October 27, 2021

Saving Break

Break Through With Legalicy

After tacking right, Ciattarelli picks a moderate for LG

Good Tuesday morning!

The talk about Jack Ciattarelli over the last month or so has been about his turn right. First through his LGBTQ curriculum comments. Then the vaccine repeal mandate.

But with his choice for lieutenant governor, Ciattarelli is making a moderate move by picking Diane Allen.

The Republican Party has moved to the right, or at least to whatever Trump is, so sometimes all it takes to be considered a moderate is to not subscribe to, say, conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

But Allen is a Republican moderate in the old school sense. And she’s got anti-discrimination credentials, having been a longtime news anchor in Philadelphia who took the network to task for replacing her on the prime time news broadcast with a younger woman while her older male co-anchors stayed put. That makes her a potentially strong messenger given the administration’s controversies over how women staffers were treated. Her time on TV also made her a local celebrity — one whose name older voters are sure to remember.

Allen managed to consistently and easily win a heavily-Democratic district. And she was one of just two Republican senators to vote in favor of gay marriage in 2012.

There had been rumors that Ciattarelli was having a tough time finding running mates. His extended timeline for making the choice didn’t help dispel those rumors. But this doesn’t appear to be someone picked in desperation, and it’s certainly not another effort to shore up the GOP base.

WHERE’S MURPHY? — No public schedule

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “He says he was in [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s office and that it was the best day of his life. I do not condone these actions and would like to report him.” — An anonymous tip to the FBI about New Jerseyan Donald Smith

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Murphy administration staffer Chris Brown, Lambertville Mayor Julia Fahl, former Srar-Ledger editor Peggy Ackermann

WILL THOSE WHO REFUSE BE ELIGIBLE FOR JABLESS BENEFITS? — Murphy announces vaccine or test mandate for all health care workers, by POLITICO’s Sam Sutton: New Jersey will require public and private workers in health care settings to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to weekly testing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced during his regular Covid-19 briefing on Monday. The new standard, which comes with a Sept. 7 deadline for compliance, “is the absolute floor” for what the state is considering to combat a resurgence spurred by the Delta variant, Murphy said. “If we do not see significant increases in vaccination rates among the employees in these settings, we are ready and willing to require all staff to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment,” he said.

—“In a delicate dance with unions, Murphy moves with caution on mandating vaccines,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “There is a reason why Murphy is going slowly. While de Blasio had the luxury of making an abrupt decision — he’ll leave office in January, when his second term expires — Murphy is on the November ballot, seeking to become the first Democratic governor in four decades to win a second term. A major part of Murphy’s reelection army will be public employee unions — teachers, government workers, health care workers and firefighters. Their members will be boots-on-the-ground campaign workers leading up to Election Day on Nov. 2 … ordering workers to get vaccinated or face routine testing puts Murphy in a sensitive position with this loyalist bloc. While union leaders have endorsed other mitigation measures — like requiring face coverings to be worn indoors during the height of pandemic — the rank and file is far from monolithic when it comes to vaccines. Some union members believe the requirement should be formally negotiated, including overtime for testing.”

OFFICIAL MISCONDUCTOR — “Will arrested conductor be replaced on NJ Transit board? Four seats await Murphy nominations,” by The Record’s Colleen Wilson: “Two and a half years after signing a law to reform NJ Transit by expanding the board to ensure that the agency works ‘for commuters,’ Gov. Phil Murphy still has not filled three of those board seats. And a fourth was vacated Thursday. David Rasmussen, who joined the board in February 2020 and occupied a non-voting second union seat created by the 2018 law, was arrested last week for allegedly participating in an insurance fraud scheme … The new law increased NJ Transit’s board of directors from eight to 13 members. The addition of board members was part of a promise to commuters that would add expertise, ridership experience and oversight of the agency Murphy vowed to fix. Just nine seats are filled.”

IF YOU DON’T GIVE, THE GOVERNOR WILL TELL YOU GRANDCHILDREN NEVER TO CALL OR VISIT — “Questionable fundraising tactics bleed into gubernatorial race,” by New Jersey Monitor’s Nikita Biryukov: “Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign toes closer to the line than his opponent. On July 25, the Republican’s team sent out a fundraising email offering donors membership in the “One and Done Club,” a play on his campaign trail call to make Murphy a one-term governor. The solicitation promised to waive an initiation fee for donors who gave in the next 30 minutes. The 30-minute deadline did not actually exist … Murphy’s campaign also touted an arbitrary deadline in an email pitch for cash it made on behalf of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee. ‘We are just two days away from our July fundraising deadline, and it looks like we are not on track to reach our goal before the deadline passes,’ the email reads … The deadlines are a means of creating urgency for donors and are rarely tied to state-mandated deadlines for campaign finance disclosures or submission dates for the state’s fund matching program, though they are sometimes linked to campaigns’ internal fundraising goals.”

AGENCY STRAYS FROM MISSION OF BUILDING SENIOR CENTERS WITH SANDY FUNDS TO PLEASE CHRISTIE-ENDORSING MAYORS — “NJ agency overseeing COVID homeowner relief lacked proper anti-fraud measures, suit claims,” by The Record’s Ashley Balcerzak: “The New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s former audit division director claimed he was terminated after telling supervisors the agency mishandled a small landlord grant program, that it did not report to proper authorities a large cancellation of debt for a developer and a loan made to an employee, and that the agency employed someone without an active law license as head of its legal department, according to the lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Monmouth County. ‘The agency intends to vigorously defend against these allegations, which are false,’ said Amy Palmer, head of communications for the agency.”

STROOPERS — State troopers’ union endorses Murphy for a 2nd time, by POLITICO’s Daniel Han: Gov. Phil Murphy has landed his first major police union endorsement, boosting his pro-law enforcement credentials and complicating efforts by Republicans portraying him as “anti-cop.” The State Troopers Fraternal Association PAC announced Monday that it supports Murphy for reelection, citing the governor’s pro-labor stances, the full pension payment contribution and “providing the tools and funding for effective public safety practices.” … The SFTA’s endorsement partially invalidates efforts by Republican nominee Jack Ciatterelli to portray Murphy as anti-law enforcement.

ARDEN STAT — New Jersey Supreme Court narrows enforcement of license plate obstruction law, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Police in New Jersey can no longer pull over drivers for minimal license plate obstructions that do not affect the plate‘s legibility, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday in a unanimous decision, warning the stops could lead to “arbitrary and discriminatory” enforcement of an existing law. The court considered two cases in which people were arrested after police used license plate obstructions as pretexts to stop them.

—“NJ is first state to create task force addressing animal-to-human outbreaks

—“N.J. police are being retrained on how to handle crises. Here’s what they’ll be taught

—“Don’t take away tools for police chiefs to assess crime-fighting performance | Opinion

—“2022 spending bill included all but one add-on spending request

CONDITIONAL RELEASE OR UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER? — “Prosecutors offer plea bargain to Jan. 6 riot suspect on pre-trial detention” by Reuters’ Mark Hosenball: “Federal prosecutors have offered a plea bargain to a defendant facing felony charges related to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot who worked at a security guard at a U.S. Navy base, a judge was told on Friday. Without providing details, prosecutor Katharine Fifield told U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden that a plea offer had been extended to Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, a 35-year-old resident of Colt’s Neck … He has been in pre-trial detention since March … The judge set a tentative trial date for Nov. 9, although prosecutors said they did not believe disclosure to the defendant of voluminous riot-related evidence would be completed by then. Earlier this month, the Washington, D.C., federal appeals court rejected a defense request that Hale-Cusanelli be released on bail. It cited Naval Criminal Investigative Service reports that 34 of Hale-Cusanelli’s co-workers described him “as having extremist or radical views pertaining to the Jewish people, minorities, and women.”

—Sen. Menendez’s state director since 2019, Raphael Chavez-Fernandez, is joining the Biden administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for the VA. Chavez-Fernandez, who had been a longtime staffer in the senator’s office, will be replaced in the interim with South Jersey Director Frank Schultz. Press release here.

Senate deal gives rail a big funding boost — but not Biden’s promised ‘revolution’

—“Malinowski updates disclosure forms after ethics inquiry on stock trades

R.I.P. — “Ewing man arrested for murder of Shai Vanderpump, Trenton LGBTQ advocate,” by The Trentonian: “Officials announced the arrest of a 36-year-old Trenton man for Friday’s shooting death of Shaquil Loftin, also known as Shai Vanderpump. Daniel L. Smith was taken into custody late Saturday evening during a motor vehicle stop in Ewing by members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Special Investigations Unit. He is charged with one count of murder and multiple weapons offenses. Officials are investigating potential bias charges as Loftin is transgender and identified as female. Vanderpump, was known ‘in Trenton and across NJ as a fierce LGBTQ advocate,’ according to a statement from Garden State Equality posted by the group on Facebook … On Friday, July 30, 2021, at approximately 4:40 a.m., Trenton police responded to a report of a shooting at a residence in the first block of Kelsey Avenue. Upon arrival, officers found the victim, identified as 23-year-old Shaquil Loftin, shot in the face.”

DISORGANIZED LABOR Incoming NJEA president holding ‘United in Labor’ fundraiser at non-unionized hotel, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller, the incoming president of the state’s largest teachers union, is holding a “United in Labor” fundraiser this week for his 2024 reelection race at what appears to be a non-unionized hotel. The event, which will honor former New Jersey Education Association President Marie Blistan, whom Spiller will succeed in September, and Hetty Rosenstein, the former state director of the Communications Workers of America, is being held Wednesday evening at the high-end MC Hotel in downtown Montclair. The Hotel Trades Council, the union that represents most hotel and motel workers in New York and northern New Jersey, told POLITICO it does not represent workers at the MC Hotel, which opened in 2019. A person who answered the phone at the hotel said they did not believe it was unionized, but asked that their name not be used for an official response.

BACKSPLASH — “Jersey City quietly imposed a new fee on residents. Then the backlash got too loud,” by The Jersey Journal’s Peter D’Auria: “Teresa Cupo hadn’t heard of the city’s new solid waste fee until someone mentioned it to her at a party. The fee, implemented by the city in January, is intended to pay for residents’ garbage and recycling pickup, but is assessed based on their water usage. Cupo, the owner of Jersey City Heights laundromat Tessie’s Soapbox, checked her latest water bill and found it had gone up — by $956 a quarter. ‘It just seems preposterous that they would be basing this on water consumption,’ Cupo said. ‘Especially without taking into consideration small businesses like mine.’ Cupo’s frustration is shared by many Jersey City residents, who are increasingly speaking out against what they see as a ‘backdoor tax’ imposed in the dark. Municipal candidates running against Mayor Steve Fulop’s slate have made the fees into a campaign issue, and opposition council members have slammed the fees as regressive and opaque. Jersey City officials have appeared to give in to that pressure. Late last month — less than four months before the mayor and the city council are up for reelection — Fulop announced that the city was suspending the fee ‘until the entire formula is reevaluated.’”

‘CATS THAT LOOK LIKE HITLER’ CANNOT BE ONLY REQUIRED READING — “Tenafly wasn’t the first to get the Holocaust wrong. Here’s how schools can do better,” by The Record’s Deena Yellin: “The educators embroiled in such scenarios are not necessarily at fault, and these troubling assignments are often reflective of much broader problems, experts say. For one, there’s no uniform approach to teaching about the Holocaust or slavery: Many states don’t require those subjects to be taught, and when they do, they often lack consistent guidelines and lesson plans … Alan Goldberg, professor emeritus at the Syracuse University School of Education, said New Jersey has a strong Holocaust curriculum, which begins in elementary school. But that doesn’t ensure how it’s being taught. ‘Most of the teachers teaching it have very little background and understanding in the topic,’ Goldberg added. He said there’s a need to think critically about prejudice, without portraying the Nazis as monsters. ‘The regular people were swayed by the Nazi rhetoric. That’s the insidious thing here,’ he said.”

Councilman calls on Jersey City and school district to demand workers be vaccinated or face weekly tests

—“South Brunswick bans most marijuana businesses – at least for now

—“Teaneck, Montclair petitioners stymied in attempts to move local elections to November

—“Paterson names Engelbert Ribeiro, a 25-year veteran, as deputy police chief

—“Bergen County to call off auction of Williams Center and hand it over to Rutherford

CAN CONAN STILL CARRY A SWORD? — “How the feds in N.J. sent shock waves through the Pagan’s motorcycle club,” by NJ Advance Media’s Joe Atmonovage: “The feds knew Conan had a gun. As the Pagan’s motorcycle club gathered for a party in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in February, federal authorities said they got word that Conan, also known as Keith Richter, of Bay Shore, New York, was in possession of a firearm, according to a criminal complaint. As a convicted felon, that was illegal. And as the national president of the outlaw club, that put a target on Conan’s back. So federal authorities moved in … The arrest and eventual conviction of Conan is just one part of an ongoing federal investigation in New Jersey that has led to charges against at least 10 other Pagan members in recent months, as the club continued its rapid expansion in the state. Guns. Drugs. Brutal assaults. Shootings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office of New Jersey has charged national, state and local leaders of the club, putting the Pagans on high-alert.”

—“Here’s why N.J.’s largest nursing home company is mandating COVID vaccines for its employees | Opinion

—“Attack by security dog at NJ restaurant leads to protest, arrests