Presented by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Good Wednesday morning!

Well, that was quick. House progressives retracted a letter


to President Joe Biden calling for direct diplomacy with Russia over Ukraine less than 24 hours after news of it broke.

Included among the 30 signatories: Donald Payne Jr. (D-10th Dist.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-11th Dist.). POLITICO reports that many of the signatories signed months ago and werent aware it was going to come out. And, indeed, the timing two weeks before the midterms was not exactly politically-sensitive.

I asked both New Jersey members offices about the letters.In a statement, Coleman said, I unequivocally affirm my support for Ukraines right to sovereignty and to defend itself against Putins unlawful, unjust invasion.

I want to be clear that I support the President when he says, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. That means no peace agreement on terms without Ukraines support, Coleman said, adding that the timing of the release of the letter was unfortunate and outside my control and that it should not be conflated with recent statements by Congressional Republicans threatening to end aid to Ukraine.

I didnt hear back from Paynes office. 


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WHERES MURPHY? In Bloomfield for an 11 a.m. Child Care Facilities Improvement Pilot Program launch

QUOTE OF THE DAY: If your business model relies on exploiting an entire class of workers to generate sufficient revenue, then your business model needs to change. State Sen. Joe Cryan

, whos been furious since Senate Democrats pulled a vote on a temporary workers rights bill

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CRDAs Mike Beson, Merchantville Mayor Ted Brennan, journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Comcasts Fred DeAndrea, Anbarics Janice Fuller, Nassaus Michael Pock, Rabbi Eitan Webb

A message from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Efforts to make New Jersey a healthier, more equitable state took a major step forward with Acenda Integrated Health receiving funding from RWJF to serve as the incubator organization to launch the states first public health institute. The institute will promote health equity in New Jersey, where public health infrastructure and systems are strained by a lack of funding and capacity.


AT THIS POINT ITS MORE OF A PRE-MORTEM Murphy says review of how N.J. handled COVID is taking longer than expected but will come soon

, by NJ Advance Medias Brent Johnson: Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday his long-promised plan for New Jersey to undergo a postmortem review of how the state responded to the COVID-19 pandemic is taking ‘a little bit longer’ than he expected but once again vowed it will come soon. Murphy first promised the state would conduct a postmortem in April 2020, weeks after the virus began spreading in the state. He has reiterated that plan multiple times since. Last month, he said the state would come up with a comprehensive plan in a matter of weeks.

“The Democratic governor was asked for an update Monday, about seven weeks after those comments. Its taking a little bit longer than I thought it would, Murphy told reporters after an unrelated event in Perth Amboy. But we are clearly, without question, working on a construct that we think meets the test of comprehensive, independent, what went wrong, what went right. Not just for the sake of history but, if you will, a playbook, for future generations. NJ Advance Media also asked Murphy if the review has already begun and officials are simply not ready to announce something. Were working on a construct, he said

HE READ THE RNCS 2012 AUTOPSY  Ciattarelli says 2021 campaign staff needed more diversity: My team was too white

, by POLITICOs Daniel Han: Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who narrowly lost the 2021 governors race to Gov. Phil Murphy, said his election efforts were hampered by a lack of racial diversity on his campaign team. Quite frankly, there’s no better way to put it: My team was to white, Ciattarelli said during an event Monday evening hosted by Rowan Universitys Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship. I did well in the Black and brown community, but I could have done even better. In post election interviews, Ciattarelli who plans to run for governor in 2025 has said making greater inroads in Black and brown communities was an area he needed improvement in, although he has seldom mentioned the makeup of his campaign team.

FOR WHOM THE TOLLS BILL Brace yourself, drivers. Turnpike and Parkway tolls are going up for the 3rd year in a row

, by NJ Advance Medias Larry Higgs: The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs both highways, adopted a $2.5 billion 2023 budget which calls for a 3% toll increase starting Jan. 1 in a budget that increased by 7.4% over 2022. Officials blamed the increase on pressures on discretionary travel and costs due to an inflation rate of 8.3%, a level not seen in 40 years. Based on the 2022 increase, Parkway tolls would increase from the current $1.96 for E-ZPass customers to $2.02 and from $2 to $2.10 for cash at toll plazas with one-way toll collection, said Tom Feeney, a Turnpike Authority spokesman.

Moran: Why hasnt the Legislature fixed the broken bribery law?


Plan to replace N.J. school-based mental health programs with regional hubs comes under attack from districts


Are your property taxes going up? NJ pension costs rise 9%

NJ lawmaker wants to extend school day, school year to address learning loss

NEW AND IMPROVED POLITICO APP: Stay up to speed with the newly updated POLITICO mobile app, featuring timely political news, insights and analysis from the best journalists in the business. With a fresh look and improved features, the sleek and navigable design offers a convenient way to access POLITICO’s scoops and groundbreaking reporting. Dont miss out on the app you can rely on for the news you need, reimagined. Already a POLITICO app user? Upgrade today! DOWNLOAD FOR iOS 



SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF  Moderate Party faces uphill battle in NJ, while a moderate PAC’s donations raise eyebrows

, by The Records Ashley Balcerzak: In October, a new super PAC with a similar name, the Moderate Party Independent Fund, poured $152,000 into online ads and mailers backing Malinowski and attacking Kean in their tight race for the 7th Congressional District The new PAC was funded entirely with one check: $500,000 from the House Majority PAC Republicans point to overlap between the two groups.

“Two founding members of the Moderate Party are in the super PACs ads, according to Googles ad transparency site: Rick Wolfe, the former Republican mayor of East Amwell Township, and Michelle Garay, the former Republican mayor of Alexandria. Wolfe said he wasnt aware the super PAC existed until he read a news article last week. I was asked by an organization that is supporting moderate candidates to do a video supporting Tom Malinowski, Wolfe said The super PACs treasurer, Jennifer May, said the group ‘as no direction or control of the actions of the NJ Moderate Party, or vice versa.

OUT OF STEPIEN  GOP strategist did not deny 2020 election results, but many of his clients do

, by NJ Spotlight News Ian T. Shearn: Since Stepiens well-publicized, self-proclaimed falling-out with Trump after the 2020 election where he served as campaign manager, his consulting firm, National Public Affairs, has collected over $3 million in political consulting fees, according to Federal Election Commission reports. The lions share of it has come from 17 Republican congressional candidates running in this years midterm elections. Almost all of Stepiens congressional candidates are MAGA loyalists many of them endorsed, and some hand-picked, by Trump. And 11 of them are unapologetic election deniers, which was the very issue Stepien claims caused his break from Team Trump.

Mulshine: After Roes reversal, Republicans need to get their act together on abortion


DCCC puts up $100K for coordinated TV ad for Malinowski

Heres where outside money is being spent in N.J. house races


Former student sues [Ridgefield] teacher over terrorist comment in high school classroom


A message from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:


SORRY, KANYE How a ‘sleeping giant’ grabbed political power in Jackson

, by The Asbury Park Pres Mike Davis: It wasn’t an accident. Mordechai Burnstein was sure of that Burnstein didnt see the car coming, but it swerved far enough in his direction that he had to back out of the way. And then the car pulled a quick U-turn and came back toward him. This time, Burnstein had to jump onto the sidewalk to get out of the way. Both the driver and a passenger yelled out the window at him. Go back to Lakewood!

“Two years later, Burnstein walked in the council chambers for the umpteenth time. He was a regular fixture at public meetings but, this time, he kept walking. Past the chairs that make up the audience. Past the microphone. Up to the dais. A few minutes later, he was sworn in as the towns newest planning board member His rise is emblematic of the shifting power dynamic in Jackson, a town of 58,000 where the towns Orthodox Jewish community subjected to what the federal Department of Justice described as significant antisemitic hostility is now something even more powerful than a federal civil rights lawsuit: a voting bloc.

CAST A PALL PARK Did A judge put his thumb on the scale just two weeks before election day?

by New Jersey Globes David Wildstein: Either unwittingly or deliberately, a municipal court judge has become a pawn in a contentious race for mayor of Palisades Park just two weeks before Election Day when he held a probable cause hearing on a citizen complaint filed by key supporter of one of the candidates. Bergen County Presiding Municipal Court Judge Anthony N. Gallina determined on Monday that there was probable cause to refer a two-year-old allegation that Republican mayoral candidate Stephanie S. Jang helped voters at a local senior housing facility fill out vote-by-mail ballot during the 2020 primary election. The Bergen County superintendent of elections had investigated allegations against Jang but declined to prosecute.

MERCER COUNTY IS OPRA WIN FREE  Mercer County could be paying thousands to rnc after violating OPRA law

, by New Jersey Globes David Wildstein: The Republican National Committee has won a lawsuit against Mercer County after they failed to respond to a request for ballot cure letters in the last election, and the all-Democratic county could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to the national GOP. The RNC initiated a lawsuit in August after the Mercer County Board of Elections failed to provide them with ballot cure letter within the time required by state law. Mercer County Assignment Judge Robert Lougy found that Mercer County failed to meet the seven-day requirement to respond under the state Open Public Records Act. The RNC lawyers and County Counsel Paul Adezio are being given a chance to reach a settlement on legal fees.

OF COURSEY IT DID  Atlantic City Democratic rift spills into County Commissioner race

, by The Press of Atlantic Citys Michelle Brunetti Post: The same three Democratic city council members who have joined with foes of Mayor Marty Small Sr. to push for nonpartisan city elections have now endorsed a Republican for county commissioner. Council President George Tibbitt on Monday joined Councilwoman LaToya Dunston and Councilman Bruce Weekes, both Democrats, and Republican Councilman Jesse Kurtz, in supporting Republican Vern Macon, 74, to represent District 1 on the Atlantic County Board of Commissioners. Macon, of West Atlantic City, is challenging longtime Democratic Commissioner Ernest Coursey, who is Small’s Chief of Staff and one of two Democrats on the nine-member Board of Commissioners. Coursey has been endorsed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. Today was my first announcement on it, Tibbitt said Monday of his endorsement of Macon. As an elected official this is the first time I have endorsed anybody from the other party.

OH BABY BABY ITS A WILDWOOD. ITS HARD TO GET BY JUST UPON A PILE North Wildwood defies a state order on repairing beaches battered by Hurricane Ian and noreaster

, by The Philadelphia Inquirers Frank Kummer: North Wildwoods iconic wide, sandy beaches were hit double barrel earlier this month by the remnants of Hurricane Ian followed by a noreaster that ground the New Jersey Shore communitys beaches into cliffs of sand. Town officials wrote to the states Department of Environmental Protection on Oct. 3 asking for an emergency authorization to install a 400-foot-long steel bulkhead, reshape dunes between 13th and 16th Avenues, tear out some decking, and erect jersey barriers to keep people out. The state approved the barriers and decking removal but said no to the new bulkhead and regrading of dunes because there was no immediate threat of loss of life or property and because the new infrastructure could make erosion worse. North Wildwood answered last week in writing, saying essentially: Tough, were doing it all anyway.

EMR, residents to meet after another fire at Camden facility


Mason Jar restaurant in Mahwah wants to keep on rocking outside, but its neighbors object

2022 Jersey City school board election is all about the money


Marijuana grow facility proposed in South River would bring much-needed revenue: officials


Prospect Park school receptionist forced to do two jobs for one salary, lawsuit alleges


N.J. animal shelter, St. Huberts, will soon end its animal control services in 19 municipalities


Special needs school bus crashes in Glen Rock after driver fails to ‘yield,’ police say


JOIN WOMEN RULE THURSDAY FOR A TALK WITH DEPARTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS: A historic wave of retirements is hitting Congress, including several prominent Democratic women such as Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, House Democrats former campaign chief. What is driving their departures? Join POLITICO on Oct. 27 for The Exit Interview, a virtual event that will feature a conversation with departing members where they’ll explain why they decided to leave office and what challenges face their parties ahead. REGISTER HERE.


YOUNG BIRD COULD BE EXPOSED TO BOOKS ABOUT BIRDS AND BEES   Red-tailed hawk is trapped inside Toms River, NJ library

, by NJ 101.5s Erin Vogt: An unexpected visitor has kept staff and patrons on their toes, as a red-tailed hawk has been inside the township branch of the Ocean County library since Monday evening. Once the bird was spotted in the atrium of the building, according to librarian and public information officer Sherri Taliercio, the branch was closed early at 7:45 p.m. First responders including the Toms River Fire Department, Toms River police and local animal control tried but failed to capture the hawk. The Ocean County Sheriff also sent a trained falconer to assess the situation. It was confirmed as a male first-year hawk, standing up to 22 inches tall with a wingspan of roughly 4 1/2 feet. Read More: Winging it: Red-tailed hawk flies inside Toms River, NJ library |

SLAPP SUITS ARE LIKE THE PLAGUE Medieval Times’ novel lawsuit accuses union of trademark violations. The union is fighting back

, by WNYCs Karen Yi: The union representing New Jersey performers at Medieval Times has filed two unfair labor practice charges against the dinner entertainment chain, after the company sued it over alleged trademark infringement earlier this month. Medieval Times, which operates a performance venue in Lyndhurst and nine other locations in the U.S. and Canada, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 13. It alleges the newly formed union co-opted the companys branding when promoting its organizing efforts using Medieval Times in the unions name, and using castle imagery and colors similar to those used by the company. Labor experts say the lawsuit is a unique approach to discouraging additional organizing efforts across Medieval Times other castle locations and bog the union down in legal fees but say its unlikely to win in court. It sort of reeks a little bit of desperation, said Carla Katz, a Rutgers University professor and labor lawyer.

COVID-19 testing as we know it wouldn’t have happened without this Clifton lab


NJ kids getting radicalized by online video games


A message from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Efforts to make New Jersey a healthier, more equitable state took a major step forward with Acenda Integrated Health receiving funding from RWJF to serve as the incubator organization to launch the states first public health institute.

The institute will promote collaboration and build capacity in New Jersey, where public health infrastructure and systems are stretched thin. It will play a key role in a reimagined public health system in the state. Today, 33 states are served by a public health institute; New Jerseys would be the first to have health equity as a founding priority.

Dedicated advocates, community members, and partners in state government have worked hard for this moment to arrive, said RWJFs Maisha Simmons. Everyone in New Jersey should be able to live the healthiest life possible and a establishing a public health institute is a critical step on that path.