New Jersey has a medium-sized controversy brewing: the naming of Route 23 after Robert Roe, who represented New Jersey in Congress from 1969 to 1993 and served as Chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee. The Legislature almost unanimously (only Ellen Karcher voted no) approved the bill last year, and Governor Jon Corzine signed it – but now people are paying attention because of a complaint levied by a Morris County man whose wife and daughter were seriously injured in a 1993 car accident involving Roe, who was driving drunk at the time (a breathalyzer showed him at .17, well beyond the .10 legal limit). Roe entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors to avoid serious charges, and paid the family a settlement of more than $500,000.
So here’s the big picture question: does a DWI prevent a longtime public official from receiving a legacy like having a road bearing their name? New Jersey Transit took Harrison Williams’ name off Metropark after his criminal conviction, but Supreme Court Justice Robert Clifford and State Senator Robert Martin remained in office after their drunk driving convictions. South Amboy still has Governor Harold Hoffman Plaza, even though Hoffman – in letters revealed only after his death – admitted to being a thief.