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“After several months in which Rudy Giuliani held a steady lead among New Jersey voters, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has nearly caught up with the former New York mayor, according to a new Quinnipiac University survey re leased yesterday. The poll found Giuliani leading Clinton by just a 47 percent to 44 percent margin, down from 49 percent to 40 percent on April 19. His lead is only slightly larger than the 2.5 percent margin of error for the survey of 1,604 voters.”

In past polls, Clinton and Giuliani have held commanding leads in their respective primaries — as they do in New Jersey fund-raising. Giuliani has consistently emerged as the favorite general election candidate.

More recently, Richards said, the moderate Republican has lost some ground with conservatives who have recently learned his views on issues like abortion. Meanwhile, Clinton's campaign has chugged along steadily.

"I would say Hillary is running her campaign like a Swiss clock. She's just doing everything right. It's not moving mountains but it's building momentum," said Richards.

Clinton's primary lead grows even more when the pollsters remove former vice president Al Gore's name from the list of potential candidates. Gore is planning to attend a ceremony today at the Meadowlands where Gov. Jon Corzine will sign a bill aimed at reducing pollution that contributes to global warming. Gore said on NBC's Today show yesterday that he has "fallen out of love with politics" and has no intentions of running for office again.

The poll further found 74 percent of New Jersey voters disapprove of the job President Bush, while 21 percent approve, the lowest approval score for a president in more than a decade of polls by the university. (Donohue, Star-Ledger)


“Republican lawmakers are gearing up to make "asset monetization" — the governor's term for the sale or lease of state assets, such as the New Jersey Turnpike — a key issue in November's election, when all 120 seats in the Legislature are up for grabs. The GOP's first major salvo in that effort is an official attempt to make public any of Governor Corzine's requests for vendors and related proposals, contracts and other documents. Corzine's administration said Thursday it needs more time, and requested an extension of six days.”

That would give the administration until Thursday of next week, according to Treasury spokesman Tom Vincz."For three months, the administration has been promising that it would soon make its proposal public," said Senate Republican Leader Leonard Lance, of Hunterdon and Warren counties. "It now appears that the administration wants to postpone releasing its proposal until after the November elections. It's time for the administration to come forward with the details of its plan."Vincz said the public documents request was quite broad and would require, "under the best of circumstances, a great deal of retrieval time.""We have been extremely forthcoming with information relating to our study," Vincz said. "This particular request encompasses are far broader scope than anything requested to date. We're assembling all of our records and will provide them as quickly as is feasible." Corzine has said that asset monetization is the only way he can see out of the state's fiscal woes, including some $30 billion in debt and unfunded pension and health care liabilities, without either raising taxes or cutting services. But some critics say the state should cut spending rather than "monetize" its assets. Many also fear higher tolls for drivers.Opinion polls have shown that the public is, at best, skeptical of plans to sell or lease the state roads. State employees unions have paid for billboards opposing the sale of the state roads. Even some of Corzine's fellow Democrats in the Legislature have tried to distance themselves from the topic. (Lu, Bergen Record)


“A group opposing the war in Iraq targeted U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, on Thursday in a taped phone message urging residents to contact his district office in Morristown and register complaints. The message, which lasted about a minute, was purportedly recorded by a U.S. veteran who opposes the war. It was attributed to "Campaign to Defend America," though no phone number or any verification of the group's existence was included in the message…………Frelinghuysen, in a statement, said the mass distribution on Thursday was not the first. “Recently, my Morristown office has received calls from constituents with a range of views on the war as the result of a phone campaign run by a group aligned with Democrats," Frelinghuysen said.”

The recording mentioned the rising U.S. death toll and that "it's time to get our troops out of this endless war." Listeners were given the phone number for Frelinghuysen's district office and urged to call. The script showed similarities to the text from a separate radio advertising campaign launched in May and touted by one group, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, on its Internet site. The ads — also purportedly read by John Bruhns, the U.S. veteran — were aired on radio, targeting two senators, from Maine and Minnesota. (Jennings, Daily Record)


New Jersey as a leader in reducing pollution? While that may sound strange to those who know the Garden State for its well-traveled turnpike and its smoke-belching factories, New Jersey will adopt the toughest global warming pollution standards in the country today. Former Vice President Al Gore will join Gov. Jon S. Corzine at the Giants Stadium practice bubble in the Meadowlands this afternoon for the signing of a law that requires New Jersey to roll back greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 and reduce current emission levels 80 percent by 2050. The signing comes on the eve of a massive Meadowlands concert Saturday to raise awareness for reducing global warming pollution.”

Corzine’s executive order would have expired at the end of his term had it not been codified by law. It gives the state Department of Environmental Protection until June 2008 to develop plans and policies to meet the 2020 emission limits and until 2010 to meet the 2050 benchmark. Greenhouse emissions are considered a leading driver of global warming. Man-made contributions range from fossil fuels and deforestation to home heating and electric appliances.

Among the ideas the DEP may consider to reach the new emission standards, according to Corzine press secretary Lilo H. Stainton, are an energy master plan with specific caps for businesses and industry statewide, the expansion of current vehicle emission laws and a renewable energy portfolio that requires or encourages greater use of alternative energy sources such as windmills and solar power.

Environmental advocates said the state also might consider more incentives for fuel savings in cars, more energy-efficient building requirements and stricter mandates for energy suppliers, including those from outside the state. California is the only other state to pass a law restricting greenhouse-gas emissions, but it only set standards for 2020 and not beyond. Hawaii's Legislature passed a law similar to California's that is waiting to be signed by the governor. Seven other states are considering similar measures. (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)


“In her quest to become Miss New Jersey, Amy Polumbo based her platform on Internet safety, cautioning about the dangers of online predators. Now, the 22-year-old Howell Township college student claims she is the victim of a different kind of Internet predator — one who is using photographs she posted on her own Web site to blackmail her into relinquishing the crown she won three weeks ago.”

Polumbo attempted to launch a pre-emptive strike yesterday — calling a news conference to announce the alleged caper — but pageant organizers were already investigating whether the photos might be compromising enough to make her relinquish the crown. "Being crowned as Miss New Jersey is a dream come true, but that dream has now turned into a nightmare. I am presently the victim of blackmail and possible extortion," she told media and supporters who gathered in the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.

Polumbo, flanked by her attorney and parents, said the pictures were mailed to her anonymously by someone who demanded she step down or they would make the photos public. A similar package was mailed to the Miss New Jersey organization in recent days, according to spokesman Mark Soifer. Neither he nor Polumbo would release the photographs. (Spoto, Star-Ledger)


“About 100 Newark municipal employees have applied for a voluntary buyout package with only one day remaining to do so, according to city officials. The figure is far below what Mayor Cory Booker says would be needed to avert likely layoffs of up to 1,000 people or 20 percent of the 5,000-person work force this year.”

The deadline to express interest in the buyout for nonuniformed employees is 4:30 p.m. today. Booker said last week that Newark's $180 million budget gap means the city must cut employees to save money. "As for the next step … the mayor was clear last week when he said that we will unfortunately have to move to involuntary separation from the city," said Booker spokeswoman Lupe Todd. "Real change is hard, but the city is in a fiscal crisis and we cannot simply wish away our financial problems."

Booker also announced last week that the buyout was being extended to about 150 high-ranking police officers and firefighters. Public safety has been a major focus of the Booker administration and the announcement was a surprising turnabout. Booker has said that everything except reducing police and firefighters was on the table to plug the city's budget deficit, though Todd said police and fire will not be subject to involuntary layoffs.

Business Administrator Bo Kemp has said the city has been able to close all but $50 million of a projected $180 million structural budget deficit. The deficit was created because the city has regularly spent more money than it receives in revenue. The proceeds of a $400 million cash lawsuit settlement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has balanced the budget for the last five years, including the $115 million Booker used in the 2007 budget. This year, only $40 million from the lawsuit is available, meaning taxes have to be increased or costs must be cut to balance the budget.

Under the terms of the buyout, employees would be offered between 30 to 60% of their salary in a lump sum if they agree to resign. About 3,000 of the city's 5,000 employees with an average salary of about $72,000 are eligible. The administration retains the right to accept and reject employees from the program. The last day of service would be Aug. 3. (Mays, Star-Ledger)


“The state's Open Public Records Act helps the news media expose the doings of government and empowers residents to learn how and why their tax dollars are spent. But it also has become a staple in political campaigns as operatives look for records to prove allegations that an opponent held a no-show job, engaged in a shady business deal or received a favorable tax arrangement.”

"OPRA may have had an unintended effect," said Carl Golden, who was press secretary for Govs. Thomas H. Kean and Christie Whitman. "It proved to be an absolute bonanza for opposition research people in political campaigns." Now, as a consultant, Golden cautions politicians their entire public life is open to inspection because of OPRA. "There's nothing like hard copy," said Chris Lyon, a Republican operative from New York who has worked on state and federal campaigns. "Facts are stubborn things, so politicians talk and the spinmeisters spin, but the actual documents actually tell their own stories." Most campaigns use OPRA, but most requests come up empty. Researchers also request their opponents' requests to get an idea of what their candidate may face. Sometimes the filing of a request, often if made to the Legislature, is mentioned to the target of the records inquiry. "There was one instance, and I'm not going to tell you who, but just as a little bit of a tester, I went to the Assembly Majority office and made a request for some personal financial documents," Lyon said. "Within hours I got a call from a friendly consultant, saying, "Chris, what are you doing?'" (Volpe, Gannett)


Many farmers in predominantly agricultural South Jersey — the region that puts "garden" in the Garden State — aren't having a rosy financial year. On top of it, most of the farmers here don't qualify for federal farm subsidies, which Congress awards primarily to growers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and other commodity crops in the Midwest and South.”

Peter Bylone, Sr., manager of the Vineland Produce Auction, said farmers of small to medium-sized operations would welcome grants and loans from Washington, which the Democrat-controlled Congress is considering as part of a broad overhaul of federal farm policy this year. Gilbert Mazzoni, a 73-year-old retired grower who works part-time on his son's 100-acre vegetable farm in Landisville, said he knows who's getting the bulk of the subsidy money — big corporate farms. "Everything that they do in Washington, it's all for the grain farmers — big corporation farms, (it) doesn't help any family farmer in New Jersey.” To compete with out-of-state growers, Dennis Mazzoni Farms has diversified its crop to include food favored by ethnic groups like Indians and Latin Americans. So Mazzoni helps his son grow several varieties of peppers and cilantro, which are used in Indian and Mexican cooking. As a farmer for 50 years, Mazzoni said he mostly grew garden-variety peppers and sweet potatoes. Here in South Jersey, organic farming isn't catching on like it is in North and Central Jersey. Farmers here say they favor diversification, but they are focused more on capturing the business of grocery store chains and less on selling chemical-free produce on a small scale at farm stands. Mazzoni rejected suggestions that organic farming will result in healthier and more plentiful produce. "You tell them they're out of their minds. I'll tell them that myself. It can't be done," he said. "You can't grow stuff and make money organically. The guys who're growing it, it's a hobby for them. … I'll show you a picture of an apple that was organic and you wouldn't buy that apple because it's got wormholes all over it." A bigger worry for South Jersey is preserving family farms, Bylone said. If farmers don't get federal help and have a couple of lackluster growing seasons during which they don't earn enough to break even, they're more likely to carefully consider lucrative offers from real-estate developers seeking to build houses and commercial buildings on farmland, Bylone said. (Chebium, Gannett)


“Snapple teas and juice drinks claim on their labels to be "all natural" and "made from the best stuff on Earth." A lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court and moved to federal court last week begs to differ. The complaint, filed against Snapple and its parent, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, charges the use of high-fructose corn syrup in the drinks renders the "all natural" claim false and deceptive.”

"The representation that something is all natural, as far as we're concerned, requires the product be all natural," said East Brunswick attorney Philip Tortoreti, who filed the complaint on behalf of Morganville resident Stacy Holk. "And high-fructose corn syrup is not all natural."

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status for New Jersey residents who drank certain Snapple teas and juice drinks during the past six years, wants a judge to force the company to alter its labeling and refund consumers. If successful, the legal action could cost Cadbury Schweppes millions of dollars, based on its reported Snapple sales of more than $5 million a year in New Jersey. (Saitz, Star-Ledger)


“CAMDEN –The governor intends to approve a three-year, $220,000-a-year contract the school board signed with its new superintendent last week, a spokesman said. Bessie LeFra Young, 57, of Williamstown, will take the helm of the financially troubled school district July 16. She will earn $35,000 more than her predecessor, Annette Knox, who resigned last year amid accusations she accepted unapproved bonuses.”

Under a 2002 law, Gov. Jon Corzine could have chosen to veto this contract. Last year, he rejected a proposed three-year extension for Knox that would have increased her salary to $209,000 and made her eligible for 10 percent more in performance bonuses. "(The contract) reflects a transparent compensation package and specifically the board's willingness to eliminate add-on bonuses, annuities and incentives linked to test scores that resulted in the test-cheating scandal," Corzine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in a statement. "Dr. Young is an exemplary candidate who brings fresh ideas and a focused vision to this school district." Gilfillan said the governor will review the contract but anticipates authorizing it. Under the contract, Young can have a secretary of her choosing and will hire two assistant superintendents. On June 28, when the school board approved the contract, it also voted to spend as much as $187,200 on a part-time, four-person "transition team" to assist the new superintendent. (Katz, Courier-Post)


“Opponents of Franklin Township Councilwoman Ellen Ritchie yesterday declared an initial victory in their efforts to remove her. Township Clerk Ann Marie McCarthy determined enough residents of Ritchie's district have signed petitions to force the first recall election in the Somerset County community. McCarthy certified 1,621 signatures, more than the 1,512 needed to force a vote for Ritchie's 3rd Ward seat. The total number of certified signatures is four short of the number of voters who backed Ritchie, a Democrat, in 2005.”

But that was before a development controversy stemming from the township's affordable housing plan became focused on Ritchie. The township's former planning director, Ritchie is part of a Democratic faction which backed a version of the plan favorable to builder Jack Morris, a major political contributor. In January 2006, Ritchie admitted telling fellow planning board member Michael Orsini he would be "politically ruined" if he opposed Morris.

Chip Hoever, a leader of the Committee to Recall Ellen Ritchie, said the effort started because "she doesn't represent the people, she represents Jack Morris." Hoever, a Republican, said the effort has been bipartisan, noting some members of the township Democratic committee asked Ritchie to step down. She has five days to do so or the township would be required to schedule a special election in about three months. Ritchie could not be reached for comment yesterday, but recently said she plans to fight the recall and would run in a recall election.

"There are several other candidates who are probably going to be filing, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side," Hoever said. (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)


“WEST WINDSOR — The standoff between Mayor Shing-Fu Hsueh and the new township council over whether to replace the township attorney will probably end in a lawsuit by next week, Hsueh said yesterday. "It is both regrettable and unfortunate for the residents and taxpayers of West Windsor that the next step to resolve this matter will have to be litigation," the mayor said in a statement………..At Sunday's reorganization meeting, the council voted 3-1 against renewing Herbert's yearly professional services agreement, effectively cutting off payment for any future bills from the attorney.”

"I am calling for the mayor to meet me halfway," Morgan said. At Sunday's reorganization meeting, the council voted 3-1 against renewing Herbert's yearly professional services agreement, effectively cutting off payment for any future bills from the attorney. Morgan and Councilmen Will Anklowitz and George Borek voted against the contract; Councilwoman Linda Geevers voted for renewing Herbert's contract, and Councilwoman Heidi Kleinman abstained. Morgan, Anklowitz and Borek ran on a slate together.

Hsueh said during the session his opinion would not change, maintaining that Herbert had two years left on his four-year contract. He met with Morgan on the issue June 25 and with Anklowitz on Monday. Hsueh said yesterday he will file suit next week "to bring this to a final conclusion." Morgan has drafted a proposed ordinance establishing a $15,000 to $25,000 yearly salary for the township attorney on the grounds that he is a department head and should be salaried. But Morgan said Herbert would retain the title of township attorney but not be paid beyond that for any work that he would do.

Under Herbert's current agreement, he is paid $165 hourly for his services and last year billed the township $250,000. (Persico, Trenton Times)


“Two experts in the use of force by police testified Thursday that Deptford Patrolman John Gillespie behaved unprofessionally by engaging in a verbal argument with the motorist he is accused of beating and choking but that the officer did not behave "criminally." The two experts also said choking a person is not an acceptable way of subduing them.”

A doctor who examined the victim, Joseph Rao, 20, of Philadelphia, after the incident testified he saw no evidence that Rao was choked. The testimony came during the second week of Gillespie's trial on charges of aggravated assault and official misconduct. If convicted, he could face 10-20 years on the official misconduct charge and five to 10 years on the aggravated assault charge. John Ryan, a retired Rhode Island police officer, also testified that video evidence from a patrol car camera is not always reliable. Video taken at the scene of the Feb. 2, 2006, car stop in Deptford and in an interrogation room at police headquarters later that day is crucial to the state's case against Gillespie. (Davies, Courier-Post)


“ATLANTIC CITY — The resort is pursuing a tax case that could significantly affect how much resort taxpayers have to pay in the coming years. It is particularly important because next year's revaluation has the potential to raise taxes considerably for residents who have lived in Atlantic City longer. Ultimately, if Atlantic City loses its challenge, it would continue to pay what it previously paid, said attorney Dan Gallagher, who is handling the city's appeal. If it wins, the city stands to benefit to the tune of millions of dollars through reconfigured funding formulas.”

The property in question is the 7.7-acre former Traymore Hotel site along the Boardwalk between Indiana Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It abuts the Sands Casino Hotel site, but is now used for little more than parking. In November 2005, the parcel was part of an announced $170 million deal between Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and American Real Estate Partners that included Nevada land. American Real Estate Partners is an investment arm of billionaire Carl C. Icahn. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)


“WASHINGTON TWP. — Township business administrator Debra Fourre, who has held the position since her appointment in 2005 by Mayor Paul Moriarty, announced her resignation Thursday. Fourre, an East Greenwich resident, has been hired as township manager by Mount Laurel in Burlington County. Fourre said she has enjoyed her tenure in Washington Township but the offer from Mount Laurel presented her an opportunity for promotion.”

She said she will have a similar job in Mount Laurel but will now be responsible for hiring staff. In Washington Township, Mayor Paul Moriarty has that responsibility, she said. "She will be responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the entire township," Mount Laurel Mayor Mark Sanchirico said. "We're very happy that we were able to conclude the search." Sanchirico said about half a dozen applicants were considered in the final rounds before Fourre was chosen. The township hired a private consulting firm, Patriot Consulting Group, to assist in the search. The new job pays $125,000 a year, Fourre said. In Washington Township, she was paid $99,000 a year plus a stipend, she said, which amounted to $106,505, according to the township's latest budget figures. (Huelsman, Courier-Post)


A 14-year veteran of the Millville Police Department –and the son of department Chief Ronald J. Harvey — is facing a domestic violence complaint. The complaint, signed in Millville Municipal Court this week by the wife of Sgt. Ronald A. Harvey, 35, will be referred to the Family Division of state Superior Court, according to county Prosecutor Ronald J. Casella.”

A hearing closed to the public will be held in the Cumberland County Courthouse at a later date, Casella said. A restraining order also was issued for Harvey Tuesday afternoon, meaning that the officer can't have any contact with his wife until the matter is heard in court. Meanwhile, in what is a routine procedure for all police officers who are the subject of domestic violence complaints, Harvey turned in his service weapon, according to Millville police Capt. Ed Grennon. "He was out of town when the restraining order was issued," Grennon said Thursday. "When he returned to the city, he immediately turned in his weapon." State law requires all people charged with domestic violence to surrender any firearms to prevent a potential escalation of alleged domestic issues. Harvey and his wife were involved in a dispute Tuesday morning at Holly City Tire on West Main Street in Millville, according to a police incident report. (Jackson, Daily Journal)


“With the invention of the incandescent light bulb in Menlo Park and the development of the world's first antibiotics in New Brunswick, there are few people around the globe whose lives have not been touched by something that happened in Middlesex County. "You could argue it would have happened somewhere. But it didn't. It happened here," said County Administrator Walter DeAngelo, who researched and wrote "The History Buff's Guide to Middlesex County."

The 83-page book, which is also available on the county Web site, was released yesterday at East Jersey Olde Towne in Piscataway, a village comprising original, replica and reconstructed 18th and 19th century buildings owned by the county. "As you flip through the pages, you'll see the rich history and culture that we are lucky and proud to present," said Freeholder Deputy Director Stephen J. "Pete" Dalina, who oversees the county cultural and heritage commission.

DeAngelo, a self-described history buff, began researching the county's past about four years ago in preparation for giving a guest lecture at Middlesex County College. He was dismayed that there was no comprehensive history available. (Walsh, Star-Ledger)


“The Somerset County Park Commission "suffers from a systematic failure in centralized control, direction and oversight of essential management functions," according to a law firm's analysis. The report to county freeholders from Wolff & Samson of West Orange called for an independent evaluation of park managers for possible firing or reassignment. It also criticized "interference and encroachment" by park commissioners in daily operations, "frequent disregard of the public bidding laws," as well as providing homes and cars to top employees.”

It also criticized "interference and encroachment" by park commissioners in daily operations, "frequent disregard of the public bidding laws," as well as providing homes and cars to top employees. The freeholders voluntarily made copies of the June 22 report available yesterday, after going to court on June 25 to block its re lease to Joseph Lucas, the commission's former construction manager.

Lucas is facing trial for official misconduct and falsifying public documents for allegedly talking kickbacks. His arrest in July 2005 prompted the freeholders to authorize the study. Lucas' defense maintains he was following standard procedures. Freeholder Rick Fontana, the liaison to the commission, said the county has made some changes since Lucas' arrest. For example, county purchasing agent Mary Louise Stanton now reviews commission procurement, he said.

But greater changes would depend on cooperation from the commission, which was established by referendum in 1956 as a quasi-independent agency, he said. (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)


“NORTH HALEDON — The Borough Council is considering three candidates to replace Michael De Marco, whose council seat was vacated when he was sworn as borough attorney last month. The candidates are Russell Frignoca, 71, a licensed mortgage broker with an office on Belmont Avenue; Roy Norbe, a retired school teacher and former member of the Manchester school board; and Stewart Lampe, a cardiovascular technician whose mother, Renate Lampe, was mayor of the borough for eight years.”

Toni Ravo, Republican municipal leader for the past 25 years, said she believes Frignoca will be selected, but the mayor said all three candidates have a lot to offer."All three of them would make good councilmen," Mayor Randy George said Thursday. The mayor would not say who he was leaning toward, because he did not want to sway anyone else's vote. George stressed that each candidate has distinctive attributes. (Kays, Herald News)


“Longtime Morris Township Committee member Kathleen Hyland announced yesterday she will not seek re-election in November. Hyland won the Republican nomination on June 5, but she has asked County Clerk Joan Bramhall to remove her name from the November general election ballot. "It wasn't an easy decision for me to make, but for good reasons I did what I had to do," said Hyland, 67, a member of the township's governing body since 1990.”

The local Republican committee has until Sept. 19 to select a nominee to run against the Democratic candidate, Ron Goldberg, according to the county clerk. Goldberg's Democratic running mate, Jeffrey Grayzel, joined the township committee in May, after a months-long court fight over election results. Grayzel is the first Democratic committee member in 30 years. (McDermott, Star-Ledger)


“WASHINGTON TWP. Business Administrator Debra Fourre is stepping down from her six-figure salary position to be the township manager of Mount Laurel Township in Burlington County. Fourre, who has held her post since January 2005 and was slated to receive $106,505 this year, will leave her position on Aug. 3. She will begin her new job of overseeing the day to day operations of the 42,000-person township of Mount Laurel on Aug. 13 at a salary of $125,000.”

Fourre, a resident of East Greenwich Township, has over 22 years of government experience and holds a masters degree in public administration from Rutgers University. Prior to her position in Washington Township, she was the city administrator of Gloucester City.

Mayor Paul Moriarty said he believes the change is a good opportunity for Fourre, although he will be sad to see her go. "Our loss is Mount Laurel's gain," Moriarty said. "We feel that Deb has been an integral part of our success and she will be great missed, but you can't argue when someone has an opportunity to further their career and make more money." (Beym, Gloucester County Times)


“The Union County medical examiner's five-year contract is not being renewed because of poor performance, according to Prosecutor Theodore Romankow. Leonard Zaretski will leave the office effective July 14. Zaretski, 53, claims he is being forced out of his job. Romankow said Zaretski was often not readily available to the prosecutor's office and did not possess high-level credentials, such as board certifications in forensic pathology and neuropathology. "We are looking for someone who is more highly qualified," Romankow said yesterday.”

Zaretski attended Widener University of Chester, Pa., and earned a bachelor of science degree in 1976. A decade later, Zaretski graduated from the American University of the Caribbean with a medical degree. Zaretski worked as an assistant medical examiner for the Regional Medical Examiner's Office in Newark from 1993 to 2001. Zaretski was already employed in Union County when Romankow was appointed prosecutor in 2002.

As medical examiner, Zaretski and his assistants perform 225 to 250 autopsies a year, 35 to 40 involving homicides. His office performs autopsies in cases of questionable death, including motor vehicle and unattended deaths. Zaretski earns $144,598 a year. A national search is under way for Zaretski's replacement. (Lucas, Star-Ledger) Today’s News from