Morning Digest: June 6, 2014

Battleground Bayonne: Smith releases latest TV ad in runoff campaign against Davis

BAYONNE – The campaign of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith released the latest TV ad of his runoff campaign effort against his rival, Bayonne Police Capt. Jimmy Davis, on Thursday. 

The spot, entitled “Taxpayers Lose,” claims that Davis cut a political deal with the Bayonne teacher’s union president to give them a 18 percent pay raise that will result in thousands of dollars in increased property taxes. The ad also asserts Davis also has a plan to build a huge amphitheater on Broadway that could cost over $10 million dollars to tax payers.

Smith is battling to beat back a surging Davis following the May 13 Bayonne municipal elections, which left Smith barely ahead of Davis by a 49 percent to 47 percent margin and precipitated the June 10 runoff, just five days away.   (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Battleground Bayonne: Smith releases latest TV ad in runoff campaign against Davis | Politicker NJ







Battleground Bayonne: Smith campaign accuses Davis worker of voter fraud in alleged nail salon incident 

BAYONNE – The re-election campaign of Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith is accusing a campaign worker for runoff rival candidate, police Capt. Jimmy Davis, of having recently committed voter fraud. 

A copy of a signed and notarized witness statement provided to by the Smith campaign outlines the alleged incident. 

“On Monday, May 19, 2014 I was getting a pedicure at Aphrodite Nails, a newly opened nail salon at 444 Broadway on the corner of 21st St.,” the letter, written by reported witness Patricia Kraszyk, reads. 

“As I was sitting in the chair, a woman wearing a Davis for Mayor campaign shirt came into the salon and handed the owner a slip of paper.  She said, “here  you go, you are all set.”  The owner, whom I know as Sarah Moon replied, but I couldn’t hear what she said.  The campaign worker responded, “No, that’s all you need. You can vote.” and left the salon.  (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Battleground Bayonne: Smith campaign accuses Davis worker of voter fraud in alleged nail salon incident | Politicker NJ







Obamacare Impacts NJ’s Health Insurance Rate – Mostly For the Better

New Jersey has long had some of the most-expensive health-insurance premiums in the nation, in large part because its consumer-friendly laws require insurers to offer coverage to anyone regardless of their health history and mandate a wide range of benefits.

Under the Affordable Care Act, however, similar rules are now in place for the entire country. As a result, rates for individual insurance nationwide are beginning to rise faster in some other states than they are here, though New Jersey still ranks among the most expensive.

The situation is made more complex by another aspect of the ACA — the subsidies available to lower- and middle-income consumers.

In a sense, premiums in New Jersey have become bifurcated, with very low effective rates for those who qualify for subsidies and persistently high rates for other state residents who buy individual insurance.

For people with incomes close to the federal poverty line, the amount enrollees actually pay out monthly has dropped to as little as $20 or $30 after subsidies are counted. Those amounts are sharply lower than what they would have paid for almost any insurance policy before the ACA became law.  (Rinde/NJSpotlight) 








End-of-Life Choices Form Pushed as Alternative to Assisted-Suicide Bill 

As state legislators wrestle with whether to approve a bill allowing physician-assisted suicide, the state’s largest doctors’ group is touting a new form guiding end-of-life medical decisions as an alternative.

The Medical Society of New Jersey said yesterday that the Practitioner’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form should be given more time to be adopted by doctors, hospitals and nursing homes before the Legislature considers assisted-suicide bill.

While the medical society has long opposed assisted suicide, representatives yesterday emphasized that the options available to patients through the POLST were a better alternative than what is spelled out in a proposed bill.

Legislative action regarding end-of-life decisions is occurring more quickly than the medical society would prefer.  (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight) 






NJ Transit, lawmakers hear about PA terminal

Over the years, they have vented to family, co-workers and seat-mates about the arduous evening commute out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan that seemed to be getting worse. And on social media, they discovered there were others just like them – fellow NJ Transit commuters on the verge of revolt over hourlong waits with seemingly little explanation from on-site representatives at the terminal.

Now those bus commuters have gotten the attention of NJ Transit officials – and state legislators. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson will hold a public hearing on Port Authority Bus Terminal conditions on June 11 at the Richard Rodda Community Center, 250 Colonial Court, Teaneck.

The hearing is from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Rouse/The Record) 






New exhibit highlights N.J. unit’s bravery at Normandy and beyond

Seventy years ago, after American military might secured a beachhead in Normandy, France, U.S. troops faced a long, bloody struggle against Nazi Germany — and North Jersey ingenuity and initiative helped them get down that road to victory.

On June 6, 1944 — D-Day — as infantry battled through Omaha Beach’s defenses, units of the 102nd Cavalry Group of the New Jersey National Guard floated in an LST-16 just offshore, out of the range of German guns and waiting for its opportunity to enter the fray.

In the days to come, one sergeant from Cranford aboard that landing craft would come up with a breakthrough solution to battlefield conditions bogging down the second phase of fighting in Normandy. And a captain from Cliffside Park would be the first American soldier to enter liberated Paris.

An exhibition at the New Jersey National Guard Militia Museum at the Guard’s Training Center in Sea Girt opens today to honor the state’s troops who fought from Normandy into Germany and Czechoslovakia until the European war’s end in May 1945.

The exhibition runs through October, with the museum open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. all week, and features weapons, uniforms other artifacts and primary documents related to the 102nd in Europe.  (McGrath/The Record) 






Christie’s chief of staff may soon be considered for NJ attorney general

TRENTON — Kevin O’Dowd, Gov. Chris Christie’s chief of staff, may finally be considered for the job as New Jersey’s next attorney general depending on the outcome of his testimony Monday before the state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal, a top state lawmaker said today.

Christie announced in December that he was nominating O’Dowd to become the state’s top law enforcement official.

But about a month later, e-mails were released that appeared to link Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, to last September’s controversial lane closings at the nation’s busiest bridge in Fort Lee.

O’Dowd supervised Kelly, whom Christie fired Jan. 9. O’Dowd’s nomination was then put on hold.

Earlier this week, the legislative committee looking into the scandal subpoenaed O’Dowd to appear at a hearing Monday at 10:30 a.m.  (Johnson/Star-Ledger)






Showdown in the courts: State Police troopers challenge Christie’s pension cuts

TRENTON — A state judge will decide whether Gov. Chris Christie can save his ailing budgets by taking $2.4 billion meant for public-workers’ pensions — and the case will go down to the wire, with a ruling expected just days before the deadline to enact a spending plan.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson on Thursday agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by State Police troopers, who are decrying Christie’s proposal to reduce payments as an illegal “pension holiday” and charging that the governor “intends to rob Peter to pay Paul.”

With less than a month left to sew up New Jersey’s budget, Jacobson’s decision — which may wind up in the state Supreme Court — could upend Christie’s plans as well as the high-stakes budget negotiations going on in the Statehouse. A hearing will be held June 25 in Trenton, Jacobson said, five days before Christie’s deadline to sign a new budget.

If the courts rule against Christie, the Republican governor and state lawmakers would have to find the $2.4 billion somewhere else on short notice — a tough task considering the state’s checkbook is tapped out. New Jersey’s pension system, on the other hand, would get a two-year cash infusion of $3.8 billion instead of the $1.38 billion Christie is proposing. The retirement system is nearly $50 billion underwater, and the more money that goes into it every year, the quicker it can regain its financial footing.

Christie’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, declined to take questions about the case or about ongoing negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Legislature. “We will address the claims in court as necessary,” he said Thursday.  (Rizzo/Star-Ledger) 




From the Back Room



Christie’s Ralph Reed Road to Majority

Chris Christie will court a huge Christian conservative audience later this month as a headline speaker at the annual “Road to Majority” conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, chaired by Ralph Reed.

Christie will speak on Friday, June 20 — the middle day of the three-day conference, which is expected to draw 1,500 to 2,000 evangelicals to the Omni Shoreham. The group is drawing a huge array of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, including House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

A longtime Republican strategist described Christie’s appearance as “a sign … that he’s serious about seeking the nomination in 2016, and that he’s not going to concede evangelical or pro-family voters to others. He’s doing to make a serious run at those voters, and he’s going to have a story to tell. And if he does so with a smart strategy, he’ll get his fair share of that vote.”

Christie’s Ralph Reed Road to Majority | Politicker NJ











Battling the foreclosure crisis in NJ, one way or another

The politics in Essex County have changed dramatically in recent weeks. The widely celebrated election of Ras Baraka as mayor of Newark is a clear signal that progressive ideals will lead in Newark. Overshadowed by Baraka’s victory were the election results in the neighboring township of Irvington where Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo’s political machine will assume the mayor’s office and the majority of seats on the Town Council.

While the official transitions of power is still underway, there were important actions from both the Newark and Irvington councils that foreshadow what the elections will mean for working-class people generally and for home­own­ers in particular.

On May 20, the Newark Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing the mayor’s office to begin the process of crafting and implementing a local principal reduction program aimed at keeping families facing foreclosure in their homes. The plan would ultimately use a process known as “reverse eminent domain” to purchase the most toxic mortgages from investors at fair-market value, allowing the city to repackage those mortgages at rates that would allow working families to afford their homes and avoid foreclosure.

This unanimous action by the Newark Council came on the heels of a new report, “Underwater America,” that finds Newark has the second-highest rate of underwater mortgages in the country. Underwater mortgages — where home­own­ers owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth — are an undisputed precursor to foreclosure.  (Star-Ledger Guest Columnist)   Morning Digest: June 6, 2014