Cryan says James and Bryant should resign, Corzine back at hospital but not for health reasons, Republicans decry state’s slowness to hand over monetization information, Newark could pay for James’s legal bills if he’s acquitted.
PROBABLY A SMART MOVE
“The lawmaker who is chairman of the state Democratic Party yesterday said State Sen. Wayne Bryant (D., Camden), who is awaiting trial on corruption allegations, should immediately resign "for the party's sake and the Legislature's sake."
Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D., Union) also said that State Sen. Sharpe James, the former Newark mayor who was indicted last week on federal charges of fraud and corruption, should immediately quit his seat.
"Enough's enough," Cryan said of his fellow Democrats. "They're not running again. For the party's sake and the Legislature's sake, step aside”………….
Unless they agree to leave office early, the senators will return for a lame-duck session of the Legislature that will begin after the November election.
If James and Bryant resign, the party would choose their replacements. The newcomers would serve as place holders until the election, but would gain experience in the Legislature and the status of incumbency.” (Delli Santi, AP)
“"Why not bring in somebody new and have them represent the district," said Cryan. "Teresa Ruiz would be excellent in that role. Why not step in now."” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
CORZINE REVISITS HOSPITAL
“Cooper University Hospital's "most famous patient" returned yesterday – this time bringing word of $6.4 million for a cancer treatment center in Camden.
"I am glad to have arrived by car this time rather than helicopter," quipped Gov. Corzine, who was flown in after an April 12 crash that severely injured him.
Corzine's visit was the second time this year he has come to the city to announce a major development push……………
The new 100,000-square-foot Cancer Institute of New Jersey is a public/private venture. The hospital plans to spend $100 million for a new building in Camden for the institute, which is now housed in suburban Voorhees.
The facility is another effort by the hospital to capture some of the $4 billion a year that is lost as South Jersey patients cross the river to Philadelphia hospitals, officials said yesterday………….
Prior to the announcement, the governor met with Faison and Theodore Davis for more than 90 minutes in Camden's City Hall to discuss the city's revitalization efforts.” (Ott, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Theodore Z. Davis, the retired judge who's been running the city since January, on Monday gave the clearest indication yet that he intends to stay in the job.
At a ceremony announcing a new $100 million cancer center at Cooper University Hospital, Davis, 73, explained how he came to be appointed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine to lead the state takeover of the city government.
And he explained how, after a 90-minute Monday morning meeting with Corzine, he wants to stay.
"I feel a little fortunate. I'm just an old home guy," Davis told a crowd of dignitaries beneath a white tent near the hospital. "I was born here. It took a little doing to get me to say yes to the governor. But this gentleman is one helluva guy. I appreciate his feelings for this city. My home. That's why I said yes. And I guess I'll stay around a little while, governor, to help.” (Guenther, Courier-Post)
“After his appearance, Corzine was approached by a group of angry nursing students wearing bright purple scrubs with a "Camden Board of Education" patch on the sleeves.
The students showed up on their lunch hour with the slim hope of talking to the governor about their fears that a lack of state funding will cause the school district to cut their program, a part of its Adult Education curriculum. At least 28 students are seven months away from finishing the 18-month program, and are worried it will shut down for a lack of funds be fore they can finish.” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“Corzine called his return to Cooper “emotional.” His recovery has been far quicker than doctors anticipated. Corzine has been walking unassisted for weeks and now averages three or four public appearances per day.
“He’s pretty close to his normal schedule,” spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said.
Still, Corzine — who has lost 30 pounds since the accident — said progress remains.
“I’m not out running around,” Corzine said. “We’ve still got a ways to go.”
REPUBLICANS WAIT IMPATIENTLY FOR MONETIZATION INFO
“State Republicans have yet to receive the load of information they requested from Gov. Jon S. Corzine's administration on his toll road idea — and specifics on the $4.5 million already spent.
State Sen. Leonard Lance, R-Warren-Hunterdon, has called the lack of information "deeply disturbing," stating the public and Legislature deserve the opportunity to examine documents relating to any plan to profit from the state's roads.
Treasury officials said Monday that Republicans have also not yet accepted the office's offer to review some of the information available and refine their voluminous request.
Through an Open Public Records Act request, Assembly Republicans requested any state solicitations for vendors, contracts, and work product of vendors, including projected toll increases or any financial strategy backed by toll revenue.
They also requested information about other state assets such as the state lottery that could possibly be used in a funding plan.
In a recent response, the office called part of the request "open-ended."” (Graber, Express-Times)
SURELY JAMES WOULD NOT HAVE THE CITY OF NEWARK PAY
“When former Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson was acquitted of corruption charges in the 1980s, he walked out of court a free man.
Then he stuck the city with a hefty bill for his defense lawyer.
His bill, along with that of former City Council President Earl Harris, who was also tried for corruption, cost the city more than $1 million, thanks to a city ordinance that covers legal fees for officials if they are acquitted of criminal charges or if the case is dismissed.
Now, nearly two decades later, the city could find itself in a similar situation if former Mayor Sharpe James beats federal charges that he dipped into public money to pay for lavish vacations and steered lucrative land deals to a companion, Tamika Riley. Authorities say James spent $58,000 on city-issued credit cards for luxury meals, trips and movie tickets.
So far, James has not asked the city to pay any fees for his attorney, Raymond M. Brown. Brown did not return a call for comment yesterday.
"We have not received a request from the attorneys of Sharpe James and until that time, it would be irresponsible to speculate or comment," said Lupe Todd, a spokeswoman for Mayor Cory Booker.” (Wang, Star-Ledger)
ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS
“Frank Pallone has the biggest war chest of any Congressman in the country.
Pallone has $2.9 million in the bank – more cash-on-hand than any of his 464 colleagues. Not coincidentally, he’s interested in becoming Frank Lautenberg’s successor should the 83-year-old U.S. Senator decide not to run again in 2008 or retire early.
“I certainly would like to run statewide. I guess that’s no surprise to anybody, whether it would be for Senate or Governor at some point. But I fully support Senator Lautenberg,” said Pallone………………..
Also not by coincidence, Rob Andrews and Steve Rothman — the second and third New Jersey Congressmen with the most money in the bank – also want to succeed Lautenberg. The two have $2.25 million and $1.87 million, respectively. That’s a lot of cash considering neither of them is likely to face a serious challenge by Republicans come November, 2008.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT…
“Did you hear the one about the Irish state senator, the political reporter and the bad joke?
State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough, R-Atlantic, learned the hard way last week that there is no such thing as a “harmless” ethnic joke. McCullough told the joke about an Asian couple and a black baby to, of all things, a reporter for the online site Politicsnj.com as the two stood outside a Chinese restaurant.
We’re not sure which was more politically dumb — telling an ethnic joke, or telling it to a reporter who was doing a story on the state Senate race between McCullough and Assemblyman James Whelan, D-Atlantic………………
McCullough said he was “surprised and disappointed” that the reporter included the joke in the story.
We’re surprised and disappointed that McCullough is still so politically naive. He’s in his 18th year as mayor of Egg Harbor Township. Maybe that’s made him a little complacent.” (Editorial, Press of Atlantic City)
NORTH BERGEN SUBPOENA
“The New Jersey Attorney General's Office has issued a subpoena to North Bergen, requesting tens of thousands of employment records and work orders from the town's Public Works Department, according to several sources.
The requested records include, among other items, sign-in sheets, time sheets and "a half-million" work orders that detail when work was done and who completed it, according to Public Works Commissioner Frank Gargiulo.
"Our employment records are very complete, and everybody signs in and out. If someone is doing something wrong, they will find out," Gargiulo said yesterday. "I am not concerned."
Sources tell The Jersey Journal that the investigation concerns possible no-show jobs within the Public Works Department, focusing on at least three employees……….
Mayor Nicholas Sacco declined to discuss the subpoena yesterday, referring all questions to city attorney Herb Klitzner.” (Renshaw, Jersey Journal)
“The Republican-dominated Hamilton Township Council wants a question on November's ballot, asking the people directly what Hamilton ought to do with Klockner Woods.
A few years ago, Mayor Glen Gilmore and the then-Democratic Township Council purchased the 53-acre tract for $4.1 million. Gilmore subsequently lost control of the council in part when the Republicans spun the mayor's open space purchase come election time as a frivolous cash-for-swamp deal…………..
But questions about the tract still linger, Republicans say; and Feinberg's ruling notwithstanding they want a directive from the voters on the same ballot that will feature a matchup between Gilmore and his Republican opponent John Bencivengo.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
SOMERS POINT MAYOR RESIGNS
“Mayor Dan Reilly, who has kept a low profile in city politics for most of the last two years, has dropped off the Republican ticket altogether.
Reilly will be replaced as the candidate for mayor in November by City Councilman Jack Glasser, who said party leaders asked him to run when Reilly got out of the race.
Reilly didn’t return calls seeking comment Monday, and Jeanne Carlson, the new president of the city’s Republican club, said the first-term mayor didn’t say specifically why he was giving up his re-election bid……….
“He hasn’t given any reason that I know of,” said Carlson, although she noted that several close Reilly relatives, including the mayor’s wife, have died in the last two years.
“He didn’t say that was the reason,” Carlson said. “He just handed in his resignation at the last meeting and wished Jack Glasser well.”…………..
But the mayor had been ordered last year by a state judge to have no involvement, publicly or privately, with any redevelopment projects in the city — and redevelopment has been the dominant political issue in Somers Point for several years.” (DeAngelis, Press of Atlantic City)
IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN
“Sen. Robert Menendez of Hoboken is asking all New Jersey residents to write letters to their legislators in Washington, D.C., and to President Bush to urge their support for a bill that reauthorizes the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).
If the program is not renewed by the Sept. 30 deadline federal dollars could be halted until further notice, the senator said yesterday at a news conference at Hoboken University Medical Center……………
Menendez said the bipartisan bill would increase federal aid to the state-funded health insurance for low-income, working-class families by $10 billion over the next five years. To fund the increase, Menendez is proposing a hike in the federal excise tax on tobacco to 61 cents.
"These are people not looking for a handout," Menendez said. "The people affected are hard-working people, working five, sometimes six days a week."……….
According to Menendez, Bush wants to cut off parents who receive insurance under S-CHIP and wants to limit the funding to children within 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Currently, NJ FamilyCare covers families 350 percent above the poverty line.” (Pearson, Jersey Journal)
RACIAL TENSION IN PERTH AMBOY
“When a jury awarded Perth Amboy Police officer Guadalupe Munoz $1.9million in a racial harassment suit against his chief and fellow officers, some saw it as vindication for the city's Mexican-American community.
Instead, the verdict has inflamed tensions between the city's Hispanic community and its police force. For the second time in two years, local organizations are calling for the resignation of Police Chief Michael Kohut. The city has filed an appeal of the jury award and is seeking a new trial.
Last week, more than 50 residents and Hispanic leaders marched in a downpour through downtown Perth Amboy in protest. Some people cited the derogatory remarks Kohut made about Mexicans during a police training session in 2005. Others said the Munoz case is emblematic of the deeply-rooted pattern of racial intimidation in a city where more than half the residents are Hispanic.
Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas said under Kohut's leadership, the police department's relationship with the Hispanic community has improved. Of the department's 125 officers, Vas said 52 are Latino and more are fluent in Spanish.” (Steele, Star-Ledger)
GOODBYE JAMES SHEERAN
“James Sheeran was a highly decorated paratrooper who did battle with the Germans during World War II and later did battle with auto insurance companies as New Jersey insurance commissioner under Gov. Brendan Byrne.
Earlier this year, Sheeran received the Legion of Honor medal from the French government, its highest award, for his valor, joining an elite American group that includes Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton.
Sheeran, whose career also included stints as an FBI agent and mayor of West Orange, died yesterday at the age of 84.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
SAYREVILLE NO LONGER “LIVING ON A PRAYER”
“Until yesterday, when it made Money magazine's list of the 100 best places in the country to live, Sayreville didn't have a whole lot of cachet.
Sure, it had the Raritan River, Route 9, its very own exit on the Garden State Parkway, some coastline, and at least one famous native son, rocker Jon Bon Jovi. But there were also numerous Superfund sites and landfills…………
Still, by this year the Middlesex County town had shed enough of its manufacturing past to come in at No. 47 on the magazine's 20th annual list of 100 places to live. The list also included six other New Jersey towns — Montville, which ranked 13th; Hillsborough, 23rd; River Vale, 29th; Marlboro, 33rd; Berkeley Heights, 45th; and Readington, 58th.” (Alloway, Star-Ledger)
“A steady low crime rate and ease of living propelled Montville to the highest ranking among the seven New Jersey towns selected in Money magazine's annual "Best Places to Live." (Schneider, Daily Record)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
“New Jersey lawmakers on Monday questioned whether the Defense Department's recommendation to close Fort Monmouth was deliberately deceptive or simply incompetent
An ongoing Asbury Park Press investigation into the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process that shuttered the fort revealed on Sunday that Pentagon officials knew at the time the data used to calculate the costs of closing the post were wrong and would lead to an underestimate of hundreds of millions of dollars, but did nothing to correct the information.
Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne "should be called to task" for telling a federal panel in 2005 that there was no evidence that the estimated closing costs for Fort Monmouth were inaccurate, a member of the Shore's congressional delegation said.
Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said he was "outraged" when he read that Wynne, then an Undersecretary of Defense, told the chairman of the BRAC commission in writing that the cost estimates to close the fort were accurate, even though the Department of Defense had been told a month earlier by fort officials that they had submitted the wrong information to be used to calculate those costs.” (Brown and Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
HIGHLANDS GET A NEW BOOSTER
“It started out three years ago as a simple — if dramatic — concept. The Highland Act virtually banned major development on hundreds of thousands of wooded acres in northwestern New Jersey, a bid to protect the water supply for 4 million people.
But the commission charged with writing a regional master plan to implement the law soon found itself mired in red tape and controversy.
It was railed at by critics, swamped with scientific studies and regularly blew deadlines.
Now, help has arrived in the form of nationally known planner Charlie Siemon.
Siemon, who is based in Florida, met yesterday with the council staff in Chester and will continue those meetings this morning. He hopes to leave New Jersey with an outline in place and will return for an Aug. 16 council meeting, where a specific timetable for producing a plan may be hammered out.” (Saha and Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
“In a ruling affecting tens of thousands of public employees in New Jersey, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday a government agency can fire a worker for an egregious act without first going through other levels of discipline.
The 6-0 decision gave heft to the power of the state's Merit System Board, which handles disciplinary proceedings and other issues related to civil service law.
The court ruled the 2001 firing of a Division of Youth and Family Services trainee who held a lit cigarette lighter in front of a child's face during an interview was supported by the record and not illegal or unreasonable.
The board's decision "recognized legitimate public policy reasons for not insisting" that the DYFS give the worker another chance, wrote Justice Jaynee LaVecchia for the court.
Over 80 percent of the state's 84,400 workers are subject to the Merit System Board, as are many municipal and county employees.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
PROBATION OFFICERS WANT POLICE POWERS
“New Jersey probation officers, whose bid to carry firearms was thwarted by their bosses on the Supreme Court, have teamed up with lawmakers in an effort to move control of their agency to the executive branch with the hope of gaining police powers.
Legislators recently introduced a bill to put a question on the ballot to authorize a change in the state constitution transferring Probation Services from the judiciary to the state Parole Board.
Parole Board officers have law enforcement duties, including the ability to make arrests and conduct searches. Probation officers do not………….
One bill (ACR266) would authorize the ballot question and two companion bills (A4458 and A4360) would move probation officers to the Parole Board and give them police powers. With the Legislature expected to remain in recess until after the November election, the question could not be put to voters before November 2008.
Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Morris), a co-sponsor of the bills, said: "We want to make sure these people (probation officers) are properly trained and properly protected." He said that while those on probation and those on parole are handled differently, "they're all known offenders, and as far as I'm concerned we have to err on the side of safety.” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
ON THE BOARDWALK
“OCEAN GROVE — The Camp Meeting Association has agreed to mediation with two same-sex couples claiming discrimination over the association's refusal to allow them to use the boardwalk pavilion for a civil union ceremony.
Both couples have filed complaints with the state Division on Civil Rights claiming "public accommodation discrimination." The division declined to comment Monday.
The association's chief administrative officer, the Rev. Scott M. Hoffman, said in an e-mailed statement Monday that the association remains "very optimistic and look(s) forward to resolving this issue through the mediation process." Hoffman could not be reached for further comment.
The Camp Meeting Association is a Methodist ministry that owns all the land and boardwalk in the oceanfront enclave that is part of Neptune.
Harriet Bernstein, 65, and Luisa Paster, 59, of Broadway filed a complaint in June alleging public accommodation discrimination over the association's refusal to allow them to use the pavilion for their same-sex civil union ceremony.” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
“Pay-to-play reform is officially on the table.
The Township Committee at its meeting Monday introduced an ordinance that restricts political campaign contributions from those seeking to do business with the township. It also restricts "wheeling," a practice in which political contributions are made indirectly through political action committees.
The ordinance limits campaign contributions by professional business entities to a maximum of $300 annually to any township political candidate or $500 to a local political party.” (Herget, Asbury Park Press)
STRATHMERE WILL RISE AGAIN
“Township officials are getting ready for a coastal storm of a different kind in Strathmere.
The Township Committee has hired a lawyer to represent residents if Strathmere follows through with its bid to secede. In recent weeks, the rumbling of discontent on the island has caught the attention of Township Hall 10 miles away in Petersburg. The committee hired Wildwood lawyer Frank Corrado to represent the township.
Some Strathmere residents want to leave the mainland township and join another barrier island, presumably Sea Isle City. They would take their valuable tax revenue with them. Residents, however, have not filed anything in writing with the Township Clerk’s Office.
“We needed to take a proactive step,” Mayor Richard Palombo said. “This is something we needed to do to protect the interests of the township.”
Strathmere is the island arm of the 65-square-mile township. This mostly residential community is tiny in geography and population, with fewer than 250 year-round residents. But it is valuable, with an assessed property value of $393 million.” (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)
IN UPPER TOWNSHIP
“An optician and Democrat from Strathmere is running for Township Committee this year.
Steve Nickelsberg said he grew fed up with government bureaucracy this year when the state Department of Environmental Protection would not let him build a wind turbine in his backyard without expensive coastal permits.
Now he wants to improve things from the inside. He will join Democrat Robert Vicario in challenging Republican incumbents Curtis Corson Jr. and Jay Newman for two seats.” (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)
“A resident committee intends to circulate a petition challenging the city's decision to appoint a full-time civilian public safety director to lead the police department.
The committee will ask city council tonight to table an ordinance that, if approved on final reading, would officially make the new director, Lanuel Ferguson, the police department's head, Hampton Street resident Warren Robinson said on Monday……………..
"One way or another, we're going to have a police chief in Bridgeton. I feel confident about that," said Robinson, a World War II veteran who has served as a city government watchdog for more than 10 years.” (McCullen, Bridgeton News)
“The former city schools superintendent told the city school board that allegations concerning problems with courses at the Sherman Avenue campus were untrue, according to a former school board member.
Geraldine Eure told the city council's special investigative committee yesterday that former Superintendent James Lytle assured board members that the allegations were incorrect.
A state Department of Education (DOE) report has found a number of irregularities at the school, which housed a ninth-grade repeater program, including students being forced to repeat courses they had already taken and crediting students for courses not offered there.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE
“A township board of education member was charged with drunken driving early yesterday morning, township police said.
Allison Anderson, 37, was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving after she was stopped on Florence Avenue just after midnight, according to a statement re leased by police…………..
Anderson was elected to the school board last year. Police said she does not have any prior arrests for DWI.” (Star-Ledger)