News Roundup and Open Thread for Monday, August 17, 2015

A tunnel powwow: The Record’s Mike Kelly reports, “Gov. Christie, Sen. Booker, and U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will meet in Newark tomorrow to discuss how to fix the growing problems with the rail tunnel under the Hudson River.” Don’t expect a lot, but it’s a beginning.    

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and campaigner against the Vietnam war, passed away Saturday. In 2010 he came to Trenton to speak on behalf of marriage equality, saying, “My gay brothers and sisters came South and marched alongside me in the struggle for my civil rights. I came North today to support the struggle for their civil rights.”

Two snakes in the Pinelands: The decision of Christie appointee Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg that the Pinelands Commissioners no longer need to approve the gas pipeline, only the state Board of Public Utilities, sparks outrage and a potential legal battle. (See below the fold what Jeff Tittel has to say.)

Out on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, the presidential race can feel rather personal. The town’s been intimately dependent on both Donald Trump and Gov. Christie, not to mention Trump’s cabinet choice, Carl Icahn, owner of Tropicana.

Seaside Heights Casino Pier gets OK to rebuild, and will move the iconic Sky Ride 160 feet away.

Christie sinks to 11th. With the second national post-Fox debate poll, Christie and John Kasich are at 3.8% in Real Clear Politics average of the four most recent polls. Like the Fox show, the CNN Sept. 16, debate  will be divided into two parts. One grouping will feature the top 10 candidates according to public polling.

Inside the GOP Clown Car: Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone writes: “Skilled political pitchmen like Christie, who could deftly deliver on those back-room promises to crush labor and hand out transportation contracts or whatever while still acting like a man of the people, were highly valued commodities. Not any more. Trump has blown up even the backroom version of the issues-driven campaign.”

No good can come of this: Christie signed this past week the Tax Protection Pledge to oppose any tax increases while in office. With transportation, PenBen and other projects in need of a cash transfusion, this is another reason he should not continue as governor.

Charles Stile on Christie: His uphill fight gets steeper.

Christie and Hillary Clinton spend Sunday on Nantucket Island, lured by the wealthy summer residents and visitors where they can ask for contributions behind closed doors, as the NY Times reports. (Christie’s war chest seems low as do his hopes for Iowa.)  

“It is best to expect the unexpected in “Misalliance,” an unusually funny conversation piece that never ceases to surprise,” says the NY Times of this George Bernard Shaw play.  It is at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater, Drew University, Madison, through Aug. 30. Information: 973-408-5600 or here.

Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel explains that at the Pinelands Commission meeting its, Executive Director, Nancy Wittenberg said, “The South Jersey Gas pipeline is now a private development for use in the Pinelands, which exempts it from any action by the Pinelands Commission. Under her ruling, she and the BPU will have the authority to approve or deny the pipeline. This means there will be no public hearing, public input, and the Pinelands Commission does not have a voice or vote on this decision.”


“This is the Pearl Harbor of the Pinelands. This was a sneak attack by Wittenberg to push this destructive pipeline through the Pinelands. Wittenberg is a Christie loyalist who has supported the pipeline all along. She is a former lobbyist to the New Jersey Builders Association, whose main purpose is to take care of South Jersey Gas and push this pipeline through. Wittenberg has done exactly what the Christie Administration wants which is to promote fracking, destroy the Pinelands, and keep the polluting B.L. England power plant open. This is a sellout of the Pinelands and the Pinelands Act.”

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