POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Jaffe Morning Briefing: Jan. 21, 2016

jaffe_tech

JAFFE COMMUNICATIONS GIVES ITS TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

The content and opinions expressed herein are those of Jaffe Communications and do not necessarily reflect the views of NJTV.

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie says he vetoed a bill that would have required school kids to get 20 minutes of daily recess because it was “stupid,” NJ.com reports. “Part of my job as governor is to veto the stupid bills. That was a stupid bill and I vetoed it.” Not the words we would choose, but OK. But we must question the comments from Christie’s office, criticizing the Legislature for putting 158 bills on his desk in the remaining days of the lame duck session. Sure, some of those bills may be “stupid,” as the governor says, but you can’t blame the Legislature for showing up for work.

STATEWIDE – Just in time for this weekend’s snowstorm, kids can now legally shovel their neighbors’ driveways and front porches to make a few extra bucks. Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that lets kids offer their muscles-for-hire without local permits or licenses – just as long as they only advertise their services within 24 hours of an advancing snowfall. Sen. Mike Doherty came up with the idea after gung-ho Bound Brook cops told two high school seniors they needed permits to hand out fliers last winter for shoveling services. Maybe all this snow shoveling can count toward “recess.”

PATERSON – Talk about a golden parachute. The city council finally awarded a new contract – five years overdue – to Police Chief William Fraher. It includes lovely parting gifts for a chief who’s approaching 65, the state’s mandatory retirement age. Fraher is getting retroactive raises of 12-percent and four 2-percent increases back to 2012. That puts his base pay at $210,000, the Paterson Press reports. It also entitles him to a lump sum $150,000 check upon retirement for unused sick and vacation time. Mayor Joey Torres says Fraher’s contract is “fair and equitable,” but we still can’t understand why you get paid for not being sick.

TRENTON – There’s a bill banging its way through the Statehouse to block police videos from dashboard and body-worn cameras from going public. Even recordings of 911 calls would be kept confidential. At first, this smells like the making of a cover-up, ensuring cops can do whatever the heck they want with impunity. But if every encounter with a cop could be released to the public – and then used as YouTube fodder for generations to come – one could argue this bill actually protects the public. Remember that drunken night when the cops came a-callin’? That video could be enjoyed by your boss, your spouse, prospective employers and your great-great-grandchildren.

NEW BRUNSWICK – For now, a management consultant is running the mighty Middlesex County Improvement Authority. The board has hired Ralph Albanir to temporarily replace long-time executive director Richard Pucci, who retired after 25 years, New Brunswick Today reports. Albanir is no stranger in county government or political circles, having served 42 years as director of county parks and infrastructure management. Albanir retired in 2014. Meanwhile, the MCIA board is searching high and low for a full-time director for the $65 million, 600-person agency that runs nursing homes, a golf course, collects municipal recycling, and helps towns pay for a host of other programs.

ENGLEWOOD – Aging Star Trek fans may be surprised to learn it has been 50 years since the show premiered – on September 8, 1966. To join in the year-long celebration, William Shatner will be performing his one-man play “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It” at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood tonight. No Spock ears in the first three rows, please.

NEWARK – In an obvious world, you can’t educate a child if he or she does not show up for school. So, among the many challenges facing the Newark Public Schools, the district is also dealing with the fact that nearly one in four Newark children in kindergarten through third grade were chronically absent during the 2013-14 school year, according to the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. That’s equal to 4,328 Newark students in grades K-3, with kindergarteners having the worst numbers. The group will be at Rutgers Newark at 9:30 a.m. to talk about this mess and hopefully some solutions.

JERSEY CITY – Buying $6,000 worth of new furniture has cost the city’s deputy health director her $80,000 job. Leigh Spiteri was fired after the mayor’s office learned the furniture was bought from her husband John, a furniture maker. Spiteri didn’t go cheap on the new stuff which included a $1,175 desk for her boss, Health Director Stacey Lea Flanagan, four tables and two desk extensions with a $4,800 price tag, the Jersey Journal reports. A city spokeswoman said the purchases “showed poor judgment.” And, we think, expensive tastes too.

NEW BRUNSWICK – Get ready for some straight economic talk tomorrow as James W. Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School at Rutgers, will assess Middlesex County’s economic prospects for 2016. The event, part of a new economic development series sponsored by the Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce, will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Hyatt in New Brunswick. While we expect plenty of policy substance, don’t expect Hughes to devote much time assessing any trickle-down effect of North Jersey casinos on the center of the state, however. Go to www.mcrcc.org to register.

PATERSON – Just about every city in New Jersey has a few vacant and abandoned properties that officials would like to get rehabbed and placed back on the tax rolls. Paterson is actually doing something about it. The city is taking advantage of a new law and hired Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co. to sell some 90 tax liens. The law makes it much easier for buyers to take over the property. City officials will showcase the properties today at City Hall starting at noon. A great way to get some properties for a bargain and help a city get back on its feet.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

OLYMPIA, WA – “Teen Lobbying Day” turned very bizarre at the Statehouse when Republican lawmaker Mary Dye quizzed six high school girls about their virginity. The Teen Council of Planned Parenthood went before lawmakers Monday to push for expanded insurance for birth control. Instead, the Seattle Times says Dye gave them a lecture about abstinence, and asked if they had done the deed. Their Planned Parenthood chaperone told the rattled teens they didn’t have to answer such a question before quickly scooting them off the House floor. Dye – a wheat farmer whose campaign slogan was “Defending Your Way of Life” – later apologized, but only after widespread ridicule on social media.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Who the heck would want to be a cop on duty at the Halvemaansteeg police station in Amsterdam on this day in 1903, charged with watching over Harry Houdini? No surprise; the escape artist escaped.

1c6f2d7b-962e-458a-bfd4-6acf1568a918

WORD OF THE DAY

Ragpicker (RAG-pik-er) – noun

Definition: This may be the most obvious definition ever. A ragpicker is someone who makes a living scavenging rags, picking them out of the other refuse.

Example: If the stock market drops any lower, Rutgers may launch an esteemed “School of Ragpicking.”

Want to read more Morning Briefing? Click here for back issues.