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Assembly votes to abolish death penalty, new Republican Senators meet with Corzine, James billed some nasty stuff to Newark, LoBiondo donated about $250,000 to local races.


After more than two hours of emotional debate about justice and retribution, the Assembly yesterday gave final approval to a bill to abolish New Jersey's death penalty, sending the measure to the desk of a governor who is eager to sign it into law.

The lawmakers voted 44-36 to replace the state's never-used death penalty with life in prison without parole. The Senate passed the bill Monday. Gov. Jon Corzine said yesterday he expects to sign it in a matter of days, making New Jersey the first state to repeal its capital punishment law in more than 30 years.

"It is simply not for us to decide who should live and who should die," said Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden).

Putting the worst criminals away without chance of parole will adequately protect society, he said.

"Murderers have not been deterred in the 2,000 years the death penalty has been in effect," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D- Mercer). "I don't shed a tear for the people on death row. I think we are better as a society. We prove that we are above these murderers by abolishing the death penalty." (Hester and Feeney, Star-Ledger)



Eight of the nine newly elected Republican state senators met with Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday in an effort to form a bipartisan alliance that could turn traditional politics in Trenton on its head.

After spending 45 minutes with the governor and his senior staff, the young Turks emerged bristling with confidence.

"Today was the beginning of a new dialogue in Trenton," said Assemblyman Bill Baroni (R-Mercer), who will be sworn in as a senator next month. "We had a very open and blunt conversation about the need to work together."

Corzine welcomed the Republican overtures. He called the meeting "cordial" and "positive," and said it focused on ethics reform, state finances and school funding.

"We developed these problems over a long period of time with Democratic and Republican administrations," Corzine said. "They will only be fundamentally resolved if we come together on a bipartisan basis over what's in the best interest of the state." (Howlett, Star-Ledger)


Former Newark mayor Sharpe James billed the city for pornographic movies and body lotions while staying at a Miami hotel, prosecutors allege, according to documents filed in federal court.

The disclosures shed new light on how the government may be planning to prove its case against James, who was indicted on corruption charges in July after 20 years as mayor of the state's largest city.

The government also alleges that James:

· Chose which developers could buy property in Newark and rewarded those who gave him tickets to sporting events. In addition, a developer was allowed in on a Newark land deal only if the person steered property outside the city to one of the mayor's sons.

· Used City Hall for a "yacht club" where powerful people were escorted in for meetings and par ties by city police officers who used police vehicles while mayoral secretaries acted as "servers."

· Gave a no-show job to a 32-year-old man who subsequently was arrested on drug charges this year.

Alan Zegas, one of James' attorneys, said the new allegations were unfounded and served only to appeal to the "prurient sense of the masses." (Whelan, Star-Ledger)



U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, gave about 16 percent of his campaign cash to other candidates, despite the possibility he might face a tough re-election bid next year.

This partisan help did not cut too deeply into LoBiondo's coffers, according to quarterly campaign reports. LoBiondo donated $92,000 to state and local candidates through Oct. 12, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

His campaign spokesman, Kevin Tomafsky, said the total through the Nov. 6 election was closer to $250,000.

The Republican gave $2,600 each to Cape May County Assembly candidates Michael Donohue and Norris Clark, who lost, and Atlantic County Assembly candidates John Amodeo and Vince Polistina, who won.

He contributed $30,500 to the Atlantic County Republican Committee and $25,000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee, according to federal reports.

These donations cut slightly into his fund-raising accounts. But LoBiondo ended the quarter with $1.5 million, slightly less than he had in June.

No Democrat has announced his or her candidacy to challenge LoBiondo. But nationally, Democrats are hoping to retake LoBiondo's prized district along with at least two others.(Miller, Press of Atlantic City)




The trust
ees of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey voted yesterday to take back the institution they ceded to a federal monitor two years ago.

Within hours, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie announced he would terminate federal oversight of the university Dec. 31. Today’s news from