Today’s News from

Corzine's seatbelt PSA, Gov. still won’t discuss monetization details, but he may find conservative allies in his plan to make it harder for state to borrow money, some Newark residents resent Booker’s takes of city life, a program for Newark’s youth amidst the city’s violence, Rider students show support for Dean of Student Life.



“Jon Corzine lay in the intensive care unit, a ventilator pushing air in and out of his broken body. It was unclear what lay ahead for the governor, unable to speak and heavily sedated since his near-fatal crash days before.

Even so, his top aides already were discussing whether some good might come of the awful situation.

Ultimately, the centerpiece of those talks would be a public service announcement — proposed, produced and paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — in which Corzine takes responsibility for not wearing his seat belt in the April 12 crash and urges motorists to buckle up.

Documents, e-mail and video obtained by The Star-Ledger through the federal Freedom of Information Act paint a detailed picture of the energy Corzine's aides and the governor himself devoted to what would be essentially the governor's return to public view, making sure each frame of the federally funded 30-second video presented him in the best possible light.

Corzine was released from Cooper University Hospital in Camden April 30. Four days later, his staffers saw the storyboard outline produced for the NHTSA by a Tennessee ad agency, and they reached al most immediately for near-total control of the production.” ……………..

Corzine himself weighed in, an e-mail from one NHTSA staffer to another shows.

"The governor asked for two things," staffer Barbara Sauers wrote on May 21 to Susan Gor cowski, who was in charge of the project for the NHTSA. "(He) wants to know if we have a different take for the line, 'I was critically injured in an accident.' He doesn't like the angle. He wants to insert a half-second pause after 'I should be dead' to give more effect." (Howlett and Margolin, Star-Ledger)



“Governor Corzine is pinning New Jersey's financial future on his plans to "monetize" assets such as the New Jersey Turnpike.

But despite spending $1.4 million so far on consultants and receiving dozens of unsolicited offers to buy or lease state property, the administration won't discuss any of those details.

Republican lawmakers are once again demanding that the Corzine administration unveil its plans to sell or lease those assets, including toll roads. They are also fighting to make public the information Corzine has collected so far.

Last week, the Corzine administration declined to release a key traffic and revenue report by London-based consulting firm Steer Davies Gleave…………….

The state has already paid the firm $799,055, or 90 percent of the total cost of the contract. According to Steer Davies Gleave's agreement with the state, the firm would be paid that amount only upon delivery of a final report, approximately 90 days from the effective date of the agreement, which was signed in January.

The state has also quietly received dozens of requests to lease or purchase the New Jersey Turnpike and other assets – and possibly raise tolls – since first raising the debt-reduction idea about a year ago, state officials say.” (Lu and Davis, Bergen Record)



“Democratic Gov. Corzine's plans to try to solve chronic state fiscal woes by making more money off state properties — likely by increasing highway tolls — has partly aligned him with conservative Republicans.

That doesn't mean Republicans are supporting his plan.

But a Corzine spokeswoman said the governor wants, as part of his plan, to ask voters to make it more difficult for the state to borrow money without voter approval, a plan long sought by Republicans but opposed by Democrats who control the Legislature.

The state Constitution prohibits the state from borrowing money without voter approval, but courts have allowed state agencies to borrow without voter consent…………

Corzine wants to form a nonprofit agency to manage toll roads and issue bonds that would bring the state a large cash infusion to pay debt and free money for needs such as schools and health care. The bonds would be paid back by increased tolls. Corzine wants voters to consider parts of his plan.

His spokeswoman, Lilo Stainton, said he at least wants voters to restrict the state's ability to borrow without voter support, and dedicate money earned from his plan to paying state debt and improving transportation.

"I can only hope the governor is serious about this," Merkt said. "New Jersey is facing a deep debt crisis. If there is any chance that the governor will back restoring the right of the people to approve or reject new state debt, I must give him the benefit of the doubt." (AP)




“When Newark Mayor Cory Booker speaks to groups outside of the city, he often relates stories about those he encounters in it.

There's Virginia Jones, his tough-as-nails mentor, who he says taught him more than he learned at Oxford and Yale combined. There's Wazn Miller, the dying teen he cradled in his arms. And there's T-Bone, the drug dealer who threatened his life a decade ago.

Judith Diggs, an education and housing advocate in Newark, is another of those characters. During a May fundraiser in Summit, the mayor spoke affectionately about the deceased woman, but also described her as "portly" with missing teeth and as a woman who "cussed" a lot and took a $100 bribe from Sharpe James.

Booker's description of Diggs made its way to YouTube and got him into trouble last week when her friends complained.

While Booker apologized the next day, critics say the brush with Diggs' friends and family is another example of him taking liberties with his accounts to outsiders about Newark and its residents. These "stories," in the view of some, can reinforce negative stereotypes.

"I think the mayor is using stereotypes that register with the stereotypes of some of the people be yond Newark," said the Rev. William Howard, a Newark pastor whom Booker considers a mentor. "It is very unfortunate. On the other hand, ironically as he spoke of this dear lady, he was speaking of her as a heroine of his. I think he's beginning to understand he can't do these stereotypes without there being this kind of public uproar about what he says.” (Mays and Wang, Star-Ledger)



“The political debate in Newark hinges on the fate of the city’s most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, the disabled, the homeless and young people. Pressed together by external forces, they are often pitted against one another, as young adults who qualify through a disability for Section 8 housing live in dwellings also inhabited by retirees, or as homeless people young and old pushing shopping carts on sidewalks come up against young gangs looking to control the streets.

The strong intimidate the weak. The young overpower the old inevitably.

Trying to change the dynamic so youths become as often as possible a life-giving force is the particular mission of YouthBuild Newark, which works with 60 young Newarkers annually, most of whom are either on probation or parole. The federally funded program spear-headed by Sen. John Kerry uses construction as a vehicle, enabling Newarkers between the ages of 16-24 to build homes and build a skill as they re-enter the city after incarceration.” (Pizarro,



“More than 500 current and former students have banded together on an Internet social networking site in support of two Rider University administrators indicted Friday in the alcohol poisoning death of freshman Gary DeVercelly.

Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley were among five people indicted by a Mercer County grand jury. Charged with aggravated hazing, the five could face up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The Facebook Web site was started by Rider University graduate Cathleen Ziegler who received her degree last year. The site, called "Support Dean Campbell/Ada at Rider" asks members to write a letter in support of the two faculty members and also mentions a possible protest in front of the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office on Friday.

Reached yesterday, Ziegler said she formed the Internet group to show the two administrators that they were not alone and that they have the support of their students, both past and present.

"I felt so bad because of the relationship I have with Dean Campbell," she said. "He is such a caring and sincere person, so I wanted to show my support for him because I don't know what the ramifications will be on his personal or professional life.”……………..

Campbell is a popular member of the administration and legal experts have said he and Badgley may be the only university administrators in the country ever charged in a hazing case. It is not clear what evidence the grand jury found to indict Campbell and Badgley, but both university and Mercer County Prosecutor's Office officials have said neither was present when DeVercelly, 18, was hazed……….

Other postings compared Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini to Mike Nifong, the disgraced North Carolina prosecutor who was disbarred over his handling of an alleged rape by members of the Duke University lacrosse team.

Nifong has been accused of overzealousness in his prosecution in an effort to gain publicity. Charges were dropped against all three Duke students.

But in an interview Friday after the Rider indictments were announced, Bocchini stressed that the grand jury was independent and members had made their own decision on who to charge.

"The grand jury is an independent body," Bocchini said Friday. "They hear testimony, they are given the law and they make their own determination."

A spokeswoman for Bocchini called comparisons to Nifong an "uninformed opinion."” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)



“Rowan University and Gloucester County College officials say they have acted in the best financial interests of their students when directing them to college lenders, and they are confident that the statewide investigation into the lending industry will prove it.

The colleges are among the 61 state institutions and 17 loan companies that were subpoenaed in May by the state Attorney General's office as part of a probe into sweetheart deals offered to colleges to have them promote certain loan companies.

The 43-question subpoena asked the colleges to provide information about their preferred lists of lenders and whether any lenders offered them gifts, stock options, meals, trips or other compensation or incentive an obvious indication of improper relationships between the two.

Rowan University responded to the subpoena on June 4 saying that there were no such gifts.

Gloucester County College responded that aside from a cookie platter given by Wachovia to the financial aid office during the holidays the college has "no knowledge" of any gifts or incentives.” (Beym, Gloucester County Times)



“Visitors to Duke Steffer's suite at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City could expect food and booze and — for some — cash-filled envelopes.

But guests at other private parties held during the annual League of Municipalities Conference were offered spicier "party favors" — sex with women — according to the FBI.

"Were there private parties in rooms where girls were provided?" says FBI Special Agent Bill Waldie. "Yes."

"(The women) were provided by vendors, developers, business professionals with public contracts, and those seeking them. Some (women), the guys asked for. And some just showed up as a surprise," Waldie said.” (Cullinane, Asbury Park Press)



“State regulators continue to disagree about whether New Jersey should allow a black bear hunt, with the state Fish and Game Council now proposing hunts in 2008 and 2009 if bear-human encounters don't lessen.

State Environmental Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson has been calling for more time to try out non-lethal bear control methods, including legislation to require use of bear-proof trash containers and public education programs.

But in its own proposed policy, posted Friday on the state Division of Fish and Wildlife's Web site, the state Fish and Game Council calls for hunts if bear-human encounters aren't down by a third in each of the next two years.

"Council is not willing to subject the citizens of New Jersey to this level of risk to public safety and property damage for more than a year," the council said in its proposed policy, which was sent to Jackson.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is holding a meeting on Wednesday to get input from the public on bear management policy.

Regulators will have to hammer out their differences after the meeting, DEP spokeswoman Elaine Makatura told The Associated Press on Sunday.” (AP)



“HOBOKEN – Yesterday's scheduled Puerto Rican Festival parade was delayed, then cancelled, and organizers and cops are each blaming the other.

The parade was supposed to kick off at noon in front of City Hall and march up Washington Street to 10th Street, then over to the festival, which also had been held Friday and Saturday on Sinatra Drive.

By 1 p.m., the assembled marchers were told they couldn't have the parade because there weren't enough police available.

Although parade organizers had a permit from the city, police officials said the organizers did not request additional cops be assigned to work that day.

Organizers said they followed the same procedures as they had in previous years – and held meetings with police to discuss how the parade would be managed – and blamed the last-minute cancellation on politics.

"They have been trying to stop us from doing this and I don't know why," parade organizer Anthony Mussara said yesterday. "It's something good for the people."” (Hack, Jersey Journal)



“HACKETTSTOWN | Mayor Michael Lavery says 80 percent of the complaints he receives are about one thing: Suspected illegal immigrants.

As the town's Hispanic population has grown in recent years so has concern among some residents about Hispanics' legal status.

At a recent town council meeting, Councilwoman Nancy Brown mentioned Hispanics living on Main Street and having about a dozen stores catering to them.

She was surprised to learn she is not legally permitted to ask someone about his or her residency status. And she's not the only one inquiring about the topic.

Lavery receives regular calls, comments and e-mails about suspected illegal immigrants in town.

"Anytime anyone sees someone of a background other than their own, they assume they're here illegally," he said. "Some of the things that are said about the Hispanics downtown are the same things that were said about the Irish 100 years ago and the Italians any race."” (Olanoff, Express-Times)



“STRATFORD — Surrounded by bars and restaurants along the White Horse Pike, borough officials have decided there is no upside to being a "dry" town.

On the November ballot, voters will be asked to decide if the ban on liquor sales dating back to Prohibition should be lifted.

Twice before, residents rejected the change, but longtime Mayor Tom Angelucci is hoping the third time is a charm.” (Stilwell, Courier-Post)


“Alison Miller grew up in Manhattan and lived in Oklahoma before moving to Morristown.

She's just 33 years old, but she's the pastor of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, one of the most active religious organizations in Morris County. She is frequently seen at events around town, including last week when she took a prominent position at an event held in response to the anti-illegal immigrant rally at town hall.

"America and its economic system are like a beacon that drives struggling people from Mexico and Latin American countries here," Miller said in an interview last week. "We need to figure out how to support measures that don't penalize people that don't have control."

Miller spoke at the prayer vigil at St. Margaret's Church July 28 while activists from both sides of the issue rallied outside town hall. The minister firmly believes the middle road leads to better solutions, she said.

"The days of neighbors looking out for each other are gone," Miller said. "We need to work harder to ensure people from all backgrounds do more listening and collaborating in order to create peace, end poverty and solve the rest of the social issues that plague us."…………

Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello described Miller as a nice woman who is well-meaning, but with whom he doesn't see eye to eye on the issue of illegal immigration. He cited his own religion's teachings as an example.

"As a Roman Catholic, we are supposed to obey civic law," Cresitello said. "Thou shall not disobey rules of a country. I interpret this a little differently."” (Van Dyk, Daily Record)




“Bergen Democrats will soon take the pulse of 38th District voters to see how much Sen. Joseph Coniglio has been damaged by the federal probe of his role as a $60,000-a-year consultant for Hackensack University Medical Center, sources said. They are gambling that the survey will come back with enough negative numbers to persuade Coniglio to step aside.

Midsummer polling is routine prep work for a reelection drive, but Coniglio's summer has been anything but routine. Prosecutors sent him a "target letter" two weeks ago, which is seen as a precursor to an indictment.

Coniglio vehemently denies using his Senate seat to steer more than $1 million to his former employer and is stubbornly resisting pressure to resign. Reelection literature is printed, and he's maintaining a business-as-usual stump schedule.

But some party officials say the probe has made the onetime shoo-in a liability. And nobody recognizes that more than the cash-poor Republicans.

Robert Ortiz, the new Bergen Republican chairman, will meet in Trenton this week with state Chairman Tom Wilson, Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance and Assembly GOP leader Alex DeCroce to discuss strategy and polling for the 38th District and in the 36th District, where Sen. Paul Sarlo leads the Democratic ticket.

The strategy will not be hard to figure it out. Coniglio will be portrayed in every direct mail piece, e-mail and senior citizens center speech as a corrupt pawn of a Bergen Democratic machine and the scandal-plagued state Democratic Party of Jim McGreevey, indicted ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James, fund-raiser Charles Kushner and others.” (Stile, Star-Ledger)



“A Superior Court judge yesterday ordered Gov. Jon Corzine to disclose all non-personal communications with union leader and former girlfriend Carla Katz during the negotiation of a state workers' contract.

Judge Paul Innes, sitting in Mercer County, rejected a motion to dismiss the suit and gave the administration 30 days to produce any communications between Corzine or his staff and Katz in which they discussed state business. The communications, expected to be mostly e-mails, will be reviewed by the judge behind closed doors, and he will decide which, if any, should be made public.

The lawsuit seeking the communications was brought by Tom Wilson, state Republican chairman, who wants to see if Corzine's relationship with Katz tainted contract talks. His attorney, Mark Sheridan, applauded the judge's decision.

"We got everything we wanted at this proceeding," he added. "He's going to create two piles. The ones I don't get and the ones I do get." ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)



“In a move designed to put college communities on notice, a Mercer County grand jury yesterday indicted two Rider University administrators along with three students on hazing charges in the drinking death of a Rider freshman earlier this year.

"To the colleges in this state, and colleges nationally, it sends a clear message: There is a culpability factor in allowing drinking on campus," Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said at a news conference in Trenton.

The indictment came four months after 18-year-old Gary De Vercelly, of Long Beach, Calif., died after collapsing at the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house on Rider's Lawrenceville campus. Another pledge, William Williams, also suf fered alcohol poisoning but sur vived.

The grand jury charged that the five "did knowingly or recklessly organize, promote, facilitate or engage in conduct" that harmed the two young men.

They were identified as: Ada Badgley, 31, of Lawrenceville, di rector of Greek life; Anthony Campbell, 51, of Lawrence, dean of students; Adriano DiDonato, 22, of Princeton, residence director of Phi Kappa Tau; Dominic Olsen, 21, of Kenilworth, pledge master of the spring 2007 Phi Kappa Tau pledge class; and Michael Torney, 21, of Randolph, president of the fraternity…………

Investigators determined De Vercelly and Williams were among 14 pledges participating in something called "big/little night," a traditional event of the pledging season.

While "big/little night" is a national Phi Kappa Tau traditional event, the Rider chapter added its own rite, "Family Drink," the prosecutor said. The custom involved passing down the "Family Drink" from big brother to little brother. In the process, some pledges consumed an entire bottle of hard liquor in less than an hour, Bocchini said. All but one of the 28 students present were under the legal drinking age of 21……………

The indictment is sure to raise eyebrows nationwide.

"This case will be watched by every administrator at every college in the country," said Hank Nuwer, an assistant professor at Franklin College in Indiana who has written four books about hazing.” (Paterson and Hester, Star-Ledger)

Rider University officials did not adequately supervise campus fraternity houses and held them to a far less stringent standard than other university residence halls, a lawyer for the family of a freshman who died in March of alcohol poisoning charged yesterday.

Attorney Douglas Fierberg said student managers hired to oversee campus fraternity houses — including the Phi Kappa Tau house where freshman Gary DeVercelly was allegedly forced to drink in a hazing incident — are not properly trained, and are not adequately vetted by administration officials………….

Fierberg, who has been retained by DeVercelly's parents, also said the Phi Kappa Tau house manager, student Adriano DiDonato, had the responsibility to stop the hazing from occurring, but didn't. DiDonato, 22, of Princeton, and four others, including two school administrators, were indicted Fri day on charges of aggravated hazing as a result of DeVercelly's death.

"This is one of the only cases in the country where a university employee was present during hazing and did nothing to stop it," the at torney said, adding that ultimately, the university did not adequately train DiDonato to perform his job…………

To get his position, DiDonato was nominated by his fraternity brothers, and only the president and the previous house manager were asked to provide letters of recommendation.

According to the university's housing policy, DiDonato would have been required to submit a 1 1/2-page application with some biographical information as well as answers to two essay-type questions about his qualifications for the job. The prospective manager is then interviewed by university staff.

By contrast, a prospective resident adviser is required to fill out a four-page application, including two pages of essay questions. The application must be submitted with three letters of reference. In addition, the prospective RA is re quired to participate in an evening of duty, an "RA 1 class," and an interview process.

The different standard set by the university is nothing more than a "wink and a nod" to the fraternity industry, Fierberg said, and is inexcusable.



Dozens of Atlantic County Democrats and union officials turned out Friday to launch labor leader Joseph Wilkins’ candidacy for state Assembly in the 2nd District.

Wilkins replaces Egg Harbor City Mayor Joseph Kuehner on the ticket headed by Assemblyman and state Senate candidate Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic. Kuehner left the race to tend to a new business and his ailing father.

Democrats predicted Wilkins’ career-long union ties would help him in an area where labor support has often gone to Republicans. Union trade councils in the past have endorsed Republicans who championed development projects that created construction jobs. Former state Sen. Bill Gormley and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, are Republicans who have enjoyed labor support.

Even in this campaign, some trade unions will split their endorsements. Republican Assembly candidate John Amodeo is a licensed crane operator and member of the state’s operating engineers union.” (Press of Atlantic City)


“Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew is starting to feel like he’s stuck in the movie “The Truman Show.=

Everything Van Drew does is being watched. Like Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carrey in the Hollywood movie, his life is being filmed. Only in this case, the viewers are not a television audience. They are Republican operatives.

The man running the video and audio equipment is usually Frank Luna, who works for the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The real boss of the operation is Bill Pascoe, the campaign manager for state Sen. Nicholas Asselta.

Van Drew, a Democrat, and Asselta, a Republican, both representing Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic counties are facing off in November for a Senate seat. The campaign has been testy from the beginning. Lately, it’s been testy on film.

At a public meeting in Cape May Point this week, Van Drew asked Luna to turn the machine off.

“This is not a political event, so I’m going to ask you not to tape it for opposition research. Frank, can you leave?” Van Drew said.” (Degener, Press of Atlantic City)


There are questions about whether Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny of Hoboken will be able to finish out his term in office as a result of injuries he received last month in a jogging/hit-and-run accident.

It turns out that the lame duck senator from Hudson County who is more likely to leave office early is from Bayonne. Bayonne Mayor and Sen. Joseph Doria is expected to be New Jersey's next state commissioner of Community Affairs, according to several state legislative and Hudson County sources.

Doria received a telephone call from Gov. Jon Corzine Thursday morning, the sources said. They added that State Police are expected to officially begin a four-way background check of Doria on Tuesday, a process that takes about two weeks, but some preliminary screening work has already started in the Peninsula City.” (Torres, Jersey Journal)


The Republican mayors of three Burlington County towns near Fort Dix are criticizing a local Democratic politician because her husband, a lawyer, was appointed to represent one of the six men accused of plotting an attack on the base.

Mayors Lou DeLorenzo of North Hanover, Thomas Harper of Wrightstown and Dennis Roohr of New Hanover say Michael Riley should step down from the case. Riley's wife, Tracy Riley, is a member of the Mount Laurel Township Council and a candidate for the Assembly.

"We feel it's imperative you answer some questions about how your penchant for defending lowlifes like this would affect decisions you make in the Legislature," the mayors said in a letter faxed to Tracy Riley Thursday.

Riley is representing Shain Duka, who is charged with alongside four other men of conspiracy to murder military personnel.

Riley called the letter "purely political." Mayor David Patriarca of Pemberton Township, also in the Fort Dix area but a Democrat, was not included, she noted.” (AP)



“The Republicans must think Burlington County voters are stupid.

How else to explain a misguided letter three GOP mayors leaked to the press this week?

In it, they challenge a candidate for state Assembly on grounds that her husband is representing a man accused in a failed terrorist plot against Fort Dix………..

During an election in which Republicans here are being seriously challenged for the first time in decades, the mayors' missive smacks of fear and desperation.

We don't think voters are dumb. They will see through the innuendo and recognize this ploy for what it is: political maneuvering at its basest.” (Editorial, Burlington County Times)


Looks like the "Jersey defense" doesn't work 100 percent.

Certainly not in the case of former state executive Lesly Devereaux, who was convicted on two counts of conducting personal business on state time.

She was acquitted of charges she conspired with her mother and sister to get them "make work" jobs with the state. It was about those positions that defense lawyer Jack Furlong invoked what was laughingly referred to elsewhere as the "Jersey defense"

"This entire state runs on the friends and family plan. I'm not excusing it. I'm not endorsing it. That's the way things work. Until we change the culture and say the rules apply to everyone … you've got to ask yourself why we are singling out Lesly Devereaux." He admitted to the jury Devereaux found work for her mother, a California resident, and her sister, who lives in North Carolina. Furlong also said Devereaux did private legal work on state time but contended those are ethics violations.” (Ingle, Gannett)


Buffeted by investigations, the Somerset County Park Commission yesterday morning gave one-year contracts to two law firms and added others to a pool for potential use.

The votes at a 7:30 a.m. special meeting may have been the final acts for a majority of the commissioners, as the Somerset freeholders said they intend to begin replacing four lame-duck members at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Arseneault, Whipple, Farmer, Fassett and Azzarello of Chatham will help "see us through" probes by the state Attorney General's Office and Somerset County, said outgoing commission President Fred Quick.

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland Perretti of Morristown will advise the commission on "updating and refining policies and procedures," he said.

In a June 22 report to the freeholders, another law firm, Wolff and Samson of West Orange, harshly criticized the commission's management and financial practices. The Attorney General's Office then issued a sweeping subpoena for commission records. ” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)


“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 those measures.

But a lawmaker is attempting to override those decisions by maneuvering the state's Megan's Law to allow the laws to exist.

Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, R-Warren/Hunterdon, is proposing a measure that would allow towns to enact the restricted living laws. The bill also would enable municipalities to enforce buffer zones around schools and playgrounds.

"It's original; I don't know if it would work or not," said New Jersey League of Municipalities attorney Deborah Kole. "It would clearly do away with the pre-emption, but it could still be challenged constitutionally."” (Graber, Express-Times)


REP. BILL PASCRELL doesn't believe in UFOs, but he has seen the effects of poltergeists.

That's what he told the newspaper The Hill recently as part of a regular "Meet the Lawmaker" feature. "They are 3-D ghosts, evidenced when material things move in a house. I've seen it," Pascrell said in the July 24 issue.

The Paterson Democrat told Capital Games last week his first brush with poltergeists was when he was a college student visiting "a house in Long Island" that was supposedly haunted.

"I actually saw things move in the house without any scientific explanation," Pascrell said last week.” (Jackson, Bergen Record)


“State Sen. Richard Codey is urging Congress to lower the maximum temperature permitted in nursing homes, saying too many residents are suffering through potentially dangerous summer heat so nursing home operators can save money on their utility bills.

Codey, who found temperatures in the low- to mid-80s during surprise inspections of three nursing homes Wednesday, said yesterday he will introduce a resolution asking Congress to act when the state Senate returns from its summer break.

"Nursing homes are supposed to be a refuge. They're supposed to care for and protect people who can't care for themselves," said Codey (D-Essex), the Senate president. "On a day like today, with temperatures well into the 90s, an indoor temperature in the mid 80s provides very little respite from these conditions. For certain elderly people, this could be a life-or-death situation."

Under federal rules, nursing homes must maintain a temperature range of 71 to 81 degrees. Codey would like to see the high end of the range lowered by several degrees, though he did not name a precise number.” (Mueller, Star-Ledger)



Last Monday, Gabriael "Nickie" Brazier and Heather Aurand of Toms River got the news they had been waiting months to hear.

Ever since the couple of seven years entered into a civil union in February, they had been trying to convince United Parcel Service, where Brazier works as a driver, that Aurand should get spousal health-care benefits.

Last week, the company agreed.

"We're obviously pleased with what UPS did," said Aurand, 36, a stay-at-home mom to the couple's three small children who had been paying $340 a month to buy basic medical insurance. "It's just unfortunate it took this long."

“New Jersey's fledgling civil-union law was created to give same-sex couples the same rights – on the state level, at least – as their married counterparts.

Since the law took effect Feb. 19, more than 1,300 couples have taken advantage of it.

But almost six months later, many of those couples say that getting others to recognize their new rights – without the label of "marriage" – remains a struggle.

"If the Legislature called it marriage to begin with, we wouldn't have had this issue and a lot of other people wouldn't still have it," Aurand said. "There are people here in New Jersey who don't even know what a civil union is."” (Moroz, Philadelphia Inquirer)



“Are there any public officials who didn't accept a payment from Duke Steffer?

The short answer is "no," but it's not the entire answer. Bill Waldie, the lead FBI agent in Operation Bid Rig, explains:

"We only wanted (officials) who were already takers . . . who had already taken (bribes) or would. We're not in the business of setting somebody up.”

It's called predication — the need to affirm that the target of the proposition, or bribe, will accept it before it's ever offered.” (Cullinane, Asbury Park Press)



“A wave of political unrest in Teaneck is pitting Orthodox Jewish township councilmen against other groups.

The disputes — which focus mostly on last year's election and aren't overtly about religion — have fueled stormy council meetings, angry Internet postings and letters to the local newspaper.

Some say the level of rancor reflects hidden community fissures that few want to discuss openly.

"When I heard the terminology of 'we' and 'they' and 'the Orthodox' — we need to talk about it," veteran Councilwoman Jacqueline B. Kates said after a tumultuous council meeting June 26. "But I don't think we know how to talk about it without hurting each other."

Teaneck has long prided itself on diversity and tolerance. The township, which is 56 percent white and 29 percent African-American, was the first suburban community in the nation to voluntarily integrate its schools. During the past three decades, it has become one of the largest Orthodox Jewish enclaves in New Jersey.” (Chadwick, Bergen Record)



“MORRISTOWN — The overtime budget for the town police department for security at last week's ProAmerica Society rally in front of town hall came out to $18,032.84, police said Friday.

There were 35 town officers, including three special officers, working at that rally, which had more than 500 attendees. Approximately $17,728.84 went to the full-time officers, and $304 was for the special officers, who are part-time officers, according to Lt. Steve Sarinelli.

That amount is in addition to the nearly $6,000 spent on overtime by the county Sheriff's Office, which also had more than 30 officers on duty that day.

Chief Peter Demnitz said the department had received intelligence in the days before the rally about white supremacist and anti-fascist groups and others whose main intent was to shut down the rally. That information played a role in beefing up security.

"There will always be criticism of the police department, whether it's about parking tickets or major operations," he said. "But I will always be more comfortable with criticism that we had too much security, rather than having little security and have property damage and civil disorder."” (Hassan, Daily Record)



“Set back off Route 202/206 in Bridgewater, the Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple is a faded terra cotta multi-tiered building with multiple steeples, each rising to a tiny, elegant point.

The traditional-style Indian temple, built in 1998 next to the sprawling complex of French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis, is a local oddity, featuring intricately worked reliefs of deities, rows of delicate columns and an array of stylized religious symbols.

In a federal lawsuit filed last month against Bridgewater Township and the zoning board of adjustment, the temple contends it's not only different in appearance — it gets different treatment as well.

The lawsuit, filed July 23, claims violations of the First and 14th Amendments and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, saying repeated denials of a large-scale expansion is discriminatory, unreasonable, and denies temple members' free religious exercise.

"It's been more than three years," said Temple Chairman Madhusudhan Rao Chava. "We just want to start construction."” (Abdou, Star-Ledger)


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