Governor Corzine

N.J. audit finds Corzine administration steered federally-funded jobs for youths away from private sector

Contrary to federal guidelines, state officials last year steered $17.7 million in federal stimulus money for summer youth employment programs away from private sector employers, potentially inhibiting future job possibilities for young workers, state Comptroller Matthew Boxer said Thursday.

The finding comes as part of an Office of the State Comptroller audit of federal stimulus funds targeted to provide employment for youth last summer. The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the state Employment Training Commission administered the aid for local so-called Workforce Investment Boards to subsidize the job opportunities who met federal guidelines.

In lame-duck appointments, Governor Corzine nominates three Hoboken residents to state commissions, Maurice Fitzgibbons, Michael Cricco, and Scott Kisch. Who is Scott Kisch?

In the waning days of his administration, Governor Jon Corzine's office released more than 180 names for direct appointments and nominations to paid and unpaid posts.

Three Hoboken residents were on the list. 

Former Hudson County Freeholder (District-5, Hoboken) Maurice Fitzgibbons was nominated as a new appointment to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.

Former Hoboken Councilman Michael T. Cricco was nominated for reappointment to the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission.

Scott Kisch was nominated as a new appointment to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

I personally know Fitzgibbons and Cricco, but had no idea who Scott Kisch was until I came accross the following February 28, 2006 NY Times article entitled "Driven to Success."



Nearly 3-in-4 say New Jersey is on the wrong track

Governor Jon Corzine’s brief flirtation with positive job performance ratings last month has ended, according to the latest Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll. His semiannual report card continues to average a “C-” from the New Jersey public, while his grades for cutting waste and his level of effort have declined.

Currently, only 34% of all New Jersey adults approve of how their governor is handling his job, compared to 48% who disapprove. Among registered voters, his ratings stand at 34% approve to 51% disapprove. Just last month, slightly more voters approved (43%) than disapproved (40%) of the Jon Corzine’s performance. The governor’s current 34% approval number marks a return to the low public ratings he held last spring.

Corzine should run . . . for the hills

I'm not a gambling man, but I make exceptions for politics. I mull things over for a while and at a certain point I come to a conclusion on which I am willing to bet a six-pack of beer.

And I am now willing to bet a six-pack that Jon Corzine will not run for re-election as governor of New Jersey. Unlike me, our governor is a gambling man, a damn good one. He made a fortune in the gaming houses of Lower Manhattan. And he knows enough to quit when he's ahead.

Corzine's long-overdue education

When you begin your political education by purchasing a seat in the U.S. Senate, there are certain things you miss out on. Like everything.

When you begin your political education by purchasing a seat in the U.S. Senate, there are certain things you miss out on.

Like everything.

By going straight from the boardroom to the Beltway, Jon Corzine insulated himself from learning the most basic lessons of practical politics. If Corzine had been better schooled in the political arts and sciences, that budget speech he gave yesterday would have come before his proposal to borrow $38 billion against future toll revenues, not after.

Here's how it's supposed to work: First you announce a financial crisis so dire that no one can figure a way out of it. Then you travel the state telling the people of the disaster that awaits them. And only then, when all of the news stories have been written and all of the interest groups have started to bombard the politicians with phone calls and e-mail, do you propose your solution.

After Setbacks, Corzine Looks to Make Up for Lost Time

Battered by a year of personal and political hardships, Gov. Jon S. Corzine is struggling to catch a second wind.

“I think the next six months are extraordinarily important in being able to bring to fruition a lot of the things we’ve been working on,” Mr. Corzine said in a recent interview. “And on that score I’m optimistic.”

In April, just as Mr. Corzine began to embark on an ambitious agenda, he was severely injured in a traffic accident and then endured months of painful rehabilitation.

Through it all, he faced mounting criticism from Republicans and fellow Democrats and opposition from the public over his proposal to slash the state’s debt by refinancing its toll roads. He also fended off persistent questions about whether his dealings with a former companion, who is also an influential labor leader, had improperly intruded into the public’s business.

Corzine said he got it, but he didn't

Gov. Jon Corzine admitted voters sent Trenton a strong message about no more massive borrowing, then in the same breath said he will continue with building stem cell research facilities because borrowing for them was approved previously. Huh?

He really doesn't get it. The governor also said the $450 million stem cell measure failed in part because of low turnout. Guess he thinks the 70 percent of registered voters that didn't bother going to the polls were for it. That's a stretch.

Corzine signs bills to clean-up politics

Corzine signs bills to clean-up politics

SEPTEMBER 4, 2007 Star Ledger

Surrounded by applauding members of the Senate and Assmbly, Governor Jon Corzine holds up one of four ethics bills after signing them into law at the Marlboro Public Library this afternoon.

Corzine signs anti-corruption bills amid criticism

Despite claims from critics who said it wasn't tough enough, Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Tuesday signed legislation barring lawmakers elected after Feb. 1 from holding more than one elected office in New Jersey.

The bill was among four measures signed by Corzine that Democrats hope will highlight their efforts to combat public corruption. Corzine signed the bills in the 12th Legislative District, a key battleground in this fall's elections.

Democrats are looking to retain legislative control in the fall vote. They control the Assembly 50-30 and the Senate 22-18.

The ban affects only officials elected after Feb. 1, meaning the 17 legislators and other local officials who hold more than one elected office can retain their seats until they either give them up or lose re-election.

"We're reduced to saying it's better than nothing," said Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth. However, Beck said the ban doesn't fix the current "moral and ethical cesspool in Trenton."


An application has been filed to the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Maritime Administration to build a man-made island nearly the size of six Giants Stadiums, located 13 miles off the coast of New York and 19 miles off the coast of New Jersey, to serve as a deepwater port for liquefied natural gas (LNG). This same area is home to endangered species and is prime fishing grounds. This proposed project is a threat to the improved ocean ecosystem that all have worked so hard to achieve in this region.

Yet, currently the state of New Jersey and its citizens are not officially part of the review process because New Jersey is not considered “an adjacent coastal state” in the application.

Currently, the application lists the state of New York as an adjacent coastal state. New York Governor Elliott Spitzer has been alerted that NY has the right to review and approve the application. In addition, public hearings will be scheduled for NY citizens to voice their concerns. Right now, New Jersey’s voice is not recognized.

Governor Jon Corzine

WARNING: TRANSLATION of Governor Jon Corzine’s complex statement of June 28 from Governmentaleeze to English. This document could cause taxpayer’s nausea and vomiting. Consult your physician if side effects continue.

CORZINE STATEMENT: “In countless ways, New Jersey is the best state in America. But we need to invest in our future if we’re going to stay on top. As a result of decisions made across administrations and across party lines over the past 20 years, New Jersey has amassed over $30 billion in debt and staggering unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities.

TRANSLATION: The strength of this state has been drawn from its people, not the government. This was once a bastion of free market capitalism. Not any more. New Jersey leads the nation with the most destructive progressive income tax and advanced social engineering schemes. We have the highest sales tax, highest property tax, and third highest debt in the nation. Rather than reduce the size of government and make it affordable to taxpayers, we will raise taxes to fund lucrative employee salaries and benefits handed out to political cronies. Wake up, New Jersey taxpayers - you work for the government, it doesn’t work for you.

Corzine Proves Resilient, But Not Yet His Old Self

He has cut way back on his pain medication to an occasional dose of ibuprofen, his aides say. But he still tires easily, walks with a slight limp and shifts around in his chair to find the most comfortable position during long meetings.

He has relished having the time to sift through the finer grains of public policy, as exemplified last week by a spirited defense of his long-marinating plan to restructure the finances of New Jersey's toll roads. Still, his public appearances have been far fewer and more cursory, and he spends most days at his temporary quarters at the governor's mansion in Princeton, often awaiting visitors or doing arduous physical therapy.

Study ranks states by highway conditions

A state ranking of highway conditions by the Reason Foundation and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Researchers evaluated roadways by traffic fatality rate, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs. 

Bet you can't guess where New Jersey came out on the list.

Click on the full story link. 

Behold Pablo, Jon and that Czech writer

TRENTON — Gov. Corzine should have told the whole truth from the start. He thinks he can shut down any investigation by saying something is private or that politicians can determine what is news. Were that the case, Watergate would have remained a third-rate burglary.

Take the developments surrounding his former squeeze, Carla Katz, union chief and real estate maven. Reporters asked how much total he forked over to her and Corzine keeps saying it is personal.

Expanding probe hits office of governor. Budget records sought from 3 administrations

The federal investigation of the state's secretive budget process reached into the governor's office yesterday, as prosecutors subpoenaed three years of records involving nearly $1 billion in special interest grants.

The subpoenas, covering the administrations of three governors, sought budget records, computer files, reports and letters to determine what the state's top elected officials knew about the so-called "Christmas tree" awards.

The expanding inquiry, which had been focused on one influential senator who headed the powerful appropriations committee, is now looking at other lawmakers as well, including a Hudson County assemblyman whose estranged wife received a $100,000 state grant for a day care center she operates, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

See how they squint outside the back room

Let us pause to rejoice. Because Democrats in the Legislature are finally right where they belong -- standing against a wall with their feet spread while the FBI searches their pockets. They are in trouble now. And they deserve it.

The problem is that they got greedy. Every year at budget time, legislative leaders meet behind closed doors to divvy up millions of dollars for their pet projects.

Federal probe floods Statehouse with subpoenas. Democratic, Republican leaders served as inquiry into Trenton budget process grows

New Jersey legislative officials were hit with a volley of federal subpoenas yesterday, in a rapidly expanding corruption investigation into the Statehouse by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

The subpoenas were served on both the Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate and the Assembly -- seeking information on how millions in public funds were handed out over the last three years.

It was the latest development in a federal probe that began last April with an investigation into state Sen. Wayne Bryant (D-Camden), who was accused by a federal monitor of using his position to steer funding to the state's medical university after he received a "no-work" job there. The matter has now expanded into an inquiry into how lawmakers divvy up public funds.

If only Corzine spoke truth to his fellow Dems

Gaze across the border to New York state, and see what it looks like when a governor is willing to draw blood in the fight for reform.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer is getting mean and personal these days. He's visiting legislative districts to attack his opponents by name. He's refusing to help them raise money. And he's promising only more blood and tears if they keep resisting him.

The twist is that his main targets so far are not his Republican opponents. They are members of his own Democratic Party.

If only Gov. Jon Corzine could catch that virus.

Lawyers mum after subpoena hearing

TRENTON — Lawyers for the U.S. Attorney's Office and [NJ] state Office of Legislative Services said nothing publicly Wednesday after a closed-door, 80-minute hearing before a federal judge about a subpoena that the OLS is reportedly blocking.

The two sides met before U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper concerning a subpoena related to a grand jury investigation of whether lawmakers used their positions to illegally steer state grants to entities for personal or political profit. The probe began as an examination of state Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden, but could include others.

Three groups of lawyers representing different interests left the room seemingly bound by court order to keep the grand-jury proceeding sealed.

Subpoena fighters go to court as Corzine repeats call for records

Federal prosecutors and attorneys for the state Legislature are due to square off today in an increasingly political fight over the confidentiality of legislative records being sought in a criminal corruption probe.

The closed-door hearing in U.S. District Court in Trenton comes after Gov. Jon Corzine reiterated his call yesterday for the release of documents being sought by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie in an expanding investigation into lawmakers' possible conflicts of interest.

"I think we ought to comply with the law and respond to the subpoena," Corzine said. "We ought to be taking those steps that give the public the assurance that we're getting our house in order with regard to ethics."

Pressure builds in probe of Legislature Corzine and GOPers call for honoring subpoena

Gov. Jon Corzine and ranking Republican legislators called yesterday for the immediate release of all records demanded by the U.S. attorney in a widening corruption probe of the New Jersey Legislature.

As Corzine added to the pressure on his own party's lawmakers, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Morris) called for an emergency public meeting of the Legislative Services Commission to investigate why top legislative officials have refused to comply with a grand jury subpoena obtained by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie.

U.S. Attorney, Legislature in high-stakes tiff. Inquiry into possible conflicts sparks behind-the-scenes legal fight

U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie and state lawmakers are locked in a secret legal battle over his attempts to launch a wide-ranging investigation of the New Jersey Legislature.

The unusual showdown stems from a broad federal subpoena seeking internal memos, e-mails and other records that the Legislature generates each year when putting together the annual budget.

The documents are at the heart of an inquiry by Christie that is focused on potential legislative conflicts, and specifically whether some elected officials steered money to nonprofit organizations or institutions that would have benefited themselves, friends or family, according to four sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Poll: Corzine blamed for no tax reform

New Jersery voters are dubious about the prospect of property tax reform anytime soon, and it’s taking a toll on their feelings about the job Gov. Jon Corzine is doing.

A Qunnipiac Poll released this morning showed two out of three voters surveyed said they thought it was unlikely lawmakers would cut property tax bills.

And more than half of the voters polled disapproved of how Corzine has handled the tax reform effort. That apparently has affected his overall approval rating, too. It fell to 42 percent - the first slip below the 50 percent mark since the budget showdown last July and his lowest mark since April of last year.

Corzine can't have it both ways

TRENTON — Gov. Corzine came to Trenton promising ethics reform. Sounded good, but then he hired a lobbyist to write two major speeches. Behold the crumbling Corzine credibility.

Lobbyist Eric Shuffler worked for former U.S. Sen. Bob Torricelli and Gov. Jim McGreevey, both of whom left office under dark clouds in disgrace. Shuffler also lobbies for Geico insurance, which wanted its lizard mascot on billboards at the George Washington Bridge.

Earth to Corzine: You can't reform ethics until you recognize a conflict of interest.

NJ Senate tries again to push key property tax reforms

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Most New Jersey home owners may inch closer Thursday to getting a 20 percent property tax cut, but that inching may not come easy.

The Senate is slated to meet to consider two property tax reform measures, including creating a fiscal watchdog demanded by Gov. Jon S. Corzine if he's to approve the tax cut meant to help 95 percent of state homeowners pay the nation's highest property taxes.

The Senate tried Monday to approve the post, but with Republicans and Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono opposing the bill, and with Democratic Sen. Nicholas Scutari absent, Senate President Richard J. Codey couldn't get the 21 votes needed to pass it.

Democrats say Corzine turnabout threatens reform. Codey, Roberts insist lawmakers felt duped

Gov. Jon Corzine's abrupt refusal to support legislation trimming public employee benefits makes it less likely the Legislature can muster the votes to adopt other controversial measures aimed at reining in property taxes, top lawmakers said yesterday.

"It certainly makes the climate a lot harder," Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) said during a joint appearance with Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) before The Star-Ledger editorial board yesterday. "Some attitudes and opinions have changed."

N.J. debt grew by $4.1 billion over last year. Loan payments will affect state budget for years to come

  • $37.5 BILLION: New Jersey's debt, according to a state report.
  • $4,300: The amount of state debt per resident.
  • $11 BILLION: The amount of borrowing lawmakers have approved.

New Jersey's debt grew by $4.1 billion over the past year, locking in loan payments that will consume chunks of the state budget for years to come.

The state's total debt climbed to nearly $30 billion, according to a state report submitted Friday to the Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning. That figure doesn't include billions of dollars more in debts for bonds tied to a settlement with tobacco companies and unfunded pension and health care costs.

On taxing and spending

The following exchange between former New Jersey Govs. Brendan T. Byrne and Tom Kean took place in a teleconference on Wednesday.

Q: One suggestion put forth by the governor's appointed legislative committees considering ways to lower property taxes was to put schools under county-wide juris diction. Would condensing more than 600 districts into 21, which proponents say would result in enormous savings, have a prayer of becoming a reality?

BYRNE: Once you put a school district that has a positive image with one that has negative image, you're going to get resistance -- and, frankly, that kind of resistance is worth worrying about.

Privatizing the Turnpike?

Until Gov. Jon Corzine raised the subject, talk in New Jersey of selling off or leasing the turnpike and some of the state’s other assets was not going anywhere. After all, the state’s privatization of its auto inspection system and its early experience with E-ZPass were hardly smashing successes. But Mr. Corzine, with his background in the business world, gave the idea immediate credibility.

At the Corzine administration’s behest, a financial services company is studying the situation and is expected to make recommendations next month. A State Treasury spokesman, Thomas Vincz, said last week that just about everything is on the table, including the sale, partial sale and management of numerous highways in addition to the turnpike and of other state assets as well.

Democrats and Corzine split over local taxes

Less than a month before the Nov. 15 deadline for lawmakers to propose ways to lower property taxes, legislative leaders are already at odds with Gov. Jon Corzine over one big question: whether municipalities should be allowed to impose other taxes.

Corzine has proposed giving municipalities an alternative to the much-hated property tax in July, and he reiterated it last week. He supports letting towns tack a 1 percent local sales tax onto the 7 percent that goes to the state.

Corzine wants to limit property-tax hikes to 3%

TRENTON - Gov. Corzine says he hopes to hold property-tax increases to no more than 3 percent annually and give local governments authority to implement their own taxes.

Speaking on WKXW-FM (101.5) yesterday, Corzine said that he would like to cut the state's highest-in-the-nation property taxes as part of a tax-reform effort, but that keeping annual increases in check seemed more realistic.

Corzine: From gym to limo, N.J.'s 7% sales tax expands tomorrow

TRENTON - Michael Briehler wanted to make a point when telling his health-club customers they'll have to pay more as of tomorrow, thanks to a new state sales tax that affects things ranging from tattoos to shopping clubs.

So Briehler sent them a photograph of children selling lemonade on a front lawn, with the dejected tykes warning customers they would have to pay sales tax on their drinks.

Front-yard lemonade hawked by children remains out of reach of the New Jersey tax man, but Briehler wanted to make a point to patrons of his Ewing club.

"Funds are getting tighter," said Briehler, president of PEAC Health & Fitness. "It hurts healthy lifestyles."

Corzine asks CRDA to oust its attorney

TRENTON:  Gov. Jon S. Corzine wants the man [Scarinci] at the center of the latest scandal involving U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez to step down from his role as attorney for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

Donald Scarinci, a longtime fundraiser and ally to Menendez, was caught on tape telling a psychiatrist that Menendez would afford him protection if he rehired a doctor he had fired a year before. The psychiatrist, FBI informant Oscar Sandoval, claims the 1999 conversation intended to send a message ”delivered on behalf of Menendez that Sandoval would lose his government contracts if he did not rehire the doctor.

Former Attorney General Farber misses court date

A municipal prosecutor may ask a judge to cite former Attorney General Zulima Farber for contempt of court after she failed to appear today as a witness in a traffic case against her boyfriend, Hamlet Goore.

The case stems from the now-infamous Memorial Day weekend traffic stop in Bergen County in which Farber went to the aid of Goore after he was ticketed for driving on a suspended license. The incident ultimately led to Farber's resignation last month when a special prosecutor found she had violated state ethics rules by going to the scene.

Up in Smoke. N.J. loses $16 million in hedge-fund crash

New Jersey's foray into high-risk investing suffered a setback this week as the implosion of a Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund swallowed up about $16 million in state funds, including millions that had been in vested just weeks ago.

Corzine reins in state's agencies. GOP urges vote on ethics reforms

With ethics clouds swirling once again over New Jersey's political scene, Gov. Corzine signed an executive order Monday to reform the state's independent authorities, which he said make up an "invisible government" that spends billions of dollars each year with little oversight.

Meanwhile, Assembly Republicans reiterated their 11-point ethics reform plan and called for support from the Democratic Party majority that controls the Legislature.

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Governor to Bryant: Step aside

Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday called for Sen. Wayne Bryant to step down as head of the powerful Budget and Appropriations Committee, amid charges that the influential South Jersey legislator steered millions in funding to the state's scandal-ridden medical university after he was given a no-show job.

Study calls Jersey a taxing place to call home. The new budget, with its 5 percent higher levies, outpaces other states'

New Jersey's reputation as a tax hell just got worse.

The $1.9 billion worth of tax increases in the state's new budget represents a 5 percent increase over last year, far outpacing any other state, according to a study by the National Conference of State Legislators.

New Jersey now has the highest state sales tax, tied with three other states, at 7 percent. Its cigarette tax now leads in the nation. And, of course, this all comes on top of the nation's highest average property taxes.

Attorney General Put Up a Fight Before Relenting and Resigning

TRENTON, Aug. 16 — Even as Gov. Jon S. Corzine was minutes away from publicly calling for the resignation of Attorney General Zulima V. Farber, Ms. Farber was deciding whether to fight the effort to force her out, according to four people involved in the complex negotiations.