New Jersey is candidate cash cow, Iraq debate shift may help Smith and LoBiondo, Essex County judges get tough on bail, 12th district candidates canvass district, fourth district all-woman slate takes on Madden’s ticket.
AND YET NEW JERSEY IS SO OFTEN IGNORED BY THE FEDS
“New Jersey traditionally serves as a cash machine for presidential candidates.
Governors, lawmakers and other hopefuls with eyes on the White House raise money in New Jersey but rarely spend any time campaigning in a state that has gone Democratic in four of the last six presidential elections.
“The state of New Jersey at this stage is valuable to the candidates largely as an ATM,” said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist. “It’s harvest time in the Garden State. And what they’re harvesting, of course, are large contributions, largely from northern New Jersey. It’s worth a visit to get some checks written but not much in terms of campaigning.”
The 18 declared presidential hopefuls raised $8.71 million in New Jersey as of June 30, according to the Federal Election Commission. The tally did not include money collected by likely GOP hopeful Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who has not yet formally entered the race.
The Garden State ranked seventh, behind New York ($38.4 million), California ($36.8 million), Texas ($14.6 million), Florida ($13.3 million), Illinois ($12.1 million), and Massachusetts ($8.9 million), in terms of producing presidential cash. ” (Cahir, Express Times)
SURPRISE – TOP DONATING TOWNS ARE WHERE RICH PEOPLE LIVE
“The top-yielding zip codes in New Jersey in terms of producing cash for presidential candidates:
— Short Hills — $387,850
— Princeton — $353,102
— Summit — $268,859
— Montclair — $242,600
— Rumson — $235,100” (Express-Times)
“WASHINGTON Democrats believed the script would go something like this: Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus would deliver their report about combat operations, violence and political instability in Iraq, and congressional Republicans, confronted with bad news, would face enormous pressure to vote for an Iraq withdrawal timeline.
But the climate in Washington may have shifted, and the anti-war expectations may not pan out.
Republican lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter and U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent in Pennsylvania, along with U.S. Reps. Mike Ferguson and Frank LoBiondo in New Jersey, next month may have a bit more breathing room to stick with President Bush and his plan to surge additional U.S. troops into Iraq.
Military gains in al Anbar Province have surprised policy-makers in Washington and put lawmakers calling for troop cutbacks on the defensive.” (Cahir, Gloucester County Times)
“Essex County judges are setting tougher bail requirements and scrutinizing defendants’ immigration status in response to the outcry over the release of an illegal immigrant later charged in the slayings of three Newark college students.
“There is a chill in the air when it comes to bails,” said Michael Robbins, a criminal defense attorney.
Although Essex County Assignment Judge Patricia Costello has not ordered judges to set higher bail, she has instructed them to end the practice of approving bail reductions in off-the-record conferences with attorneys and obtain written consent from prosecutors when they agree to the lowering of a bail.
In addition, she reminded the judges it is their duty to verify defendants’ immigration status.
Evidence of Costello’s order was apparent in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Michael Ravin last week. Ravin was asked to sign off on a routine order to grant bail for a defendant, Lamar Williams, who had been jailed for weeks for allegedly violating the terms of a pretrial intervention program. The prosecutor and the defense had agreed on the bail.
But in approving the bail, Ravin had his clerk draw a line on the order so the assistant prosecutor, Peter Sepulveda, could sign his name, indicating that he consented.
“This is the new way,” Ravin said. ” (Sterling and Kleinknecht, Star-Ledger)
PANTER AND MALLET GO STRAIGHT TO WHERE THE VOTES ARE
“Only about 30 senior citizens showed up to meet the Democratic Assembly candidates at the Applewood Estates, an assisted living complex in Freehold. But 30 votes may be enough to decide who wins the election in district 12.
The district, which is dominated by Monmouth County, is one of the most competitive in the state this year, as it was in 2005, when Democrat Mike Panter barely edged out his Republican opponent, Declan O’Scanlon, by 65 votes. While Republican Assembly candidate Jennifer Beck got about 1,000 more votes than anyone else, the three other major party candidates were separated by fewer than 250 votes.
This year, O’Scanlon, a Little Silver Councilman and telecommunications consultant, is again challenging Panter and his running mate, Amy Mallet, for the seat that Beck is vacating to run for state Senate. He’s joined by 30-year-old Caroline Casagrande, who will become the youngest person in the Assembly if she can pull it off (Another 30-year-old, Rich Dennison, is running for state Senate against incumbent Diane Allen).
The issues that play big in this upper-middle-class commuter district are property tax, asset monetization, health care and open space – all of which were primary concerns of the seniors that came out to greet Panter and Mallet.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
FOCUS ON ISSUES
“With a likely funding shortage in an off-year election, Republican candidates seeking to represent Gloucester County in Trenton need to focus on the issues.
All but two of the seats in the 3rd, 4th and 5th districts have an incumbent Democrat seeking re-election. The other two seats are also held by Democrats.
Already, both sides are talking issues.
Taxes, dual office-holding and selling the toll roads are among the major talking points, according to Republican candidate Patricia Fratticcioli, who is seeking an Assembly seat in the 4th District……………..
Whatever the candidates do, they should stay focused on the bigger picture, said Ingrid Reed, director of Project New Jersey at the Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Especially for the Republicans and their likely lack of funding, she said.
“If you don’t have a lot of money, it’s going to be very hard to find an issue that affects the whole district,” said Reed. “You’re much better off sticking with the issues you know concern people in the state, but then trying to make them relevant to you as the candidate.”” (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)
YOU GOTTA LOVETT
“Republicans from the 4th Legislative District believe they have a winning ticket this year and a shot to defeat freshman state Sen. Fred Madden, incumbent Assemblyman Paul Moriarty and newcomer Sandra Love, the former Gloucester Township mayor.
Agnes Gardiner of Washington Township, Shelly Lovett of Gloucester Township and Pat Fratticcioli of Monroe are stepping up to battle what they call the “Democratic machine” of Gloucester and Camden counties.
Republican leaders were forced to reshuffle their party’s 4th District ticket after their candidate, John Jankowski of Sicklerville, dropped out of the election.
In response to the sudden shift, Lovett, who originally planned to run with Fratticcioli for the Assembly, stepped up to run for Senate.
Gardiner, a former Washington Township councilwoman and a longtime member of the township’s Republican club, agreed to run for Assembly to fill the vacancy. The original slate was announced in April” (Huelsman, Courier-Post)
“Roaming around the Penny Point housing complex in Egg Harbor Township and armed with campaign fliers, Democratic Assembly candidate Blondell Spellman walks up a three-step stoop, holds a screen door open and knocks three times.
She has been doing this for months. She claims to have knocked on more than 1,000 doors already. That’s more than 3,000 knocks, and it’s not even Labor Day.
“We started early, a couple days before the (April) primary,” says Spellman, a political newcomer.
Her running mate, Joe Wilkins, hasn’t served in politics for 15 years and has been equally eager to get acquainted with voters and re-establish himself in the community.
The two will continue to wear down their knuckles on the doors of potential voters as they prepare for a political campaign that is expected to be the most closely watched in the state. They both hope to be waving whatever is left of their hands in victory come November.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
“The Base Realignment and Closure Cost Overrun Protection (BRAC COP) act would, if passed, seek a Congressional review of major military base closings where costs have increased more than 25 percent over original estimates.
On Friday, the bill received praise from former Sen. Dave McCurdy, D-Okla., co-sponsor of the Nunn-McCurdy law, which in 1983 applied the same restraint to military weapons programs…………..
The BRAC COP act, which already has received an endorsement of former BRAC Commissioner Philip Coyle, has been assigned to the Senate Armed Services Committee for review when Congress returns from recess after Labor Day.
The bill, which was based on the Nunn-McCurdy law, would trigger a review of any major base closure or realignment if the cost increase exceeds 25 percent of the original estimate. It would require the secretary of defense to provide to the president a business plan to reduce the costs of that action, and sets out a procedure for evaluating the plan, ending in a congressional vote on whether to accept it.” (Brown, Asbury Park Press)
“BRICK — For the first time in more than a decade, Joseph C. Scarpelli’s name will not be on the municipal ballot this November.
The longtime mayor pleaded guilty in federal court in January to accepting bribes while in office. But though Scarpelli’s political career ended in disgrace, his legacy nevertheless looms large over the mayoral race this year, according to local political leaders and observers.
The degree to which it will influence voters — and just what voters interpret his legacy to be — is a matter of debate. Democrats say the former mayor’s misdeeds must be balanced against his achievements, and, further, that his personal misconduct will not be seen by voters as staining his political party.
“I certainly think the voters are a lot smarter than that,” said Mayor Daniel J. Kelly, a Democrat appointed in January to succeed Scarpelli………………
In a Republican county, holding the Brick mayor’s seat — and a previous council majority — has been a matter of pride for Democrats, and Al Santoro, executive director of the Ocean County Democratic Party, said he likes the party’s chances of retaining the mayoralty.” (Schweiger, Asbury Park Press)
“Last week, Governor Corzine signed into law a bill requiring the Missing Person’s Unit within the Division of the State Police to develop uniform guidelines concerning the handling of missing person cases involving Alzheimer’s patients and juveniles, according to the Governor’s Office.
The signing of the bill, which was first introduced in January 2006 and passed by both houses June 21, comes in the wake of the June death of Hamilton resident Gordon Hector, 81, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He went missing and, days later, was found dead in a wooded area 5 miles from his home” (Friedman, Gloucester County Times)
IN OCEAN COUNTY
“Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari said Friday there should have been no plea bargain in the animal cruelty case against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is slated to tell a judge today that he was the key to the Bad Newz Kennels operation, in which underperforming fighting dogs were slaughtered.
“No plea bargain. A year or 18 months in jail, that’s not enough,” said Vicari, who is the superintendent of schools in Berkeley Township.
His words came just minutes before the details of Vick’s plea bargain were made public in a federal court in Virginia.
In exchange for his guilty plea to conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal-fighting venture, Vick faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, full restitution, a special assessment and three years of supervised release.” (Bennett, Asbury Park Press)
IN ATLANTIC CITY
“Full- and part-time card dealers at the Tropicana Casino and Resort have approved a bid to unionize.
The dealers voted 626-157 on Sunday to join the United Auto Workers, the union said.
“Workers are on a roll in Atlantic City,” said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey.
The UAW has been pushing hard to organize workers at all of Atlantic City’s 11 casinos. It has won elections at four gambling halls and lost at two others. Earlier this year, a majority of casino dealers at Caesars, Bally’s and Trump Plaza voted for UAW representation……………
“It’s very exciting for our union to be part of this growing movement in Atlantic City and elsewhere around the country,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn.” (AP)
IN ATLANTIC COUNTY
Board members aren’t exactly sure what extra duties, if any, the panel may undertake. But for now, they’ve asked board attorney Mary Maudsley to ask the state Department of Community Affairs, or DCA, if such a move is even possible.
At the very least, board members said the probe may result in their doing a better job of telling the public just what kind of ethics issues they can consider, or informing the public of other county officials and departments that could deal with alleged problems that don’t fall under the ethics board’s jurisdiction.
“If nothing else, some kind of manual, some kind of easy way for people to understand that if they run into something, this is the way you handle it,” board member Bill Elliott said. “At the very least, we ought to do a better job of communicating.”
The action stemmed from discussions that came during the board’s July 25 meeting.
At that time, the board said it had no jurisdiction to rule on a complaint alleging that Atlantic County Sheriff James McGettigan broke any county laws or policies by putting his cousin on the county payroll several years ago. The board made the same finding on alleged ethical violations lodged against two other members of the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
“The Borough Council will vote Monday on whether its members should continue to receive town health benefits.
The issue has evenly split the governing body: One side has argued that council members do more than their share for the town and deserve the benefits. Others disagree, and one councilman has said the part-time position should be voluntary. Council members receive an annual $2,000 stipend.” (Yoo, Bergen Record)
“A law governing New Jersey’s school districts has prevented the Paramus school board from firing Superintendent Janice Dime, according to local officials.
Borough officials and parents of West Brook Middle School students are angered that Dime has not yet been fired, even though she didn’t reveal that harmful pesticides had been found in soil at the school.” (Gartland, Bergen Record)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
MAYBE WE’LL HEAR ABOUT IT AGAIN IN OCTOBER, 2012
“It was nearly a year ago, during the heat of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s election campaign, when federal investigators caused an uproar by issuing a subpoena for records of a real estate deal Menendez made.
The investigation yielded no criminal charges, and by the start of summer Menendez’s attorneys asked federal prosecutors to declare him exonerated.
Not only was that request ignored, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, but in recent weeks new subpoenas went out, delving into other matters involving the Hudson County Democrat.
Tom O’Neil, a spokesman for the Jersey City Medical Center, confirmed last week that the hospital has received two subpoenas from federal investigators. He said hospital officials were gathering documents to fully cooperate with authorities. He declined to disclose details.
The subpoenas, according to people familiar with the command, are for records regarding government-relations consulting contracts. The subpoenas were signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Constable, the prosecutor spearheading the Menendez case. The subpoenas are related to that probe, according to a source familiar with the investigation……………..
The latest developments indicate a new direction for an investigation that has been surrounded by controversy from the start, when Menendez accused U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, a Republican appointed by President Bush, of playing politics.
Menendez has since toned down his criticism but continues to vehemently deny any wrongdoing.
He has enlisted two prominent criminal defense attorneys, Marc Elias and Alfred DeCotiis. Elias said last week: “We remain confident and hopeful that this entire matter will be brought to a conclusion and it will be clear to everyone that what we’ve said all along is true: Senator Menendez has acted ethically and lawfully in all of his dealings.”” (Whelan, Star-Ledger)
PALMER GOT TORICELLI CASH
“Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer is among several politicians who have received political contributions from former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli’s campaign fund in the past three years while Torricelli has pursued private business ventures in their districts…………….
Torricelli, of Delaware Township, is a partner in Lambertville-based Woodrose Properties, which is redeveloping the Caola building at South Warren and West Front streets in Trenton into a mix of residential, office and commercial space.
Torricelli contributed $10,000 from his Senate war chest to Palmer’s campaign and his council slate in early 2006. The project was presented to the city council in January 2005. Woodrose was granted development rights to the property in March 2005. The building, which the city purchased through condemnation for $164,000, was sold to Woodrose for $1. Woodrose also was given a five-year tax abatement, which allowed the developer to pay the city 15 percent of the annual gross revenues from the project instead of full taxes for five years.
Woodrose also renovated two properties at 39 and 41 W. State St., and plans to build an office building with retail on the lower floor on a vacant lot at the corner of Warren and Front streets. The city gave Woodrose $89,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) funds to install an elevator in one of the West State Street properties, and supported Woodrose’s application to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority for a loan for the Caola project……………
Palmer yesterday denied the contributions played any role in the assistance given to the project.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
“Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli has spent almost $1 million from his campaign account since leaving Congress, giving money to people with influence over his or his clients’ business interests, according to a newspaper report.
The report, published yesterday, found Torricelli donated $900,000 from his campaign account mostly to charities and nonprofits, but also to politicians and organizations tied to them – including a slate of Bayonne candidate backed by Mayor Joseph V. Doria.
For instance, in early 2006 Torricelli, who quit the 2002 Senate campaign amid ethical misconduct allegations, contributed $10,000 to the mayor of Trenton and his City Council candidates.
The donation was made as city agencies were reviewing an ultimately approved proposal by Torricelli to develop retail and office space in the city.” (Jersey Journal)
NEWARK SHOOTINGS CHANGE TRENTON PRIORITIES
“With Congress fumbling immigration reform, state legislators have stepped in to pick up the ball.
Lawmakers in 41 states have enacted 170 immigration bills this year, more than double the number enacted in 2006, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures……………..
New Jersey — where legislators have been more concerned about America’s highest property taxes and the possibility Gov. Jon S. Corzine may increase highway tolls to solve state fiscal woes — was one of the states that hadn’t approved immigration-related legislation.
That was before the Aug. 4 execution-style shooting murders of three college students in a Newark schoolyard pushed immigration issues to the forefront in the Garden State…………… Now Democrats and Republicans alike are proposing legislation, but quick action is unlikely.
The Legislature adjourned on June 21 and isn’t expected to return until after
November’s election, when all 120 legislative seats will be decided. Democrats control the Assembly 50-30 and the Senate 22-18.
“It will more than likely be after November,” said Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie
Watson Coleman, D-Mercer.” (Hester, AP)
WHY NOT CHECK THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF PEOPLE WHO RIP OFF MATTRESS TAGS?
“Top federal and state law enforcement officials told the Morristown mayor yesterday that local police cannot check the immigration status of those charged with traffic violations or other low-level crimes.
The directives came two days after Attorney General Anne Milgram ordered local officers to check the immigration status of all suspects charged with serious crimes or drunken driving.
Mayor Donald Cresitello’s plan for police to make immigration checks on routine traffic stops “is something our office thinks should not happen,” said David Wald, a spokesman for Milgram.
As the state’s top law enforcement authority, the attorney general supervises county prosecutors and local police. ” (McDermott, Star-Ledger)
“The state’s attorney general last week directed New Jersey police officers to report suspected illegal immigrants charged with indictable offenses or drunken driving to federal authorities, but a small provision in the order has some questioning whether federally deputized officers would have their power handcuffed…………….
Critics are saying Milgram has overstepped her boundaries. If 287(g) officers can’t inquire about suspected illegal immigrants’ status unless they are charged with serious crimes or DUI, the directive would “supersede federal law and limit the authority of those empowered by the attorney general of the United States,” said Tom Wilson, the Republican State Committee chairman.
Indictable offenses include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery, among other serious charges.
Currently, however, no officer in New Jersey is approved to be an Immigration officer under 287(g). Milgram spokesman David Wald said Morristown is the only municipality to apply from New Jersey.
Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello, who has been outspoken in trying to have his police officers deputized, said he believes 287(g) officers do have the right to question immigration status even for non-indictable charges.
“She (Milgram) either intentionally or unintentionally is attempting to tie the hands of a federal officer, and she can’t do that,” Cresitello said.” (Rispoli, Gannett)
“BEEN THERE, DONE THAT”
“Days after the state began to require law enforcement to contact the feds when arresting illegal immigrants for a major crime, law enforcement had a message for Trenton:
Been there, done that.
“We go through all the motions … and (immigration officials) say, What do you want us to do? There are only so many of us in the state,’ ” said Woodbury Heights Police Chief Leo Selb.
Franklin Township Police Chief Michael DiGiorgio required his officers to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after six suspects three in the country illegally were arrested for a foiled terror plot at Fort Dix. Several police departments, including Washington Township, experienced public scrutiny for having prior contact with the suspects and failing to report them.
“Law enforcement has handled it themselves because they haven’t had the support of ICE,” DiGiorgio said. “For years we have called immigration, and immigration has always been understaffed.”
In a May interview, top ICE officials in New Jersey said the department must prioritize their cases because of scant resources. ” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
IT’S CHEAPER THAN NO-BID CONTRACTS
“When the political season jumps off to its traditional post-Labor Day start 10 days from now, New Jersey will notch a milestone in its battle against public corruption.
Candidates in three legislative districts, including locally in the hotly contested 14th District, will have up to $525,000 each to spend on their campaigns, courtesy of the state’s taxpayers…………..
But the victory celebration may have to wait as potential stumbling blocks could stand in the way of launching a statewide effort. Glowing accolades aside, the program’s future is far from certain. Tucked into the legislation is an expiration date for the pilot program and a clause requiring the bill to be reauthorized by the Legislature in time for the 2009 campaigns.
But asked if Clean Elections is a guarantee, supporters of the bill speak cautiously about its future.
“Nothing in the Legislature is ever a slam dunk,” said Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, D-Bellmawr, who sponsored the bill with his Assembly colleagues. “I think we have made enormous progress. (The success) validates the program and validates some of the mid-course corrections we have made. The question now is whether the candi dates can conduct effective campaigns and whether the public will support using public money in this way.”” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
WATCH OUT FOR ALASKAN MINKS
“Rep. Scott Garrett got a perfect score last week from a group pushing for lower spending and taxes because he consistently voted to strip pork projects from federal spending bills this year.
Garrett, R-Wantage, got a 100 percent rating on the Club for Growth’s 2007 “RePORK Card.” No one else in the New Jersey House delegation, Republican or Democrat, scored higher than 4 percent.
The scorecard looked at 50 votes taken in the House between June 26 and August 5 on amendments to strip earmarks from appropriations bills. Garrett sponsored several of the amendments, along with other members of the staunchly conservative Republican Study Committee.
He voted yes on 48 measures and did not vote on two others. A majority of the House voted the opposite way on all but one of those votes………………
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, was the only New Jersey Republican to get a zero. Frelinghuysen is a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, which jealously guards its right to earmark funding in spending bills.” (Jackson, Bergen Record)
PLEASE TAKE OUR TIRED, OUR HUNGRY, OUR POOR
“A state appellate court yesterday ordered the state to reconsider a plan by a wealthy Monmouth County community to pay a poverty-laden nearby town to take on its affordable housing obligation, a decision hailed as crucial by affordable housing advocates.
The court ordered the state to reconsider a regional contribution agreement (RCA) it approved under which Colts Neck, N.J., was to pay Long Branch $2.83 million to repair and develop 107 homes for low-income residents.
Under a historic 1975 state Supreme Court ruling, each New Jersey municipality has a constitutional obligation to provide housing for poor residents.
The Fair Share Housing Center, which sued the state to annul the agreement, said the decision is the first time a court invalidated an RCA, under which suburban towns typically pay struggling cities to take their affordable housing requirements. ” (Hester, AP)
“As part of its plan to combat global warming, the Corzine administration is quietly taking the first steps toward creating an array of giant windmills off the South Jersey coast to turn ocean breezes into electricity.
Environmentalists who were briefed on the plan by an adviser to the governor say it could involve as many as 80 wind-powered turbines towering 30 stories high over the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere between southern Ocean County and Cape May.
A spokesman for Gov. Jon Cor zine confirmed the administration is conducting a series of studies of the feasibility and the environmental and economic impacts “to push forward with an offshore wind project.”
“Governor Corzine supports the idea of building offshore wind tur bines, which he believes will serve as an important test of this potential alternative energy source,” Cor zine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said. “We hope that wind will be part of the equation as we seek alternative energy resources statewide.”” (Hester, AP)
CASINOS FIGHT WATERED DOWN SMOKING BAN
“New Jersey’s powerful casino industry has won two key concessions in the last two years designed to keep smokers happy. First, the Legislature banned indoor smoking everywhere except casino floors, as of April 15, 2006.
Then the Atlantic City Council, after considering a full ban, required that three-quarters of a casino floor be smoke-free. The change took effect April 15. Now casinos are complaining that even the partial ban is making their shaky financial condition worse.
New Jersey’s powerful casino industry has won two key concessions in the last two years designed to keep smokers happy.
First, the Legislature banned indoor smoking everywhere except casino floors, as of April 15, 2006.
Then the Atlantic City Council, after considering a full ban, required that three-quarters of a casino floor be smoke-free. The change took effect April 15.
Now casinos are complaining that even the partial ban is making their shaky financial condition worse.” (Ung, Philadelphia Inquirer)
THE PASSAIC COUNTY REPUBLICANS MUST LOOK TO THEIR BERGEN COUNTY COUNTERPARTS FOR GUIDANCE
“With Passaic County taxes up again and the controversial sale of the county golf course to trumpet on the campaign trail, Republicans could wage a real fight this year to gain a toehold on the all-Democratic Board of Chosen Freeholders.
But a recent squabble over money shows a party whose members are fighting each other harder than they are fighting the opposition.
A faction of the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization that opposes Party Chairman Scott Rumana has called for him to donate money from his personal campaign accounts to support county races. Rumana, who is running for Assembly in the 40th District and serves as mayor of Wayne, refuses to do so on the advice of a lawyer for the state party organization. The lawyer said such donations could violate election laws, or at least appear unethical.
Rumana’s Republican opposition complains that GOP candidates are starving for cash. But the party leadership said it is working hard to raise money as a party out of power and will start spending in earnest closer to the election.” (Kindergan, Herald News)
NEW JERSEY MORMONS LOOK TO MITT ROMNEY
Jan Mathusek, a Mormon, has raised five children in a place far removed from the strait-laced Utah heartland: North Jersey.
That posed some social barriers for her kids, who, abiding by Mormon values, had to forgo dating, drinking alcohol and R-rated movies………….
Now Mathusek is watching the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney with a similar mix of emotions: She’s proud that a fellow Mormon is standing publicly by his faith, but afraid that he will come under attack…………………
Indeed, Romney’s bid for the Republican nomination is shining a light on the Mormon faith — a religion that has 13 million members worldwide and is the fourth-largest in America, with about 6 million adherents.
Despite its large numbers and its wholesome, squeaky-clean image personified by Romney, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS as followers call it, is viewed warily by a significant segment of the American public, according to polls.
A Gallup Poll earlier this year showed 46 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Mormon religion, compared with 42 percent with a favorable view. A poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 30 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate for president.” (Chadwick, Bergen Record)
IN THE 37TH DISTRICT
“Republican newcomer Clara Nibot is scrambling in her quest to qualify for the experimental “clean elections” Senate contest against state Sen. Loretta Weinberg in the 37th Legislative District. Nibot needs 400 donors, but so far has 200.
Among them are John F. Zisa, the former mayor of Hackensack, and his wife, Maureen. Zisa is the brother of Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, the Democrat whom Weinberg defeated in an acrimonious internal party battle for the Senate in 2005.
John and Maureen Zisa each gave $10 to Nibot — the maximum allowed under the state clean elections program from an individual. They also gave to Nibot’s running mate, Frank Cifarelli, who is running for the Assembly.
John Zisa, a registered Republican, could not be reached for comment. But Ken Zisa, who reprised the rivalry this year by briefly seeking an Assembly seat against Weinberg’s running mates, said the donations are routine politics.
“I can assure you he’s not making some sort of statement,” Ken Zisa said.
Nibot, of Bergenfield, who is still trying to gather the 400 contributions needed to qualify for the minimum in state funding, said the support from the Zisas, as well as from Democrats, is based on her cross-party appeal.
“I’m a person that is running like Giuliani running in New York in 1993,” she said, speaking of the former GOP mayor of New York who is now seeking the presidency. “He connected with the people’s issues.”” (Stile, Bergen Record)
RIDER UNIVERSITY HAZING
“College administrators across the nation are likely to pay close attention to the indictment of two Rider University officials in a student’s drinking death after suspected hazing.
The case could change how administrators deal with campus safety, including student drinking, because prosecutors are holding them more accountable for hazing, experts say
“I think every dean of students around the country is examining their liability insurance and following the case closely, because it’s so peculiar,” said Norm Pollard, dean of students at Alfred University in New York..” (Newmarker, AP)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
“A federal panel met two years ago in a conference room at a Virginia hotel with one charge: to restructure the world’s most lethal military.
The panel’s nine members systematically worked their way down a huge list — mothballing military bases here and there, parceling off missions elsewhere and moving on to the next decision.
Shortly before 9 a.m. on Aug. 24, 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure commission began discussing Army Recommendation 11: Close Fort Monmouth.” (Brown and Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
“The father of a Township Committee candidate is seeking damages in excess of $100,000 from his son in Superior Court, charging his son illegally conspired to ruin the family business and take its clients and suppliers for his own companies.
State Superior Court Judge Richard W. English ruled Wednesday that a landlord-tenant case in which former mayor Drew Shapiro filed to evict his father’s company will be moved to Superior Court with the patriarch’s complaint.” (Williams Boyd, Asbury Park Press)
WHY DON’T THEY LOOK LIKE ATHLETES?
“The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the investigation into a group of Mercer County police officers that is accused of illegally buying human growth hormone, known as HGH, for personal use, the office confirmed yesterday.
And the case may be heating up, multiple law enforcement sources tell The Times.
The probe, which came to light in May of last year, started as a federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden after federal investigators forwarded them information from a case in Ohio concerning a Florida dentist who was dealing with HGH.
The dentist, Jeffrey M. Weiser, of Lake Worth, Fla., is a former New Jersey resident who in 2005 pleaded guilty in federal court in Cincinnati to selling HGH and other controlled substances over the Internet.
As part of that investigation, Weiser’s records and e-mail correspondence were seized and law enforcement sources have said those records led to a group of mainly Trenton police officers and at least one Mercer County Sheriff’s officer. ” (Shea, Trenton Times)
“TRENTON — The political arm of the New Jersey Education Association announced its endorsements earlier this month for the November state Senate and Assembly elections.
The NJEA political action committee’s endorsements included 18 candidates in the 7th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 23rd and 30th legislative districts. In those seven districts, the endorsements were split evenly between the Republican and Democratic parties. All but four candidates are incumbents.” (Martinez-Carter, Trenton Times)
“Instead of splashing around in a pool or playing in the park, 4-year-old twins David and Nathaniel Wagenblast spent their Saturday afternoon singing songs and carrying signs, calling for an end to the war in Iraq……………..
Organized by the Peace and Justice Coalition, the event was billed as “The People’s March for Peace, Equality, Jobs and Justice.” Organizers called for an immediate end to the war and the redirection of billions of dollars being spent on the war into domestic programs like jobs creation.
But it was also meant to highlight violence closer to home, including the recent killings of three college students in a playground behind a Newark elementary school.” (Friedman, Star-Ledger)
SOMERSET COUNTY PARKS COMMISSION FIASCO
“The Somerset County freeholders have learned they cannot un-make a park commission without scrambling political positions.
Just a week after four of the five freeholders declared themselves ready to dissolve the 50-year-old, scandal-plagued commission, three suddenly reversed course Tuesday night.
Freeholders Robert Zaborowski, Rick Fontana and Peter Palmer voted to table the dissolution resolution until a December meeting with the reconstituted commission.
“What the freeholders did Tuesday night was a bait-and-switch,” said Democratic freeholder candidate Melonie Marano. “They told the public they were going to abolish the commission, then they tried to avoid accountability by pushing off a decision.”
The one immediate effect of Tuesday night’s vote was to eliminate any chance of a November referendum on the issue. But afterward, triumphant commission supporters suggested one would be necessary any time the freeholders try to turn the agency into a county department.
“I’m not open-minded because I think we should have a commission,” said the county’s version of Mister Republican, former state Sen. Raymond Bateman. ” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
MCGETTIGAN TO LEVINSON: “SHOW IT TO ME”
“…..Along with (Dennis) Levinson and (James) McGettigan, Saturday’s forum also included the candidates for the 2nd District state Senate seat, incumbent Republican James “Sonny” McCullough and Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan.
The district includes most of Atlantic County. Highlights of the forum included: McGettigan, currently Atlantic County’s sheriff, telling the audience that Levinson “wants you to feel hatred against me” by trying to make his salary and pension sound outlandish.
Levinson chiding McGettigan for not knowing how to figure out a tax rate. “Is this the person you want to be county executive?” Levinson asked the audience.
Levinson said that, since taking office in 2000, good financial operations by his administration saved taxpayers more than $100 million in tax increases.
“If you can produce me a year when taxes went down, show it to me,” McGettigan said.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
IN ATLANTIC COUNTY
In a probable cause hearing a judge hears just the complainant’s evidence and decides if the incident more likely than not occurred.
“It’s one of those kinds of things a court will find probable cause on, so there’s no sense in having it,” Donnelly said. “It doesn’t mean anything.”” (Press of Atlantic City)
”MILLVILLE – Former city police Chief Ron Harvey, under investigation by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with his real estate practices, denied any wrongdoing Friday afternoon.
In a telephone interview Harvey declined to offer any specific details about the investigation’s progress, but he did say that he and his son, Michael, who have purchased and sold several Millville properties since 2003, have done nothing wrong.
“We don’t do anything wrong,” he said. “We haven’t done anything wrong.”
County investigators seized city records and have interviewed several people who have sold property to Harvey and his son Michael, asking if they felt pressured by city officials to sell.
In a few instances, the Harveys were able to acquire properties for much less than their assessed values. They then rehabilitated the properties and sold them, often for large profits.” (Van Embden, Press of Atlantic City)