Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 3/4/2021:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Maybe it’s politics.” – Governor Murphy reacting to Texas’ decision to reopen the state
The statewide COVID-19 count stands at 710,046 cases and 21,052 fatalities (and 89,430 probable cases and 2,397 probable fatalities) as of Wednesday; the viral transmission rate is .99. There have been 2,227,881 COVID-19 vaccinations administered. Governor Murphy and state officials held their COVID-19 briefing, during which the Governor said he ‘can’t fathom‘ completely opening up now, as Texas just announced, adding that ‘maybe its politics’. He signed an executive order clarifying that weddings can operate at increased capacity and signed an executive order extending the utility shutoff moratorium through June 30th.
The NJDOL developed a process to speed the mandatory review of unemployment claims at the end of the benefit year.
A Project Ready poll finds New Jerseyans are split on schools reopenings.
The state wants to tweak jury selection to check bias, according to the Bergen Record.
Bergen County and New Bridge Medical Center will launch a COVID-19 vaccination call center.
Hudson County expanded its COVID-19 vaccination program.
Monmouth County is paying an extra $1M to jail guards over a COVID-19 dispute, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Senator Booker introduced legislation to promote diversity in hiring and recruitment at the State Department.
Rep. Watson Coleman introduced legislation to address racial disparities in mental health coverage.
Rep. Norcross announced $408k for cancer research for the Coriell Institute.
AT&T highlighted its expanded network access across the state.
The NJAAW and Parker Health Group will present a webinar on ‘Alternatives in Long-Term Care-PACE’.
ICYMI: State surpassed 2M vaccs (iLine post), expansion of eligibility for vaccs, schools become focal point in political debate over COVID; Murphy announced members of Health Care Affordability Advisory Group; Murphy’s $4.8B election-year proposal; performance venues can allow 10% capacity; Senator Cardinale passed away; InsiderNJ’s Sloan won 3rd place NJPA award
In LD20, Assemblyman Holley will run a full slate in Union County (iLine post) as he pursues his primary challenge to Senator Cryan; Former Roselle Mayor Atkins will run with Senator Cryan and Assemblywoman Quijano. Earlier this week, Holley expressed outrage at party decision to remove Union Commissioner Straten from the party line.
In LD37, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle and her slate announced their campaign co-chairs.
The NJDSC called on GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli to explain his decision to speak at a November ‘Stop the Steal’ rally in Bedminster.
ICYMI: NJGOP’s plan to improve elections; in LD2, its Vince v. Vince; in LD39, Schepisi rolled out endorsements, Auth pursuing Senate seat too; in LD16, Jaffer hopes to break another glass ceiling (video); Zwicker’s Insider NJ interview; in LD20, Quijano launched re-elec; in LD26, letter targets DeCroce, accusing her of being a ‘RINO’; in LD31, Chiaravalloti’s political future may be imperiled; LD37 Dem primary threatens to upend Bergen, Johnson took issue with several endorsements of Huttle; Morris Dems eliminated M-F requirement for CC seats; in LD13, Flynn announced intention to run for Assembly, DiMaso announced re-election bid; in LD21, Krychiw points to pandemic expertise; in LD37, Juliano fired back at Huttle’s blistering letter, Huttle rolled out her runningmates; in LD2, Polistina clears the field (iLine post), as Guardian heads back to Assembly bid after switching gears to Senate, following Brown’s retirement
Governor Murphy signed legislation establishing the ‘LGBTQI+ Senior Bill of Rights’.
Senator Pennacchio called on the Legislature to follow New York State in stripping the Governor of his emergency powers.
Senator Testa called for the inclusion of a social justice advocate on the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Assemblyman Auth will introduce the late Senator Cardinale’s legislation to allow home grow of marijuana, according to Politico NJ.
Assemblyman Scharfenberger introduced a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the SALT cap.
Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle applauded the creation of the Age-Friendly Advisory Council.
Assemblywoman Speight introduced legislation to combat child abuse and neglect during pubic health crises.
ICYMI: Murphy took action on legislation; Murphy signed legislation establishing Community College Opportunity Grant Program; Sweeney, Weinberg will intro legislation to eliminate and replace Board of Chiropractors; Sarlo says ‘hit the reset‘ on COVID vacc distr.; Murphy announced additional members to CRC; Murphy announced Green Council members; former Senator Barnes passed away; Assembly passed marijuana legislation, Senate passed legislation, Sarlo decried process, NJSPBA says ‘police have been handcuffed‘; Cryan discusses primary, redistricting, marijuana legalization; cannabis activist Zito discusses legalization legislation
Insider NJ editor Max Pizarro pens a tribute to the late Senator Gerald Cardinale.
Kristin Henderson, who was crowned 2020’s Mrs. New Jersey, has been sounding the alarm on drug overdose fatalities, and discusses her efforts to combat the increase in overdoses with Insider NJ.
Read Insider NJ’s African-American Power List in honor of Black History Month.
In Paterson, AG Grewal announced indictments against Councilmen Jackson and Mendez on voter fraud charges.
In Jersey City, Kevin Bing announced his candidacy for Ward C council.
In Edison, community leader Peter Kothari endorsed Mahesh Bhagia and his running mates.
In Hillside, Rep. Payne endorsed Mayor Vertreese for re-election.
In New Brunswick, the ‘Students First’ slate announced their candidacies for BOE.
In Newark, Mayor Baraka announced two development teams to implement the Fairmount Commons Redevelopment Plan.
In Hawthorne, schools are set to expand in-person learning, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Howell, a petition is circulating to remove party lines from local elections, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Marlton, new apartments are coming to the town, according to Burlington County Times.
In Palisades Park, three consultants were hired for the troubled police department, according to the Bergen Record.
In Paterson, departing law director Irving slammed the council for ‘juvenile antics’ and lack of respect, according to Paterson Times.
In Raritan Borough, the council is planning changes for snow removal and parking, according to TAPinto.
In Roxbury, three incumbent councilmen are seeking re-election, according to TAPinto.
In Sparta, the BOE hired a new superintendent, according to NJ Herald.
In Ventnor, the town was awarded $3M to improve storm resiliency, according to Downbeach.
ICYMI: In AC, Small and slate awarded the line in primary; in Parsippany, Martin joined Valori’s ticket as race intensifies in early days; in Collingswood, Dems expressed opposition to proposed bylaw changes; in JC, officer arrested for sexual assault attempt on underage girls; in Atlantic City, Dorsey announced council candidacy; in East Orange, Green announced re-election bid; in Edison, Bhagia won Dem endorsement
Insider NJ columnist and ELEC Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle writes ‘Heavy Reliance on Executive Orders Shows Need for Stronger Political Parties‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, former Governor Florio writes ‘Against the Tide of Logic‘
Insider NJ’s Compliance Corner: Pay-To-Play for New Jersey’s Legislative Elections, with Genova Burns.
Insider NJ columnist Robert Hennelly writes ‘The Battle over $15 is a 1930’s-like Defining Moment‘
AROUND THE WEB:
Allison Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer
- Phil Murphy ran for governor in 2017 with a long list of progressive promises: a tax on millionaires, a minimum-wage hike, legal marijuana, and more. Four years later, he’s mostly delivered. So as Murphy seeks reelection, he’s doing so with New Jersey’s liberals squarely in his corner and no Democratic challenger in sight.
Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight
- In less than two weeks, more than a half-million residential customers and over 91,000 commercial and industrial customers could be disconnected from electric, gas and water services if a moratorium on utility shut-offs is not extended. The looming crisis highlights yet another toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left more than 23,000 New Jerseyans dead, devastated segments of the economy, and forced 2 million people to file unemployment claims.
David Cruz, NJ Spotlight
- Racially-fueled attacks against Asian Americans are once again on the rise. Forty-four incidents of anti-Asian discrimination were reported in New Jersey between March 19 and August 5 last year, according to the group Stop AAPI Hate; (AAPI stands for Asian American Pacific Islander). That compares to 37 anti-Asian bias incidents in all of 2019, according to the New Jersey State Police. Senior Correspondent David Cruz reports.
Vincent Jackson, Press of Atlantic City
- Approximately 1,735 people have chosen to live a more small-town, rural existence in this slice of the Pinelands in southern Atlantic County. But it costs more every year for the luxury of small-town living, and without more money from the state, Mayor Joseph Venezia sees his municipality becoming too expensive to live in for the taxes that have to be paid.
Bill Spadea, NJ1015
- Welcome to Day 353 of 15 to stop the spread. Texas and Mississippi join the now 16 states which have lifted the absurd and scientifically proven useless mask mandates. Sadly governors like Gavin Newsom (California) and Phil Murphy continue to play politics with people’s lives.
Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green
- The longtime Morristown law partner of the central figure in a state political corruption probe has been offered a sweeter deal that offers probation instead of prison, in exchange for a guilty plea, according to virtual court testimony on Tuesday. Elizabeth Valandingham will consider the state Attorney General’s proposal, revised from three years in jail to one year on probation, defense attorney Matthew Iacullo told Superior Court Judge Robert Hanna via Zoom.
Krystal Knapp, Planet Princeton
- Princeton High School students are more stressed than ever, and a plan to add more Zoom instruction time to their daily schedules would only make things worse.
John Reitmeyer, NJ Spotlight
- State lawmakers have scheduled a series of virtual public hearings starting next week to give residents a chance to sound off on the nearly $45 billion spending plan rolled out by Gov. Phil Murphy last week. The public hearings are usually a matter of routine when a state budget is proposed by the governor, but they were disrupted last year after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers faced criticism after they held no hearings and accepted only written comments from the public.
Terrence T. McDonald, NorthJersey.com
- An eight-month-old call for a boycott of Teaneck businesses has drawn accusations of anti-Semitism and become a flashpoint in the campaign for Democratic Assembly seats in the 37th District. The boycott call came at a July 1, 2020, rally outside Teaneck’s municipal building, where protesters gathered to support Councilwoman Gervonn Romney Rice’s failed bid to be named deputy mayor.
Phil Garber, New Jersey Hills
- Stunned police chiefs were gobsmacked with aspects of the new recreational marijuana law that bars police from notifying parents if their juvenile children are stopped for having small amounts of marijuana or alcoholic beverages.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- BBC, the world-renowned news organization, interviewed U.S. Sen. Cory Booker last week on its “Newshour” radio program. There was just one problem: The man at the other end of the phone wasn’t the New Jersey Democrat, and the news agency quickly apologized to Booker.
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, Down Beach
- According to year-end department head reports provided at the last Board of Commissioners meeting, the city is proving to be an attractive place to live and play. The city maintained its near $25 million in construction investments in 2020, and increased revenue from permitting fees to $345,702, up from $272,961 in 2019. The city saw 43 new homes built in 2020, one more than in 2019.
Suzanne Russell, MyCentralJersey.com
- Township residents deserve to know who is responsible for creating and mailing racist flyers in the township’s 2017 school board election, and the parties involved should be brought to justice. That was the message delivered by Mayor Thomas Lankey and Council President Bob Diehl during a half-hour virtual news conference Wednesday, during which the two officials pleaded for help in the investigation from the offices of the state Attorney General and the Middlesex County Prosecutor.