Blackmail scandal in Atlantic City, former AG Katzenbach weighs in on Gonzales and Chertoff, Tom Moran interviews Newark’s police director, Fort Lee mayor laid to rest.
ATLANTIC CITY BLACKMAIL BUST
“An Atlantic County grand jury indicted five men Tuesday on charges that they arranged and filmed a sexual encounter involving Atlantic City Councilman Gene Robinson last November, attempting to coerce him into resigning.
Schultz was surprised. Reached at a Tuesday evening Atlantic City Special Improve-ment District meeting, he said, “Wow. They hit them all. What can I tell you? I have to go to court. What can you do? All I can say is that I’m innocent.”…………..
Neither Tally nor the indicted Callaways could be reached for comment. Resort school board member Dolores Calla-way declined to comment on her brothers after a reporter broke the news to her. Craig Callaway is currently serving 40 months for corrup-tion in federal prison in Gilmer, W. Va.
Reached by phone, Robinson said, “Basically all I have to say is I want justice and the rest I’ll leave up to my lawyer.”…………..
The indictment came two days before the one-year anniversary of Craig Callaway suddenly resigning his City Council seat after admitting taking thousands of dollars in bribes from a contractor…………..
In the months afterward, Callaway’s influence in the resort was diminished. He and his shrinking organization tried different ways to retain the power it had built up.
Robinson has said that the Callaways followed him throughout last fall, trying to influence him to vote their interests.
At about 11 p.m. Nov. 13, he said, he gave ride to a person he thought was a lost Tuckerton woman. She persuaded Robinson to drive her back to a budget motel on the White Horse Pike where she said she was staying.
She invited him in, Robinson has said, and seduced him into receiving oral sex.
Eleven days later, Robinson said, a man approached him and told him to resign his seat or the video of the encounter would be publicized. He refused, and an elaborately disguised man gave a copy to news blogger Virginia McCabe three days later. She provided that to investigators and WMGM-TV 40.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
“HE’S A LAWYER. HE OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER”
“Citing an administration in a Constitutional free fall, Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, who served as U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, said George W. Bush should not choose Michael Chertoff as the successor to outgoing U.S. Attorney Alberto Gonzales.
“I had a good deal of respect for Michael Chertoff, but I haven’t heard about him objecting to the things going on within his orbit. He’s a lawyer. He ought to know better,” Katzenbach said of the Secretary of Homeland Security and former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, who has been rumored as a potential replacement for Gonzales.
“I think this administration has used government to promote political advantage,” said the former attorney general. “”I would have thought Michael Chertoff would have been a good appointment some time ago, but not now. Anyone from within this administration would be regarded with skepticism.”
Katzenbach, who’s retired and lives in Princeton, said Gonzales is leaving a legacy of disregard for the U.S. Constitution. As part of damage control, the President would be well advised to go outside his administration in selecting someone to serve as attorney general, Katzenbach told PoliticsNJ.com.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
TOM MORAN ON NEWARK’S POLICE DIRECTOR
“With all six suspects in the Newark schoolyard murders behind bars, you might think Police Director Garry McCarthy would have a smile on his face.
“It’s a really solid case,” he says. “There’s no reason we should not get a conviction on every single one of these guys.”
But he is barely pausing to savor the moment. The man looks exhausted. And he says he still has a mountain of work ahead of him. Smiling is for politicians…………….
Whatever it is that makes McCarthy burn, you have to hope he doesn’t run out of juice anytime soon. Because he’s off to a strong start.
Crime is down across the board in Newark. Reported rapes, robberies and burglaries are down by an average of more than 20 percent this year. The number of people shot is down by about 30 percent, a number that’s more convincing be cause it’s almost impossible to fudge.
Even murders, which have been rising in most cities, are finally edg ing down in Newark.
Talk about these numbers and you risk sounding callous. Because this city is still bleeding, and no one is declaring victory.” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
GOODBYE MAYOR ALTER
“FORT LEE — Mayor Jack Alter was eulogized Tuesday as a man who loved his family and the residents of Fort Lee and kept the betterment of his beloved borough foremost in his mind.
Alter “was a man grand in size, grand in vision and grand in affection,” U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told the crowd during the mayor’s funeral at the Jewish Community Center. “He was a person of the people. His example is one we should all follow.”
Alter, 79, died Monday. He had been the town’s highest elected official since 1992.
More than 750 people, from borough residents of all faiths to Democratic officials from the town, county, state and federal levels, attended the service. Borough police officers, firefighters and emergency workers stood in line along the back wall……………..
Democratic politicians and legislators paid their respects. Among them were Lautenberg and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; state Sens. Joseph Coniglio, D-Paramus, and Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck; Assemblywoman Joan Voss, D-Fort Lee; Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire; County Executive Dennis McNerney; Freeholder David Ganz and Bergen County Democratic Organization Chairman Joseph Ferriero……………….
The family will receive those wishing to pay their respects on Wednesday and Thursday from 3 to 6 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the synagogue, 1449 Anderson Ave., Fort Lee.
The family requests donations to the Jewish Family Service of Bergen County, the Fort Lee Community Fund or the Congregation Gesher Shalom-Jewish Community Center of Fort Lee.” (Firschein, Bergen Record)
AH, HUDSON COUNTY
“Elvis impersonator Michael Albanese, charged with filing a false police report, has changed his story once again about a check he received for working on a political campaign that ended up in the candidate’s campaign account, his lawyer says……….
In April 2005, Albanese – then working as a campaign aide for the then-Assembly candidate and city Councilman Anthony Chiappone – told police that Chiappone forged his name while endorsing a $180 check intended for Albanese…………….
In a phone interview yesterday, Albanese’s Morristown attorney, William Ware, said the check that the Chiappone campaign cashed “doesn’t have (Albanese’s) signature on it” and that the check got deposited in the Chiappone account although the campaign later reimbursed his client for the money.
Chiappone said yesterday it was “absolutely not true” that Albanese didn’t sign the check. Chiappone said Albanese had received the check, signed it and left it in the campaign office where it got accidentally mixed in with other checks and cashed.” (Leir, Jersey Journal)
SOMERSET COUNTY PARKS FIASCO
“Somerset County parks employees have reimbursed the park commission for several expenses criticized as unrelated to their jobs, but most were legitimate or judgment calls, county officials said last night.
After reviewing expense vouchers cited as “questionable” by an outside law firm, county Treasurer Brian Newman said there were no clear prohibitions against some of the payments.
Meanwhile, minutes of 1999 closed sessions released yesterday show three of the current freeholders — Denise Coyle, Rick Fontana and Peter Palmer — met with commission members eight years ago to discuss policies for providing cars and homes to park employees.
In a June 22 report to the freeholders, the Wolff and Samson firm of West Orange criticized the expenses, houses and cars and accused the commission of violating state public bidding law. The state Attorney General’s Office followed with a sweeping subpoena for parks records.
According to Newman’s review, parks Director Raymond Brown and some others have repaid $1,697 of the $42,317 in expense vouchers challenged by Wolff and Samson. Newman also found the law firm overstated the expense total by $900………………
Many of the largest expenses involve limo trips, golf outings and lunches or dinners with community or business groups, which Newman said has been a longtime practice.
“How did this come about?” he asked. “Again, it’s ‘let’s support our business partners,'” by buying tickets for events sponsored by the Somerset Patriots baseball team, the Somerset County Business Partnership and other companies or groups, he said.
Other officials, including the freeholders, are listed among the commission’s attendees for some of these outings, but Newman downplayed the significance of their participation.
“Some of the people attending might well not have realized” that taxpayers were footing the bill, he said.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
RIDER UNIVERSITY OFFICIALS CLEARED
“Closing what was hailed as a watershed case for college administrators nationwide, a Superior Court judge dismissed aggravated hazing indictments yesterday against two Rider University officials in the drinking death of freshman Gary DeVercelly Jr.
Judge Maria M. Sypek granted a prosecutor’s motion to drop the fourth-degree felony charges against Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley, agreeing there was no evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
In filing for the dismissal, Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr. said he was ensuring that justice was done.
“This decision wasn’t made lightly and came about only after an exhaustive review of the grand jury transcript and relevant case law,” Bocchini said……………………..
Attorneys for both Campbell and Badgley applauded the judge’s decision and both said Bocchini made the right move in asking for the dismissal.
“I’ve reviewed the grand jury transcripts and they are devoid of any valid legal or factual basis for the charge against Dean Campbell,” said attorney Rocco Cipparone after the hearing. Cipparone said he remains puzzled as to why the grand jury chose to indict Campbell, who prosecutors have said was not present during the party where DeVercelly allegedly drank more than half of a bottle of vodka and did not witness any hazing.
David Laigaie, the Philadelphia attorney representing Badgley, said he also is unaware how a grand jury could have found evidence against Badgley.
“Ms. Badgley did not commit a crime and she should not have been charged with a crime,” Laigaie said, adding that Badgley was not on campus when the hazing allegedly occurred and had no idea the unregistered party was going on.” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
“The federal grand jury probe of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez has shifted focus to the lobbying work of a former aide.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has issued subpoenas for a broad array of financial documents and consulting contracts from Jersey City Medical Center covering the years that Menendez’s former aide, Kay LiCausi, lobbied for the hospital.
Grand jurors in Newark also heard testimony last week from Jonathan Metsch, who was president and chief executive of JCMC when it hired LiCausi.
Tom O’Neil, a spokesman for the medical center, said Tuesday that the hospital received two subpoenas to produce records for the grand jury.
“The documents are being gathered. We’re trying to cooperate to the fullest extent we can with the requests for information,” O’Neil said. He declined comment on the specific documents sought by the government.” (Sampson, Bergen Record)
LOBIONDO AND ANDREWS ON GONZALES
“U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo hopes to see the U.S. Justice Department revitalized now that embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has announced his resignation.
“This is probably a very good move,” LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., said in an interview Tuesday. “I believe that the attorney general has been a huge, obviously, source of controversy and distraction from critical missions like homeland security and intelligence and the like.”……………..
“Mr. Gonzales, in a best-case scenario, did a very poor job of answering questions at the hearings,” LoBiondo said. “In a worst-case scenario, he’s in much deeper hot water.”………….
“I am very concerned, and I think everyone should be concerned” about the Justice Department, LoBiondo said, reflecting on current or upcoming leadership vacancies in seven different jobs that will require Senate confirmation…………..
U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews claimed that Gonzales, throughout his tenure as attorney general, had broken with a long-running tradition of maintaining his legal and professional independence from the White House.
Now, the White House finds itself in a difficult spot, according to Andrews, D-1st Dist. President Bush must nominate an independent-minded, upright jurist who can earn the respect of Senate lawmakers and be confirmed………….
But Bush does not want to nominate an attorney general who would to take a hard look at the outing of CIA employee Valerie Plame and the subsequent pardon of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby Jr.; the firing list compiled for sitting federal prosecutors; or the constitutionality of the administration’s domestic wiretapping program, Andrews said.
“I don’t think the administration is anxious to have a straight-arrow attorney general in there looking at that,” Andrews said. “If they nominate such a person, they would get him or her confirmed. But I don’t think they will. And then the other choice would be to nominate a partisan, a Harriet Miers type person. Someone who is really theirs. And I don’t think that type of person could get confirmed.”” (Cahir, Express-Times)
NEW JERSEY IS NO LONGER THE RICHEST STATE WITH THE POOREST CITY
“New Jersey has lost its claim to the title of wealthiest state in the union, slipping to the No. 2 spot.
Census data released yesterday shows that with a median household income of $64,470, New Jersey has dropped behind Maryland, which boasts a median income of $65,144. But despite the fall from the top, the Garden State still claims three of the top 10 wealthiest counties in the nation in Hunterdon, Somerset and Morris counties.
“New Jersey’s median household income was 33 percent higher than the national rate in 2005 and in 2006 we’re still 33 percent higher,” said James W. Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “We kept pace with the nation. Maryland, maybe because of recent federal spending in the Capitol district, has had a very good year.”” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
“The city of Newark is still one of the nation’s poorest, but Census numbers released yesterday show the state’s largest city has made some of the biggest gains in income this decade.
Newark’s median household in come has jumped 28 percent since the 2000 Census — a rate of increase nearly double the nation’s and far above the state’s 17 percent increase.” (Malinconico and Gebeloff, Star-Ledger)
“Camden’s no longer the poorest city in the country, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
But it remains among the poorest, with only Brownsville and College Station, both in Texas, reporting lower incomes among cities with more than 65,000 residents.” (Laughlin and Schwartz)
“Hunterdon County earned the distinction of being the wealthiest mid-sized county in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Arlington County, Va., finished second among the mid-sized counties, with a median income of $87,350. Stafford County, Va., came in third with a median income of $85,014.” (Cahir, Express-Times)
“Morris County remains one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
So it’s no surprise that the 2006 American Community Survey results released Tuesday show Morris also has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country. Fewer than 1 in 20 people in Morris were poor last year, a rate lower than all but 11 other counties in the nation.” (O’dea, Daily Record)
“The number of residents living in poverty in Passaic County and in Paterson, itself, continued to rise last year, while the median household income for both the county and the city continued to drop, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which released its 2006 estimates on Tuesday.” (MacInnes, Herald News)
“HOBOKEN – Two officers from the State Police’s Organized Crime Unit made a surprise visit to City Hall Monday armed with subpoenas and they left with documents related to an ongoing investigation of the city’s top construction code official.
Several sources told The Jersey Journal yesterday that the subpoenas were part of a probe by the state Attorney General’s Office, which has convened a grand jury to look into possible criminal activity inside the city’s construction office.
The office is led by embattled Construction Code Official Al Arezzo.
The officers, accompanied by city attorneys, visited several city offices and received original documents and made copies of other city records themselves using city copy machines, sources said.
The State Police were there “all day” and received documents from the city’s Planning, Construction and Zoning departments, along with the Tax Assessor’s Office, several sources said. ” (Renshaw, Jersey Journal)
CIVIL UNIONS SPAT
“Both sides in the civil rights dispute between the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and the state Division on Civil Rights concur that an agreement was reached Tuesday morning in federal court, Trenton — they just don’t agree on the details.
According to one of the association’s attorneys, the state has agreed to temporarily suspend its investigation into two complaints alleging violations of the state’s Law Against Discrimination until after Oct. 1, when U.S. District Court Judge Joel Pisano may make rulings on two motions.
In fact, the attorney’s organization, the Alliance Defense Fund, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying just that.
The complaints were filed earlier this summer by two lesbian couples who claim the association violated the anti-discrimination law by refusing to allow the use of the boardwalk pavilion for their civil union ceremonies.
But a spokesman for the DCR said the state merely agreed to extend until Oct. 1 the deadline for the association to respond to the complaints.” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
“Some candidates will admit they’re long shots, that the odds are stacked against them. But they don’t consider themselves “kamikaze candidates.”
Take Rev. Clenard H. Childress, Jr. who’s running for the State Assembly as a Republican in the 34th District. Talk to him about his campaign, and you can tell he’s a man of faith……….
In many of the urban districts, like the 33rd, Democratic state Senate nominee Brian Stack is running against, well, nobody. But in the part-urban 34th and the neighboring 35th , which is dominated by the City of Paterson, there are a few Republicans willing to throw their hats in the ring.
Childress, a former Democrat who lost an Assembly primary in 2005 and just switched parties in January, is running in a district with its second biggest chunk in East Orange, a city that’s 90 percent African-American. The district has a 3-1 Democratic registration advantage and is currently represented by three Democrats: State Sen. Nia Gill, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, all of whom are up for re-election……………..
Next door in the 35th district, Chauncey Brown III, another African-American Republican candidate, stands alone as the only member of his party’s legislative ticket………….
This district’s numbers aren’t as heavily Democratic as those of the 34th, with Democrats holding only a 10 point registration advantage on Republicans, but they’re still daunting. In 2005, Assembly incumbents Nellie Pou and Alfred Steele each beat their Republican opponents, Deborah Shortway (who passed away shortly before the election) and Rinaldo D’Argenio, by nearly 40 points.
But Brown is banking on the credibility he’s established as a school board member in Paterson, which dominates the district, to make him a competitive candidate. He noted that during his first election to the school board, he was the second highest vote getter out of ten candidates.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
“A Fort Monmouth employee has already relocated to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. — four years ahead of schedule and before the Army has submitted a federally mandated report to Congress — and the Army refuses to say how much the move cost.
The move of a human resources specialist from the Communications Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, and the Army’s refusal to define the cost, was blasted Tuesday by members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
The Army also refused to say how much of the money targeted for the technology programs that it wants to move to Aberdeen will have to be diverted to pay for employee moving costs.
The specialist volunteered to move to Maryland in January, said fort spokesman Henry Kearney, and was charged with the “mission of working with the headquarters staff on the CERDEC employee training and career development process.”
But when asked in an e-mail what the cost was to move that person — previous estimates set the cost at about $70,000 per employee — Kearney refused to comment.” (Brown and Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
CODEY GETS THINGS DONE
“Newark nursing home where state Sen. Richard Codey found sweltering conditions during a surprise inspection earlier this month will replace its sputtering air conditioners. New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center informed Codey of the move in a letter Monday.
The North Ward facility’s principal owner, George Weinberger, said in the letter that air conditioning units in all patient rooms would be replaced within three months.
An additional 10 units have been purchased to cool overheated hallways, Weinberger said.
Codey (D-Essex) dropped in on New Vista unannounced Aug. 1 to assess conditions following complaints about the facility, which houses about 340 patients. Toting a thermometer, the state Senate president found temperatures in the 80s in much of the building, with many patient rooms as hot as 85 degrees.
Under federal regulations, nursing homes must maintain a temperature between 71 and 81 degrees.
Codey angrily complained to New Vista’s administrators, accusing them of compromising patient care to save money. ” (Mueller, Star-Ledger)
FORMER NEWARK POLICE CHIEF TAPPED FOR COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR JOB IN TRENTON
“TRENTON — A retired Newark police chief has been hired as the city’s communications director and will start next week, Police Director Joseph Santiago confirmed yesterday.
Irving Bradley, appointed as Newark’s police chief in 2004 by former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, retired last summer on the eve of Mayor Cory Booker’s administration assuming the reins of the state’s largest city. He served for 20 years in the Newark department was the city’s first African-American police chief.” (Shea, Trenton Times)
“FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Municipal officials’ training of a surveillance camera on an Orthodox rabbi’s home has prompted a federal lawsuit.
Attorney Gerald Marks of Red Bank, who represents Rabbi Avraham Bernstein of Stillwells Corner Road, filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Trenton.
The suit alleges the camera — which was aimed through a municipal building window toward the front of Bernstein’s property across the street — was set in retaliation to an ongoing legal battle and interferes further with the rabbi’s right to the free exercise of religion in his home.
“We affectionately refer to it as the “rabbi cam,’ ” said Marks, who is also representing the rabbi in a lawsuit previously filed in state Superior Court in Freehold.
Township Attorney Duane Davison acknowledged the camera was set up and said it was done so the township could get an accurate count of the number of people going into the home during the Jewish sabbath, which is a concern of the township, along with the frequency of the gatherings there.
The township, before the state suit was filed, accused the rabbi of operating a house of worship out of his home in violation of municipal zoning ordinances and filed charges in Municipal Court.” (Petrunico, Asbury Park Press)
“Paramus Schools Superintendent Janice Dime resigned Monday night after weathering months of criticism for how she handled the discovery of pesticide-laden soil at a borough middle school, officials said.
Dime and the Board of Education agreed on a renegotiated contract in which she will be compensated with one year’s salary and medical benefits.
For the next year, the school district will pay her annual salary of more than $212,000. Dime will also receive health benefits, which cost about $20,000 per year, and will be paid for her accrued sick days. She will not be required to do any work for the district.
“She’s agreed to handing me her resignation letter,” said school board President Mario Sicari. “She will not have anything to do with the district.”” (Gartland, Bergen Record)
IN ESSEX COUNTY
“Louie Allen, a former FBI agent who took over as chief of investigations in the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office three years ago, is resigning to take a government job in New York state.
Allen, 60, said he plans to leave the prosecutor’s office at the end of next month and will be joining New York state’s Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities as director of internal affairs and head of investigations in early October.” (Sterling, Star-Ledger)
IN CAPE MAY COUNTY
“All those summer visitors with flip-flops and sunburns have helped Cape May County get more money to fight terrorism and respond to disasters.
This year, the state’s southernmost county will receive a larger percentage of federal Homeland Security funding.
The state, which distributes that money to its 21 counties, decided to use a formula that includes summer populations.
This more than tripled the county’s funding this year to $550,682, up from about $138,000 last year, county Administrator Stephen O’Connor said Tuesday.” (Ianieri, Press of Atlantic City)
“To Mayor Jim Begley, the public opposition to his recent hiring of a controversial new public safety director is rooted more in political bickering than in a legitimate concern about municipal overspending.
On Tuesday, Begley defended the $70,000 annual salary that Lanuel Ferguson, a retired State Police major, will earn for his full-time job as the administrative head of the city’s police, fire and rescue operations.
He also said that Ferguson, who came on board early last month, has already saved the city enough money to pay his salary three times over.
“He’s already paid for himself,” Begley said, referring to Ferguson’s suggestion that the Police Department upgrade its departmental Geographical Informational System, at a cost of about $40,000, rather than go along with a previously approved plan to buy an entirely new system for $250,000.
“Right then, (Ferguson) just saved us his salary and then some.”” (Martins, Press of Atlantic City)
EDISON BEATS EINSTEIN
“When it comes to picking New Jersey’s greatest genius, the Wizard of Menlo Park tops the Father of Relativity, according to a poll released yesterday.
New Jersey has been home to many noted scientists and inventors. But yesterday’s Monmouth University/New Jersey Monthly Poll found that 48 percent consider Thomas Edison the state’s “biggest brain,” compared with 37 percent for Albert Einstein and 3 percent for others; 12 percent couldn’t decide……………..
The poll also found that more than 80 percent of New Jersey residents said high-tech industries were important for the state, with 52 percent saying that having such industries has been very important for New Jersey’s economic health.
Nearly identical percentages said the same about high-tech industry’s impact on the state’s daily quality of life. ” (Hester, AP)