Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 3/5/2021:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Trenton is a city of compromise. That’s what we do in Trenton.” – LD37 Assemblyman Gordon Johnson
The statewide COVID-19 count stands at 712,585 cases and 21,094 fatalities (and 90,084 probable cases and 2,397 probable fatalities) as of Thursday; the viral transmission rate is 1.01. There have been 2,257,726 COVID-19 vaccinations administered.
Read Insider NJ’s Who’s Up And Who’s Down: Week of March 1st to see where the players stand in Jersey politics over the past week.
Governor Murphy reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to ending the opioid epidemic.
Camden County will receive 6,000 doses of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.
Hunterdon County officials are tired of shrinking school aid, according to MyCentralJersey.
Rep. Malinowski failed to disclose at least $671k in personal stock trades last year, according to a Business Insider report.
Rep. Pascrell called on the Treasury Department to take emergency action against Capitol insurrection groups.
The NJLCV will host a webinar with Rep. Pallone.
The Northern NJ Community Foundation appointed new board of trustee members.
ICYMI: Murphy ‘can’t fathom‘ complete reopening now; 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 LD37, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson stands in the forward position in the biggest Democratic Party conflagration in the state right now, as he battles Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle for the nomination to run for Senator Weinberg’s seat. Insider NJ discussed the race with Johnson in a video interview yesterday. The USWU endorsed Johnson for Senate. The Bergen County Building Trades Council endorsed Johnson.
In LD39, Assemblywoman Schepisi has assumed the command position in the district, with a potential primary collision averted between her and Assemblyman Auth; the BCRO announced that she will run for Senate, as she had been pursuing, while Auth, who briefly pursued a run, will remain on the ticket running for re-election.
LD31 Senator Cunningham was reportedly arrested in Jersey City yesterday morning for a DWI, according to reports.
In battleground LD2, Commissioner Fitzpatrick announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Assembly. AC GOP Councilman Kurtz announced key local endorsements in his bid for Assembly. AS LD2 flares, a symbiosis abides in LD2 and LD3.
In LD8, Eckel and Natale will run for Assembly alongside Democratic Senator Addiego (iLine post).
In LD16, GOP Assembly candidates Panico and Lukac won the Hunterdon GOP endorsement. Assemblyman Freiman released a list of endorsements for his re-election campaign. Make The Road Action endorsed Democratic Assembly candidate Sadaf Jaffer. Senate candidate Assemblyman Zwicker raised $70k at a virtual fundraiser.
In LD20, Make The Road Action endorsed Senator Cryan for re-election.
The Hudson County GOP endorsed Jack Ciattarelli for Governor.
A showdown is brewing at the Ocean GOP convention, according to TAPinto.
The NJDSC launched a re-branded website ahead of the 2021 elections.
ICYMI: In LD20, Holley will run Union slate (iLine post); Atkins will run with Cryan, Quijano; Holley expressed outrage at removal of Straten from line; in LD37, Huttle slate announced co-chairs; NJGOP’s plan to improve elections; in LD2, its Vince v. Vince; in LD39, Schepisi rolled out endorsements; 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
Senate and Assembly Republicans will hold an independent hearing today on the Murphy Administration’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing and veterans homes and LTC facilities.
Senators Pennacchio and Corrado expressed frustration with Governor Murphy’s pick for Assistant CEO at the Menlo Park Veterans Home.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Gopal to establish the NJ Legislative Youth Council was advanced by the Senate Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.
Senator Singleton is collecting children’s books to celebrate National Reading Month.
Assemblywoman Stanfield announced that 20 legislators have co-sponsored her articles of impeachment against NJDOC Commissioner Hicks.
NJ Citizen Action launched their 2021 legislative endorsement process.
ICYMI: Murphy signed ‘LGBTQI+ Senior Bill of Rights’; Murphy took action on legislation; 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 Phillipsburg, Warren County Democrats rebuked Council President McVey over a sexist remark aimed at Vice Chair Bender Chapman, referring to her as ‘Bend-her-over Chapman’ during a public land use board hearing.
In Plainfield, Mayor Mapp kicked off his re-election campaign with heavy hitters in attendance.
In Hoboken, Mayor Bhalla announced an agreement with Lyft to bring Citi Bike to the city. Police are investigating racist posts made in-chat during a council Zoom meeting, according to Hudson County View.
In Trenton, the city is partnering with Flowbird to create a mobile parking app.
In Bedminster, zoning for 160 new homes was approved, according to NJ Hills.
In Chatham, D’Allesandro joined the BOE, according to NJ Hills.
In Deal, a $1M beachfront land sale was approved despite a public access fight, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Highland Park, officials want the names of disciplined cops to be released, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Morristown, the zoning board nixed downtown housing, according to Morristown Green.
In North Plainfield, the ex-PBA president is suing the police chief, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Palisades Park, a report details an employee’s $68k expense report, according to the Bergen Record.
In Raritan Borough, a developer must return to the council after being unprepared for the last meeting, according to TAPinto.
In Paterson, Jackson, Mendez indicted on voter fraud charges; in JC, Bing announced candidacy for Ward C; 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 reported Fred Snowflack writes ‘A Sure Guarantee of Good Press‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, Assemblywoman Timberlake writes ‘Celebrating a Long Overdue Moment in History‘
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 columnist Robert Hennelly writes ‘The Battle over $15 is a 1930’s-like Defining Moment‘
AROUND THE WEB:
Allison Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy awoke from surgery to a changed world. It was March 4, 2020, and he’d just had a cancerous tumor removed from his left kidney. Murphy picked up his phone in his hospital room, still disoriented from the operation. The first text he saw was from a staffer: New Jersey had its first confirmed case of COVID-19.
Brenda Flanagan, NJ Spotlight
- We’re far from done with this health crisis. Hope has arrived in a slow, steady rollout of vaccines and New Jersey’s own Johnson & Johnson one-shot serum coming to market; the first doses were put in arms at churches, community centers and hospitals across the state Thursday.
Matt Friedman, Politico
- Republicans are hoping the stench of scandal from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will waft across the Hudson River and engulf New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy as he seeks reelection this year. The Republican Governors Association has sent Murphy’s administration a public records request seeking exchanges between the two Democratic governors and their staffs “regarding nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”
Scott Fallon, NorthJersey.com
- Josie Nieves is a 75-year-old widow who makes ends meet as a crossing guard in Bergenfield. Ask her what a return to normal would look like after the COVID pandemic, and the answer is immediate. “I haven’t had my grandchildren over to my home in a year,” she said last week, fighting back tears. “I don’t have a lot, so my family means everything to me. And I want it back.”
Ed Rumley, Paterson Press
- From one end of the city to the other, Paterson residents reacted to news that two Councilmen were indicted on voting fraud charges with a collective shrug of a resignation befitting people who have come to expect the worst from those they are supposed to trust. “I’m not shocked, to tell you the truth,” said 49-year-old Ed Beesley, as he stopped for coffee at the Dunkin’ on Union Avenue in the 2nd Ward.
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, Down Beach
- The 2021-2022 Ventnor preliminary school budget sent to Atlantic County Executive Superintendent of Schools Robert Bumpus for review will reduce the school tax rate by 2 cents. That’s a $25.83 decrease for every $150,000 of assessed valuation, Business Administrator Terri Nowotny said during a special Board of Education meeting held 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 3.
Karin Price Mueller, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- Gov. Phil Murphy late Thursday appointed three new members to the State Board of Chiropractic Examiners, a week after he criticized the board for reinstating the license of a convicted sex offender and vowed to make changes.
John Van Vliet, TAPinto Hawthorne
- When Prospect Park Police Chief Charlie Atie retired in July last year, Captain Ammen Matari was designated the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) to oversee the department. Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah has announced that Matari will be officially established as the Chief of the Prospect Park Police Department in April.
Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post
- When a South Jersey teacher faced complaints over a classroom discussion of the N-word — including the white educator’s assertion that he should be allowed to say the slur and one student’s tearful reaction — school officials initially thought an apology was in order.
- Monmouth County’s 2021 budget includes enough money to give commissioners the raises they wanted last year.
Sam Sutton, Politico
- Gov. Phil Murphy had just been wheeled out of surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his kidney on March 4, 2020, when he received a text saying New Jersey had recorded its first case of Covid-19.
Briana Vannozzi, NJ Spotlight
- There’s fresh debate this week over whether the names of police officers charged with official misconduct should be made public. On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court heard hours of arguments in a lawsuit led by a group of police unions. Lawyers who argued Attorney General Gurbir Grewal does not have the power to call for the mandate said that publicizing the names of officers who have received “major discipline” threatens those officers and their families.
Star-Ledger Editorial Board
- There has been a recent avalanche of bills introduced by Republican state lawmakers across the US designed to make it harder to vote, triggered by a pretext that election fraud played a role in the national humiliation of Donald Trump. So it is no surprise that a Trump supporter endorses two restrictive voting laws for our state, and the fact that this acolyte could be our next governor cannot be dismissed casually.
Bill Spadea, NJ1015
- That’s right, our crisis actor governor, who is still ignoring the fact that lockdowns have crushed our economy and likely caused many excess deaths in our state, is at it again. This time he wants to roll out a new energy plan without any regard for the cost to average New Jersey residents.
Jayed Rahman, Paterson Times
- Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration will have to entirely run the vaccination site at International High School after a dispute with the school district. Previously, school nurses and security were working with municipal health workers to vaccinate thousands of people. Municipal officials said the district pulled its nurses and security staff from the site on Wednesday. They had been working side by side with municipal health workers over the past two months.
David Cruz, NJ Spotlight
- A recently appointed panel that will create the rules and regulations for the state’s newly legalized marijuana industry is coming under fire from New Jersey’s chapter of the NAACP. The organization objects to the fact that none of the five chosen members of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission are connected to groups that fight for social justice or represent those most affected by low-level marijuana arrests: Black men. Senior Correspondent David Cruz reports.
Daniel J. Munoz, njbiz.com
- State health officials detected New Jersey’s two cases of a highly contagious COVID-19 variant first discovered in Brazil – the third variant found in the state so far. Both cases of this variant – known officially as P1 -were in Hudson County, and the two cases are linked, according to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Investigations are underway to determine if either person had any travel history.
- Police have made an arrest following a 15-month-long investigation into vandalism at a group of rock configurations in New Hampshire called “America’s Stonehenge.” Mark Russo, 51, of Swedesboro, has been charged with one count of felony criminal mischief, accused of defacing the stone in Salem in September 2019. A lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf Tuesday.
Molly Shelly, Press of Atlantic City
- Health care workers and community leaders have begun a series of grassroots campaigns to ensure minority communities receive equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine while easing hesitancy and debunking myths surrounding the immunizations.
Phaedra Trethan, Cherry Hill Courier-Post
- Lavinia Taylor took her 13-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son on a tour through Camden last week, ahead of Read Across America Week. They didn’t check out Adventure Aquarium or the Battleship New Jersey, though. Instead, the longtime educator and her two kids drove throughout the city’s nine square miles in search of book arks, little free libraries offering books for readers of all ages.