N.J. to keep doing AC
Good Thursday morning!
Remember how controversial the state takeover of Atlantic City was back during Gov. Chris Christie’s second term?
Well, that’s scheduled to end this year. But a bill that has started advancing in the Assembly would extend it another four years — while restoring Civil Service and interest arbitration rights to the city’s public workers.
The most remarkable thing is how uncontroversial it is this time around. Nobody testified against the legislation in the Assembly State and Local Government Committee, while the PBA and FMBA were the only groups that testified in favor. And the committee’s two Republicans joined its four Democrats in voting to advance the measure.
So assuming the bill keeps moving, it looks like the state of New Jersey will continue to do AC. Read more from Katherine Landergan here.
WHERE’S MURPHY — No public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I feel like you only care about Blacks sometimes.” — Old Bridge Council Member John Murphy III to Council Member Edina Brown, who had called for cultural competency training
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — @NJGov’s Megan Coyne
CORONAVIRUS TRACKER — 925 newly-reported positive PCR tests for a total of 881,635. 1,041 hospitalized, 247 in intensive care. 33 more deaths for a total of 25,882 confirmed or presumed deaths. 3,701,759 fully vaccianted, or about 39.8 percent of the population.
RIZZO DID NOT QUALIFY FOR PUBLIC FUNDS TO PAY WOMAN WHO BELIEVES COVID IS A CONSPIRACY TO MICROCHIP PEOPLE — Gubernatorial candidates have raised $14.8M and spent $12.2M, latest filings show, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Murphy raised most of his allotted money shortly after declaring his reelection campaign in late 2020, he only had several dozen donors for this quarter. They included four from or related to the cannabis industry, each of whom gave $4,900: Columbia Care, which runs a Vineland dispensary, and Bridgewater dispensary owner Andrew Zaleski and two of his relatives… Ciattarelli … spent almost $8,000 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster for fundraising food and beverage expenses … Almost 80 percent of the money Singh raised came from a self-loan of $418,000 … Singh’s report also shows he paid former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale $30,500. Rizzo’s campaign reported a $2,500 contribution from Assemblymember Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth), who is fighting for reelection after being dumped from the Monmouth County GOP-supported ticket by county Chair Shaun Golden… Rizzo’s has also incurred small consulting fee charges to anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Stephanie Locricchio, who has promoted conspiracy theories that the government is using the pandemic to implant people with microchips.
NOTHING MORE COURTEOUS THAN AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN RON RICE AND NICK SCUTARI — “Phil Murphy is OK with senatorial courtesy. Here’s the backstory,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “Murphy described the unwritten rule, which allows Senators to block gubernatorial nominees who hail from their home county, as an occasionally annoying but necessary evil. ‘I think it’s been largely a good thing over time,’ Murphy said during a recent coronavirus briefing … It’s worth noting that Murphy’s endorsement of courtesy came a day after Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, squared off in a virtual debate on New Jersey Globe … In the debate, Huttle supported getting rid of the practice, asserting that she didn’t think it was a ‘fair system’ and suggested it spurred unsavory back room deal making. But Johnson, who Murphy has endorsed, expressed support for courtesy and said he would use it to increase minority representation in the Bergen County Superior Court.”
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711 MASTROS — Murphy, lawmakers weighing options for spending $6.4B in federal relief funding, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: The Murphy administration and state lawmakers are considering using more than $6 billion in federal relief funds flowing into the state’s coffers for everything from rental assistance and payments to essential workers to investing in New Jersey’s aging infrastructure. The U.S. Treasury Department this week released guidance for how states and cities can spend the $350 billion set aside in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden in March. New Jersey set to receive $6.4 billion it can begin spend immediately. The money can’t be used to offset a tax cut or to make a deposit into a pension fund. It also can’t be used to make debt payments or pay off legal settlements. There are also some provisos on the extent to which the funds can be used for infrastructure spending. Though they can spend the money immediately, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration and top lawmakers are instead talking about spending it over a period of years.
COURAGE ON DISPLAY — “Why N.J.’s 2 House Republicans voted to oust Liz Cheney from leadership spot,” by NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan D. Salant: “[Jeff] Van Drew and [Chris] Smith told NJ Advance Media Wednesday that Cheney’s views on Trump didn’t figure into their positions. Rather, they said Cheney had lost her effectiveness as conference chair, a position that requires the occupant to tout GOP views and make the case for why they should be entrusted with the House majority. ‘I don’t think she was providing the leadership that would create unity within our caucus,’ said Van Drew … Smith, who said he employed Cheney a babysitter for his daughter four decades ago, said the conference chair is the voice of the party. ‘The conference chair for Democrats or Republicans is a unique position,’ Smith said.”
— Stile: “Enough with Trump’s ‘Big Lie’: Christie Whitman, 100 others prepare to leave GOP”
— Golden: “This is what dignity looks like — in the face of a howling mob”
LOUDERMILK IS SOUR ABOUT IT — “House Republicans file ethics complaint against Democrats who made unsubstantiated claims that GOP led ‘reconnaissance’ tours before Capitol riot,” by The Daily Caller’s Henry Rodgers: “The complaint … alleged three specific violations and called for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee into the behavior of over two dozen Democrats. The complaint specifically mentioned a letter sent by New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill and 33 other Democrats to the Capitol Police asking them to investigate unsubstantiated claims that Members of Congress led ‘suspicious’ groups through the Capitol Complex on a ‘reconnaissance’ journey ahead of the riot. The ethics complaint was sent by the top Republicans on the House Administration Committee, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk and Wisconsin Rep. Bryan Steil. The complaint also noted Sherrill’s Jan. 12 comments, when she told constituents in a Facebook video that she was worried some of her colleagues had provided ‘reconnaissance’ tours to Capitol rioters.”
BOOKER IN NO RUSH — “Johnson wants to break racial barrier in 2021, but felt differently when Booker ran for Senate,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Gordon Johnson touts breaking a glass ceiling of his own as he seeks to become the first Black state senator from Bergen County, but when he had a chance to help Cory Booker become just the fourth Black since Reconstruction to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, he went in another direction. On the day before a 2013 special primary election, Johnson endorsed Rep. Rush Holt, a 65-year-old White congressman from Central Jersey, in his primary challenge against Booker that year. Now Booker is sitting out the State Senate primary in the 37th district, eschewing a request from party leaders to publicly back Johnson in his battle with Valerie Vainieri Huttle.”
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MEN ARE FROM MARS. WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS. AND TRANSPHOBES ARE FROM NEPTUNE — “In Neptune, hundreds of emails, angry messages follow school official’s transphobic altercation,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Joe Strupp: “There has been no let up since the middle school vice principal’s recent involvement in a beer-throwing, transphobic altercation, only a ‘disruptive chain of events,’ according to the school district superintendent. ‘I have received hundreds of emails, hundreds of voicemail messages and tweets from hundreds and hundreds of very upset, angry people,’ Superintendent Tami Crader said in an interview Tuesday.She said the outrage has included a few threats, which have been reported to Neptune police, apparently none prompting serious alarm … At issue are the actions of Michael Smurro, the Neptune Middle School vice principal who came under fire after an April 24 incident at a tavern in the Smithville section of Galloway. According to a video recording posted by another patron, Smurro’s wife, Lisa, took issue with someone she believed to be a transgender woman using a women’s bathroom. Another diner began recording Lisa Smurro’s loud complaints, and the Smurros became more confrontational as they left the outdoor seating area, with Michael Smurro finally throwing a beer.”
HOW WELL ARE THEY DOING? — “Howell Council OK new budget including possible 60% pay increase for themselves,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Alex N. Gecan: “The Township Council first rejected, then adopted, a budget for the next fiscal year Tuesday, with potential 60% raises for council members the biggest sticking point. Under the spending plan, council salaries could rise to $12,000, up from $7,500, but any increase will require another step. The budget first failed 3-2, but Mayor Theresa Berger, a Democrat, asked for a second vote and changed her ‘no’ to a ‘yes.’ Berger said she initially voted ‘no’ on account of a line that could increase council members’ salaries from $7,500 to $12,000 a year. Any actual ‘lary increase would require an ordinance change, another item that the council itself would vote on.”
IT’S NOT AS FUN AS SMASHING WATERMELONS WITH MALLETS — “Bound Brook schools chief wants out: ‘Come do this job’,” by MyCentralJersey’s Cheryl Makin: “Parents, teachers and staff members have signed a petition calling for the ouster of Superintendent of Schools Daniel Gallagher, who said he doesn’t want to continue serving in the position. Gallagher, at Monday’s board of education meeting, said those who want him out are wasting their time because he doesn’t want the position which he has held for nearly seven years. Instead, Gallagher, a longtime district educator, said he intends to stay in Bound Brook as a principal, a position he previously held. ‘I think I have been crystal clear that my intent is not to ask for another contract,’ Gallagher said at the meeting. ‘I am actually going to be exercising my clause in my contract to go back to being a principal or other position in the district. That’s not an option at the moment — a renewal for me.’ The superintendent, whose contract runs though June 30, 2022, said the pandemic and health issues were a part of his decision.”
SCANDINAVIAN MEN DROP OPPOSITION AFTER LEARNING IT’S SPELLED ‘LEAF,’ NOT ‘LEIF’ — “Leaf blowers banned in N.J. towns after work-from-home neighbors complain about noise,” by NJ Advance Media’s Avalon Zoppo: “Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, Montclair councilor-at-large Peter Yacobellis says one complaint in particular has flooded his email inbox: gripes about noisy leaf blowers. With more people working from home, the inescapable buzzing sound has become the unofficial soundtrack of the pandemic in some areas. And a few towns in New Jersey are now limiting or further restricting what months the machines can be used.”
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— “Dover bridge dedicated to civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis”
— “Passaic mayor and Team Passaic slate see landslide victories in municipal elections”
I GUESS HE WON’T BE VISITING AGAIN ANY TIME SOON — “Forced labor allegations at N.J. temple are ‘unfathomable,’ Murphy says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Joe Atmonavage: “Gov. Phil Murphy expressed disdain for the allegations that were made public this week regarding forced labor at a sprawling Hindu temple in New Jersey that involved workers lured from India who worked nearly 90 hours a week for $1.20 an hour … ‘The violations at the BAPS temple are horrific, unfathomable if all of these allegations turn out to be true that this is happening in the year 2021 in New Jersey,’ the governor said at a press conference Wednesday. ‘The wages, the living conditions, the false premises. Awful.’ The alleged violations are now under investigation by federal authorities. The FBI was at the more than 100-acre property in Mercer County Tuesday, a spokesperson said.”
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS — “Attorney for clergy sex-abuse victims claims Camden diocese ‘underreported’ assets, “by The Courier-Post’s Jim Walsh: “The Diocese of Camden ‘grossly under-reported’ its assets in a bankruptcy filing in an effort to ‘disadvantage survivors of clergy abuse,’ a lawyer charged Wednesday. Attorney Jeff Anderson asserted Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the diocese’s leader, ‘has at least $774 million under his control.’ In contrast, he said, the diocese’s bankruptcy filing lists assets of almost $54 million and net assets after liabilities of $28.1 million. ‘We’re here to sound the alarm,’ said the attorney, who called the diocese’s account of its finances ‘a lie, a facade, a fiction.’”
ICK!ADEMIA — “Princeton professor’s relationship with undergrad leads to calls for new sexual misconduct rules,” by NJ Advance Media’s Kelly Heyboer: “Princeton University professor Joshua Katz was supposed to return to teaching in 2018 after a scheduled, year-long sabbatical. But the popular Classics scholar, who had won top teaching awards, didn’t schedule any classes and stayed away from campus for another full year. Few at the Ivy League school knew why. Earlier this year — two weeks after a story appeared in the school newspaper accusing Katz inappropriate conduct with three female students — the professor released a statement explaining his 2018-2019 disappearance. He was given a year-long, unpaid suspension for violating campus sexual misconduct policies, he said … Last month, two Princeton student groups launched a campaign calling for an overhaul of how Princeton investigates sexual harassment complaints. Using Katz’s case as a catalyst, the groups listed eight demands for university officials, including more transparency about who on campus is being investigated and punished for sexual misconduct or violations of university policy.”
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