Morning News Digest: April 4, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Pio Costa challenges DeCroce in LD 26 GOP Primary
Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce, (R-26), Whippany, will face opposition after all, albeit not from convention antagonist Larry Casha.
She will run for her seat against Montville businessman Anthony Pio Costa, who filed Monday.
“I feel compelled to do it,” said the owner of a family real estate management company. “I think I have a good chance. There are a lot of people who do not like these career politicians. I don’t like the political favoritism attached to politics and politicians right now. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Gov. Christie plays businessman in Israel
Gov. Chris Christie today fulfilled the trade mission goal of his four-day trip to Israel by meeting with the drug giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and a slick start-up with a new model for selling electric cars.
“One of the big reasons I came (here) was to reach out to the business community in Israel,” Christie said after spending much of an evening reception in Tel Aviv in a private room with staff and Israeli businessmen. “Because of our cultural similarities, because of our approaches, which I think are very similar, we should be looking to exploit that relationship even further.” (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Gov. Christie meets with Israel President Shimon Peres, tours holocaust memorial
At the conclusion of a tour of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial today, Gov. Chris Christie emerged from a black-and-gray world filled with grainy photographs to a vista where visitors can gaze upon a modern-day city.
The message was clear. The horrors visited upon the Jewish people shaped not only the formation of the state of Israel, but its future.
“I think it’s central to this country in terms of the way they make decisions is a backdrop of the fact that Israeli self-determination is central and Israelis not having to rely upon anyone else for their own defense is central,” Christie said afterwards. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Measure to change N.J. drug treatment advances
It took State Sen. Raymond Lesniak a couple of days to get over the fright of awakening to two intruders standing over his bed one night in 2009.
But the Union County Democrat said he soon realized it would be senseless for the men to do prison time without being treated for the drug addiction that led them to rob him.
Lesniak worked with the prosecutor and testified at both men’s trials, advocating treatment rather than jail. He was successful for one, Brian Kinney. The other, Antoine Neal, was released after serving time – a prior conviction had made him ineligible for the Drug Court program. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
NJ bill OKs online bets from other states, nations
An Internet gambling bill working its way through the New Jersey legislature would let Atlantic City casinos take bets from gamblers in other states and even other countries, as long as federal and state authorities agree it’s legal.
The measure was approved Tuesday by a state Senate committee.
“This is another step forward toward my goal of New Jersey becoming the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming, generating hundreds of millions in revenues for our casino industry, thousands of jobs for Atlantic City, and tens of millions of revenues for our Casino Revenue Fund to help seniors and the disabled,” said Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a northern New Jersey Democrat who has been the bill’s most vocal supporter. (Associated Press)
New Jersey candidates file to run in new-look congressional districts
New Jersey’s political combatants have filed their papers for the June 5 primary, and the hottest congressional contests will happen up north.
Facing off in the Ninth District will be two 14-year Democratic incumbents, including one whose former district was eliminated by remapping. And a half-dozen Democrats are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, who represented the 10th District for 23 years before he died of colon cancer last month. (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Bill Pascrell versus the Tea Party
New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell is in the midst of a heated member vs. member battle against fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman, but you wouldn’t know it from his first TV spot.
Pascrell’s ad is a full-frontal assault on the tea party, never mentioning his Democratic foe. It opens with an image of Pascrell listening to soundbites from Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich and then saying, “This is rediculous. I’m Bill Pascrell, and this why I’m running: To stop the tea party.” (Isenstadt, Politico)
Passaic city leaders urge Jewish Republican to support Rothman
Two Passaic city councilmen have urged their Republican constituents to switch parties to vote for Rep. Steve Rothman in his Democratic primary race with Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., an effort condemned by the Pascrell campaign as a slight to the Democratic Party.
In a March 27 letter paid for by the Rothman campaign, Councilmen Chaim M. Munk and Daniel J. Schwartz, both Orthodox Jews, urged Republican voters to change their party affiliation to Democrat by the April 11 primary registration deadline and to vote in the June 5 primary. (Ensslin and Patberg, The Record)
MTA’s Lhota says subway to N.J. won’t happen in ‘our lifetime’
A proposal to extend New York City’s No. 7 subway line under the Hudson River to New Jersey probably won’t happen in “our lifetime,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota said.
Lhota, speaking at a meeting of the New York Building Congress in Manhattan today, said the No. 7 train extension would be too expensive, require building rail yards in New Jersey and would face pricing issues. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
When NJ kids take out No. 2 pencils, they’ll be testing the test
When elementary and middle school students sit down next month for the annual state testing, they will get their first taste of new national academic standards coming to New Jersey –- even if they may not know it.
The Christie administration will begin to “field test” questions derived from the new Common Core State Standards into the next NJASK tests, given to every student Grades 3-8. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Ivory tower shows cracks
Leaky ceilings raining down on chemistry equipment. Power failures. Classrooms originally built for elementary-school students. Steam plumes exploding out of the sidewalks.
The infrastructure woes of New Jersey’s public universities have emerged as a serious problem for the 467,000-student system, causing state schools to lose students and top professors to other states, said several college presidents in interviews. (Haddon, The Wall Street Journal)
NJ seeks to reduce the ills of minorities
In the year since taking charge of the state’s health department, Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd has taken a hard look at the results New Jersey gets for the millions of dollars it spends each year aimed at leveling the healthcare playing field for minorities.
In the past the emphasis was on process, O’Dowd told the state’s first Health Equity Summit on Monday. “How many visits, or how many programs or how many educational sessions” did state health programs rack up. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Agenda: State Board of Education
What they are doing: While school reform and funding issues roil New Jersey’s political scene, the state Board of Education’s agenda is a relatively light one today. One policy area up for vote is a change in the competency testing required for incoming elementary school teachers.
Teacher testing: The board will take up final adoption of a resolution to adjust what incoming elementary teachers need to know to pass the national Praxis exam. The exam is already required for new teachers, testing them on their knowledge and skills. But New Jersey will be participating in a new version that sets more rigorous requirements for passing all four different subject area tests: language arts, math, science and social studies. The board will set the state’s required passing scores on the exam. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Federal $9.4 million grant will assist mothers of young children
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) Tuesday announced that New Jersey has been awarded more than $9.4 million to support the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.
With this grant, New Jersey has received almost $15 million through the program, allowing the state to expand its Home Visitation Initiative to more at-risk families. These funds were awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. (Staff, Gannett)
Health study ranks counties
We’re healthier in Burlington County than in Camden or Gloucester, but not as bad off as people living in Cumberland or Salem counties.
According to 2012 rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Cumberland (21) and Salem (20) are the least healthy of New Jersey’s 21 counties. Hunterdon in the top spot while Burlington ranks 10th, Gloucester 14th and Camden 18th. (Staff, Gannett)
State of the Arts: Community colleges take on more responsibility
When Camden County Freeholder Ian Leonard introduced a resolution earlier this year to fold the public Cultural and Heritage Commission into the Camden County College system, he encountered “an outcry that’s been second to none.”
“People went bananas,” he said. “People got the idea that we were abolishing the commission.” (Nurin, NJ Spotlight)
Rutgers president calls Rowan report on merger ‘truly offensive and enraging’
The president of Rutgers University, Richard McCormick, sharply criticized a report advising Rowan University how to market a takeover of Rutgers-Camden to a wary public, calling it “truly offensive and enraging” in an e-mail message The Star-Ledger obtained today.
McCormick described Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to merge the two campuses as a “disappointment,” and said he and other university officials have repeatedly urged the administration to consider alternatives, but the suggestions have gone unheeded, according to the e-mail. (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)
Medical marijuana delay hurts patients across N.J., lawsuit claims
New Jersey’s health department has caused undue suffering to patients across the state by failing to implement the medical marijuana program, a patient and doctor claim in a lawsuit that is expected to be filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit comes only a week after the owner of one of the state’s six planned dispensaries also took aim at Gov. Chris Christie and the health department, sending a heated letter that alleged state officials were purposefully stalling the program. (Brittain, The Star-Ledger)
Newark gets short end in Prudential Center revenue share ruling
A financial dispute over the Prudential arena that has harried New Jersey Devils ownership and Newark city leaders for close to a decade is seemingly at an end with a decision handed down today by a panel of three independent arbitrators that decidedly favors the Devils.
The city, with the Newark Housing Authority acting as the arena developer, was awarded roughly $14.7 million in back rent, relocation expenses and fines. But the Devils were awarded $15.3 million in unpaid parking revenue, capital costs and excess taxes. (Giambusso, The Star-Ledger)
PharmFest puts focus on the business of science
The pharmaceutical industry is built on asking — and solving — big questions of a scientific nature. But on Tuesday, industry representatives turned their microscopes to the business side of innovation, tackling questions about how to make their research, and the industry itself, sustainable for the long haul.
Montclair State University teamed with the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey to host its 2012 PharmFest conference. (Kaltwasser, NJBIZ)
Following court decision, SDA says it will meet rules deadline
The state agency that lost an appellate court ruling today over school construction regulations said it will meet its deadline regarding the proposed rules.
The Schools Development Authority lost an appeals court decision today over a 2007 law, but said this afternoon it is on track for meeting an April 18 deadline. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
ELC wins Abbott-related ruling concerning SDA
An education advocacy group has won an appellate court ruling today over the state’s noncompliance with a reform law.
The court ruled in favor of the Education Law Center, which had sued the state Department of Education and the Schools Development Authority for not promulgating regulations to comply with a 2007 law. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Candidates file for Congressional contests
The state Division of Elections has printed a full unofficial list of candidates running in Congressional primaries on June 5th.
The list is printed here…
http://www.nj.gov/state/elections/election-resu… (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
On court, be careful for what you wish
When Democrats in the state Senate complained about Gov. Chris Christie’s effort to fill the court with those with a philosophy similar to his own, they pointed to Justice Jaynee LaVecchia as a Republican in an Independent’s clothing.
LaVecchia, a justice since 2000, had served in the administration of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and was the deputy chief counsel in former Gov. Tom Kean’s administration. Both were Republicans, and it was Whitman who nominated LaVecchia to the court. (Schoonejongen, Gannett)
Christie meets with pharmaceutical firm in Israel that employs hundred in North Jersey
Governor Christie sat at the conference room table, picked up a pen and signed his name to a letter.
It may seem like a small gesture amid Christie’s whirlwind tour of Israel and Jordan. But in the game of political wins, losses and image-making, this gubernatorial signature was a small victory, earned in the second-floor conference room of an Israeli pharmaceutical firm with offices in North Jersey. (Kelly, The Record)
On Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act case, guess who wants judicial activism?
President Obama yesterday was extremely rude to conservatives again. He had the temerity to voice an opinion on the challenge to his health reform law now before the Supreme Court, a move that Republicans like Mitt Romney found repugnant.
So let’s see if we have this straight: Everyone in the universe can comment about this case except the president. Romney and Rick Santorum haven’t held back, and neither have Republican leaders in Congress. But when Obama treads into this same territory, he is somehow a thug who is trying to “intimidate” the court. (Moran, The Star-Ledger)