Bergen Record calls for Coniglio to drop out of race, mixed verdict for Devereaux, Vernon Hill leaves Commerce Bank Quietly, Asbury Park councilman charged with offering contracts in exchange for getting his driveway paved, Beck and Karcher find common ground.
UH OH, CONIGLIO
“He’s innocent until proved guilty, but there’s no doubt that state Sen. Joseph Coniglio is tainted. Given that he’s at the center of a federal corruption investigation, which may not be resolved before Labor Day, we urge him not to run for reelection.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating whether the Paramus Democrat used his Senate seat to steer state grants to Hackensack University Medical Center, which employed him as a paid consultant. From 2004 to 2006, when Coniglio was both a state senator and a consultant for the hospital, it received more than $1 million in state grants………….
Though he hasn’t been charged with a crime, he shouldn’t run for reelection under this cloud. His time and energy will be focused on the investigation and the attempt to clear his name, not on meeting with voters and debating the issues of importance to the 38th District. Republicans have already said they will make the corruption investigation a central theme of their challenge to Coniglio………….
Voters in the 38th District deserve a substantive race run by reform-minded candidates. That means, if Coniglio does bow out, the Bergen County Democratic Organization should not replace him on the ticket with anyone less than strongly independent. In other words, no double dippers, dual office-holders or anyone so beholden to party powers that he or she couldn’t make independent decisions in Trenton…………
Voters in the 38th District are already familiar with tainted soil, the subject of the Paramus middle-school uproar. They don’t need a tainted candidate, too.” (Editorial, Bergen Record)
THE LEGACY OF REV. WILLIAM WATLEY
“A jury yesterday convicted a former high-ranking state official of using state employees to run her private legal practice, but acquitted her of conspiring with family members to funnel them public contracts.
The jury deadlocked on a dozen other counts after spending a week deliberating the fate of former commerce commission chief of staff Lesly Devereaux.
As the verdict was read, Devereaux sat at the defense table with her hand on a Bible and a content look on her face — a sharp contrast to the brazen, overbearing bureaucrat described by state prosecutors during the six-week trial.
Prosecutors contend Devereaux began running her law practice almost as soon as she was named chief of staff in January 2002 by the Rev. William Watley after he became the commerce secretary. Devereaux was a long-time adviser to Watley, pastor of St. James AME Church in Newark.
Watley stepped down in July 2004 amid ethical questions into $870,000 in grants and land that Jersey City approved for St. James after being lobbied by Watley and Devereaux. Watley has not been charged and the proposed housing project never got off the ground…………….
Devereaux faces at least five years in prison, a ban on public service and possible disbarment on the charges of official misconduct and the misapplication of $87,000 in state services. That includes the salary of the commerce secretary that Devereaux ordered to type, file and mail private legal documents on at least 45 separate matters, including work for St. James and Watley, who had a religious book deal that needed review.
Jurors found the state failed to prove Devereaux conspired with her mother and her sister to get them more than $11,000 in state contracts to do proofreading and computer work and tried to disguise those contracts by submitting fake documents to make them look legitimate. The jury also found Devereaux not guilty of taking a cut of the contract that went to her sister.” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
Devereaux earned between $95,000 and $110,000 a year while chief of staff to the Rev. William Watley when he was Commerce secretary. She resigned abruptly in 2004, citing unspecified health problems, and was indicted later that year.
Watley is pastor of St. James AME Church in Newark.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine donated $200,000 to the development arm of the church from his personal account, which Devereaux’s lawyer, Jack Furlong, has said was intended to fund a job for Devereaux at the development agency.
Corzine’s spokeswoman Lilo Stainton denied that the gift, first reported by the Newark Star-Ledger, was meant to fund work for Devereaux.
Federal forms for Corzine’s nonprofit agency, the Jon S. Corzine Foundation, indicate he gave the church $710,000 to help support its school from 2001 to 2005. (Delli Santi, AP)
Devereaux’s attorney, Jack Furlong, accused the state throughout the trial of “piling on the charges.” After the jury returned only two guilty counts from the 16-count indictment, Furlong said he believed the jury agreed the case was “a dramatic case of legal overkill.”
“The attorney general is prancing around like she won. I’m not sure what they won, but they demonstrated that they can overcharge anybody and still not understand when the jury repudiates their position,” said Furlong. “There was never any doubt that my client was responsible for her actions, but it’s just how responsible are you supposed to be?”
Furlong likened the state’s charges against Devereaux to “hitting a thumbtack with a sledgehammer.”” (Rispoli, Gannett)
“A GREEK TRAGEDY”
“There are no grand sendoffs planned. No speeches, either. In fact, Vernon W. Hill II, who founded Commerce Bank 34 years ago, is not even planning to go to the office on Tuesday.
Faced with a federal threat of not being allowed to open any more bank branches unless he stepped aside, the board members of Commerce Bancorp, which Mr. Hill hand-picked, voted last month to remove him as chairman and chief executive effective July 31.
How Mr. Hill rose to become so influential a figure in New Jersey business and politics is the story of an ambitious real estate developer who cultivated powerful friends as he built a network of Burger Kings and then banks across the state. It is also a story of pride and excess.
“It’s a Greek tragedy,” said Allen Starkie, an executive recruiter at Knightsbridge Advisers, who lured several senior managers to Commerce. “Vernon was an incredibly gifted protagonist who challenged the fates and won, but he developed such extreme hubris that in the end, it undermined his success.”
Mr. Hill’s career has been defined more than anything else by a willingness to defy the establishment…………….
But last month the establishment pushed back.
Under the terms of a cease-and-desist order with federal bank regulators, Commerce agreed to stop signing contracts that entangled the bank with businesses run by its board members, officers and members of their families.
But his troubles have not ended there. The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the bank’s primary regulator, says it is continuing to look into possible insider dealing at Commerce, and two people close to the investigation say the 61-year-old Mr. Hill is at the center of the examination………………..
The son of a prosperous Virginia real estate developer, Mr. Hill ran the bank as if it were his own personal patronage system. He hired numerous people with deep connections to New Jersey municipal and state governments, and then he hired their relatives. He befriended George E. Norcross III, one of New Jersey’s most influential Democratic politicians, and appointed him chief executive of Commerce Bank’s insurance business. The bank has done business for more than 30 years with the law firm in which Mr. Norcross’s brother is a managing partner, and last year it paid the firm $1.4 million for legal services, a move the bank said in a regulatory filing was not approved by the board……………….
As its presence in the state grew, so did its political influence. Today the Commerce board includes not only Mr. Norcross, but also a former Senate president and acting governor, Donald T. DiFrancesco, who came on in 2002, and a former chairman of the Ocean County Republican Party, Joseph Buckelew. On the same day in 1996, Mr. Hill purchased the insurance businesses of both Mr. Norcross and Mr. Buckelew and folded them into Commerce.” (Peters and Dash, New York Times)
“PAVE TO PLAY”
“It’s only a driveway, but it could be the road to prison for one Bid Rig defendant.
Former Asbury Park Councilman John J. Hamilton Jr. has been charged with offering public, no-bid contracts to a demolition contractor in return for having his driveway paved.
The contractor — Duke Steffer — was working for the FBI, and his conversations with Hamilton were recorded.
Hamilton has pleaded not guilty to the charge and is scheduled to stand trial in the fall……………
But by the middle of the summer — and after Hamilton won re-election to his second, four-year term — the councilman apparently warmed to Duke.
That’s when he told Steffer that he could find him no-bid demolition work in Asbury Park if in return the “contractor” — in reality, an FBI informant — agreed to pave Hamilton’s driveway free of charge, according to a federal indictment.” (Cullinane, Asbury Park Press)
BECK AND KARCHER: PERFECT TOGETHER
“They don’t generally find much common ground beyond the plain, smoke-draped features of a political battlefield ignited by muzzle flashes and artillery fire.
But even as they engage in a bruising district 12 contest, State Sen. Ellen Karcher and her challenger, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, took a moment today to charge their cavalries in the same direction against local politicians bare knuckling it on the issue of illegal immigration – and against what both women see as an apathetic federal government.
Beck says the schools in her hometown of Red Bank consist of 70% new immigrants, and conceded that in her district many old time residents see newcomers as consumers of public resources but not necessarily contributors via taxes.
According to both Beck and Karcher, however, local and state law enforcement should not tackle the issue of between 700,000 and 800,000 undocumented workers in the State of New Jersey. The candidates share that view in direct opposition to the entrenched opinion of Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello, who amplified his position at an anti-illegal immigration rally Saturday.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
“It’s time to scuttle the nibble-at-the-edges approach to ethics reform. It’s not working.
Cleaning up New Jersey’s reputation needs a much more ambitious strategy: a sweeping overhaul of the way state legislators do their jobs. Make their positions full time. Increase their pay. Bar them from holding other jobs, public or private.
And here’s one that county chairmen dread with every fiber of their wallets: Finance their campaigns with public funds.
Some of this certainly sounds like the daydreams of good-government scolds. But now that Democratic state Sen. Joe Coniglio of Paramus may become the third state senator to face a federal indictment in the past five months, isn’t it time that these ideas, long ignored by the Legislature, are given a serious look?
How many more tawdry stories do we have to read before it’s time to declare a crisis?” (Stile, Bergen Record)
UPS GIVES IN ON CIVIL UNION HEALTH BENEFITS
“Tom Walton and his same-sex partner of 15 years, Mearmon Davis, got back from shopping a little past noon yesterday and saw the UPS overnight letter under the doormat of their East Brunswick home.
Walton, a driver for UPS, opened it and read the news he had been hoping for since Memorial Day weekend, when he and Davis formed a civil union.
“I would be able to add Mearmon as my spouse” under the UPS health benefits plan, Walton said.
The company had reversed its earlier position that its union contract, which provides health benefits for “spouses” of employees — including gay couples married in Massachusetts — did not permit it to unilaterally extend coverage to same-sex partners in New Jersey civil unions…………….
That guidance came from no less than Gov. Jon Corzine, who wrote a letter to UPS urging it to extend health benefits to civil union partners, and from the state Attorney General’s Office.
“The governor is extremely pleased by the news,” said Lilo Stainton, Corzine’s press secretary. “He hopes other companies will follow this lead and do the right thing.”” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
SAMANTHA MALTZMAN, THE NEW PAUL ARONSOHN
“Did Hillary Clinton cancel a public event in Hudson County today because she doesn’t want to take sides in a fledgling Democratic congressional primary next year?
Clinton was scheduled to hold a rally in the shadows of the towers that make up the Newport development in Jersey City, but citing scheduling conflicts, the Clinton campaign called off the public event. She will still attend a $1,000-a-head fundraiser this afternoon sponsored by Jersey City Councilman Steven Fulop, who might challenge Rep. Albio Sires in the June 2008 Democratic primary……………
One Democratic source, who asked that his name be withheld, suggested that the buzz around Fulop’s possible challenge to Sires caused the Clinton campaign to rethink the public event for fear of becoming entangled in the muck of Hudson County politics. The source said that Clinton’s campaign was worried about whether Hillary would be perceived as endorsing one candidate over another, and thought it was better to play it safe and not turn the fundraiser into a spectacle.
“They don’t want to stir the pot any more than they have,” said the Democrat. “A public event with 2,000 people is very different from a private event.”” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“The public rally was officially nixed, but it happened anyway.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had just finished taking questions from campaign donors at a fund-raiser held at the Newport Financial Center building in Jersey City yesterday when an organizer tapped her on her shoulder and said a crowd had gathered outside.
A rally that was supposed to take place had been officially canceled due to “time constraints” on the part of the candidate, but no one told the well over 500 people who wanted – and waited – to hear from Clinton………
“She will be the next president, the first woman,” said Jersey City resident David Medina, who waited over an hour with family members to glimpse the New York senator.
“She is going to bring us peace,” added Emelda Medina, David’s daughter. “The country needs that now.”
The fund-raiser was hosted by Jamie LeFrak, managing partner of the Lefrak Organization, the builders of Newport, and Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop……
“More than anything she comes across as extremely competent,” remarked LeFrak, who said Clinton touched on topics ranging from health care, to the war in Iraq, to U.S. global competitiveness……..
Gov. Jon Corzine and Rep. Albio Sires, D-West New York, attended, as well as Jersey City council members Michael Sottolano and Mary Spinello. Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who along with Newark Mayor Cory Booker endorsed Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president in May, was invited, but didn’t attend, organizers said.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
SOMERSET COUNTY PARKGATE
“The Somerset County Park Commission met yesterday’s deadline for providing records to the state Attorney General’s Office, which requested documents on county cars and homes used by employees, personal expenditures and no-bid contracts.
Since a subpoena arrived last week, the staff has been busy copying the information sought by the state law enforcement agency. The subpoena covered many of the same park records studied by Wolff and Samson of West Orange, which criticized management and operations in a scathing report prepared for the county freeholders and re leased earlier this month.
“They have complied with the subpoena,” commission spokesman Rich Reitman said yesterday. “The boxes of materials were delivered to the Attorney General’s Office this morning.”
The state has not served any other subpoenas on the commission, so the next stage of the investigation is uncertain, he said. But park officials are preparing to respond to issues raised either by the state probe or the Wolff & Samson report, he said. ” (McCarron and Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
NO, IT’S NOT WALLY EDGE
“A mysterious Web blogger who is following Wall municipal officials, police officers and members of their families in a self-appointed mission to root out racism and corruption in their ranks, has now become the target of a criminal investigation himself.
The unidentified operator of two Web sites, who has registered his sites anonymously through a Web domain clearinghouse in Scottsdale, Ariz., is being sought for stalking a woman related to a Wall employee, said Belmar Police Chief Jack Hill.
The suspect even e-mailed a newspaper reporter with the claim that he followed the woman in question to an area bar last week, jotted down what she had to drink and even what time she took a drag on a cigarette.
When the woman stopped at a 7-Eleven convenience store on her way home, the suspect called borough police to report that the woman was driving while intoxicated, Hill said.
The suspect then provided police with a description of the woman’s motor vehicle and where she could be found, Hill said……………….
“The matter is under investigation, because we feel this may rise to the level of stalking,” Hill said. “He said he’s watching everybody, he’s watching officials and their relatives. . . . We’re still investigating, establishing trends.”” (Larsen, Asbury Park Press)
GET WELL SOON
“Warren County Freeholder Director Everett Chamberlain has been moved out of the cardiac care unit two days after suffering a major heart attack and undergoing emergency surgery.
Chamberlain, 60, was in fair condition Monday evening, according to a nursing supervisor at Morristown Memorial Hospital.
“He’s feeling better today,” his son Chad Chamberlain said. “(The doctors) are still assessing any potential damage to his heart. He sat up in a chair today but is not walking yet.”
Doctors now believe Everett Chamberlain’s heart attack Saturday was his second. While vacationing Thursday on an Alaskan cruise he experienced “troublesome” chest pains, his son said……………
Doctors have told the family it was lucky Everett Chamberlain’s wife, Judith, got him to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center so quickly. Doctors there quickly discovered a complete blockage in the main artery to his heart, which is nicknamed “the widow maker,” Chad Chamberlain said.
“They said he might not have made it,” he said…………
Family members will have to make sure Everett Chamberlain rests, listens to medical advice and reduces his stress level in coming weeks, his son said.
“He’s not the kind of person who wants to stay in bed,” Chad Chamberlain said.” (Satullo, Express-Times)
A CRAPPY CAR IS NOT PROBABLE CAUSE
“When two state troopers came upon a disabled vehicle and a second car stopped alongside the New Jersey Turnpike just before 3 a.m. three years ago, they did not call for roadside assistance.
Instead, they questioned the two men who were under the car trying to repair a loose gas tank, as well as four others, waiting nearby. The disabled car was searched, and charges were filed after the troopers found cocaine and marijuana.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled the troopers had no right to search the cars, saying motorists whose vehicles have broken down on the side of the road have the same rights as those who are pulled over by police.
If the cops don’t have a search warrant, the court said in a 6-1 decision, they must at least have a strong suspicion the occupants may have committed a crime.
“The driver of a disabled car facing police officers whose offer of assistance quickly turns into a ‘fishing expedition’ based on a ‘hunch’ that criminal activity is afoot is subject to no less compulsion to accede to a consent search than a driver subject to a typical motor vehicle stop,” wrote Justice Barry Albin.
Assistant Public Defender Mark Friedman said the ruling was a win for motorists.
“The motorists of New Jersey did all right today. … If all of a sudden you get a flat, the police better be there to help you, not wonder if you are a drug smuggler,” he said……….
In a dissenting opinion, Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto said the appeals court panel had reviewed a videotape of the stop and found the troopers did have credible evidence to search the car.
The case will return to Superior Court, where prosecutors said it is likely all of the charges will be dropped. “Realistically, if we don’t have the drugs in the car we don’t really have anything,” said Silva.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
WOULD PEOPLE IN MOST OTHER JOBS GET PAID LEAVE FOR THAT?
“Hackettstown officials are still trying to determine whether a police officer charged with using crystal methamphetamine and stealing police radios should stay on paid leave.
A meeting is being planned between Mayor Michael Lavery, police Chief Leonard Kunz, town Attorney Tom Thorp and special labor attorney Steve Glickman to discuss the employment status of Patrolman Kevin M. Barbera. The officer was charged Friday with second-degree official misconduct for the alleged drug use and third-degree theft in connection with the police radios, which he allegedly gave to a Forks Township man now jailed on drug and weapons charges.
Barbera’s employment status is largely governed by state civil service and personnel rules, Thorp said. According to personnel rules, if a public employee is charged with a first, second or third degree crime, he or she can be immediately suspended without pay.
Town officials said Monday they have made no decision about Barbera, who was paid $59,570 last year.
“We have to determine if his status is going to change or not,” Thorp said…………..
The officer was charged Friday with second-degree official misconduct for the alleged drug use and third-degree theft in connection with the police radios, which he allegedly gave to a Forks Township man now jailed on drug and weapons charges.” (Olanoff, Express-Times)
DREW STUDENTS WILL NEED THE GRANTS
“U.S. Rep. Rush Holt hopes that by September students receiving Pell Grants won’t be restricted to getting the aid in just the fall and spring semesters.
Holt (D-12th) said yesterday at a press conference held at Middlesex County College, that when Pell Grants were first made available by the federal government, lawmakers had a traditional student in mind — one that goes to college full-time right after high school.
“Now, it’s common for students to be juggling college, jobs and a family,” he said. “Pell Grants shouldn’t be restricted to a two-se mester framework. I’m making them accessible by making them available year-round.”
Holt added year-round Pell Grants to the College Cost Reduction Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. The Senate, however, passed its own version of the bill, which didn’t include mak ing the grants available whenever school is in session…………
Holt said when the Pell Grant was first established, it paid for about 80 percent of a public school education. Today, that’s dropped to half.
“Over 61,000 students in New Jersey take out need-based loans for four-year schools each year and incur an average of over $14,000 in debt,” said Holt. “The College Cost Reduction Act will make more stu dents eligible for financial aid and increase the amount that they may receive. Year-round Pell Grants will make it more manageable for individuals to continue their education while working and supporting a family.”” (Hayslett, Star-Ledger)
DON’T READ HIS LIPS
“The envelopes whizzed by, a blur of bold-face type that promised: “Property Tax Relief Inside.”
As the first of $2.2 billion in property tax rebate checks (for seniors and renters, who get theirs first) moved through a sorter at the Treasury department’s plant in West Trenton yesterday, Gov. Jon Corzine said he would deliver the same type of relief next year and the year after. But he stopped short of guaranteeing it.
“We intend to stay with the program we put in place,” Corzine said. “I’m not writing a guarantee, like a no-new-taxes pledge, (but) I’d make a high-probability bet we’ll be back here next year.”
Critics of the program, mainly Republicans, have argued that while the rebate checks will be welcomed by taxpayers this year, the program cannot be sustained in coming years because it is funded with increased sales tax collections drawn over two years.
“It will be very difficult to achieve (in future years),” Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon) said. “The public, before it votes for every seat in the Legislature in November, should realize the constraints under which we operate.”
Corzine insisted he and the Legislature will find the funds again next year for tax relief of some sort.
“This was a consistent pledge I made in my gubernatorial campaign,” he said. “I’m committed to it. The public deserves it.”” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“When it comes to public records archives, New Jersey will always have “PARIS.”
At least that’s the idea behind the Public Archives and Records Infrastructure Support program, dubbed PARIS, that was established “to boost efficiency, integrity and security of public records systems at the county and municipal level.”…………
The goals of the PARIS program are to better preserve the state’s more-than-three-centuries of historical government archives, make them more accessible to the public and safeguard them in case of disaster, and promote sharing of archival services and facilities.
“The whole purpose of this is the preservation and conservation of records,” Sussex County Clerk Erma Gormley said. “Say this building blows up. What happens to my records? Now, there’s a duplicate (computer) server off-site” containing digital backup copies of records.” (Lockwood, Star-Ledger)
SANDRA BOLDEN CUNNINGHAM SHOULD KEEP THIS IN MIND NEXT TIME SHE RUNS
“The state parole board announced Monday it will begin conducting polygraph examinations of registered sex offenders as part of their continuing supervision.
This comes after an incident in May in which a registered sex offender living in Lawrence Township was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting his fiancee’s daughter, beginning when she was 11…………..
Polygraph tests will now be standard whenever a risk assessment is made to determine if a sex offender should be allowed to live in a situation where there is the potential for them to re-offend, according to Neal Buccino, a spokesman for the state parole board.
Buccino said the procedure is new.
“It will begin during the next several months,” he said on Monday.
Not only will sex offenders have to submit to a polygraph test during risk assessments, but all registered sex offenders will submit to polygraph tests periodically throughout their continuing supervision.” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)
“A two-year-old Hamilton ordinance that restricts where a convicted sex offender may live is being challenged by a township man who claims the law is oppressive.
The suit, filed in Superior Court in Trenton last week on behalf of a 19-year-old sex offender who was convicted at age 13, seeks to overturn a township ordinance creating so-called “pedophile-free zones” within 2,500 feet of a school, park, playground or day-care center.
The plaintiff, who goes only by the initials C.M.S., claims the 2005 law, heralded at the time as the first of its kind in the state and possibly the nation, unfairly punishes offenders who have already served their court-imposed sentence.
“C.M.S. has been deprived of his constitutional rights not to be subject to multiple punishments or to additional or greater punishment than allowed by law at the time the criminal act was committed,” the suit said.
During a telephone conference with the lawyers yesterday, Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg agreed the lawsuit can proceed anonymously and, with the consent of the township, granted a temporary restraining order allowing C.M.S. to remain at his new home, which is within 2,500 feet of Kuser Park Farm, Kuser Elementary School and Trenton Catholic Academy. The address of the home was not disclosed.” (Stein, Trenton Times)
IN MOUNT OLIVE
“Marilyn Ryan, a former mayoral and business administrator’s assistant, has sued the township for wrongful termination…
The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court, Morristown, earlier this month, names the township, councilmen Robert Greenbaum and Steven Rattner, who are the governing body’s president and vice president, respectively, and several “John Does” as defendants.
in the complaint, Ryan’s attorney, Glenn Montgomery, of Bridgewater-based law firm Montgomery, Chapin & Fetten, P.C., alleges wrongful termination for Ryan’s having sought workers compensation and disability benefits. The complaint also claims her dismissal violated the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).” (Mendez, Daily Record)
IN MORRIS TOWNSIHP
“MORRIS TWP. — The municipal Republican committee has selected Dan Caffrey as this year’s candidate for the one Township Committee seat that will be vacated this year by Committeewoman Kathleen Hyland.
Caffrey will compete against Democrat Ron Goldberg in the November general election for the one, three-year seat available. Hyland has decided not to run for re-election.
A resident since December 1993, Caffrey was selected last week by the committee, which consists of 46 members. The committee is comprised of one man and one woman from each of the township’s 23 voting districts.
Caffrey, 47, who is director of sales at Mortgage Express in Cedar Knolls, said he was chosen from a group of five people.” (Hassan, Daily Record)
“A state appellate court yesterday reinstated a lawsuit accusing the Belleville police of falsely arresting a man for drunken driving and engaging in a cover-up when a videotape allegedly showed the arresting officers were lying.
The decision by the Superior Court Appellate Division uses blunt language in suggesting that Belleville police officials, including Chief Joseph Rotonda, condoned wrongdoing on the part of their officers.
It found that the department’s handling of charges that Officer Anthony Weedo falsely arrested Darian Ehler constituted “evidence from which the jury could conclude that the police chief had a custom of overlooking the filing of false police reports by certain members of the police force …”
The three-judge panel partially reversed a decision by now-retired Superior Court Judge Donald Mer kelbach, who threw out the lawsuit in April 2006. ” (Kleinknecht, Star-Ledger)
“Two property owners in Maplewood have won a pre-emptive strike against eminent domain after a state Superior Court judge removed their lots from the township’s redevelopment plan.
Neither Carolyn Evans’ office building that houses her accounting business nor Richard Rico’s commercial space that includes a hair salon had been condemned. But both, located side by side on Springfield Avenue, were designated as properties in need of redevelopment.” (Roberts, Star-Ledger)
IT TURNED UGLY
“A bloody confrontation between a couple who attended Saturday’s anti-illegal immigration rally in Morristown and a group that opposed the couple’s views led to three additional arrests, police said yesterday.
The three arrests bring the total number of those charged at the event that drew about 500 people to Morristown to five arrests, police said…………..
The fight began after the ProAmerica Society of Mount Olive’s anti-illegal immigration rally ended. According to police, the Belvidere couple was assaulted as they drove in their 2006 Ford pickup past about a dozen counter-protesters.” (Vyas, Star-Ledger)
IN CHESTER TOWNSHIP
“Short-circuiting a potentially thorny legal debate, a Morris County judge ruled yesterday that the Chester Township Council must choose a new council member from the original slate of nominees provided by the local Republican organization.
Judge Theodore Bozonelis ordered the township council to fill new Mayor Bill Cogger’s vacant council seat at its Aug. 7 council meeting. The judge narrowed the field of candidates to William Asdal, Edward McCarthy and Michael Pelletier.
Chester Township had filed a lawsuit on July 6, after receiving two conflicting slates of nominees from the Chester Township Republican Committee, which had 15 days after Cogger’s resignation to nominate replacement candidates.” (Castro, Star-Ledger)
IT’S NOT UPS
“A gay man claims his boss at Novartis Federal Credit Union approved five days’ bereavement when his longtime partner’s dad died, but then fired him when he didn’t return to work sooner.
Jason Reed, 38, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the East Hanover credit union that services Novartis Pharmaceuticals employees; its president, Ann South; and two members of the board of directors that oversees the credit union.
“I had never been treated so disrespectfully in my life,” Reed said. Morristown attorney William J. Koy filed the lawsuit in Superior Court in Morristown, and it be came public yesterday.”(McHugh, Star-Ledger)
“BARNEGAT — The state’s top education official ruled yesterday that a township Board of Education member will be allowed to stay on the board, despite appearing to have a conflict of interest at his time of election.
State Education Commissioner Lucille Davy ruled that board member Robert Houser can stay on the board as long as he takes another oath of office………..
Administrative Law Judge John R. Tassini ruled May 23 that Houser must be removed from his position on the board because of a conflict of interest that arose when his wife filed a workman’s compensation suit May 25, 2005 against the district.” (Huba, Asbury Park Press)