Political or apolitical, Homeland Security secretary returns to his hometown

Political or apolitical, Homeland Security secretary returns to his hometown
Michael Chertoff with President George W. Bush in a 2005 White House photograph.

UNION – Talk to people in New Jersey’s legal profession and no one denies that what Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff perhaps lacks in charisma or courtroom presence, he compensates for with something more fundamental:  profound powers of reason. 

“Going back 20 years, he was a great lawyer, a brilliant lawyer – hard but fair,” said attorney Ted Wells.

His friends in the New Jersey political world say Chertoff’s a creature of hard analysis not politics.  “This is one of the brilliant legal minds of the country,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), who introduced Chertoff today at Kean University, where the Homeland Security Secretary and author of the USA Patriot Act reflected on his three-year term in the Bush administration.

His tenure included his grim mea culpa in front of Congress following what he acknowledged was his department’s 2005 failure to respond effectively to Hurricane Katrina. 

But Katrina didn’t come up today as a cross-section of audience members in friendly fashion mostly picked the Elizabeth native’s brain about general public policy during the question and answer portion of his presentation.

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Still no timeline for Crowley

There's still no indication whether biotech executive John Crowley is going to run for governor, but political confidante Bill Spadea said that the buzz surrounding several Republican candidates is healthy.

“When you think about how this state has been so dominated by the Democrats for so many years, and how the economic situation continues to worsen under the Democratic watch, it is no surprise to me that people are very energized about the Republican Party,” Spadea said.  “It tells me the voters are energized for change and the Republican Party is shaping up to be that vehicle for change.” 

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Report: Jackson close to being named EPA administrator

Report: Jackson close to being named EPA administrator
Credit: garrett.house.gov
Lisa Jackson as DEP Commissioner

Politico reports that Gov. Corzine’s chief of staff, Lisa Jackson, may be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A source tells the online news site that the appointment of Jackson is “close to a done deal.”

Jackson was sworn in as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in 2006. She was named as Corzine’s chief of staff in October, and was tapped to be on Barack Obama’s transition team last month.

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Rible troubled by possibility of divisive GOP primary

UNION – As former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie publicly mulls a run for governor, Assemblyman David Rible (R-Wall) says he believes the Republican Party should rally around one candidate for governor before the June primary.

“We have to get unified,” said Rible, who didn’t discount the value of a GOP Primary fight, but also doesn’t want to see a bloodletting that could leave his party sapped by the time a candidate squares of with the muscle-bound war chest of incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine.

Of Christie, the former Wall Township police officer turned legislator, said, “He has a tremendous resume and good name ID. He’s not a far right conservative, and that’s good. I’m not sure New Jersey is looking for someone from the party’s far right.”

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Sheriff's officer admits stealing drugs from evidence locker


A suspended detective-sergeant of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department and former Haledon Borough council member pleaded guilty today to conspiring to distribute cocaine and some heroin he stole from the evidence vault at the Sheriff’s Department, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr.

Alan Souto, 40, admitted before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares that he received at least $250,000 from the sale of the drugs, which he told the judge was at least 43 kilograms (94.6 pounds) of cocaine and 700 grams of heroin.

Marra said Souto pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information, charging him with conspiracy to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute, five kilograms or more of cocaine.

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Bryant can't use campaign funds for defense bills

Disgraced former state Sen. Wayne Bryant will not be able to use campaign funds to pay for his legal offense, according to report from the Associated Press.

Bryant was convicted last month of every count of bribery and pension fraud brought against him by federal authorities.

Earlier this year, before the verdict, Bryant’s lawyers asked the Election Law Enforcement Commission whether he could use $640,000 in left over campaign funds to pay his lawyer bills. When the advisory commission said that it was not permissible, Bryant’s attorneys tried again with an appeals court.

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Sussex County Republican chairman steps down to run for freeholder

Sussex County Republican chairman steps down to run for freeholder
Sussex County Republican Chairman Richard Zeoli has already emerged as the establishment candidate for freeholder next year

Sussex County Republican Chairman Richard Zeoli will step down from his leadership post to run for the freeholder seat being vacated by seven-year incumbent Glen Vetrano, who has decided not to seek reelection next year.

Zeoli, 33, has been chairman of the county’s dominant party since 2003.

“I have a real love for this county and a belief that it’s time to give back. I was encouraged by a lot of elected officials,” said Zeoli.

Zeoli will run on a slate with Assemblywoman Alison Littell Mchose (R-Franklin Twp.), Assemblyman Gary Chiusano (R-Franklin Twp.), incumbent Freeholder Susan Zellman and Surrogate Nancy Fitzgibbons. He also said that he has the formal endorsement of Vetrano.

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The Back Room

Report: Christie campaigns for Hutchinson

No real news out of Arkansas this evening as a local report documents Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie stumping in Arkansas on behaf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: August 27th

One night in Clifton: Pascrell town hall crystallizes New Jersey's side of Arab-Jewish divide CLIFTON – It was the typical crowd with black yarmulkes and leopard-patterned hijab sprinkled among uncovered bald heads – Ukrainian, Turkish, Polish – Spanish Flamenco-style hair pulled back and framed by loop earrings and at...

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White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >


(8-27-14) All Americans Should Support Gov. Perry - Political prosecutions have no place in American life. Those who use the justice system as they are using it in Texas... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
    My Richard Nixon Ambivalence   Today is the fortieth anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation address to the nation on August 8, 1974. At that time, I was ambivalent about... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

“Israelis don’t want peace more than the Palestinians, Palestinians don’t want peace more than the Israelis, but I do know one thing: Hamas is a terrorist organization.” - U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), Paterson.

- PolitickerNJ


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