Good Wednesday morning!
Assemblymember Beth Sawyer, whose slate defeated the one led by Senate President Steve Sweeney, isn’t fond of driving on Senator Steven M. Sweeney Way in Harrison Township. She also doesn’t think a building at Rowan College of South Jersey should have the former senator’s name on it. Nor a publicly-funded think tank at Rowan University.
Sawyer last week introduced a bill that would bar naming pretty much any public building or infrastructure project after living current or former public officials, elected or appointed.
I know of a bunch but wanted to get an idea of how many public facilities are named after living current or former New Jersey officials, so I crowd-sourced it. There’s a lot beyond Steve Sweeney. There’s Chris Christie Drive in Parsippany, which was designed to alleviate traffic problems. The Richard J,. Codey Arena in West Orange. The J. Christian Bollwage Parking Garage in Elizabeth. Schools named after Bob Menendez and Albio Sires. The list goes on.
But imagine if there had never been a Brendan Byrne arena, which took the late former governor’s name shortly before he left office? I still call it that, no matter what new name they put on it.
Anyway, it’s an interesting proposal that I enjoyed writing about. It’s also a small look into the bad blood between Sweeney and the Republicans who defeated him. Read more about it, and Sweeney’s reaction to it, here.
DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NON-PROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 92
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Our Legislature should not be disgracing the institution by using taxpayer money to plaster names of politicians on public buildings which gives them an unfair advantage when running for re-election, higher office, or to regain a seat they lost.” — Assemblymember Beth Sawyer (R-Gloucester)
WHERE’S MURPHY? In Cedar Grove for an 11 a.m. law enforcement announcement
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — State Sen. Vin Gopal, NJ Advance Media’s Susan K. Livio, Fort Dix Elementary principal Darvis Holley, The AP’s Josh Lederman. Missed yesterday: ELEC825’s Kate Gibbs
TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at [email protected]
NEED MORE PLAYBOOK? — Sign up here for NJ Playbook PM and get more news in your inbox care of POLITICO’s Jonathan Custodio, minus the snarky headlines
NJ WEEDMAN — “Videos show NJ Weedman striking ex-girlfriend, business partner,” by The Trentonian’s Isaac Avilucea: “Deborah Madaio wonders what her life would be like if she never dated NJ Weedman … With Madaio’s financial backing, the couple opened up a pot temple and restaurant called The Joint in 2015, across from City Hall … That image of Forchion as a ‘peaceful pothead’ is a smokescreen, Madaio said, describing how she was assaulted and financially exploited by the marijuana activist for years … Her account is supported by police records and videos, depicting separate instances in 2020 and 2021 of Forchion accosting his longtime girlfriend and business partner, inside and outside The Joint. Madaio reported the abuse to Trenton Police but she said she was advised that no charges would be pursued against Forchion because she appeared like ‘the aggressor’ on footage that she showed officers. ‘I felt like I fell into a vortex,’ Madaio said. “Like you got flushed down the toilet and you can’t get out. I never thought I’d be a statistic at my age. Forchion, in an interview Tuesday, called Madaio a ‘nagging, harassing b**ch’ because she questioned his serial sexual escapades with women which he openly admitted engaging in.”
BABY FORMULA — Murphy announces state of emergency over baby formula shortage, by POLITICO’s Daniel Han: Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday evening declaring a state of emergency in New Jersey in response to the nation’s baby formula shortage. The order is designed, in part, to crack down on price gouging, which the Biden administration has similarly targeted in recent days. It also gives state agencies and departments broad authority to tackle the shortage and enables them to waive rules and create emergency measures. Murphy’s announcement comes as the state Department of Health has applied for federal waivers much of the country is currently operating under to shore up access to baby formula for financially needy residents.
ABORTING THE EFFORT — “NJ Democrats don’t want to reopen the abortion issue. They may miss their chance,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “Why not ask voters to amend the constitution, permanently guaranteeing women’s reproductive rights? Why not take the language that Gov. Phil Murphy and the Legislature codified into law in January and take a major step further by enshrining it in the state’s charter? It would protect those rights and thwart any Republican attempts to roll back the new law (and regulations). Instead of playing small ball, why not swing for the seats? Asked about the idea last week, Murphy responded as if the idea came from outer space. ‘I haven’t been asked the question,’ Murphy said after a rally last Wednesday with abortion advocates and legislators in Trenton, where he called for new laws to expand abortion access in New Jersey. That was a curious reply. It implied that the nation’s most powerful governor couldn’t act unless he got his strategic marching orders from the activists flanking him at his Statehouse event … ‘I think nationally, there’s, there’s a new sense of urgency on reproductive autonomy and related issues,’’ said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, sponsor of a bill that would prevent anyone from suing New Jersey residents under a draconian Texas law. ‘And it could make sense, if we’re going to look at a constitutional amendment, maybe now’s the time, because it has everybody’s attention,’ he said. But here’s why it won’t happen: Democrats have no appetite to plunge into another legislative struggle over abortion, whether it means putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November or simply heeding Murphy’s call to implement a raft of new abortion access bills.”
STONED NJ DRIVERS STILL SAFER THAN SOBER PA DRIVERS — “Weed is now legal in NJ, but driving high isn’t. How will police identify offenders?” by The Record’s Steve Janoski: “As the Garden State struts into its first months of legalized recreational marijuana, drug recognition experts will form a pillar of law enforcement’s strategy to clear the roads of cannabis-impaired drivers. But the small number of trained officers — and a looming state Supreme Court decision that could torpedo the experts’ credibility on the stand — threatens to complicate things. To start, most of New Jersey’s 38,000 law enforcement officers are not qualified drug recognition experts — only one out of every 76 has gone through the weeks-long course and earned the title, according to state statistics. That means not every department has one. And although departments in need can call in an expert from another town, that potentially stretches thin their already lean ranks … The attorney general’s office said in the memo that it’s not clear what effect, if any, marijuana legalization will have on impaired driving rates. But testing the drug’s effects on motorists can be difficult. The memo said it’s not clear if authorities can determine impairment by testing THC levels in the blood. The state also hasn’t declared an allowable limit. And even if it had, no testing devices have been deemed scientifically reliable in American courts, the memo said.”
ANYONE STRATEGIZING ON RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN 2025 SHOULD FIRST SPEAK TO GOV. STEVE FULOP — “Governor 2025: Underway in the underground,” by InsiderNJ’s Max Pizarro: “In large part because of his chairmanship of the Essex County Democratic Party, in part because of the steady dissolution of the South Jersey Democrats as that region of New Jersey grew redder over the course of the last five years in particular, and in part because of his demonstrated willingness to exercise power in the chairmanship (more on that in a minute), Democratic State Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones remains in a highly influential position within this statewide conversation. At this moment – and recognizing that this could change and change quickly, and change many times between now and 2025 – Jones is said to find intriguing the possibility of a U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) candidacy … But Jones also knows he has others within his own county who may want to run for governor, among them sitting Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. Oliver ran off the line (in the 2013 special election for U.S. Senate) and if Jones doesn’t back her to succeed Murphy, she could take another crack at an anti-establishment candidacy; or partner with Baraka in the ultimate progressive send-up out of Essex, if Baraka too fails to secure Jones’ backing.”
EDUCATION — Charter school leader blasts Murphy’s charter policies as ‘political’, by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: The leader of a charter school whose expansion plans have been denied several times believes the Murphy administration’s charter school policies are “politically motivated” and that communications between charters and the front office have broken down. “We’re changing lives. We’re positively impacting students but, unfortunately, whatever we do, whatever results we’re producing does not really matter,” Namik Sercan, chief executive officer of Central Jersey College Prep charter school, said in an interview Tuesday. In recent months, Sercan and other charter leaders have publicly condemned the state Department of Education’s denials in February of several high-performing charter school expansion requests, including CJCP’s.
CORNAVACATE — Deborah Cornavaca is leaving Gov. Phil Murphy’s office and heading back to the New Jersey Education Association teachers union, the NJEA announced on Tuesday. Cornavaca will be the union’s next director of government relations overseeing politics and policy. A longtime political organizer and lobbyist at the NJEA and other education advocacy groups, Cornavaca joined the Murphy administration in 2018 as deputy chief of staff for outreach for the governor’s office. “The relationships she helped forge, especially during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, were instrumental in advancing our agenda,” Murphy said in a statement. “Although I’m sad to see her leave, I know she will continue doing impactful work advocating for our students, teachers, and educational support professionals at the New Jersey Education Association.” —Carly Sitrin
THE GUY TRUMP DOESN’T LIKE — @GovChristie: “What a fun day with the Kemp family in Georgia talking about the Governor’s record cutting taxes, helping our kids in the classrooms, empowering their parents and protecting Georgia lives AND livelihoods during COVID-19. A record every Georgia Republican should be proud of today.”
BRICKSEL TOWN — “$100 million film studio to rise from rubble of ex-public housing site,” by The New York Times’ Tracey Tully: “With a made-for-television flourish, Newark’s mayor, Ras Baraka, climbed into an excavator earlier this year and punched the machine’s metal claw through a crumbling brick wall of the city’s first public housing site. The long-abandoned apartment complex would be replaced, he promised, with something better. On Tuesday afternoon, officials [announced] the grand new vision for the 15-acre lot: By March 2024, the mounds of rubble at the center of a blighted neighborhood less than two miles from Newark Liberty Airport are slated to be replaced by a $100 million television and movie production hub featuring six large soundstages and space for set building, postproduction editing, crew trucks and catering services. The project has been held out primarily as an economic catalyst for Newark, a poor but growing city about 13 miles west of Midtown Manhattan. But it also offers perhaps the most visible sign yet of New Jersey’s emerging relevance in the film and television industry … Newark’s six soundstages will each be at least 20,000 square feet, a size considered large enough to lure business from popular production hubs in Georgia, New Mexico and California. That’s been Gov. Philip D. Murphy’s goal for years. He traveled to California in 2019 to generate interest in New Jersey among Hollywood leaders. Two years later, he signed a law that offered corporations that relocate or expand in New Jersey $14 billion in tax breaks; the legislation significantly increased the pool of tax cuts available through 2034 to companies that build studios or film in the state.”
DENNY’S TAKE: THE STATE KNOWS ITS CASE IS NO GRAND SLAM — “PILOT lawsuit argument set for July 13, but state seeks early Appellate Court action,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Michelle Brunetti Post: “The state is continuing to use delaying tactics in a lawsuit over a new casino payment-in-lieu-of-taxes law, county officials said Tuesday, after the trial judge ruled the law violates a 2018 state settlement agreement with the county. At a management conference Monday, Atlantic County Assignment Judge Michael J. Blee set oral arguments concerning potential damages in the case for July 13, according to Atlantic County Counsel Jim Ferguson. But at that conference, the lawyer for the state John Lloyd told Blee he has been instructed by state officials to file a motion for interlocutory appeal — essentially asking the state Appellate Court to get involved before the trial court case is finished, Ferguson said. It’s an attempt to further delay any settlement to the county, Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson said Tuesday. ‘The state has figured out a way to squander more taxpayer money over this case,’ Levinson said.”
NADROWSKI CAMPAIGN TURNS TO ASH — “Bayonne Mayor Davis and his team officially sweep after provisional ballots counted,” by Hudson County View’s John Heinis: “Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and his team have officially pulled off a sweep after provisional ballots have been counted. Davis, elected to a third term, finished last week about 75 votes ahead of the 50 plus 1 runoff threshold and is about 105 to 120 over today, Hudson County Board of Elections Clerk Michael Harper told HCV. While Davis had a convincing lead on Election Night, 50.81 percent of the vote to 42.67 for Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, 288 provisional votes still had to be tabulated before certifying the results – which the Hudson County Clerk’s Office will do by the end of the day.”
UH-HUH. A ‘MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING’ — “Embattled Paterson Police Chief ‘Mike’ Baycora is ‘ready to retire,’ Mayor Sayegh says,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “Police Chief Ibrahim ‘Mike’ Baycora, who became a lightning rod for criticism despite his self-proclaimed efforts to stay out of the limelight, may be retiring soon, Mayor Andre Sayegh said Tuesday. Sayegh appointed Baycora as chief in February 2020, and he oversaw the Police Department as Paterson endured back-to-back years with record homicide numbers, part of a national surge in gun violence. City Council members, community activists and police union leaders complained about what they described as Baycora’s lack of leadership, citing a monthlong vacation he took last summer while the city’s shooting statistics spiked. ‘He’s ready to retire,’ Sayegh said when a reporter asked about Baycora’s status at an unrelated event on Tuesday. ‘There’s a mutual understanding.’”
I THOUGHT THEY MEANT THE DRUNK FRAT BOYS — “Despite our best intentions, it’s time to stop feeding the wildlife: Hoboken officials,” by The Jersey Journal’s Teri West: “Hoboken may be home to families, college students and commuters, but they’re sharing the dense square mile with abundant urban animals that, according to the city, are becoming peskier. To curb populations, the city plans to officially prohibit the feeding of wildlife on public property by writing a ban into law. The single sentence, which would be added to the city’s ‘Nuisances’ chapter of the city code, is scheduled for first reading Wednesday.”
CORRECTION: Yesterday I wrote that Speaker Coughlin is calling for the most property tax relief. His statement didn’t specify property tax, just tax relief in general.