Morning Digest: April 14, 2014

CD3: MacArthur has $1.75 million COH

Running in the Third Congressional District’s Republican Primary, former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur reported over $2 million raised in the 1st Quarter and $1.75 million cash-on-hand.

MacArthur personally contributed $2 million to his campaign account, and having secured the GOP county lines in Ocean and Burlington counties, his team is actively setting up fundraisers throughout the district with local Republican leaders and supporters to build his war chest, according to campaign spokesman Chris Russell.

“This has been a very good past few weeks for Tom and the campaign,” said Russell.  “Sweeping the party endorsements in mid-March was a critical first step, and as soon as it ended we began an aggressive campaign on television, in the mail box, online and on the ground.  We have a superior candidate, a more compelling message and all the resources we need to win this primary on Tuesday, June 3rd.”

MacArthur is running against former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in pursuit of the Republican nomination. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

CD3: MacArthur has $1.75 million COH | Politicker NJ

A night for homeless youth: Bipartisan group of lawmakers raises $25K for Covenant House

Camped under the stars outside the Statehouse last night, New Jersey lawmakers raised over $25,000 for homeless youth in Covenant House’s first ever legislative sleep-out.

“It was a worthwhile night; a notable and meaningful event,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), co-chair with state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19). “There was a lot of learning and sharing going on, and for those of us participating on the legislative side, we came away with an appreciation for these kids.”

Founded in New York City in 1972, Covenant House is the largest privately funded charity in the Americas providing services to homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, and exploited youth. The state’s largest service-provider to homeless and at risk adolescents under 22, Covenant House New Jersey provides healthcare, educational and vocational services, counseling, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs and transitional living programs.

Early Friday evening, the bipartisan gathering of 16 legislators broke into groups inside the Statehouse to hear the testimonials of young people between the ages of 18-22.

“These are kids who live in Newark or Atlantic City who were homeless and found their way to Covenant House,” said Vitale. “These kids are very resilient. We heard a lot of tragic stories. Many of these kids were raised by someone other than biological parents and left because the abuse was so great. At Covenant House their future was restored, and now they are excited to be able to dream again.”

The following lawmakers participated: Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11), state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11), Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8), Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-15), Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15, Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3), Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29), Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16), state Senator Pete Barnes (D-18), state Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35), state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37). (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

t A night for homeless youth: Bipartisan group of lawmakers raises $25K for Covenant House | Politicker NJ





Booker on U.S. Senate race, Republican candidates: let’s talk after the GOP primary

NEWARK – A general observation of the Republican candidates who have come out to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in November is that they are not the best-known field of GOP contenders.

Jeff Bell, Brian Goldberg, Rich Pezzullo and Murray Sabrin have battled it out among GOP county committees in advance of the June primary. Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie continues to court Republican movers-and-shakers nationally despite his Bridgegate and Sandy aid problems at home. asked Booker if he thought that the apparent lack of serious competition in the upcoming U.S. Senate race was a sign that Christie, a native Newarker who has built a bipartisan relationship with Booker, had not done enough to build up the Garden State GOP.

“Sincerely, my focus right now is doing my job as a United States Senator,” said Booker at an event on Friday at Newark’s Riverfront Park where Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials and others announced a major effort clean up the contaminated Passaic River. “For me right now, it’s not political season. It’s about focusing on serving New Jersey.(Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Booker on U.S. Senate race, Republican candidates: let’s talk after the GOP primary | Politicker NJ

Manhattan district attorney launches investigation into Port Authority spending

The Manhattan district attorney has launched a wide-ranging investigation into the Port Authority, issuing a subpoena for communications between Governor Christie’s office and agency officials, a source familiar with the matter said Saturday.

The development signaled the opening of a new legal front in the controversy surrounding New Jersey’s embattled chief executive.

The subpoena, issued by the office of Cyrus Vance Jr. in March, requests the communications and other documents related to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center, the Port Authority’s takeover of operations at the Atlantic City Airport and the diversion of $1.8 billion in Port Authority money for construction of New Jersey roads, the source said.

Investigators, who have already begun conducting interviews, are looking at potential conflicts of interest among commissioners and whether the Christie administration’s tapping of Port Authority funds to rebuild the Pulaski Skyway and other state-owned roads was legally authorized, a second person familiar with the investigation said.

The subpoena, served on the Port Authority, means a second law-enforcement agency, besides the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, is looking at controversies that have emerged or attracted scrutiny in the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.

The office of U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman was notified before Manhattan’s district attorney issued the subpoena and was not surprised by it, said a third source familiar with talks between the offices. It’s unclear if the two offices are conducting parallel investigations or are working in tandem. (Boburg/The Record)





Christie gets extension in GWB lane closure lawsuits

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A judge has given Gov. Chris Christie and other defendants more time to file a response to two lawsuits related to last fall’s lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Christie was among several defendants scheduled to respond by Friday to the lawsuits. Others include former Christie campaign chairman Bill Stepien, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and its former deputy executive director, Bill Baroni.  


New Jersey’s Coastal Assets Threatened by Global Rise in Sea Level

Rate at which ocean is rising has more than tripled over past century, according to records of one NJ historical society

East Point Lighthouse stands about 118 feet from the high-tide line on South Jersey’s Delaware Bay shore, but it used to be much further away.

The historic structure at the mouth of the Maurice River was 460 feet from the high-water mark when it was inspected in 1908, according to the Maurice River Historical Society, which has helped to restore the lighthouse, and is keeping a careful eye on its proximity to the ocean. By 2008, the margin shrunk to 174 feet, and then to 118 feet in 2013.

The measurements indicate not only that the ocean is encroaching on this isolated corner of New Jersey’s coastline, but also that the pace of its approach has more than tripled from three feet a year for the first 105 years in which it was monitored to 11 feet a year since 2008.

The shrinking distance between the bay and the lighthouse is just one local sign of global sea-level rise that was highlighted in the latest report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said on March 31 that coastal communities are threatened by rising oceans that are being swollen by melting polar ice caps.

The report warned that coastal floods and other effects of climate change would worsen unless carbon emissions are cut worldwide. (Hurdle/NJSpotlight)  


Helping First-Time Moms Cited as Example of Effective Healthcare  

Policy experts, advocates cite Nurse-Family Partnership as type of program that deserves Medicaid funds

dvocates for improving healthcare in New Jersey are pointing to a program in which nurses visit first-time mothers in their homes as a good example of how to spend public healthcare funds wisely.

The Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a model that has been used throughout the country since the 1970s, brings nurses to the homes of low-income women, where the nurses can observe and interact with the women’s entire families and help them through the challenges of pregnancy and early motherhood.

It is one of several programs being highlighted by the Good Care Collaborative, an alliance of healthcare providers, advocates and policy experts that was organized over the winter.

The collaborative aims to reform Medicaid spending so that more funding goes toward programs with a track record of being effective. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)  


Six months of gay marriage in NJ yields nearly 3,000 weddings

TRENTON — When New Jersey made it legal for same-sex couples to enter into civil unions in February 2007, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster took their time to plan a ceremony. It wasn’t until September of that year when the longtime couple celebrated their union in front of about 100 guests on a fishing pier near their home in Ocean Grove.

“We wanted family there,” Bernstein remembered. “It didn’t seem as urgent.”

But when same-sex marriages became legal in the state last fall, Bernstein and Paster quickly obtained a license and were wed in a small ceremony at a local restaurant.

“We had worked so long and so hard for this,” said Paster, 66, who has been in a relationship with Bernstein, 72, for 14 years. “We just wanted to do it immediately.”

They weren’t alone. A total of 2,955 gay couples were married in New Jersey from Oct. 21, when same-sex weddings began under the orders of a state judge, through the end of March, according to the state health department.

At the same time, 43,619 heterosexual couples were wed. That means about one of 15 marriages performed in the state during that period were for same-sex couples.  Monmouth County — home to Asbury Park, which has one of the state’s largest gay populations — was the site of the most same-sex weddings: 324. Camden was second at 298, followed by Essex with 258. Salem County had fewest at 10.

Gay rights advocates and researchers say the numbers are about what they expected — and are in line with what happened in other states such as Massachusetts and New York.  (Johnson/Star-Ledger)  

Port Authority commissioner to step down after 15 years

Commissioner Anthony Sartor of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the board’s longest serving member from either state, is stepping down after 15 years, sources with knowledge of his departure told The Star-Ledger.

Sartor, a 1999 appointee of Republican Gov. Christine Whitman of New Jersey, is in the last year of his latest six-year term, following his reappointment in 2008 by former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat. It was unclear whether Gov. Chris Christie was planning to replace him.

The sources did not say why Sartor was stepping down.

A spokesman for Sartor, Bob Zito, would neither confirm nor deny the commissioner’s departure. A Port Authority spokesman referred the matter to to the governor’s office, which did not respond to requests for comment.  (Strunsky/Star-Ledger)  


From the Back Room reporters on weekend TV reporters Matthew Arco and Mark Bonamo will both appear on weekend public interest television programs.

Arco will appear on NJTV’s Reporters Roundtable with host Michael Aron on Saturday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 13 at 9 a.m. Arco will discuss Governor Chris Christie’s latest poll numbers among other issues.

Bonamo will appear on News 12 New Jersey’s Power and Politics with host Luke Margolis on Saturday, April 12 and on Sunday, April 13 at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Bonamo will discuss the Newark mayoral race. reporters on weekend TV | Politicker NJ


NJ budget fix demands spending cuts, raising taxes

The latest downgrade of New Jersey’s credit rating speaks volumes about our budget blues. This is the second time we’ve been knocked down under Gov. Chris Christie, leaving our rating among the lowest in the nation — above only Illinois and California.

This is a crisis and most people don’t seem to realize it, perhaps because of Gov. Chris Christie’s cheerleading during last year’s campaign, when his TV ads bragged relentlessly about his “restoring fiscal sanity” by balancing the state budget. Here’s the trick: The state constitution requires a balanced budget. Jon Corzine and Jim McGreevey balanced all their budgets, too.

The fresh credit downgrade will drive up the cost of borrowing for major projects, such as schools and roads. It reflects Wall Street’s assessment of New Jersey’s ability to pay its bills over the long stretch. It’s a warning for investors to stay away, or at least to demand high-interest payments to cover the high risk. These nonpartisan bean-counters are saying the state’s fiscal health has worsened on Christie’s watch.

Yes, the governor inherited a hot mess when he swore his oath. Our bond rating would likely be even lower without the bipartisan reforms he signed to contain public costs, where this fight has to begin. Pension and health reforms were the most important.

Beyond that, though, the governor has been irresponsible to the point of recklessness. Each year he presents magical revenue estimates, snarling when he is challenged by honest analysts who have turned out to be right every time. He relies heavily on one-shot gimmicks, such as raiding $1 billion from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, and spending billions that had been set aside for the Hudson River tunnel project he canceled.

He has no plan to cover the cost of transit projects, relying entirely on borrowing and raids to squeak through each year. He’s allowed the open space fund to go bankrupt, and seems content to let that entire effort wither and die.  (Star-Ledger Editorial Board)

  Morning Digest: April 14, 2014