Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 1/28/2021:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s going to be a tough year for Republicans, for a while.” – Retiring LD16 GOP Senator Kip Bateman
The statewide COVID-19 count stands at 606,492 cases and 19,091 fatalities (and 70,045 probable cases and 2,121 probable fatalities) as of Wednesday; the viral transmission rate is .91. There have been 642,613COVID-19 vaccinations administered.
A Monmouth University poll finds President Biden begins his presidency with a 54% approval rating and 30% disapproval rating; Congress has a 35% approval rating and 51% disapproval rating.
The NJEA is defending teachers opposed to in-school reopenings due to safety concerns, according to Politico NJ.
A South Jersey woman is the first to lead ABC’s 20/20, according to the Burlington County Times.
NJ is among the top states for COVID-19 workplace lawsuits, according to the Bergen Record.
Burlington County Commissioners approved HELP loans for small businesses.
Mercer County Commissioner Cimino will serve as the NJ Association of Counties’ 80th President. County prosecutors are being accused of ‘misconduct’ and losing evidence by a Lawrence officer, according to the Trentonian.
Rep. Pascrell is quarantining following a family member’s testing positive COVID-19.
Rep. Sires was appointed to the House Committee on the Budget.
Reps. Gottheimer and Pascrell requested that congressional leadership include the repeal of the SALT tax deduction cap in the next COVID-19 relief bill.
The NJSIAA entered into a sponsorship agreement with PSE&G.
The Community Foundation of NJ announced PSE&G’s Linda Tamare as its Board of Trustee’s Chair.
A Burlington County man admitted to interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder in Trenton last year.
Rep. Payne was voted Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
Newark Airport took a 66% air travel hit in 2020 due to COVID-19, according to NJ Biz.
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
LD16 GOP veteran Senator Kip Bateman announced he won’t seek re-election this year in the battleground district, as expected, telling Insider NJ that’s been ‘thinking about it for a while’ but made the decision following recent heart surgery and the birth of a new grandson. Saying he’ll miss serving in the Senate, Bateman predicted former districtmate Jack Ciattarelli as the GOP candidate for governor, but said its a ‘very difficult state for Republicans‘ and doesn’t see any change: ‘we’re going to have a tough time holding on to what we have’. Former Governor Codey praised Bateman as a ‘good steward’ of the Senate seat.
LD39 GOP Assemblywoman Schepisi is almost certain to challenge veteran Senator Cardinale in a primary, according to Politico NJ.
Grassroots ctivists embracing similar idea; Bergen Korean officials endorsed Johnson; Baer endorsed Vainieri Huttle; 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
Governor Murphy announced that former State Comptroller Matt Boxer will lead an independent investigation of abuse allegations at Edna Mahan Correctional facility, and that ‘any individual who acted improperly will be held fully accountable’. Speaker Coughlin announced hearings will be conducted by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on the reported abuse. All seven GOP Assemblywomen called for the replacement of DOC Commissioner Hicks. Senator Corrado slammed Governor Murphy over the issue, saying he’s ‘circling the wagons again’ and ‘has turned a blind eye as women that he had a responsibility to protect were sexually and physically abused’.
LD18 Assemblyman Sterley Stanley was sworn-in yesterday.
Senator Pennacchio questioned whether COVID-19 fatalities could have been reduced if hydroxychloroquine hadn’t been blocked as a treatment.
Assemblyman Scharfenberger introduced a resolution to designate May as ‘Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer Appreciation Month’.
Assemblyman Houghtaling introduced legislation to ensure electric vehicle drivers are charged fairly for charging services.
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle introduced legislation to address the state’s response to COVID-19 in schools.
Assemblyman Rooney sounded the alarm over the state’s small business health insurance crisis induced by COVID-19.
The NJ Treasury’s Division of Investment announced two key hires to its senior investment team.
NJ Policy Perspective added two new board members.
The NJ Association of Health Plans announced new board members.
The NJ Association of State Colleges and Universities announced Morganne Dudzinski as associate director.
ICYMI: Murphy, Cryan, Scutari praise Union judicial nominees; 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
Amid post-Trump disorder, the ‘Patriot Party’ makes a stand in New Jersey.
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)
Read Insider NJ’s 2020 Retrospective publication.
In Paterson, Mayor Sayegh rolled out the city’s COVID-19 vaccination effort, with city Health Director Persaud dubbing him the ‘Vaccination Mayor’.
In Roselle, a state comptroller report found that the borough had over $1.4M in improper expenditures (iLine post).
In Newark, Public Safety Director Ambrose will retire at the end of March.
In Hoboken, Councilman Cohen filed a complaint with ELEC alleging Councilwoman Fisher failed to file required reports.
In Jersey City, a former Recreation Department payroll clerk pleaded guilty to stealing $80k by falsely inflating payroll hours for relatives and associates.
In Creskill, the local Democrats will support Gordon Johnson for the LD37 Senate seat (iLine post).
In Tenafly, Councilwoman Dayton endorsed Valerie Vainieri Huttle for LD37 Senate.
In Vineland, Mayor Fanucci delivered his State of the City address.
In Atlantic City, the council will vote on restricting short-term rentals in the Chelsea neighborhood, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In Asbury Park, voters will decide on rent control is a deal isn’t reached, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Bedminster, the town will review internet and cable services, according to NJ Hills.
In Bloomfield, the formation of the Cultural Preservation Utility sparked opposition from the Oakside Center Board, according to TAPinto.
In Bordentown, the town is considering rezoning of a Route 18 site, according to Burlington County Times.
In Byram, a police officer fired after Facebook comments is suing to get his job back, according to NJ Herald.
In Edison, five are seeking the Democratic endorsement for mayor, according to TAPinto.
In Jackson, a BOE member had COVID-19 and a forced retirement on his birthday, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Montclair, the rent control statute is on hold, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Morristown, a judge slapped a $25k fine on a ‘sober living’ home, according to Morristown Green.
In Newark, Councilwoman McIver was appointed to the National League of Cities’ Large Cities Council, according to TAPinto.
In Paramus, a councilman is suing the mayor, alleging the mayor’s son isn’t eligible to become a police officer, according to the Bergen Record.
In Ocean City, the council is skeptical of wind energy, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In Oceanport, the town got a new municipal complex eight years after Superstorm Sandy destruction, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Saddle River, attorneys squared off over affordable housing, according to the Bergen Record.
In Trenton, a law firm recommends disciplinary action for Clerk Conlon, according to the Trentonian.
In Wayne, parents will rally for in-person school, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Woodbridge, Mayor MacCormac outlined his 2021 goals, according to MyCentralJersey.
ICYMI: 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:
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger
- Something strange and wonderous happened in Washington this week: President Biden offered to compromise after a group of moderate Republicans and Democrats objected to the shape of the $1,400 stimulus checks he wants to send out as part of his recovery plan. Yes, folks, it’s a new era. We have a president who treats his opposition with respect and genuinely wants to find bipartisan consensus. Imagine that.
Steven R. Rothman
- Jan. 6 brought me to deep anger and tears of profound sadness as I witnessed — along with all Americans and the entire world — America’s Temple of Democracy invaded and defiled by criminally incited domestic terrorists. Watching the events unfold, I was worried first and foremost about the safety of all the members of the House and Senate, the support staff and law enforcement at and around the Capitol. I didn’t want any of them to be hurt or killed. I had a sense of the emotions they must have been feeling.
Erin Vogt, NJ1015
- Weeks before the state began opening eligibility to the general public, a hospital in Hunterdon County was handing out the coveted COVID-19 vaccine to deep-pocketed donors and the relatives of its executives. And while vulnerable senior citizens wondered when it would be their turn, recipients of the vaccine at Hunterdon Medical Center included officials’ young-adult children who were able to get the shot at a time when only front-line healthcare workers and long-term care residents could.
Tom Bergeron, roi-nj.com
- A total of 8,599 loans for a combined $916,748,129 have gone to New Jersey companies during the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, the Small Business Administration reported Wednesday afternoon. Using these figures, the average loan to New Jersey companies has been for $106,611, well ahead of the national average. All told, nationwide, the SBA said just over 400,000 loans totaling more than $35 billion have been approved. More than 65% of these loans have been for $50,000 or less. The average loan size is $87,000.
David Cruz, NJ Spotlight
- The state Health Department dashboard shows low, single-digit percentages of Black and brown people taking the COVID-19 vaccines. The town of Teaneck is working to reverse that. It put on a webinar where people in the community could meet doctors online, ask questions and get answers.
Colleen Wilson, NorthJersey.com
- Seven New Jersey Supreme Court judges affirmed a lower court decision that ruled NJ Transit is owed $400 million in flood insurance for damages from Superstorm Sandy. The decision, which came down Wednesday after being argued in the state’s highest court earlier this month, follows a yearslong court battle between the transit agency and insurance groups that argued NJ Transit was only entitled to $100 million after sustaining damage from the 2012 storm.
Alexander Lewis, MyCentralJersey.com
- A factory in the township set to make 90 million masks a month and employ hundreds of people formally opened on Wednesday. Production of the blue surgical masks was already underway at Hudson Holdings Group’s Piscataway facility. The company officially started production in mid-December and the facility already has about 9 million masks in storage.
Sammy Gibbons, NorthJersey.com
- The fear of leaving the safety of your own home is something all of us can relate to during COVID-19. For many Black transgender people, that fear is nothing new. “COVID made a lot of things I was struggling with 100 times worse,” said Naori, a Black trans person who asked to use their online name for this story to protect their identity.
Walter O’Brien, New Jersey Hills
- Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-7, held the latest in his “Congress in your Kitchen” virtual events on Monday, Jan. 25, explaining that he was really looking to 2021 hoping for less drama and more productivity in Washington.
Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight
- New Jersey officials have conceded there is a disconnect between the state-run online vaccine registration system and the 200-plus COVID-19 vaccination sites run by local and county governments, health care providers and pharmacies. The gap turns out to be significant, according to a state list updated Tuesday.
Colleen Wilson, NorthJersey.com
- For years, mayors and concerned residents in a rural section of northwest New Jersey were the lone voices in their fight against the New Jersey Department of Transportation and its controversial rockfall mitigation project on one of their major roadways. Now, a groundswell of voices has emerged about the DOT’s rockfall projects planned around the state.
Alex N. Gecan, Asbury Park Press
- As school officials continue to nudge the district to five-day in-person instruction, they say school community members can help by cooperating with contact tracers. “When we don’t have sources of multiple cases, that’s what closes the schools,” Superintendent Mary Ellen Walker said during the Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday.