Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 6/1/2020:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “People leaking things and giving the outside world some sense of how the sausage is made, as it were, I’ve got no time for that and that’s got to stop.” – Governor Phil Murphy
The statewide COVID-19 count as of yesterday is 160,445 cases and 11,698 fatalities. The Governor tweeted yesterday that an ‘important announcement’ will take place at today’s briefing; on Friday, he hinted that more reopenings would be announced this week.
Governor Murphy signed an executive order allowing the resumption of child care services, youth day camps, and organized sports in the coming weeks. The NJDCF released specific guidance on operating procedures for centers, and the NJDHS announced $20M in health and safety grants for centers and camps.
Governor Murphy and Colonel Callahan announced that horse racetracks can reopen today, with no spectators and health and safety protocols in place.
Governor and LG Oliver on Friday announced a short-term rental assistance program for residents affected by the pandemic.
NJ.com detailed in internal struggles between NJDOH Commissioner Persichilli and Governor Murphy’s office over the awarding of a health consulting contract (iLine post).
AG Grewal and Colonel Callahan issued the weekly update of COVID-19 enforcement actions.
Governor Murphy reacted to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying ‘George Floyd should be alive today‘, while State Police Colonel Callahan made a strong case for community policing in the state. AG Grewal said that the state ‘would never tolerate the police practices that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death’. The now-fired Officer, Derek Chauvin, was taken into custody on Friday, as the rioting turned violent and destructive throughout the nation, including in New Jersey (see City Confidential below).
Atlantic County Freeholder Fitzpatrick called for expanded COVID-19 testing in the county.
Bergen County announced additional mobile COVID-19 testing location hours.
A Gloucester County contractor is being sued by the Justice Department for falsely claiming credit to use disadvantaged entities to obtain a $39M contract.
Ocean County will continue COVID-19 testing this week.
Senator Booker pressed Senate leaders to include maternal health policies in the next COVID-19 relief package. Booker introduced legislation to address COVID-19 health inequities.
Senator Menendez announced an expansion of the probe into the firing of State Department Inspector General Linick.
Rep. Gottheimer introduced legislation to provide relief to youth sports leagues and activities groups.
Rep. Smith applauded President Trump for ‘getting tough’ on Chinese Premier Jinping over Hong Kong.
Reps. Sires, Payne, and Malinowski sent a letter to House leaders urging additional funding for NJ Transit.
Kean University held a virtual commencement ceremony for 4,000 graduates.
ICYMI: State getting close to the ‘stage 2’ phase; NJDOL processed 1.1M UE certifications in past week; toll increase schedules; Warren, Sussex, Hunterdon want regional re-openings; Murphy defends toll hikes, says he’s ‘rabid believer in face coverings as a game changer‘; outdoor graduations allowed; Murphy proposing significant budget cuts, ‘we are in unprecedented territory‘ said Muoio; Murphy signed an executive order allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 25; Persichilli says ‘this is not a time to blame anyone‘ re: LTCs
Follow Insider NJ’s iLine feature, a real-time blog that will give you continuous updates from around the state.
GOP Senate primary hopefuls spoke a rally in Randolph on Saturday, blasting Governor Murphy’s shutdown measures.
A former staffer to Rep. Gottheimer plead guilty to unauthorized use of the Congressional seal.
In CD3, GOP primary candidate David Richter sent out a mailer targeting rival Kate Gibbs’ vulnerability (iLine post).
In CD6, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang endorsed Democratic primary candidate Russ Cirincone.
GOP gubernatorial primary candidate Jack Ciattarrelli excoriated Governor Murphy in the wake of a report detailing internal disagreements over the awarding of a health consultant contract.
Hudson County Clerk Maldonado’s father passed away (iLine post).
NJGOP Chairman Steinhardt blasted Governor Murphy over a reported planned $684M quarterly pension payment, saying the Governor is trying to ‘appease public sector union bosses’.
President Trump’s re-election campaign has spent half a million on legal fees and lawyers in the past months, including one with a Jersey connection (iLine post).
ICYMI: Rotondi accusations against Palmieri, who denies, has sparked a hard collision among Dem women; Hedges won’t run for Congress after all; Sciarra calls on Murphy to allow outdoor dining seating and reopen retail; Suleiman urged casino reopenings for July 4th; Essex extends Norcross contract (iLine post); in CD8, Oseguera looks to replicate AOC victory; Cornel West endorsed Hamm; LD1 Dem names in game (iLine post)
NJSPBA President Pat Colligan came out in support of Governor Murphy’s emergency borrowing proposal. Hudson County legislators came out in support of the plan, pledging to vote for its passage. The Hudson County Central Labor Council supports the proposal, as does IFPTE Local 194.
Governor Murphy said on Friday he has ‘no comment’ on the firing of a NJDOH official (iLine post).
Senate President Sweeney, Senator Weinberg, and Assemblyman Benson introduced legislation to overhaul paratransit to improve service and reduce costs.
Senator Gopal called on Governor Murphy to allow outdoor dining at restaurants and issue a roadmap for indoor dining to resume.
Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso called on Governor Murphy to allow 50% capacity in restaurants by June 15th.
Senator Testa blasted Governor Murphy’s veto of legislation to provide rental assistance for small businesses.
Senator Bateman introduced legislation to allow towns to borrow money tof ill fiscal voids due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJ Restaurant and Hospitality Association submitted plans to the Governor for a safe reopening of restaurants and hospitality businesses.
Over two dozen churches filed a lawsuit against Governor Murphy over his refusal to classify churches as essential, arguing his actions are an unconstittional infringement on freedom of religion. The Governor announced on Friday that in-person worship services could potentially resume by June 12th, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
ICYMI: Murphy took action on legislation; Muoio testified before Asm. Budget; Wimberly mourned death of Floyd, Rice says Chauvin ‘deserves gas chamber‘; Senate GOP sent a letter Murphy calling for more action; Pennacchio defended appearance at rally following Robinson criticism; Gopal applauded removal of Judge Russo; Senate will establish special committee to investigate COVID-19 handling; SJ legislators urge Murphy to issue specific timetable for reopening
The masked and the unmasked in Newark and Morris County (iLine post).
The confluence of politics and players could catapult LD1 Senator Testa faster than most thought.
Listen to Politically Direct Episode 96 with host Fernando Uribe and guest Brandon McKoy, NJ Policy Perspective President.
Could this be the best moment for the municipal consolidation case?
In Trenton, a peaceful protest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd was followed by destruction and mayhem, with two police cars being set ablaze and bank windows smashed; in neighboring Hamilton, a WalMart was set on fire. Mayor Gusciora held a late-night press conference, after imposing an 8pm curfew, and announced several arrests were made.
In Newark, Democratic Senate primary candidate and People’s Organization for Progress leader Larry Hamm held a rally in solidarity with the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday- and around the country – over the killing of George Floyd in police custody. The protest was peaceful, proving the city to be a national leader (iLine post).
In Morristown, several hundred people peacefully rallied to protest the murder of George Floyd on Saturday.
In Atlantic City, looters targeted small businesses (iLine post).
In Somerville, protesters peacefully protested Georgr Floyd’s murder (iLine post).
In East Orange, former Mayor Cooke passed away (iLine post).
In Paterson, Mayor Sayegh finds himself in a political pickle on the heels of the May VBM election and heading into the June primary (iLine post).
In Belleville, Ward 1 candidate Carmine Mattia won’t challenge incumbent Councilwoman Strumolo-Burke’s win (iLine post).
In Dunellen, the council will vote on a reopening proposal for expanded outdoor restaraunt seating and retail sales.
In Piscataway, NJ Citizen Action endorsed the Democratic primary challengers for mayor and council.
In Galloway, Mayor Gorman urged Governor Murphy to reopen casinos and small businesses.
In Jersey City, the city will expand the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza.
In Paterson, VBM ballots from the municipal election included those from out-of-towners and the dead, according to Paterson Press.
In Bernardsville, the town is easing restrictions to help small businesses, according to NJ Hills.
In Hillsdale, the town threw a wrench in plans for drive-thru movies at Demarest Farms, according to the Bergen Record.
In Garfield, the town agreed to $100k in cuts to the school budget, according to the Bergen Record.
In Sparta, the schools chief’s leave could be ‘indefinate’, according to the NJ Herald.
In Bernards Township, a push for business reopenings was debated, according to NJ Hills.
In Highland Park, Middlesex Water was awarded an operating contract, according to MyCentralJersey.
ICYMI: In AC, Small kicks off campaign (iLine post); in Bellmawr, Atilis Gyms files lawsuit against Murphy (iLine post); in Newark, Baraka issued comprehensive requirements for biz reopening; in AC, Rice backing Small while Tucker endorsed Thomas-Fields; in Paterson, intra-city rivalry as Best slams Sayegh as ‘self-serving credit seeking, slimy coward’, apologizes but says he stands by what he wrote, McKoy filing for a recount following defeat by Mendez; in JC, Fulop announced plan for reopening
Insider NJ columnist Mary Gatta writes ‘Managing COVID Anxiety and Stress As We Re-Open: A Q&A with a Psychologist‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, Senator Nia Gill writes ‘Rape Is Not a Penalty for Any Crime: The Department of Corrections Must Be Held Accountable‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, Bruce Lowry writes ‘In Paterson, a Lesson in how not to Hold a City Election‘
In a guest column on Insider NJ, NJEA President Marie Blistan writes ‘Borrow? Yes. But We can Borrow Less‘
Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘NJ’s (Pending) Corporate Cannabis Catastrophe‘
AROUND THE WEB:
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger
- Since Gov. Phil Murphy swore his oath, Senate President Steve Sweeney has been in his face, painting him as a clueless liberal who is ruining the state by failing to control spending.
Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger
- When you’re living on borrowed time, more borrowing is not the answer. That’s the situation New Jersey finds itself in. Even before the Covid-19 crisis our state was at the top of the lists for unfunded liabilities in bonding and pensions. Now revenues from the major taxes have plummeted.
Star-Ledger Editorial Board
- Gov. Murphy and his Turnpike Authority rammed through large toll hikes on the Turnpike and Parkway Wednesday, which will help fund a $24-billion capital plan, and they kept public participation as limited as possible.
Katherine Landergan and Sam Sutton, Politico
- For weeks, it was no longer politics as usual in Trenton. As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy’s usual Statehouse foes went silent. Republicans praised his efforts in flattening the curve. Democrats who had blocked key elements of his policy agenda offered their support. That goodwill is fading fast.
Andrew J. Goudsward and Shannon Mullen, Asbury Park Press
- A beaming sun and warm temperatures brought crowds back to the Jersey’s Shore’s beaches Saturday, but there were unmistakable signs that life was far from normal amid the coronavirus pandemic. After weeks spent largely at home and a Memorial Day weekend that was at times marred by rain and unseasonably cool weather, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s sent many flocking to the beaches and boardwalks.
Kristie Cattafi, NorthJersey.com
- Hours before New Jersey’s first coronavirus case was confirmed three months ago, Fort Lee sent out a message to all residents, preparing them for the global pandemic that was finally hitting home. It wasn’t until later that night that Mayor Mark Sokolich revealed the patient was a Fort Lee resident.
David P. Willis, Asbury Park Press
- Their dining rooms closed since March, New Jersey’s restaurant owners on Friday implored Gov. Phil Murphy to allow them to reopen, starting with outdoor dining. “Every day that goes by is literally a missed opportunity,” said Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille in Sea Bright. “Every day missed, we lose another business. It’s time to act now before we lose anybody else.”
Amy S. Rosenberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Pat Visalli paced the patio near the pool of his Fleur de Lis Beach Resort with a cigarette, sunglasses, coffee, mask on, mask off, fog rolling in, fog lifting. At this rate, his white Nike tennis shoes will be worn down by the Fourth of July.
Dan Alexander, NJ1015
- Greater indoor religious worship may be allowed to resume in New Jersey on the weekend of June 12 if the health metrics continue to trend in the right direction, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. Most in-person religious services were effectively prohibited by Murphy’s executive order that limited gatherings to 10 people. Weeks after COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked, the number of people who could gather outdoors was increased to 25 on May 22 and outdoor services were permitted in a drive-in setting.
David Cruz, NJTV
- Join NJTV Senior Correspondent David Cruz and a panel of respected Statehouse journalists as they explore the latest on the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s economy, its people and its political institutions.
- The United States has just hit 100,000 deaths due to the coronavirus in just three months. Depending on where you get your news, more than half of Americans feel the President and the federal government have let them down. However, all politics is local and here in New Jersey, local leadership along with the state have taken on the virus in partnership with neighboring states and it is within this arena that true local leaders rose, and others were exposed for who they really are.
Marc Bussanich, Hudson County View
- The Weehawken Planning Board voted 7-1 to finally approve Hartz Mountain Industries’ two proposed 14-story waterfront towers near their Lincoln Harbor property, but it took another marathon meeting – their 16th one overall – before the final votes were cast.
Bill Barlow, For The Press
- At a May meeting, City Council declined an appeal to allow alcohol consumption in public places. Mayor Clarence “Chuck” Lear wants members to reconsider at the June 3 workshop meeting. “They haven’t embraced the idea that we should acknowledge it,” Lear said.
Hannan Adely, Morristown Daily Record
- When and if colleges reopen campuses in the fall, they may look very different from the bustling lecture halls, packed sports stadiums and dorm life of the past. College and university leaders across the region say they are planning for multiple scenarios. Depending on the path of the coronavirus and advice from health care experts that could involve staggered classes, a hybrid of online and in-person instruction and one-student dorm rooms.
Jessie Gomez, Morristown Daily Record
- “Empathetic, devoted and talented is how I would describe Zachary Orr. He has a strong sense of himself and has a genuine interest and concern for others,” said Heather McDonald, Orr’s guidance counselor, as she stood outside Orr’s home. His mother, Tammy Orr, was told about the award last week and decided to surprise her son with its presentation.