’s race or get out of the way.


“There’s been months of waiting and now the time has come. People should decide this week,” Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal declared Monday. (Renshaw/Star-Ledger)



NJTV is not as familiar to viewers as NJN, poll shows


WEST LONG BRANCH — New Jersey residents are less familiar with the new statewide public television outlet than they were with New Jersey Network, the entity that was disbanded 18 months ago, a new poll shows.


A Monmouth University Poll released today found only 5 percent could name NJTV, the subsidiary of WNET-Channel 13 that replaced NJN, a sharp decrease from the 23 percent that could name NJN in 2010. (McGlone/Star-Ledger)



Christie speech expected to focus on Sandy; Democrats blast back


TRENTON – Gov. Christie will focus Tuesday’s State of the State speech on rebuilding towns damaged by Hurricane Sandy, a storm that pushed the well-exposed Republican governor further into the national spotlight and brought him bipartisan praise.


But New Jersey Democrats were clear Monday that they hold him responsible for the economic doldrums the state had fallen into before Sandy: a 9.6 percent unemployment rate and the country’s second-highest foreclosure rate. (Farrell/Inquirer)



New Jersey solar sector stalls and falls


New Jersey’s solar sector is slowing to a crawl.


In December, preliminary figures from the state Office of Clean Energy indicate that just nine megawatts of new arrays were installed in New Jersey that month, a significant drop-off from the rapid pace of previous months, when 42 megawatts were developed in October 2011 alone. (Johnson/NJSpotlight)



N.J. touts educational reform but earns ‘D’ on one nationwide report card


Two years ago, school-reform crusader Michelle Rhee was sitting in the first row during Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address, in which he laid out much of his education agenda.


As Christie prepares to make his State of the State for 2013 today, education is expected to figure less prominently, but his administration still got a reminder yesterday that the former Washington, D.C., schools chancellor-turned-national education advocate isn’t letting up. (Mooney/NJSpotlight)



Report finds N.J. hospitals face multiple financial pressures


New Jersey’s hospitals are still fiscally healthy, but their financial pulse isn’t as strong as it was a year ago.


While state’s hospitals saw increased operating margins in 2011, those gains were offset in large part by required pension contributions and declines in the stock market, according to a recent report by the New Jersey Hospital Association. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)


A new Frontier for Trenton airport

To entice more travelers in the region to steer clear of congested Newark and Philadelphia airports, Frontier Airlines plans to further expand its low-fare service at Trenton-Mercer Airport by adding five nonstop destinations to its lineup by the spring.

In addition to offering nonstop service to Orlando — which took off on Nov. 16 — and flights to Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and New Orleans — which will begin on Jan. 31 — Frontier will start providing service to Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; and Raleigh, N.C., from Trenton on April 8. (NJBIZ)


Mohegan is casino’s last resort

It was more likely a question of when, not if, the company behind Mohegan Sun would find its way to Atlantic City.

Around 2006 — before the gaming industry began its unprecedented slide — executives from the American Indian-owned resort trekked from Connecticut in pursuit of an acquisition opportunity at a New Jersey casino. Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said the discussions went so far that they “looked at the boilers,” but the deal fell through. (Burd/NJBIZ)


From the back room

The 2013 guv contest according to Lesniak (and the C3POization of Chris Bollwage)

State Sen. Ray Lesniak’s proclamation of his longtime colleague state Sen. (and former Acting Governor) Dick Codey (D-27) as the state’s Obi Wan-Kenobi obviously necessitates some context.

In that universe, Christie is Darth Vader, evidently. (PolitickerNJ)



The Record: Numbers don’t lie

THAT TAX cut Governor Christie talked about for much of last year is not looking likely.

We don’t know what the governor will say about cutting taxes in his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, but his speech is scheduled five days after the Legislature’s fiscal expert identified a $705 million budget shortfall. No matter how the governor interprets the data, the facts seem clear: Barring an extraordinary economic rebound over the next six months, the state is unlikely to have enough revenue to support cutting taxes. (The Record)

Morning News Digest: January 8, 2013