NJ Politicker Digest: Weekend Bomb Blasts Overshadow Start of Bridgegate Trial

It’s Monday, and all eyes are on Seaside Heights and New York City, where a pair of bomb blasts over the weekend have everyone worrying about the specter of terrorism.
The blasts have all but overshadowed today’s scheduled start of the Bridgegate trial, with political watchers anxious to see if testimony implicates Gov. Chris Christie or others in his administration who have not yet been charged.
The Associated Press is reporting on how pharmaceutical companies are working to weaken measures aimed at curbing the opiod epidemic wracking out state, and the Asbury Park Press takes a look at one Assembly leader who has let bills aimed at curbing abuse die without action, and how much he has received in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies.
Read about all that, and Gov. Christie’s weekend efforts to defend Donald Trump, in our news roundup.

Quote of the Day: I don’t think you have to defer when saying there was an explosion in the bomb in New York. I mean, everybody knew that, and it was being reported on television, so there’s a difference,” – Gov. Chris Christie, defending Donald Trump’s comments about this weekend’s bomb blast in New York even as the governor warns others not to jump to conclusions about those responsible for the attacks.

Christie warns not to ‘jump to conclusions’ about NYC attack, but defends Trump for doing so
Gov. Chris Christie warned against jumping to conclusions about the explosions that occurred in New Jersey Saturday morning and in New York City on Saturday evening, but then defended Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for doing so.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Governors: No apparent link between NYC, N.J. blasts, overseas terror
The governors of both New York and New Jersey said Sunday that the bombing that injured 29 in Manhattan on Saturday night was an act of terror, but that there was no obvious connection to either international terrorist groups, or a similar bombing that occurred in Seaside Park earlier the same day.
Steve Cowen, Steve Janoski and Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

The Bridgegate scandal, Christie’s white whale, will smash his career to pieces
If you suspect, as I do, that a notorious control freak like Gov. Chris Christie must have known about the Bridgegate caper, and is lying like a snake when he denies it, then your moment has finally arrived.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

Radio silence, jerks and the lessons of Bridgegate
It’s been three years since massive traffic jams on the access lanes to the George Washington Bridge turned Fort Lee’s narrow streets into parking lots – the scandal, known as Bridgegate, which, in turn gridlocked Chris Christie’s presidential ambitions. Now it’s time for the answers, maybe even a lesson or two.
Mike Kelly, The Record Read more

In NJ, key opioid laws go through him
The one man in New Jersey who is holding up legislation that could cut down on opioid abuse is also a top beneficiary of big pharma campaign contributions.
Ken Serrano and Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Opioid lobby thwarts reform efforts
The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction.
Associated Press Read more

Melania Trump turned to N.J. lawyer to defend her immigration status
After questions arose last month about whether she followed immigration law when she arrived in the United States 20 years ago, Melania Trump turned to an attorney who once ran a New Jersey town.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Donald Trump’s doing better in the polls than he is with top New Jersey Republicans
I was walking around the Statehouse halls the other day when I ran into Hamlet.
Okay, it wasn’t actually Hamlet. It was another political figure who’s noted for having a hard time making up his mind.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

Christie falsely claims Trump dropped Obama ‘birther’ fight in 2011
Gov. Chris Christie falsely claimed on Sunday that Republican nominee for president Donald Trump abandoned his arguments that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. as soon as the president released his birth certificate.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

5 ongoing questions about the Seaside Park, New York bombings
An explosion rips apart a trash can in Seaside Park around 9:30 a.m. Saturday before the start of a Marine Corps charity run. Eleven hours later, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, an explosion detonated on a city street injures 29 people.
Alex Napoliello, NJ.com Read more

Invisible workforce: Death, discrimination and despair in N.J.’s temp industry
The business of providing blue-collar temporary workers to factories and warehouses is booming in New Jersey.
Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com Read more

Ignoring Christie, the U.S. has now settled 275 Syrians in N.J.
New Jersey welcomed 275 Syrian refugees in the past 12 months, even as the state was one of only two in the nation that refused to help in the resettlement effort.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

The Public School Funding Battle: No Holds Barred
The hotly debated topic of school funding in New Jersey may have just hit the boiling point, as two opposing approaches to how the state funds its public schools came into sharper focus last week.
Chase Brush, NJSpotlight Read more

Sweeney seeks minimum wage carve-outs, to the chagrin of liberals and labor unions
Democratic lawmakers, pursuing a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, are discussing potential carve-outs that would exempt most farm hands and workers younger than 18 years old, POLITICO New Jersey has learned.
Katherine Landergan and Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

$20M For Lead Abatement to Come From Clean Energy Fund
The Legislature yesterday voted to spend $20 million to begin fixing pipes and fixtures that have contaminated drinking water in public buildings with unsafe levels of lead.
Tom Johnson, NJSpotlight Read more

His identity as Sikh a battle worth winning
Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi stood backstage at the Democratic National Convention, watching through tears as the parents of a fallen Muslim-American soldier delivered a powerful message about sacrifice and the dangers of discrimination.
Todd South, The Record Read more

Common sense goes by the boards if we panic at terror threats like the one in Seaside
This is getting awfully close to home.
That’s what I thought when I heard that a pipe bomb had exploded Saturday along the route on the Semper Five 5-K race in Seaside Park.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

T-shirt memorial symbolizes toll of South Jersey gun violence
In June, Linda Matlack began inquiring about all of the people who had died from gun violence in South Jersey since January 2015, a task that would consume so much energy she barely had time to reflect on the victims.
Jan Hefler, Inquirer Read more

Is red tape holding up A.C.’s future?
Twenty years ago, casino mogul Steve Wynn bolted from the resort after getting fed up with the state’s regulations.
Could Revel owner Glenn Straub be next?
Nicholas Huba, Press of Atlantic City Read more

NJ Politicker Digest: Weekend Bomb Blasts Overshadow Start of Bridgegate Trial