Today’s news from

Corzine likes hiring former Goldman Sachs execs, Menendez defends war funding vote, Booker and Rice set aside differences, sexual harassment suit dropped against Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen Sweeney.


“New Jersey's governor's office is off West State Street in Trenton, not Wall Street in lower Manhattan, yet it's taking on a decided Goldman Sachs flavor.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine — once chairman of the global investment firm — has named former Goldman Sachs colleague Bradley Abelow as his new chief of staff.

Another Goldman Sachs veteran, Gary Rose, is the governor's economic growth expert. So when Abelow, who has been Corzine's treasurer, begins his new job on Sept. 1, three top roles in the Garden State's governor's office will be filled by Goldman guys.”

"This has got to be first — three successful Wall Street guys from the same firm in such powerful positions," said Rider University political scientist David Rebovich…………….

Some consider the Abelow move surprising.

James. W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, said chiefs of staff, unlike Abelow, are usually political operatives.

"It's probably unprecedented to have the two chief staffers to the governor be individuals who have a real grasp of the economy and the economic forces," Hughes said. "This is exactly what New Jersey needs at this point in time."

But Rebovich said the real test is beginning, with Corzine devising a plan to make more money off state properties, such as toll roads, to bring in a large cash infusion to pay debt and free money for other needs. It may involve toll increases and faces legislative opposition……………….

Former Republican Sen. Bill Gormley, who retired from the state Legislature in February after 30 years, said their scant political experience won't hurt in a state famous for public corruption.

"They're bright. They're honest. I'm a big fan," Gormley said.

"They may not be familiar with all the idiosyncrasies of politics in New Jersey," he said before quickly adding: "That's a big positive given what we see of New Jersey politics.”” (Hester, AP)



“U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday night defended his vote to continue funding the Iraq war, responding to criticism from anti-war activists that he had helped to prolong the unpopular conflict.

Speaking at Bergen County Community College at a forum sponsored by The Record, Menendez reminded about 200 people that he had voted against the war when he was a member of the House of Representatives. He said he had been "one of the most vociferous members of the Senate" seeking what he called a "responsible transition" out of Iraq.

But that wasn't enough for John Fenton of Little Ferry, whose son, Marine Sgt. Matthew Fenton, 24, died from shrapnel wounds he suffered in Iraq's Al Anbar province in April 2006. Fenton told Menendez that he would have pinned some of the blame for his son's death on the senator if Matthew had been killed after the $120 billion war spending package was approved in May.

Menendez said he had supported unsuccessful bills that would have cut off funding for the war after a specific date. When those bills failed, he said, he couldn't vote against a bill that funded troops on the ground, while also raising the national minimum wage to $7.15 an hour.

"The reality is, there's another group of families that speak to me, too, and those families have sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan," Menendez said. "And many of them want to see what I want to see, and that is an end to the war, but they also say to me, 'Don't stop the funding while my son is there.'” (Lamb, Bergen Record)



“After heavy thunderstorms lashed the state and flooded roads yesterday morning, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez was having some trouble trying to get to, fittingly enough, a conference in New Brunswick on flooding problems throughout the state.

"Mother Nature was reminding us why we are here," said Menendez (D-N.J.) at the "Stemming the Tide" conference, which gathered politicians and researchers to brainstorm on ways to cope with future floods.

Workshop attendees went to sessions on various subjects from the effects of global warming to flood risks in New Jersey. Menen dez called for the conference after he toured Bound Brook in April when a nor'easter flooded the business district and left more than a 1,000 people homeless.

"Flooding has gotten worse than ever before," he said. ” (Adarlo, Star-Ledger)



“The anger doesn’t die.

Blown into the same foxhole this week, old foes Sen. Ronald Rice and Mayor Cory Booker resolved to fight crime side-by-side.

In the aftermath of execution-style killings in Newark that left three young people dead on Saturday, and two additional killings on Sunday and Tuesday, Rice went to Trenton today with Booker’s good graces to huddle with state Attorney General Anne Milgram.

"The reality is that crises forge relationships," said Booker in Vailsburg Park as he helped register people for jobs in the stricken West Ward. "At the end of the day the two of us love Newark, and we’re partnering more. Our relationship is better now than ever before."

“He (the mayor) just called me," said Rice, emerging earlier in the day from the session with Milgram in his Statehouse office, where the senator said he urged the Attorney General to implement measures contained in the Gang Land Security Task Force.……………

Booker demolished Rice in their mayoral contest a year ago, but stamping out the wiry old Newark operator proved too much for Team Booker, and Rice won re-election to the state Senate in June.

They are classic Newark adversaries, these two African-American politicians separated by a generation.” (Pizarro,



“Claims of sexual harassment and discrimination against Gloucester County Freeholder Director Stephen Sweeney, made 10 months ago by a disgruntled county employee and longtime Democrat, were dropped Wednesday.

After spending five hours responding to the allegations in a sworn deposition with the woman's attorney a day earlier, Sweeney said Diane Kirwan-Patterson dropped her case against him.

"They were just outrageous claims and I had to deal with them," said Sweeney. "I'm just happy it's over."

Attorneys representing both Sweeney and Kirwan-Patterson also stipulated in a written agreement that allegations were dropped.

A lawsuit filed against Sweeney and two other county officials last October claimed the individuals purposely used their clout to intimidate Kirwan-Patterson and punish her for supporting another Democrat.

"In this world of politics, you become a target for people to say anything they want to say about you," Sweeney said. "You're very vulnerable."……….

Answering the allegations has cost Gloucester County close to $85,000.

Sweeney said that although he feels his name was defamed, there is no legal action he says he can now take against Kirwan-Patterson. ” (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)



“Sen. Nick Asselta, along with running-mates Mike Donohue and Norris Clark, has decried plans by Gov. Jon Corzine to form a 27-member commission to study how the state can handle problems posed by "the estimated 450,000 illegal immigrants in New Jersey."

"We cannot afford to wait another 15 months for New Jersey to do something about illegal immigration," Asselta stated in the press release. "It doesn't take a 27-member commission, and it doesn't take 15 months to come up with a solution. The solution is simple: Enforce the law."

Donohue said police officers, other local elected officials and "everyday folks" are frustrated by the illegal immigration problem.

"Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans, stressing our already overburdened school districts and clogging our courts and jails," he stated.

Asselta is facing a challenge in November's general election from First District Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, who is vying for his senate seat.” (Bridgeton News)



“In New Jersey's older urban areas, the pattern has held for years.

As the white population declines in places like Essex, Union and Hudson counties, the minority population grows.

But this decade, there's a new twist: Minorities are also moving into the state's more far-flung counties at a faster rate than whites, U.S. Census figures re leased this morning indicate.

The numbers show that blacks, Asians and Hispanics accounted for two-thirds of the population growth in the New Jersey counties that had the lowest percent of minority residents in 2000.

The spread of diversity to these mostly white counties is driven in part by upwardly mobile blacks and Hispanics leaving New Jersey's cities and the general affluence of many Asian immigrants. But it is also a byproduct of service economy jobs generated by overall growth……………..

In the rest of the state, Hispanics, Asians and blacks represent the only population growth; the number of white residents has declined steadily, the figures show……..

But a more subtle pattern is emerging in the smaller, outlying counties.

Warren County, for example, had been gaining white population through 2003. But now the white population has started a slow decline and the county has gained more than 11,500 minority residents since the 2000 Census.” (Gebeloff and O’Connor, Star-Ledger)

“Bergen and Passaic counties trail the rest of the state in population growth, according to census figures that will be released today.

Bergen's population grew only 2 percent, to 904,000, and Passaic's rose just 1.2 percent, to 497,000, from 2000 to 2006.

In contrast, New Jersey grew 3.4 percent to more than 8.7 million, while the nation saw a 6.1 percent increase in that time. Hudson County's population has decreased by more than 8,000 residents, or 1.4 percent of its population. Morris has increased by 4.6 percent to more than 493,000.

The data, which include only county totals, do not show much difference in North Jersey's demographics from 2005.” (Fallon and Schnaars, Bergen Record)



“The only thing certain about New Jersey's mounting trouble with black bears is that the state will not launch a hunt to control them — at least not this year.

Heated debate continued in Trenton last night about whether the state Department of Environmental Protection is wrong not to kill some of the burgeoning population of bears that, on occasion, kill livestock and break into homes.

About 100 people who attended a hearing at the State Museum spoke for and against DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson's attempt to make her non-lethal approach to bears official state policy.

"This is an open dialogue on the policy," said Amy Cradic, an assistant commissioner who attended the hearing. "The purpose is to hear the public concerns."

But Jackson also is trying to prepare for a Sept. 6 appeals court hearing on her cancellation of a hunt last year and a 2005 bear policy that permitted annual hunts to control the troublesome bruins. Jackson contends bear troubles can be brought under control if the state can better secure residential trash that lures bruins into human habitat.

"We should control trash. But we also need to reduce the bear population. The more bears you have, the more potential for serious conflicts between bear and people," Len Wolgast, a member of the state's Fish and Game Council, said before the hearing.” (Murray, Star-Ledger)

“The state Fish and Game Council, citing an increase in aggressive bear activity, wants DEP to commit to a 2008 hunt if aggressive bear reports fail to decline by at least 30 percent.

DEP, which blocked bear hunts in 2006 after allowing hunts in 2003 and 2005, continues to endorse nonlethal alternatives such as educating residents in bear country about the importance of securing garbage and taking other precautions.

Agust Gudmundsson of Hackettstown said a hunt is justified.

"Bears in New Jersey are not endangered. They're not threatened. They're not even uncommon … . Ask anyone who lives in Warren, Sussex and Morris," he said.” (Jennings, Daily Record)



“PASSAIC — City Council members evaded questions Wednesday about why they voted to keep a resolution on the books that gave themselves and the mayor better medical benefits than the city's nearly 700 employees.

Councilman Gerardo Fernandez hung up the phone, while Councilman Marcellus Jackson did not return phone calls for comment. In May, the council voted to grant elected officials post-retirement medical benefits after 15 years of service instead of the requisite 25 years for all city employees.

In a departure, Mayor Samuel Rivera said Wednesday he now favors rescinding the resolution.

The resolution could mean thousands of dollars a year in savings for the part-time elected officials. Employees who retire and do not meet the years of service requirement must pay monthly premiums ranging from $364 to more than $1,800, depending on their level of coverage, according to the Web site for the Division of Pensions and Benefits.

The vote to rescind deadlocked at 3-3, with Maritza Colon-Montanez abstaining. The tie vote meant that the original resolution would stand. Colon-Montanez did not return calls for comment………………

Council members who said they wanted to rescind the vote were puzzled why the others did not.

Councilmen Chaim Munk and Daniel Schwartz were disappointed with the result.

"I wish I knew why they voted the way they did," said Munk, who claimed that he misread the original resolution. ” (Mandell, Herald News)



“DENNIS TOWNSHIP — Democrats in the 1st Legislative District race are organizing a rally today to oppose Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s proposal to sell the state’s toll roads.

Assemblyman and state Senate candidate Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, and his two running mates sent out mailers inviting the public to the rally at 6 p.m. at the Ocean View Fire Hall on Route 9. “It’s going to be an old-fashioned rally. No invective. We’re not attacking anyone,” Van Drew said.

To promote the rally, his legislative team — including Assembly candidates Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam — sent out mailers featuring a big red stop sign.

“Stop them from trying to lease our roads. Stop them from making our tolls go up. … Just tell them to stop!!!” it read. Considering the toll-road plan was pitched by the state’s Democratic leadership, just whom are the 1st District Democrats trying to stop?

“Whoever it is. It’s not us,” Van Drew said. “We didn’t want to pin one person or group. We were clarifying how we feel as a legislative team.”

Their Republican opponents saw it differently.

“‘Them’ would be Nelson Albano and Jeff Van Drew,” Republican Assembly candidate Michael Donohue said. “How about stop them from voting for this in Trenton and then misleading their constituents when they come home?” (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)



“The outcome of Parsippany's 2005 mayoral election will remain contested a little longer.

The state Supreme Court yesterday returned to square one the challenge Republican Councilwoman Rosemarie Agostini filed after Democrat Michael Luther won by 39 votes.

After hearing arguments in May, the court was expected to issue a decision sometime during the summer. But yesterday the court ordered attorneys to present their arguments before the panel again next month………….

Agostini brought the case a month after she lost her fifth bid for the mayoralty of Morris Coun ty's most populated town. The job pays $108,000 and Parsippany is the only town in the county with a full- time mayor.

Superior Court Judge Theodore Bozonelis dismissed the suit in January 2006, but appeals court judges overruled him in November and ordered a trial. Genova then appealed to the high court, which last December agreed to hear the case.” (Frank, Star-Ledger)



“Esquire came a-calling to the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual meeting in Los Angeles, on the prowl for a few sharp-dressed city executives for its September style issue. Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer answered the call and even offered to wear his own clothes to the shoot: "My clothes are Esquire material," says the five-term mayor, who is also the association's president.

But the magazine told him that if he wanted more prominent play, he'd have to play dress-up. So the issue, which will be on newsstands Tuesday, shows Hizzoner modeling a dark, two-button wool suit by Dolce & Gabbana ($1,995), a Do menico Vacca striped shirt ($490), and a Dunhill silk tie in muted gold ($125).

Palmer did not get to keep the clothes.

Not that he needed to.

"I do like my clothes," said Palmer, who owns at least 15 suits……..

Palmer said the shoot was done between meetings and took about a half hour.

Yesterday, he confessed to being a bit embarrassed about the whole thing.

"I hope I don't get teased too much from my friends," said Palmer.” (Hyman, Trenton Times)



“ATLANTIC CITY — What happens in Atlantic City should stay in Atlantic City. And that includes casino profits.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s policies should be changed to provide more money to improve Atlantic City and the rest of Atlantic County, rather than contributing millions of dollars to projects throughout the state, State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough, R-Atlantic, said Tuesday.

“All of our towns are living in the shadow of one of the largest industries in the world and our taxes are still going up,” McCullough said. “The rest of the state is not feeling the impact of the casino industry, but they’re still getting more money.”

McCullough, who issued a joint news release on the issue Tuesday with Republican Assembly candidates Vince Polistina and John Amodeo, said residents endure heavier traffic, higher enrollment at schools and increasing infrastructure problems because of the casinos’ success.

“If we are going to be negatively affected by the casinos, we should get something in return,” McCullough said.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)



“The developer of the struggling EnCap Golf project announced Wednesday that it had secured $55 million in interim financing — six weeks after promising state officials that such an agreement was imminent.

EnCap Manager James Dausch said the financing will allow EnCap to continue its work for the next 12 months, "while a long-term restructuring of the project is undertaken with the private financial stakeholders and the interested public agencies.

Lilo Stainton, a spokeswoman for Governor Corzine, said it would be "premature to say how this will affect the project" or the battle between EnCap and the state over the fate of a development once hailed as the "Miracle of the Meadowlands."

Perhaps the biggest difference between this and previous, abortive attempts to raise additional money is that the developer has made a commitment of more of its own money.

In a series of articles, The Record has shown that EnCap has little of its own capital at risk in the $500 million project, which calls for an upscale, golf-themed community of 2,500 residences on a collection of old landfills in Lyndhurst and Rutherford." (Brennan, Bergen Record)



“An office complex in Cherry Hill will soon house Camden County's probation division and child support units, moving hundreds of county workers from what many consider one of New Jersey's most deplorable public buildings.

Camden County's announcement yesterday was cause for celebration for more than 250 county workers who have labored in Camden's vermin-infested Parkade building, a structure that in 2003 was found to harbor the lethal bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.

"This will be such a relief," said Deborah Robertson, operations manager for Superior Court in Camden. "This is not a facility that we're proud to have."

The new offices are located in the rear of the Executive Campus off Route 38, a complex which already houses several other government agencies…………

The Parkade building, on Federal and Market streets, has been described by those who work there as "horrible," "ridiculous" and "wretched." Thousands of county residents visit government offices there…………

The bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease was found in the building's water supply and cooling tower in 2003 after a worker from the prosecutor's office contracted the disease. The building was evacuated for six weeks until the water system could be flushed.” (Wood, Philadelphia Inquirer)




“An excavator reduced the Striper — a boat owned by former Mayor Wesley K. Bell — to rubble Wednesday.

On Monday a judge ordered that Bell has until 9 a.m. Friday to remove three deteriorated boats moored in a Beach Haven West lagoon or face jail time. Wednesday as a Hill watched.

State Deputy Attorney General James contractor demolished the Striper. Bell walked the deck of another boat, the Annmarie, tossing objects over his shoulder into the water.

“That’s illegal,” Hill said, dialing the Marine Police on his cell phone.

Bell later said that he wasn’t issued any summonses, and that he was merely tossing out floatation devices placed by the Marine Police to absorb fuel and clearing eel grass out of pumps used to drain the flooded vessel.

Hill has prosecuted Bell since 2005, charging that the boats are polluting the water and endangering public safety……………..

“If he’s able to do this by nine o’clock Friday, all it shows is he could have done this all along,” Hill said.” (Pharo, Press of Atlantic City)



“Statewide constitutional officers are seeing state-mandated pay raises but Warren County officials said they wish they could make the decision on a merit basis.

Due to a change in state law, the Warren County freeholder board had to vote Wednesday night to increase the base salaries of its constitutional officers by 5.7 percent.

About six years ago, the state tied constitutional officer salaries to New Jersey Superior Court judges, according to county Administrator Steve Marvin. Constitutional officers, such as the county surrogate, clerk and sheriff, are paid 65 percent of a Superior Court judge's salary.

In the fiscal year 2008 budget, the state has allocated a series of salary increases for state judges up to $149,000, a 5.7 percent increase. This brings the minimum constitutional officer salary up to $96,850. ” (Satullo, Express-Times)


“Bergen County will ask voters this year for permission to double the open-space tax.

On Wednesday, the county freeholders unanimously approved placing a question on the November ballot that would increase the open-space tax to 2 cents for every $100 of value as assessed by the county, meaning homeowners would pay an open-space tax of between $80 and $120, officials said.

County assessment differs slightly from the valuations on which municipalities base their taxes.

The money collected from the tax would generate $32 million for the county's Open Space Trust Fund, which funds open-space acquisitions, recreational improvements and the preservation of historic properties.

"Open space is a very precious commodity," said Freeholder David Ganz, who sits on the advisory committee that decides open-space allocations. "And what we have found is that it is not only a precious commodity, but an expensive one."” (Carmiel, Bergen Record)

“There's still no shortage of open space in Morris County that towns and nonprofit groups want preserved, at least according to the latest round of applications to the county's open space trust fund.

Requests for 2007 county funding have been made for 26 projects, totaling 762 acres and at a cost of $25.2 million, Walter Krich, director of the county Department of Planning, Development and Technology, reported yesterday.

Included are preservation efforts in 21 of the county's 39 towns, ranging from a half-acre in Denville to a 170-acre tract in Kinnelon. Montville requested the smallest amount of money, $24,750, for Jegge Preserve, while Mendham Borough and Schiff Natural Lands Trust topped the list at $5 million for Valley Brook Springs.” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)



The mystery over who is responsible for a $4.2 million spending blunder that could force a dramatic rise in sewer rates deepened yesterday as township administrators continued to lay the blame on a former employee.

Business Administrator John Mason's accusation that former finance officer Phil Del Turco mishandled emergency repairs on a sewer line collapse in 2006 caused tempers to flare in the council chamber at a meeting Tuesday as council members came to Del Turco's defense.

But Mason refused to back down, saying Del Turco handled the emergency appropriation wrong from the start, causing the issue to escalate, and he produced evidence that council members knew about the issue long before they say they did.

"Had (Del Turco) at the beginning of this emergency known what the proper procedure was and given guidance to the administration and the council, we wouldn't be dealing with this right now, but that didn't happen," he said.

Reached yesterday, Del Turco denied responsibility, saying he never saw the purchase orders for the sewer repairs.” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)



“Jersey City officials refused to confirm or deny yesterday that Rebecca Mason will be fired as the city's municipal court director as complaints about the administrative functions of the court mounted.

"There's nothing to say right now," said Jennifer Morrill, spokeswoman for Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy. "He's heard complaints and they are being looked into. But he's not going to talk about changes."” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)



Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson tried to calm public fears about bridges a week after at least five people died when a highway bridge collapsed in Minnesota.

“I want to reassure our residents and visitors that Atlantic County routinely inspects and maintains our county-owned bridges,” Levinson said Wednesday. “We are committed to improving our infrastructure and making improvements that enhance the safety of our motorists on our roadways.

All of the county’s 57 bridges have been inspected within the past 10 months, Levinson said.” (Cohen, Press of Atlantic City)



“South Jersey Democrat officials recently attended the Democratic Leadership Council's National Convention.

The event, July 28 to 30, was attended by Salem County Freeholder Beth Timberman, Cumberland County Freeholder Lou Magazzu, Pittsgrove Mayor Pete Voros, Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello, Buena Vista Deputy Mayor Teresa Kelly and Absecon Mayor Peter Elco……….

The convention was held in Nashville, Tenn., at the Opryland Hotel Resort. The DLC provides leadership skills, policy theories, identifies future challenges and they customize solutions for problems in different regions of the U.S.

During the three-day event, the elected officials attend classes, workshops and seminars that are presented by national policy and media experts that try to guide the local elected official through their local issues and challenges.” (Today’s Sunbeam)



“Assemblyman Michael Doherty recently lent his support to local leaders fighting for a new Phillipsburg High School, which was stalled when the state agency overseeing the project ran out of money.

In a letter to Phillipsburg Councilman Jim Shelly dated Aug. 3, Doherty wrote his staff has been searching for a way to rectify the "deplorable conditions at Phillipsburg High School" since an April rally was staged where the new school is to sit.

Doherty said he contacted the Office of Legislative Services for suggestions. In a letter from the office to Doherty, which the assemblyman copied to Shelly and other officials, a number of options were presented. They include terminating the receiving relationship Phillipsburg has with other districts and allowing Phillipsburg to issue bonds for the project.

Phillipsburg school board President Paul Rummerfield said the board already knows those options but he is pleased to see Doherty stepping up to the plate.

"We've got the site, we've got the plans," Rummerfield said. "All we need is money to get us moving; that's where we need help." ” (Eilenberger, Express-Times)



”In a letter to the state Department of Education commissioner, Assemblyman Jerry Green has called for an investigation into "the operation and governance of the Plainfield Public School District."

The Aug. 2 letter to Commissioner Lucille Davy alleged "potential fiscal abuses occasioned by the appointment of an interim superintendent at the rate of $850 per day upon the sole recommendation of the board's legal counsel," Green wrote. The school board hired Peter Carter as interim superintendent June 8, after Paula Howard resigned from that position.

Green (D-Plainfield) wrote that he was also concerned about "an ethical breach" on the board's part because an attorney for the law firm representing Carter in his recent case against the New Jersey Association of School Administrators is a partner in the law firm Hunt, Hamlin & Ridley. That firm also represents the Plainfield Board of Education.” (Friedman, Star-Ledger)


“MILLVILLE — Surrounded by friends and family, Molly Hollingshead stood to applause and hugged those closest to her. With three yes votes against a single no, Hollingshead was appointed to the City Commission seat left vacant after the death of her husband, John, at the City Commission meeting Tuesday night.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor (John’s) legacy then to take this position,” Hollingshead said. “I’m honored and proud, but I’m a little disappointed that it wasn’t 100 percent.”” (Van Embden, Press of Atlantic City)


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