Judge says Sen. Martin did not improperly influence jury, Lance challenges Corzine to unveil monetization plan, judge advises McGreevys to end divorce case.
MR. POTATO HEAD
“State Sen. Robert J. Martin did not improperly influence fellow jurors when he served as foreman last year on a civil jury that awarded $876,000 to a woman who fell at the Wharton ShopRite in 2002, a judge ruled on Tuesday. But an appeal is expected.
In a 10-page written decision, Judge W. Hunt Dumont concluded that Martin, R-Morris Plains, did not violate his oath as a juror and was not accorded any special status by fellow jurors who voted in June 2006 to give Wharton resident Joyce Barber, now Joyce Reynolds, $876,000 to compensate her for neck and back injuries she suffered in her fall in a health and beauty aids aisle.
Dumont in January was ordered by a state appeals court panel to conduct a special inquiry into Martin’s conduct as foreman, after the long-time senator and Seton Hall University School of Law professor wrote a commentary about his jury service for the Dec. 4 edition of the New Jersey Law Journal. Martin wrote that jurors relied on him for assistance, “especially in dealing with abstract legal concepts and procedural issues.”……….
“There was no credible evidence of misconduct of any kind. While the article should not have been published when it was, nevertheless, this was Senator Martin’s error in judgment. But no harm has been done other than to delay the progress of the pending appeal,” the judge wrote………….
The judge noted that during his special inquiry, no jurors particularly thought of Martin as a leader, except in his role as foreman. One juror recollected that Martin “hardly spoke” in the jury room, the judge said.” (Wright, Daily Record)
“Martin called Dumont’s ruling fair, but maintains that he played an important role in getting the jury to calculate a reasonable award.
“I wasn’t trying to blow my own horn,” the senator said. “I never suggested that the jurors made their decision on fault based on my own opinions.”
Martin said he wrote the commentary for the legal community to explain what it was like to be on a jury and to question whether attor neys ought to serve. In 1995, Martin sponsored legislation that lifted restrictions on who is exempt from jury duty — including lawyers.” (McHugh, Star-Ledger)
CAMPAIGN ISSUE #1
“State Senate Minority Leader Leonard R. Lance wants to see Gov. Corzine’s plan to sell or lease the state’s toll roads or borrow against future toll increases.
Lance, R-Hunterdon, speaking Tuesday at a meeting with the editorial board of the Asbury Park Press, accused Corzine of stalling the release of details of the plan until after the November elections.
“I’m calling today for the immediate release of the plan,” Lance said. “I’m suspicious that it won’t be released until the close of business on Nov. 6.”
Lance said he also is skeptical of whether voters would have a say on the plan to “monetize” assets such as the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike or on how the proceeds of such a plan would be spent…………..
But Corzine administration officials said they don’t want to put an incomplete plan out for public debate without all questions answered.
“If there were a plan, the administration would be out among the public and at the 21 public hearings the governor said he’d hold to describe what’s been put together in detail,” said Tom Vincz, Treasury Department spokesman.” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
BUT THIS COMPLICATES THE ISSUE
“Drive along Landis Avenue in Vineland and you can see how Republicans in the 1st District are staking their election hopes on one issue more than any other.
Dotted up and down the road are signs that state, “Don’t let the Democrats sell our roads. Vote Republican.”
But it’s Democrats who are on the offensive now in the toll road debate as they point to a 1999 law to accuse their Republican opponents of having voted for the very concept they rail against.
The intention of the 1999 law, according to documents prepared by the state treasurer at the time, essentially was to sell tax shelters by allowing businesses to temporarily lease state assets and claim their depreciation value as a credit against federal taxes. Yet the law’s wording is broad enough to give Democrats room to make the case that it also opened the door to leasing tangible state assets, including state highways.
Among the 108 New Jersey lawmakers from both parties who voted for the 1999 bill was state Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic. For the past month, Asselta has repeatedly bashed his opponent, Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, for supporting a state budget that includes language that authorizes funds for the state treasurer to prepare for the leasing of state assets. The Corzine administration’s plan is to sell state toll roads to a non-profit company, generating immediate revenue to pay down debt and invest in capital projects while paying back the bonds with future toll hikes. The plan would need further Legislative approval, though Corzine recently promised to put it before voters.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
JUDGE BEGS MCGREEVYS TO END SOAP OPERA
“The bitter divorce case between former Gov. James E. McGreevey and his estranged wife took another angry turn yesterday, with lawyers for the warring couple sparring over the amount of support Dina Matos McGreevey is seeking.
McGreevey’s lawyer, Matthew Piermatti II, touched off the latest dispute, saying the former first lady wanted $56,000 a month in alimony and other support to “continue in the lifestyle” to which she had grown accustomed in the governor’s mansion.
“She is asking for too much,” Piermatti said outside the Union County Courthouse in Elizabeth, where the McGreeveys attended a status hearing on their case.
Hours later, Matos McGreevey’s lawyer, John Post, issued a statement calling the support claim “entirely false” and blasting Piermatti as “grossly irresponsible.”
The exchange came shortly after the Superior Court judge presiding over the divorce urged the McGreeveys to settle the case, citing the financial and emotional toll it might cause.
“You folks do not have the money to try this case to conclusion,” the judge, Karen Cassidy, told the pair, who did not speak during the hearing and who barely acknowledged each other. “Emotion should not drive this case. Anger should not drive this case.”” (Lucas, Star-Ledger)
“Hillary Clinton showed up Monday at a fundraising event at the Newport Financial Center on the Jersey City waterfront and came away with $150,000 for her presidential bid. City Councilman Steve Fulop came out of the event with some new respect from Clinton’s New Jersey Democratic Party apparatchik and he came away with some valuable lessons about how to run these big money events.
“I’m not expecting any favors from these people in 2008 or 2009,” said Fulop. “I get to see how these fundraising events are put together, and I just believe it is a good thing for Jersey City to get involved.”…………
With the big help of Jaime LeFrak, of the Queens-based Lefrak Organization, which is developing the Newport section of the city, Fulop co-hosted the Clinton event. The councilman also envisioned a much bigger event.
Having researched in the city library historic visits by future and actual presidents, Fulop may have been hoping to simulate the famous John F. Kennedy rally at Journal Square and place Clinton on a list of presidential hopefuls and national chief executives who have stopped in Jersey City, including Woodrow Wilson and Abe Lincoln.
Then again, another spin by a Newport group that has been at odds with Fulop suggests that it was not Fulop’s idea for the rally but LeFrak’s, from his experience with previous Newport rallies for Corzine. They said that it was all Newport’s diverse community that came out to welcome Hillary Clinton……………
The security for the event was a nightmare to plan. According to those involved in the planning, Secret Service did not say where the stage would be set until the last moment. Snipers were present, even after the public rally was canceled.
Word among organizers and local Democrats is that the kibosh on the rally came the day of the event from state and national Democratic leaders. It seemed to many involved in the planning that the decision was more political than for scheduling and security reasons. Then again, she was late to Newport.” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
UNION BRIBERY SCHEME
“On paper, the money changed hands through routine payroll checks that would go to the daughter of a long-standing member of Local 825 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
Her position, however, was bogus; the job a no-show, federal prosecutors charged.
The payroll checks were all part of an elaborate bribery scheme involving at least two members of Local 825, who prosecutors say allowed a Pennsylvania steel work company to hire non-union labor in return for more than $90,000 in payoffs during the construction of an unnamed office tower in Jersey City.
Among those charged in the case was Craig Wask, 60, of Mont vale, who retired last June from his $122,741 position as a Local 825 business agent.
Also charged in the indictment was Francis Impeciati, 58, of Bangor, the president of Blue Ridge, who surrendered in court.
Both men entered pleas of not guilty in a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark. ” (Sherman, Star-Ledger)
“United Parcel Service now grants full health benefits to same-sex partners of its employees, provided they have registered for a civil union in New Jersey (as opposed to, say, in Vermont). But FedEx does not provide benefits to the partners of its New Jersey workers — unless they happen to work at Kinko’s, a FedEx subsidiary.
New Jersey’s civil union law was supposed to fulfill the State Supreme Court’s mandate that gay and heterosexual couples be granted the same rights and benefits. But more than five months after its adoption, gay-rights groups and those who have obtained civil unions said the reality of the law’s application remained a hodgepodge, and that hundreds of people were struggling to persuade their bosses to treat their partners like spouses.
United Parcel, for example, changed course this week only after Gov. Jon S. Corzine intervened, sending a letter to the company to clarify its responsibilities under the state law and appealing to its executives’ sense of decency and fair play.
The Corzine administration has heralded U.P.S. as an example to press other companies to provide benefits, and is relying on couples to come forward and complain if they feel they are being denied benefits. Gay-rights groups, meanwhile, have thus far shied away from going to court to overturn the civil union law, and instead hope to highlight such disparities to persuade the State Legislature to approve same-sex marriage by 2008.
“The ideal is to keep pointing out company after company after company,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a statewide gay-rights organization. “We’ve done it with personal stories. It’s going to be a steady drip, drip, drip of couples and their children.”” (Fahim, New York Times)
“Since 1961, New Jersey has spent nearly $4 billion to preserve 1.3 million acres of open space and farmland — about a quarter of the land within the state’s borders.
In order to keep the state’s historically popular open-space preservation program going in these lean economic years, Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday signed a bill that asks New Jersey voters to approve a November ballot question authorizing the state to borrow $200 million to continue open space preservation efforts after 2008.
“It’s absolutely our duty to make sure that that heritage is passed from one generation to the next,” Corzine said during a bill- signing in Princeton attended by dozens of environmental activists. “We can only do that if we have the resources.”………..
The last time voters were asked to fund open space preservation, in 1998, they approved by a 2-to-1 margin nearly $2 billion over 10 years. That money — for the Gar den State Preservation Trust; Green Acres, Blue Acres and other preservation programs — runs out after the current fiscal year.
This ballot question would provide what several lawmakers described as “bridge” funding for those open space programs until a consistent source of state funding can be identified.” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“Gov. Jon S. Corzine didn’t waive the right to keep private e-mail exchanged with a state worker union leader who is a former girlfriend when he asked his ethics advisers to review them, his administration argued in court papers filed Tuesday.
Tom Wilson, the state Republican Party chairman, has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the e-mails be made public. He wants to see whether the e-mails between Corzine and union chief Carla Katz indicate their relationship tainted recent state contract talks.
Corzine contends he has the right to keep the e-mails private under state law and executive privilege standards……………
In papers filed Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida argued that the order creating the panel doesn’t require information reviewed by it be made public.
“Finding that a waiver took place in this case would undermine the public interest by discouraging the provision of advice to the governor on his compliance with ethics laws,” DeAlmeida wrote.” (Hester, AP)
JOHNSON & JOHNSON
“Now, it’s J&J’s turn.
Buffeted by slowing sales, one big pharmaceutical company after the next has slashed costs and cut jobs in response to a chronic lack of success in their labs and intensifying competition from generic drugmakers.
Yesterday, Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest consumer health care company, announced it will cut as many as 4,820 jobs in the coming year. The move matches the biggest retrenchment in the company’s 120-year history.
J&J’s sales were already sluggish before two of its key products were sapped by safety questions in the past year. Procrit, the New Brunswick company’s No. 2 prescription drug last year with sales of almost $3.2 billion, is part of a class of anemia treatments that face restricted use by Medicare. And the market for drug-coated stents, mesh devices that prop open coronary arteries, has slumped badly.
On top of that, J&J faces the loss of patent protection for two of its blockbuster medicines, the antipsychotic drug Risperdal and the migraine medication Topamax, within the next two years.
“We recognize the challenges,” Chief Executive William Weldon said on a conference call with analysts.” (May, Star-Ledger)
MAYBE THERE’S A SANDRA BOLDEN CUNNINGHAM JOKE IN THERE SOMEWHERE…..
“Towns across the state have become increasingly leery about enforcing local laws that restrict where sex offenders can live, after a series of court decisions invalidating local measures.
But now a state lawmaker is attempting to override those decisions, by maneuvering the state’s “Megan’s Law” to allow the local laws to exist.
The proposal comes after Superior Court judges found laws in Galloway, Cherry Hill and Lower townships to be invalid because they trumped, or pre-empted, Megan’s Law.
The courts also found the restrictive ordinances to be unconstitutional, violating the sex offenders’ rights to live where they choose and punishing them a second time for their crime.
Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, R-Warren/Hunterdon counties, is proposing a measure that would allow towns to enact the laws and enable municipalities to enforce buffer zones around schools and playgrounds.
Karrow said she began crafting the legislation at the request of officials in Washington Borough, Warren County, where two sex offenders have moved into the town.” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
NO GOOD NEWS FOR ENCAP
“The state has fined EnCap Golf Holdings more than $1 million for venting potentially deadly methane and other landfill gases into the air from its Meadowlands project site.
From last October to July 24, the state says, EnCap allowed an uncontrolled stream of noxious greenhouse gas to enter the atmosphere, despite earlier assurances that the vapors were being collected and trucked off-site.
EnCap was also cited for failing to obtain basic permits for operating the Kingsland landfill, the giant garbage mountain in Lyndhurst that’s the source of the gas.
“This was a significant release,” DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson said in an interview Tuesday. “Methane is explosive. It is a major contributor to global warming. This fine was a no-brainer.”
Jackson said she is now so concerned about the troubled EnCap project she will order a “comprehensive review” of the developer’s environmental practices.” (Pillets, Bergen Record)
“New Jersey municipalities predicted property taxes would increase and local services would be cut after the state on Tuesday announced it was doling out less special state aid to towns suffering fiscal woes.
The state Department of Community Affairs said it would provide $17.7 million this fiscal year in extraordinary aid to towns that contended they’ll have to cut essential services unless they substantially increase their property tax rates. The state provided about $26 million last year.
“Clearly, the $9 million cut will negatively impact municipal services, property tax rates or both in many municipalities,” said William Dressel, the New Jersey League of Municipalities executive director.
New Jersey already has the nation’s highest property taxes, at $6,330 per homeowner, or twice the national average. Property taxes pay for most county, municipal and school operations in New Jersey.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he understands towns are struggling, but the state has limited resources.
“I wish there were more,” Corzine said. “There are huge demands with regard to the needs of some of our less economically well-off cities. There are special situations that show up on a regular basis, but again we’re resource constrained.”
Dressel called the cut in special aid and a recently announced increase in public worker pension obligations by local government a “double whammy.”” (Hester, AP)
“Camden and Atlantic City are among four New Jersey cities that can begin giving clean needles to intravenous drug abusers under a pilot program approved yesterday to try to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Newark and Paterson also were approved by the state Department of Health and Senior Services to start needle-exchange programs as soon as Sept. 1 or as late as Dec. 1.
New Jersey has been the only state without a legal way for drug addicts to get clean syringes. The pilot program, approved last year by the Legislature and Gov. Corzine, allows up to six cities to establish needle exchanges for three years.
“Needle exchange is a proven public-health intervention that will reduce the spread of HIV and save lives,” said Fred M. Jacobs, the state health and senior services commissioner…………
Proponents contend that providing addicts with clean needles drastically cuts the spread of HIV and AIDS through shared needles, but opponents contend needle exchanges promote drug use and attract drug users to places where needles are given out.” (Hester, AP)
“After two recent shootings by municipal officers, state Attorney General Anne Milgram appointed a group of law enforcement and mental health experts yesterday to review when police can use less-lethal weapons to subdue suspects.
New Jersey is the only state that prohibits police from using a stun gun or Taser. In addition, police can use other less-lethal weapons that shoot bean bags or rubber bullets only when an officer fears for his life or the life of another at the scene.
Such narrowly drawn guidelines, experts say, have effectively left police officers in New Jersey with only one option: shoot to kill.
“You either have to carry around a second firearm loaded with rubber bullets or bean bags, or switch your magazine,” said Mitchell Sklar, executive director of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police. “If you have to make a choice, you have to be prepared to use your regular ammunition because you never know what circumstances you’re going to find yourself in.”
Milgram has asked Sklar and retired Superior Court Appellate Judge Dennis J. Braithwaite to chair a seven-member advisory group to recommend ways to expand the use of less-lethal weapons by Dec. 1. The panel is expected to have at least one public hearing………
On June 29, Maplewood police killed Omar Perry, 31, who was having schizophrenic episode when he came at them with a knife after they responded to a medical emergency at his Peachtree Road home. Eight days later, Willingboro police shot and critically wounded a troubled 15-year-old who they said attacked them with a pair of scissors.” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
BUT IT HURTS
“A chipped tooth can ruin a smile, but it’s no reason for auto accident victims to sue for pain and suffering, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday.
In a unanimous decision, the court refused to add a chipped tooth to the list of injuries spelled out under the state law allowing lawsuits under auto insurance policies. The justices concluded it is not the same as breaking a bone.
“We cannot accept (the) argument that a minimally, or even substantially, chipped tooth is a sufficient basis for vaulting the limitation on lawsuit threshold,” wrote Justice Barry Albin for the court.
However, the court did find that if a person suffers one injury that is serious enough to clear the state’s threshold for lawsuits, the jury can also consider lesser injuries in coming up with an award.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
TAX REBATES FOR SENIORS
“Helen and Teofil Rzeczycki are waiting for their property tax rebate check to arrive in the mail.
“We need it for everyday living,” said Helen Rzeczycki, who said she filed for the rebate back in March. “We need it for the doctors, medications.”
The Rzeczyckis were among the dozens of seniors who attended a property tax forum at the Wallington Senior Center on Tuesday to hear how they could benefit from state programs that offer credits and rebates to seniors and non-seniors to help cushion the effects of property taxes on their wallets.
On Monday, the state extended the deadline to apply for property tax rebates from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31.
Under the readjusted homestead rebate program, which is based on legislation signed into law earlier this year, homeowners with income of up to $100,000 will receive a 20 percent reduction in their property taxes.
“They’ve been putting so much into the system for so long,” Schaer said of senior citizens who stand to benefit from the senior freeze and other rebates. “It’s a good thing that they’ll be able to get something back.” (Beeson, Herald News)
“The state appeals court yesterday upheld a jury’s finding that Trenton officials had discriminated against white police officer Jeanne Klawitter who claimed she was passed over for promotion in favor of a black man.
However, the same three-judge panel ruled for the city in the case of another officer, Dennis DeBonis, who claimed discrimination when he was not allowed to return as a sergeant after changing his mind about retiring.
Klawitter, who eventually was promoted to sergeant this year, contended she was passed over for a promotion to sergeant in 1998 so that James Ingram, who is black, could become a sergeant instead.
DeBonis contended that he was bumped from sergeant, also in favor of Ingram. In the lower court decision, Superior Court Judge Paul Innes had ruled that the city had erred in not allowing DeBonis to return as a sergeant and the jury then awarded him $35,488. Innes added $9,800 in interest.
In its decision this week, the appeals court invalidated those awards.” (Stein, Trenton Times)
IN WASHINGTON TOWNSIHP
“WASHINGTON TWP. | A township committeeman’s employee has been hired for a township position without any of the applicants being interviewed.
Sharon J. Patten, Committeeman Samir Elbassiouny’s bookkeeper in his private business, was hired July 17 as a part-time construction code office clerk at the rate of $15 an hour. Three other people also applied for the job, but none, including Patten, were interviewed, Elbassiouny said.
The job is a fill-in clerk position and the committee needed someone who could work at the last minute, Elbassiouny said.
“Since she’s done some work for me, I can be flexible with her hours if we need her to go to the township,” he said.
Elbassiouny said he did not give her preferential treatment.
“That I’m doing a favor for someone for a job — that’s not the case,” he said. “I didn’t want to hire somebody I don’t know or someone who’s not going to be there for an extended period of time because it takes a lot of time to train someone for this job.”” (Olanoff, Express-Times)
IN MERCER COUNTY
“Mercer County Republican executive candidate Janice Mitchell Mintz called yesterday for answers to gang violence and problems at the county jail.
Mintz sent County Executive Brian M. Hughes a series of questions about the accidental release of accused murderer Dontay Brannon and a series of other crime-related topics. She also held a press conference with other Republican candidates and officials to criticize the county government’s handling of crime.
“The people of Mercer County deserve more than investigations — they deserve answers,” Mintz wrote in the letter.
County officials provided information on several of the points raised by Mintz yesterday, while County Democratic Party Chairman Rich McClellan called Mintz’s letter a public relations stunt.
Hamilton mayor candidate John Bencivengo, Mercer County freeholder candidate Shirley Guerieri, Ewing Councilman Don Cox and Lawrence Councilman Rick Miller joined Mintz for the press conference.
Mintz asked for the results of investigations into the release of Dontay Brannon — who was charged with two murders, mistakenly released and later recaptured — and the delivery of watermelons by sheriff’s officers to a political fundraiser, which she termed “Watermelon-gate.” The officers are supposed to stay clear of politics and should not have provided food for the event, held June 13, according to Mercer County Sheriff Kevin Larkin, a Democrat.
The candidate said it’s important for the county to act as gang violence spreads from Trenton.
“They have left the city of Trenton and they are moving out into the suburbs,” she said.
County spokeswoman Julie Willmot said the prosecutor’s office is finishing its investigation into Brannon.” (Kitchenman, Trenton Times)
CRESITELLO’S PET CAUSE
“A fight in Morristown between pro-immigration supporters and a member of a white supremacy organization and his wife is fueling debate about what really happened.
The fracas Saturday led to criminal charges against three men who police said were the brawl’s instigators. But one of the men charged by police disagreed, saying they didn’t start the fight with Frederick K. Williams, a Belvidere resident and member of Stormfront, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based white supremacy organization claiming 113,000 members and a Web site — http://www.stormfront.org.
“I was heckling them during the rally,” Abraham Greenhouse, 29, of Boonton Township, said yesterday. “He gave us a hand gesture” and while he was leaving, Williams, 40, attacked him and others with a wooden object, Greenhouse said.
Williams, however, said, “They attacked me and my wife. This was a pro-America rally. They are anarchists and un-American and they should be punished for their crimes.”………..
The brawl also has drawn attention on the Internet.
At http://www.infoshop.org, a Web site that describes itself as anti-fascist, the couple in the pickup truck are said to have been armed with a knife and a bat, and instigated the fight. They identified the husband as a 40-year-old North Bergen man and member of Stormfront.
At Stormfront’s Web site, a message board gave a different ver sion of the fight.
Under a thread titled “Our Brother and Sister Attacked at Morristown, N.J. Anti-Immigration Rally,” visitors are asked to offer condolences for two of their members attacked by counter-protesters. They said the couple was dragged from their truck and severely beaten.” (Swayze and Vyas, Star-Ledger)
“All of the numbers aren’t in, but taxpayers countywide will foot a bill of nearly $6,000 for the overtime of Morris County Sheriff’s officers who provided security at the ProAmerica Society rally that took place on Saturday at town hall.
Overtime cost for the 35 Morristown police officers also on security duty at the rally will not be available until later in the week.” (Hassan, Daily Record)
IN MORRIS COUNTY
“The Morris County freeholders should meet at times more convenient to the public, allowing for more dialogue with constituents, say three Democratic freeholder candi dates.
Moshe Cohen of Randolph, George Hayman of Madison and Wendy Wright of Parsippany, who have attended recent freeholder sessions, contend the current system is geared to the convenience of government officials, not the county residents they serve.
The all-Republican freeholder board holds bi-monthly work sessions, at which the public has no voice, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month at 9:30 a.m. in Morristown. The board then holds its regular meetings, which include a public comment period, at 7:30 p.m. the same day.
The Democratic trio says people with “normal jobs” cannot attend work sessions. They also have little or no opportunity to read and react to media reports of freeholder activities — even online reports– to know what will be discussed at evening freeholder sessions, they said. Most of those reports are not published until the following day, after freeholder votes are taken, they said.
“The public is not heard, not encouraged to attend, not chal lenged by creative thinking nor constructive discussion,” said Cohen. “We pay the taxes and don’t even know who spends our money.”
Freeholder Director Margaret Nordstrom said freeholder meet ings are set up to best benefit the public. She said county department and division heads and a host of employees, consultants and at torneys are available at daytime meetings to advise the freeholders. Daytime sessions also allow opti mum time for county business, without evening time constraints, resulting in better decisions, she said.
“You don’t want to be going into closed sessions at 10 p.m., when people are tired, and start to ponder things like litigation and land acquisition,” said Nordstrom. ” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
IN WARREN COUNTY
“Warren County’s public safety director claims that Verizon Communications’ failure to make upgrades to the county’s 911 system is jeopardizing public safety.
Dave Gallant has notified Verizon President and Chief Operating Officer Dennis Strigl in writing that Warren County has experienced major problems with its system in the last 10 months. Gallant cited a January incident during which Phillipsburg emergency crews were without a communications system for an hour.
“It appears that the appropriate level of attention is not being given to this facility,” Gallant wrote in a letter he sent Monday. “In my opinion, this jeopardizes the safety of the citizens of Warren County.”………..
In October, uncompleted software upgrades resulted in the near failure of the system that brings the telephone signals into the center, Gallant wrote. As of July, the software upgrades still have not been completed.” (Satullo, Express-Times)
“A jury took just longer than an hour yesterday to decide in favor of Princeton Township in a civil case brought by a former employee who claimed his employers failed to ac commodate his disability, severe attention deficit disorder.” (Stein, Trenton Times)
“During a heated exchange last night over the recent negative audit, the township administration laid the blame for re cent financial troubles at the feet of former Chief Financial Officer Phil Del Turco, who resigned in March.
Fernando “Fred” Toto, 47, claimed in his 2004 lawsuit that township officials did not fulfill their obligation to help him after he came to them for assistance…………
Toto alleged his fellow workers harassed him about several inci dents, including a 1996 fight with a recycling center employee that led to suspensions for both men. According to the lawsuit, co-workers forced him to look at pornogra phy and made sexual comments about his sister and the job coach.
Township officials denied any wrongdoing.
Lawyer Charles Harris, who represented the township, said in his closing remarks that Toto had misjudged the situation.
“Mr. Toto’s perception is astonishing,” Harris said. “He created a monster.” He described Toto’s interactions with his fellow workers as typical of laborers. “It can happen any place. What can you do about that?” Harris asked. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
“The city’s government watchdog group, Millville First, is once again criticizing the city’s actions — this time taking issue with how officials are handling review and inspection fees assessed to developers.
Although the group said its investigation is ongoing, both President Emil Van Hook and member Paul Porreca said they have uncovered numerous areas in which the city is derelict in its administration of the city statute.
Both Millville First officials agreed money would be saved if the city would “conscientiously, consistently and fairly comply with existing city ordinances that dictate charging review and inspection fees to developers.”
“Given the current tax structure in New Jersey, there are several ways to contain or reduce real estate taxes,” stated a Millville First press release issued Tuesday. “One is to reduce spending. A second is to increase income from sources other than real estate taxes, and a third would be to stop giving abatements and payment in lieu of taxes.” (Marine, Bridgeton News)
“A Board of Education member could lose his post and the board’s choice of a health insurance broker for the school district could be a violation of state law if a campaign contribution document proves to be valid.
According to a political contribution disclosure form filed with the school district, health insurance broker USI Northeast contributed $500 to the Committee to Elect David Thomas. Section 6A of the state administrative code prohibits school boards in Abbott districts from voting on any contract greater than $17,500 for a business that made a reportable campaign contribution to a board member within the past year.
The form was filed March 30; Thomas was elected to the board in April. He has denied receiving any money from USI.
USI was designated as the district’s insurance broker at a June 26 board meeting by a 5-4 vote, with Thomas voting for USI.
Board President James Pressley, who also voted for USI, said he had no knowledge of any such contribution and called the situation “speculative” and said he wouldn’t be surprised “if this was a lie.”” (Hardie, Press of Atlantic City)