Ferriero to push Coniglio out, Tancredo stirs the pot in Newark, Devereaux says she did it for her family, local officials often too overwhelmed to notify I.C.E. of illegal immigrants in custody.
UH OH, CONIGLIO
Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero will push State Senator Joseph Coniglio to drop his bid for re-election, according to sources close to the Bergen Democratic leader. But Ferriero, who paid for a poll earlier this month to test voter reaction to Coniglio as the target of a federal criminal investigation, has not yet told Coniglio that the party will ask him to end his campaign for a third term.
Based on the poll results, Democrats are concerned that Coniglio — whether he is indicted before November or not — could lose his 38th district Senate seat to Republican Robert Colletti, a former Elmwood Park Councilman.
Insiders say that Paramus Mayor James Tedesco is the leading contender to replace Coniglio on the ballot, and not Assemblyman Robert Gordon or Assemblywoman Joan Voss.” (Edge, PoliticsNJ.com)
TANCREDO BLESSES NEWARK WITH HIS PRESENCE
“Federal officials said on Monday that a second man among the suspects in the schoolyard slayings of three young friends was in the United States illegally, and a conservative presidential candidate flew into town to denounce the city’s leaders as complicit in the murders because they had declared Newark a “sanctuary” for immigrants.
“If the suspects are found guilty, Newark and its political leadership share a degree of responsibility,” Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, said on the steps of the gold-domed City Hall, surrounded by a dozen supporters and slightly more protesters who rallied against him. “I encourage the family of the victims to pursue a lawsuit against the city.
Mr. Tancredo, whose bid for the Republican nomination is based largely on an aggressive stance against illegal immigration, is among the many conservatives nationwide who seized on the killings after it was reported that one of the suspects, Jose Lachira Carranza, 28, was an illegal immigrant from Peru.
Before the killings, Mr. Carranza had been arrested three times on felony charges but had been released on bail, in part because the authorities never checked his immigration status. Doing so would likely have triggered a federal “detainer” that would have kept Mr. Carranza in custody to await deportation proceedings…………….
At a news conference that was held before Mr. Tancredo’s speech, Paula T. Dow, the Essex County prosecutor, whose office was one of several law enforcement agencies that failed to examine Mr. Carranza’s immigration status, shifted the blame to the federal authorities. Officials in Ms. Dow’s office had said their policy was to not notify immigration officials until suspects were convicted, which they believed was the officials’ preference.
Ms. Dow also pointed out that an official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been stationed in the county jail since March and that Mr. Carranza had been held there in May.” (Fahim, New York Times)
THE LEGACY OF REV. WILLIAM WATLEY
“Lesly Devereaux says the idea came to her in the fall of 2003 as she sat on the edge of a bed in a Missouri hospital for federal prisoners.
Her brother, Shawn, serving time for bank robbery, lay dying from a mysterious illness. Across from Devereaux sat her mother, whose life had come to revolve around getting Shawn well, and her sister, who had hit rock bottom in North Carolina.
“I got so wrapped up in my emotions. My mom was crying every day, my sister was crying,” Devereaux recalled. “That’s when I said: ‘I know. We do consulting at my job and maybe there was some consulting work” that could help her family.”
Devereaux was chief of staff and executive vice president of the New Jersey Commerce Commission. She arranged for her sister, Candace, to be hired as a consultant that October, and got her mother, Lillian, a state contract a month later, after Shawn had died. Her decision led eventually to all three being convicted this year on state public corruption charges.
In an interview with The Star-Ledger, Devereaux apologized for her “really bad judgment” in finding state work for her relatives and conducting her law practice on state time. But she said she never intended to commit a crime and contended her boss was aware of the legal work she was doing. “I wouldn’t have painted this criminal picture for me,” Devereaux said.
The 70-minute interview was conducted at her request Aug. 7. The 48-year-old Piscataway resident wanted to counter the state’s claims that she was “the worst type of public servant” who used her time at Commerce to serve “her own interests and her family’s interest.”” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
Alejandro Rivera Gamboa, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested four times on drunken driving charges in Oregon. But until police charged him last week with choking the life from a 15-year-old girl, immigration authorities had never heard his name.
Juan Lizcano had at least two run-ins with the law in Texas. Both went unnoticed by immigration officials until Lizcano, who entered the country illegally in 2001, was charged with killing Dallas Police Officer Brian Jackson in 2005.
In New Brunswick, Ricardo Cepates, an illegal immigrant from Honduras, already had an outstanding deportation order when he was arrested for holding a knife to a woman’s throat in 1998. But he, too, fell through the cracks and was released. In 2004, he was convicted as a serial rapist who had terrorized a large swath of the city for two years.
For many Americans, it is an article of faith that an illegal immigrant sitting in jail on criminal charges will soon be deported. Indeed, federal law dictates that people in the United States unlawfully be sent back to their homelands if they’re convicted of crimes.
But in the nation’s overwhelmed and disjointed immigration system, that is hardly the case. Thousands of times each year, local police, jail officials and prosecutors simply do not notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they have a suspected illegal immigrant in custody.
Even when ICE is contacted and the detainee is ordered removed from the country, deportation isn’t a sure thing.
In a report issued last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General projected that 302,500 immigrants will be jailed in county or state lockups this year. Most will go free rather than face deportation, even if they have been convicted of a crime, the auditors found.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“Legislators still draw the line when ethics reform threatens the bottom line.
Their bottom line, to be precise.
New Jersey’s great deliberative body is a tomb of silence when it is asked to consider reform proposals that might, in ways both symbolic and significant, curb a lawmaker’s ability to profit from a life in politics.
Here are some of the potentially groundbreaking reforms you’ve probably never heard about because they’re all sitting dormant in various legislative committees, unlikely to ever see the light of day.
- Forbidding legislators from voting on any bill that would benefit themselves or family members under any circumstances. There has been no action, not even a single debate, after three years and seven months.
- Making it easier to remove lawmakers if a Superior Court judge rules that they were elected with $50,000 or more in illegal campaign funds. No action for three years and five months.
- Banning convicted lawmakers from returning to the State House as paid lobbyists. No action for two years.
- Making legislator a full-time job and forbidding lawmakers from holding others. Introduced in May.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
“Charges against a former Bridgewater mayor and township attorney accused of taking $860,000 from a friend’s trust fund were dismissed yesterday, after a judge ruled he is not competent to stand trial.
After reading doctors’ reports and weighing testimony during a hearing, Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong yesterday agreed to dismiss the two-count indictment against William Lanigan, 77.
Armstrong’s decision was in response to a motion Lanigan’s at torney Joseph Leone filed in April, asking the judge to dismiss the charges, dating from 2004. Lanigan’s attorneys, Leone and Robert Kenny, appeared in Somerville on his behalf. Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Chirichella handled the case for the state.
Lanigan was indicted on second-degree charges of theft by failure to make required disposition of property received and misapplica tion of entrusted property. He allegedly wrote himself checks from the $1 million trust established by his friend, Middlesex businessman Robert Betham, in 1972. Betham died in 1974 and the money was meant to benefit his wife, Sophia, now deceased, and their three children………..
Since then, several doctors have examined him, all finding various deficiencies that make him unable to stand trial. The last doctor was Sean Hiscox, who tried to interview him and conduct a series of tests on March 21, 2007.
Hiscox was the sole witness called by the defense during yesterday’s hearing. He described a gray- haired, bed-ridden man who didn’t know his age, his past or the time of day; a man who would doze off and who would get frustrated when trying to answer questions.” (Golson, Star-Ledger)
IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN
“Shortly after being sworn into office last year, Governor Corzine pledged to remake the state’s embattled child-welfare system by creating a separate department for children and families.
Now, about a year since the Department of Children and Families was carved out of the massive Department of Human Services, observers are giving the new agency — the recipient of a $447 million taxpayer-funded makeover — a cautiously optimistic rating. At stake is the welfare of close to 50,000 of the state’s most vulnerable children and families.
Under the leadership of Kevin Ryan, former state child advocate, the department has made progress in reducing caseloads for social workers, improving adoption rates and increasing the number of foster and adoptive families.
“I think there’s an enormous amount of work that is still ahead of us,” Ryan said in an interview. “The ultimate test of reform is whether or not children and families have better outcomes, and that is something that we have to continue to drive for………………
Others said the task of setting up a bureaucracy has swallowed a good portion of the department’s energy and resources.” (Lu, Bergen Record)
As the state’s first child advocate, Kevin Ryan was known for pushing for more openness in New Jersey’s child welfare system.
But now that he’s the commissioner of the Department of Children and Families, critics wonder where that spirit went.
Tom Blatner, a former director of the Division of Youth and Family Services, said that in more than 30 years of working in the child welfare field, he has never seen a group so sensitive about the dissemination of information.
“Child deaths, incidents of severe injury – that kind of stuff used to be much more transparent,” Blatner said. “I think there’s much more control of information [now] which I don’t think is healthy.”
Ryan disagreed, saying his department has released an unprecedented amount of data, including quarterly updates on certain statistics.” (Lu, Bergen Record)
A LOAD OF SCHIP
“The health coverage of some 28,000 children enrolled in the FamilyCare program for the working poor may be in jeopardy next year, state officials warned yesterday, citing a surprise announcement from the federal government.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined new rules that would make it harder for states like New Jersey to offer government-subsidized health coverage to families earning considerably more than federal poverty wages but who still cannot afford insurance on their own. The announcement came in an e-mail to state officials that arrived after business hours Friday night, state Deputy Human Services Commissioner Ann Kohler said.
The new rules would require all states to make families wait a year after they lose coverage before they can apply to the government program, according to the letter. The state would also have to prove that 95 percent of the kids from the lowest income levels were enrolled be fore accepting any child from moderate income brackets.
“It’s a real problem. It’s outrageous,” Kohler said. “This is not happening tomorrow, but it’s clear what the intent is — to shut down our program. … There are no regulations to support this, no legislation to support it. This is CMS deciding to do this.”
The federal Medicaid office has repeatedly approved New Jersey’s program to enroll children from a family of four whose annual income is $72,274, because the cost of living in this state is so high.
But as the program has grown more expensive nationally, President Bush has argued this year the State Children’s Health Insurance Program was meant to help only the children from the poorest of working poor families. Bush wants to limit eligibility to a family of four earning no more than $41,300 a year…………
For months, Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress have been locked in a battle over the program’s future. Congress wants to expand it; Bush has threatened to veto any such measure. The legislation creating S- CHIP expires on Sept. 30.” (Livio, Star-Ledger)
SLOW GOING IN TRENTON
“More than a year after a state task force examined driver’s license suspensions and the hardships they pose for motorists, none of eight bills that would implement some of the panel’s recommendations has been enacted.
And some lawmakers, including two sponsors of the legislation, are not happy about the lack of progress.
Motorists who have their driver’s licenses suspended because of unpaid fines for moving violations or parking tickets — or even nondriving obligations such as delinquent child support — can get caught up in a vicious cycle.
Without a license, many cannot work. And with no job, there’s no income to repay the debt and get back behind the wheel.
Last year, the Motor Vehicles Affordability and Fairness Task Force tried to address the vexing problem with a series of recommendations that would give courts more discretion in levying penalties and collecting payments from motorists facing the loss of their driving privileges……………
But none of the eight bills that emerged from those recommendations has been signed into law.
“I don’t know why, and it’s been a major disappointment of mine that they’ve been held up so long,” said Assemblywoman Joan Quigley (D-Hudson), a sponsor of some of the legislation.” (Larini, Star-Ledger)
CORPORATE TAX BREAKS
“Major media companies are stepping up efforts to get Gov. Jon S. Corzine to approve a tax break to lure high-tech companies to New Jersey, touting a new study that contends the break would bring new jobs and revenue.
But Corzine remains concerned cash-starved state government cannot afford the tax break supported by companies such as Cisco Systems, Walt Disney, the Motion Picture Association of America and NBC Universal.
The new report, commissioned by NBC Universal, which is looking to open a digital media center in New Jersey, contends the tax break would create 6,850 jobs and generate more than $1.5 billion in new economic activity for New Jersey. The Ernst & Young study also found the tax credit would help spark $36 million in new state and local tax money by 2012.
“The latest report on the benefits of a digital media tax credit further demonstrate just what’s at stake — thousands of high-paying jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for New Jersey,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, who sponsored the tax credit bill that was overwhelmingly approved in June by the Assembly and the Senate.
The bill would give Garden State-based companies a tax credit equal to 20 percent of the costs incurred in creating digital material, such as Internet sites………………
NBC Universal’s lobbyist, Bill Pascrell III, said the plan to create a digital media center in New Jersey would bring many benefits to the state and several hundred jobs……………
But Corzine has said the bill would be too costly and not give the state enough in return.
Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said the governor hasn’t been swayed yet, saying he was “still reviewing, with the same concerns about cost and lack of job creation.”” (Hester, AP)
CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND
“Another seven school districts have received critical report cards from the state’s new monitoring teams, including woefully low grades for Plainfield schools in nearly every category.
The state yesterday released its second round of reports under its new monitoring process, this time for districts that fell short of student achievement requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
In addition to Plainfield, they included Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Lakewood, Essex Vocational and Technical schools, Atlantic City and Camden Vocational and Technical Schools. The reports follow ones issued last month for districts under the toughest scrutiny, including state-controlled Newark, Paterson and Jersey City.
The latest reports were not uniformly harsh, and Lakewood actually fared pretty well. But all were found to have significant weaknesses in at least one of five broad areas reviewed by the state. ” (Mooney, Star-Ledger)
THE NEW JERSEY QUALITY SINGLE ACCOUNTABILITY CONTINUUM
“The New Jersey education commissioner, Lucille E. Davy, yesterday defended the state’s new monitoring system for school districts, disputing an audit last week that found the Education Department lacked the staff and resources to carry out its increased oversight responsibilities.
Ms. Davy said she was redeploying the department’s 690 employees and filling about a dozen vacancies in 21 county offices that will work directly with the school districts to address problems cited in the monitoring reports. In addition, department workers will receive additional training to assist the districts better, she said………….
On Friday, state education officials released an audit conducted in May and June at the behest of the Legislature. The audit, by the consulting firm KPMG, was intended to evaluate the department’s ability to carry out the new monitoring system and other responsibilities it has been recently charged with.
The Education Department began rolling out the new monitoring system, known as the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum, in 2006 after spending more than a year consulting with superintendents, school boards and teachers’ unions, among others, to develop an evaluation system that would combine existing state and federal standards into one streamlined process. ” (Hu, New York Times)
“Some independent state authorities are changing their employee-benefits policies to be more in line with those of other state workers, according to a report by the state inspector general.
Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper issued the report Monday, a follow-up to her study last year that found state authority workers often receive better benefits than state employees in similar jobs…………
Public-employee benefits, including health insurance and pensions, are an ever-growing burden on taxpayers. Governor Corzine is seeking ways to control such costs; the inspector general’s report highlighting these differences is another in a line of such measures.
Cooper found that the number of employees in New Jersey’s dozens of authorities dipped from 35,991 last year to 35,601 this year. New Jersey state government directly employs roughly 77,000 workers.
She also found that various state authorities’ travel and entertainment policies have been made more consistent with the state, including changes to meal or mileage-reimbursement policies.
The Meadowlands Commission, for example, no longer awards bonuses based on “extraordinary productivity, service or revenue generation.” Employees at the Meadowlands Commission may no longer request salary advances for vacations or emergencies, nor accrue up to seven days of compensatory time.” (Lu, Bergen Record)
“State officials are moving forward with the expansion of water protection rules that would likely curb development.
If adopted, the change would limit where sewer and septic systems are placed and expand the number of streams that require 300-foot buffers from development………….
Nearly 900 miles of additional waterways would require a 300-foot buffer from development under changes proposed to the Surface Water Quality Standards. The DEP took into account the need for clean water supplies as well as the threatened or endangered species present in water areas selected.
In Warren County, there would be buffers along the entire Musconetcong River as well as part of the Pequest River.
In addition, under amendments to the Water Quality Management Plan, the DEP has proposed rolling back sewer service areas and placing wastewater management plans under county jurisdiction.” (Graber, Express-Times)
The state’s environmental agency wants counties to take over water quality management from the many separate agencies now in charge, but local officials say they are hard-pressed to handle the task.
In Passaic County, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners and various municipal utilities make water quality management plans, which guide how wastewater will be treated to prevent pollution. The county engineering department says it does not have the manpower or experience to do the job.
The proposed state rule would give the county nine months to come up with a plan. If it doesn’t, developers building projects will not be able to connect to sewer lines until a plan is submitted and approved by the state.
“It sounds like they’re trying to put the onus on the counties to develop these plans we don’t have to do now, and penalizing the property owners if the county cannot meet its objectives,” said Passaic County Engineer Steve Edmond.” (Kindergan, Herald News)
GET THIS MAN A BUS PASS
“The director of the Vineland Municipal Electric Utility has turned in his city vehicle after having his driver’s license suspended for drunken driving.
Director Paul Yatcko said in an interview Monday he still can do his job even though he’s not allowed to drive again until March. Yatcko, driving his personal vehicle, was involved in a two-car collision in Galloway Township on Sept. 2, 2006. He said his blood alcohol level measured .20 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.
Yatcko said he’s arranged for rides from “various people” to and from work and for when he needs to conduct city business, but he won’t be driven around on the taxpayers’ dime.
There’s not going to be a city-paid chauffeur for me,” he said.
Last week, Yatcko, 54, turned in the keys to his city-owned Chevrolet Blazer. He was sentenced Aug. 7 in Galloway Township Municipal Court for drunken driving.” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)
LONEGAN CONSIDERS FOLLOWING CRESITELLO
“Republican candidates for mayor and Borough Council seats in Bogota are urging Republican Mayor Steve Lonegan not to apply for a federal program that deputizes local police to enforce immigration laws.
The candidates, who include a councilwoman, expressed concern that the federal deputizing program, known as 287G, would strain police resources in Bogota as well as lead to civil rights violations.
“Our local police should not have the added duty of helping the federal government enforce the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act,” said mayoral candidate Andrew T. Fede, a lawyer. “And we are concerned that some believe that the program could be abused as a profiling tool against Hispanic-Americans.”
Lonegan, who is not seeking reelection, is one of the state’s most vocal proponents of strict immigration enforcement. He said last month that he was considering applying for the program. He said illegal immigration was not a significant problem in Bogota but that he felt 287G would serve as a deterrent to undocumented people who might otherwise settle in Bogota.” (Llorente, Bergen Record)
AC COUNCIL SAYS TRUMP IS BLAMING HIS FAILURE ON THEM
“Donald Trump‘s attempt to repeal Atlantic City’s partial casino smoking ban has infuriated City Council and could revive an effort to prohibit gamblers from lighting up altogether, two members said Monday.
Councilmen Bruce Ward and Gene Robinson said Trump’s criticism of the smoking restrictions is a mere “smokescreen” for the financial troubles of his gaming company.
“Donald came out swinging at the wrong target. He should instead look inward at his company’s position, which is somewhat precarious because of all of the debt it is carrying,” Ward said.
Ward also accused Trump of trying to make City Council the scapegoat for his underperforming casinos. Ward and Robinson said the council members may be angry enough with Trump to once again consider imposing a complete smoking ban at the 11 casinos in town.
“I’m not backing up. I’m still for a 100 percent ban,” Robinson said. “It is possible that there may be enough anger to turn it around. At a minimum, we’re going to keep it at 75-25.”
Mark Juliano, chief executive officer of the three Trump casinos, called Ward and Robinson’s accusations of a corporate cover-up “total nonsense.”
“This is absolutely untrue,” Juliano said. “It has nothing to do with our corporate situation. As far as this being a ploy, that is absurd.”” (Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City)
“Calling their restriction on wheeling the “strongest in the state,” Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger and the Township Committee gave a unanimous vote Monday night to an anti-pay-to-play ordinance.
The provision that limits “wheeling,” a practice in which political contributions are made indirectly through political action committees, states that a candidate for Township Committee cannot accept a contribution of more than $500 per election from a county committee of a political party outside Monmouth County.
But the vote did not come without some concern, voiced by Patrick Short, the lone Democrat on the governing body, as well as by some members of the public who said the ordinance did not go far enough in limiting contributions and should be effective immediately.
According to the ordinance, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2008, contractors seeking to do business with the township will be allowed to donate a maximum of $300 annually to any township political candidate or $500 to a local political party.
“I think this is a good start,” said Leonardo resident Andrew Bane of Brevent Avenue before the vote.” (Herget, Asbury Park Press)
“Don’t change the maximum contribution from professionals to local political campaigns from $250 per candidate to zero. Just remember to report it.
That was the message communicated at a meeting Thursday night when the Township Committee voted 3-2, rejecting an amendment to its existing pay-to-play ordinance……………
Fink, the lone Democrat on the committee, has called for the change since the beginning of 2006 because, he said, banning contributions from professionals prevents inappropriate influence over hiring and land-use decisions.
The ordinance allows a $250 limit annually that professionals can contribute to an individual candidate in local races and a $500 maximum contribution to any municipal or county political committee. The ordinance also says that any group or firm cannot contribute more than $2,500 annually to all candidates and parties combined.
Although Fink was instrumental in putting the $250 threshold into place and making the township one of the first municipalities to adopt the ordinance when he served as mayor in 2003, he said the threshold is not low enough.” (Thompson, Asbury Park Press)
IN OCEAN TOWNSHIP
“Coffee and a big box of Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts greeted the new manager in his private conference room, as he arrived Monday morning at the municipal complex for his first full day on the job.
“The first order of business is familiarizing myself with the personnel,” said Andrew G. Brannen, as he hosted an 8:30 a.m. meet-and-greet with clerical staff that was to last about an hour.
The conversations ranged from his dog to his move from Princeton, Ill., where Brannen had been the city manager for five years before he was appointed former Township Manager David R. Kochel’s successor in June……………..
Unlike other municipalities, where an administrator oversees the day-to-day operation of the town but answers and reports to a mayor and council with final oversight, Ocean Township employs a council-manager form of government under the state Faulkner Act.
Brannen is Ocean Township’s chief executive and principal administrative official. He prepares the municipal budget, appoints and dismisses department heads, hires and fires staff, and attends all Township Council meetings, where he dispenses advice and makes recommendations, but does not get a vote or have veto power.” (Larsen, Asbury Park Press)
IN STAFFORD TOWNSHIP
“Some debris remained Monday to be removed from the Beach Haven West lagoon where Wesley K. Bell‘s four boats used to be, but authorities said they probably wouldn’t issue him any more summonses.
“We just want to make sure the whole area is cleaned up,” Borrelli said.
Early Sunday morning, Borrelli and Sgt. Karl Brobst inspected the lagoon for any remaining debris from the four vessels that were pulled out of the lagoon.
“We went and inspected Wes’ property Sunday morning. Everything seems to be in good shape. There’s a few pieces of wood in the lagoon but there are no plastics,” Borrelli said. “We’re most likely going to have him to do a little more cleanup. I don’t think another summons will be issued.”” (Weaver, Press of Atlantic City)
IN FAIR LAWN
“FAIR LAWN — Local open-space activist Michael Roney has joined the Republican ticket in an increasingly heated race for Borough Council.
An active member of the grass-roots organization Concerned Citizens Reclaiming Fair Lawn, Roney replaces college student Dan Beckelman, who has quit the race to devote more time to his studies.
A lifelong Democrat, Roney applied for membership in the Fair Lawn Democratic Club a few months ago, only to be told the organization — run by Councilman Marty Etler’s wife, Violet — was not accepting new members, Roney said………….
“It was nothing personal or anything,” she said.
Roney switched parties to run with Lisa Yourman and John Gil on the Republican ticket.
“I’ll still keep my Democratic politics on the national level, but this race is not about the war in Iraq or national health care,” Roney said.” (Fabiano, Bergen Record)
“After many years of offering health insurance to its council members, Kinnelon Borough is considering excluding elected officials from its medical coverage as a way to trim costs.
The possibility has prompted a heated debate among the six-member council, which is split over whether they should receive taxpayer-funded health insurance.
The issue is expected to come up at the council’s meeting on Aug. 27 at Borough Hall.
With so much public debate centered on New Jersey property taxes, many Kinnelon officials feel they have touched on a subject that will resonate with voters.
“I don’t think taxpayers have to pay local officials. It’s volunteer work,” Councilman Dan Colucci said. “The health benefits is a never-ending spiral. If we all took it, it would be $130,000. It’s a lot of money.”” (Alloway, Star-Ledger)
“After eight months as Roxbury mayor and al most four years as councilman, John Ciaramella yesterday announced he will remove his name from the November ballot, citing private health concerns.
“This was not an easy decision, but with help from my wife and friends, I have decided it was in my best interest to take care of my health, rather than seek re- election,” Ciaramella said in a written statement.
Ciaramella will serve the rest of his term, which runs through December.
To replace Ciaramella with another candidate, the local Republican committee will hold a special election at a committee meeting the first week of September, said Councilman Jim Rilee, who is chairman of the town’s GOP committee.
Ciaramella, a former planning board member and manager of the county recycling center in Dover, was elected to Roxbury’s council in 2003, defeating Democrat Carol Scheneck.
“I’m going to miss John,” Rilee said. “He is not only a colleague, but a longtime friend of mine.” County GOP leader ” (Star-Ledger)
IN FAIR LAWN
“A Fair Lawn school custodian is alleging in a lawsuit that his co-workers laced his pizza with the hallucinogen LSD in an attempt to poison him at an office party in 2005.
Dominick A. Rao, a janitor with the district since 2000, was served pizza out of a different box than the other custodians, his attorney, Richard Mazawey, said in published report for Monday editions.
He said he felt like his body and system were melting from the inside out, like he was living in a kaleidoscope,” Mazawey said.
Soon after, Rao went to an emergency room at an area hospital, where it was found that he “had a controlled dangerous substance running through his bloodstream,” Mazawey said.
Rao said he has extremely poor vision due to bilateral ocular albinism, a condition that causes his eyes to lack pigment. Because of this, he said he was often bullied by his supervisor and co-workers.
When Rao returned to work after the alleged incident, a co-worker asked him, “How are you still alive,” the suit says.” (AP)