NJ Politics Digest: More Trouble at NJ Transit

Roundup of daily news.

NJ Transit train. File photo

New Jersey Transit, the embattled transportation agency, is at risk of missing a federal deadline to install a safety system that could have prevented last year’s fatal crash in Hoboken, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department Labor announced NJ Transit is the target of federal investigation into whether workers there abused federal medical leave law.

Gov. Chris Christie is still the most unpopular New Jersey governor in the history of public polling. The latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll found just 16 percent of state voters like their governor, while 73 percent a negative opinion of Christie.

And the state Legislature is in for some major changes next year regardless of the outcomes in the November elections. Here’s a list of key lawmakers who are leaving or changing seats or in tight races.

Quote of the Day: “This accelerated work was an enormous undertaking. We did it on time, on budget, and most importantly, safely.” – Amtrak co-chief executive Wick Moorman on the “Summer of Hell” repairs to Penn Station.

The Key Players Leaving the NJ Legislature
A sea change in New Jersey politics is coming next year, not only because Gov. Chris Christie will be leaving office, but because many prominent voices in the Legislature will be gone or are shuffling into other positions.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Sweeney: No Vote on Police and Fire Salary Cap Before Election
Senate President Steve Sweeney shot down the possibility of extending a 2 percent cap on yearly salary increases for police and firefighters before Election Day, saying he would prefer to wait for the next governor.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Christie’s Approval at 16 Percent, Poll Finds
Gov. Chris Christie’s poll numbers are stuck at historic lows and New Jerseyans are worried about the state’s direction as his tenure draws to close, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Thursday.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Amtrak Completes Rail Repairs at Penn Station
Amtrak engineers at New York Penn Station have completed the rail renewal work that has rerouted thousands of riders for two months, according to a Thursday announcement.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

NJ Transit May Miss Locomotive-Safety Deadline, Documents Show
New Jersey Transit, whose leadership has assured a state investigative panel that lifesaving train technology is on the way, is in danger of missing its federal installation deadline, internal documents show.
Bloomberg Read more

Lourdes Health System to join Cooper University Health Care
Cooper University Health System will acquire Lourdes Health System, with hospitals in Camden and Willingboro, and St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton from Trinity Health, under a preliminary deal announced Thursday.
Inquirer Read more

Menendez lawyer fears prosecutors’ brief could taint jury pool
An attorney for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez on Wednesday slammed federal prosecutors for submitting a trial brief for his upcoming corruption trial, saying it appears to have been written to generate publicity, and could taint potential jurors.
Poltico Read more

Feds: NJ Transit is target of our investigation on abuse of family leave
A day after NJ Transit said it was “working with” federal investigators to resolve any misuse of medical leave by employees, the U.S. Department of Labor took the unusual step of issuing a clarification saying the transit agency is the target of its investigation, not a partner in it.
NJ.com Read more

New rules would curb payments to doctors from drug companies
Governor Chris Christie proposed new rules on Thursday that would prohibit prescribers from accepting large payments from pharmaceutical companies, who annually dole out tens of millions of dollars to state doctors in hopes of selling their wares.
NJ.com Read more

Trump’s visa changes will hurt the Jersey Shore, NJ businesses say
The Hospitality industry worries that future ‘shoulder seasons’ – the time before Memorial Day and after Labor Day that’s an increasingly important part of the Shore’s tourism calendar – may be hampered, perhaps significantly, by a change in cultural-exchange work visas being considered.
NJ101.5 Read more

Who is bankrolling Jersey City’s election?
With Jersey City’s mayoral and City Council races fast approaching, politicians citywide are doing all they can to raise cash to pay for fliers, newspaper ads, campaign workers and everything else they need to give them an advantage at the polls.
The Jersey Journal Read more

Are charter schools contributing to segregation? What New Jersey can tell us
The Red Bank Charter School, one of New Jersey’s longest-running, occupies an old home joined with a former elementary school building. Its brightly decorated classrooms are filled with a mix of faces: white, Hispanic, and black students, dressed in navy blue and khaki.
Inquirer Read more

Man uses pantyhose defense in appeal of upskirt conviction
A court denied the appeal of a man convicted of taking upskirt videos at a grocery store who argued the victim wasn’t exposed because she was wearing pantyhose.
Associated Press Read more

Lakewood schools: Time to take control away from voters?
A retired educator who is a former Department of Education assistant commissioner wants the township to switch from having a school board elected by voters to one appointed by the mayor.
Asbury Park Press Read more

At Least 253 New Jersey Schools Have Reported High Lead Levels, Study Says
At least 253 New Jersey schools have reported high levels of lead in drinking water over the past year, and there could be more as the data continues to be developed, a new report says.
Patch Read more

Why Phil Murphy Is Right About the Gateway Tunnel
Maybe he didn’t see it in 2010, but Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cancel the tunnel under the Hudson River, known then as the ARC project, may have done irreparable harm to New Jersey’s economy.
Donald Scarinci, Observer Read more

NJ Politics Digest: More Trouble at NJ Transit