Morning News Digest: Monday, November 19, 2012
Eagleton: Christie’s post Sandy job approval at 67% among registered voters
Garden Staters have responded very positively to NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s leadership following Superstorm Sandy, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. More than 90 percent praise the governor for his handling of the storm: 69 percent say Christie handled the crisis “very well” and another 23 percent say he handled it “somewhat well.”
And what about the headline-making, controversy-causing bipartisan relationship between Governor Christie and President Obama in Sandy’s wake? Eighty-one percent of New Jerseyans believe the two politicians showed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship,” compared to only 12 percent who think Christie “went too far in his praise” of the president. (PolitickerNJ)
Booker’s vote at Newark City Hall brings forth inopportune reminder of divided city politics
NEWARK – They had an alliance once and a friendship born of street battles fought together as the city’s new political tide.
But West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice tonight sees Mayor Cory Booker as an emblem of an old guard establishment he thought they had sworn to defeat. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Bencivengo will resign
Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo, convicted today of accepting a bribe from a local insurance broker in exchange for help with a contract, will step down from his post effective tomorrow.
Bencivengo’s resignation was announced tonight at the township council meeting. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
Revenue numbers delayed
TRENTON – The governor’s self-imposed deadline for releasing monthly revenue figures came and went last week, and yet there’s little in a way of a response from the administration of when the data will be made available.
According to the governor’s own executive order, October revenue figures should have been released Friday – the tenth business day of the month. However, revenue data has not yet been issued by the Department of Treasury. (PolitickerNJ)
Walters in Trenton to interview Christie
Television personality Barbara Walters was in the statehouse today interviewing Gov. Chris Christie as part of the release of her “10 Most Fascinating People of 2012.”
Christie’s was one of seven names revealed Monday. The remaining names as well as the top name on the list will be revealed on December 12. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
N.J. asking federal government to pay for 90 percent of Sandy recovery
TRENTON — While the Christie administration continues to compile damage figures from Hurricane Sandy, federal lawmakers pushed today for funding to repair decimated beaches and launch flood-control projects they say are sorely needed to protect a state vulnerable to another superstorm.
The state wants the federal government to pay for at least 90 percent of the cost of the Sandy cleanup and recovery effort instead of the usual 75 percent, and is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for trailers to house some displaced residents. (Spoto/Star-Ledger)
N.J. expands food stamp program for Sandy victims
TRENTON — An estimated 100,000 people who suffered substantial losses because of Hurricane Sandy may qualify for a one-time stipend through the federal food stamps program, Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez announced today.
County Boards of Social Services will accept applications for the “Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” beginning Monday, Nov. 26 through seven business days, according to the announcement. If applicants meets the residency, income and asset limit requirements, they will be contacted within about 30 days to retrieve an electronic debit card containing a cash amount based on their family size.
Lawmakers expect temporary housing plans soon
TRENTON — New Jerseyans displaced by superstorm Sandy may be getting closer to finding out what their temporary housing options are.
After members of the state’s congressional delegation met with Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said he expects plans to be finalized soon on offering a combination of up to 600 housing units at Fort Monmouth plus temporary trailers. (Jordan/APP)
Rep. Garrett defends decision not to sign letter asking for Sandy federal aid
Rep. Scott Garrett defended his decision not to sign a letter calling for federal assistance in the wake of superstorm Sandy after a meeting between Governor Christie and the state’s congressional delegation Tuesday morning.
Garrett, a conservative Republican from Wantage, was the only member of Congress from New Jersey who didn’t sign the letter — released in the storm’s wake — that called on House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to work to build “strong, bipartisan support” if additional disaster aid to recover from Hurricane Sandy is needed. Lawmakers from Connecticut and New York also signed the letter. (Campisi/The Record)
N.J. Democratic lawmakers propose reforms to operation of halfway houses
A group of Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly has proposed a package of bills to change the way privately run halfway houses operate in New Jersey.
The legislation introduced Monday comes nearly four months after lawmakers held hearings in Trenton on the publicly funded but privately run halfway houses, where they were presented with examples of violence and even murder inside some of the facilities, as well as regular escapes. (Reitmeyer/The Record)
N.J. counties get more time to count ballots
Fourteen New Jersey counties, swamped with provisional and mail-in ballots in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, on Tuesday were granted more time to count them.
Those counties, including Burlington, Camden and Gloucester, have until next week to certify the results of the Nov. 6 election. (Seidmanand & O’Reilly/Inquirer)
Republicans, 2016: In full swing
Tired of presidential politics? Get over it: Upwards of 15 prominent Republicans are privately contemplating 2016 campaigns for the presidency — and the most serious and ambitious of the bunch are already plunging in, some quite publicly.
Don’t expect them to officially announce or even officially decide for many months. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are doing nothing to disguise their presidential ambitions. (Vandehei & Allen/Politico)
Sandy spurs new look at underground power lines, grid upgrade
Hurricane Sandy has prompted utility regulators to take a new look at measures New Jersey has shied away from in the past – including replacing some above-ground power lines with underground systems — largely because of the huge price tag that likely would jack up electric rates for consumers.
In the next few months, the state Board of Public Utilities, however, plans to explore the possibility of “selective’’ burying of underground lines. It also will examine whether to require utilities to create a “smarter” power grid, a step some say would lead to faster restoration of power in the wake of powerful storms like Sandy. (Johnson/NJSpotlight)
Race to the top returns, this time for school districts
Twenty-one New Jersey school districts are among more than 370 nationwide to apply for $400 million in federal Race to the Top funds, as the sweeping and sometimes controversial competition goes local with a push into specific instruction models and technology.
Due last week, the applications came from a wide range of districts in New Jersey, from Newark and Paterson to three different consortia of suburban districts. Winners will be announced by the end of the year. (Mooney/NJSpotlight)
Business optimism high, survey finds
New Jersey business owners are feeling increasingly optimistic, according to a new survey from the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
The organization today released its 54th annual Business Outlook Survey, based on responses from 1,470 companies across the state, most with fewer than 50 employees. (Kaltwasser/NJBIZ)
Citizens rush council members as chaos erupts at Newark City Hall meeting
NEWARK — A behind-the-scenes political maneuver by Newark Mayor Cory Booker to fill a vacant council seat with his choice led to a near-riot in city hall tonight, with dozens of residents rushing the council stage and police responding with pepper-spray.
After weeks of jockeying for Rep. Donald Payne’s successor, Booker made an unprecedented personal appearance to cast the deciding vote with his council allies for Shanique Davis Speight, a longtime ally of power broker Stephen Adubato, over the angry objections of residents. (Giambusso & Queally/Star-Ledger)
N.J. Republicans see media bias as GOP’s top issue, poll shows
TRENTON — A plurality of New Jersey Republicans think media bias is the most important issue facing their party today according to a poll released today.
The NJ Speaks poll, sponsored by Kean University and conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, found 40 percent of the state’s Republicans said media bias is the biggest issue. Another 32 percent cited the nation’s changing demographics, and 16 percent said the party is too conservative. (Friedman/Star-Ledger)
From the back room
Baba Wawa is in the house
On her visit to the statehouse this afternoon, television personality Barbara Walters had little time for the press corps faithful.
Approached by two reporters as she stood with her producer after taping a segment with Gov. Christie, Walters seemed genuinely perplexed and somewhat annoyed at being approached. (PolitickerNJ)
In meeting with NJ Delegation, Christie critical of Cuomo
In a lovefest backroom gathering of Gov. Chris Christie and the N.J. Congressional Delegation, the governor didn’t clash with anyone from New Jersey.
Not this time. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Poll: Sandy affected nearly all in N.J.
We’ve all seen the photos, and some of us have lived through the devastation. Superstorm Sandy’s destructive path caused major damage all along New Jersey’s coastline.
But the storm was not simply a Shore thing, according to a new poll. The havoc touched two-thirds of the state’s residents, with 21 percent of those affected forced to leave their homes, the results of a new Rutgers-Eagleton survey show. (Schoonejongen/APP)
Editorial: Swift justice for Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo in corruption case
The verdict was swift and unanimous: Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo is guilty of abusing his office for personal gain.
While the cash-strapped mayor legally could have remained in office earning his $108,000-a-year salary until he is sentenced to up to 20 years in prison in February, Bencivengo promptly and appropriately resigned tonight. (Times of Trenton)