NJ Politics Digest: A Book’s Worth of Opposition to Christie’s Quid Pro Quo

It’s Thursday, and the legislature is set to take up a measure that would allow politically wounded Gov. Chris Christie to collect royalties from a book deal while he in turn agrees to raise the salaries of some political appointees – a measure that The Record estimates will cost the cash-strapped state millions and that has garnered scorn from a variety of politicians, including Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, even while Democrat leaders like Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto support it. The deal, state and national news outlets claim, would also allow what they describe as a vindictive Christie to try to muzzle the press by removing a regulation requiring the publishing of municipal legal notices.
While the papers pillory the governor for this aspect of his record, they are also reporting how an exec at the accident-plagued NJ Transit is resigning due to a lack of needed funding while at the Port Authority it’s not unusual for even mid-level employees to earn in excess of $150,000 annually. There’s also a report critical of New Jersey’s efforts to cut back on smoking, more word of Atlantic City troubles and word that courts have ruled that only paid officials can be charged with official misconduct in New Jersey.

Quote of the Day: “Before the ink was even dry on a 23-cent, $1.3 billion gas tax increase, the public is once again subject to a cloak-and-dagger scheme,” – Sen. Jennifer Beck, on a plan to raise the salaries to what she refers to as “the politically connected” in return for the legislature allowing Gov. Chris Christie to profit from a book deal.

Guadagno mocks Christie book legislation
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Wednesday derided a bill that would let her boss, Gov. Chris Christie, write a book for profit while in office.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Christie’s book deal with Democrats would cost taxpayers millions
A bill that would loosen a state ethics law for Governor Christie, allowing him to profit from writing a book while in office, would also give hefty raises to the governor’s Cabinet officials, state judges, dozens of legislative aides and others.
Salvador Rizzo, The Record Read more

Chris Christie-Backed Bill Would Devastate Newspapers That Hold His Feet To The Fire
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has long had an adversarial relationship with the press.
Huffington Post Read more

NJ furor over legal notices alarming oversight groups
A fast-tracked bill, poised to end government-paid public notices in newspapers and reshape the state’s media landscape, has oversight groups raising the alarm about lost transparency for taxpayers.
Nicholas Pugliese and Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Bridgegate lawmakers leading fight against Christie’s newspaper ‘revenge bill’
A pair of Democratic lawmakers who led the charge in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal that damaged Gov. Chris Christie’s political ambitions are now fighting the governor’s push to pull legal ads from newspapers.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Editorial: Christie’s book deal bad for New Jersey
Governor Christie once told The New York Times, “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.” He was referring to accepting lavish trips from so-called friends like the King of Jordan for himself and family. Not content with just the juice, Christie has gone back for the pulp — as in pulp fiction. He wants a book deal while still governor.
The Record Read more

Editorial: Christie’s revenge: Kill the Press
You can tell when the old boys in Trenton are doing something dastardly, just by the timing. If it’s awful, they move fast, before the stink can travel far.
Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

Editorial: Christie seeks revenge on press
‘Tis the season for “December surprises” in Trenton, when lawmakers sneak through bills that otherwise would not survive close scrutiny in the expectation no one will be paying much attention around the holidays.
Asbury Park Press Read more

Opinion: N.J. Press Association: Stop vindictive Christie from punishing newspapers
Gov. Chris Christie and the state Legislature have formed an unholy alliance to punish newspapers, and it’s the public and the public purse that will also be the victims of a blatant, politically-motivated act of governmental spite — spite not service.
George White, NJPA Read more

Opinion: Boss Hague would be proud of measure that would destroy newspapers
In the 1920s, The Jersey Journal stood up to one of the most powerful political bosses in New Jersey and American history by using its editorial and journalistic platforms to lay bare Mayor Frank “I Am the Law” Hague’s heavy-handed tactics.
Jersey Journal Read more

Does the Trump camp hold a grudge against Christie?
When Chris Christie decided to endorse Donald Trump for president in February, it was easy to see his political calculation. The second-term New Jersey governor knew there would be pushback from the Republican establishment, but at the time, the benefits outweighed the negatives: Trump was likely to be the Republican nominee and could give Christie, a lame duck, some political options (vice president? a cabinet spot?).
Boston Globe Read more

N.J. newspapers to lose $20 million if bill passes
A fast-tracked bill that would allow governments to forgo publishing budgets, bids for services and other public records in newspapers and instead post them exclusively online triggered debate Tuesday among legislators, who were split on its potential impact on New Jersey’s media landscape.
Nicholas Pugliese and Bob Jordan, The Record Read more

Court ruling could be fatal blow to N.J. sports betting
New Jersey’s efforts to bring legal sports betting to its horse tracks and Atlantic City casinos suffered another significant — and potentially fatal — setback on Tuesday when a federal appeals court upheld a previous ruling invalidating a challenge to a federal law that limits such gambling to four states.
John Brennan, The Record Read more

NJ Transit official resigns, cites unreliable funding
NJ Transit’s vice chairman announced on Wednesday that he was stepping down from the position to focus on his private business.
John E Seasly, The Record Read more

Dozens of Port Authority cops allegedly skipped patrols, stayed on break
About a third of the police officers assigned to the PATH rail system are facing disciplinary action after an internal inspection revealed they had spent hours, sometimes almost entire shifts, in break areas instead of on patrol, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Wednesday.
Paul Milo, NJ.com Read more

The 20 NJ Transit employees who made the most money last year
You’d expect the top boss at NJ Transit to pull down the biggest paycheck, but would you guess the fourth- and fifth-highest salaries went to a police sergeant and a train conductor last year, both of whom earned more than the bosses of their respective departments?
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Christie offers nomination for hobbled election agency
While millions of dollars were flowing into thousands of local races this past election cycle, the watchdog agency that regulates political campaigns and lobbying in New Jersey was unable to hold meetings and punish offenders.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record

Housing authorities differ on Section 8 conversions
East Rutherford Boiling Springs Gardens resident Gerald Roberts says he’s cautiously optimistic about the Housing Authority of Bergen County converting its public housing to Section 8. The move could bring about better access to much needed funds to maintain the buildings he and other seniors live in across Bergen County.
Kelly Nicholaides, The Record Read more

Obamacare signups soaring as deadline nears
Republicans in the U.S. Congress may be planning to repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as next month, but signups for health coverage in New Jersey and the rest of the country over the last six weeks are setting records.
Lindy Washburn, The Record Read more

At N.J. diner, Cory Booker vows to fight Obamacare repeal effort
As the deadline nears for consumers to sign up for insurance coverage under the imperiled Affordable Care Act, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker popped into Tops Diner this morning to urge individuals to get covered and to blast Republicans for promulgating “fake news” about the health law.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

N.J. ranked worst in nation for trying to keep kids from smoking
For the fifth consecutive year, New Jersey will spend no money to deter kids from tobacco use or help smokers quit the habit, according to a public health advocacy organization which ranked the state last in the nation for its lack of effort.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Senior housing smoking ban may not happen here
Scott Stucker, 47, smoked Marlboros and Parliaments for four years before quitting cold turkey 25 years ago. He moved into one of the 98 units at Carucci Apartments at 281 Stuyvesant Ave. in Lyndhurst seven years ago. Now he is backing the smoking ban expected to go into effect in 18 months in all public housing.
Kelly Nicholaides, The Record Read more

After Taj Mahal closure, casino revenue down 3.5 percent
Revenue for Atlantic City’s casino industry declined in November by 3.5 percent compared to a year ago in the first full month after the Trump Taj Mahal casino closed.
Associated Press Read more

Transit agency sidelines 11 operators over new fatigue rules
Eleven New Jersey Transit train engineers or conductors have been temporarily removed from duty under a new program to assess fatigue-related conditions begun after a deadly crash this fall, the agency said Wednesday.
Associated Press Read more

Phil Murphy gets CWA endorsement in 2017 Democratic primary
A labor union with about 70,000 members in New Jersey has backed Phil Murphy for governor in the 2017 Democratic primary.
Associated Press Read more

NJ Set To Benefit From Federal Funding Innovation
A new federal program pledges to invest more than $6 billion to promote cutting-edge healthcare initiatives, including research on cancer and brain disorders, and improve access to treatments for mental health and substance use disorders.
Lilo H. Stainton, NJSpotlight Read more

Bill to extend UEZ in Bridgeton passes committee after governor veto
A bill that would extend the expiring Urban Enterprize Zones in New Jersey passed the Senate Economic Growth Committee and will now head to a full Assembly vote.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

$53M in grants will fund 12 waterfront projects across North Jersey
Grants totaling $53 million will make possible 12 projects across northern New Jersey to improve public access to the Passaic River, public officials announced Wednesday in Newark’s Riverside Park.
Marisa Iati, NJ.com Read more

N.J. Supreme Court rules official misconduct only for public servants
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a decision that a volunteer member of an emergency response squad cannot face official misconduct charges because he isn’t a public employee.
Greg Adomaitis, NJ.com Read more

Editorial: First Amendment takes a hit in Trenton
The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request in 1971 from President Richard Nixon’s administration to prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers in The New York Times and The Washington Post. So a state Superior Court judge’s temporary injunction in October barring The Trentonian from publishing articles about a confidential child abuse complaint, imposing an alarming form of “prior restraint” – the very thing the high court ruled could not apply to a classified study of the Vietnam War – is so much a legal overreach it redefines the word overreach.
The Record Read more

NJ Politics Digest: A Book’s Worth of Opposition to Christie’s Quid Pro Quo