Morning Digest: March 26, 2014

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James Endorses Baraka in city mayoral race NEWARK – Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James walked into

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James Endorses Baraka in city mayoral race

NEWARK – Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James walked into King’s #1 Family Restaurant on Lyons Avenue in the city’s South Ward on Tuesday and walked right into Newark’s contentious mayoral race.

After weeks of hints and suggestions, James endorsed South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka with 48 days left before the May municipal election, saying the time for new Newark leadership is now.

“We will need a mayor who will stand up when it comes to the issues that shape the city of Newark and affect the people – a mayor who is going to stand up for the people,” said James while trays stacked with scrambled eggs, grits and fried whiting were passed out. “We don’t need a mayor who was has no Newark municipal government experience and will be learning on the job.”

James, who served as Newark’s mayor from 1986 to 2006, went on to further criticize the mayoral candidate he referenced in the opening of his speech – former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James endorses Baraka in city mayoral race | Politicker NJ




Labor Brawl at the Port: Union leaders spar with the waterfront Commission over new hires

ELIZABETH – Men in orange safety vests with the initials “ILA” and “NYSA” stenciled on them in marker crowded into an overflow tent at the shipping port here and gave a collective battering to the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

The longshoremen, checkers, their long-coated leaders and Democratic legislators in the shadows of stacked shipping containers and trucks at a standstill for the occasion say the commission stands in the way of hundreds of new hires.

Absorbing heaped complaints from under those tent flaps in Elizabeth, the commission, for its part, says the labor unions want to frontend load their own patronage trough of well-connected six-figure pals while foot-dragging on employing veterans, women and minorities in accord with a collectively bargained agreement.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech stood at the center of the rally, and said the issue’s much deeper and the commission’s role more nefarious.

“We are seeing our state’s largest economic engine essentially idled, and our port’s continued competitiveness being put at a disadvantage, because of the Waterfront Commission’s stranglehold on jobs,” said Wowkanech. “It makes absolutely zero sense why nearly 500 badly needed jobs sit vacant when both business and labor are ready to fill them.”

The Waterfront Commission says it’s actually a total of 682 new hires in question: 532 longshoremen and 150 checkers, to bulk up a ports infrastructure that supports more than 251,000 jobs statewide, with a total economic footprint of more than $40 billion. (Pizarro/PoltiickerNJ)

Labor Brawl at the Port: Union leaders spar with the Waterfront Commission over new hires | Politicker NJ





Christie: Polling indicates residents aren’t fired up over stalled Supreme Court nominations

BELMAR – Gov. Chris Christie didn’t miss an opportunity Tuesday to rail against Democrats in the Legislature who are blocking his nominations to the state’s Supreme Court.

The governor, responding to a question from a resident at his Belmar town hall meeting, told attendees the New Jersey Supreme Court doesn’t “answer to anybody” and suggested residents should be just as outraged as him about their lack of accountability.

But residents aren’t outraged, Christie said. And, apparently, they have the numbers to prove it.

Christie indicated polls have been conducted to gauge residents’ responsiveness to the topic and suggested attempts by him to urge residents to put pressure on lawmakers to clear the nominations would be all for naught.

“When we do polling, nobody cares about this issue,” Christie said to the friendly crowd of about 600 people. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

Christie: Polling indicates residents aren’t fired up over stalled Supreme Court nominations | Politicker NJ






Christie admits during Belmar town hall that Sandy recovery ‘has not gone perfectly’

From dunes to dredging to getting more people back in their homes, Governor Christie spent well over an hour Tuesday talking about New Jersey’s ongoing recovery from Superstorm Sandy during a public event in Belmar.

The small coastal borough was hit hard by the 2012 storm and many in the region are still working to recover and rebuild as New Jersey starts to get ready for another summer tourism season.

Christie updated an audience of about 650 people on the latest recovery news, including what the state is doing as it prepares to receive another $1.4 billion batch of federal aid.

He said work on building and repairing dunes will kick into high gear this spring, but stop by the summer to prevent any inconvenience to beachgoers. Another tourism ad campaign will also be launched this year, but 2013’s “Stronger Than The Storm” jingle will be replaced with something new.

And the latest funds from the federal government will also help whittle down the waiting list for those who’ve still not been provided the federal grants they need to get back in their homes. That’s been one of the biggest complaints New Jersey residents have been lodging about the state’s recovery effort over the last year and a half.

Once a strength for Christie, the Sandy recovery has started to weigh on his approval rating, according to recent public opinion polls. The governor acknowledged the state’s Sandy struggles as he spoke to the audience during the Belmar town-hall style event. (Reitmeyer/The Record) 






NJ bar group warns about judicial independence 

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey State Bar Association has formed a task force to examine what it says are ongoing concerns about the independence of the judicial branch.

The association plans to hold a public hearing on the issue April 1 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.

Members of the association include retired jurists, lawyers, academics and educators. The group hopes to develop recommendations on how the current system of judicial appointment and reappointment might be improved.

The association previously urged the reappointment of the chief justice of the state Supreme Court and expressed anger over Gov. Chris Christie’s refusal to reappoint two previous justices. (Associated Press/The Record) 





Christie Greenhouse Changes Violate N.J. Law, Court says 

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration violated state law in the way it withdrew from a regional program to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, a state appellate court ruled.

New Jersey must begin amending or repealing the state’s climate-change regulations within 60 days, according to a three-judge panel in Trenton. Christie’s withdrawal from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative drew a lawsuit in 2012 from environmental groups, who cheered yesterday’s ruling.

“Neither Governor Christie nor the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection can simply repeal state laws by fiat,” Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said in a statement.

Christie decided to withdraw by the end of 2011 from RGGI, which set a cap on carbon-dioxide emissions and created a trading program. Christie said RGGI, which then included the six New England states, plus New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Maryland, failed because the low auction prices it drew didn’t motivate companies to change business practices.

New Jersey’s withdrawal meant producers no longer had to comply with the program and DEP didn’t make emissions allowances available for purchase or give emissions offsets to companies. (Voreacos and Doom/Bloomberg) 




The invisible primary: GOP preps as Chris Christie stumbles 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the past year getting battered over immigration reform — and building a presidential-level political operation with heavy investments in digital and data analytics. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has already visited New York City four times this year, pushing into big-money turf once dominated by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, has gamed out his 2016 options with a small team of longtime advisers, while Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has met with prominent conservatives, urging him to consider the race.

The Republican presidential field is aflutter with behind-the-scenes activity even at this preliminary stage, giving early shape to a race that has been defined in public by a handful of outsized media personalities, including Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Christie’s “Bridgegate” stumbles have now thrown the race wide open: Strategists for likely and potential candidates all see the Garden State Republican as deeply and perhaps fatally compromised. Reform-minded Republican governors are eyeing the race more eagerly, thanks to the void opened by the Fort Lee traffic scandal. Others in the field, like Rubio, could find their nuts-and-bolts preparatory work all the more valuable in view of Christie’s woes. (Burns and Haberman/Politico) 




From the Back Room



Goldberg nabs the line in Somerset County

Brian Goldberg tonight secured the line in Somerset County in his pursuit of the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. (PolitickerNJ)

Goldberg nabs the line in Somerset County | Politicker NJ




Baraka defends James’ criminal record, attacks Christie 

NEWARK – Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka defended the criminal record of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, who endorsed Baraka on Tuesday instead of the South Ward councilman’s rival, former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries. 

James, 78, served as Newark’s mayor from 1986 to 2006. He did not seek re-election in 2006 in the face of a looming second mayoral election challenge from now-U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. He was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2008 and served 18 months in prison following his fraud conviction.

But Baraka, who took James on during Newark’s 1994 mayoral campaign and later served as a deputy mayor towards the end of the James administration, didn’t see James as politically blemished. 

“I was at the court, and they tried to give the man 20 years. The judge said that was ridiculous,” Baraka told “No money exchanged hands, there was no bribery. I didn’t see how we was convicted of the things that I went to court and saw. If Sharpe did some other things, he wasn’t charged for those things. But what he was charged for in court, I don’t see the result of what happened to him meeting whatever they charged him with. And I don’t think the judge saw that either.” (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Baraka defends James’ criminal record, attacks Christie | Politicker NJ




Essex County Roundup: Dem Chairman Jones unveils candidates

Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman, LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. along with the Essex County Delegation, county-wide elected officials, municipal chairs, and local state committee representatives welcomed this year’s candidates at an executive board meeting held last night at Essex County College in Newark.

“I believe that this year’s candidates represent the diversity that is in Essex County and I express my gratitude to the members of the board of chosen freeholders who will be retiring this year, each one of you have served over the years with great distinction,” said Jones as he acknowledged each person by name, including Freeholder President Blonnie Watson, Freeholder Bilal Beasley, Freeholder Carol Clark, and Freeholder Gerald Owens.  

“As I complete my final year as a Freeholder, although I am looking forward to my retirement, my years of service have been rewarding.  I can proudly look back at all that has been accomplished during my tenure and I expect this good work to be continued through the new freeholders and wish all of them success,” said Freeholder President Watson. (PolitickerNJ)

Essex County Roundup: Dem Chairman Jones unveils candidates | Politicker NJ

Morning Digest: March 26, 2014