NJ Politics Digest: Bridgegate, Northern Games and Taking Your Mind Off the Debate

It’s Monday, and even as the drama of the Bridgegate trial is set to continue, tonight’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has consumed all the political oxygen in the room.
For those who do follow state politics, NJSpotlight takes a look at efforts to force the state to reimburse counties caught in the middle following Gov. Chris Christie’s order to hold all Transportation Trust Fund-related projects until a new funding agreement is reached. The Inquirer examines what we learned about Bridgegate star witness David Wildstein during his first day on the stand and while backers of northern New Jersey casinos have folded their hand this year, the game isn’t over, reports NJ.com. For all this and the rest of the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day: “I thought if I built a beautiful facility and offered to give the taxpayers $500 million a year, people would get on the bandwagon. Not this year.” – Developer Jeff Gural, on voter resistance to expanding casinos to northern New Jersey

With N.J. infrastructure projects sidelined, who pays for broken contracts?
Growing concern over the cost of Gov. Chris Christie’s statewide shutdown of road and bridge projects until money can be found for the Transportation Trust Fund provided the impetus yesterday for an Assembly committee to pass a bill that would bring some relief to counties and municipalities suffering under the freeze.
Chase Brush, NJ Spotlight Read more

What 2 ex-N.J. governors say about N.J. bombings, Bridgegate, Clinton-Trump debate
The following exchange between former New Jersey governors Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place via telephone last week.
Star-Ledger Staff Read more

In bridge trial, a flawed star witness is the center of attention
David Wildstein’s big, boxlike desk phone with numerous buttons was conspicuous. His colleagues at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wondered if it was configured to spy on them.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

Impeach Christie? Justified, perhaps, but unlikely
If federal prosecutors back up their claim, and show that Gov. Christie has been flat-out lying about Bridgegate from the start, could he be impeached and removed from office?
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

When government officials lose sight of the public trust
Lett’s face it, being a government worker is not all that complicated. Tax collectors collect taxes. Street cleaners clean streets. Firefighters put out fires. Cops write tickets and arrest criminals. Simple, straight-forward stuff.
Mike Kelly, The Record Read more

7 things you can expect to see in first presidential debate between Clinton, Trump
When Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton join in battle on Monday evening, it will mark the first time the two major parties’ nominees share a stage.
Here are seven things you can expect on the big night.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Clinton vs. Trump: Everything you need to know about the first debate
The first fall presidential debate of 2016 is being anticipated with all the hype (and class) of a heavyweight boxing match. Perhaps we should call it “Smackdown at the Mack,” since it is being held at the Hofstra University’s David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on New York’s Long Island.
Paul Singer, USA Today Read more

Bridgegate: What happened in Week 1
Day 1: Openings
Prosecutors begin their case in federal court in Newark, describing the traffic chaos in Fort Lee when two former members of Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, allegedly conspired to shut down several local toll lanes at the George Washington Bridge for four days. The U.S. Attorney’s office also claims the governor knew about the lane shutdowns as they were ongoing.
Ted Sherman and Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate trial: Christie taking the heat of prosecution, defense
At nearly every turn last week, lawyers in the George Washington Bridge criminal trial turned jurors’ attention to someone who wasn’t in the courtroom, someone who isn’t charged with a crime in the case or even named in the indictment as a co-conspirator.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

Fight to allow north Jersey casino gambling isn’t over yet, developer says
The businessmen leading a group trying to spur support for a November ballot referendum to bring casinos to northern New Jersey all but conceded defeat Thursday when they abruptly ended their advertising campaign.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Budget cuts doom state parks to disrepair
The sweat dripped onto the collar of Frank Dyer’s half-open jeans shirt in the fields around Skylands Manor in Ringwood State Park as he and three other volunteers cleared brush and spread mulch in a sprawling lilac garden.
Steve Janoski, The Record Read more

Sweeney cites audit to make case for school-funding reforms
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who’s been leading a Democratic campaign to fix school funding in New Jersey, has latched on to an audit report released this week which highlights problems with current state practices to make his case for reform.
Linh Tat, Politico Read more

No need to fear? The truth about the ‘Erin Brockovich chemical’ in NJ water
Local and state officials say recent reports about a toxic chemical in tap water are irresponsible and misleading.
Toniann Antonelli, NJ101.5 Read more

Bergen County gets look at new bail rules
Sweeping changes to bail guidelines — that would free criminal defendants awaiting trial based on risk, not their ability to pay — and other criminal-justice reforms were discussed at a seminar attended by Bergen judges, attorneys and law enforcement officers last week.
Allison Pries, The Record Read more

N.J.’s LoBiondo again looks for the union label
When the House passed legislation to relax federal reporting requirements for private equity firms, only three Republicans dissented from the party line. One was New Jersey’s Frank LoBiondo.
The Auditor, NJ.com Read more

Legal troubles haunt congressional candidate
An arrest warrant was issued in 2010 for the Democratic candidate running for Congress in New Jersey’s 3rd District, after he attempted to avoid a judge’s order to pay back a neighbor from whom he had borrowed $4,000, according to court records.
Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press Read more

Opinion:Does N.J. really want another leader who caves to Donald Trump?
For Republicans in Texas, backing Donald Trump is probably an easy call. Their constituents are wildly conservative and probably wouldn’t be offended one bit. So why make a fuss?
Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

Opinion: Hillary Clinton is better on policy? That’s foreign to me; maybe you can name one
I was driving around listening to the radio when they had one of those “man on the street” interviews about the upcoming debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

Opinion: From ‘Me First’ to ‘America First’: Christie’s ego-driven 2013 campaign haunts him
Our governor is now one of the leading figures in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, which has as its slogan “America First.”
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Bridgegate, Northern Games and Taking Your Mind Off the Debate