Coniglio will not see re-election, Stile on how Democrats twisted Coniglio’s arm, Essex County Dems coalesce around and unwilling candidate to fill Hackett seat, Hackett refuses to step down as mayor of Orange, James feels for arrested officials.
UH OH, CONIGLIO
“Joe Coniglio has announced that he will not seek re-election for state Senate.
“I have given a lot of thought to my upcoming re-election campaign, and determined that it is in the best interests of Democratic Party, and, more importantly, my family, for me to step aside and not seek re-election to the State Senate,” said Coniglio in a statement.
Speculation about Coniglio dropping out of the race has been rampant since he received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney in July over his role in allegedly steering state grants to the Hackenack University Medical Center while on its payroll as a $5,500-a-month plumbing consultant.
In his statement today, Coniglio defended himself against any allegations.
“We decided that we could not in good conscience allow certain false perceptions to tarnish the Senate or our elected officials. This does not mean that I believe I any of the accusations attributed to me have merit,” said Conilgio. “On the contrary, my decision to retire will allow me the time to fight the false accusations that my consulting work at Hackensack University Medical Center had any connection to two state grants the hospital received……………..
Speculation about Coniglio dropping out of the race has been rampant since he received a target letter from the U.S. Attorney in July over his role in allegedly steering state grants to the Hackenack University Medical Center while on its payroll as a $5,500-a-month plumbing consultant………………
Possible successors to Coniglio include Paramus Mayor James Tedesco, Freeholder Connie Wagner, and Coniglio’s Assembly running mates Joan Voss and Bob Gordon.
Reached for comment on the way home from a bill signing, Voss said she had not heard that Coniglio dropped out.
“It’s kind of sad, because he’s done a lot of good things in the Senate and he’s sponsored a lot of really good bills, and I’m sorry to hear that,” said Voss.
Colletti, who was up until tonight Coniglio’s opponent in the state Senate race, issued a statement saying that Coniglio’s departure will not effect the race.
“We were fully expecting that Sen. Coniglio would be pressured to withdraw from the race by the political bosses who put him office,” said Colletti. “His resignation changes nothing because it’s not Sen. Coniglio who is alone linked to political corruption in New Jersey, it’s the county and statewide Democratic organizations that encourage or accommodate the culture of corruption.”” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
Codey and Ferriero, both friends of the senator, said they continue to support Coniglio and applauded him for sacrificing his career for the party.
“I commend Joe because he put his own personal interests behind the interests of the Democratic Party,” Ferriero said. “New Jersey will be losing an excellent senator who cared about working families, seniors, cared about protecting our homeland security. He’s a very hard worker, and it’s unfortunate that the unwarranted negative publicity has forced him to make this decision.”
Codey (D-Essex) said it was a difficult decision for Coniglio, who, as recently as Monday, was telling people he would not bow out.
“It really was very hard,” Codey said. “His preference was not to leave the Senate, but, after a while, it drags on you and your family.”………….
Coniglio, 64, has represented the 38th District since 2002. He is chairman of the State Government Committee and sits on the budget and labor committees. Before coming to the Legislature, Coniglio was a councilman and school board member in Paramus.
His decision brings to 14 the number of senators who have announced their retirements this year from the 40-member upper house. They include two who were indicted earlier this year by federal grand juries in separate corruption cases: Sens. Sharpe James (D-Essex) and Wayne Bryant (D-Camden).” (Margolin, Star-Ledger)
Democratic leaders feared Coniglio’s legal woes would damage other candidates in an important election year, especially after 11 officials, most of them Democrats, were arrested last week on federal bribery charges. In addition, Democratic state Sens. Wayne Bryant and Sharpe James, the former mayor of Newark, were indicted on corruption charges in recent months.
Ferriero did not want a Coniglio campaign to siphon resources from other races, Democratic officials said.
The party chief is eager to mobilize an aggressive campaign to defeat long-time incumbent Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Cresskill, in the neighboring 39th District, they said.
Ferriero put the cost of a Coniglio campaign as “significantly more expensive,” even though the GOP opponent on the ballot, Robert Colletti, does not appear to have substantial financial resources.
“You have to anticipate that the state Republican Party would look to allocate resources in this particular race,” Ferriero said. (Fallon and Carmiel, Bergen Record)
“‘CLUELESS JOE’ BECAME ‘COSTLY JOE’”
“The chief financial officers of the North Jersey subsidiary of N.J. Democratic Party Inc. confronted state Sen. Joe Coniglio with a bottom-line verdict: We can’t afford you. For the good of the party — and its cash flow — it’s time to step down.
For weeks, Coniglio’s allies had mounted an impassioned defense against his ethics taint, depicting the Paramus Democrat as an amiable, guileless schlub who didn’t have the heart, the savvy or the venal instincts to effectively sell his Senate office for a $60,000-a-year salary to Hackensack University Medical Center.
Call it the “Clueless Joe” defense.
Coniglio resisted the pressure to resign, stubbornly insisting he did nothing improper. He was a candidate in full throttle, pumping hands at street fairs, printing political literature and naming a new campaign manager.
But the Coniglio steamroller began to lose gas as next week’s deadline for replacing this year’s legislative candidates on the ballot drew closer. “Clueless Joe” became “Costly Joe” at a Tuesday night sit-down in Senate President Richard Codey’s West Orange home.
It was there that Codey, Bergen County Democratic Organization Chairman Joe Ferriero and state Sen. Paul Sarlo of Wood-Ridge showed Coniglio that they held the purse strings to his fate. They impressed upon him that he was going to be a drain on party coffers and could jeopardize its hold on power in the Senate.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
THE SEARCH GOES ON IN DISTRICT 27
“The Democratic Party turf wars persist in the concentrated power centers and in the diffuse reaches of Essex County, where the old ethnic wards are now whole municipalities with particular populations and political needs, as the 21st century bosses here struggle to find a candidate suitable to all of the affected encampments.
To date it’s been tough for the power players to reach a willing consensus pick pre-Sept. 17th deadline to replace former district 27 Assemblyman Mims Hackett, Jr., who resigned earlier this week in the aftermath of his arrest on a charge of bribery.
“He’s a friend,” Senate President Richard Codey said of his former running mate. “There’s no conclusion here yet, and I’m not going to abandon him, that’s for sure. If he’s guilty he will have to suffer the consequences.”…………..
Essex County sources say Dr. A. Zachary Yamba, the president of Essex County College, was briefly at the top of everyone’s short list. Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, party boss Steve Adubato and Codey all like and respect Yamba, who has served as president of the college for over 25 years.
But Yamba doesn’t want to leave his job at the college.
Following the college president’s rejection of the party’s feel out queries on Wednesday, the search for a Hackett replacement continued. Sources close to DiVincenzo have mentioned the name of South Orange Village Trustee Stacey Jennings, and a solid supporter of the county executive’s. Sources close to Codey say failing Yamba, the senate president would prefer a candidate who is an African-American woman, but who does not currently hold public office.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
TODAY’S WINNERS: THE PEOPLE OF ORANGE
“Orange Mayor Mims Hackett Jr., arrested in an FBI bribery sting operation, has no intention of resigning from his mayor’s post, his attorney said yesterday.
Amid mounting calls that the 65-year-old Hackett step down from his municipal office, Hackett will continue serving as mayor and even plans to run for re-election next May, according to Chatham lawyer John Azzarello, Hackett’s defense attorney.
“We trust the fair-minded people of Orange and of New Jersey not to engage in a rush to judgment concerning the allegations that have been made against Mayor Hackett,” Azzarello said.
“While we recognize the seriousness of the allegations, Mayor Hackett, like any citizen, is presumed innocent of the charges,” Azzarello said. “He looks forward to the day when the facts come to light in the appropriate legal forum, where he is confident he will be vindicated by a jury of his peers.”
Hackett was among 11 officials across the state arrested in a federal corruption probe that originated in a South Jersey school district, but spread north, ensnaring state Assemblyman Alfred Steele of Paterson, Passaic Mayor Sammy Rivera and Keith Reid, chief of staff to Newark Council President Mildred Crump, on charges they accepted cash bribes and agreed to steer local government insurance and roofing contracts to a phony business set up by federal authorities.” (Dilworth, Star-Ledger)
WHO WOULDN’T WANT SHARPE JAMES IN HIS CORNER?
“State Sen. Sharpe James, who faces federal corruption charges for alleged actions as former Newark mayor, Wednesday expressed concern that two former colleagues in the state Legislature were arrested by the FBI last week on charged they took bribes.
“Oh, I have empathy for them. This is not good. I wish them well. I have extreme empathy for their families. I hope for the best for them,” James said as he sat in a federal courtroom awaiting the start of a pretrial hearing.
The former Newark mayor’s concern was for former Assemblymen Mims Hackett Jr., D-Essex, and Alfred Steele, D-Passaic, who resigned days after they were arrested last Thursday, snared in a sweep of officials who allegedly pocketed bribes from undercover FBI agents seeking public contracts.
James, 71, did not answer — though he may not have heard — a question as to whether he had considered quitting his Senate job, which Hackett and Steele did after Gov. Corzine and other leading Democrats called for their resignations from the Assembly.” (Baldwin, Gannett)
TAKE HIM WHERE NOBODY HAS SEEN STREET FIGHT
“Concerned that state Sen. Sharpe James might not get a fair trial in North Jersey, defense lawyers said Wednesday they plan to hire a consultant to gauge public sentiment in advance of the former Newark mayor’s corruption trial.
Extensive media coverage surrounding James’ federal indictment in July may have tainted the jury pool, making a change of venue necessary, said attorney Thomas Ashley.
Residents of North Jersey, from which the jury would be drawn, could have developed negative attitudes toward James based on the charges or his politics, the lawyer said. A public-opinion survey will attempt to find that out, he said.
Such polling is more common in high-profile death penalty cases, but it was also employed by former New Jersey federal Judge Herbert Stern in a failed bid to transfer the insider-trading case of Joseph Nacchio of Rumson, the former chief executive officer of Qwest Communications International Inc., out of Denver last year.
“Can a fair jury be selected from this geographic section of the state in light of the unremitting publicity the case has received?” said Alan Zegas, one of James’ attorneys, “We don’t know what the results will be. All we know is that there’s been a tremendous exposure in this area.”” (Sampson, Bergen Record)
SOAP OPERA DIGEST
“The estranged wife of New Jersey’s gay former governor wants a judge to increase her monthly support to $4,000 – nearly four times what she now gets – so she can live a lifestyle closer to that of New Jersey’s first lady.
Dina Matos McGreevey says she and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter live in a modest three-bedroom house while her husband, Jim McGreevey, and his male partner live in a lavish 17-room mansion with gardens designed by the architect who designed Central Park, according to papers filed in Union County Superior Court.
“In total, I need $11,162 per month to meet my expenses,” Matos McGreevey told the judge. “This lifestyle by no means approximates the lifestyle which plaintiff enjoys, much less the lifestyle we enjoyed while plaintiff was governor, but it will allow Jacqueline and me to live a lifestyle I can maintain on my income together with a reasonable amount of support from plaintiff.”
“For plaintiff to assert that he is only obligated to pay $1,129 per month in support for Jacqueline given his income and lifestyle is outrageous,” she says in court papers.
The papers, filed Monday, were made available yesterday by Superior Court Judge Karen M. Cassidy, who is presiding over the couple’s contentious divorce.
Matos McGreevey asserts in the filing that the former governor intentionally kept his 2005 earnings to $165,000 “to limit his support obligations.”” (Delli Santi, AP)
CORZINE SAYS MONETIZATION IS NOT DEFINITE
“Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Wednesday said it’s possible he won’t try to solve state fiscal woes by making more money off state properties.
Corzine has insisted the state needs to find a way to make more money to pay state debt and free money for unmet needs, though he hasn’t unveiled a formal proposal.
Among the unanswered questions, Corzine said, is whether the nonprofit agency he wants to create to manage toll roads can sell cheaper tax-exempt bonds. The bonds would be paid back by increased highway tolls.
Republicans have tried to make an election issue out of the Democratic governor’s plans, warning of steep toll increases, but Corzine said he could decide against a plan.
“There are a number of requests out on very precise questions that have a lot to do with whether the program is something I would recommend or not,” Corzine said. “It’s possible that if we didn’t get the kind of opinion that I thought we needed that this is an idea that I wouldn’t pursue.”” (Hester, AP)
THIS IS NEW JERSEY, AFTER ALL
“A doctor has no duty to tell a woman considering an abortion that her embryo is an “existing human being,” the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled yesterday, averting a trial over when human life begins.
The decision, citing past rulings, said the court “will not place a duty on doctors when there is no consensus in the medical community or among the public” on when life begins.
Abortion cases pending in Illinois and South Dakota have raised the same issue.
The 5-0 Supreme Court ruling reversed a unanimous decision by a three-judge appeals panel and dismissed the lawsuit of a Somerset County woman who had had an abortion.
“On the profound issue of when life begins, this court cannot drive public policy in one particular direction by the engine of the common law, when the opposing sides, which represent so many of our citizens, are arrayed along a deep societal and philosophical divide,” Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for New Jersey’s highest court…………….
Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, decried the ruling.
My reaction is that, once again, the court relies on an outdated schizophrenic mentality to the detriment of women and indulges in semantic gymnastics to avoid the indisputable fact that a child in the womb is a human being,” she said. “It is human from the minute it comes into existence, from the moment of conception.”
The American Civil Liberties Union praised the decision, saying it “sends a message that New Jersey will not tolerate back-door efforts to curtail reproductive rights or free speech,” said Ed Barocas, legal director of the state’s ACLU chapter. ” (Gold, AP)
“The ruling is the latest in a long-running civil lawsuit Rosa Acuna filed claiming her doctor, Sheldon Turkish, who practices in Perth Amboy, did not give her enough information when he told her to end her pregnancy because it exacerbated a kidney disorder.
Acuna’s lawyer, Harold Cassidy, called the decision “a stunning and surprising, although temporary defeat for Mrs. Acuna and the women of New Jersey.”” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
“In South Dakota, a court case brought by Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota against Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota challenged a state law requiring doctors to tell pregnant women that the embryo or fetus was a distinct, unique human being and that abortion terminated a life.
Because the law was challenged in court, it has not yet been enforced. A trial court ruled that it compelled the speech of doctors in an unconstitutional way, a decision that was upheld by part of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A decision from the full appeals court is pending.” (Kelley, New York Times)
“State Sen. Gerald Cardinale’s move to hold up the nomination of Matthew Boxer as New Jersey’s State Comptroller might be considered a good political move by Republicans interesting in keeping Gov. Jon Corzine’s ties to his former girlfriend in the news, but his colleagues in the Senate minority aren’t rushing to help him out.
Cardinale’s idea is to tie up the nomination of Boxer for the newly created office until Corzine appoints an independent prosecutor to look into the matter of Rocco Riccio, a brother-in-law of Corzine’s ex-girlfriend/paramour/companion Carla Katz, who he gave $15,000 after pressuring him out of his accounting job at the Turnpike Authority. Boxer was reportedly present at a meeting in which Riccio was asked to leave his job.
Cardinale said that rumors about Riccio looking into tax records of Corzine’s political enemies — which were reported when the Star-Ledger broke the Riccio story — were of particular concern.
“Nothing yet,” said Senator Cardinale when asked if he had heard of any Republicans willing to join him. “We’re not in session, but what I have seen is that some other Republicans are interested in the issue and calling for similar things to what I’m asking.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
HOW MANY ATLANTIC CITY MAYORS HAVE BEEN FORCED TO LEAVE OFFICE EARLY?
The resort native believed so much that last month he did up his old Mercedes with 4-inch, red vinyl letters that read: “RECALL WALTER MITTY aka BOB LEVY.”
He’s the latest person to join in what organizers say is a growing movement to recall Levy, Atlantic City’s mayor. Organizers have cited Levy’s ties to corrupt officials, the perception he does little work and last year’s revelation that he never served in the U.S. Army‘s Special Forces, despite years of claims.
An aide said Levy was in a meeting Wednesday afternoon. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Brown worked for the city as a lifeguard, then firefighter, before switching back to the Beach Patrol and retiring about 10 years ago.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
FERGUSON FACES STENDER’S WRATH
“Assemblywoman Linda Stender fired off an early volley today in her 2008 rematch against Mike Ferguson for Congress.
Stender used the report on Iraq released this week by General David Petraeus as fuel for her campaign, tying Smith to a war largely unpopular in New Jersey.
“I was disappointed to learn that Congressman Ferguson endorsed this new plan, and still refuses to support an endeavor to begin a redeployment of American troops,” said Stender. “New Jersey families have been outspoken in their impatience for a change in direction in Iraq and desire for a responsible withdrawal of American soldiers.”
But Ferguson spokeswoman Angie Lundberg hit back, raising the ever-popular state-level campaign issue of asset monetization.
“This is a sad, pathetic but not surprising effort by Stender to divert attention from her votes to sell New Jersey’s toll roads to foreign companies and force our state’s commuters to pay $2,400 a year in higher tolls. Stender should be ashamed of herself,” said Lundberg.
Stender ran against Ferguson in 2006, losing by one percentage point. She has already announced her intention to run again.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) yesterday confirmed what just about every political junkie in the state believed would happen after her close loss to Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-Dist.7) last year — she will challenge him again.
While Stender had no immediate plans to announce her renewed bid for the congressional seat, it slipped out in a press release deal ing with Gen. David Petraeus’ testi mony on the conditions in Iraq and Ferguson’s support for the administration’s battle plan.
In the press release, Stender was identified as an “assemblywoman and candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s seventh congressional district.”
Stender said she decided to run again because “the issues just haven’t changed.” (Gluck, Star-Ledger)
“A DISCREPANCY I CANNOT EXPLAIN”
“The former treasurer of the Wharton Parent-Teacher Association has been charged with stealing at least $10,000 from the organization and creating a fake bank statement to show to auditors.
Borough Detective Bill Hamilton said that Marlene A. Bencel, 36, who started serving as PTA treasurer in 2001 or 2002, pocketed at least $10,000 over several years and created a fictitious Chase Bank statement and presented it to PTA members who were conducting an audit……………….
A mother of two, Bencel said she merely has been charged, not convicted, and has been cooperative in the investigation. She contended the charges are due to “a discrepancy I cannot explain.”
“I have done everything I can to help them,” she said, but declined to say why she believes she was charged.” (Wright and Lee, Daily Record)
EASY SOLUTION TO LOCAL WOES: BRING UP BUSH
“Gov. Jon Corzine threatened yesterday to take legal action against the Bush administration to challenge new rules that would exclude thousands of children from the government-sponsored FamilyCare health insurance program next year.
In a strident letter mailed to the White House, Corzine called the rules “unreasonable” because they would make some children wait a year to apply, and limit enrollment to families from the lowest rungs of poverty.
Corzine wrote that in an expensive state like New Jersey, FamilyCare has provided medical coverage to 122,000 children, including 28,000 who would have been disqualified had the new income rules been in effect.
Children already enrolled in FamilyCare would not be affected by the new rule, federal officials have said, but new applicants would be.
“The practical effect of the new policy would be that thousands of innocent children will lose or be denied health insurance coverage and will be forced to join the growing ranks of the uninsured,” according to Corzine’s letter.” (Livio, Star-Ledger)
NEW SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA
“Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he wants lawmakers in the next four months to completely revamp the way New Jersey pays for public education.
“You will find that before the end of the year, we’ll have an energy master plan, an anti-crime plan, and you’ll see — I’m less certain, but optimistic about — a school funding formula,” Corzine said. “All of those things are coming together.”
The promise to accelerate the debate on state financing of public schools was greeted with surprise from school advocates and legislative leaders alike.
“A new school funding formula is no easy task,” said Lynne Strickland of the Garden State Coalition of Schools. “This sounds like he’s setting up a scenario where (his plan) will be force-fed down the Legislature’s throat and the pub lic’s.” ” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
WHAT ABOUT CALLAWAY?
“The city administration issued a harsh response to corruption charges concerning five past and present school board members Wednesday, almost a week after the men were among a dozen arrested on conspiracy to commit extortion charges.
“This is nothing new; on several occasions the Board of Education has demonstrated that it is not capable of governing itself,” Mayor Ralph Peterson wrote. “Despite hiring and firing 13 superintendents over a 12-year period, the board thought and still thinks they can do whatever they want without scrutiny. Enough is enough!”
Board President James Pressley and member Rafael Velez are the only two arrested who currently serve on the board. Former board President Jayson Adams, and former members James McCormick and Maurice “Pete” Callaway – currently a city councilman – were also among those arrested last week in a corruption sting that began here and stretched to the Statehouse.
The mayor began his statement by drawing a distinction between the school board and the city’s government, saying there is “no direct affiliation with the city of Pleasantville‘s government.” But he made no mention of Callaway, who has said he will not step down from his City Council seat.
Peterson did not return a call to comment on Callaway or expand upon his written statement.
Meanwhile, city resident Frank Oatman has a meeting with the board’s business administrator this morning, when he will present a petition asking for a ballot question asking to change the elected school board to an appointed one. Oatman did not know how many signatures he had Wednesday afternoon.
He was able to add to the list at Tuesday’s board meeting, the first time residents were able to address Pressley and Velez. Many angered residents were seen adding their names to the petition.
In 2004, there was a similar drive to change to an appointed board. That move quickly died.
But Oatman says it’s time to revive the idea.”(Cohen, Press of Atlantic City)
MAYORS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY ANXIOUSLY AWAIT THEIR TRIPS TO….. TRENTON
“When former city Mayor Arthur Holland hosted a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 1988, the meeting sessions were held in a hotel in Princeton because the capital city lacked such a facility.
Tomorrow, the U.S. Conference of Mayors returns to the area for its annual leadership meeting. This time — with the Trenton Marriott in the downtown — mayors from across the country will actually have a chance to meet, sleep and maybe even play in the city when they arrive here for the two-day meeting.
Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, USCM president, said the meeting should be an eye-opener for the mayors. “They are coming to do the nation’s business in our city. I think that’s significant,” Palmer said.
All they know about the city is the “Trenton Makes Bridge” and its role in the Revolutionary War, Palmer said, “now they will see it, now they will be at the spot where the cannons were fired.”
The meeting is for the organization’s top officers. About 40 mayors, including mayors from as far as Texas and Hawaii, have confirmed. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will also attend. Gov. Jon Corzine and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., have been invited, but have not confirmed.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
MORE SURGERY FOR CORZINE
“Gov. Jon Corzine confirmed yesterday he will undergo surgery Monday at Cooper University Hospital on his left thigh, five months after he broke the femur in two places in a near-fatal car accident.
“Hopefully, it will be a very brief stay,” he told reporters.”
The inpatient surgery is to remove excess bone growth around his femur. The condition, known as heterotopic ossification, is not uncommon in patients who have suffered a traumatic femur injury, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.
The operation will be performed by Robert Ostrum, the orthopedic trauma surgeon who reconstructed Corzine’s femur using a titanium rod and screws in the hours immediately after the April 12 accident on the Garden State Parkway…………….
The governor has been diligently rehabilitating his leg, but the overgrowth of bone has caused some physical discomfort and limited his leg’s range of motion.
“It really isn’t painful,” Corzine said. “I have strong strength in my right leg and a little less in the left because the bone has grown into the muscle and it’s impacting the hip.” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday signed a package of seven bills boosting state support for programs aimed at helping those with autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
“We are enhancing New Jersey’s pioneer status in the fight against autism spectrum disorders by bolstering our arsenal of programs, training, education and research,” Corzine said.
“‘More importantly, we will be enabling those impacted by autism spectrum disorders to function as independent, productive and empowered individuals.”” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“The GOP-controlled Hamilton City Council today lashed out at Mayor Glen Gilmore, charging the Democrat with sitting on the town’s budget and riding out the election before notifying taxpayers of a 25 % tax hike.
“Under law the budget was supposed to be produced by August 10th, but he wants to put it off,” complained Council President Dave Kenny, who said the most obvious preliminary numbers to jump out at him were from a recent auditor’s findings showing $4 million in increased spending and $2 million in decreased revenues, among other add-ons.
Kenny, who supports businessman John Bencivengo in his bid for mayor against Gilmore, said the council has been requesting a copy of the budget since May. “We were promised the budget by Sept. 15th,” said the council president. “The voters have a right to know about the financial condition of the township.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
“Election experts don’t see any constitutional crisis in Dawn Zimmer’s decision to vacate her Fourth Ward City Council seat, and council members say they will struggle with one less member until a new one is sworn in after the special election in November.
Zimmer agreed Tuesday to void her June runoff victory in the face of a court challenge from Christopher Campos, whom she defeated by eight votes.
State Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli, who was to hear the challenge later this month, signed an agreement vacating the election and the council seat is now empty.
Council President Theresa Castellano said that other members of the council will deal with constituency issues for Fourth Ward residents until a new council member is appointed. ” (Hack, Jersey Journal)
IN JERSEY CTY
“By a 6-1-1 vote, a proposal by Ward E Councilman Steven Fulop to bolster ethics standards for public officials in the city was shot down Tuesday by his Jersey City City Council colleagues.
For the most part, council members said they voted against the measure because parts of it ran contrary to the state law.
Councilman Peter Brennan accused Fulop of trying to “back-door” the council by first presenting his plan to The Jersey Journal and then coming to colleagues.
Fulop shot back that Brennan was using that timing of events as a “smoke screen” for voting against the measure.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
IN JERSEY CITY
“Elections will be held in April to determine if the school board will remain an elected body or become one appointed by the mayor, state Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy said yesterday.
That election will take place simultaneously with regularly scheduled school board elections, in which three seats every year are up for grabs. Board members Franklin Williams and Anthony Cucci complained the twin elections may confuse voters.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
“Unable to agree on a suitable venue and moderator, a debate between Democratic and Republican candidates for Borough Council seems less likely this year.
This week, Republicans said they would not participate in a debate organized by The Coast Star, a weekly newspaper, and the League of Women Voters on Oct. 22 at Taylor Pavilion, one day before the Belmar Homeowners Association was scheduled to host its annual forum there.” (Larsen, Asbury Park Press)
“Several prominent township Republicans have put in their names to replace outgoing township Committeeman Henry J. McNamara on the November ballot. Zoning board Chairman Rudy Boonstra, zoning board member Doug Christie and Kathleen Scarpelli, vice president of the Ramapo-Indian Hills Regional School District board, have all put in for the job.
McNamara’s primary opponent, McNamara’s primary opponent, Diane Sobin, has also declared her interest., has also declared her interest.” (Van Dusen, Bergen Record)
“The mayor and Borough Council will continue discussing whether they should keep municipal health benefits at tonight’s meeting.
Councilman Daniel Colluci, who opposed extending health coverage to elected officials, said Wednesday that the goal of the workshop meeting was “to discuss this issue and finally put it to bed or come to a resolution that would be to the benefit of the taxpayers of the borough.
The issue had split the council along personal and philosophical lines. Three council members who receive health care coverage supported keeping benefits because elected officials play larger roles in the borough’s day-to-day operations. But their three colleagues who do not receive health coverage disagreed and said they felt their positions were voluntary.” (Yoo, Bergen Record)
IN SOUTH PLAINFIELD
“The South Plainfield Republican Organization filed a motion last week seeking to have town officials ruled in contempt for failing to complete a court-ordered release of settlement figures from a discrimination suit four years ago.
“The facts they are hiding from the public is wrong,” said Robert Jones, local GOP chairman. “It’s so we can see how much they spent of taxpayers’ money.”” (Adarlo, Star-Ledger)
IN OCEAN CITY
“OCEAN CITY – The Cape May County Republican Party officially opened its campaign headquarters Wednesday on Asbury Avenue in the city’s downtown. Republicans said the choice of Ocean City is no coincidence.
The resort figures to be a stronghold for Republican candidates, even the state candidates running in the expansive 1st Legislative District.
“If you’re duck hunting, you go where the ducks are,” Republican Party Leader David Von Savage said. “Ocean City is small business. It’s the major employer in Ocean City. The Republican Party embraces small business.”” (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)