Wakeup Call: Wednesday, August 20, 2008

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Corzine aide wins Neil Cohen's Assembly seat

Attorney Annette Quijano came to the Union County Democratic Committee's special election tonight as the party leaders' favorite to replace former Assemblyman Neil Cohen in District 20, but Elizabeth Councilwoman Patricia Perkins-Auguste put up a serious fight. Quijano, 46, an assistant counsel to Gov. Corzine, bested Perkins-Auguste 87-82 in a vote by county committee members. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)


Keep an eye on this one: there's more to the story

Months before revelations of hidden deals and no-bid contracts sparked two investigations, Rutgers University auditors were warning that no one was watching the money flooding into the school's athletic department. A confidential internal audit issued nearly six months ago criticized the department's fiscal controls — including hundreds of thousands of dollars in off-the-books spending that never appeared in the Rutgers budget. The February audit challenged the accuracy of some of those expenses, which auditors said were not accompanied by any explanation or documentation. It also cited gaps in the athletic department's oversight and recommended new hires and an overhaul of financial controls. (Margolin & Sherman, Star-Ledger)


Getting his ducks in order before he becomes Ambassador to Mauritania?

As Gov. Jon Corzine and former state workers union leader Carla Katz fight a judge's ruling to release some of their e-mail correspondence to the public, they appear at odds over whether the case should be fast-tracked to a conclusion. Corzine's lawyers have filed court papers asking to speed up the appeals process, citing the "public interest." But Katz's attorneys oppose a timetable that would cut into their ability to respond. (Heininger, Star-Ledger)



And more about going to Mauritania

New Jersey voters would be happy to see Gov. Jon Corzine take a job in Washington, but not because they want him out of the Statehouse, according to a poll released yesterday. The poll by Zogby International found that New Jerseyans, by a margin of 47 percent to 33 percent, say that if Barack Obama becomes president and offers Corzine a job in the new administration, he should accept. (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)


Corzine's little Halliburton

Gov. Jon Corzine's recent disclosure that one of his close personal friends is a partner in the investment group that threw a billion-dollar lifeline to the troubled Xanadu sports and entertainment complex may have backfired. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)


No Henny Youngman jokes

A former New Brunswick city official already serving time on bribery charges admitted yesterday he hatched an elaborate plan while in prison to have his estranged wife killed. Richard Kaplan, 58, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas in Camden to using the mail in the commission of a murder-for-hire. Less than a year ago, he pleaded guilty before the same judge to taking more than $30,000 in bribes while he was a city construction inspector and zoning officer. (Whelan, Star-Ledger)


Pascrell may run for Governor if Corzine doesn't

On a regular basis now, Gov. Jon Corzine reminds audiences that he's running for re-election. If he doesn't end up running for whatever reason, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) says he wouldn't mind personally stepping into the breach. But whoever ends up out there on the barricade facing the GOP in a statewide race, Pascrell said his party should not fear likely Republican candidate U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, whom Quinnipiac University last week listed one point above the governor in a statistical tie – 41% to 40%. Of his own gubernatorial run, "I would think about it very seriously," Pascrell said. "Right now I'm supporting the governor and I would urge him to run for re-election.


And when Joe D looks in a mirror, he too sees a Governor

Joseph DiVincenzo knows the joke is coming, and he fields it with a grin – the one broadcaster Steve Adubato, Jr., has delivered for years about how DiVincenzo tried out for more than a half dozen NFL teams and got cut by every one of them. The fact that Brett Favre is now taking snaps for the Jets sets up Adubato's new punch line. (Pizarro, PolickerNJ.com)


Lautenberg leads

Democrat Frank Lautenberg has a 50%-32% lead over Republican Dick Zimmer in the race for U.S. Senate, according to a Zogby International poll released today. A Quinnipiac University released on August 12 has Lautenberg leading 48%-41%. (PolitickerNJ.com)

And thank you, Express-Times, for covering the Quinnipiac poll seven days late

In this spring's Democratic primary, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg trounced his challenger, U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, despite Andrews' attempts to paint the 84-year-old incumbent as too old for the job. (Express-Times)


Blind Rabbi in cowboy boots

Wearing cowboy hats, cowboy boots and jeans, a group of Dennis Shulman supporters calling themselves Oilmen for Garrett sought to highlight the Republican congressman's ties with the oil industry. "It's a really good time for our interns and volunteers," said Aaron Ament, a Shulman campaign manager. "It sure beats sitting in the office stuffing envelopes all day." (Petty, Express Times)


This may be why a Virginia resident keeps getting re-elected

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is in the Republic of Georgia to help two girls from Monmouth County who are unable to leave their grandparents' farm because of the conflict with Russia. Smith's office said the congressman arrived in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi today and has already met with the U.S. ambassador to Georgia. (Associated Press)


Poll: New Jerseyans back marriage equality

Most New Jerseyans support same sex marriage and an even greater percentage have no problem if the state joins Massachusetts and California in passing a same sex marriage law, according to a Zogby International poll conducted by Garden State Equality, a civil rights organization that advocates marriage equality and other gay rights issues.

By a 50%-42% margin, likely New Jersey voters support allowing same sex couples to marry. 59% say they would be fine with a same sex marriage law, and 57% say New Jersey should recognize same sex marriages that took place outside New Jersey. (PolitickerNJ.com)


Does Gary Rose have a piece of this?

The developers of the Meadowlands Xanadu shopping and entertainment center have agreed to consider building a minor-league baseball stadium on the site, according to the man who hopes to create the team that would play there. (McDermott, Star-Ledger)


The race to succeed Joe Doria

Bayonne's newest entry to the Nov. 4 municipal mayoral contest isn't exactly far from that seat of power now. His City Clerk's Office is just across the hall from the Mayor's Office at City Hall. Robert Sloan, 60, a former Army Reservist who has been city clerk for 33 years, said he's getting into the fray because he doesn't like the "attitude the city has taken toward people it represents." (Leir, Jersey Journal)


Brendan Tobin quits

Tuesday's Borough Council meeting started almost exactly like any other that preceded it: There was a roll call, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the minutes from previous meetings were approved. And then the council president quit. Brendan Tobin, who was serving his second four-year term and had only recently been elected to the council's top spot, resigned in a move that left everyone on the dais stunned. (Brown, Asbury Park Press)


At Politicker.com, it's Help Wanted

Gannett Co. Inc. eliminated 120 full- and part-time positions Tuesday at its six newspapers in New Jersey due to deteriorating business conditions. The layoffs took place at the Asbury Park Press, the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick, the Courier News in Bridgewater, the Daily Record in Parsippany and the Daily Journal in Vineland. (Gannett)


Sharpe probably having problems paying the legal bills

Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James has enlisted a new attorney to handle the appeal of his conviction on corruption charges. Alan Dexter Bowman, a Newark attorney, notified the court today that he is now representing the former Democratic powerbroker. (Whelan, Star-Ledger)


Detention for Troopers

The New Jersey State Police disciplined 91 troopers last year for violating rules and regulations, with punishments ranging from a written reprimand to firing, according to the divisions 2007 Office of Professional Standards annual report released today. Five troopers resigned before scheduled disciplinary hearings.


Codey seeks probe on raises

State Senate President Richard J. Codey wants the state Attorney General to investigate New Jersey public school educators who receive taxpayer-funded raises after getting bogus online degrees. In another development, state Education Commissioner Lucille Davy did an about-face and said her department now will draft rules to stop superintendents from being paid extra for worthless diplomas – and sticking taxpayers with the cost of tuition. (Guenther, Asbury Park Press)


Environmental grades

When it comes to voting in favor of environmental legislation, New Jersey's congressional delegation scores an A-plus. An environmental group releasing the delegation's annual environmental voting track record Tuesday lauded most members. "New Jersey's senators and a majority of our congressmen time and again have stood up for the environment and pushed real clean-energy solutions for our energy crisis," said Dena Mattola Jaborska, executive director of Environment New Jersey. (Philadelphia Inquirer)


UMDNJ layoffs

About 75 employees of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey have received layoff notices, with officials calling the action part of a "painful process" to close a $49 million budget deficit.


A bunch of babies

Ever since a Belleville man filed a lawsuit accusing township police of concocting drunken-driving charges against him, the department and some of its officers have been exposed to more than a little embarrassment.

Darian Ehler's lawsuit claims the department's own psychiatrist found the arresting officer, Anthony Weedo, to be in need of therapy. It also accuses department brass of failing to take action after a municipal court judge determined that Weedo had lied in his arrest report.


Hopefully, Diane won't take the buyout – we like her!

Edison school board officials agreed today to change the date for an upcoming school construction referendum to Dec. 9 in deference to the township's Jewish community. The election was originally scheduled for Sept. 30, which is Rosh Hashana, one of the most solemn holy days in the Jewish calendar. (Walsh, Star-Ledger)


Juan Perez for Hudson County Executive, someday

More than a dozen dead beat dads owing more than $105,000 in child support were arrested by the Hudson County Sheriffs Office over the weekend in eight county municipalities, officials said.

Ferlin Nathanial of Bergen Avenue in Jersey City, owes $14,915 in back child support, the biggest tab among those arrested, according to a press release issued last night by Hudson County Sheriff Juan M. Perez. (Conte, Jersey Journal)


Allegations in Hillside

Responding to allegations that $9,000 was misappropriated, Hillside Township Council President John Kulish said the grant funds were spent on fence and electrical work at Sanford Park. "Some people ran with it politically, but the main thing is there was no misappropriation," Kulish said of funds thought to be remaining from a $120,000 state Livable Communities grant awarded in 2005 for lighting the ballfield. (Jett, Star-Ledger)


Evesham's budget

The $32 million spending plan raises the local tax rate 14.9 cents to 69.7 cents per $100 of assessed value. The average township assessment is $148,000. Tom Czerniecki, the township's manager, attributed the steep rate hike to several factors, including a $412,000 reduction in state aid over 2007, as well as an increase in mandated costs and a slowdown in construction of new taxable properties.


Wakeup Call: Wednesday, August 20, 2008