Enjoy your turlameduckenNovember 24, 2021
Presented by Unite Us
Good Wednesday morning!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving break, because lame duck starts in earnest soon after we come back. And as Dustin Racioppi reminds us, one of the biggest unanswered questions about lame duck remains totally unanswered: What will happen with the Reproductive Freedom Act?
Democratic legislative leaders were already skittish about this before their majorities took a drubbing earlier this month. And Senate President Steve Sweeney had indicated before the election that he planned to pare it down to a mere codification of Roe v. Wade in the New Jersey law books, leaving behind its comprehensive insurance coverage requirements for abortion and contraception.
Given what Sweeney’s position already was, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have much of an appetite to pass a bill that looks anything like it currently does.
WHERE’S MURPHY? Florida, apparently
QUOTE OF THE DAY: ”...some of the finest wines in the world” — Gov. Phil Murphy describing New Jersey’s wine industry. (I made a meme for this)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — University Hospital's Mary Maples, Teach for America’s Fatima Heyward. Thursday for IBEW’s Ian Leonard. Friday or Assemblymember Carol Murphy, real estate agent Phil Rivo. Saturday for state Sen. Richard Codey (75!), incoming Assembly Minotirty Leader John DiMaio, former Rep. Jon Runyan, activist Bill Orr, Assembly Majority's Jade Bechelli, former Assembly staffer Phil Meisner. Sunday for Assemblymember Nicholas Chiaravalloti, former Bergen freeholder John Mitchell
PROGRAMMING NOTE — Obviously I’m not writing this on Thanksgiving. I’ll also be off Friday to watch fights over waffle irons at Walmart. I’ll be back in your inbox Monday.
TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at [email protected]
SWEEGACY — “'Until the day I die': Sweeney was an emotional leader for NJ disability community,” by The Record’s Gene Myers: “[T]here's another side of the Gloucester County Democrat that's less well known, one rooted in his 28-year journey with his daughter, Lauren, who has Down syndrome. Sweeney has been a key advocate for state residents with disabilities for 20 years, and his departure has the community worried about the hole his absence will create. This year alone, Sweeney secured a long-sought $125 million boost in funding to reimburse school districts for ‘extraordinary’ special-education costs and $600 million for students transitioning into adult programs after their educations were interrupted by the COVID pandemic. Sweeney, 62, lost the election to Republican Ed Durr, a little-known challenger on a shoestring budget whose victory made national headlines. ‘We are losing someone that not only had a vested interest in disability issues, but made them a signature of his legislation,’ said Javier Robles, a Rutgers professor and organizer of the New Jersey Disability Action Committee, an advocacy group.”
FLORIDA MAN — “Murphy leaves N.J. to celebrate Thanksgiving with family in Florida,” by NJ Advance Media’s Matt Arco: “You just won re-election, Gov. Phil Murphy. What are you going to do now? Go to Disney World? His office won’t say. But the governor left the state Tuesday on a Thanksgiving trip to Orlando Florida, where he will spend three nights. This year’s out-of-state holiday weekend trip comes after Murphy rarely left New Jersey since the state recorded its first COVID-19 case in early March 2020. The first time he left for consecutive days to be with his family was in August when he joined them for a family vacation in Italy where he owns a home.”
DISTRICTS THAT WILL SOON CHANGE — “Ciattarelli won all five of New Jersey’s competitive congressional districts,” by New Jersey Globe’s Joey Fox: “Jack Ciattarelli may have lost this year’s gubernatorial election, but his performance against Gov. Phil Murphy could still bode well for Republicans ahead of next year’s midterm congressional elections. While losing statewide by three points, Ciattarelli managed to win half of the state’s congressional districts, including all five – the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 11th – that have hosted competitive elections in recent cycles. All but one of those is currently held by a Democrat, with the exception being the 2nd district, home to party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis). The current district lines won’t be in place next year, of course; the congressional redistricting process is currently underway, and the lines ultimately drawn by the redistricting commission may end up looking radically different from the current map. Even still, Democrats will have four potentially vulnerable incumbents to defend – and if the current map is any guide, several of them may have to win seats that Murphy couldn’t.”
ACTUALLY ALMOST MIDDLE-CLASS BY NORTH JERSEY STANDARDS — Murphy reported less income in 2020 because of fewer stock trades, administration says, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, Tammy, reported making less money in 2020 than in prior years largely because they made fewer stock sales, Murphy spokesperson Alyana Alfaro said Tuesday. The Murphys reported nearly $1.3 million in gross income on their New Jersey state tax return, though only $982,860 of that was taxable at the state level — putting the couple just shy of the new, higher tax rate on income of more than $1 million that Murphy for years pushed for and finally instituted in 2020. The Murphys’ taxable federal income was $947,826. According to a five-year tax summary the governor’s office released, 2020 marked the first time since at least 2016 that the couple reported an annual income of less than $1 million. The Murphys reported $2.7 million in gross income on their federal taxes in 2019, $2.2 million in 2018; $6.8 million in 2017; and $4.6 million in 2016. Murphy, a multimillionaire, made a fortune as an executive at Goldman Sachs. Since becoming governor, his income has been largely based on investments.
CLEARLY THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN RESPONSIVE — In 2021, just as in 1971, taxes are New Jerseyans’ top concern, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: Taxes are the top concern for New Jersey residents today, just as they were a half-century ago, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Tuesday. According to the poll, of 1,008 adults, 39 percent of those surveyed cited taxes, including property taxes, as the top issue facing the state, followed by 14 percent who said the economy, and 10 percent who cited state government. Further down on the the list was the pandemic (6 percent), with the state’s response to the pandemic, climate change and the environment, infrastructure, education, crime and drugs, and housing considered major problems by fewer than 5 percent of those polled. In 1971, the year the Rutgers-Eagleton poll was founded, taxes were also the top issue for New Jerseyans, cited by 26 percent of respondents, followed by crime and drug addiction (24 percent).
UTILITIES — Murphy names Brian Lipman ratepayer watchdog, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: Gov. Phil Murphy has named Brian Lipman the state’s new ratepayer watchdog, the Division of Rate Counsel announced Tuesday. Lipman was the division’s litigation manager, essentially its No. 2, before Director Stefanie Brand retired in September. He was the interim director before Murphy made Lipman's title permanent. Independence: The Division of Rate Counsel is an independent state agency that is expected to fight for ratepayers in front of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Lipman said Murphy told him to be independent.
—“Republicans flipped 7 seats in N.J.’s Democratic-controlled N.J. Legislature”
—“N.J.’s ‘blind’ process to hire police officers hasn’t improved diversity. How do you fix it?”
—“New Jersey’s top regulator explains state’s gambling success”
—“New Jersey jobless rate now second highest in U.S.”
—“Most states let supermarkets sell wine. Why not New Jersey? | Opinion”
MR. JONES AND SWEENEY — “Chairman Jones wants to see Sweeney take down Van Drew,” by InsiderNJ’s Max Pizarro: “Democratic State Party Chairman LeRoy Jones wants to see outgoing Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) make a comeback next year by challenging U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2) … The chairman discussed the outcome of the 2021 gubernatorial election, in which incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy put up underwhelming numbers against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, while history as the first Democrat reelected to the office since 1977. Jones had some pointed words for his own party as he considered how Democrats can improve. Significantly, he noted the 2021 Democrats’ overreliance on polling, which nurtured a false sense of security and convinced Murphy and his allies of a double digit lead.”
THE BOLSHOIVIK REVOLUTION — “A Capitol rioter who declared 'Civil War is coming' just avoided the prison sentence prosecutors wanted,” by Business Insider’s C. Ryan Barber: “A New Jersey woman who declared "Civil War is coming" just days after January 6 was sentenced to two months of home confinement Tuesday, avoiding the month-long prison term that prosecutors had requested for her role in the Capitol attack. Judge Carl Nichols handed down the sentence during a virtual hearing where the woman, Rasha Abual-Ragheb, pleaded for leniency and said her conduct was motivated by a legitimate belief that her vote was not counted in the 2020 presidential election. Nichols, a 2019 appointee to the federal trial court in Washington, DC, described Abual-Ragheb as ‘relatively mild in comparison to others’ and noted she ‘showed up in a tutu, not — as many did — in military gear.’”
—Mulshine: “While Chris Christie focuses on the future, the talking heads keep talking up Trump”
—“Towns join push to block ‘bomb trains’”
—“Menendez, Booker visit Bloomfield to outline federal money coming to NJ in infrastructure bill”
—“Van Drew touts new 'Stronger Shores' effort in Atlantic City”
—“Ali seeks the best Republican to take on Sherrill”
EXPERIENCE IN PAYING FOR FAVORS IS HELPFUL IN HUDSON COUNTY — “Disgraced ex-NY Gov. Spitzer has 26-story tower planned for Jersey City in 1st foray into NJ,” by Hudson County View’s John Heinis: “Disgraced former New York Gov. and now prominent real estate developer Eliot Spitzer has a 26-story, mixed-use tower planned for Jersey City’s Journal Square in his first foray into New Jersey. ‘This latest groundbreaking represents the significant growth and investment we’re attracting to Journal Square as a result of the Fulop Administration’s focus on reviving the one-time economic hub into a sought after destination to live, work, and play,’ city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione told HCV. The event was not advertised to the press, though one reason for that may be due to its brevity: it appeared to last for only about eight minutes based on an Instagram Live video of the proceedings.”
IMAGINE A CITY CLERK WHO DIDN’T MAKE HEADLINES EVERY WEEK — “3 women accuse Trenton clerk Matthew Conlon of sexual harassment,” by The Trentonian’s Isaac Avilucea: “After a year full of turmoil and headline-grabbing antics, Matthew Conlon may soon find himself out as city clerk. Conlon, who was hired last year at an annual salary of $122,000, received a Rice disciplinary notice late last week informing him that the council plans on discussing his employment at an upcoming Nov. 30 meeting, The Trentonian has learned. The move comes after three female employees of the clerk’s office came forward with stunning misconduct allegations, admitting they’ve hoped for months that Conlon gets fired, according to written statements provided to city officials and obtained by The Trentonian. Two of the women left the clerk’s office for another department, bringing to four the number of people who have transferred since August … The women claim the clerk sexually harassed them by making lewd and inappropriate comments about their appearance and treated them differently when he learned they were single, the records show. He’s also accused of forcing employees to work 17 hours on Election Day, holding a new hire ‘captive’ in his office under the guise of training and creating a toxic work environment with ‘crazy rantings,’ erratic mood swings and demeaning outbursts that reduced employees to tears, according to records.
NEWARK LEAD — “‘It’s inhumane’: Water fountains remain off in some Newark schools as district tests for lead,” by Chalkbeat‘s Patrick Wall: “Newark students who soldiered through a year of remote learning have returned to school to find a drinking water shortage. The district, which did not complete lead testing before buildings reopened in September, has turned off most water fountains and does not expect to restore them until the spring. At some schools, the lack of safe drinking water has left teachers to buy cases of water for their classrooms and students to bring their own water or purchase bottles from school vending machines, according to teachers, parents, and students. At one high school, thirsty students have used bathroom sinks to fill their water bottles. ‘It’s inhumane,‘ said an educator at the school who, like other district employees interviewed for this article, requested anonymity to avoid retaliation.“
—“Wall school board, amid H.S. football team hazing probe, faces reshuffling”
—“Government rests in Nucera hate-crime retrial, closings next week”
—“Ex-Olympian's lawsuit claiming police ignored him before Morris shooting dismissed”
—“East Orange tries incentives to increase vaccine uptake”
—“Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh’s police de-escalation program appears stalled”
—“Paterson woman was sexually abused by school security guard in auditorium, lawsuit says”
—“Months after brutal attack by fellow inmates at Essex County jail, victim remains in coma”
—“Baranski is new Warren Democratic executive director”
— “Howell would buy out Congregation Kollel in bid to end religious discrimination lawsuit”
—“Why did Jackson become a 'prime spot' for warehouses?”
—“From engineering to busting gangs: Ocean County prosecutor picks first Black detective chief”
—“No one rushes to heed the better angels of Bayonne”
EXACTLY WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS INTENDED — “Affidavit: Witnesses claim Brian Aitken shot man walking away from him,” by The Courier-Post’s Jim Walsh: “A former Mount Laurel resident, whose conviction for a weapons offense was pardoned by then-Gov. Chris Christie, is accused of shooting a man who was walking away from him. Witnesses and the victim assert Brian Aitken, 38, shot a flooring contractor Friday at the suspect’s home in Telluride … A police officer responded to Aitken's home after a caller told a 911 dispatcher ‘that he had shot an attacker in the leg’" an affidavit says. But witnesses and the victim asserted the shooting occurred ‘as the (contractor) was walking away,’ it adds … ‘I heard the shooting victim yell, 'that's f---ed up you shot me,’ the officer’s account continues. It notes Aitken 'began yelling back at the man.’ Aitken was taken into custody at the scene. He was released on bond Saturday, according to the Telluride Marshal’s Office.”
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN — “New Jersey rainfall has increased a lot more than previously thought, with more to come, studies find,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Frank Kummer: “Two studies conducted by a Cornell University scientist for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection show rainfall is already up to 10% higher than expected under older data the state has been using for its climate change guidance. Further, precipitation is likely to increase by more than 20% from that 1999 baseline by 2100. Some areas could see 50% higher rainfall … ‘As we move into a warmer and wetter world, it is crucial that the most recent rainfall observations and state-of-the-art climate model simulations of future rainfall be incorporated into decisions regarding flood potential, infrastructure design and resiliency planning,’ [Arthur] DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, said in a DEP press release.”
CARDINAL SIN — “Former Cardinal McCarrick groped me on Jersey Shore beach, ex-priest says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Kelly Heyboer: “A former New Jersey priest who says ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick put his hand inside his bathing suit during a Jersey Shore beach outing is joining the long list of people suing the former Archbishop of Newark for sexual abuse. Michael Reading, an Elizabeth native who spent seven years as a New Jersey priest, has previously publicly shared his account of a 1986 trip to a Sea Girt beach house with then-Archbishop McCarrick while he was still a seminarian. He said he decided to file a lawsuit last week to add his voice to the growing number of people accusing McCarrick in court of abuse. ‘It’s been too many years of just not speaking out,’ Reading, 61, said in a press conference Tuesday.”
THE DEVELOPER’S NAME IS SAVID DAMSON — “Former B.L. England power plant sold to developer,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Bill Barlow: “The former B.L. England power plant site has been sold to a developer, Upper Township Mayor Rich Palombo said Monday night. ‘This is a huge development for the township,’ Palombo said during the township's committee meeting, citing future rateables. The 368-acre site, which was built in 1962, closed in 2019.”
R.I.P. — “Rich McCormack, photographer who took ‘heavenly’ picture of 9/11 Tribute in Light, dies at age 62”
—“Remains of N.J. soldier killed in World War II identified 76 years after he went missing in Germany”
—“Valley Hospital and surgeon draw support as malpractice case reaches NJ Supreme Court”
—“Green bean casserole — love it or hate it, it got its start in N.J.”
—“Retailers scramble for seasonal help amid ongoing worker shortage”
—“A river on the rebound: Why the Hackensack is both broken and a beauty.”