Friday, September 19, 2008

Star-Ledger on the Ropes

Things aren't looking good for the Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper.

In July, Publisher George E. Arwady characterized the paper as being "on life support" when he told employees that the newspaper will be sold if management cannot win union concessions and persuade 200 of the 756 non-union, full-time workers to take buyouts by October 1, 2008.

Last week, with less than a month before the October 1 deadline, Arwady stated that the paper has not yet received the 100 news staff buyouts needed.

On Tuesday, in an internal e-mail, Arwady told employees that the Star-Ledger could be sold or closed by January if the Newspaper and Mail Deliverers Union doesn't ratify a labor agreement by October 8. Arwady told employees that the newspaper and union were "far from an agreement" and that "it is doubtful that the Drivers will ratify an agreement by October 8, 2008." As such, formal notices will be sent to all employees this week advising them that the Company will be sold, or, failing that, that it will close operations on January 5, 2009.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

NJ Democrats: Woops!

Wow, it seems that the New Jersey Democrats had some problems obeying the law recently.

First, there was the indictment of the Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic organization and the organization's counsel for public corruption.

Then there is the disclosure by the state Democrats that they forgot to have the legally required meeting to formally select its electors for Barack Obama.

State law requires political parties to hold a meeting to nominate electors within seven days of its national convention. (N.J.S.A. 19:13-15 ("In presidential years the State committee of a political party shall meet at the call of its chairman, within 1 week following the closing of the party's national convention, for the purpose of nominating candidates for electors . . . .").) The parties then have an additional week to file electors' names with the Division of Elections. Democratic Committee Executive Director Rob Angelo said the elector certification process, generally completed at the committee meeting, is now underway, although several weeks late.

Angelo doesn't think it's a big deal given that "[i]n 2004 we didn't do it until early October and that year the convention was in July."

Failing to obey New Jersey's election law doesn't seem to bother the Obama campaign either.
"We're not worried about it," said Andrew Poag, communications director for Obama's New Jersey campaign. "We have confidence that the state committee will have the electors in place in time. It's the state's responsibility and we're just gonna leave it to them."
Laws can be so annoying sometimes.


NJ Democrats caught with their hands in the public kitty. Again.

The Chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Organization ("BCDO") and the BCDO's counsel were indicted this week.  The Indictment charged that in December 2001 Dennis Oury and Joseph Ferrieros conceived of a plan to form a company called Governmental Grants Consulting that would be paid by Bergen County municipalities -- particularly Bergenfield -- to assist these municipalities in obtaining state and local grant monies.  According to the Indictment, Ferriero indicated that Governmental Grants would be successful because he could use his "influence" to help the municipalities "get a better result."  Throughout the entire time, Oury and Ferriero took steps to conceal their ownership interest and roles in Governmental Grants and prevent their undisclosed conflicts of interest from coming to light.

By late in 2002, Bergen County awarded Bergenfield $800,000 in grant money for the estate and the state Green Acres program awarded Bergenfield a $600,000 grant and loan package. Based on the successful grant applications, Bergenfield issued a check for $128,625 to Governmental Grants, representing its “Consulting Grant Fulfillment Fees.” Oury thereafter received a check in the amount of $25,016.97, and Ferriero a check for $27,538.04.

They both face significant jail time if convicted.

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New Poll: Corzine's popularity still low

A new Farleigh Dickinson University poll shows that New Jersey residents are not too enthused with the job Governor Jon Corzine is doing, with only 41% of those polled approving of his performance and 43% disapproving.

That's not bad considering that two-thirds of New Jersey voters said the state is on the wrong track.  Just 23% of registered voters say the state is headed in the right direction, a new low during Governor Corzine's term, while 67% say it's "off on the wrong track," a new high during the governor’s term.

We suspect the Governor's new toll plan won't help his approval ratings.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

I remember 9.11.01

I remember many things about September 11, 2001.

I remember walking to the train station in the morning and thinking what a beautiful day it was, with its clear blue sky and cool temperature.

I remember sitting on the train, listening to the radio and looking out the window just moments after the first plane hit the North Tower and wondering what had just happened.

I remember the train conductor coming on the public address system and, in a light mannered way, saying "ladies and gentleman, if you look out the right side of the train, you'll see the World Trade Center on fire."

I remember, just before losing radio reception going into the tunnel under the Hudson River, hearing that a plane had flown into the North Tower.

I remember getting to Penn Station and walking out to the street just as the second plane hit, hearing about it live on the radio and hearing the DJ say over and over "we're being attacked!"

I remember getting to my office in Times Square and the utter silence of people in the lobby and elevators. I remember turning on the TV in the conference room across from my office and watching the coverage with some of my co-workers.

I remember hearing that the Pentagon was on fire.

I remember looking out the window of a colleague's office and watching live, with my own eyes, not on TV, as each of the towers collapsed.

I remember walking the streets of New York just hours later and I remember the near total silence, aside from emergency vehicles. The other people on the street didn't talk. They just stared blankly forward. Some crying.

I remember finally getting on a train back to New Jersey and sitting next to a woman who just started to cry. I remember holding her hand but not saying anything. I remember not being able to think of anything to say.

I remember watching the fire and smoke from the train, just like I had in the morning when the buildings were still standing.

I remember the days and weeks after and remember seeing the "missing" posters all over the city. On every light post. On every subway. On any surface that someone could post a flyer.

I remember reading as many of those posters as I could, knowing that it was unlikely that any of the people I read about would be found alive.

I remember being scared. I remember being angry. I remember wondering if I could help.

I remember all those things. But most of all, I remember the almost 3000 people who died seven years ago today just because they were Americans and just because they went to work. I remember their families and the loved ones that they left behind.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How low can it go?

With the current Congress's approval rating at rock bottom 14% approval rating for Congress, one would think that the Republicans would be in a great position to take back a significant number of seats.

That won't happen, for various reasons.

Instead, the same group of do-nothing Democrats will be back in 2009, likely with a few additional faces.

The first page in the Democrats playbook -- blame George Bush -- will, however, be missing.
Let's hope 2010 looks a lot like 1994.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tired of paying

Although Governor Jon Corzine has not made any announcement as to whether he will seek a second term in 2009, he's raising money just in case. This past weekend, former U.S. Senator Bob "The Torch" Torricelli held a fundraiser at his Hunterdon County home for about 100 supporters.

One of the reported guests was South Jersey Democratic leader George Norcross
, who arrived by helicopter.

We guess Corzine doesn't want to foot the entire bill for the next campaign.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pardon us

President Bush issued 15 new pardons and commuted one prison sentence today. All 15 pardons were for men who were convicted of non-violent and mostly minor offenses, some dating back decades. Among the convictions were drug possession and distribution, illegal firearms dealing, false housing statements and wildlife infractions.

Two of the pardons issued were to New Jersey residents:

George Francis Bauckham of Oak Ridge was pardoned for the offense of unlawful detention, delay and secretion of mail by a postal employee. He had been sentenced on May 16, 1958, in New Jersey to five years probation and $100 fine.

Robert Michael Milroy of Cinnaminson was pardoned for the offense of importation of heroin. He had been sentenced April 2, 1975, in New Jersey to seven and a half years imprisonment, six years special parole, and three years probation.

Congratulations to the ex-ex-cons.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

NJ to drivers: no mor txtz!

Starting today in New Jersey, driving while talking on your cell phone without a handsfree device, texting or sending an e-mail from your Blackberry is a "primary offense." That means a police officer no longer needs another reason to pull you over.

And it's a $100 ticket. Unless, of course, you use it in a plea agreement:
The offense carries a $250 surcharge but only if a driver pleads guilty to it as part of a plea agreement. A driver who is ticketed for a cell phone violation does will not have to pay a surcharge, but a driver who is ticketed for a more serious offense such as careless driving and pleads down to a cell phone offense does pay the surcharge.
Was the change in the law really meant for safety or is it another way to shake down New Jersey drivers for more cash?

And tomorrow the tolls at the Port Authority bridges and tunnels go from $6 to $8.

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