Morning News Digest: September 16, 2009

N.J. governor's race offers grim choice for residents

"We have Chris Christie, presented as an obese version of George Bush, challenging Jon Corzine, the clumsy incumbent who has supposedly spent the last four years wrecking the economy while his fellow Democrats looted every treasury in the land. It's almost enough to make you vote for Chris Daggett, the independent candidate whose appeal is matched only by the hopelessness of his cause. Ah, to be back. After my 18-month sojourn away from New Jersey politics, it seems that the game has changed little. The problems fester. And the boys bicker. The irony is this: If Christie and Corzine would stop treating us like idiots, if they would use their TV time to tell us what they might do about big problems — like property taxes — we could be watching a classic campaign. Because the choice here is stark — it's between an unabashed liberal and a surprisingly hardcore conservative. The gap between these two on matters of substance is a Grand Canyon." (Moran, Star-Ledger)

Records: School chief dining at upscale restaurants on your dime

The superintendent for the Bergen County Technical and Special Services school districts received more than $15,000 in expense reimbursements from 2007 to the present, according to the districts’ financial records.The Stony Hill Inn, Morton’s steakhouse and Sanzari’s New Bridge Inn in New Milford were only a handful of the upscale restaurants at which Superintendent Robert Aloia dined at taxpayers’ expense. Dinner bills often cost the superintendent more than $100, and one un-itemized receipt from Girasole Ristorante & Bar in Atlantic City totaled $1,000, including the tip. (Gartland, The Record)

Christie campaign a flashback to ex-gov's

As a campaigner, Republican Christopher J. Christie is channeling his inner Jim McGreevey. It's a bit startling and ironic how Christie, who often invokes McGreevey as a symbol of Democratic Party disgrace, has revealed himself to be a scholar of the McGreevey campaign playbook. In Paramus last week, Christie even made a non-Freudian slip — a variation of the dreaded McGreevey cliché. "You will see a significance of a lot of those proposals and the significance they will have on the way Trenton does business," Christie said, deflecting criticisms that his campaign is big on theme, skimpy on specifics (another McGreevey hallmark). (Stile, The Record)

Suicide Victim May Have Hidden Millions Abroad

He seemed, in many ways, like a man from another time, a Gatsbyesque figure who glided through a world of old money, private clubs and pedigree horses, his family name emblazoned on Ivy League halls. Then, in an instant, he was gone — his privileged life ended, by his own hand, with a single gunshot to the head. No one can know exactly what Finn M. W. Caspersen, a prominent philanthropist and the heir to the Beneficial Corporation fortune, was thinking when he decided to take his life on Labor Day. Although Mr. Caspersen, 67, was battling kidney cancer, his suicide shocked his family and friends. But Mr. Caspersen, a patron of Harvard and Princeton who gave away tens of millions of dollars to charity, apparently harbored a secret: He was suspected of dodging many millions in federal taxes. The authorities, it seemed, were closing in. At the time of his death, investigators were building a case against Mr. Caspersen on suspicion of using secret offshore bank accounts to evade taxes. The authorities had asserted he might have owed as much as $100 million in back taxes and fines or, possibly, even have faced prison, according to a person briefed on the investigation, who was granted anonymity because of the delicacy of the case and the events surrounding Mr. Caspersen’s death. (Browning, New York Times)

Skibitsky and Brennan Spar Over Green Team Appointments

The race for mayor took center stage at Tuesday evening's Town Council meeting as Democratic nominee Bill Brennan and Republican Mayor Andy Skibitsky debated appointments to the town green team, which were approved during the meeting. (Celock, The Westfield Patch)

N.J. Motor Vehicle Commission begins construction on expanded facility in Randolph

Randolph will soon become home to an expanded New Jersey motor vehicle facility. (The Star-Ledger)

N.J. Assemblyman questions state bidding process, says state business locked out

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick will join small business owners and the Chathams School District superintendent at a news conference at the Statehouse today to question why New Jersey small businesses were not given an opportunity to bid on a multi-million dollar office supply contract the state recently awarded. (The Star-Ledger)

Jury process starts in trialof lawyers Oury, Ferriero

Who: About 100 prospective jurors packed a Newark courtroom Tuesday as jury selection began in the trial of prominent Bergen County lawyers Dennis J. Oury and Joseph A. Ferriero. (The Record)

Presenting a global vision on conservation

Water is increasingly becoming a global issue. And the chief executive officer of United Water, Bertrand Camus, has worked in just about every part of the world. (Verdon, The Record)

Merlino says family punished for others' mob ties

Joseph N. Merlino acknowledged yesterday that both his late father and a cousin with whom he shares a name were high-profile organized-crime figures. (Anastasia, Inquirer)

Daggett says both parties failing New Jersey

Whether Democrats or Republicans are in control in Trenton, nothing much changes, independent candidate for governor Chris Daggett argued last night at Rider University. (Lu. Inquirer)

West Deptford fire determined arson

A fire that gutted a single-story home at the end of Garrett Avenue Tuesday afternoon in the township's Colonial Manor neighborhood has been declared an arson by authorities. (Murray, Gloucester County Times)

New Jersey vigils' goal: Don't split up immigrants

In churches and parks, outside courthouses and municipal buildings, hundreds of people Tuesday called for an end to federal immigration policies that advocates say tear apart families and punish the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants who are deported or detained for long periods of time. (Drobness, Gloucester County Times)

Construction contractor denies mob ties; seeks casino license

Joseph N. Merlino's construction company was allowed to build a new barracks for the New Jersey State Police and the headquarters for the Atlantic City Police Department, but it is barred from casino projects. (Wittkowski, Press of Atlantic City)

Local 54 contract extension lets talks continue

The contract between members of the city's largest casino union and 10 gaming halls was set to expire Tuesday, but both sides have agreed to continue negotiations under an extended contract. (Ortiz, Press of Atlantic City)

35 NJ inmates indicted for having cell phones

As Congress considers whether to allow state prisons to install cell phone jamming devices, New Jersey is grappling with ways to stop inmates from running criminal enterprises from behind bars. (AP)

'Rutgers Three' fined for role in war protest last year

Three Rutgers University students charged last year after an anti-war protest in New Brunswick spilled into traffic on Route 18 were ordered Tuesday to pay small fines, ending the year and a half of controversy set off by their arrests. (Burd, Courier News)

Agreement ends N.J. eminent domain feud

An eminent domain dispute along the Jersey shore that began in 1996 is over. (AP)

Mason makes Hoboken a contest, blasting Zimmer over dual-office holding

Those exhausted by head-to-head Hoboken politics will have to gut out yet another round in the aftermath of Mayor Peter Cammarano's late July fall down, which cleared the way for now-Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer and 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason to recharge, reset and redo. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ) Morning News Digest: September 16, 2009