Christie tears into ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon

TRENTON -- Gov. Chris Christie tore into Steve Bannon Monday night, saying "nobody is going to really care" what President Donald Trump's former senior strategist has to say "now that he's been fired."

Christie was responding to Bannon's contention that the governor was blocked  from a cabinet position for not vigorously defending Trump when leaked video of lewd comments he made about women during the 2016 campaign. 

Bannon told CBS News' Charlie Rose that "Christie, because of Billy Bush weekend, was not looked at for a cabinet position."

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Little Movement on Gateway Funding After White House Meeting

By Christian Hetrick • 09/07/17

Observer

Sen. Cory Booker.

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The top elected officials from New Jersey and New York traveled to the White House on Thursday and made clear to President Trump the need for federal funding for the Gateway project, but there was little movement securing the money for the nearly $30 billion infrastructure program.

Sen. Cory Booker, one of the Democrats at the meeting, said afterward that Trump has not lived up to his core campaign promise to invest in infrastructure. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) said he appreciated Trump’s interest in the Gateway project — a massive expansion of rail capacity between New Jersey and New York — but he said after the meeting that “more work needs to be done.”

“President Trump has made plenty of promises on infrastructure which so far have fallen flat,” Booker said in a statement. “It’s time for him to step up and commit to real investment in Gateway in order to strengthen our region’s surface transportation networks, bolster our economy, and boost job creation.”

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Appeals Court Rules Against DiVincenzo in Campaign Finance Case

By Salvador Rizzo • 09/08/17

Observer

Joe DiVincenzo.

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A state appeals court has ruled against Joe DiVincenzo, the Essex County executive who for years has been fighting a 13-count complaint alleging that he misused thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal expenses.

The ruling on Friday by a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division is a win for the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency, the Election Law Enforcement Commission. The appeals court ruled that ELEC acted legally when it voted to authorize the complaint against DiVincenzo in 2013.

As a result, the court cleared the way for the charges against DiVincenzo to proceed after years of litigation exploring arcane questions about the interplay between state agencies and administrative law judges.

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Bipartisan Delegation from NJ, NY Pitch President Trump on Gateway Tunnel Project

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Will House Republicans take away Sandy funds after helping Harvey victims?

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Menendez Trial Set to Begin With Tensions High and Washington Watching

By NICK CORASANITI

THE NEW YORK TIMES

SEPT. 4, 2017

Even as he and his lawyers have been preparing for his trial on corruption charges, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey has maintained a busy schedule of political appearances.

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NEWARK — The senator paused in a corridor of the federal courthouse here last month to oblige a beckoning courtroom sketch artist.

The artist spun around her canvas and Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey looked briefly at her sketch of the courtroom, the sharp royal blues of his suit and broad charcoals of his outline a familiar form to the former lawyer, but his place in the painting a jarring shift: the defendant’s chair. His smile mixed with a grimace before he disappeared through the double wooden doors to the courtroom.

The moment underscored the unusual predicament facing Mr. Menendez, a senior senator: For the first time in 36 years, a sitting United States Senator is facing a federal bribery trial, one that comes as a bitterly divided Congress reconvenes amid the unrelenting turbulence of the Trump administration.

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Unsafe Lead Levels Found in Drinking Water at 400 NJ Schools

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Guadagno and Murphy Will Have Debate Stage to Themselves

By Alyana Alfaro • 09/01/17

Observer

Kim Guadagno and Jack Ciattarelli debate during the primaries.

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It’s official: Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy will have the debate stage to themselves for two encounters in October.

A range of independent candidates will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot for the governor’s race, but only Guadagno and Murphy met the $430,000 fundraising threshold required by New Jersey election law to participate in the debates as of today’s deadline.

That $430,000 threshold is also the minimum required in fundraising for candidates who wish to participate in the state’s public financing program. Candidates who qualify receive two dollars for every one dollar raised. Murphy has received $3.3 million in public matching funds, while Guadagno has pulled in about $889,000, according to the latest reports from the Election Law Enforcement Commission.

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Spotlight on New Jersey’s Gubernatorial and Legislative Races

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As Essex County College Teeters, a Call to End Turmoil

A group of New Jersey religious leaders is calling for change at a public community college in Newark that is teetering on the brink of losing its accreditation after years of mismanagement and turmoil.

The religious leaders, outraged by the disorder at the school, Essex County College, plan to hold a news conference and rally before a board of trustees meeting Thursday night calling for an end to what they say is political interference by entrenched officials at the school that has undermined efforts to save it.

“We have to speak out now because we become complicit if we keep our mouth closed,” said the Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, the pastor of Saint James AME Church in Newark. “We are the voice of the community, we have to be the voice for the voiceless. We have to speak up for the students, who will no longer have access to the quality education that they need, or even a shot at a better life, if the college fails.”

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