Good Tuesday morning!

Ed Durr has been a state senator for just a week, but hes already becoming a kingmaker of sorts.

Yesterday, Durr endorsed Robert Kovic for Congress in the 11th District the other end of the state from his 3rd Legislative District. It was only his second endorsement, after congressional candidate Claire Gustafson in the 1st district. (The Kovic announcement was publicized by Steve Kush, a Republican consultant who helped Durr get elected).


But Durr has been in demand, according to Kush.

It is sought after but he aint giving them out like theyre water, either, said Kush, who declined to say whos sought the endorsement. People in other states are asking.

Its not because Durr has a vaunted political organization behind him. Its because of the narrative: A regular guy truck driver who spent no money and managed to oust Steve Sweeney, one of the most powerful Democrats in New Jersey. Hes like catnip on the right. A Google search, for instance, turns up 123 hits for Durrs name on Fox News website.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It seems like those words just melted away It just became rhetoric.” NJ ACLU Executive Director Amol Sinha on NJ Democrats rhetoric on social justice in the aftermath of George Floyds murder vs. what theyve done.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY   Archer & Greiners Bill Caruso, NJ League of Munis Mike Cerra, NJ Food Councils Linda Doherty

WHERES MURPHY? In Secaucus at 11 a.m. to highlight benefits of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for New Jersey

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COPS: OUCHIE, OUR HURTY ARMS!  PBA looks to challenge Murphys vaccine, booster mandate in court, by POLITICOs Daniel Han: New Jerseys largest police union is taking preliminary steps to challenge Gov. Phil Murphys vaccine and booster mandate in court, a move that could impact thousands of corrections officers across the state. Lawyers representing the New Jersey State Policemens Benevolent Association filed an application Mondayr requesting the court hear arguments to stay the vaccine mandate before it goes into effect In the application, lawyers for the PBA say that by complying with the vaccine mandate, corrections officers would face irreparable harm in being forced to undergo an invasive medical procedure that does not effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

IM NOT AS THINK AS YOU CONTAGIOUS I AM  Not getting COVID vaccine is selfish, Murphy says. Its akin to drunk driving’, by NJ Advance Medias Matt Arco: Gov. Phil Murphy said its ‘selfish’ for people to refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus because of the harm it does to others as New Jerseys top health official urged people to think of frontline medical workers when deciding not to take the shots. The governor was asked by a reporter Monday at his latest coronavirus briefing in Trenton whether he thought it was selfish not to get vaccinated I think it is selfish, Murphy responded. I think there are obviously some people who have a legitimate reason that theyre not vaccinated or boosted, so Im going to put that group aside. I think its a shirking of our collective responsibility, Murphy said of those who chose to remain unvaccinated. I do think its akin to drunk driving. Youre not only putting yourself at risk, youre putting other people at risk.

Amid union opposition, Murphy defends new COVID vaccine and booster mandate for workers 

CABINET  Murphy to nominate Adelman for DHS commissioner, by POLITICOs Daniel Han: Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he will nominate acting Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman to the Cabinet post. Adelman has served as acting commissioner since January 2021, after then-Commissioner Carole Johnson departed to work for the Biden administrations White House Covid-19 response team. DHS oversees a $20 billion budget and more than 7,400 employees. What theyre saying: Sarah stepped into the role of Acting Commissioner amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and her leadership has successfully guided the New Jersey Department of Human Services throughout this challenging year, Murphy said in a statement.

THE ANTI-TRUMP Murphy the first governor since McGreevey to issue no clemencies in first term, by New Jersey Monitors Nikita Biryukov: Gov. Phil Murphy issued no pardons during his first term in office, becoming the first governor to do so since Jim McGreevey. In New Jersey, clemency powers are vested solely in the office of the governor. While the State Parole Board can investigate petitions for executive clemency and make recommendations, those recommendations are not binding, and the governor has the final say on who receives clemency. A spokesperson for Murphy, who started his second term last week, declined to comment. For the most part, executive clemencies are rare in New Jersey. Just 105 pardons and commutations have been granted since Christine Todd Whitman became governor in 1994 Chris Christie issued 15 clemencies during his first seven years in office but pardoned 38 people and commuted sentences for three others in his final year. He issued 36 of those orders in his final weeks as governor.

FOR HOLLYWOOD AT LEAST Double-checking Murphys math: Governors claims about tax cuts hold up, by NJ Spotlight News John Reitmeyer: Murphy didnt identify each tax cut individually, but he said his administration has collectively delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in direct tax relief, for our middle-class and working families and seniors. A closer look at the tax cuts by NJ Spotlight News largely confirmed his claims and showed a nuanced strategy. But in a state where arguing over taxes can verge on blood sport, the governors cuts have hardly put him in the conservative fiscal camp, as Republicans say far more can be done to provide real relief For example, thousands of seniors and other homeowners who qualify for Homestead property-tax relief benefits are seeing those benefits grow by at least $130 on average thanks to action taken by Murphy. And an additional 90,000 low-wage workers are also now eligible for the states expanded earned income-tax credit thanks to the governor Republicans say they want to see far more done in the area of tax relief. And they have their own long list of suggestions for Murphy as he sets off on a second and final term in office. Among the GOPs proposals are more tax relief for businesses and a long-sought adjustment of individual income-tax rates to account for rising inflation.

YOU GIVE DUCKS A BAD NAME  Does lame-duck lawmaking put the public last? by NJ Spotlight News Colleen ODea: The lame-duck session of the Legislature is known to be a busy time for New Jerseys lawmakers. What may be less apparent is just how busy and how shielded it is from public input. It turns out that in the final two months of the legislative session that ended last week, New Jersey lawmakers introduced 650 new bills and resolutions and took action on more than 700 measures. Among them were notable bills that are now law, such as the Reproductive Freedom Act that codified abortion as legal in the state. And there were the less exciting, such as a measure letting a small number of retirees return to work part-time for the state Legislature while collecting a pension. But what they all had in common was a truncated process that continues to draw questions about how transparent and accountable such lawmaking is.

FROM THE SAME STATE GOVERNMENT THAT BANNED FLAVORED VAPE JUICE BECAUSE IT MIGHT ATTRACT TEENS TO SOMETHING ADDICTIVE NJ approves company to take bets on competitive video games, by The APs Wayne Parry: New Jersey has approved its first company to take bets on competitive video games, a fast-growing activity known as eSports that is popular with young people around the world, officials said Monday. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement granted approval to Esports Entertainment Group to accept bets on eSports games. It will be affiliated with Ballys Atlantic Citys casino license but will only take bets on eSports. The company will launch its betting platform following a five-day soft play period which will begin Tuesday afternoon.

HOLDONASEC EDA appeals decision that it had no right to withhold tax credit for Holtec, by POLITICOs Katherine Landergan: The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is appealing a court decision that determined it had no right to freeze portions of Holtec Internationals $260 million tax credit award. Holtec, an energy technology company, filed a lawsuit against the EDA in 2020 for holding up a $26 million payment on its $260 million tax incentive to build a facility in Camden. The delay was due to an allegedly false answer Holtec gave on its 2014 tax credit application that was the subject of a ProPublica investigation. However, Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy, sitting in Trenton, agreed with Holtec that the question on the application was ambiguous and that the tax breaks should not have been withheld.

DEEP IN THE HEART OF JERSEY  New Jersey lawmaker seeks to combat Texas abortion law, by POLITICOs Matt Friedman: Anyone attempting to enforce a restrictive and controversial new Texas abortion law on a New Jersey resident would face a legal obstacle under a measure put forward in the Assembly. Assemblymember Lisa Swain (D-Bergen) introduced a bill, NJ A1941 (22R), earlier this month that would create a rebuttable presumption of lack of personal jurisdiction if a person attempted to hold someone from New Jersey civilly liable for helping a woman obtain an abortion in Texas. Basically, Texas cant come after our New Jersey residents for helping individuals in Texas obtain an abortion, Swain said in a phone interview Monday.

Persichilli: New Jersey has seen 4 Covid-related deaths among children since Christmas

N.J. homeowners behind on mortgage can apply for $35K in emergency COVID relief 

Bill would allow cash incentives to diversify police recruits 

N.J. Labor Department has stopped $5.4B in fraud claims 

The hidden squeeze from NJ pensions, as retiree numbers mount 

Student, staff cases of COVID plummet in N.J. schools after post-holiday spike

NJ bans students from probing naked sleeping patients without consent  

Court does what NJ lawmakers didn’t: limit long prison sentences for youth crimes 

For challenge to N.J. congressional map, Supreme Court asks Democrats to respond to Wallace amplification 

JOIN FRIDAY TO HEAR FROM GOVERNORS ACROSS AMERICA: As we head into the third year of the pandemic, state governors are taking varying approaches to public health measures including vaccine and mask mandates. “The Fifty: America’s Governors” is a series of live conversations featuring various governors on the unique challenges they face as they take the lead and command the national spotlight in historic ways. Learn what is working and what is not from the governors on the front lines, REGISTER HERE.


BUT DID THEY KNOW REPUBLICANS WON LAST TIME?  N.J.s congressional map unfairly favors Democrats, is partisan gerrymandering, new reports says, by NJ Advance Medias Jonathan D. Salant: A report by New York Universitys Brennan Center for Justice said the new lines resulted in a partisan gerrymander as egregious as those approved by state legislatures dominated by one party, based on criteria established in the voting rights legislation that passed the Democratic-controlled House on a party-line vote but was filibustered by Senate Republicans. It turns out the Democratic proposal, at least according to the standards advanced in Congress, would have been flagged as a partisan gerrymander, said Michael Li, a senior counsel with the Brennan Center and a co-author of the report. (Read the report here)

KEEP ON TUCKIN @Malinowski: My office is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia’s “reasonable” positions.


CHILDREN VS. TAXES  10 N.J. districts asking voters to OK $394.9M on Tuesday, including project to fund repairs from Ida, by NJ Advance Medias Jackie Roman: Theres a lot riding on approval of the $21.6 million bond referendum being presented to voters in Cresskill Public School District this week, Superintendent Michael Burke told NJ Advance Media ahead of Tuesdays special election. ‘The future of Cresskill schools is in the hands of voters now,’ he said. ‘It really is a chance for us to start to recover from this disaster.’ The Cresskill Middle/High School in Bergen County, which houses about a thousand 6th-12th graders, has been hobbled by the disastrous impact of Hurricane Ida since the storm ravaged it that fateful day in September 2021, causing damage equal to half the districts yearly operating budget The stakes are especially high in Cresskill, but nine other school districts across the state also have big decisions to make on significant school construction proposals in special elections this Tuesday. All told, these 10 districts are requesting a total of $394.9 million, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

SO OVER OVERTIME  Is it cheaper to hire a new cop or pay huge overtime costs? by NJ Advance Medias Riley Yates: As a veteran of the Fairfield Police Department, Chief Anthony Manna has seen the challenges of keeping a 24/7 police force running. In his 37 years as a cop, Manna remembers how his Essex County department used to struggle to cover shifts on the weekends or late at night. To fill the gaps, off-duty officers would have to be pulled in and paid overtime Yet six years into his tenure as chief, Manna says overtime is now under control. In his time, the township has added six police officers to its now 42-member force and, in doing so, waded into a debate that erupts every time overtime is discussed in government circles: Is it better to hire more cops, knowing their salaries, health benefits and pension payments can add up to big bucks? Or is it cheaper to just grit your teeth and pay the overtime, even if it can reach six figures for some of the highest paid cops in New Jersey?

PUN INTENDED?  Bradley Beach lawsuit claims secret sewer meetings; mayor says suit is a waste, by The Asbury Park Press Suzanne Cervenka: Borough leaders met privately late last year with potential buyers of the town’s sewer system and public works yard, according to a set of lawsuits filed by a resident who is challenging the legality of those meetings. Bradley Beach resident Thomas Coan claims in his lawsuit against Bradley Beach that the borough violated New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act when the borough council spoke in executive session with representatives of New Jersey American Water on Oct. 12 and a developer on Nov. 9, 2021. ‘Maybe the public wants to sell. But the public is a player in that and needs to know whats going on, said Coan But Bradley Beach Mayor Larry Fox said the only thing the borough did wrong was cite the wrong section of New Jersey’s public meetings law that allows governments to meet without the public, which is commonly known as executive session.

DONATING TO OCEAN COUNTY DEMOCRATS WOULD PROBABLY BE A BETTER INVESTMENT  Morris County Republicans launch NFT fundraising initiative, by New Jersey Globes Joey Fox: The Morris County Republican Committee today unveiled a new fundraising initiative ahead of the 2022 midterm elections: branded non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that the county committee will sell to donors. NFTs, which first gained traction last year in cryptocurrency communities, are uniquely identifiable images stored on a blockchain that can be bought and resold. Morris County Republican chair Laura Marie Ali said that her party is the first Republican Party in the country, and the first party of any kind in the Northeast, to sell collectible NFTs. Its a very special, unique class of digital asset, Ali said. If youre thinking about a piece of artwork this is a digital version of that. Why is that cool? Because its explosive.

Fighting to be an independent voice in Camden politics 

Going his way: New [Atlantic City] councilman Bruce Weekes says he takes unbiased road 

Somerset County Sheriff Darrin Russo sued over alleged retaliation 

Edison’s new administration announces shakeups at town hall 

R.I.P. Mary manzo, whose two sons faced off in 92 Jersey City Mayors Race, dies at 102

Jersey City considers adding more council aides, reviews Morris Canal Manor project, at caucus 

Mahwah Water Department advises town of PFOS contamination. What can residents do? 

West Wildwood Police Officer pleads to death threats against former girlfriend 

Redrawing Jersey Citys ward map: The devils in the details 

STEP INSIDE THE WEST WING: What’s really happening in West Wing offices? Find out who’s up, who’s down, and who really has the presidents ear in our West Wing Playbook newsletter, the insider’s guide to the Biden White House and Cabinet. For buzzy nuggets and details that you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe today.


I JUST CANT UNDERSTAND WHY THERES A WORKER SHORTAGE Popular N.J. restaurant chain blasted as managers 5 star server policy goes viral, by NJ Advance Medias Jeremy Schneider:  Two of New Jerseys most popular chain restaurants are under fire after a photo of a new policy, which ordered servers to meet a five-star review quota or lose their jobs, went viral online. Tio Taco and Tequila Bar and Tommys Tavern and Tap, both owned by Holmdel-based Triple T Hospitality Group, were plagued with furious reviews online this weekend after a photo of a bulletin board from Tios Edison location was posted to the popular r/NewJersey and r/NYC reddit pages Every service employee for FOH is required to get a minimum of 5 Google reviews per month to remain employed at the Edison location starting February 2022, the posting on a bulletin board read. The review must include your name and five stars in order to count. Triple T Hospitality Group CEO Thomas Bonfiglio told NJ Advance Media Monday the policy was posted Thursday by a rogue assistant manager and does not actually exist, nor was it ever implemented. Its not our policy, Bonfiglio said. In the restaurant business were not firing anyone, were still trying to hire people. So to think that we will fire people over this is a silly thing.

Health care support workers have been essential yet unappreciated in pandemic, study says