Morning Digest: Nov. 25, 2013

Gubernatorial AC Bar Notes: Sweeney/Fulop rivalry contains deep contrast points

Spilling off the blackjack tables, the disdain ran deep in both camps, a sign of the stark contrasts visible early in the fledgling gubernatorial candidacies of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

Sweeney and Fulop last week took turns at the League of Municipalities highlighting their particular sets of political skills to roomfuls of bar stool-bound casino revelers, where two decidedly different personalities crystallized (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)





Poultry politics: Ramos talks tough turkey in Newark

NEWARK — Newark mayoral candidate Anibal Ramos, Jr. ventured outside of his native North Ward to distribute more than 4,000 turkeys throughout the city this weekend in a display of both holiday spirit and organizational strength. 

Ramos’ venture into classic urban New Jersey poultry politics might have paled in comparison to the effort of Hudson County’s machine mastermind, state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack (D – 33), who handed out more than 17,000 turkeys this weekend, according to (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)





Early skepticism, caution on nuclear deal

President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal is running into deep skepticism — and harsh criticism — from officials in Israel and on Capitol Hill.

Less than 12 hours after Obama announced the agreement at the White House, Democratic and Republican lawmakers ripped it on Sunday morning talk shows, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking to Twitter to bash the terms as a “historic mistake” and warn that “this ‘first step’, might be the last step.” (Allen/Politico)





New Jersey Utility Users Could Get Hit by Double Whammy

BPU prepares to hear two separate series of rate cases, one on recovering costs for restoring power, the other on hardening the grid

Talk about rate shock.

The state’s gas and electric utilities aim to recover at least $1.27 billion in costs they incurred restoring power and service after extreme storms in the past few years, and the costs keep rising. 






Legislators Fine-Tune Law Allowing School Elections to Switch to November 

Bills will adjust deadlines for board candidates to file and for budgets to be completed

The 2012 law that resulted in the shift of a vast majority of New Jersey’s school elections to November is about to get some tweaks aimed at making the process easier for both school board candidates and for school districts themselves. (Mooney/NJSpotlight) 





N.J. Democrats haven’t agreed how to fund open space

TRENTON  — The outgoing leader of the New Jersey Assembly says it’s important that legislators figure out how to replenish the depleted open space fund before the end of the year, but there appears to be no consensus on how to fund the land acquisition program long-term. (Delli Santi/The Record)  





NJ businesses paying top dollar for access to Republican Governors Association

It’s a $5,000 minimum — but some pay as much as $500,000 yearly — for the privilege of gaining access to some of the most influential politicians in the nation, the members of the Republican Governors Association and their leader, Governor Christie.

That access was on display last week at a posh desert resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., where hundreds of executives, lobbyists and donors spent two days schmoozing, pushing proposals and working to build relationships with some of the 25 GOP governors in attendance and their staffs.

And as Christie, facing increased attention as a possible presidential candidate, was being anointed as the group’s chairman, the evidence of corporate New Jersey’s ties with the RGA — which is unfettered by the state’s campaign finance laws — was clear.

Some have state contracts, like Scientific Games International Inc., one of three companies sharing a 15-year deal to privatize the New Jersey Lottery. Others, like pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb and chemical company BASF Corp., have large complexes in the state. And other corporate interests are pressing governors about national issues with state impacts, like health, expanding Medicare, environmental issues and energy regulations. (Hayes/The Record)   





Money, star power await Obama on fundraising tour

SEATTLE — Money, star power and Hollywood awaited President Barack Obama on a West Coast swing featuring a bit of official business, but mostly fundraising for a Democratic Party eager to go on offense after a politically debilitating two months.

Obama arrived Sunday evening in Seattle. He also planned stops in San Francisco and Los Angeles, raising money for House and Senate Democrats as well as the national party.

High-profile events on the schedule included a reception at the home of retired basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, Cookie, in Beverly Hills, California, and one at the house of Marta Kauffman, co-creator of television’s “Friends.”

“In the year before an election like this, I think the most tangible way that an incumbent president of either party, frankly, can benefit his party’s prospects in congressional races is to try to help them raise money,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “And I would anticipate that the president’s efforts on that front will continue into next year.”

The trip comes as Obama’s health care law approaches a crucial Nov. 30 deadline for an improved insurance enrollment website whose catastrophic start Oct. 1 dealt a serious political blow to the White House. Also, the U.S. and other world powers just sealed a historic deal with Iran for a temporary freeze of its nuclear program.

In addition to a half-dozen fundraisers, Obama intended to use the trip to keep the heat on Congress to pass an overhaul of immigration laws. He planned to address that issue during a stop Monday at a Chinese recreation center in San Francisco, and to promote his economic agenda Tuesday at the DreamWorks Animation studio in Glendale, California. (Kuhnhenn/Asbury Park Press) 





NJ May Have Domestic Violence Offender Registry

If there was a registry just like Megan’s Law that was dedicated solely to identifying those convicted of domestic violence offenses, would you check it out before you went on a first date with someone?

Most people would. If one New Jersey legislator has his way, there would be just such a website.

“Right now, Megan’s Law is a registry so that somebody could look up whether somebody’s a sex offender,” explained Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “My bill would create a registry that would put the world on notice that a person has been involved in a domestic violence incident.” (McArdle/NJ101.5) 






NJ to cut ties wit treatment center for children after safety concerns emerge

TRENTON — When state authorities froze placements and removed some residents from one of New Jersey’s private treatment facilities earlier this year, they made no announcement of the action and later declined to say what went wrong at an institution that has been taking in children for four decades.

But a report recently obtained by The Star-Ledger makes clear that the state found serious trouble inside Somerset Hills Residential Treatment Center. On Wednesday, two days after the newspaper inquired about the findings, the state disclosed it was cutting ties with the facility Dec. 31.

The report, released under the state Open Public Records Act, alleges a litany of alarming practices: children subjected to unwarranted physical restraint, incident reports with inaccurate and incomplete information, medical records missing documentation and deficient treatment plans. (Baxter/Star-Ledger) 





Sweeney joins Stack for annual Union City  turkey distribution

State Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack began his annual turkey distribution today in an effort to give out some 17,0000 free turkey’s to city residents before Thursday.

Stack, who had hundreds of volunteers ready roam the city handing out the free birds, was joined in the effort by State Sen. Steve Sweeney.  Stack and his army will be handing out Turkeys all day today and tomorrow and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after 5 p.m.

The turkeys are paid for by the Brian P. Stack Civic Association. Stack has purchased the turkeys in each of the past several years, however, 17,000 is the most ever distributed. (Isherwood/ 



Super Bowl’s N.J. Towns Snubbed as NFL Limits Benefits

Forget Manhattan’s Super Bowl Boulevard and its concerts, autograph signings and 180-foot-long toboggan run on Broadway. Who needs them when Secaucus, New Jersey, will offer ice sculptures, food trucks and a beer garden only two miles from the big game?


Secaucus, a town of 18,000 in the shadow of the National Football League’s championship event, wants to throw a pre-game party for the rare chance to lure tourists. Its plan puts the 5.8-square-mile town in competition with a four-day bash in Manhattan that’s expected to pack 1 million fans from Herald Square to Times Square, known worldwide for its animated billboards and New Year’s Eve revelry. (Dopp &  Matuszewski/Bloomberg)






From the Back Room


Jeffries, Baraka in Newark mayoral candidate Facebook flame war

On Sunday night, Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries posed a question to the Facebook universe. 

“38 murders in the South Ward this year and now you want a promotion? Really?” posted Jeffries, a South Ward resident and former state Assistant Attorney General, in a targeted attack on South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka.

The following is Baraka’s lengthy reply: (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)





PolitickerNJ on News 12’s Power and Politics


PolitickerNJ is on News 12’s Power and Politics this weekend discussing our 2013 Power List.

Matt Arco sits down with Power and Politics’ Luke Margolis, who also had former Gov. Jim Florio and state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. as guests on the program.

Power and Politics airs on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. (PolitickerNJ)











Nothing sensational about defending release of mug shots

It is an unalterable fact that two vital parts of our identity are our names and our faces.

For the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, however, that is not the case. The panel on Monday approved a bill that would ban mug shots of those arrested from being part of the public record.

Putting the face to the name, it seems, is not what legislators think we should be doing, especially not when finding out who was arrested in our neighborhoods. The argument proponents of the bill are making is that releasing mug shots of those accused of crimes somehow violates their privacy rights and can potentially ruin their reputations.

The counter argument is that releasing mug shots often clarifies who was arrested, that people with the same name can be impugned by a report and that matching a face with that name removes ambiguity. (Schoonejongen/Asbury Park Press) 

Morning Digest: Nov. 25, 2013