Morning Digest: March 17, 2014

Stung and revitalized: Manzo to publish books about Christie next month

Exonerated after getting tagged with charges in Operation Bid Rig, former Assemblyman Lou Manzo (D-31) in April will publish Ruthless Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie.

For weeks, Hudson sources have buzzed about the book, which Manzo claims tells the real back story behind former U.S. Attorney Christie’s consolidation of power – and political crackup.

Manzo told PolitickerNJ this morning that the book covers Christie’s entire public service career: from Morris County Freeholder to US Attorney to Governor.

“Many unknown facts concerning Christie are revealed,” said Manzo, 59, of Belmar, who served in the State Legislature from 2004 to 2008, and ran unsuccessfully for the state senate against Sandy Cunningham in 2007 and for mayor of Jersey City in 2009.

Manzo had run for mayor before, but it was during that last run that he fell into an infamous federal dragnet. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Stung and revitalized: Manzo to publish book about Christie next month | Politicker NJ




Pascrell zaps Christie while burnishing deal to rebuild Moonachie muni building

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) today announced  an agreement allowing for the replacement of Moonachie Borough Hall, more than 16 months after the building was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.  

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Borough of Moonachie reached an agreement on a replacement cost of $2.1 million for the municipal building that also serves as the police headquarters – significantly higher than FEMA’s original estimate of $68,000, Pascrell said.

“More than 16 months after Sandy’s devastation, this agreement is a significant step towards making Moonachie whole again,” the congressman said. “Although Governor Christie continues to blame the federal government for his Administration’s botched handling of federal funding, here is a clear example of the federal government and the local community working together to make the rebuilding process work.  I’ll continue to fight alongside Mayor Vaccaro to ensure Moonachie has the resources needed to elevate the structure and mitigate the threat of future flooding.”

The agreement will make $2.1 million available for the Borough Hall project, including the demolition of the current building, the temporary relocation of borough offices, and the design and construction of a new Borough Hall.   The federal funding must still undergo FEMA review before being obligated. Moonachie will also have the opportunity to appeal for additional FEMA funding, which will allow the new building to be elevated in order to mitigate against future flood damage. (PolitickerNJ)

Pascrell zaps Christie while burnishing deal to rebuild Moonachie muni building | Politicker NJ




Baraka’s new Newark order 

NEWARK – Ras Baraka’s speeches in the 2014 Newark mayoral race can sound incendiary at times, giving off a kind of heat that is strangely familiar. 

“We love Newark, and we believe in Newark, and we’re not going to let anybody from the outside take your city,” Baraka said earlier this month to a crowd of more than 300 people screaming their support. “We’re not going to let them take our city! We’re not going to let them have it! No! They can’t have it!” 

Baraka’s revolutionary rhetoric is similar to that used by his father, the famed, late poet Amiri Baraka, in 1967. In that year, Newark was forever changed by a riot, or a rebellion, depending on your point of view. 

Change will come to Newark in May, not by the bullet, but by the ballot box. A slew of labor endorsements have tumbled Baraka’s way in recent weeks. Prominent politicians such as Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, a potential Democratic gubernatorial candidate, have backed Baraka. 

Sources told that a poll reportedly conducted by Fulop’s camp shows Baraka, the South Ward councilman, with a double-digit lead over mayoral race rival Shavar Jeffries, the former state Assistant Attorney General. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Baraka’s new Newark order | Politicker NJ





NJ bill: requires public access for beach projects 

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Beach repair projects that get state funding would have to provide public access under a bill working its way through the New Jersey legislature.

A state Senate committee passed a bill Monday morning requiring that projects seeking funding through the Shore Protection Fund provide public access.

The original bill would have only encouraged the projects to provide public access, but not required it.

Requiring better public access to newly repaired beaches has long been a goal of environmentalists and beach access advocates.

They note that numerous shore towns discourage public access by blocking off sections of the coastline, and failing to provide parking and restrooms.

It’s unclear if that the beach access requirement will be enacted.

New Jersey lets shore towns decide for themselves what level of access is appropriate. (Associated Press) 




Message linked to ex-Christie aide will become public

New messages involving Governor Christie’s former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, will be made public today as part of a court battle over whether Stepien must turn over records to a legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closings, a lawmaker said.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, DTeaneck, said the documents do not contain “anything earth shattering.” But the handful of messages show that David Wildstein, the former Port Authority executive who shut the access lanes, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, “ran a lot of stuff by Stepien to keep him in the loop,” added Weinberg, co-chairwoman of the inquiry panel.

The committee has asked a judge to force Stepien and Kelly to turn over documents in response to a subpoena issued by the committee. The legal fight pits Stepien and Kelly, who argue that being forced to turn over documents would violate their constitutional rights, against the committee, which contends that responses to the subpoenas are critical to determining who knew what about the lane closures.

Of the dozens of people who have received subpoenas, Stepien and Kelly are the only ones who have refused to supply any records. (Boburg/The Record) 




OLS: Christie Cannot Invoke ‘State of Emergency’ To Cut Pensions

New Jersey and other states barred from declaring bankruptcy to escape pension debts, as Detroit did. 

Despite his threat to take “extreme measures” to control rising pension costs, Gov. Chris Christie does not have the power to declare a fiscal “state of emergency” to make unilateral changes to the pension system, nor does New Jersey have the ability, like Detroit, to declare bankruptcy to get out from under its pension obligations, according to state and national authorities.

Christie warned during his annual State of the State address in January that the $600 million annual increase in state pension payments required through Fiscal Year 2018 as part of a seven-year ramp-up to the actuarially required funding level was crowding out spending on education, transportation, and other policy priorities.

The governor grudgingly budgeted the $2.25 billion pension payment required for next year only after Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) threatened to shut down state government if he failed to do so.

Following his Budget Message last month, Christie warned that he had “significant powers” to rework the pension system on his own. The not-so-veiled threat was aimed at the Democratic Legislature, suggesting that if it did not pass measures to further cut pension costs, presumably by requiring further concessions from the public employee unions, Christie would act on his own. (Magyar/NJSpotlight) 




Solar and Wind Will Have Little Effect on Electric Grid’s Reliability, Report Says

But grid operator pegs cost of upgrading transmission system at $14 billion, not counting new capacity to keep lights on during peak demand. 

With many states pursuing aggressive policies to develop renewable energy, questions are being raised about what the intermittent nature of solar and wind power will have on the reliability of the electric grid.

Not that much, according to a new study by PJM Interconnection, the operator of the nation’s largest power grid, as long as the transmission system is expanded and new generating units to provide reserve capacity are developed. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 




Most NJ voters oppose gas tax hike but favor millionaires tax, poll says

While most New Jersey voters are against raising the gasoline tax, a majority are in favor of increasing the tax rate for those earning at least $1 million per year.

That’s according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll released today.

About 72 percent of the 703 registered New Jersey voters asked earlier this month oppose hiking the gas tax to pay for road improvements, the poll said.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) say millionaires should be taxed more heavily than they are. Fewer than half of Republicans, 47 percent) are in favor of making the wealthy pay more, while 78 percent of Democrats approve of the idea.

“When combined, these findings offer clear support for avoiding middle and lower class tax hikes,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Making gas tank fills more costly than they already are, and driving up costs for water use are added fees that most in the state are unwilling to tolerate.”

More than two-thirds (71 percent) of registered voters also oppose an increased tax on water consumption in order to pay for open space preservation, the poll said. (Goldman/Star-Ledger) 



From the Back Room


Mahr’s St. Pat’s Day Send-up

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) joined Union County Democratic Commtitee Vice Chair Colleen Mahr, a two-piece Irish band, and 150 guests at the Suburban Country Club Friday night for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Guests included…

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley, state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-22), Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22), Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer, Hillside Mayor Angela Garretson, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal and numerous local county committee and municipal chairs.

Running for Congress in the 12th District and newly awarded the line in Union with Mahr’s support, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) was also spotted in the room. (PolitickerNJ)

Mahr’s St. Pat’s Day Send-up | Politicker NJ



Burlington GOP officially backs MacArthur in CD3

The Burlington County Republican Committee endorsed their 2014 ticket this morning by backing Bruce Garganio and Joe Howarth for Freeholder, and Tom MacArthur (CD3), Frank LoBiondo (CD2) and Gary Cobb (CD1) for Congress.

“Burlington County has the lowest taxes in the region and spends fewer dollars per person than any other county in the state for a reason – because we elect strong, principled Republicans who, in my opinion, should serve as a model for the Republican Party in the rest of the state and the country,” said Layton. (PolitickerNJ)

Burlington GOP officially backs MacArthur in CD3 | Politicker NJ


  Morning Digest: March 17, 2014