Morning Digest: May 21, 2014

Bergen Republicans grieve the loss of activist Clara Nibot

Bergen County Republican activist Clara Nibot of Bergenfield died today.

The Cuban American was a past president of the Bergen County Hispanic Republican Organization.

She was 69.

The wake is from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 22nd at the French Funeral Home, 161 Washington Avenue in Dumont.

Her funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. at St. John’s Church in Bergenfield.

“She was an activist and very much involved in Republican Party politics until she got sick but until she got sick you could always count on her to be there and she will be sorely missed,” said Bergen County GOP Chairman Bob Yudin.

Ms. Nibot challenged Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) in the 2007 general election. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Bergen Republicans grieve the loss of activist Clara Nibot | Politicker NJ





Bayonne Update: Smith v. Davis spills into HCDO’s Casino in the Park dinner 

JERSEY CITY – The trick at the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s (HCDO) dinner tonight was going to be to see where on the giant, turgidly moving carousel of Hudson County humanity the two Bayonne mayoral combatants lingered longest.

Incumbent Mayor Mark Smith hangs by a perilous percentage point over challenger Jimmy Davis, in a runoff to be decided on June 10th. To the hardest observers of this surprise bonus contest, the well-quaffed people in the room tonight might have smiled in the direction of the outsized personality from South Hudson even as they nursed piranha-like intentions.

Smith’s wounded, say the circling glances.

To his allies he was simply caught off guard: the jovial victim of everyone in the state making Bayonne a low priority. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Bayonne Update: Smith v. Davis spills into HCDO’s Casino in the Park dinner | Politicker NJ







Christie halts $900 million due for pensions

Governor Christie said Tuesday that he will close a looming gap in New Jersey’s budget by pulling back nearly $900 million that had been earmarked for the state’s teetering pension system, reversing his earlier promises to increase those pension contributions and provoking further scrutiny of the state’s credit rating.

The ailing pension system — and the need to prop it up with more and larger payments — was cited as a key factor by all three major Wall Street ratings agencies when they lowered New Jersey’s credit rating in recent weeks, making it potentially more expensive for the state to borrow money. It was the sixth such downgrade since 2010, giving New Jersey one of the lowest credit ratings in the country at a time when the overall state economy also struggles with an unemployment rate that is higher than the national average.

But Christie, during a State House news conference, said New Jersey cannot afford to make the pension contributions he had agreed to when he signed a 2010 law mandating them for the next seven years. He is also asking lawmakers to authorize an additional $1.5 billion reduction in the state pension contribution for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“Our problem is that we have made promises to people that we cannot keep, so we have to adjust this going forward,” the governor said, referring to what he has called overly generous employee benefits granted by previous administrations.

For Christie, the pension reversal could undercut one of the accomplishments he has been highlighting in his own résumé during his rise to national prominence in the Republican Party. (Reitmeyer and Hayes/The Record) 







Mowers, former Christie aide, ‘disheartened and disappointed’ by GWB lane closures

A onetime key aide to Governor Christie testified Tuesday about the inner workings of a now-defunct state office that lawmakers probing the George Washington Bridge lane closures say blurred the lines between government business and campaign politics

Matt Mowers spent more than five hours fielding questions about the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which was responsible for working with local officials, and the efforts of Christie’s reelection campaign to secure endorsements from local Democrats — a key part of the reelection strategy for the Republican governor. That office, known as IGA, has since been disbanded.

Mowers, who now is the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, is among a group of people who worked to secure endorsements from the same local officials they worked with in their state capacities. Mowers said, however, that he never sought endorsements in his role as a regional director of intergovernmental affairs. That work happened after hours, he said. Mowers, while employed by the state, spoke twice to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, the alleged target of the lane closures, about endorsing Christie.

In his opening statement before the Select Committee on Investigation, Mowers said that Sokolich, a Democrat, made clear to him last spring that the mayor would not endorse the governor. (Linhorst and Hayes/The Record) 







New Pipeline Proposal Draws Ire of Environmentalists in NJ and NY

Yet another pipeline proposal is mobilizing environmental organizations to oppose the measure — a project that would move crude oil and other refined products between Albany, NY, and Linden, NJ.

A coalition of more than three-dozen environmental groups said they are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to block the undertaking, which would require a series of environmental permits from both states to move forward.

Pilgrim Pipeline Holding LLC — the developer of the 178-mile-project — argued that an underground pipeline largely located along existing rights-of-ways would be a vast safety improvement over shipping petroleum products down the Hudson River to refineries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as is done now.

Pilgrim has yet to file any plan with regulators, nor detail precisely what areas the pipeline would traverse. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 





High-School Students Disrupt Newark School Advisory Board Meeting

The ongoing saga of Newark school reforms got a new twist last night, when nearly a dozen students blocked a meeting of the state-run district’s advisory board – and then wouldn’t leave.

The high school students – members of the increasingly vocal Newark Students Union – were holed up in the district’s downtown offices as of 10 o’clock last night, saying they would stay until their demands were met by state-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson.

“We will not move until we see justice,” the students chanted before sitting down in front of the board’s dais, prompting the board to adjourn after only a few minutes.

How soon that will happen is very uncertain, given that one of their demands is Anderson’s own resignation. But it certainly gave a new and youthful flavor to ongoing local protests and debates over the superintendent’s reform plans for the district.

A district spokeswoman said there were no plans by the district to remove the students.

The latest confrontation came out of what was a tepid street protest against Anderson’s “One Newark” reorganization of the district, which includes plans to close or consolidate schools, layoffs and reductions of about 300 staff positions, and a new universal enrollment system.  (Mooney/NJSpotlight) 







Christie Cuts N.J. Pension Payments to Close Budget Gaps

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’ll reverse course on promised pension contributions this year and next, cutting back to balance the budget after revenue fell short of his goals by as much as $875 million.

This year’s payment of $696 million will be less than half the $1.58 billion he announced, Christie told reporters in Trenton. For fiscal 2015, the 51-year-old Republican said he anticipates a $681 million payment, less than one-third of the record $2.25 billion he had proposed.

“Everybody got this wrong,” Christie said yesterday, referring to a drop in U.S. state income-tax collections after federal tax changes. “We did see it coming. We just didn’t see it coming to this extent.”

New Jersey has $2.6 billion of tax and revenue anticipation notes, known as TRAN, maturing on June 26, with a required set-aside of 75 percent on June 12, according to Moody’s Investors Service. As of May 6, the state had $2.2 billion in cash.

“We expect the current revenue shortfall will stress the state’s operational cash flow,” Baye Larsen, a Moody’s senior analyst, wrote yesterday in a report. “However, TRAN payment is supported by the executive authority to cut appropriations.”

Christie signed a law that bound him to make extra pension payments through 2018 after a decade of expanded benefits and missed payments left the system underfunded by $52 billion. With just six weeks left in the fiscal year, he said, he would cover only pension costs “accrued on our watch by active employees.” (Young and Dopp/Bloomberg) 





From the Back Room


Report: Governor to renominate Rabner

Gov. Chris Christie today will renominate Stuart Rabner as chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Read the full story here.

Report: Governor to renominate Rabner | Politicker NJ





Trenton mayor’s race: Jackson holding press conference tomorrow with prominent Mercer Dems 

Trenton mayoral candidate Eric Jackson will hold a press conference with several prominent Mercer County Democrats in attendance on Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the steps of the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse in Trenton. 

Among the prominent local Democrats expected to attend are Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, as well as several Mercer County Freeholders and other county officials. 

Jackson, the lead vote-getter in the May 13 Trenton municipal election, now faces a June 10 runoff against rival candidate Paul Perez. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Trenton mayor’s race: Jackson holding press conference tomorrow with prominent Mercer Dems | Politicker NJ








In Bayonne, Smith burnishes labor strength for runoff

Producer Ayana Stafford of Leopard Stripes Productions partnered with director Jamal Hall of Dynomyte Films to create the documentary in the hope that the film will help Newark residents choose the best candidate to move the city forward. Among the Newark residents to be interviewed for the film is PolitickerNJ. Heading for a June 10th runoff against challenger Jimmy Davis, Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith and his team today announced the endorsement of the Hudson County Building and Construction Trades Council, and issued a release of support from the business managers for member locals including: 

▪   ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS LOCAL 1, Business Manager – Lenny Legotte

▪   INT’L UNION of BRICKLAYERS and ALLIED CRAFTWORKERS – President – Kenneth Simone

▪   CARPENTERS LOCAL #253 – Council Representative – George Schreck

▪   TILE, MARBLE & TERRAZZO LOCAL 7 – President – Thomas Lane

▪   ROOFERS LOCAL 8 – Business Manager – Tom Pedrick

▪   PLUMBERS LOCAL 24 – Business Manager – Eric Boyce

▪   SHEET METAL WORKERS LOCAL 25 – Business Manager – Joe DeMark, Jr.

▪   BOILERMAKERS LOCAL 28 – Business Manager – James Chew

▪   OPCMIA – CEMENT MASONS LOCAL 29 – Business Manager – Marc Gallo


In Bayonne, Smith burnishes labor strength for runoff | Politicker NJ Morning Digest: May 21, 2014