Morning News Digest: July 31, 2009

N.J. corruption case could expand as prosecutors seek to turn defendants

More than a week after 44 people were rounded up in a massive federal corruption and money laundering sting, there has been little said publicly about what happens next in the far-ranging investigation. (Sherman and Margolin, The Star-Ledger)

N.J. lawmakers hold hearing in attempt to protect health of Barnegat Bay

It's choked by invasive aquatic weeds, infested with jelly fish and devoid of clams and oysters that used to support an entire shellfish industry. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)

Jack Shaw agreed to cooperate with FBI in N.J. corruption probe before his death

Jack Shaw, the Hudson County political consultant found dead in his apartment just days after his arrest on bribery charges, had agreed to cooperate with federal authorities in their sweeping government corruption probe, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation. (Margolin and Megerian, The Star-Ledger)

Chris Christie denies knowing about tax fraud case that led to lawsuit

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie said today that he was not aware of a tax fraud case prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office during his tenure that has led to a federal lawsuit. (Heininger, THe Star-Ledger)

GOP candidate Chris Christie says Gov. Corzine not responsible for arrested public officials

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie said today that Gov. Jon Corzine cannot be held responsible for the conduct of public officials charged in a sweeping corruption scandal last week, but noted the arrests happened on the governor's "watch." (Heininger, The Star-Ledger)

19 arrested officials could still collect pensions, benefits

Nineteen current or former public officials arrested on corruption charges last week could collect their public pensions and lifetime health benefits — even if convicted — courtesy of New Jersey taxpayers. (Young, The Record)

Vacancy rate for Bergen, Passaic industrial space rising

The recession is taking its toll on North Jersey’s market for industrial real estate. But there are signs of life — including a Clifton warehouse recently getting leased by subsidiaries of International Paper Co. (Tangel, The Record)

Mayors in corruption sweep linked to Burlco PAC

Two North Jersey mayors under scrutiny after a corruption sweep last week received campaign money from an unlikely source: a political action committee that contributes mostly to Democrats in and around Burlington County. (Rao, The Inquirer)

Leaders hope green jobs will help heal employment void

When Ronald Tucker, a sheet-metal worker who had bounced among at least five South Jersey companies over 20 years, was laid off again in March, he decided it was time to trade a job surrounded by silver for one based on green. (Tamari and Spolar, The Inquirer)

Property dispute delays key access road for Paulsboro port project

Public officials have hailed recent progress on the Port of Paulsboro, forecasting a September groundbreaking, but one major piece of the puzzle is still missing: An access road connecting the port directly to I-295. (Counihan, Gloucester County Times)

Non-profits trying to fill school supply gap

With more families facing layoffs, wage cuts and decreasing hours, household budgets are being stretched to the extreme and parents must make tough decisions to prioritize their expenses, including purchases for the fast-approaching school year. (Driscoll, Gloucester County Times)

UAW keeps pressure on for casino contracts

The United Auto Workers union is ratcheting the pressure up on four Atlantic City casinos where workers have agreed to unionize but don't yet have contracts. (Press of Atlantic City)

Lawsuit claims fraud in failed Trump Marina casino sale

Leaky windows. Broken air-conditioning. Missing kitchen equipment. A weather-beaten building. (Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City)

Ex-financial manager admits stealing from clients

A former financial account manager has admitted stealing at least $1.2 million from clients by keeping money he promised to invest in the stock market. (AP)

NJ college to raise tuition, fees by 12 percent

New Jersey's Ramapo College is boosting tuition and fees by more than 12 percent. (AP)

NJ gov's office: Hoboken mayor to resign

A spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine says a northern New Jersey mayor charged in a federal corruption case will resign soon. (AP)

Burlco board, union to discuss possible concessions

The Burlington County board of freeholders has asked its major employee union to return voluntarily to the negotiating table in August to discuss possible concessions for salaries and benefits for next year. (Comegno, Courier-Post)

Weinberg charges Christie gave defendant a 'sweetheart plea deal,' but Christie says he had no knowledge of it

Acting as Gov. Jon Corzine’s attack dog, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) – the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor – said that Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie gave a defendant accused of tax fraud a “sweetheart plea deal” after he hired the law firm of Christie’s friends to represent him. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

In a mayoral special election, Zimmer would start with strong, battle-tested base

Hoboken Council President Dawn Zimmer would become acting mayor in the event that Mayor Peter Cammarano resigns, and it does not appear, at least for the moment, that anyone's big enough to threaten her in the special election. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: July 31, 2009