Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 8/13/2020:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t wake up wanting to borrow, but we’re also in a corner.” – Governor Murphy on the state Supreme Court’s ruling allowing his $9.9B borrowing plan to move forward (within parameters)
The statewide COVID-19 count stands at 185,938 cases and 14,046 fatalities (and 1,839 probable fatalities) as of Wednesday. Governor Murphy and state officials held their COVID-19 briefing, during which the Governor announced the signing of an executive order allowing schools to reopen remotely in the fall, if they choose, giving schools districts leeway in making that decision with a plan in place. The announcement came against the backdrop of increased behind-the-scenes concerns over the Administration’s lack of a cohesive reopening plan; a day earlier, the NJEA and educators urged the Governor to allow remote-only openings for schools. The Governor touted the state Supreme Court’s decision on his borrowing plan (see the Caucus Room below), saying ‘we have a long road to travel’ and giving a ‘shout-out’ to Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin.
The Governor may decide as early as this week on the general election format (iLine post).
Bergen County reopened its application portal for its Bergen County CARES Small Business Grant Program.
Burlington County appointed the first members of the Minority and Equality Rights Task Force.
Camden County freeholders will release $5M in CARES Act funding for small businesses.
Monmouth County announced the first round of CARES Act grants.
Ocean County wants in-person voting in the general election, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Rep. Kim will hold a tele-town hall on a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Rep. Pascrell demanded an investigation into Postal Service troubles.
ICYMI: Travel quarantine advisory updated; Murphy highlights ‘knucklehead’ behavior; Governor, LG announce Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program; the storm within the storm; state ‘got whacked’, as 1.4M were without power; Murphy cracked down on parties, acknowledges ‘mad as hell’ atmosphere; face masks req’d for students; Murphy sounds alarm bell, gets tough again
Lisa Richford was reaffirmed as Mercer County GOP Chair, according to the Trentonian.
NJGOP Chairman Steinhardt slammed Joe Biden’s VP selection of Kamala Harris, saying it shows that Biden will be beholden to the ‘most wildly liberal wing of his party’.
ICYMI: PAC fundraising fell 32% in Q2; official primary results; Sherrill accepted debate challenge from Becchi; Insider NJ’s Who’s Up and Who’s Down: The Week NJ Got Whacked; Singh slammed AG’s office; county fundraising has lowest six-month haul in twenty years; NJEA endorsements
The state Supreme Court ruled that the Emergency COVID-19 Bond Act is constitutional, rejecting the NJGOP’s argument, while requiring the state to certify the projected shortfall and only borrow up to that amount. The borrowing must also be related to the pandemic, not ‘solely to maintain the state’s fiscal integrity’. Speaker Coughlin applauded the decision, saying it ‘provided reasonable measures to guide borrowing’. Assembly Budget Chairwoman Pintor Marin said she’s ‘grateful‘ for the court’s ruling, and that ‘we did not make this decision to authorize this borrowing lightly’. Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald applauded the decision, saying borrowing is the ‘last resort’. Assemblyman McKeon said the ruling was ‘well reasoned and a victory’ for the state. The NJDSC called the GOP’s challenge of the Act ‘baseless‘, Republicans expressed irritation at the court’s decision. NJGOP Chairman Steinhardt decried the decision, saying it ‘confirms all three branches of government are firmly in the grasp of the Democrat Party’. NJ Policy Perspective applauded the ruling, saying it will spur a stronger pandemic recovery. GSI’s Regina Egea said ‘this permission to borrow does not mean that we must borrow’. Senator Oroho said he’s disappointed the act wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, but glad that limits were set on borrowing. Senator Pennacchio called it a ‘sad day‘ for the state and that taxpayers ‘will be paying for this mandate for years to come’. Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso decriced it as the ‘wrong choice‘.
The Senate Health Committee and Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee will hold a joint hearing today on bills to improve long-term care in the state.
Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso criticized a lack of resources for special needs education in the Administration’s schools reopening plan.
Assemblyman Holley introduced legislation to provide grants for tutoring and child care services through CARES Act funding.
Assemblyman Moen introduced legislation to promote NJ manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine and related supplies.
ICYMI: Murphy, NJEDA announce New Jersey Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program; Senate panel hearing with gym and health club owners; viewing and funeral detail for Shirley Rice, who passed away earlier this week; Murphy conditionally vetoed PLA bill; protesters rallied outside Statehouse; Senate, Assembly passed legislative redistricting bill
Insider NJ’s Fred Snowflack analyzes the results from the July 7th primary.
Insider NJ’s Max Pizarro, Fred Snowflack, and Jay Lassiter each won NJ Press Association Awards.
Be part of Insider NJ’s 2020 publications with an all-inclusive ad package that includes everything from now until the end of the year.
The state is pushing local police departments to hire more women and minorities, according to the Bergen Record.
In Atlantic City, casino revenue was down 23% in July, according to the Press of Atlantic City. A Facebook spat between a councilman and mayoral candidate resulted in a criminal complaint, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In Jersey City and Hoboken, Mayors Fulop and Bhalla announced a combined bike-share program. Councilman Solomon says Fulop is skirting a hiring freeze by hiring 23 new police recruits, according to Jersey Journal.
In Paterson, schools will reopen all-remote through October, according to Paterson Times. Mayor Sayegh will announce an expansion of the Neighbor Express Program. Sayegh will give a tour of Hinchliffe Stadium to MBL players. Juneteenth is now a public holiday in the city, according to Paterson Times.
In Montclair, the council launched a #LoveOurMontclair digital campaign.
In Manchester, Councilman Fusaro, Hudak, and Vaccaro announced their re-election bids.
In Flemington, a man was charged by the AG’s Office with distributing images of children being sexually exploited.
In Manville, a judge ordered a recount in the GOP primary which separated the winner and loser by 1 vote, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Freehold, a shopping mall owner objects the town’s attempt to use the property for affordable housing, according to NJ Biz. The schools superintendent called Governor Murphy’s schools announcement ‘chaos‘, according to SaveJersey.com.
In Fair Lawn, the town saw a peace vigil after days of tense protests, according to the Bergen Record.
In Camden, schools will begin the year all-remote, according to the Courier Post.
In Jackson, the town banned short-term rentals, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Teaneck, the town gave the nod for the Holy Name plan hearings, according to the Bergen Record.
In Willingboro, schools plan for 2 months of remote-only learning, according to the Burlington County Times.
In Howell, the council demanded in-person voting in the general election, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Monroe, schools have two options for back-to-school, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Little Falls, a $146M flood tunnel plan advanced, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Maplewood, BOE ballot positions were drawn, according to TAPinto.
In West Milford, schools added more in-person learning after parent feedback, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Roxbury, the town is seeking a state probe of JCP&L’s storm response, according to TAPinto.
In Passaic, the schools will likely remain remote until November, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Carteret, three new warehouses are proposed for an industrial area, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Bernardsville, the diversity committee will create an ‘action plan‘, according to NJ Hills.
In Bayonne, schools will start all-virtually in September, according to Hudson County View.
In Princeton, the superintendent says a number of parents are choosing remote-only learning, according to Planet Princeeton.
In Old Bridge, a woman wants to sue the town over her husband’s death, according to MyCentralJersey.
In Millburn, parents raised questions about the schools reopening plans, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Westfield, the town isn’t picking up storm debris due to limited capacity, according to MyCentralJersey.
ICYMI: In Perth Amboy, Diaz to announce re-election campaign; in JC, Fulop introduced amended budget; in Newark, Baraka doesn’t want in-person schools; in Linden, Scutari filed lawsuit against Armstead
Insider NJ columnist and former Senator Kevin O’Toole writes ‘A Long Overdue Call: Privacy for Judges‘
Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg writes ‘The N.J. Republican Party of Tom Kean Inclusion is Now the Party of Stephen Miller Racism, Enabled by Chris Christie‘
Insider NJ columnist and ELEC Executive Director Jeffrey Brindle writes ‘Not Alone in Thinking Stronger Political Parties Will Improve Our Politics‘
Insider NJ columnist Bob Hennelly writes ‘Trenton 1936 Washington, D.C. 2020 Deja Vu: Greed Wins as Labor Loses Leverage‘
Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘Managing COVID (+ Getting the Feds out of your Bong!)‘
Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack writes ‘Emergencies are not the Time for OPRA Darkness‘
AROUND THE WEB:
- Gov. Phil Murphy is leaving it largely up to New Jersey’s districts to decide how they reopen in the fall, saying there is no “one-size-fits-all plan.”
Dino Flammia, NJ1015
- With an announcement made Wednesday by Gov. Phil Murphy, more schools in New Jersey may choose to begin the 2020-2021 academic year online only. Schools that go remote to start the fall, however, will be required to declare an anticipated date for the return of in-person instruction in some capacity.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- U.S. Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday told President Donald Trump “your racism is showing” on Twitter after the president suggested that Booker and Joe Biden would push policies for low income housing to “invade” suburban neighborhoods.
Sergio Bichao, NJ1015
- Indoor dining is still not allowed. Gyms are still closed. And Gov. Phil Murphy has been worried about the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing at large gatherings. But at some New Jersey National Guard facilities, soldiers have been packing into indoor cafeterias, sharing sleeping tents and cramming into classrooms without masks, according to a whistle-blowing guardsman who spoke to New Jersey 101.5. The source, describing observations over the last month, says none of them were being screened or tested for the coronavirus.
Frank Kummer, for the Philadelphia Inquirer
- The state Department of Environmental protection is reporting that certain beaches in Avalon, Wildwood Crest, Cape May and Sea Isle City have been placed under advisory for high bacterial counts but are still open.
Claire Lowe, Press of Atlantic City
- Stockton University has rescinded five of the six charges in a complaint against a doctoral student over a Facebook post that stemmed from backlash over his use of a Zoom background of President Donald Trump.
- Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement adds more uncertainty about the fall.
Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight
- While families, policy experts and public officials nationwide wrestle with the pros and cons of reopening schools during the pandemic, education and health leaders in New Jersey seem to agree that districts here lack the regulatory guidance and critical resources to safely restart in-person lessons next month. The state Assembly Education Committee took testimony Monday from school nurses and public health officials who said districts need help developing testing protocols, ensuring contact tracing programs are in place, and securing sufficient personal protective equipment, or PPE, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Dennis Malloy, NJ1015
- For months now, the governor sits at a wide dais flanked by other state officials and puts on an embarrassing dog and pony show, designed to show how much he cares and how well he is doing at keeping us safe. It is NOT his job to keep us from catching a virus by locking down a state and causing the utter destruction of thousands and thousands of peoples’ livelihoods and dreams. Many people are taken in by his folksy, compassionate millionaire routine, but it’s a farce.
Chris Ryan, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- A report from the United States State Department said New York Jets owner Woody Johnson “sometimes made inappropriate or insensitive comments” regarding religion, sex or color while serving as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Brenda Flanagan, NJTV
- Arnold Haber’s family stood in front of the Paramus Veterans Home where the 91-year-old Korean War vet died of COVID-19 in mid-April. So far, 81 residents have died there, killed not just by the deadly virus, but also by alleged negligence and incompetence, as outlined in a scathing federal report.
Carol Comegno Courier-Post, Burlington County Times
- Summer recreational experiences on the water can mean more than heading to the ocean for a dip, sunbathing at the beach or hitting the fishing pier. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware are home to a dozen vintage sailing and military ships that offer unique experiences on sails, tours and even dining on board.
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, Down Beach
- Cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service has raised the ire of at least one resident who informed the Board of Commissioners about problems in 08403. After agreeing there is a problem, Mayor Nicholas Russo penned a letter to federal officials requesting services be restored.
Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green
- Schools in Morristown should not encounter much red tape if they attempt to erect temporary outdoor facilities for enhanced social distancing this fall. Following its summer playbook for expedited outdoor dining approvals, the town council on Tuesday voted 6-0 to streamline the process for schools, too.
David Cruz, NJTV
- Founded in 1775, and made an official department in 1792, the United States Postal Service was the internet before the internet. But now, as a global pandemic coincides with the most critical national election in generations, the Postal Service finds itself under attack with a new postmaster general slashing budgets and implementing policies, like no overtime and requiring sorting mail by hand, that are affecting service to your home.
Jayed Rahman, Paterson Times
- Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration secured the City Council’s approval early Wednesday morning for a 30-year tax abatement agreement for the controversial Hinchliffe Stadium project. Council members voted 6-1 to grant final approval to the payment in lieu of taxes (Pilot) agreement. Under the agreement, the developers for the project will pay the city an average of $129,153 per year in taxes for the next 30 years, substantially less than what the property would pay if it were put on regular taxation.
John Heinis, Hudson County View
- A Jersey City police officer who had no-show job charges against him dismissed back in October 2018 has reached a $210,000 lawsuit settlement with the city, pending approval from the city council tomorrow.
Claire Lowe, Press of Atlantic City
- When school reopens in September, students in Brigantine will return to the once empty halls of the district’s former middle school just a year after closing the building due to declining enrollment.
Joe Strupp, Asbury Park Press
- The Freehold Regional High School District has released its reopening plan that includes a hybrid schedule with students attending in-person classes two days per week and alternating Wednesdays based on their last name.