Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 28

TRENTON – The last full week before Election Day saw the rhetoric for and against the proposed minimum wage hike

TRENTON – The last full week before Election Day saw the rhetoric for and against the proposed minimum wage hike intensify.

Business groups warned that increasing paychecks from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 – and including annual cost-of-living adjustments – will lead to layoffs, non-hiring, increased prices, and hurt the recovery.

Supporters said there never has been evidence to support such dire warnings, it did not happen when previous increases occurred, and said it’s a matter of ethical treatment of employees.

Voters will have their say in this proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday.

The American Dream project, the left-undone megamall in the Meadowlands, is getting ready to rev up the engines.

Two state agencies – the Local Finance Board and the Economic Development Authority – gave their stamps of approval this week on tax-exempt bonds and an economic grant.

The current developers want to get shovels in the ground with an eye toward opening in 2015.

The project is being touted as a world-class combination of shops and entertainment that will employ 11,000 full or part time.

The prospect of what once was called Xanadu succeeding under new ownership and becoming a huge economic engine has overshadowed environmental and traffic concerns.


Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno spent a huge part of the week barnstorming across New Jersey in tour buses, hitting every county, exhorting the troops to get out the vote.

Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara Buono has been giving many late-campaign interviews as she tries to eat into a huge gap in the polls.

The will-it-never-end election season finally closes on Tuesday, and this past week Christie made every effort to get GOP faithful to the polls and elect Republican lawmakers to help swing control of the Legislature.

Of particular interest are districts such as 3, where Senate President Steve Sweeney is trying to fend off Niki Trunk’s challenge; 38, where Christie has made no secret of his disdain for Sen. Bob Gordon; and 14, where Sen. Linda Greenstein is trying to hold off former Sen. Peter Inverso.


Newark Mayor Cory Booker is now officially U.S. Sen. Cory Booker after being sworn in this week.

He took the seat left vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg died and will fill out his term.  Temporary replacement Jeff Chiesa, who had been attorney general, returns to the Garden State, and Booker has to roll up his sleeves – and start campaigning almost immediately for election to a full term.


The state suffered a huge loss this week when Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen passed away at the age of 87 on Tuesday.

He was a veteran leader of the party who had the respect of different factions in an often divided county. Numerous Democratic lawmakers weighed in with words of praise for Thigpen.


  Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 28