Rabner will be next Chief Justice, SEC investigates Trenton, McGreevey asks judge to drop wife’s libel charge, NJGOP messes up publicity, Bush bestows advice on local Republicans, Corzine doesn’t like idea of using one cent sales tax rise for property tax relief, budget talks expected to go smoothly
RABNER COULD BE CHIEF JUSTICE UNTIL 2030
“Stuart Rabner will be the next Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court and Anne Milgram will replace him as Attorney General, according to several sources close to Gov. Jon Corzine.” (PoliticsNJ.com)
THE SOUNDS OF PAPER SHREDDERS
“Federal authorities have launched civil and criminal investigations into a series of maneuvers New Jersey officials used over the past decade to shore up state budgets by skipping billions of dollars in contributions to the state's retirement accounts for teachers and public employees………
Investigators are trying to determine whether state officials misrepresented the impact of those pension-fund maneuvers in documents provided to investors who were considering buying state bonds, according to two officials who have been briefed on the probe. The SEC, which regulates stock and bond markets, could bring civil action against the state, and the U.S. Attorney's Office is looking into any criminal violations, the sources said.
According to the officials, subpoenas have not been issued to the state because the Corzine administration has agreed to cooperate and has already turned over thousands of pages of documents. Federal investigators are scheduled to meet with state officials Monday……………..
Debra Patalkis, a former senior SEC litigator now in private practice, said such a probe could last years as investigators dig into the pension system's management and records as far back as Christie Whitman's administration in the 1990s.
"If the allegations of misleading disclosures are proved to be true, then officials are facing jail time, substantial criminal and civil penalties," said Patalkis, a partner with the national law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath. She said prosecutors and regulators also potentially could issue fines to the state.” (Margolin and McNichol, Star-Ledger)
SOAP OPERA DIGEST
“Former Gov. James E. McGreevey has asked a judge in his divorce case to disregard his estranged wife's claims he defamed her, saying Dina Matos McGreevey in fact cannot be libeled.” (Lucas, Star-Ledger)
In court papers released yesterday, McGreevey implores Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy to remove libel and defamation from the case because, he says, Matos McGreevey is a public figure and there is no legal basis for the allegations…..
"She has increased her public figure status by engaging in a highly public divorce," McGreevey said in the documents. "Although she had the opportunity to motion to seal the proceedings and to not write a tell-all book, she did neither." (Lucas, Star-Ledger)
DID WILSON BRING IN MICHAEL BROWN TO DO PRESS?
“New Jersey's Republican party has been struggling in recent years, unable to win a statewide race since Christie Todd Whitman a decade ago. Now, adding insult to injury, just as they bring in the president for a major fundraiser, the television live trucks get kicked off the property where the event is being held just before we're supposed to go on air.” (Brian Thompson, WNBC).
“President Bush traveled to New Jersey yesterday to try to revive the political fortunes of the once-dominant Republican Party, saying it can seize back power by resisting pressure to soften its positions on issues like tax cuts.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
President Bush traveled to New Jersey yesterday to try to revive the political fortunes of the once-dominant Republican Party, saying it can seize back power by resisting pressure to soften its positions on issues like tax cuts.
"I believe you win elections by telling people what you believe, not telling them what they want to hear," Bush said. "If we govern on what's right and not what's on the latest Gallup Poll, we will continue to lead the country."
"I hope he has a fine stay in the state," Corzine said. "I don't wish him well in his fund-raising effort." (Delli Santi, Philadelphia Inquirer).
A PENNY SAVED IS A POLITICAL GIMMICK
“He stopped short of calling it a "political gimmick," but Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday that a plan to devote all of last year's penny increase in the state sales tax exclusively to property tax relief will not guarantee the continuation of this year's 20 percent tax rebate in future years.” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
"It's just money in one pocket versus another," Corzine said. "It does little to protect whether we will keep in place the rebates….”
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts and Senate President Richard Codey are pushing a plan to ask voters in November to amend the state constitution again to dedicate the entire penny of last year's sales tax hike — from 6 cents to 7 cents on the dollar — to property tax relief. (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
BORING, YET EFFECTIVE
The state's top lawmakers said Wednesday they expect to have a broad agreement with Gov. Corzine on a new state spending plan within about a week, forecasting a much simpler conclusion to this year's budget-making than the stand-off last year that led to a government shutdown.” (Tamari, Gannett)
FINALLY, SOME TEETH
“For the first time, the state Government Records Council issued fines Wednesday against officials who were found to have willfully violated the state's Open Public Records Act.
In separate cases, two records custodians — South Bound Brook Clerk Donald E. Kazar and Gwendolyn Morrison, leasing director of the Paterson Housing Authority — were each personally fined $1,000.
Government Records Council Chairman Vincent P. Maltese said the fines should send a message to custodians to comply with records requests.
"A claim of ignorance of OPRA's provisions or a dereliction of duty rising to the level of knowing and willful conduct is not an excuse for noncompliance," Maltese said." (Volpe, Gannett)
“A MAYOR WHO WAS A LITTLE MESSED UP IN THE HEAD”
“A state Superior Court judge yesterday ruled that Sunday's Cuban Day Parade can march through West New York, reversing Mayor Silverio Vega's decision to deny a permit to organizers of the annual event.” (Porter, AP)
In his ruling, Judge Maurice J. Gallipoli, sitting in Jersey City, rejected the argument of attorney Daniel Horgan, representing West New York, that parade organizers were running what amounted to "a charitable fraud" that claimed to use the parade to raise money for scholarships and other charities but actually were running a for-profit enterprise.
"It's been a tremendous ordeal through a mayor who was a little messed up in the head," Emilio Del Valle, the parade's founder, said after the ruling.” (Porter, AP)
"The parade and the parade committee got more justice in one day than the people in Cuba have gotten in 48 years," said Vega. "That's the difference between the government of our great nation and the government that people struggle with every day in Cuba." (Luna, Jersey Journal)
SACCO? WHO’S SACCO?
“The battle for the Democratic nomination in the 32nd District Senate race has been quiet. But Nicholas J. Sacco, 60, who's held the seat since 1993, is not running unopposed. Sacco, who is also North Bergen's mayor and an assistant superintendent of schools there, points to public safety legislation he sponsored in the state Senate as some of his biggest accomplishments. His opponent is a veteran cop who has his own ideas for education reform.” (Judd, Jersey Journal).
Sean Connors, 38, a detective with the Jersey City Police Department, is part of the "Democrats for Hudson County" slate headed by Union City Mayor and state Assemblyman Brian Stack” (Judd, Jersey Journal).
A BILL ONLY RUSH HOLT COULD UNDERSTAND
At 600 pages and growing every day, the comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced two weeks ago is the subject of one of the most bruising political battles on Capitol Hill in recent years….. Meanwhile, in the streets and towns of New Jersey, the state with the fifth largest foreign born population, business owners, immigrants and U.S. citizens have been slowly digesting what the bill would mean for them. (Donohue, Star-Ledger).
THE SKY IS FALLING
“Wildwood's famous boardwalk could be under water. Smog in the suburbs, heat-related deaths in Newark and beetle infestations in the Pinelands all could worsen. The Holland Tunnel could be closed every five years on average — because of flooding. Or New Jersey could become a nationwide leader by passing "the strongest, most comprehensive global warming legislation in the country.
That was the choice outlined yesterday by Suzanne Leta Liou of the nonprofit group Environment New Jersey, who strongly urged the latter course of action…..
"If we don't take drastic action, global warming will touch every corner of New Jersey," Liou said….
The report drew criticism from a representative of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "Reports like this may be scary, but they are not helpful," said Sara Bluhm, assistant vice president for energy affairs. "They do nothing to help us figure out how we are going to reduce global warming." (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
MR. PRESIDENT, COULD YOU SPARE A SECOND?
President Bush's motorcade never slowed as it passed 100 anti-war demonstrators in Edison yesterday, but the protesters still said their efforts were worth it. They screamed "Impeach" and booed the president's car as it whizzed by and into Raritan Center. The brief encounter culminated a three-hour rally during which protesters denounced Bush's domestic agenda and his continuation of the war in Iraq. (Walsh, Star-Ledger).
"It's always worth it if you can show your displeasure and disassociate yourself from a criminal regime," said Bennet Zurofsky, a Newark civil rights attorney who led the crowd in anti-war versions of old folk songs.” (Walsh, Star-Ledger).
"This is even more chaotic than Vietnam," (Steve) Koblick, 62, a North Haledon resident and social worker who works with returning soldiers at the Brooklyn VA hospital, said Wednesday. "We've never seen the likes of this before." (Haddon, Herald News)
“FamilyCare, the state's popular health insurance program for the working poor, will get the $100 million the federal government promised so it can keep running until at least Sept. 30, state officials confirmed yesterday.” (Livio, Star-Ledger).
STEVE ELLIOTT, EWING’S SGT. SCHULTZ
“As many as 60 township computers could have been auctioned off with private and classified information on their hard drives, according to a consultant who helped get the equipment ready for the 2003 sale.”…. (Coryell, Trenton Times).
Township officials said they have no idea how many computers were auctioned off because the clerk's office, which ran the used equipment auction, has no records of the sale.
"I asked (township clerk) Steve Elliott for a record of what was sold and he said there's no information on the auction," said Mayor Jack Ball. "We're only talking about 2003. How could that information have disappeared?"
Activists say it took only $16 and a trip to a public auction to acquire township computers with porn and other non-work files on them — fodder for their claims that Ewing police are clocking too much overtime. (AP)
WHAT? THEY’RE JUST WORKING WITH KIDS
“A month after the state accused Trenton public school officials of fabricating student transcripts, another state investigation has shown that 350 district employees might not have cleared a required criminal background check.” (Colon, Trenton Times)
A state Department of Education audit made public this week found that 114 people, nearly half of them teachers, substitute teachers or classroom aides, may not have been fingerprinted
In addition, there is no documentation to prove that 236 other employees passed a criminal background check, according to the report.” (Colon, Trenton Times)
2 MILLION IS ENOUGH
“A Middlesex County jury decided yesterday against adding punitive damages to the $1.9 million verdict they awarded last week to a Perth Amboy police officer after the jurors determined he suffered harassment by fellow officers and the police chief over his Mexican-American heritage.” (Haydon, Star-Ledger)
DARING TO CHALLENGE GEORGE GILMORE
“Tuesday's primary election will be something of a blue moon for Ocean County Republicans, who have a choice between nominating two longtime incumbent freeholders or choosing a pair of outsider candidates. Challengers Suzanne J. Penna and Peter M. McCarthy say they're fed up with the county's GOP political machine and its public jobs for party insiders……
The spectacle of a Republican primary contest at the county level doesn't come often, and it's been orchestrated in large part by Robert K. Haelig Jr., a former top strategist in the county party organization who fell out with party Chairman George R. Gilmore and other leaders in the 1990s. Haelig himself is running for nomination next Tuesday to the Toms River Township Council with another slate of dissident Republicans; like the freeholder candidates they are under the banner Traditional Republicans for Reform and Accountability.” (Moore, Asbury Park Press).
THE NEXT MAYOR OF TOMS RIVER?
“A bitter primary election season will come to an end Tuesday, when Republican voters will pick their party's candidate for the (Toms River) township's second directly elected mayor….
Council President Gregory P. McGuckin, a 45-year-old attorney, and Robert M. Silva, a 60-year-old adjunct college professor, are vying for the top spot in Toms River government.” (Kidd, Asbury Park Press).
DAYS BEFORE THE PRIMARY, TIME FOR THE TRADITIONAL HAIL MARY
“A slate of candidates seeking the Republican nominations for mayor and Township Council contend the New Jersey Republican State Committee is violating its own bylaws by funding their opponents' primary campaign.
At a news conference outside the municipal complex on Washington Street Wednesday, mayoral candidate Robert M. Silva said he will file a written complaint to the Republican State Committee leadership and the National Republican Party "for a full investigation of this matter so we can identify those responsible for corrupting the State Committee." (Kidd, Asbury Park Press)
THE MIKE ARNONE CHALLENGE
“The three candidates in the hotly contested Warren County clerk primary race squared off Wednesday morning live on WRNJ-oldies 1510-AM. Republican candidates Chad Chamberlain, the son of Freeholder Director Everett Chamberlain, and acting County Clerk Pat Kolb are vying for their party's nomination in Tuesday's primary election. Thomas Palmieri, manager of the Washington Motor Vehicle Agency, is running unopposed as a Democrat….” (Satullo, Express Times)
Candidates tackled questions on keeping the office free of political meddling, technology and their qualifications. All three candidates said if elected, family and friends would not be hired into the clerk's office. Chamberlain called hiring friends or family "bad policy," noting it would sour friendships.” (Satullo, Express Times).
“Department of Corrections Commissioner George Hayman said Wednesday he would be happy to meet with Freeholder Director Doug Rainear "at any time." This comes on the same day Rainear said he planned to send a follow-up letter to the DOC head requesting a meeting to voice concern over a possible plan to create a new sex offenders unit or prison in Cumberland County.” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)………..
DOC officials acknowledged that consolidating the state's sex offenders into one location as a way of dealing with space issues is their goal, but have denied that Cumberland County is their chosen location. (Dunn, Bridgeton News)
“Attorney Christopher J. Norman has replaced outgoing incumbent Peter Nelson on the Republican ballot in the June 5 primary election for Township Committee.” (Moorehouse, Burlington County Times)
“The owner of a home assessed at the (Bordentown) city average would pay $55 more in local-purpose taxes under the City Commission's proposed municipal budget.” (Sheibly, Burlington County Times).
“Councilman Bob Smith will resign from his seat effective Friday because he and his wife are moving to Delaware.” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)
IN MORRIS COUNTY
“Morris County Republicans will see how four goes into three as a trio of incumbent county freeholders are being challenged by a lone outside candidate in Tuesday's primary.
James Murray, a former county engineer from Chester Township, survived a challenge to his petition to secure a place on the ballot for one of the three open three-year seats.” ((Daigle, Daily Record)
IN WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP
“Howard Popper says if he is elected to the (Washington) township committee, he will advocate for more open government, no municipal tax increases and conservative Republican values.
His opponents in the June 5 primary election –Geoffrey Price and incumbent Kevin M. Walsh — say commercial development will help stabilize taxes and political moderation is key to getting things done.
The three Republicans are vying for two township committee ballot slots.” (Mendez, Daily Record)