The public will be allowed to hear judge question jurors about State Senator Robert Martin, Healy’s trial for disorderly conduct set for next month, Harrison Township Committee candidate shares lawyer with town in suit against zoning board, Tom Wilson named in lawsuit, Atlantic County Democrats lead Republicans in fundraising.
PEOPLE CAN VIEW MR. POTATO HEAD CASE
“The public has the right to be in a courtroom when a judge questions jurors about whether the foreman, state Sen. Robert Martin (R-Morris), unduly influenced them in a slip-and-fall case that resulted in a nearly $900,000 verdict, according to an appellate court ruling.”
”In December, Martin wrote an essay in the New Jersey Law Journal explaining how, as a lawyer, he influenced his five fellow jurors and ultimately the $876,000 award against the ShopRite in Wharton last June. "I am convinced that in our case, my opinions swayed other jurors and were extremely influential in the final outcome," Martin wrote in the Dec. 4 article.
“Robert Gold, attorney for ShopRite, accused Martin of misconduct and, in January, an appellate court ordered Superior Court Judge W. Hunt Dumont to interview the jurors and decide whether the verdict should be thrown out.”
“Martin has said he never expected his commentary to cause such a fuss, and he believed the inquiry into possible misconduct should be open to the public. "I can prove I didn't lead a charge for a runaway jury," he said. "I made sure, given my training, that we followed the judge's instructions absolutely."” (McHugh, Star-Ledger)
A COURTROOM FROM THE CHEAP SEATS
“A date has been set for the trial of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who faces the charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstruction of the administration of the law, in this Shore borough…The case stems from a June 17 incident in Bradley Beach, where Healy has owned a home for many years. Healy says police threw him to the ground, handcuffed him, and pepper-sprayed him while he was trying to help officers sort out a spat between a couple outside a tavern owned by his sister and brother-in-law. He says police shoved his wife Maureen to the pavement. “
“Bradley Beach police maintain that Healy refused to keep out of a police matter even though he was politely asked to do so several times, and had to be forcibly arrested.” (Conte, Jersey Journal)
MANZO FOR TOWNSHIP COMMITTEEMAN, AS A REPUBLICAN IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY? IT’S FOR REAL!
“The (Harrison) township and a resident running for township committee are represented by the same attorney in separate lawsuits filed against the zoning board over a senior citizen housing plan. The dual representation has prompted at least one local attorney to question whether township residents will be paying legal fees for the candidate, who is on a ticket with the incumbent mayor.”
“Matthew Diggons, a finance director for a Delaware pharmaceutical company and a Republican hopeful for township committee, is suing the township zoning board for approving a 205-unit age-restricted housing complex along Route 322, also called Swedesboro Road.”
“Diggons and Mayor Michael Koestler are running against Republicans Niki A. Trunk and Louis F. Manzo for two township committee nominations in the June primary.” (Huelsman, Courier-Post)
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM
“If you've ever wondered why New Jersey is always broke when other states are enjoying big cash surpluses, look at the action in Trenton this week.”
”The state is preparing to launch another major spending program, with no means to pay for it. Trapped in a deep hole, their solution is to keep digging.”
“The cause is a good one — preserving open land. New Jersey is more densely populated than Japan, and it's getting worse every day. We need to buy as much green space as we can before it disappears. “
“But why not pay for it? Why not do what local governments do, and ask voters to approve a small tax increase to cover the cost?”
‘"That's never been brought up in the Legislature," says GOP Sen. Thomas Kean Jr., a leading sponsor.”’ (Moran, Star-Ledger)
YEAH, IT SURE IS “TITILLATING”
“The race between state Assemblyman Louis Manzo and Sandra Bolden Cunningham in Tuesday's Democratic primary for state senator in the 31st District has already proved titillating, with revelations of a sex offender volunteering with Bolden Cunningham's campaign and the presence of former mayor and political cutthroat Gerald McCann in Manzo's camp.”
“But both candidates agree the race should be determined by their track record on issues of crime, property taxes and school funding.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
RIFFLE PROMISED WILSON WOULD CALL RIGHT BACK
“A taxpayer lawsuit was filed Tuesday in an attempt to force two lobbying groups to return $2.6 million in fraudulent payments from the Burlington County Bridge Commission.”
“Dean J. Buono, a Democratic lawyer, filed the civil suit in Superior Court against The Strategy Group and two of its former principals — Republican state chairman Thomas Wilson and Robert Stears.”
‘"Those who reaped great financial benefits from this unseemly rip-off of our hard-working citizens should be held accountable — and that means returning the tainted money they received to the taxpayers and toll payers of the county," Buono said.’
“Wilson has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the scam perpetrated by Stears and has not been charged with any crimes. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.” (Comegno, Courier-Post).
IN 2007, IT’S ALL ABOUT ATLANTIC
“Democratic candidates running for state seats out of Atlantic County did better than their Republican counterparts when it came to fundraising over the past weeks. State-required campaign-finance reports show the Democratic 2nd Legislative District candidates pulled in almost $28,000 more than their Republican counterparts from May 8 through Friday.”
“It's still very early in the race, and none of the candidates faces a serious challenge in next week's primary. Officials with both parties expect the fundraising to pick up considerably as the races draw closer to the November general election.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
PRESIDENT GETS A BI-PARTISAN WELCOME
“Most New Jersey residents think President Bush is doing a poor job, but state Republican Party leaders believe he can help them raise enough money to be competitive in the November general election.”
“Democrats have $17 million on hand, $10 million more than the state's Republicans. And, Democrats, who are in power in Trenton, have been using their money to run tough races in GOP strongholds, including Cape May and Burlington Counties.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer).
“’President Bush may be a fractious figure to the electorate as a whole, but he is one of the few figures who can raise money for the GOP,’ said David Rebovich, director of the Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics in Lawrence. ‘A president will bring out partisans and those with thick wallets.’
“And state Republicans desperately need the dough.” (Delli Santi, AP)
“President Bush will be coming to Edison today, and New Jersey residents on both sides of the aisle have been diligently preparing for his arrival.”
“Before Bush speaks to the crowd of supporters, a group of Democratic organizations will greet passers-by with an event of their own: a demonstration from the parking lot next to the Holiday Inn and Harold's Deli on King Georges Post Road.”
‘The president coming to New Jersey is really a slap in the face, we feel, to the vast sentiment among most New Jerseyans,’ said Eve Weissman, an organizer for New Jersey Citizen Action.” (Harbatkin, Gannett)
WHEN DID WE BECOME AN UNADMINISTRATIVELY FEASIBLE PEOPLE?
“Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale was apparently assured of winning his third three-year term Tuesday after a state judge ruled against a Paterson man who was trying to get on the Republican primary ballot.”
“Since there are no other Democratic or Republican candidates, Speziale — a Democrat — will be alone on both primary and general election ballots.” (Petrick, Bergen Record)
EVERYBODY LOVES A GADFLY
“Like congregants who intermittently shout "Amen!" at church, former and current elected officials randomly called out words of support yesterday for the independent Warren County freeholder candidate standing on the library steps…Candidate Henry Dinger was preaching to the choir with his call for more honest and open government and the breaking of the circle of ‘back room deals and favoritism.’”
‘From loading boards and commissions with single-minded appointees to ensure control, to appointing close friends and associates to public positions, such behavior has reflected poorly on elected officials,’ Dinger continued….
He will challenge Republican incumbent John DiMaio and Democrat Damiano Fracasso in the November general election.” (Frassinelli, Star-Ledger)
IN PHILIPSBURG, A FOUR-WAY MAYORAL RACE
“Pete Marino will take another a shot at being Phillipsburg's mayor.
But this time the 61-year-old retired postal worker won't be running as a Democrat. He filed his candidacy petition as an independent against Republican incumbent Harry Wyant, Democratic municipal worker Ruth Ann Damato and fellow independent Moe Wahby.
Damato wasn't pleased with the news that Marino is back in the race and doesn't understand why he's changing parties. She said when he last ran he lost quite significantly
"I think it's time for him to settle back and let someone else have a shot at running the town," Damato said. "He's going to split the Democratic vote and hand the election back to Harry." (Hausmann, Express-Times)
“No single issue dominates the campaign as Democratic council candidates in East Orange vie for their party's nomination in the city's five wards.
All of the incumbents face challengers, and in the 5th Ward, the departure of a veteran councilwoman has touched off a five-way race for the party's nod to run in the November general election.
The 5th Ward seat is currently held by Councilman Lonnie Hughes, who was picked in March by the Essex County Democratic Committee to fill the unexpired term of recently retired Councilwoman Mary Patterson.
In addition to Hughes, running for the nomination in the ward are Anita Rainford, Kevin Taylor, Je rome Hill and Harry Wallace.” (Dilworth, Star-Ledger).
VOTE CHEN FOR ASSOCIATE JUSTICE?
“The New Jersey public advocate urged the Legislature on Tuesday to adopt a law that would make the use of eminent domain more equitable, while preserving it as a valuable redevelopment tool for many hard-pressed cities.
Ronald Chen, the state’s public advocate, renewed his nearly year-old call for changes in the state’s redevelopment law in a report detailing some abuses of the taking of private property by municipalities…
‘Many towns pursue redevelopment with respect for the rights of property owners, and courts regularly uphold the use of eminent domain against challenges by property owners,’ the report said. ‘Nevertheless, our review of the case law reveals startling injustices. And our review of the statute reveals a system that lacks the basic protections necessary to prevent such injustices.’” (Smothers, New York Times)
“The state public advocate urged legislators yesterday to finish a long-stalled overhaul of the law that permits New Jersey towns to seize land for private redevelopment, saying the law allows local officials to abuse property owners.” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
Senate President Richard J. Codey (D., Essex) said his house would approve eminent domain legislation by the beginning of the new year, but said he couldn't say exactly what it would look like.
"By the end of the year we'll pass a bill that will hopefully end abuses but at the same time allow cities and towns to rebuild," he said. "You've got to strike that balance." (Moroz, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Documented cases of eminent domain abuse by local government for private redevelopment "crystallize the urgent need" for reform of state law, the public advocate said in a report released Tuesday.” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
NOT WEARING A SETBELT WASN’T CORZINE’S ONLY MISTAKE
“Unlike New Jersey Gov. Corzine, Candy Priano's daughter was wearing a seat belt when a driver fleeing the police hit the family's van.
But unlike Corzine, 15-year-old Kristie Priano didn't live to talk about her serious car crash.
The lesson, said her mother, is that when it comes to safety behind the wheel, slowing drivers down is just as important as encouraging people to wear their seat belts…
The Partnership for Safe Driving, a Washington-based nonprofit group that lobbies for improved driving safety, has asked people to contact the governor's office and ask it to revise Corzine's seat-belt ad to include anti-speeding comments.
"Tell him we are glad he is alive, and we wish him a complete recovery, but he is grossly distorting the truth about his crash and sending the public a dangerous message," said the group's director, Lisa Lewis.” (Hester, AP)
NEW JERSEY COULD BE “BUILT OUT” IN 50 YEARS. IT’S NOT ALREADY?
“About 15,000 open acres of New Jersey are developed each year, including significant amounts in the central and coastal parts of the state, said a preliminary report released Tuesday by researchers from Rutgers and Rowan universities….
"In spite of "smart growth' and in spite of open space preservation, development pressure does not slow down," said John Hasse, an associate professor of geography at Rowan University and one of the authors of the report.
Hasse also said because the state is facing the inevitable full build-out, possibly within the next 50 years, the state should look to limit wasteful development and focus energy on responsible growth.” (Rispoli, Gannett).
SCHOOL CONTIMINATION WORRIES PARENTS. SCHOOL CLOSING PLEASES CHILDREN.
“Paramus Mayor James Tedesco on Tuesday ordered the closing of West Brook Middle School amid an uproar by parents concerned that contaminated soil found there could harm their children.
‘The facility will be locked down by the Police Department until we can get proper testing," he said during Tuesday night's council meeting. "I am invoking my power as mayor to shut down West Brook.”…….
The school district knew of contamination up to 39 times state safety guidelines in January, but told parents about the tainted soil only last week.
"Six months my kid was exposed to this," said Frank Devaney, whose daughter attends West Brook. "This shouldn't have been covered up."
THE ROCKAWAY PRIMARY
“Three Republican candidates are vying in next week's primary election for two Republican slots on the borough council ballot.
Incumbent councilwoman Melissa Burnside is running to keep her seat — which was vacated by Anthony Ciallella last year. Burnside is running against a newcomer named Anthony Perruso, and Russell Greuter, who previously served on the council.
No Democrats are running for the seats, and Republican Kathyann M. Snyder is running unopposed for mayor.” (Manochio, Daily Record)
SETTLEMENT IN PERTH AMBOY?
“A hearing to determine punitive damages against the Perth Amboy Police Department was postponed yesterday when the judge was told that lawyers for the city and for a ridiculed Mexican-American officer were discussing a possible settlement.”
The jury awarded Munoz $1.9 million last week after determining (Guadelupe) Munoz, who in 2000 became the department's first Mexican-American officer, had been subjected to insults and racial jokes from co-workers and Police Chief Michael Kohut.” (Haydon, Star-Ledger).
ONLY IN NEW JERSEY
“Dozens of internal police memos, including strategies for a criminal sting operation and a reprimand for an officer's shoddy work, have been posted on the Internet after the information was extracted from township computers sold at a public auction several years ago.
The material was published last weekend by critics claiming the township should not have sold the computers without purging the hard drives. The Internet posters also said the memos show police are wasting taxpayers' money by using computers to advertise golf outings and flag-football games….
As for criticism of police use of computers, officials had no immediate comment.
"I'd have to confirm that for my self before I say anything," said Mayor Jack Ball. "If it's true we'll have to deal with the situation.” (Coryell, Trenton Times)
LOOKING AT BIDDING PRACTICES
“A Superior Court judge yesterday denied a defense attorney's motion demanding a copy of the report Somerset County freeholders ordered investigating the county park commission's bidding practices.
Michael Rogers is representing Joseph Lucas, 40, of Branchburg, a suspended construction manager for the commission. Lucas is charged with official misconduct and falsifying public documents for allegedly taking thousands in kickbacks from contractors…
Rogers filed a motion earlier this month seeking the pending report for which the West Orange law firm of Wolff & Samson has billed the county $168,283 for 14 months of work. He also faxed the law firm a subpoena, believing the information is public record and germane to his client's case, he said yesterday during a hearing before Judge Edward Coleman in Somerville.
Somerset County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Hawkes insisted he cannot produce what he does not have.” (Golson, Star-Ledger)
“The start crank on the front of the 1930 Mack firetruck is, of course, obsolete. But like able grandsons respecting their tired elder, the Freehold Fire Department trucks of this generation shared the glory with grandpa on a special occasion.
On Monday, he lumbered down Main Street in line with the other trucks during the borough's 133rd annual Memorial Day parade. For 77 of those years, the red engine with rounded fenders, a chrome bell and running boards at his flanks has been part of the department….
In its day, the truck answered every general alarm, he said. It was replaced for service in 1960, was kept in reserve for a while and now is used mostly for parades, musters and funerals.
Ah, grandpa in retirement.
No more work at the scenes of raging fires. His purpose now is to stand as a reminder of the past and a symbol of legacy.” (Petruncio, Star-Ledger)
IN OCEAN COUNTY
“The Ocean County Republican establishment is already channeling resources to its favored candidates in the June 5 primary in violation of the state party organization's bylaws aimed at offering equal footing to all contending for nominations, dissident Republican freeholder candidates Suzanne Penna and Peter M. McCarthy said Tuesday.” (Moore, Asbury Park Press).
IN WARREN COUNTY
“Incumbent Freeholder John DiMaio will face a second challenger in November's general election. Former Warren County Administrator Henry Dinger, 58, announced Tuesday he will run as an independent against DiMaio. Mount Olive, N.J.-based attorney Damian Fracasso is running as a Democrat.” (Satullo, The Express Times)
IN CHERRY HILL
“A group devoted to banning the practice of pay-to-play here has collected about 600 voter signatures since beginning its petition campaign last month. The nonpartisan Cherry Hill Pay to Play Reform Committee must gather 3,000 signatures of registered voters by early July to get its proposed pay-to-play reform ordinance on the ballot for November's general election, which this year includes races for township mayor and three council seats.” (Grzyboski, CourierPost)
IN BURLINGTON COUNTY
“Despite claims by some affordable-housing advocates, members of the state Pinelands Commission do not believe a recent court ruling regarding construction of low- and moderate-income housing in the Meadowlands region will change the way the commission considers development.” (Camilli, Burlington County Times).