From Chivukula to Mukherji: South Asians make their play in NJ politics
EDISON – Upendra Chivukula’s historic 2001 victory catapulted him to the forefront of his community and into the conversation of Central Jersey politics, where for the next 13 years he would serve as New Jersey’s only South Asian in the Statehouse before unsuccessfully attempting to become the state’s first South Asian Congressperson.
Chivukula’s last run revealed South Asian trend lines stretching into the next generation of New Jersey politicians, including fundraising ability (the $416,000 Chivukula raised for his last congressional campaign between 01/2013 and 11/2014 included over 80% itemized contributions from mostly South Asian donors); and the capacity of South Asians to reach across old country divisions, turn out in an off year and expand the electorate (in the Chivukula campaign’s case among approximately 10,000 unlikely Indian and South Asian voters put him within striking distance of second place). (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
MacArthur calls for FEMA administrator’s resignation
U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3), the newest member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, had some harsh words for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its administrator, W. Craig Fugate, this afternoon.
The Republican wants an “immediate investigation” into the agency over allegations that it knew of fraudulent practices used to deny full insurance payouts to victims of Hurricane Sandy — as well as Fugate’s head. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)
LD 22 turmoil: question of who succeeds Stender remains murky
The question of who will take the spot of state Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) is still uncertain as supporters of the two prime potential Stender successors continue to campaign for their candidate in the midst of a murky situation.
Stender has faced intense scrutiny recently stemming from her husband seeking help from the non-profit group Habitat for Humanity in rebuilding a nearly half a million dollar shore home badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)
Former governors pen letter urging senate to block controversial Pinelands Commission nominee
TRENTON — Four former New Jersey governors are urging the leadership in the state senate to block the confirmation of a controversial nomination to South Jersey’s Pinelands Commission, siding with environmentalists and conservationists who argue the appointment could undermine the independence of the 15-member board.
In a letter addressed to state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), a ranking Democrat in the senate and member of the house’s Judiciary Committee, governors going back six administrations — from Democrats Brendan Byrne and James Florio to Republicans Thomas Kean and Christine Todd Whitman — asked the senate to withhold confirmation of the pending nomination of Robert Barr to the commission when it hits the floor in the coming weeks. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)
Lesniak says he’ll explore ‘each and every’ challenge to Christie’s Exxon Mobile settlement
TRENTON — Incensed by the governor’s recent settlement with Exxon Mobile over a series of ten-year-old environmental damage lawsuits, a Democratic state senator in Trenton says he’s prepared to pursue “each and every” option for challenging the move, including filing a public comment in opposition to the settlement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and, if necessary, an appeal to the Appellate Division.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20), an outspoken critic of Gov. Chris Christie and potential gubernatorial candidate in 2017, called the settlement “grossly inadequate” and criticized the Republican for letting the company off the hook. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)
FDU Poll: Christie job approval 34%
Gov. Chris Christie faces his his lowest approval rating since taking office, and similar numbers reflect a belief among New Jerseyans that the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to this morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Obama approval rating 44%, says FDU Poll
Although President Barack Obama has struggled for months with approval ratings in New Jersey, he is experiencing a slight bounce, according to his morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll.
While not back to where they were when he began his second term, Obama is pulling about as many supporters as detractors now. Forty-four percent approve and 41% disapprove of the president, unchanged numbers from January, and up slightly from last fall. Obama is doing particularly well among the millennials (59%) and non-whites (67%), two groups he depended heavily on for support in both of his elections. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Chris Christie to donors: I did well at CPAC
Chris Christie boasted to supporters Monday that he beat expectations at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference — an event in which he faced a barrage of tough questions from radio host Laura Ingraham.
In a private conference call with financial backers of his Leadership Matters for America political action committee, the New Jersey governor crowed about the reception he received from the confab’s libertarian-heavy audience. In the weeks and months leading up to the event, many on the right had called into question Christie’s conservative credentials; in 2013, Christie wasn’t even invited to CPAC. (Isenstadt/Politico)
More New Jersey Students Opt Out of Tests
As New Jersey schools began administering new online state exams on Monday, a few affluent communities reported large numbers of students opting out.
In Livingston, the suburb where Gov. Chris Christie grew up, school officials said about 1,100 students declined to take the tests, more than a quarter required to take them.
In Princeton, more than half of the high-school students who are scheduled to take them in coming days said they wouldn’t.
These districts appeared to be among the biggest pockets of resistance to the tests aligned with the Common Core, a set of expectations adopted by most states that spell out what skills children should master in each grade. (Brody/Wall Street Journal)
New York Sponsor of Port Authority Reform Bill Rejects a New Jersey Compromise
ALBANY — A legislative sponsor of an effort to overhaul the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Monday that a possible compromise bill suggested by a leading New Jersey Republican would not be acceptable in New York, all but dooming its chances as currently imagined.
The sponsor, Assemblyman James F. Brennan, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said that the compromise bill, proposed by Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., did not include several elements that he felt were necessary, including independent oversight of large capital projects, requirements to disclose the compensation of top officers and an obligation on the part of the chief executive to certify that financial statements are “true and accurate.” (McKinley/The New York Times)
NJ ends terrapin harvest to protect turtle population
STAFFORD TOWNSHIP – New Jersey has ended this year’s harvest season for a species of brackish water turtle whose numbers are declining due to overharvesting for Asian markets, where they are a popular food.
The Environmental Protection Department issued an order Monday banning any further harvesting this year of northern diamondback terrapins, the only turtle species living in the brackish waters of the state’s coastal marshes and estuaries.
The state is also studying ways to protect the turtles’ population. (Associated Press)
Exxon settlement angers environmentalists, lawyers
People who grew up in the area remember the smell, mostly — the pungent miasma of petroleum laced with chemicals drifting from the former Exxon Bayway Refinery complex. (Flanagan/NJTV)
Bergen County Executive Tedesco seeks OK to create new deputy job
Bergen County Executive James Tedesco has asked the freeholders to approve a new position of deputy county administrator as part of his executive team. (Ensslin/The Bergen Record)
Bob Menendez says Obama must be tougher on Iran
Appearing the night before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a controversial speech to Congress that some Democrats will boycott, Sen. Bob Menendez told a pro-Israel group Monday that the Obama administration needs to get tougher in nuclear talks with Iran. (Jackson/The Bergen Record)
Journalist goes to court seeking $800k in bills for Christie travel
A reporter with a state public affairs news site is suing to obtain records detailing $800,000 in travel-related expenses incurred by Gov. Chris Christie’s State Police security unit.(Milo/NJ.com)