Morning Digest: April 11, 2014

Newark’s mayor race: Jeffries campaign worker arrested and charged for Baraka bus burning

NEWARK – The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that a campaign worker of Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries has been arrested in connection with the burning of rival candidate Ras Baraka’s campaign bus in February.

“I can confirm that Shareef Nash has been arrested in connection with the February 16 arson of a bus belonging to the Baraka for mayor campaign,” said Thomas Fennelly, chief assistant prosecutor.

A written statement from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office stated that Nash bas been arrested and charged with first degree arson for hire and conspiracy to commit arson. He is being held on $200,000 bail.

Nash was named in an Essex County Prosecutor’s Office press release on April 1 announcing an arrest warrant related to the February arson incident.  (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark’s mayor race: Jeffries campaign worker arrested and charged for Baraka bus burning | Politicker NJ

GOP lawmaker weighing in on CD 3 Republican primary

A South Jersey GOP assemblywoman weighed in on a local Republican primary Thursday after charging one of the congressional hopefuls for using “offensive rhetoric” during the campaign.

Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8) took a shot at CD 3 “perennial candidate” Steve Lonegan for his attacks against the Republican establishment’s favorite to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3). The Statehouse lawmaker railed against Lonegan for a television ad she referred to as “personally disturbing.”

Lonegan is vying for the Republican nomination against Tom MacArthur, who was criticized in a recent Lonegan television ad for supporting “liberal policies.”

“I found Steve Lonegan’s new television ad attacking Tom MacArthur personally disturbing. Frankly, it blows me away that someone could be attacked in this day and age for simply saying diversity is a good thing,” she said in a statement.

“Worse, it’s clear that Mr. Lonegan intentionally used the phrase ‘low-income housing’ as a code word meaning that people like me aren’t welcome in our communities or in our party,” she said. “That is beyond offensive and his approval of this message is troubling.” (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

GOP lawmaker weighing in on CD 3 Republican primary | Politicker NJ

The Rodriguez Factor: Can a man under indictment turn the course of the Paterson Mayor’s race?

PATERSON – In public, At-Large Councilman Rigo Rodriguez shows no sign of being rattled by the fact that he’s under indictment, and, with a kind of Bill Musto gusto, runs his mayoral campaign as if he expects to win, as if he knows that in the end, the people will serve as his jury.

As the council approached the midnight hour Tuesday night, he turned the heads of colleagues who noticed him animatedly communicating with campaign personnel. Someone only half jokingly asked him if he intended to go pound on doors after the meeting.

Rodriguez proved the most consistently keyed in voluble presence on the dais Tuesday, seizing on citizens’ complaints and repeatedly criticizing the Jones administration for failing to act on certain council recommendations.

“That’s not cutting it,” rebuked the councilman, angling a stern look at a mayor’s representative on the issue of street maintenance. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

The Rodriguez Factor: Can a man under indictment turn the course of the Paterson Mayor’s race? | Politicker NJ

N.J. legislators’ GWB panel weighs options

Democrats leading the panel investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures met with their lawyer Thursday to decide their next move, one day after a judge ruled that they could not compel two central players in the controversy to hand over documents.

Also weighing on their decision is concern over whether Democratic leaders will continue backing them as their investigation stretches into its fourth month. Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic Senate president, suggested this week – before the judge’s decision – that the committee should stop its investigation if the court ruled against it. Sweeney later tempered his statement, saying he supports the panel’s work.

Through a spokesman, Sweeney declined to comment Thursday about what direction he thinks the panel should take. The speaker of the Assembly, Democrat Vincent Prieto of Secaucus, did not respond to a request for comment.

Republicans on the committee were not involved in talks with the panel’s lawyer, Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor from Illinois. And they also don’t have a preferred way forward. (Linhorst and Hayes/The Record)   







U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor talks about her memoir at Seton Hall

Associate Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is keenly aware that her personal story is inspirational – from a childhood in public housing in The Bronx she became the first Latino on the highest court in the land.

And that awareness, she said, compelled her to write her memoir, “My Beloved World.”

“There were so many people I wanted to touch and I couldn’t,” she said.

The book – an intimate and emotional retelling that is as much about her family life as her legal career – gave her the chance to reach out.

She talked about the book and signed copies on Thursday during a daylong visit to Seton Hall Law School in Newark. Among the nearly 400 people assembled for her talk were members of the New Jersey Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.

Sotomayor was introduced by law school student Leidy J. Gutierrez, an immigrant from Colombia, who said the justice’s “life bears living witness to the promise of a good education.”

Sotomayor, in turn, told Gutierrez: “You inspire me and give me hope about the future. You’re going to do things I couldn’t finish.” (Alex/The Record)   


Searchable Database Covers Medicare Services Provided by U.S. Doctors

Data on more than 28,000 New Jersey providers is included, doctors group advises

The federal government this week released detailed data on Medicare spending, including what specific doctors have been paid for procedures, what procedures cost, and how providers are compensated by the government.

The 2012 data was released by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) after a federal judge last year lifted a 1979 injunction that held that doctors’ privacy rights outweighed the public’s right to know how tax dollars are spent. The new ruling was the result of a lawsuit by Dow Jones & Co., The Wall Street Journal’s parent company.  (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)  


Charter School Applications Remain Strong, Despite Few Approvals by State

Administration’s reluctance to sign off on new charters doesn’t do much to discourage nearly 40 new applicants

Even as the Christie administration approves fewer new charter schools, interest in opening these facilities remains high, with nearly 40 applications coming in last week for the latest round of review.

Thirty-eight applications were received in all, although that number may be culled after preliminary reviews are conducted by the state Department of Education to determine if the proposals are complete.

The high number of applications reflects the enduring interest in operating these schools, even as the state throttles back on approvals. In the round of applications this past March, 38 proposals yielded just three approvals.

Overall, 14 of this year’s applications are repeat submissions; nearly a dozen come from the larger education management organizations that are coming to dominate New Jersey’s charter landscape.  (Mooney/NJSpotlight)  

Voters in NJ split on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, poll shows

TRENTON — A poll released today shows New Jersey voters are evenly divided in their support for legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use — although the results show wide gaps among different sexes, age groups, and political affiliations.

The Quinnipiac University survey found that 48 percent of registered voters backed the idea, while the same number were opposed.

But gaps emerged when the groups were broken down:

• Men back legalization 54 percent to 43 percent, while women are opposed 52 percent to 43 percent.

• Voters 18 to 29 support legalization 56 percent to 43 percent, while voters over 65 disapprove 63 percent to 33 percent.

• Democrats are for it 55 percent to 41 percent, Republicans are against it 61 percent to 34 percent, and independents are divided, 48 percent to 48 percent.

“There’s enormous interest in the proposal to legalize marijuana, but voters split down the middle,” Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said. “Republicans say no, Democrats say yes, and the highest support comes from younger voters.” (Johnson/Star-Ledger)  






New NJ ‘Going Strong’ tourism ads now airing on TV

The state’s new Jersey Shore tourism campaign hit the airwaves this week.

The “Going Strong” television ads include a montage of surfers paddling out into the ocean, bicyclists pedaling down the boardwalk and children building sandcastles on the beach. The jingle playing in the 30-second ad goes: “Well hearts are beating. The summer down at the Shore. We’re coming back for more. Anything you could ask for. We’re going strong at the Jersey Shore.”

Erin Gold, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said the ads started appearing in the the greater New York and Philadelphia markets on Monday.

She said a digital campaign kicked off in mid-March and radio ads will begin airing later this month.

“Going Strong” replaces the controversial “Stronger Than the Storm” tourism campaign promoted last summer in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. (O’Neill/Star-Ledger)  

From the Back Room’s Bonamo on WBGO tonight talking about Newark election’s Mark Bonamo will appear on WBGO’s Newark Today program tonight to discuss the May municipal election in Newark, the state’s largest city.

The live broadcast, which begins at 8 p.m., can be found on 88.3 FM and will also be livestreamed on the Internet at The award-winning program is hosted by WBGO’s Andrew Meyer.

Bonamo will be joined by David Cruz from NJTV and Stevens Institute political scientist Jonathan Wharton.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is scheduled to appear in the second half on the one-hour show.

The call-in number for questions from listeners is 800-499-9246. Questions can also be emailed to’s Bonamo on WBGO tonight talking about Newark election | Politicker NJ






Fulop venturing to South Jersey to host Democratic fundraiser

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is traveling to South Jersey next month to host a fundraiser for a Democratic congressional hopeful.

Fulop will venture into CD 2 territory to raise funds for Bill Hughes Jr.’s congressional campaign. Hughes is vying for his party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo in the right-leaning district.

Hughes is going up against Democrat David Cole.

Fulop and Joseph Jacobs will host the May 21 fundraiser at a private residence.

Fulop is widely acknowledged to eyeing a statewide run for governor and will be traveling to the backyard of another Democratic official sizing up a gubernatorial campaign – Senate President Steve Sweeney.

It’s the first time Fulop is venturing to South Jersey to host a fundraiser. Sweeney has been traveling across North Jersey in recent months as part of his Sandy Bill of Rights tour and various other events. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

Fulop venturing to South Jersey to host Democratic fundraiser | Politicker NJ

Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith launches third TV ad of mayoral campaign

The campaign of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith launched its third television ad on Wednesday, 33 days before the May 13 election.

The TV ad, entitled  “Give Me A Break Part Two,” depicts a couple questioning the motives of Smith’s rival in the race, Bayonne police Capt. Jimmy Davis. Davis’ residency and his voting record are targeted in particular.

The spot is paid for by Mark Smith for Mayor 2014.  (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith launches third TV ad of mayoral campaign | Politicker NJ

Christie and Sweeney to receive honorary degrees

Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney are slated to receive honorary degrees from Rowan University, according to the college.

The governor, who will deliver the keynote address to the class of 2014, and Sweeney will receive the honorary degree along with state Sen. Donald Norcross.

The event is slated for May 16. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

Christie and Sweeney to receive honorary degrees | Politicker NJ

Police and Fire labor leaders irritated by Christie Town Hall

Governor Chris Christie continues to poke public employees in the eye on a variety of issues ranging from pensions, working conditions, and overall attacks on their

integrity, according to New Jersey State Fraternal Order of Police President Ed Brannigan and Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey President Dominick Marino.

On the heels of Christie’s 118th town hall meeting in Essex County’s Fairfield yesterday and his statements on interest arbitration, Brannigan and Marino called on the governor to cease and desist.

“The Governor — instead of holding town hall meetings that are stacked to promote his own political interest–should spend a day walking the streets of Newark, Camden, Jersey City, and Trenton with police officers and going to the site of a fire to see how these public safety officers protect the public at their own risks and that of their families,” Brannigan said.

Police and Fire labor leaders irritated by Christie Town Hall | Politicker NJ Morning Digest: April 11, 2014