Today’s news from

Tom Moran on Carla Katz scandal, some Passaic County Democrats protest lack of transparency in Elease Evans Assembly selection, interesting dynamics in district 29 state Senate race, experts say Romney has little to no shot of carrying NJ against a Democrat.


“This Carla Katz saga is like a mosquito that keeps dive bombing your ear as you try to sleep.

It's not much of a scandal, at least not so far. No one committed any crimes. And in New Jersey these days, that counts for something.

But the Katz story is packed full of secrets, and money, and gargantuan conflicts of interest. And thanks to the governor's stonewalling, the truth will dribble out slowly and torturously, draining away one more drop of his credibility each day.

If there is a rational strategy behind that, it's well-hidden.

The latest twist concerns the secret back-channel negotiations that apparently took place between Katz, the union leader, and the governor during last year's contract talks.

Remember that the governor gave Katz wheelbarrows full of cash when their romance ended before he took office. And remember that the governor told us to ignore this profound conflict of interest because these two would not personally negotiate the contract covering state workers.

So if there was a back channel to these talks, that's a big deal. It puts Katz's conflict of interest into hyper drive. ” (Moran, Star-Ledger)



“A small group of Passaic County Democrats are questioning the transparency of the selection process in naming Elease Evans to finish the Rev. Alfred E. Steele's term as a state assemblyman and replace his name on the November ballot.

A group of Paterson committee members, some of whom did not want to be identified, said they were disappointed that they were not given the chance to meet the four candidates Chairman John Currie and the executive committee considered. Instead, they said, that committee presented its recommendation and stifled any debate on the issue.

"I think that the County Committee past and present has supported the chairman; however, I think most members felt that Saturday's meeting could have been more democratic," said Kisha Manning, vice chairman of the city's Board of Adjustment.

Currie and other members of the executive committee defended the process, saying everyone had a chance to vote the recommendation up or down in an open-room hand vote. Still, others objected to being force-fed a recommendation without any open debate or public examination of the candidates' qualifications.

"I don't know what the bylaws said because I don't have the bylaws with me, but I was expecting a drawn-out process where the County Committee heard from the candidates," said Juan Jiminez, a former Paterson Board of Education member.” (MacInnes, Herald News)



“Running in a crouch familiar to old-timey Newark sports fans, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., heads out onto the grass – and this time approaches a half circle of women who have stationed themselves outside his press conference at the Turtle Back Zoo. They’re protesting his decision to allow a deer hunt early next year in the South Mountain Reservation.

"I don’t like guns, but I have no choice," he tells them. "We’ve tried trap and transfer. We’ve tried birth control. Nothing works. We have to reduce the deer population."

It’s a classic constituency-versus-elected official showdown, and DiVincenzo argues a little longer, before he again climbs into his car, in pursuit of the next and the next and the next event……………

Not facing his own third term re-election bid until 2010, DiVincenzo unavoidably remains a protagonist in this election cycle, as two of the three candidates in Newark’s contentious District 29 Senate race work as his deputy chiefs of staff: M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblyman William Payne, both on administrative leave without pay until after the campaign. A third candidate, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, is running as the anti-establishment pick.

DiVincenzo has endorsed Ruiz, the Democratic nominee whom the executive regards as one of the ascending stars of the party in Newark…………..

The party-backed presence of Ruiz forces the 74-year old Payne into a last stand scenario similar to what Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo faced as he went down fighting for re-election in the June primary. Rather than go out as Caraballo did, however, Payne chose to file as an independent. Now he hopes the participation in this race of Quintana, 47, will drain votes from Ruiz in the Latino-heavy North Ward and enable Payne to lock up the mostly African-American South Ward.” (Pizarro,



“There may have been a time when Mitt Romney would have appealed to New Jersey voters, even potentially carrying the state against a Democrat in the presidential election.

Not any more, says a group of academics who monitor New Jersey campaigns.

While the pundits say Rudy Giuliani has a good chance to carry New Jersey – two independent polls have him leading all of the Democratic contenders — they say that Romney can't win a state that has gone Democratic in the last four presidential elections.

Romney was, by most accounts, a socially moderate governor of Massachusetts. He was pro-choice, pro-stem cell research and touted a strong record in support of gay rights. But during the latter part of his term, perhaps when his mind started to wander to the White House, those stances changed. And since his campaign began, he’s moved even further to the right, cooling off on gay rights issues, declaring his support for overturning Roe v. Wade, joining the NRA and opposing the types of stem cell research that he once championed.

“I think he'd be a very strong candidate in New Jersey, and he’s showed that in Massachusetts,” said Republican Assembly candidate Jay Webber, who sits on Romney’s recently created New Jersey Steering Committee. “This is a Republican governor of a very blue state, and he demonstrated an ability to communicate with voters in the northeast and advance Republican principles while winning elections in a though environment. There’s no reason to think he can't do that in New Jersey.”

It’s relatively common for blue states to elect Republican governors and vice-versa, while continuing to vote for a president along traditional ideological lines. But Romney’s shift to the right makes it difficult to endear him to voters in a state that hasn't cast its electoral votes for a Republican presidential candidate since George H. W. Bush in 1988.

“It’s hard to know how his candidacy will play out, but certainly his move to go back to a more conservative stance does not bode well for taking New Jersey,” said Ingrid Reed, a political analyst at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.” (Friedman,



Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will visit Cape May on Oct. 1 to campaign and raise money for Republican tickets in the 1st Legislative District and Cape May County.

The former New York mayor will attend a fundraiser at historic Congress Hall. The appearance will boost the campaigns of state Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and his Assembly running mates, Norris Clark and Michael Donohue.

"This will be an excellent opportunity for them to contrast themselves to their opponents' support for Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton," said David Von Savage, Cape May County Republican chairman.

Details of the event were not yet fleshed out Tuesday; Giuliani had committed to the visit that morning. But any money raised will stay in the 1st District. Giuliani will not be raising money for his campaign.

Von Savage said he hopes Giuliani will address the general public on the lawn of Congress Hall in addition to headlining the fundraiser inside, but that was not confirmed. It's also possible Giuliani will make other stops in the region and state.” (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)



Richard Strada, the Democratic candidate for Mayor in Toms River, wants the state Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate the circumstances surrounding the proposed purchase of property formerly known as Albocondo Campground by the Toms River Board of Education.

Strada said in a release: "The fact that (Ocean County Republican Chairman) George Gilmore represented Sandcastle, L.L.C. who bought the property just last year for $3 million dollars and is now poised to sell it for $7.7 million dollars to the school board whom Gilmore also represents sets off alarm bells."

The property in question when sold to Sandcastle was slated to provide 45-acres of open space along the Toms River for public enjoyment while allowing the construction of senior housing on a portion of the tract.

"Mr. Gilmore’s financial relationship to this tax-payer funded transaction and to those who stand to profit from it should be disclosed and scrutinized by law enforcement agencies" stated Strada, who served as Mayor in the 1970's.” (Pizarro,

“Gilmore has said he sees no conflict of interest in the situation because he no longer represents the developer. He said that when Sandcastle bought the tract, the school district hadn't shown any interest in it. He also said his firm is not representing the school board in its current dealings with the developer.

"How anybody can allege that there is anything improper or illegal is nothing but political rhetoric. I think Mr. Strada is showing his true colors — that he doesn't care who he attacks or what he says if he thinks it will help him politically in his quest to become mayor," Gilmore said.” (Kidd, Asbury Park Press)


Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew works the picnic tables with an easy charm.

"What's the deal here? Five women and a guy?" he asks Tony Amand, who is enjoying his company and his beer.

"Let me say, I was raised right," Amand answers with a Johnny Carson-style deadpan. Then he raises his plastic cup. "Thank you for all you've done for us," Amand tells Van Drew.

The picnic is in Dennis Township, one of the few Democratic strongholds in Republican-dominated Cape May County. Van Drew, a longtime Democrat, looks like a guy campaigning in his own backyard. And that's because he is.

It's his ninth annual barbecue pig roast. It's a day for pork sandwiches, hot dogs, beer, wine and some conversation with a few hundred neighbors, spread out over an acre of grass alongside a lake. This year's roast happens to come in the middle of Van Drew's Senate campaign, his biggest election since 1994 when the Democrat busted up a GOP monopoly by winning a seat on the Cape May County freeholder board.

Still, the event does not smell like politics. People seem to be having a genuinely good time.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)



“Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to remain hospitalized at least until tomorrow as he recuperates from surgery on his leg, his spokesman said yesterday.

Doctors earlier were hopeful that Corzine might be able to leave Cooper University Hospital in Camden as early as this afternoon, but press secretary Lilo Stainton said yesterday the governor's doctor wants to see how he fares once they remove an epidural catheter in his lower back and wound drains in his left thigh.

"There is some discomfort there, but I don't think it's anything unexpected," Stainton said. "The doctors have said he seems to be tolerating everything well."

Stainton also said there is no clear timeline for Corzine to resume his official duties.

"It's still up in the air," she said, adding that there was no pressing reason for the governor to take authority back from Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), who the governor believes is more than capable of serving as acting governor while he recovers. ” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)



Karen E. Golding, the woman for whom Gov. Jon Corzine posted bail last year when she was accused of stalking state Democratic Chairman Joseph Cryan, was in Superior Court, Morristown, on Tuesday on her latest charges of harassing Cryan's friends and relatives with phone calls.

The four petty disorderly persons offenses filed against Golding on March 28 have nothing to do with Morris County, but her case was transferred here from Union County because one of Golding's alleged victims is the wife of a Superior Court judge in Union County.

Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi also had a conflict in handling Golding's charges, so they are being prosecuted in Morristown by Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller……………..

A West Orange resident, Golding, 38, was charged in February 2006 with stalking Cryan in Union County and breaking into his vehicle in Trenton.

Corzine put up $5,000 to bail Golding, a lobbyist and financial analyst who had worked on his campaign for U.S. Senate, out of jail.” (Wright, Daily Record)



“A judge has declined to mandate new voting machines for New Jersey, agreeing the state should instead extend a Jan. 1 deadline for installing printers on 10,000 electronic voting machines.

Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg's decision on Monday means voters in February's presidential primary won't receive paper receipts to ensure their votes were cast properly.

In 2005, the Legislature required electronic voting machines to be fitted with printers by January to protect against vote-tampering and help with recounts. After voting electronically, voters would view printouts to ensure their ballots were properly cast.

But scientists at the New Jersey Institute of Technology found flaws with printers, and state Attorney General Anne Milgram decided to ask the Legislature to extend the deadline. The judge on Monday accepted that position but scheduled January hearings on whether the machines are constitutional.

Voting rights activists contend the machines are too vulnerable and want them replaced with devices that scan paper ballots.

State officials praised Feinberg's decision.

"She was very mindful of the practicalities of voting," Assistant Attorney General Donna Kelly told the Record of Bergen County. ” (AP)



“The state's leading gay rights group wants to appeal a decision by state environmental officials stripping a Methodist church group of tax exemption for part of the Ocean Grove boardwalk.

Garden State Equality feels the decision by state Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson does not go far enough in penalizing the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association for refusing to let same-sex couples hold civil union ceremonies in a boardwalk pavilion where heterosexual couples are allowed to wed.

The ruling was more symbolic than substantive: The actual tax impact to the church group is likely to be about $175 per year, according to the Neptune Township tax assessor.

"We're looking for a bigger victory here," said Steve Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group. "We have the symbolic victory of the state telling Ocean Grove they're wrong, but there is a bigger victory to be had by having the entire tax exemption removed. We're happy, but there's a lot more happiness to be had."

He said Garden State Equality's lawyers are researching the most effective way to appeal the decision and seek a court ruling to remove the entire exemption.

But Scott Hoffman, chief administrative officer of the association, issued a statement saying that he believes Jackson's decision "re-certifies over 99 percent of the land" for the group's tax exemption, and said its attorneys are reviewing the decision.” (Parry, AP)



“A controversial ordinance intended to punish employers and landlords who hire or house illegal immigrants would be too expensive to defend, Riverside officials said in voting to rescind the year-old law. The ordinance had never been enforced, and Monday night's 3-1 vote by the Riverside Township Committee put an end to it.

The ordinance had never been enforced, and Monday night's 3-1 vote by the Riverside Township Committee put an end to it.

Township officials said they could not afford the legal bills that would come with defending the law in court. Riverside already faces one lawsuit over the anti-illegal immigration ordinance, and a federal judge earlier this year found a similar ordinance in Hazleton, Pa., unconstitutional.

Officials estimated that nearly half the town's population of around 8,000 were illegal immigrants, and officials said the numbers were putting a strain on public services and already scarce parking spaces.

The law set fines of $1,000 on first-time offenders who knowingly hired or rented to illegal immigrants. That sparked protests, counterprotests and a lawsuit. ” (AP)



Gary Schaer's attempt to hire a special counsel to represent the City Council in the wake of the mayor's arrest in a statewide sting was thwarted by a city attorney's legal opinion.

On Tuesday, Councilman Gerry Fernandez said the city attorney looked at case law and advised against appointing a special counsel. Sheri Siegelbaum, the city attorney, refused Tuesday to comment for this story.

Fernandez said the council did not take a vote at a special meeting Monday called by Schaer, the council president, which ended within five minutes.” (Mandell, Herald News)



“A week before New Jersey's county clerks are due to send November's ballots to be printed, a conservative group filed suit Tuesday asking a judge to stop them because of a statewide public question that seeks approval to borrow $450 million for stem-cell research.

The suit, filed by the Morristown-based Legal Center for Defense of Life, says the wording of the question is unfair because it does not specify that embryonic stem-cell research will be included and because it implies that profits from the research will repay the bonds.

The suit also touches on traditional arguments against stem-cell research, such as human cloning, but Edward Gilhooly, the lawyer who filed the suit, said the filing raises legal questions beyond the moral debate over stem-cell research.

"The voters have to have an opportunity to vote on something they understand," Gilhooly said. "It's just not a moral issue. . . . There's so many other issues that are being withheld from the voters, especially this tax that's the biggie."

The plaintiffs include 15 individuals and New Jersey Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization, which had been raising the issues in the suit as the Legislature grappled with the bill that got the question on November's ballot.

"This bond act is a shameful breach of the public trust," Right to Life executive director Marie Tasy said.

Officials who supported the measure, in hopes that the research will provide cures for diseases and a boost to the state's economy, scoffed.

"This lawsuit raises no legal issues. It appears to be a political and ideological statement, rather than a legal argument," Corzine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said.” (Vople, Gannett)



“Heading into what are expected to be tight elections, Monmouth County Republican Party leaders have broken with longtime County Counsel Malcolm V. Carton, who had been one of the party's most prolific fundraisers. Carton has faced heavy criticism for billing the county about $400,000 a year for legal work over the past decade.

Legal spending was a major issue in last year's elections, and Republicans lost a seat on the county freeholder board for the first time in more than 20 years. Two freeholder positions are at stake in the Nov. 6 election; if Democrats sweep, they take control.

Republican candidate Jeff Cantor, who is running with incumbent Robert D. Clifton for the two three-year terms, said Tuesday their campaign "absolutely" has distanced itself from Carton.

"Judging from his history, he's been extremely insubordinate and quite frankly I don't know what value he brings to the county," Cantor said.

However, in a change from past campaigns, the Democratic candidates say they are receptive to at least considering Carton should he seek another three-year reappointment as the county's lead attorney in 2009.” (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)



“Detectives in Norfolk, Va., have identified a suspect in the May 1 killing of Belvidere Mayor Charles Liegel's son. U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Charles Liegel Jr. was killed before a fire destroyed his Norfolk condominium, authorities have reported.

Norfolk Police Department spokesman Christopher Amos on Tuesday said investigators will bring their findings to prosecutors in about a week to see if there is enough evidence to charge the individual. Amos would not identify the suspect.

"(Investigators) have their sights on a person," he said.” (Quigley, Express-Times)



“As a young man in the mid-1960s, Michael Mukasey faced a choice: remain a reporter in Newark or seek a career in the law.

More than four decades later, his law degree from Yale has paid its biggest return, with a nomination to become the next attorney general of the United States.

After hearing the news, his old press boss said Mukasey would have done very well in journalism, too.” (AP)



“An East Orange municipal court judge has been charged with misconduct for dismissing a traffic ticket for an Essex County assistant prosecutor and then waiving court costs against the advice of a municipal prosecutor.

Sybil Elias, who sits part time as a municipal judge in East Orange and Irvington, dismissed a traffic ticket issued by the East Orange Police Department to Assistant Prosecutor Patrice Davis, according to a formal complaint by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the state Supreme Court.

The complaint said that Elias and Davis were friends. Elias could not be reached for comment.

"In light of the respondent's re lationship with Ms. Davis, the respondent should have immediately disqualified herself from presiding over any matters involving Ms. Davis and to avoid the appearance of impropriety the respondent should have had any and all mat ters involving Ms. Davis transferred to another municipal court judge," the complaint said.

Despite their friendship, Elias presided over a municipal court matter Dec.1, involving Davis, the complaint said.” (Roberts, Star-Ledger)



“In its first act as a newly empowered board, the Jersey City Board of Education is set to publicly endorse a new three-year contract for Charles T. Epps Jr., the district's state-appointed schools chief for the past seven years.

In what's likely to be 9-0 vote, the board plans to pass a resolution supporting a new three-year deal with Epps, 63, at its meeting tomorrow night, several board members confirmed yesterday.

"In Dr. Epps, and in all his staff, I see an energetic, professional team," said board member and former Mayor Anthony Cucci, voicing an opinion in sync with five of the six board members reached yesterday for comment.

"I feel very strongly if you set out looking for another possible superintendent, he (Epps) already possesses the professional attributes you are looking for, and he's homegrown."

Besides Cucci, board members Gerald McCann, Peter Donnelly, Terry Dehere and Angel Valentin all said signing Epps to a long-term contract was a good idea. Suzanne Mack, wouldn't comment, while Ed Cheatam and board chairman William DeRosa did not return several messages. Franklin Williams could not be reached. ” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)


he doesn’t capitalize his name

“Municipal leaders in New Jersey facing the high cost of repairing or replacing aging infrastructure should consider the risks of neglecting such issues based on lessons learned in Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, according to a visiting professor who spoke yesterday to a group of state leaders in New Brunswick.

The head of a research organization on race and ethnicity, john a. powell, who doesn't capitalize his name, said decision makers should invest in renovating existing infrastructure instead of solely focusing on redevelopment.

You must work regionally and cooperatively and think about where you make investments," said powell, of the Kirwan Institute at the Ohio State University. "The problem in New Orleans, where resources were unevenly distributed along racial lines, is not just a problem in New Orleans."

He spoke to about 20 members of New Jersey's First Suburbs Network, a group of leaders in older communities attempting to draw public and government attention to the problem of first suburbs. The nonprofit was created last year with the help of the Maplewood-based Fund for an OPEN Society and the Trenton-based New Jersey Regional Coalition.

Half of the state's population lives in first suburbs or their neighboring cities – including Edison, Highland Park, Bound Brook, Spotswood, West Orange, Glen Ridge, East Orange, Maplewood, Rahway, Franklin, Parsippany and more than 100 others.” (Quarooni, Star-Ledger)



“The Warren County Democratic Committee says Freeholder John DiMaio is sending out campaign literature on the taxpayer's dime.

The committee said it plans to file a complaint with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission over a county newsletter recently mailed to about 34,500 households. Democrats are calling the newsletter a clear-cut example of political propaganda.

"If an incumbent can use their office to publish campaign literature, he is at a tremendous advan tage to his opponent," chairman Michael Sedita said Tuesday.

DiMaio, who is a Republican, denied he sent campaign literature and called the piece an informative letter to citizens.

"This newsletter is something that's been planned for the last two years and budgeted this year," Di Maio said. "Nobody invented this for me."” (Satullo, Express-Times)



“It appears the annual dispute over the Cumberland County clerk's salary could stretch through Election Day once again.

Freeholders approved Thursday salaries for two of the three constitutional officers, Surrogate Art Marchand and Sheriff Mike Barruzza, after the two agreed to take smaller raises than they were legally entitled to.

But they did not set a salary for County Clerk Gloria Noto, who's been embroiled in salary disputes with Democratic freeholders for more than a decade.” (Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)



“The elements appeared to be in place for a heated political confrontation at the Township Council meeting Tuesday night.

In the afternoon, Democratic Mayor Daniel J. Kelly called for his opponent in the mayoral election to withdraw and give up his seat as council president.

It was a call quickly rejected by his challenger, Stephen C. Acropolis, who responded by calling on the mayor to resign and leave the race.

But it all ended with a whimper, not a bang.

Despite saying he would publicly ask Acropolis to leave the race because of news earlier this month that Acropolis had had a federal tax lien placed on his property, at the meeting Kelly addressed the matter only when questioned by Acropolis.

"Is there something you want to ask me, mayor?" Acropolis asked.

"Steve, will you resign?" Kelly replied.

"No. Mayor, will you resign?" Acropolis retorted.

"No," Kelly answered, and the council went on to other matters.” (Schweiger, Asbury Park Press)



“A former Little Egg Harbor fire commissioner is scheduled to be in Superior Court in Ocean County today for a pre-arraignment conference on charges that he pocketed the proceeds of raffle tickets he sold to benefit the Mystic Island Volunteer Fire Company.

The scheduled court appearance of Woodrow Nelson Jr., 50, of Pin Oak Lane, Little Egg Harbor, follows his arrest last week for failing to appear in court for a pre-arraignment conference. He was later released from jail after posting bail.

Nelson is one of three former or present commissioners for the Little Egg Harbor Fire District 2 who are under indictment. The fire district covers the Mystic Island section of the township.

Bruce Bahr, chairman of the fire district's board of commissioners, said he removed Nelson from the board last year upon learning he wasn't living in the district at that time. Nelson had only served on the board a few months after being appointed to fill a vacancy for the remainder of the year, but had been a volunteer firefighter for about 10 years, Bahr said.” (Hopkins, Asbury Park Press)



“Former Jackson Mayor Mike Kafton and the Jackson Township Committee have a difference of opinion as to whether former Judge Eugene Serpentelli will be pro- or anti-development when he serves as mediator in an upcoming Jackson housing development lawsuit.

Jackson has hired Benchmark Resolution Services LLC to mediate a lawsuit filed against the township by a building developer because the firm's mediator will be Serpentelli.” (McConville, Asbury Park Press)



“FRENCHTOWN | The superintendent of the Delaware Valley Regional High School District has been suspended over allegations of financial misconduct.

The school board voted during a special Monday night meeting to continue Robert. P. Walsh's suspension, which began Sept. 11 when the allegations were forwarded to the board's attorney, board President Leslie Callanan said Tuesday.

Walsh, who was acquitted in 1997 of swindling from another district, is suspended with pay while the investigation continues.

Callanan declined to identify the accuser but did say it was not an anonymous tip. In response, the board's auditor examined the "credible allegations" of unauthorized spending of district money and other financial improprieties, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the board.

"The auditor certainly felt there was enough information to proceed with forwarding the allegations to the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office," Callanan said. ” (Satullo, Express-Times)


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