Morning Digest: Oct. 29, 2013

Christie putting resources in 3 LD campaigns

In a signal that suggests Gov. Chris Christie believes Republicans can add GOP lawmakers to the state Senate, the governor is readying to inject resources into three Senate hopefuls’ campaigns. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)



Senator Booker is already on the job, Menendez says

LITTLE FERRY – Sen.-elect Cory Booker may not have been sworn into his Senate office yet, but he’s already on the job.

At least, that was the message from New Jersey’s senior Senate lawmaker Monday.

The Newark mayor was on hand for an announcement in Little Ferry that the state will receive $1.4 billion in a second round of Community Block Grant Disaster Recovery dollars following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Booker was asked to attend the event by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), according to the senior lawmaker. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)



Buono OK’d for another $68,000 in matching funds

TRENTON – The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has approved $68,010 in public matching funds for the gubernatorial general election campaign of state Sen. Barbara Buono. (Mooney/PolitickerNJ)



Poll: Chris Christie re-election landslide

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to sail toward reelection, with a new poll on Tuesday a week before Election Day showing him with a 2-1 lead over his Democratic opponent.

Christie leads state Sen. Barbara Buono 64 percent to 31 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. He leads across most demographic groups, and even picks up support of 31 percent of Democrats. (Kopan/Politico)




Obama’s ‘in-the-dark’ defense

President Barack Obama is briefed each day on a wide range of domestic and international issues, yet when it comes to major controversies, his administration’s response is often the same: the president didn’t know.

The most recent appearance of the tendency came Sunday, as the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama was unaware of the National Security Agency’s surveillance of foreign leaders until earlier this year. The story came on the heels of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s claim that the president didn’t learn of the problems with until after the site’s Oct. 1 launch. (Epstein/Politio)




Booker’s win official in NJ special Senate race

TRENTON — New Jersey election officials have certified Newark Mayor Cory Booker as the winner of this month’s special election to the U.S. Senate.

The certification means the Democrat can be sworn in to fill the remaining 14 months of the term previously held by the late Frank Lautenberg. (Associated Press) 



Christie, Buono kick governor’s race into high gear with one week left

TRENTON — With only a week left until Election Day, the race for governor between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono is about to hit full throttle.

Christie — who leads Buono by more than 20 points in most polls — announced that starting Wednesday, he and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno will set off on an ambitious bus tour, making more than 90 campaign stops in 21 counties over seven days.

“We’ve got one last hill to climb, and that is to turn out the vote on Election Day,” Christie told volunteers during a conference call last night.

Buono has spent the few weeks crisscrossing the state in an effort to gain ground — making stops not in a bus but a white SUV. (Johnson and Portnoy/Star-Ledger) 



Chris Christie, Kim Guadagno to launch bus tour in final campaign push

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno will make more than 90 stops on two separate buses in the last seven days of the campaign.

“We’ve got one last hill to climb and that is to turn out the vote on Election Day,” Christie said during a conference call with volunteers tonight.

The Republican governor said after today he and Guadagno won’t return to the Statehouse until after Election Day. (Portnoy/Star-Ledger) 



Superstorm Snady: Following the Money, Assessing NJ’s Recovery One Year Later

State distributes aid money, announces buyouts, and plans dunes — but some still wait for help to arrive 

Sandy was without a doubt the most destructive storm to hit New Jersey in modern times, causing dozens of deaths, damaging or destroying nearly 350,000 buildings, and leaving 2.7 million residents in the dark. Official estimates put statewide losses at around $37 billion, but one recent study speculated that once factors like loss of economic activity and tourism dollars, borrowing costs, infrastructure repairs, and storm mitigation are taken into account, the cost could rise billions or even tens of billions higher. (Gurian/NJSpotlight) 



NJ Doesn’t Join Eight-State Initiative to Promote Zero-Emission Vehicles

Decision rankles clean-energy activists; DEP says effort duplicates existing program. 

Eight states have agreed to put a lot more energy into promoting the sales of electric cars and other zero-emission vehicles — but not New Jersey.

In an agreement announced last week by governors of those eight states, all but two of them in the Northeast, agreed to take steps to help usher in cleaner-running vehicles with the goal of putting 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads within a dozen years.(Johnson/NJSpotlight) 



Fiscal Reforms, Innovative Aid Guidelines Help Ensure Stability in New Jersey  

There’s no guarantee against economic calamity, but state’s financial firewalls should provide reliable protection

Towns, schools get billions in state aid: A large part of the state budget (44 percent) is returned to local governments – with the majority of the money provided to school districts. In addition to direct aid payments to school districts, the state pays the school district’s share of pension and health benefits for retirees, as well as the employer’s share of Social Security contributions for current school district employees. This fact significantly lessons local government fiscal exposure. No other state pays for all three of these current and long term commitments — a policy decision that further limits the potential for local government bankruptcy. (Keevey/NJSpotlight) 




Christie pitches for more Shore ads

Governor Christie – who drew criticism for appearing with his family in federally funded tourism ads after Superstorm Sandy – said he will once again ask to use disaster relief funds to promote the Jersey Shore and said he wants the ads to start running this winter.

The goal, Christie said, is to have a campaign under way by January or February, when many tourists book their vacations – particularly Canadians who frequent the  Shore.

It’s unclear if the state will once again hire MWW, the politically connected firm responsible for the “Stronger Than the Storm” campaign. The contract with MWW charged $4.1 million for its services – about twice the next-highest bid – and can be extended for two more years. (Hayes/The Record)     


Buono takes issue with former Gov. Kean’s ‘nice lady’ comment

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono didn’t like former Gov. Thomas Kean’s comments in a recent newspaper interview that characterized her as “a nice lady,” but someone who is unqualified to serve as governor.

During an event promoting her vision to help New Jersey’s small businesses in Little Falls on Monday she said the former Republican governor’s statement is a “disservice to every single woman” considering service in politics.

“That kind of an attitude is outdated, it is an anachronism,” Buono said. (Reitmeyer/The Record) 






Christie Confounded as Jersey Police Stay After People Go

At the height of tourist season, 150,000 people vacation on Long Beach Island, an 18-mile stretch of New Jersey shore. The crowds are gone by October, when the traffic signals blink amber along the main boulevard.

Just 7,500 residents remain year round, and with them the police forces for six towns. For the next eight months, about 75 full-time officers, earning $7.1 million annually, are responsible for repeated checks of 18,000 empty vacation properties on a barrier island where the median home value is $782,900, double New Jersey’s average. (Young/Bloomberg) 


From the Back Room

Romano Drama in Hoboken  

Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano of Hoboken is in a bit of a pretzel himself in his hometown, where the mayor’s race marks the biggest happening of the political season in Hudson.

Romano backs incumbent Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s re-election, but he’s also quietly supportive of the efforts of the ticketmates of Councilman Tim Occhipinti, Zimmer’s Nov. 5th opponent.

Especially one of them. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)




Cash on Hand: Paterson, 2014

Don’t forget about the Paterson Mayor’s race next year, where everyone is waiting on an oracle to visit the political calculations of Assemblyman Benji Wimberly (D-35) (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)



N.J.’s Hurricane Sandy victims still waiting for grants, answers:

A year later and they still can’t go home.

That is the fate, even today, of thousands of families across New Jersey who a year ago lost it all because of a storm called Sandy. From Moonachie to Newark, from Ortley Beach to Atlantic City, and let’s not forget Perth Amboy and Sayreville, Hurricane Sandy destroyed homes and lives.

In the days after the hurricane, everyone came to see what was left after one of the worst storms ever to make landfall in New Jersey. They came to see the house cut in half, the river running through the road, the house in the bay, the fires and of course the roller coaster in the ocean. Even the president of the United States came to visit. The governor donned his magical blue fleece and made a promise that we would rebuild. From his lips came “stronger than the storm.” He believed, I believed and so did the thousands of people who lost it all.

To help rebuild, New Jersey received more than $700 million from the federal government. The state Department of Community Affairs set up a division dedicated to Sandy recovery — the Sandy Recovery Division. DCA also selected Hammerman & Gainer Inc., a private management firm, to administer two programs distributing the federal money to Sandy victims, including the $600 million Reconstruction Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program, also known as RREM grants. (Spencer/Star-Ledger) 


  Morning Digest: Oct. 29, 2013