Morning Digest: May 22, 2014

Featured Race: CD 12

TRENTON – In CD 12 it’s as simple as GOTV.

Get out the vote.


Candidates vying for the opportunity to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) are duking it out in a closely-watched Democratic primary. The race produced two clear frontrunners: State Sen. Linda Greenstein and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman.

As with any political race, GOTV reigns supreme. However, with polls indicating the top two candidates are running neck-and-neck and a primary win all but clearing the way for the victor moving on to replace Holt in the left-leaning district, congressional hopefuls will need to move their respective bases to the ballot boxes on June 3.

It’s a question of numbers. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

Featured Race: CD 12 | Politicker NJ





The Bayonne Election: from Jersey City to Hoboken to Newark, a brief recent history of runoffs

Flip a coin, the insider told PolitickerNJ when asked for his opinion on the Bayonne mayor’s race.

“But there’s blood in the water,” he added grumpily, a reference to incumbent Mayor Mark Smith, who wants to fend off challenger Jimmy Davis in the June 10th runoff.

Below is a look at some other better known runoff elections and the eventual outcomes…

In 1989, running to regain the seat he lost to Anthony Cucci in 1985, Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann looked beatable heading into a runoff election against challenger Glenn Cunningham. Cucci was the odd man out. But McCann got the edge on Cunningham in the mad race for endorsements, and on Election Day received 30,169 votes to 24,249 for Cunningham.

In 1997, incumbent Mayor Bret Schundler of Jersey City survived a three way contest and made it into the runoff against challenger Jerry Healy, a local judge. Amid blood-in-the-water rumbling, Schundler defeated Healy convincingly in their head-to-head. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

The Bayonne Election: from Jersey City to Hoboken to Newark, a brief recent history of runoffs | Politicker NJ







Protestors, politicians, labor lash out at Christie, call for millionaires tax

TRENTON – More than one hundred protestors gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday to declare their opposition to Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to take $2.43 billion meant for public workers’ pensions to close the state’s $800 million budget gap over two years. 

Christie declared on Tuesday that to deal with the crisis “directly,” he wants to reduce a $1.6 billion pension payment the state was scheduled to make before June 30 to $696 million by executive order and slash a $2.25 billion payment that was set for next year to $681 million, a move that the governor will seek approval for from the Democratic-controlled Legislature. Christie did not immediately offer any other alternatives to shore up the state’s fiscal shortfall.

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) set the tone at Thursday’s rally regarding Christie’s chances to get legislative approval for his plan, as well as one notable alternative.

“There’s not a spending problem in this state, there’s a revenue problem,” Sweeney said. “I don’t believe in class warfare, but I don’t believe in the middle class and the working poor being constantly the ones that have to bear the burden here. There’s one group of people paying much less and doing much better, and that’s the wealthy. What we’re asking them to do is chip in and be part of this.  (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Protestors, politicians, labor lash out at Christie, call for millionaires tax | Politicker NJ






Christie to visit boardwalks to promote tourism

BELMAR, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will spend the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend on the boardwalk promoting the summer tourism season.

Christie is scheduled to make stops in Belmar, Asbury Park and Seaside Heights.

It’s the second tourism season since Superstorm Sandy. Seaside suffered an added blow when fire destroyed a large part of the rebuilt boardwalk in September.

Sandy and a rainy start were blamed for a sluggish tourism season last year, with some beachfront business owners in Monmouth and Ocean counties telling The Associated Press that sales had fallen by 30 percent in the summer of 2013.

Many complained the state’s “Stronger than the Storm” campaign came too late to help. That has been replaced by the slogan “Going Strong.   







N.J. has its fewest uninsured residents since 1990, health survey finds

The number of people without health insurance in New Jersey has fallen to its lowest level since 1990, dropping more than a third even before the late March surge in insurance sign-ups, according to a report released on Thursday.

An estimated 430,000 people in New Jersey gained coverage from October through March, said the report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.

The survey involved adults younger than 65 — those who purchased coverage on the federal insurance marketplace or directly from an insurance company, as well as those who obtained Medicaid coverage through a county welfare office or via the state’s online application. It was based on a small sample of the population.

Previous federal data — showing that under the Affordable Care Act, more than 151,000 New Jersey residents signed up for health plans and an additional 98,000 enrolled in Medicaid by March 31 — referred only to those who obtained coverage through, the federal website. It was an exact count.

“We know there was a lot less investment in outreach and public education in New Jersey than in other places, like New York,” said Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center and an author of the report. “They probably had $10 invested for every $1 in New Jersey. But we did about as well as New York in terms of the percentage of uninsured who got coverage.”

The number of New Jersey residents who gained coverage by the end of the Affordable Care Act’s first enrollment period on April 1 probably exceeds 430,000 because the survey was completed March 6.

“These findings suggest that uninsurance in New Jersey is at its lowest level since 1990,” the study authors said. (Washburn/The Record) 








Jersey Shore Poised for Its Second Summer Season Since Hurricane Sandy  

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the all-important summer tourism season at the Jersey Shore, an area that’s still rebuilding after Sandy. The popular narrative from political leaders last summer — and again this summer — is that the Shore is “open for business.” But a closer look reveals a more complicated and uneven picture.

Despite a recent Christie administration study that found tourism during 2013 had broken previous revenue records, data and anecdotal reports suggest the tourism industry’s successes were mixed last year. While some areas fared relatively well, many other were not able to match the results of earlier years.

In the nine counties most damaged by Sandy, one-third had small drops in what tourists spent on things like lodging, food, and transportation. But the other two-thirds of counties saw modest gains, perhaps due in part to spending by out-of-state recovery workers.

“We actually saw some increase last year, particularly early in the year, in hotel revenue due to FEMA, Red Cross, and construction officials coming down,” said Brian Tyrrell, a professor of hospitality and tourism management at Richard Stockton College in Atlantic County.

The gains were also far from uniform. For example, in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, Tyrrell said lodging revenue was down 18 percent from the previous year. And that doesn’t include weekly or seasonal rentals, which are popular with tourists. (Gurian, Sumuelson and Babin/NJSpotlight) 






State Launches Probe into Business Practice of Third-Party Power Suppliers

The state is launching an investigation into whether power companies luring customers away from their incumbent utilities used misleading advertising, marketing, and contracting practices.

The probe, undertaken after a memorandum of understanding reached between the state Board of Public Utilities and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, reflects the fact that there’s been a tenfold increase in complaints from customers about unexpected spikes in their electricity bills.

The investigation follows a brutally cold winter for many customers who switched from their incumbent electric utilities to so-called third-party suppliers, who promised them cheaper bills. Those savings quickly disappeared when prices for natural gas, which sets the market for electricity costs, skyrocketed.

As a result, customer bills soared, in most cases because the suppliers had not locked in prices for natural gas, which led them to pass those increases on to their customers. In some cases, customers were unaware of that possibility, thinking they were guaranteed the discounts offered by the suppliers.

The issue is a concern to both the state regulators and the trade group representing alternative energy suppliers. Each fears the controversy will discourage consumers from shopping for new electricity supplies in the future. Since the state deregulated the energy sector in 1999, few residential customers bothered to switch providers until natural gas prices fell, allowing third-party suppliers to undercut utility prices.

“Numerous customers alleged behavior by certain Third Party Suppliers that if corrobated would at best be considered dishonest and/or misleading,’’ said BPU President Diane Solomon. She vowed to hold suppliers accountable if they run afoul of the agency’s regulations or consumer standards.

That vow found support from the Retail Energy Supply Association, a trade organization that represents many third-party suppliers.

“Consumer trust is integral to the success of any market and must be protected through effective regulation and strong enforcement,’’ said Stephen Bennett, New Jersey chairman of the group. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 








‘Sandy Bill of Rights’: Sweeney pushes for override of Christie’s conditional veto

MANASQUAN — Standing on the porch of an uninhabitable, Hurricane Sandy-damaged home in Manasquan today, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would lead an effort to override Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of legislation aimed at addressing concerns raised about the state’s distribution of recovery aid.

Christie last week rejected the “Sandy Bill of Rights,” saying it included “partisan political findings” and mandates that would be impossible to implement. Sweeney today dismissed that characterization. He said Christie doesn’t want to acknowledge mistakes his administration has made in the recovery effort.

“The governor doesn’t want to listen that they failed when it came to the cleanup,” Sweeney said. “I would rather be standing here with this house being finished, saying what a great job we’ve done.

“But unfortunately that’s not the case,” he said.

Sweeney (D-Gloucester) toured the state earlier this year to push for the legislation, which cleared the Democratic-controlled state Legislature with support from Republicans. The bill passed 34-0 in the Senate and 72-0 in the Assembly.

Those margins would be more than enough to override the governor’s veto, a move that requires 27 votes in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly. But Republican lawmakers have previously been reluctant to challenge the governor in such votes. (O’Neill/Star-Ledger) 








Jersey City files $400M lawsuit against Port Authority, alleging unpaid taxes

Jersey City today filed a $400 million lawsuit against the Port Authority, alleging the bi-state agency owes back taxes on the dozens of properties it owns citywide.

Mayor Steve Fulop revealed to The Jersey Journal six months ago that he planned to file the suit, and in a statement issued by his spokeswoman today, he said the city “will not be bullied or pushed around” by the Port Authority.

Months negotiation between the Port Authority and the city have been unsuccessful, according to Fulop.

The city also intends to pursue legal action to block the Port Authority’s planned $118 million waste transfer station at Greenville Yards on the city’s southern end.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court, will “ensure Jersey City receives its fair share in taxes from the Port Authority,” Fulop said in the statement.

The bi-state agency owns 40 city properties, but pays “no real-estate taxes on any of them,” the city’s complaint reads. If the Port Authority paid traditional taxes, the city would gain $18 million annually, according to the complaint.

“While the Port Authority has benefited handsomely from its acquisition and ownership of properties in the city, the city has suffered an undue loss of taxes,” the 62-page complaint reads.  (McDonald/Star-Ledger) 







From the Back Room


JC sues the Port Authority

Jersey City today filed a $400 million lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, seeking compensation for allegedly unpaid taxes.

See the story here.

JC sues the Port Authority | Politicker NJ





Schaer raises $101K in one night

Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-36), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, hauled in $101,000 Tuesday night at a fundraiser at Graycliff in Moonachie.

Those in attendance included Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie, Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-36), Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-20) and a slew of Passaic and Bergen county local elected officials.

Schaer raises $101K in one night | Politicker NJ


  Morning Digest: May 22, 2014