PolitickerNJ News Digest: August 6th

It’s Thursday morning, and everyone involved in New Jersey politics is wondering how the Chris Christie will do in tonight’s GOP debate – but that didn’t stop NJ politics as usual on Wednesday, including some who took the opportunity to land a few pre-debate blows on the governor.
Congressman Scott Garrett must go
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ5) is an embarrassment to his party, and he’s an embarrassment to the conservative ideals on which he’s based his political career. And now it turns out, he is also a hypocrite. While Mr. Garrett has refused to pay required dues to a party organization because it backs gay candidates, yet he accepted contributions from groups and individuals who have made equality for gays and lesbians their life’s work.
(Brigid Callahan Harrison, Politickernj)
NJEA: Pension vote sank endorsement for Brown
The political action committee of the New Jersey Education Association officially endorsed Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-2) and Atlantic County Freeholder Colin Bell on Tuesday for the upcoming 2015 assembly race. The NJEA had endorsed Mazzeo’s opponent Assemblyman Chris
Brown (R-2) in 2013, but NJEA Director of Government Relations Ginger Gold Schnitzer said that district employees’ imperiled pension fund was their first priority.
(JT Aregood, Politickernj)
Using drones for opposition research
The first New Jersey company with a permit to own a drone might find a market in political campaigns.
(Donald Scarinci, Politickernj)
Special interests lead to failure of North Plainfield smoking bill
North Plainfield Councilman Doug Singleterry says that special interest lobbying was the driving force behind a proposed anti-smoking bill’s death during its second reading at the city council. The measure to raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes had 4-2 support at first, but Singleterry says that pressure from tobacco lobbyists could have been the deciding factor. Similar bills have been shot down in Paramus and Edgewater.
(JT Aregood, Politickernj)
Maintenance of Way Employees support of Lesniak for guv
The membership of the Pennsylvania Federation Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Wednesday presented a resolution in support of state Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20) for governor in 2017.
(Max Pizarro, Politickernj)
Pre-Cleveland: Emerging Kasich, meteoric Trump, falling Christie, entrenching Jeb
The attention of the political world is focused on the Republican Fox presidential debate in Cleveland on Thursday night, August 6. Its significance may be overrated, however. With each of the ten candidates having no more than ten minutes of speaking time, it’s unlikely that any of the candidates will achieve a significant breakout – unless one of the major candidates makes a momentous gaffe.
(Alan Steinberg, Politickernj)
Genova Burns Hires Insurance Law Expert Megna
With the acquisition of William F. Megna, law firm Genova Burns has established a specialized Insurance Law Practice Group.  This group will handle insurance company formation and governance, including captive insurers, risk retention groups, MEWAs and other related strategies.
(Politicker Staff, Politickernj)
Who are the right candidates for the LD 38 Assembly seats?
Senate President Steve Sweeney told PolitickerNJ Wednesday that he “absolutely supports” Assemblymen Joe Lagana and Tim Eustace as they seek reelection in Bergen County’s 38th Legislative District.
(Alyana Alfaro, Politickernj)
LD 22 candidate talks Garrett, gays and the NJ GOP
U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) continues to draw fire from Democrats and Republicans across New Jersey for refusing to contribute to the National Republican Campaign Committee because of their refusal to turn away gay candidates. Garrett is pleading religious liberty, but some are calling for him to return funds he has accepted from pro-LGBT companies for his reelection campaign.
(JT Aregood, Politickernj)
That other famous plane at a big event
That labor plane hovering above Gov. Chris Christie’s fundraiser Tuesday night reminded PolitickerNJ of another plane on another big day in the life of another New Jersey politician, who in this case also happens to be close to Christie.
(Max Pizarro, Politickernj)
Hoboken Ward 4 race: Six questions for Ruben Ramos
Ruben Ramos is a former Assemblyman from Hudson County (D-33). After a 2011 disagreement with Governor Chris Christie regarding pensions led to state Senator Brian Stack’s 2013 removal Ramos from the Assembly position he had held since 2008, Ramos entered the 2013 Hoboken mayoral race where he faced Dawn Zimmer. Though he lost the mayoral race, Ramos says he is confident that his history in Hoboken’s 4th Ward make him the right candidate to represent the neighborhood on Hoboken’s City Council.
(Alyana Alfaro, Politickernj)
Will debate open door to Bridgegate swipes?
Now that Gov. Chris Christie’s place is assured in the Fox News prime time debate Thursday, his latest challenge will be to stand out on the crowded stage — and for the right reasons.
(Susan K. Livio, NJ.com)
You can scream now — new tax bills are out
Homeowners got an unexpected shock this week as new property tax bills hit them in their wallets.
The pain is palpable. The tax on the average home in the state last year was $8,161 — the highest in the nation. And the cost was more in Monmouth County, where the average was $8,448. Ocean County fared better at $5,719. Even if all the tax bills hold at a 2 percent increase this year, that’s an average boost of $160 per household. But as with averages, there are highs and lows, and some could be facing jumps in the hundreds of dollars — hardly welcomed news in a state economy where wages are stagnating or even going backwards.
(Press Staff Reports, Asbury Park Press)
Jimmy Fallon disses Chris Christie
Jimmy Fallon isn’t known for his political jokes, but the Tonight Show host waded into those waters on Tuesday night, skewering the Republican presidential candidates in the lead-up to the party’s first debate. Fallon weighed the pros and cons of watching the debate, including this dig at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
(Entertainment Weekly)
Teacher to Chris Christie: Here’s my face. Go ahead and punch it.
Anybody who has followed the career of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie knows that he has an anger management issue when it comes to teachers and their unions. The antipathy was evident on Sunday, when he was asked by CNN host Jake Tapper who deserves to be punched in the face. Christie responded, “Oh, the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.”
(Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post)
Former Justice: NJ Supreme Court will have to make decision on pension COLAs
That pension reform law Gov. Chris Christie signed in 2011 is headed back to state Supreme Court — this time over a freeze on pensioners’ yearly cost of living adjustments (COLAs). Last year, an Appellate Division ruled that COLAs are a contractual right. If the state Supreme Court agrees, it could add more than $1 billion to what pensioners are owed, at a time when the state pension funds are already facing $40 billion in unfunded liabilities and may run dry within a decade. Former State Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that COLAs are an adjustment to someone’s base pension and that it can be increased depending on inflation or other factors.
5 pitfalls for Chris Christie to avoid in the 2016 presidential debates
Gov. Chris Christie, down in opinion polls, is counting on the upcoming debates as a way to distinguish himself from the other 16 Republican presidential candidates. Depending on how he does in the debates, Christie can impress that audience and boost his chances. Or he can make a mistake that could cost him any chance of winning the nomination.
(Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com)
Bill Clinton encouraged Trump to ‘play a larger role’ in GOP, report says
Former President Bill Clinton stoked Donald Trump’s interest in Republican politics as the real estate tycoon considered whether to seek the GOP nomination for president, according to a report by the Washington Post.
(Samantha Marcus, NJ.com)
Menendez pushes measure to protect student loan borrowers
After Christopher Bryski, a Rutgers University student from Marlton, passed away after two years in a coma, his parents received another shock: His student loan was in default and they had to pay it off immediately. Under federal law, lenders can immediately collect if a loan co-signer dies.
(Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com)
Saddle Brook shelves reworked anti-nepotism measure amid differing views
It quickly became clear this week that a reworked anti-nepotism ordinance would have no chance of passing the Township Council, some of whose members campaigned last year on passing such a bill.
(John Seasly, The Record)
N.J. sports authority OKs Teterboro ‘restaurant row’ plans
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s board on Wednesday granted permission for the developer of the Teterboro Landing shopping center to build eight fast-food restaurants — including two with drive-through lanes — at the $100 million complex off Route 46 a spokesman for the agency said.
(Nicholas Pugliese, The Record)
Court to Sandy plaintiffs: Get moving or get lost
Silence is not an option for superstorm Sandy victims who are suing their flood insurance providers for underpayment.
(Russ Zimmer, Asbury Park Press)
Christie takes some pre-debate blows
As Gov. Chris Christie geared up for Thursday’s prime-time candidates’ debate on Fox News, there was a stark reminder his candidacy faces an uphill climb even among New Jersey voters
(Christi Peace, Asbury Park Press)
NJ expands program for kids with mental health issues
Imagine your kid’s not behaving like other students. Your child yells and fights and bites. The teacher’s at wit’s end, but you’ve been waiting weeks to see the child psychiatrist.
(Brenda Flanagan, NJTVnews.com)
Teachers demand Christie apologize for face-punching comment
Teachers are fighting back after Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said Sunday that their unions deserve a punch in the face.
(Rebecca Klein, The Huffington Post)
PolitickerNJ News Digest: August 6th