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Archive for April 8th, 2009

 voteUNION COUNTY – Six Democrats are challenging incumbent Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs in the June primary as she pursues a second term. She became the first woman to serve as Plainfield’s chief executive after defeating Robert Ferraro in 2005.

Two-term Democratic City Councilman and former Freeholder Adrian Mapp is the best-known challenger, but the crowded field also includes five other candidates. Ferraro, Carol Ann Browkaw Boles, an attorney; Thomas Turner, an IT consultant; Martin Cox, a Board of Education member and recently retired city employee; and Rebecca Kelley, a political newcomer, are also seeking the Democratic nomination. James Pivnichny will run unopposed on the Republican slate.

The other race of note is the Republican primary for the 21st Assembly District, which includes Berkeley Heights, Cranford, Garwood, Mountainside, New Providence, Roselle Park, Summit City, Watchung, Westfield and parts of Somerset, Morris and Essex counties.

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Mayor Jun Choi

Mayor Jun Choi

EDISON – Mayor Jun Choi officially announced his re-election campaign and named his running mates on Monday. The mayor, a Democrat seeking his second four-year term, is again running without the backing of the township’s Democratic organization.

“We need to revitalize Edison Township and the Democratic Party, with an infusion of fresh talent, untarnished by old guard politics and willing to stand up to special interest politics,” Choi said.

Joining the mayor on the ballot are Rachel Callen, a teacher and community activist; Meiling Kravarik, president and owner of a local realty firm; and Edward Fitzgerald, a retired captain in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

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 down-arrowSTATE – Gov. Jon Corzine’s $29.8 billion budget proposal relies on revenue projections that are too optimistic, according to a consensus of economic reports used by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services to analyze it.

David Rosen, the office’s budget and finance officer, told the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Monday that Corzine’s budget will leave New Jersey with a $100 million deficit instead of the $500 million surplus projected by the governor.

The state constitution does not allow deficit spending, so a revenue shortfall would require additional cuts to a budget that is already $3 billion less than the one approved last year.

Rosen also criticized the governor for not including a larger surplus margin in a year where revenue is extremely difficult to predict due to the bad economy. “You would want even bigger surplus than normal as a hedge,” Rosen said.

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 arrestLINDEN – At least three teens mugged a man on East Curtis Street last week, but a good Samaritan helped police capture one of them, authorities said.

The victim, a 31-year-old man, was walking on the street’s 500 block shortly after 9 p.m. on Friday, April 3. He told police that he was attacked from behind. His attackers knocked him to the ground, hit him several times in the head and took the cell phone from his pants pocket, authorities said.

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RAHWAY—Members of the U.S. Steelworkers, Local 4-575, staged a protest outside Merck’s Rahway facility in opposition against the company’s plans to cut as many as 178 jobs held by union members.

The union is currently negotiating a new contract with the drug maker. The current three-year contract expires at the end of April.

Jim Conway, the union president, said Merck wants to contract a California-based management service to provide workers who will replace permanent employees. “It’s just an attempt to do away with good-paying American jobs,” he said.

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 appleLINDEN – The Board of Education unanimously approved a four-year contract for Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic on Monday.

Tomazic will earn $182,000 this year, rising to $202,758 by the fourth year of the deal.

Since mid-March, school board members have clashed over the contract. Tomazic, a former district educator, has served as the schools superintendent since Jan. 1 without a contract.

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SAYREVILLE–Following a March 30 roundtable discussion with education and fire safety experts, Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski stressed the need for improvements in the way New Jersey educates students about the dangers associated with fire on Monday.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, FMBA President William Lavin and Dr. Frank Field speak to school children at a fire safety assembly at Samsel Upper Elementary School in Sayreville on March 30. (Photo credit: Michele Doughty)

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, FMBA President William Lavin and Dr. Frank Field speak to school children at a fire safety assembly at Samsel Upper Elementary School in Sayreville on March 30. (Photo credit: Michele Doughty)

“Every year, hundreds of young lives are lost in residential fires, mainly because the children do not know how to act in a fire emergency,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chairman of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission.  “We need to improve on how we teach our children about fire safety so that the first thing they think of in a blaze isn’t ‘Stop, Drop and Roll.’ ”

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Neil Cohen

Neil Cohen

STATE – Former Assemblyman Neil Cohen’s lawyer is not entitled to review the child pornography images his client allegedly printed from his legislative computer, a state appeals court ruled last week.

The Attorney General’s office appealed an earlier decision by Superior Court Judge Gerald J. Council that required prosecutors to hand over “two digital copies of child pornography,” according to court documents.

Both the Attorney General’s office and Cohen’s lawyer, Mark Tuohey, may discuss the issue in court on June 1.

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LINDEN—On April 9, William and Louise Forster will be celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, which is known as a ‘Blue Sapphire’ Anniversary.

William and Louise Forster today with an inset from their wedding photo taken on April 9, 1943.

William and Louise Forster today with an inset from their wedding photo taken on April 9, 1943.

William Forster, Jr. was born in Elizabeth in 1913 and graduated from Jefferson High School. He pursued a variety of occupations, at one point operating a print shop from his home and also laboring in a pretzel factory.

That is when he met Louise Janusauskas, who was born in Elizabeth in 1914 and worked in a bakery after graduating from Battin High School, according to their daughter.

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 check1By Ellen Zwierzynski, Social Security District Manager in Elizabeth 

No one likes being the target of an April fool’s prank. 

If you’re receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, don’t let anyone fool you regarding your special one-time recovery payment of $250 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

To make sure no one does, we’ll state this as clearly as possible:

  • All Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who are eligible for the special one-time recovery payment will have their payment issued in May;
  • The payment is automatic; no action is required on your part; and
  • There are no requests to make, no applications to complete and no fees to pay.

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 Inside_the_StatehouseBy Assemblyman Joseph Vas

Six years ago when I ran for the Assembly, one of my objectives was to strengthen our public schools. For years, the Legislature sought a solution to the oft-controversial process of allocating state tax dollars to New Jersey’s 616 school districts. Whereas our State Constitution mandates a “thorough and efficient” education for all public school students, our goal must be to ensure that all students are adequately educated and prepared for the workforce. 

Until recently, New Jersey had systematically allocated state aid to two groupings—the 31 “Abbott” school districts and the 585 “non-Abbott” school districts. The Abbott designation arose from a 1990 State Supreme Court ruling that held certain school districts with high concentrations of poor residents and relatively low property value were entitled to special state aid. Abbott districts received about half of all state aid while educating only one-quarter of all public school students.  

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 lacrosseCLARK—Clark Youth Lacrosse, now in existence for over six years, is set for another successful season.  It remains open for any boys in kindergarten through sixth grade who are interested in late registration.   

Lacrosse is a fast action game similar to hockey, but played on a soccer-sized field.  It is the fastest-growing sport in the nation and increasing numbers of children are participating in it around the country. New Jersey has witnessed incredible growth in just the past few years.

The Clark Youth program is a volunteer organization run by Jason Pressman, Bill Bretz, Dan Lomeli, Craig Myers, and Dave Zukowski.  Each coach has several years of and all do a great job teaching players the fundamental skills and rules of the game.  

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 local-authors-document-perth-amboy-041009PERTH AMBOY – Two local authors compare vintage photography with their contemporary images in a new book that looks at Perth Amboy’s past and present.

Paul W. Wang and Katherine A. Massopust hope that their book, Then & Now: Perth Amboy, will “help people understand Perth Amboy’s rich history and that Perth Amboy is ever-changing.”

Among the book’s highlights, it includes photos from the Packer Hotel fire of 1969, the 1966 blizzard and the Cableworks fire; images of Bayview Park before it was remodeled and as it looks today; and photos from Fertigs, Sciortinos, King High, John Dyke, Jack M. Dudas and Barbara Booz.

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 baseballSTATE – The Yankees and Mets both opened their new ballparks last week with positive reviews. But if big league ticket prices are a bit too much this year, there are more affordable alternatives closer to home.

The Newark Bears and Somerset Patriots both offer family-friendly baseball entertainment for about $10. A bit further away, the Trenton Thunder and Lakewood Blue Claws allow you to see future Yankees and Phillies stars for a similar price.

The Thunder open the 2009 season as the defending champions of the Eastern League against the Binghamton Mets on Wednesday. The series continues this weekend, with games on Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Kids attending the Saturday afternoon game will receive a Joba Chamberlain replica jersey. Next week, the Thunder will play the Harrisburg Senators – the AA affiliate of the Washington Nationals – Monday through Thursday at 7:05 p.m. 

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