NJ Politics Digest: Of Congress, Ethics and NJ Politicians

It’s Wednesday, and the start of the 115th Congress brings news for the New Jersey delegation, with two of the state’s GOP representatives voting against their party’s plans to gut the powers of Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics panel. The Republicans later backed off that tack following outcry from the public and President-elect Donald Trump, and Rep. Leonard Lance, who had opposed the GOP proposal, was selected to serve on the House Ethics Committee.
The state’s newest congressman was sworn in and NJ.Com answers questions about what to expect from the Republican-controlled body in the coming session.
Tuesday also saw former Port Authority Chairman David Samson receive a federal disbarment after his guilty plea to corruption charges stemming from his time at the scandal-plagued bi-state agency while the PA’s retiring executive director is getting a sweet financial deal, thanks to the federal government.
There’s also a look at what issues and players will likely dominate the debates about education in the coming year as charter school proponents gear up for battles with Gov. Chris Christie’s administration

Quote of the Day:“The Office of Congressional Ethics plays an important role in the ethics enforcement process. For that reason, I opposed efforts to dramatically restructure the OCE,” – Rep. Leonard Lance.

N.J.’s Lance tapped for ethics panel
Rep. Leonard Lance was named to the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday, the same day his fellow House Republicans dropped a plan to gut an independent ethics investigation office that had previously criticized Lance and several colleagues before they were ultimately cleared of wrongdoing.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Ethics panel targeted by GOP once investigated South Jersey lawmaker Andrews
The Congressional ethics panel that House Republicans proposed gutting this week may be familiar to the Philadelphia area: the Office of Congressional Ethics led the investigation into U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, a South Jersey Democrat who paid for expensive trips with campaign funds.
Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Read more

Newest member of NJ’s Congressional delegation sworn in
The newest member of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation has been sworn in to office.
Associated Press Read more

5 questions about the 115th Congress
The 115th Congress convenes Tuesday with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, albeit with smaller majorities than in the just-concluded 114th Congress.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Chris Christie ally David Samson disbarred; sentence next
Former Port Authority Chairman David Samson – defended by his close friend Gov. Chris Christie as an ‘extraordinary person’ who ‘obviously had a lapse in judgment’ – has received a federal court disbarment after admitting to bribing United Airlines to run the money-losing ‘chairman’s route’ from Newark to an airport near his vacation home in South Carolina.
Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

Port Authority boss to get 2 retirement checks
Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, his predecessor Christopher Ward and 57 PATH system employees will get a second check after they retire, courtesy of the federal government.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Education 2017: You Can’t Tell Players Without Scorecard
A new governor to be elected, an old governor looking to cement his legacy, and, oh yeah, there’s that guy moving into the White House later this month. Two days in, and 2017 is already shaking out to be an eventful one for New Jersey.
John Mooney, NJSpotlight Read more

Critics prepare for battle over Christie’s charter school overhaul
Charter school opponents are planning a show of force in Trenton Wednesday as the state Board of Education considers loosening regulations to free charter schools from red tape.
Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com Read more

Atlantic County votes to withhold $12.8M from A.C. over PILOT fight
Atlantic County freeholders raised the stakes Tuesday in an ongoing tax battle against Atlantic City, voting 8-1 to authorize County Executive Dennis Levinson to withhold $12.8 million in tax-appeal refunds due to the city until the county gets 13.5 percent of casino payments in lieu of property taxes.
Press of Atlantic City Read more

Icahn plans to surrender Trump Taj Mahal casino license
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn plans to surrender the casino license for his shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino and wants to make sure that anyone who buys it can’t use it as a casino.
Associated Press Read more

Whelan will not seek re-election, sources say
State Sen. Jim Whelan will not seek re-election to the state Senate in 2017, POLITICO New Jersey has learned.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left
When New Jersey lawmakers blocked a vote last month on a bill backed by Gov. Chris Christie that would have ended the requirement that legal notices be published in newspapers, it was a rare good news story for the state’s press corps.
David W. Chen, New York Times Read more

N.J. nurse fired after accusing hospital of mishandling MRSA outbreak, suit says
A South Jersey nurse is suing a Camden hospital claiming she was fired after one month on the job as retribution for reporting the alleged mishandling of a staph infection outbreak in an infant intensive care unit.
Craig McCarthy, NJ.com Read more

Bill would set aside $105M in tax credits for Paterson
City officials are trying to salvage the $105 million in state tax credits that Paterson lost last year when plans collapsed to build a hotel and office building near St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press Read more

Parts of S. Jersey closer to expanded high-speed internet
The new year may bring some long-sought improvements to phone and Internet service for more than a dozen South Jersey communities.
NJSpotlight Read more

Paterson won about half its tax appeal cases in 2016
The city saw a dramatic improvement in its success rate in defending itself against tax appeals last year.
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press Read more

Which Jersey City council members are seeking re-election?
All nine City Council seats are up for grabs in November’s municipal election, and four sitting council members say they are definitely seeking new terms.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Mayor blasts back at SPCA over alleged slow response to emaciated dog
Mayor Eric Jackson said Tuesday evening that an initial review of the city’s reaction to a suspected case of animal cruelty involving a dog this past weekend was timely and appropriate.
Kevin Shea, NJ.com Read more

Extension given in Englewood Cliffs suit against engineer
The borough’s former engineer has been given until the end of January to respond in a lawsuit claiming professional negligence and breach of contract in a Castle Drive drainage project.
Michael W. Curley, Jr., The Record Read more

Republicans now in full control in North Haledon
With the swearing in of two new members on Monday, the North Haledon Borough Council became entirely Republican. Heather Sparano and Keith Salviano, were elected to three-year terms in November, ousting two Democratic incumbents.
Donna M Rolando, The Record Read more

Fresh start for two teens whose controversial principles made headlines in 2016
Among the 120 or so columns I wrote in 2016, the two that generated the most reactions, and the most heated, were both about South Jersey teenagers who refused to abandon their principles.
Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Read more

Bruce Springsteen: A Trump presidency makes me afraid
Bruce Springsteen was openly critical of Donald Trump in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, dismissing him as a “moron” and a ‘flagrant, toxic narcissist.’
Brent Johnson, NJ.com Read more

Bruce Springsteen is coming to Monmouth University
Bruce Springsteen is coming to Monmouth University.
“A Conversation with Bruce Springsteen,” moderated by Robert Santelli of the Grammy Museum, will take place 7:30 pm. Tuesday, Jan 10, at the university’s Pollak Theatre. It’s billed as an intimate conversation on his career.
Chris Jordan, Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J.’s first hydrogen fuel station reportedly in the works
The state’s first hydrogen fueling station could be coming to North Jersey, according to a report.
Fausto Giovanny Pinto, NJ.com Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Of Congress, Ethics and NJ Politicians