Morning Digest: April 22, 2014

Newark mayor’s race: pro-Jeffries independent expenditure group shows donations of $1.3 million, Wall Street ties in ELEC report

NEWARK – Newark First, the independent expenditure group that supports Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries in the run-up to the May 13 municipal election, has been on the attack lately against Jeffries’ rival in the mayoral race, Ras Baraka. These attacks have centered on a critical aspect of political life: money.

On April 18, Newark First asked Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who endorsed Baraka in February, to denounce his political ally for accepting salary increases as Newark’s South Ward councilman while at the same time the City of Newark laid off workers.

Earlier in the week, Fulop had told the press that a proposed plan to double the salaries of Jersey City council members and their aides is “shameful.”

“If Mayor Fulop truly believes that city council members accepting a salary hike is ‘shameful’ in Jersey City, he ought to denounce Ras Baraka for lining his own pockets while Newark is struggling,” said Newark First spokesman James Freedland.

When asked by for comment about Newark First’s assertions, Fulop declined. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

t Newark mayor’s race: pro-Jeffries independent expenditure group shows donations of $1.3 million, Wall Street ties in ELEC report | Politicker NJ

Christie: If NJ doesn’t act, it could become Detroit

A caller prodded Gov. Chris Christie on the subject of cancer research funding, another on education funding, and in each case the governor pointed at the legislature.

He wouldn’t tell Ask the Governor host Eric Scott how he will handle Speaker Vinny Prieto’s (D-32) refusal to date to re-up the 2 percent cap on police and fire salary awards, preferring to keep his strategy cloaked.

“You wouldn’t want me to look like a schmuck, would you?” Christie asked Scott.

But the governor was pleased to blame Prieto.

A woman wanted to know why he can’t put more money into education.

“When I have to spend 94 cents on every dollar on pensions, health care and debt services, we can’t sustain it,” Christie said. “Any doubt of that, look at the City of Detroit. …The legislature may decide they simply won’t do anything about it. [But] The chickens are going to come home to roost.”

Christie has agreed to negotiate with Prieto on a law that limits property tax increases by limiting raises to some police and firefighters. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Christie: If NJ doesn’t act, it could become Detroit | Politicker NJ

Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries, team raise more than $760K in campaign funds in last period, have less than $250K cash-on-hand

NEWARK – Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries and his council slate raised more than $760,000 during the last campaign fundraising period, according to official reports.

A copy of the fundraising report submitted by the Jeffries campaign to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) for the 29-day pre-election period ending on April 11 indicates that the Jeffries Team for Newark 2014 raised more than $763,700, and more than $1,350,800 to date. Jeffries and his council candidates are trying to defeat Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka and his council slate in the May 13 municipal election.

The most recent ELEC report indicates that the Jeffries Team for Newark 2014 has more than $247,400 cash-on-hand.

The copy of the ELEC report shows that 3 percent of the Jeffries Team for Newark 2014 donations this period came from contributions less than $300, with almost 5 percent of the total raised cumulative contributions coming in at less than $300.

A closer look at Jeffries’ campaign expenses in the last filing period shows a considerable amount of money being spent on consulting and media firms from a wide geographic range.

AKPD Media of Chicago was paid $60,000 for media work, the report shows. Brilliant Corners Research & Strategies of Washington, D.C. was paid more than $28,200 for consulting work by the Jeffries campaign, while Revolution Messaging, also of Washington, D.C., was paid more than $11,000 for the same service.

Mission Control, of Mansfield Center, Conn., was paid more than $90,200 for consulting work, the ELEC report shows. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark mayor’s race: Jeffries, team raise more than $760K in campaign funds in last period, have less than $250K cash-on-hand | Politicker NJ





Governor Christie renews calls for pension system reforms

Governor Christie continued to pressure Democrats to overhaul public employee benefits, telling callers to his monthly radio show that they’re the reason higher education grants and cancer research is being cut in his proposed state budget.

The Republican governor, who has pushed changing the pension and benefits plans during recent town hall-style events, was coy when asked how he would fix the problem.

“You don’t put all your cards out on the table at once,” he said on NJ 101.5 FM.

Christie spent an hour fielding questions about his budget, the state’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy and the closing of institutions for residents with developmental disabilities.

He declined to comment on specific proposals a panel of experts recommended to overhaul the Port Authority Monday, saying he’ll continue to work with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to improve the bi-state transportation agency. Christie also declined to say whether he’d appear before the Democratic-controlled legislative panel investigating the George Washington Bridge access lane closure controversy if subpoenaed.

Despite the lack of movement on the pension issue, Christie said Monday that he’s confident he can strike a budget compromise with Democrats by the June 30 deadline.

Christie has proposed a $34.45 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The spending plan calls for a more than $1 billion increase, which would help cover a more than $2 billion payment into the public employee pension funds. Even at that rate, the state would be contributing only four-sevenths of the full payment, as it phases in increases under a deal struck with public employees in 2011. (Hayes/The Record)  






Christie marks reopening of last school closed due to Sandy

In a short ceremony Monday, Governor Christie marked the reopening of the final school closed because of damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Long Beach Island Grade School opened last month, nearly a year and a half after the storm devastated much of the Jersey Shore. Repairs, which were paid in part by insurance claims, cost more than $2 million.

Christie spoke in the school’s rebuilt gymnasium Monday — he arrived by helicopter and flew to Trenton afterward — and praised the students and teachers for their patience as repairs were made.

“It’s a new normal now,” Christie said today. “But as I walked around this school today, I could tell that you’re all comfortable and can get back to learning.”

The school, which holds more than 100 students, reopened March 18, a day later than planned because of a major snowstorm March 17.

Christie spoke for about 45 minutes and used most of that time to take questions from students, who seemed primarily interested in his daily life as governor and his visits to the White House. (Linhorst/The Record)  

Plea by Newark Clergy Ratchets up Debate Over School Reforms

A year ago, Newark schools Superintendent Cami Anderson filled a downtown Newark reception at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to unveil her proposal for remaking the school district under a plan called “One Newark.”

Let’s just say she would probably have a tougher time filling the place now.

Anderson and her sweeping plan – which calls for closing schools, consolidating others and creating a single enrollment system encompassing both district and charter schools – in the last week has sustained what may have been its hardest round of hits, raising new questions about what will happen next.

Protests targeting the state-appointed superintendent and her reform plans are nothing new, of course, as parents, community activists and political leaders have continually assailed the One Newark plan.

But the latest criticism came from those who might be seen as natural allies. It started in the form of a position statement delivered on Good Friday by 77 members of Newark’s clergy, who called for a moratorium on enacting the plan and rethinking of Anderson’s approach to dealing with the community.

“The disruptive and divisive nature of the One Newark Public School Plan could have catastrophic and far-reaching consequences for the children of Newark,” read the two-page statement.

The statement had a powerful impact, due to both the timing of its release and the unanimity of its authors. (Mooney/NJSpotlight)  



NJ’s Clean-Energy Goals Finance ‘Green’ Jobs in Other States, Lobbyist Claims

Are New Jersey’s utility customers paying too much to meet the state’s renewable energy requirements, mostly by funding similar programs and creating green jobs in other states?

The question is being raised as some argue that the state’s ambitious targets to increase the use of renewable energy can’t be achieved, primarily because many of the key technologies, such as offshore wind, are unlikely to be deployed.

The result? Of the $105 million collected from the state’s ratepayers this year to pay for credits to support some types of renewable energy, about $90 million will flow to out-of-state renewable energy projects and green jobs, according to an analysis put together by an energy lobbyist and a colleague.

The reason the money is on the move to neighboring states is that renewable resources like wind are more plentiful and more affordable in other locales, the analysis said.

This trend will significantly worsen in the next few years unless something is done, according to the analysis, potentially ballooning to $180 million heading out of the state by 2021.  






Christie blames cancer research cuts on public worker pension costs

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie tonight partially blamed a $10 million cut to cancer research in his latest state budget proposal on a familiar target: the public worker pension system.

The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s top cancer research organization, is slated to lose about a third of its funding in Christie’s new $34.4 billion budget proposal — dropping from $28 million to $18 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

During his monthly radio show tonight, Christie said last year’s budget included a $10 million increase in cancer research funding that the state Legislature negotiated as as part of a one-time “add-on.”

But the Republican governor said there wasn’t enough room in the new budget proposal for the same amount, putting funding back in line with the level allotted from 2010 to 2013. He said he didn’t know whether lawmakers will negotiate a similar increase before a final spending plan goes into effect July 1.

“I think cancer research is really important to the state of New Jersey,” Christie said on 101.5-FM. “But lots of other people fund cancer research, through private funding and federal government funding.”

“You have to make some difficult choices,” he added, “and you have to look for things where there may be duplication in other places, and you try to save where you can save.” (Johnson/NJSpotlight)  







Chris Christie won’t say whether he’d testify in NJ bridge scandal probe

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie tonight said he has not been issued a subpoena by federal prosecutors investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal and refused to say whether he would testify if he were called by a separate legislative panel probing the matter.

Asked during his monthly radio show if he has been subpoenaed by Paul Fishman, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, the Republican governor said, “no, absolutely not.”

But Christie added that he is “fully cooperating” with the federal investigation.

As for the legislative probe, state Assemblyman John Wisniewski — the panel’s co-chair — said the committee may soon begin to call witnesses to testify about the controversial lane closings at the nation’s busiest bridge in Fort Lee last September. Wisniewski said he hadn’t ruled out calling Christie.

But the governor tonight quickly declined comment when asked about whether he’d take the stand.

“I’m not going to talk about that,” he said during the show on 101.5-FM.

Democrats have accused members of Christie’s staff and inner circle of closing the lanes in a bout of political payback. The governor has repeatedly said he was not personally involved.  (Johnson/Star-Ledger)  

From the Back Room

NJ Chamber’s Annual Walk to Washington Today

The 77th Annual Walk to Washington sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce will launch from Newark Penn Station this morning at 11:30 a.m.

Early travelers can eat breakfast at a chamber-sponsored event at 8 a.m. at the Newark Hilton.

Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to deliver the keynote at this evening’s dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

U.S. Congressmen Chris Smith and Rush Holt will also at the event that draws hundreds of the state’s leaders in business, politics, education and the nonprofit sector.

“This is the kind of super-networking that helps businesses grow,” said Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. “That is why we have been doing it for three-quarters of a century. It gives guests unprecedented opportunities for conversation and visibility.”

Gov. Christie said at a previous Congressional Dinner, “The year does not begin until the Chamber dinner in Washington.”

Rescheduled to today and tomorrow owing to inclement winter weather, this 2014 Walk to Washington and Congressional Dinner has attracted more than 900 registrants, including business executives, Gov. Christie and key members of his leadership team, 40 members of the state Legislature, and more than 40 members of the news media.

The annual event was rescheduled from February due to a snow storm, making this the first spring timeWalk to Washington in its 77-year history.

NJ Chamber’s Annual Walk to Washington Today | Politicker NJ

‘Would you like to know more?’

Although it doesn’t star Michael Ironside, a Youtube ad for a May 13th mayoral candidate – complete with imperial Basil Poledouris horn section – comes across like the latest all-action sequel to Starship Troopers.

The setting this time?


Take a look at this homage here.

‘Would you like to know more?’ | Politicker NJ

Daily News: PVSC still a patronage cesspool

Despite Gov. Chris Christie’s much-covered intevention and rearrangement of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) four years ago, the place is still a mess, according to a story in the Daily News.

Patronage now starts at the top with a hand-picked boss, the security force has served as a soft landing spot for pals, and the commission itself is stagnant.

Check out the story here.

Daily News: PVSC still a patronage cesspool | Politicker NJ



How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I’ve noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren’t around watching Paterson get to where it’s at today. I think it’s important that Patersonians be reminded that many of the candidates asking to be reelected and elected have held positions in the city for years. Some even as long as 12 years!

I’ve written a brief article below discussing just a few of the city’s issues and how our city in crisis has come to be in crisis to begin with. I think it’s something every Patersonian needs to know about their city. Hopefully educated voting decisions can be made on May 13th, void of racial biases and false dreams, so Paterson can emerge to be a great city once again.

How The City Of Paterson Became A City In Crisis

In a few short weeks, on May 13, Patersonian will once again cast their votes for who will lead their city for the next coming years. Their decision will be hard to make, but just by looking around them, they’ll feel the path that Paterson is on right now will need to change. There are very few who believe the city is in great condition.

As a Patersonian myself, I know that I must do everything in my power to build a better future for my children and my fellow Patersonians. In order to do that though, we should reflect on how our troubled city got to where it’s at today.

At the end of February 2011, Mayor Jeffery Jones laid off 125 police officers and demoted 28 sergeants and lieutenants. He did so because the city’s budget was out of control. In laying off one third of the police force of Paterson, the Mayor was essentially trying to keep Paterson from breaking under financial stress. But he did so without a plan to continue keeping our streets safe. You can’t cut a third of your police force, plan using your remaining police force in the same way, and expect the lower number of officers to do the same job as the greater number did. Operational changes must be made and that’s where Patersonians were let down.

Without crucial operational changes to our police force, we’ve watched crime skyrocket through our city streets. We’ve watched our neighbors and family members mugged and slain in broad daylight. We’ve watched our city’s economic regions deteriorate because people from outside of Paterson are too scared of shopping in Paterson. (Haytham Younes/PolitickerNJ)

How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis | Politicker NJ Morning Digest: April 22, 2014