Morning News Digest: March 31, 2009

Witness says Hackensack hospital's hiring of Coniglio was a sham The star witness in the corruption trial of a former

Witness says Hackensack hospital's hiring of Coniglio was a sham

The star witness in the corruption trial of a former state senator pointed the finger at Hackensack University Medical Center's leaders today, testifying they made him hire Joseph Coniglio for what prosecutors called a no-show consulting job that netted the hospital millions in state grants. (Sampson and Layton, Record)

Assemblyman Eric Munoz dies of heart ailment at 61

Assemblyman and longtime trauma surgeon Eric Munoz died late this afternoon from complications related to a ruptured aorta, Republican colleagues said tonight. (Livio and Larini, Star-Ledger)

New black leadership for J.C.? Meet Richardson

Last year, the Insider did a column on the need for more new black leaders. In the age of President Barack Obama, it seems that Jersey City's black community is content with the same old blood. The column created a stir. I was aware that the same could be said of every ethnic and racial part of the city's population. It was just that the black community is the one minority group here the longest and the most abused by shallow promises and the huffing and puffing of snake oil salesmen – and saleswomen. (Jersey Journal)

Jersey City mayoral candidate L. Harvey Smith gets top spot on ballot

With true showman-like flair, City Clerk Robert Byrne held ballot-position drawings today for the May 12 municipal elections. (Clark, Jersey Journal)

Communications Workers of America sue to block Corzine plan to furlough state workers

Unions representing about 100,000 public employees went to court today to stop Gov. Jon Corzine and local governments from furloughing workers. Taking action in three court filings, leaders from a half-dozen unions said an emergency rule allowing state and local governments to furlough workers would undermine existing contracts. (Heininger and Megerian, Star-Ledger)

Corzine's panel backs moratorium on raids on illegal immigrants

New Jersey's illegal immigrants should be allowed to pay in-state college tuition and obtain drivers licenses, a panel appointed by Gov. Jon Corzine recommended today. (Diamant, Star-Ledger)

Officials trim budget to ease hike

WEST DEPTFORD TWP. After months of whittling away at what was predicted to be about a $540 municipal tax increase for the average homeowner here, the township committee introduced a budget Monday that calls for a tax increase of about half that. (Beym, Gloucester County Times)

BOE plan vows small levy decrease WEST DEPTFORD TWP. The $41.38 million budget introduced by the school board here promises a small decrease to the local school tax rate, officials revealed in a presentation Monday evening. (Counihan, Gloucester County Times)

N.J. investigator admits taking bribes

A senior investigator for the New Jersey Department of Labor pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to taking more than $1.8 million in bribes from a series of temporary employment agencies he was supposed to be auditing. (Graham, Inquirer)

Probe is sought of crime-plagued Camden high-rise

County and local officials yesterday called for a federal investigation into Camden's Northgate I apartment building, a troubled high-rise that authorities say has long been the scene of drug dealing and gang activity. (Steele, Inquirer)

Cozine would educate illegal immigrants

TRENTON – Gov. Corzine said yesterday that he supported allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges, but called a proposal to let undocumented residents obtain driver's licenses "problematic." (Tamari, Inquirer)

Two GOP Burlco freeholders will not seek reelection

Veteran Burlington County Freeholders William S. Haines Jr. and James K. Wujcik announced yesterday they would not seek reelection, saying they needed to spend more time attending to business. (Burton, Inquirer)

EPA to maritime group: Create emissions control area

The top environmental official in the United States announced plans today to reduce harmful air emissions from ships that call on American ports. The U.S. is asking the International Maritime Organization to create an emissions control area around the nation’s coastline. (O’Neill and Fallon, Record)

2 plead guilty to $2M bribery scheme

A state Department of Labor investigator pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to taking more than $1.86 million in bribes to look the other way on temp agencies’ illegal labor practices. Federal officials at U.S. District Court in Camden said the investigator, Joseph Rivera of Winslow Township, falsely certified that at least 20 temporary labor firms were complying with state wage and hour regulations in return for bribes. (Megerian, Star-Ledger)

New ideas for reviving downtown North Arlington

NORTH ARLINGTON — A busy strip that years ago lost its appeal as a place where shoppers could find just about everything will soon become a testing ground for a new redevelopment program. The goal is to make Ridge Road more attractive to both businesses and pedestrians by thinking differently about how a town can shape its streets and blocks. (Clunn, Record)

CWA, PBA file to block Corzine's furlough plan

TRENTON — Four public employee unions, including the Communications Workers of America and Policemen's Benevolent Association, filed papers today with a New Jersey appeals court seeking to block the emergency rule allowing state workers to be furloughed. The state Civil Service Commission last Wednesday adopted an emergency rule that permits the furloughs, which Gov. Jon S. Corzine says are needed on a once-a-month basis starting in May to help balance the state budget. (Symons, Gannett)

In-state tuition, driving privileges urged for NJ illegal immigrants

TRENTON A panel on immigration policy recommended that the state issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, allow all immigrant children living in New Jersey to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and create a commission on immigrant policy. Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he supports in-state tuition rates for all New Jersey students, but said the license proposal needs to be addressed by the federal government. (Ma, Press of Atlantic City)

Perth Amboy special-education teacher pleads guilty in Vas corruption case

MIDDLESEX COUNTY — A second Perth Amboy official pleaded guilty Monday in the corruption scandal involving the administration of former Mayor Joseph Vas that is yielding a steady parade of city employees. (Serrano and Russell, Courier News)

EPA, local port call for clean maritime zone

Creating a pollution control zone around the U.S. coastline that would ban the world's dirtiest ships is the only way to clean up the nation's ports, a spokesman for the South Jersey Port Corp. said Monday. "Emissions control is an international problem and there is only so much local ports, like Camden, Philadelphia and Wilmington, can do on our own," said Jay Jones, deputy executive director for the Port Corp., a quasi-state agency that operates two marine terminals in Camden. (Stilwell, Courier-Post)

Levine won't quit: says poor totals to date won't affect advance of his campaign

With his county convention vote totals adding up to less than 1% of all those cast, GOP gubernatorial candidate Franklin Twp. Mayor Brian D. Levine would appear to be at a serious gut check point in his campaign, particularly as he heads into Thursday night’s committee vote in his home county of Somerset. But Levine has no intention of standing down – neither before nor after the Somerset convention. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Milgram takes down another Perth Amboy official in Vas probe

Attorney General Anne Milgram, who is building a case against former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, won her second guilty plea form a Perth Amboy official today. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: March 31, 2009