Morning Digest: Oct. 11, 2013

State asks Superior Ct. permission to appeal same-sex marriage stay denial

TRENTON – The state late Thursday went to Superior Court seeking to continue its battle against same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

The lower court earlier today denied the state’s request to stay same-sex marriage, scheduled to be permitted starting Oct. 21.

The state then filed with the appellate court as it pursues its opposition to Judge Mary Jacobson’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

The AG’s office argues in its filing today that there would be irreparable harm if a stay isn’t granted because the lower court declared unconstitutional a statutory structure, in this case the state’s civil union law. (State Street Wire Staff/PolitickerNJ) 





NY Times, again, endorses Booker for Senate

After receiving the newspaper’s endorsement during the Democratic primary, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has again been endorsed by The New York Times.

The NY Times’ editorial board issued its endorsement for Booker as he and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan enter the final stretch of New Jersey’s special Senate election. The newspaper endorsed Booker when he ran against three other Democrats over the summer to fill the seat vacated by the death of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)





Christie seeks appeal after judge denies request to delay gay marriages in N.J.

TRENTON — A state Superior Court judge Thursday refused to delay the Oct. 21 start date she set to begin same-sex marriages in New Jersey, rejecting the Christie administration’s contention that no gay weddings should be peformed while the case is still being fought in the courts.

Judge Mary Jacobson, who last month ordered the state to allow same sex marriages because she said gay couples are being denied equal rights “every day,” Thursday wrote that delaying the start date would prolong “violations of their constitutional rights.”

It’s possible the Oct. 21 start date could still be put on hold. The Christie administration quickly responded Thursday by requesting the state Appellate Division grant the delay instead. The appeals court could consider the motion as soon as next week, according to filing deadlines it set for both sides to make their case. (Johnson/Star-Ledger) 





Cary Booker, father of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, dead at 76

NEWARK — Cary Booker, the father of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, died Thursday after a long bout with Parkinson’s disease, the mayor’s Senate campaign said. He was 76.

Cary Booker recently suffered a stroke and died in Las Vegas, where he was living with his wife, Carolyn, the campaign said. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger) 








Shaq, Christie announce after-school initiative in Camden


CAMDEN — Shaquille O’Neal recalled today that his legendary basketball career truly began in a building right across the street from the Newark projects where he grew up: the local Boys & Girls Club.

The 15-time NBA all-star said his father held down two jobs and his mother also worked, so they instructed him to go there after school.

“That was a place where I was able to cultivate my dreams and create the character known as Shaq,” O’Neal told dozens of children at the Boys & Girls Club in Camden at a news conference with fellow Newark native Gov. Chris Christie this afternoon. “I walked into the gym and I said, ‘I could be better than Dr. J.’” (Johnson/Star-Ledger) 





Clean Energy Advocates Argue State Officials Not Heeding Sandy’s Warning

Administration is no-show at hearing on global warming before Assembly panel


Even after Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather, New Jersey is not doing nearly enough to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent future storm damage, according to clean energy advocates and environmentalists.

With a new report suggesting the effects of global warming are already apparent, they argued that it is time for the Legislature to take the lead in devising strategies to cope with those changes, which a law passed seven years ago.  (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 





Senate Hopefuls Look Past Out Borders to Offer Views on Foreign Affairs

Gap between rivals appears smaller than on domestic issues, although GOP’s Lonegan leans more toward the right than Democrat Booker

In the race for U.S. Senate, foreign policy issues are mostly overshadowed by the vast divide on domestic policy between Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Democratic candidate in the special election, and Republican Steve Lonegan.

A month ago, when a possible U.S. air assault on Syria was being debated, it appeared foreign policy might play a larger role in next Wednesday’s election. (Jennings/NJSpotlight) 









Judge rejects Christie’s bid to delay Oct. 21 start of gay marriage in N.J.


Governor Christie lost his first attempt to delay a groundbreaking court decision that said same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses in New Jersey beginning Oct. 21, but he immediately launched another one, leaving gay couples in limbo even as they plan their weddings.

Superior Court Assignment Judge Mary Jacobson of Mercer County said the state failed to show how it would suffer any “irreparable harm” by allowing gay couples to marry. Instead it was the gay couples who fought for marriage who would “suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude” by delaying her order, she said. (Reitmeyer/State House Bureau)   





World War II hero Nicholas Oresko honored at funeral

In death, Nicholas Oresko received a farewell befitting the hero he was in life.

The Bayonne native, the nation’s oldest Medal of Honor recipient when he died Oct. 4 at age 96 at an Englewood hospital, was buried Thursday with military honors reserved for the highest-ranking officers and enlisted soldiers with the highest award for bravery. (Coutros and Lueddeke/The Record) 




Buono says her ‘vision’ for the middle class lacks support of key Democratic leaders

Two top Democrats have created an “outwardly hostile” element inside the party, a situation that has kept Barbara Buono from pitching her vision for New Jersey to a wide audience, the Democratic candidate for governor said Thursday.

“The overarching premise of my plan would be to benefit the middle class, the working poor, and not have everything be at their expense like this governor. And it would make public education a priority once again and not a whipping boy, and it would ensure as a priority that average families see some of that property tax relief,” Buono said in a meeting with The Record’s editorial board. “It’s a vision.”

Buono is 29 points behind Christie among likely voters in a Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday and she faces a huge fundraising deficit – one that has kept her from responding on television to the negative ads Christie has aired. (Hayes/State House Bureau) 




Obama, GOP talk ‘useful’, shows progress toward ending shutdown

WASHINGTON — A late Thursday meeting between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans showed the first sign of progress toward ending the government shutdown and averting the first-ever U.S. default. (Davis and Jackson/Asbury Park Press) 




Rutgers study compares racial divide in N.J. schools to ‘apartheid’

A new Rutgers University report on so-called apartheid schools in New Jersey says that 26 percent of black students and 13 percent of Latino students attend schools where 1 percent or fewer of the students are white.

The study argues that although New Jersey is a wealthy, mostly suburban state with a tradition of strong public schools, its black students face more extreme segregation than blacks in the South, where segregation was long mandated by law. It said another 21 percent of black students and 29 percent of Latino students in New Jersey attend “intensely” segregated schools where 10 percent of the students, or fewer, are white.

Most students in schools where the vast majority of students are black or Latino face poverty as well and grapple with enormous challenges in getting a decent education, a diploma and a seat in college.

The report is being released Friday by the Rutgers Institute on Education Law and Policy. One of its authors is Paul Tractenberg, the 75-year-old attorney who fought for decades in educational equity cases before the state Supreme Court. (Brody/The Record) 







Christie administration to reward municipalities for energy upgrades that help prevent blackouts

The Christie administration yesterday said it is looking to give $25 million in federal funds to 146 municipalities, counties, and government facilities and services so they can upgrade their energy systems and avert outages during extreme weather. (NJSpotlight) 





New Jersey judge declines to delay start of gay marriages

(Reuters) – A New Jersey judge on Thursday denied a request by Republican Governor Chris Christie’s administration to put off gay weddings in the state until after it had appealed the court decision that the state’s law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.


The decision by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson, who last month ruled that the state must begin allowing gay marriages on October 21, puts New Jersey on track to become the 14th U.S. state to recognize same-sex marriage, in addition to the District of Columbia. (Warner/The Chicago Tribune),0,3578179.story 




Obama Signs Military Death Benefits Bill

President Barack Obama signed into law a bill providing benefits to the families of fallen troops during the government shutdown on Thursday.

The bill, which passed the House and Senate with unanimous approval, guarantees that family members of deceased soldiers continue to receive death gratuities and other survivor benefits from the Pentagon.

On Wednesday, the White House said Obama was “disturbed” to find that families of fallen troops weren’t receiving death benefits during the shutdown. (Alman/Huffington Post) 







Lonegan: ‘When I win, Obama will fold’ 

NEWARK — Fresh off a contentious final debate in the race for New Jersey’s open U.S. Senate seat, Republican candidate Steve Lonegan today predicted victory and warned President Obama that his “radical agenda” would fold if the former Bogota mayor prevails.

“My victory in this election on Wednesday will send a message to Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi that the American people want an end to Obamacare and the rest of the President’s radical agenda,” Lonegan said in a statement. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger)







Poll: Christie up, Obama down in N.J.


TRENTON — Republican Gov. Chris Christie is getting more popular in New Jersey while President Obama, a Democrat, has lost some favor with voters, according to a new poll.

The Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind survey of 702 registered voters relesed today found 62 percent approve of Christie’s job performance, while 24 percent disapprove. That’s up from a 58 percent approval rating in August.

For Obama, 45 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove, down from 49 percent approval in August. (Friedman/Star-Ledger) 






 From the Back Room


Christie has no lack of public avails, but Q7A’s don’t follow 

Gov. Chris Christie is no stranger to cameras and a swarm of reporters following him around the state.

Both were present when he announced a new campaign with NBA star Shaquille O’Neal earlier today and when he attended a Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation roundtable discussion last week.

In the past three weeks, they followed the governor to some of the at least four groundbreakings he attended across the state and the three ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Christie’s schedule. Over that time period, the governor’s agenda called for more than 20 public appearances – not counting the dozen campaign stops Christie’s made since mid-September.

But missing from the governor’s usual repertoire of public appearances has been the opportunity for reporters to ask questions. (Arco/PolitickerNJ) 







Christie camp unveils Spanish-language TV ad


Seeking to burnish his credentials as a candidate with universal appeal, Gov. Chris Christie unveiled Thursday a Spanish language TV ad.

The ad, “Un Mejor Futuro, Mas Brillante” (“Better, Brighter Future”), is the first such ad of the gubernatorial general election, his camp stated. (Mooney/PolitickerNJ)











The year the government broke


In the nearly two decades since the last government shutdown, fierce partisanship, recurrent brinkmanship and routine dysfunction have been the national governing norm. For a full generation, the widespread consensus has been that Washington is “broken.” And yet it’s hard to shake the feeling that historians will someday look back on the cheerless battles of 2013 as qualitatively different — more relentless, more remorseless and more depressing than the other fights of the past 20 years. (Purdum/Politico)








N.J. Supreme Court affordable housing decision allows for smarter planning 


Why should you and I have an interest in the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Sept. 26 decision about affordable housing? We should all have an interest, because we are all affected by it.

After several years of legal battles, the New Jersey Supreme Court confirmed its own long-established Mount Laurel Doctrine – that municipalities are responsible for fair zoning, and that the state is responsible for defining the regional need for affordable housing. The Court ruled that the Council on Affordable Housing’s method for calculating a town’s affordable housing obligation, commonly known as “growth share,” was invalid and at odds with the Fair Housing Act. The Court gave COAH five months to develop a new methodology. (Brady/Times of Trenton guest opinion column) 







Christie homered and Buono went for the bunt


IT WASN’T a trick question. Kristine Johnson from WCBS asked both Republican Governor Christie and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono who was their favorite vocal artist: Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen.

Christie, an avid fan of The Boss, went with Springsteen. Johnson then asked Christie what was his favorite Springsteen song. The governor immediately replied, “Thunder Road.” Johnson then went to Buono. She vacillated and then said she was really more of an R&B fan. Follow up to Buono: Who? Again an awkward pause and finally, she said she liked Beyoncé.

This tiny moment in Tuesday’s 60-minute gubernatorial debate may seem trivial. The debate, in which I was one of the panelists, covered a wide range of important issues – from taxes to marriage equality. But this response about a favorite singer is telling.

So were the responses to two other seemingly easy questions. Buono was asked to explain why her campaign has failed to gain traction and why many prominent Democrats have endorsed Christie. And later in the debate, was lobbed this softball: Say something nice about your opponent.

When faced with being spontaneous, Buono choked. These were singles, maybe even doubles. They were not moments that called for a bunt. (Doblin/The Record) Morning Digest: Oct. 11, 2013