Menendez puts anonymous hold on federal prosecutor’s nomination, “Ticket-gate” investigation widens, Corzine defends his record, Giuliani stops by Bridewater, McGettigan upset about push poll, eighth district state Senate race between a former Democrat and former Republican, Ferriero will back Clinton.
MENENDEZ’S ANONYMOUS SENATORIAL HOLD
“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is blocking the promotion of a federal prosecutor in Puerto Rico whose office is investigating the island's governor, an ally of the senator, according to published reports.
Menendez's move was confirmed by The Star-Ledger this week through another senator's aide, who asked not to be identified because the "senatorial hold" is supposed to be anonymous. It was first reported in Puerto Rican newspapers, including the English language daily San Juan Star.
The New Jersey senator is a frequent visitor to Puerto Rico and has close political ties to Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vila. The two Democrats served in the House together earlier this decade. Both came under scrutiny by federal investigators beginning last year.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Juan is conducting a grand jury probe into Acevedo-Vila's fundraising activities. The governor's office has confirmed the investigation, while criticizing it as a political witch hunt.
The No. 2 official and acting head of the San Juan office, Rosa Rodriguez-Velez, was nominated by President Bush in January to become U.S. Attorney for the island. The nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously in August but has not been scheduled for a full Senate vote because of the hold.
A spokesman for Menendez, Afshin Mohamadi, said the senator would not answer questions about the matter because "our policy is we don't comment or speculate on holds on Department of Justice nominees…………..
Menendez is not the only New Jersey Democrat with ties to Puerto Rico's governor. Acevedo-Vila endorsed Jon Corzine in the 2005 election, and attended his inaugural as governor the following January.” (Margolin, Star-Ledger)
“The inquiry into "Ticket-gate" widened yesterday as the state Attorney General's Office announced it has launched an investigation into issues leading to the resignation of Jersey City's chief municipal court judge who, according to sources, may fixed tickets for a woman she was romantically involved with.
It also came to light yesterday that another judge has taken an unpaid leave of absence related to fixing tickets, officials said.
Jersey City Chief Municipal Court Judge Wanda Molina resigned Sept. 20 in the wake of allegations she improperly disposed of parking tickets issued to her partner, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Municipal Court Judge Erwin Rosen took an unpaid leave of absence effective Tuesday as a result of allegations he "improperly dismissed one of his own parking tickets," according to the same sources.
The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office had been investigating ticket fixing by Municipal Court employees, but Hudson County Trial Court Administrator Joseph Davis confirmed yesterday that the Attorney General's Office has become the lead agency looking into the matter.
Along with Molina, the Attorney General's Office is investigating Municipal Court employees Victor Matos and Virginia Pagan, who were suspended based on allegations that they fixed their own tickets, officials said. Their suspensions came before Molina's resignation. ” (Conte, Jersey Journal)
HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE: CORZINE DRAWS AN ANALOGY
“Some critics of Gov. Jon S. Corzine have said that the injuries sustained in his April car accident have softened the public’s feelings towards him. And at a press conference today, Corzine did not shy away from using the analogy of his own injury to defend his record.
Corzine, who came into office on a reform platform, has faced criticism by Republicans for not doing enough to advance promised reforms in Trenton. But Corzine countered the charges of abandoning his agenda by likening reform to the slow process of healing from his April car accident.
“I feel pretty good about where we are on those things. Do I feel satisfied? No. Is there a lot of work to do? Yes,” said Corzine. “It’s like this leg. Every day I work on this leg to make sure that it gets stronger, more flexible and better. But I’m not out running a 100-yard dash with it.”
Corzine said that even though it grandfathered in current dual office-holders, the ban on the practice that he signed last month was a huge reform considering that the practice had been debated since the 1947 constitutional convention, and that it would eventually eliminate dual office-holding altogether. He went on to tout his administration’s progress in capping property taxes, a plan he said that was more ambitious than the one he campaigned on, and creating the position of a governor-appointed comptroller, even if not an elected one.
His administration had made great progress in reforming Trenton, said Corzine, but it can’t be done at once.
“Not everything has to be exactly as defined,” said Corzine. “What I’m talking about is getting up every day, going to work and working on the agenda that I talked about with the public.”” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
In his first public appearance since leaving a Camden hospital following surgery to remove excess bone growth from the left thigh bone he broke in a near-fatal car crash five months ago, Corzine warned Democrats they should not feel "insulated" from voter backlash over corruption scandals.
The governor was responding to a question about a Quinnipiac Poll this week that showed while nine in ten New Jersey voters saw corruption as a serious issue, 54 percent said they weren't more likely to vote for the minority Republican Party.
"This Democrat doesn't feel insulated," Corzine said. "I don't feel insulated. Anybody who feels insulated from the fact that the environment continues to grow new people who would abuse the system is wrong." (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
“Number one on the governor's to-do list seems to be figuring out a way to maintain New Jersey's subsidized health-insurance program for the working poor in the face of a possible funding cut from Washington.
The program, known as S-CHIP in Washington and marketed as part of FamilyCare in New Jersey, covers about 40,000 North Jersey children and nearly 29,000 of their parents.
Another top priority for the governor will be rolling out and letting the debate begin on "monetization," Corzine's plan to generate cash for debt relief by changing the way the state operates toll roads and other state assets. Corzine is also looking to push for new ethics reforms, such as a stiffer dual-office holding ban, and for a new school-funding formula.” (Reitmeyer, Bergen Record)
GIULIAIN PAYS A VISIT
“As Rudy Giuliani slowly made his way past the media crush to the entrance of the Redwood Inn in Bridgewater, a reporter asked him if he had seen the Quinnipiac poll released today that had him running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in New Jersey.
“You know what I look at? The one that has me ahead by about 35 percent in the Republican primary,” said Giuliani. “I think that all the polls in Democratic states demonstrate one thing very clearly: that I’m the most competitive Republican candidate. I’m the only Republican candidate that can win in all 50 states.
Giuliani made a brief stop over at a $75-a-head fundraiser in Bridgewater to say thank you to the Somerset County Republican Organization, who, in January, became the first county organization in the state to throw their support behind him. Afterwards, he was off to raise money for himself at a private house party simulcast across the country………….
And there was, of course, that overarching theme – that Giuliani is the first Republican presidential candidate to have a good shot at winning New Jersey since George H. W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis here in 1988.…………….
New Jerseyans, Giuliani said, were painfully aware of the threat of Islamic terrorism – not just from 9/11, but from the recent arrest of the six alleged Fort Dix attack plotters.
“Look at the Islamic terrorists that the U.S. Attorney here in New Jersey arrested a few months ago who were going to attack Fort Dix,” said Giuliani. “So nobody’s exaggerated this, nobody’s making it up” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“TALK ABOUT OPENING OLD WOUNDS”
“A recent telephone poll apparently aimed in part at pushing voters toward Republican candidates has the Democratic Atlantic County executive candidate charging that it pushed too far into his private life.
A question in the so-called push poll asked those polled if they would be "more or less inclined to support" James McGettigan's bid to be Atlantic County executive if they knew he was a deadbeat dad who was ordered by the court to make child-support payments.
The issue centers on charges made by McGettigan's ex-wife during his successful 1993 campaign for Atlantic County sheriff, a position he still holds. McGettigan eventually made court-ordered child-support payments for his ex-wife's two children, telling The Press of Atlantic City at the time that he did so even though he had not adopted the children, whose father was still alive.
McGettigan said he is angry that whoever ordered the poll would include a personal situation that was settled years ago.
"That's how ruthless they are," McGettigan said. "Talk about opening old wounds. They're sticking their noses where they don't belong."
McGettigan said his two children with his current wife don't know about the situation raised in the poll. He also said the poll was administered the same week his ex-wife died.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
“PLUCKING BODINE OUT OF NO-MAN’S LAND”
“Each started out in the party of the other, and now 8th district State Senate candidates Fran Bodine and Phil Haines stare from their adopted battlements at the remnants of the parties they left behind – or that left them – or that really no longer exist.
The Burlington County Clerk, Haines, shakes his head in cheery bewilderment as he considers Bodine’s Benedict Arnold moment last spring, when the 14-year Assemblyman stood with U.S. Rep. Bob Andrews to announce his defection from the GOP ranks to run for state Senate as a Democrat.
Bodine likewise won’t accept an invitation to reflect on the Burlington County politicians’ mutual pasts without reminding the listener of Haines’ political beginnings. "I really got to know Phil back when he was a Democrat," muses Bodine.
Haines admits his father was a Democratic Party freeholder who once sat on a stage in Willingboro Plaza with John F. Kennedy. He even sheepishly confesses that he voted for George McGovern in 1972. But Haines says that by the time the 1990s arrived, the party of P2-109 skipper Kennedy and bomber pilot turned-peacenik McGovern had abandoned him.
"I support the typical small government approach," said Haines, a veteran of the Army National Guard. "I felt the Republican Party at the time – and I still do – is the best expression of that belief."
Given the history of this Republican-leaning district, home of the U.S. Army’s Fort Dix and two-thirds Pinelands, Haines and his supporters believe that even if a lot of voters recognize the name "Bodine" they’re going to see a "D" alongside of it and reflexively punch the "R" button. It doesn’t hurt that Haines’ family farmed in Burlington going back to 1675.
But the Democrats gleefully highlight Burlington County’s W-assisted tilt in recent years into their party’s column, a phenomenon epitomized by a Democratic Party municipal romp in Evesham in the spring that left Councilwoman Debbie Sarcone the lone-standing Republican. Plucking Bodine out of no-man’s land after Republican leaders flatly told the assemblyman that he wouldn’t be the senate candidate to replace Martha Bark, the Democrats feel they’ve pulled off a coup for conservatism. ” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
IT GETS A LITTLE MORE RIDICULOUS EVERY DAY
“This time it was Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck's turn to file an ethics complaint against state Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, her opponent in the District 12 Senate race.
Earlier this week, Karcher filed an ethics complaint against Beck.
In this latest volley, Beck asked for an investigation into literature about Internet predators sent by the Democratic State Committee on behalf of Karcher.
Beck said that the issue with the Karcher mailer is that it asks residents to support her efforts to thwart Internet predators by mailing back a postcard attached to the mailer. The address on the postcard is to Karcher's legislative office in Freehold.
"It's a mail piece paid for by the Democratic State Committee and has a return card to her legislative office," Beck said.
In letters sent Wednesday to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission and the Legislature's Joint Committee on Ethical Standards, Beck said several issues need to be resolved, including who is collecting the information that comes into Karcher's district office in response and how that information is being used……….
"No laws were broken, and no tax dollars were used, period," said Robert Corrales, Karcher's campaign spokesman. "Beck can't say the same thing, which is why she is trying to divert attention from her ethical lapse."” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
MARCIA “BODY SLAM” KARROW
“The Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office will not file criminal charges against state Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow after reviewing allegations brought by township Committeewoman Chris Harcar.
Prosecutor's Deputy Chief of Detectives Dan Hurley on Wednesday said the major crimes unit investigated the Harcar allegations.
"As a result of the investigation, the office decided this would be better heard at the municipal court level," Hurley said. "No charges are going to be filed by this office."
The prosecutor's office decision led Harcar to file a citizen's complaint Sept. 9 against Karrow in the Raritan Township Municipal Court. Records show she is charging the assemblywoman with simple assault and harassment.
Karrow could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. She has said Harcar was "stinking drunk" when she showed up uninvited at a June 3 pre-election night phone banking event.
In a statement to police, Harcar claimed Karrow pushed her into a podium twice, injuring her left arm. Doctors told her what she initially believed was a spasm was a fracture, her attorney has said.
Flemington attorney William Deni Sr. represents Karrow. He said Wednesday the case would likely be moved to another jurisdiction…………..
Karrow has said Harcar took one of the scripts for the phone calls from a volunteer and refused to give it back.
"I ripped it out of her hand and she said to me, 'You attacked me' and I looked at everybody and I said, 'Chris, you are trespassing, you are not welcome here and we want this script back and I did not attack you,'" Karrow said.” (Quigley, Express-times)
YOU KNEW HE WOULDN’T BACK THE SAME CANDIDATE AS WEINBERG
“Here's a new title for Bergen County Democratic Organization boss Joe Ferriero: Friend of Hillary.
The New York senator will be endorsed sometime in the next two weeks by Ferriero, the Bergen Democratic chairman who has maintained close-to-the-vest silence as Clinton and her chief rival for the nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, courted him over the past year, three sources with knowledge of Ferriero's plans said Wednesday.
But with New Jersey polls showing Clinton pulling away from Obama, Ferriero has decided to ditch the Hamlet pose and adopt a new role as a "Hillraiser" — a Clinton supporter who can raise piles of cash.
Ferriero declined comment Wednesday other than to say that, "rest assured," whomever he endorses will be flanked at a news conference with a lineup of Bergen County officials and Democratic Party leaders — in other words, an old-school political pageant, a show of force, not the small cluster of supporters who joined state Sen. Loretta Weinberg for her endorsement of Obama on Monday.
Ferriero's support bestows an invaluable Election Day ground crew of workers at Clinton's disposal and, most important, his formidable fund-raising powers. He will be free to tap many longtime contributors who have stopped giving to state races because of "pay-to-play" fund-raising restrictions.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
SAXTON HANDS ADLER A CAMPAIGN ISSUE
“The partisan divide in New Jersey's congressional delegation, which remains deep over the Iraq war, is narrower when it comes to a health care issue the Democrat-controlled Congress considers a top priority but President Bush says he'll veto.
All nine Democrats — seven congressmen and both senators — support expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion and renewing it for five years beyond its expiration Sunday. Three Republican House members joined the Democrats in voting for the House's SCHIP bill late Tuesday.
Three Republican House members (LoBiondo, Ferguson, Smith) joined the Democrats in voting for the House's SCHIP bill late Tuesday.
The remaining three GOP lawmakers voted against the measure, which has Gov. Jon S. Corzine's support.
Rep. Jim Saxton, R-Mount Holly, was among the Republicans who voted no. He supports renewing SCHIP but not by $35 billion and would be open to increasing funding beyond the $5 billion Bush proposes, his spokesman, Jeff Sagnip, said Wednesday.
He accused Democrats of using SCHIP for political gain.
"They could have done this earlier this year. They timed it so they could trick . . . the public into believing that this is an issue of good guys versus bad guys," he said. "The argument seems to be we voted against children. Which is pure rhetoric."” (Chebium, Gannett)
THINK IT OVER
“A judge has postponed the bribery cases of seven current and former public officials arrested this month in a corruption scandal to allow for plea negotiations, according to court papers.
The court documents don't detail any potential plea deals, and federal prosecutors wouldn't comment in a state never short of political scandal.
Among those granted 60-day continuances of their cases by U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni is former Democratic Assemblyman Mims Hackett Jr., who resigned after he and 11 other people were arrested Sept. 5. Hackett remains mayor of Orange.
Also granted continuances were Passaic Mayor Samuel Rivera and Passaic City Councilman Marcellus Jackson, three current and former Pleasantville officials, and Keith Reid, chief of staff to the Newark City Council president. A Pleasantville resident who does not hold office was also granted a continuance.” (Hester, AP)
OPRA HAS NO TEETH
“New Jersey's law guaranteeing the public the right to inspect government records is so easily circumvented it is largely "illusory," one of the nation's leading experts on open government said yesterday.
Mitchell Pearlman, who was executive director of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission for more than 30 years, said the problem is not the law itself but the ease with which the governor, a state agency or a single house of the Legislature — acting alone — can exempt records from public disclosure.
"That makes the law itself illusory," Pearlman said at a news conference at the Statehouse Annex in Trenton. "If there is something corrupt, something embarrassing to the administration, the power is there to exempt it."
Pearlman said it should require passage of a new law — which must be approved by both houses of the Legislature and the governor — to exempt records that are accessible to citizens under the Open Public Records Act.
OPRA took effect in July 2002, replacing an earlier "Right to Know" law that was widely re garded as the weakest in the nation. Pearlman said OPRA is "a significant improvement," but is "in need of fundamental repair to its substantive provisions … ."
Pearlman said the Government Records Council, which was set up to enforce OPRA, is underfunded, understaffed and lacks independence because the governor appoints all five of its members, at least one of whom must be a member of the minority party.
"Not all of them should be appointed by the governor, maybe two or three," Pearlman said. He recommended two members be appointed by the legislative leaders of the party out of power and that one member come from an organization committed to open government………..
State Republican Chairman Tom Wilson said that is why he went to court, rather than the Government Records Council, to force Gov. Jon Corzine to disclose e- mails between him and his former girlfriend, Carla Katz, a state workers union leader.
"The pressure that could be brought to bear on them (the records council members) didn't give me a lot of confidence," Wilson said. "I had greater confidence in the court." ” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
TORRES WANTS TO MAKE A LIST
People love lists of all kinds. Those who follow politics are also addicted to lists. To do a list is a thankless task because diehards will have their own ideas about who should be on it or where they should be ranked.
The latest such list can be found on a popular Web site for political junkies, PoliticsNJ.com. Naturally the sniping began, but a list is intended to start discussions.
As an example, PoliticsNJ argues that a power list for elected officials should always start at the second spot because the governor – Jon Corzine – is the most powerful. Under the criteria set by the Web site, Corzine is probably number one, but in reality you can have an argument. It depends on your perspective.
Let's argue that U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is the most powerful and should be at the top of the list. Menendez is the state's first Hispanic in the U.S. Senate and there is no one who will challenge him. He is solid for at least another five years.
Corzine comes up for re-election before Menendez and will have to go to him for support. Don't believe all that "I'm totally out of Hudson County politics" stuff. His thumb is not as strong, but he can still affect outcomes and still dabbles with the mortals.
And, when it comes time to replace U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, it will be Menendez who will have the big say.
These arguments are a bit like asking who got the best of the Rocky Colavito for Harvey Kuenn baseball trade, Cleveland or Detroit? C'mon, don't ask?
The thinking here is why not have our own power list. How would you rank Hudson County's elected officials or most influential with having an impact, positive or negative, on politics, economics and quality of life? Can these individuals be picked up on county political seismic machines? Are they highly influential with other pols or groups. Of course, there are other immeasurables that can help their ranking.
On the PoliticsNJ list, it must rankle North Bergen Mayor and Sen. Nick Sacco that he is well below Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian P. Stack. Is Stack's ranking true? Should Healy be ranked high? Does anyone in West Hudson even rate a position? Are county posts that important?” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
THEY SHOULD BE BEST FRIENDS, NOT POLITICAL RIVALS
“Voters in the state's 11th Legislative District may be excused if they seem a little confused about whose button they should push for Assembly come Election Day.
That's because the four candidates vying for the two open seats — Democrats John Pirnat and John Napolitani Sr. and Republicans David Rible and Mary Pat Angelini — don't disagree on too many issues.
All four said they oppose wasteful spending and eminent domain abuse. They're against the selling of state assets as a budget fix and said they had plans to tackle ever-increasing property taxes. And both sides said they would adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy for public corruption.
About the only thing the Democrats and Republicans did disagree on during their conversation with the Asbury Park Press editorial board Wednesday was on what grade they would give Gov. Corzine and the Democratic-led state Legislature.
Can you guess who said what?
Angelini and Rible gave the state's top Democrats failing grades, while Napolitani gave Corzine an overall "B" and "an "A' for effort," and Pirnat said he couldn't issue a grade.” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
IN DISTRICT 9
“This year's race for the 9th District state Senate seat is steeped heavily in local issues, but also encompasses the larger economic and political imbroglio brewing in Trenton.
Speaking before members of the Asbury Park Press editorial board in Neptune Wednesday, Republican Christopher J. Connors and Democrat Russell K. Corby sounded off on how and why their particular candidacies would best serve voters in a district stretching throughout southern Ocean County and into parts of Burlington and Atlantic counties.
Connors, 51, of Lacey, is a 17-year veteran of the state Assembly seeking to succeed his father, Leonard T. Connors Jr, who has held the 9th District Senate seat since district lines were redrawn in 1981. The younger Connors sees his experience as an asset to righting the faltering ship of state government.
"The problem is not in the 9th District, it is in Trenton," he said.
Corby, 64, has been mayor of Pine Beach for 20 years, though he is not seeking re-election in November. He argues that Connors and other GOP legislators who have represented the area have long been part of an defective Legislature out of touch with the needs of area residents.
"I don't personally believe someone who has served there years is going to change that," Corby said.” (Pais, Asbury Park Press)
CAMPOS AND MCCANN WILL FACE HARASSMENT CHARGES SOMEWHERE ELSE
“Former Jersey City Mayor Gerald McCann and former Hoboken City Councilman Christopher Campos must face harassment charges filed by campaign workers for former Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer – but it won't be in Hoboken.
Hoboken Municipal Court Judge Kimberly Glatt said yesterday that although she felt that her court could fairly try the case, she wanted to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
The case might be referred to any municipality in Hudson County except Jersey City or West New York, since Campos is a former municipal prosecutor in West New York and McCann was mayor of Jersey City.
According to Glatt, the New Jersey Administrative Office of Courts will decide in two weeks where the case should be heard.
Though the complaints were filed separately, Glatt said they should be heard together because the incidents in the complaint were related.
Both incidents are alleged to have occurred while McCann and Jersey City resident Arnold Williams were serving subpoenas to call witnesses for Campos' challenge of Zimmer's narrow victory in the June runoff election. ” (Hack, Jersey Journal)
SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL
“They were designed to give same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage by a different name, but civil unions in New Jersey are a "failed experiment," the president of the state's largest lawyers' organization said last night.
"They have been shown to perpetuate a second-class legal status," Lynn Newsome, president of the New Jersey State Bar Association told a state commission evaluating whether New Jersey's seven- month-old civil unions law is working.
Calling the law "burdensome and flawed," Newsome said the 17,000-member bar association supports "as one of its highest priorities" legislation allowing same- sex couples to marry.
The civil union law was passed to comply with last October's ruling by the state Supreme Court that same-sex couples are entitled to all the benefits and obligations that state law confers on married couples.
Last night's hearing at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick was the first of three by the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission.
Even before the law took effect, gay rights organizations were comp” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
“Detectives are investigating the potential misuse of police department resources in last week's flap over a campaign "tracker" sent by local Democrats to tape record a GOP press conference.
According to a local Republican who was interviewed by police this week, detectives are trying to determine whether an officer within the department improperly ran license plate information on the tracker at the request of the local Republicans who were angry that the man did not announce he was at the GOP press conference on behalf of the Democrats.
"I told them I know nothing about that," said township employee Paul Tessein, who was present during the press conference and was questioned earlier this week over his role in the incident. "But I told them that the kid (sent by the Democrats) came in and looked suspicious from the minute he came in the door."
Tessein called it ridiculous for the police to be wasting time following up on a political squabble………………
The incident began last week when Republican mayoral candidate John Bencivengo held a press conference to announce his fiscal platform. A man came in identifying himself as Tim Gray from Yardville, Republicans said, but was discovered with an audio tape recorder, recording the event.
The Republicans followed the man to the municipal building, where he signed a visitors register at the mayor's office 15 minutes after the press conference ended. To identify the man, Republicans asked a local detective for a report on the tracker's license plate…….
The officer involved, Detective Sgt. Anthony Recine, who once challenged Republican incumbent Jack Rafferty for mayor, readily admits he called in the plate inquiry at the request of Bencivengo. Recine said Bencivengo called him after the tracker, later identified as Gray, was spotted with a tape recorder at Republican headquarters during the press conference. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
THE REAL QUESTION IN BAYONNE: WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE MAYOR?
“Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. was nominated by the governor last Friday as commissioner for the Department of Community Affairs. The jockeying for the Bayonne mayor's office has begun, as Doria will step down as both mayor and state senator.
City Councilman Anthony Chiappone Friday 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. ” (Jersey Journal)
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
“Voters in New Jersey's biggest cities and towns now have more power to challenge actions by municipal councils.
The state Supreme Court yesterday ruled, 5-0, that referendums can be used in efforts to overturn ordinances, including administrative laws, which lower courts had excluded from ballot recalls.
Few recalls are undertaken, but the expansion of referendum power will probably lead to more ballot efforts, raising costs for towns, said William G. Dressel Jr., executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. "It would open up the majority of ordinances . . . to be subject to a referendum," Dressel said.
The ruling, which involved a Trenton ordinance, applies to the approximately 130 municipalities that use a form of government authorized by the state's Faulkner Act. They include all the major cities, such as Newark, Jersey City, Paterson and Elizabeth, and large urban and suburban areas such as Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Edison, Hamilton, Morristown, New Brunswick, Passaic and Woodbridge, Dressel said.
The Trenton case stemmed from a restructuring of the Police Department approved by the City Council in 2004. Residents objected, and obtained enough signatures to put the ordinance up for a vote.
Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and the council opposed the referendum and persuaded state Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg to block the balloting. Feinberg, relying on past rulings, found that the ordinance was administrative, not legislative, and not subject to recall. ” (Gold, AP)
“With a backpack over his shoulder and his hands calloused from long days of loading trucks, Jaime Calba joined a line of workers walking out of an onion and potato packing plant in Newark yesterday.
Calba scanned the groups of workers waiting for the bus home and did some quick math in his head. "I think it must be half Ecuadorians working here," the 25-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant said in Spanish. "The rest of the workers — all from other countries, Nicaragua, Guatemala."
Census data released yesterday reveals how the scene outside the Newark plant is fast becoming the norm in New Jersey's manufacturing sector. Even though the state's once dominant sector continues to shrink, it nonetheless remains a key foothold for new immigrants, mostly Latinos, who are coming to New Jersey in startling numbers.
New Jersey has lost more than 24,000 production and transportation jobs since 2000. Yet Latino employment in this sector is going up — an increase of 27,000 jobs over the same brief period.
Latinos, who make up about 16 percent of New Jersey's work force, now compose more than a third of the manufacturing/transportation sector, the data shows. That's up from the 2000 Census, when Latinos made up 12 percent of the work force and 26 percent of the manufacturing sector.
"It's been true for well over 100 years that immigrants have been the backbone of New Jersey's manufacturing work force," said Chris Biddle, spokesman for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. "The profile of the factory worker has shifted toward Latin America, but it underscores more than anything the importance of immigration to New Jersey's work force.” (Donohue and Geleoff, Star-Ledger)
“State officials say their plan to cap the fees that auto insurers pay doctors for treating accident victims will help hold down the cost of insurance. Doctors say they will be penalized while insurers' bottom lines are boosted.
Yesterday the doctors turned to their lawyers, who asked a state appeals court to stop a new "medical fee schedule" from taking effect Monday.
About 100 services, primarily involving chiropractic care or diagnostic testing, already come with price ceilings, imposed by the Department of Banking and Insurance after a 1998 law required the state to set standardized fees for treating injuries covered by auto insurance policies.
The new rules would add price caps to many more medical services, ranging from emergency transportation to various types of surgery, as well as to other testing. Critics warn the new caps could cause a shortage of doctors willing to treat accident victims. Defenders say they are a reasonable attempt to further reduce New Jersey's auto insurance rates, still the highest on average in the nation.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“A proposed contract extension for Newark Housing Authority Director Keith Kinard, which would have paid him a $30,000 bonus if the agency made it off the federal troubled list before the end of 2009 and included other incentives, was revamped after details were made public.
Dana Rone, a housing authority commissioner and city councilwoman, criticized the proposed contract as excessive. But Kinard and authority Chairman Modia Butler said Rone jumped the gun by publicizing the terms of what is a draft contract.
The extension in question would increase Kinard's salary to $198,000 from $192,790 for four years, with an option for a fifth year and would increase the amount of vacation Kinard could cash out from two weeks to three weeks.
"I'm offended," Rone said. "They think that anything from outside of Newark has greater value. They think we are not going to read items, that we can't comprehend and we can't count. To govern a public housing agency with poor people and to make that type of money is ridiculous."
Under the extension, Kinard would be entitled to a 15 percent bonus of his new $198,000 salary if the authority is off the troubled list before Dec. 31, 2009. If the authority is removed from the troubled list between Dec. 31, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2011, Kinard would receive an 8 percent bonus.
Kinard would also receive unspecified cost of living increases. ” (Mays, Star-Ledger)
“RUTHERFORD — A group of concerned residents unhappy with the majority Democratic Borough Council wanted to know how the borough spent $6.5 million from EnCap and whether there are irregularities in borough business.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Patrick Kinzler, a registered Republican, and other residents spurred to action by high municipal taxes inquired whether there were conflicts of interest among Borough Council Democrats who accepted campaign donations from professionals who were appointed to their positions by Mayor Bernadette McPherson and approved by the Borough Council.
According to state election filings, professionals such as Borough Attorney Anne Marie Rizzuto, Borough Engineer Schoor DePalma, and the borough's labor attorney Eric M. Bernstein & Associates have all at some point made donations to Democratic Party candidates.
On Wednesday, Councilman George Fecanin said he saw no conflict of interest in borough professionals making contributions to Democratic candidates. The six-member Borough Council is made up of five Democrats and one Republican.” (Superville, Herald News)
IN MERCER COUNTY
“Members of the Coalition for Peace Action asked the Mercer County freeholders Tuesday to replace the county's voting machines with ones that read paper ballots that have been marked by voters.
The members of the coalition said during a freeholder board meeting that the county's Sequoia AVC Advantage machines should be replaced because they cannot be made secure. The Princeton Borough-based coalition is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 2004 that challenges the current voting machines.
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg has ordered the state to postpone a Jan. 1 deadline for Sequoia Voting Systems to add printers to its machines that would produce a paper trail that can be verified by voters.
State law requires the printers must be tested before they are certified to be used. New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers tested the machines with the new printers and found problems with them. The machines and printers must be re-tested.”(Kitchenman, Trenton Times)
“For the first time in a decade, Richard W. O'Neil of Highlands will not have his name on an election ballot.
O'Neil officially withdrew his name from the Highlands mayoral race two weeks ago, GOP Chairman Adam Puharic said.
O'Neil's GOP replacement for the Nov. 6 election is Highlands resident Anna Little, who currently is a Monmouth County freeholder. Puharic verified that he has signed forms endorsing the Highlands Republican Party's decision to have Little run in O'Neil's place.
O'Neil, 49, has been the mayor of Highlands for nine years. Prior to becoming mayor, he was an appointed councilman and an elected councilman.
"I've had enough," O'Neil said. "It has been 10 tough years."” (Muessig, Asbury Park Press)
“Democrats have agreed to participate in this year's candidates forum hosted by the Belmar Homeowners Association, after organizers of the annual debate agreed to acquiesce to some changes in the format. "
While we're disappointed that the BHA still chooses not to use independent oversight for preselecting questions to ensure they are fair and impartial, we do feel the changes being made reflect a significant improvement in the procedure," said Borough Council President Meredith Brennan, a Democrat seeking re-election in November.
Brennan said she and running mate Claire Deicke both were satisfied that the association is going to broaden the solicitation of questions to all Belmar residents by setting up a "lockbox" at borough hall where such questions can be deposited on a piece of paper.
"We also appreciate that they accommodated our request to bring the League of Women Voters on board, even if it is in the smaller role of moderating the debate," Brennan said.
Last month, Democrats — calling the BHA forum "partisan" — said they planned to skip the forum in favor of another planned debate organized by The Coast Star, a weekly newspaper, and the League of Women Voters.” (Laresen, Asbury Park Press)