Union officials trying to kick Carla Katz out, Chris Christie eyes corruption in Harrison, Democrats hope to sweep already blue-trending south Jersey, Obama to appear in Newark, negative advertising even more prevalent than usual this year.
CAN’T THINK OF ENOUGH BAD KATZ PUNS
“Two union officials yesterday petitioned the Communications Workers of America to remove state-worker labor leader Carla Katz from the presidency of Local 1034 on charges of misconduct and misuse of union funds.
In a four-page document e-mailed to CWA’s headquarters in Washington and its regional office in Manhattan, Local 1034 Vice Presidents Jonathan Berg and Linda Kukor allege that Katz — Gov. Jon Corzine’s ex-girlfriend — has engaged in “an ongoing pattern of misconduct and violations of the local’s bylaws and the CWA constitution.”
Among other things, they allege Katz made political donations in the union’s name without proper authorization; conducted unauthorized secret contract talks with Corzine; and is working only part time as president even though she is paid $103,000 to be the full-time leader of the biggest CWA local in New Jersey.
Berg and Kukor want the union’s national leadership to take control of Local 1034 immediately and appoint an administrator to audit Katz’s records and “re-establish fair and democratic systems of internal governance.”
“The resources of the local have been misused and misdirected to primarily serve the personal interests of President Katz,” according to a copy of the filing obtained by The Star-Ledger. “The systems and internal controls that allow for fair and democratic methods of governance within Local 1034 have either been corrupted by President Katz or rendered inoperable by her actions.”
Katz did not respond to phone and e-mail messages last night. ” (Margolin, Star-Ledger)
NEXT STOP ON CHRIS CHRISTIE’S 2009 GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN: HARRISON
“Just when every new tale of corruption, ethical lapses or curious decisions by public officials in New Jersey was starting to have that tired, been-there, done-that feeling, along comes Harrison.
A fading factory town where the former public works director, saddled with six-figure gambling debts, stole at least $100,000 from the local parking meters.
Where the man who succeeded him was once identified by state prosecutors as an associate of the Genovese crime family.
Where roughly 50 officials in a square mile, blue-collar town pull down more than $100,000 a year, three dozen collect two public paychecks and another pockets $210,000 in pension and consulting fees from one of the state’s poorest school districts.
And where federal and state investigators have recently trained their sights.
For close to a year, federal authorities have been questioning employees and examining the web of public jobs, contracts and relationships in Harrison, according to one law enforcement source, two witnesses who have been interviewed and defense attorneys, all of whom said they could not be identified discussing an ongoing investigation.
The scope of the case is unclear, but it has involved investigators from the New Jersey State Police and public corruption and organized crime units of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI, the same sources say. Spokesmen for the offices said they could neither confirm nor deny any probe.
Town officials said they were surprised by the news.
“I have no knowledge of any investigation,” said Harrison’s town clerk and attorney, Paul Zarbetski. ” (Whelan, Hepp and Martin, Star-Ledger)
DEMOCRATS EYE TURNING SOUTH JERSEY BLUE
“In the state’s six southernmost counties, Republican lawmakers have become an endangered species. With elections looming in two weeks, Democrats are doing their best to send them into extinction.
Fourteen years ago, when Democrats were reeling from voter backlash over unpopular tax increases, Republicans controlled 13 of the 18 legislative seats in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Camden counties.
Now there are three: Sens. Nicholas Asselta and James “Sonny” McCullough in the 1st and 2nd Districts, who are running for re-election, and 2nd District Assemblyman Frank Blee, who is not.
During the past four years, Democrats broke campaign spending records to build up their South Jersey majority. They spent $4 million to help elect Assemblyman James Whelan (D-Atlantic) in the 2nd District two years ago.
Now Whelan, 58, the former mayor of Atlantic City, is challenging McCullough, the 65-year-old mayor of Egg Harbor Township. McCullough replaced long-time Sen. William Gormley (R-Atlantic) when he stepped down early this year. With Whelan trying to move up and Blee moving out, two Democratic newcomers face two Republican newcomers for the two Assembly seats in the 2nd District.
In the neighboring 1st District, Assemblyman Jeffrey Van Drew (D-Cape May) is aiming to knock out Asselta.
Preliminary fundraising reports released Oct. 12 showed the two districts among the five most expensive in the state, with Democrats so far outspending Republicans $1.5 million to $500,000.
“All of South Jersey is really starting to trend Democratic,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “The Democratic Party in Camden County really rode the crest of that wave through the entire region.”
Republicans, hoping to end the southern losing streak, say not so fast. While an influx of immigrants, retirees and service industry employees has bolstered the ranks of Democrats and independents, there still are more registered Republicans than Democrats in the two districts. GOP leaders say candidates like Whelan and Van Drew owe their success mainly to their individual popularity, not their party affiliation.
“We’re very optimistic in both of those districts. We believe the issues are on our side statewide and in those districts,” said Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon). ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“The race for Atlantic County’s state Senate seat, an unusually powerful position since the 1930s heyday of Frank “Hap” Farley, is as close as it gets.
Two well-known local figures – Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan and the incumbent, Republican James “Sonny” McCullough – are fighting it out door to door and on the air.
Internal polls and other indicators, including the ferocity and frequency of attacks and big money on both sides, show the race is tight. It could tilt as the television campaigns heat up.
Whelan’s team has an $800,000 to $600,000 funding advantage over McCullough’s, and has been on Philadelphia television since early this month. McCullough is advertising through mail and on radio. Both sides expect more money to come in.
“This is not just a competition between two gladiators, it is also a question of who controls the state legislature and future of the state,” said political analyst Israel Posner, who directs Stockton State College’s continuing-studies department.
Behind the scenes in this race, the state GOP is battling the Camden County Democrats, who have evolved into a South Jersey machine. Since 1992, that machine has taken two Senate seats and seven Assembly seats, and is playing hardball for the rest.
The score: Democrats in South Jersey hold 14 of the 16 Assembly seats and half of the eight Senate seats. Already, Camden Assemblyman Joseph Roberts Jr. has risen to speaker, and has control over which bills live and die.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)
NOW YOU CAN SEE OBAMA WITHOUT PAYING $1,000
“Presidential contender Barack Obama hopes to begin chipping away at his chief Democratic rival’s double-digit lead in New Jersey polls when he brings his grass-roots campaign to Newark today.
The Illinois senator will host a low-budget fundraiser, “Countdown to Change,” designed to enlist average citizens as supporters. Tickets for the event at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center are $15 for students and seniors, $25 general admission.
Obama is running a distant second to Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in both opinion polls and fundraising in New Jersey.” (AP)
EVERYONE NEEDS TO TAKE A SHOWER ON NOV. 7TH
“The husband of a state Assembly candidate from Burlington County is a court-appointed defender of a suspected terrorist – so, her opponent says, she must support terrorism.
A Union County state Senate candidate received money a year ago from scandal-plagued U.S. Sen. Larry Craig – therefore, critics say, the money is tainted, and so is he for taking it.
These attacks and many more are flying back and forth in New Jersey’s legislative races, with candidates even calling each other stooges and backstabbers. Some have filed ethics charges against opponents.
Political observers say the attacks are especially numerous and pointed this year because of the number of close races, including those in Monmouth, Burlington, Atlantic and Cape May Counties. History shows that negative ads late in the campaign can harm a candidate just enough to make a difference at the polls.
And if you think it’s been ugly so far, hold on, because there is more to come. Over the next few days, ads in newspapers, broadcast outlets and especially sent through the mail will serve up a steady diet of acid-drenched innuendo.
Political scientist Kim Nalder of California State University said that even if the attacks seem petty, they may be the only information voters have about a candidate in a local race.
She said people “tend to remember negative information. It sticks with you longer if there’s emotional content.” And if the content states that the target is sleazy, it sticks hard.
“The emotional sense of ‘ick’ around a person stays in a voter’s head at least a month,” she said.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)
VAN DREW AND ASSELTA TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES
“VINELAND — Republican Nicholas Asselta and Democrat Jeff Van Drew, locked in a heated race for Asselta’s seat in the state Senate, participated in a wide-ranging debate Sunday morning at Beth Israel Congregation.
Here’s what the candidates seeking to represent the 1st Legislative District, which includes Vineland and Millville, had to say on issues such as health care, taxes and corruption.
Van Drew, who now represents the 1st District as an assemblyman, said small businesses should have incentives to provide health insurance to employees. The number of uninsured residents is growing, and young people must be put in the system so they don’t have large health problems later in life, he said………..
Asselta said more money should be directed to non-urban hospitals.
Public money is distributed routinely to hospitals in urban areas and suburban hospitals like South Jersey Healthcare get small amounts. Asselta also said insurance companies cannot delay payments to customers………
Asselta, a Vineland resident who was elected to the Senate in 2003, said dual officeholding must stop.
“An assemblyman or senator who is also a mayor has enormous influence to get contracts,” he said. “Think about the tremendous ego someone must have to say I need two positions, because I couldn’t trust someone” else in that position………..
Van Drew served as mayor in Dennis Township while he was an assemblyman but donated his mayoral salary to charity. He resigned that position in 2003, a year after joining the Legislature.
Van Drew said officials should not receive multiple pensions, and “when they are corrupt they should lose their pension. Period.” (Landau, Daily Journal)
AGAIN, WITH THE ISSUES
“Tax rebates for homeowners who make more than $200,000, a new school-funding formula and the future of the state’s lottery and toll roads are among the key state issues to be decided at the polls next month.
No, voters won’t be making those policy choices directly on Nov. 6. The legislative candidates they choose will beginning early next year.
The New Jersey Legislature is currently controlled by Democrats in both the Senate and Assembly, but all 120 seats are up for grabs. An unusually high turnover in both houses has resulted in many competitive races involving non-incumbents this year.
The results of the legislative elections should have a big influence on the lives of North Jersey taxpayers in 2008 through the votes these new lawmakers will cast.
One issue is the future of this year’s beefed-up property tax relief program. Democrats want to continue it but Republicans are pushing another giveback initiative and a state spending cut. The rebate checks collected by North Jersey property owners averaged $1,110 this year.
The new Legislature also will consider a new school-funding formula and both parties are talking about significant changes to the way taxpayers fund public education in both urban and suburban districts. School taxes typically make up the largest portion of a homeowner’s property tax bill.” (Reitmeyer, Bergen Record)
THE LESS GLAMOROUS BUT IMPORTANT COUNTY RACES
“On the county level this election cycle, Democrats are on the offensive.
The biggest battlegrounds this year are Monmouth and Atlantic Counties, where beneath competitive legislative races in the 12th and second districts, control of county government is up for grabs. The former is also seeing a competitive race for Sheriff, and the latter for County Executive.
In both counties, Republicans are left defending their territory, while Democrats are also looking to bolster their minorities in Burlington and Somerset Counties, with the potential to put them in play next year.
Monmouth County may be the one place Democrats can benefit from Christopher Christie’s recent corruption busts. Several of the “Operation Bid-Rig” defendants, most of them former Republican public officials, are scheduled to be sentenced this week. State Democrats are taking special notice of the district, hoping to turn the tide by delivering a message that the Republicans’ grip on power has led to widespread corruption of the type seen in Operation Bid rig.
“The Republican dominance in Monmouth County has come to be called club Monmouth. The people want change,” said Assemblyman Joe Cryan, the Democratic State Committee Chairman
But at least one Republican leader isn’t buying it.
“I am happy that Democrat donors would waste their money in a futile attempt to overturn the will of Monmouth County voters,” said Monmouth County Republican Chairman Adam Puharic. “Burning their money in Monmouth prevents it from being used in other counties around the state which is good for the entire New Jersey Republican Party.”………
One of the central Monmouth County races for Democrats is the sheriff race, where Belmar Chief of Police and Public Safety Jack Hill is squaring off against former federal prosecutor Kimberly Guadagno, who’s now the Monmouth Beach commissioner of public works………..
The county’s freeholder board is currently 4-1 Republican, but with two Republican seats up for reelection, the Democrats have an opportunity to take over. Republican Freeholder Robert Clifton is up for re-election, while Republican Jeff Cantor is vying to take over the seat of Anna Little, who was forced off the party line after breaking with Chairman Puharic. Democratic candidates John D’Amico, Jr. and Stephen Schueler are hoping that the election of fellow Democrat Barbara McMorrow last year signals a Democratic trend………..
In Atlantic, the contest – or, rather, fight – for county executive has attracted a lot of attention, but beneath the Democrats’ attempt take the down Dennis Levinson with Sheriff Jim McGettigan, the only Republican County Executive in the state (a race which Democratic sources admit they have not made much progress in), control of the freeholder board is also at stake.
In the last three years, Democrats have won three seats on the board, where Republicans currently hold a 5-4 majority. This year, three seats are up, and two of them are Democratic. In freeholder district four, Republican Rich Dase, a Galloway Councilman, is running against Democrat Jill Foley, who works in the insurance industry. A first district seat has also opened up, where Republican John Bettis is facing Democrat Charles Garrett, but the Republicans will have a tough time taking on a Democrat in a district that incorporates Atlantic City and Pleasantville.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
IN DISTRICT 3
“While Assembly candidates in the 3rd Legislative District largely agree on the needs of residents, they differ in how and how long it should take to meet those needs.
Incumbent Democratic Assemblymen John Burzichelli of Paulsboro and Douglas Fisher of Bridgeton will face Republican candidates Phil Donohue of Alloway and Jeff Stepler of Elsinboro on Nov. 6, when all 120 seats in the Legislature are up for re-election………
The Democrats said that, over their past six years in office, they have responded to the needs of their constituents in the district that includes all of Salem and parts of Gloucester and Cumberland counties…………
While their challengers believe economic development is a top priority in the district, they take issue with the incumbents’ record.
“They’ve had six years to bring jobs to Salem County,” said Stepler, a former committeeman in Elsinboro Township. ” (Graber, Express-Times)
THIS IS THE WHOLE CAMPAIGN PLATFORM OF SANDRA BOLDEN CUNNINGHAM’S ONLY CHALLENGER
“Primary elections in New Jersey often feature Republicans and Democrats running with no opposition.
Others are wondering if there is a better way.
A tight budget recently led Maine’s secretary of state to suggest maybe the state shouldn’t pay for an election that largely settles intraparty contests and is closed to many voters.
“It’s strictly a party nomination process. It really has nothing to do with state elections,” Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who first floated the idea in August, said in an interview last week.
The suggestion, however, was quickly panned………
Parties use these private caucuses when they have to replace Senate and Assembly members who step down before the end of their terms.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, went through the process to fill a vacant Senate seat and faced fierce opposition from Bergen County’s Democratic machinery. Primaries, she said, take power out of political bosses’ hands.
“The way the parties exist today, I would not want to turn (primaries) over to them,” Weinberg said. “This is supposed to be a chance for grass-roots people everywhere to come out and vote in a closed ballot.”” (Tamari, Gannett)
HE SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED FULOP FOR THE POSITION
“Jersey City officials have confirmed Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s plans to appoint Kabili Tayari, the city’s director of economic and industrial development, as a deputy mayor.
Tayari, 57, a city employee for the past 11 years, is also the president of the Jersey City branch of the NAACP.
Tayari got his start in city government in the Bret Schundler administration and has also served as president of the Board of Education and interim Municipal Court director.
As deputy mayor, Tayari will focus on issues of equality and diversity as it relates to public and private hiring in the city. His current annual salary of $104,871 will remain unchanged, officials said.
“What is being offered to me is to have more a direct responsibility for workforce development, neighborhood development, and economic and industrial development,” Tayari said. “That’s why I said yes.”
Tayari said he saw no conflict between his role as NAACP branch president and serving as a key official in the Healy administration.
“Bret Schundler supported (school) vouchers. I never supported vouchers. The NAACP never supported vouchers,” Tayari said. “I say you have to be a person of character and integrity.”” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
DORIA JUST COULDN’T HELP HIMSELF
“Just three days before trading the mayoralty for a gubernatorial cabinet post, former Bayonne Mayor Joseph V. Doria Jr. inserted himself in the middle of a contract fight between the Board of Education and its teachers union, now in its second year without a new contract.
In a letter written Oct. 5 on City Hall stationery and mailed to members of the Bayonne Teachers Association, Doria faulted the BTA leadership for not taking the board’s offer of a four-year contract, retroactive to September 2006, providing pay increases averaging more than 5 percent a year plus “no givebacks” in health coverage.
Doria told union members that the board – under the pressure of an upcoming new state cap law limiting tax levy increases to 4 percent a year – gave the union a timetable to respond to the offer but he said the union negotiators “ignored the deadline” and the board then took the offer off the table in favor of a lower one.
But BTA President Allen D’Angelo, who said that the union’s endorsement and campaign assistance probably helped boost Doria over challenger Pat Conaghan in the 1996 mayoral race, chided the ex-mayor for “misleading” the union membership. ” (Leir, Jersey Journal)
IF IDIOTS AND INSANE PEOPLE CAN’T VOTE, HOW ARE THERE SO MANY IN OFFICE? BADUM-DUM-TISH
“In about two weeks, New Jersey voters will decide whether to eliminate insensitive phrasing in the state Constitution that characterizes people with disabilities as “idiots” and “insane.”
The offensive language, adopted in the Constitution in 1844, is aimed at barring people with limited mental capacity from voting: “No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage.”
At least seven other states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio — have the words “idiot” or “insane” in their constitutions to define who can vote.
On Nov. 6, New Jersey voters will decide whether to replace the wording in its Constitution with a phrase explaining how people deemed by a judge “to lack the capacity to understand the act of voting” would be barred from casting ballots. It is the fourth of four statewide ballot questions.
Advocates for the disabled contend the current language perpetuates myths.
“The perception is still out there that if you have a disability that you can’t fully function, that you can’t be a participating member of the community,” said Colleen O’Dell-Multer, a Brick resident who has multiple sclerosis and is legally blind. “That perception is totally inaccurate.”” (AP)
IN OCEAN GROVE
“All sides in the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s lawsuit against the state will be in federal court this afternoon, in a last-ditch attempt to reach a settlement in the case.
A settlement conference has been scheduled for 1 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Joel Pisano. At the last hearing on Oct. 4, Pisano said he expected at the settlement conference representatives from the association, the state Attorney General’s Office and a lawyer representing two lesbian couples denied use of the association’s boardwalk pavilion for their civil union ceremonies.
The couples, Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, and Janice Moore and Emily Sonnessa, filed complaints with the state’s Division on Civil Rights, claiming that the denials violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination.
The state’s investigation of those complaints spurred the association to file the lawsuit, claiming that the investigation violated its free speech and religious freedom rights.
The couples’ attorney is required to attend the conference because the state cannot enter into any settlement agreement without the consent of the two couples, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Burstein has said.” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
CRESITELLO TO CHECK THE IMMIGRATION STATUS OF BILL MOYERS
“MORRISTOWN — Mayor Donald Cresitello has appeared on a public broadcasting program episode, where he spoke about towns dealing with immigration.
The show, “Now,” aired on PBS stations on Friday and Sunday.
Cresitello has made headlines for his move to have approximately 10 Morristown police officers become deputized immigration agents as part of a Homeland Security Department program known as 287(g). The application, which was sent to officials in March, is under review.
Cresitello has said illegal immigrants have committed acts that have impacted the quality of life in Morristown. He said they often overcrowd housing, a practice also known as stacking; day laborers congregate for jobs; and they fail to show documents.
In the show, Cresitello detailed his views on the immigration issue.
“I’m not suggesting that all of these people are involved in criminal activities,” Cresitello told Now. “But for every one who is here illegally, that’s one more that didn’t need to be here. We have enough problems with our own crime.”” (Hassan, Daily Record)
THERE’S A COUNTY CALLED SALEM IN NEW JERSEY?
“SALEM — The primary job of a freeholder is to handle county finances, and with his more than 30 years experience in the banking industry, Alloway Township Mayor Joe Fedora feels he’s the man for the job.
He was born in New York City, but his family roots are deep in Salem County and the 1957 graduate of Salem High School has lived here most of his life…….
The Republican said he thinks he has more experience that any of the other current freeholders as far as finances. “When it comes to numbers, it’s my second nature,” he said. “I’m a very detailed person. If you get enough facts, you can come to the right decision. If you do the right thing, you’re never wrong.”
Fedora is running for one of two open seats with running mate Freeholder Julie Acton. They are opposed by Democrat Freeholder Director Lee Ware and running mate Pittsgrove Mayor Pete Voros.” (Moore, Today’s Sunbeam)
ONLY FOR MASOCHISTS
“UPPER DEERFIELD TWP. — It wasn’t John Daddario’s choice to campaign alone for a seat on the Upper Deerfield Township committee.
The 45-year-old local businessman tried to talk a few people into running with him against incumbent Committeeman Ralph Cocove, and Mayor Ken Hill in November’s general election.
His attempts to persuade someone into joining him on his foray into politics, however, were unsuccessful. “People told me they didn’t want their name run through the mud,” Daddario said Friday. “That’s why you don’t get quality people running for office. They’re scared to death.”
Several local politicians agreed Friday that negative campaigning keeps qualified people from getting involved in politics — even on the municipal and county level.
Daddario recently learned that even Upper Deerfield, with a population of less than 8,000 residents, isn’t entirely free of dirty politics.
Two anonymous letters received recently by the News suggested, in essence, the recent sale of a township firetruck through Daddario’s Ebay store, did not follow guidelines and that Daddario acted improperly in the situation. ” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)
IN UNION BEACH
”UNION BEACH — When it came time to register this spring for the primaries that would determine who would vie for two Borough Council seats and the position of mayor, only one Democrat turned in his name.
Incumbent Robert M. Howard Jr., who has sat on the all-Republican council since 1992, said he views the lack of opposition as a sign that Union Beach residents are satisfied with the job their elected officials are performing.” (Penton, Asbury Park Press)
IN BAY HEAD
“BAY HEAD — A Democrat said he is trying to break up the lockstep voting record of the Republican governing body in November. Republican incumbents James A. Urner of 42 Mount St., and John DeFilippis of 78 Goetze St., are running for the two three-year council spots. They face Nicholas Gilman of 810 Main Ave., a Democrat.
William Curtis of 35 Mount St. is running unopposed for the four-year mayoral seat.” (Lundy, Press of Atlantic City)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
A MAN OF GOD
“Former Assemblyman Alfred Steele pleaded guilty to attempted extortion yesterday, barely a month after he and 10 other public officials were snared in an FBI sting that spanned the state.
Steele, a 53-year-old Baptist preacher from Paterson, admitted taking $15,500 earlier this year. He became the first person charged in the statewide scandal to plead guilty.
he Democrat acknowledged using his clout as a six-term Assemblyman to help an insurance brokerage firm land contracts in exchange for the bribes and a cut of the revenue. The firm turned out to be a front for the FBI.
U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie’s office has obtained convictions of dozens of public officials on corruption charges over the past six years. Steele is the first in the bunch to plead guilty to charges filed while he was in the Legislature.
While some cases are still pending, so far none of the public officials charged has been acquitted.
“We don’t charge people in a careless or reckless fashion,” Christie said yesterday. “Look at the record.”
Steele, who stepped down from the Assembly and as a Passaic County Undersherriff shortly after his arrest, faces between 37 and 46 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. He pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and admitted taking seven bribes between March and August.
He smiled and greeted reporters yesterday as he arrived in U.S. District Judge Anne Thompson’s courtroom in Trenton, just a few blocks from the Statehouse where he served for a dozen years. He declined to comment, but issued a written statement thanking God, his family and his congregation for their support. ” (Whelan, Star-Ledger)
“A state grand jury is reviewing trips taken by Morris County tax officials to conventions in Miami, Las Vegas, Alaska and Orlando, as well as some meal receipts for the excursions.
Subpoenas issued last month to the tax board and Morris County government, which is custodian of some of the quasi-independent agency’s documents, sought a wealth of data for trips taken since 2000 by tax board commissioners, staff members or employees where reimbursement or advanced payment was required.
Documents requested include expense vouchers, receipts, bills, memos, internal memos, meal and travel receipts and conference receipts, plus checks paid for reimbursements, according to the subpoenas.
Also on the list were tax board bank account records and electronic documents or files from 2004 to the present, originating from county tax officials. Included were County Tax Board Administrator Ralph Meloro and tax commissioners Michael DiFazio, William Kersey, Anthony Crecco, Bernard Tyson and Thomas Zelante, who left the board last month.
Morris County Administrator John Bonanni, who stressed county government is not a target of the probe, said his agency complied with the request from the state Attorney General’s Office for tax-board-related data. Meloro also said he submitted required documents.
The grand jury was scheduled to begin reviewing data and hearing testimony on Oct. 12, according to documents. So far, no tax board or county officials have been asked to testify, officials said Friday. ” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
“THESE ARE TWO REALLY GOOD PEOPLE, AND IT’S A SHAME THEY WON’T BOTH CONTINUE TO SERVE”
“Jennifer Beck knocked on the door of a Red Bank condo, introduced herself as a candidate for state Senate, and talked about the frustration she has experienced the past two years as the district’s Republican Assemblywoman, a member of the party out of power.
“I am genuinely worried about the direction of our state,” Beck said Thursday.
“You’re worried,” replied George McCullough. “I’m terrified. We’re bankrupt. Everything is corrupt.”
Campaigning a day earlier in Manalapan, Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) encountered Mansour Ibrahim, who asked her what she could do for the community.
“We’ve passed more ethics reform bills in the last four years than we had in 40 years,” Karcher replied. In the 12th Legislative District, which has seen one corrupt official after another hauled off to jail, touting one’s ethics while disparaging one’s opponent’s is the order of the day.
Karcher boasts solid credentials on that score. As a member of the Marlboro Township Council from 2002 to 2004, she asked hard questions, was rewarded with death threats and went to the FBI. She wore a wire as she was offered bribes. Those she helped convict include a former Marlboro mayor who admitted taking $245,000 in payoffs from developers.
But Republicans complain that since Karcher joined the Democrats who rule Trenton in 2004, she has become part of the problem.
“She’s been a reformer in name only,” Beck said. Karcher dismisses that as “nonsense.”
Beck, a former Red Bank councilwoman, has been unusually visible for a freshman member of the minority party. She has often carried the GOP banner, particularly in its push for tougher ethics reforms, while maintaining a streak of independence.
Karcher’s campaign, awash with Democratic Party money, has accused Beck of conflicts of interest dating to her days as a lobbyist and in her current job as a vice president of QualCare, which manages health benefit plans.
“I’m not a lobbyist, and I haven’t been for three years,” said Beck, adding that she has been on sabbatical from QualCare since March 1 and will not return if elected. “It’s the same nonsense we saw in the 2005 Assembly race, which is outright lies and personal attacks rather than any substantive discussion about the crisis facing the state.”
Each woman accuses the other of “hypocrisy.”
The race is the only one on the Nov. 6 ballot to pit two sitting female legislators against each other. When the 213th Legislature takes office in January, either Beck or Karcher will not be there.
“It’s more than losing a woman,” said Ingrid Reed, director of the New Jersey Project at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics. “These are two really good people, and it’s a shame they won’t both continue to serve.”” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
Beyond the charges and counter-charges, news releases, ads and campaign cash, the state Senate race between incumbent Ellen Karcher and Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck in the 12th District comes down to their take on the big issues of property taxes, ethics reform and selling toll roads.
Karcher, a Democrat, said ethics reform remains her top priority, and cited legislation she introduced that has been signed into law that deals with pay-to-play and dual-office holding, and strips convicted public officials of their pensions.
“Ethics reform is job one,” Karcher said, adding that without it, the public won’t have confidence in proposals for school fund-ing reform or asset monetization. “I’ve pushed as hard as I can. I’ve been able to move the ball down the court.”
Beck, a Republican, said property tax relief, followed by ethics reform, has been the focus of her first 1 1/2 years in the Assembly. She noted she has introduced bills that she said called for tougher penalties and restrictions when good officials go bad.
“Property taxes have to be fixed,” said Beck, who has introduced 20 bills dealing with property taxes and spending.” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
IT’S JUST AS INTENSE LOWER DOWN ON THE TICKET
“Now it’s down to the issues in the bitter race for 12th District Assembly between Democratic incumbent Michael Panter and his running mate, businesswoman Amy Mallet, and their GOP opponents — Little Silver Council President Declan O’Scanlon and municipal attorney Caroline Casagrande.
Both Democrats and Republicans talked about the need for state spending cuts, a platform the GOP talked about early on.
The GOP team backs the state party’s concept of cutting the state budget using a three-point plan unveiled this summer, calling for spending cuts, elimination of patronage jobs and redirecting $300 million to fund school districts that have received flat funding. O’Scanlon said that four-year plan would result in a recurring annual savings of $3.9 billion and that the plan has specific, detailed cuts.
Democrats released a property tax plan Friday, calling for dedication of the one-cent increase in the sales tax to provide $1.5 billion for property tax relief, and state spending cuts on out-of-state travel by state officials, ending pension abuses and “pork” spending on pet projects, which could save $400 million.
Both sides called for caps on state spending.
“The voters have the opportunity to vote to take one penny and dedicate it to permanent (property) tax relief, but we have more work to do,” Mallet said.” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)
SARLO WILL NEED EVERY LAST BIT OF HIS WARCHEST TO FIGHT GUARINO… OK, NOT AT ALL.
“State Sen. Paul Sarlo of Wood-Ridge apparently is leaving nothing to chance in his reelection bid in the 36th Legislative District.
At least that’s the impression you get from his most recent fund-raising reports. Sarlo has $602,000 ready to spend on the race against Republican gadfly Michael Guarino of Lyndhurst, who has salted away mere peanuts — $1,211 — in comparison. Put another way, Sarlo has a 500-to-1 cash advantage.
It’s J.P. Morgan Trust vs. the Bowling League’s Annual Dinner-Dance fund.
A roster of special interests from around New Jersey and, in some cases, from neighboring states are apparently worried about the Guarino threat — based on reports filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission on Oct. 9.
A managed-care company from Cranston, R.I., contributed $500 to Sarlo. A concrete pipe contractor in Hammonton — that’s 120 miles south of Wood-Ridge — chipped in the same amount. So did a painters union from Egg Harbor Township, which is even farther south.
In reality, the cash haul has nothing to do with Sarlo’s reelection. It’s all about a contest to be held among his Senate colleagues after the election.
It’s no secret that the self-described “pro-business Democrat” has been running a below-the-radar campaign for Senate majority leader, which would make him the fourth most powerful elected Democrat in New Jersey and give him sway in setting the Senate’s agenda. The current majority leader, Bernard Kenny of Hoboken, is retiring in January.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
“ATLANTIC CITY – Resort Democrats are fighting over who is going to be the next mayor. But who would want the job?
In the worst-case scenario, the appointment “winner” holds office for just a year, taking office as a lame duck, serving with little power and tainted by the perception of lingering illegitimacy from Wednesday’s vote.
In the brief term, the next mayor will find himself or herself called on to lay out a vision and guide billions of dollars in city development at Bader Field and elsewhere while fending off the encroachment of both a dissatisfied City Council and increasingly displeased state officials.
Would you want this job?” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
IN DISTRICT 14, IT’S ALL ABOUT ONE ASSEMBLY SEAT
“In the 14th district, three men are waging a tough campaign for that second Assembly seat behind popular incumbent Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein.
The favorites would appear to be Republican Tom Goodwin and Democrat Wayne DeAngelo. Both men are from Hamilton in Mercer County, themost populous town in the 14thdistrict, wherethe parties are well organizedand where a large number of independent voters go to the polls.
But the third man in the contest, Goodwin’s running mate Adam Bushman, a veteran and former Jamesburg councilman, has racked up some key newspaper endorsements along with the backing of the New Jersey Education Association.
On Saturday, all three men were campaigning hard and talking about issues in this race, including the candidates’ differences on state funding for stem cell research and the threat to the Fair and Clean Elections process of an ad campaign launched by the conservative outside group Common Sense America.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
BEING A COURT APPOINTED LAWYER = SUPPORTING TERRORISTS IN DISTRICT 8
“The Republican mail piece hit last week in between two debates in four days, and it was arguably the most controversial of the political season, not just in the contentious 8th district but anywhere.
Next to a photograph of masked men marching in a column with guns at the ready, the words refer to a terror suspect nabbed by authorities in connection with a conspiracy to bomb Fort Dix: “He came to our country illegally. He plotted with other Islamic radicals to kill American soldiers… Now Tracy Riley’s family’s law firm is defending him… and your tax dollars are paying them to do it.”
Riley’s husband is the court-appointed attorney representing one of the terror suspects.
“If she goes to Trenton,” the mailer asks, “will she really fight for tougher crime laws that could hurt her clients? Will she repeal death penalty laws for terrorists? Or ease parole standards for convicted criminals? These are fair questions to ask. But we may not be able to afford the answers.”
Then the kicker at the bottom, with the bold words trailing underneath the picture of the masked men with guns, “Tracy Riley: Whose values will she represent in Trenton? Ours? Or theirs?”
Riley, a Mount Laurel Councilwoman who’s running with restraunteur Chris Fifis against GOP candidates Freeholder Dawn Marie Addiego and Medford Mayor Scott Rudder, says not only is the ad offensive, but a profound attack on the legal foundation of the United States and the 6th Amendment.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
BIG MONEY IN DISTRICT 39
“By virtue of party registration alone, Joe Ariyan is the underdog in the traditionally Republican 39th district, even if he has the backing of a rich and powerful county organization and is likely to outspend state Sen. Gerald Cardinale by a large margin.
But based on the flexing of fundraising and political muscle tonight, it’s hard to tell just who has the uphill battle.
The Englewood home of real estate developer David Kasparian, where the event was hosted, was a virtual who’s who of Bergen County Democratic politics. To support Ariyan, warring county party factions – state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero, and everyone in between — showed up to rub elbows at the swanky event, which was closed to the press. They were joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, and Gov. Jon Corzine, who up until now had been notably absent from campaign events in competitive districts.
Still, for all BMWs and Porches parked in front of the Englewood home, Ariyan assailed Cardinale for the latest theme of this hard fought campaign: taking trips sponsored by banking lobbyists, then sponsoring legislation to deregulate parts of the industry.
“Listen: Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Florida four times, some resort in West Virginia, California. If they weren’t vacations, why didn’t they just hold it at the Sheraton Meadowlands?” said Ariyan………..
Although Cardinale does not consider himself an underdog, he often mentions how he will likely be outspent. Today he said that sources in Trenton told him to expect Democrats to throw $3 million towards Ariyan and his slate starting next week, which will include an ad-blitz on the coveted New York airwaves.
“That’s obscene for a job that pays $49,000 a year. Obviously they’re trying to buy the vote,” said Cardinale. “Watch, he’s going on New York television, which is unprecedented in a senate race in northern New Jersey.”………
Cardinale also disputed the notion that his bank-industry sponsored trips were junkets, noting that he was brought in as a guest lecturer and that prominent Democrats participated in many of the same events, like state Sen. Ray Lesniak. Cardinale said that he lectured at many out-of-state events sponsored by other groups, and disputed the notion that they were “vacations.” He described the trip he took to San Francisco to speak at a national real estate industry convention. He flew in the night before, grabbed a quick meal at Burger King, spoke in the morning and was on a plane by noon.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“Campaign mailer trend that needs to be retired – Senate candidates pointing at something and looking as awkward as possible, while their Assembly running mates pretend they’re looking at something fascinating.
“Get elected, and we’ll let you hold a pen. Until then, find something else to do with your hands.” – Assemblymen Jeff Van Drew and Nelson Albano perform the admirable task of writing in a ledger while looking straight ahead, as Assembly candidate Matt Milam is left empty-handed.
Most synchronized candidates – Filling out individual surveys from the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, the 1st District Democratic slate – Van Drew, Albano and Milam – separately answered a question about funding for educational facilities. All three answered, “Yes, the state must make a significant investment in our educational infrastructure.”
To the next question, about “trustee autonomy” at state colleges, Milam and Albano each answered “We should always try to maintain as much trustee autonomy as possible.” Van Drew apparently decided to wing it and go his own path. His answer, “In general, we must maintain as much trustee autonomy as possible.”” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
BIG MONEY BEHIND WHELAN’S “WARM AND FUZZY” OPRAH ADS
Had Whelan, D-Atlantic, relied on money collected from within the legislative district he represents, the campaign would have hit bankruptcy after two days of Oprah. Instead, his slate is gearing up for prime time with an ad campaign bankrolled by contributors from outside the district.
A Press of Atlantic City review of campaign finance reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission last week shows Whelan and his running mates raised only $149,525 of its $662,713 in campaign contributions from inside the 2nd District. His opponent, state Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough, raised $265,165, nearly twice that amount, and just made it on to basic cable this week.
The major difference: party leadership.
Democratic Party leaders – who control the Governor’s Office and both houses of the state Legislature – had already dumped $402,229 into Whelan’s campaign by Oct. 9, according to ELEC reports. If the 2005 campaign is an indicator, that amount will at least quadruple by Election Day.
McCullough, by contrast, collected $54,797 from the Republican State Committee, $7,800 from U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, and $750 from the Republican Leadership Council in Washington D.C. Add them all up and Whelan still has more than a 6-1 spending advantage when it comes to party funds……..
“Sonny’s accepting money from the Republican organizations,” Whelan said. “I’m accepting money from the Democratic organizations. We just have more of it.”
Republicans take a more nuanced view. McCullough’s first cable ad accuses Whelan of taking $2.2 million in “corrupt Camden County cash.” It’s a charge that plays off news stories surrounding the indictment of state Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden – who did not contribute to Whelan – and controversial Camden County powerbroker George Norcross.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
THIS WOULD HAVE HURT ROSEN’S CAMPAIGN… IF SHE HAD A CHANCE TO BEGIN WITH
“OCEAN TOWNSHIP – Michele Rosen, a Democratic candidate for 9th District Assembly, is being sued by her landlord for more than $14,000, due to several issues including a failure to pay rent and writing bad checks.
Thomas Randazzo, of Montville, filed a lawsuit worth $14,784 (plus interest and legal fees) against Rosen and her husband, Gerald, on Aug. 2, after the couple did not pay the rent or water-and-sewer fees for their Bradley Beach Way residence. Included in the suit are bad check fees and legal costs. On Friday, Randazzo said that the Rosens still live in the property, which he purchased as a second home, but they were “more than a few months behind” on rent when he filed the suit………..
Rosen said she was angry that the lawsuit was made public.
“To be honest, we have gone through a lot of problems financially. We try our best, but sometimes that is not good enough. A lot of other people in this state have the same problem,” said Rosen, who claimed the suit was dismissed under the condition that she paid the balance.
“We’ve been paying our rent every month since, but we still owe him some money. I put the check in the mail today and he should have the money in a day or two.”” (Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)
SOUTH JERSEY AFL-CIO ENDORSEMENTS
“The Atlantic-Cape May County AFL-CIO endorsed two Republicans and three Democrats in local legislative races, asking members to place union loyalty over party loyalty in November.
In the 1st District, the Labor Council endorsed state Sen. Nicholas Asselta, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic but backed two Democrats – Assemblyman Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam – for Assembly.
“Nobody has worked harder to defend the working families of the 1st District than Sen. Asselta,” said Central Labor Council President Roy Foster. “For 13 years, no matter what party was in charge, Nick Asselta has used his knowledge of the system in Trenton to better the lives of our members.”
Albano is an employee of Shop Rite in Vineland and a shop steward for UFCW Local 152. The president of Albano’s union, Brian String, said he was “extremely proud” to have one of the union’s members in the Legislature. String said the union also strongly supports Asselta, and he encouraged voters to “follow our lead and forget political parties.”
In the 2nd District, the Central Labor Council endorsed two union members, one from each side of the aisle, for state Assembly: Democrat Joe Wilkins, the former business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 322, and John Amodeo, an operating engineer for Local 825.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
THEIR MONEY HAS TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE
“Republican or Democrat? When it comes to legislative races in a state where independent voters outnumber party-affiliated voters by a 3-2 margin, the candidates aren’t anxious for voters to know.
Most of the campaign signs, billboards and fliers proliferating around the state in advance of the Nov. 6 election are noticeably silent on party affiliation.
“It’s common because candidates, especially incumbents, tend to build up their own brand, and they don’t want to contaminate their own brand name with a party label that might turn somebody off,” said Peter J. Woolley, a pollster and political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
In one of the state’s most competitive Senate races, for the 12th District, Democrat Ellen Karcher and Republican Jennifer Beck aren’t stressing their party affiliation.
It’s an important strategy for Karcher, a Democrat whose 12th District generally elects Republicans, Woolley said.
“To hold onto that seat, she has to attract what we call ‘weak’ Republicans, people who lean to the Republican party,” he said.
Indeed, of the 750 words in Karcher’s biography on her campaign Web site, not one of them is “Democrat.”” (Gold, AP)
IN DISTRICT 8
“More than 100 voters attended a candidates’ forum here Friday night, peppering the 8th District hopefuls with questions on everything from making the state more affordable to ethics reform.
The event at Medford Leas, a continuing-care retirement community, offered members of the voting public their first opportunity to directly question the candidates, who have been running aggressive campaigns in the hotly contested races for state Senate and Assembly.
The candidates also turned out Wednesday for an event at LeisureTowne in Southampton, but that was open only to community residents.
The race for the Senate pits two veteran politicians against one another for a seat now held by Sen. Martha Bark, R-8th of Medford. Democrat Assemblyman Fran Bodine, D-8th of Moorestown, is running against Republican Phil Haines of Springfield.
Bodine, a longtime Republican, switched parties in April after the county GOP chose not to support his re-election bid.
If Haines wins the Nov. 6 election, he would have to resign his elected post as Burlington County clerk, something he explained after a voter questioned whether he would keep both jobs. Both Haines and Bodine said they want to eliminate dual office-holding as part of their ethics reform agendas.” (Camilli, Burlington County Times)
SOMEONE IS ACTUALLY RUNNING AGAINST ROBERTS
“Despite criticism from the minority party, the Democrats running in the 5th legislative district say they have provided property tax relief for residents and are working toward reform.
From creating the office of the state comptroller to root out waste and fraud, to giving a new county superintendent the power to recommend cost-saving measures in local districts, the Democrats say the special session on property taxes last year was worthwhile.
“I’m not apologetic at all for the special session,” said Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., D-Brooklawn, running alongside Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D-Barrington, and Senate candidate Dana Redd, a Camden City councilwoman.
They face Republican Assembly candidates Jonathan Mangel, of Deptford, Edward Torres, of Camden, and Senate candidate Hans Berg, of Bellmawr, on Nov. 6, when all 120 seats in the Legislature are up for re-election. ” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
YEAH, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT
“The Republican slate for state Assembly in the 5th legislative district want to cut state spending, return total control of Camden to city officials and, after a rash of corruption scandals in the state, bring integrity back to state government.
Edward Torres, a Realtor from Camden, is running alongside Jonathan Mangel, of Deptford, who heads his father’s company, Mamacita Inc., in Vineland.
They face Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., D-5 of Brooklawn, and Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D-5, of Barrington.
If elected, both Republican candidates said they would focus on scaling back state spending.
Mangel said the state should run like residents run their personal finances.
“When you go to a restaurant, and you see filet mignon on the menu and it’s $30, and you have $20 in your pocket,” he said. “You know you can’t have that filet.” ” (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
“HAMILTON — Republican mayoral candidate John Bencivengo yesterday took aim at his opponent for a recent television ad run by local Democrats that attacks his wife. The ad criticizes Bencivengo for hiring his wife to work for the Hamilton Partnership while the Republican candidate was the chairman of the group and displays her payroll record showing $18,000 in salary.
Bencivengo said yesterday using his wife in the campaign is a cheap shot and said he had hired an attorney who is sending letters to the television stations where the ad has run demanding it be taken down because it displays private records.
Today, I am demanding that (Democratic Mayor) Glen Gilmore take down this vicious campaign commercial and publicly apologize to my family and to the people of Hamilton for the pain and embarrassment he has caused them due to his shameful campaign. A man who would sink so low and hit so far below the belt for political gain doesn’t deserve to be mayor of Hamilton,” Bencivengo said………
It is unknown who paid for the commercial, but a call to Mercer County Democratic Chairman Rich McClellan was not immediately returned.
Gilmore is serving his second term in office. The winner of next month’s election will hold the township’s top elected post through 2011. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
TO FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA, THE SOMERSET PARKS COMMISSION IS A JOKE
“Somerset County park officials say they based their new housing policies on those in several other jurisdictions, but not all the models are flattered by the imitation.
A park official in Fairfax County, Va., laughed when asked if that agency provides free housing for its golf maintenance director, as Somerset will continue to do for Darrell Marcinek.
And while Somerset’s park commission is dramatically increasing the rent it charges Director Raymond Brown and Deputy County Clerk Roseann Brown to live in a county-owned park home, in Fairfax they would be barred from occupying one at any price.
The populous Washington suburb operates eight golf courses, nine rec centers, several lakes and an aquatic center, two campgrounds, eight historic sites, 275 playing fields and other facilities on more than 23,000 acres of parkland.
“There’s a few managers who would love to be able to get into one of these wonderful properties,” said Judy Pedersen, a spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Park Authority. But under an employee rules manual posted on the Internet, “you cannot be management” and qualify to live in a park house, she said.
“These are intended for lower-echelon people who are responsible for them as part of their jobs,” she said. “There’s a cap on the (pay) grade of people who are eligible.” ” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
THAT LITTLE ISSUE OF THE HUGE BUDGET GAP
“The Corzine administration has asked the other two branches of government to share its budget pain. In separate letters this week to legislative leaders and the judiciary, acting Treasurer Michellene Davis said the administration needs help closing a gap –currently projected at $3 billion — in the budget that takes effect July 1.
Gov. Jon Corzine has ordered departments to prepare a list of recommended cuts totaling that amount by Dec. 1.
Tom Vincz, a treasury department spokesman, confirmed the letter was sent out, though he refused to provide a copy. While legislative staff also declined to release a copy, one said Davis asked them to “consider proposing similar reductions” to what administration officials are expecting from Cabinet members.
The potential administration cuts total about 9 percent of the $33.5 billion budget, or about 20 percent of the spending officials view as available for cuts, mostly the cost of operating the bureaucracy as well as aid to municipalities, colleges and universities. At least for now, administration officials are treating as untouchable state school aid, institutions, taxpayer rebates and debt service.
Vincz said while administration officials respect the prerogatives of the other branches, which are considered independent under the state Constitution, they felt compelled to drive home the severity of the state’s budget problems, and to remind them of the need for shared sacrifice. ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
“At a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall yesterday morning, new Interim Mayor Terrence Malloy promised he would attack Bayonne’s problems with a sense of urgency.
“If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done,” Malloy said, repeating a saying he overheard at a time-management seminar. “I’m going to treat each and every day as if it is the last minute, so things will be done.”
Bayonne has no shortage of upcoming “last minutes.”
On Tuesday, the city council will consider a $6 million bond ordinance to keep the bankrupt Bayonne Medical Center open through a sale process set to begin after an auction on Wednesday. If the court does not approve the process and a potential buyer, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Morris Stern may make good on a previous threat to close the hospital.
On the same day, the council will also hear from developers interested in building at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor’s Maritime District.
Council members have said they intend to recommend a developer to the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, which owns the peninsula, although Assistant City Attorney Christopher Patella has said the BLRA has no obligation to follow their recommendation. ” (Judd, Jersey Journal)
HERE COMES THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DEBATE AGAIN
“A new law that created stricter penalties for New Jersey residents who don’t register their cars has stoked debate over illegal immigration again, with many immigration advocates questioning whether the legislation is intended to weed out illegal immigrants.
Those who helped create the law say its purpose has nothing to do with illegal immigration. It’s in tent is to try to reclaim limited parking spaces from people who have cars registered out of the state, and get a grip on those driving unlicensed and uninsured, supporters say.
That many of those driver are immigrants, some here illegally, is a different problem, they say.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
THE SHARPE JAMES SOAP OPERA DIGEST
“Defense attorneys for former Newark Mayor Sharpe James want to know if prospective jurors would be influenced at his upcoming corruption trial if they heard evidence that he was having an affair with his co-defendant.
The lawyers last week submitted 97 questions they would like to ask potential jurors, following a similar filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office earlier this month. U.S. District Judge William J. Martini will construct a questionnaire.
James, 71, is accused of using city-issued credit cards to pay for $58,000 worth of personal trips and expenses and for engineering the sale of nine city-owned properties at a discount rate to Tamika Riley, a businesswoman described by prosecutors as his companion on many of the trips.
Riley, 38, is one of eight women prosecutors allege accompanied James on various trips, paid for with the credit cards.
Defense attorneys want to know if jurors would be influenced if they heard that James, while married, was having intimate relations with one or more women. They also want to ask potential jurors if they have had extramarital relations.
Another line of questioning addresses jurors’ experiences with African-Americans.” (Frankston Lorin, Courier-Post)
IN MERCER COUNTY
“Problems at the Mercer County jail, the pace of planned construction for a new courthouse and one-party rule were sources of disagreement between the candidates for Mercer County executive during a debate last week.
Democratic incumbent Brian M. Hughes and Republican challenger Janice Mitchell Mintz answered six questions related to the county’s future, with each given an opportunity to respond to the answers given by the other at the debate sponsored by The Times.
Other topics ranged from the county’s role in addressing Tren ton’s problems, the future of Tren ton-Mercer Airport, and the prospect of sharing services across government boundaries.
The candidates agreed the $149.8 million project to build a new criminal courthouse and renovate the existing courthouse and courthouse annex should proceed.
Hughes, a Princeton Township resident, said the projected $60 million cost to build the new building rose to $80 million due to require ments from Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda R. Feinberg.
He noted the checkered history of the project, which has been discussed for 30 years, including a time when the Masonic Temple was considered as the possible lo cation for the courthouse.
While Mintz, a Hopewell Township resident, agreed with the need to build the courthouse, she said some costs could have been saved if the county had moved forward with the project sooner.” (Kitchenman, Trenton Times)
“Paul D. McLemore, a part-time judge in Trenton Municipal Court has filed a lawsuit against the chief Municipal Court judge and the court administrator, alleging defamation.
McLemore, who was appointed as a part-time judge in 2000, alleges in a lawsuit filed last week in Superior Court that Chief Judge Louis Sancinito and Eunice Lewis, the court director, conspired to deprive him of the salary to which he believes he is entitled.
On March 28 Lewis sent McLemore and the other judges a memo saying they would be paid on an hourly basis, rather than a salary basis, and would be required to work 20 hours a week. The judges would be required to each turn in a weekly time sheet.
Lemore said in his suit that Lewis defamed him by comparing him with “the alleged criminality of two public officials” which he called “outrageous.”
In his suit, McLemore quoted the part of that memo which he claims was defamatory:
“Former city Finance Director Chris Stankiewicz was indicted because she could not substantiate employee time. Senator Wayne Bryant was indicted and forced out of the Senate because he either could not substantiate his time or submitted false time sheets. I can substantiate each and every employee (sic) time sheets except for three judges. I like all the judges here but I am not in a position to be indicted and go to jail because you think you are above filing (sic) out a time sheet.” ” (Stein, Trenton Times)
IN SALEM COUNTY
“SALEM Julie Acton is running for freeholder because she isn’t afraid to ask questions and she wants to maintain a balanced view on the freeholder board.
Currently the lone Republican of the seven freeholders, Acton was appointed in March to serve the remainder of former Freeholder Sue Bestwick’s term after Bestwick resigned.
Although she says she doesn’t want to look at people as merely Republican or Democrat, this election could result in an all-Democrat board and Acton hopes to be elected to provide the needed checks and balances.
“I think, from experience, it wouldn’t be a good thing to have a 7-0 board,” she said. “I have proven that you have to ask questions.”
Acton added she doesn’t ask questions because of political party reasons someone just needs to oversee what’s going on.
“I think I’ve made the board a better board,” she said. ” (Moore, Today’s Sunbeam)
ON THE BALLOT
“If history is any guide, voters on Nov. 6 will do as they’ve done on 11 previous occasions: approve the open space funding question on the ballot.
However, with the state’s finances a wreck and residents feeling hypersensitive to any proposal that increases state debt, advocates for open space preservation say they are not taking voter support for granted.
Some 90 environmental and public interest groups have launched a public relations campaign to promote passage of open space funding, ballot question No. 3. Organizers of the “Keep It Green” campaign are staging multiple pro-preservation events in every county, taping radio ads, posting fliers and employing other get-out-the-vote strategies.
“The voters of New Jersey understand the importance of land preservation,” said “Keep It Green” spokesman John Malay. “Having said that, we are in an atmosphere today where property taxes are in the newspaper every other day. There is an unprecedented sensitivity to taxes in New Jersey.”” (AP)
“The massive landfill-to-housing project known as EnCap was the product of “a terrible bait and switch” by the developer and probably should have been killed two years ago, says New Jersey’s former chief environmental watchdog.
Bradley M. Campbell, who headed the Department of Environmental Protection from 2002 through 2005, said he had grown fed up with EnCap’s “history of double dealing and deceit” and wanted to withhold key state financing from the project.
“That was the time to pull the plug,” Campbell said in an interview Friday, referring to a $211 million state financing package EnCap won in December 2005. But Campbell said his efforts to cut off funding were overruled by acting Gov. Richard Codey’s office.
Codey and his ex-chief of staff denied any knowledge of Campbell’s concerns.
In an August 2005 e-mail obtained by The Record, Campbell tells then-state Treasurer John McCormac that the state could lose $70 million if it followed through with the risky financing scheme. ” (Pillets, Bergen Record)