Whitman grilled, Jersey City brass blame EPA, Atlantic City Councilman accused of beating ex-wife, Kyrillos cable show axed, Three vie for Bergen County Republican chair, recount in Hoboken City Council race.
“Declaring she is tired of the “innuendo and outright falsehoods,” former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman vigorously denied yesterday that she made misleading statements about the air quality in Lower Manhattan in the days and weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Whitman, the former two-term Republican governor of New Jersey, told a largely hostile House Judiciary subcommittee that she relied on sound scientific data when she told residents of Lower Manhattan that the air around Ground Zero was safe to breathe.
“Let me be clear: There are indeed people to blame. They are the terrorists who attacked the United States, not the men and women at all levels of government who worked heroically to protect and defend this country.” (Cohen, Star-Ledger)
“The hearing carried a political overtone because the lingering health issues have raised questions about Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s handling of worker safety at ground zero, now that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. But at the hearing Mrs. Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, did not direct blame at the Giuliani administration for the failure to require that all workers at the site wear respirators.
“I don’t think the mayor is blaming me and I’m certainly not blaming the mayor,” Mrs. Whitman said during two and a half hours of questioning that at times turned testy, particularly when members of the panel pressed her on seeming contradictions in statements she made five and a half years ago………..
Mrs. Whitman said she was aware of only one instance in which important information was removed from one of her public statements by the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, which edited the statements in the aftermath of the attack. In one draft release in September, Mrs. Whitman urged Lower Manhattan residents whose apartments had been contaminated to consider having them professionally cleaned. After the statement was sent to the White House for review, the phrase about professional cleaning was removed.
Mr. Whitman said that early on a decision had been made by the Bush administration that all public statements be coordinated so that the federal government could be seen as speaking with one voice, an assertion that drew an angry response from Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat.
“One voice — give me a break,” Mr. Pascrell said.” (DePalma, New York Times)
“The administration made an incompetent decision … and Governor Whitman has been left to fall on the sword,” Pascrell said. “Thousands of hardworking Americans have been left to suffer.” (Jackson, Bergen Record)
“Christie Whitman must have known it was going to be a rotten day when she saw the protesters who had gathered to scream at her as she arrived to testify before Congress yesterday. Many of them worked at Ground Zero after Sept. 11, searching for friends, clearing rubble and coughing on the dust that carried a nasty brew of toxins into their lungs…………. What emerged from these hearings was something very different. Not Whitman as monster, but Whitman as wimp — a person so eager to please the White House that she simply did not do her job.” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
BUT JERSEY CITY BRASS BLAME WHITMAN
“Several Jersey City officials yesterday said the Environmental Protection Agency failed to properly test the air near Ground Zero for dangerous chemicals immediately after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001, and that the agency did not underscore the dangers of working directly at the site.
“The bottom line is that if the EPA had done everything within their power to test the area for contaminants, there is no way they would have been able to come back and say the air quality was good,” said Armando Roman, director of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
The critical comments came as Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA’s chief during 9/11, was questioned by a congressional committee on her comments at the time that the air at Ground Zero was safe to breathe.” (Chen, Jersey Journal)
“I’LL – KILL YOU”
“An Atlantic City councilman was arrested Monday when he and his ex-wife traded assault charges after an early morning incident outside his Chelsea Heights house.
At-Large Councilman George S. Tibbitt was released on his own recognizance Monday evening, said his attorney, Joseph A. Levin………….
City Council named Tibbitt to the board Oct. 25, replacing ex-Councilman Ramon Rosario who had pleaded guilty to taking thousands of dollars in bribes. Tibbitt faces re-election in the fall.
Formica said she left work at the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino at about 4 a.m. and went to Tibbitt’s house to pick up their son.
She said she had put the child in her car’s car seat when Tibbitt objected to him going to day care. There was a scuffle as Tibbitt tried to take his son out of the car and she tried to keep him in place.
“I said, ‘Don’t take him out,’ and he said ‘I’ll — kill you’ and he reached across me to the 2-year-old,” Formica said. She said he punched her head, pulling her hair.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
AND WE WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE LENNY INZERILLO SHOW
“Brookdale Community College has canceled State Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos’ cable television show, saying the college does not want to be at the flashpoint of a political campaign.
Kyrillos had hoped to show himself in conversation with U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, an unabashed critic of state officials and arguably the GOP’s favorite leading man. But the interview Kyrillos did with the feisty Christie may air after the Nov. 4th election, and not before, said Cheryl Cummings, executive director of the Brookdale Network, which produced the program.
“The program is not running,” Cummings told PoliticsNJ.com. “It’s been produced, but it’s not running.” She called a plug on Kyrillos’ website alerting viewers to the pre-election times and dates of his show “inaccurate information……….
Kyrillos, in Boston Monday for a Mitt Romney fundraiser, was disappointed.
“That’s their prerogative,” said the five-term Republican senator from Monmouth County, on learning of the college’s decision not to air the show. (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
THE OLD AND THE NEW
“With the election tentatively set for July 24th, Robert Ortiz, a 35-year-old lawyer from Ridgewood and a Republican fundraiser, is facing longtime Bergen County Republicans Ben Focarino, 64, and Bill Thompson, 57.
All three candidates to be the county’s new Republican Chairman agree on one fundamental issue: the party is in a rut, with nowhere to go but up. But just who can bring the party farther up is where they disagree – whether the party needs an insider who has proved his loyalty over the years, or a young, relative newcomer who can infuse new blood into a desperate party.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
ZIMMER STILL NOT DEFINITELY WINNER
“A Hudson County judge has ordered a full recount of the votes from the 4th Ward runoff election that saw challenger Dawn Zimmer narrowly beat incumbent Hoboken City Councilman Christopher Campos.
State Superior Court Judge Maurice Gallipoli set the date for the full recount for tomorrow afternoon, officials said……..
“Chris has the right to a recount,” Zimmer said. “This is just part of the legal process. I am completely confident that the recount results will confirm my election on June 12.” (Hack, Jersey Journal)
SO NOW THEY’RE CALLING BRIBES ‘BUFFER AMOUNTS’
“Former construction manager Joseph Lucas, charged with taking kickbacks from vendors, was simply following “the practices in place” at the Somerset County Park Commission, according to his attorney.
“The park commission had a practice of adding on a buffer amount to its contracts,” and supervisors approved Lucas’s actions, said attorney Michael Rogers.
His argument made little impression yesterday morning on Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman, who denied Rogers’ request for an investigative report on the commission’s purchasing practices prepared for the Somerset freeholders.
“This all sounds like five guys are driving down the street and they’re all doing 75 miles per hour and one gets caught,” said Coleman, sitting in Somerville.
Later in the day, a commission official said he did not know what Rogers means, but denies any inference of wrongdoing. Commission engineer Leslie Holzmann said the agency does instruct bidders to add contingency fees to their proposals, but pays them only as needed.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
PEE-WEE HERMAN ON THE DELAWARE
“The politically connected Hunterdon County attorney who was arrested nearly two weeks ago after he allegedly masturbated in the nude at a Flemington bus stop has resigned his county Democratic Party leadership post, officials said last night.
Christopher L. Daul has resigned his seat on the executive committee of the Hunterdon County Democratic Party, county party Chairman David Delvecchio said last night………….
“Once again, I’m still shocked by what happened,” Delvecchio said during a brief telephone interview last night. “I feel for his family. “I’m glad we parted ways in a civil way, and I hope he can get his life together.” (Star-Ledger)
REPUBLICAN ATTORNEY THREATENS LAWSUIT OVER PORK
“A Cranford attorney yesterday threatened to file a second lawsuit against the Corzine administration to try to block what he views as illegal pork barrel spending.
“Time and time again, millions of dollars are going out to politically connected individuals at the expense of other entities that are doing equally good work in New Jersey,” said David Robinson. “The proposed budget this year is yet another example of unconstitutional spending.
Robinson is calling on Gov. Jon Corzine to use his line-item veto to delete legislative additions to the budget that are targeted for legislative districts. Democrats have said only $12 million fall into that category, while Republicans charge it exceeds $300 million. A Star-Ledger analysis estimated the total around $112 million.
Robinson, a Republican committee member in his hometown, contends the grants violate a section of the state constitution that forbids favoritism.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“It would be easy to dismiss David W. Robinson, a Cranford lawyer who on Monday challenged Governor Corzine to veto all the pet projects legislators added to the budget, as just another hopeless gadfly.
Except that last year, Robinson sued the governor and got what he wanted.
Robinson filed suit in court last year against Corzine and the state treasurer to stop the expenditure of money from a state grant program on the grounds that the grants were unfairly distributed. In response, Corzine froze the $26 million that had not been distributed and ordered the money returned to the treasury.
Robinson responded by dropping his lawsuit.” (Lu, Bergen Record)
DEMOCRATS LEAD IN ATLANTIC COUNTY FUNDRAISING
“Democrats running for state Senate and Assembly seats based in Atlantic County outpaced their Republican counterparts in campaign fundraising during the last month.
Campaign finance reports filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, or ELEC, show the Democratic 2nd Legislative District candidates took in $30,000 more than Republicans running for the same positions.
Between May 25 and June 25, the last reporting period linked to June’s primary election, the joint campaign fund of James Whelan, Joseph Kuehner and Blondell Spellman took in $109,442.06. Whelan, an assemblyman, is running for state Senate. Kuehner and Spellman are seeking Assembly seats.
The Republican opposition — state Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough and Assembly candidates Vincent Polistina and John Amodeo — garnered $78,936.44 in their campaign accounts.” (Dunford, Press of Atlantic City)
TWO SIDES OF THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE
“At first blush, it would appear there could never be agreement between Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello and Hightstown Mayor Robert Patten on matters of immigration.
Cresitello, fed up with a flood of illegals into his town, has asked federal officials to deputize local police as immigration agents. Patten responded to a federal immigration raid by barring local police from enforcing immigration laws and launching a campaign to bring immigrants out of the shadows.
But as they sat in a room packed with some of the nation’s top immigration experts and activists yesterday at Princeton University, the two men found themselves agreeing more often than not.
Patten nodded as Cresitello called building a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border “a waste of taxpayer money.” And there was Pat ten, voting along with Cresitello in favor of an electronic national ID to keep illegal immigrants from get ting jobs………….
“You had a good, honest and in telligent debate,” Patten said. “If you had all politicians in here with TV cameras rolling, you would never get anywhere.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
BECAUSE RANTING ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS IS HARD WORK
“Mayor Donald Cresitello is determined to get a salary increase and the latest step in that direction could come as early as tonight.
The town council is to vote on introducing an ordinance authorizing hikes in the pay ranges of many town workers, including the mayor and themselves……….
Cresitello’s drive for more pay has been consistent, even though taxpayers last year resoundingly voted down a measure to double his salary from $26,000 to $52,000.” (Hassan, Daily Record)
CORZINE’S DRIVER BACK IN UNIT
“The trooper behind the wheel during Gov. Jon Corzine’s near-fatal crash on the Garden State Parkway has been returned to regular duty, and a spokesman said the governor “would be comfortable” being driven by him again.
Trooper Robert Rasinski has been cleared for all the duties of his job in the Executive Protection Unit, whose members guard the governor and provide his transportation, said Sgt. Stephen Jones, a State Police spokesman………..
Jones said there would be no reason Rasinski couldn’t drive the governor if the unit supervisor asked him to do so. “He has been cleared, which, of course, means he could do any of the duties of the unit………..
Corzine issued a statement Thursday saying, “I have confidence in Rob and would expect him to remain in the Executive Protection Unit. … A lot of mistakes were made on April 12; chief among them was my failure to wear a seat belt.” tar-Ledger)
MENENDEZ GOES SOUTH
“Standing just over a mile from the Philadelphia waterfront, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez vowed Monday to push for extending key homeland security funds across the Delaware River to South Jersey.
“Philadelphia and southern New Jersey share so much in common and, unfortunately, that includes the risk of terrorism,” said Menendez, D-NJ, from the dock of the South Jersey Port Corporation in Camden. “An attack anywhere in the region will draw upon the manpower and the resources of southern New Jersey.” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
“Only a river separates South Jersey from Philadelphia,” Menendez said Monday before a tour of the city’s Beckett Street Terminal. “But when it comes to this funding program, you’d think it was an ocean.” (Smith, Courier-Post)
IT WASN’T THE WORST PROBLEM FACING NEWARK’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Saying she regretted ordering staff to black out a photograph of two men kissing in a high school yearbook, Newark Superintendent Marion Bolden issued a public apology yesterday to the student in the picture.
In a written statement, Bolden said she “regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to” graduating senior Andre Jackson. She said the district would reissue the East Side High School yearbook with the photograph to students free of charge “upon request.”
The sudden about-face comes three days after Bolden called the 4 1/2-by-5-inch photo “illicit” and defended the district’s right to black it out of some 230 yearbooks before they were handed out at a banquet for graduating seniors Thursday…………
“The buck stops with me,” Bolden said in an interview yesterday. “I was only presented with the one page, but I should have looked at the rest of the book.” (Addison, Star-Ledger)
In addition to Garden State Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey condemned the district’s actions last week.
“With so many challenges the Newark public schools face in educating their students, what a waste that they took the time to teach a lesson in discrimination and censorship instead of equality and free speech,” said ACLU-NJ executive director Deborah Jacobs.
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
The Government Accountability Office is committed to investigating the 2005 process that closed Fort Monmouth, but the size and scope of the probe have not yet been determined, a GAO official said Monday.
In their weekly meeting, GAO officials considered a request for the probe from Reps. Rush D. Holt and Frank J. Pallone Jr., both D-N.J., who last week called for an investigation into the Federal Base Realignment and Closure process that shuttered the 90-year-old Army post, according to Henry Hinton, the GAO’s managing director for defense capabilities and management.
“We’re going to do something, we just don’t know the scope of the work yet,” Hinton said.” (Brown and Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
“A burly police officer leans into the back seat of a police car, where a skinny 19-year-old sits, handcuffed, accused of running a stop sign.
The teen had just muttered an obscenity.
“You got something to say? You got something to say?” the officer demands loudly, at least eight times.
Soon the two are thrashing about in the back seat as a second police officer nervously paces outside. When one of the teen’s feet appears to kick at the officer, the second officer moves in. Finally, both officers struggle with the teen, who erupts in a fury of loud wails, groans and a quivering voice begging, “Stop.”
The 14-minute videotape of the Deptford Township police officers’ Feb. 2, 2006, encounter with a Philadelphia motorist was captured by video cameras mounted on the dashboards of two township police cars.
And it is the centerpiece of a police-brutality trial expected to begin this week before a jury in state Superior Court in Gloucester County.” (Hefler, Philadelphia Inquirer)
IN MONMOUTH COUNTY
“The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders is to decide this week on pay-to-play reforms, but a member of the board said it is uncertain there is enough support to approve the resolutions.
Freeholder Barbara J. McMorrow said Monday: “This will need three votes. I’m hopeful but at this point I’m not sure the three votes are there.”
Indeed, there are few signs the board’s majority Republicans are interested in having the changes enacted. Mc-Morrow is the lone Democrat on the five-member board.” (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)
IN MORRIS COUNTY
“Four days into the job, Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi by Monday had started restructuring the office, hired an executive assistant prosecutor and accepted the retirement notice of office Deputy Chief Paul Kalleberg.
Bianchi was sworn in Friday to the five-year position, replacing Michael M. Rubbinaccio as the county’s chief law enforcement officer.” (Wright, Daily Record)
“By the beginning of 2008, patrons at local restaurants may hear from servers, “Would you like a beer with that?”A petition is circulating that, if it garners enough signatures, would allow voters to decide on the creation of six liquor licenses in this currently dry township.” (Laughlin, Courier-Post)
“Theaters, museums and historic sites are valued as places of entertainment and education, but they also must be seen as employers, tax generators and magnets for shopping and dining, state officials said yesterday.
In other words, culture means business in towns across the state.
“In towns like Red Bank, Madison, Newark, Trenton, Orange, Montclair and Lambertville, the catalyst for economic revitalization has been the arts,” Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells told about 200 representatives of New Jersey’s municipalities, cultural organizations and businesses at a conference in Trenton…………..
The morning event came just weeks after the release of a major national study highlighting the economic muscle of the nonprofit arts industry. “Arts & Prosperity III,” conducted by the national advocacy group Americans for the Arts, reports the nonprofit arts and cultural industry in the United States generates about $166 billion annually. Arts organizations themselves spend $63 billion a year, while audiences spend an additional $103 billion in event-related activities such as dining, parking and shopping.” (Hester and McGlone, Star-Ledger)
“A public works employee is suing a female boss he claims repeatedly harassed him, “calling into doubt his ‘manhood.’
Lawrence Coward, 40, says his boss Danette Adams made inappropriate comments ranging from calling him a “bitch” to ordering him to “stand up and be a man” since she started supervising him a year ago. Coward, who has diabetes, also claims Adams switched his job from street sweeper to general laborer in 2006 because she said he was too sick to do his job.” (Kremen, Bergen Record)
SOME EARMARKS PEOPLE WON’T MIND
“The state’s $200 million bond issue to preserve open space, on the ballot this fall, for the first time earmarks funding for flood buyouts.
The state Legislature voted overwhelmingly last week to place the question on the November ballot asking voters to replenish the Garden State Preservation Trust with $200 million in new bonds. If approved by voters, about $12 million would be set aside for buying up properties prone to flooding.” (Cowen, Bergen Record)
“The working fate of school district Superintendent Gordon Pethick remained undetermined as of late Monday night.
As of 11:45 p.m., the school board had not come to a vote on whether or not to renew Pethick’s contract………
In April, a split board placed a ceremonial “no confidence” vote in Pethick regarding the negotiations with teachers. That came after Pethick filed an ethics complaint against board Negotiations Committee Chairman Kevin DeGerolamo; the complaint was dismissed.” (Hausmann, Express-Times)
“Embattled school-board President James Pressley will not be at tonight’s meeting, but only because he is scheduled to be out of town on personal business, he said Monday evening.
Pressley said he has no intention of resigning his position “based on tricks and games from other board members,” and will continue in his post.” (Rose, Press of Atlantic City)
“Mayor Sal Bonaccorso will name Clark’s new police chief this week, but he says the decision won’t be easy. The two candidates, Capt. Denis Connell and Capt. James Zizza, are veterans of the Clark force whom Bonaccorso describes as personal friends.
“I know them as employees and police officers, and I have gotten to become very friendly with both guys,” Bonaccorso said. “It’s something that’s a little bit tough.” (Rothman, Star-Ledger)
IN OCEAN COUNTY
“Superior Court Judge Marlene Lynch Ford will step down from the Ocean County bench today to be sworn in as the new county prosecutor.
Ford, presiding judge of the Family Division of Superior Court in Ocean County since last year, is to be sworn in as prosecutor for a five-year term during a private ceremony at 4:30 p.m. today, said Court Administrator Richard D. Prifold.
“Officially, she’ll be the new prosecutor,” Prifold said.
The Senate voted 37-0 Thursday to confirm Ford’s appointment as prosecutor.” (Hopkins, Asbury Park Press)