With Scotland on brink of independence vote, N.J. Scots watch and wonder about future

With Scotland on brink of independence vote, N.J. Scots watch and wonder about future

KEARNY - For over 100 years, Scottish culture has been a part of Kearny's culture as waves of Scots came to this Hudson County town to start new lives. The Scots who remain in Kearny after decades of steady dissemination to the suburbs are now transfixed to their televisions. On Thursday, they will watch what could be the end of an over 300-year relationship back home - the potential breakup of the United Kingdom as Scotland votes on independence. 

"I've been reading it could be very close, or an outright landslide for the 'yes' vote," said Alastair Stewart, 58, the owner of Stewart's Scottish Market on Kearny Avenue, as he watched footage of a pro-independence rally in Glasgow festooned with blue-and-white Scottish flags. 

Stewart's grandfather, Albert, came to Kearny from his native Paisley, Scotland to start the store in 1931, not long after he fought with the Black Watch, one of the greatest of the Scottish Highland regiments in the British Army. Decades later, Alastair thinks that Scots should be fighting for themselves.

"I think it should be a 'yes' vote. If it's a 'no' vote, nothing happens. Change is good," said Stewart, of Kearny, as a portrait of famed Scottish poet Robert Burns looked down from the wall. "If they vote yes, Scottish people will have more control over their own destiny. Scotland could be the Switzerland of northern Europe. They could float their own currency and back it up with all that North Sea oil that they have. When people vote, it's either about love or money. The people who are voting yes, they're voting with their hearts. The money will come."

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Menendez in Washington: 'We have to think about what is necessary to defeat ISIS'

Menendez in Washington: 'We have to think about what is necessary to defeat ISIS'

WASHINTON, D.C. - Speaking as chairman at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Capitol Hill today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said the United States and the Obama Administration "would be fools" not to take the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, a growing militant group in the Middle East, seriously.

Menendez addressed other members of the committee as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, who testified there on behalf of the administration and its strategy for dealing with the crisis.

“This is what we know about ISIL: It has brutally, mercilessly, barbarically followed through on its threats to kill American hostages James Foley and Steve Sotloff," Menendez said during his opening remarks. "It beheaded British aide-worker, David Haines on Saturday and threatens to execute another British citizen, Alan Hening. It promotes genocide against anyone who does not share its warped version of Islam: moderate Sunnis, Shias, Christians, Yazidis, minorities. It enslaves women and children. It has seized U.S. and Iraqi military equipment and has built a formidable fighting force.

“It’s pumping oil and selling it to the tune of one million dollars a day to fund its brutal tactics, along with kidnappings, theft, extortion, and external support. It is recruiting disciples for its unholy war at a frightening pace from Europe, the U.S., and anywhere they can find disaffected people. These foreign fighters are crossing from Turkey which – because of fear or maybe ideology – has declined to participate in the effort to counter ISIL. It has declared the territory it occupies a caliphate with intent to seize more territory from U.S. partners and allies – from Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Lebanon. The risk to Jordanian and Lebanese stability is real, it’s urgent, and it’s grave.

“We would be fools to not take this threat seriously," he added. "ISIL is an enemy of the United States and the civilized world."

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Democratic and Republican lawmakers announce package to fight drug abuse 'epidemic'

Democratic and Republican lawmakers announce package to fight drug abuse 'epidemic'

TRENTON - Lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate announced this afternoon their intent to introduce a 21-bill legislative package to wipe from the streets what they see as one of the largest health crises facing New Jersey residents today: heroin and prescription drug abuse.

"It's being traffic in our state through our ports, in our airports, over our highways, and it's getting into the hands of young people who are purchasing it roughly at the price of a package of cigarettes," state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37)said during a press conference in the Statehouse today where lawmakers and health experts gathered to introduce the package. "It's taking the lives of residents in cities and in suburbs, it crosses socio-economic lines and racial boundaries. It is devastating to families … loved ones and its ruining countless lives. We have to end this cycle of addiction overdose and death in our communities."

The newly-minted package, a "bipartisan" effort on the part of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as health experts and advocates, will focus on improving paths to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts for opiate addiction in the state, according to Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chairmen Joseph Vitale (D-19). Vitale announced the legislation today alongside fellows Republican and Democratic lawmakers like  Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Chairman Herb Conaway (D-7), Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-11), and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-20).

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Guv prospects Fulop and Sweeney add voices to Silva, Stack and striking 1199 SEIU workers

Guv prospects Fulop and Sweeney add voices to Silva, Stack and striking 1199 SEIU workers

UNION CITY – They tried out their blue collar tough guy tonsils today in front of a purple-shirted crowd of striking healthcare workers – two of three as-yet-undeclared Democratic candidates for governor: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3).

They might not have been the only ones interested in running for statewide office in 2017.

At the head of the rally stood 1199 SEIU Executive Vice President Milly Silva, last year's failed Democratic Party LG canddiate, who if she doesn’t run for governor in three years, at least signaled power base chops in the midst of these workers from Alaris Health on the second day of a series of three-day unfair labor practice strikes at four for-profit nursing homes in Hudson and Bergen counties.

“They need to come back to the bargaining table,” said Silva (pictured), in reference to Alaris.

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Former Hoboken mayor caught in anti-corruption sting disbarred

Former Hoboken mayor caught in anti-corruption sting disbarred

HOBOKEN - Peter Cammarano, the former Hoboken mayor caught in a statewide federal anti-corruption sting, was officially disbarred on Wednesday in a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling.

"An elected official who sells his office -- who offers favored treatment to a private developer in exchange for money -- betrays a solemn public trust," wrote Justice Barry Albin in his ruling. "This form of corruption is corrosive to our democracy and undermines public confidence in honest government, and its rippling pernicious effects are incalculable."

Cammarano was arrested as part of a wide-ranging anti-corruption sting, known as Operation Bid Rig, on July 23, 2009, only 22 days after being sworn in as Hoboken's mayor. He resigned his office at the end of that month. Cammarano plead guilty in 2010 to accepting $25,000 in corrupt payments from real-estate developer Solomon Dwek, an FBI informant who was a key figure in the sting. 

The former Mile Square City mayor sat down with Dwek several times at the Malibu Diner in Hoboken in the spring and summer of 2009. Cammarano, then facing off against Dawn Zimmer in a Hoboken mayor's race, agreed to back Dwek’s ostensible real-estate deals in exchange for campaign funds. Zimmer would ultimately succeed Cammarano. 

The anti-corruption effort that netted Cammarano, led by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, boosted Christie's successful 2009 gubernatorial campaign. 

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Sierra Club backs Watson Coleman in CD12

Sierra Club backs Watson Coleman in CD12

TRENTON - The Sierra Club, the oldest and largest environmental group in the country, announced its endorsement of Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15) in the Twelfth Congressional District on the steps of the of the Statehouse here today.

"Very rarely do you have the opportunity to endorse a candidate who you know going into office is going to be a champion, who will fight for the environment, who will fight for the people not only in New Jersey but nationally," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said. "If there's an issue that has been important to the people of New Jersey, Bonnie Watson Coleman has been at the forefront for her entire career."

Tittel lauded Watson Coleman, a Democrat and former Assembly Majority Leader, for being a "fighter" and for a "long record of championing clean air and water in New Jersey."

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Morning Digest: September 17th

Morning Digest: September 17th

U.S. Senate race: Bell defends gold standard stance

U.S. Senate race: Bell defends gold standard stance

MONTCLAIR - On the same day he was politically brickbatted by the chief adviser to the last Republican challenger to incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), GOP Senate candidate Jeff Bell stood by a key plank of policy platform: monetary reform that includes a return to the gold standard.

"A lot of people say why are you talking about [the gold standard], because your audiences are falling asleep. But not one of those people has gone to look at my audiences," said Bell after speaking at an event sponsored by the Montclair Republicans at a Bloomfield Avenue restaurant on Tuesday night. "The Fed is in a bind. When I put it in those terms, it's a very lively reaction."

Bell's comments countered a lively statement from Rick Shaftan, the political operative who advised Republican candidate Steve Lonegan is his 11-point loss to Booker in last year's special election. 

"Bell's running where Steve was running," Shaftan told PolitickerNJ, referring to recent polling that show Bell running between 11 and 13 points behind Booker with an underfunded campaign. "I think they think they can't win. I think they can win more than the campaign thinks it can win. Their first ad Bell wants to talk about the gold standard? That tells me he's more interested in an issue than winning."

"I know that people are going to say 'I told you so' if I lose. That's fine," Bell replied. "But I think the gold standard is the most important thing we can do with the economy. It's the first order of business to turn the economy around. I have a lot of optimism about the willingness of voters in New Jersey to consider a big idea." 

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The Back Room

Sources: Why Fox?

With the support of Gov. Chris Christie, Jamie Fox is on the fast track to get back to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The question is why?

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 18th

Guv prospects Fulop and Sweeney add voices to Silva, Stack and striking 1199 SEIU workers UNION CITY – They tried out their blue collar tough guy tonsils today in front of a purple-shirted crowd of striking healthcare workers – two of three as-yet-undeclared Democratic candidates for governor: Jersey City...

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Op-Ed

Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >

Contributors

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 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

“We’re going to hold the line until hell freezes over, and when hell freezes over, we’re going to hold the line on ice skates." - Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-31), at yesterday's SEIU 1199 rally.

- PolitickerNJ

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