Today’s news from PolitickerNJ

Two potential Senate candidates decide not to run, Hackett and Steele refuse to give back wages paid for the parts of their terms they did not serve, Stile compares Spitzer’s quick departure to McGreevey’s, call girl “Kristen” is from New Jersey.


He gave it some thought, but in the end state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman decided not make a bid for the U.S. Senate this year.

Bateman (R-Somerset), serving his first term in the upper house of the Legislature after 14 years in the Assembly, said yesterday he will not be a candidate for the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

In a statement, Bateman said “GOP party people from several counties” had asked him to run after millionaire businesswoman Anne Evans Estabrook abruptly dropped out of the race last week after suffering a mini-stroke.

“I was just elected to the state Senate last November for the first time and feel a strong obligation to serve this term,” Bateman’s statement said. “I still feel the Republicans have a good chance at win ning the seat in November and I look forward to supporting the win ner of the June primary.” (Star-Ledger)

Cape May County‘s former sheriff has ruled out a U.S. Senate run.

Jim Plousis currently serves as New Jersey’s U.S. Marshal.

“I was honored that so many chairmen called me in regard to that Senate run, but I’m very happy being U.S. Marshal,” Plousis said Wednesday. “So I have no intention of running for U.S. Senate.”

Plousis’ name was one of several floated as candidates after Anne Estabrook dropped out of contention for the Republican nomination following a mini-stroke last week. State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Morris, Passaic, and Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin are the two announced candidates in the race. (Press of Atlantic City)


Two former state lawmakers who resigned last year after being snared in a federal corruption sting have not paid back the Legislature more than $10,000 each had already received for a full year’s service.

Like many legislators, former Assemblymen Mims Hackett Jr., D-Essex, and Alfred E. Steele, D-Passaic, opted to be paid semi-annually. Unlike most lawmakers, arrests on corruption charges forced them to resign last September, meaning they were paid for nearly four months of work they did not perform.

Dana M. Burley, clerk of the General Assembly, wrote to the former lawmakers in September, November and February seeking to recoup the pay — $11,289.59 from Hackett and $10,207.88 from Steele — but the letters went unanswered.

Burley, who has worked in the Statehouse for 18 years, said she couldn’t remember another instance where a lawmaker refused to return unearned wages. (Volpe, Gannett)


Eliot Spitzer will leave office in six days. Jim McGreevey took 94 days.

New Yorkers should consider Spitzer’s quick exit a small consolation prize. McGreevey’s three-month farewell tour — he called it a “responsible transition” period — gave him more time to do damage.

Watching Spitzer give a taut, two-minute, 40-second announcement (McGreevey had not even gotten to his famous “I am a gay American” sound bite by that point), I was relieved to hear that he was making a swift exit. Spitzer can craft his legal strategy and conduct a job search on his own time, in his own apartment, unlike McGreevey, who turned the State House office into a damage control bunker.

There were practical reasons for McGreevey to hang around after making his carefully parsed confession on Aug. 12, 2004. McGreevey didn’t have a well-stocked portfolio to tide him over.

Pay-to-play contractors and lawyers may have made out like bandits during his term, but no one ever accused McGreevey of stashing taxpayer lucre in an off-shore Cayman Island account. He didn’t have much net worth beyond his governor’s salary and perks. He needed a job and a place to live. A bitter divorce was all but certain. And unlike Spitzer, McGreevey was not the direct target of a federal investigation. He picked Nov. 15 as his last day in office. (Stile, BergenRecord)



The high-priced escort at the center of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s downfall is a Jersey girl.

“Kristen,” as she was known in an FBI affidavit outlining a Feb. 13 tryst with the governor, grew up Ashley Youmans in Belmar and attended Wall High School. She’s now an aspiring singer who lives in Manhattan and goes by the name Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

The $1,000-an-hour prostitute, a statuesque brunette, could not be reached yesterday, and her New York lawyer, Don Buchwald, declined to comment on her role in the scandal, which exploded into view earlier this week. An apologetic Spitzer resigned yesterday, effective Monday.

Dupre’s brother, 26-year-old Kyle Youmans, had little to say when reached last night at his Jackson Township home.

“I love my sister, and I can’t make a comment,” he said. (Frassinelli and Mueller, Star-Ledger)

She left a broken home on the Jersey Shore at 17 and came to New York City to work the nightclubs as a rhythm and blues singer. Now, at 22, she is the unwitting, and as yet unseen, star of the seamy drama that is the downfall of Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York.

, the prostitute described in a federal affidavit as having had a rendezvous with Mr. Spitzer on Feb. 13 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, has spent the last few days in her ninth-floor apartment in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. On Monday, she made a brief appearance in federal court, where a lawyer was appointed to represent her. She is expected to be a witness in the case against four people charged with operating a prostitution ring called the Emperor’s Club V.I.P.

In a series of telephone interviews on Tuesday night, she said she had slept very little over the past week, with all the stress of the case.

“I just don’t want to be thought of as a monster,” the woman said as she told the tiniest tidbits of her story.

Born Ashley Youmans but now known as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, she spoke softly and with good humor as she added with significant understatement: “This has been a very difficult time. It is complicated.” (Kovaleski and Urbina, New York Times)



A one-time secretary in Newark’s housing department testified yesterday that Sharpe James was “the force” behind the help that Tamika Riley got from city officials to obtain cheap, municipal-owned property.

Regina Bayley, a former secretary for the Department of Economic and Housing Development, said Riley’s proposals were put on the “top of the pile” by Bayley’s boss, housing chief Basil Franklin.

“He worked on her behalf because of another force that was behind it,” Bayley said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Germano later asked her, “What force was that?”

“The mayor’s office. The mayor,” Bayley responded. (Spoto and Whelan, Star-Ledger)


GUTTENBERG – Attorneys for the mayor and his wife asked a U.S. District Court judge to dismiss mail fraud charges almost a week before their corruption trial begins.

Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna and his wife, Anna Delle Donna, appeared in the federal courthouse in Newark yesterday to argue for the dismissal before Senior U.S. District Court Judge Harold Ackerman, who “reserved judgment,” officials said.

Authorities say the couple diverted campaign funds and accepted bribes that helped pay for cosmetic surgery for Anna Delle Donna – a town Planning Board member – and gambling junkets to Atlantic City, bottles of liquor, gift certificates and a dog.

Brian Neary, an attorney for Anna Delle Donna, said he and Ralph Lamparello, who represents David Delle Donna, made a motion to dismiss single counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for each defendant. (Hack, Jersey Journal)




A 33-year veteran of the child welfare system will lead its parent agency, the state Department of Children and Families, while a search for a permanent commissioner continues, Gov. Jon Corzine announced yesterday.

Eileen Crummy replaces Kevin Ryan, who is expected to leave to morrow to run a foundation that assists impoverished children in Newark and Africa.

“I appreciate Governor Corzine’s confidence and support, and I remain deeply committed to improve the lives of children and families across New Jersey by leading the child welfare reform effort,” Crummy said.

“Given her experience, Eileen brings enormous credibility and commitment to the large task on hand,” Ryan said in an e-mail to the department’s 6,600-member staff. “She has been a primary architect of our reforms over the past several years, and I have enormous and unequivocal confidence in her ability to move all of our important work forward.” (Livio, Star-Ledger)




Slicing state aid to small towns just because of their size is arbitrary and unfair, legislators said yesterday as they took their first crack at Gov. Jon Corzine’s draconian state budget.

At the first public hearing on Corzine’s spending plan, members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee criticized the governor’s plan to drastically reduce state aid for towns with fewer than 10,000 residents. They said they would seek to restore as much of that funding as they can.

“It’s just out-and-out punishing towns because they’re smaller and lack political clout,” said Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), the committee chairwoman. “It’s so egregious because it lacks any basis in fairness or public policy.”

Corzine’s $33 billion budget — which contains $2.7 billion in total spending cuts — would eliminate one category of state aid for towns with fewer than 5,000 residents and slice it in half for those with populations between 5,000 and 10,000. They would still receive other forms of aid, but their state funding would drop by 22.7 percent overall.

“It is arbitrary and capricious to base funding purely on population,” said Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon). (Heininger, Star-Ledger)

In sparsely populated Washington Township, Burlington County, financial aid from the state amounts to $1,894 for every one of its 650 residents.

In booming Washington Township, Gloucester County, state aid is only $79 per person. In Washington Township, Morris County, municipal aid amounts to $98 per person. In Robbinsville Township, Mercer County, which until last year was known as Washington Township, municipal aid is $142 per person.

State aid to New Jersey’s 566 municipalities, slated to be cut in Gov. Corzine’s proposed budget, is not evenly distributed among the towns and cities. Instead, it varies widely, reflecting a legacy of many different municipal taxes that have been combined over the years and shifted to state collection.

By now, the original purposes of many of the taxes have been lost in the mists of time and politics. The money sent by the state to the municipalities today is more a reflection of past taxation than of current needs. (Nussbaum, Philadelphia Inquirer)


As the investigation into Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s alleged $80,000 prostitution spending spree continues, New Yorkers are getting to know the new governor, Lt. Gov. David Paterson.

He will not only become New York’s first black governor, but also the nation’s first legally blind governor after the Empire State’s prostitute-hiring Democratic state executive resigned yesterday, effective Monday. Paterson has a vast political background, and he is known to be focused on the issues, but he still faces the challenge of regaining public trust.

In Hudson County, politicians see the challenges as a positive step in New York’s tough situation.

“I think this is unfortunate that (Paterson) is going to get the position by default,” said Jersey City Councilwoman Viola Richardson. “It’s a shame to see anyone in that kind of web, but I’m pleased that Mr. Paterson was in position to be the first (New York black governor).”

Richardson says the timing is right, with Sen. Barack Obama, a black man, leading in the race for the Democratic nomination for president.

“It opens doors and sets the tone in the country,” Richardson said. “This is a real inspiration. For non-whites, it shows the possibilities.” (Magalhaes, Jersey Journal)




Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts plans today to advance a long-awaited plan to reshape the state’s 2-decade-old affordable housing effort and ban wealthier towns from paying their way out of obligations to provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

Roberts’ bill, which he said will be introduced today, also would allow more families to qualify for affordable housing and increase commercial development fees to raise cash for the effort.

“I am, for the first time, cautiously optimistic that I will be able to advance the most significant housing reform legislation since the Fair Housing Act of 1985,” Roberts (D-Camden) told The Star-Ledger.

The “central element” of his plan would eliminate a program that allows towns to pay poorer communities — mainly cities and older suburbs — that agree to use the money for affordable housing. (Hester, AP)



Having briefly appeased some conservatives, including Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), with his budget address last month, Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration now faces an uprising from the green wing of the state’s progressives, including the New Jersey Sierra Club.

Outraged by recommendations made by the Housing Policy Task Force to the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel today lambasted the task force’s draft report as the result of hush-hush meetings heldmostly by members of the building, development and real estate industries.

“The entire situation bears a disturbing resemblance to the Cheney Energy Task Force, which held closed-door meetings with fossil fuel industry executives in order to develop national energy policy,” said Tittel, who noted that the committees of the task force did not include environmentalists, community activists, or representatives from other state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) or the Department of Transportation (DOT)……..

DCA spokesman Chris Donnelly said Tittel’s is a harsh, premature and unfair critique of a task force whose work on a draft report to the DCA has been transparent from the start.

“For anyone to imply that the task force, DCA, or Governor Corzine are trying to undermine DEP’s efforts to keep New Jersey environmentally sound are completely disingenuous at best,” Donnelly said in a statement. (Pizarro,



The son of a Bound Brook councilman was arrested yesterday after allegedly sending illicit images of himself over the internet to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl, officials said.

Ben Auletta Jr., 36, of East Meadow Drive was charged with third-degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree endangering the welfare of a child following an investigation by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and New Jersey and South Florida task forces on internet crimes against children.

Auletta Jr. is the son of Councilman Ben Auletta Sr., a popular public official who also is the borough’s Democratic chairman.

About 11 a.m., detectives executed a search warrant at the East Meadow Drive house, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest said. Officials seized two laptop and two desktop computers, as well as two external computer hard drives, which the prosecutor’s office is examining, Forrest said. (Golson and Holl, Star-Ledger)




If Hudson County residents are any indication, Gov. Jon Corzine’s plan to hike tolls on state highways is on a road to nowhere.

The governor’s debt-reduction scheme has the support of just 27 percent of Hudson County residents, according to a Jersey Journal/New Jersey City University poll.

Fifty-eight percent said they oppose the plan, which would create a non-profit corporation to raise tolls on the N.J. Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway roughly 50 percent in 2010, and then every four years through 2022.

But even if they don’t agree with Corzine’s approach, two-thirds of poll respondents believe the state faces a fiscal “crisis,” with only 9 percent saying they disagree. (Koepp, Jersey Journal)



HOBOKEN – Attorneys for the city and Police Chief Carmen LaBruno are close to settling how much dough the chief will be entitled to under his contract when he retires in June, according to sources close to the negotiations.

City sources said LaBruno has not submitted his resignation, but expects “his employment status to be resolved in relative short order.”

The chief earns $210,794 annually and will likely retire with a $147,555 yearly pension. LaBruno is expected to receive a lump sum payment for unused leave at a rate
of around $810 per day and he’s entitled to a $149,850 termination bonus – pay for five days for every year of his 37-year career on the force, sources said. (Hack, Jersey Journal)



Montclair mayoral candidate Joyce Michaelson announced yesterday that retiring Deputy Police Chief Roger Terry is joining her “Partnership Montclair” slate as a candidate for one of the two at-large seats up in this May’s municipal election.

“Roger is a key player because he has such a long and rich history in this town,” Michaelson said yesterday as she also announced that Robin Schlager, the current 2nd Ward councilor, would join her slate as an at-large candidate.

They join Paul Zorich, son of Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis and a television news producer who is seeking the 2nd Ward seat; Rich Murnick, a financial planner seeking the 1st Ward seat; and David Cummings, a board member of the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp., who is seeking the 4th Ward seat.

“We’re a great team of people,” said Michaelson, Montclair’s deputy mayor and at-large councilor. “We’re not all the same. We come with different perspectives, but we intend to have open discussions.” (Read, Star-Ledger)



Despite a letter with the Dover mayor’s signature on it accepting an offer to translate parts of the town’s website into Spanish, Mayor James Dodd now says he is still op posed to the idea.

In a prepared statement, the mayor said Tuesday night that he is “refusing to create a bilingual town website,” and that the letter sent to the Rev. Daniel Martinez, who had offered translation service for free, does not express his true sentiments.

The letter stated, “I will be happy to direct my administration to provide key documents to you or your designee to translate and distribute to those residents that do not communicate in English. Moreover, should you provide me with a copy of the translated documents, my administration will post same on the town website.”

But Dodd says that letter was “sent prematurely,” an oversight on his part. He said it was drafted by the town’s business administrator, Bibi Stewart Garvin, but that he had wanted “to make some changes.”

“It never should have gone out in that form … I don’t know how it occurred,” Dodd said. “At no time did I say that I would be amenable to create a website in Spanish.” (O’Connor, Star-Ledger)



Today’s news from PolitickerNJ