Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 1/27/2021:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We might never find out what really motivated Trump to free a jailed friend of a Democratic foe, but it almost certainly wasn’t compassion.” – Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen on the Melgen pardon
The statewide COVID-19 count stands at 602,660 cases and 18,984 fatalities (and 69,067 probable cases and 2,121 probable fatalities) as of Tuesday; the viral transmission rate is .92. There have been 605,397 COVID-19 vaccinations administered.
The NJDHS announced that NJ SNAP recipients will continue to receive enhances benefits in February.
A Burlington County man admitted to interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder in Trenton last year.
The Morris County Prosecutor says 70% of bias is youth-on-youth, according to NJ Herald.
Somerset County launched a ‘cost-effective’ shared services program, according to MyCentralJersey.
Sussex County Commissioner Director Fantasia highlighted the county’s efforts to assist small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rep. Norcross introduced legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour by 2025.
Rep. Gottheimer requested Treasury Secretary Yellen reinstate the charitable tax deduction.
Rep. Payne was voted Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
ICYMI: Murphy says over 2M residents signed up for vacc; Malinowski addressed Capitol desecration; Pascrell wants USPS Governors fired; Murphy addresses imbalance between vaccine supply and demand; lawmakers want crackdown on QAnon; Biden assumed oath, as the Biden era begins; Menendez on Melgen pardon: ‘no expectation that he [Trump] would act‘; Rodriguez will depart to Biden Admin; Murphy extends SOS (iLine post); NJDOL processed 533k supplemental UE benefits; Trump pardons Gilmore
Grassroots activists from the left and right are embracing a similar idea – getting rid of county primary lines.
Bergen County Korean elected officials endorsed Assemblyman Johnson for LD37 Senate.
Linda Baer endorsed Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle for the LD37 Senate seat.
Essex County Executive Fontoura is seeking re-election to his 11th term, according to TAPinto.
Assembly Parker Space’s father, Fred Space, passed away; he was the owner of Sussex County’s Space Farms Zoo, according to NJ Herald.
ICYMI: Bridget Kelly announced candidacy for Clerk, Hogan says ‘I’ll compare my record of public service to yours any day‘; progressives joined lawsuit to eliminate county ‘party lines’; CWA endorsed Vainieri Huttle; Ahmed assumed oath as attorney adviser for Navy Dept; Mehrotra launched LD21 Assembly campaign; NOW NJ endorsed Vainieri Huttle; Speight’s unique dress for Harris; Booker hobnobbed w/ Obama (iLine post)
A Murphy veto on cannabis bills is increasingly likely as an impasse on legalization continues, according to Politico NJ.
Senate President Sweeney appeared on NJTV’s Chat Box with David Cruz, discussing taxpayer savings and government efficiency.
Senate Republicans urged Senate President Sweeney to form an investigative committee to probe COVID-19 fatalities in nursing homes and Governor Murphy’s pandemic response.
Governor Murphy and Senators Scutari and Cryan expressed praise for the four nominees of the Union County Superior County judicial packet.
Senator Cunningham called for the resignations of the DOC Commissioner and Edna Mahon Correctional Facility administrator over reports of inmate abuse. Assemblywomen Lopez, Vainieri Huttle, Pintor Marin, and Lampitt expressed outrage over the abuse reports and called for the DOC Commissioner and Corrections Ombudsman to placed on administrative leave.
Speaker Coughlin mourned the passing of Rutgers Professor and research pioneer Andrew Brooks.
The Legislative Disabilities Caucus met yesterday to begin discussions on the needs of people with disabilities.
Stakeholders and advocates expressed support for First Lady Tammy Murphy’s Nurture NJ campaign.
Marilyn Halvorsen is departing the NJ Restaurant and Hospitality Association to take a position with the American Hotel and Lodging Association, according to ROI-NJ.
NJ Chamber of Commerce President Bracken touted the Chamber’s ‘Buy NJ’ campaign.
NJ Realtors released 2020 end-of-year housing data.
ICYMI: Grewal appointed Bonsper as Victims of Crime Compensation director; Singleton received COVID vacc; Patel named NJRHA Chair; Turner discusses civics importance (video); Singleton considers impact of the Capitol riot
Listen to Politically Direct Episode 118 with host Fernando Uribe and guest Jack Ciattarelli.
A reflection on a civics curriculum – New Jersey style.
Insider NJ’s Compliance Corner: The Importance of Election Cycles (written by Avi Kelin of Genova Burns LLC)
Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s national profile continues to rise, making her political future interesting to watch.
Read Insider NJ’s 2020 Retrospective publication.
In Atlantic City, First Lady Tammy Murphy visited the COVID-19 vaccination mega-site.
In Newark, plainclothes police officers will begin wearing body cameras.
In Neptune City, GOP Chair Thomas and Vice Chair Farry endorsed Jack Ciattarelli for governor.
In Parsippany, Mayor Soriano urged restaurants to apply for state grant funding.
In Camden, schools will remain virtual through April, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The schools superintendent says the decision to close four schools is ‘painful but necessary’, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In Cherry Hill, a retired officer filed an age-bias suit, according to Burlington County Times.
In Jersey City, the council debated the merits of increasing salaries for city directors, according to Hudson County View.
In Mahwah, the planning board approved the DPW’s relocation, according to the Bergen Record.
In Millville, the planning board approved a solar energy farm, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In Newton, the town approved final pool plans, giving residents free passes for this year, according to NJ Herald.
In Ocean, the township is considering new rules for police hires and promotions, according to TAPinto.
In Oradell, a police officer was accused of stealing prescription drugs, according to the Bergen Record.
In Ringwood, a BOE member apologized for offensive comments made on Parler but won’t resign, according to the Bergen Record.
In Wayne, a judge gave back the town’s housing immunity, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Princeton, Democrats voted in favor of abolishing county primary lines; in Hackensack, Mayor Labrosse endorsed Johnson for Senate; in Jersey City, Hudson County Black Caucus endorsed Fulop and slate; in Monroe Township, Dalina appointed interim mayor; in Bogota, Dems endorsed Johnson for Senate; in Newark, COO Rogers stepping down; in Trenton, Gusciora to veto leg. counsel position ordinance; in AC, Langford may primary Small (iLine post); in Parsippany, Soriano heads in a re-election year
Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg writes ‘Jack Ciattarelli, Meet Charlie Sandman‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, Senator Nia Gill writes ‘Governor Murphy, Stop Criminalizing Our Children‘
Insider NJ columnist Bob Hennelly writes ‘The Blind Spot Endures: A Profile of Just One of Trump’s Last Minute Intercessions‘
Insider NJ columnist Christine Sloan writes ‘The Deep Significance of Vice President Harris for All Women‘
AROUND THE WEB:
- It’s been nearly a year since the US Department of Justice released a horrifying report on the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, and judging by recent events it is painfully obvious that its criminal legacy persists and its only salvation will come from new leadership at the top.
Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger
- I guess it’s not so lonely at the top after all. That’s my conclusion after outgoing president Donald Trump granted clemency to a Florida eye doctor who is a close friend of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez
William Westhoven, Morristown Daily Record
- The Parsippany Board of Education and Mayor Michael Soriano debated the impact of redevelopment in town some officials fear may add as many as 1,000 students to the 7,000-student, 14-school district.
Steve Trevelise, NJ1015
- There are some things I don’t agree should be taught in schools, but one thing I do agree with is the proposal to teach marijuana education in elementary schools. According to David Matthau’s post on NJ1015.com, “Assemblyman Erik Simonsen, R-Cape May, is sponsoring a measure, A-5168, that would require schools to include age-appropriate instruction on how cannabis affects the brain, starting in the third grade.”
Matt Rooney, Save Jersey
- One of New Jersey’s earliest Trump boosters say it’d be a mistake for supporters to field thirdy-party candidates for the upcoming 2021 elections. “Third party candidates running in New Jersey will be the death blow to our Conservative movement. Democrats would love nothing better than to see us self-destruct,” said Lt. Steven Rogers (R), a former Nutley Commissioner.
Ian T. Shearn, NJ Spotlight
- Of all the urgent tasks bearing down on the nation’s new president — and there are many — the quest to heal and unite a fractured American populace may be the most difficult. President Donald Trump may be gone, but the core of his unflinching base remains loyal; the country is arguably more polarized than it’s been since the Civil War — and thus at its weakest.
Hudson County View
- In an editorial, New Jersey GOP State Committeeman Joshua Sotomayor-Einstein expresses his point of view about how feigned outrage over inappropriate text messages from 2018, which he has apologized for, is the latest example of why the Republican party needs change.
- When the late philanthropist Betty Wold Johnson first became a supporter of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center more than a decade ago, she asked the institution’s leadership a simple question: What aspects of the arts center’s operations were hardest to fundraise for? “I told her the truth, which is that everybody wants to name a theater, but nobody wants to pay for maintenance,” Larry Goldman, NJPAC’s inaugural CEO and president, who led the institution for 22 years, remembered.
Michael Hill, NJ Spotlight
- What to do about the kind of messaging that some blame for leading to and inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — and the platforms that have allowed it? Some members of Congress are set on changing laws. Among them is Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7). The congressman discusses the impetus for legislative action with Anchor Michael Hill.
John Heinis, Hudson County View
- A Jersey City Trump supporter has been charged for the January 6th siege as the U.S. Capitol after posting videos and pictures on social media, one of which that said “we took over this ***ing Capitol,” according to court documents.
Scott Fallon, NorthJersey.com
- Gail Plumeri was relieved after receiving her first COVID-19 vaccine shot at a Middlesex County senior center on Friday, considering she is 65, a cancer survivor and on immunosuppressants, all of which make her particularly susceptible to the virus.
Michele S. Byers, Special to the USA TODAY Network
- 2020 will go down in history as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many lives lost, lockdowns, school and business closings, economic uncertainty and political divisions. In the midst of it all we found a silver lining as New Jersey residents embraced and enjoyed parks and green spaces.
Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- New Jersey lawmakers are considering a ban on doctoring audio and visual media in campaign commercials in the run-up to elections to combat misinformation.
Al Sullivan, TAPinto
- Councilman Richard Boggiano has never been shy about speaking his mind or voting the way his conscience dictates. His ability to scrape together a political victory against long odds is legendary, since he ran for council twice against what was then considered the invincible political machine of Mayor Steven Fulop.
New Jersey Hills
- Ralph J. Politi Sr., self-made entrepreneur and East Hanover patriarch, died at his home on Jan. 18, 2021.
Elise Phillips Margulius, TAPinto.net
- Edison Housing Authority (EHA), comprised of Robert E. Holmes Gardens and Julius C. Engel Gardens, provides low-income housing, rental assistance (Section 8 Vouchers), as well as vital resources and services to families living within the Edison Housing Authority community. According to Executive Director Deborah Hurley, “Our mission is to provide our families with a quality of life.” She added, “We continue to bring programming to our families that aids in fulfilling our mission by hosting an array of social service programs.”
Joan Quigley, For The Jersey Journal
- Why do so many of us cry when happy? I was on the verge of tears all day Wednesday, Inaugural Day, and they finally spilled over at 10 o’clock as I watched the First Family stand on the White House balcony marveling at the spectacular bursts of fireworks against the brilliant blackness of the clear night sky.
Judi Franco, NJ1015
- Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know New Jersey is on the threshold of an exciting new industry: legal marijuana. On Dec. 17, 2020, both the Assembly and Senate approved the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act. The law will provide government regulation of both recreational and medical marijuana businesses.
George Woolston, Burlington County Times
- Federal officials reported the first death of an inmate at FCI Fort Dix due to COVID-19. Myron Crosby, 58, died Friday due to complications from the virus, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced. Crosby, who suffered from pre-existing conditions that made him more vulnerable to the virus, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 28 and was placed into isolation, according to the BOP.