Morning Digest: Feb. 28, 2014

Battle lines draw as Davis rolls out mayoral campaign 

BAYONNE – Bayonne Police Capt. Jimmy Davis stood inside a jammed storefront office on Broadway and declared that it was time for the residents of this Hudson County city to make a citizens’ arrest when it came to the administration of incumbent Mayor Mark Smith. 

“Enough is enough. This is our city, this belongs to you. You decide who runs this city. You don’t have someone take the power, and run with that power, and do what they want for themselves,” said Davis to a cheering crowd of 75 people. “This is a new start.”

With those words, Davis began what many political observers believe will be the most serious challenge against Smith, the former Hudson County Democratic Organization chairman, who some politicos have listed as a potential gubernatorial candidate.

Bayonne battle lines drawn as Davis rolls out mayoral campaign | Politicker NJ



There’s a choice in CD12 that won’t motivate Lesniak

As Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Jerry Green confronts the challenge of whom to back in the CD12 Democratic Primary, state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20) has made it clear he won’t support one of the choices in play.

He also insists it’s all Green’s call.

“I’ve told him, and I’ve told others, that it’s the chairman’s decision, it’s Jerry Green’s decision,” Lesniak said.

But the Mercer choice is a non-starter for the veteran senator from Elizabeth.

Lesniak told Green that if Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) is Green’s choice, “I won’t lift a finger to help her.”

There’s a choice in CD12 that won’t motivate Lesniak | Politicker NJ



N.J. aid remains flat for cash-stripped municipalities 

TRENTON — The state government offered local officials some good news and bad news in the same breath Thursday: Municipal state aid for 2014 will be at the same levels as the prior year.

 Dollar for dollar, the aid will match that provided for 2013, according to a breakdown of the statewide $1.5 billion in allocations released by the Department of Community Affairs.

 Some local officials expressed relief there would be no cut, given the state’s own fiscal problems. But many noted the flat numbers come as municipalities struggle with property-tax revenue problems after tax appeals and falling real estate values shrank their tax bases.

Local governments, many already cash-strapped, also are dealing with the state cap on tax-supported spending as costs go up, and they’re feeling increased pressure for big-ticket spending — including post-winter road repairs — and deferred maintenance. (Norman/The Record) 




N.J. Legislative panel urged to look into other allegations of corruption 

The subpoena power bestowed on the Legislature’s joint investigative committee, which is currently focused on the George Washington Bridge scandal, has prompted requests that the panel look into unrelated allegations of corruption.

On Thursday, two state senators, Republican Samuel Thompson from Middlesex and Democrat Ron Rice of Essex, asked the joint investigative committee to look into a comptroller’s findings that some public officials in Newark had used taxpayer money for personal expenditures.

The comptroller investigation found that between 2008 and 2011 the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation, a non-profit charged with administering Newark’s water assets “improperly spent millions of dollars of public funds with little to no oversight by either its Board of Trustees or the City.”

Specifically the report said the non-profit’s executive director, Linda Watkins-Brashear, wrote $200,000 worth of checks from public accounts to herself, awarded no-bid contracts to friends, used petty cash recklessly and was involved in conflicts of interest. The agency as a whole was also severely mismanaged, the report said. (Phillis/The Record) 





New School Chief Returns at Tumultuous Time for Education in NJ

State-aid crunch, strife in Newark and debate over Christie’s policies greet former education commissioner upon return to Trenton. 

Gov. Chris Christie picked quite a day yesterday to announce David Hespe would be returning as his next education commissioner, a post he held more than a decade ago.

The governor’s school-aid numbers for next year were released yesterday afternoon to a less-than-enthusiastic reception. Earlier in the day, legislators argued over how to deal with the growing turmoil over the state’s ongoing control of Newark schools. And, throughout the day, advocates were gearing up for protests over the administration’s overall education policies. (Mooney/NJSpotlight) 




Graying New Jerseyans Rarely Live in “Aging-Friendly” Communities   

More than a quarter of New Jerseyans are in their AARP years, but comparatively few live in communities that are amenable to older people, a report by New Jersey Future found.

Creating Places to Age in New Jersey, released earlier this month by the organization that promotes smart growth, indicated that many of the places with large concentrations of people age 55 and older are not “aging-friendly” and those that are better designed for older people have smaller numbers of retirees and near-retirees. Places considered better for older adults contain a lot of services in a small area, have a mixed-use downtown, walkable street networks, and access to buses and other mass transit. (O’Dea/NJSpotlight) 




Bridge scandal: 911 tapes from GWB closure to be released today  

FORT LEE — As commuters languished in miles of traffic during the now-infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures, local 911 operators were bombarded with questions, complaints and emergencies.

Later this morning, Fort Lee Borough Hall will release a cache of 911 phone call recordings lodged between September 9, 2013 when the lanes first closed and September 13, when they were opened again.

The closures, widely considered to be politically motivated, are under investigation by a legislative committee. (Giambusso/Star-Ledger) 



Christie’s Boston fundraiser will pull in $1 Million 

Gov. Chris Christie is poised to raise more than $1 million on behalf of the Republican Governors Association, according to a source with knowledge of the fundraising haul.

Christie is in Boston fundraising alongside former Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker, who was late to commit to the event is on hand as well.

The event, first scheduled for a private home in Newton, was moved to the Lenox Hotel in downtown Boston. At least one source told the Boston Globe that the move was due to the increased media attention surrounding Christie, who has been battling political controversy here at home. 




From the Back Room



CD3 Update: MacArthur hires general consultant

Republican Congressional candidate Tom MacArthur has a general consultant in NJ-3.

Veteran Burlington County GOP operative Chris Russell is working for MacArthur.

Russell’s 2008 GOP Primary rival turned ally Frank Luna (a former Christie Administration staffer) of Ocean county is also on the campaign team and running the ground game leading into conventions.

MacArthur has not yet hired a Campaign Manager or anyone else on the team. (PolitickerNJ)

CD3 Update: MacArthur hires general consultant | Politicker NJ




Happy Birthday, Senator Cardinale 

Veteran state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-39) of Bergen County turns 80 today.

Happy Birthday, Senator. (PolitickerNJ)

Happy Birthday, Senator Cardinale | Politicker NJ


Morning Digest: Feb. 28, 2014