NJ Politics Digest: Town Finds Guarding Trump Comes With Country Club-Sized Bill

It’s Wednesday, and while Gov. Chris Christie is dealing with the results of polls that show a large majority of residents don’t like the job he’s doing and think he should be before a judge for Bridgegate, he can take comfort in the knowledge that his family was doing well financially while he was jetting around the country in pursuit of a presidential bid.
The Star-Ledger takes a look at what Bedminster paid to guard President-elect Donald Trump during a weekend stay at his golf club there.
New Jersey Transit was the subject before the legislature, which was asking questions about crash prevention systems that could save commuter lives.
The state financial overseer is making his presence felt in Atlantic City, Rep. Scott Garrett says he will be in touch with his replacement before he leaves congress in January and Rutgers University is proposed as the site of a center to study gun violence.

Quote of the Day: “The case appears won in the court of public opinion. Across the board we see disbelief in Governor Christie’s claims of ignorance about what his underlings were up to,” – Krista Jenkins, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, on results that show most respondents think the governor should have been on trial for the Bridgegate plot.

What did it cost for an N.J. town to guard Trump for a weekend?
The cost of providing security for President-elect Donald Trump’s visit to Bedminster last month may be dwarfed by New York City’s request for $35 million to guard Trump Tower, but is large enough to cause concern to one small town.
Kathleen O’Brien, NJ.com Read more

Christie should have been Bridgegate defendant, poll finds
Nearly three-quarters of registered voters think Governor Christie should have been a defendant in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure trial, according to a new poll that also showed Christie’s job approval at yet another low and tied for the second-worst in recent history.
Dustin Racioppi and Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Chris Christie is in historic poll territory. (Not the good kind.)
The good news for Gov. Chris Christie is that his Worst Year Ever is almost over. The bad news: It’s not over yet.
Aaron Blake, Washington Post Read more

How much did the Christies earn in 2015?
Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, saw their income dip last year as the governor pursued a failed presidential campaign, according to tax returns released Tuesday.
Mike Davis, Asbury Park Press Read more

Ex-firefighter Bill Brennan puts a damper on Chris Christie’s ambitions
Gov. Christie didn’t take questions after assembling the media in the Capitol Rotunda last Tuesday for the announcement of a $300 million plan to renovate the Statehouse.
Paul Mulshine, The Star Ledger Read more

Christie loyalist Bramnick still considering gubernatorial run
Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick — perhaps Gov. Chris Christie’s staunchest defender — will not rule out a run for governor.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

NJ Transit hearing focuses on crash prevention systems
Lawmakers investigating the fatal NJ Transit crash in Hoboken focused Tuesday on automated systems designed to prevent collisions and derailments.
John E Seasly, The Record Read more

Garrett: Constituents won’t be left hanging
Rep. Scott Garrett said Monday that his office is contacting every constituent who has an open casework file and is “working overtime” trying to clear them or transfer them before Democrat Josh Gottheimer takes over his seat in the House in January.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Is this the final legislative act for Garrett?
In one of his last official acts as a member of Congress, outgoing Rep. Scott Garrett successfully shepherded legislation through the House designed to require the Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to the concerns of smaller companies.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Energized by Trump win, N.J. lawmakers push abortion ban after 20 weeks
Feeling energized since “pro-life” Donald Trump won the presidential election, a group of Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion rights activists announced Monday they will seek a ban on abortions in New Jersey involving any fetus that is at least 20 weeks old.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

N.J. trooper 4th to die in car accident since 2015
A New Jersey State trooper was responding to reports of an erratic driver Monday evening when that driver’s Toyota Corolla veered off the southbound lanes of Route 55, crossed the grassy median, entered the northbound lanes, and crashed head-on into Frankie Williams’ patrol car, authorities said.
Michael Boren, Jackie Urgo, and Emily Babay, Inquirer Read more

Legislation would establish gun violence research center at Rutgers
Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to establish a center at Rutgers University where research on gun violence would be conducted.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

Little brother is watching? School bus cameras could prompt pricey traffic tickets
Lawmakers are making another run at allowing external cameras on school buses, which would shoot images that would then be used to ticket drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus picking up or dropping off children.
Michael Symons, NJ101.5 Read more

End of the Road For Urban Enterprise Zones
The program is scheduled to start shutting down in five cities January 1, but lawmakers are scrambling to come up with a two-year extension.
John Reitmeyer, NJSpotlight Read more

Atlantic City’s state overseer to veto water utility board’s $3K bonuses to selves
The New Jersey overseer of Atlantic City will use his newly-vested powers to reject action taken by the city’s controversial Municipal Utilities Authority at a recent meeting – most notably the MUA board’s awarding of $3,000 bonuses to … themselves.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

N.J. official voter turnout up slightly from 2012
Turnout among New Jersey voters on Election Day this year was 1 percent higher than in the 2012 general election, which came in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but still 5 percent shy of the mark set in 2008, when 73 percent of eligible voters helped elect President Obama to his first term.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

Kellyanne Conway to lead South Jersey town’s Christmas parade
Hammonton, home to Ronald Reagan Drive in the center of town, is nothing if not hospitable to victorious Republican presidential candidates.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

Son of former mayor charged in Oceanport body case
The son of a former borough mayor was charged in connection with the murder of a Connecticut man whose body was found buried in a shallow grave in town.
Andrew Ford and Dan Radel, Asbury Park Press Read more

American Dream project unveils latest design
The developer of the American Dream shopping, entertainment and amusement park complex in the Meadowlands has released new images of what the exterior of the project will look like when it opens in fall 2018.
Joan Verdon, The Record Read more

Cost of living, gentrification among Montclair’s ‘conversation’
Montclair’s affordability, changing demographics and relationship with its police force were among the topics discussed at a forum on Dec.1.
Mollie Shauger, The Record Read more

Imam facing deportation denies being part of Hamas
A Paterson imam facing deportation charges took the stand Tuesday morning in Immigration Court in Newark to defend himself against allegations that he confessed to Israeli interrogators of having terrorist ties.
Hannan Adely, The Record Read more

Assemblywoman seeks info on N.J. armories over lead concerns
Assemblywoman Liz Muoio is calling on the Christie administration to make inspection reports of New Jersey National Guard armories public over concerns that the buildings could be contaminated with lead dust.
Cristina Rojas, NJ.com Read more

After Paulsboro criticism, railroads adopt federal standards for chemical spill response
Freight railroads have agreed to rely exclusively on federal safety response recommendations, rather than their own guidelines for accidents involving dangerous chemicals, drawing praise from New Jersey lawmakers who sought that change after a Conrail derailment caused a toxic spill in Paulsboro in 2012.
Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Read more

In West New York mayor’s bribery trial, a tale of 2 defendants
The commercial bribery case against Felix Roque is a tale of two defendants, his lawyer told jurors during opening arguments of the trial on Tuesday.
Steve Strunsky, NJ.com Read more

Former PSE&G president, civic leader Al Koeppe dies at 70
When Al Koeppe was given a leadership award from Rutgers-Newark in 2013 – one of many accolades he accrued for his work around the Garden State – he reflected on his professional experiences as president of what was then New Jersey Bell, and of PSE&G.
Jessica Mazzola, NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Town Finds Guarding Trump Comes With Country Club-Sized Bill