NJEA vs Sweeney
Spending on the battle for a senate seat in LD-3 is ramping up between incumbent Steve Sweeney (Democrat) and challenger Fred Grenier (a Republican with the surprise backing of the New Jersey Education Association). The NJEA threw its weight behind Grenier after falling out with Sweeney over several recent issues, NJSpotlight explains. Now the NJEA is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning in what is shaping up to be one of the most expensive election battles this year. Sweeney’s campaign response could also wind up being a drain on resources of other George Norcross-backed Democratic candidates in South Jersey. Why is the NJEA going to all this effort? “The NJEA’s strategy is beyond Steve Sweeney,” Ben Dworkin, professor and director of The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, told NJSpotlight. “It is about sending a message to everyone in the Legislature that if you cross them, as they believe Sweeney has done, they will come after you.” Dworkin later said, however, that the NJEA could suffer repercussions if Sweeney does win. ““Assuming Sweeney wins, I’m sure the NJEA will suffer various slights over the coming legislative session,” he said. “There are plenty of ways to box them out.”
Want to read more about the NJEA? This Star Ledger column by Tom Moran points out that the top five NJEA directors earned $750,000 on average in 2015.
Margate doctor John Gaffney on Friday pled guilty to conspiring to commit health care fraud. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense, with sentencing scheduled for Jan. 5. There are a couple of details worth noting from the plea agreement (read it in full here). The calculation of the scale of the fraud is still ongoing, but as of the July plea agreement, parties agreed it was close to $25 million. A separate information sheet on the case says the pharmacy benefits administrator (which verified claims for payment for creams made by the compounding pharmacy) paid the compounding pharmacy more than $50 million for compound medications mailed to New Jersey residents in 2015 and 2016. There is still not a lot of detail into how or when fraud detection triggers were set off by this scheme. The insurer and pharmacy benefits administrator’s responsibility is not clear.
Murphy On Takeovers
The Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Murphy has again spoken out against state takeovers, NJSpotlight reports. Murphy, speaking at an event in Montclair this weekend, criticized New Jersey’s takeovers for targeting communities of color. “So I don’t like the notion of state takeovers,” he continued. “Those closer to the ground should get the say-so. That’s where the governance ought to be.” From the reporting, it doesn’t seem like he was directly asked about the Atlantic City takeover. Murphy told the Oberserver in July that he was still against the Atlantic City takeover.
In the rest of the headlines from the weekend and this morning, plans to wind down the national flood insurance program are troubling South Jersey’s Representatives, three people were shot yesterday evening in Hamilton Township (no details as yet), renovations are planned for New Jersey’s Parkway and Turnpike rest stops, the owner of Manco & Manco’s in Ocean City is in prison for tax evasion but patrons are annoyed the restaurants still only take cash, Atlantic City Electric rates are rising 4 percent, and even the LA Times is writing about welfare fraud in Lakewood. All that and more below:
Dozens Of Films To Be Showcased At 10th Annual Atlantic City Cinefest–The 10th annual Atlantic City Cinefest will present more than 75 feature, short and documentary films October 13-15. The film festival will serve up a mix of comedy, drama, horror and more, many from New Jersey filmmakers. www.shorenewstoday.com
Pop-Up Dinner To Benefit The AC Boys And Girls Club–Dine in the style of old-time Atlantic City during a pop-up fundraising dinner for the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City Monday, Sept. 25. Held inside the old Surf Sandcastle Stadium, A Night Under the Stars begins with guests parading down the red carpet in their finest attire, posing for photo-ops along the way. www.atlanticcityweekly.com
Rising Sea Level Threatens Rare Marsh Bird And Humans–The black rail has been a rare bird in New Jersey for decades, but now the shy, small bird of the high marshes is even more difficult to find. Sea level rise and historical human disturbances are destroying its nesting habitat, according to researchers who recently completed a field study of the species. www.pressofatlanticcity.com
Birdwatchers Delight In Rare Sights In South Jersey–The roseate spoonbill's natural habitat is Florida. It really has no business being in New Jersey. www.newsworks.org
An Area Children’s Non-Profit Seeks Cleaning Supplies–The Ronald McDonald House of Southern New Jersey serves as a home away from home for children and their families visiting local hospitals from out of town. Every single day of the year the team is helping families with a place to stay and meals to eat. www.snjtoday.com
Mosquito spraying scheduled for Hammonton after sample tests positive for West Nile–Mosquito ground sprays have been scheduled for parts of Hammonton after a sample tested positive for West Nile virus, according to a county official. www.pressofatlanticcity.com
New Jersey’s Solar Sector Is Thriving: Now Let’s Fix It–By almost any measure, New Jersey’s solar sector is thriving, but that isn’t preventing many folks from thinking it just may need some big fixes. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is the latest to weigh in by announcing a broad examination of the industry and exploring whether the current structure that has served it so well may have outlived its usefulness — or at the very least needs some significant changes. www.njspotlight.com
Convicted Gang Member Given Suspended Sentence On Parole Violations–A convicted member of a violent Atlantic City drug gang was sentenced to a suspended term Friday, after violating probation on drug charges three times. Laquay Spence, 27, was given a two-year suspended sentence for three violations on a drug sentence. breakingac.com
Atlantic City Man Arrested In Burglary Two Weeks After Being Sentenced On Theft Charge–An Atlantic City man sentenced earlier this month on a theft charge was allegedly back at it this week. Keith Faulkner, 45, was arrested after officers in the Atlantic City Police Department’s surveillance center identified him down using the Boardwalk camera system, Sgt. Kevin Fair said. breakingac.com
Pleasantville Man Wanted In Drug And Guns Case–A Pleasantville man is wanted in a case in which a hotel room was allegedly being used as a drug-production facility. No charges have been announced against Dominque Handy, but they are pending, according to information released in court Friday. breakingac.com
Margate Doctor Pleads Guilty In Multimillion-Dollar Health Care Fraud Case–A Margate doctor pleaded guilty Friday in Camden federal court in an ongoing investigation into millions in health care fraud involving vitamin compounds, officials announced. John Gaffney, 55, of Linwood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before US District Judge Robert B Kugler in Camden federal court to a conspiracy to commit health care fraud. breakingac.com