NJ Politics Digest: Why These Election Officials Invited a Hacker Attack

It’s Thursday, and as the election approaches, officials in one New Jersey county are reporting their voting machines are hacker-tested and safe.
Meanwhile, deliberations in the Bridgegate trial continue, with defense attorneys still contesting a judge’s ruling they contend guarantee a guilty verdict.
Anger at the state gas tax increase could spell problems for a ballot measure intended, supporters say, to ensure the money is used for road projects. Atlantic City officials are vowing to fight on in their effort to avoid a state takeover of the  city’s finances and the New York Times profiles Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy. For this and the rest of the state’s political news, read on.

Quote of the Day: “They reviewed our software, network and other areas. The testing showed we are in great shape,” – Edward Bavais, director of Information Technology for Ocean County government, on the results of federal officials trying to simulate a hack of the county voting system.

Ocean County to feds: Go ahead, try hacking our election sites
With all the talk of rigged elections and Russian computer hacks, Election Day has become more scarier than Halloween this year.
Erik Larsen and Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J. public worker pension fund now the weakest in U.S., report says
New Jersey’s distressed government worker pension system is now the worst funded in the U.S., according to a report by Bloomberg.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Six things to expect out of the hearings on NJ Transit safety issues
Lawmakers holding hearings on NJ Transit issues, including safety and on-time performance, want to hear from commuters who ride the rails every day.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Stung by rejection, Atlantic City asks state to reconsider its plan
Reeling from the state’s rejection of their 5-year recovery plan, Atlantic City officials said Wednesday they will submit additional information to back up their plan by end of the day Thursday – the original 150 day deadline given them to avert a state takeover.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

What happens next as possible N.J. takeover of Atlantic City looms?
After months of squabbling and uncertainty, Gov. Chris Christie’s administration appears closer than ever to announcing that the state will take over the local government in financially distressed Atlantic City after rejecting the city’s five-year recovery plan Tuesday.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Video shows Trump in A.C. with mob figure he denies knowing, report says
A newly unearthed video appears to show Donald Trump sitting ringside with an alleged mob figure at a 1988 professional wrestling event in Atlantic City, contradicting Trump’s claim that he didn’t know the man, according to a report by Yahoo News.
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Despite Similarities, Candidate for New Jersey Governor Says He’s No Corzine
A year before the election to replace Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the race for the Democratic nomination has become more of a coronation than a contest, with one name emerging as the likely candidate: Philip D. Murphy.
David W. Chen, New York Times Read more

Will N.J. voter anger over gas tax hike sink transportation ballot question?
Now that New Jersey’s new 23-cent gas tax increase is on the books, a ballot question asking voters to dedicate the billions of dollars in new revenue to transportation projects is suddenly getting lots of attention.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Half of NJ’s new gas tax is being used to pay back old debt. Can state curb trend?
Over the last seven years, more than $99 of every $100 spent on transportation projects by the state Department of Transportation and NJ Transit has been borrowed.
Michael Symons, NJ101.5 Read more

Will lawmakers end ban on self-serve gas to offset tax increase?
Will a 23-cent increase in the gas tax prompt lawmakers to repeal the state’s prohibition against drivers pumping their own gas to ease the pain at the pump?
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Bridgegate trial: Defense team asks judge to reverse jury instruction
The jury in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial left the court house early Wednesday, a day clouded in legal ambiguity and another day without a verdict.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

State releasing results of second PARCC test online today
Parents will be able to search online starting today for information on how their children’s schools fared on state exams conducted last spring.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Garrett, Gottheimer complain about each other’s negative ads
As the brutal campaign in New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District between U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett and Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer reaches its final days, both candidates are demanding negative ads they’re running against each other be taken off the air.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

Christie breaks precedent by not releasing tax returns in October
Gov. Chris Christie has disclosed his tax returns every year since he became governor and, according to his office, he will release them this year as well.
Matt Friedman and Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

NJ teachers face new foe: Parents eyeing tenure rules
A group of Newark parents, opening a new attack on teacher tenure, have filed a lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s schools’ “last in, first out” layoff scheme, charging the rule forces the retention of ineffective teachers and impinges upon students’ right to receive a proper education.
Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press Read more

Paterson crafts plan for civilian police board following shooting by city cop
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres said last weekend’s shooting of a civilian by a Paterson police officer has prompted his administration to try to expedite the creation of a new community board to review the conduct of city law enforcement members.
Joe Maliconico, The Record Read more

With Paterson pride, officials rename school to honor the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg
The story has become somewhat of an heirloom in the Lautenberg family – the tale of the immigrant father who brought his son to the Paterson silk milk to show the boy how loud, dirty and grueling his job was.
Joe Maliconico, The Record Read more

Plurality of Americans favor legalization of sports betting, poll shows
Almost half of Americans – 48 percent, to be precise – in the latest Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll support bringing sports betting legalization to all states, while 39 percent oppose that idea.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

Paterson proposal to assign 30 police officers to city schools surprises education officials
The city wants to assign 30 rookie police officers to Paterson’s public schools next September, but local education officials said the district can’t afford the extra costs.
Joe Maliconico, The Record Read more

Rivals in Paterson school election see funding as crucial to city’s magnet programs
The two men vying for a partial term on the Paterson Board of Education agree that the district’s two new magnet programs for boys and newcomers need sufficient funding in order to be successful.
Joe Maliconico, The Record Read more

Bergen residents will vote for high-profile offices Nov. 8 — but don’t forget county clerk, surrogate
Voters will go to the polls Nov. 8 to pick candidates for high-profile offices in Bergen County, including the freeholders and the county sheriff. But also on the ballot are four men vying for two often overlooked but important offices, county clerk and surrogate.
Todd South, The Record Read more

Controversial animal trap can be used in N.J., court rules
A relatively new type of animal trap was deemed not cruel and inhumane, and can continue to be used in New Jersey, a state appellate court has ruled.
MaryAnn Spoto, NJ.com Read more
Republican in Long Branch? Voting for Trump in a blue city
David Cohen likes to sit on his front stoop and wave at the cars.
Mike Davis, Asbury Park Press Read more

Where are the most LGBT-friendly towns in N.J.?
When Randy Rabney and her wife, Fran Lichtman, decided it was time to pack up their lives in Manhattan more than a decade ago, they only had one New Jersey town on their list of possible destinations: Maplewood.
Erin O’Neill, NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Why These Election Officials Invited a Hacker Attack