Morning Digest: May 30, 2014

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SOMERSET – The clipboard and granny glasses greeting at the front gate of a sealed compound didn’t suggest that what lay within the brick building beyond would constitute anything other than a sanitized forum: senior citizen-dominant and sedate.

Each of the five CD12 candidates would have exactly two minutes to speak.

GOP competitor Dr. Alieta Eck sat up there at the front of the carpeted room with the four Democrats competing in Tuesday’s June 3rd Primary.    

“This has nothing to do with the Tea Party; they’re on their way out,” said plasma physicist Andrew Zwicker, gorged on the ads of the two Democratic Primary frontrunners, state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), who continue to target Republican Party extremism in this rundown to Tuesday.

Greenstein slapped back at the comment.  (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

CD12 debate: safety-first forum minimizes surprises heading toward Tuesday | Politicker NJ





CD 12 race: Watson Coleman campaign strategist: any Trenton power base invasion will be Greenstein’s Waterloo

TRENTON – James Gee, a longtime Trenton political player, is now embroiled in two soon-to-be concluded political battles that will shape city politics for years to come. 

In the June 3 Democratic primary in the Twelfth Congressional District, Trenton voters will close between state Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), who lives in neighboring Ewing, state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) and state Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17). The CD 12 struggle will arguably be the most closely-watched Congressional primary in New Jersey. 

The CD 12 candidates hope to succeed U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12), who announced in February that he would not seek re-election. The district is made up largely of municipalities in Mercer and Middlesex counties, Watson Coleman and Greenstein’s home bases respectively, and also some Somerset and Union County municipalities, including thhe potentially pivotal city of Plainfield. 

On June 10, Trenton voters will go to the polls again for the city’s mayoral runoff election, in which candidates Eric Jackson and Paul Perez will fight to decide who will run New Jersey’s capital city after neither man landed a knockout blow in the May 13 municipal election.   (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ) 








CD12 understory: Plainfield TV ad war at full tilt

Both sides are up on cable television in Plainfield in a local race that could have vote spike implications for the CD12 Democratic Primary contest.

The Column A ticket backed by Union County Democratic Chairman Jerry Green and algined with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) has a TV ad up and running right now.

So does the Column E team of New Democrats supported by Mayor Adrian Mapp and featuring incumbent Councilwoman Rebecca Williams.

See the first ad by the Jerry Green Team here.

Watch the second ad with the New Democrats here.  (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

CD12 understory: Plainfield TV ad war at full tilt | Politicker NJ







Christie staffers get hefty pay increases as other areas face cuts

Nearly all of the state employees responsible for helping Governor Christie craft and promote his image — from his press secretary to the staff that set up his town-hall events and put video clips of his appearances online — got raises in recent months that averaged 23 percent.

Some of those who received the biggest boosts temporarily left state government to work on Christie’s reelection campaign last year, then returned with new titles and higher salaries. A deputy press secretary in the governor’s office who earned $75,000 last year before he left to serve as press secretary for the campaign, for example, now makes $110,000 as a deputy communications director. (Hayes/The Record) 






NJ Superior Court finds day-care site’s former owners liable for $6M in mercury pollution case

In 2006, Kiddie Kollege, formerly a day care facility in Gloucester County, was shuttered after some children and staff were found with heightened levels of mercury — and  the site was found to be contaminated with the extremely toxic chemical element.

Prior to the area becoming a day care, it had been a thermometer factory. Current and former owners were recently found liable for about $6 million in cleanup costs and penalties, according to a recent ruling by Superior Court Judge Anne McDonnell.

When news of the contamination first broke and parents learned that about a third of the staffers and children had elevated levels of mercury in their bodies, it caused an uproar over how the state oversaw such potentially polluted sites. It resulted in a host of new environmental regulations involving day care centers.

“This is a very significant legal win for the people of New Jersey, and for our environment,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said in a release. “It is only fitting that the original polluters — as well as those who bought the property from them and leased it to others without doing their homework — are held accountable.”

Former owner Philip J. Giuliano, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, was assessed part of the about $2 million needed to clean up the site. In addition, Giuliano and the defunct thermometer company must pay an additional $4 million because they failed to comply with a clean-up order.  (Phillis/The Record)  






Four Jostle for Position in NJ’s Most-Watched Congressional Primary

In what may be New Jersey’s most competitive and closely watched congressional primary, two senior state lawmakers are locked in a fierce battle to become the only female in the Garden State’s congressional delegation, while two male scientists – one also a state lawmaker — try to do more than watch from the sidelines.

It’s the race for Central Jersey’s strongly Democratic 12th district, where both front runners are polling evenly, all four candidates label themselves as progressive, and the winner will almost certainly take the seat vacated by retiring eight-term U.S. Rep. Rush Holt. (Nurin/NJSpotlight) 







As Healthcare Paradigm Shifts, NJ Hospitals Face Uncertain Future

New Jersey hospitals are in a bind. Some of them may close in the next few years, experts say, unless they find a way to transform themselves into healthcare systems that focus on keeping patients healthy in an outpatient setting, while dealing with the reality that most revenue is still based on in-hospital services they provide.

Hospitals must have cash reserves and an operating margin of at least 3 percent or they may face a financial crisis, according to current and recent hospital executives.

“If you’re not in a system that has that financial foundation, I don’t know how you manage the next three to five years,” said Judith Persichilli, recently retired president of Catholic Health East-Trinity Health, a national hospital system.

The hospitals that survive this transition period will look very different from the hospitals of the recent past. They will have fewer beds, more links with primary-care and medical specialty providers, and more partnerships with other hospitals in which each hospital only provides specific services.

That was the verdict of a panel assembled yesterday by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in Ewing.  (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight) 






NJ, NY lawmakers to unveil Port Authority reform bill in Fort Lee today

FORT LEE — Lawmakers from New Jersey and New York will unveil a bill aimed to reform the Port Authority at a news conference this morning in Fort Lee — the site of last year’s controversial lane closings at the center of the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The bipartisan legislation addresses “open government, transparency, and accountability issues” at the bistate agency that oversees bridges and tunnels between the Garden and Empire states, according to a news release.

The agency has come under scrutiny in recent months over unannounced lane closings at the nation’s busiest bridge last September, causing days of heavy traffic in Fort Lee.

Democrats have accused members of Gov. Chris Christie’s office and inner circle of shutting the lanes because Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declined to endorse the Republican governor for re-election. Christie has denied any involvement.

A state legislative committee and federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey are investigating the matter. (Johnson/Star-Ledger) 






GMO labeling law advocates rally at Assemblyman Paul Moriarty’s office

A group of advocates from across the state brought a much-debated national issue to the doorstep of Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township) on Thursday, as they gathered at his Washington Township office to rally for a state law requiring companies to label any foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMO, ingredients.

The group of more than a dozen advocates from the New Brunswick-based organization New Jersey Food and Water Watch gathered to urge Moriarty to support the bill, currently sitting in the Assembly’s Consumer Affairs Committee.

Moriarty chairs the committee and his support is necessary for it to proceed. A similar bill made it out of Moriarty’s committee last year and passed through to the health and senior services committee, where it hit a roadblock and never made it to the full assembly for a vote.

The idea behind the legislation is consumer choice, said Jim Walsh, director of New Jersey Food and Water Watch.

“What they need to do is label genetically engineer food so people have a choice in what they want to eat,” said Walsh, of New Brunswick. (Caffrey/Star-Ledger) 





From the Back Room


A working thumbnail guide to Tuesday, June 3rd

Next Tuesday’s prime contests: 

CD3: The Carpetbagger War

Backed by the powerful Ocean and Burlington County Republican Party organizations, former Randolph Mayor Tom MacArthur is favored to defeat former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.

If you’re confused by the names of those towns and don’t associate them with the Third District, it’s because both MacArthur and Lonegan moved into CD3 to run for the seat U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) will leave vacant at the end of his current term.

CD12: The Democratic Party arrives in the 21st Century

Everybody’s favorite collection of national convention progressives reverts back to the male boss-dominant partygoers at the end of festivities in other states, which routinely give New Jersey Democrats a chance to pretend to be shocked, shocked by the regressive tendencies of places like, um, Alabama.

Now New Jersey Democrats, by putting either state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) or Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) in a position to win a general election in a majority Democrat district, can join Alabama and other so-called backwaters by having a woman in Congress.

A working thumbnail guide to Tuesday, June 3rd | Politicker NJ





Former Mayor Muti jumps into Ramsey race as an independent 

Former Ramsey mayor Richard Muti announced today that he is a candidate for mayor of Ramsey.

Muti plans to run as an independent.

Ramsey councilwoman Deirdre Dillon is the likely Republican Party nominee for mayor.

She is running unopposed in the June 3rd primary election, as is former councilwoman and freeholder Julie O’Brien in her bid for the Democratic Party nomination.

More than 200 Ramsey residents petitioned the Bergen County Clerk to place Muti on the November ballot.

Former Mayor Muti jumps into Ramsey race as an independent | Politicker NJ






There is a Republican Primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday

How badly does the Republican Party want to beat U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)?

Here’s a look at the competitors in Tuesday’s GOP Primary:

Back from Florida in a sequel to his failed 1978 bid for U.S. Senate, Jeff Bell has $4,000 cash on hand.

Concrete businessman Brian Goldberg has $1,600 cash on hand.

(He’s the candidate with the most Republican county organization lines and apparently the goodwill of the party).

Monmouth County Businessman Richard Pezzullo didn’t file a report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Ramapo Prof. Murray Sabrin has $42,714 cash-on-hand.

Running for re-election to the seat he won last year in a special election, Booker has $3 million cash-on-hand.

There is a Republican Primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday | Politicker NJ


Morning Digest: May 30, 2014