Today’s news from

New Jersey Republicans roll out new (or old) platform, Hackett speaks in Orange, Hackett replacement has no comments, Fulop’s mayoral aspirations, one truly competitive seat in the 14th district.


“New Jersey Republicans say they’re offering voters a “Choice for Change” in this year’s election, but Senate President Richard Codey said that they’re stuck in 1991.

The Republicans today outlined a platform that they hope will propel them to legislative majorities come November. If a Republican majority is elected, the party will pledge to cut $1 billion from the state budget, make it easier to recall elected officials and oppose any raise in taxes and toughen anti-corruption measures.

The GOP would also “let the people decide” whether to cap state spending at the rate of inflation, require a 2/3 supermajority to pass any tax increases and change the school aid formula.

All of this by July 4, 2008.

"This is the most aggressive reform agenda ever offered during a legislative campaign in New Jersey,” said Republican State Chairman Tom Wilson………………

Codey says that the Republicans were living in the past, using the same platform that the party used in 1991. And, perhaps in a New Jersey first, he analogized the Republicans to Britney Spears.

“This is the same platform the Republicans ran on sixteen years ago. History shows us that during the ten years they ran the statehouse, they did none of this,” said Codey. “Now all of a sudden they want to be reformers? That’s like saying Britney Spears is tired of partying and wants to be a cloistered nun,” said Codey, who noted that the Democrats had passed more than thirty ethics laws while in office. ” (Friedman,

The Republicans are hoping to crack the lock on the Legislature that the Democrats now hold with a 50-30 seat margin in the Assembly and a 22-18 seat majority in the Senate…………

Republicans said six years of Statehouse rule by Democrats have led to a string of corruption probes that have left the public cynical and disillusioned.

"Trenton has become dysfunctional," said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R-Hunter don). "New leadership is needed to enact the structural reforms necessary to make government responsive to the needs of all New Jersey residents."…………..

Some of these ideas were floated by Republicans when they were in control, but never went anywhere. For instance, Gov. Christie Whitman in 1998 proposed the super-majority for tax increases. Only a simple majority is required now. Whitman's idea received a cool reception from Republican leaders and never got past legislative committees. Republicans also twice failed to muster enough votes to pass initiative and referendum legislation in the 1980s and 1990s.

"The Republicans have already proven the only thing they know to do with promises is break them," said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), chairman of the Democratic State Committee.



“When Mims Hackett resigned his Assembly seat after he was arrested in a federal corruption probe nearly two weeks ago, he said he wanted to avoid "any distraction to his party's work for the people of the state."

For the residents of Orange, though, it's been a different story. Hackett's decision to continue serving as mayor has polarized city residents who turned out for a raucous, standing-room-only council meeting Tuesday evening that resulted in the arrest of one of the mayor's detractors.

About 10 Hackett supporters wore bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Don't listen to the lies. Say no to the lies and falsehoods. Continued progress with Mayor Mims Hackett."

More than a dozen critics si lently carried 8 1/2-by-11-inch pastel colored pieces of paper with expressions such as "Resign. Resign, Resign," "Once a Felon, Always a Felon" and "Crooks and Liars."

Speaking for the first time publicly about the allegations during the council meeting, Hackett declared his innocence and asked residents not to rush to judgment.

"I am presumed innocent," said Hackett, the city's mayor since 1996. "I look forward to the day when the facts can come to light in the appropriate legal forum, which I am confident I will be vindicated."

” (Dilworth, Star-Ledger)



Mila M. Jasey won a Special Election Convention to replace Mims Hackett in the State Assembly tonight, and promptly took the fifth. "No comment," she said, when asked if Hackett, who was arrested earlier this month on bribery charges, should resign his post as Mayor of Orange.

What about Gov. Jon Corzine? Should he release his email correspondence with his former girlfriend, CWA President Carla Katz? "No comment," Jasey said. "That wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on…………

The cynical subplot for some of the old Democratic Party operatives in the room — those very people lending their bodies to a standing ovation for Jasey — was that Codey’s pick is yet another Essex County political neophyte — to borrow a phrase from Assemblyman William Payne — unschooled in the trench warfare of Jersey politics.” (Pizarro,


“At the last Jersey City Municipal Council meeting, Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop did not get a warm reception. That’s not unusual for Fulop, who has been a consistent adversary of many Jersey City politicians since he was elected to the council in 2005.

But this time it was personal. Fulop had just introduced a resolution that would have banned dual public office holding, personal use of city vehicles and required former city officials to wait three years after leaving the city’s employment before they could lobby the city……………….

To his critics, Fulop, the 30-year-old Vice-President of Algorithmic Trading at Citigroup, is less a reformer than a grandstander. He’s a publicity hungry politician who will introduce idealistic measures to build up his name and grab a few headlines. But Fulop, while not denying a craving for the mayor’s seat, also has the ambition to change the political culture in Jersey City.” (Friedman,



“"We’re going to sweep in the 14th," boasts Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, of the GOP ticket comprised of Assemblyman/State Senate candidate Bill Baroni and running mates Tom Goodwin and Adam Bushman.

The prediction assumes that Baroni’s star power will be sufficient to catapult Goodwin and Bushman into the State Assembly — a bold statement given Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein’s reputation as a worker bee, and her four consecutive wins in a politically competitive district.

Following State Sen. Peter Inverso’s announcement last spring that he would not be pursuing re-election and Baroni’s same-day, union-backed vault into the race to be his successor, Greenstein dipped a toe into the senate scenery – her own poll had Baroni with a double-digit lead — and figured she’d do better to guard her own seat rather than get into a dogfight with her Republican rival.

Greenstein’s gut check prompted the Democrats to outfit newcomer and former state Ratepayer Advocate Seema Singh to be the Senate candidate. Cynics say Singh’s a sacrificial lamb. But the party believes the attorney is a rising star in a district where Indian-American voters are a fast-growing voting block. Singh competes, she’ll be able to compete again. It’s just unlikely that this time she’ll be able to knock off Baroni. (Pizarro,



Clara Nibot proudly promoted herself as the "Clean Election" candidate Wednesday, but by midday, her high-heel pumps were scuffed with dirt.

The 62-year-old political newcomer from Bergenfield spent the day navigating the narrow, dusty aisles at the Bergen County Senior Citizen Picnic in Paramus, her tinny soprano hoarse from pitching her populist, anti- corruption message above the blare of an off-key brass orchestra.

As lunch hour arrived, the underdog Republican candidate for state Senate in the 37th District seemed unfazed by the cacophony and the polite, confused looks from noncommittal seniors slathering their free sandwiches with mustard as she talked.

She had little choice. She needs to collect 400 donations of $10 each by Sept. 30 or lose the chance to receive $50,000 in taxpayer funds from the "Clean Elections" project, this year's good government experiment that is using taxpayer dollars to finance three legislative races. Her opponent, Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg, has already qualified for the $50,000 and says she and her running mates have 700 of the 800 donations they need to get the maximum of $100,000.

After a summer of stumping for small dollars, Nibot was still about 120 donations shy of her goal, and the "crunch time" was forcing her to be more direct.

"Give me your support, give me your $10, and I promise I will be the alternative,'' she said to Evelyn Bernstein and Roz Lynn, both of Teaneck. Nibot promised to take either one of them out to dinner if they became her 400th contributor. She left them with stamped envelopes, a return address emblazoned in bright Republican red………..

Nibot's struggles demonstrate the difficulties facing the Clean Elections program, which is being closely monitored by campaign finance watchdogs and Democratic legislative leaders eager for a public relations success after a series of corruption indictments over the past year.” (Stile, Bergen Record)


Republicans are taking the lead in the race for the next Atlantic County executive, at least when it comes to using technology to aid the campaign. Republican incumbent Dennis Levinson will soon send out a video e-mail – featuring what he called a "positive message" of his accomplishments in office – to voters in the county.

Atlantic County Republican Committee Chairman Keith Davis said the video e-mail will be "sent out pretty broadly to all segments of the voting population so they can listen to a personalized message" from Levinson.

Republicans will use existing e-mail lists, YouTube and the Atlantic County Republican Committee Web site to distribute the video e-mail, he said, and will rely on Levinson's "core supporters" to send the e-mail to friends. One targeted group includes "younger voters who rely on e-mail and the Internet for a lot of their political coverage," he said.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)


“While working as a court clerk for three South Jersey communities, Karen Smith of Franklin Township skimmed thousands of dollars from local funds.

In all, the 31-year-old made off with $8,675. She has pleaded guilty to a charge of official misconduct and agreed to repay the money she stole and another $7,600 doled out by one of the communities to conduct a "forensic" audit.

he money she stole and another $7,600 doled out by one of the communities to conduct a "forensic" audit.

In exchange for her guilty plea, Smith faces five years probation, must pay restitution in the amount of $16,275 and cannot hold public office in New Jersey again.

She must pay $10,661 to Elk, $5,107 to Fairfield Township in Cumberland County and $507 to Newfield.

"I think in the beginning it starts out with, I need $20,' and then it becomes easy," Elk Mayor Terry Ratzell said Wednesday. "It's sad. Unfortunately, that's society." ” (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)



Michele Rosen, a Democratic candidate in the 9th District Assembly race, is accusing her Republican opponents of being irresponsible for their support of legislation that would reduce the state's workforce by more than 10,000 jobs and of arrogance in regards to a ban on dual office holding.

This is a claim the Republicans – incumbent Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Ocean Township Mayor Daniel M. Van Pelt – called misinformed and devoid of anything useful to the residents of the 9th District. Rosen, of Ocean Township, is running with William Coulter of Barnegat.

Rosen's comments were in response to the Republicans' support of legislation that would attempt to cut state employee levels in the executive branch by attrition to the levels they were at in 2000 in order to save an estimated $1 billion a year over a four-year period.

According to Van Pelt, figures released by the Office of Legislative Services showed the executive branch increased by 10,869 jobs since 2000, which he said was the single greatest increase in any branch of state government during that stretch.

The purpose of the legislation, Rumpf said, would be to evaluate positions in the executive branch as they become available through attrition to see if the job needs to be filled or if someone doing a job that is not as necessary could be transferred into the role.” (Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)



“New Jersey once again has a representative on a congressional homeland security committee after Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. was appointed Wednesday to fill a vacancy.

Both Pascrell and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg served on their respective houses' homeland security committees before January.

Pascrell gave up his seat for the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, while Lautenberg, who had been angling for the homeland security chairmanship ultimately given to independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, took a slot on the Appropriations Committee.

Pascrell, D-Paterson, was told Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi he had been chosen to fill a seat Pelosi had intended to give to Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.

Jefferson was never named because Republicans had complained his pending indictment on bribery charges — the FBI found $90,000 in a freezer in his apartment — made it improper to place him on a committee that has access to intelligence secrets.” (Jackson, Bergen Record)



“Three decades after the state Supreme Court began dramatically rearranging the landscape of New Jersey education funding, four retired jurists gathered yesterday for a frank discussion of how things have gone.

With 30 decisions and billions of dollars poured into the state's poorest districts, the history has been long and controversial.………..

None of the four — former Chief Justice Deborah Poritz, and associate justices Gary Stein, James Coleman and Alan Handler — appeared to have softened their stands in the school equity cases, now best known as Abbott v. Burke for the latest set of decisions that date back to the early 1990s…………

A few of the former justices took polite jabs at the state and its latest governor and Legislature for dawdling in furthering the court's mandates, both in an under-staffed education department and especially a scandal-plagued construction program, now stalled for lack of funds.

"We read with the same dismay about the failure of that effort on the part of the state and the misdirection of the emphasis and funds," said Handler, who served on the court for 22 years.

How much their comments matter was the subject of some self-effacing humor, with Handler saying he has become aware of "my own irrelevancy" since leaving the court.

But as Gov. Jon Corzine and the Legislature pledge to revamp how New Jersey funds its schools, the panel's comments over two hours at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick clearly were of interest to an audience that included Corzine's chief counsel, several senior education department staff members, and virtually all of the major school organizations. ” (Mooney, Star-Ledger)


“The largest single deployment of soldiers to a combat zone in the modern history of the New Jersey Army National Guard could launch by the end of 2008 — more than a year earlier than state military officials initially expected.

Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth, the state adjutant general, yesterday said nearly half of the state's 6,200 soldiers should expect a yearlong mobilization that would include deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan and begin in early 2009 at the latest.

Earlier this year, Pentagon war planners told state military officials to expect the call-up in 2010 or late 2009.

"It's been moved up," Rieth said yesterday at Fort Dix. "It's what the nation needs. … We're ramping up for what will be a major deployment."

The largest previous troop deployment for the National Guard in New Jersey since World War II came in 2005 when about 1,600 soldiers were called to Iraq.

Rieth said state officials expect to learn within the next month exactly where the troops will go this time and when the Pentagon expects them to arrive. ” (Wooley and Diamant, Star-Ledger)



“The state will pull the plug on the troubled EnCap golf and housing project in 60 days unless the developer fixes a long list of contractual failures, officials said Wednesday.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission sent a Notice of Intention to Terminate — setting a Nov. 20 deadline — just hours after the agency's board authorized Executive Director Robert Ceberio to take "all actions necessary" to gain compliance.

The agency has issued numerous default declarations, but until Wednesday had never threatened to shut down the project.

In addition, two other state agencies demanded that EnCap Golf Holdings permit inspection of its books within five business days. The directors of the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Infrastructure Trust said EnCap had failed to meet a May 30 deadline to produce an audited annual profit-and-loss statement.” (Brennan and Pillets, Bergen Record)



“Meadowlands towns were given a tough choice by the head of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission head yesterday: Let us help you make affordable housing decisions or have a judge do it for you.

The powerful state agency, which controls parts of 14 towns in Bergen and Hudson counties that extend into the Meadowlands, has been under fire to do more to meet its affordable housing obligations.

On May 21, an Appellate Divi sion panel ruled that the commis sion has a constitutional responsibility to plan and zone for affordable housing and ordered it to use its diverse means to advance the issue.

A year earlier a state court judge stripped Carlstadt and East Rutherford of the ability to make land use decisions after the judge accused the two Meadowlands towns of stonewalling the court on affordable housing issues. He ruled that a special monitor would review building applications in those towns and make the decisions for them.

"Waiting is not an option," Robert Ceberio, the commission's executive director, said yesterday's public meeting. "The point is you have a choice. You can try this or allow a judge to put a scarce resource order over your town's development and appoint a master that will allow the control of decision- making on your properties to be made by the court." ” (Ben-Ali, Star-Ledger)



“Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to leave the hospital and resume his official duties this morning, aides to the governor said yesterday.

"He is eager to get home and get back to work," press secretary Lilo Stainton said.

A final decision on when Corzine will leave Cooper University Hospital in Camden will be made after morning rounds, when doctors can determine if the governor is tolerating the pain in his leg and if he is mobile enough to get up and down the stairs at Drumthwacket, the official residence in Princeton, Stainton said.

Corzine has been recuperating from surgery on Monday to remove excess bone growth in his left thigh, which was fractured in a near-fatal car crash April 12. Doctors chiseled away five to 10 pounds of extra bone from his femur.

The excess bone had grown into leg muscle, a complication in about 10 percent to 15 percent of such cases, according to his surgeon, Robert Ostrum. ” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)



“DEERFIELD TWP. — Township resident Michele Hoffman told the township committee at its meeting Wednesday night she is filing a complaint with the state in regard to an alleged violation of ethics in the township.

The complaint would address the co-habitation of Committeewoman Carol Musso and Mayor John Stanzione, which Hoffman said she feels is a code of ethics violation.

The township does not currently have a policy regarding this issue.

"I have started the complaint process," Hoffman told the committee. "It's a very, very long process."

A six-year resident of the township, Hoffman said after the meeting she is filing the complaint now because she was "lied to."” (Hamm, Bridgeton News)



“PATERSON — City employees are being forced to kick back two weeks' pay to the city, because the state says the city overpaid those workers a total of $1.7 million with an extra pay period in 2004.

City officials are begrudgingly complying with the state's order, because the reimbursement program is a requirement of the agreement made between the city and the state Department of Community Development in 2005, when the state bailed out the city with $30.8 million in aid. Those officials, including Mayor Jose "Joey" Torres, argue that those employees who have to give back money were paid for hours they worked.” (MacInnes, Herald News)



Joyce Michaelson, Montclair's deputy mayor and an at-large councilor, all but threw her hat into the race for mayor yesterday, say ing she was reactivating her one- time campaign arm, Michaelson for Montclair, and forming an exploratory committee.

With the election for Montclair's mayor and all six council seats more than 7 months away, Michaelson is the first to publicly hint at her intentions since Mayor Ed Remsen said last week that he would not run in 2008.” (Read, Star-Ledger)



“The sky over the Warren Grove Gunnery Range has been quiet since May, when a massive wildfire sparked during a jet fighter training mission scorched 17,250 acres and routed thousands of people from their homes.

But a storm continues brewing. Taxpayers may be stuck with some $200 million in property claims from the Air National Guard mistake, according to an accounting released last week.

And now it appears that military heads will roll.

The military says 161 claims totaling more than $200 million have been filed so far in a fire that destroyed five houses and significantly damaged 13 others. One single claim is asking for $197 million from the government for losses it says are the result of the fire.” (Urgo, Philadelphia Inquirer)



“A coalition of 90 groups announced a six-figure campaign Wednesday to rally support for a November ballot question that will determine whether the state bonds $200 million to preserve open space.

The "Keep It Green Campaign," which includes environmentalists, historic sites and affordable housing advocates, plans to canvas the state through Nov. 6 in support of a referendum that will provide money to preserve farmland, open space, historic sites and acquire flood-prone land.” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)



“Getting the U.S. Senate to pass the pending 2007 Farm Bill extension is just as important to residents of Monmouth and Ocean counties as it is to people in the country's farm belt, anti-hunger advocates said at a forum Wednesday.

That's because the bill — the latest incarnation of which, called the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, is set to expire at the end of the month — also affects nutrition programs, such as food stamps, which impact people who don't live in rural areas, the advocates said.

The House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill Extension Act of 2007 in July. The bill, which must be renewed every five years, now sits in the Senate, which is the focus of anti-hunger advocates such as those who gathered Wednesday at the FoodBank of Monmouth-Ocean Counties headquarters on Route 66.

The bill covers 10 general areas, including nutrition — under which the food stamp program is run — and commodities, which provides food for state and local emergency food programs.” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)



“PATERSON – Gov. Jon S. Corzine let the Passaic County prosecutor's five-year term expire last Thursday without reappointing him, leaving him to serve as an indefinite holdover.

Avigliano said he filled out an initial questionnaire required for reappointment well before his term was up but has not heard any word since.

Avigliano chose to comment further on Wednesday.

The prosecutor's supporters said Wednesday that Avigliano has invested in technology and streamlined operations to improve communications between law enforcement officials in his five years in office.

"He certainly has my vote," said Freeholder Terry Duffy. "I have the utmost respect and confidence in our prosecutor."

Political figures say that the late appointment is not unusual and does not necessarily indicate that Avigliano will not be reappointed. Prosecutors in Union and Middlesex counties are still serving as holdovers since their terms ended in July, said Brendan Gilfillan, a Corzine spokesman.” (Kindergan, Herald News)



“Less than two months from Election Day, Cumberland County Freeholder Director Doug Rainear and running-mate Joseph Pepitone held a press conference Wednesday morning across the street from South Woods State Prison.

The press conference was called to announce Rainear's plans to meet with New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner George Hayman on Oct. 4 to personally hand over to him a stack of petitions with the signatures of county residents who object to the DOC relocating more than 3,000 of the state's civilly-committed sex offenders to Cumberland County.” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)



“The nine members of Jersey City's Board of Education are expected to unanimously approve a resolution tonight endorsing a new three-year contract for Superintendent of Schools Charles T. Epps Jr. Epps, the district's state-appointed schools chief since 2000, earns $230,000 a year. His contract ends next June.

Epps is also a Democratic state assemblyman for Jersey City and Bayonne.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)



“The city has a new municipal clerk.

The City Council has chosen Juanita Joyner, who currently serves as assistant municipal clerk, to fill the position vacated by Anthony Conti when he retired. Conti worked as city clerk for 15 years.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)



“JACKSON — After 22 years in town hall, Zoning Officer Richard Megill resigned suddenly this week.

Mark A. Seda said the 68-year-old Megill simply decided to retire. "I guess he got tired," Seda said. "He'll be missed.”

Megill could not be reached for comment.

Phil Del Turco, township administrator, said many employees announce their retirement as they are walking out the door.

"It's not a unique circumstance," Del Turco said. "A lot of people don't want the fanfare."

Megill, a township resident, began working for Jackson as a subcode official in 1985 and was promoted in 1998 to zoning officer. His salary this year was $75,736. (Reiss, Asbury Park Press)



“No candidates filed by the 3 p.m. Wednesday deadline for the unexpired Pinelands Regional Board of Education seat representing the borough. The seat was for September to March, to finish out the term of Barbara Marshall, 42, of Second Street.

Marshall resigned in August, and originally was elected in 2003 to fill an unexpired term. Steve Brennan, school business administrator, said he would have to consult with the district attorney to determine Pinelands Regional's next course of action.

Students from Eagleswood, Little Egg Harbor, Tuckerton and Bass River in Burlington County attend the Pinelands Regional school district, which consists of a junior high school with seventh through ninth graders, and a high school of 10th through 12th graders.

The Pinelands Regional Board of Education is composed of nine members, elected based on constituent population.” (Sastrowardoyo, Asbury Park Press)



“Much of Ruth Ann Damato's inspiration to run for town mayor has been her father's nine-year tenure as a town councilman.

But Wednesday, she announced her decision to bow out of the race so she can focus on caring for him.

Her father, John Damato, was re-diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago.

"Family is everything to me," Damato said.

John Damato, 75, is suffering from colon cancer that is spreading. He was taken off chemotherapy Monday because he is too dehydrated, Ruth Ann Damato said. She said she serves as his primary caregiver and wants to spend all the time she can with him.

Over the years, John Damato has survived three other bouts of cancer, a stroke and a heart attack. The U.S. Navy veteran and former Internal Revenue Service agent remained vigilant through it all.

"My father has always been for the people and I could not have any more respect for (him)," Damato said. ” (Eilenberger, Express-Times)



David Cline, a galvanizing figure in the nation's anti-war movement for nearly four decades and a fervent advocate of veterans' rights and services, has died.

The longtime Jersey City resident was 60. A decorated Vietnam veteran and a past president of the group Veterans for Peace, Cline died at home Saturday. The cause was liver failure brought on by years of alcoholism, said his companion, Gladys Simer.

"David was an icon of the veterans movement," said Michael McPhearson, the executive director of Veterans for Peace, based in St. Louis. "He kept alive the tradition of holding government accountable for its actions. He brought that with him throughout his whole life. He was a role model by his actions and by his style of leadership."

Cline's activism spanned 37 years, from the homefront turmoil over Vietnam to the invasion of Panama to both wars in Iraq. But his work extended beyond opposition to combat.

He advocated on behalf of Americans and Vietnamese exposed to Agent Orange, fought against the closure of Veterans Administration hospitals and pushed the government to better care for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. ” (Mueller, Star-Ledger)


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