Morning Digest: April 28, 2014

Newark mayor’s race: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries comes to Newark to boost candidate Shavar Jeffries

NEWARK – The fundraiser for Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries, held at the Newark Club  downtown on Thursday night, offered the approximately 150 participants eye-widening views of the city Jeffries wants to govern, as well as New York City to the east.

If one squinted, the borough of Brooklyn could be seen in the distance. While DJ Ran sampled The Notorious B.I.G.’s rap song “Where Brooklyn At,” one of Brooklyn’s representatives in the U.S. Congress took the microphone to support someone with the same last name.

“This is a city that I feel intimately connected to because of my own family background,” said U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8), whose district encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens. “My father was born and raised in Newark and went to Barringer High School. Shavar supported me from a very early stage, when I ran for the [New York] state Assembly. I’ll never forget that. Our areas codes are different, but the issues are largely the same. When you send him to City Hall, he’s going to stand up for Newark.”

In an interview with, Congressman Jeffries, who is a distant cousin of the Newark mayoral candidate, outlined why he believes his relative is the best candidate to run the state’s largest city.

“Shavar has the authenticity to win a race in a close-knit city like Newark that is also increasingly diverse,” Hakeem Jeffries said. “As a son of Newark, he experienced many of the challenges that people growing up now have to deal with in Newark. The formula exists, connected to the narrative of his life story and trajectory, that hopefully will result in a victory next month.” (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark mayor’s race: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries comes to Newark to boost candidate Shavar Jeffries | Politicker NJ

In aftermath of 125 police officer layoffs, Torres goes after Jones at mayor’s forum

PATERSON – After weeks of soft shoe forums, a hard showdown ensued at the Brownstone finally between former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and Mayor Jeff Jones on the condition of the city when Jones took office.

Jones succeeded Torres in 2010 when he beat him in a three-way race.

At this Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum this afternoon, with eight candidates competing, Torres struck at the incumbent mayor, referring to the layoffs of 125 police officers by Jones, which all challengers agree has hastened Paterson’s decline.

Not bothering to address Torres by name, Jones rose and told the crowd, “No one can tell you what it’s like to run a city of this size – with a $78 million deficit.”

That was a rip of Torres and his predecessor’s hand off, which the former mayor recognized. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

In aftermath of 125 police officer layoffs, Torres goes after Jones at mayor’s forum | Politicker NJ

Winners and Losers: Cash on Hand Week


Steve Lonegan

Written by the Burlington/Ocean GOP establishment as a renegade without a country, the CD3 Republican Primary candidate could burnish a $2,000 check made out to him by none other than first brother Todd Christie. And the check had a date on it post Ocean GOP convention!

Tom Kean, Sr.

Community Options, Inc. will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the organization’s founding by honoring the former governor, an advocate over 25 years ago for bringing individuals with developmental disabilities out of state institutions into small group homes.

Shavar Jeffries

The Newark mayoral candidate landed the backing of the Newark Firefighters union, and was the beneficiary of a judge’s decision to throw out a lawsuit filed by Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka that called for the removal of two Jeffries supporters from the Essex County Board of Elections.

Mark Smith

The incumbent in the Bayonne mayor’s race landed the endorsement of his one-time tormentor Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and has nearly $300,000 cash on hand compared to rival Jimmy Davis’ almost $16,000 COH.

Andre Sayegh

The council president reported an advantage in cash on hand in the Paterson Mayor’s race: $85.5 compared to $52.4 for rival and former Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.

Read more by following the link below…


Winners and Losers: Cash on Hand Week | Politicker NJ

Thousands hit N.J. beaches as part of annual cleanup

HIGHLANDS  — Thousands of volunteers have swept across dozens of Jersey Shore beaches as part of an environmental group’s annual cleanup program.

Clean Ocean Action staged its 29th annual spring beach sweeps Saturday at more than 65 coastal locations.

Volunteers collected, tallied and removed hundreds of harmful and unsightly debris, including various plastics, cigarette butts, shoes and sandals and balloons. They also found an air mattress plug, an unopened gallon of paint, dog tick medicine, and a printer cartridge.

Organizers say the data collected from Saturday’s events will be combined with data collected during similar events held last fall, then analyzed and presented in an annual report.

The reports identify pollution problems, educate citizens on the types and quantities of debris and contribute to local and international efforts to combat marine pollution. (Associated Press/The Record)  








NJ Protect insurance to expire Wednesday

Sick patients in New Jersey who obtained insurance coverage through a federal high-risk pool called NJ Protect should act quickly to get new coverage, because the program ends on Wednesday.

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance says there are 103 patients left in the program. Since its inception in summer 2010, the program has provided coverage to 2,909 New Jersey residents. The program was available to people with preexisting conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes who had been without health coverage for six months.

“It is absolutely vital that consumers act quickly to obtain health insurance so they do not find themselves without coverage,” Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski said.

The program originally was scheduled to end Jan. 1, when a rule took effect under Obamacare requiring insurers to offer coverage to all, whether or not they had preexisting conditions. But the deadline was extended again and again, when technical problems with the federal website made it difficult to enroll.

Those with coverage through the program can replace it through the federal marketplace at If they obtain coverage on the marketplace before June 30, it will be retroactive to May 1.

They may also purchase a replacement policy directly from the insurer through the state’s Individual Health Coverage Program. If obtained before April 30, coverage will begin on May 1. Information is available at (Washburn/The Record)  





Christie Salary Veto Could Contribute to Brain Drain and Pinelands Commission

When Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a proposed raise for the staff of the Pinelands Commission earlier this month, he castigated the commissioners for “conscious disregard of the fiscal realities’’ facing the agency and the state of New Jersey, in general.

But the commission’s 33 union-represented staff members deal with their own sort of fiscal realities.

They haven’t had a raise in more than four years, a fact acknowledged by the commission. In fact, their pay has been slashed by as much as 17 percent in that time, partly a result of being ordered to take unpaid furloughs, according to the union. The commission’s staff makes at least 30 percent to 40 percent less than employees at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection engaged in the same kind of work, the union said.

“There’s been a mass exodus of the best and brightest who were there to preserve the New Jersey Pinelands,’’ said Jenelle Blackmon, staff representative of the Communications Workers of America Local 1040, which represents the Pinelands staff. “It’s terrible.’’

The commission is responsible for overseeing the stewardship of the 1.1 million-acre Pinelands National Preserve, one of the largest remaining tracts of open space along the Eastern Seaboard and home to many rare plants and animal species. In recent years, however, many staffers have left because of the pay situation, Blackmon said.

The commission no longer has a single PhD in its science office or a staff economist, Blackmon said. In all, nearly two-dozen full-time positions remain open because of budget cuts, she said. (Johnson/NJSpotlight)  


Innovative Approach to Community Medicine Includes Addressing Social Ills

New Jersey healthcare providers have been building closer ties between hospitals and primary-care practices, but a Baltimore-based hospital in the neighborhood once featured on the TV show “The Wire” has drawn the attention of some of the state’s providers by going even further — providing a full range of social services

The foundation attached to the Bon Secours Baltimore Health System goes far beyond financing medical services. It has developed affordable housing in the adjacent neighborhood and provides services such as career development, adult basic education and financial literacy education.

The thinking is that extending the concept of “healthcare” by trying to improve social conditions can have a positive impact on people’s health.

The innovations at Bon Secours aren’t limited to social services, It’s also trying to focus more on preventive care, and the state has also funded advanced technology at the hospital.

Bon Secours serves as a safety-net hospital in the heart of West Baltimore, a low-income area. There were numerous vacant homes around the hospital in the late 1980s and 1990s, and open-air drug markets fueled by the crack cocaine epidemic were operating within a few blocks of the hospital.

“Folks who were coming for procedures or even interviewing for a job would come down, get caught at one of these corners, drive around the block and go home” without entering the hospital, said George Kleb, Bon Secours’ executive director of housing and community development. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)  






Convenience store politics: Wawa increases donations to NJ politicians

TRENTON — Next time you buy coffee, a breakfast sandwich or fill up with gas at Wawa, there’s a good chance your money isn’t only going to the convenience store chain.

It could also wind up in the campaign accounts of New Jersey politicians.

As the Pennsylvania-based Wawa expands its footprint into North Jersey after dominating the southern half of the state for decades, it has also expanded its campaign giving.

Since 2012, the company has dispensed at least $21,800 to candidates seeking state office and political committees in New Jersey, according to a review of campaign records. That’s nearly twice as much as in the previous 27 years.

Yet the stepped-up donations have not gotten the company noticed by at least one recipient. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said he was surprised to learn he received $500 from Wawa in 2013.

“I’m going to go from a small to a medium coffee based on their generous support of the party,” Bramnick said.

The increase in contributions came just after Wawa, which marks its 50th birthday this year, began opening stores in regions dominated by rivals like Quick Chek and 7-Eleven. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)  








McGreevey finds a new stage, a decade after scandal forced him from office

JERSEY CITY — Even now, Jim McGreevey knows how to work a room.

Walking through a crowded conference center, he spots a familiar face and calls out in Yiddish. He hugs another, gently needles a judge and greets just about anyone else as a long-lost friend.

His last election was more than a decade ago, but the former governor — who resigned in disgrace after disclosing an extramarital affair with another man, who was put on the state payroll as McGreevey’s homeland security adviser despite a lack of qualifications — hasn’t lost his touch as a politician.

“Feel free to fast,” he tells his audience, after first warning them that his budget for lunch that afternoon was not enough to feed everyone there. “We only have so much food.”

He insists that everyone call him Jim. They all call him governor.

Re-emerging after years in the political wilderness, James McGreevey is back in the public arena. He was hired by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop as  the $110,000-a-year executive director of the Jersey City Employment & Training Program, counseling former inmates on returning to society.

He serves as an adviser to the mayor, who many believe is eyeing a run for governor. Two weeks ago, he was speaking to students at Princeton University, and he participated in a comedy roast of Gov. Brendan Byrne earlier this month. (Sherman/Star-Ledger)  


From the Back Room

Denver Post editorial savages Christie

Hey, Gov. Chris Christie, most Americans don’t need your encouragement,” reads an editorial in the Denver Post. “They keep streaming to Colorado as tourists, fall in love with the place and try to figure out some way to return — permanently.”

The editorial appeared after Christie slammed the Rocky Mountain state with the following line, “Go to Colorado and see if you want to live there.”

The paper pushed back – hard.

Denver Post editorial savages Christie | Politicker NJ


Chris Christie’s punt on the budget crisis

Gov. Chris Christie is on the warpath against pension payments again, warning that New Jersey will follow Detroit into bankruptcy unless we act decisively.

To hammer the point home, he pointed recently to the cruelest cut in his proposed budget — the$10 million whack to the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

“I think cancer research is really important,” the governor said Monday during his soapbox show on 101.5 FM. “That’s why we’ve got to deal with this (pension) issue.”

Yes, it is galling to hear this line, given that he just wasted $12 million holding a special election in October so that Cory Booker would not appear on the same ballot as he did. If he had skipped that stunt, the cancer cuts would not be needed.

And this money isn’t just for test tubes and lab coats. It helps finance cutting-edge care for cancer patients in 250 clinical trials. Lives are at stake.

But the governor is right about the Detroit bankruptcy problem. Wall Street now ranks New Jersey as the third-worst basket case in the nation when it comes to fiscal health, and we’re still dropping.

This isn’t an abstract concern. We don’t have enough money to fix our roads or buy open space. We can’t hire the cops we need to fight rising violence, or end the chronic shortage of drug treatment. We certainly have no money for big things, like property tax relief or a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Which brings us to the shocking part of Christie’s warning: He is not proposing a solution.

He is calling for pension and health benefit cuts at every town hall meeting, but his budget proposal includes not even a dime’s worth. (Moran/Star-Ledger)


Morning Digest: April 28, 2014