Both sides in district 2 bring in campaign ringers, Press of Atlantic City examines campaign mailers, Doblin on Johnson’s donations to LaRouche, New Jersey has a judge shortage, UMDNJ faces another whistleblower lawsuit.
WHO IS BRAMNICK CAMPAIGNING FOR?
“The Absecon Channel separates Brigantine from Atlantic City in this world of salt water and low-slung housing broken up by tragicomic human silos with names like Taj and Showboat.
But it’s all the same battlefield here in the 2nd district, where forces are mobilizing for Sen. (and Egg Harbor Township Mayor) James "Sonny" McCullough or Assemblyman James Whelan.
In Atlantic City, a second tall and bearded politician joins Team Whelan today in a senior citizens complex on Atlantic Avenue. It’s Gov. Jon Corzine, who knows seniors are a critical voting block, particularly in an off-election year like this, and he’s working the older crowd overtime with his best up-close-and-personal demeanor.
"We are here to make sure the social safety net stays in place," says the governor. "Republican cuts would hurt cities like Atlantic City."
On the northern side of the bay in Brigantine, the Republicans think the governor’s presence here will sink the opposition. "I can’t believe they’d bring Corzine in here," says Jim O’Neill, a Republican candidate for council in Linwood. "That can’t help."
In front of one of the local Wawas, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick meets the outstretched hand of a stranger and says, "Hello, Jon Bramnick – supporting John Amodeo Vince Polistina for the Assembly," as he directs the man’s attention to the two GOP candidates.
Zipped up in jackets, the Republicans are juggling coffee cups against the wind in what feels like a hard transition into late autumn. Amodeo and Polistina are going to work the door here for a little while with Bramnick and then go door-to-door in Brigantine.
"He’s a big inspiration, and he’s very confident that Vince and I are going to get into the Assembly," Amodeo says of the district 21 assemblyman.
As the Republican Party’s whip, Bramnick has been moving around the state in this election cycle and helping Legislative candidates like Amodeo and Polistina. He’s also traveled to Bergen, Sussex, Monmouth and Ocean in this cycle, and in the process he’s feeling out the terrain for a potential U.S. Senate run in ’08.
Bramnick wrote a personal check of $2,000 to Amodeo and Polistina on Sunday, and dished a similar amount of money into other districts.
"These guys will probably win," Bramnick says of McCullough’s running mates, who are up against Whelan’s allies, Blondell Spellman and Joe Wilkins.
"We want to make sure they win," he adds.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
FACT VS FICTION IN DISTRICT 2
“As the countdown to Election Day continues and campaign workers feverishly spend more money on last-minute mailers and TV spots, distortion and hypocrisy in the ads is just as prominent as it was on Labor Day. And with just eight days left until voters head to the polls, it's only going to get worse. RACE: State Assembly, 2nd District……….
Democrat ad — What it says: "Watch Vince Polistina bilk Atlantic County taxpayers out of nearly $6 million. In this frightening political drama, see shocking revelations about Vince Polistina's contracts with 13 government entities – worth almost $6 million in taxpayer money."……..
The facts:………. There is no evidence to support the Democrats' claim that Polistina has cheated taxpayers or has run his private engineering firm illegally while obtaining municipal contracts. Polistina recently sent a letter to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, which paid for the ad, threatening to sue for defamation. Polistina recently sent a letter to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, which paid for the ad, threatening to sue for defamation. The committee and the Democratic Assembly campaign say they stand by the ad and any lawsuit would be immediately followed with a countersuit for "the erroneous charges the Republican machine has made against our candidates," campaign spokesman Raiyan Syed said.
RACE: State Assembly, 2nd District (Atlantic County)
CANDIDATES: Blondell Spellman and Joe Wilkins
What it says: "Want a good reason why property taxes are so high? You're looking at him. Meet Joe Wilkins. He's spent a lifetime making a living off your tax dollars. Wilkins has held at least three different taxpayer-financed jobs – pocketing nearly three-quarters of a million in salary. Then, on top of it, he's collecting full-time health benefits and will get a triple-dipper pension."…………
The facts: Although the ad implies Wilkins is currently receiving full-time health benefits from his past public employment, he's not. Wilkins is a Medicare recipient. When asked about the accuracy of the ad's claim, campaign political consultant Carl Golden said he thought the ad was referring to health benefits Wilkins had received in the past, not currently. He later said the campaign was standing by the accuracy of the mailer.
The ad doesn't mention that Wilkins has publicly supported abolishing pensions for part-time public officials throughout his campaign.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
“On Thursday Johnson was aware of past allegations about LaRouche, but on Friday, he was not. The flip-flop is inexplicable.
Just because he's different doesn't mean he doesn't have some good ideas." Lyndon LaRouche has been called many things. Different may be the kindest. But that is how Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Englewood, saw the convicted felon and oft-alleged anti-Semite when he spoke to The Record Thursday.
During 2005 and 2006, Johnson made seven contributions totally nearly $2,000 to LaRouche's political action committee. When asked about the contributions Thursday, Johnson was neither apologetic nor contrite. He claimed he was aware of allegations against LaRouche but was not convinced that LaRouche was prejudiced.
It's a remarkable conclusion. Either Johnson is a man whose sees the inherent goodness in every person or he's a fool.
Equally remarkable, on Friday, Johnson issued this statement: "Had I been aware of the LaRouche record of anti-Semitism I obviously would not have made my contributions. I am asking for a full refund of those contributions."
On Thursday Johnson was aware of past allegations about LaRouche, but on Friday, he was not. The flip-flop is inexplicable. So is the pathetic statement that a state assemblyman was not aware of the allegations surrounding LaRouche.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, Johnson's running mate in the 37th district, was "disappointed" by Johnson's comments reported in The Record on Friday. "He should not have been defending this," she said.
"I'm not going to make excuses for Gordon," she added, but Weinberg does not think Gordon should drop out of the Assembly race because of his remarks or contributions to the LaRouche PAC.
In a digital world, Johnson is one rabbit-ear short of full reception. Contrast Democrats' willingness to hear out Johnson with their expulsion of a freeholder candidate last year. Lebanese-American Sami Merhi was a Passaic County Democratic freeholder candidate. But he was not a candidate for long after reports surfaced about alleged comments at a 2002 fund-raiser for Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson. Merhi allegedly said there was no comparison between the Sept. 11 terrorists and Palestinian suicide bombers. Merhi's godson was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks………….
Democrats claim they are the "Big Tent" party, but what's under the tent is not a banner proclaiming intolerance for bigotry. Instead the ground is covered by something less pleasant, something usually attributed to circus (or partisan) elephants.
And an apology doesn't mask the stench.” (Doblin, Bergen Record)
“It's gotten to be a regular drill for state Superior Court Judge Daniel Mecca.
Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, judges summon people who filed civil lawsuits and are ready for trial to the courthouse in Hackensack. Then these people — along with their lawyers and expert witnesses who get paid no matter what — sit and wait. All too often, Mecca and his fellow judges wind up sending some of them home. The reason: The bench in Bergen County is down 10 judges — about one-third of the county's full judicial complement.”
The reason: The bench in Bergen County is down 10 judges — about one-third of the county's full judicial complement.
"It's a challenge. … We all have our fingers in the dike trying to hold it back," said Mecca, the courthouse's presiding civil judge. "You can only put off a case so many times. The public deserves to have their cases heard."
New Jersey has a judge shortage.
There are 36 Superior Court judicial vacancies — almost 10 percent of the trial bench. Camden, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic and Union each have at least three openings. At least one judge vacancy hasn't been filled for more than two years. There also is an opening on the state Tax Court.
With some judges retiring at the end of the year, the vacancies will rise unless Gov. Jon Corzine and the state Senate hire more.
"It's getting to a point where we are approaching a crisis in (some counties)," said David Anderson, director of the Judiciary's Office of Professional and Governmental Services. ” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
JUST BELOW KARCHER AND BECK IS AN EQUALLY COMPETITIVE RACE
“Taxes, education and ethics reform are among the issues the four candidates say are driving the race for two seats in the 12th District Assembly race.
Democratic incumbent Mike Panter and candidate Amy Mallet are pitted against Republicans Declan O'Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande.
Panter, 38, is seeking a third term in the Assembly.
Panter has authored bills to stop elected officials from holding two offices, a ban on nepotism and stricter financial disclosure for those who serve in the Legislature.
He is also sponsoring a bill to stop public officials from obtaining government contracts and board appointments, an area he said is rife with cronyism and exists "under the radar," with about 700 state, county and local elected officials who simultaneously hold other, unelected positions.
"Ethics reform is a prerequisite to solving many issues like property taxes," Panter said. "It's diffi cult to get public support for change if people don't trust their public officials."
His running mate, Mallet, 51, of Fair Haven, owns a promotional marketing company, is married and has two teenage children.
Mallet said that she wants to rein in property taxes.
"I've spent a lot of time going door-to-door and that message is loud and clear: property taxes need to be addressed. We've got to get a grip on them."
She plans to examine the state budget and cut "pork spending." ………
Meanwhile, the Republican challengers said cutting taxes and reducing the state budget will be their number one priority if elected.
They cited a recent study by Rutgers University economists that showed from 2000 to 2006 the gap between newcomers and those leaving the state has fallen to 21,410, a trend that if left unchecked means that by as early as next year the state will be losing population. And a recent poll showed 49 percent of all New Jersey adults would like to leave the state.
"You cannot have an economy and a state remain in good health with an exodus of people," said O'Scanlon, 44, who is council president for Little Silver but is not run ning again for that office. O'Scan lon, a consultant who helps municipalities site cell phone towers, said he will not take money to consult for the municipalities he represents if elected to the Assembly. ” (Stein, Trenton Times)
“A billing supervisor at the state's medical university — which remains under federal investigation over allegations of kickbacks paid to cardiologists for patient referrals — claims he was the subject of harassment and retaliation after he raised a red flag over fraudulent billing practices.
The civil action — one of a still growing number of whistleblower lawsuits against the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — charges that the university's Office of Ethics and Compliance failed to properly investigate the matter. The office was established last year 14 months ago as part of a reform effort at the troubled state institution.
In the lawsuit filed in August, but served on the parties only recently, Douglas Palmer, who worked in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Division of UMDNJ's University Hospital in Newark, said he repeatedly warned that bills were being processed without proper documentation — against hospital policy.
UMDNJ officials refused to take action, he said. When he filed a confidential report with the compliance office, it was never investigated and his signed statement instead made its way back to his supervisors. Palmer said the chief of the division became "enraged" when he learned the matter had been reported.
In his complaint, Palmer, 39, of Bedminster, said he was told he had no right to speak to Ethics and Compliance. "That's it! That's your job! You're out of here!" he said the division chief told him last year. ” (Margolin and Sherman, Star-Ledger)
OH YEAH, THERE’S A STEM-CELL QUESTION ON THE BALLOT
“A Nov. 6 ballot question about whether the state should borrow $450 million for stem cell research has New Jerseyans sharply divided over issues of life and money.
Supporters say stem cell research will attract top scientists to the state, cure Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other devastating diseases and bring billions to New Jersey's economy.
If approved, the new bonds would provide up to $45 million in grants annually for 10 years, beginning in 2008, to scientists researching a wide variety of stem cells, including embryonic cells………..
The bond question, which has survived challenges by antiabortion advocates in court, is the next big step toward stem cell research for New Jersey, the second state in the nation to approve the research, and the first to fund it with public money. The $450 million in bonds would, in part, pay the salaries of the scientists officials hope to lure to the state.
"We have two major pieces of misinformation that we need to counter — that we're killing babies and that New Jersey can't afford this" bond issue, said Wise Young, a renowned neuroscientist and spinal cord injury researcher at Rutgers.” (Groves, Bergen Record)
DISTRICT 3 SNOOZE FEST
“Philip Donohue wants to give New Jersey a better image. Mark Cimino thinks towns and counties beyond Trenton and Camden need more representation. And Jeff Stepler hopes to focus on taxes and government ethics.
The three Republican candidates in the 3rd Legislative District hope to use their South Jersey backgrounds to make a statewide difference, each in their own way.
Donohue and Stepler, running mates for the two Assembly seats up for grabs in the Nov. 6 election, think the current government is broken, as seen in the state's $2.5 billion structural deficit. If elected, they said, their priorities would be taxes and education.
"We have to recognize that the New Jersey state government is dysfunctional," Donohue said.
He added that he and Stepler have plans, including a transit subsidy, to cut the budget” (Funderbuck, Daily Journal)
“The incumbent Democrats in the state's 3rd Legislative District don't make any claims to flash or fashion.
State Sen. Stephen Sweeney and Assemblymen Douglas Fisher and John Burzichelli can rightfully lay claim to a working man's background even if their blue collar working days are a few years behind them.
Sweeney, the ironworker, is now employed as a union official for his profession. Fisher is a real estate salesman and businessman who, until recently, owned a grocery where he worked the meat counter. And Burzichelli still is a manager in the recording studio that completes such tasks as creating special effects for films.
They are running for re-election Nov. 6 on a platform of working for their district by bringing the area much-needed recognition” (Jackson, Daily Journal)
“A new state law, meant to crack down on New Jersey residents with vehicles registered out of state, is causing extra troubles for immigrants whose legal status is already in doubt.
The law, signed last month by Governor Corzine, gives new state residents 60 days to register their vehicles or face fines of up to $250 for a first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. They can have their vehicles impounded for up to 96 hours for third and subsequent offenses.
Garden State officials complained that previously ambiguous registration laws made it easier for people to maintain registrations in states that had less stringent insurance and driving record laws.
But immigrant rights advocates say going out of state, to places with less strict laws, has been the only way for some immigrants to get legal registration.
"It's going to hurt the community a lot because we don't have many transportation options," Ramon Hernandez, president of the Mexican American Association of Southern New Jersey, told The Press of Atlantic City for Sunday newspapers.” (AP)
“OUR OPPRESSOR IN TRENTON” – JUST A LITTLE TOO DRAMATIC?
“Hunters, anglers, trappers and riflemen united yesterday in Monmouth County to rally their opposition to two bills they fear will end hunting and fishing in the state.
"We're fighting for a different type of freedom, outdoor freedom, and our oppressor is Trenton," Anthony Mauro, chairman of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, said at the Clarksburg Inn in Millstone.
Mauro and his supporters oppose legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Panter (D-Monmouth) and state Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) that would change the makeup of the state Fish and Game Council and eliminate wording that recognizes the recreational use of animals and fish for hunting and fishing.
The council currently has 11 members. By law, six of those members must be either hunters or fishermen. There is a need to change the council to include other voices, Panter said, because of conflicts of interest among hunters sitting on the council.
The bill would cut the council to "seven political appointees recommended to the Governor," according to the outdoor alliance's Web site.
"It's really an ethics reform," Panter said. "I've fished many times. As I tell any hunter, I support their right to hunt." ” (Din, Star-Ledger)
“First came the newspaper ad, a full page in Union Township's local weekly publicly announcing the police department's rift with the township administrator.
Then came the tickets, six motor vehicle summonses mailed to administrator Frank Bradley last week, including a citation for improperly using the emergency lights on his township car.
Now, it seems the long-simmering feud between the township's rank-and-file cops and their civilian boss is reaching a crescendo, with legal threats and council resolutions adding fuel to the tinderbox of accusations already smoking in Town Hall.
Last Tuesday, the township council ordered its attorney to draft a new resolution giving Bradley explicit responsibility over police operations.
This week, the 105-member police officers' union, PBA Local 69, say it will file a motion in Union County Superior Court to bar Bradley from "meddling" in those very operations. ” (Jett, Star-Ledger)
IN $PRING LAKE
“SPRING LAKE —With one four-year term as mayor and two three-year Borough Council seats up in the coming election, the challenger for the mayor's seat has accused the council of getting along too well.
"Right now, (the council members) all claim to be getting along great, and all that's good, but I think you need someone up there who can say, "No,' " said Republican mayoral candidate and former council member Michael Mattia. Drawing on his four years of experience in the Marine Corps, Mattia said, "I just feel like I can lead people but do it in a civil manner and work on cutting taxes."
Democratic Mayor Jennifer Naughton, who previously served on the Borough Council, took office earlier this year when Mayor Thomas J. Byrne III resigned. She said that while "getting along at a public meeting and having respect for each other's positions is absolutely critical to getting things done," she stressed courtesy should not be confused with constant agreement.” (Biese, Asbury Park Press)
IN GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP
“GLOUCESTER TWP. Support for this year's first partisan election since 1982 seems to be running along party lines.
The Republican members of the administration, Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton and Councilwoman Shelley Lovett, who is running for Senate in the 4th Legislative District, say the November election detracts from local issues.
Most of the sitting Democrat council members, however, believe the November election will save money and result in a larger voter turnout since the election coincides with other major elections.” (Huelsman, Courier-Post)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
THE LEGACY OF REV. WILLIAM WATLEY
“Former Commerce chief of staff Lesly Devereaux, already facing prison time, pleaded guilty yesterday to creating false documents as part of a deal with prosecutors to avoid being retried on charges she gave $11,000 in state contracts to relatives.
Devereaux became the highest-ranking state official to be convicted at trial by the state Attorney General's Office when a jury found her guilty in July of using a state employee to run her private legal practice. The panel deadlocked on a dozen other counts alleging she illegally hired her sister and mother, but acquitted her of conspiring with her relatives to cover it up.
Following more than a month of plea negotiations with state prosecutors, Devereaux, 48, of Piscataway, agreed to plead guilty to two counts of creating false documents and one count of welfare fraud. The deal does not include a recommendation on how much time she will serve beyond a five-year minimum term or how much she will have to repay the state.
Deputy Attorney General Anthony Picione told reporters "justice has been done" and that he plans to seek considerable prison time when Devereaux is sentenced Dec. 14.
"She's taken responsibility," Picione said. "The people of the state of New Jersey now get to know that, yes, this is wrong and that we will hold our public servants to this standard. They will also know that if you commit a crime as a public servant, we'll be after you."
Devereaux declined to speak with reporters. Her attorney, Jack Furlong, said she took the deal because a successful appeal would still leave her facing a second trial — only this time with the state knowing her defense strategy.” (Hepp, Star-Ledger)
DID ANYONE KNOW THAT THERE’S A COMPETITIVE RACE IN DISTRICT 12?
“In what is shaping up to be a battle of finger-pointing, incumbent Democratic state Sen. Ellen Karcher is facing off against Republican Jennifer Beck.
The race pits a first-term senator against a veteran politician with Assembly and local politics experience. Karcher and her Assembly running mates have raised about $2.2 million while Beck and her running mates have raised $303,000. The opponents are using their war chests to run negative attack ads, each accusing the other of ethical lapses.
John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said, "It's a very competitive race."
Both sides say their polling shows the race will be close.
In the 12th District, a traditionally Republican stronghold, voters elected Karcher four years ago after Republican Sen. John Bennett was weakened by a federal investigation involving his law firm. Bennett was not charged. . ” (Stein, Trenton Times)
The bitter, hard-fought, race between state Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, and her Republican opponent, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, may break a record for the most expensive legislative race in state history, topping $4 million.
The most expensive legislative race took place in 2003, when $4 million was spent by Fred H. Madden Jr., a Democrat who defeated Assemblyman George Geist in the Camden County-based 4th District, said Ingrid Reed, director of the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University.
"That was the most expensive until this year. We don't know how much will be spent in the 12th, where people estimate it may be more than $4 million," Reed said. That race and one in District 2 in Atlantic City are expected to be close, she said. "In both cases, the state party, the leadership PACs (political action committees) and the candidates have put money into it."
NASTY, NASTY, NASTY
“In one legislative race, Republicans are trying to link a Democratic challenger to an alleged terrorist.
A mysterious "push poll" in another recently tried to convince voters the incumbent Republican senator worked for mob boss Nicky Scarfo.
Elsewhere, candidates are being accused of improper tax breaks, bad driving, ties to disgraced U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, taking junkets to Bermuda, and running away from debates. What about the issues that are supposed to really matter to voters, like property taxes and ethics reform? Experts say they still count.
But as the Nov. 6 election nears, campaigns that often start out with noble pronouncements about public policy positions often degenerate into personal attacks over local issues.
"The arc of a campaign is, they don't tend to get nicer at the end," said Brad Lawrence, co-owner of Message & Media, one of the state's top Democratic campaign consulting firms.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
STILE ON DISTRICT 39
“Senate President Dick Codey will spare no expense for Democratic candidates in high-profile contests this year – except in Bergen County's 39th Legislative District.
Democratic challenger Joseph Ariyan's effort to defeat the long-entrenched Republican incumbent, Gerald Cardinale of Demarest, is no longer a priority in the Senate Democrats' battle plans, according to three people familiar with Codey's strategy.
Codey, whose Senate Democratic majority's account was stocked with $3.6 million as of Oct. 15, is scaling back the size of his stake in the race. He plans to give $300,000 to $600,000, but not the $1 million-plus that the Bergen County Democratic Organization was banking on to subsidize a late-stage television blitz to try to topple Cardinale and his Assembly running mates, Charlotte Vandervalk of Westwood and John Rooney of Northvale, the sources said.
Codey's decision is based on two critical factors.
One is a recent Democratic Party poll that gives Cardinale a commanding 20-point lead against Saddle River newcomer Ariyan.
The other is frayed nerves.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
LOOK TO LEARN A LOT MORE ABOUT MONETIZATION PLANS STARTING NOV. 7TH
“The Corzine administration yesterday urged a judge to dismiss a Republican lawsuit seeking what the governor considers preliminary and confidential information about his plan to tap state assets for billions of dollars.
"At this time, the governor has not decided whether to propose proceeding with a monetization program, or, if such a program is deemed desirable, how to structure the program," Attorney General Anne Milgram said in a legal brief filed on behalf of the administration. It argues that because the report being sought is still incomplete, it is not subject to the state's Open Public Records Act.
Republicans criticized the Democratic governor for deliberately delaying the controversial proposal until after the Nov. 6 election. They contend it will lead to major toll increases.
"It is unconscionable that critical public information, paid for with tax dollars, is being withheld from New Jersey's citizens and legislators," Assemblyman Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) said.
Beck, who is locked in a tight race trying to unseat Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth), jointly filed the lawsuit with Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-Monmouth). Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg has scheduled a hearing on Nov. 16.
For more than a year, Corzine has been studying whether to raise tolls on state highways and take other steps to borrow billions of dollars for public works projects like new schools and bridges. In comments this week, he didn't rule out releasing the plan during the lame duck session after the legislative elections. But he said that doesn't mean a final vote must be taken during the two-month period before a new Legislature takes office on Jan. 8.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
WHOA-OH, LIVIN’ ON A BEE FARM
“Sometimes parties, farms and money just don't mix. When Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck questioned the integrity of people such as Democratic state Sen. Ellen M. Karcher who operate small farms to obtain big tax breaks, Beck also broadsided a long-time supporter.
Monmouth County Republican Party matriarch Judith H. Stanley Coleman has a similar tax break on the scenic tract surrounding her home on the Navesink River in Middletown. For at least 10 years, Stanley Coleman has raised bees on 5.4 acres surrounding her house. This year she sold 540 pounds of honey and wax at $1 per pound. In return, she pays $125 a year in taxes on that parcel. (She did pay $47,820 in taxes last year on her house and an acre surrounding it.)
The minimum requirement for the farmland assessment is $500 of income produced on five acres.
"The taxes are just so astronomically high, the only way I could see to do it was to have farmland to have less tax to pay," said Stanley Coleman, a prominent area conservationist.
That's not how Beck says the farmland assessment program should be used.
The $500 minimum requirement is "far too low of an income threshold because it's no longer an appropriate measure as to whether someone is honestly farming their land," Beck said in an Oct. 11 statement.” (Prado Roberts, Asbury Park Press)
“Rock star Jon Bon Jovi is livin' on a bee farm.
He paid $71 in property taxes on 6.5 acres of some of the most exclusive real estate in the nation.
Six Flags Great Adventure owns one of the largest farms in New Jersey, and, no, farmhands are not milking the tigers.
The theme park operator sold 20 cords of firewood last year — and paid about as much in taxes on two square miles of woodland as most Jackson homeowners paid on their house.
Judith H. Stanley Coleman, former head of the N.J. Highway Authority and a fixture in the Monmouth County Republican Party, has a farmland deduction on 5.4 acres off the Navesink River. Her property tax on that parcel is $125 a year.
They are all beneficiaries of the state's 43-year-old farmland assessment law, one of the least restrictive in the Northeast.
The program, recently swept up in a political firestorm between two Monmouth County state Senate candidates, has been exploited for years by corporations, developers and millionaires seeking to cut property taxes on their sweeping vistas by up to 99 percent.
On the flip side, the lowered taxes provide strong economic incentive for large landowners to preserve open space and produce agricultural goods in New Jersey. More than 1 million acres in the state qualified for farmland assessment in 2006, according to tax records.” (Prado Roberts, Asbury Park Press)
THIS COULD AT LEAST GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF MORE WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN GOVERNMENT
“The addition of a lieutenant governor's position in 2009 will likely change the face of state government in New Jersey.
In just over a year, gubernatorial candidates will appear on the ballot with running mates — candidates for the first lieutenant governor position in state history.
Voters will select both with a single vote, much like they do with presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Peter Woolley, a pollster and political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said the lieutenant governor position, approved by voters two years ago, will open the door for more women and minorities in state government.
"We will have lots of office holders seeing the lieutenant governor post as a stepping stone to statewide office," Woolley said. "We will all have new names and faces getting statewide attention and many of these will be women and minorities."
New Jersey has had only one woman governor and only 25 of 120 state legislators are women.
Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex, has hailed the new lieutenant governor position as one that "will help shatter New Jersey's glass ceiling."
"We would be opening the doors to the many talented women and minorities who have been shut out of leadership roles for far too many years," Greenstein said.” (Hester, AP)
IN PORTUGAL A WEEK BEFORE THE ELECTION
“New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine plans to attend a Monday forum in Portugal where participants will discuss climate change and unveil an international effort to try to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Corzine, who in July signed a law requiring New Jersey to cut emissions of global-warming gases, is due to leave Newark Liberty International Airport tonight. The Lisbon forum is set to start at 6 a.m. EST on Monday.
Corzine, a Democrat and former U.S. senator, will be joined at the forum by Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose country holds the European Union's rotating presidency.
British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and officials from the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, France and New Zealand are also expected to attend, as is Linda Adams, California's environmental protection secretary.” (Hester, AP)
That inescapable, head-spinning cacophony of voices from the campaign ads on your radio and television is about to grow louder.
You'll hear even more about the tax-raising, big-spending, double-dipping, system-bilking, gift-taking, corrupt career politicians we just can't afford.
And when the music turns sweet, you'll be introduced to candidates who offer a real change, with real plans to cut state spending and lower taxes, who will take on the Trenton politicians and fight for you, because they know what it takes for working families to make ends meet.
Those "life comes at you fast" commercials will seem soothing by comparison.”
With eight shopping days left until Election Day, New Jersey's two political parties will empty their campaign accounts to spend millions on $49,000-per-year seats in the state Legislature. The bulk of that money will be spent on candidates in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.
The 2nd District race between Republican state Sen. James "Sonny" McCullough and Democratic Assemblyman James Whelan is considered the tightest state Senate race in New Jersey.
McCullough, the longtime mayor of Egg Harbor Township, won a special election of the Atlantic County Republican Party Committee earlier this year and filled a seat left vacant by the retirement of state Sen. Bill Gormley. Whelan, the former mayor of Atlantic City, won election to the Assembly two years ago.
The winner gets a seat long considered among the most powerful in the state because of its proximity to two state authorities with cash to spend – the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.”(McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
MORE ON DISTRICT 2
“Driving in the rain in Atlantic County, Democratic Assemblyman Jim Whelan says he knows it’s going to be close on Election Day when all these long months of arguing and talking and walking and pounding and fund-raising and driving come to a head in his challenge of GOP Sen. James "Sonny" McCullough.
"A win by one point is still a win," says Whelan. "Boston won the first game of the World Series the other night, 13-1. They won the second game, 2-1. The result of the second game is still the same as the first. They won."
Whelan has the strong arm reliever coming into the game in the form of Senate President Richard Codey, who’s got an $800,000 fast ball, and on Sunday, Gov. Jon Corzine will campaign with Whelan.
Still in the game with ten days out, McCullough, meanwhile, in the last few days picked up $25,000 from the State Republican Committee, according to GOP sources. He had more money in the bank than his Democratic opponent last week, according to the latest Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) reports. But whether it was fromSpeaker Joe Robertsor Codey, Whelan was going to have more cash on hand late, and as it turns out it’s coming from Codey, and that’s where things stand now…………
Whelan and his team say the Republicans have been short on specifics about how to deliver change, and disingenuously promise tax relief even as two-thirds of their ticket maintain public jobs and lucrative public contracts.
But its base camp versus base camp now more than issue against issue.
In a red, white and blue banner-decked HQ on Highway 40, the Republicans say they have a people-power, BlackBerry-aided operation, based on strategies employed by Democrats in Evesham Township.
They have banks of voters they believe would be likely to vote for them: Republicans, unaffiliated and Democrats, according to Rick Wright of the Assembly Republican Office. Come Election Day they’ll have their high school and college-aged soldiers in the field, punching the name of each voter – whether a supporter or not – into a BlackBerry, which in turn will enter a database that their comrades-in-arms working the phones back at headquarters will immediately be able to identify” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
BROTHER FIGHTING BROTHER
In the eyes of organized labor, they are fellow union brothers -Wilkins is a retired plumber, Amodeo is a crane operator – running for the same team.
Two union members have never opposed one another for the state Legislature in southern New Jersey. State labor leaders can recall it happening only one other time, more than a decade ago, in Passaic County.
Local labor organizations are making the most of the rare occurrence, reaching out to union members with radio ads, door-to-door campaigns, telephone calls and e-mails asking them to place their trade ahead of their party. A mailer sent to 10,500 union households from the Atlantic/Cape May County AFL-CIO Central Labor Council includes photos of Wilkins and Amodeo side by side under the headline "We can make history."
Should Wilkins and Amodeo capture the two open seats, this year's 2nd District Assembly race could turn a rarity into a trend.
"Both parties are reaching out trying to get more union members involved because they realize we keep our word, we deliver money and we deliver votes," said Roy Foster, president of the Atlantic/Cape May County AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, which represents 35 local unions and 38,000 members.
Organized labor's farm system is already stocked. Currently, 37 labor-union members hold public office in Atlantic and Cape May counties. A decade ago there were 10.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
SEEMA SINGH IS FRUSTRATED
“Seema Singh is frustrated. Not with the voters of her district for not hearing her message, but with the press for not promulgating it.
From the beginning of the 14th district State Senate campaign, Bill Baroni has had the upper hand in everything but campaign dollars in this Clean Elections district. All along, he’s had the power of incumbency, along with the reputation of a centrist Republican reformer, while Singh’s campaign has been beset by damaging revelations about her tenure as Ratepayer Advocate, a pending state ethics investigation, and general missteps — like the comparisons to Baroni and George W. Bush that have backfired and drawn criticism from traditionally Democratic-leaning organizations.
But the press leaves Baroni untouched and is eager to jump on her, said Singh.
“The press has not (been fair),” said Singh. “They have pushed stories that have been initiated by my opponent. But as far as the people of the district are concerned, I’ve received a lot of love, a lot of affection – an outpouring of support.”
Singh attended a senior breakfast in South Brunswick today with Gov. Jon Corzine and her two running mates, where she made her case to the 100 or so already Democratic attendees.
The 14th district legislative race – which is supposed to be the testing ground for a competitive election in the Clean Elections Program – has not turned out to be very competitive at all. Baroni is reportedly ahead by 20 points in internal polls from both parties, while Linda Greenstein is ahead in her bid for re-election to a fifth term. That leaves one Assembly seat that is truly contested — between Democrat Wayne DeAngelo and Republicans Adam Bushman and Tom Goodwin.
But Singh said that, “God willing,” she still believes she can win, and took the opportunity to defend herself from the onslaught of negative news on her campaign. Take the most recent story about her using a clerk as a chauffeur to drive her to functions when she was Ratepayer Advocate: Singh felt shortchanged, since it wasn’t noted that she was a member of Gov. James E. McGreevey’s cabinet – the Public Advocate Designate – and attended functions on his behalf.” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
“With an open Senate seat and an electorate that splits tickets, the 14th Legislative District would ordinarily see both parties locked in a campaign spending war fueled by special-interest dollars.
But this district, which takes in parts of Middlesex and Mercer counties, was chosen to test an experimental program that replaces big contributions with taxpayer funding. The goal was to create a level playing field and a truly "clean election."
All eight legislative candidates signed on, vowing to avoid both dirty money and dirty campaign tactics. But in the top-of-the-ticket race for Senate, both candidates say the other has fallen short of that ideal.
"My opponent from day one has been negative," Seema Singh, the Democratic Senate candidate, said of Assemblyman Bill Baroni (R-Mercer). "He's getting into dirty campaigning."
Baroni said the campaign started off as a "clean, issues-driven race" and turned nasty only a few weeks ago, when Singh's campaign sent out a mailer calling Baroni "Bush lite." It compared Baroni's policies to those of the president, whose popularity has plummeted in polls.
"She's not just distorting but outright changing my record," Baroni said.” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
“As Gov. Jon Corzine readies a plan to reap billions from state assets such as the New Jersey Turnpike, a fellow Democrat across the Delaware River has already traveled that road for more than a year.
Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell has pushed a plan to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private vendors, had it slapped down by his legislature, and then approved an alternate solution: sticking tolls on Interstate 80 by 2010.
And he's not giving up on his original plan for "monetization" in the Keystone State. Rendell has put out bids for vendors who want a piece of the action on the turnpike, just in case the federal government rejects the I-80 toll plan.
"He believes that in the end the numbers will speak for themselves … that a private-public partnership will provide additional funding for our transportation needs," said Chuck Ardo, Rendell's spokesman.
Corzine is ruling out an outright lease of the New Jersey Turnpike to private vendors but is working out a plan to pay for new schools and bridges, largely through higher tolls. Administration officials say they intend to release the closely guarded details after the Nov. 6 election. ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
“Benny Ramos, the former deputy director of Paterson's Section 8 program who allegedly sold his influence for up to $100,000 in bribes, was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday.
Ramos was the highest-ranking among 14 public employees arrested in March after an 18-month corruption investigation. On Friday, a grand jury indicted him on six counts — three counts of attempted extortion and three for accepting $53,000 in bribes between 2004 and January 2006 from an undercover cooperating witness posing as a property manager.” (MacInness, Herald News)
“Viva Eliu was the message late Thursday afternoon on the steps of City Hall in Jersey City. Yes, but did you catch the subtle meaning behind it all? You can, only if you slow down the deceptive moving images.
With local and Hudson County officials standing with him, Freeholder Eliu Rivera, who is also executive director of the government-funded Puerto Rican Association for Community Organization (PACO), announced he was seeking re-election for the county panel seat next year. There was cheering and shouts of support, but let's start to slow down the images – click, click, click.
Praising Rivera were Mayor Jerramiah Healy and County Executive Tom DeGise. Also present were other freeholders, including the other two Jersey City representatives, Jeff Dublin and Bill O'Dea. Freeholder Doreen DiDomenico of Bayonne was also present. A bevy of other city and county officials were in the crowd, along with many of Rivera's friends and backers.
Click, click, click.
Like many classical paintings, there are many hidden meanings in this cozy picture. First, why did Rivera have to announce his candidacy so early?
Click. Don't you wish you can actually see the following scenes under the real picture: It is not a happy, smiling Rivera. Instead there may be a hint of an annoyed smirk, perhaps a scowl. And just over his shoulder, while everyone else is just out of focus, the image of City Council President Mariano Vega is very sharp and you can just see that he is looking to the heavens and we think he is just starting to roll his eyes in the start of one of those "oh, brother" expressions. ” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
NEW JERSEY ENTERS THE 20TH CENTURY
“When asked about the record number of women running for the Legislature this year, Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose summed up the opinion of many female legislators when she said: "It's about time."
New Jersey has long endured the dubious distinction of being one of the lowest-ranked states in the number of women in the Legislature. But a combination of retirements, resignations, and more women being nominated means the state is poised to see a record number of women win seats.
Given that Democrats have put 39 female candidates forward and Republicans have tapped 21, as many as one in four lawmakers could be women next year.
"Party leaders have decided that, obviously, women are capable and good for the ticket," said Ingrid Reed, an analyst at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.” (AP)
THE STENCH OF CORRUPTION GOES AWAY QUICKLY
“During an election year, the typical political playbook calls for an opponent or challenger from one party to highlight the ethical lapses of the incumbent's party.
There's no better opening for Republican challenger Chauncey I. Brown III in his bid to represent the 35th District in the state Assembly. He is running against an entrenched and powerful Democratic machine that scrambled last month to replace Alfred E. Steele on the Nov. 6 ballot after he was arrested for taking $15,500 in bribes.
Only Brown is not raising the arrest as a campaign issue and is even speaking in glowing terms of Steele, who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last week to one count of attempted extortion. Asked if he would raise the "corruption issue" during the campaign, Brown declined.
"I'm not bringing it up," he said. "I'm talking about issues like taxes and schools. I'm talking about issues that affect them now and have affected them (in the past.)"
Other than a new name on the Democratic slate, there is little discussion of bribery or corruption — even in a state where almost 90 percent of residents say corruption in government is a serious problem, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released after the September arrests of 11 public officials in the latest federal sting. Despite those numbers, political experts say Steele's shadow will not be a factor for voters pulling the levers on Nov. 6.
"He's not there anymore," said Ingrid Reed, a policy analyst at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics. "Unless a strong challenger is making a case, (it won't be an issue)."
Reed said she believes the reason for the lack of voter backlash is twofold. Ethical questions rarely drive voters to the polls because they're more concerned with concrete policy issues.
"The other thing you have to look at is that turnout is so low in these kind of legislative races. People who show up are committed to the party and the party line, and they don't take into consideration those issues," Reed said.” (MacInness, Herald News)
IN DISTRICT 34
“It was a cakewalk for Thomas Giblin and Sheila Oliver in their runs for 34th District Assembly seats two years ago. No opposition. No contest.
Not so this year.
The sitting Democrats in the heavily Democratic district comprising Montclair, Glen Ridge and East Orange in Essex County and Clifton and West Paterson in Passaic County are facing Republican challengers:
The Rev. Clenard H. Childress Jr., a fresh convert to the GOP whose pro-school-choice, anti-abortion message will resonate with pockets of the Democratic Party, and Robert Bianco, a fiscal conservative who in 2000 gained name recognition by coming within 13 votes of winning a ward council seat in tax-pinched Montclair.
Still, getting people to cross party lines in places such as Montclair, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 4-to-1, and East Orange, where it's 40-1, is a big enough hurdle to earn them the tag "long shots."
So the Republicans — both from Montclair — are pushing the message that the incumbents represent the status quo, responsible at least in part for the state's standing as having the nation's highest property taxes. ” (Read, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 29
“When voters in the 29th Legislative District hit the polls Nov. 6, they will have a crowded menu of 16 candidates to choose from to fill three open seats.
But as far as two of the three main Senate contenders are concerned, there is a 17th person who is not on the ballot but very much a presence in the race: North Ward power broker Steve Adubato.
Newark City Councilman Luis Quintana and Assemblyman William Payne are running on the fact that they are independent leaders who call their own shots. They contend that Democrat Teresa Ruiz, who enjoys Adubato's backing for the Senate seat, is merely a proxy for Adubato's interests.
The three-way race has amounted to a family feud in the Essex County Democratic Party, with the soul of the district at stake. The 29th District includes most of Newark and Hillside in Union County. ” (Wang, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 28
“Earlier in the election season, it seemed unlikely the Democratic candidates running for the state Legislature in the 28th District would be able to unite.
On the June primary ballot, Assembly hopefuls Ralph Caputo and Cleopatra Tucker were on one ticket and incumbent Sen. Ron Rice was on another. In the end, Democratic voters chose all three to represent them in the general election.
So, they've put the primary battle behind them and are working together for the betterment of the residents of Bloomfield, Belleville, Irvington and parts of Newark, Caputo said.
"It was a tough primary and the voters decided who they wanted," he said. "The system worked and they chose people from both tickets, so now we're moving forward."
On Nov. 6, Republican Herbert Glenn will attempt to unseat Rice, a veteran lawmaker who has been in office since 1986. Republican Assembly candidates Andrew M. Bloschak and Michael V. Lewis will face off against Tucker and Caputo.
None of the Republicans could be reached for comment. ” (Addison, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 27
“Essex County voters in the 27th Legislative District — still reeling from the indictment of former state Assemblyman Mims Hackett Jr. on federal corruption and bribery charges — will head to the polls amid concerns about ethics, dual office-holding and pleas for property tax relief.
Democrat State Sen. Richard J. Codey is running for re-election against Republican Joseph A. Fischer, a veteran West Caldwell township councilman who is a self-employed management consultant.
Meanwhile, four candidates — incumbent Democrat John McKeon, Democrat Assemblywoman-select Mila Jasey, Orange Councilman Edward B. Marable Jr. (who is running off the Democratic Party line), and Republican Mark Meyerowitz — are challenging each other for two seats, including one to permanently replace Hackett, who resigned days after his Sept. 6 arrest by federal authorities.
The electorate must decide whom to trust with political power, said Orange resident Bruce Meyer, a member of the nonpartisan Responsible Citizens for Orange Government watchdog group. ” (Dilworth, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 25
“Frank Herbert had no intention of running for state Senate this year. He served one term that ended in 1981 and ran again in 1994 only to challenge a Holocaust skeptic who tried to hijack his party's nomination for state Senate from Morris County.
At 76, Herbert was content in retirement at the Fox Hills adult community in Rockaway Township. But when county Democratic Chairman Lewis Candura needed someone to run in the 25th District against state Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), Herbert gave it one more try.
But Bucco is not his main target. It's President Bush.
"I'm hoping a bit of lightning might strike, that there is enough disgust about the president and his war in Iraq and his policies, like interrogating terror suspects in countries that use torture, that people would consider voting for me as a protest," said Herbert, who is running on a ticket with Democrat Assembly candidates Dana Wefer and Marshall Gates. ” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 24
“The candidates in the race for Senate and Assembly in the 24th District are participants in the state's pilot "clean elections" program, which gives candidates public funds if they find a broad level of support from the public.
But the Republicans say the program is a costly experiment that does little to solve such problems and is riddled with loopholes that fail to curb candidates from taking special-interest cash.
The Democrats view it as a way to rid New Jersey of pay-to-play, corruption and special-interest money in elections.
"As long as the system stays the way that it is, we will see government out of control, we'll see corruption and we'll see our taxes soar as services are cut," said Democratic state Senate candidate Ed Selby. "There's only one solution and that's to change the system — get the money, the lobbyists and the special interests out of the political process. Return power to the individual voters."
In New Jersey, clean elections are being tried this year in the 14th, 24th and 37th legislative districts, where 16 of 20 eligible candidates have qualified for taxpayer subsidies. Candidates who raise 800 contributions of $10 apiece qualify for up to $526,375 in public funds.
In the 24th District, which includes Sussex County, five towns in Morris County and two towns in Hunterdon County, the Democratic team of Selby and Assembly candidates Toni Zimmer and Patrick Walsh wholeheartedly support the pilot program. ” (Lockwood, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 19
“Republican challengers face a steep uphill battle against the incumbent Democrats in the legislative election in the 19th District, where the GOP is outnumbered 4-to-1 among registered voters.
The veteran lawmakers seeking re-election are state Sen. Joseph Vitale and Assemblymen Joseph Vas and John Wisniewski…….
The GOP ticket is headed by Senate candidate Donald Nelsen, a corrections officer making his first bid for public office. The Assembly candidates are Paul Danielczyk, a conservative who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate seat four years ago, and Reyes Ortega, owner of a bar/restaurant in Perth Amboy, who lost first his campaign for the Assembly seat two years ago.”” (Walsh, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 18
“The names on the Democratic slate in the 18th District legislative race may look the same as in the last election, but there's actually a new face on the ticket.
The addition is Peter Barnes, a former Edison councilman, who was appointed to the Assembly a few months ago when his father, Peter Barnes Jr., left the Legislature to become chairman of the state parole board.
The younger Barnes joins state Sen. Barbara Buono and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan on the Democratic ticket.
They face off Nov. 6 against Republican Senate candidate Daniel Brown and Assembly candidates William England and Joseph Sinagra.
The Democratic incumbents have raised more than $500,000 for the race and have used their financial edge to buy cable television campaign commercials.
The GOP candidates have less than $10,000 in their war chest and have had to rely on appearances at parades and forums and knocking on doors to get out their message. ” (Walsh, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 17
“While the Democrats running for re-election in the 17th Legislative District tout their accomplishments, their Republican challengers are courting voters with a call for change in party control of state government.
State Sen. Bob Smith and Assemblymen Upendra Chivakula and Joseph Egan acknowledged there is much work to be done to put the state on the right financial track and lower property taxes.
But they say the Democrats inherited a financial mess in 2002 from the Republicans, who held both houses of the Legislature and the governor's office for a decade.” (Epstein, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 16
“Voters in the 16th Legislative District have a choice between two polished viewpoints, one touting the benefits of experience and the other critiquing the status quo.
With the retirement of longtime state Sen. Walter Kavanaugh (R-Somerset), veteran Assemblyman Christopher "Kip" Bateman is attempting to move up.
He leads a Republican ticket of established officeholders, all past or present Somerset County freeholders
Opposing him is Wayne Fox, an attorney, former telecommunications executive and investment banker who heads a slate of Democrats with diverse credentials outside the political arena.
Even with Democrats in control in Trenton, "I've been among the top five legislators in getting bills passed," said Bateman, a partner in former acting Gov. Don DiFrancesco's law firm. "I've been able to work effectively with people from both sides of the aisle to benefit our district and the state," he said. .” (Tyrell,Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 13
“The candidates in the 13th Legislative District race agree the major issue facing residents is the high rate of property taxes, but they differ on how best to fix the state's money problems.
State Sen. Joseph Kryillos, who has been in the Legislature for more than a decade and is the former chairman of the state Republican Party, said the choices voters make on Nov. 6 could have a huge impact on the state's future.
"Our state is broken," Kryillos said. "We have a broken state government. I am very concerned with what things will be and look like in the next five to 10 years."
The Democrat's senate candidate, Leonard Inzerillo, said he offers a fresh perspective while the incumbents in Trenton lack a connection with voters.
"They're looking for people with integrity who will stay in touch with them," said Inzerillo, a Middletown resident. "People have lost a sense of trust with our government." ” (Epstein, Star-Ledger)
“Up until now, the promise or peril of stem cell research in New Jersey has been debated in courtrooms and in the Statehouse.
That changes on Election Day, Nov. 6, when voters will be asked to decide whether the state should borrow $450 million to invest in this emerging field of research.
The stem cell research bond referendum is one of four questions on the ballot this year. The others ask voters to permanently devote revenue from the sales tax to reduce property taxes, to borrow money to preserve open space and buy flood-prone properties, and to remove disparaging references to people with mental illness and mental retardation from the New Jersey Constitution.
The stem cell question, No.2, is the most controversial. The money would pay for research by universities and private entities on stem cells, which can be developed into various tissues.
Supporters say the research could help cure illnesses like Lou Gehrig's disease and mend spinal cord injuries. Opponents fear the research will focus on embryonic stem cells and result in the destruction of human embryos, or in cloning. ” (Livio, Star-Ledger)
“A Nov. 6 ballot question on a $450 million stem-cell research program may not be perfectly worded, but it adequately and fairly tells voters about the plan, a unanimous state appeals court ruled yesterday.
With the ruling, the three-judge panel turned back abortion foes' efforts to kill the measure, which they argued doesn't mention cloning or describe the plan's fiscal impact.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
THE COMPETITIVE RACE THAT WASN’T
“With Election Day fast approaching, Mercer voters must decide on an executive to take control.
The two candidates for the top spot squared off in a debate on the countywide is sues and their plans for the future. In a one-hour debate sponsored by The Times of Trenton, Democratic incumbent County Executive Brian M. Hughes and Republican challenger Janice Mitchell Mintz outlined their own visions of Mercer's future and debated issues such as taxes, development and crime.” (Trenton Times)
IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY
“With the election for Gloucester County offices just nine days away, the two major parties are out there spreading the word. In an election that will decide two freeholder seats, the county surrogate and the clerk, the Republicans can boast for the first time in four years that they have enough money to do television commercials.
For the Democrats, who by far have out fund-raised their counterparts, TV ads are expected. "We're doing the best with what we have," said county Republican Party Chairwoman Loran Oglesby. "Our goal was television and we made our goal. I feel that is the best way to get to the masses."
Democrats have aired some of their commercials, according to county Chairman Michael Angelini.
They also have the luxury of glossy fliers they can mail to voters. In the past weeks, a few made it into residents' mailboxes, including ones boasting recycling in the county, the new Bankbridge Development Center for Autism and preservation of open space.
"We haven't gone negative," Angelini said. "The Republicans will go negative because that's what they do." ” (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)
SEPARATE BUT EQUAL?
“Jodi Weiner, an electrician from Montclair, said that when she tried to get health benefits for her partner of nine years, she was told that her union’s plans did not cover civil unions.
It was only when she mentioned that they had been married in Massachusetts that her partner was able to get benefits. The words ‘civil union’ were not good enough for Sally and me to get equality in New Jersey, but the word ‘marriage’ is,” she said at a hearing of the Civil Union Review Commission last month.
“We can all talk about how the civil union law is supposed to work just like marriage. But in my case and others, it doesn’t work that way in the real world. In the last month dozens of couples spoke at three hearings of the commission, which was created by the State Legislature to monitor the effectiveness of civil unions……….
Three of the seven justices said gay couples should be able to marry, and four left it for the Legislature to decide. Lawmakers voted in December to allow civil unions, and since then, about 1,900 gay couples have had their relationships formally recognized by the state.”” (Kelley, New York Times)
IN BURLINGTON COUNTY
“The Burlington County Board of Freeholders will wait until after the Nov. 6 election to decide whether Republican Priscilla Anderson will be reappointed to a new term on the Burlington County Bridge Commission.
Anderson's term expired Oct. 22 and the position was not discussed during Wednesday's freeholder meeting. She continues to serve in a holdover status.
The freeholders are responsible for appointing commissioners to three-year terms. Anderson is one of two Republicans on the three-member commission, which reorganizes Nov. 20.
Anderson, a former state assemblywoman and treasurer for the New Jersey Republican State Committee, just completed her first term on the bridge commission. The position comes with a $14,400 annual salary and a state pension.
Freeholder Director Jim Wujcik said there wasn't a specific reason why the appointment was being delayed.
“We haven't as a board had an opportunity to discuss the appointment,” he said after Wednesday's freeholder conference meeting.
Anderson, a Lumberton resident, could not be reached for comment last week.” (Hayes, Burlington County Times)
IN MORRIS COUNTY
“It's been a long time since Morris County had a Democratic freeholder. Gerald Ford was president, "Rocky" was the top movie and Abba's "Dancing Queen" was the number one song in 1976 when Douglas Romaine was a freeholder.
No offense to Romaine, but a trio of Democrats want to end his political cult status this year. Moshe Cohen, George Hayman and Wendy Wright hope to break three decades of total Republican dominance on the county governing board.” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
“It's a two-person campaign, but it's been mostly a one-man race in the "battle" for Morris County sheriff.
Incumbent 15-year Republican Sheriff Edward Rochford has worked hard on the campaign trail, making daily stops at a host of political and civic events, telling anyone who will listen that he runs a "very professional" agency.
He has raised $81,000 to finance mailings, signs and even old-fashioned political tools: emery boards and shiny gold plastic sheriff's badges………
His adversary, Mark Dombrowski of Mount Olive, has been mostly a campaign phantom. The former corrections officer, who served under Rochford and Sheriff John Fox for 17 years before taking disability retirement, has a "family situation" that has made it difficult for him to campaign, he said.” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)