Sen. Bob Menendez Banned From Russia

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is banned from Russia, the Star-Ledger reports:

Menendez was one of six federal lawmakers who along with a number of advisors to President Obama were banned from Russia in retaliation for U.S. economic sanctions imposed by the president.  The president announced the sanctions today over what he called the “illegitimate” annexation of Crimea by the Russians.

“President Putin’s military invasion and annexation of Crimea is brutal, totally unacceptable, and sadly returns us to a period of Cold War aggression and hostility,” Menendez, who is chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said in a statement. “It doesn’t have to be this way but, if standing up for the Ukrainian people, their freedom, their hard earned democracy and sovereignty means I’m sanctioned by Putin, so be it.”

The question now: Is Vladimir Putin still welcome in New Jersey?

Rutgers Profs Protest Condi Rice As Graduation Speaker

At NewsWorks, Chris Satullo notes that profs at Rutgers’ New Brunswick and Newark campuses are protesting the decision to host Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s national security advisor and secretary of state, as this year’s commencement speaker.

H. Bruce Franklin, an English prof on the Newark campus, put this point pungently (maybe a little too pungently): “What we’re doing is awarding an honorary degree and having a commencement speech from someone who is a war criminal.”

Mr. Franklin and I could probably agree that during the Iraq War the United States did things that violated our constitutional values, as well as Christian morals and common sense. And, yes, Condi Rice was in high office while that went on.

Unhappy that Rice is speaking?  Arrange a teach-in on the conduct of the Iraq and Afghanistan war; come up with a plan for a dignified protest at commencement, something that  will make the point without spoiling the day for grads and their families.

Rice is still expected to speak at the May 18 ceremony in Piscataway.

Police Union Attacks Christie on Pension Funding

Another day, more headaches for Chris Christie. NJ.com reports:

The head of the state’s police unions today slammed Gov. Chris Christie over some $50 million in what he called “pension giveaways” to local municipalities.

The giveaways, state Policemen’s Benevolent Association head Anthony Wieners said in a scathing release, were gained on the backs of the state’s public sector unions.

“While the governor continues to campaign that the state pension system is ‘unsustainable’ and in need of reform, he himself is intentionally weakening the (Police and Firemen’s Retirement System) by waiving an additional $50 million in local government’s pension obligations,” Wieners said following the release of the PFRS actuary report. “In doing so, he is continuing the same fiscal mismanagement and sleazy games that underfunded the pension fund for over a decade and that led to the situation we are in today.”

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Christie Might Still Be A Viable Presidential Candidate

The conservative Washington Examiner says polling shows Chris Christie’s comeback from Bridgegate is happening in Virginia:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political comeback has started inVirginia where he has emerged as the Republican Party’s best chance to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, according to anew poll from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

Christie, who is slowly extracting himself from the so-called “Bridgegate” affair, is the top pick among Virginians to be the 2016 GOP nominee, and he comes within the margin of error in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton.

In that contest, said the poll from the school’s Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy, Clinton beats Christie 43 percent to 41 percent. The margin of error for the poll of 901 voters is 3.3 percent.

Christie barely edges Jeb Bush among Republicans, the poll says, but Bush would be thrashed by Clinton in their head-to-head matchup.

Christie Signs Order to Speed Sandy Recovery

The Star-Ledger reports: “Calling Hurricane Sandy-damaged homes that have not yet been torn down an “ongoing emergency,” Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order aimed at speeding up the process of razing unsafe properties. … The order gives the Community Affairs commissioner the authority to “commandeer Sandy-impacted eligible structures,” as well as take possession of rights of way on any property needed to facilitate demolition. According to the governor’s office, state code enforcement officials have been surveying private properties to identify homes that need to be razed. Property owners will be notified when that determination is made and then will have the opportunity to challenge it.” The demolition program will be focused in Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union counties.

 

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