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Happy Primary Day to those who care

Apr 27, 2023Apr 27, 2023


06/06/2023 06:50 AM EDT

Presented by AARP

Good Tuesday morning!

Happy Primary Day! Even if I’m not sure New Jerseyans are aware of it.

To start, there are only a few truly competitive primaries in New Jersey. So people don't necessarily feel compelled to vote. And the numbers bear that out. As of Sunday, 220,309 mail-in ballots had been returned, according to the Division of Elections.

Another sign of a yawning electorate: Early in-person voting probably featured some bored poll workers. In the three days it was open in the primary, 24,103 people took advantage of it.

Most state legislative seats are all but determined by the primaries. And so a small number of political party leaders — and in the more Democratic counties, maybe a few hundred party committee members — get to choose who the favored candidates will be thanks to the county line. But you probably don't need me to tell you that.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have to live in the world we live in, not the world we live we wished we live in." — 7th District congressional candidate Sue Altman on seeking party support for her campaign, and with it "the line" that she opposes.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Ian Grubman, Sangeeta Doshi

WHERE’S MURPHY? — No public schedule

A message from AARP:

Family caregivers help their aging parents and other loved ones live in their homes, where they want to be—and out of costly taxpayer-funded nursing homes. They save New Jersey billions of dollars annually. But family caregivers are struggling to make it work. The Caregiver's Assistance Act would provide a modest tax credit to family caregivers—financial relief that they’ve earned. Tell your lawmakers: Pass the Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) now.

FLYING ON DELTA — New Jersey lawmakers begin to take on ‘dangerous’ Delta-8 THC, by POLITICO's Matt Friedman: New Jersey is moving to ban, or at least regulate, Delta-8 THC, and the cannabis industry is fully behind it. The Assembly Health Committee on Monday voted 9-0 to approve legislation to ban the substance from unregulated sale following testimony from Gloucester County resident Michael Gillespie, whose 14-year-old son on a cold February day purchased 600 milligrams of the substance from Washington Township convenience store that was packaged as Sour Gummy Sharks. The boy, also named Michael, ate the candies, left his friends and walked to a wooded area, where he passed out. After an 11-hour search, police found Michael suffering from hypothermia, his skin having turned blue, and on the verge of organ failure, Gillespie told the committee. … The bill approved in committee Monday, NJ A5440 (22R), would ban Delta-8 or other chemically derived forms of THC in New Jersey unless it's produced and sold under the same state law that governs legal recreational cannabis.

ONLY PET PROJECTS ALLOWED WILL BE FOR LEGISLATORS’ ACTUAL PETS — "Will lower revenues mean fewer pet projects for lawmakers?" by NJ Spotlight News’ John Reitmeyer: "The tightening revenue picture means there are fewer state resources available this year to cover any added spending on legislative priorities, pet projects and other add-ons that are often referred to as "Christmas-tree items" inside the State House. It could also make it harder for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) and Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) to come up with the funding needed to launch a recently proposed plan to beef up senior property-tax relief. Meanwhile, Murphy has indicated he wants to use this year's state budget-approval process to appropriate New Jersey's remaining federal pandemic dollars, leaving millions to divvy up in consultation with Coughlin and Scutari on top of proposals Murphy has already put forward, such as creating a new fund to help pay for upgrading Jersey Shore boardwalks."

THE NEW PHENOMENON OF TEENS BEHAVING BADLY —"Rowdy teens at the Shore shine light on controversial aspect of marijuana law," by New Jersey Monitor's Dana DiFilippo: "After rowdy crowds of teenagers overran Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend, the seaside city's longtime mayor laid the blame squarely on state lawmakers. As the state has trended toward leniency for juvenile scofflaws in recent years, Mayor Jay Gillian said the beach and boardwalk have been increasingly besieged by youthful mobs flaunting their underage drinking and drug use. … While the state has moved away from criminally charging youth for underage alcohol and cannabis use, police can charge the adults and businesses who illegally supply those substances, as well as anyone who breaks state law or municipal ordinances on things like public intoxication, smoking where prohibited, and disorderly conduct. Still, in Ocean City, where police say they responded to almost 1,000 incidents of misbehavior often involving young people over Memorial Day weekend, Gillian said state officials have stripped police of the power to question and search juveniles and confiscate alcohol and eliminated "meaningful consequences" for underage offenders."

SEWAGE: THE LIFEBLOOD OF NJ POLITICS — "N.J. launches project to help prevent sewage from spewing into Jersey Shore waters," by NJ Advance Media's Brent Johnson: "Gov. Phil Murphy and other top New Jersey officials launched a project Monday they say will help prevent sewage from spewing into surrounding waters and protect against flooding in a section of the Jersey Shore during future storms. The state is using $20 million in federal grant funding toward replacing a damaged and aging 3,000-foot sewer pipe, while also relocating a damaged pump station, at the Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority in Monmouth Beach. The authority's wastewater and stormwater systems serve 90,000 people across six Monmouth County towns."

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE BURGER KING — "Mastrangelo tries to start a food fight with Pennacchio," by InsiderNJ's Fred Snowflack: "Incumbent state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio was accused over the weekend by opponent Tom Mastrangelo of charging food to his campaign account. The practice of politicians running up costly restaurant tabs and letting their donors pay for it is hardly new. But the controversy usually involves dinners of lobster, prime rib and fine wine. Not McDonald's. We kid you not. Mastrangelo's statement refers to state Election Law Enforcement Commission records showing Pennacchio charging $11.26 at a McDonald's restaurant in Butler on May 7 and $12.42 at the same McDonald's on May 13 — claiming both were for meetings with campaign staff. He also wrote off $23 for another staff breakfast at the Red Barn diner in Towaco on April 30. … The argument is that Pennacchio is ‘out of touch with people living in his district. … The average person doesn't have the option of getting a donor to pay for his or her meals or gas. Joe does.’"

A message from AARP:

—Public sector unions bash state report recommending they pay more for health care

— "Leasing a new headquarters could cost NJ Transit almost $400M over 25 years,"

—Golden:"ELEC and the courts are waiting…and waiting…and waiting"

—Clean energy bill won't get hearing until after the election

—Snowflack: "Binetti forces Middlesex Dems to pay attention"

—Miranov: "Gov. Murphy, give the cities and towns back their money, please"

—"Judge shortage is pausing trials in 6 N.J. counties. Lawyers say it's denying justice"

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What's really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who's up, who's down, and who really has the president's ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider's guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won't find anywhere else, subscribe today.

NATIONAL NEWS OUTLET DEIGNS TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY KNOW CHRISTIE — "Can Christie succeed as ‘Trump Slayer’? New Jersey has thoughts," by The New York Times’ Tracey Tulley: "Even detractors express grudging respect for the former governor's willingness to flex his political and rhetorical muscles. ‘He's an audacious guy,’ said Mark Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., where two of the George Washington Bridge's three lanes were closed down for four days in 2013 as part of a plot that endangered public safety and became known as Bridgegate. ‘He's a man who speaks his mind, and I think in today's day and age you do need that.’ Still, Mr. Sokolich said there was no way he would ever vote for Mr. Christie. ‘If he was ever to reach the office of the presidency, I just hope his talents for selecting people for high-level positions have improved,’ Mr. Sokolich said, referring to a Christie aide who unleashed havoc on the borough's roadways with an email: ‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.’ … David Wildstein … has known Mr. Christie since the two attended Livingston High School. … Mr. Wildstein, in an interview, characterized his onetime ally as a cartoonlike character. ‘He's the guy who stands on the sidelines at a Little League game and yells at the umpire,’ said Mr. Wildstein."

—Amtrak seeks infrastructure funds for 30 projects

A message from AARP:

New Jersey family caregivers save the state—and taxpayers—over $17 billion annually providing care for their spouses, aging parents, or other loved ones. Yet, caregivers pay out of their own pockets—on average spending 26% of their income. With inflation making everything more expensive, too many families are struggling to help keep their loved ones at home.

AARP is fighting to bring some financial relief to family caregivers, who need and deserve support. The Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) would provide a modest tax credit for families who take on caregiving expenses. It's crucial financial relief that family caregivers have earned. Tell Governor Murphy and your state lawmakers: Pass the Caregiver's Assistance Act (A1802/S2021) to provide family caregivers financial relief now.

RESIDENTS LOOK FORWARD TO PAYING $2 MILLION FOR A TINY RAMSHACKLE HOUSE WITH A TURNPIKE VIEW — "Central Jersey poised to become ‘Silicon Valley of the East': NJ mayor," by MyCentralJersey's Susan Loyer: "Central Jersey could become the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. That's the vision of Mayor Brad Cohen who discussed the future of the region and the next phases of redevelopment in the township during an online presentation on Thursday. East Brunswick cannot realize that vision on its own, he said. ‘We need to do it with partnerships within the region and with a county and state that supports that type of growth and with residents that clearly understand the value of what we can have if we’re able to bring this type of energy and excitement to this region,’ he said. ‘It could change us for the next generation.’"

DOES THIS MEAN PEOPLE WHO HAD YELLOW ‘SUPPORT OUR TROOPS’ MAGNETS ON THEIR CARS NEVER REALLY MEANT IT? — "He's 71, an ailing Army veteran, and homeless in Ocean County. How does this happen?" by The Asbury Park Press’ Jerry Carino: "[Stephen] Timberlake, a U.S. Army veteran who is suffering from heart problems and diminished cognition, relied on his brother, Tony Mendez, to pay the rent for the apartment they shared in Jackson. After the summer of 2022, when Mendez died and Timberlake underwent heart surgery, that became a problem. In February, Timberlake returned home from a three-week stay at Ocean University Medical Center in Brick to find an eviction notice. By mid-March, he was homeless. … Timberlake, who was stationed in Germany from 1972-74 and received the National Defense Service Medal … is an unfortunate example of how home-insecure residents of Ocean County continue to fall through the gaps of what little safety net exists. ‘People always are saying what they’re going to do for veterans,’ said his nephew, Harold Galloway. ‘Is this how you treat someone who served this country?’"

LAKEWOOD NORTH — Orthodox Jewish PAC starts registration drive in Scutari's hometown, by POLITICO's Matt Friedman: A new PAC directed by Rudy Giuliani's former right-hand man is conducting a voter registration drive in Senate President Nick Scutari's hometown of Linden and surrounding towns, aiming to boost the political influence of the burgeoning local Orthodox Jewish community. The Union County United Jewish Coalition says it has sent out about 3,000 of the Yiddish-language flyers, with one of them calling registering to vote a "holy call and timely obligation," according to a translation. "Every man, his wife, and his grown sons and daughters from the age of 18 who have not yet registered must do so so that they should be eligible to vote and they should do this as quickly as possible," it reads.

GOING TO THE MATS — "Principal replaced after video surfaces of N.J. student being held behind a gym mat screaming ‘Let me breathe’," by NJ Advance Media's Brianna Kudisch: "Gloucester County school district has replaced an elementary school principal after a video recently circulated on social media showing a kindergartner barricaded behind a gym mat by his teacher and an aide, officials said. The principal, Charles Zimmerman, was head of Wedgwood Elementary School in Washington Township at the time of the incident in early March. The video, taken by an aide in the special education classroom, shows the 6-year-old boy screaming and crying for more than an hour as he was held behind a padded gym mat by a teacher and another classroom aide, said Allison Welsh, the kindergartner's mother. The boy, who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, had been crying in class when his teacher and the aide surrounded him with the mat, said his mother."

TURNOUT FOR WHAT? — "Baraka's turnout problem: Newark isn't pulling its weight in 28th District," by New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein: "Newark Mayor Ras Baraka continues to struggle with voter turnout in his home city as he mulls a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2025. And going into Election Day, Newark has yet to hold its weight in the 28th district, where an eight-term assemblywoman closely allied with Baraka faces a contested primary in terrain largely new after redistricting. Election officials mailed 7,194 vote-by-mail ballots to registered Democrats in Newark. Still, just 21% of voters (1,494) returned them – 11 percentage points below the statewide Democratic average of 32% — according to an analysis by Associated Press elections researcher Ryan Dubicki."

— "Electronic footsteps led to arrest of alleged killer of a Sayreville councilwoman, investigators say"

—"Shocking: Fights, riots, rats plague crumbling [Irvington] school led by red-carpet superintendent"

—"Ex-Hoboken Assemblyman Garcia gets yet another continuance in Newark bribery case"

—"Loud campaign for county commissioner highlights a quiet primary in Morris County"

—"A 22-year-old [Englewood] man was shot in his home by police. Now, his family is suing for wrongful death"

—"[Monmouth County] gymnastics coach charged with sexually assaulting 3 athletes"

—"[Mantua] cop charged in fatal shooting has history of aggressive behavior, lawsuit says"

—"Super PAC spends $136k to aid Hudson County exec hopeful Guy in crunch time"

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GANNETT, THE WORST A NEWSMAN CAN GET — "NJ reporters join one-day strike against Gannett over low pay, deep cuts," by NJ Spotlight News’ Ted Goldberg: "Hundreds of reporters across the country at Gannett newspapers, which owns the Asbury Park Press and The Record among other newspapers in New Jersey, staged a one-day strike Monday, coinciding with the company's annual shareholder meeting in White Plains. They’re demanding new leadership at Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country, and calling for shareholders to vote no-confidence in CEO Mike Reed. ‘We just want to … have a family and just be able to live in New Jersey. We want to be able to make a career out of working for a place like the Asbury Park Press, for The Courier News, The Home News Tribune,’ said Mike Davis, a reporter with the Asbury Park Press, who is first vice chair of the APP-MCC Guild."

WHAT’S ANOTHER 78 YEARS? — "Contractor scheduling cited in Atlantic City World War II memorial dedication delay," by The Press of Atlantic City's Eric Conklin: "Dedication for a World War II memorial named after a local veteran as a way to honor all former military personnel isn't happening on time. That's because scheduling conflicts with contractors have delayed the nearly $1 million project from being completed. ‘People I’ve spoken with are actually understanding,’ said Robert Turkavage, co-chair of the Friends of Bernie Foundation. ‘I guess they kind of expect that in construction.’"

—Scholarly journal article: "Fractures within fair housing: The battle for the memory and legacy of the long fair housing movement"

By Michael Kruse, Ekaterina Pechenkina and Adam Wren

By Joanne Kenen

By Michael Kruse and Ekaterina Pechenkina

By Jacob Soll