Morning Digest: March 5, 2014

Hitting the CD12 trail with Chivukula, Greenstein and Watson Coleman

EAST BRUNSWICK – Middlesex County Democrats resoundingly endorsed Linda Greenstein for U.S. Congress, but that didn’t stop Upendra Chivukula and Bonnie Watson Coleman from horning in on this shag carpeted public library affair and making a pitch to local members tonight at a meeting of the East Brunswick Democratic Committee.

Days after calling for the resignation of Gov. Chris Christie and subsequently stepping down from the Select Committee on Investigation amid an uproar of criticism, Watson Coleman, assemblywoman from the 15th District, surfaced here in front of a crowd of Democrats as the fiery primary competitor in search of the field’s left flank.

“I have been holding the governor’s feet to the fire,” Watson Coleman said. “I stood up with [last year’s Democratic nominee for governor] Barbara Buono even though her party wasn’t standing with her. One month after the election, this house of cards started to fall. No one wanted to be seen in a photograph with us, and now we are losing out under this transactional, mean-spirited, bullying administration. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Hitting the CD12 trail with Chivukula, Greenstein and Watson Coleman | Politicker NJ




Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries slams Jersey City Mayor Fulop, demands rival Baraka “repudiate” Fulop’s support

NEWARK – Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries launched a verbal attack on Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop on Tuesday, questioning the reasons behind Fulop’s endorsement of rival candidate Ras Baraka last month and demanding that Baraka reject the support of the mayor of New Jersey’s second largest city.   

The question of whether Newark will remain the Garden State’s largest city was at the heart of Jeffries’ mayoral campaign offensive. Jeffries specifically pointed to Fulop’s comments during his State of the City address last Thursday.  

“Jersey City will be the largest city in New Jersey by the end of 2016,” Fulop said during his address last week. 

”For me, we now know the true motives of the mayor of Jersey City’s endorsement of my opponent, Councilman Baraka, which is to take Newark backward, and not forward,” Jeffries said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference at his campaign’s Central Ward headquarters. “Today, I am calling on Councilman Baraka to refuse Fulop’s campaign support, financial or otherwise, and put Newark’s families first for a change. Nothing short of a full denouncement of Fulop’s political agenda at our expense is acceptable.” (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries slams Jersey City Mayor Fulop, demands rival Baraka “repudiate” Fulop’s support | Politicker NJ




Christie in public but still private as he doesn’t address media at appearances

In the nearly two months since Governor Christie held a marathon news conference pertaining to the lane-closure scandal at the George Washington Bridge, the governor has appeared at events across the state and traveled the country to raise money for Republican gubernatorial candidates.

Through three town-hall-style events in Republican strongholds, the introduction of his budget for the coming fiscal year, promotion of the Super Bowl and fundraising trips for the Republican Governors Association, Christie has managed to avoid questions about the growing scandal.

The governor hasn’t fielded media inquiries since that Jan. 9 press conference, when he announced he had fired Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff who sent the now-infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” to a Christie appointee at the Port Authority. (Hayes/The Record)  



Dove kills ad calling New Jersey ‘the Armpit of America’

Dove, which specializes in skin-care products, may not have realized New Jersey had such thin skin when it came to its reputation as the stinkiest state in the union.

Dove is killing an advertising campaign for antiperspirant deodorant that refers to New Jersey as “the Armpit of America.”

The ad aimed at New Jersey audiences intended to undermine the insult that is often lobbed in the state’s direction. It features a pretty blond woman in a white tank top showing off her armpit, with the message: “Dear New Jersey, when people call you ‘the Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove. 

But many New Jersey residents took offense. Add in media coverage, and Dove was soon apologizing.  

Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, the New Jersey-based parent company of Dove, also said in a statement that the company had since “decided that we will not be running this billboard advertisement.”

The statement added: “We did not wish to cause any misunderstanding and apologize for any offense. Our intent with the ‘Dear New Jersey’ billboard, which was one of many ads for our campaign, was to call attention to the fact that armpits can and should be considered beautiful and ask women everywhere to accept this as something that is OK.” (Lynch/Los Angeles Times),0,142566.story#ixzz2v5wvdIWc



Chris Christie: Tired of Obamacare? Elect new president

Chris Christie had some advice Tuesday for a constituent worried about Obamacare: “Elect a new president.”

The exchange occurred during a town hall-style event the same day that the GOP New Jersey governor, a potential White House hopeful, came under fire for his own support for Medicaid expansion under the health care law.

How is it going to affect the seniors, their insurance?” asked a woman who said she was from Toms River, NJ. “A lot of the doctor staff here are saying that they’re going to get out of it now. What do we do?” 

“Yeah, well, elect a new president,” Christie said to applause at the Ocean County event.

Christie said there are areas where he and President Barack Obama agree — and spent much of the event detailing his administration’s efforts to work with the federal government on Superstorm Sandy recovery and expedite a sometimes-sluggish aid process. (Titus/Politico)




Investigation Reveals Sandy Energy Grant Program Riddled With Errors

Hoboken, state’s largest cities appear to have been shortchanged aid money. 

The Sandy fund that’s at the heart of Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s accusation against the Christie administration was allocated through a faulty selection and scoring process.

An ongoing investigation by NJ Spotlight and WNYC/NJ Public Radio has found that by using the Christie administration’s own scoring criteria, seven of Hoboken’s requests for backup generators should have been funded instead of just one, making it eligible for up to $700,000 more than it was originally awarded.  (Gurian/NJSpotlight)   




Hospitals’ Move to Reduce Number of Early Elective Deliveries Yield Results

State average drops by nearly three-quarters in three years, Leapfrog Group reports. 

The days of expectant mothers and their doctors arranging early deliveries to suit their schedules appear to be coming to an end, thanks to hospitals taking an aggressive stand on the issue.

The average percentage of births at New Jersey hospitals that were early elective deliveries has fallen for three straight years, dropping from 15.7 percent in 2010 to 11.7 percent in 2011, 7.2 percent in 2012, and decreasing by another 4 percent last year, according to a new report from the Leapfrog Group.

Early elective deliveries — which generally occur in the 38th or 39th week of pregnancy — have been associated with increased risk of respiratory problems for infants, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“There’s an increased health risk for every week early that a baby is born,” said Laurie Navin, program services director for the March of Dimes’ New Jersey chapter.

Of the 47 hospitals that reported results to the Leapfrog Group, 36 have either reduced the rate of early elective deliveries to less than 5 percent or made progress over the past year toward that goal. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)   




Senate president heading to Linden for Sandy ‘bill of rights’ tour

LINDEN —With the complaints from Hurricane Sandy victims in New Jersey growing louder, Senate President Steve Sweeney is taking his initiative to adopt protections for storm-ravaged residents to Linden on Thursday.

In the fourth stop of his “Sandy Bill of Rights” tour, Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is trying to build momentum for legislation he introduced last month in response to ongoing grievances from residents affected by the 2012 superstorm who are still trying to rebuild.

Joined by local officials, advocates and storm victims, Sweeney will be at the 7th Ward Recreation Center, 2907 Tremley Point 1 p.m. The Tremley Point section of Linden was hard hit by the storm and residents from that area took shelter at the community center after the storm. Dozens of homes in the Tremley Point section were severely damaged or destroyed by Sandy and Linden has sustained more than $900 million in damages from the storm, officials have reported.

Under the proposed bill of rights, residents would be entitled to a clear explanation of what they need to be eligible for and apply for the Sandy recovery programs. They would have a right to know the status of their application and what additional information they would need to provide. They would also be entitled to know why their application was rejected or why they were put on a waiting list they would have a right to appeal denial of funding. (Spoto/Star-Ledger) 




U.S. Attorney’s investigator sought to interview Bridget Kelly in bridge probe

An investigator from the U.S. Attorney’s office sought to speak to former Christie administration Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly about lane closings at the George Washington bridge, visiting her home and her parents’ home in an attempt to interview her, Kelly’s lawyer said today.

The investigator even visited Kelly’s father’s place of business in an attempt to locate her, attorney Michael Critchley said. Critchley said the investigator eventually called him in an attempt to speak to Kelly, but the veteran defense lawyer told him she had nothing to say.

“They were doing some fact gathering and asked to speak to her, but I declined,” Critchley said in a brief interview Tuesday.

Kelly is one of two former Christie staffers, along with former campaign manager Bill Stepien” who have asserted their 5th Amendment rights and refused to turn over documents to a legislative committee investigating lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. 

The committee has asked a judge to compel both Kelly and Stepien to turn over any relevant documents. An attorney for Stepien filed a brief yesterday seeking to keep the documents private.  Critchley is due to file his brief Thursday.

Kelly, who was fired by Gov. Chris Christie just hours after emails were disclosed linking her to the lane closures, which appear to have been politically motivated. (Isherwood/ 




From the Back Room


Steelworkers back Smith in Bayonne

The United Steel Workers Union today endorsed the re-election of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. 

“The steelworkers believe you share our core values of family, jobs, community and will support the issues of importance to labor and all working men throughout the state of New Jersey,” said USW District 4 Director John Shinn Local 4-406.

“Here in Bayonne, we support organized labor,” said Smith, “Many of our families are union households and I am proud to support organized labor as animportant voice in the public discourse.” (PolitickerNJ)

Steelworkers back Smith in Bayonne | Politicker NJ



Watson Coleman taps CD12 campaign manager

Running for Congress in the 12th District, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) has hired a well known Democratic Party operative as her campaign manager. 

A veteran of last year’s Fulop for Mayor campaign and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) re-election bid, Adam Steinberger is Watson Coleman’s choice to lead her campaign.  (PolitickerNJ)

Watson Coleman taps CD12 campaign manager | Politicker NJ







Obama fights for the working poor

President Obama is pitching a smart strategy — and what should be a soft sell — for easing income inequality. In his budget released today, he called for a major new expansion of the earned income tax credit.

This is the most effective anti-poverty program in the arsenal, and was former President Ronald Reagan’s favorite because it encourages work. It’s basically a wage subsidy for the working poor. The benefit refunds taxes for low-income workers and grows, up to a certain point, as their income rises.

Problem is, it has shorted single, childless workers. They’re eligible for at most $487 per year in refunds, while a family with three children can get a maximum benefit of a little more than $6,000 per year.

Obama is seeking to remedy that. He would double the maximum credit available to poor workers without children, and apply the credit to higher incomes, benefiting 13.5 million people. To offset the cost, $60 billion over 10 years, he’d end two tax breaks for the rich. (Star-Ledger Editorial Board) 

  Morning Digest: March 5, 2014