The following is a round-up of national news from several major states across the country that will be featured on our site on a daily basis:
Christie Gives Trump a ‘B’ on 100-Day Mark: With a few days left of his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump’s friend Gov. Chris Christie graded his performance so far as a “B.”
“The reason I’d give him a B is first and foremost because of (Supreme Court Justice) Neil Gorsuch,” the New Jersey governor said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” Christie, a Republican Trump supporter, said the impact of the successful Supreme Court nomination would survive Trump’s presidency “no matter how many years he serves.”
Christie’s criticism landed largely on White House staff. “I think with some of the implementation and some of the ways that his staff has served him has not been extraordinarily good,” Christie said. “They’ve got to get their act together in that regard and serve the President better.” Christie cited the failed March attempt to pass a major health care reform bill as an example of something that wasn’t handled in an “exemplary” fashion, although he added that he wished Republicans “the best of luck” as they continue to try to negotiate a bill that would repeal and replace Obamacare.
He did however praise Pence, the former governor of Indiana, as someone with effective governing experience and mentioned Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, as an experienced and competent team member. “He’s got a lot of very good people there,” Christie said. [CNN]
Cuomo Hires Former Christie Operative as Chief of Staff: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat laying down markers for a potential presidential bid, has tapped a veteran Republican operative to work as a senior aide in his administration.
Maria Comella, who has previously advised New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as well as Sarah Palin, John McCain, George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani, will come on as chief of staff. Cuomo paid Comella as a consultant last year as he put together a legislative agenda that largely focused on middle-class voters.
In a statement provided by a Cuomo spokesman, Comella said she was attracted to Cuomo’s recent actions. “Right now, it is important to be an active participant in our democratic process and political party matters less than the things we can accomplish when working together. At a time of turmoil in Washington, I believe the states can and will play an important role and Governor Cuomo has the ability to find common ground when it’s needed and get things done,” she stated. “I was born and raised in upstate New York and the chance to work for a governor I respect and to be part of his ambitious agenda to create upward economic mobility for the middle class and give voice to those who need it most matters more to me than partisan politics. The fact Governor Cuomo is willing to listen to different viewpoints and work with people from the other side of the aisle is something we should welcome and quite frankly should want to see happen more often.” [Politico]
Anti-Semitism On The Rise In NJ, ADL Report Says: Anti-semitic violence, vandalism and harassment are on the rise in New Jersey and across the country, according to a new Anti-Defamation League report.
The ADL reported an 86 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in the first three months of 2017, compared with the same period last year. That follows a 34 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 over 2015. New Jersey, with 157 anti-Semitic incidents, recorded a 14 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. That was the third-highest total in the nation, behind New York’s 211 incidents and California’s 199, according to the ADL.
“The surge in reported incidents is a sobering reminder that New Jersey is not immune to anti-Jewish hate,” Josh Cohen, regional director of ADL New Jersey, said in a prepared statement. “Clearly, we have work to do and must utilize every available resource to put a stop to anti-Semitism.”
The ADL’s yearly audit tracks “both criminal and non-criminal acts of harassment and intimidation, including distribution of hate propaganda, threats and slurs,” according to the 2017 report. The ADL’s numbers mirror a pattern that state police have reported. Bias crimes targeting Muslims and Jews in New Jersey spiked upward in 2015, compared with the previous year, according to New Jersey State Police Unified Crime Reports. By contrast, hate crimes against other religious and ethnic minorities had declined in the state. State police have not yet released their report on 2016 bias incidents. [APP]
Obama Admits He Came Up Short Representing His Hometown of Chicago: Speaking in the city he represented in the U.S. Senate, which suffered more than 3,500 shootings in 2016 and more than 750 murders, former President Barack Obama admitted Monday that some things didn’t quite work out the way he had hoped. Obama made his first public address since leaving the White House Monday at the University of Chicago Monday morning.
“I tried for three years to do something about it and I’m the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire, nor did I transform these communities in any significant way, though we did some good things,” he said, discussing his term in the Senate before he served two terms as president.
“It did change me,” Obama said. “This community gave me a lot more than I was able to give in return, because this community taught me that ordinary people, when working together, can do extraordinary things. This community taught me that everybody has a story to tell. That is important.” [WJ]
Study Shows Chicago Plastic Bag Usage Has Dropped Since Bag Tax: Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that Chicagoans significantly reduced the average number of disposable bags used per shopping trip.
In the first month after the city placed the “Checkout Bag Tax,” a seven-cent tax on each disposable bag used by customers at stores, a study done for the city by ideas42, the University of Chicago and New York University finds disposable bag usage dropped 42 percent.
“I am glad so many Chicagoans are choosing to forgo paper or plastic bags at checkout, and encourage others to help Chicago further reduce disposable bag use in the city,” said Mayor Emanuel, in a statement. “By decreasing our paper and plastic bag use, Chicago is making important progress in reducing our carbon footprint as well as reducing street litter and improving recycling operations.”
The city of Chicago performed the study to see its effect on consumers. “Once we implemented the tax, we wanted to study it, we wanted to make sure it actually worked,” said Molly Poppe with the City’s budget office. The study tracked bag use of customers at several large grocery chains in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs before and after the tax was implemented to compare consumer experience and determine the possible environmental impact. [CBS Chicago]
Anti-Semitic Incidents Soar in Florida: Anti-Semitic incidents soared in Florida last year, according to a Jewish advocacy group. The Anti-Defamation League reported Monday that there were 137 anti-Semitic incidents in Florida in 2016, which was a 50 percent increase over the previous year.
Only California, New York and New Jersey had a larger number of anti-Semitic incidents.
And in the first quarter of 2017, there have been preliminary reports of 541 anti-Semitic incidents that include 380 harassment incidents, including 161 bomb threats, an increase of 127 percent over the same quarter in 2016; 155 vandalism incidents, including three cemetery desecrations, an increase of 36 percent; and six physical assault incidents, a decrease of 40 percent, the report said.
Florida Jewish institutions, including the Chabad South Orlando and the Roth Family Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando in Maitland, received 17 bomb threats this year. The largest number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2016 in Florida involved harassment. The ADL said in a statement that there were 119 harassment incidents in 2016, compared with 61 in 2015. [Orlando Sentinel]
Liquor ‘Wall of Separation’ Could Fall in Florida: A bill to allow retailers to sell hard liquor in the same store as other goods is one step closer to passing the Legislature.
On Tuesday, the House decided to take up the Senate’s version of the “whiskey & Wheaties” legislation (SB 106) out of a “spirit of compromise,” bill sponsor Bryan Avila, a Hialeah Republican said. After two and a half hours of questions and a string of amendments that were defeated or withdrawn, the House could take a final vote on the bill as early as Wednesday. Its version has been struggling out of committees on one- and two-vote margins.
The Senate bill would repeal a Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses, such as grocery chains and big-box retailers, to have separate stores to sell liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida. The bill also requires miniature bottles to be sold behind a counter and allows for a 5-year phase-in. It calls for employees over 18 to check customers’ ID and approve sales of spirits by cashiers under 18.
It still faces strong opposition, with Avila having to defend against a parade of horribles brought up in questions. [FL Politics]