Monetization unpopular but so is increasing taxes, a Jersey Boy finds a new home, Moran on Newark murders, officials investigate why alleged Newark killer was out on bail, Booker take criticism for not taking on black top cop, booker critics ready to begin circulating recall petition.
NO “EASY PASS” FOR CORZINE
“New Jersey voters have little appetite for higher tolls on the Turnpike and Parkway, whether the state or some new corporation runs the roads, a poll released yesterday found.
The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found 61 percent oppose Gov. Jon Corzine's tentative plan to turn the highways over to a nonprofit corporation that would raise billions of dollars by selling bonds backed by higher tolls. And 64 percent of the voters oppose having the state raise tolls to pay off its debt.
Corzine contends that, with debt and fringe benefit costs soaring, the state must consider ways to generate cash from assets like the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. He previously has ruled out leasing or selling the toll roads to private operators, after polls showed even stronger opposition to that idea.
"The electorate does not seem inclined to give Gov. Corzine an easy pass on these issues," said Tim Vercellotti, the poll director.
While the poll found the Democratic governor's idea faces opposition from voters of all parties, it did offer him some hope of changing people's minds. It found voters prefer toll increases to tax hikes or spending cuts when forced to choose among those options for paying off state debt.
Specifically, 44 percent of voters preferred raising tolls, 28 percent cutting services and 9 percent increasing taxes……………
The poll also found while his asset plan is unpopular, Corzine himself remains in good standing with voters. It found 57 percent approve of Corzine's job performance, compared to 51 percent in a Rutgers-Eagleton poll from October.
For months, Republicans have criticized Corzine for failing to release the details of his "asset monetization" plan, which would pay down state debt to free money for school construction, health care, open space preservation and other uses. The minority party is trying to use the issue to help it win legislative seats in this fall's legislative elections.
Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said the governor remained confident in his plan.
"Voters may be skeptical of a plan defined only by critics, but they are even more wary of service cuts or tax increases," Stainton said. "The governor believes New Jersey has a smart, sophisticated electorate, and he looks forward to sharing his ideas with residents across the state."
Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R., Hunterdon) noted that the poll indicated Corzine, a Democrat, faced opposition from across the political spectrum, with concern found among Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Said Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R., Morris): "This poll and others don't just reaffirm the fact that the governor's toll-road asset sale scheme is a hard sale. They show it's a no-sale."” (Hester, AP)
IN RADIO, TOLERANCE OF THE INTOLERANT
“In most workplaces, lofting insults against blacks, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, gays, women, cops, teachers and the mentally ill amounts to career suicide.
Not so in radio, where redemption, even a promotion, is often just around the corner.
Witness two related developments yesterday that show shock jocks really do wear Teflon.
WFAN (660 AM) announced it had hired Craig Carton, a serial insulter and the more pugnacious half of "The Jersey Guys" on 101.5 FM, as a sidekick to former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason in the slot where the disgraced Don Imus once ruled.
Minutes later, CBS Radio said it had reached a settlement with Imus, who was fired in April for calling members of the women's basketball team at Rutgers University "nappy-headed hos." Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Imus and lawyer Martin Garbus dropped plans for a $120million breach-of-contract suit………….
For Carton, the move to follow Imus at WFAN brings a much larger stage — and even more scrutiny. "The Jersey Guys" estimated weekly audience is about 541,000. WFAN approaches that in a single day.
The new show, "Boomer and Carton in the Morning," debuts Sept. 4. It will run from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays and will focus exclusively on sports. Carton previously worked in sports radio at WIP (610 AM) in Philadelphia………..
Carton left "The Jersey Guys" late last week after he and station management opted against renewing his contract "by mutual agreement," said Ray Handel, 101.5's director of marketing and promotions. Handel called the separation amicable…………
Carton's five years at 101.5 FM (WKXW) were anything but smooth. He repeatedly parodied ethnic groups, at one point using a mock Asian accent on the air. Earlier this year, he infuriated Latinos after he and Rossi called on listeners to turn in illegal immigrants in a campaign they dubbed "La Cucha Gotcha," a play on the word "Cucaracha," or cockroach.
Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo (D-Essex) yesterday called Carton "a guy who's managed to insult almost every community around." (Perry, Star-Ledger)
“The Newark murder victims are buried now, so it's too late for us to offer them our heartfelt apology.
Too bad. Because each day, we are learning more about the bureaucratic bungling that allowed the two chief suspects to remain free on the night of the killings.
Both men should have been behind bars. But in both cases, we had them and we let them go.
"It's very frustrating," says Sheriff Armando Fontoura. "The system is just overwhelmed."
Indeed it is. Because in New Jersey, the striking inequities between rich and poor, between suburb and city have infected even the criminal justice system.
That means people who live in urban counties like Essex are not getting the same level of protection as people in the rest of the state.
"It's a basic truth that a crime committed in a rural county is treated differently than similar conduct in an urban county like Essex," says John Farmer, the former attorney general. "I don't think anyone with a straight face can deny that."” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
CARRANZA RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT BAIL
“When Jose Carranza walked free from the Essex County Jail in May, it was about as easy as could be for a man charged with sexually assaulting a child.
His $150,000 bail was the lowest amount recommended for his alleged crime.
The illegal immigrant from Peru — who worked as a laborer — could have had to pay his bail in cash, but was allowed to have it done by a bail bondsman.
This came seven months after he paid $2,000 to get out of that same jail after being charged with assault and weapons possession following a bar fight.
Among questions surrounding the 28-year-old Carranza is how he was free on bail when four college students were shot execution-style in a Newark schoolyard on Aug. 4. Three of the victims were killed, and Carranza has been charged in the slayings along with two juveniles.
His status as an illegal immigrant quickly sparked questions about why Essex County authorities never contacted federal immigration officials. However, the ease with which he got of jail has raised additional questions.
"He should have been stopped a long time ago," said Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer.”…………
"We need to put an end to this culture," said Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex.
Upon Codey's request, Attorney General Anne Milgram has agreed to investigate, but defense attorneys note federal and state constitutions guarantee the right to bail. (AP)
BOOKER CAN’T GET A BREAK
“It was the kind of feel-good news conference that elected officials relish: Mayor Cory A. Booker told a room full of rapt reporters about the creation of new law enforcement posts, plans for dozens of surveillance cameras in the most crime-soaked neighborhoods and millions of dollars in private largess to help pay for what officials say will be the most high-tech gunshot detection system in the country.
But buried among the heady announcements on Tuesday was a personnel change that has the potential to create untold aggravation for City Hall. The mayor removed the word “acting” from the title of his police chief, Anthony Campos, a Portuguese-American who, along with Police Director Garry F. McCarthy, leads the city’s 1,300-member police force.
In a city like Newark, where the majority of the population is black and race issues bubble just below the surface, the decision to place two white men at the helm of the city’s Police Department could threaten the good will and unity that Mr. Booker has been enjoying of late. The racially diverse residents were drawn together after the shocking murder last week of three young friends.
In making Mr. Campos the city’s permanent police chief after a year, Mr. Booker has pleased the city’s powerful Portuguese population, but he risks angering those who had been hoping he would give the job to Niles Wilson, a popular black police captain who had been Mr. Campos’s chief of staff.
“Rightly or wrongly, perception is just as important as reality, and in a city that is largely African-American, there is not going to be a comfort level with two white guys running the Police Department,” said former Mayor Kenneth Gibson. “Quite frankly, this is going to be a problem he doesn’t need.” (Jacobs, New York Times)
BRING BACK SHARPE JAMES
“A group that wants to recall Newark Mayor Cory Booker had its petition certified by the city clerk's office, clearing the hurdle to begin collecting signatures.
The clerk's office officially certified and approved the petition last Wednesday. The group behind the effort, the Committee to Recall Cory A. Booker from the Office of Mayor, has 160 days from the certification to collect 32,000 signatures in order to stage a special election.
"I think he hasn't delivered on any of his campaign promises," said Terence S. Baine, one of the three Newark residents who submitted the petition to the clerk's office. "Quite frankly, I was disappointed when he was the Central Ward councilman."
Baine said he is working in conjunction with the vocal faction of critics who have appeared regularly at city council meetings to complain about the Booker administration. The political opponents have taken issue with Booker about everything from the 8 percent tax hike he imposed when he first took office to the hundreds of layoffs he is proposing to plug a $180 million budget gap…………..
Joseph Marbach, acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for Seton Hall University, said Booker's response to last week's triple homicide may have slowed the momentum of the recall movement that has been percolating for months.
"I think because there was such a rapid response and a quick arrest and also that Mayor Booker was able to take what was a very negative situation and turn it around," said Marbach. ” (Wang, Star-Ledger)
ATLANTIC CITY RECALL EFFORT
“ATLANTIC CITY – The clock is officially running on a petition to recall resort Mayor Bob Levy. The petition was finally certified Tuesday morning by Assistant City Clerk Rhonda Williams, advancing it to its next phase: the city streets.
The group now has 160 days to gather 6,300 votes. If gathered, Levy would be asked to resign or face a special election, which could cost the city $70,000, according to official estimates.
"It's going to be a collective effort, ward-by-ward, with different ward leaders," said James Leonard, a city attorney representing the petitioning group. "Without naming any names, there are current and former elected officials in the city and other people that are well-known as being politically active (in the group). This is a well-organized and very competent group."………..
Trying to recall the mayor has been no easy task for petitioners. The petition was delayed several times by the city, including a dispute over discrepancies with the wording of Levy's name, a battle laced with legalese that crawled along for five months.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
RIDER UNIVERSITY SHOCKWAVES
“College officials nationwide are shuddering over the indictments of two Rider University administrators in the alleged hazing death of a fraternity pledge, but experts say Greek life will survive amid growing caution.
"This is unprecedented," said Kyle Pendleton, president of the Association of Fraternity Advisors and dean of students at Purdue University in Indiana, about the indictments. "There is no protocol for anything like this."
Five people, including the dean of students and the director of Greek life, have been indicted by a Mercer County grand jury on a charge of fourth-degree aggravated hazing in the death of freshman Gary DeVercelly Jr. in March. DeVercelly died of alcohol poisoning after allegedly drinking three-quarters of a bottle of vodka during a pledging ritual………….
While the case will be followed by university administrators nationwide, Pendleton said he does not think it will endanger fraternities and sororities or their traditional role in college life.
Pendleton said any campus organization where such an incident occurred would come under scrutiny.
"It could be a sports team, a residence hall or a student organization," he said. "Any time there is an incident on campus, the campus is going to take a look at that culture.” (Stein, Trenton Times)
HAVA !@#ING NAGILA
“MARLBORO — Mayor Robert Kleinberg on Monday denied a township mother's accusations that he cursed at her child at a bar mitzvah.
The allegations were made in an Old Bridge police report filed July 27 by Marlene Alterman. She alleges that Kleinberg began cursing at her son after Kleinberg's 10-year-old daughter witnessed the boy making an obscene gesture. Kleinberg made a derogatory comment about the boy's older brother, then followed the younger boy outside and continued to curse at him, according to the report.
The boy was playing a game with other children who also were using the gesture at the bar mitzvah, held June 16 at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, Alterman said.
Kleinberg, who is running to reclaim his seat on the Township Council in November, said he never cursed at the 13-year-old boy, but did tell him not to use the gesture toward his daughter. He called the accusation "a political ploy," reported more than a month after it allegedly occurred.
"I am the mayor but I'm always a father first," Kleinberg said. "I never cursed at the kid, but I do have a right to tell someone not to shove my daughter and put a finger in her face."” (Williams, Asbury Park Press)
SOMERSET PARKS COMMISSION ON ITS LAST LEGS
“Somerset County freeholders last night said they expect to vote next week to abolish the county park commission, established by voters in a 1956 referendum.
The only remaining questions are organizational, according to the four freeholders present at last night's agenda meeting. Freeholder Rick Fontana proposed establishing an advisory board to "advocate" for park and recreation projects even as the county takes over day-to-day operation of existing facilities and programs.
"I can't help think about whether or not most elected officials would have the courage to stand up and say yes to projects like the Somerset ballpark, Natirar, Colonial Park, Torpey Field, a new turf football field in Warren, Ne shanic Valley" golf course, Fontana said, ticking off park projects.
"It might be time for a little less vision and a little more operational excellence," said Freeholder Jack Ciattarelli, adding the commission should be abolished and its employees should report to the freeholders.
The statements came as the freeholders named Hillsborough banker Peter Schoberl to fill the last vacancy on the nine-member commission. Four members stepped down after the freeholders last month released a damaging report on the commission's management and finances, which prompted a subpoena from the state Attorney General's Office for park records.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
IN ATLANTIC COUNTY
“The Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders delayed final action Tuesday on a reform measure that its proponents say would make it easier to find the origin of campaign contributions. Freeholders said Tuesday they still need to further review the ordinance that would ban the practice of "wheeling" for elected county officials to prevent any legal or other problems.”
Freeholder James Curcio said the board code committee must still meet "to develop a strategy on how to present (the ordinance) to the board in the near future."
The code committee was scheduled to meet two hours before the freeholders' 4 p.m. meeting Tuesday but didn't convene because Curcio, the committee chairman, couldn't attend.
Curcio said after the freeholder meeting that the committee still has issues to work on, including whether the county's proposed campaign contribution limits would conflict with state regulations. The county also wants to discuss some potential First Amendment issues related to campaign contributions, he said. “(Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
YOU CAN’T PLEAD THE FIFTH IN A FENDER BENDER
“When lawmakers made it a crime to leave the scene of an accident where someone is injured or killed, they said it would make drivers more attentive and drunks less likely to get behind the wheel.
Some attorneys, however, contend it gives motorists a difficult choice: Report the accident and face possible criminal charges, or say nothing and face possible charges for leaving the scene.
Making someone talk, they say, violates the constitutional right to remain silent.
Yesterday, a state appeals court ruled in favor of the law, saying requiring drivers to alert authorities and provide basic information about an accident does not violate the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
"The disclosure of one's name and address does not entail a substantial risk of self-incrimination," wrote Judge Rudy Coleman for a three-judge panel. "Criminal liability would not be the inevitable or likely result of compliance with the statutory reporting requirements."
The ruling came in the case of a Salem County man who hit another man on a rural highway two years ago. It marks the first court test of the 10-year-old law that made leaving the scene of an accident — formerly a disorderly persons offense — a fourth-degree crime, or a third-degree crime if there is a fatality. ” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
“FOUR YEARS OF TORTURE FROM THE DEMOCRATIC MACHINE”
“CAMDEN — City council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a referendum on the November ballot asking residents to support a move back to partisan elections.
The 5-0 vote came after several residents, including Mayor Gwendolyn Faison, pleaded with the council to reject the ordinance. Angered after the vote, Faison took the podium and scolded the council for approving an ordinance she had opposed.
When she was council president, she said, her council honored the requests of then-Mayor Milton Milan. And when she travels the country, she said, people shower her with respect.
"There's a different attitude here," she said. "I have never had the disrespect I've had from my council people."
The ordinance cites the possibility for the city to save the cost of a run-off election required by the city charter if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Several residents questioned the necessity for the change and accused the council of pushing the ordinance because it would help solidify power for Camden County's Democrats. Critics also have said it would almost eliminate chances for an independent candidate to get elected.
Mary Cortez said partisan elections would lead to "four years of torture from the Democratic machine.”” (Strupczewski, Courier-Post)
DID THEY TOUR SECTOR 7G?
“Two congressmen concerned about safety at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant toured the facility Tuesday, several months before federal regulators are expected to decide whether to renew the plant's operating license.
Reps. Jim Saxton and Christopher H. Smith, both R-N.J., visited the control room and a floor above the reactor where highly radioactive spent fuel is cooled in a water-filled pool, according to Leslie Cifelli, a plant spokeswoman.
The tour showed how the plant is prepared to operate safely for an additional 20 years under a renewed license, according to Cifelli.
"They bring it (the information they gather about the plant) back into the community, so it's a positive," she said.
Officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are expected to decide in January whether to grant the renewal. The plant will close in 2009 without it……….
Environmentalists have long criticized the plant's cooling system because it kills what they consider an unacceptable amount of aquatic life by sucking small sea creatures into the plant, and pinning larger ones against grates on intake pipes.” (Clunn, Asbury Park Press)
“IT’S ABOUT TIME”
“STAFFORD — Before a handful of residents and other interested onlookers, some of whom arrived in kayaks, demolition began Tuesday on MaBell, the last of the battered boats that were docked in a Beach Haven West lagoon and owned by Wesley K. Bell, a former township mayor.
"It's about time," said John Pallante, a Steven Drive resident sitting in the backyard of a neighbor's house.
"The longer they (the boats) sat there, the worse they got," Pallante said. "They were all deteriorated, an eyesore."
One of those onlookers was Bell. Recently placed in jail until he came up with a signed contract to have MaBell removed, Bell remained recalcitrant.
"I'm upset," Bell said. "These boats were restorable. All this needed was to be painted and some woodwork."” (Sastrowardoyo, Asbury Park Press)
“Registered voters who would like to sign a petition asking Gov. Corzine and Education Commissioner Lucille E. Davy to change the current school-funding formula may do so until Labor Day weekend.
Councilman Carmen Amato Jr. told the Township Council Monday night that, to date, 5,200 signatures have been collected. His comments came as the council adopted a resolution supporting legislation that proposes an increase to special school aid known as senior citizen stabilization aid.
Legislation proposed by 9th District legislators Sen. Leonard T. Connors Jr. and Assemblymen Christopher J. Connors and Brian E. Rumpf calls for an increase in the special state school aid Berkeley and the Central Regional school district receive, from $200 per child to $500 per child, and a cost-of-living increase included annually thereafter, Amato said.” (Delaney, Asbury Park Press)
STILL NOT PAID
“For six weeks now, Al-quan Dobbs has looked after kids at New Life Day Care as part of Newark's summer job program.
But Dobbs, 14, has yet to receive any money from the city for his labor. "My job is fun. Not getting a paycheck isn't," said Dobbs. "It's not fair. Everybody is getting a paycheck except for me."
Approximately 100 kids did not get paid Saturday as Newark's problems with its summer job program continue into a second pay period.” (Mays, Star-Ledger)
IN MERCER COUNTY
“The Republican candidates will be listed in the first column on the November ballot in Mercer County after County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello picked the ballot positions on Monday. The Republicans will be listed in column A, the Democratic candi dates will be in column B and third-party candidates will be in column C………….
Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, a Democrat, will face Republican Janice Mitchell Mintz; and Mercer County Freeholders Anthony Carabelli and Keith Hamilton, both Democrats, will face Republicans Shirley Guerieri and Robert Calabro.
"Obviously, it's always nice to be in the first column," Mintz said. "I'm confident that I'm going to be elected the Mercer County executive no matter what column I was placed in."
Hughes said he didn't think the ballot position will be the defining factor in the election.
"I feel confident that the Democratic Party will succeed because of its positive record on the issues," Hughes said. ” (Trenton Times)
“The Army Corps of Engineers hauled a bulldozer into the Palmyra Cove Nature Park Tuesday morning and began preparing a 20-acre section of the park to receive dredge deposits.
About a dozen protesters gathered in the park at sunrise to express their ire at what they consider a desecration of an environmental and educational resource.
But they proved no match for Army Corps officials, who answered their questions and defused their anger, or for the Corps' bulldozer, which slipped into the park behind them at about 9 a.m.
The bulldozer began pushing sand and dirt into a berm in preparation for receiving dredge spoils from the Delaware River.
"I'm heartbroken," said Courtney McLaughlin, a volunteer at the Nature Cove's educational center and a leader of Tuesday morning's protest. "It was hard to hear the bulldozer coming.” (Pearsall, Courier-Post)
IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY
“Large commercial and residential projects have been the key to Cumberland County's dramatic spike in new development this decade.
But a recent slowdown in the market for these high-dollar, high-square-footage projects means the county may not maintain its streak of seven straight years of one million square feet of new development.
The Cumberland County Planning Board has overseen nearly 9.7 million square feet of new development each year since 2000 — more than 1 million square feet of development in each of the past seven years. Through June of this year, however, the amount of new construction stands at a relatively paltry 302,147 square feet.
County officials say the main reason for the decline this year in new construction is the absence of a giant project, such as Union Lake Crossing shopping center on North 2nd Street in Millville, approved by the planning board in 2005.
Less development could potentially mean a halt to the steady and predictable increase in county tax revenue. The freeholders approved the budget for the 2007 fiscal year with a 5-cent decrease in the tax levy, thanks largely to$1.2 billion growth in ratables in 2006.” (Landau, Daily Journal)
“City Council narrowly agreed Tuesday to once again change this city's law governing employee salaries, effectively enabling Mayor Jim Begley to pay his recently appointed public safety director what was promised to him before he took the job last month.
Lanuel Ferguson, 55, a retired State Police major, was hired by the city July 3 to serve two years as a full-time administrator for the city's police, fire and rescue services. He was brought on board for an annual salary of $70,000 plus incremental increases, health benefits and the use of a city-owned car.
Ferguson's appointment, however, was met with a great deal of resistance from both the Police Department and a contingent of city residents.” (Martins, Press of Atlantic City)
IN DOWNE TOWNSHIP
“Apparently some Downe Township residents aren't happy with the new, five-member township committee, established in 2004 and seated in 2005.
A petition was received at the Aug. 6 committee meeting and turned over to solicitor Tom Farnoly to determine whether it meets legal requirements. It may be acted upon at tonight's meeting.
It may be acted upon at tonight's meeting.” (Jones, Bridgeton News)
GOODBYE PHIL RIZZUTO
“Phil Rizzuto was 19 years old, 5-foot-6 and skinny as the foul line when he showed up for a tryout with his hometown Brooklyn Dodgers.
Casey Stengel, the Dodgers' manager, took one look and shook his head. "Go home and get a shoeshine box," Stengel said. "You're too short to play baseball."
Rizzuto didn't take Stengel's advice. He stuck it out. Soon after, he signed with the Yankees, beginning one of the most remarkable baseball lives of the 20th century. He would become a Hall of Fame shortstop, the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1950 and a member of seven Yankees World Series championship teams………….
Rizzuto died late Monday at the age of 89. His daughter, Patricia, said he had pneumonia and died in his sleep. The longtime Hillside resident had been in failing health and was living at a nursing home in West Orange.” (Graziano, Star-Ledger)