Adler will run against Saxton, Kean blasts the influence of money on politics, Moran calls on Corzine to call a “cease-fire” in drug war, report shows less discrimination in ultra-diverse New Jersey but plenty of segregation.
ADLER TO MAKE FIRST SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO SAXTON IN YEARS
“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Adler says he will challenge twelve-term Rep. Jim Saxton next year, setting up another competitive House race in a state where incumbents were expected to have a free ride until the 2010 census.
"Last November, the American people sent a clear message to Washington that we want a change in direction in Iraq and here at home," Adler said in a statement released today. "Unfortunately our Congressman, Jim Saxton refuses to listen. It's time for a change, it's time for New Jersey families to have a Member of Congress who fights for their values in Washington.”
PoliticsNJ.com reported last July that Adler,48, had met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to discuss a possible run against the 64-year-old incumbent.
Adler has nearly $200,000 in a federal campaign account he set up several years ago, and will likely benefit from the strong support of the Camden County Democratic Organization, which has tremendous fundraising abilities. Saxton, who won re-election by a 58%-41% margin in 2006, has over $1.3 million in his warchest.
Adler ran against Saxton in 1990, losing 58%-39%. He defeated an incumbent GOP State Senator the following year, and has easily won re-election four times. He is seeking re-election this November and faces just token opposition.” (Editor, PoliticsNJ.com)
“Adler’s decision to run for Congress means that Democrats are launching their first serious challenge to U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton since Susan Bass Levin ran against him in 2000, spending over $1 million but losing by a margin of 57-42 percent. In 2006, a bad year from the GOP nationally and in New Jersey, Saxton beat the low-budget campaign of newcomer Richard Sexton by an even wider margin.
Adler, who has considerable clout as the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, is likely to be a credible, hard working candidate with a lot of money behind him But he faces a tough battle against the entrenched twelve-term incumbent, said David Rebovich, Managing Director of the Rider University Institute for New Jersey Politics.
“It’s an uphill battle for Adler, since Saxton is really a very interesting, shrewd political figure much like Chris Smith is,” said Rebovich. “He has succeeded in appealing to key constituent groups in that district: veterans, senior citizens, even environmentalists.”” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“New Jersey GOP Chairman Tom Wilson said 2006 was a bad year for Republicans, but predicted, "We are not going to see an environment anything near that in 2008."
Wilson's not worried because "Jim Saxton has such a long record of service and is so known. This is a guy who shows up to every barbecue."
Still, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put this seat in the top tier of potential pickup seats for the 2008 cycle, according to spokeswoman Carrie James, based on changing demographics in suburban congressional districts that show potential for Democrats…………
Of Adler's joining the race, Saxton said, "It's early but there have been signs he was going to run. We are not surprised."
Adler's entrance more than a year away may seem premature, but candidates in competitive races have announced their candidacies as early as last February.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)
KEAN: MONEY IS A CANCER ON POLITICS
“Money is a "cancer" in politics that has the power to tarnish otherwise honest public officials, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean said in a lecture on ethics last evening.
Candidates spend so much time raising money for campaigns that it takes away from the time they might spend learning an issue or their districts, and then must act as if the donations — usually from special interest groups — don't impact their votes, Kean said.
"Money is the cancer on public democracy," Kean said. "It takes good people who got into politics for the right reason and gives them every reason to be morally corrupt in the way they go after money."
Kean added that the cost of campaigns keeps growing. When he ran for state Assembly in 1967, Kean said, he spent $3,500. Now a race in the same Essex County district might cost $100,000, and politicians are also expected to raise money to help their parties, Kean said during a 40 minute talk at Rutgers University's Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
"The average person is sort of out of it," Kean told a group of about 80 listeners.
Average people, he said, also have little influence when it comes to giving money, Kean said, noting that, according to commentator Bill Moyers, one half of 1 percent of all Americans give $200 or more to a campaign. Lobbyists, meanwhile, spend $200 million a month trying to "seduce" Congress, Kean said, again citing Moyers' statistics…………..
"If we've got unethical behavior, we've got corrupt officials, it comes down to us," Kean said. "We're the ones that have got to get them out, vote them out, get rid of them any way we can."” (Tamari, Gannett)
CORZINE SHOULD ADD THE WEEDMAN TO HIS CABINET
“Remember the Jon Corzine who dove into politics in 2000 as an aggressive liberal who wanted the government to tackle big problems?
We had a national surplus back then. And he wanted to spend it on health care, elder care and preschool for all. He had big plans.
So it's a cruel twist that he should take charge in New Jersey just as the state is veering toward bankruptcy. What is a progressive fellow supposed to do when the treasury is empty?
Here's one answer: He could call a cease-fire in New Jersey's reckless war on drugs, a move that would save money in the long run. That would take some guts.
But there is hope. Corzine's attorney general, Anne Milgram, is working on a new crime initiative that will be unveiled next month. And the governor now says he wants it to include a significant effort to divert non-violent drug offenders from prison.
"I would be disappointed if we didn't move in that direction," the governor says. "We are clogging up our criminal justice system in a way that I think actually creates greater danger." ” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
DOBLIN TO NEW JERSEY GOP: GET A CLUE
I IMAGINE when word spread of O.J. Simpson's arrest, New Jersey's Democratic leaders' first response was, "At least he's not in the Legislature."
High-profile arrests have left state Democrats battered — or have they? Last weekend, Passaic County Democrats enthroned Elease Evans as the replacement for Assemblyman Alfred Steele.
Steele resigned after his arrest for allegedly accepting bribes. It is not clear when Evans, were she to win, would step down from the freeholder board, where she currently serves, or who might get her spot…………..
The remarkable thing is that after gale-force winds blew through both counties, all is again right with Democrats. Nothing really changed except some names.
I don't understand how the Republican Party works in New Jersey. I know there's a joke in there somewhere. When Gov. James McGreevey announced his intention to resign office three months after the "gay American" speech, there was loud call from Republicans for McGreevey to step down immediately and force a special election that November. That didn't happen.
Last week, Republicans rightly pointed out the sheer hypocrisy of Democratic leaders calling for Steele's and Assemblyman Mims Hackett Jr.'s resignations after their arrests, while not demanding that indicted Sens. Wayne Bryant and Sharpe James also resign.
There is no difference in their cases. None of the four men has been convicted. If the argument is that once a public official's integrity has been compromised by an arrest or indictment that he or she must step down, Bryant and James must resign.
Instead, the state Republican Party remains obsessed with Carla Katz's e-mails.
GARDEN STATE DIVERSITY
“As the state population becomes increasingly diverse, New Jersey residents are seeing discrimination as less of a problem than in years past, according to a new Rutgers University study.
The study, released yesterday, was based on a survey of 1,200 state residents this spring on their perceptions regarding race relations and cultural differences. Results were compared with a study in 1996 in which many of the same questions were asked.
Fourteen percent of those surveyed this year said they saw discrimination as a "big problem," compared with 21 percent who gave that answer in 1996. Thirty percent of respondents said race was "somewhat" of a problem, down from 40 percent in 1996.
At the same time, New Jersey residents tended to wildly overestimate the size of the state's minority population — similar to a finding in the 1996 study. When asked to guess the percentages of the state's nonwhite residents, many survey respondents placed the number of Hispanic or African-American residents at two or three times the actual figure — a trend that researchers said probably has much to do with the fact that many of the state's neighborhoods remain segregated.
According to the latest Census estimates, the percentages of current population are: 69.6 percent white, 13.6 percent African-American, 7.5 percent Asian, and 15.6 percent Hispanic of any race. ” (Steele, Star-Ledger)
“New Jersey is the most ethnically and racially diverse state in the United States. But with increasing diversity, so comes the potential for misunderstanding and conflict…………..
The current study updates the 1996 study "Taking New Jersey's Pulse," which had a similar scope.
"When you talk about New Jersey's ethnic diversity, we can be really proud," said Nina Mitchell Wells, New Jersey secretary of state, a speaker and panelist at the conference. But she cautioned that there is work still to be done. "Times haven't changed enough, hence, that's why we are here." (Jefferson Cooke, Daily Record)
NOW, ABOUT CARLA KATZ…
“Gov. Corzine limped out of Cooper University Hospital yesterday morning, three days after having excess bone surgically chiseled from his left leg, and declared himself ready to go back to work.
Corzine, who turned over his executive powers to state Senate President Richard J. Codey before the surgery on Monday, resumed his duties at 10 a.m. He was released from Cooper an hour later.
"I'm quite optimistic about the long-run outcome, and the short run as well," he told a scrum of reporters waiting in front of the Camden hospital.
After speaking for a few moments, Corzine climbed into a black state police conversion van and was driven away…………
Ostrum, Cooper's director of orthopedic trauma, said the governor was bending his knee on his own and his pain was being controlled with "routine" medication.
"It's very impressive; as you can see, he walked out of here without crutches or anything," Ostrum said.
"Honestly, he had a very uneventful stay," he said. "He was eager to go back to being governor again."” (Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer)
WHO CAN ACT MORE OUTRAGED?
“HAMILTON — It's not called the silly season for nothing.
Township Republicans are accusing Mayor Glen D. Gilmore of dirty politics after his re-election campaign dispatched a tracker, or spy, to record a news conference at Republican headquarters Monday.
The tracker was discovered by the Republicans after he was seen in the bathroom at the Route 33 headquarters fiddling with his recorder.
When the news conference ended, supporters of Republican mayoral candidate John Benci vengo commenced their own clandestine operation when they followed the spy to the Hamilton municipal building.
There, they photographed the man, who was identified as Tim Gray, walking into the municipal building. Later, the GOP operatives discovered the Gilmore volunteer's name on the sign-in log at the municipal building, with the destination clearly listed as "mayor."
It is unclear how the Republicans were able to identify Gray, but Democrats were questioning if police resources were used to run Gray's vehicle license plates.
While the Republicans were clearly outraged at the presence of the Gilmore volunteer at their home base, their anger eventually morphed into ire at what they said was politicking by the administration on township time.
"Why Mayor Gilmore feels he must send spies to find out what is going on at Republican headquarters is beyond me, but this is most certainly improper use of both taxpayer time and township property and there is no place for this type of dirty campaigning in Hamilton," said township Republican Committee Chairman Bruce Darvas. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
IT’S MORE THAN JUST A CITY COUNCIL RACE
“At a news conference today held at the corner of 6th and Jackson, former Hoboken Councilman Chris Campos wanted to make sure that he had his own ward appear behind him – a housing project, not the relatively new and up-market apartment building across the street in the neighboring ward.
“That’s my ward, that’s what I represent,” he told the cameraman, pointing to the drab brick building.
The point was obvious. Campos, who grew up in a housing project nearby, was a home town guy. Now, after losing a runoff election against Hoboken newcomer Dawn Zimmer, who moved here five years ago, he’s facing her for a third time after she agreed to step aside and run again rather than battle Campos’s in court. Now Campos is clawing his way back to the seat that he thinks is rightfully his.
“This is the ward that has the most economic and cultural diversity,” said Campos. “Is Hoboken going to be a community that’s welcoming of diversity, or is Hoboken going to be a community of just the affluent?”
This Hoboken City Council race is a Hudson County anomaly in that it takes place in November, rather than in June as is customary in this Democratic bastion. But what this race boils down to is a proxy war between Campos (and his fellow Hoboken Council Stack allies, who hold a 4-3 majority) and Zimmer, who they insist is an HCDO stooge.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“With Republicans looking to link him to any number of Democrats recently charged with political corruption, state Senate candidate Assemblyman Jim Whelan laid out his plans Thursday for cleaning up New Jersey politics.
Whelan, D-Atlantic – who is running against state Sen. James "Sonny" McCullough, R-Atlantic – said that if he returns to the Legislature, he will push for laws that would require public records to be posted online; remove all legislators from the state ethics committee; toughen the ban on gifts from lobbyists and force public officials convicted of corruption to forfeit their pensions.
"These are not new things," Whelan said. "They're what I consider to be unfinished business."
Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis said Whelan's words come a few months too late. He said the assemblyman missed a key opportunity to clean up New Jersey government when he voted this year against an amendment from Assemblyman Kevin O'Toole, R-Essex, that would have toughened bans on dual office-holding and pension padding while forcing mandated prison terms and the forfeiture of retirement benefits for public officials convicted of corruption.
"Whelan has a credibility gap no amount of news releases can bridge," Atlantic County Republican Party Chairman Keith Davis said. "He had the opportunity to clean up the corruption in New Jersey and voted no. If you're given the opportunity to vote for something, vote for it. Don't come out 45 days before an election."” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
“VINELAND — State Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-1, and state Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-1, on Thursday targeted their election campaign toward the local business community.
The legislators spoke during a candidates' forum at the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce's monthly membership luncheon at the Ramada Inn on West Landis Avenue…………
During the forum, the candidates traded accusations and promises before an audience of roughly 130 people, offering a glimpse of what's to come over the next six weeks.
Van Drew, a Democrat, won a coin toss allowing him to speak first.
He touted his accomplishments, including legislation he sponsored to help bring the New Jersey Motorsports Park to Millville. Developers broke ground for the $150 million project Wednesday.
"That is going to change the face of the business climate in Cumberland County and the region," Van Drew said of the racing park………….
Asselta, a Republican from Vineland, said he was instrumental in getting a new veterans home built in Vineland, as well as sponsoring legislation that created the Urban Enterprise Zone program.
The UEZ provides money for economic development projects in distressed areas through locally collected sales taxes.
"The last six or seven years have not been a very good direction for New Jersey or Cumberland County," Asselta said of the Democrats' leadership, citing increasing property taxes and a lack of major economic development.” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)
GIRGENTI SUGGESTS FIRST MUSLIM STATE JUDGE
“A Clifton man could become the first Muslim state judge in New Jersey.
Sen. John Girgenti said he recently submitted the name of Sohail Mohammed to Governor Corzine's office, asking the governor to consider the prominent North Jersey Muslim for a Superior Court judgeship.
"I have known him for a number of years, and he's extremely well qualified," Girgenti, D-Hawthorne, said Thursday. "I based it on his integrity and intelligence. He's very fair."
Mohammed, who specializes in immigration law, is a Sunni Muslim who has worked to educate the public about Islam and to build bridges between his community and the state's political and law enforcement establishments.
Mohammed said Thursday it is premature to discuss the potential judgeship but added that he feels honored.
"I'm really humbled," said Mohammed, 44. "If chosen to be a judge, I would do my best to serve and see that justice is served."” (Chadwick, Bergen Record)
“The looming collapse of the EnCap golf project, once hailed by state officials as way to transform the Meadowlands at no public expense, would stick New Jersey taxpayers with $51 million in debt.
A state official confirmed Thursday that a controversial state loan that fronted the EnCap developers $212 million lacks sufficient collateral to fully protect taxpayers if the project fails.
"We'll seek any remedies we can to collect what the state is owed," said Dennis Hart, executive director of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, which joined with the state Department of Environmental Protection to provide the 2005 cut-rate loan.
The loan, part of a total of $300 million in public financing, was made over the protests of top DEP finance officials who argued that EnCap was a bad risk and could not even provide basic security to back the loan. Though the developer did provide a letter of credit backing more than half its financing, $106 million in DEP money was approved with just $13 million in borrowed cash collateral.” (Pillets, Bergen Record)
ENCAP DISASTER GIVES LONG-SHOT GUARINO A CAMPAIGN ISSUE
“The controversy surrounding the EnCap project is likely to be a key issue this fall in several election races pitting those who supported the project against its longtime opponents.
In the 36th Legislative District, which includes the project site, state Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, backed the garbage-to-golf plan in 2004-05 as EnCap Golf Holdings made deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with state agencies and Rutherford, Lyndhurst and North Arlington.
His opponent, Michael Guarino, has made his opposition to EnCap the centerpiece of his campaign.
Guarino demanded Thursday that the Attorney General's Office release an interim report on a seven-month investigation into EnCap's finances by Inspector General Mary Jane Cooper.
Chris Eilert, Sarlo's chief of staff, said Sarlo's support was directed at the landfill cleanup plan, more than the specific company running the project.
"Senator Sarlo showed leadership in demanding that various insurance policies be posted by EnCap so that if there was a default, taxpayers wouldn't be liable," Eilert said.
Rutherford Mayor Bernadette McPherson's opponent, environmental law attorney John Hipp, also has been a vocal EnCap critic. He, like Guarino, welcomed the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission's threat to void the deal.
"This project seems to keep coming back from the dead," Hipp said. "Hopefully, the state will remove its life support and let this project die."” (Brennan, Bergen Record)
“The Newark City Council has hired a West Orange criminal defense law firm to deal with FBI inquiries stemming from the indictment and arrest of Council President Mildred Crump's former chief of staff on bribery charges.
The council voted 8-0 Wednesday to hire Arleo & Donohue for up to $50,000. The West Orange firm specializes in federal criminal defense cases. Central Ward Councilwoman Dana Rone was absent.
"We wanted to secure a firm with the expertise to handle all the requests. It requires a specialist's expertise," Crump said when asked why the council didn't use attorneys in the corporation counsel's office to deal with federal inquiries.
Keith Reid, 48, was arrested Sept. 6 in a statewide bribery sting that also snared assemblymen, mayors and council and school board members across the state. Reid was accused of ac cepting $10,000 in bribes from a fake insurance agency set up by federal authorities to insure municipal contracts. Crump fired Reid four days later.
In the indictment, Reid allegedly bragged that he could get Crump on board with approving a city contract and open doors to contracts at the city's housing authority. Reid arranged a meeting with Crump and representatives from the fake insurance firm.
"My boss, the more she realizes that you are in our corner, the more she'll be in yours," Reid is quoted as saying in the complaint. ” (Mays, Star-Ledger)
“For more than a year, lawmakers have debated what to do with the burgeoning piles of antiquated computers and televisions in landfills.
New Jersey has lagged behind other states in moving to recycle such "e-waste," largely because competing proposals to have industry or consumers pay the freight drew fierce industry lobbying and disagreement in Trenton.
A proposed compromise may break the logjam by year's end, according to key lawmakers and state environmental officials.
The deal would be a key step toward reducing the stream of toxic chemicals seeping from an estimated 3 million computers and TV sets in New Jersey that become obsolete annually.
With no statewide recycling program — and no law against dumping TVs or computers in the trash — environmentalists and other ex perts say too many electronics are winding up in landfills, bringing with them some of the most toxic substances, including lead, mercury, chromium, cadmium, beryllium and arsenic.
"It's a tragedy that New Jersey considers itself the high-tech capital of the nation and we don't have any e-waste laws in place," said Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of one of the competing proposals, who is now negotiating the compromise. "Shame on us, shame on us."…………….
Asemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) sponsored bills to create an e-waste recycling program in New Jersey and ban certain electronics from landfills. However, they parted company on how to fund the program.
Smith's bill (S554) would add a $10 surcharge to every desktop computer, monitor, laptop and television sold. The state would collect these "advance recovery fees" from retailers and use it to fund e-waste recycling centers. ” (Cupolo, Star-Ledger)
“The Somerset County Park Commission last night delivered a split verdict on reform measures, tightening some rules but putting off action on others.
Six of the nine commission members attended the session, which came as employees raced to meet today's deadline to comply with another state subpoena for park financial and personnel records.
The mixed results led Bernardsville resident Andrew DaPonte to call the effect "comical," telling commissioners "what you should be concerned about is the taxpayers."
The commission has been under fire since a damaging June 22 report to the county by an outside law firm, Wolff and Samson. The firm concluded the commission violated state public bidding laws, steered contacts to favored vendors and provided lavish perks to some employees. ” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
“New Jersey school districts need another $1.9 billion in state aid and more state-funded teacher training to keep up with the growing cost of special educational services for students with autism or other learning disabilities, a report released yesterday said.
The report by the New Jersey School Boards Association said the state's public schools spend $3.3 billion a year on special education. Because state aid has been frozen for years, about $1.9 billion of that cost is picked up by local property taxpayers, a situation that the report's authors say must change.
The report was prepared in anticipation of the upcoming effort to rewrite the formula by which state officials distribute more than $7 billion in state school aid each year.
"Our schools need significantly higher levels of state and federal funding so they can provide quality services without overburdening local property taxpayers," said Edwina Lee, executive director of the NJSBA.
The report says the state eventually should cover the full $1.9 billion cost now borne locally. As a start, it suggests boosting state special education aid by $171 million next year, to fully fund a 2002 law designed to have the state cover any student's costs that exceed $40,000 per year. ” (McNichol, Star-Ledger)
THE DANGEROUS HALLS OF JUSTICE
The state Department of Labor's safety and health arm is investigating conditions at court facilities in every county in New Jersey, officials said yesterday.
"We are in the process of inspecting all county courthouses," said Marcela Ospina, an agency spokeswoman. "We want to make sure we go everywhere for possible violations."
Earlier this month, The Star- Ledger reported on poor conditions at court facilities in several counties around the state. In some places, the conditions were potentially dangerous, such as in Hudson County, where fire detectors don't work and criminal defendants walk down public hallways to get to courtrooms. In others, including Warren County, the courthouses are painfully overcrowded.
Because the courthouses are run by county governments, judges and court officials say their hands are tied when it comes to getting necessary repairs. In places like Camden, Warren and Passaic counties, court officials and lawyers' groups have filed lawsuits or hired attorneys to consider legal action. In many instances, county officials say the cost of building new facilities is more than their budgets and taxpayers can bear.
Judges yesterday cheered the news that inspectors from the labor department's Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission were studying each facility. ” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
“As an IRS agent, Bohdan Senyszyn was supposed to audit New Jersey businesses to keep them honest.
Instead, the certified public accountant from Roxbury used his financial acumen to enrich himself by cheating the U.S. government out of $750,000, authorities said.
Senyszyn, 50, was set to stand trial next month, but instead pleaded guilty to tax evasion, filing fraudulent returns, structuring financial transactions and bank fraud before U.S. District Judge William Martini yesterday.
An agent who had nearly two decades of experience, Senyszyn's crimes stemmed from unauthorized side work he performed for a friend who was a real estate developer. The friend was identified only as "D.H." in court documents.
Senyszyn initially accepted free home renovations when he first began the work in 1998, authorities said. In 2002, Senyszyn admitted, he began creating a number of shell companies — all under variations of the name "Modern Method." They were intended to shelter the developer's business income from real estate projects, including one in Andover Township. ” (Whelan, Star-Ledger)
“Two students in northern New Jersey can wear buttons featuring a picture of Hitler youth to protest a school uniform policy, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. sided with the parents of the students, who had been threatened with suspension by the Bayonne school district last fall for wearing the buttons. However, the judge added in his ruling that the boys will not be allowed to distribute the buttons at school.
"I'm very pleased," said Laura DePinto, mother of one of the students. "I think it upholds the most basic of our American rights, which is to protest peacefully."
Citing a 1969 case in Iowa involving students who wore black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War, Greenaway wrote that "a student may not be punished for merely expressing views unless the school has reason to believe that the speech or expression will "materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school.' "” (AP)
NOT ANOTHER SAGGY PANTS BAN
“PLEASANTVILLE – Controversial laws that ban a popular pants style are gaining popularity across the nation – and Pleasantville may be next, if one city councilman gets his way.
Councilman Lincoln Green is pushing for a law that would ban anyone from wearing their pants so low that their underwear – or more – would be revealed.
The law would be similar to one passed in a Louisiana town. In Delcambre, La., 80 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, the law has been on the books since June 11. Violators face a $500 fine and as many as six months in jail. The law also is on the books in several other Louisiana communities.
Green isn't pushing for a jail sentence – "I wouldn't slap a jail record on them" – but a fine and community service would be the punishment for violators, who seem to be teenagers and young adults.” (Hardie, Press of Atlantic City)
“About 50 New Jersey public union representatives and workers attended a meeting of the state pension board to object to the panel's plan to put at least $9 billion in alternative investments such as hedge funds.
Members of Communications Workers of America Local 1033, which has more than 7,250 members, wore badges listing their names, the department they work for and the number of years they have been contributing to the retirement system.
"I am actually delighted we have a substantial crowd so we can provide an in-depth description of why we are doing what we are doing," board Chairman Orin Kramer said before the meeting. Kramer, a general partner at Boston Provident LP, a hedge fund, said at the start of the meeting he would seek to change the board's rules on a trial basis to allow for public comments.
The union members attended on the same day the board approved $3.17 billion in new alternative investments, including private-equity and real estate funds. Labor unions have criticized the board for putting pension funds in investments beyond stocks and bonds to limit swings in the value of its holdings and help boost returns.” (Bloomberg)
DO OCEAN COUNTY REPUBLICANS PAY TAXES ANYMORE?
“Democratic mayoral candidate Ron Jones is urging Mayor Harold Morris to step down from the dais.
Jones said that Morris is no longer fit for the job, after discovering Ocean County tax records which indicate that the Republican mayor owes the federal government $16,437.29 in back-taxes for quarterly federal tax returns filed when Morris owned a small business between 1998 and 2002. Morris has said he is in the process of repaying the IRS the money that he owes.
Morris has said he is in the process of repaying the IRS the money that he owes.
"When I heard about the lien from the newspaper, my first inclination was this was a personal matter. However, since that time, I have researched the matter and have concluded that it is an issue that must be addressed as it compromises the integrity of the office of the mayor," said Jones.
Democratic council candidate, Tina Clark, said that as a small business owner herself, she is offended by the thought of a business owner not paying his taxes.
Morris countered Clark and Jones' charges, adding that he refuses to personally attack the Democratic opponents solely for campaign purposes.” (Santoriello, Asbury Park Press)
“It's a small borough, but residents and officials here have taken a big stride in their attempt to have Megan's Law strengthened, with more stringent penalties and restrictions for convicted sex offenders.
A petition organized in the spring was presented to Assemblymen Christopher J. Connors and Brian E. Rumpf, both R-Ocean, earlier this week with nearly 10,000 signatures. Borough officials say they hope the petition to call for tougher penalties will inspire state legislators to push to amend the law.” (Michels, Asbury Park Press)
“A quarter of the land in the Highlands region could be developed despite a state preservation law, leading New Jersey Highlands Council officials to call on Thursday for new programs to coax landowners not to build.
About 100,000 of those acres eligible for development are in the preservation area, that half of the region where nearly all large-scale construction was banned by the 2004 Highlands Act, according to a report released by the council. The rest are in the planning area, where lawmakers envisioned development continuing, where appropriate.” (O’dea, Daily Record)
“A local doctor's office that has begun performing abortions is clear of any wrongdoing under municipal law, according to city officials. But the announcement won't deter those who oppose abortion from picketing in front of the clinic, protesters say.
City Council President Lynn Caterson said at Thursday's council meeting that an investigation of Atlantic Women's Health by city Administrator Terry Dolan and his staff yielded no land-use or zoning-regulation violations.
Solicitor Frank Blee said several state agencies, including the Department of Community Affairs, are involved in regulating its day-to-day operations, and that the city had no jurisdiction as such.” (Hardie, Press of Atlantic City)
IN JERSEY CITY
“In a 9-0 vote last night, members of the Jersey City Board of Education voted their "intent" to negotiate a new three-year contract with Charles T. Epps Jr., the district's state-appointed superintendent of schools for the past seven years.
Board Chairman William DeRosa said a public hearing will be held on the terms of the contract before it is ratified.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
“Roselle's borough council rejected a salary ordinance Wednesday that would have raised Mayor Garrett Smith's salary by $53,000.
The proposed pay hike sparked fierce controversy after it was introduced two weeks ago, as did Smith's explanation that the increase reflected the full-time role he has served since firing business administrator David G. Brown II in February and assuming his duties.
“The borough didn't make him assume that responsibility. The council didn't make him assume that responsibility," said Councilman Jamel Holley, a Smith critic who said Wednesday's 5-0 vote against the ordinance was a victory.
Councilwoman Sylvia Turnage abstained from voting on the ordinance, which included salary ranges for many municipal employees, calling the measure "confusing and discombobulated."
Several outraged residents at Wednesday's meeting accused Smith of trying to change Roselle's form of government by making the mayor's position full time and by taking on extra duties. ” (Rothman, Star-Ledger)
IN ROSELLE PARK
“Roselle Park Democrats have steered their election campaigning away from grabbing newspaper headlines to door-to-door, grassroots organizing.
Two borough council seats are up for vote this fall. Republican Councilman Robert Rubilla is being challenged by Democratic newcomer Larrisa Chen Hoerning in the 3rd Ward.
The 4th Ward election is a rematch of the 2004 race between Republican Councilman Loren Harms and Democrat Joseph Fonte, which was decided by nine votes.
Breaking a silence that began after they were accused of exposing a document in which borough police reported extensive gang activity to the State Police in 2004, Democratic officials are re-emerging with a change in leadership as well as a new candidate.
Gregory Kinloch has taken over as Democratic Committee chairman from former 5th Ward Councilman Robert Zeglarski Jr., who stepped down last spring following a failed 2006 re-election bid.
Kinloch said Democrats will no longer allow political rivals to silence them with criticisms that they are "divisive" or a "negative element" by raising issues which cast the borough "in a bad light" or risk "bringing down property values." ” (Jett, Star-Ledger)
IN FAIR HAVEN
“FAIR HAVEN — The state Supreme Court ruled that the borough's tax collector and court clerk can keep both of her part-time positions…………..
The decision means that Dale Connor, who has held both of the part-time jobs for 27 years can keep them, as long as the borough builds separate offices and establishes individual hours of business for the court and tax offices.
Borough officials said that building two separate offices is cheaper than hiring two people to do her jobs.” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
“HOBOKEN – The City Council voted unanimously to approve the mayor's selection of John Pope as the city's new director of Human Services.
Mayor David Roberts asked Pope, 60, to take up the $89,000-a-year job, and the council approved it Wednesday.” (Hack, Jersey Journal)
IN WEST NEW YORK
“WEST NEW YORK – The Town Commission has appointed Nicholas Goldsack, an accountant and banker, as the new town administrator.
"We are impressed with Mr. Goldsack's experience and believe he will serve the people of West New York well," Mayor Sal Vega said in a statement.” (Hack, Jersey Journal)