Diane Allen is out in CD3, Kate Whitman is in for CD7, Boxer nomination hits a tough snag over Rocco Riccio, officials of both stripes toast Bill Gormley.
THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES GET MORE INTERESTING EVERY DAY
State Sen. Diane Allen says she will not be a candidate for Jim Saxton’s open House seat next year.
“Now is not the time in my life that I feel prepared to again fight a Democrat opponent as well as a rogue faction of the Burlington County Republican Party simultaneously,” Allen said.
Allen, a longtime legislator and former CBS news anchor in Philadelphia, had been expected to seek the 3rd district seat, and her sudden departure amidst a major intra-party battle in Burlington extends the turmoil of the Republican campaign to hold Saxton's seat in 2008. It also enhances the chances of an Ocean County Republican winning the GOP nod. (Editor, PolitickerNJ.com)
COULDN’T THINK OF TWO MORE DIFFERENT CANDIDATES THAN LANCE AND WHITMAN
Kate Whitman announced today that she will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in the seventh district. The former congressional aide and GOP operative is the daughter of former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.
“I’m running for Congress because I believe I can provide the type of first class representation and constituent service that the people of the 7th Congressional District want and deserve,” said Whitman. “People are tired of politics as usual in Washington, and as a small businesswoman and mother of two, I will bring a unique perspective that will achieve results.” (Editor, PolitickerNJ.com)
“The Democratic candidates for those two open House seats also made a pitch for attention yesterday. Sen. John Adler (D-Camden) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) hosted a press conference with the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to underscore how the party will work hard and spend big to win the seats.
The early campaigning signals that New Jersey's 2008 congressional races promise to be among the most competitive in recent memory. Democrats now control seven of the state's 13 House seats.
Allen, who has served in the state Senate for nearly a decade, was considered a strong GOP contender in the 3rd District. But she faced a well-financed run by Adler — and a political feud with long- time friend Glenn Paulsen, former Republican chairman in Burlington County.
"Now is not the time in my life that I feel prepared to again fight a Democrat opponent as well as a rogue faction of the Burlington County Republican Party simultaneously," she said.
State Republican Chairman Tom Wilson said Allen would have made a "phenomenal candidate," but there are others who could keep the seat in the GOP column. Possible candidates include Ocean County Freeholders Joseph Vicari and John Kelly; Burlington County Freeholder Aubrey Fenton; former Lottery Commissioner Virginia Haines; former state GOP chairman David A. Norcross and Medford Deputy Mayor Christopher Myers, a vice president at defense contractor Lockheed-Martin.
The loss of a longtime incumbent is a challenge, Wilson said. "But it's merely one factor. It doesn't change the fundamentals of the district," he said, noting that 3rd District voters have solidly supported President Bush and Saxton and other GOP candidates. "It is not a competitive district."
Stender, 56, appeared at the Statehouse yesterday with U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), the head of the DCCC, and Adler.
Van Hollen's mission was to show that Washington Democrats are committed to adding at least two of their own to New Jersey's 13-member congressional delegation. Seven Democrats and six Republicans now represent New Jersey in Congress.
Van Hollen raised money for Adler at a noontime event in Trenton and for Stender last night in Woodbridge.
"We feel we have a really terrific opportunity here," said Van Hollen. "We believe New Jersey is going to be a real battleground state."
He also said he hoped State Sen.-elect Jeff Van Drew, of Cape May County, would mount a race against longtime U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.). Van Drew said he would wait until after the holidays to make a decision.
THE “MAD SCRAMBLE”
Another aspiring politician hopes to go into the family business in New Jersey.
Kate Whitman, the 30-year-old daughter of former Gov. Christie Whitman, said on Thursday that she would seek the Congressional seat being vacated by Representative Mike Ferguson, a Republican who represents a swath of central New Jersey that includes Union, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.
Mr. Ferguson, who narrowly won re-election in 2006, stunned the state’s political establishment when he announced last week that he would not seek re-election despite giving every indication until then that he was ready to open up his $800,000 war chest to do so.
A mad scramble has ensued among Republicans. Almost immediately, the name of Thomas Kean Jr., the son of former Gov. Thomas H. Kean, was mentioned. But Mr. Kean, a state senator who was recently elected minority leader by his colleagues, demurred. Some speculated that the 39-year-old Mr. Kean was still deflated from his unsuccessful run for the United States Senate last year.
But in New Jersey, in the midsection of the original 13 colonies, the scion of yet another political family has already decided to jump in. State Senator Leonard Lance, whose father, Wesley, was a former Senate president who helped draft the state’s current Constitution in 1947, has heeded the call. After all, the 55-year-old Mr. Lance — who is viewed as an experienced and courtly legislator, and is a fiscal conservative and social moderate like Ms. Whitman — was recently nudged aside by none other than Mr. Kean as Senate minority leader.
idering a run include an heir to the Mennen deodorant fortune and a former professional wrestler.
Ms. Whitman wasted no time articulating a reason why voters should choose her over Mr. Lance in a primary. “I bring a fresh perspective,” she said. “I think politics as usual is the last thing New Jersey voters want. Not having elected experience is not such a bad thing.”
Not one to leave a parry unanswered, Mr. Lance said: “I’ve never practiced the politics of the usual. I believe we have important national issues that have to be addressed, and they have to be addressed in a bipartisan fashion, and I believe I have the record to do that.” (Chen, New York Times)
“I DON’T WANT TO GET MYSELF SUED”
“The nomination of Matthew Boxer to become the state's first comptroller hit a roadblock yesterday amid questions over whether he had a role in payments or promises made on behalf of Gov. Jon Corzine to the brother-in-law of Corzine's former girlfriend.
After more than 90 minutes of questioning, the Senate Judiciary Committee adjourned without acting on Boxer's nomination. Boxer left the hearing room without comment.
Corzine's spokeswoman, Lilo Stainton, issued a statement: "Matt's qualifications speak for themselves. He clearly expressed his willingness to responsibly and appropriately address any remaining concerns of any of the committee members. The governor is confident that when he is ultimately confirmed he will make an excellent state comptroller."
The state Republican Party used the hearing to renew its calls for Corzine and his aides to answer questions about the governor's financial dealings with Rocco Riccio, the brother-in-law of state-worker union leader Carla Katz. Corzine and Katz had a romantic relationship that ended prior to Corzine's running for governor.
Riccio said late yesterday he had no reaction to Boxer's nomination getting stalled, but added, "If subpoenaed, I would appear" before the Judiciary Committee. Committee Chairman John Adler (D-Camden) said he doubted subpoenas would be needed, but said he will consider whether to call additional witnesses.
The questions about Corzine's payments to Riccio were raised by both Republican and Democratic senators, who also took turns grilling Boxer on his professional experience and his plans as the first-ever state comptroller in New Jersey.
Boxer told the committee he could not answer questions about Riccio's work record as a state employee because of personnel-confidentiality laws. "I don't want to get myself sued," Boxer said. ” (Margolin, Star-Ledger)
NIA GILL AND GERALD CARDINALE ON THE SAME PAGE
Boxer, citing state rules about publicly discussing personnel issues, refused to reveal details of his role in a meeting with Riccio and Corzine's chief counsel, Kenneth Zimmerman. But with Sens. Nia Gill, D-Essex, and Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, demanding more information, the Senate Judiciary Committee broke for the day without a vote on the nomination.
"My understanding is that as to the personnel issues of this employee, I'm not permitted to broadcast those publicly," Boxer, of Bridgewater, said during the hearing.
During sharp exchanges with Gill and Cardinale, Boxer raised the fear of being sued for discussing personnel issues that are supposed to be confidential.
Gill was unconvinced.
"What I think you're attempting to deem as a personnel matter is really a political discussion," Gill said.
Cardinale (R., Bergen) suggested the committee call the governor's chief counsel, Kenneth Zimmerman, to testify so it could also question him.
"I don't know of any procedure established in state government in New Jersey that includes the governor's counsel hearing personnel matters that do not involve employees of the governor's counsel's office," Cardinale said.
The committee chairman, John Adler (D., Camden), adjourned the hearing to consider Cardinale's request, but a few minutes later he ended the hearing so senators could attend a voting session. He didn't know when it would be rescheduled. "I haven't given it any thought," Adler said of Cardinale's request, before adding, "It's a legitimate question."
Boxer declined to comment. "What we're driving at is transparency in government," Gill said.
EVERYBODY LOVES BILL GORMLEY
They still call him senator.
Nine months after his sudden retirement, hundreds of people packed the Grand Ballroom on Thursday at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort to hear governors and state leaders honor former state Sen. Bill Gormley.
Speakers recalled the intense, driven, man who started in the state Assembly in 1978 and moved to the state Senate in 1982. He retired in February, triggering a succession crisis that ended when former Atlantic City Mayor James Whelan won election this month.
Tributes recalled Gormley the master schemer who when he got wound up had no problem violating your personal space or calling you at the crack of dawn. Or they tried to.
Bashaw started a few anecdotes, stopped and said, "I really came to the conclusion that none of the conversations are fit for mixed company."
People are still scared of Gormley, Bashaw said. "Each one of you is afraid you are going to wind up in the Gormley call cycle," phones suddenly ringing endlessly until the calls just a
s mysteriously stop two weeks later.
"I just had him in my office once and it cost me 21,000 phone calls," Gov. Jon S. Corzine said in his speech. (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
HOPEFULLY SHE DIDN’T HAVE ANY MEETINGS WITH ROCCO RICCIO
“Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday nominated Heather Howard, a longtime aide who serves as his chief policy adviser, to be commissioner of the Department of Health and Senior Services.
If confirmed by the state Senate, Howard, 39, would replace Fred Jacobs, a 71-year-old doctor and lawyer who plans to return to his previous employer, the St. Barnabas Health System, and serve as executive vice president and director of its Quality Institute.
The nomination drew praise from some lawmakers, while others said Howard may face tough questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee because she is not a doctor and has no work experience in the health care industry.
Corzine credits Howard for helping protect FamilyCare, the state children's health coverage program, and the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled and Senior Gold programs.
"I know she will serve the people of New Jersey and the health care industry with great integrity," Corzine said.” (Livio and Margolin, Star-Ledger)
APPARENTLY COPS LOVE TO FILE LAWSUITS
WEEHAWKEN – Two police officers have filed a federal lawsuit accusing Mayor Richard Turner of punishing opponents and interfering with the day-to-day operations of the police to carry out his political agenda.
The lawsuit, against Turner and the township of Weehawken, asks for an injunction forcing the mayor to stop the interference and seeks unspecified damages. It was filed in federal Court two weeks ago, though township officials say they have not yet been served.
Capt. Thomas Earl and Lt. Richard DeCosmis accuse Turner of controlling the day-to-day operations of the department and bypassing the chain of command, causing his enemies to be transferred to "less prestigious and more burdensome assignments as a form of retaliation."
Turner denies the charges and said the two are simply unhappy with their assignments.
The plaintiffs, who claim they have the support of many other officers who are too afraid to speak out, allege that since 2000 they have become increasingly critical of Turner's "unlawful and unauthorized" interference with the Police Department, and have been punished as a result.
In retaliation for this and for refusing to use the mayor's preferred list of contractors, Turner used his political influence over town planners to block or delay an application by DeCosmis to demolish three houses and develop an eight-unit condo, the suit alleges. It also alleges that despite his qualifications as a certified trainer, DeCosmis was transferred to night supervisor of the patrol bureau.” (Hack, Jersey Journal)
HAVE MISS USA CLEAN IT UP AS COMMUNITY SERVICE
Donald Trump prides himself on building and acquiring world-class real estate. But on Thursday his stage was decidedly less appealing — a garbage dump in Lyndhurst.
The day after his new partners paid $5 million to clear the way for Trump to put his stamp on the troubled EnCap Golf site, he offered his trademark bravado about the future of the forlorn stretch of garbage dumps and swamps in south Bergen County.
"Yes, it looks terrible to a lot of people, but we will improve it quickly," Trump said, during a quick tour of the 785-acre site. "Tractors do amazing work. The site will soon be in good shape.
Trump — who is expected to rename the plan to his "Trump National" brand — once again promised to build a "spectacular" 18-hole golf course. But this time, he had further details.
Renowned course designer Tom Fazio already has completed the layout of the holes, Trump said, and he will get started with construction "almost immediately."
"The golf course could open in less than two years," Trump said. He also insisted that the layout will "blow away" both Bayonne Golf Club and Jersey City's Liberty National course." (Brennan, Bergen Record)
NIXON AND SINATRA: FRIENDS
Legendary FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover spent decades investigating Frank Sinatra and his possible ties to organized crime, but that didn't stop Ol' Blue Eyes from mourning his death and recommending a friend to replace him.
The National Archives this week released more than 10,000 documents from Richard Nixon's presidency, including one letter indicating that the Hoboken-born crooner urged Nixon to fill the FBI vacancy with Los Angeles County Sheriff Peter Pitchess, a former FBI agent and associate of Sinatra's.
"This is just a note to tell you how much I appreciated your telegram about the passing of J. Edgar Hoover. His death is, indeed, a great loss to our nation," Nixon wrote to Sinatra in a letter dated May 10, 1972. "As you may know, I have decided to defer nominating a permanent successor to Director Hoover until after the forthcoming national election to insure that the Bureau retains its vital non-partisan character.
"However, I do welcome receiving the names of possible candidates for the Directorship, and your thoughtfulness in suggesting Sheriff Pitchess is especially appreciated," the letter continued. "You may be assured we will keep your recommendation in mind."
The Watergate break-in occurred about a month later, and Nixon, soon to be consumed by the scandal that would bring down his presidency in 1974, selected loyalist L. Patrick Gray as acting director. Gray was nominated in 1973 as permanent director, but the nomination was withdrawn after he admitted destroying documents given to him by White House counsel John Dean.” (Cohen, Star-Ledger)
NEVERMIND THAT WHOLE LAWSUIT THING
“Former Democratic Sen. Joseph Doria is New Jersey's new Community Affairs commissioner.
The Senate confirmed Doria's nomination Thursday.
He will, among other things, oversee state aid to towns, fire safety, affordable housing, development and women's rights issues.
Doria was also the Bayonne mayor.
He resigned both elected posts in October when Corzine tapped him to lead the department.
Doria made about $121,000 per year as senator and mayor and gets $141,000 per year as DCA commissioner.
He replaces Susan Bass Levin, who on July 1 took a $250,000-per-year job at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”(AP)
SCHOOL FUNDING FORMULA
“Gov. Jon Corzine's new plan for distributing state school aid will include $450 million in additional funding, but could cut special education aid to some of the state's wealthier towns, according to lawmakers briefed yesterday.
Lawmakers who attended the 90-minute briefing in the governor's office said they were disappointed they left without a key piece of information: a town-by-town listing of how $8 billion in state school aid would be distributed.
But they said they expect that information in two weeks, and key lawmakers still hope to adopt a new formula before the current legislative session ends Jan. 8.
"Our aim is to get this done in lame duck," said Senate President Dick Codey (D-Essex). "The school districts need to know what they should expect in funding."
Joseph Donnelly, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Camden), said the Assembly leadership also hopes to pass a new school funding formula this session.
Lawmakers have been discussing a new formula for doling out school aid for more than a year.” (McNichol, Star-Ledger)
"Abbott" school district designations will be abandoned in favor of a formula that weighs community wealth and student needs in every school, according to administration officials working on a new plan to dole out state education aid.
n handing out aid under the proposed formula, the state would consider schools' concentrations of students with low incomes, special education needs and limited English skills, as well as each districts' wealth and ability to pay for adequate schooling.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has long discussed moving to a school funding formula that focuses on individual student needs in each district, instead of the current system in which state education dollars are largely dictated by the Abbott v. Burke Supreme Court cases, which direct the majority of funding to 31 mostly poor, urban districts.” (Tamari, Gannett)
New Jersey nonprofit groups that rely in part on government grants or contracts got yet another witching-hour reprieve Thursday from the state's pay-to-play disclosure law.
While these recipients of state dollars had faced a deadline of today to disclose to whom their directors and other top officials made political donations, the state Election Law Enforcement Commission voted Thursday to extend that deadline to Jan. 15.
And nonprofits might never have to disclose that data, as lawmakers appear to be preparing to exclude the nonprofits from the annual disclosure rules that now apply to for-profit businesses.
New this year is the law saying any group possessing more than $50,000 worth of contracts with any level of government must report political donations made by the group, some of its officials, as well as owners and their spouses. (Gannett)
“Eminent domain reform stalled Thursday, likely delaying changes to the state's laws until the new Legislature is seated on Jan. 8.
The reform effort was hampered by two competing bills in the Senate, one sponsored by Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, and another by Sen. Stephen Sweeney, D-3, of West Deptford.
Rice attempted to merge the bills in the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee Thursday but was unable to get a second from either of the three other committee members for a vote.
"I just got this thing," Sen. Fred Madden, D-4, of Washington Township, said of Rice's newly revised bill following the hearing. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
IN MIDDLESEX COUNTY
“Middlesex County Administrator Walter DeAngelo has submitted his retirement papers to state pension officials effective next month, though no formal announcement about his future has been made.
Middlesex County officials said the freeholders expect to discuss DeAngelo during a closed session on Monday night and declined further comment.
DeAngelo's term expired Nov. 27 and he is now serving as a holdover, according to Middlesex County Counsel Thomas Kelso. For the past several months, there have been conversations among Freeholder Director David Crabiel, DeAngelo and Kelso about the administrator's future, Kelso said.
Kelso said the board had previously discussed DeAngelo's status at a closed-door meeting on Nov. 19.
"It's premature to say anything further," Kelso said.”(Walsh, Star-Ledger)
THE “RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALIST AGENDA”
A Superior Court judge will determine whether Warren County's lawsuit to overturn a controversial land-protection law can mov
e for ward.
Warren County sued the state in April over the Highlands Act, alleging it was unconstitutional and that the inability of the state-commissioned Highlands Council to meet legislative deadlines should bring an end to the body's work.
On Dec. 7, Superior Court Judge Paul Innes in Mercer County is scheduled to hear arguments on the state's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
"The purpose behind the act is to essentially implement the radical environmentalist agenda — not allowing any development to occur," Warren County attorney Stephen Shaw said. "Its purposes are not truly related to the protection of water resources."
Enacted in 2004, the Highlands Act was intended to protect the drinking water supplied to more than half of the state by restricting development across more than 400,000 acres in northwestern New Jersey.”(Graber, Express-Times)
THE BATTLE FOR FORT MONMOUTH
A state Senate resolution calling for the reversal of the decision to close Fort Monmouth cleared a major hurdle to a full Senate vote when it moved out of committee Thursday.
However, an identical measure in the Assembly that is needed to express the opinion of the Legislature is expected to die in committee, officials said. Meanwhile, the results of a federal probe of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round, the Pentagon's nationwide effort to streamline the armed forces and save money, are expected to be released Dec. 12, officials said.
The state Senate resolution, introduced earlier this year by state Sens. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr., R-Monmouth, and Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, moved out of the Law, Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee Thursday. It now awaits scheduling for a vote of the full Senate.
But an identical resolution in the state Assembly is stuck in a committee that is not expected to meet before this legislative session ends in January, according to Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth. Beck co-sponsored the measure with Assemblyman Michael Panter, D-Monmouth.(Brown, Asbury Park Press)
IN GLOUCESTER COUNTY
Pilesgrove resident Benjamin Telsey was confirmed by the full Senate Thursday to serve a seven-year-term as a Superior Court judge in the vicinage composed of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties.
He follows his father, Norman Telsey, who served on the bench in Salem County from 1976 to 1990 and returned after retirement, serving until a few years ago in several vicinages across the state. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
IN LONG BRANCH
“LONG BRANCH — City Councilman Brian A. Unger said it was the heat of the moment that led him to suggest that Lisa Jackson, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, told him to get the council to pass a nonbinding resolution in support of preserving the Takanassee Beach Club. Unger did not speak to Jackson on that issue, according to a DEP spokeswoman.
During Tuesday's caucus meeting, Mayor Adam Schneider demanded to know the identity of the DEP official pushing for the resolution. Schneider earlier that day had received conflicting information from the state. Schneider identified his source as an official in the Green Acres section, which would be the division to provide funding to buy the beach club.
Unger had maintained the resolution was necessary because the DEP did not believe the city had a good-faith intention to preserve the site. Finally, in response to Schneider's demands about his source, Unger said: "How about the commissioner of the DEP? Is that good enough for you?"”(Gorga, Asbury Park Press)
“At least one city council member has demanded the police director live in the city, or be replaced.
South Ward Councilman Jim Coston is working on a resolution demanding the police director either move into the city, or that the administration find a new director.
He expects to put the resolution up for a vote on Tuesday.
The mayor, however, has said he has no plans to remove Joseph Santiago from the top post.
Both the council and mayor have the power to remove any employee with cause. In the case of the council, that would require a two-thirds majority vote. But if that fails, there is one last option: the average citizen.” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
ANOTHER COP LAWSUIT
Former Fairfield Police Chief Lynn Centonze has notified the township that she plans a $5 million lawsuit, alleging the members of the council and police force undermined her and caused her to leave her job.
In a notice of tort claims, Centonze alleges members of the police department and the township's governing body "engaged in a continuing pattern of defamation" and impeded her ability to do her job and lead the department. (Moore, Star-Ledger)