Unconvinced bill fair to taxpayers, Zimmer says he would have voted 'no'

Former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer: Politicker file photoFormer U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer: Politicker file photoSenate passage on Wednesday of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill brought Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer to the podium for a Trenton press conference today.

The former congressman denounced the bailout package his opponent, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park), supported last night, and derided the senator as a longtime insider, a recipient of contributions from the financial services industry who can no longer adequately grasp the public interest.

"We are at this point because our elected officials in Washington --U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park): Politicker file photoU.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park): Politicker file photo including Senator Frank Lautenberg -- did not provide effective oversight of the marketplace," said Zimmer, who acknowledged today that he would have voted against the bailout as presented. "These elected officials created a system of private profit and socialized risk and allowed Wall Street to run wild. Now, thanks to politicians in Washington, Main Street is bailing out Wall Street.

"Senator Lautenberg had 24 years to protect us against this crisis," Zimmer added. "During those 24 years he did nothing to avert it. In fact, he helped bring it about. In a job that requires leadership and good sense, he demonstrated neither."

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Lance: This is way worse than Christmas tree items

Reacting to news that certain state legislators were given sole discretion on where millions of dollars in state funds were spent, State Sen. Leonard Lance – who was Senate Minority Leader at the time – said it was outrageous, and made other scandals about “Christmas tree” items inserted into the budget look tame.

Lance said he was not a beneficiary of the program.

“We voted against the budget and we were railing against the Christmas tree items. But I think this goes beyond that. I haven’t examined it fully, but…. that’s an extremely bad procedure,” said Lance. “We haven’t been involved in the Christmas Tree process, but if someone outright says I want something for my district and it’s there in black and white, we can have a debate back and forth. But this is even worse because it’s done behind closed doors.”

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Codey on LeBlanc testimony: 'No comment'

Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) refused to comment on testimony delivered today by George LeBlanc, a Democratic budget aide, who said legislators abused a state program dedicated to property tax relief.

LeBlanc gave his testimony in the corruption trial of former Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden).

In a brief conversation with PolitickerNJ.com, Codey said his lawyers have advised him against making comments about last year's state budget scandals until after the end of the corruption trial of state Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D-Bergen).

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Bryant trial witness: state legislature set aside $40 million for top legislators to spend on pet projects

Bryant trial witness: state legislature set aside $40 million for top legislators to spend on pet projects

A witness at former State Sen. Wayne Bryant’s corruption trial gave what could amount to blockbuster testimony today, detailing a little-known practice that the legislature engaged in during 2004 and 2005.   

George LeBlanc, a Democratic budget aide, testified that a program ostensibly dedicated to property tax relief was used to hand out millions of dollars to key legislators to spend on pet projects hand out to their constituents, reports the Star-Ledger. 

According to the testimony, Bryant was allotted $4 million from the Property Tax Assistance and Community Development grants program.  The only other legislator named in the report is former State Sen. Bernard Kenny, who also was given $4 million. 

“The testimony contrasts with claims by lawmakers that individual grant recipients had to apply to the state Treasurer for funding from the $40 million pool, and that grants were awarded competitively,” reported Dunstan McNichol. 

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In Salem, Republicans battle for comeback and control of Freeholder Board

Salem Freeholder Bruce Bobbit to GOP opponent: "Don’t tell me I’m a freaking tow truck driver.  He can kiss my ass."Salem Freeholder Bruce Bobbit to GOP opponent: "Don’t tell me I’m a freaking tow truck driver. He can kiss my ass."
In often overlooked Salem, a competitive freeholder race.

Republicans in New Jersey’s least populated county have an opportunity this year to take back a majority on the freeholder board that’s been controlled by Democrats since 2002, but they’ll need to sweep the election to do it.

“We’re counting on it,” said Salem GOP Chairman Paul Reed.

It’s not impossible.  While Democrats hold a 6-1 majority on the board, Salem is a true ticket-splitting swing county.  National and statewide voting trends don’t always correlate with local election results in this county of 64,000, where voters tend to judge local candidates by personal interaction rather than the letter next to their name.

And the county’s votes on national and statewide elections are unpredictable.  Ingrid Reed, Director of the Eagleton Institute for New Jersey Politics, noted that the county went for Al Gore in 2000 by six points and George W. Bush in 2004 by the same margin.  In the 2005 Assembly races, it picked Democrats over Republicans 58% to 42%.  But Jon Corzine only edged out Doug Forrester by two points.

In 2007, Salem elected one Democrat and one Republican to the Board of Freeholders -- each by comfortable margins.  In 2006, voters elected a Republican Sheriff and two Democratic Freeholders.  And in 2005, Sullivan won his Freeholder seat by exactly one vote over GOP incumbent David Sparks.

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House members who voted against original bailout plan not yet won over

With the House likely to vote on the revised bailout package tomorrow, six of the seven New Jersey congressmen who voted against it on Monday have either not decided or not indicated how they will vote tomorrow. 

Only Scott Garrett (R-Wantage) has given any inkling as to how he’ll vote.  On Fox News this morning, he said that the bill has barely changed.

“Basically we’re getting the exact same bill with some pork added to it to sweeten things up.  And that doesn’t make matters better. It really makes matters worse,” he said. 

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Booker says country needs to find its deeper narrative after sidetrack of avarice

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, right, and Princeton University professor and author Cornell West: Politicker photoNewark Mayor Cory Booker, right, and Princeton University professor and author Cornell West: Politicker photo 

PRINCETON - Newark Mayor Cory Booker gave a soaring speech here last night, going into a prose poem jazz riff on America that mixed pieces of Langston Hughes, Bobby Kennedy and Cornell West with his own written words and what sounded like from-the podium inspiration delivered with eyes closed in preacher-like concentration.

At the end, the crowd was on its feet.

But the blunt question about the economic crisis came inevitably as the U.S. Senate at that moment voted on a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package. A woman stood in the back of the crowded McCosh Lecture Hall and urged Booker to opine on the fiscal mess.

The mayor connected his answer to the speech he had just delivered, titled the "Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit," in which he lamented that trend which labels love of country a celebration of America as a peerless and faultless beacon, and which refuses to identify the necessary energy in outcast America while glorifying lust for wealth as the driving narrative.

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The Back Room

Names on the LD7 GOP bench

In the event that state Sen. Diane Allen (R-7) doesn't run for re-election in 2017, the party has a short list of possible candidates it could field to try to head off either Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7) or Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7).

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: July 30th

  With looming deadline on bail reform, Christie calls Legislature into special session TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie is calling the legislature into special session Thursday to address recent bail reform legislation before a looming deadline next week, according to a letter from the governor’s office today. (Brush/PolitickerNJ)...

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Hudson County Democrat, is balking. He claimed Tuesday that members of his caucus are divided over the measure and that his house is in no real rush – besides, even if enacted this year, the reforms would not take effect until 2017, he said. And with the growing belief that Christie could skip town to run for president, some Democrats are not eager to give him another talking point for his résumé. Christie’s plans to stump for Republican candidates in New Hampshire later Thursday only fuel that suspicion." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record


Who's right on the bail reform special session?:


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