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  Booker’s latest gaffe, Christie speaks to newspaper editorial board, Stack helps evacuate burning building, Stanley loses recount, Corzine said


Booker’s latest gaffe, Christie speaks to newspaper editorial board, Stack helps evacuate burning building, Stanley loses recount, Corzine said he never responded to Katz’s emails that talked about negotiations, prosecutors wants Sharpe James to find a new attorney.


“At a December celebration for a new low-income apartment complex in Newark, Mayor Cory Booker spoke warmly of Judith Diggs, a beloved housing advocate who had died of a heart attack eight days earlier.

Booker called Diggs a friend and faithful supporter, recalled Karen Diggs, a daughter who was one of the many family members and Newark residents seated in the audience at Springfield Commons, a housing complex her mother helped bring to fruition.

Five months later, speaking before a group of Democrats at a fundraiser in Summit on May 30, Booker described Diggs, 63, as a "portly" woman with missing teeth who cursed a lot and accepted a $100 bribe from former Mayor Sharpe James.

In addition, he spoke of dodging bullets in Newark like Neo from the science fiction movie trilogy, "The Matrix," and mimicked the maneuver made famous by actor Keanu Reeves by leaning back and twisting his body.

The remarks, captured on video and posted on YouTube, have incensed City Council members and Diggs' family, who said Booker was demeaning and insulting. The mayor yesterday issued an apology.

"I want to emphatically state that my words were in bad taste. I fully understand their offensive nature and I offer my profound apology," Booker said………..

"It is racist," Councilwoman Dana Rone said. "Why deliver this story in a room full of white people? Tell a positive story. There are so many stories you can tell about Judy."

The fundraiser was held at the Summit home of Steve and Jane Murphy, two longtime residents of the affluent Union County city. Tickets for the event were priced at $125, $500 and $1,000, according to the Summit Democratic Party Web site. According to a newsletter and guests, more than 200 people packed the house, cramming into the hallways, study and porch to hear Booker speak.

The mayor stood in the living room and used a microphone because the crowd was so large. During the speech, he shared the tales of two women who influenced him in his life — Diggs and one of the first clients he represented as a young lawyer.” (Wang and Mays, Star-Ledger)


U.S. Attorney Chris Christie said Thursday that Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello was "grandstanding" when the mayor characterized opponents at last weekend's rally against illegal immigration as "Marxists and communists.

"Such statements are "hyperbole, grandstanding and demagoguery" and are counterproductive to achieving a solution to the serious issue of illegal immigration, Christie said.

Christie said that the mayor had never tried to contact his office to discuss the issue, or take advantage of the periodic mornings that he and the mayor are in the Morristown Diner at the same time.

Cresitello could not be reached for comment Thursday. Christie, 44, of Mendham Township, discussed a range of issues with the Daily Record editorial board on Thursday…………….

At present, Christie said, his future does not include a run for New Jersey governor in 2009. He has been mentioned by state Republicans as an attractive candidate to run against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. In 2005, Christie's name was bandied about as the possible GOP candidate, even though, he said Thursday, he had made it clear he was not a candidate.

"If I decided to run for governor, I'd have to leave this office," Christie said. The U.S. Attorney's Office should not be used as a political platform. "If I make that decision, I'll get out."” (Daigle, Daily Record)



“UNION CITY – Mayor Brian Stack joined residents to help firefighters evacuate their neighbors Wednesday night when a two-alarm fire enveloped an apartment building in smoke.

North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue members quickly brought the fire under control at the two adjoining five-story buildings that make up the 82-unit complex on the 1100 block of Palisade Avenue, reports said……….

Stack, whose 73-year-old mother is a superintendent at the building, also helped his wheelchair-bound aunt.

He was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene………

According to officials, Stack would have been at the fire even if family members weren't in the building………….. "He goes to every serious fire in Union City," said Jeff Welz, North Hudson Fire & Rescue co-director.” (Hack, Jersey Journal)



“After a recount yesterday of bal lots cast in the Democratic primary for two Assembly seats in the 28th Legislative District, Freeholder Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker garnered the most votes in the close contest…………

According to the county Board of Elections, each of the five candidates who ran in the June primary picked up additional votes as a result of the recount. But no one, including Assemblyman Craig Stan ley who was trailing Tucker by 127 votes, gained enough to move into second place behind Caputo.

Stanley asked a Superior Court judge to order the recount shortly after the June 5 election. The primary often holds the weight of the general election in the heavily Democratic Essex County………

On Tuesday, as Stanley watched as workers went from machine to machine collecting results, he said he expected to be victorious and the recount wouldn't necessarily be the end of the process.

"With all the issues confronting our area I can't afford to say 'Oh well, it's OK, I tried'," he said. "The will of the people must be respected and if there isn't a different outcome today, maybe we need a different election."” (Addison, Star-Ledger)



“Gov. Corzine said yesterday that he never responded to e-mails from a state workers' union leader, a former girlfriend, seeking to discuss contract talks.

Corzine commented after Carla Katz, in papers filed by her attorney late Wednesday, asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to make the e-mails public. Katz argued that they were personal matters and collective-bargaining discussions deemed private under New Jersey's public-records law.

State Republican Party chairman Tom Wilson, who filed the lawsuit, has said that argument contradicts Corzine's insistence that he didn't discuss contract negotiations through e-mails with Katz.

Yesterday, the Democratic governor reiterated that stand. "Communication is not an exchange, and it certainly isn't bargaining," he said. "Exchange would have to occur for that to be negotiations.” (Hestser, AP)



“Federal prosecutors yesterday argued that a prominent defense attorney can't represent former Newark Mayor Sharpe James at his upcoming corruption trial because they say the lawyer represents two people who could become witnesses for the government.

In a motion filed in federal district court in Newark, prosecutors say attorney Thomas Ashley represented a real estate attorney and a broker who were called before the grand jury to discuss city land deals that James is accused of improperly influencing.

And they say Ashley could himself become a trial witness because he met with James in Martha's Vineyard in August 2003, during one of the many personal vacations James allegedly billed to the city.

"This would put Mr. Ashley in the impermissible position of divided loyalties, risk revealing attorney-client privileged communications and jeopardize the integrity of the judicial proceedings and public interest in a fair trial and lasting verdict," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Judith Germano, Philip Kwon and Perry Primavera wrote in a motion to U.S. District Judge William Martini. ” (Martin, Star-Ledger)

In an interview, Ashley said he had not seen the motion but that he planned to challenge it. He said neither witness he represented had a significant role and that if they testified for the government, he would agree not to participate in their cross-examination.

"Mr. James wants me to represent him and I think he has the right of counsel of his choice," Ashley said.



“A Toms River man who worked for the Passaic Valley Water Commission admitted misusing his official position to solicit and accept bribes, authorities said.

George Morgan, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to a one-count indictment charging him with "soliciting and accepting corrupt payments for his official action and inaction as an employee of the water commission," U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced in a prepared statement.

"Morgan was an employee of the PVWC when he took and agreed to take cash from a local property manager who was cooperating with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General," Christie said.

The commission, headquartered in Clifton, serves the cities of Paterson, Passaic, Clifton, Lodi, West Milford, North Arlington and Elmwood Park. Morgan's responsibilities included activating water service for new tenants in Paterson and turning off water service at those properties where the responsible party had failed to pay water bills, Christie said.” (Asbury Park Press)



“Joseph Kuehner, the mayor of Egg Harbor City and a Democratic candidate for the Assembly in district 2, is expected to announce tomorrow that he will drop out of the race, according to sources.

There has been speculation for several weeks that Kuehner, whose father is ill, would step aside. Kuehner has been running on a ticket with state Senate candidate James Whelan and Assembly candidate Blondell Spellman, both of Atlantic City.” (Pizarro,



“Burlington County Republicans criticized a state legislator this week who campaigned foe Evesham's newly elected officials and who works for an engineering firm they hired.

"There's nothing wrong with a sitting state legislator campaigning for candidates," said Scott Rudder, a GOP Assembly candidate. "What's different here is a state representative is going to make money off of that victory."

Assemblyman Francis Bodine, D-Burlington, countered, saying his work on the campaign was unrelated to his employer getting work.

"I had no input into this," Bodine said. "I didn't talk to anyone on the transition team (that awarded contracts). My participation in this whole thing was zero."

Rudder's running mate, Phil Haines, is challenging Bodine for the 8th District Senate seat.

Bodine recorded a campaign phone message for Evesham Mayor Randy Brown and two new councilmen while they were running for office. He also donated $4,000 to the Democrats through his own Senate campaign.

The three were elected. Several months later, the council awarded Bodine's employer, Adams, Rehmann and Heggan of Hammonton, a contract after a competitive bidding process.” (Laughlin, Courier-Post)



Democrats jumped on state Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough Thursday for taking credit for state funding he actually voted against.

McCullough, R-Atlantic, sent out a press release Wednesday — beating his opponents to the punch — that announced three Atlantic County towns will receive $850,000 in extraordinary aid. The funding was provided through the state budget, which McCullough voted against.

“He’s trying to take credit for something he can’t take credit for,” said Atlantic County Democratic Party Chairman Ron Ruff.

“Senator McCullough chose to put the interests of his party before those of his residents by voting against property tax relief. And now he wants to have it both ways.”

McCullough said his intention was merely to make an announcement to his constituents. In his release, he credits “local and state officials” for working together to secure the funding…………

Ruff said the credit belongs to Assemblyman Jim Whelan — McCullough’s opponent in this year’s Senate race — and retiring Assemblyman Frank Blee, R-Atlantic, who lost a special election to McCullough earlier this year and has since endorsed Whelan.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)




“The mayor isn’t resigning.

“Not at all,” Mayor Bob Levy said Wednesday from home, where he is recuperating from complications from June back surgery that removed a disc. “I plan on continuing. The No. 1 priority is our taxes and to stabilize and get the budget under control, whatever it takes to be done…………..

Levy said he will soon return to work. He has been on medical leave since sharp pains July 18 landed him in intensive care with what family friends have said were blood clots in his lungs………

Levy made the comments hours after City Clerk Rosemary Adams approved the notice of intent to recall him. Adams, recuperating from foot surgery, said Levy now has five days to formally respond to the intention notice.

If he remains in office as expected, the group will begin collecting signatures. They will have 160 days to gather roughly 6,300 registered voters’ signatures to force the issue onto the ballot.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)



“OCEAN VIEW — Assemblymen Jeff Van Drew, Nelson Albano, and Albano's running mate, Matt Milam, announced today they will hold "an old-fashioned rally" opposing the selling and leasing of the state's toll roads.

"You do not sell your home to pay off your credit card debt," Van Drew said, in a statement released today.

The rally will be on Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean View Fire Hall on Route 9 in Ocean View, Cape May County.

The toll road issue is quickly becoming the focus of November's general election, despite a seemingly shared opinion on the issue by both parties.

The Van Drew camp stated last month it would be going door-to-door and standing in front of supermarkets to speak with the public in order to find out how they feel about the idea of selling or leasing the state's toll roads, which has been proposed to combat the state's ever-increasing debt………..

In spite of this, Van Drew and Albano, both Democrats, voted on a state budget this year which contained language allowing for a study to be conducted to explore the potential advantage of selling the state's toll roads.

Senator Nick Asselta, a Republican whose seat in the state Senate is being challenged by Van Drew, voted against the budget because of the road-selling issue, he has stated.” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)



“New Jersey must present plans by next month to replace 10,000 electronic voting machines statewide, a judge said yesterday.

Those plans could be needed if an ongoing review determines vendors cannot meet a January deadline to retrofit their voting machines with printers.

"We are getting close, and it has to be a very short turnaround," said Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg at a Trenton hearing to track progress toward meeting the deadline set by lawmakers. Feinberg told the Attorney General's Office to bring backup plans to a Sept. 5 hearing.

But the judge rebuffed voter rights advocates who for months have pressed her to scrap the voting machines — or, at least, to order a study of them.

"The state is trying to ram through these incredibly flawed systems," said Penny Venetis, the Rutgers-Newark law professor representing the activists, after the hearing.

In court, Venetis cited a study from the University of California last week reporting serious security issues with machines, including the Sequoia AVC Edge used by Salem County. ” (Coughlin, Star-Ledger)



“Gov. Jon S. Corzine called Thursday for inspections of the state's 6,400 bridges following the collapse of an interstate bridge in Minnesota that sent vehicles plummeting into the Mississippi River. "The lesson of the tragedy of Minneapolis is vigilance. We must ensure we are doing everything we can to protect the public," Corzine said.

"The lesson of the tragedy of Minneapolis is vigilance we must insure we are doing everything we can to protect the public," Corzine said in a statement…………

However, a 2005 report by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group for pedestrians and mass transit users, found that 36.6 percent of New Jersey's bridges were inadequate for some reason, the 10th highest percentage in the nation, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The national average for inadequate bridges was 26.6 percent.

New Jersey's percentage includes 760 bridges marked "structurally deficient" unable to handle loads or speeds expected on the connecting highway system and 1,532 which were "functionally obsolete" which could mean heavy traffic or four highway lanes spilling into a two-lane bridge.” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

“Six of the eight New Jersey bridges built in the same style as the ill-fated Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis were rated "structurally deficient" the last time they were inspected, state and federal transportation officials said.

The deficiency designations are a symptom of the advanced age of many New Jersey bridges and of a failure over time to invest the money to keep up with growing traffic volume and ever-heavier cars and trucks, officials said.” (Feeney, Star-Ledger)

The old-fashioned "arch-truss" bridges, many built after the turn of the 20th century, are symptomatic of how New Jersey's aging infrastructure is deteriorating. Bridges of varying designs throughout the state are in need of major structural repair in order to remain safely in use……….

One is the 75-year-old Pulaski Skyway in Hudson and Essex counties, which has a structure deemed "intolerable" by the state DOT in a 2006 inspection. Trucks have long been prohibited on the 3.5-mile span for safety reasons.

Corzine called on the state transportation agency to provide a report within 45 days that will help determine which repair projects should be prioritized. The state's $3.3 billion capital improvement program, for one, includes $175 million over the next five years for interim repairs to the skyway, which carries Routes 1 & 9 over the New Jersey Turnpike. (Davis and Sheingold, Bergen Record)

“South Jersey bridges — including the Route 52 Causeway, which runs from Ocean City to Somers Point, and the Pulaski Skyway in North Jersey — are deemed structurally deficient, officials said.

But that's different from unsafe, Corzine said Thursday.

Unsafe bridges, he said, are immediately closed.

The last unsafe bridge in New Jersey was shut down in 2004.” (Strupcewski, Courier-Post)



“Neglect. Stifling heat. Broken televisions. Unsanitary bathrooms.

Those are some of the problems state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) found during a surprise inspection of New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Newark Wednesday.

"This is worse than 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,'" an infuriated Codey said, referring to the book and film about a decrepit mental institution. "This is a disgrace. This should be closed."

New Vista was one of three nursing homes the former governor visited unannounced to assess conditions. All three are rated below average on the New Jersey Nursing Home Report Card, a state-run Web site that assigns a score to each of the roughly 360 nursing homes in New Jersey.” (Mueller, Star-Ledger)



“The powerful New Jersey Association of Realtors announced a major lobbying push this fall to try to kill legislation that would let municipalities impose a separate local tax on realty transfers.

"What we're afraid of happening is that this is going to be one of those issues that's going to pop up in 'lame duck,' and they are going to rush it through," said Jarrod Grasso, the group's vice president of governmental affairs. "This isn't going to be an issue we're going to sit back on."

Grasso said the Realtors were concerned by recent comments by Gov. Jon Corzine in a Star-Ledger story in which he said he still thinks municipalities should be given more tax-raising options, possibly including local realty transfer taxes.

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities is pushing hard for such an expansion. Five bills have been introduced in the Legislature during the last year to allow cities and towns to charge a local tax of 50 cents per $500 of a home's sales price. Two of the bills would apply statewide, while three would apply only to Newark and Jersey City.

Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson), a co-sponsor of both versions, said she believes the local fees "make sense." She said she was hoping one of the bills would win approval during the lame duck session after the election, but acknowledged many of her colleagues already have been swayed by the Realtors, which typically ranks among the top 10 special interest donors each election.

"If we're going to get it through, the mayors are going to have to talk to their legislators," she said.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)



“The long arm of New Jersey law can reach across the country when it comes to cyber issues, a state appeals court ruled yesterday.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the state Appellate Division said New Jersey courts have jurisdiction over a matter in which a California man posted potentially libelous comments about a father and daughter from Camden County on an Internet message board………….

The case involves participants in an Internet newsgroup about cruises and cruise ships.

Richard Goldhaber joined it in 1999. His daughter joined three years later. Starting in 2003, Charles Kohlenberg, of Chino, Calif., began posting a series of derogatory comments about the Goldhabers.

The messages accused them of "base activities, including incest and bestiality." They also made "cruel references" to the hearing limitations of Danna Goldhaber………….

The Goldhabers sued for libel. Kohlenberg consulted a California lawyer who told him they had no jurisdiction over him. He didn't file a response.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)



“Six law firms yesterday offered their services to help the embattled Somerset County Park Commission cope with investigators and overhaul policies.

Commission staffers were reviewing the proposals before another early morning meeting today at park headquarters in Bridgewater, where commissioners, including four lame-duck members, are scheduled to hire at least one of the firms.

The new lawyers would assist the commission's attorney, Terry O'Connor, in the wake of a highly critical report on park management and finances, and a sweeping investigation by the state Attorney General's Office……………..

Funding for the contracts will come first from the commission's legal budget, he said. If that is exceeded because of the cost of the additional work, the commission could transfer monies from its miscellaneous administrative account, Dunwiddie said.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)



“Union County has backed off its controversial policy of charging access fees to a watchdog group that constantly inspects public records, settling a lawsuit filed last month by the organization.

The Union County Watchdog Association announced the settlement yesterday of a Superior Court lawsuit it filed to challenge an $8-per-hour labor cost the county asked the group to pay in May when it tried to view expense vouchers submitted by county officials.

Although the state's Open Pub lic Records Act permits government entities to charge for copying records requested by the public, the group contended there is no provision for labor costs related to pulling those records for inspection.

In settling the case, the county agreed to reimburse the group $1,857.45 in lawyer fees, court costs and $56 charged when the group inspected hundreds of vouchers in the spring. ” (Murray, Star-Ledger)



ATLANTIC CITY — Mark Juliano may be taking on the toughest job in the casino industry — in effect becoming the real-life “Apprentice” for taskmaster Donald Trump.

The 29-year gaming veteran has been named the chief executive officer of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. at a time when the company’s stock is in a tailspin, its aging casinos lag behind competitors and a potential buyout deal has disappeared…………

Juliano, who formerly held the title of chief operating officer, was part of a new management team headed by Perry that was supposed to revive the Trump casinos following their exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. Juliano, a veteran of the Caesars casinos in Atlantic City and Nevada, had served as president of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas before joining Trump.” (Wittkowski, Asbury Park Press)



“More than a year ago, nurses at Newark Beth-Israel Medical Center began testing every sick or premature baby for a rare and potentially deadly staph infection — even those without symptoms. Any infant testing positive for the bacteria, known as MRSA, was put in isolation.

Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday signed a law requiring all New Jersey hospitals to create similar "screen and isolate" programs to fight this antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is on the rise in hospitals around the nation.” (Campbell, Star-Ledger)




“Governor Corzine is creating a panel to advise him on how New Jersey can help integrate immigrants into society and prepare the undocumented for a path to legalization.

The panel is expected to examine immigrant access to health care, education, job training, social services, English classes and civics lessons, among other things, said Corzine administration officials.

The group, whose members are still being selected, is to issue a report and recommendations after 18 months, officials said.

Corzine's move, they said, stems from a view that states must deal with illegal immigration after several failed congressional efforts to reform immigration policy.” (Llorente, Bergen Record)


“The state yesterday awarded $3,781,270 in aid to 30 Hispanic community organizations to address economic, educational and social needs among New Jersey's Hispanic residents.

"This assistance will help create a comfortable and supportive environment for a broad spectrum of needs," Gov. Jon Corzine said in a statement.” (Hester, AP)



“First Assistant Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven Lember abruptly resigned from his position this week.

The veteran lawyer, who has been the first assistant under three prosecutors in the county — including the current J. Patrick Barnes — would not elaborate on his reasons. "The best way to put it, without getting into too much detail, which would not benefit the prosecutor or myself … we have some significant differences in the philosophy of the office, and he's the prosecutor and I'm not," Lember said. "The appropriate thing for me to do is resign."

Lember, 57, said he submitted his letter of resignation early Tuesday afternoon. Assistant Prosecutor Charles Ouslander, 45, became his replacement later that day.

Lember had a string of high-profile cases, including the pending retrial of former NBA star Jayson Williams, 39, for reckless endangerment. Lember also navigated the recent guilty plea of Brenda and Robert Matthey, the couple charged with manslaughter for the October 2000 death of their 7-year-old son, Victor Alexander Matthey, whom they adopted from Russia.” (Golson, Star-Ledger)



“After more than a year of bargaining, county officials and the union representing Mercer County assistant prosecutors have agreed on a wage contract for the legal workers, marking their first collective bargaining agreement.

The move was hailed as a step toward paying more competitive salaries within the prosecutor's office and boosting employee retention.

Three assistant prosecutors — anticipating little progress in the long salary talks — had left within the last two months to accept bet ter paying jobs elsewhere, said Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini.” (Stein, Trenton Times)



“A group of residents filed a petition with the township clerk's office on Thursday that contained 1,796 signatures supporting a tighter ban on the political practice known as "pay to play."

To get the proposed ordinance on the November ballot as a question, the residents need to have 1,311 valid signatures from registered township voters.

Josh Aronovitch, who initiated the petition drive this spring, said they submitted about 25 percent more than they needed to hopefully ensure that enough signatures will be validated by the township clerk, which must be done within 20 days.

Pay to play describes the process in which professionals make campaign donations to candidates and elected officials in exchange for municipal contracts. Critics say the process causes contractors to increase their prices to recoup their donations, which increases taxes for residents.

The township bans the practice locally with a more stringent policy than the state. Professionals who donate more than $400 cannot receive a municipal contract.

While township officials have said the local law has proven to work an engineering firm was barred from a contract after donating too much Aronovitch said it does little to stop trickle-down donations from county campaigns, which is a process known as "wheeling."” (Beym, Gloucester County Times)



“Newark's failure to pay more than 1,000 young people in its summer jobs program on time may end up costing city taxpayers more than $46,000.

The city spent $35,000 to buy five-day bus passes for teenagers who have yet to be paid, $7,800 to buy pizza and soda for more than 2,000 program participants and the $3,500 it cost to use Newark Symphony Hall as a staging area yesterday.

The amount will likely climb because it's unclear how much overtime has been accumulated to fix what has turned into a week-long public relations disaster for Mayor Cory Booker, who has taken responsibility for the problems and apologized to the youth.

Booker spokeswoman Lupe Todd said the mayor will use his campaign funds to pay for the pizza and the cost to rent Symphony Hall. As of yesterday, Todd said 2,000 checks had been cut but it's unclear how many had been picked up. ” (Mays, Star-Ledger)


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