New Jersey Playbook-Alvarez won’t be charged

By Pre-K Our Way, January 24, 2019

Good Thursday morning!

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will not file charges against Al Alvarez — the second prosecutor’s office to decline to file charges.

I found the statement the office made pretty notable: “Due to a lack of credible evidence and corroboration that a crime was committed, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will not be filing any criminal charges in this matter.”

This is an extraordinarily politically fraught case, which the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office obviously knows. Nevertheless, it chose to use very blunt and direct language in its statement. I’m not sure what that means, but it is interesting.

Read our story about it here.

WHERE’S MURPHY? At the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May at 9 a.m. to talk about the shutdown

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Latino Action Network’s Chris Estevez, Tonio Burgos’ Jim Kehoe


QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This idea that President Trump is a Russian agent, to me, is just laughable. By the way, they couldn’t trust him either! Like, if Trump were an agent, he’d be a double agent. He’d be working both sides of the street, trying to get the best deal he could. You know, I don’t think the Russians want to invest in that intelligence asset.” — Former Gov. Chris Christie


REVERSE GATEWAY DRUG — “New Jersey adds opioids to medical pot program, ends Medicaid prior authorizations,” by POLITICO’s Ryan Hutchins and Katherine Landergan: “New Jersey will open up its medical marijuana program to those fighting opioid addiction and also remove Medicaid’s prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted addiction treatment, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday. … The governor and top state health officials said New Jersey will provide more support to those on the path to recovery, expand law enforcement efforts to cut off the flow of illicit drugs, increase access to evidence-based prevention and treatment programs and strengthen `system-wide infrastructure‘ for the addiction community. Removing Medicaid prior-authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment … will underpin the effort, Murphy said, citing the approach as the smartest one to take as the drug epidemic festers. The policy change will take effect July 1.” Read more here

— “Hospitals, state health officials join forces to combat infant and maternal mortality” Read more here

TAKING THE HELMY — “Helmy accepts chief of staff post,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “George Helmy, a top advisor to U.S. Senator Cory Booker, ... accepted Murphy’s offer and will begin soon.” Read more here

WOLFE HUFFED AND PUFFED BUT COULD NOT BLOW STATEHOUSE DOWN — “Wolfe won’t seek re-election to Assembly,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Brick), the most senior member of the New Jersey General Assembly, will not seek re-election to a 15th term in the legislature, he confirmed [Wednesday]. Wolfe, 76, said he informed the Assembly Republican leadership [Wednesday] of his intention to retire at the completion of his current term. ‘I think it is time for me to be more involved in the lives of my family members, and I am looking forward to spending more time with them,’ Wolfe said.” Read more here

GREEN SPACE"Bill would protect Liberty State Park from large-scale development," by The Record's Scott Fallon: "Lawmakers are pushing to bar large-scale development in Liberty State Park after proposals for a hotel, marina, golf course and race car stadium have been floated in recent years at New Jersey's most visited park. A bill introduced this month would allow only ‘small-scale commercial activities’ such as bicycle or kayak rentals, food concessions, a temporary winter skating rink and other businesses at the park in Jersey City, a prime gateway to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. ‘Most parks don’t require this type of extra protection, but it has proved truly necessary at Liberty State Park,’ said Greg Remaud, head of of NY/NJ Baykeeper and a longtime park advocate. It would bar any concessions or leases within the 235-acre natural restoration area in the interior of Liberty State Park that is undergoing an environmental cleanup, and at Caven Point Peninsula, an undeveloped beach where a nearby golf club has tried to expand its course." Read more here

DRONING ON — Port Authority was already prepping for drones when apparent sighting disrupted Newark airport, by POLITICO's Dana Rubinstein: It was a rare act of bureaucratic prescience. On Jan. 17, or just five days before the apparent sighting of a drone near Newark Liberty International Airport led to its partial closure, the airport’s operator held a confab with national and local security officials to talk about drones and how to keep them away from airports. Port Authority officials learned, among other things, that the New York Police Department has technology that can track most drones and locate drone pilots. The so-called AeroScope system is manufactured by DJI, according to one of the meeting’s participants. A Port Authority spokesperson declined to comment when asked if it would look into acquiring similar technology, citing security reasons. Tuesday’s incident was the first apparent drone sighting to disrupt traffic at one of the region's three major airports run by the Port Authority. The incident represents the hometown arrival of an international phenomenon — drone sightings (or apparent drone sightings) prompting airport shutdowns and, for travelers, logistical nightmares. Read more here

GANNETT IS RIGHT-SIZING HUMAN CAPITAL TO BEST POSITION SYNERGIES ACROSS MULTIMEDIA ENGAGEMENT PLATFORMS — “Gannett lays off journalists across the country,” by Poynter’s Tom Jones: “Another brutal day for journalism. Gannett began slashing jobs all across the country Wednesday in a cost-cutting move that was anticipated even before the recent news that a hedge-fund company was planning to buy the chain. The cuts were not minor. At the Indianapolis Star, three journalists were laid off, including well-known columnist Tim Swarens. At the Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel, University of Tennessee women’s basketball reporter Dan Fleser is out after more than 30 years in sports. The Tennessean cut three positions, including high school sports reporter Michael Murphy. Six were laid off at The Record in North Jersey after nine took an early retirement buyout earlier this month.On and on it continued.” Read more here

—"Lawmakers call on Murphy to lift gag order on former campaign workers. Governor questions ‘their agenda'" Read more here.

—“Amidst shutdown, Gov. Murphy to visit with Coast Guard families Thursday” Read more here

—“N.J. minimum wage vote planned. So what’s happening with legalizing marijuana?” Read more here

—“$15 an hour? New Jersey minimum-wage workers say it’s about time” Read more here


LUCKILY THE COST OF LIVING IS VERY CHEAP IN MONTCLAIR — “'We only have $45 left': Federal workers share shutdown stress at Montclair soup kitchen,” by The Recor’s Julia Martin: “This Friday may not be the 13th, but for some federal workers it is shaping up to be a frightening day: the second bi-weekly paycheck they won't be getting since the partial government shutdown began December 22. `We only have $45 left,‘ said the stay-at-home wife of a man who works for Homeland Security at Newark Liberty Airport. The couple was at a `Shutdown Social‘ for federal workers in Montclair on Tuesday night and, like most workers there, said they had been told not to speak to the media for attribution.” Read more here

EL BLOOMBITO — Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who as usual is considering running for president, is donating $1 million (0.11 mastros) to Camden through Bloomberg Philanthropies for a public art project called “A New View” that’s intended to combat illegal dumping. According to a press release, the program “will transform sites plagued by illegal dumping along major transit corridors into dynamic art spaces, inspiring residents and attracting visitors.” Camden is the fifth and final city to win the funding. You may recall that Bloomberg was in South Jersey back in September to raise money for Camden County Democrats. But I would be surprised if George Norcross backs anyone not named Cory Booker in 2020.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT! — “Chris Christie hints at another presidential run; hits Trump over government shutdown,” by The Palm Spring Desert Sun’s Sam Mets: “Chris Christie is making it clear that his political ambitions are far from over. One week before his book "Let Me Finish: Trump, The Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics," hits shelves, the former New Jersey governor and Republican presidential candidate gave a broad and crowd-pleasing speech Tuesday evening in Indian Wells that covered his past and possible future … Christie did not say he would again run for president in 2024, but willingly addressed questions about his future political ambitions. Many candidates who had run and lost early in their careers, including Ronald Reagan, Christie said, went on to win later elections and become successful presidents. ‘Once you’ve got this in your blood, it’s hard to get rid of it,’ he said.” Read more here

THOMPSON TO ACCEPT TREATS IN LIEU OF CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS — “State senator joins fight to have security dog returned to Old Bridge military family,” by The Courier-News’ Suzanne Russell: “The pressure continues to mount for a security company to return a bomb detection dog to an Old Bridge family [whose] patriarch is on temporary military leave from his job as the dog's handler. State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-12th District) wrote a letter last week to MSA Security in New York City asking for Mattie, a black Labrador who works in bomb detection for the company, to be returned to family of the dog's handler Seamus Fennessy, who is currently away from work serving in the Army National Guard. ‘I agree with the family's position,’ Thompson, who has had dogs for his whole life, said in a telephone interview. ‘It's the humane thing to do, let them keep the dog.’” Read more here

—“Rutgers postpones deadline on unpaid tuition bills for students affected by shutdown” Read more here


PATERSON“Hundreds mob Paterson BOE over employee health plan problems,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “Hundreds of angry educators jammed the Paterson school district’s headquarters Tuesday night to demand that the Board of Education reverse its cost-cutting change in the employee medical insurance plan. One after another, teachers walked up to the microphone at the school board meeting to tell hardship stories they have endured under the district’s new health coverage — about getting denied approval for medical tests and surgeries, about being turned away by doctors because of the new insurance, about being charged for things that they used to get for free under the state health benefits plan.” Read more here

CAN YOU BET ON SURGICAL OUTCOMES? — “Atlantic City’s economy relies on casinos. $38M health complex may change that,” by NJ Advance Media’s Chris Franklin: “A new medical complex may be coming to Atlantic City. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a measure Tuesday to move forward with exploratory steps of the AtlantiCare Health Park Project. Under the proposal, the three-story, 65,000 square foot, $38 million health park would be at the corner of Ohio and Atlantic avenues. It’s expected to have dialysis programs, an urgent care center, and a medical education program with residencies for medical students. The CRDA would provide $15 million, as well as the $3 million lot the complex will be built on.” Read more here

GOPAL: WHICHEVER TOWN SMELT IT DEALT IT — “N.J. town literally stinks — and now the neighbors can smell it, too,” by NJ Advance Media’s Allison Pries: “What’s that smell? For years, residents of Tinton Falls have been complaining about a stench coming from a garbage dump located in the south end of town. And it’s getting worse. Now the foul odor is spreading into neighboring towns. ‘There’s been a lot more complaints recently in Ocean Township, Eatontown and Neptune,’ said State Senator Vin Gopal, who has organized a public meeting on the issue. The meeting will be held Monday, Jan. 28 at 6p.m. at the Hamilton Fire House, 10 Jumping Brook Road in Neptune.” Read more here

R.I.P. — “Bishop John Smith, who led Trenton diocese, has died,” by The Courier-Post’s Jim Walsh: “Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith, a former leader of the Diocese of Trenton, has died. The bishop, who was 83, died Tuesday after a long illness, the diocese said in a statement.” Read more here

—“Jersey City withdraws request for council to OK law firm payments” Read more here

—“This man said cops assaulted him in 2013. Now he’s getting $70K from Jersey City” Read more here

—“Toms River Regional $147-million school-repair referendum approved” Read more here

—“Unions: Paterson layoff plan would cut 112 police officers” Read more here

—“Hackensack voters deny a nearly $170 million schools proposal” Read more here

—“CRDA to auction off vacant properties in South Inlet district” Read more here

—“Elmwood Park preschool teacher arrested after saying she'd shoot up school, police charge” Read more here


KRIS SINGH URGED NOT TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT NEW MEXICANS — “N.J. company’s multibillion dollar plan to store nuclear waste has environmental groups in meltdown,” by The AP:“Environmentalists and nuclear watchdog groups raised dozens of objections Wednesday to an application filed by a New Jersey-based company seeking to build a multibillion-dollar facility in southeastern New Mexico to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States. Attorneys for the Sierra Club, Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear and several other groups presented their arguments and answered numerous questions posed by members of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel during an hourslong meeting in Albuquerque … Camden-based Holtec International has applied for a license to construct the storage facility about 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Carlsbad. It would eventually be capable of storing as much as 173,000 metric tons of high-level waste.“ Read more here

PLAYING IT STRAIGHT — “New political thriller screens in Montclair,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “An Acceptable Loss, a new political thriller produced by a group of prominent New Jerseyans will have a special screening on January 30 in Montclair. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Tika Sumpter as women grappling with their use of power under extreme circumstances … The screening will include a Q&A with executive producer Candy Straight, a longtime player in New Jersey politics … Gail Gordon, a lawyer and public affairs executive, is co-producer. New Jersey angels for the film include former State Sen. Diane Allen, political strategist Julie Roginsky, former Commissioner of Community Affairs Lori Grifa, former Corzine deputy chief of staff Michellene Davis, political consultant Larry Weitzner, former Essex County freeholder Louis Palagano, and Barbara Kaufman.” Read more here

FALLON ON FALCON — “Falcons are back: The fastest animal on the planet continues to soar in New Jersey,” by The Record’s Scott Fallon: “While peregrine falcons are capable of swooping down on prey at 240 mph, their return to New Jersey's skies has been a slow, steady climb. State researchers and wildlife advocates documented a record 40 nesting pairs in 2018, after the species had been wiped out in New Jersey beginning in the 1960s, officials reported this month. Twenty-eight pairs produced at least 75 chicks last year.” Read more here

— “‘Sopranos’ prequel film finds young Tony: Michael Gandolfini Is chip off old bloc” Read more here