Today’s news from PoliticsNJ.com

Estabrook and Morin in controversial Cranford real estate deal, Estabrook and Pennacchio in first joint appearance, Kenny gets out of the hospital, Holt’s paper trail bill stalls.

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL

“Union County GOP Chairman Phil Morin and U.S. Senate candidate Anne Evans Estabrook stand in the middle of a controversial real estate development deal in Cranford that has become an issue in the race for Township Committee.

The County Chairman can’t give money to help at least one GOP candidate, because if he did, the candidate says he believes the money would leave him open to an attack of being a sell out — and crush him politically.

That’s because Morin also serves as the attorney for Woodmont Properties, LLC. Woodmont wants to alter the zoning for two properties on Birchwood Avenue from low density office to residential, so that the Parsippany developer can buy nearly 16 acres from Elberon Development, which is owned by Estabrook, a Republican who wants to run against Frank R. Lautenberg next year.

Morin serves on Estabrook’s campaign exploratory committee – his early support surprised some Republicans because Union County Assemblyman Jon Bramnick is mulling a U.S. Senate bid — but the fledgling candidate said Morin’s presence as the applicant’s attorney does not constitute a conflict.

"There is no conflict because I didn’t hire Morin," Estabrook said. "Woodmont hired Morin. Woodmont is the applicant."

If Morin, a former Cranford Mayor, can get the Planning Board to change the zoning, Woodmont would build 124 age-restricted units, in a town where "there is presently no over-55 housing in Cranford," according to Estabrook, who calls neighborhood resistance to the project a simple case of NIMBY — not in my backyard.

But it’s a NIMBY that won’t go away.

"The problem is it’s an area on the north side of town where we’ve had significant flooding problems," says former Cranford Mayor Norman Albert, the Democratic candidate for the Assembly in District 21.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/fight-zoning-change-cranford-touches-race-u-s-senate-12050

 

ESTABROOK AND PENNACCHIO TAKE THE PODIUM WHILE BRAMNICK SITS BACK AND WATCHES

“Today’s Middlesex County Republican fundraiser in Woodbridge was not a large event, with only about 40 donors attending. But the interesting thing about it was who showed up — all three potential Republican U. S. Senate candidates.

Invited to speak at the fundraiser were Assemblyman (and State Senate candidate) Joseph Pennacchio, who just formed an exploratory committee this month, and Spring Lake businesswoman Anne Evans Estabrook, the first candidate to show signs of interest in Frank Lautenberg’s seat. Also in attendance — not speaking but listening from the other side of the relatively small room — was Assembly Minority Whip Jon Bramnick, who is mulling a U.S. Senate bid but has not yet formally declared any intentions.

The $1,000 per table event, which raised money for county level candidates, was the first to play host to Pennacchio and Estabrook at the same time, and a chance for the two to practice their stump speeches after flipping a coin to decide who went first. Despite clear ideological differences — Pennacchio is conservative, Estabrook more moderate — neither candidate referenced the other in their speeches, instead criticizing Frank Lautenberg and the Democratic Party……….” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/republicans-get-hear-both-estabrook-and-pennacchio-12046

 

PENNACCHIO WINS STRAW POLL

“Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio defeated businesswoman Anne Evans Estabrook in a U.S. Senate ’08 straw poll conducted by PoliticsNJ.com at a Middlesex County Republican breakfast on Sunday. It was the first joint speaking appearance for the two candidates seeking the GOP nod to challenge incumbent Frank Lautenberg.

Pennacchio received 14 votes (74%), while four votes (21%) went for Estabrook. One Republican cast a write-in vote for Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, who is also mulling a Senate bid.

The Middlesex County Republican Organization will formally endorse a candidate early next year. The Middlesex GOP convention is open to all registered Republicans in the county.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/pennacchio-wins-informal-straw-poll-12044

 

KENNY GETS OUT OF THE HOSPITAL, BUT MYSTERY REMAINS

“State Sen. Bernard F. Kenny Jr. has been released from the hospital and is getting around his Hoboken home with a walker, his law partner said yesterday.

Kenny, 60, was discharged from New York University Medical Center's Hospital for Joint Disease Friday morning, said Ed Florio, Kenny's law partner.

Since being hospitalized July 18, suffering multiple injuries from what Kenny's doctors believe was a hit-and-run, Kenny has undergone two surgeries to his right knee and surgery to his right shoulder

Kenny has responded well to his last knee operation, which was a couple weeks ago, and is now able to walk around "a little bit," Florio said…………

"He (Kenny) is in a much more positive frame of mind and has great progress with all the injuries he sustained," Florio said. "That is obviously very uplifting for him." (Hack, Jersey Journal)

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-1/1190613639215700.xml&coll=3

 

HOLT’S PAPER TRAIL BILL IN JEOPARDY

“A New Jersey congressman's election-reform bill was considered a shoo-in to become law because Democrats, who control Congress, viewed it as their primary legislative means to prevent ballot problems that marred the 2000 presidential election.

Instead, Rep. Rush Holt's measure has run into a wall of opposition..

As part of broader reforms, the Hopewell Township Democrat's measure would require all states to use electronic-voting machines that have paper backups in time for the November 2008 presidential elections. The paper backups would help verify election results in case of a dispute, as was the case in Florida in 2000 and again during the 2006 congressional elections.

Opponents say they can't comply with the law in time. Earlier this month, 11 opponents, including the National Governors Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors led by Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland to scrap Holt's proposal and start fresh.” (Chebium, Asbury Park Press)

"The election officials around the country have rallied," Holt told Gannett News Service on Thursday. "They've all said this is too hard to do. And not only that, the federal government might not pay us to do it. What they're really saying is we don't want to do it, we don't need to do it, our elections are just fine."

Holt's bill has 216 co-sponsors from both parties, including Garden State Republican Reps. Frank LoBiondo of Ventnor and Jim Saxton of Mount Holly, and Democratic Reps. Frank Pallone of Long Branch, Donald Payne of Newark, Steve Rothman of Fair Lawn, and Albio Sires of Hoboken. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

In the previous Congress, when Republicans were in control, Holt got broad support for a similar bill, but it went nowhere………….

Accusing opponents of creating a "sudden fuss," Holt said his bill has enough support to easily pass the House. But it's unclear when it would be scheduled for a vote. House leaders yanked it from the schedule twice this month.” (Chebium, Gannett)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070924/NEWS03/709240361/1007

THOMPSON: LOUISIANA’S GOT NOTHING ON NEW JERSEY

“Veteran District 13 Assemblyman Sam Thompson comes to New Jersey by way of Louisiana.

Civil rights activists last week descended on Jena, La.,to protestcharges of attempted murder initially brought against six young African-Americans, who allegedlybeat up a white youth they said was part ofan anti-black element in the mostly white town.

The activists said the charges proved that element was the townestablishment.

"There are two parts to that issue," said Thompson. "The first is that what's forgotten is there was a young man who was beaten, six against one. The other part, of course,is the punishment was way too severe for (the Jena Six).

Thompson has a stump speech he's been using forat least as long as the Democrats have been in charge in which he comically laments being connected totwostates – New Jersey and Lousiana – which are generally regarded as bastions ofgovernment corruption.

But after what he cites as former Gov. James McGreeveyGolan Cipal and Gov. Jon CorzineCarla Katz, and six years of "fiscal mismanagement and madness, Louisiana can no longerhold a candle to New Jersey," he told the Middlessex County Republicans on Sunday." (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/thompson-revisits-louisiana-12048

 

COLLEGES LEARN FROM VA TECH

“Spurred by the memory of the Virginia Tech massacre last spring, when a student killed 32 people and himself, New Jersey colleges have significantly increased security this fall using new tactics and technology.

Incidents at two colleges this month already have shown the need for such precautions.

Rider University responded to an e-mail bomb threat Sept. 11 by sending thousands of e-mails, phone calls and text messages to students, parents and faculty through a new mass-alert system. And when two students at Delaware State University were shot Friday morning, officials quickly used a new mass-notification system to shut down the campus.

"This newest incident at Delaware State just brings home the fact that we're all vulnerable and we have to do everything we can to look at ways of reducing our vulnerability," said Jane Oates, executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education. "Every campus is concerned with security."

The colleges' push to improve safety coincides with the work of a task force acting Gov. Richard Codey created after the Virginia shootings.

The task force, headed by Oates and state homeland security Director Dick Canas, is expected to issue its report this week outlining protocols in case of a security breach on a New Jersey campus. ” (Alaya, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/119060854143210.xml&coll=1

 

IN OCEAN GROVE

“For decades, a Methodist church group has held wide influence over daily life in the seaside enclave of Ocean Grove. But a dispute to allow same-sex couples to use a boardwalk pavilion to hold civil union ceremonies may loosen that hold.

The ban on gay ceremonies led the state to strip the association of its tax exemption for the pavilion because it is not being made available equally to all. And although the ruling is more symbolic (the change would result in a tax bill of about $175 a year), gays who have led a revival of the once-struggling neighborhood say the time has come to stand up for themselves, even if it means ruffling the church's feathers…………….

Named after religious revival meetings at which worshippers pitched tents in the countryside, the Camp Meeting Association organized Ocean Grove for a distinctly religious purpose. Its charter from the state declares that the land is "consecrated to sacred uses."

That duty continues today, said Brian Raum, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is suing New Jersey on behalf of the association.

"They have graciously made the beach and boardwalk available for those who want to use it, but they reserve the right to draw the line at uses which are pointedly at odds with their beliefs," he said. "The First Amendment protects religious groups from having to do things like that."

The public-private question is a murky one. Ocean Grove, which is part of Neptune, accepted federal money to replenish its beach, and until this week had enjoyed a property tax exemption under a state program that rewards private land owners who open their property for public recreation.” (AP)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070924/NEWS03/709240343/1007

 

NOT QUITE ELIAN GONZALEZ

“Top New Jersey officials and a coalition of national organizations have joined in an effort to block the deportation to Argentina of an American child caught up in an international custody dispute.

Their efforts could not only save 7-year-old Arianna Adan of Elizabeth from deportation, but they also could create a new legal interpretation of an international treaty, the Hague Convention, governing the treatment of allegedly abducted children.

This is a high-impact case," explains Erika Sussman of the Washington-based Appellate Advocacy Network on Violence Against Women. "We hope to persuade the courts to consider the context behind these cases when they involved battered women."

But the most immediately dramatic twists in the 2-year-old case are decisions by the state Attorney General's Office and the state public advocate to ask a federal appeals court to block Arianna's deportation to her father's South American homeland.

Kevin M. Ryan, head of New Jersey's Department of Children and Families, says the state will ask the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a decision keeping Arianna in the United States, where she was born and has lived most of her life………..

"We'll be filing an amicus brief with the court documenting our concerns about Argentina's inability to prevent harm from coming to the child given their current system and the child's family ties in the United States," said Ryan…………

The brief challenges the ruling by U.S. Judge William H. Walls making Arianna what he called a "ward of the state" in Argentina pending a resolution of a custody dispute between her unmarried parents, who lived together briefly in Buenos Aires. ” (Braun, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-12/119060870843210.xml&coll=1

 

NEW BOOK ABOUT LAKEWOOD RIOTS

“When Thomas LaPointe settled into his job as Lakewood's municipal manager he found himself in a microcosm of the racial conflicts brewing nationwide in the late 1960s.

On Aug. 17, 1969, not even a year into the job, he was called in to help manage a full-blown riot that had erupted in the streets.

"As I approached, I could see roving bands of young people running in all directions, hell-bent on destruction," the retired official wrote in his recently published book, "A Time of Trouble: Speaking Out on Race and Government Policy."

It was one of two riots and countless other problems that LaPointe dealt with during that volatile period of his 25-year tenure in Lakewood. Like other cities during the civil rights movement, the Central Jersey municipality was a hotbed of racial tension that at times exploded into angry marches and violent disturbances. Unlike other cities, it was a smaller town with only hints of urban flavor – a far cry from Newark and Detroit.

Still, Lakewood's prosperous hotel industry and poultry farming managed to attract large number of blacks and other minorities, LaPointe said. When those industries ran dry hundreds of disgruntled minorities — facing bigotry, unemployment and substandard housing — were left in their wake.

LaPointe's book, published by Cloonfad Press this year, focuses on explaining this time line while putting Lakewood in perspective with the rest of the country.” (Patberg, Asbury Park Press)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070924/NEWS02/709240358/1070/NEWS02

 

IN PHILLIPSBURG

“It isn't a cure-all, but Phillipsburg Mayor Harry Wyant says keg registration could be an important weapon in the fight against underage drinking.

Under such laws, beer sellers are required to tag or otherwise mark kegs and collect contact information from buyers, he said.

The practice, he said, discourages people who are old enough to drink from purchasing alcohol for those who are not.

It also helps police trace kegs found at underage drinking parties and makes retailers think twice about selling to underage buyers, Wyant said.

He plans to introduce a keg registration ordinance to Phillipsburg council in the coming weeks.

"This is a preventive measure," Wyant said. "Anytime we can do something preventive that may save a young person's life or anybody's life, I think we need to do it." ” (Petty, Express-times)

http://www.nj.com/news/expresstimes/nj/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1190606926274570.xml&coll=2

 

IN WEST WINDSOR

“A restaurant owner from West Windsor played host last night to the president of Ecuador and more than 60 members of his council and entourage.

"He's here. He's enjoying himself," said Luis Rivas, the owner of Mediterranean Cafe of Middletown, Pa., last night.” (Remale, Trenton Times)

http://www.nj.com/news/times/regional/index.ssf?/base/news-10/1190606833274660.xml&coll=5

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND

MCGREEVEY ARCHIVES HAVE SOME GLARING OMISSIONS

“Gov. James E. McGreevey's downfall came at the hands of a former staffer named Golan Cipel. But in the state Archives, which keeps the papers of governors and their aides dating to the 1700s, there is no record of Cipel's work. E

Early in his tenure, McGreevey was stung by the revelation that a key staffer on his transition team was an ex-convict. But there is no record of anything that occurred at McGreevey's transition office.

There are no gubernatorial calendars, no day-planners or no briefing memos dealing with the crisis of the moment or the key issues for each week. Nor is there anything detailing the work of his transition team, either of his two chiefs of staff or their deputies, or a written record documenting the agendas or discussions of Cabinet meetings held while he was governor from 2002 to 2004.

Nearly three years after McGreevey resigned in a sex scandal, the official documents left by his administration have been collected and recently catalogued by the state Archives. The collection includes photos, background checks and reams of files from the office of governor's counsel. But a Star-Ledger review shows the McGreevey archive is as telling for what's missing as what's there…………….

Cipel served as McGreevey's homeland security adviser, and later as a special counselor to the governor, before resigning amid questions about his background and qualifications. Ultimately, McGreevey announced he and Cipel had an affair and said he would leave office because Cipel was planning to sue him. Cipel has denied the relationship and claims McGreevey sexually harassed him.

McGreevey said he does not know what happened to Cipel's files. The Archives includes nothing from Cipel's office or anything from Gary Taffet and Jamie Fox, McGreevey's two chiefs of staff. And there is no obvious reference to the criminal investigation that led federal authorities to serve subpoenas on McGreevey's office prior to the indictment of a leading campaign fundraiser.

In an interview and a series of e-mail exchanges, McGreevey said he took home "approximately 10 boxes" of records, containing upward of 2,500 pages each to review before deciding what to send to the Archives. He said he ultimately decided that not one single page should be returned to the state. And in the end, he said, he decided to throw most of the documents out.” (Margolin, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1190522134137920.xml&coll=1

 

DORIA TO HEAD DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS

“Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he has chosen state Sen. Joseph Doria, a lawmaker for more than a quarter century and the mayor of Bayonne for nearly a decade, to lead the state department that oversees local governments.

Doria, a former Assembly speaker, is expected to become acting Department of Community Affairs commissioner on Oct. 9, when he will resign his 31st District Senate seat and his mayoral job. The nomination heads to the Senate for confirmation……………

Doria said his among first priorities will be confronting the issues of affordable housing, local government finances and Meadowlands development.

"As a mayor and legislator, I know firsthand about the impact the Department of Community Affairs can have on people's lives," he said…………

Doria did not seek re-election to the Senate seat he has held for three years after he fell out of favor with fellow Hudson County Democrats. Doria, 61, also served 24 years in the Assembly, where he was speaker in 1990-91.

Doria's resignations will lead to the appointments of Sandra Bolden Cunningham of Jersey City for the last three months of his Senate term, and Bayonne Council President Vincent Lo Re as acting mayor for at least a month. Cunningham won the Senate primary in the overwhelmingly Democratic district and is favored to win a full term in the Nov. 6 election. ” (Hester, AP)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-0/119043525314220.xml&coll=1

JUST A SCENARIO

“Hate to rehash old news about Gov. Jon Corzine announcing yesterday that he was nominating Bayonne Mayor and lame duck Sen. Joseph Doria to the post of state commissioner of Community Affairs. This column was first to say Corzine would do just that, on the front page of the Aug. 4 edition of The Jersey Journal.

The plan here was to reveal that Joseph Waks has resigned as chief of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's state district office. Then, we figured to tease everyone with the obvious – that Waks may return as chief of staff for his old boss Doria. But this item started cropping up on Web sites, and is suddenly old.

Instead, we will be mischievous and look at an impish scenario of how everything could go wrong. Now, this is a "what if," but one to mull over while understanding that the principals probably didn't even think of this – until now – and that they will now probably take precautions to prevent such a "typical Hudson" situation. Here it is.

Let's start with the obvious – Doria is going to Trenton. He is expected to have a Senate committee convene to OK his nomination, and he will start in an acting capacity on Oct. 9 – having given about two weeks notice as mayor and state senator. He does not get rid of the "acting" label until the Legislature reconvenes after the November elections and the full Senate votes on his nomination.

The next fact is that Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, plans to replace Doria in the Senate with Democratic Party nominee Sandra Bolden Cunningham, from Jersey City's Ward F.

Here's another fact, or clue, if you'd like. Cunningham so dislikes Doria.

If there is any way that she – and we include not-so-behind-the-scenes guys Joe Cardwell and Bobby Jackson – can leverage a situation to her advantage, you can bet it will be thoroughly explored.

This means that between October and the Legislature's return in November, Cunningham will be made a state senator – by Healy and company.

Here's the kicker: If she really wants to cause havoc, the open question is whether she can then use senatorial courtesy to block Doria's Senate confirmation to the Department of Community Affairs directorship?” (Torres, Jersey Journal)

http://www.nj.com/columns/jjournal/insider/index.ssf?/base/columns-0/1190441457208650.xml&coll=3

 

AND THEY'RE OFF

“The jockeying for the Bayonne mayor's office has begun, following the news that Joseph V. Doria Jr. is stepping down to become commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.

City Councilman Anthony Chiappone yesterday suggested Patrick Conaghan, whom Doria defeated last year and, barring that, tossed out his own name.

"I think the proper person during the next 13 months would be the person that came in a close second in the last election, and that would be Pat Conaghan," said Chiappone.

"If he's not the choice of the City Council, then as the at-large candidate I would throw my name in there to fill in for the interim period as well."

First Ward Councilman Ted Connolly has said he would like to be mayor as well………..

Asked yesterday if Doria had a preference for who would succeed him, his spokesman, Joe Ryan, said only: "It's up to the City Council. ” (Jersey Journal)

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-3/1190441425208650.xml&coll=3

 

CHRISTIE’S CRUSADE

“The crimes have been outrageous — like the Port Authority commissioner who admitted trying to silence a witness by setting him up with a prostitute and secretly taping their tryst. Or the judge who traveled to Russia to film himself having sex with a teenage boy.

They've also been mundane, like the MVC workers who ran their own driver's license mill.

But the list of government officials and employees arrested by federal agents in New Jersey the past several years shows a spectrum of public servants — from state senators to building inspectors — who authorities said were eager to sell their offices for cash.

For U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, it's a never-ending well.

"Our approach is that there really is no act of corruption too small," said Christie, in an interview with The Record.

More than 125 government officials and employees in New Jersey have been charged with corruption-related crimes in the nearly six years since Christie took office.

The vast majority — 92 public servants in all — pleaded guilty. Two of them died before they were sentenced. Ten more went to trial and were convicted. Two died while charges were pending.

None have been acquitted……………..

If he were pursuing cases merely to be partisan, Christie responded, there would at least be some acquittals.

"Corruption is corruption, no matter which party is doing it," he said. "Both have participated in it in this state and both have been brought to task for it by our office.”

At the same time, he quickly noted that more Democrats are currently in office than Republicans, tilting the probability factor.

Describing municipal and school boards as "farm teams" for higher office, Christie said, "you need to try to nip this stuff in the bud at the local level before they get into positions of greater power where they have the opportunity to steal even more money."……………

A former corporate lawyer, Morris County freeholder and fund-raiser for President Bush, Christie has a staff of 139 lawyers in what is the nation's seventh-largest U.S. Attorney's Office. Its corruption unit had seven attorneys when he arrived. He's more than doubled that to 16.” (Sampson, Bergen Record)

http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2MDcmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTcxOTkxNzkmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXky

 

OINK!

“Jersey City Chief Municipal Court Judge Wanda Molina has resigned amid an investigation into possible irregularities related to parking tickets, officials said yesterday.

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said his office will look into the matter but added that he wants "to make it clear that there are no criminal charges."

He said the resignation, which took effect at noon on Thursday, "had to do with parking tickets, the disposition of parking tickets."

Molina sent a copies of her resignation to state Superior Court Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.

The letter simply states: "By way of this letter I am submitting my resignation as judge of the Jersey City Municipal Court effective noontime today (9/20/07). I thank you for the opportunity to have served this court and the people of Jersey City."

Healy said he did not want to comment further due to the ongoing investigation. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has appointed state Superior Court Judge Sheila A. Venable to temporarily fill Molina's position. ” (Conte, Jersey Journal)

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-4/1190441671208650.xml&coll=3

 

WILSON QUOTES WILSON

“It has come to this in New Jersey: the state Republican Party chairman quoting a Democratic icon.

Tom Wilson, head of the state GOP, quoted President Woodrow Wilson in arguing that a panel formed to advise New Jersey governors on ethics is a public agency.

"We believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety," wrote President Wilson, who was New Jersey's governor from 1911 to 1913.

Wilson's lawsuit, which seeks to make public the e-mails between Democratic Gov. Corzine and a state union leader he dated, has turned attention to the Ethics Advisory Panel that quietly works with New Jersey governors.

Corzine is arguing that the group – apparently unique to New Jersey – and its work is private, but Republicans contend that no government agency can escape public scrutiny and that it must release the governor's e-mails.

"People have a right to see what the panel saw and reach their own conclusions," Wilson said.

Corzine's administration contends that would make the panel useless.

"The panel simply cannot perform its role of gubernatorial adviser if the governor and his representatives are unable to consult with the panel in a completely confidential manner," Assistant Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida wrote in a court filing.” (Hester, AP)

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/nj/20070923_GOP_attacks_secrecy_of_Corzines_ethics_panel.html

 

OTHER STATES HAVE ETHICS PROBLEMS TOO

“In a pre-election showdown, the state's political parties faced off last week over ethics reform, an issue heightened by the recent arrests and indictments of prominent New Jersey politicians.

But while the battle rages on in Trenton, and both Democrats and Republicans have declared the need for stronger ethics measures, the legislative push for reform stretches far past New Jersey.

This year, state Legislatures across the nation introduced more than 200 bills to crack down on unethical behavior and remove conflicts connected to legislators' elected positions, according to information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

"What has happened is there have been enough scandals, at the national level particularly, that has made legislatures cognizant of the potential for impropriety," said Peggy Kerns, director of the NCSL's Center for Ethics in Government.

From California to Connecticut, states have proposed measures banning officials from dual office-holding, holding public jobs while in office, accepting gifts from lobbyists and receiving campaign contributions from contractors.

Only a few states do not have financial disclosure requirements, and those that don't require legislators to disclose potential voting conflicts.

"The trend is definitely toward more transparency, more openness, all to try to ease skepticism that the public has toward public officials," Kerns said. ” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)

http://www.nj.com/news/gloucester/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1190532423185840.xml&coll=8

WHO WILL CHALLENGE LOBIONDO?

“Two competitive races for the U.S. House of Representatives are shaping up in New Jersey, where State Sen. John Adler is challenging 12-term Rep. Jim Saxton, and Assemblywoman Linda Stender is seeking a rematch against Rep. Mike Fergsuon in a contest that was decided by just one percentage point last year.

That’s two out of the three races that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says they plan to target in New Jersey. But in the second district, where Democrats keep saying Rep. Frank LoBiondo is vulnerable, no clear candidate has emerged to take him on.

The most prominent name in the running has been Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, who’s currently enmeshed in a tight state Senate campaign GOP Republican incumbent Nicholas Asselta. Democrats insist that a Van Drew victory for state Senate in district one, along with a win by Jim Whelan in the another Senate district, would be a bad omen for LoBiondo. It could even give the Democrats the momentum they need to move Van Drew up to Congress, they say.

Van Drew, the Cape May Democrat who tops most short lists of potential LoBiondo rivals, isn’t going to run in 2008, according to his campaign manager.

“He’s not running for Congress. He’s got way too much on his plate right now,” said Allison Murphy, who is managing Van Drew’s campaign to oust Asselta. “I can safely say he’s not running next year, but maybe sometime soon.”” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/who-will-challenge-lobiondo-van-drew-says-it-wont-be-him-12036

LUIS QUINTANA – THE FIRST “DECENT” HISPANIC NEWARK COUNCILMAN

“The idea was hatched a year ago, when several Newark councilmembers heard about King Sau, a local artist who also produced children's coloring books. Why not ask Sau to create a coloring book to educate Newark's children about the city's historical figures during the 20th and 21st centuries? The result, released this week, is a 16-page book featuring rudimentary drawings of Mayor Cory Booker, all nine of the councilmembers, several business owners and other pioneers in the city's history. It also is peppered with glaring grammatical, spelling and factual errors.” (Wang and Mays, Star-Ledger)……………….

The book, which cost the cash-strapped city at least $10,000 for 4,000 copies, will be distributed by city councilmembers when they make public appearances with children.

"We are so excited about this and look forward to getting this out in the community," said Council President Mildred Crump, who encouraged Sau and helped him with the book. "I said, 'We don't have anything that chronicles history for our kids.'"

But when a reporter pointed out the clumsily worded first question in the book's quiz section that reads, "What number Mayor was Cory A. Booker to govern after 1970?" Crump replied, "Oh my God! I did some of the editing."

Other errors include calling Councilman Luis Quintana the first person of Hispanic "decent," to be elected to the municipal council and applauding journalist Harry Webber's coverage of the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1930. Lindbergh's baby was not kidnapped until 1932, and the famous aviator's name was misspelled in the coloring book.”……………

The premiere edition focuses heavily on Newark politicians — former, current, dead and indicted. Conspicuously absent are figures such as former Mayor Hugh Addonizio or the late U.S. Congressman Peter Rodino Jr., who represented Newark for 40 years on Capitol Hill.

Asked why Addonizio was not included in the book, Sau said he felt there already are enough politicians in the book.” (Wang and Mays, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1190522504137920.xml&coll=1

 

HOUSING WOES

New Jersey has the nation's highest property taxes and housing costs that have been 50 percent higher than the national average.

Recent national problems with subprime mortgages have added to such woes.

Amid those worries, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. said housing will be a major focus when legislators return to action following November's elections.

But while several legislators are already proposing action, state affordable housing advocates are worried plans by Gov. Jon S. Corzine to build 100,000 new homes in the next 10 years for low-income families haven't moved fast enough.

Corzine on Sept. 14 said his housing plan could cost as much as $300 million per year and questioned whether the state could pay for it

"Unfortunately, I don't know if we would be able to afford it," Corzine said.

The nonprofit Housing & Community Development Network of New Jersey last week sent a letter to the governor saying it was "extremely disappointed" with that statement.” (Hester, AP)

http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070923/UPDATES01/70923004/1005/NEWS01

 

CORZINE SIGNALS THAT GAY MARRIAGE WILL COME.. SOMEDAY

“Gov. Jon Corzine sees gay marriage coming to New Jersey — but not next year, when, he says, it could be exploited to provoke a backlash affecting the presidential race. Conservatives in New Jersey are pushing to put a proposed constitutional amendment, prohibiting same-sex marriage, on the 2008 ballot.” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Against that backdrop, a state commission this week will hold the first of three biweekly hearings, scheduled for Wednesday evenings, to examine how well the state's 7-month-old civil unions law is working.

Civil unions are intended to give same-sex couples all the benefits and obligations that state law confers through marriage, only under a different name. The advisory commission is charged with investigat ing whether civil unions are living up to that promise and can recommend "additional protections" for same-sex couples.

Corzine told a group of gay journalists this month he thinks New Jersey will eventually allow same- sex couples to marry, but that next year is "too early," according to his press secretary, Lilo Stainton.

His fear is the issue will get hi jacked by conservatives; it will become a political tool for conservatives rather than an intelligent debate," Stainton said. Corzine believes "this is not a debate that New Jersey or the nation is ready for now, but it's something that should be on the table within a few years, possibly as early as 2009," she said.” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1190522165137920.xml&coll=1

 

MIND THE GAP

“The turmoil in the nation's housing, credit and financial markets may leave an unwanted byproduct for the state of New Jersey: a bigger budget problem.

State officials already are bracing to close a gap of about $2.5 billion between projected spending and revenues in the budget year that begins July 1. Now, the odds are growing that the state could face a serious revenue slump that could add to that hole — or punch one into the current budget.

States like Delaware, Virginia, and California already are reporting shortfalls. New York City officials expressed growing concern about stalling revenues this past week, while New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer is forecasting a state budget gap of about $4 billion.

With the housing market already in a serious slump, some economists, including Robert Shiller of Yale University, are concerned that sector's problems could trigger a full-blown recession. Some oil industry experts contend $100 per barrel oil may not be far off. The National Retail Federation announced last week it expects holiday sales to grow at their most sluggish rate in five years.

Factors like these all could affect New Jersey's revenues, and stir fears of a downturn similar to 2001, when income taxes alone were off $1.1 billion. The state has been staving off deficits ever since…………….

At this point, state officials aren't pushing the panic button. Bradley Abelow, former treasurer and now chief of staff to Gov. Jon Corzine, said that less than three months into the budget year, there isn't enough data on revenue collections to show a trend. Most of the state's taxes normally arrive after Christmas.

"While there are lots of signs in the real economy of things that potentially could be a concern, those are not yet reflected in what we actually have seen in our collections," Abelow said.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1190522275137920.xml&coll=1

 

SOAP OPERA DIGEST

“A judge yesterday ordered former Gov. Jim McGreevey to more than double the amount of support he must pay his estranged wife. Superior Court Judge Karen M. Cassidy said Dina Matos McGreevey should get $2,500 a month, rejecting her request for $4,000 a month. Cassidy said that was not needed, noting that Matos McGreevey said she needed to spend $2,200 a month on clothing.

"It seemed a little high," the judge said.

Matos McGreevey has been receiving $1,129 a month, and maintained that was insufficient to meet the needs of herself and the couple's 5-year-old daughter.

A lawyer for the former governor, Matthew D. Piermatti, argued that his client's income was decreasing now that he had entered an Episcopalian seminary. McGreevey had offered to increase support to $1,691 a month.

Matos McGreevey lawyer John N. Post countered that the former governor voluntarily increased the amount of support he sent to his teen daughter from his first marriage to about $2,400 a month. ” (Gold, AP)

 

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/nj/20070922_McGreevey_support_to_ex-wife_raised.html

 

IN DISTRICT 9

“Democrats hoping to break the Republican stranglehold on the 9th Legislative District say the multiple municipal appointments held by two incumbents running for election in November create conflicts of interest.

The legal work performed by Assemblymen Christopher J. Connors and Brian E. Rumpf, both R-Ocean, as attorneys for numerous municipal and county governing bodies detracts from their abilities to serve the larger interests of the district, said Michele Rosen, a Democrat running for an Assembly seat.

"There's a reason people are cynical about government and power and those who govern," Rosen said. "That's because of what they perceive of what's going on. It's not crooked according to law, but that's the perception."

Connors, 51, has served in the Assembly since 1989 and is seeking to win election to a Senate seat held by his father, Leonard T. Connors Jr., since 1982.

The younger Connors is a partner in the Lacey law firm of Dasti, Murphy, McGuckin, Ulaky, Cherkos & Connors, which provides counsel for at least nine municipalities in Ocean County.

He said there is "absolutely" no connection or conflict between his legal work and legislative decision making.” (Pais, Asbury Park Press)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070922/NEWS02/709220372/1070/NEWS02

 

IN MARLBORO

“In Marlboro, Democratic Mayoral candidate Jon Hornik is demanding that Republican MayorRobert Kleinberg give back money he took from former Mayor Matthew Scannapieco, who admitted to taking $245,000 from developers."

Mayor Kleinberg has taken money from felons and given Marlboro the highest property taxes in New Jersey and overdevelopment," Hornik said.

The Democrat pointed out that Kleinberg’s Republican Club took $2,610.08 from Scannapieco according to Republican Club minutes of January 26, 2004. In addition, one of Kleinberg’s ball committees took $1,100 from Triangle Ridge at Marlboro, LLC, whose principles are under indictment, according to township disclosure statements………….

Kleinberg has repeatedly denied any close connection to Scannapieco, aside from the fact that he and the disgraced former mayor are members of the same party.The mayorsays he has cooperated with the U.S. Attorney's Office in cleaning up Marlboro, a boast the Democrats say was simply his obligation under the law.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/hornik-intent-making-scannapieco-issue-kleinberg-12040

 

POU GETS INVOLVED IN LABOR DISPUTE

“Picked on by her Republican opponent as the existing weak link of a 35th District ticket riven by scandal, Assemblywoman Nellie Pou today stood in the rain at the head of 100 workers outside the Majestic Restaurant in Wayne and promised to get state Attorney General Anne Milgram to enforce New Jersey’s labor laws.

Restaurant workers have already bound together here with union backing to force several area restaurants to pay fair wages, but places like the Majestic are dragging their heels, according to Tony Tsai, a former employee. Charging a slave labor situation, Tsai says Majestic’s management doesn’t pay workers a base wage and demands kickbacks of $15 per day from the buffet restaurant staff. On weekends, they demand $20 per day.

Labor is backing Tsai, and Pou says she’ll back labor.

"We’re calling out the Department of Labor to do something about these unfair practices," said Ray Stever, president of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council (IUC), in remarks following Tsai’s megaphone challenge to his former employer.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)

http://www.politicsnj.com/pou-promises-work-milgram-labor-standards-12039

 

TOO LATE

“A conservative group waited too long to file a lawsuit asking a judge to scrap a statewide ballot question that seeks approval to borrow $450 million for stem-cell research, the state Attorney General's Office claims in legal papers filed Friday.

The Morristown-based Legal Center for Defense of Life sued, claiming the question is unfair because it doesn't say embryonic stem-cell research will be included and implies that profits from the research will repay the bonds, when sales and property taxes also could be used.

The suit also contends the research will lead to human cloning.

In court papers filed Friday in advance of a Monday hearing, the state says the suit — filed a week before the state's 21 county clerks must begin printing ballots — could hamper November's elections. Gov. Corzine approved the language in July, and it has been included in draft legislation for two years, the state claims.

"They have innumerable opportunities to inform New Jerseyans of what they believe to be the shortcomings of the law, whether the question and interpretive statement are on the ballot or not," reads the state's legal brief, urging Superior Court Judge Neil H. Shuster to deny a temporary restraining order against printing ballots.

Edward Gilhooly, the lawyer who filed the suit, called that argument lame.

"They've known all along it was deception, so why do they put that burden on us?" Gilhooly asked. "They knew they were trying to trick the voters."” (Volpe, Gannett)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070922/NEWS03/709220359/1007

 

SIEMASZKIEWICZ LOSES HOPE FOR MEETING DEADLINE

“The trio of Republican candidates in the 37th District are in danger of being bounced from the "Clean Elections" project.

Wojciech Siemaszkiewicz, an Assembly candidate from Bergenfield, said he doesn't think he and his running mate, Frank J. Cifarelli of Hackensack, will collect the crucial 400 individual donations of $10 by next Sunday, the deadline to qualify for a minimum of $50,000 in public campaign funds.

Despite having all summer and part of the spring to hit the fund-raising target, both candidates collected only 122 donations each, far below the halfway mark, state Election Law Enforcement Commission reports show.

"Unfortunately, I don't think we are going to make it," said Siemaszkiewicz, a research librarian at the New York Public Library. You never know what is going to happen. We still have one week to go."

The closely watched campaign reform, undergoing a test run in the 37th and two other districts this fall, is supposed to rid races of special-interest money by supplying candidates with public funds — after they pass a crucial test.” (Stile, Bergen Record)

http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2MDcmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTcxOTkwNTYmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXky

 

BUT ISN’T THE TURNPIKE THE STATE’S “CROWN JEWEL?”

“The New Jersey Turnpike has left the state with a reputation as the home of billowing smokestacks and oil refineries.

The vision blocked by these Turnpike eyesores is what will be highlighted in a new state tourism campaign scheduled to begin Monday on numerous billboards, radio stations and Web sites in the northeast region of the country.

For the first time, the state's tourism advertising campaign will feature 14 specific destinations for visitors to experience. This represents a shift from the regional focus prior campaigns have used with trips to the Jersey Shore and other traditional attractions that contribute to the state's $37 billion tourism industry.

"It was good to tell people to come to New Jersey," said Nancy Byrne, executive director of the state Division of Travel and Tourism. "Now we are telling them where to go in New Jersey."

With the advertising slogan, "Great Destinations in Any Direction," the campaign promotes lesser-known tourist attractions and touts the state's diversity.

The $650,000 ad campaign will display the bed and breakfasts in Cape May, family kayaking in the Pinelands, golfing in Vernon, hot air ballooning in Readington, Rutgers University football in Piscataway and a ballet performance at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton.

"We want people to think about New Jersey differently," Byrne said. (Williams, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1190522550137920.xml&coll=1

 

HISPANICS EXPAND INFLUENCE IN MONMOUTH AND OCEAN

The first time Violeta Peters ran for public office in Long Branch, she used her maiden name — Nazario — together with her married name so voters would know she was Hispanic. Nazario-Peters lost by 17 votes.

When Peters ran again for a Board of Education seat three years later, in 1990, she dropped her maiden name. The Puerto Rican native won the election and has remained on the board ever since…………

In 2006, nearly one of every 13 residents in Monmouth and Ocean counties was Hispanic, according to U.S. Census estimates. Yet Peters is one of just a handful who hold elective office in the region.

Though Latino community leaders would like to see more Hispanics as members of councils and school boards, they say political power and influence are not measured only by counting those who sit on daises.

A population that ballooned by 38.2 percent from 2000 to 2006, a growing number of Latino-owned businesses that will become funding sources for future political campaigns and the grass-roots social and political groups that have emerged as a response to immigration-related debates are just some of the ways to measure a community on the rise politically, said Frank Argote-Freyre, head of the Monmouth County chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.” (Penton, Asbury Park Press)

http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070923/NEWS/709230395

 

SO THAT’S WHY HE WAS SUCH A POPULAR DEAN

Paul Mehne was a popular dean on the Camden campus of the state’s medical school, well-liked by the small cadre of students there who felt their satellite program in South Jersey was something special. What troubled investigators, however, is that none of his students ever seemed to fail. A new report by a federal monitor, scheduled to be released tomorrow, concludes that Mehne doctored the grades of several medical school students, including some now practicing medicine, giving passing test scores to those who came up short on exams needed to begin specialty rotations.” (Sherman and Margolin, Star-Ledger)

The report’s conclusions were outlined by two sources who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it. Officials in the office of the monitor, former federal Judge Herbert J. Stern, declined comment. The report has been forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Mehne, 59, associate dean for academic and student affairs who headed the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Camden campus, was abruptly relieved of his duties three months ago without explanation just weeks before he was scheduled to retire. The monitor’s staff acknowledged at the time they were looking into allegations of wrongdoing at the South Jersey school.

An experienced mountain climber and Eagle Scout, Mehne had been at UMDNJ since February 1992. In addition to his position as associate dean, he also was an associate professor of family medicine, earning $163,340 a year.” (Sherman and Margolin, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-8/1190522242137920.xml&coll=1

IN RUTHERFORD

“RUTHERFORD — The Republican mayoral candidate Friday called on Mayor Bernadette McPherson to convene a special Borough Council meeting to terminate an agreement with EnCap, the beleaguered developer of a proposed golf and resort village in Rutherford and Lyndhurst.

"It is obvious to nearly everyone that EnCap cannot meet its financial responsibilities and is ill-prepared to continue its projects and deliver on what it has promised," GOP candidate John Hipp, an environmental lawyer, said in a press release. "It's time the mayor and council severed their financial relationship with EnCap and stopped pretending that the borough is going to reap a financial windfall from this ill-advised development."

Hipp's request came after the New Jersey Meadowland Commission on Wednesday sent a caution notice to EnCap and gave the developer a Nov. 20 deadline to meet contractual obligations and take care of outstanding defaults. If the company does not comply, the commission could take legal action.” (Superville, Herald News)

http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk2MDcmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTcxOTgzNDgmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXky

 

IN SOMERSET COUNTY

“Somerset has become the latest county to agree to make refunds to people who were overcharged for copies of public records.

The county freeholders last week agreed to set aside $424,076 for reimbursements for overcharges in the county clerk's office. As part of the agreement, which requires court approval, County Clerk Brett Radi said he also will reduce charges to use copying machines in his office.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/somerset/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1190522207137920.xml&coll=1

 

IN MIDDLE TOWNSHIP

“MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – A Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a referendum to add members to the Township Committee will not be on the ballot in November.

The referendum sought to increase the three-member body, composed of Democrats, to five members.

The township's Regular Republican Organization sought a court intervention to reinstate more than 100 names on a petition that the township clerk's office deemed invalid or did not accept. Local GOP leader Robert "Budd" Springer, who led the move to reinstate the names, said he was surprised by Judge Valerie Armstrong's decision. He has not decided whether to appeal.” (Ianieri, Press of Atlantic City)

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/local/capemay/story/7503869p-7401188c.html

 

Today’s news from PoliticsNJ.com