GEORGE NORCROSS goes off on MURPHY’s staff — NRCC un-endorses GROSSMAN — BAIL REFORM upheld

 In Politics

By Matt Friedman ([email protected]; @mattfriedmannj):

George Norcross has only nice things to say about Gov. Phil Murphy.

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As far as the governor’s inner circle? Well, that’s another story.

He had a lot of harsh words for the governor’s top staffers and political advisers during a 30-minute interview with me last week. But I think what probably cuts the deepest is when he says infighting is so bad among his staff that Murphy is “suffering from a Trump-like administration.”

What worse insult could one come up with for Murphy, who’s done everything he can to make his administration a liberal counterpoint to Trump? And from Norcross, a member of Mar-a-Lago, no less. Read my report here.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — POLITICO New Jersey editor John Appezzato, Wall Street Journal’s Heather Haddon, NJDOLWD’s David Bander, Coughlin advisor Dan Smith, former Assemblyman Jack Conners, BioNJ’s John Slotman, O’Scanlon Chief of Staff Beau Huch

WHERE’S MURPHY? Speaking at the NJ State Building & Construction Trades Council’s convention at The Hard Rock in Atlantic City 11 a.m., followed by the CWA District 1 Conference at noon at the Golden Nugget, followed by an “education announcement” at 1 p.m. at the Golden Nugget.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives” — NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers withdrawing the organization’s endorsement of Seth Grossman after he approvingly posted a racist article from an openly racist website. The NRCC had previously ignored Grossman calling Islam a “cancer,” Kwanzaa a “fake holiday,” diversity “a bunch of crap,” complaining Black History Month was too long etc etc etc.

HEADLINE OF THE… WHENEVER — ”NJ Transit train hits NJ Transit bus near NJ Transit station” Read the report

WHAT TRENTON MADE

NOW EVEN NORCROSS WANTS TO REDUCE INCENTIVES — “The power broker behind Camden, N.J.’s upswing,” by The Wall Street Journal’s Kate King: “Camden’s biggest booster is an insurance executive, George Norcross, who also serves as chairman of the board of trustees for the city’s largest employer, Cooper University Health Care … New Jersey has authorized more than $8 billion in corporate tax breaks since 2010, with more money flowing to Camden than any other city. Over the past eight years, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has approved more than $1.6 billion in tax breaks for about three dozen companies that stayed in or relocated to Camden. Critics question the amount of Camden’s incentives and the benefit received by political insiders. Darnell Hardwick, president of the Camden County NAACP, said the city’s tax base has hardly grown … Mr. Norcross, 62 years old, has personally benefited from the state incentives. Last year, New Jersey approved $86 million in tax breaks for the new waterfront headquarters of the insurance company, Conner Strong & Buckelew, where Mr. Norcross is executive chairman. The headquarters is part of a $250 million project to build an 18-story office building that will also house the headquarters for third-party supply-chain provider NFI and the Michaels Organization, a real-estate company. In an interview, Mr. Norcross said he has helped recruit major businesses to Camden, including Subaru Corp. , energy company Holtec International and American Water, a utility. Generous tax incentives were needed to convince companies to move to the city despite its reputation for violent crime and failing schools, he added, although he now believes the subsidies should be reduced. ‘Given its unfortunate status, it needed something dramatic’ he said.” Read the report

PENSION FUNDS URGED TO INVEST IN RAINBOWS, UNICORNS — “New Jersey pension investments now guided by social, environmental values,” by The Record’s James Nash: “New Jersey is increasingly putting retirees’ money where Gov. Phil Murphy’s mouth is. Since the Democrat took office in January, managers of the state’s nearly $77 billion in pension investments have increasingly factored in social and environmental justice, using the power of the purse to push companies to change the way they do business. The State Investment Council has withdrawn investments from a company that manufactures high-powered firearms, pressured two private-equity firms not to foreclose on Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria last year, and urged Target not to do business with trucking companies that classify their drivers as contractors rather than employees. The state’s socially conscious approach to investing could accelerate, as the investment council now is working on a formal policy on what is referred to as ESG — considering environmental, social and governance factors in deciding where to put pension investments.” Read the report

EDUCATION — “Murphy plans to kill four PARCC exams. Here’s who could get out of testing,” by NJ Advance Media’s Adam Clark: “New Jersey’s new governor wasn’t able to fulfill his campaign promise to ‘scrap PARCC Day 1,’ but it appears he’s now trying to kill at least some of the controversial tests. Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is proposing to eliminate four exams — the Algebra II and Geometry exams, and the ninth- and 11th-grade exams in reading, according to a state document posted on Facebook by Save Our Schools New Jersey, a parent group opposed to the tests. The changes would be part of a short-term plan to streamline the exams before the state can fully transition to a new standardized testing system, according to the document. It’s unclear whether the exams would be eliminated for the upcoming school year.” Read the report

BIG LOSS FOR DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER’S WIFE — Federal appeals court rules New Jersey’s bail reforms constitutional, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: A federal appeals court on Monday affirmed that New Jersey’s reformed bail system is constitutional, denying a challenge by a group that has ties to the bail bond industry. The state virtually eliminated the use of money bail as a tool for getting out of jail about a year-and-a-half ago. Now, judges hold hearings shortly after a person’s arrest to determine whether to release the defendant before trial. Among those who challenged the new system were the Lexington National Insurance Corp., a firm that does business with the bail-bond industry. National Insurance sought to force New Jersey judges to consider money bail on equal footing with the state’s non-monetary conditions of release. The ability to use money bail is a constitutional right, the firm argued. But in its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that the system is indeed constitutional. Read the report

ENVIRONMENT — “Army Corps considering 5-mile hurricane barrier across New York Bay, by POLITICO’s Danielle Muoio: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering spending billions of dollars to combat coastal flooding in New York and New Jersey — but exactly how that will be accomplished remains up for debate. Five proposals are being considered, including construction of what would be the largest storm barrier in the world. In 2015, Congress approved legislation that directed the Army Corps to study areas in the eastern and southern United States that are at the greatest risk of storm surge in the event of a hurricane or other major storm. The study was initiated in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which caused roughly $60 billion in damages in New York and New Jersey and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes. The study identified nine high-risk areas, including New York City, Jersey City and Hoboken, home to a combined 16 million people. Read the report

PSE&G — ”We didn’t know dying grandmother was on oxygen before cutting power, PSE&G says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Karen Yi: “The energy company a family is blaming for the death of its 68-year-old Newark grandmother said it was not aware that Linda Daniels relied on an oxygen machine before shutting off her electricity last week … ‘As a company we make it a practice to accommodate customers with special circumstances. We have reviewed our records dating back to 2016 and there is no indication by the customer of a medical condition in the home prior to disconnection,’ PSE&G said in a statement Monday afternoon. ‘We never would have disconnected service had we been informed of the circumstances.’ … But Desiree Washington, Daniels’ eldest daughter, said the family had just made a $500 payment two days before the power was cut off. Online bank statements also show payments in April, May and June — all over $250 each month.” Read the report

MEDIA MOVES — Christian Hetrick, formerly of the Press of Atlantic City and most recently Observer New Jersey, will cover the consumer beat at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

—“‘We don’t accept cash’ — how NJ could fight the no-cash trend” Read the report

—“Hudson’s top public defender tapped to head statewide Appellate Section” Read the report

—“Murphy shows fairness in accepting Sweeney’s school aid reform, says Carl Golden” Read the column

—Amy Wilson: “Something about portraiture, photography, individuality, and otherness: Pictures of New Jersey politicians taken from the web” Read the column

THE TRUMP ERA

REAL PROMPT ACTION — NRCC rescinds Grossman endorsement in NJ-02, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro: The NRCC is disavowing the GOP nominee in a battleground House district in New Jersey after media outlets and liberal watchdogs exposed years of offensive comments he made online. Seth Grossman won his party’s nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) in a South Jersey House seat and was immediately endorsed by the NRCC. … But CNN reported last month that Grossman had mocked racial and ethnic diversity in online postings, made anti-Muslim comments and called Kwanzaa “a phony holiday invented in 1960s by black racists to weaken and divide Americans during a Christmas season of joy and good will.” It wasn’t until Monday — when the liberal group Media Matters for America flagged that Grossman had also used his Facebook account to promote a post from a white nationalist website that said blacks were “a threat to all who cross their paths” — that the NRCC rescinded its endorsement. Read the report

JUST RENAME IT ‘THE IVANKA PROJECT’ “NJ agencies try to calm Trump hostility to Gateway project,” by NJ Spotlight’s John Reitmeyer: “Two local transportation agencies are looking to neutralize the Trump administration’s stated opposition to the Gateway tunnel project, although no one is confident the moves will satisfy federal demands amid fears that President Donald Trump is blocking the project due to politics. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is now acting as the lead agency for grant applications and will handle the environmental review of the proposed trans-Hudson rail tunnel, a shift that was explained in a recent letter to federal transportation officials. Federal officials had raised concerns about a different and newly created nonprofit agency overseeing the project. That action coincided with New Jersey Transit’s recent decision to update the financial framework for a planned replacement of the Portal Bridge, a key north Jersey rail crossing near Secaucus Junction. The new finance plan for the bridge project reduces the overall price tag and reflects some $600 million in new bond financing that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has approved to beef up the local share of the project. Federal officials had previously raised concerns that not enough funding for the bridge replacement was being contributed at the local level.” Read the report

THIS WILL WORK UNTIL TRUMP DOES ANOTHER THING — “Bludgeon Dems running for Congress with Murphy tax hike hammer? Say hi to the GOP playbook,” by NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan D. Salant: “U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez wasn’t in Trenton when Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democratic-controlled legislature enacted a state budget, but that hasn’t stopped Republican challenger Bob Hugin from trying to tie him to the spending plan’s $1.2 billion in tax increases. The budget battle also has spilled over into the House races, where at least four of the state’s five Republican-held seats are vulnerable to a Democratic pickup in November. For Republicans, the state budget’s tax increases provides a tool to bludgeon Democratic House and Senate nominees through Nov. 6, and change the topic away from President Donald Trump, whose New Jersey job approval rating is 35 percent. ‘We live in one of the highest-taxed states in the country and New Jersey Democrats just passed a state budget that didn’t even consider cutting taxes as an option,’ said Republican consultant Chris Russell, whose clients include Hugin and Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist.” Read the report

LET HE WHO HAS NOT SOLD WEAPONS TO IRAN TO FUND NICARAGUAN DEATH SQUADS CAST THE FIRST STONE — “Oliver North speaks on commitment, faith at Ocean City Tabernacle,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s John DeRosier: “About two dozen people marched outside the Ocean City Tabernacle on Sunday morning holding signs that read ‘Worship God, Not Guns’ and ‘You can’t pray guns away’ in protest of former U.S. Marine Lt. Col. and newly named NRA President Oliver North speaking at two services. Inside the Tabernacle, hundreds of people packed in and heard North, who was named president of the National Rifle Association in May, give a speech about commitment to faith, family, and freedom … In his speech, North spoke of the value of commitment. Commitment to faith, the country, marriage and children are some of the bedrocks of America, he said, citing the commitment of the founding fathers to the country’s independence. He also talked about his own faith and how it guided him through his time in the military and now his current role.” Read the report

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