Morning News Digest: Feb. 18, 2013

Healy launches campaign for third term as JC mayor


Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy officially kicked off his campaign today for a third term.


“Being mayor of this city I love and where I’ve raised my family is the greatest honor of my life,” Healy said. “Together, we will continue fighting every day, so we can continue the progress for every resident in every neighborhood. We’ll keep pushing to attract new businesses and create good jobs. We’ll expand our parks, create more safe places for our children to grow and aggressively combat crime in our neighborhoods.” (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



Passaic GOP selects Feenan to run for sheriff


Passaic County Regular Republican Organization Chairman John Traier announced today that the party has chosen its county candidates for the 2013 General Election.


In a meeting of party officials this morning, the PCRRO chose Frank Feenan as its sheriff candidate and Christian E. Barranco and Philip H. Weisbecker Jr. as its freeholder standard bearers. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



Report: FBI investigating whether Menendez solicited prostitutes


The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating allegations that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez solicited prostitutes while traveling in the Dominican Republic but has so far failed to substantiate the claim.


According to the Post, the investigation includes the allegations that some of the prostitutes were underage. (Isherwood/PolitickNJ)



Winners and Losers: Week of The Announcement



Sweeney continues attack on unresponsive Kean despite Conti support for Dems


State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean’s (R-21) stated recognition of an opportunity to pick up a seat in LD3 and his efforts to recruit a candidate there have infuriated state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), who’s counter-attacking with a charge that Kean financially benefits from ties to a controversial debris removal company.


But Sweeney’s lunges at his Republican counterpart have an apparently unintended target: namely Democrats, who are beneficiaries of the same construction company that donates to Kean.  (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)



Donors get layers of access to GOP governors


The national political group that helped Governor Christie win his long-shot campaign against a millionaire opponent four years ago, and could play an important role in his future, is a little-scrutinized heavy hitter that spent nearly $100 million on gubernatorial campaigns last year alone, records show.


The Republican Governors Association raised that money — with Christie serving as its vice chairman, and in line to become chairman next year if he is reelected — by offering wealthy donors and corporations one-stop shopping for a chance to influence the people who can veto state laws around the country. (Jackson/The Record)




N.J. might ease its strict casino-licensing rules


New Jersey casino regulators — known for two generations as the strictest in the country — will soon be evaluating two license applications that could put that reputation to the test.


The state Casino Control Commission agreed last week  to allow MGM Resorts International to reapply for a state license, three years after the company agreed under pressure from state officials to sell its half-share of the Borgata Hotel Casino Resort & Spa. And state officials are in the preliminary stages of vetting the Rational Group, the parent of offshore gambling company PokerStars, which wants permission to buy the struggling Atlantic Club casino. (Brennan/The Record)



Port deal tied to Menendez under scrutiny


SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — When the U.S. Embassy set out to press the Dominican government over a long-stalled contract to provide port security, American officials took on some tough opponents. The deal had languished for more than a decade amid stiff resistance from the American Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of American and local businessmen in the Dominican Republic, and the country’s customs authorities.


Ambassador Raul Yzaguirre’s team pushed the government to enforce the contract — which calls for operating X-ray scanners to screen cargo at the country’s ports — despite objections over its merits and its price tag. (Washington Post)



After early setbacks in Senate campaign, Cory Booker says he’ll focus on Newark


In the world of New Jersey political fundraising, Samantha Maltzman is a rock star.


A veteran of campaigns for Frank Lautenberg, Robert Menendez and Hillary Clinton, she is sought after by any serious contender, political experts say. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger)



Cory Booker ‘clearly interested’ in U.S. Senate, but still not officially running


Newark Mayor Cory Booker, in yet another nationally televised news interview today, still would not commit to running for U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat next year — but he said he hopes to be among those New Jerseyans will “consider giving that honor of fighting for them at the federal level.”


“Clearly it’s a job I’m interested in,” the popular Democrat told CBS News’ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation,” just days after the 89-year-old Lautenberg said he would not seek another term. (Hutchins/Star-Ledger)



N.J. State Police punishment for severe misconduct is highest in nearly a decade


The State Police in 2011 punished more troopers for severe misconduct — from excessive force to falsifying reports to pepper-spraying a colleague — than in any year in nearly a decade, according to a review of annual internal affairs reports by The Star-Ledger.


At the same time, the number of complaints filed by the public and troopers fell to 706, the lowest level since 1999, and the State Police got more than 1,100 compliments from the public.  (Baxter/Star-Ledger)





Call for Christie to consider climate change in Shore rebuilding


Did global warming and rising sea levels trigger Hurricane Sandy?


And does it matter?


Gov. Christie says it doesn’t. Whether environmental changes caused the storm is an “esoteric question,” he said at a news conference at the Shore earlier this month. Victims of the storm don’t “give a damn” either – as confirmed by a group of Sandy survivors who applauded Christie’s remark. (Katz/The Inquirer)



Submerged superstorm debris threatens tourism


MANTOLOKING, N.J. – On the surface, things look calm and placid. Just beneath the waterline, however, it’s a different story.


Cars and sunken boats. Patio furniture. Pieces of docks. Entire houses. A grandfather clock, deposited in a marsh a mile from solid land. Hot tubs. Tons of sand. All displaced by Superstorm Sandy. (Parry/AP)



Lautenberg declines to suggest his successor


Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) went back to his roots a day after announcing that he wouldn’t seek reelection and would end his long political career when his term ends in 2014.


With some of New Jersey’s top Democrats in the audience, Lautenberg was back in his hometown, Paterson, where he pledged Friday to keep working on the issues that drove his nearly 30-year Senate career, including fighting for tougher gun laws – something he has long advocated. (Tamari and Farrell/The Inquirer)



N.J. argues constitutionality of sports betting ban


TRENTON — State sovereignty, not point spreads, took center stage Thursday as lawyers for New Jersey and the Department of Justice sparred over the constitutionality of a 21-year-old federal law prohibiting all but four states from allowing legal sports betting.


At stake is New Jersey’s attempt to revive its casino and horse racing industries by grabbing a piece of what is considered a multibillion-dollar sports wagering pie — not to mention stanching the flow of gamblers and dollars to Nevada casinos where sports betting is legal. (AP)




From the Back Room


Gabor to run in LD 1


Cape May County Freeholder Kristine Gabor confirmed tonight that she is seeking the GOP line in LD 1 to run for the Assembly.


“Yes,” Gabor said in an email in response to the question of whether she intends to run. (PolitickerNJ)



Christie headed to Bean Town for fundraiser


Gov. Chris Christie is headed to the land of Mitt next month for a $3,800 per head fundraiser.


The location for the event has not been announced, but it is expected to be a private dinner for 25 to 30 people. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)






Moran: The Menendez scandal, broken down


Here we go again.


In 2002, Sen. Robert Torricelli quit his re-election campaign after he was caught accepting minor gifts from a shady donor. A promising career crashed in flames. (Moran/Star-Ledger)



Going through the motions for Space


Republicans will gather in Sparta on Saturday to pick an Assembly successor to Gary Chiusano, sworn in as Sussex County surrogate last Monday.


At this point, the convention at Sussex County Technical School is shaping up as a drama-free coronation for Sussex County Freeholder Director Parker Space. (Jennings/NJ Herald)



Red light camera company agrees to $4 million settlement


You won’t be hearing much about this from the mayors, police chiefs and others who defend red light cameras. The Courier-Post reports a red-light camera operator has agreed to pay up to $4.2 million to settle a class-action suit brought by motorists in 18 New Jersey towns.


The cameras’ operator, American Traffic Solutions of Scottsdale, Ariz., would pay for the partial refunds. The municipalities are not contributing to the settlement. (Ingle/APP)

  Morning News Digest: Feb. 18, 2013