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Clinton will come to Dem convention, but not other candidates, New Jersey politicians refund Hsu contributions, Pennacchio gets angry over Estabrook NJN spot, McGettigan did not use racial slur in demeaning way, Moran: Chertoff the right man for the AG job but probably won’t get it.



“When lawmakers moved the state's presidential primary up to Feb. 5, they were certain it would increase New Jersey's prominence in the campaign.

That hasn't happened.

Five months ahead of that new, early primary, few of the major-party candidates have made more than one or two campaign visits to the Garden State, and most of those have been brief stopovers to raise campaign funds, often en route to other places.

State Democratic Party leaders got a healthy dose of that reality this week as they planned their state committee's annual conference next week in Atlantic City.

Although the Democrats have trumpeted a scheduled luncheon speech by front-running New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, party officials and aides to Gov. Jon Corzine acknowledged yesterday that it took a personal phone call by the governor to persuade Clinton to appear……………

Other major Democratic candidates, including Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, North Carolina's John Edwards and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, declined invitations. Several others have yet to respond one way or another, state party chairman Joseph Cryan said.

Cryan, an assemblyman from Union County, said he was "disappointed" by the lack of interest by the campaigns in the state's biggest Democratic event.

But, Cryan added, "At least people next week will get a chance to hear a candidate on the issues, not just attend some fundraiser."” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)



“Some top New Jersey Democrats scrambled yesterday to divest themselves of at least $51,000 in campaign contributions from a donor whose fugitive status also caused embarrassment this week for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Representatives of Gov. Jon Corzine and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said they were refunding contributions or making donations to charity, to rid themselves of cash from Norman Hsu. The New York businessman, a major political donor since 2004, is facing arrest in California for a 1991 crime.

Hsu sent $1,000 checks to Lautenberg's re-election fund in March, and Corzine's gubernatorial fund-raising account in June 2005.

The New Jersey Democratic State Committee yesterday was pondering what to do with money from Hsu. With $592,000 in its accounts as of mid-July, the state committee faces a big financial hit if it returns $49,000 Hsu provided between October 2005 and June of this year.

"The chairman wants to review all the information in consultation with the legal and compliance staff," spokesman Richard McGrath said. "Campaign finance laws can be complex. We want to do the right thing, but we want to make sure we do it the right way."

Hsu's campaign donations became a source of political embarrassment for Democrats across the country this week, particularly for Clinton. Her campaign announced it would donate to charity $23,000 in donations from Hsu, one of her top fundraisers.”………….

New Jersey candidates or fund-raising committees have been forced to disgorge tainted campaign money in the past. For instance, in 1997, the New Jersey Republican State Committee returned $18,100 in political donations from an Essex County businessman who had been convicted of bank fraud.

A similar embarrassment occurred three years ago when Corzine, Clinton, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, then-Rep. Robert Menendez and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were among those forced to return at least $150,000 in donations by developer Charles Kushner that were deemed illegal by the Federal Election Commission. (Donohue, Star-Ledger)”



“Questioning why the state needs to fund a public television station at all, Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio wants the New Jersey Network to launch an internal investigation of their decision to feature Anne Evans Estabrook on a 60-second public service announcement that has aired about forty times over the last few months.

The Morris County Republican also says Estabrook should resign her position as a Trustee of the NJN Foundation while she is mulling a bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Pennacchio is also thinking about running.

“I thought it was basically a faux pas. But you know what, I don’t think it’s been explained by NJN to myself or the taxpayers,” said Pennacchio…………..

“She gave a biographical sketch of herself. Why was that necessary for the documentary? Who made the decision to put her on the air?” asked Pennacchio. “Maybe she may want to consider reimbursing the taxpayers for nothing else other than her biographical promotion.”……………

NJN spokeswoman Ronnie Weyl said yesterday that the spot was in keeping with “information spots,” or “VIP spots” that the network often produces with members of its foundation board, which usually follow a similar format format. Estabrook did not ask to do the spot, but was asked by NJN producers because she hosted a fundraiser on behalf of the Jerry Herman documentary that she promoted. The network asked several other board members to participate in similar spots……………

Estabrook said the whole episode is “much ado about nothing,” and that she had met with the foundation board as well as several other non-profit boards she belongs to when she decided to explore running for Senate. Estabrook, who has been publicly exploring a Senate bid since January, said that she was asked to do this spot in March by NJN Executive Director Elizabeth Christopherson.

“Why didn’t Joe Pennacchio call me and discuss this?” asked Estabrook. “I stand by my position that the NJN public service announcement is not a political piece. I did not ask them. They asked me as one of the members of the board of trustees to do it.” (Friedman,



“”A video obtained by The Press of Atlantic City of a disputed use of an ethnic slur does not show Democratic County Executive candidate Jim McGettigan using the term “wetback” to describe any group, as alleged by Republican opponents.

A candidate forum earlier this week sparked Republican accusations that McGettigan used the slur and demands that he apologize. McGettigan, the county's sheriff, said he only repeated the racial slur, originally made by an audience member when asking a question about illegal immigrants, to clarify the issue and his response.

Incumbent Republican Executive Dennis Levinson is correct that McGettigan did not criticize the use of the term. He also claimed not to know its current meaning. But the video does not show McGettigan using the term to disparage any group.

Audience member: Sheriff, I have this statement for you: I bring my wife over to the motor vehicles, right, to get her license. They want a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, all this other kind of stuff. And these, uh, I don't want to say it, but my age is older, so we call them wetbacks. They come in here with no license, no insurance and I want to know, can you lock him up?

McGettigan: There are new guidelines for police agencies and sheriff's offices and state police when they're stopping vehicles who do something outside of the law…Now, the Attorney General's guidelines ask (officers) to tread lightly because you don't want to violate anyone's civil rights. Just because you are of (points to himself) Irish decent does not mean I just came over on the latest boat from Ireland and I'm now a potato smuggler. So, you have to be very, very careful in how you approach people, and here's the question: Are you here legally in the United States of America? Period. Now, how you answer that question is basically yes or no… So, (the officer's) judgment is going to be called into order here, whether you believe this person to be a naturalized citizen, a visiting citizen, here on a visa. But the question is: are you here legally. Now, you asked me can I arrest some quote, unquote wetback.

McGettigan: Wetbacks, as far as we were concerned, meant somebody that was just new into the country. I don't know what the term means today.

Levinson: It's a pejorative term.

Audience member: It's not a slander; people make a slander out of it.

McGettigan (responding to Levinson): The Bajorans? Weren't they on Star Trek?” (Clark Press of Atlantic City)



“The latest signals coming from Washington indicate that Michael Chertoff is not likely to be appointed as the replacement for disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

That's the word that senior White House officials are whispering to the media, and what most people close to the Bush administration are predicting.

And if it's true, it's a pity. Be cause Chertoff is probably the best person on the planet for the job.

But politics is all about timing. And right now, the crippled Bush administration does not need to pick a fresh fight during a confirmation hearing.

The main problem with Chertoff is Hurricane Katrina. He was the man in charge when that storm hit the Gulf Coast two years ago. And if he's nominated, the TV networks will rush to their archives for footage of desperate people begging for help as they waited, day after day, in the filth and chaos at the Superdome. It was not this nation's proudest moment.

"Bush will not want a discussion about that," says U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from Paterson…………..

Okay, it's hard to feel sorry for Chertoff.

He's a member of the president's Cabinet. He was one of the administration's point men on the immigration fight, so he's a central player. He says he feels honored to be playing such a key role in the fight against terrorism.

But this job was never the perfect fit for him. He's more of a lawyer than a manager, and his friends says it's the top legal jobs that he really wants.” (Moran, Star-Ledger)



“Two months into his tenure, the new president of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey suffered a minor stroke this week, officials said yesterday.

William F. Owen Jr. 51, was admitted to University Hospital in Newark earlier this week and remained there in fair condition last night, UMDNJ spokeswoman Anna Farneski said.

Farneski declined to release details about the circumstances of the stroke, including the day it took place and how long Owen was expected to be hospitalized.

"While still hospitalized, he is recovering well, fully alert and in good spirits," the school said in a statement e-mailed to the university community Wednesday. "Dr. Owen and his family wish to extend their deep appreciation for the exceptional work being done by the team at the hospital, as well as the expressions of concern and good wishes from throughout the community."……………

Owen started his $570,000-per-year job at UMDNJ on July 2. A physician specializing in renal medicine, or the treatment of the kidneys, he was hired in March from the University of Tennessee, where he served as chancellor of the Health Science Center.

Owen succeeded Bruce C. Vladeck, who served for more than a year as interim president following the ouster of John Petillo in February 2006. ” (Heinineger and Mueller, Star-Ledger)


“Former State Senate President Wesley L. Lance was buried Thursday "in the same Hunterdon County soil that so many of his ancestors farmed," in the words of his son, Senate Minority Leonard Lance, who eulogized his father in the Spruce Run Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church.

Lance, who was believed to be the oldest living former State Senator, died on Saturday. He was 99…………….

Delivering the eulogy on Thursday, Lance said his father was the product of a dual party home. The Lances were Democrats. The Smiths were Republicans, and though Wesley became a Republican in line with his mother’s side, he cultivated a spirit of bipartisanship in public life. Thrifty to a fault, he graduated from Hampton High School at fourteen, and later told his sons he had skipped so many grades because he had no intention of wasting the taxpayers’ money………………

In 1959, the elder Lance, again serving in the Senate, was elected Senate President, and developed a reputation for fair-handedness in working issues relating to anti-discrimination, redevelopment and urban rail transportation.

Twice married, the lifelong American League baseball fan Lance spent most of his life in the little Hunterdon County town of Glen Gardner, site of the church, called a "profoundly rural part of this state" by Leonard Lance.

The Senate Minority Leader said his father’s record as a teacher, coach, lawyer, assemblyman, senator, serviceman, judge, husband, father and grandfather reflected the best of the 20th Century.” (Pizarro,



“When Frank X. Herbert was asked to run for the 25th district state Senate seat, he knew it was just to fill the Democratic slot on the ticket. Still, the former state Senator from Bergen County said he was excited at the prospect of running for office again.

But three weeks after signing on, Herbert, 76, was diagnosed with benign hypertrophy in his prostate.

“I spent the whole month of April with hoses up my yinyang,” said Herbert. Then his wife started having health problems, and then he fell in his garage, injuring his right thumb. Just today he went to the dentist for a root amputation of one of his teeth, coming back with a mouthful of sponges.

“It’s like the troubles of Job,” said Herbert, who’s anxious to start campaigning after being “stuck in sand” with bad luck over the last few months.

Herbert, who served one term representing district 39, has been around the state’s political scene long enough to be realistic about his chances against incumbent state Senator Anthony Bucco in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-1. But Herbert has also been around long enough to know that freak occurrences do happen in politics.

“You’re probably saying ‘Is this guy crazy? How comes he’s running?” said Herbert. “Well, I’ve done it before.”” (Friedman,



“Bergen County Democratic Organization lawyer Dennis Oury has a friend in Steve Lonegan.

Lonegan, the outspoken conservative mayor of Bogota and contributor, said he plans to join Oury in a lawsuit against the state’s pay-to-play laws.

“I believe in unlimited contributions and full disclosure, and if the people don’t like it they’ll vote you out of office,” said Lonegan. “We don’t need government bureaucrats telling us what’s right and wrong.”

Oury recently told The Bergen Record’s Charles Stile that he planned to file a lawsuit asking the court to strike down the state’s two-year-old pay to play laws, which limit contributions from contractors.

the 2005 GOP gubernatorial candidate analogized Republicans taking up pay to play legislation to Ronald Reagan capitulating to the Soviet Union and engaging in disarmament rather than building up the military. The pay-to-play issue, he said, is a “political diversion” meant to take attention away from high taxes and government spending – something he said is only partially brought about by corruption, of which pay-to-play is just one part.

Lonegan said he isn’t particularly close with Oury, but was willing to join him either as a Co-plaintiff or by filing an amicus brief.” (Friedman,


“The Evesham school board last night voted 7-1 to stop showing third graders a controversial educational video that includes depictions of families headed by same-sex couples.

The vote came after a committee of scholars and educators, appointed by the board to review the issue, recommended keeping the video in the curriculum, but showing it to fourth graders, instead of to third graders, as had been done.

But after a number of board members spoke against the film, the board did away with the video, called That's a Family, altogether.

The half-hour video shows children explaining their various family structures, including those with mixed-race couples and divorced, single and adoptive parents.

Jeanne Smith, a spokeswoman for the board, said: "The opinions expressed by members of the board against the video dealt with their worry that the video had become so divisive that it would continue to inflame the district and that there would be no healing."

In a survey of the issue, district parents were split nearly half and half on the issue, she said.

Reacting to last night's vote, Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay civil rights group Garden State Equality, said: "It's very likely that we in the civil rights community will take legal action to have the committee's recommendation to show this film enforced. We believe the board's actions are illegal.

Evesham started showing the video last school year as part of a state-mandated health curriculum, which requires students to "identify different kinds of families and explain that families may differ for many reasons."

The segment of That's a Family on same-sex couples, however, drew the ire of many parents who objected to their children learning about homosexuality in schools.” (Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer)



“Tomorrow is the deadline for the state's education commissioner to let Jersey City schools chief Charles T. Epps Jr. know if she wants to renew his contract.

But Epps was mum yesterday on the issue and a spokeswoman for the Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy had no information.

According to Epps's latest three-year contract, which expires June 30, Davy is obligated to notify Epps in writing by Sept. 1 if "she desires to renew this agreement for an additional period of time."……………

Appointed to run the state's second-largest school district seven years ago, Epps, 63, is paid $230,000 a year. Epps hauls in another $49,000 a year as a state assemblyman in the 31st District.

Complicating the matter of Epps's contract is the state's recent decision to return governance powers of the nation's longest-running state-takeover district to the local school board.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)



“The quarrel over who will pick up Gerald McCann's $56,000 legal bill is over. The insurance company for the Jersey City school district has agreed to pay it, an official announced yesterday.

McCann, a former Jersey City mayor, hit the Board of Ed with the head-spinning bill last month.

The amount represents what McCann's says he's been billed by his attorney and private investigator to help defend his election to the school board in April after his victory was challenged in court by the fourth-place finisher. The challenge was eventually dropped.

McCann argued that since he was a sworn board member when the court case was filed, he's "indemnified" by the Board of Ed, meaning the school district is on the hook for his legal expenses. Charlotte Kitler, the district's legal counsel, agreed.

Yesterday, district spokesman Gerard Crisonino said the board's insurance carrier has agreed to pay the bill. The matter therefore won't go before the board for a vote, he said. ” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)


“New Jerseyans are used to air-travel aggravation. Newark Liberty International Airport had the nation's worst on-time arrival record of any major airport last year and the third worst for getting planes off on-time. New Jersey's smaller airports aren't much better.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to help passengers battling such frustrations.

Assemblyman Sam Thompson plans to introduce legislation creating a bill of rights for Garden State airline passengers.

"We have seen too many instances in recent months where airlines failed to provide passengers with the basic courtesies," said Thompson, R-Monmouth.

New York earlier this month became the first state with an airline passenger bill of rights. The measure signed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer requires airlines to provide food, water, clean toilets and fresher air to passengers stuck on tarmacs for more than three hours………….

Thompson said his proposal would be modeled after New York's law. He said he will introduce it when the Legislature reconvenes.” (AP)



“If a proposed merger between Paterson's and Passaic County's health departments goes through, health officers in other towns worry that services they get from both agencies will suffer. They also complain that the city and the county have left them out of the planning process.

They also complain that the city and the county have left them out of the planning process.

Health officers for seven towns wrote a letter to the county three months ago questioning how the deal would affect services. The officers for Clifton, Passaic, Pompton Lakes, Ringwood, Wanaque, Wayne and West Milford say they have gotten no response to their questions

The health officers and other officials in the seven towns seem most concerned that Paterson would grab the bulk of a merged department's attention at their expense.

"I would think that what would happen is Paterson would get the lion's share of the services because they are the biggest community in Passaic County and have most of the environmental and public health concerns and needs," said Clifton City Manager Al Greco. "I think the other communities would be shortchanged."” (Kindergan, Herald News)



“New Jersey's failure to develop a new system to rank the state's most contaminated sites by priority has contributed to tragedies like the Kiddie Kollege fiasco in which dozens of children were exposed to mercury at a South Jersey daycare facility, according to an environmental watchdog group.

"For a generation, the mantra of "worst first" has guided our approach to addressing New Jersey's profound toxic legacy," said New Jersey Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility director Bill Wolfe, a former Department of Environmental Protection analyst. "New Jersey cannot have a responsible toxic cleanup program if our DEP insists on flying blind."

ast summer, parents whose children attended the Kiddie Kollege daycare in Gloucester County discovered their children were exposed to mercury at a facility that once served as the Accutherm thermometer factory.

Wolfe said a functional ranking system to decide which New Jersey sites should be cleaned first would have raised a red flag at the site, as well as safeguard residents across the state from future environmental catastrophes.

"If DEP had a priority list based on risk, it would reflect the fact that mercury is a priority and severe neurotoxin," he said. ” (Graber, Express-Times)



“The state's criminal investigation of Hoboken's top construction code official has now expanded to a neighboring town after the state Attorney General's Office issued a subpoena for records from Weehawken's Building Department earlier this week, The Jersey Journal has learned.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office ordered Weehawken's Building Department to turn over documents related to its oversight of construction projects in neighboring Hoboken dating back to 1990, according to Weehawken municipal attorney Rick Venino.

Hoboken's construction code official, Al Arezzo – who owns or has an interest in at least four properties in Hoboken – asks the Weehawken's Building Department to oversee projects where he has a financial interest in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

The Weehawken subpoena came a day after two officers from the State Police's Organized Crime Unit made a surprise visit to Hoboken City Hall, issuing several subpoenas and leaving with scores of documents.

Weehawken's top construction code official, Frank Tattoli, said yesterday that he inspected "three or four" of Arezzo's projects in recent years, mentioning a property on the 600 block of Willow Avenue as an example before declining to provide the other addresses…………….

Tattoli, a lifelong plumber, and his family have business ties in Hoboken, but Tattoli said yesterday that he stopped his "personal involvement" with his family's business in 2001, shortly after he took the job in Weehawken.” (Renshaw, Jersey Journal)



“Mayors from across South Jersey are being invited to participate in a cook-off that promotes healthy eating.

The "Mayors Healthy Cook-Off" is at 5 p.m. Oct. 2 at the RiverWinds Community Center in West Deptford. About two dozen mayors are expected to participate.

About two dozen mayors are expected to participate. A few have already signed up to compete, including Gwendolyn Faison of Camden, Mike Koestler of Harrison, Gary Giberson of Port Republic and Joe Chila of Woolwich.” (Courier-Post)



“In one of the first enforcement cases of the Highlands statute, a notice of violation has been issued to the developer of the proposed Liberty Square mall in Independence Township, Warren County.

Developer Liberty Square 517 LLC missed an Aug. 10 deadline to build a foundation on the project in the strict Highlands preservation area, and a cease-and-desist order has been issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection, officials said.

The commercial development on Route 517 across from the Quick Chek was to include a bank, pharmacy and multistore strip mall. Two of the nine acres for the project had been cleared.

"The message to me is that we are serious about enforcing the provisions of the Highlands regulations," Scott Brubaker, chief of the DEP's Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement, said yesterday. ” (Frassinelli, Star-Ledger)


“GOP mayoral hopeful John Bencivengo has chal lenged his opponent, Democratic incumbent eGlen Gilmor, to a se ries of debates to be held throughout the township. Bencivengo proposed a series of 10 debates, one each week until election day.

Bencivengo proposed a series of 10 debates, one each week until election day. The challenger proposed the debates focus on issues facing taxpayers including taxes, fiscal management, Klockner Woods, development, open space, the transit village, public safety, employee relations and ethics.

Bencivengo said he hopes the debates can be sponsored by civic groups in the township. Gilmore could not be reached immediately for comment.” (Trenton Times)




MORRISTOWN — It's been about 227 years since George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette were in town, but now they've returned.

Life-sized statues of the three key players in the Revolutionary War were placed on the Green Thursday as part of a $1 million project to renovate the town's centerpiece.

"They're marvelous," Glenn Coutts, president of the Trustees of the Morristown Green, said about the bronze statues.

Others, however, will have to wait to gaze upon the countenance of the historic figures. The statues will remain wrapped in fabric until they are unveiled at a ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 10 to dedicate the entire Green renovation.” (Daily Record)



“Two brothers sacked from their grocery jobs for filming a gangster rap parody at the store now face a defamation lawsuit from their former employer.

A&P claims the video by Mark and Matthew D'Avella motivated at least one "disgusted and distressed" customer to boycott the supermarket because of the video's "repulsive acts."

The Montvale-based chain seeks at least $1 million in compensation and demands that the D'Avellas remove "Produce Paradise" from the Internet, where it was on their Web site,, and YouTube.

The company asserts that the video "contains numerous false and defamatory statements that are injurious to the reputation and livelihood of A&P."

The 4-minute, 16-second video features the two college students in baseball caps, rapping as they handle fruits and vegetables in different parts of a grocery store. The language includes two common vulgarities and some sexual innuendo.

The brothers — styling themselves as a group called Fresh Beets — hit each other in the crotch with beets at one point, and stand with bananas suggestively hanging out of their pants at another. They briefly appear with their pants at their ankles (wearing boxers). One pretends to urinate on some greens.” “(Gold, AP)



“I grew up loving the A&P. They gave you Plaid Stamps. They ground coffee beans right in front of you. So I just don't get why the A&P of my youth has traded in its noble Atlantic and Pacific roots for D&G, David and Goliath.

The Montvale-based chain is suing two New Jersey brothers who made a gangster rap parody inside an A&P, where the two used to work. Yes, used to work. The two college students have been canned for their veggie/fruit video: "Produce Paradise."

The firing of the veggie rappers is legitimate. If A&P brass were not aware of the filming inside one of their stores, firing the employees appears to be a justifiable response. What isn't so justifiable is the chain's decision to sue Mark and Matthew D'Avella for at least $1 million. That's a lot of greens.

A&P claims the video "contains numerous false and defamatory statements that are injurious to the reputation and livelihood of A&P." That's a bit much……………

Yes, there are off-color moments. A scene where it appears one of the young men is passing his water on leafy greens is not a positive depiction of employee behavior. But this is a riff on rap, not a rap on a supermarket. The repeated tag in the lyrics is: "It's all about the produce, produce, we don't like to kid. It's the lower-middle portion of the food pyramid."………….

It's funny at times. It's sophomoric at times. It's harmless. It's broccoli rap…………

Also worth noting, the brothers' father is the produce manager of the Hunterdon County store where the video was shot. A&P should have fired the employees and left it at that. The video is now getting plenty of attention solely because of the defamation lawsuit.” (Doblin, Bergen Record)

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