Thursday, November 16, 2006

“He's a realistic candidate for president of the United States”


New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.


“He's taken on problems that a lot of people have avoided. It will make him a national figure.”

Says who?

Former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne.

Can someone please give Byrne a clue?

One person, two votes

Because of some issues with Ocean County's new electronic voting machines, supplied by voting machine maker Sequoia Voting Systems, Superior Court Judge Frank Buczynski Jr. ordered the Ocean County election board to proceed with a recheck of every digital voting machine used in the November 7 general election.

What was the problem?
County election officials suspect a software update from Sequoia came with a fault that doubled the count of about 150 ballots cast on a single Barnegat machine, then added 75 votes from that unit to a vote tally in a Lakewood district.
Yeah, you read that right. The voting machine (and/or its software) double counted 150 votes cast in one district and then added 75 votes to a district located in another town. Amazing technology we've got!

They should check Hudson County's machines next.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Shame on them"

At a press conference outside the courthouse after their clients pleaded guilty to the arson that killed three people and injured (some seriously) 58 others, the attorneys for soon-to-be convicted felons Joseph T. LePore and Sean Ryan said their clients set the fire, but did not admit any responsibility for the deaths (of Aaron Karol, John Giunta and Frank Caltabilota, Jr.) and injuries caused by their "prank that got out of hand."

In fact, William DeMarco, Mr. LePore’s lawyer, said that it was Seton Hall University who was to blame because it failed to install sprinklers and had lax fire safety standards in Boland Hall, the dormitory LePore and Ryan set on fire. According to DeMarco: "The intervening cause was Seton Hall's lack of responsibility in monitoring Boland Hall. If they had fire suppression systems the fire never would have spread."

Hey, Mr. DeMarco, if your client didn't set the fire, the fire never would have spread.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow's response when she heard that the defense attorneys were blaming Seton Hall instead of their clients: "Shame on them."

You can say that again, Paula.

Delayed, insufficient justice

The two individuals who set the fire in Seton Hall University's Boland Hall almost 7 years ago copped a plea this morning which will send each of them to jail for 16 months to 5 years. From the Star-Ledger:

Joseph T. LePore and Sean Ryan agreed to the last-minute deal at the Essex County Courthouse in Newark on the day their long-awaited arson and felony murder trial was scheduled to begin.

After years of denying they lit the fire, LePore and Ryan read statements admitting they set fire to a paper banner in a dorm lounge around 4 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2000. That fire spread to a couch and eventually killed three freshmen and injured 58 other students.

According to LePore, he "did not intend to harm anyone. It was a prank that got out of hand.” Ryan read a similar statement.

Under the plea deal, LePore and Ryan, both 26, pleaded guilty to arson and tampering with a witness (which came about when the two attempted to get friends of theirs to lie to investigators). LePore also pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense. They will serve a maximum 5-year sentence at a state facility for youthful offenders. They will be eligible for parole after 16 months.

16-months in jail for the murder of 3 people (whose pictures are above) and the serious bodily injury of 58 others. That certainly is a deal. For the defendants.

We understand that the state's case was a tough one. It took prosecutors a long time to gather evidence and convince witnesses to talk. We understand that they would take a chance of a "not guilty" verdict if the case was brought to trial. But we also understand that, prank gone wrong or not, the fire these two men started ended up killing three 18-year old boys. Under the law, that is a homicide. To allow Ryan and LePore to get away with just 16-months in jail without having to admit in open court that they killed three people and injured 58 others is insufficient justice.

Although the families of Aaron Karol (of Green Brook), John Giunta (of Vineland) and Frank Caltabilota, Jr. (of West Long Branch) -- the 3 boys killed by Ryan and LePore's fire -- were disappointed with the terms of the plead deal, we hope that this helps them bring closure to the painful 7 years of not knowing what happened on that day and not knowing who did it. We know they will never be truly healed, but we hope that this ends up a positive step for them.

To the memory of Aaron, John and Frank.

How progressive

Pakistan moves into the 19th century:
Pakistan's lower house of parliament voted on Wednesday to put the crime of rape under the civil penal code, curtailing the scope of Islamic laws that rights groups have long criticized as unfair to women.

Why is this such a step forward, you ask? Well, Islamic law made a rape victim liable to prosecution for adultery if she could not produce four male witnesses to the assault. Yeah, you read that right . . . unless the rape victim could produce four male witnesses to corroborate her accusations, she was guilty.

If the amendment passes the Pakistani upper house, it will take the crime of rape out of the sphere of the religious law and puts it under the penal code. That will do away with the requirement of four male witnesses and allow convictions to be made on the basis of actual evidence.

The religion on peace, my friends.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Better safe than sorry -- buy your booze tonight

I spent Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware and decided to do a little tax-free shopping Sunday before heading back to New Jersey and Jon Corzine's 7% sales tax.

As I roamed through the Costco by the Christiana Mall, I noticed a sign at the entrance to the liquor store. It said something like:

Attention Members:
Per Delaware State Law
The liquor store will be closed on Election Day

I found this government-imposed Election Day temperance to be a little odd and, to be honest, puritanical. Is the state so concerned that people will sit home drinking instead of heading out to the polls that they need to ban the sale of booze on Election Day? Or do they want to prevent drunks from driving to the polls? Or is voting while intoxicated the problem? Come on, Delaware, what gives?!?!

Well, it turns out that Delaware doesn't stand alone. In fact, several states have laws dealing with the sale of alcohol on Election Day. For example
So why do I pass this little bit of legal trivia your way? Well, if you're a Republican living in one of these states, you'll be facing a potentially long night of election results with no alcohol to numb the pain (or -- fingers crossed -- to celebrate with) if you don't get your booze tonight.

"Excuse me, but I don't see 'Bush' on my ballot."

I saw these signs posted all over (and I mean ALL over) Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark on Saturday.

I wonder how many confused Hudson and Essex county voters we'll have on Tuesday when, going to vote against President Bush, they can't locate his name on the ballot.

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