Morning Digest: Oct. 14, 2013

Work banned on furlough, but who’s enforcing?

Federal employees on furlough know the drill by now: Answer emails, return phone messages or do any other government work during the shutdown and face upward of $5,000 in fines and two years in prison.


We’ll see about that.


There is indeed a law — a very old, 19th-century one dating to the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant — that prohibits working without funds from Congress. It’s right there near the top of the Constitution, too. (Samuelsohn/Politico)






Steve Lonegan fires aide over expletive-laden interview questioning Cory Booker’s sexuality

The GOP rival of poll-leading Democratic New Jersey Senate nominee Cory Booker fired his top strategist Friday, after the aide gave an expletive-laced interview in which he questioned the Newark mayor’s sexuality.


Republican Steve Lonegan canned aide Rick Shaftan after comments he made to Talking Points Memo.


Referring to a stripper at a vegan strip club with whom Booker exchanged Twitter direct messages, Shaftan said, “It was just weird. I mean, to me, you know, hey, if he said, ‘Hey, you got really hot breasts man, I’d love to suck on them.’ Then like, yeah, cool. But like, he didn’t say that,” Shaftan explained.  (Haberman/Politico)






U.S. Senate Special Election: Booker 52%, Lonegan 42%, Monmouth Poll finds

Democrat Cory Booker holds a 10 point lead over Republican Steve Lonegan in the race for U.S. Senate, according to this morning’s Monmouth University Poll.

The result is narrower than prior margins in the poll, and finds that despite being seen as more in step with the views of his fellow New Jerseyans, voters continue to express concern about Booker’s motives in seeking higher office. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)






Guadagno, Silva trod familiar ground in debate

UNION – The lieutenant governor candidates – in their only debate before the November election –  symbolized their running mates’ platforms Friday night.

During an hour-long debate moderated by News 12’s Luke Margolis at Kean University, incumbent Kim Guadagno touted the administration’s creation of 123,000 private-sector jobs, its business-friendly atmosphere, and Gov. Chris Christie’s strong leadership in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

Challenger Milly Silva hammered at the 400,000 people still out of work, criticized the administration’s opposition to a hike in the minimum wage tied to a cost-of-living increase, and ripped Christie’s opposition to what the Democrats believe is a fair funding formula for schools. (Mooney/PolitickerNJ) 







Claiming momentum despite Shaftan’s stumble, Lonegan heads into the home stretch


Moments ago, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Steve Lonegan left a biker bar and said he’s going to win on Wednesday.

“I just left Big John’s Motorcycle Bar,” Lonegan told “The schedule’s going to be jam packed the next two days.”

Lonegan had Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin in yesterday to campaign for him in New Egypt and his longtime advisor had a profanity-laced meltdown over the phone last week with a reporter from Talking Points Memo.

Rick Shaftan, Lonegan’s long-serving pollster and campaign saddle pal, chalked the incident up to not being able to trust anyone anymore. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) 






Feds Strike Down State’s Plan to Use Customer Subsidies For New Power Plants

Program could have cost New Jersey ratepayers $3 billion over next 15 years


A federal court has struck down the state’s efforts to spur development of new power plants, a decision with potentially big implications for what electricity customers will pay on their future energy bills.

The ruling, handed down late Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Peter Sheridan in Trenton in a 67-page decision, may mean utility customers will not be on the hook for up to $3 billion in subsidies over the next 15 years to help three developers build new natural-gas fired plants.

If the decision stands, however, it deals a huge defeat to one of the Christie administration’s signature energy goals — promoting the building of nearly 2,000 megawatts of new generation. Proponents argued that the plants, if built, would lower energy costs beyond what ratepayers would pay to subsidize the new units under a law enacted two years ago with broad bipartisan support. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 






New Jersey’s 2002 smart-gun law could take effect soon, limit supply

For years, they’ve existed only in science fiction and the archives of the New Jersey Legislature: handguns that fire only in the grip of an authorized user.

And yet these so-called smart guns soon could be the only kind sold legally in New Jersey under a state law that has languished on the books for a decade.

The law, which requires the state’s gun dealers to exclusively sell smart guns within three years after the first one hits the market, has been largely forgotten since the Legislature adopted it in 2002. But it could be dusted off as early as this year as technology finally catches up to the vision of lawmakers at a time when the debate over gun control is more combative and divisive than at any time in recent history. (Akin/The Record) 








Sandy formed bond between Texas lineman, North Jersey mayor


NORTH CALDWELL  — A northern New Jersey town’s borough hall is boasting a Texas flag and a Texas-based lineman is getting a shipment of saltwater taffy thanks to a bond forged during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

North Caldwell Mayor Joseph Alessi put up the big flat, a gift from Jason Beard, a lineman from Houston who came to New Jersey to help with emergency repairs after Sandy. (The Associated Press)   






Lonegan: Campaign is ‘cresting’ ahead of election

HOLMDEL  — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan says his campaign is ‘cresting’ and he will beat Democrat Cory Booker.

Lonegan told The Associated Press after an event Sunday that his campaign isn’t a longshot and he expects to win Wednesday. The former Bogota mayor also says he stands by his decision to fire Rick Shaftan, a high-ranking adviser who bashed Booker in a profane interview and questioned his sexuality. (The Associated Press) 






Two Senate leaders trying to reach a deal

WASHINGTON — After several days of on again-off again negotiations at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the fiscal crisis gripping Washington now hangs on whether two men can broker a deal: the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., closed Sunday’s Senate session saying he was “optimistic” that talks he has been having with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can lead to an end of the federal government shutdown and an increase in the nation’s debt limit.

Many in the Capitol are looking to the talks between Reid and McConnell as the last, best hope for a deal after the House of Representatives abandoned talks Saturday morning. The two met Saturday, and Reid said they would continue talking throughout the day Sunday to seek a resolution.

“Americans want Congress to do its job. That’s all they’re asking us to do,” Reid said. “I’m confident and hopeful that will be accomplished.” (Gomez and Vanden Brook/Asbury Park Press) 






NJ Democrats call for shutdown, debt limit deal

WASHINGTON — As the government shutdown neared the two-week mark and the nation closed in on a deadline to raise the debt ceiling, New Jersey Democrats pressed Republicans to end the stalemate.

“This is not a game,” Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said in a speech on the Senate floor. “Real people are already being hurt by these tactics.” (Herman/Asbury Park Press) 





Booker: GOP in US Senate scares NJ Democrats

PLAINFIELD — Newark Mayor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker says his Republican opponent has “terrified” Democrats.

In a Sunday interview with The Associated Press, Booker said that Republican Steve Lonegan is on the “extreme right wing” of the GOP, galvanizing Booker supporters. Booker said even some Republicans are hoping he will win. (Zezima/The Associated Press) 







World Leaders Press the U.S. on Fiscal Crisis

WASHINGTON — Leaders at World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings on Sunday pleaded, warned and cajoled: the United States must raise its debt ceiling and reopen its government or risk “massive disruption the world over,” as Christine Lagarde, the fund’s managing director, put it.

The fiscal problems of the United States overshadowed the official agendas for the meetings, with representatives from dozens of countries — including two of Washington’s most important economic partners, Saudi Arabia and China — publicly expressing worries about what was happening on Capitol Hill and in the White House. (Lowrey and Popper/The New York Times) 







Palin Endorses Lonegan in New Jersey Senate Race

NEW EGYPT, N.J. — With polls suggesting a tightening race and only a few days remaining in the United States Senate contest in New Jersey, thousands of people gathered at a racetrack here to watch Sarah Palin endorse the Republican candidate, Steve Lonegan.

“Something big is happening here; it’s called momentum,” said Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor who was John McCain’s running mate during the 2008 presidential election. “The country knows it, the media knows it.”

Recent polls have shown Mr. Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota, N.J., and a businessman, gaining ground on his nationally known Democratic rival, Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark. The election is on Wednesday. (Schweber/The New York Times) 






Paul Ryan Rallies Conservatives Against Senate Shutdown, Debt Ceiling Deal

As the shutdown drags on and the deadline to raise the debt ceiling approaches, some House Republicans are beginning to express a willingness to go along with a bipartisan Senate plan.


Paul Ryan isn’t one of them.

The Wisconsin congressman is rallying conservatives against a Senate plan to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The plan, proposed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would fund the government through March and raise the debt ceiling through January. Senate Democrats rejected the proposal on Saturday because it locks in sequestration cuts for too long. (Horowitz/Huffington Post) 








A Year Later, Hurricane Sandy’s Effects Still Linger in New Jersey 

UNION BEACH, N.J. — UNION BEACH, N.J. (AP) — Bart Sutton fought with his insurance company for a year over what it would cost to rebuild his flood-damaged home, then gave up in frustration and tore it down. A week later, the money came through.

Simone and Ken Dannecker fixed their flooded home themselves, deciding they couldn’t wait for insurance and government aid as green mold threatened to overrun it. Now, with the work nearly done, they are all but bankrupt — and still can’t afford to elevate the house they fought so hard to stay in.

Gigi Liaguno-Dorr needs $2 million to rebuild the bayfront restaurant that was one of the town’s major employers; she has less than a quarter of that and says she has never felt so helpless.

For these three families in Union Beach, a blue-collar enclave clinging precariously to the Raritan Bay, full recovery from Superstorm Sandy is still elusive nearly a year after the storm pummeled the state Oct. 29. That’s also true to thousands of others at the Jersey shore; in Ocean County alone, the county planning board estimated 26,000 people were unable to return to their homes as of last month. (Parry/Huffington Post) 








Exposing Students’ pain that comes with bullying


LITTLE SILVER — Corey Van Huff walks confidently through the halls of his school.

As someone who has been bullied, that wasn’t always an easy feat for the Red Bank Regional High School freshman, but recent years under the state’s anti-bullying law have helped make at least some students, like Van Huff, feel safer at school.

“If we can just promote a general feeling of respect, the suicide rate would go down and many problems with youth would be fixed,” Van Huff, 14, said.

Three years ago, the state took a major step toward cutting back the number of harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents happening among New Jersey students when it passed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. (Funderburk/Daily Record) 








 From the Back Room



Sources: Payback time for Cryan asked sources coming out of Friday’s Due Process dinner about the role former Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-20) would play in the reshuffling of legislative leadership.

Bruised by the pension/benefits fight, Cryan two years ago attempted in insurrection against Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) and lost. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 







Top political analyst says U.S. Senate contest is on Tuesday


A top political analyst referred to “Tuesday’s” U.S. Senate election in his appearance this morning on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director and Chief White House Correspondent, at least twice referenced this coming Wednesday’s special election as a Tuesday event.

Pointing this out isn’t meant as a ribbing of Todd, but as an example of how easy it is, based on a lifetime of Tuesday election habitation, to assume the contest between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan will occur on Tuesday. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 










No place for ‘apartheid’ in education report


IF YOU THROW a Molotov cocktail, you will get attention. You won’t get respect. Last week, Record Staff Writer Leslie Brody wrote about a new report issued by the Rutgers Institute on Education Law and Policy that shows the lack of racial diversity in many New Jersey schools. The report labeled 191 schools as “apartheid schools.”

Apartheid was a despicable form of racial segregation practiced in South Africa. The treatment of blacks by a minority ruling white party drew world condemnation, partly through the efforts of the great Nelson Mandela. Apartheid should be remembered for what it was; it should not be co-opted for an academic report on New Jersey schools.

One of report’s authors, Paul Tractenberg, told Brody the use of the incendiary word was intentional: “I’m willing to risk being accused of being inflammatory,” he said. “Sugarcoating the bitter pill may destroy its therapeutic value. I’d rather people are angry than blasé.”

The statistics in the report are worth discussion. Twenty-six percent of black students and 13 percent of Latino students are attending schools where 1 percent or fewer of the students are white. New Jersey, like my native Long Island, is a segregated place. Go back 60 years and the segregation was intentional. Many communities fought integrated schools, while some places such as Teaneck showed the country that integrated schools were not only possible, but freely welcomed. (Doblin/The Record)   







Steve Lonegan’s Passion fueled by challenges


Some people can point to a moment when their life changed and they embarked on a new path. For Steve Lonegan, the conservative Republican running for U.S. Senate in Wednesday’s special election, that moment arrived about two years after he graduated from college.

It was 1982. Lonegan was legally blind — a final diagnosis after years of deteriorating vision from retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye condition he had been battling since he was 16.

He could not find a job, he said. His only income was a Social Security disability check. He felt like a failure — or, as he described his predicament recently, “trapped” in “the entitlement state.”

So, he said, he canceled his disability checks.

What may seem reckless and irresponsible to some was, to Lonegan, a sign of personal independence. It was also a sign of things to come.

Lonegan eventually jumped into politics and became a torchbearer for the anti-government Tea Party movement. And after being dismissed over the summer as a maverick conservative who never won elective office outside tiny Bogota, where he served three terms as mayor, he has emerged in recent days as a serious opponent to Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark. Booker’s 30-point lead in August has shrunk to around 12 points, according to several recent polls. (Kelly/The Record)   Morning Digest: Oct. 14, 2013