Rivera-Soto apologizes, Degnan reflects on being a young AG, Corzine still defends sales tax increase, legislature and Governor work towards transparent budget, New Jersey ranks 40th in per capita carbon emissions, Warren County voting machines will produce paper records on Tuesday, Cuban Day Parade marches through West New York, Cinnaminson Republican Club’s poll puts Giuliani ahead.
I’M SORRY, SO JUST SLAP MY WRISTS AND LET ME GO
“Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto apologized for the way he pursued a criminal complaint against one of his son’s classmates and, in court papers filed Friday, waived his right to a formal hearing on the resulting ethics charges.” (Tamari, Gannett)
Rivera-Soto, accused of trying to use his influence to advance the charges he filed, wrote that in hindsight some of his actions created “the appearance of impropriety.” He said he never intended to abuse his title, but expressed “deep regret” that the steps he took “created the potential” to undermine public trust in the court.
“For my actions, and the effect they may have had, I am profoundly sorry,” Rivera-Soto wrote in a letter to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct………..
With the hearing waived, the ethics committee can now consider what punishment, if any, to recommend against Rivera-Soto, who in earlier filings asserted his innocence and asked that the complaint be dismissed. The other six Supreme Court justices ultimately decide what penalties to impose. The punishment could range from reprimand to removal.” (Tamari, Gannett).
BRENDAN BYRNE WANTED JOHN DEGNAN TO SUCCEED HIM AS GOVERNOR
John Degnan knows a thing or two about being the hot-shot young lawyer in the corner office on the eighth floor of the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton. Degnan was just 33 when became the youngest attorney general in modern state history in January 1978. (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
“It took me about a year to earn the respect of the tenured people who were in the office,” said Degnan, who had served as Gov. Brendan T. Byrne’s chief of staff prior to becoming attorney general. “When you’re that young, people don’t know you. You have to earn their respect, you don’t have it because of the appointment.”
He doesn’t think that will be the case for Anne Milgram, 36, who is on her way to becoming the second-youngest state attorney general. Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to announce her nomination today, and the state Senate has final approval. (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
IT’S BUDGET SEASON
“Gov. Corzine felt so strongly about increasing the sales tax last year that he refused to back off when faced with opposition from fellow Democrats in the Legislature, a standoff that led to state government’s closing for a week…….. A year later, Corzine still defends the increase, even as Democratic legislative leaders push a plan to constitutionally dedicate all money it raises to property-tax relief, not general state spending.”
“We didn’t have enough money to fund anything, including property-tax relief, a year ago,” Corzine said. “We had to raise those revenues to be able to balance the budget. We did.”
But with Corzine predicting a $2.5 billion budget deficit for 2008 and the state contributing only half of what’s obligated for public-worker pensions, Corzine is bristling at the plan by Democratic legislative leaders to dedicate the sales-tax hike to property-tax relief.” (Hester, AP)
REMEMBER REV. WATLEY?
There is no dispute over whether Lesly Devereaux hired her mother and sister when she was chief of staff for the state’s commerce secretary. She did. The question is whether doing so was illegal.
In one of its more significant public corruption cases this decade, the state Attorney General’s Office plans to spend the next eight weeks trying to convince a jury Devereaux conspired with her relatives to funnel state contracts to them and then falsified records to cover up the scam…………….
Prosecutors allege within a year of taking the position, Devereaux directed her staff to find work for her sister and mother. She then allegedly falsified contracts to justify the work after the State Auditor’s Office raised questions about them, falsifying and back-dating proposals, payment vouchers and $40-per-hour contracts for her relatives. (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
NO MORE ORNAMENTS
“After a year of budget scandal, the Legislature and the governor’s office say they are trying to produce something the state has never seen — a budget free of the secret, last-minute deals that have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion over the past five years.” (Sherman and Donohue, Star-Ledger)
As lawmakers and Gov. Jon Corzine work on the details of the administration’s $33 billion spending plan, they face new, self-imposed rules forcing them to openly disclose what grants they want for their home districts and new deadlines to safeguard against 11th-hour changes that often turn the budget process into midnight madness…………
Meanwhile, one state official close to the budget negotiations who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing talks, said Corzine is exerting far more control over the budget process this year, making it clear that any special grants will policy-oriented, and not district-specific.
“The firetruck and the Little League field — they are not going to fly anymore,” remarked the official, who said the governor is still smarting over last year’s last-minute “mugging” by the Legislature and is using the pressure of U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie’s ongoing criminal investigation into the grants to force unhappy legislators to acquiesce to his demands…………….
While this year’s budget still will carry Christmas tree funding — what the Legislature itself calls “budget add-ons” — the names of those lobbying for the appropriations will no longer be kept secret, the leadership has promised. For the first time, grant requests must carry the name of a sponsor and will be the subject of hearings before the budget is adopted. Legislators also must disclose any conflicts of interest.
Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) — who began pushing for reforms in the budget process last year when he first called for disclosure rules — said “there’s no question” those rules and the federal investigation have had an impact on this year’s budget process. (Sherman and Donohue, Star-Ledger)
WE COULD DO BETTER
“When it comes to which states contribute the most to global warming, New Jersey certainly isn’t the worst offender. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Garden State is greener than other states. A study by The Associated Press using 2003 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that in terms of total emissions of carbon dioxide New Jersey comes in 16th in the country with 123.7 million metric tons; per capita, New Jersey was much lower, in 40th position.” (Santana, AP)
A study by The Associated Press using 2003 data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that in terms of total emissions of carbon dioxide New Jersey comes in 16th in the country with 123.7 million metric tons; per capita, New Jersey was much lower, in 40th position.
The state’s carbon dioxide emissions have grown 8.57 percent from 1990 to 2003 less than the national average of 16.67 percent. (Santana, AP).
RUSH HOLT IS HAPPY
When Warren County voters hit the polls Tuesday, they’ll be the first in the state to review a paper record of an electronically cast ballot in a major election. (Satullo, Express-Times)…………
By the 2008 presidential primary — slated for Feb. 5 in New Jersey — all counties in the state must be able to generate a paper record of each voter’s selection as a safeguard in recounts. Warren County is the only county in the state with electronic voting machines that can generate a paper ballot for voter review before the official casting of the ballot.
AMAZINGLY, VEGA’S GAFFE IS STILL IN THE NEWS
“Red, white and blue flags, both American and Cuban, waved as salsa bands played and thousands of onlookers swayed to music yesterday at the annual Cuban Day Parade. But it almost didn’t happen.”
West New York Mayor Silverio A. Vega, who is Cuban, criticized the parade for being a for-profit event that does little to alleviate the suffering of Cubans, and he denied parade organizers a permit to march through his town.
His critics said Vega’s objections were politically motivated. At the time, his rival for state Senate, Union City Mayor Brian Stack, was expected to march in the parade. Last week, a Superior Court judge ordered the mayor to allow the parade to proceed as planned.” (Rothman, Star-Ledger)
“A spokesman for Vega said the West New York mayor did not march, but that a number of small white crosses bearing the word “Cuba” were affixed to street lights along the parade route in West New York to commemorate “the thousands who have died or suffered at the hands of Fidel Castro over the last 48 years.” (Hack, Jersey Journal).
AS CINNAMINSON GOES, SO GOES THE NATION?
“Rudolph Giuliani will lead the Republican Party’s national ticket in the 2008 presidential race, if you believe a straw poll conducted last week by the Cinnaminson Republican Club.
While no vote of this type is a guaranteed predictor, consider this: The other two times the township’s Republicans conducted a straw poll to pick their party’s candidate for a presidential election, the winners – Bob Dole in 1995 and George W. Bush in 1999 – eventually were selected to represent the GOP on the November ballot.
Giuliani captured last week’s straw poll with 35 percent of the votes. In a separate vote, Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson edged out Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the Republican vice presidential nomination. (McHale, Burlington County Times)
AC UNION VOTE
“Casino dealers at Bally’s Atlantic City voted yesterday in favor of forming a union in what both sides considered a pivotal vote in the unionization effort at the resort’s 11 casinos.” (Star-Ledger)
The vote by full- and part-time dealers, dual-rate dealers, keno and simulcast employees was 628 to 255 in favor of becoming part of the United Auto Workers union. (Star-Ledger)
MAYBE SANDRA BOLDEN CUNNINGHAM WILL TAKE THEM
“Mayor Jim Begley is confident the state will not build a second prison in the city after speaking with the state’s prison chief in Trenton on May 24.” (McCullen, Bridgeton News)……….
Begley is less confident the state’s 350 sex offenders won’t be relocated to South Woods State Prison from two North Jersey facilities than he is that a prison won’t be built here.
However, the mayor is more confident the sex offenders won’t be moved here than he was prior to meeting with Department of Corrections Commissioner (DOC) George W. Hayman. (McCullen, Bridgeton News).
A CHARTER SCHOOL, OF SORTS
“Everyone entering First United Methodist Church on Sunday night was handed a pocket-sized card entitled, “What to do if the police, immigration or other authorities stop you.
The 6 p.m. forum was aimed at providing immigrants, including those in the U.S. illegally, with an overview of their legal rights and a perspective on how things might change under reform legislation backed by President Bush.” (Jennings, Daily Record).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
POLITICSNJ.COM COMMENTERS REJOICE
“A judge refused yesterday to make nj.com provide a state legislator with the identity of an anonymous chat-room user who she be lieves posted a threatening message against her and her children.” (Lockwood, Star-Ledger)
Superior Court Judge James Farber, sitting in Newton, said he did not grant injunctive relief to Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Sussex) at first blush because he first wanted to hear from New Jersey On-Line’s attorneys, who did not attend the hearing……….
McHose filed a lawsuit May 25 in Superior Court in Newton against “DudeRules,” the poster who submitted a message on May 3 on nj.com’s chat forum for Sussex County about McHose, her young son, and her father, state Sen. Robert Littell (R-Sussex), that McHose perceived as a threat.
The message referenced a near- drowning of McHose’s young son in a pool a few years ago and read in part: “I live by the words, ‘The sins of father fall on the son.'” (Lockwood, Star-Ledger)
SURPRISE! RACE BAITING CAN BACKFIRE
“Republican Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk called Saturday for the resignation of Bergen County GOP Chairman Guy Talarico, citing a campaign mailer that compared an Asian-American legislator to the Rev. Al Sharpton.” (Chadwick, Bergen Record)
“Abraham Lincoln would be turning over in his grave right now,” said Vandervalk, whose district office is in Westwood. “To use race-baiting like that is so offensive, it’s unforgivable.”…………
Talarico said the mailer was dramatic, but not racist. He said it justifiably takes O’Toole to task for benefiting from a redrawing of election districts by Democrats.
“I think they are overreacting to the flier,” Talarico said. “That’s the risk of a dramatic piece.” (Chadwick, Bergen Record)
REMEMBER THE DAYS (2002) WHEN REPUBLICANS RAN BERGEN COUNTY?
”Republican rule is a receding memory in Bergen and Passaic counties, where the party’s old empire has shrunk to a pair of safe legislative districts and a dwindling number of local offices.
But it seems that no patch of territory is so small that the GOP can’t fight over it. A year after an intraparty free-for-all chose a failed nominee for Bergen County executive, North Jersey Republicans are reprising the clash over some of their remaining seats in the Legislature.
Tuesday’s primary election contest to replace Republican state Sen. Henry McNamara of Wyckoff is the most crowded statewide, the only one of this year’s 40 Senate races featuring three candidates from the same party. That reinforces Bergen County’s status as ground zero for Republican factionalism: The county also produced the only challenge to the GOP’s favored U.S. Senate candidate last year, as well as three of the seven contenders in the previous year’s contest for the gubernatorial nomination.
Many Republicans have lamented the latest battle’s toll on scarce resources at a time when the party is constantly overmatched by well-financed Democrats.” (Gohlke, Herald News).
“At the start of this Democratic Party primary campaign, most political observers believed that it was a given that that the 33rd District ticket led by Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian P. Stack of Democrats for Hudson County would win. The same was said of the 32nd District slate topped by North Bergen Mayor and state Sen. Nick Sacco. It appears that this will be the case.
The big question was the 31st District, or what one may call the rubber match. At first, most people were convinced that any slate of candidates headed by Sandra Bolden Cunningham was a sure bet to win and she was running under the traditional Hudson County Democratic Organization banner.
Weeks later, the HCDO is sweating this one out.” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
DO YOU KNOW THAT I AM SORRY?
“Facing an ethics complaint that he tried to use his position to influence a dispute between his son and a Haddonfield football teammate, New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto yesterday filed papers saying he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and agreed to waive a formal hearing.” (Ung, Philadelphia Inquirer).
CORZINE’S JUST LIKE YOU AND ME, PLUS $500 MILLION
“Jon S. Corzine’s daughter writes that the care her father received after his near-fatal SUV crash in April had more to do with where he was treated than special treatment. Jennifer Corzine-Pisani responded Friday to a May 26th editorial in the New York Times that suggested her father was alive because of his position and wealth.”
In her letter to the editor, Corzine-Pisani wrote that while she doesn’t dispute that a governor receives special treatment, she and her family witnessed “the continuous, top-notch treatment and care of every patient,” in Cooper University Hospital’s trauma unit in Camden.” (AP)
“You don’t need to ask a police officer to know that New Jersey drivers love speed. Just ask Gov. Corzine, whose 91-m.p.h. wreck without a seat belt almost killed him. An Inquirer radar-gun check – conducted at the same location, time, and day of the week as Corzine’s April 12 crash – found most Garden State Parkway drivers easily topping the 65 m.p.h. speed limit.” (Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer)
SENIOR CITIZENS WONDER WHY MCCANN DOESN’T VISIT MORE OFTEN
“The challenge to former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann’s election to the school board inched along yesterday as a state Superior Court judge ordered nursing homes to open their doors to investigators working for McCann’s challenger and declined McCann’s request to issue subpoenas to the teachers union.
McCann’s 21-vote victory in the April 17 election is being challenged by fourth-place finisher Jenny Garcia, who contends McCann “coerced . incompetent or otherwise elderly and ill” residents at four nursing homes to vote for him.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal).
CASHA ALREADY WRITING LEGISLATION
“Protesting what he calls distortions of his platform, Republican 26th District Assembly candidate Larry Casha yesterday called for a “truth in campaigning” law to penalize candidates who lie about their foes.
His chief opponent, Jay Webber, countered that Casha needs to read up on free speech and the U.S. Constitution.
“The public is sick of this type of campaigning. Candidates don’t have a right to slander and libel,” said Casha, contending the legal system is slow to offer relief before a campaign is long over.” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger).
BY THE WAY, HUDSON HAS A RACE FOR SHERIFF
“Back in March, the scuttlebutt was that current Hudson County Sheriff Joseph Cassidy would make a run for Assembly in the 31st District if he didn’t get the Hudson County Democratic Organization’s nod to keep his office.
But when the ballots came out in early April, Cassidy was running for sheriff after all – on the Democrats for Hudson County ticket, which is headed by 33rd District state Senate hopeful Brian Stack, who is Union City’s mayor and an assemblyman.” (Judd, Jersey Journal)
TICKETS FOR CLINTON EVEN WAY MORE EXPENSIVE THAN FOR BUSH EVENT
“Former President Bill Clinton will help state Democrats refill their campaign coffers next Friday at a Newark fundraiser, officials announced yesterday.”
Just nine days after President George W. Bush helped raise money for the Republican State Committee, Clinton will be the featured guest at the Governor’s Gala being held by the Democratic State Committee. It’s the state party’s annual fundraising event and will be held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark…………
On Wednesday, Bush helped state Republicans raise $675,000 at an Edison event where basic tickets cost $300. Democrats loudly ridiculed his visit, and yesterday Republicans returned the favor by assailing the Democratic affair.
“It’s understandable that given Jon Corzine’s dismal record on property tax reform, his runaway spending and failure to do anything at all to clean up corruption in government, that they need to bring in somebody else to be the draw,” said Tom Wilson, state Republican chairman.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“Governor Corzine will be spending plenty of time with the Clintons this month. Former President Bill Clinton will be the featured guest Friday at the Governor’s Gala, the state Democratic Party’s annual fund-raiser. It is slated for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.” (AP)
RABNER’S “CINDERELLA STORY”
“He applied for a federal judgeship and didn’t get it.
He pushed for a state judgeship and was unsuccessful.
Now Stuart Rabner is the governor’s choice to lead New Jersey’s highest court for the next generation. Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to announce tomorrow he is nominating the 46-year-old former federal prosecutor as chief justice, and Rabner is likely to win quick and easy confirmation in the state Senate.
It’s a Cinderella story for a man who had long wanted to be a judge but lacked the political connections.
“He never had a political godfather until he met Jon Corzine,” said Senate President Richard Codey, who added he had tried repeatedly in recent years to win a judicial nomination for Rabner.” (Margolin and Coscarelli, Star-Ledger).
“The woman expected to become New Jersey’s next attorney general has prosecuted some of the nation’s goriest human-slavery cases.
She has won the trust of teenage prostitutes, gone after stalkers in New York, and once won a conviction on a case she took over on the weekend before it went to trial.
For more than a year, she has been second-in-command of the largest and one of the most prominent state government departments – the same one she is now on course to lead………
“Anne Milgram is what we want as an attorney general – tough, compassionate, steeped in the law – and has more energy than anyone else I know,” said Assemblyman Bill Baroni (R., Mercer), a longtime friend and fellow lawyer.” (Ung and Moroz, Star-Ledger)
OINK! OINK! WAYNE BRYANT’S LEGACY
“A former dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine sparked scandal at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but firing him cost the institution more than $450,000.
As of March 31, an attorney who represented UMDNJ in proceedings to fire former dean R. Michael Gallagher, who had tenure, had been paid $457,833.
Gallagher, who left the UMDNJ payroll in November, was indicted in March on 13 counts of bribery and fraud after allegedly helping to create a sham job at the university for state Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden, and pocketing unearned bonuses.” (Greenblatt, Gannett).
DORIA V. CHIAPPONE
“The flak sparked by Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr.’s letter to taxpayers mailed out with this quarter’s bills continues to spread, with the city law director and a city councilman calling each other liars.
Councilman Anthony Chiappone had griped that Doria used the letter as a political message to zap Chiappone – a candidate in Tuesday’s primary for the state Assembly seat also sought by Doria ally Nicholas Chiaravalloti – for allegedly triggering a $2 million municipal tax increase and claimed that city Law Director John Coffey II had initially advised him that the mayor’s phrasing was unethical and would be struck from the letter.” (Leir, Jersey Journal)
NOW YOU CAN RETIRE, PETE. NOBODY WILL PICK ON YOU AGAIN
“An ethics complaint filed against state Sen. Peter Inverso has been dropped by the state ethics panel.
The complaints asked the legislative ethics committee to investigate whether Inverso, R-Hamilton, and the six other GOP legislators earmarked budget money for projects that either benefited themselves or family members.
Inverso flatly denied he gained any benefit from the grants in question at the time the complaint was filed, calling the filing “a fishing expedition.” (Trenton Times).
“One candidate’s refusal to back down after being kept off the Republican ticket is making for a competitive primary Tuesday. Incumbents Mark Hanko and Bill Ackerman have been grouped with newcomer Keith Hartman as the Republican League’s ticket to compete in the fall’s Township Council election with Democrats Richard Calimer, Terri Kromenacker and Jim Gorman, who are running unopposed for the Democratic ticket. But Tom Price, who ran for Township Council as an independent in 2003, is making another run at a vacant seat, despite the league’s refusal to back him in the race.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
IN SOMERS POINT
“SOMERS POINT — The Democratic race for mayor in Tuesday’s primary has a crowded field of candidates. And if history is a guide, it could also have a very small pool of voters.
Then again, both those races were uncontested, and this time around, three Democrats are running for mayor, which should translate into a bigger turnout.
The candidates are, in alphabetical order: Patrick Bingham, an incumbent city councilman; John DiMaria, an incumbent councilman and former mayor — he won both those last two mayoral primaries without opponents; and David Sharp, a former Planning Board member who ran as a Democrat for City Council in 2000 and 2001, losing both times. ” (DeAngelis, Press of Atlantic City).
Both candidates for the Democratic nomination in the city’s 2nd Ward are 54 years old, black and female.
And that’s just about where the similarities end.
Councilwoman Judy Ward and challenger Diana Lyles have different ideas for how to improve life in the ward and in the city. Ward, a first-term councilwoman, says she wants to bridge the gap between the community and City Hall, create more recreational opportunities for the youth and provide more programs for senior citizens, something she says cannot happen if there is a turnover in the makeup of council.” (Hardie, Press of Atlantic City)
”Three Democratic candidates will be competing Tuesday to see who will represent the party on the ballot in November for two open township committee seats. Those candidates include incumbent Albert Beverly and newcomers Marvin Pierce Sr. and James Ruhl.” (Hamm, Bridgeton News)
AND FINALLY, THE EMBATTLED ANTHONY COLEY
“When last The Auditor looked in on the machinations of Gov. Jon Corzine’s communications department in February, then-press secretary An thony Coley was pushing out communications director Ivette Mendez in order to take over the office. But all has not been perfect.” (The Auditor, Star-Ledger)