Daily Archives: October 20, 2009

Letter: Middletown needs Patrick Short and a Democratic majority too

I have resided in Middletown my whole life, which amounts to 75 years, the better part of a century. I have seen Middletown transformed from a beautiful place, filled with farms and woods, changed forever by over-development. It’s been since the early 1980s that this has happened, since Republicans have ruled in town.

Today, the highways where businesses should be located are where home developments are. Somehow, in the minds of Republican leaders, this allegedly represents “class.” I haven’t seen a highway development yet that was what a conservative person would refer to as classy. And, it is all because of the way the Republican majority has run the town. I do not like it at all. There is a place for housing, and it isn’t along a highway.

Then there is the issue of how these Republicans finance their budget that bothers me. For the past 18 years, Middletown, like many towns, has balanced their budgets through deferred taxation: a terrible financial practice really, since before the Florio administration in Trenton. The bottom line is that some of the money collected for school taxes is used by the Township Committee: the school board takes the blame and the committee takes the money.

How much money has been involved in this practice? Well, the town governments that use this means of finance for their administrations are not exactly forthcoming about exact figures but, in Middletown, it is somewhere over $55 million right now. It’s a gimmick. A cheap trick. And it is the way my town has been doing business for almost 20 years. I don’t like it.

Government has become too “slick” for my liking. Government at every level should be smaller, but it will not get that way by adding an army of overpriced lawyers, or appointing political bosses into office, such as is in the case of Middletown. GibbonsLaw, PC, in Newark, has the bonding work in Middletown, and has for decades – ever since the Republicans took over. They have something else too, and that is the Middletown Republican chairman, Peter Carton, as an employee.

It is not one party that is going to return Middletown to real prestige again. It is two parties that will, and Democratic Committeeman Patrick Short has already helped to stem the spending of over-priced projects on the committee. And, he has actually been concerned about flooding in the Bayshore. This is the kind of help that Middletown needs, and that is why I would like him returned to office and to see even more Democrats join him in my town.

Joe Caliendo
Chairman, Middletown Democrats

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Filed under Joe Caliendo, Middletown Democrats, Middletown GOP, Patrick Short

NEW CHRISTIE BOMBSHELL-NYT: Christie May Have Gotten Improper Aid

The New York Times – By DAVID M. HALBFINGER

When news broke in August that the former United States attorney, Christopher J. Christie, had lent $46,000 to a top aide in the federal prosecutor’s office, he said he was merely helping a friend in need. He also said the aide, Michele Brown, had done nothing to help his gubernatorial campaign.

But interviews with federal law enforcement officials suggest that Ms. Brown used her position in two significant and possibly improper ways to try to aid Mr. Christie in his run for governor.

In March, when Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign requested public records about Mr. Christie’s tenure as prosecutor, Ms. Brown interceded to oversee the responses to the inquiries, taking over for the staff member who normally oversaw Freedom of Information Act requests, according to federal law enforcement officials in Newark and Washington. The requested information included records about Mr. Christie’s travel and expenses, along with Ms. Brown’s travel records.

In mid-June, when F.B.I. agents and prosecutors gathered to set a date for the arrests of more than 40 targets of a corruption and money-laundering probe, Ms. Brown alone argued for the arrests to be made before July 1. She later told colleagues that she wanted to ensure that the arrests occurred before Mr. Christie’s permanent successor took office, according to three federal law enforcement officials briefed on the conversation, presumably so that Mr. Christie would be given credit for the roundup.

The federal law enforcement officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were barred from speaking on the record.

Ms. Brown declined to be interviewed for this story. In an e-mail message to The New York Times, she called the allegations “outrageous and inaccurate,” but declined to answer further questions. Through a spokesman, Mr. Christie stood by his earlier assertions that Ms. Brown had not assisted his campaign in any way.

News of Mr. Christie’s loan to Ms. Brown broke in August, dealing a blow to his candidacy, and he apologized for failing to report it on his tax returns and ethics filings.

Less than two weeks later, Justice Department officials told Mr. Christie’s interim replacement, Ralph Marra, to remove Ms. Brown from acting as coordinator of the Freedom of Information Act requests about Mr. Christie’s tenure because of the obvious conflict of interest, according to a federal law enforcement official briefed on the communications. Ms. Brown resigned from the prosecutor’s office the same day, the official said.

She took a job at a law firm with close ties to Mr. Christie — a firm that represented one of five companies identified as targets in his office’s investigation of kickbacks among makers of artificial hips and knees. Ms. Brown had led the case and, with Mr. Christie, negotiated a settlement in which the company paid a fine and avoided criminal charges.

Allegations that Mr. Christie played politics as a prosecutor have dogged him; reports that he discussed a run for governor with Karl Rove in 2006 led Democrats to assert he had violated the Hatch Act, which forbids candidates from “testing the waters” for a run for office.

The possibility that Ms. Brown may have helped Mr. Christie’s campaign from inside the United States attorney’s office casts a new light on their relationship and on the prosecutor’s office. Federal law and Justice Department policy prohibit prosecutors from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.”

The arrests of 44 people in the corruption and money-laundering case on July 23 drew national attention and put a spotlight on New Jersey’s reputation for corruption. Mr. Christie had built his reputation battling public corruption, and the case served to remind voters of his record and underscore that corruption remained a persistent statewide problem, one that could require a new governor to root out.

As it turned out, there was no need to hurry up the corruption arrests to ensure that they would redound to Mr. Christie’s credit: the Obama appointee who replaced him, Paul J. Fishman, was not installed until last Wednesday.

Mr. Christie has said he and his wife are close friends of Ms. Brown and her husband. The couples live a few hundred yards apart in Mendham, N.J.

Read More >>> Here

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Filed under Chris Christie, ethics, Freedom of Information Act, Gov. Jon Corzine, Michele A. Brown, repayment of loans, The New York Times, US Attorneys Office

Video: Christie and Bush: Politics

And how can we pass up this great piece of video that the Corzine team dug-up on Chris Christie. After months of running away from the Bush Administration and saying that his appointment as NJ’s US Attorney Gerneral was not politically motivated, here is Chris Chirtie himself saying that he is proud of the fact he raised money for the president.

“And I did it in a completely appropriate fashion and enthusiastically for the President. And there’s no mystery to the fact that I was appointed to this job because, in part, I had a relationship with the President of the United States”

“Anybody who receives a political appointment — I am a political appointee — there’s going to be some measure of politics involved with that appointment.” Christie states.

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Filed under Bush administration, Chris Christie, fundraising, US Attorney

Christie "Travel-Gate": Two New Videos Help Explain His Extravagant Tastes

As Blue Jersey so apply stated in an earlier post today, Chris Christie just may have “October Surprised” himself.

Christie’s extravagant taste for sleeping in tax payer funded, luxury hotel rooms while he was US Attorney General instead of cheaper, more appropriate rooms while on business has captured the public’s interest. What’s more, Christie see nothing wrong with it and if elected he would loosen restrictions for those that he appoints to office.

Two videos out today from the Corzine campaign use news reports from NJ News 12 and WPIX 11 to bring futher light to Christie’s travel arragments:

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Filed under Blue Jersey, Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine

NJPP Monday Minute: 10/19/09

FLI program helps improve family life in New Jersey

New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance program took effect July 1 of this year, providing workers with up to six weeks of paid benefits to care for sick family members, newborn and newly-adopted children. Governor Corzine signed the legislation in May, making New Jersey the third state (along with CA and WA) in the nation to adopt such a program, and the second to implement. California was the first state to implement paid family leave.

NJPP has supported paid family leave since legislation was first introduced almost ten years ago. In a 2001 report, research director Mary Forsberg noted that, “Today it is ironic that those who have the least need for paid family leave often have the greatest access, while those with the greatest need often have the least access. Indeed, the person most likely to be given paid leave is a salaried male with a relatively high education and income who works for a company of 50 or more. The person least likely to be given a paid leave is a young woman with children who is paid hourly, earns less than $20,000 a year and works in the service sector. The man is more likely to be taking time off for his own health problems; the woman is more likely to be taking time off to care for her children or her parents. The man is more likely to be able to absorb the cost of an unpaid leave than the woman earning $20,000 a year.”

Since July 1, more than 7,100 family leave claims have been approved. Of those, a little over 80% percent of claims are for bonding with a newborn or newly adopted child; the rest are claims to care for a seriously ill family member. Most of the claims that have been rejected are due to an insufficient relationship between the claimant and family member who is ill-only an illness involving a parent, spouse or child qualifies for leave, in-laws do not. In addition, intermittent bonding or care, such as taking leave one day a week to bond with a new child, is not included in the program.

As of October 1, workers have paid approximately $60 million into the FLI fund. The total of FLI benefit claims paid through October 1 is about $11.4 million. Benefits are funded entirely by employee payroll deductions with a maximum annual employee contribution in 2009 of $26.01-approximately 50 cents per week. If the rate remains the same throughout 2010 – 0.12 percent on wages up to $29,700 – workers will pay $35.64 in payroll deductions. Participating workers receive benefits equal to no more than two-thirds of their weekly pay, up to a maximum weekly benefit in 2009 of $546. It is also important to note that FLI does not necessarily give workers the right to return to their job after a period of family leave.

Any employee who has worked at least 20 weeks for any covered employer (not necessarily the one they’re working for at the time they need the leave) can apply, as long as they’ve earned 20 times the minimum wage (currently $145) in each of those weeks. FLI benefits are also available to any employee who has earned about $7,200 in the previous 52 weeks before they need the leave.

The dynamics of work and family have changed drastically in the last 50 years. It’s important that the workplace reflect this by helping workers maintain a healthful balance.

For more information on FLI visit the Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.

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Filed under Gov. Jon Corzine, Monday Minute, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey Policy Perspective