For early vote counting invoice, Senate Dems did not rely their very own votes- POLITICO

Good Friday morning!

It’s not often that a bill fails on the Senate floor. It happened yesterday, when Senate Democrats fell just one vote shy of what they needed to pass a measure that would allow county elections officials to begin counting mail-in ballots 10 days before the election.

You may recall that counting took a long time in some counties for last year’s election, delaying concession speeches by Steve Sweeney and Jack Ciattarelli by over a week. Could it happen again?

There was plenty of skepticism by members about this bill by Republicans and one Democrat. They didn’t think officials could manage to keep the vote tallies secret and thus not give anyone an advantage on Election Day, even though disclosing that info would be a low-level felony. And frankly that’s not crazy. Any reporter can tell you that news about mail-in ballot counts circulates before the results are officially released on Election Day. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop also later weighed in against it.

But state Sen. Vin Gopal, who went from being down 500 votes on Election Night to winning reelection by 2,700 votes, correctly noted that the late vote counting encourages conspiratorial thinking.

Senate Democrats were down three members, so they could likely pass this if they try again. But the Assembly isn’t on the same page when it comes to early vote counting, and I hear the Murphy administration wants some changes as well. There’s a good chance they’ll get something passed, but I doubt it will be in time for the June 7 primary.

Read more about it here. 


WHERE’S MURPHY? — In Absecon for a lighthouse visit at 11 a.m. Media: Q104.3 at 8:00 a.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I know that sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey.” — Neo-Nazi alleged Capitol rioter Thomas Hale-Cusanelli, who claims he didn’t know Congress met in the Capitol

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, Senate Dems’ Richard McGrath, PPAG’s Regina Appolon, STFA President Wayne Blanchard. Saturday for Rutgers Law’s Ronald Chen, Pascrell aide Mark Greenbaum. Sunday for Asm. Mila Jasey, Real estate broker Chapman Vail

TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at (email protected) 

PROGRAMMING NOTE — No New Jersey Playbook on Memorial Day

A message from AARP New Jersey:

Americans are struggling to afford rising prices on everything from groceries to gas. On top of this, we’re paying the highest drug prices in the world. Your elected lawmakers have the power to reduce this burden by enacting S329/A1747 and establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board is responsible for investigating high drug prices and recommending action to lower costs for consumers. It’s time for real action. Tell Governor Murphy: Stand up to Pharma!

MURPHY’S ADMIN’S ‘FULL ACCOUNTING’ WILL COME ANY DAY —  Effort to advance legislative probe into Covid deaths at state’s long-term care facilities fails in Senate, by POLITICO’s Daniel Han: An effort to create a legislative committee to investigate Covid-19 deaths in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities failed to advance in the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex), who has joined Republicans in efforts to create the panel, which would have subpoena power, tried to bypass the committee process and make the measure eligible for a vote in the full chamber. But Gill was shut down by her fellow Democrats, none of whom joined her to advance the resolution, NJ SR48 (22R). A vote to table her motion passed 17-14 with seven Democratic lawmakers not voting. “A legislative oversight committee with subpoena power is how we protect the public, with a transparent and accountable investigation as part of our constitutional duty to oversight,” Gill said in a speech from the Senate floor. “Information from this investigation will inform (us about) public policy decisions to ensure this will not happen again.”

— “Seeking Probe Of Covid Deaths In Veterans’, Nursing Homes, Pennacchio Says He Was Silenced”

—“Nine things you should know about from (Thursday’s) legislative session” 

HOW BIG CAN THE APPETITES GET? — “NJ legal weed customers spent $24M in just one month. How big can the market get?” by The Asbury Park Press’ Mike Davis: “The buying and selling of legal weed in New Jersey is officially a multimillion-dollar market — and it’s expected to cross the billion-dollar mark sooner rather than later. New Jersey is expected to become one of the highest revenue cannabis markets in the country between $1.3 billion and $2.9 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by Headset, a cannabis industry analytics firm that analyzed the first month of recreational marijuana sales using data from registers at dispensaries … On average, customers purchased $112 with each transaction, according to Headset. Cannabis flower made up 49% of all recreational marijuana purchases, according to data released by Jane Technologies, a cannabis e-commerce platform utilized by all of the medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey. Vaping cartridges made up 24% of purchases, while edibles made up 11% and pre-rolled joints about 5% of all purchases, Jane reported.”

NJ TRANSIT — “Why did Murphy administration stop payments to NJ Transit? We asked about the $41.5M owed,” by The Record’s Colleen Wilson: “The Murphy administration is five months late in making $41.5 million in payments to NJ Transit — even as it sits on revenues that are $7 billion higher than expected. The missing payments appeared in board materials published in advance of Friday’s NJ Transit committee meetings. Those documents also reveal that farebox revenues are $27.1 million below budget so far this fiscal year and still well below pre-COVID revenue figures. Overall, the agency is currently operating at a $725.7 million loss. Bailey Lawrence, a Murphy spokesman, did not explain why the administration stopped making payments from the state general fund, but wrote in an email: ‘We are engaged in ongoing conversations with NJ Transit regarding timing for the remainder of the subsidy payment.’”

PAROLE — “Sundiata Acoli freed after serving nearly 50 years for role in killing of state trooper,” by WNYC’s Arun Venugopal: “Sundiata Acoli, a former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member who was convicted in the 1973 shooting death of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, was freed Wednesday after nearly a half-century in prison. Acoli, 85, imprisoned for his role in one of the Garden State’s most notorious crimes, left South Woods State Prison and moved in with his daughter in Brooklyn, his attorney, Bruce Afran, told Gothamist … Acoli, who was sentenced to life in prison, had been turned down for parole eight times since first becoming eligible in 1993. His release was set in motion by a May 10 ruling by a divided New Jersey Supreme Court. The only question was when he would be freed.”

BREAKING: SOMETHING THAT WON’T HAPPEN — Senate Republicans unveil counterproposal to Murphy’s budget, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their counterproposal to Gov. Phil Murphy’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, proposing billions of dollars more in tax relief than what the governor has offered, a larger surplus and more money to pay down debt. They’re also calling for more oversight in how money is spent. The $48.9 billion budget Murphy presented to the Democrat-controlled Legislature in March expands a key property tax relief program and makes a full payment to the state’s pension system for the second year in a row. It includes no new taxes.

—McKeon and Ruiz: “This bill would help hold the gun industry accountable and help save lives”

—Stile: “Phil Murphy talked tough on guns, but needs the help of Democrats to pass new laws” 

—“Assembly hearing package of bills aimed at reducing food insecurity” 

—“This Wayne attorney could be the newest judge in NJ. Why has her nomination stalled?” 

—Vitale backs point of sale rebates for prescription drugs

—Former de Blasio deputy Alicia Glen tapped for New York chair of Gateway Development Commission

TURKISH NOT DELIGHTED — “DeGroot goes after Selen’s Turkish donors,” by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack: “Tayfun Selen likes talking about coming to America from Turkey, getting a job pumping gas, going to college and now – running for Congress. He talked about being the only Turkish-born mayor in the United States when he held office in Chatham Township. Now the history of his native land is being drawn into the CD-11 GOP primary in probably the most emotional way possible Paul DeGroot, one of his opponents, has sent out two fliers that say Selen’s campaign is partly funded by groups that deny the Armenian Genocide. A recent mailer from DeGroot references a PAC associated with the Turkish Coalition of America, which donated $2,500 to Selen’s campaign last September. At issue is the deportation and killing of Armenians living in what was then the Ottoman Empire during World War I. President Joe Biden officially recognized the genocide as such last year.”

—“Feds to cut off Medicaid funds to N.J. nursing home, which could force closure of embattled facility” 

—“Anderson emphasizes his veteran’s credentials” 

—“Outrage with a focus: The progressive pragmatism of Frank Pallone” 

—“Jersey City BOE goes NIMBY on possible cannabis business near Greenville school” 

A message from AARP New Jersey:

CANCER CLUSTERF**K — New Jersey health, environmental officials find no cancer cluster in Woodbridge, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard: New Jersey health officials said Thursday the number of cancer cases among graduates of Colonia High School in Woodbridge are in line with expected cancer rates for the broader population, undermining widespread media attention given to worries of a cluster at the school. The state health department findings were paired with those from environmental officials who said there is nothing in or around the school that would cause an elevated cancer risk. “I think it was wrong of whoever started calling this a cancer cluster to use that phrase — it was ill-informed,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said during a joint press conference with state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Worries about a cancer cluster began after Al Lupiano, a 1989 graduate of the high school, posted on Facebook that he, his wife (a 1991 graduate) and his sister (a 1995 graduate) all had been diagnosed with brain tumors. Lupiano began to wonder if they were linked. Other people connected to the school began sharing brain and other cancer diagnoses until, by May, Lupiano said he had learned some 121 former students and staff had contracted brain cancer.

MY CARCERATES TO THE CHEFF — ”Paterson sergeant convicted in corruption case for leading ‘robbery squad’ of crooked cops’,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “Punctuating one of the worst police scandals in Paterson history, a federal jury on Thursday found Sgt. Michael Cheff guilty of civil rights crimes, making him the sixth member of the self-proclaimed ‘robbery squad’ of cops to be convicted. The verdict followed five days of testimony in which Cheff’s five co-conspirators admitted to robbing, beating and abusing people they illegally stopped and searched in Paterson – and later joking about their crimes in text messages that became key evidence for the government. Federal prosecutors repeatedly told the jury in the trial that Cheff was the pivotal man in the scheme, the ‘inside guy’ who allowed the rogue cops to prey upon Paterson residents. Cheff, who joined the Paterson force in 1996, helped them cover up their crimes with bogus police reports and sometimes took a share of the cash they stole, according to prosecutors … Federal authorities previously had said Cheff faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the false records charge and 10 years for the civil rights conspiracy.”

OCEAN GATE GATE — “New Ocean Gate mayor sworn in, says ‘good riddance’ to allegedly criminal predecessor,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Erik Larsen: “The Borough Council said ‘good riddance’ to former Mayor Paul J. Kennedy on Wednesday night, while the Ocean County Board of Commissioners confirmed earlier in the evening that it had moved to strip Kennedy of his unemployment benefits. Kennedy’s successor, Mayor Dave Kendrick, was administered the oath of office after his colleagues voted unanimously for Kendrick to serve out the remaining seven months of Kennedy’s term … ‘I just took this oath of office and it means a lot to me,’ Kendrick said in his inaugural remarks. ‘The last person who took this oath of office, obviously, it didn’t mean anything to him. It’s why we’re in the boat we’re in now.’ … Before Kendrick was sworn in, the council accepted Kennedy’s formal resignation in what was largely a symbolic vote. Kennedy tendered his resignation on May 13, just one day before he was to be removed from office regardless of his consent. Kennedy had disqualified himself not because of his alleged crimes, but as the result of a technicality under state law that kicked in due to his self-imposed exile from Borough Hall since his arrest. He had missed every council meeting for eight consecutive weeks.”

FISCAL CONSERVATISM IN ACTION — “Gilmore owes nearly $5 million in tax liens, judgments,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “George Gilmore, who is seeking to regain his post as Ocean County Republican Chairman in June, owes $4,755,008 in unpaid judgments, mostly to the Internal Revenue Service, with an additional $609,000 on pending litigation, court records show … In April, a U.S. Tax Court ruled that Gilmore still has to pay $3,200,000 in federal tax liens filed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The 73-year-old former party boss also owed $1,397,238 to Ocean First Bank after he defaulted on a loan.”

—“Hoboken Mayor Bhalla writes off Cohen recall attempt as ‘a political stunt’ and ‘a joke’” 

—“Can Red Bank grow and still work? Mayor candidates pitch visions to voters” 

—“Trenton employee seemingly at center of FBI probe made at least $47K off lead grant in 2019” 

—“(Beach Haven) police sergeant left gun accessible to minors, prosecutor says” 

—“(Franklin Township) cop driving drunk crashed into motorcycle, killing rider, prosecutor alleges” 

R.I.P. — “Ray Liotta dead at 67. Charismatic star of ‘Goodfellas’ grew up in N.J.,” by NJ Advance Media’s Amy Kuperinsky: “Ray Liotta, the New Jersey actor who dazzled as mobster Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas,’ has died. Deadline reports that Liotta, 67, died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he had been filming the movie ‘Dangerous Waters.’ The actor was born in Newark and grew up in Union Township the adoptive son of parents who were active in the local political scene … He broke out as the wily scoundrel Ray opposite Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith in the 1986 Jonathan Demme film ‘Something Wild,’ for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. Liotta played Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film ‘Field of Dreams’ before he joined fellow Newark native Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s iconic ‘Goodfellas’ (1990), which was nominated for best picture.”

THE FORMER GOVERNOR WHO VOCIFEROUSLY OPPOSED LEGAL WEED FOUGHT HARD FOR SPORTS BETTING — “The incredibly ‘not unique’ story of sports radio host Craig Carton’s addictive gambling,” by The Rockland/Westchester Journal News’ Kelly Powers: “A 2017 arrest threatened to send him to federal prison for his role in a concert ticket resale scheme, having in large part fueled his gambling. It forced the now-53-year-old to resign from the No. 1 sports-talk show in New York City … (Craig) Carton may have wagered millions, but he believes his story can not only echo in high-stakes casino gambling — but across everyday living rooms and smartphone screens. At a time when gambling accessibility has grown more than ever before, Carton has fixed himself on a path to humanize an addiction often painted as ‘degenerate.’ His message meets a changing playing field. In New York, mobile sports betting launched in January 2022. New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2018. With sports betting now legal in some 30 states, 18 offering online sports betting, roughly $120 billion in bets have been placed — nearly the combined GDP of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.”

—“The Shore weathered the pandemic, but changed in the process” 

—“South Jersey students stage walkouts to support Texas shooting victims” 

A message from AARP New Jersey:

New Jerseyans are struggling to afford rising prices on everything from groceries to gas. On top of this, Americans are paying the highest drug prices in the world. It’s time to enact S329/A1747, which establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board is responsible for investigating high drug prices and recommending action to lower costs for consumers. Governor Murphy has introduced legislation that addresses prescription drug costs, but it simply does not go far enough. It fails to address the root cause of the problem – the high prices set by drug manufacturers. Tell Governor Murphy: Stand up to Big Pharma!