Good Tuesday morning!
When the super PAC Lead Right New Jersey announced its formation, it listed some pretty big goals.
“Lead Right New Jersey will give our leaders the tools they need to fix our state and give future generations a chance to thrive here,” union leader Pat Delle Cava, a member of its board, said in a press release.
Cynics that we are, reporters saw it merely as a way to boost then-Republican State Chair Doug Steinhardt’s prospective gubernatorial bid, because of course it was.
And just as Steinhardt’s 2021 candidacy died a month after it started, the PAC went dead, raising and spending no money in 2021 after a little under $90,000 during the previous year. In March, the FEC, having sent the super PAC two letters about its failure to file, decided to shut it down.
None of this is particularly surprising, and I don’t think it’s a big deal that the PAC didn’t file paperwork since it wasn’t raising and spending any money (they did file with the IRS). But I think it illustrates the absurdity of our campaign finance system. Everyone knew what this super PAC was. But, perhaps to avoid running afoul of campaign finance laws and candidate coordination, the super PAC pretended to be something it wasn’t. And then as soon as Steinhardt’s candidacy was out of the picture, so was the super PAC.
DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NON-PROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 98
WHERE’S MURPHY? — No public schedule.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Everything we do is illegal.” — Convicted former Paterson cop to Frank Toledo in a 2017 text message to convicted Paterson cop Jonathan Bustios, read during the trial of Sgt. Michael Cheff.
BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Everything is legal in New Jersey.” — Paterson founder Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by Lin Manuel Miranda.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — State Sen. Michael Doherty, Kaufman Zita Group’s Paulina Banasiak, Optimus’ Shane Derris
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EDUCATION — Rutgers study finds New Jersey’s remote learning during pandemic was ‘haphazard’ and ‘inequitably delivered’, by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: New Jersey’s rollout of remote teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic was “haphazard, under-resourced, inequitably delivered, contributed to student and teacher stress and may exacerbate digital and social inequality,” according to a Rutgers University study. Researchers at New Jersey’s flagship university interviewed what they said was a representative sample of 21 K-12 public school teachers and found that students in lower-income districts experienced inequities in online teaching and learning compared with students in middle-income and wealthier districts. Online conditions tended to be “more favorable for the students and families of teachers who worked in higher income districts,” the researchers found. The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology earlier this month.
NJ PUTS ON BAIT THEN REELS IT IN — “Here’s the tax workaround that means big bucks for NJ,” by NJ Spotlight News’ John Reitmeyer: “A state business tax that didn’t exist until just a few years ago is helping to generate the massive windfall lifting New Jersey tax revenues to unprecedented levels. The business tax — with the clumsy acronym ‘PT BAIT’ — was established by Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers as a workaround after former President Donald Trump enacted a federal tax law that capped a long-standing deduction for state and local taxes, hitting New Jersey taxpayers particularly hard. Now this new state tax offered to the owners of “pass-through” businesses is estimated to be saving these business owners hundreds of millions of dollars annually because they can claim a larger federal deduction. But for the state, this tax has also become one of the tax sources playing a prominent role in an ongoing revenue surge that has put New Jersey on track for a nearly $11 billion budget surplus by the end of next month, according to Department of Treasury officials.”
THEY ONLY MENTION BUFFALO WHEN TALKING ABOUT MOZZARELLA — “Why is NJ GOP silent after Buffalo tragedy? White supremacist theory, guns, for starter,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “New Jersey Republicans had no problem posting tweets last week on national issues that fire up the party’s conservative base with outrage. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-Cape May County, asked why the mainstream media wasn’t writing about Hunter Biden’s mysterious laptop. The New Jersey GOP’s office joined the party’s nationwide pouncing on President Joe Biden’s handling of the baby formula shortage … Yet, for the most part, New Jersey’s constellation of Republican figures, from the MAGA fringe to the establishment middle (what’s left of it), remained largely mute amid the national outcry over the May 14 Buffalo supermarket massacre, where an 18-year-old gunman, inspired by a warped, racist ideology, shot 13, killing 10, with an assault-style rifle … [M]ost chose to follow the playbook that became popular after Trump took power and periodically said or did outrageous things that embarrassed broad swaths of the party. And that is this: Duck and hide, say as little as possible, and wait for the storm to blow over. And the reasons why are not hard to fathom. Replacement theory beliefs and fears have permeated the hard-core GOP base voters. An orchestrated disenfranchising of a waning white majority is accepted as an article of faith.”
SIMPLE: JUST BAN THE INTERNET AND PUBLIC GATHERINGS — “NJ lawmaker calls on Murphy to save shore from pop-up party madness ,’ by NJ 101.5’s Sergio Bichao: “The chaos in Long Branch, a week before Memorial Day and the unofficial start to the summer shore season, resulted in at least 15 arrests and the massive deployment of law enforcement. Police on the scene used tactical gear and resorted to a flash-bang and smoke to help disperse an unruly crowd … ‘Our shore towns are at constant risk of spontaneous surges of young partiers that flood the streets, intimidate residents and visitors, disrupt businesses and overwhelm local law enforcement,’ state Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean, said Sunday in a written statement … Singer cited reports indicating that at least one NJ Transit train carried a thousand teenagers to Long Branch. Singer said NJ Transit would have to be involved with a statewide task force addressing this problem. ‘New Jersey Transit has to be involved. Thousands of the troublemakers are coming in on NJ Transit,’ Singer said. ‘We’re going to need everybody working together to get this under control.’”
BLUE STATE — Group of Assembly Democrats push for expansion of municipal police forces, by POLITICO’s Daniel O’Connor: Four Assembly Democrats from predominantly urban districts have introduced legislation that would require some New Jersey municipalities to hire dozens of new officers, amid a shift toward police-friendly policy by state progressives. The bill, NJ A857 (22R), would set a minimum level of police department staffing of four officers per 1,000 residents in cities with populations of more than 60,000 and a high crime rate. In Paterson, for example, that would mean hiring 180 new officers. In Newark, the formula calls for nearly 300 new cops. In all, the bill could impact up to 23 municipalities, which together make up nearly a quarter of the state’s population. “We need protection from our police departments to deal with the crime issues that we have in our different towns,” Assemblymember Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), who represents Newark and is lead sponsored the bill, said in an interview. “And it’s worth the money and the staffing of our police office.”
IF ONLY THE CENSUS HAD THE RIGOR OF THE UNITED VAN LINES SURVEY — “Census study affirms NJ’s big 2020 population gain was for real,” by NJ 101.5’s Michael Symons: “New Jersey’s larger-than-expected population count from the 2020 Census has been deemed accurate by the Census Bureau, which did a study of every state’s tally. The survey, which it does after every census, finds that 14 states’ counts are probably statistically inaccurate – with eight states overcounted and six states undercounted. But New Jersey, which had the nation’s biggest variation from its pre-census estimate, around 400,000, wasn’t among them.”
DYSFUNCTION? IN THE BCRO? — “The Great Pallotta text message caper,” by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack: “Pallotta just released a series of text messages that he says proves that the leaders of the Bergen Republican organization care about the money more than they do the issues. Pallotta’s description of the text messages is pretty blunt. He says that, ‘They expose attempted extortion and corruption, prove the party’s primary line is for sale to the highest bidder, and an admission the Bergen County Republican Committee (the BCRO) is backing Nick DeGregorio in an act of revenge because Frank Pallotta refused to be a part of their schemes.’ The man on the other end of the messages Pallotta released is political operative Matt Gilson. In an email Monday morning, Gilson sent over a few texts of his own with the following description. ‘I hope these attached give more context to the lies Frank is telling and possibly subjecting himself to legal action.'”
BLUNT TALK — “Smoking weed is legal in NJ, but some towns are banning use in public. Is that redundant?” by The Record’s Megan Burrow: “Municipalities are grappling with how to navigate a somewhat confusing patchwork of rules after the state legalized recreational marijuana use and saw sales begin last month. Hackensack and Paterson are among the cities that have recently passed local laws banning any public smoking or vaping of marijuana, essentially limiting its use to private residences. But other municipalities have held off, with officials arguing that banning something already outlawed in many public spaces under New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act is unnecessary and excessive … Paterson passed a similar measure in January to ‘protect the public from unwanted exposure’ to marijuana, it said, since ‘there is currently no law specifically banning the use of cannabis … in locations such as, for example, public sidewalks, public streets and public parking lots.’ Upper Saddle River officials plan to discuss banning public marijuana use at a meeting next week.”
IF MATT MOWERS’ CONGRESSIONAL BID FAILS HE CAN EASILY FIND WORK IN CARLSTADT — “Why a Bergen woman fought back (and won) after local officials forced her to mow her lawn,” by The Record’s Jessie Gomez: “In a neighborhood with pristine lawns and freshly mowed grass, Mariah Olivera’s yard stood out from the rest. She didn’t mow her lawn for two weeks in May, and [Carlstadt] borough officials noticed. Olivera let her grass grow as part of No Mow May, a global campaign that encourages people not to mow their lawns for one month in an effort to protect vital pollinator habitats. Someone in town complained about Olivera’s unruly yard. That brought a code enforcement official, bringing an end to her efforts … … In Carlstadt, Borough Administrator Joe Crifasi said neither the mayor nor council members had heard about No Mow May until Olivera attended Wednesday’s council meeting to address concerns about her grass. Borough officials understood Olivera’s efforts and told her to keep her lawn ‘boxed and controlled’ during May, Crifasi said. They would be mindful of her efforts next year and are open to learning more about the No Mow May effort, he added.”
ECKELED OUT A VICTORY — “Judge sets aside deadline, says Eckel can stay as Burlington county commissioner,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “A Superior Court Judge will allow Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel to keep her seat even though Democratic officials missed the statutory deadline by 66 days. ‘I don’t see anybody suffering as a result of the lateness,’ said the judge, John E. Harrington. Harrington openly wrestled with his decision, saying at one point that ‘this is not crystal clear. It requires careful thought and analysis.’ In the end, the judge blamed the problem on the legislature, who passed a new law on the filling of legislative and county commissioner vacancies in 1989. ‘I cannot conclude from the legislative history or nor from the applicable law that the filling of the vacancy was mandatory within a time frame,’ Harrington said.”