Lance decides to run for Congress, Dawn Lacy scores a victory over Glenn Paulsen, Wisniewski wants to raise the gas tax, Lautenberg shows up to HCDO function.
THE NEW REPUBLICAN FRONTRUNNER
“Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance has decided to run for Congress, and is telling Republican leaders that he will enter the race for Mike Ferguson's seat.” (Editor, PolitickerNJ.com)
LACY WINS THIS ROUND
“It's a saga as old as Saul versus David, Red Cloud versus Crazy Horse.The scrappy old bosshas to go out and try todefend his turf against the brazen young challenger bucking to be if not his successor exactly, then theleader of a new breed.
That's the way it is inBurlington County, where 36-year old Dawn Lacy, acting chair of theRepublican Party, is facing Glenn Paulsen, 60, the party's former chair and enduring craggy-faced poster boy for GOPpower.
When Lacy threw Paulsen'ssurrogates out of party headquarters the day after the election on Nov. 6th, the boss went into attack mode and promptly started stirring up opposition to the bright-eyed young politico whom he'd initiallybrought into the foldto head up the party's youth recruitment efforts.
In this ongoing generational battle, youth prevailed over age today as Superior Court Judge John A. Sweeney ruled that Paulsen's faction cannot use the party's letterhead, emails, fundsor slogansin intraparty correspondence to schedule meetings or ape official acts. Moreover, Charles Lambiase, the party's paid certified public accountant,must comply with Lacy's order for a full and transparent review of the Republican Party's financial records.
"We were very successful today," said Lacy following the judge's conference. "It is unfortunate that we had to go to a judge so that he could declare the obvious, which is that these individuals' actions were highly disruptive and confusing to party membership."
On that score specifically, Sweeney ruled that the Paulsen allies'designation ofa Dec. 1stmandatorymeeting of delegatesto install a new chairperson is not an official meeting of the Republican Party, and upheld Lacy's assertion that she is under no obligation to hold a special election prior to the end of her term in June of next year.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)
WHICH HAS WORSE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS, GAS TAX OR MONETIZATION?
“A key New Jersey lawmaker wants the state to consider increasing its gasoline tax – an idea that puts him on a collision course with the governor.
New Jersey hasn't boosted its 14.5-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax since 1988, giving it the nation's third-lowest gasoline tax.
But Assemblyman John Wisniewski thinks increasing the levy would be more responsible than Democratic Gov. Corzine's plan to solve state fiscal woes by issuing bonds that would be paid back with increased highway tolls.
Wisniewski said he didn't know how much the tax should increase, but the Middlesex County Democrat thinks doubling it would bring in enough money to fix aging bridges and roadways without borrowing money. He said it would also guarantee a steady stream of money in the coming years.
Wisniewski is chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee and will have heavy influence over how Corzine's plan advances through the Legislature. ” (Hester, AP)
TORRES SUGGESTS LAUTENBERG IS SCARED OF THE HCDO
“The Hudson County Democratic Organization held a fundraising event last night at Puccini's in Jersey City. It was pretty much a quiet affair with the usual suspects – save one.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg showed up. The good senator is seeking re-election next year and it seems like a good idea to hob-nob with those who will help him with his campaign. The question is whether or not the 83-year-old Paterson native, who now lives in Secaucus, is aware of the significance of his showing up at the event?
The HCDO can claim that Lautenberg will top their ballot line in the June Democratic primary. It would be an interesting prospect for a divided Democratic Party.
Then again, this is the same Lautenberg who did not want to get in the middle of a Hudson County power struggle and has contemplated running on a third column, an approach used by Bill Bradley during another county fight. Has he changed his mind?
More than likely, he is afraid of this bunch. If he does not pick a side, what is to prevent the HCDO from going through the primary with smiles and bailing out on him in November – particularly should the Republicans put up a powerful candidate who harps on how the incumbent might not finish his term.
We'll have to wait until November for the answer. ” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
IT’S DOUBTFUL THAT THE DCCC WILL FUND THIS ONE
“There will be a rematch between Democrat Tom Wyka and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen in 2008 in the race for Congress in the 11th District.
Wyka, a Parsippany Democrat, announced his candidacy yesterday via a video on YouTube that included his motto, "Take Back Your Government," and a message that proclaimed him as the candidate of the middle class in a district that includes all of Morris and parts of Essex, Somerset, Sussex and Passaic counties.
"The people I call my base are skeptical whether government can ever act in their best interests instead of special interests," said the 41-year-old Wyka, who contended lobbyists for big business control government.
Frelinghuysen, a 61-year-old Harding Republican, said he will seek re-election but declined to comment on Wyka's announcement.
"I look forward to announcing my candidacy for re-election at the appropriate time," Frelinghuysen said in a written statement. "But until then, I will remain focused on my job serving my constituents in the 11th Congressional District."
There are currently no other candidates from either major party in the race. ” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
GORMLEY EVENT ATTRACTS BIGWIGS FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE ISLE
Hold an event to honor retired state Sen. Bill Gormley.
Corzine and Christie are expected to join former Govs. Brendan Byrne and Thomas Kean on Thursday evening at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort for a tribute to Gormley, who retired in February after 29 years as one of the most colorful and powerful members of the state Legislature. Close to 900 people are expected for the event, with proceeds going to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.
Organizers are promising a light-hearted, fast-paced affair that will both toast and roast the former senator from Atlantic County. Former Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Director Curtis Bashaw will serve as master of ceremonies.
"I think everyone involved, especially the senator, has emphasized they want it to be a fun evening," said Joseph Kelly, president of the Atlantic City Regional Mainland Chamber of Commerce, one of four organizations hosting the event.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
THIS WILL BE FUN TO WATCH
“It looks like a primary fight is brewing in the third congressional district.
While popular Burlington County state Senator Diane Allen continues to be the presumptive favorite for the Republican nomination for retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton’s seat, Ocean County is getting ready to field its own candidate.
George Gilmore, the Ocean County Republican chairman, has called a county committee convention to endorse a presidential candidate and, more importantly, its own congressional candidate. The meeting is tentatively set for Monday, Dec. 10th.
Despite being a Republican bulwark and having roughly equal Republican primary voter turnout with Burlington County in that district, Ocean County, which falls into the third and fourth districts, has never had a congressman of its own.
There are a number of potential Republican candidates from Ocean County, but two appear to be the favorites: freeholders John Kelly and Joe Vicari, who are both currently running active campaigns for support of the county party. Also still in the running are Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, Freeholder Gerry Little, and State Committeewoman Virginia Haines, a former assemblywoman and state lottery director. ” (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)
CLEAN ELECTIONS VS. UNCLEAN ELECTIONS
“Voters in three legislative districts where a taxpayer-financed "clean elections" program was tried this year were more likely than other voters around the state to say their races focused on the issues, a new study of polling data shows.
But regardless of where they live, voters share a distrust of the Legislature and are skeptical that public financing of campaigns can improve it, according to surveys conducted by Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics and Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll.
"Public trust in the Legislature is very low," said Peter Woolley, director of the Fairleigh Dickinson poll. He said voters are "very wary" of the influence of large campaign donations but "they're not quite sure of the merits or demerits of public financing at this point."
The surveys found that in the three "clean elections" districts, where public financing replaced special-interest campaign donations, 41 percent of voters said their races stressed issues, while 42 percent said they focused on the candidates' personalities; 17 percent said they didn't know.
Statewide, just 25 percent said their races were mainly about issues, 45 percent said personalities and 29 percent didn't know. Woolley called that "a huge difference." ” (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
ENCAP GETS AN EXTENSION
“A day after setting a 30-day deadline for a troubled $1 billion Meadowlands development project to get back on track, the state extended the deadline another two weeks.
EnCap has until Jan. 11 — instead of Dec. 27 — to fix its environmental and financial problems, according to a letter from Attorney General Anne Milgram to attorneys for EnCap and Donald Trump, who is taking over management of the project.
It is EnCap's third extension on the original Nov. 20 deadline set by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission in September.
"Given the upcoming holiday season, allowing 45 days instead of 30 days seemed reasonable to the state," said Brian Aberback, a spokesman for the Meadowlands Commission.
If the new deadline is not met, EnCap could be kicked off the project, according to the commission. ” (McDermott, Star-Ledger)
RIVERA, SWEARING INNOCENCE, SAYS HE WON’T PLEA BARGAIN
“Passaic Mayor Sammy Rivera isn't interested in negotiating a plea deal in his federal corruption case and fully expects to be indicted early next year, his lawyer said Tuesday.
A judge has granted Rivera another 60 days to pursue a possible plea deal before prosecutors present evidence to a grand jury, court records show. A court order,
signed last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne Bongiovanni in Trenton, granted a second continuance in Rivera's case.
But Rivera's attorney said it doesn't make a difference.
"There are no plea discussions going on," said defense attorney Henry E. Klingeman. "The government expects to indict Mayor Rivera at some point. But everybody is busy and they're planning to wait until after the first of the year, as far as I can tell.
"I would expect the next event in the case to be an indictment," said Klingeman, a former federal prosecutor.”………
Rivera was one of 11 public officials arrested by the FBI on Sept. 6 on charges of extorting more than $150,000 in bribes from cooperating contractors in an undercover sting dubbed operation "Broken Boards" He has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. (Sampson, Bergen Record)
MORAN CRITICIZES PALLONE
“Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former commander of American forces in the Mideast, has gotten it right on Iraq from the start.
He opposed the invasion. He warned that we weren't sending enough troops to win. And in the early stages, when most were cheering, he said that we were making huge mistakes, like disbanding the Iraqi army.
So Zinni is the sort of fellow we should be listening to right now. And today he says he is in a state of absolute despair.
Because as badly as the hawks have blundered by getting us into this mess, he fears the doves could do just as badly when it comes to getting us out. Our worst mistakes could still be ahead of us.
"It's naive to think we can just pull the plug on this," he said before a speech Monday at Seton Hall University. "If Democrats win the election, they're going to find themselves still committed to this. You can't just leave the region and let it go unstable. Our security interests are just too great. And that is going to keep us there."
So maybe it's time to turn the spotlight on the Democrats, and see exactly what they have in mind. Do that, and you come away fearing that Zinni may be right again.
"I just don't think Iraq is all that important," says Congressman Frank Pallone. "I understand you could have a civil war, that Iraq could be worse off because we leave. But we have to be somewhat selfish about this.
"I didn't vote to get involved, and I don't think we should be responsible for the end result that much. If we don't achieve a good result, then so be it. It's not that important."
Pallone is a normally a very thoughtful guy. But those statements verge on the irrational.”(Moran, Star-Ledger)
IT’S NOT WALLY EDGE
“Who is "daTruthSquad"?
For months, an anonymous blogger who goes by that name has been skewering Manalapan officials and local politicians on his Web site.
Township leaders suspect the venomous blogger, who appears to have inside information about local politics, is Stuart Moskovitz, the former mayor and township attorney. Moskovitz has motive: He is being sued by Manalapan over a land deal gone bad.
But Moskovitz insists he has never blogged and doesn't know the identity of daTruthSquad. So lawyers for the Monmouth County township subpoenaed Google earlier this fall, insisting that the Internet giant reveal the name and computer behind daTruthSquad's blogging account.
Now a national Internet rights group is stepping into the fight. Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a California-based nonprofit, plan to file a series of court motions as early as today arguing that daTruthSquad — like all bloggers — has the right to anonymity.
The foundation hopes to quash the Google subpoena and use the case to bring attention to the growing number of public officials using the courts to pry the names of their online critics from Internet providers.
"This is the government trying to silence or intimidate someone who says something they don't like," said Matt Zimmerman, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "It's important things like this don't get swept under the rug." ” (Heyboer, Star-Ledger)
DOES PUHARIC KNOW DENNIS OURY?
“The chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Party said the county's new pay-to-play and wheeling restrictions are flawed and allowed for too much money in contributions from out-of-county sources in the recent election.
Adam Puharic, GOP chairman, also said that a controversial screening process of his party candidates produced "bulletproof'' candidates, but admitted, "There were many tactical errors'' in setting the process.
Specifically, Puharic said complying candidates to sign a contract restraining them from running off the line in the primary was a "bad idea.''
Puharic made the comments during a meeting with the Asbury Park Press editorial board on Tuesday.” (Asbury Park Press)
“State Assemblyman Thomas Giblin's nephew has been implicated in an alleged kickback scheme as federal authorities continue what sources say is a corruption probe into a union local and the politically active family that has run it for decades.
Dennis J. Giblin, president of the International Operating Engineers Local 68 and the administrator of its Education Fund, has not been charged but was identified as a co-conspirator by his title and initials in a criminal complaint filed against one of his friends and employees.
The complaint was unsealed in federal district court in Newark yesterday after federal agents ar rested the man, Christopher Ruton, on corruption charges.
Giblin allegedly accepted free and discounted painting and carpentry services for his Jersey City home from a contractor who worked for the union. He also directed the contractor to perform discounted work on Ruton's Jersey City apartment in exchange for additional work with the fund, according to authorities.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Moscato, the prosecutor in the case, declined to comment on whether Giblin or others in the union would eventually face charges, saying only, "it's an ongoing investigation."
Cathy Fleming, Dennis Giblin's attorney, said her client is cooperating fully with authorities and the allegations against him don't "make sense."
"We're not aware of any wrongdoing by Dennis Giblin whatsoever," she said. ” (Sterling and Whelan, Star-Ledger)
BY THE WAY, HE’S ALSO RUNNING FOR CONGRESS
“A Democratic state senator who has posted a bill to cut the size of county tax boards also wants to eliminate health and pension benefits for the mostly political appointees who fill the part-time posts in 21 counties.
In a recent letter to Gov. Jon Corzine, Sen. John Adler (D-Camden) called his sponsorship of a bill that in 2005 expanded the size of county tax boards a mistake that must be corrected to save an estimated $1 million a year. He also said yesterday that eliminating benefits for tax board commissioners could save more money, though he could not say exactly how much.
"Given what voters did in rejecting ballot questions, I think New Jerseyans are telling us they want the cost of living in this state reduced," Adler said. "This would not save a tremendous amount, but I think every little bit we can save will help."
Adler's sentiments are backed by the New Jersey Taxpayers' Association, whose president, Jerry Cantrell, has also urged Corzine to back efforts to cut county tax board membership and costs.
Corzine, through a spokeswoman, said he has interest in Adler's proposals.
"The governor clearly has concerns about expanding the size and cost of government, and Senator Adler's suggestions are certainly worth consideration," Lilo Stainton, the governor's press secretary, said yesterday. "The administration will continue to work with the Legislature to find an appropriate membership level and benefit package for county tax boards."” (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)
SOMETHING RARE: A REPUBLICAN OUTSPENDING A DEMOCRAT
“They spent less money than the experts originally predicted, but the two Atlantic County executive candidates still shelled out a record amount of cash on their race for the powerful government position. Victorious Republican incumbent Dennis Levinson and Democratic challenger James McGettigan spent $566,258.90 on the contest.
Levinson's re-election bid cost him more than $421,000, or almost three times the roughly $145,000 McGettigan spent in hopes of gaining Levinson's seat.
The figures are contained in 20-day post-election campaign finance disclosures filed with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, or ELEC, on Monday. ELEC requires candidates to file campaign finance disclosures 29 days and 11 days before, and 20 days after, both the primary and general elections. Monday was the filing deadline for the 20-day post-election report.
The ELEC report shows that Levinson also swamped McGettigan in campaign advertising spending down the stretch to the Nov. 6 general election. Levinson spent more than $82,000 on advertising expenses starting Oct. 25 compared with the slightly more than $18,740 paid out by McGettigan's campaign for radio, television and other advertisements from Oct. 23.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
“The New Jersey Supreme Court has rejected a request to reconsider its Sept. 12 ruling that doctors do not have to tell a woman seeking an abortion the procedure would kill a human being.
Rosa Acuna, formerly of Somerset County, had sued her doctor, Sheldon Turkish, for emotional distress after having an abortion. She claimed the doctor did not give her enough information when he recommended she end her pregnancy in 1996 because it exacerbated a kidney disorder.
She claimed the doctor did not give her enough information when he recommended she end her pregnancy in 1996 because it exacer bated a kidney disorder.
After the Sept. 12 ruling, Acuna's attorney, Harold Cassidy, asked the high court to reconsider its ruling. The court denied that request Nov. 20. The court also denied a motion by the New Jersey Physicians Resource Council to participate in the case as a friend of the court. ” (Star-Ledger)
“State officials may be urging school districts and local governments to share services to help control property taxes, but the state isn't doing enough to make sure this happens, a former Rutgers-Newark executive who conducted a study on the issue said yesterday.
"There is not a leadership at the state level for sharing," said Brenda Liss, former director of the Rutgers Institute on Education and Law. "A lot of legislators are saying there must be shared services but that is not translating to the local level. There is not a lot of direction coming from the state in terms of sharing services. There is confusion."
Shared services are expected to become critical component of school district and local government operations as required by laws passed during the Legislature's special session on property tax reform earlier this year.
Liss said neither the Department of Education, which is in charge of school districts, nor the Department of Community Affairs, which oversees local governments, is taking responsibility for encouraging or managing the efforts.
The Rutgers institute study, conducted for the New Jersey School Boards Association, also said conflicting state rules and too much red tape impede school district efforts to share services such as transportation, insurance, and energy. It said most of New Jersey's 618 school districts are attempting to save tax dollars by sharing.” (Hester, Star-Ledger)
TIME TO INVADE DELAWARE
Attorneys for the states argued before the court Tuesday morning in a case that could determine whether energy company BP can build a liquefied natural gas
terminal in Logan Township, Gloucester County. The dispute centers on an unusual, anachronistic border that gives Delaware some territory on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.
Delaware officials say they maintain a regulatory role in projects on a 29-mile stretch of the river, thanks to a 1905 compact between the states, and rejected BP's permit application because the state's Coastal Zone Act forbids coastal industrial facilities. A court-appointed special master decided in April that Delaware could stop the pier.” (Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)
RUNNING FOR SOMETHING, STEVE?
“Additional details emerged yesterday about the "pay-to-play" initiative being pushed by Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop, who is collecting signatures to try to get it on the ballot in November 2008.
The initiative would bar contractors under certain circumstances from making political contributions to local elected officials or county committees.
The initiative, according to Fulop, would prohibit the city from awarding a no-bid contract to any vendor who made a campaign contribution to a local elected official within a year of the contract's start date.
The ordinance would also bar campaign contributions from contractors vying for work in an open bidding process to elected officials during the time the contractor first expresses interest in seeking the contract to the time the contract is awarded.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
SOMERSET COUNTY PARKS COMMISSION FALLOUT
“The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office has filed a motion seeking to have convicted park commission employee Joe Lucas terminated from his job.
Lucas was suspended without pay from his position as construction manager three years ago, pending his trial. Two weeks ago, the trial in Superior Court in Somerville ended in a conviction on a second-degree charge of official misconduct.
Lucas, 40, of Branchburg was acquitted on other charges of bribery, acceptance of unlawful benefits by a public servant and falsifying records.
Defense attorney Michael Rogers filed his own motion asking Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman to enter a judgment of acquittal for Lucas or grant a new trial. Until that motion is heard, Rogers said, he was going to ask that no decision be made on terminating Lucas from his job.
"He's suspended anyway," said Rogers. "He's not an active employee, so what's the harm?" ” (McCarron, Star-Ledger)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
“The process that led to the decision to close Fort Monmouth will be among the topics discussed at an oversight hearing of the House Armed Services Committee readiness subcommittee, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12.
A committee spokesperson said the date is tentative because the committee has not yet finished its work with the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill. The bill is the panel's primary responsibility.
he hearing originally was scheduled for November but was postponed because of the ongoing work on the authorization bill.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building.
This round of base closings is the largest of its kind attempted by the U.S. military. An ongoing Asbury Park Press investigation has revealed that the estimated cost to close Fort Monmouth has increased from $780 million in 2005 to $1.5 billion in the summer of this year. The cost of the overall Base Realignment and Closure commission's round of closings has jumped about $10 billion in that time frame.” (Bowman and Brown, Asbury Park Press)
“I’M A JUDGE, BRO”
“George R. Korpita is used to presiding over courtrooms from his perches on the benches of the municipal courts of Dover, Victory Gardens and Rockaway.
But he got a different perspective of a courtroom Tuesday morning when he made his first appearance as a defendant in state Superior Court in Union County to face charges of driving while intoxicated and careless driving that stem from a Nov. 6 incident in Roxbury.
Korpita, 47, did not speak during the three-minute hearing before Judge John S. Triarsi. But he stood behind the defense table next to his attorney, James E. Trabilsy, who entered pleas of not guilty to the DWI and careless driving charges on his client's behalf.
Korpita may later face a more serious charge, according to Assistant Morris County Prosecutor Ralph Amirata, who told Triarsi that the investigation into the Nov. 6 incident "is still ongoing."” (Scholl, Daily Record)
BOUND BROOK RECOUNT
“County election officials will convene Monday to recount the votes that gave Democrat Ben Auletta a nine-vote edge over Republican Jacquelyn Nicholson for a seat on the borough council.
Board of Elections Administrator Jerry Midgette said the first step will be to recheck each of the seven voting machines that were set out in each of the borough's seven voting districts. Those machines are housed at a Hillsborough warehouse.
After that, election officials will head to the board offices in the county administration building in Somerville to recount the paper ballots that are used for provisional, absentee and emergency purposes.” (Star-Ledger)
NOW THEY’RE REALLY NOT SAFE FROM HIS “INSANE WRATH”
“RIVER VALE — Resident Jeffrey Matfus has notified the township of his intent to file a lawsuit that alleges harassment and defamation.
The claim, filed last week, notifies the township that Matfus, a medical doctor, plans to file a complaint in state Superior Court in a minimum of six months, unless a settlement is reached with the municipality before then.
The notice alleges that township e-mails sent in September and October said Matfus is akin to the "bubonic plague" and that no one is
immune from his "insane wrath." The notice also alleges that township officials made statements and suggested to doctors that Matfus is mentally ill, psychotic or a danger to himself or others requiring that he be institutionalized.” (Dawkins, Bergen Record)
CRESITELLO’S PAY RAISE
“MORRISTOWN — Town council voted 5-1 Tuesday night to advance an ordinance that would give Mayor Donald Cresitello a raise from $26,042 to $32,042.
Councilwoman Michele Harris-King was the lone dissenter; Councilman Timothy Jackson was absent.
The public hearing and final council enactment vote is set for Dec. 13.
After the meeting, Harris-King said the mayor would be "double-dipping" by taking salaries from the town and the state for which he still works. She said the town has full-time professionals who can handle the day-to-day business operations without added time from the mayor.” (Hassan, Daily Record)
“Municipal clerk Donna Costello said Tuesday she will complete her review of a 174-page petition seeking Second Ward Councilman James McCloskey's ouster by Friday.
Proponents of a recall election submitted 823 signatures to Costello two weeks ago. At least 655 must be verified for a recall election to proceed, Costello said.” (Jennings, Daily Record)