BCDO officially picks Gordon to replace Coniglio, Republicans say monetization is dead if they’re elected, Corzine to undergo more surgery today, Rahway official retires to log cabin in Montana but keeps doing his old job.
BCDO FOLLOWS THE LEADER
“The Bergen County Democratic Organization’s meeting tonight went off without a hitch, with the county committee men and women essentially confirming Chairman Joseph Ferriero’s choice for the 38th district’s two new legislative candidates.
In a closed meeting, the committee members unanimously elected Assemblyman Bob Gordon to fill the state Senate ballot spot left open after Joe Coniglio decided not to seek re-election. Freeholder/Paramus Councilwoman Connie Wagner will fill the slot left open by Gordon’s elevation. Incumbent Assemblywoman Joan Voss will remain as 38th district’s other Democratic Assembly candidate.
No county committee members offered any alternative nominations.
The candidates were in good spirits after getting the party nod, but they were somber about the circumstances surrounding Coniglio’s decision to drop out of the race. Coniglio is under federal investigation regarding whether he steered state grants to Hackensack University Medical Center while on their payroll as a $5,500-a-month plumbing consultant………….
Wagner said that, if elected, she will resign from her positions on the Paramus Council and Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders. She mentioned three issues she wants to focus on during his first term in the Assembly.
“Obviously to stabilize taxes, but I consider myself a voice in education along with Joan, and a voice in the environment,” said Wagner……………….
It wasn’t certain that the meeting would run so smoothly. Anti-Ferriero county committeeman Bob Gulack had planned to nominate Fort Lee Councilman Michael Villano for the state Senate seat and, failing that, for the Assembly seat. Villano initially accepted Gulack’s offer, driving to Fair Lawn to drop his resume off at his home. Soon after, however, he changed his mind.
Gulack, disappointed and suspicious about Villano changing had mind, chose not attend the meeting. The lack of opposition, he said, was “un-American, un-democratic and dysfunctional to a frightening degree.”
Villano, however, said that it was his own decision not to put his name up as a nominee, since he didn’t want to put himself in a middle of a fight between two factions of the party. As to why he accepted the offer to begin with, Villano said “my ego got involved, quite frankly.”
Coniglio’s withdrawal from the race means that Republican state Senate candidate Bob Colletti has an even tougher battle in this relatively safe Democratic district. But Colletti spokesman Thom Ammirato insisted that Gordon would be just as vulnerable as Coniglio…………….
“I think the ethical cloud extends to Assemblyman Gordon and the rest of the Democratic Praty,” said Ammirato.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
CONIGLIO WALKS OFF INTO THE SUNSET
“It was a big happy event, by the looks of it from the outside. They looked like an extended family in there, with the Jets game on in the background and a few of the men shamelessly turning sideways in their chairs as they watched Gang Green lose.
But when Assemblyman Robert Gordon stood at the podium and accepted their unanimous backing to succeed District 38 Sen. Joseph Coniglio, Bergen County Democrats emptied their seats and gave him their face-forward attention amid sustained applause………….
And (Gordon) had the solid backing of the man he hopes to replace, Coniglio, who announced last week he wouldn’t run again, succumbing to party pressure for him to step aside in the face of an ethics probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Entering the room after the vote, receiving embraces and hand clutches from the party faithful, Coniglio said of Gordon, “It’s a good night for him. They’re going to go on to victory,” very likely an accurate statement in a district that is almost 3-2 Democratic, but which the party felt might not have been the case had Coniglio stayed in the battle……..
Among them, Chairman Joseph Ferreiro appeared to straddle that no-man’s land between two watershed events in his party’s tumultuous half year: April 12th, when Gov. Jon Corzine presided at a peace powwow between the chairman and maverick 37th District Sen. Loretta Weinberg, and tonight, when Ferreiro hoped once again to restore the party organization to wholeness after the Coniglio imbroglio.
Ferreiro refused to acknowledge any psychic weight relived by tonight’s denouement.
“I don’t know if you can identify April with this,” he said. “I think all of this is part of what a party goes through. I look at the Democratic Party as a family. From time to time the Democratic Party has a crisis, but the family gets together. This is one of those events.”…………..
The evening was at an end, and some of the men moved to the bar across the street to keep watching the Jets lose. Leaving Gordon to fill out paperwork due in Trenton, and holding his wife’s hand, Coniglio walked slowly across the gravel parking lot to where his car was parked on Bergen Street.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
FOR A MINUTE THERE IT SEEMED LIKE REPUBLICANS WERE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE
“Republicans hoping to make Gov. Corzine’s plan to generate more money off state properties a centerpiece of their election campaign are making a big promise to voters — put them in charge and the plan, likely involving toll hikes, is dead.
“If we regain a majority in the Senate and the Assembly, we will not post a bill to sell or lease or monetize state assets, and we will certainly not post a bill to triple the tolls on the roads throughout New Jersey,” said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon…………….
“Should New Jersey’s voters truly desire to block the Democrats’ attempt to sell, lease or monetize our toll roads, they should vote in a Republican majority because as Assembly speaker, I will refuse to post for a floor vote the enabling legislation necessary to move this scheme forward,” said Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, R-Morris.
Democrats control the Senate 22-18 and the Assembly 50-30. All 120 legislative seats are up for election in November.
But as Corzine noted on Wednesday, Democratic legislators aren’t fully supportive of his concept, either.” (Hester, AP)
“New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine was scheduled to undergo radiation treatment and surgery Monday morning to remove excess bone growth in the leg he broke in his near-fatal April car accident.
The surgery will require Corzine to transfer gubernatorial power to Senate President Richard J. Codey and spend several days in the hospital.
“Hopefully it will be a very brief stay and successful,” Corzine said.
The procedures to be performed at Cooper University Hospital will involve a low dose of radiation — to prevent future bone growth — and cutting excess bone growth away from Corzine’s left femur with a bone chisel.
The excess growth is common in patients who suffer severe femur injuries.
Corzine broke his left leg in two places during the April 12 crash on the Garden State Parkway. Doctors inserted a rod into the leg and operated on it three times in the days after the crash that left the 60-year-old Corzine in intensive care and on a ventilator.” (Hester, AP)
DOES HE WEAR A HOOD AND SUNGLASSES?
“Five years ago, Rahway business administrator and redevelopment director Peter Pelissier retired from both jobs to a log cabin on a 23-acre spread in Montana.
His retirement after almost three decades in public service did not last long.
The same month he began collecting his public pension from New Jersey, the 61-year-old Pelissier also began receiving checks from the Rahway Redevelopment Agency as a high-paid consultant — doing the same job he had left for retirement, in an unusual, long-distance relationship.
Over the next four years, he earned more than $294,000 in consulting fees through an exclusive, no-bid contract approved by the agency while collecting $331,000 in public employee retirement benefits.
Now the state wants the pension money back, arguing Pelissier never left the job as redevelopment director in Rahway……………
Paula Franzese, a Seton Hall University law professor and chairwoman of the State Ethics Commission, said Pelissier’s arrangement was “wrong on every level” and demonstrated loopholes in the system that need to be plugged…………….
After Treasury officials notified him his consulting contract violated pension guidelines, Pelissier returned to Rahway in January to take his two old jobs back — the full-time positions of business administrator and redevelopment director. He is a salaried employee again, making $260,000 from the two jobs.
In an interview at Rahway City Hall, Pelissier said he was still negotiating with the pension board and declined to discuss the details of his previous consulting agreements.
“Based on the fact that I’m in the process of discussing this with the board and haven’t even solidified what the arrangements would be, I don’t have any comment at this time,” Pelissier said.” (Casiano, Star-Ledger)
YOU GOTTA LOVETT
“Republicans from the 4th Legislative District believe they have a winning ticket this year and a shot to defeat freshman state Sen. Fred Madden, incumbent Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and newcomer Sandra Love, the former Gloucester Township mayor.
Agnes Gardiner of Washington Township, Shelly Lovett of Gloucester Township and Pat Fratticcioli of Monroe are stepping up to battle what they call the “Democratic machine” of Gloucester and Camden counties.
The 4th District encompasses 10 towns in those counties, including Franklin and Newfield.
Republican leaders were forced to reshuffle their party’s 4th District ticket after their candidate, John Jankowski of Sicklerville, dropped out of the race.
In response to the sudden shift, Lovett, who originally planned to run with Fratticcioli for the Assembly, stepped up to run for Senate………………
Regardless of the nearly four-month loss in campaign time, the women said there is plenty of time left to get the message out because serious campaigning is not expected to start until after Labor Day.
Compared to the Democratic candidates, however, the difference in campaign funds is extreme. The county Republican Executive Committee has raised about $20,000 to date. The county Democrats have raised at least four times as much for the 4th District.
Gloucester County Republican Committee Chairwoman Loren Oglesby said her party’s finances and inability to challenge the long-standing Democratic party is the one hurdle she does not foresee overcoming.
“It’s difficult in our position because we can’t compete financially,” Oglesby said. “But I believe that we have the best people. It’s time for a change.”” (Huelsman, Gannett)
HE SHOULD CONSULT WALLY EDGE
“In the annals of New Jersey legislative history, Harry Runyon stands alone. Literally.
As voters in 1920 elected the first women and African-American lawmakers to the Assembly, Runyon was the only Democrat in the 60-seat house. Runyon, a World War I veteran from Belvidere, became a one-man political caucus. There have been none smaller.
Until now, however, Runyon’s story has been relegated to the dustbins of history. In fact, there’s no single book or other source that has information about all 5,405 lawmakers who have served in New Jersey since 1776.
Peter Mazzei wants to change that.
Mazzei, manager of the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services Library, is meticulously compiling a database on every lawmaker in state history. His goal: an online site filled with photos, obituaries, statistics and trivia. For those who prefer print, he wants to put it all in a book.
“There’s no history of the Legislature yet that’s really comprehensive,” said Mazzei. “There are some really great names, great patriots, great thinkers and great statesmen who served in our Legislature. There also are some rogues.”
Mazzei, 46, of Jersey City, figures it could take several years to complete the project — something only a few states have attempted. ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“A Superior Court judge today will hear whether the state should extend a deadline to fix voting-machine flaws or introduce another system — unfamiliar to most New Jerseyans — in time for the June primary.
“There’s nothing we do [that is] more important in this office than protect the integrity of the vote and have safe and fair elections,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said in an interview Thursday, when her office filed a request to push back the Jan. 1 deadline. “To rush the process would be a big mistake. … The people of the state should have confidence in the voting.”
But Penny Venetis, the Rutgers University law professor who sued to have the machines replaced, will argue that the electronic system is so unreliable that it is a threat to democracy.
“The state’s continued insistence on fixing a broken system, and spending tens of millions of dollars to fix a system that is so incredibly insecure, is a violation of the public trust,” Venetis said Friday. “Our taxpayer monies should be better spent on a system that works.”
The manufacturers of the machines in question — the Avante Vote-Trakker, the Sequoia AVC Edge and the Sequoia AVC Advantage — have said their technology is reliable and the flaws are easily fixed.
More than 3,000 Advantage machines are in use in North Jersey: 1,200 in Bergen County, 650 in Passaic, 600 in Hudson and 800 in Morris, according to local election officials. ” (Young, Bergen Record)
ON THE BOARDWALK
“OCEAN GROVE — After nearly 38 years as a couple, Ocean Grove residents Janice Moore, 70, and Emily Sonnessa, 77, were joined Sunday in a civil union on the fishing pier, in plain view of the boardwalk pavilion that is the subject of a legal battle couched as a clash between civil rights and religious rights.
The women are one of two same-sex couples suing for the right to hold civil union ceremonies inside the pavilion, about a hundred yards from the pier. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization, owns the pavilion and boardwalk, including the fishing pier.
In the Methodist Church Book of Discipline, same-sex unions are forbidden in the church’s religious structures, and the church considers the pavilion to be one. However, Ocean Grove’s gay community and its supporters say the pavilion is public space.
There was no indication during Sunday’s ceremony that a conflict was churning in this seaside community of about 4,000 residents. Roughly 60 of Sonnessa’s and Moore’s invited family and friends — not counting some uninvited supporters — gathered on the pier to watch the two exchange vows to love each other forever and to exchange rings. There were no protesters.
“By the power vested in me by the great State of New Jersey, I now pronounce you in a civil union,” said Neptune Deputy Mayor Randy Bishop, who presided over the ceremony.” (Petrunico, Asbury Park Press)
“As Theodore Z. Davis agreed Sunday to lead the state takeover of the city government for the next five years, dignitaries applauded him.
Protesters denounced him.
The retired judge surprised many by delivering an unusually emotional speech about growing up poor in Camden, where he was raised by foster parents.
Davis had to stop several times as he struggled with his composure.
“The 13 years I spent in a foster home here were very important to me,” Davis told a hushed audience at the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church……………..
As Davis, 74, takes the helm, he said his mantra will be to “produce . . . to work, work, work — and care.”
After signing legislation to extend the state takeover of the city government for five more years, Gov. Jon S. Corzine named Davis as his choice to serve as the chief operating officer of the city, where he will have veto power over every city agency.
Davis accepted the job at a $220,000 annual salary. He had been serving in an interim capacity since January.” (Guenther, Courier-Post)
CORRUPTION IS COLORBLIND
“PATERSON — During his re-election announcement speech in 2002, Mayor Martin G. Barnes stood in City Hall, surrounded by a throng of supporters, defending himself against a protracted two-year federal investigation into his travels and personal finances.
“I’m used to controversy,” Barnes said two weeks before his indictment. “It’s followed me my entire career.”
Some of Barnes’ defenders claimed that the charismatic and flamboyant leader was being targeted by U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie because he was black. Six months later, a once defiant Barnes would plead guilty to accepting lavish trips and luxury amenities from companies seeking city business — ending a drawn-out public circus surrounding Paterson’s first black mayor.
Fast-forward five years to Paterson’s latest federal corruption scandals involving a high-powered black leader, former Assemblyman Alfred E. Steele, who was arrested in a federal sting case on Sept 6. Though there are mentions of possible racial targeting in this case, the similarities between Barnes and Steele apparently end there.
“There are no parallels, other than that it was another black man; that’s the only parallel,” said Linda Smith, president of the Paterson chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Smith only alluded to the racial make-up of the 11 public officials arrested earlier this month, coming short of saying they were targeted because of their skin color.
“I find it interesting that of 11 people who were charged with this and indicted, all were Hispanic or African-American, except for one,” Smith said.” (MacInnes, Herald News)
DOBLIN ON CORZINE AND GAY MARRIAGE
“A WEEK AGO, Governor Corzine addressed a group of gay and lesbian journalists at NJ PAC in Newark. The Sept. 9 event, hosted by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, was sponsored by The Record. Corzine fielded questions from journalists, many about same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
The governor, while known for his liberal views, has been careful in his support of same-sex marriage. As the issue played out in state courts, his position was that he would support whatever the court decided. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to all the protections of marriage, but left what that would be called to the Legislature.
The Legislature quickly ran from marriage and embraced civil unions. There has been some speculation — primarily among gay activists — that the lame-duck Legislature might revisit the issue. Given the recent spate of arrests, it is doubtful whether this lame-duck Legislature could offer even one good quack, let alone tackle an issue as volatile as same-sex marriage.
Corzine made it clear that he would not encourage a marriage discussion during the presidential race. Rather, he would like see a national debate on the Defense of Marriage Act and the military’s policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” The governor said same-sex marriage in New Jersey would be an entirely appropriate subject for debate in the 2009 gubernatorial race.
The problem is there are problems now.” (Doblin, Bergen Record)
“Democratic-majority New Jersey and the Republican White House disagree on many issues, but their dispute over children’s insurance is turning particularly nasty and may be headed to court.
At issue is the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a 10-year-old health insurance program for uninsured children, which expires Sept. 30. SCHIP money, combined with state funds, allows NJ FamilyCare to cover about 200,000 residents, including 122,000 low- and middle-income kids.
New Jersey is defying President Bush’s new income restrictions, which were announced Aug. 17.
The state also vows to fight in court to preserve its federally sanctioned program to cover kids from families earning more than what the White House says should be the upper limit, arguing even middle-class parents often can’t afford private insurance in the high-cost state.
The directive’s “new and unreasonable requirements . . . would have the effect of denying health care coverage to as many as 10,000 children in New Jersey,” Gov. Jon S. Corzine wrote in a letter Wednesday to Bush.” (Chebium, Gannett)
MAYBE ANNETTE LARTIGUE NEEDS A HOBBY
“The fashion first took hold in American prisons, where inmates aren’t given belts with their baggy uniform pants to prevent hangings and beatings. By the late 80s, the trend had made it to gangster rap videos, then skateboarders in the suburbs and on to high school hallways.
Now, wearing your pants low enough to show your boxers or bare buttocks in a small town in Louisiana could get you six months in jail and a $500 fine. Laws banning sagging pants are also being pushed hard in Atlanta, and in Trenton, where a first bust for low-riding trousers could soon mean an assessment by a city worker on where your life is going.
“Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It’s a wonderful way to redirect at that point,” said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who is drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. “The message is clear: we don’t want to see your backside.”
The Trenton law could come up for a vote as soon as October, Lartigue said.” (AP)
CLOSING THE LOOPHOLE
“For more than 30 years, state law has required that New Jersey’s increasingly pricey suburban communities open the door to more housing in town for people of low and moderate means.
Yet the state Council on Affordable Housing, under the state Fair Housing Act of 1985, also has allowed communities to literally pass the buck on the obligation: Municipalities can meet up to half of their quotas by paying their denser, cash-strapped neighbors to provide the units instead.
Affordable housing advocates have long decried the system of Regional Contribution Agreements, or RCAs. They say the deals run counter to landmark state Supreme Court decisions that require municipalities to ensure that people from all income levels can afford to live in their towns.
The advocates now appear to have the speaker of the Assembly on their side.” (Penton, Asbury Park Press)
WHAT, STEVE WORRY?
“A tech-savvy humorist is taking aim at Downtown Councilman Steven Fulop by mimicking the politician’s Web site and adding his own satiric flare.
The phony Fulop Web site is nearly identical to the councilman’s official home page with the exception that Fulop’s face is replaced with cartoon folk hero Alfred E. Neuman, an image made famous by the tongue-in-cheek Mad Magazine.
“It’s the nature of politics here, it is what it is,” Fulop said last week, with a “What, me worry?” attitude that Alfred E. Neuman would be proud of. Fulop said he spoke with the creator of the Web site, but refused to reveal his name.
In creating the satirical Web site, the person simply dropped the “n” from the name of the councilman’s official Web site, http://www.stevenfulop.com. It could not be determined who operates the Web site. ” (Renshaw, Jersey Journal)
IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY
“The Cumberland County Freeholder Board approved raises last Thursday for the county surrogate and sheriff. Cumberland County Surrogate Art Marchand and Cumberland County Sheriff Michael Barruzza, both of whom make over $90,000 a year, received pay increases of $3,426, less than the $5,200 required by state law.
The county freeholder board did not give a raise to Cumberland County Clerk Gloria Noto.
Unlike Marchand and Barruzza, who agreed to a lower raise as a show of goodwill to members of the freeholder board who frequently complain about their high salaries, the county clerk did not agree to a proposal to take lower raise, so she did not get a raise at all.” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)
“BRIDGETON – Pointing to the tumult that has erupted in this city over the hiring of a retired, out-of-town State Police major to serve as public safety director, Mayor Jim Begley said Sunday that he was planning to withdraw the appointment.
The announcement came nine days after Mercer County resident Lanuel Ferguson, 55, surrendered his city-owned car and removed his personal effects from his office at City Hall. He had been on the job about two months before a citizens’ group submitted a petition that effectively canceled the city’s ability to pay Ferguson his promised $70,000 annual salary.” (Martins, Press of Atlantic City)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR, MAYBE?
“U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said he wasn’t talking about anyone in particular yesterday when he rebuked Trenton’s reaction to a recent string of political corruption charges.
But it sure sounded as if his criticism were directed squarely at Gov. Corzine. On Thursday, the governor staked out what critics called a hypocritical position on why he called for two assemblymen, charged with taking bribes, to resign from office while not doing the same for two state senators indicted in federal court.
On Thursday, the governor staked out what critics called a hypocritical position on why he called for two assemblymen, charged with taking bribes, to resign from office while not doing the same for two state senators indicted in federal court.
In a speech yesterday to a Mercer County business group, Christie decried this “inconsistency in message” and said anyone who takes both positions has “no credibility on the matter of ethics.”
“Thinking people suspect that we’re not being consistent because we’re playing politics,” he said.
Corzine asked Assemblymen Mims Hackett and Alfred Steele to resign after they were arrested last week in an FBI bribery sting that netted 11 public officials. They both submitted letters of resignation this week.
Corzine has not called on State Sens. Wayne Bryant and Sharpe James, both indicted in separate cases this year, to step down. They both announced before their indictments that they would not run for reelection this fall.” (Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer)
WHEN IT RAINS…
“A former executive secretary of Orange Mayor Mims Hackett Jr. claims she was sexually harassed by the mayor and wrongfully terminated after rebuffing his advances and complaining about campaign violations, theft and municipal corruption.
Laverne M. Ballard, Hackett’s secretary from Sept. 21, 2004, until July 21, 2006, filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday in Superior Court in Newark.
In a 28-page complaint, Ballard also alleged Hackett and some current and former council members illegally accepted reimbursements for expenses to which they were not entitled, and conspired to double bill the city for the some expenses and hand-write phony receipts, and forced her to commit fraud by submitting the bills.
The suit comes one week after Hackett was arrested in a federal sting on charges of accepting bribes in exchange for help securing public contracts. He was among 11 public officials arrested Sept. 6 after an 18-month federal undercover investigation.
“After being fired for (her) refusal to participate in criminal activity in the mayor’s office, she feels vindicated after learning that Hackett was indicted on bribery and political corruption charges,” said Ronald L. Washington, Ballard’s husband and attorney. ” (Dilworth, Star-Ledger)
UH OH, CONIGLIO
“Joe Coniglio’s campaign account can also be called his Donor Defense Fund.
Coniglio, who last week ended his reelection bid for state Senate, has used $50,000 in campaign contributions to pay Hoboken defense lawyer Gerald Krovatin, state Election Law Enforcement Commission records show.
The Paramus Democrat began dipping into the fund to pay legal fees in April, shortly after the U.S. Attorney’s Office stepped up its probe of Coniglio’s $60,000-a-year consultant’s job at Hackensack University Medical Center between 2004 and 2006.
Prosecutors are examining what role Coniglio may have played in steering more than $1 million in state grants to the hospital over the same time. Coniglio was served a “target letter” in July, which indicates that he is the subject of a federal investigation.
Keith Furlong, a Coniglio spokesman, said the use of campaign funds to pay legal bills is proper.
“Every payment made out of the campaign account was provided according to state and federal law,” he said.
Actually, Coniglio may have stepped into a legal gray area. State election law allows campaign funds to be used to pay a legal defense of alleged ethics or campaign violations and certain civil matters. But it’s silent on whether the funds can be used in criminal matters.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
“EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES”
“PASSAIC, N.J., Sept. 14 — Samuel Rivera, the mayor of this rough-hewn river town, has never shied away from a good brawl.
In his younger days as a fireplug-size professional wrestler, he regularly vanquished opponents who towered over him. In the late 1960s, when he was a narcotics detective here, he eagerly tussled with drug-dealing thugs and emerged from one such encounter with a bullet in his shoulder………….
But when he woke up the morning of Sept. 6 to federal agents pounding on his door, Mr. Rivera found himself in the ring with a formidable opponent: Christopher J. Christie, the United States attorney who has yet to lose a fight with the dozens of ethically challenged elected officials he has taken on since he was sworn in more than five years ago…………….
In the days that followed the parade of handcuffed defendants with bowed heads, some of the officials, including the assemblymen, have resigned or been forced out of their jobs. Those still collecting paychecks have at least stayed out of public view.
Not Mr. Rivera, who came to work last week filled with defiance. “I’m not going down,” he said from his City Hall desk, suggesting that the F.B.I.’s recorded evidence had been doctored. “I’m going to beat this.”
“To us, he’s innocent,” said Ana Fuentes, 48, a teacher whose shirt read, “Y vuelve y vuelve,” which translates to “He returns again and again,” a reference to the mayor’s 2009 re-election bid. “Besides, everyone makes mistakes. He’s done a great job as mayor. We elected him for a reason.”
The Council hearing that night resembled an episode of “The Jerry Springer Show,” with a crush of residents streaming up to the lectern to express their devotion to the mayor as the audience cheered and applauded with glee.
The only speaker to diverge, a former Board of Elections member, Mary Guzman, was loudly booed when she said, “All of you are here out of fear, because someone picked up the phone and told you to come. Today I can say I’m embarrassed by what the mayor has done.” (Jacobs, New York Times)
EVANS STEPS UP
“The Democratic Party chiefs in the 35th district united today behind a woman they say is a powerful community presence: a social worker, grandmother, public servant and churchgoer; someone with deep and important community ties in Paterson and the environs.
Hoping to represent a nearly 2-1 Democratic district, Passaic County Freeholder Director Elease Evans will have the added challenge of proving that the trust she built in her grassroots work and public service means something in a legislative district where a man with many of those same credentials on paper violated his office, according to the U.S. Attorney.
The Passaic County Democratic Organization this morning unanimously decided on Evans to replace former Assemblyman (and Passaic County Undersheriff) the Rev. Pastor Alfred Steele on the 35th district legislative ticket, and immediately made a statement regarding the new candidate’s intentions. Acknowledging that dual public office-holding isn’t a practice the public will tolerate, Evans said if elected to the Assembly on Nov. 6th she would hold dual office only for a period of months, and would not seek re-election to the freeholder board when her term expires at the end of 2008.
“I’m very proud the county committee and party leadership selected me,” said Evans before giving a nod to the bribery allegations that felled Steele and ten other public officials around the state. “I am saddened at the route that brought me here.”” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
THE RIFT CONTINUES
“State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough is often described by supporters as a battler.
That might explain why, facing the toughest campaign of his career against Democrat Assemblyman Jim Whelan, McCullough continues to go on the public offensive against another politician known for his bare-knuckles style: retired state Sen. Bill Gormley.
In an interview last week, McCullough, R-Atlantic, said his predecessor provided no assistance with the transition process, drove key Republicans to the Democratic Party and failed to help with growth issues in Egg Harbor Township, where McCullough serves as mayor.
Gormley, also a Republican, held McCullough’s Senate seat for 25 years before retiring in February.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
IN DISTRICT 18
“Republican candidates running for the District 18 Assembly seats have accused Democratic incumbent Patrick Diegnan of helping engineer a sweetheart land deal for a campaign contributor in his hometown of South Plainfield.
GOP nominees William England and Joseph Sinagra are questioning the sale of a property at the corner of St. John’s Place and Tremont Avenue to a corporation controlled by Joseph DeAndrea and his brother Richard.
South Plainfield officials negotiated the land deal with the brothers. The DeAndreas put down $97,000 in cash and traded another strip valued at $80,000 that South Plainfield wanted for a road project. Diegnan, who is seeking a fourth term, worked on the sale as borough counsel. He is also chairman of the South Plainfield Democratic Organization.
Since Diegnan first ran for the Legislature in 2001, Joseph DeAndrea donated $5,250 to his campaigns through New Era Development Inc., a corporation that lists DeAndrea as president. This year, the same firm also contributed $450 to the borough Democratic organization.
“It appears to me from an ethical standpoint, there’s a definite conflict of interest,” said Sinagra, a former Helmetta council president who works as a facilities manager. He argued Diegnan should have removed himself from all involvement in the transaction.
Diegnan said he was outraged the GOP candidates questioned his integrity.
“I find it personally insulting,” he said. “I’m never going to give somebody a benefit over a $200 campaign contribution.” ” (Adarlo and Walsh, Star-Ledger)
SUBPOENAS FLY IN PARSIPPANY
“U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has issued more subpoenas in a federal investigation into Parsippany’s planning board attorney and a prominent developer in Morris County’s largest town.
The demands for additional information are the first since February, when documents dating to 2002 were ordered from town hall and the offices of developer Edward Mosberg and planning board attorney John Montefusco Sr.
The new subpoenas now seek Montefusco’s invoices to 1996 plus the billings of Henry Luther, a former mayor and township attorney, according to a copy obtained by The Star-Ledger. Luther is also the father of present Mayor Michael Luther.
Another subpoena, issued a week ago, seeks more information from town hall on 1991 agreements reached between Parsippany, Mosberg and the Council on Affordable Housing.” (Frank, Star-Ledger)
PASSAIC COUNTY REPUBLICANS GO FOR RUDY
“In New Jersey’s first open convention of the 2008 campaign, the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization has endorsed Rudy Giulani for President.
Giuliani won 66% of the vote, garnering 77 out of the 117 votes cast. Mitt Romney came in second with 19 votes, followed by John McCain and Fred Thompson with seven each, Ron Paul with four and Mike Huckabee with three. Sam Brownback, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo failed to receive any votes.
Passaic is the home county of Mike Duhaime, Giuliani’s national campaign manager. Duhaime grew up in Bloomingdale, where his mother, Anne DuHaime, served as mayor and his father, Richard Duhaime, served as a Passaic County Freeholder…………..
Passaic County is deep Giuliani territory, so it’s no surprise that he carried it by such a large margin.
But that wasn’t the point of the convention, said Rumana, one of the event’s chief organizers. Rather, it was a unique way to channel the excitement of a presidential race into enthusiasm for local candidates in a county where, as in neighboring Bergen County, the Republican Party has seen better days.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
CORZINE NEEDS TO STOP MAKING PROMISES
“As a candidate two years ago, Jon Corzine promised to add 100,000 new or refurbished “affordable” houses and apartments in New Jersey over a decade.
Nearly halfway into his term, the Democratic governor has yet to deliver a housing plan, conceding the potential price tag — about $300 million over 10 years — is a big roadblock during tough budget times.
“We’re in the midst of responding to the legal challenges associated with our housing policy … and we are reworking a number of incentives, trying to find ways to get additional resources and stimulate the plan on the table,” the governor said Friday. “Unfortunately, I don’t know if we would be able to afford it.”
Affordable housing advocates who viewed Corzine as their best hope to solve a long-standing problem say they’re frustrated.
“We clearly need a plan and it needs to be soon,” said Paige Carlson-Heim, managing director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “Things aren’t getting any better.” ” (Hester, AP)
MAD DASH TO LOSE CASH
“New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, of Hoboken, and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-Long Branch, this week became the latest members of Congress to rid themselves of campaign cash from associates of controversial businessman Norman Hsu.
Menendez, who didn’t receive money directly from Hsu, will donate to a charity a $1,000 check he received from Danny Lee of Forest Hills, Queens, in May 2006, according to spokesman Afshin Mohamadi. He has not yet chosen the charity, he added.
Lee and Winkle Paw of Daly City, Calif., often sent checks to candidates at the same time as Hsu through a practice known as “bundling.”
Matthew Montekio, campaign manager for Pallone, said the campaign is donating $2,000 to Community Food Bank of New Jersey to offset donations of $1,000 each from Paw and Lee the campaign received in September 2005.
Hsu is under guard in a Colorado hospital after failing to show up for a California bail hearing. Hsu was wanted for missing his sentencing on a 1991 grand theft case to which he pleaded no contest. ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
THE CROWN JEWEL
“HAMILTON — To say that this township of just over 90,000 residents is partisan in its politics is like saying the state’s property taxes are high — there’s no question it’s true, but it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the story.
And perhaps at no other time in the township’s history has the factionalism been more on display than it will be during the seven weeks between now and Election Day on Nov. 6.
At stake come November is the mayor’s office, the crown jewel of area politics.
Mayor Glen D. Gilmore has held the mayor’s chair for the past seven years, serving two terms in the township’s top spot. His opponent, Republican businessman John Bencivengo, hopes to unseat Gilmore and lead the GOP back to the political summit, a position the party held for more than two decades under former Mayor Jack Rafferty.
“Despite the attention that is being paid to the (14th District) legislative race, the Hamilton mayoral race is a pivotal one in the district for members of both parties,” said Rider University political science professor David Rebovich, who runs the university’s Institute for New Jersey Politics. “Hamilton is a huge prize and gives either party an enormous stronghold and high visibility in a town where voters are known to swing their votes.”
The two candidates have already begun the all-important task of defining the opponent with Gilmore trying to paint Bencivengo as unprepared to run a township with a budget of $80 million and the Republican hoping to tar Gilmore as an irresponsible spendthrift who has led the township to the brink of financial ruin.
“I think what Gilmore will do is try to show that Bencivengo is ill-equipped to take over the reins of a township of 90,000 people with complex fiscal problems,” Rebovich said. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
TRENTON GOES GREEN
“TRENTON — The city is going green.
Mayor Douglas H. Palmer plans to announce a green initiative for the city later this month that will look at, among other things, how to make new and existing buildings in the city more energy efficient, developing a plan with architects, engineers and developers that will help the city “build smarter,” and the type of ordinances that would be needed to make this happen. Palmer made the announcement during the leadership meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, which wrapped up early yesterday.
Palmer made the announcement during the leadership meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors, which wrapped up early yesterday.
Palmer would not reveal the details behind the “Trenton Green Initiative,” only saying he is making it a high priority in his administration.
Fighting global warming already tops the conference’s 10-point legislative agenda. The conference is calling for the creation of an energy and environmental block grant that would help cities and counties fund programs that improve energy efficiency in the community; reduce carbon emissions; encourage the development of new technologies and systems to decrease the country’s dependence on foreign oil; and promote alternative energy resources.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
“FOR ABOUT TWO MONTHS, HOBOKEN WILL SEEM LIKE A FELLINI MOVIE.”
“It will not be too hard to figure out the campaign strategy in the re-runoff election in Hoboken’s 4th Ward. Although the principals may honestly deny it, going negative is traditional tactic.
This paragraph is for those who do not know why there is another election in November for the 4th Ward. In a nutshell: On Monday, Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli put headlocks on both 4th Ward candidates to get them to come to an agreement to hold another election rather than have him declare a winner and subvert voters. The council seat was ordered vacated.
For about two months, Hoboken will seem like a Fellini movie.
While rivals Dawn Zimmer and Chris Campos talk about talking about “issues” and the importance of serving their community, the underlings and spinmeisters will hammer home the vituperative negatives. After all, isn’t this why elections are such a great spectator sport for the masses.” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
NOBODY SAID IT WOULD BE EASY
“At the first house, no one was home. At the next, a woman who answered the door with a cordless phone to her ear said she was too busy to talk. The third house was another empty.
So it went as Jason Scheurer, Libertarian candidate for Assembly, canvassed a South Brunswick neighborhood seeking contributions, each for exactly $10. If he can collect 400 contributions, he will qualify for a taxpayer-funded “clean elections” grant as part of an experimental program designed to get big special interest donations out of the campaigns for the Legislature.
“It’s hard,” said Scheurer, who estimates he has knocked on 7,000 doors to collect 350 contributions. “We don’t have a huge organization where I have 40 people.”
With the help of one assistant, campaign manager and Libertarian state party chairman Lou Jasikoff, Scheurer hopes to reach the magic number of 400 contributions early this week.
That would be a historic accomplishment — and an illustration of how the experimental program, in its current form, treats independents much worse than major party candidates.
When his Democratic and Republican opponents raised 400 contributions earlier this summer, each got a state grant of $46,000. Scheurer, as an independent, would get only $21,000.
And the disparities get worse with each additional $10 contribution, up to the maximum of 800. The major party candidates in Scheurer’s district each have amassed and can spend $534,375 grants on their campaigns. The most Scheurer can get is $50,000.
“They didn’t make it very fair,” said Jasikoff, who hopes his efforts will produce a more equitable system in 2009, when the clean elections program is scheduled to expand to all legislative races. It is now being tried in three of the state’s 40 legislative districts.” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 9
“The two Republican candidates in the 9th District Assembly race said they would put a strong emphasis on protecting the environment and cutting state spending if they were elected Nov. 6.
Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, R-Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, and Ocean Township Mayor Daniel Van Pelt said Friday they would support the Employee Reduction Act, which would decrease the state work force by an estimated 20,000 through attrition over a four-year period.
“We can only accomplish new things by raising taxes or by cutting spending,” said Rumpf, who suggested that by reducing the state work force down to the level it was at in 2000 the state would save $1 billion per year. “We have too many state workers. That’s the bottom line.”
The cuts would not be in any public safety positions, such as State Police or corrections officers, but would occur in state departments such as the Department of Environmental Protection or the Department of Consumer Affairs, in which Rumpf said there is evidence of employees working hard to do a job that may not be needed.
Van Pelt called duel office holding “absurd.” However, he said if he is elected to the Assembly, he would not resign his position as mayor, a title he has held in Ocean Township for eight of the past 10 year.” (Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)
“New Jersey officials on Thursday cheered a federal court ruling affirming a state’s right to force auto dealers into selling more hybrids and other low-emission cars and trucks.
The Garden State is one of 13 states that have decided to implement a low-emission vehicle sales quota program administered by the state of California.
New Jersey’s quota goes into effect in 2009, by which time 168,000 vehicles with lower-emission technology would have to have been sold in the state. Targets would increase in later years.
Auto industry officials in Vermont had sought to challenge that state’s participation in the program, arguing that only the federal government should have the authority to set such restrictions.
But U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions rejected that argument in a ruling issued Wednesday.” (Diskin, Bergen Record)
REMEMBERING ARTHUR HOLLAND
“TRENTON — It was a last hurrah for the Hollands.
Betty Holland, her five children and several of her grandchildren joined friends, Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, and several mayors in town for the United States Conference of Mayors leadership meeting at the City Council Chambers yesterday for a memorial ceremony honoring her late husband Arthur Holland, former city mayor and former USCM president.
Holland, who now lives in Columbus with husband Daniel George, said she really wanted to include her entire family because “we may never be together again in the city and this is like a farewell, like our last hurrah.”
Arthur Holland, who died of cancer in 1989, served as mayor of Trenton for 27 years. He became president of the mayors’ organization in 1988.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
“SUBURBIA’S DIRTY LITTLE LOOPHOLE”
“It could be considered suburbia’s dirty little loophole.
It’s a program that allows suburban towns, within designated regions, to write a check and transfer up to half of their obligation to build affordable housing to other towns and cities.
And it’s been criticized by experts and housing advocates for allowing those usually wealthy suburbs to shirk their responsibility to build affordable housing for their own residents, creating de facto economic segregation that keeps poorer families out.” (Higgs and Patberg, Asbury Park Press)
WELL, AT LEAST HE’S NOT IN THE SAME POSITION AS NIFONG
“As a college student drank himself to death, two Rider University administrators had already gone home for the day, unaware of the fraternity party raging on the campus.
Yet four months later, the officials found themselves facing criminal hazing charges connected to the student’s death. The prosecutor defended the charges. A message, he said, was being sent to college administrators nationwide.
But in the end, chances are no one will go to jail for the 18-year-old’s drinking death in March. The indictments against the administrators were dropped, and most of the students indicted will avoid jail time and criminal records.
“I was grappling with it in my own mind. We were trying to figure out what to do with it,” said Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr.
In fact, Bocchini says he feels sorry that Anthony Campbell, 52, Rider’s dean of students, and Ada Badgley, 31, the university’s director of Greek life, had to face indictments. But he says the system left him no choice.
“I said, “Look, I have a grand jury, a legally constituted body, recognized by the courts, that comes back with this indictment. We have to look at this thoroughly. This is a highly sensitive case,’ ” Bocchini said.
But critics point out that prosecutors instructed the grand jury — made up of 23 laypeople — and provided the evidence it saw. And if Bocchini really thought the resulting charges were questionable, critics say he held off too long to drop them.
“He took up the court’s time. He does not get an A plus for the way he handled this,” said Hank Nuwer, an expert on hazing cases who teaches journalism at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind.” (AP)
“ABSECON – Anti-abortion protesters greeted a handful of patients and several employees of Dr. Stuart Sackstein on Saturday with prayers and pamphlets, vowing to return every day the doctor performs abortions at his private medical office in the Courtyard, a professional office campus along the White Horse Pike.
Standing abreast on the parking lot of a nearby real estate office adjoining the the wooded office park, nine Catholic laymembers, many clasping rosaries, repeatedly recited the “Hail Mary” prayer.” (Shelly, Press of Atlantic City)
IN HOPE TOWNSHIP
“When members of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors have a problem, Executive Director Don Fauerbach says they call 1-800-TIM.
That’s Tim, as in Hope Township Mayor Tim McDonough. McDonough has been a member of the organization for all of his 17 years as Hope mayor.
McDonough has been a member of the organization for all of his 17 years as Hope mayor.
According to Fauerbach, McDonough has been the organization’s best member in his time with the group.
Last weekend, the mayors’ conference made that distinction official. The group gave McDonough a distinguished service award, only the second such award given in the group’s 44-year history.
“Without question, Tim McDonough has been the single most supportive mayor to the staff,” Fauerbach said” (Olanoff, Express-Times)
NOT A GOOD TRADE-OFF
“If Steve Layman wins a seat on City Council, he won’t be riding in style.
The independent candidate for 6th Ward councilman is having a fundraiser today, and one of the door prizes will be his prized red 1964 Pontiac GTO.
“This is how serious I am about the change in Atlantic City,” Layman said. “I’m willing to put up my favorite toy to make some adjustments and to provide good municipal services without bias.”” (Cohen, Press of Atlantic City)
THE TEARS OF A CLOWN
“A group of area pastors demanded an apology Friday from the Trentonian newspaper editors for the Sept. 7 front page, which featured a photograph of Trenton Superintendent of Schools Rodney Lofton altered to look like a clown.
Roughly 30 members and supporters of the Concerned Pastors and Ministers of Trenton and Vicinity gathered on the steps of the Board of Education Administration Building on North Clinton Avenue Friday to protest the paper.
The Rev. Vincent H. Jackson, president of the organization and pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church in Ewing, said the group is demanding a meeting with the editors and a front-page apology for the photograph for “what we feel is their exploitation and blatant racism.” The photograph ran after the first day of school, when Trenton Central High School students’ schedules weren’t ready.” (Kitchenman, Trenton Times)
“Edison has had an uneasy history with ethics boards. In 1993, the municipal council had to disband the panel put together by Mayor Samuel Convery Jr. after a Superior Court judge ruled its members were improperly appointed.
Despite that misstep and even though Mayor Jun Choi’s administration is making its own efforts to further transparency in municipal government, the outgoing council is working to revive Edison’s ethics board.
“With all the corruption that we see in New Jersey, we need one,” said council president Charles Tomaro.
Each council member has been tasked with finding two possible candidates for the proposed six-member board, which would act autonomously and have legal counsel and subpoena power, said Councilman Robert Diehl.
Terms for members would be staggered at three-, four- and five-year stints. To be recognized by the state, the board must have no more than three Democrats and three Republicans. Diehl said the council would consider a mix of two Democrats, two Republicans, and two independents.
Candidates would be selected according to their township knowledge and their character, Diehl said, and those with personal and political agendas would be disqualified.
“I want intelligent, rational persons of integrity,” he said. ” (Din, Star-Ledger)