Morning News Digest: October 11, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Menendez versus Kyrillos Part II
Panned for a wobbly performance last week, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) rushed out of his corner in a go for broke play to smother U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-U.S.) early in the candidates’ FIOS/101.5 debate tonight.
Menendez used biography to reinforce his driving argument that he’s a pro-middle class fighter.
“Bob is laughable,” Kyrillos said. “He protects millionaires. Jon Corzine’s one of them.”
It was the second time inside five minutes that Kyrillos attempted to suction cup Corzine to Menendez, who supplanted the Wall Street millionaire in a U.S. Senate seat when Corzine became governor.
“A Jon Corzine economic strategy,” Kyrillos complained. “Bob Menendez proposes more of the same.”
Menendez tried to swat away Kyrillos’s simultaneous efforts to depict himself as a willing advocate for the working poor and middle class. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
New Jerseyans support Affordable Care Act, poll says
A new poll released today shows a majority of New Jersey voters support the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), want Medicare to be mostly left alone and want Medicaid to cover more poor residents.
The WNYC/Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found that nearly 6-in-10 registered voters said the Supreme Court was right to uphold the law, while 37 percent wanted it struck down. Support for the health care law has increased considerably since March 2010, when 47 percent of respondents support the law. Much of the support/opposition of the law falls along party lines. Eighty percent of the Democrats support the law while 74 percent of Republicans wanted the court to strike down the law, according to the poll.
A majority of independents (56 percent), however, support the law. (Hassan, PolitickerNJ)
Booker to sign union labor agreement
Newark Mayor Cory Booker said today he plans to sign an ordinance passed earlier this month that will require the use of union labor on a large portion of city construction projects.
The agreement, passed unanimously by the city council, would institute a project labor agreement on any project valued at $25 million or more on which the city has granted a tax abatement. Any public works project valued at $5 million or more also would require a PLA. The ordinance requires the use of Newark-based apprentices on the same jobs.
In a statement, Booker said even without the ordinance in place he has sought to make Newark projects union friendly. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Chris Christie, Mitt Romney together in Ohio
When a voter at Mitt Romney’s town hall meeting here Wednesday asked him a question about how he would deal with China, Romney looked to the other man onstage with him: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“Gov., I didn’t let you answer after that last question, so I’m going to let you answer after both these,” Romney said to Christie, then telling the crowd: “I’m not used to having another person onstage with me — I like it, though, this is good!”
The New Jersey governor, who has been a frequent fixture on the campaign trail for Romney, is helping the GOP presidential nominee capitalize on his post-debate momentum and aiding him in his appeal to working-class voters in the must-win state of Ohio.
Christie’s presence is both energizing voters and putting Romney at ease during his day-and-a-half swing through the Buckeye State. (Schultheis, POLITICO)
Christie to hold town hall event in West Milford
Governor Christie is scheduled to conduct his first town hall-style meeting in West Milford on Tuesday.
Mayor Bettina Bieri said the governor’s office contacted her several weeks ago about arranging the visit. She said she’d like Christie to address the issue of compensating Highlands communities for protecting water-generating land that supplies millions of New Jersey residents.
The township hired a lobbying firm last week with the goal of persuading state legislators to support a water surcharge on Newark customers. Newark owns a vast watershed property in West Milford.
“If we can get Governor Christie behind that, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he supported legislation that changed the way watershed property is taxed or a water surcharge for communities that are benefiting,” Bieri said. “It’s no different from people who use the roads paying the tolls. People who use the water should pay to preserve it, otherwise they won’t have it.” (Green, The Record)
NJ’s US Senate candidates focus on economy
New Jersey’s two major-party candidates for U.S. Senate highlighted their differing approaches to jumpstarting the nation’s economy during their second debate, while trying to blame each other for the economy’s lackluster state and the struggles of the middle-class.
With just under a month to go in their campaign for U.S. Senate, New Jersey’s two major-party candidates spent much of their second debate Wednesday trying to blame each other for the lackluster economy and struggles of the middle class.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Joe Kyrillos, a veteran state legislator, stuck mainly to their respective parties’ talking points on issues such as health care and illegal immigration, and were most animated when arguing over how best to jump-start the economy. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
GOP hopeful says tainted $5,000 gift will go to charity
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos will donate political contributions made by the owner of a contracting firm who was indicted for bribery and kickbacks earlier this month, according to his campaign.
George Chrysanthopoulos of Little Silver is charged with conspiracy to commit honest-services mail fraud, wire fraud and bribery. and could face up to 20 years in federal prison. In March, he donated $5,000 to Joe Kyrillos for U.S. Senate.
Kyrillos, a veteran lawmaker from Monmouth County, is trying to unseat first-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of North Bergen.
Kyrillos’ campaign has decided to send the $5,000 to a charity that has yet to be picked, campaign manager Chapin Fay told The Record. (Reitmeyer and Jackson, The Record)
Keep Earned Income credit out of tax-cut fight, critics warn Christie
Governor Christie should restore a cut made two years ago to the leading tax credit affecting roughly 500,000 low- and middle-income families, advocates warned Wednesday.
Highlighting state Republicans’ continued bargaining over the Earned Income Tax Credit as one of a number of economic policies on the table, a coalition of policy experts and affected residents urged Christie to treat the EITC independently of other tax changes.
Representatives from the Working Families Alliance hope Christie will spend $50 million to restore the credit to the level it was prior to his 20-percent cut in payments in 2010. (Fletcher, The Record)
Christie predicts ‘mean and angry’ Obama
The man who predicted Mitt Romney would wipe the floor with President Obama in the first debate is back with another prediction.
A fired-up Chris Christie returned to the presidential campaign trail this week in a high-profile, high-octane way, stumping for two days in swingy Ohio where he made fun of Obama’s debate performance and predicted that Obama will return “mean and angry.”
“I think the president’s going to need at least two or three Red Bulls before the next one, just to make sure he’s awake,” Christie said. “And then from there, he’s going to come out and he’s going to be mean. You know, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that…So I think you’re going to see a mean and angry president in the next two debates.” (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Medicaid should expand, poll says
A majority of New Jersey voters supports the U.S. Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s healthcare reforms and would like to see the state go further than the court required and expand Medicaid, according to a poll released today.
With a majority of 57 percent, voters surveyed in the Eagleton poll said Medicaid eligibility should be expanded so that more poor people could gain health coverage in New Jersey.
That provision of the Affordable Care Act was made optional by the Supreme Court when it upheld the federal law’s individual mandate in June. Governor Christie has said he will wait until after the presidential election to decide what the state will do.
Support for Medicaid expansion was greatest among Democrats, blacks, college graduates and those with lower incomes. (Washburn, The Record)
N.J. asks support to fund colleges
Almost a quarter-century after New Jersey voters last approved a bond issue for higher education, political leaders and some of the state’s most powerful business executives are trying to sell them on borrowing $750 million to expand and renovate colleges in the state.
A coalition of universities, labor unions, and Fortune 500 corporations called Building Our Futures is planning to spend $2.1 million on advertising and outreach ahead of a statewide referendum Nov. 6. Supporters say approval of the bond issue is critical if the state is to stay competitive in attracting pharmaceutical and technology jobs.
“I was talking to the head of one of the [pharmaceutical] companies one time, and I said, ‘Why are you going to Massachusetts? They have more regulatory issues than we do.’ He said, ‘MIT. They’re making investments up there and you’re not,’ ” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester). “If we don’t make this change now, we’re in trouble.” (Osborne, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Senate panel to consider bill banning ‘synthetic’ marijuana
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee will vote on a bill Thursday that calls for prohibiting the selling and possession of “synthetic marijuana,” whose use has been surging in recent years throughout the country.
The bill, S1783, sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, (D-15), Lawrence, would add synthetic marijuana to the state’s list of controlled dangerous substances. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
Foes face formidable task in 4th Congressional District
Brian Froelich, making his first run for office at age 66 against , R-4th District, said his friends suggested starting with a county freeholder race.
Though that would have been much less of a hurdle than trying to dislodge New Jersey’s senior member of Congress, Froelich said he is not interested in local or state office.
“As I see it, the problems are in Washington,” said , a business executive and consultant from Spring Lake who ran unopposed in June’s Democratic primary.
Citing a few of the problems he has with Smith’s positions, Froelich said he supports the health care law that Smith voted to repeal. He disagrees with Smith’s vote for Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which sought cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and other programs. And he says Smith was wrong to join more than 200 House Republicans in signing a pledge to never raise taxes. (Jennings, NJ Spotlight)
Jobs are the priority, Second Congressional District candidates agreed
Jobs will be the top priority for the Second Congressional District representative moving forward, whether voters elect incumbent Frank LoBiondo or one of his five challengers.
The candidates held varying positions on major political topics during an Asbury Park Press editorial board meeting Wednesday, but agreed helping their constituents get or retain jobs is a critical task.
“The issues are clearly jobs and the economy,” said LoBiondo, R-N.J. “Not unlike the rest of the country, everyone who has a job is worried about keeping it and a lot of people are without jobs.”
The second district includes Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties and parts of Camden, Gloucester, Burlington and Ocean counties. As a result of the 2010 U.S. Census, the district now includes Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton, Eagleswood, Long Beach Island and parts of Stafford. (Funderburk, Asbury Park Press)
3rd District bidders vie for seat in Congess
Jobs and the housing crisis top the list of voters’ worries in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, and incumbent Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., and Democratic challenger Shelley Adler split on what the government should do to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown.
“Lenders are so afraid of what regulations will be coming out” of Washington in coming months, Runyan contended in a Tuesday meeting with the Asbury Park Press editorial board.
“Lenders are so afraid of what regulations will be coming out” of Washington in coming months, Runyan contended in a Tuesday meeting with the Asbury Park Press editorial board. (Moore, Asbury Park Press)
N.J. banks awarded $602M in SBA loans in near-record fiscal year
New Jersey lenders made $602 million in government-backed Small Business Administration loans in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 — the third-highest year on record — a strong showing that also marks the first full year without the incentives SBA has put in place to encourage lending during the financial crisis and recession.
“To do these kinds of numbers without incentives — I’ve got to say, I’m pretty happy,” said Al Titone, SBA district director for New Jersey. Those incentives included waiving the loan origination fee and raising the amount of the loan the government could guarantee.
In fiscal 2012, New Jersey businesses received 1,172 SBA loans for $602 million. Fiscal 2011 was the state’s second-best year, at $675 million; the New Jersey SBA lending record was set in 2005, at $699 million. (Fitzgerald, NJBIZ)
Local Finance Board: E. Rutherford ‘irresponsible’ by not answering budget questions
Members of the state’s Local Finance Board say East Rutherford is being “extraordinarily irresponsible” by rebuffing attempts by the state to report information regarding the municipality’s budget.
The board noted today that East Rutherford has refused to answer questions from the state and bond-reporting agencies regarding the status of the municipality’s annual budget – which is due at the end of the calendar year. (Arco, State Street Wire)
DOE follows $1.6 billion in stimulus money…but only so far
When the first round of federal stimulus money was handed out several years ago, New Jersey public schools were scolded by state monitors for not having adequate safeguards in place to ensure that the $1.6 billion was properly spent.
With the money gone and the state’s monitoring completed, the Department of Education this month released the summary findings for the nearly 100 districts getting the bulk of the aid.
Guess what: According to the state at least, safeguards are still not in place in too many places.
In his department’s annual (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/12/10/10/doe-follows-1-6-billion-in-stimulus-money-but-only-so-far/ of the monitoring sent to all districts last week, state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf wrote that there continues to be a number common failings.
Transition and crisis in New Jersey’s nursing profession
For Julie Williams, RN, it was a typical shift as critical care coordinator in the surgical ICU and telemetry units at HackensackUMC Mountainside Hospital in Montclair: clock in at 6 a.m., care for ICU transfers, ready patients for surgery, summon a team to resuscitate a critically ill patient, and clock out more than 12 hours later.
It’s a challenging, constantly changing environment, observed Bonnie Michaels, vice president and chief nursing officer at the hospital — as well as a member of the board of directors of the Organization of Nurse Executives New Jersey. (Lehren, NJ Spotlight)
American Dream traffic analyses offered by developer and by Jets and Giants
The developers of American Dream have submitted their analysis of Sunday traffic on football game days at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. The Giants and Jets have submitted theirs.
And this morning, a New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority committee is expected to hear from both sides in the months-long dispute over whether the teams’ consent is needed to add seven-day-a-week amusement and water parks to the shopping and entertainment project.
The hearing is a final procedural step before the entire board votes on the redevelopment plan, probably later this month.
Looming over the proceeding is the possibility of a lawsuit being re-filed by the teams, who maintain that the addition of the 639,000-square-foot amusement component to the complex once known as Xanadu will cause traffic nightmares. (Brennan, The Record)
In New Jersey, colder winter could push home heating costs higher
It looks as if some New Jersey residents may have to dig deeper into their pockets this winter to pay their energy bills.
The United States winter heating outlook projects that the coming season will be about 18 percent colder than last year, a that the Energy Information Administration says will boost natural gas heating bills, as well as the cost of home heating oil, electricity, and propane.
For households that rely on home heating oil, the agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimated that the average expenditure for the fuel could reach record levels. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Election 2012 Primer: Early voting laws
VOTE EARLY AND VOTE OFTEN…well, voting OFTEN is a crime, but it is legal in some states to vote EARLY. Through an increase in early voting laws, many Americans will cast their votes well before November 6.
In Iowa, a key battleground state, voting started September 27. Voters in other key swing states will also hit the polls early. In fact, 75% of voters in North Carolina, 60% in Florida, 57% in Iowa, and 60% in Nevada are expected to make their choice before Election Day, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. (Scarinci for PolitickerNJ)
Veto of Bergen pay-to-play revisions open doors to real reform
When Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan halted the Freeholder Board’s watering down of the county’s pay-to-play ban last week, she also effectively put an end to the debate for the near future.
It shouldn’t end. Bergen officials should recognize this as the beginning of a critical phase in the long, complicated crusade to reform campaign financing. Donovan’s veto should jump-start a bipartisan effort to improve and monitor the law as it slowly takes root in Bergen’s political landscape.
The 10-month-old ban is far from perfect and, truth is, it will probably need some retooling. It’s cluttered with well-intentioned provisions that go too far. Some are unenforceable. And at least one provision has the potential of creating filing cabinets of needless, never-to-be-seen-again government paperwork. (Stile, The Record)
Veto of N.J.’s 911 Good Samaritan bill disappoints backer
Patty DiRenzo describes how she felt Friday when she heard that Gov. Christie had vetoed New Jersey’s “911 Good Samaritan” legislation.
“It was like I’d been punched in the stomach,” the Blackwood legal secretary says.
The measure, for which DiRenzo, 53, had lobbied for two years, would spare those who summon emergency aid for drug-overdose victims from potentially facing drug charges themselves.
The proposal needs more scrutiny, according to Christie, a former federal prosecutor who has shown similar caution about establishing the state’s medical-marijuana program. (Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer)