Weekend News Roundup & Open Thread for Dec. 3-4, 2011

Assorted Christie

  • Christie lies out-of-state for Romney. (PolitiFact)
  • Star-Ledger likes the Christie plan of backing away from ‘the war on drugs’ and incarceration, in favor of treatment.

    Barnegat Bay

  • Multimillion dollar runoff basin project to start next month.

    APP finds NJ hasn’t done its homework on charters, and it’s time for the state to reassess its positions

  • In the 14 years NJ’s had charters, it still cannot (or will not) evaluate their effectiveness, and cannot demonstrate that expanding them is a benefit. That suggests Christie’s contention that ‘school choice’ is the answer to improving urban ed is political philosophy, not sound research. Vouchers? Failed to achieve sustained success, and open the door to privatization and parochialization & decreased accountability. Before signing off on vouchers, the Legislature should require the Dept. of Ed to provide assessment of how and where vouchers have worked. And it should be noted many better-performing charters have fewer special needs students, fewer kids not proficient in English, and fewer low-income kids. Is that the case in NJ? State either doesn’t know, or won’t release that info.

    Tom Moran talks to a school superintendent who wants to end tenure

  • But of course it’s more complicated than that.

    Many NJ school board members have not complied with law requiring background checks

  • Roughly 1/3 have not. Have yours?

    Can Reporters Count?

  • Any minute now Christie will condemn the kids at the voucher rally, right? Right?

    Bergen County

  • Campaign season is back in full swing in Bergen County. (Charlie Stile)

  • The composition of Bergen County law enforcement could become a hot topic in coming weeks, with the expected release of a report commissioned by County Exec Kathleen Donovan, but behind-the-scenes maneuvering began months ago.

    Sweet story of the day

  • 23-year-old combat vet gets an official welcome home in Cherry Hill after 9 months in Iraq – that is, after a few days R & R in AC.

  • Bonus story: Elizabeth girl will be able to receive bone marrow transplant from Salvadoran sister (Bob Braun)


  • Christie added just over $1B more to NJ’s debt, but his admin is borrowing money at a slower rate than governors before him.
  • NJ towns turn to staff cuts and higher fees.
  • Jobs & Taxes #2: Christie vetoes suburban school aid, then complains about it.
  • NJ loses 40% of 4-yr college students.
  • Assemblyman Gary Schaer demands probe of Port Authority’s toll-hike discrepancy.


  • House Agriculture Committee to subpoena Jon Corzine: Vote was unanimous to compel his testimony at a hearing next week.

  • What will he say?

  • Christie Whitman backs effort to put a bipartisan ticket on the presidential ballot.

  • Whitman quits the Republican Party.

    Veterans Recall December 7, 1941

  • A war story from Frank Lautenberg, one of only 3 WWII veterans remaining in Congress.
  • Comment (1)

    1. Bertin Lefkovic

      In his least well-known, but most important book, “The Iron Heel”, London wrote about an “aristocracy of labor” that would abandon the rest of organized labor and watch idly by as it was crushed by the oligarchy.  Reading the following and knowing about everything else that has transpired in our state over the last few years, I think that London was talking about the NJ Building and Construction Trades.

      Labor appointment

      The reappointment of William T. Mullen to the New Jersey Building Authority board is not earth-shattering news, but it does reflect the shrewd political maneuvering by brick-and-mortar trade unions in the Governor Christie age.

      Mullen, president of the New Jersey Building and Construction Trade Council, was recommended for renomination by Senate President Steve Sweeney, and Christie rubber-stamped it last Thursday.

      Mullen and most of the 15 affiliated trades under his group stuck by Sweeney this summer when the AFL-CIO of New Jersey did not endorse him and the other Democratic lawmakers who voted for legislation requiring public employees to pay significantly higher amounts toward their health insurance and pension benefits.

      Mullen has also cultivated warm relations with Christie, and the governor has openly courted the trade unions by backing the overhaul of the former Xanadu site in the Meadowlands, the Revel resort project in Atlantic City and others that promise jobs for their underemployed members.

      Sweeney, an official for a South Jersey ironworkers local, rewarded Mullen for his loyalty with the reappointment. Christie, seeking to consolidate trade union support for his 2013 campaign, gave the reappointment his seal of approval.

      Deepest pockets

      Trade union members, helping get voters out on Election Day, are not the only value for candidates seeking their support. With support comes a steady supply of cash as a report last week from the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission shows.

      The report found that contributions from “special interest” political action committees in 2010 dropped almost 20 percent. The drop-off reflects the low-voltage election season last year, when only a handful of special legislative races in play, the commission said.

      Yet, the report noted that unions “continued to be the dominant contributors even in an off-election year.” Unions represented 13 of the top 25 special-interest PAC donors last year, with the New Jersey Carpenters, $476,385, topping the list this year. All but one of the 13 unions – the New Jersey Education Association – were trade unions.

      Put together, the union PACs contributed $17.1 million in 2010 – a decline of $6.8 million, or around 29 percent, from 2009 but more than all other groups combined.


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