Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Influence for sale!

The candidate for governor from the Libertarian Party, Jeffery Pawlowoski, has found a new way to get publicity and donations for his campaign. Pawlowoski is selling certificates of influence on eBay.

I found the Governor's vacation home visit a real bargain; it sounds like a nice camper, with popouts! But maybe it would be more advantageous to be a Mercer County Prosecuter. It says I can work on my golf game and line my wallet at the same time! Nothing says I have to be an attorney or anything, just be the highest bidder. Or there's the Wine Advisory Council job- all I'd have to do is shut down the council, only takes two days. Maybe I'll get that one for my husband for Christmas.

Points to the Libertarians for this one. Very clever way to get publicity, Mr. Pawlowoski.

My favorite quote on Pat Robertson

"Forgive him, Father. He knows not his ass from a hole in the ground."

-From the Onion

It's legal! or illegal!

The Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) ruling is in for Doug' Forrester and the violation of election law with his campaign financing and donations. And, as expected, the GOP spins it as "a clear win for us" and the Dems state that it shows a clear violation of the law and are calling for an investigation.

Here's Doug's take on it:
“DOBI’s opinion today confirms what we’ve been saying all along – Doug has always followed the letter and spirit of New Jersey’s laws,” said Forrester for Governor campaign director Sherry Sylvester. “We asked for this affirmation from the DOBI to end the distracting and mean-spirited attacks form the Corzine camp and focus on issues that matter to the people of this state.”

Here's Jon's take on it:
...the Department of Banking and Insurance observes that it does not regulate captive insurance companies because captives are illegal in New Jersey, it confirms that Benecard Services, acting as Heartland’s general managing agent, is engaged in activities that “necessarily include some insurance business activities.”
Thus Bryan concludes that, by virtue of his ownership of Benecard, Mr. Forrester “is subject to the Department’s regulatory oversight under applicable statutes and rules.”
As such, Mr. Forrester’s political contributions violate N.J.S.A. 19:34-32 and -45.

And here's the DOBI's:

N.J.S.A. 52:145-8 provides that an agency "upon the request of an interested
party may, at it's discretion, make a binding declaratory ruling with respect to
the applicibility of any person, property, or state of facts any statute or rule
enforced or administered by the agency." The Department seldom exercizes its
descretion to issue a binding declaratory ruling, and declines to do so here.


The the activities of Benecard... however, necessarily include some insurance business activities.... The Department's authority to licence and regulate these activities in New Jersey is ... clear. ... Benecard must (and does) satisfy those requirements by being a licenced resident insurance producer....

My (non-lawyer) analysis is that the DOBI said, "Leave us out of it. But, if you must know, Heartland is licenced in DC and they have Benecard as an agent in NJ and they haven't violated insurance law by doing so."

So the Dems still believe Forrester has violated election law, and they plan to persue it. The GOP believes they've been exonerated since they follow insurance laws, and resident insurance producers (aka agents) are allowed to make campaign donations. I don't think this advisory opinion has changed much; we're all still where we started. I still think Forrester will get out of this one; it's just going to take longer than he though.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

NJ Carnival of the Bloggers XV

Carnival 15 is up, in all of its Google-map glory, over at If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had A Lawn-Mower. Go see what bloggers in Our Fair State had to say this week- and from where!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sharon's Birthday Blogging Bash!

Happy birthday to me. Here's what I wrote today, something for everyone, condensed into handy index format:

Bike Helmet Laws!
Miss America!
It's not so bad!
I can't f*ckin' beleive he said that!
Petty's Island update!
Nat'l Geographic on this hurricane!
Took the Corzine plunge!
Support our vets and soldiers!
Gas prices and alternatives!

I finally caught up on my blogging. Now, it's time for bed.

Rising Gas Prices. Yup.

A while back I had a good conversation with a dear friend. Politically he and I are about as far apart as they come; he's a staunch conservative and I am a bleeding-heart liberal. But he's a good chess player, makes a mean salsa, and we've been friends at least 20 years.

Anyway, he praised me on my choice to go solar and stated that he'd like to do the same when he decides to buy a home. My reasons for solar power were mostly environmental but the financial incentives are great too ($2.18 for my electric bill last month! Did I mention that lately?) But his reasons? Support of alternative energy technologies will eventually reduce our dependency on foreign oil. He felt very strongly that we can't bemoan the policies of other govenments and decry their support of terrorist elements one minute, while giving them lots of money for oil the next.

He's absolutely right. The best way to go about reducing our dependence on oil would be to require more fuel-efficient cars. Fareed Zakaria, in Newsweek:

If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 a barrel. And getting cars to be that efficient is easy. For the most powerful study that explains how, read "Winning the Oil Endgame" by energy expert Amory Lovins (or go to I would start by raising fuel-efficiency standards, providing incentives for hybrids and making gasoline somewhat more expensive (yes, that means raising taxes). Of course, the energy bill recently passed by Congress does none of these things.
We don't need a Manhattan Project to find our way out of our current energy trap. The technologies already exist. But what we're searching for is perhaps even harder—political leadership and vision.

There's a serious lack of political leadership and vision in Washington right about now.

I keep reading stories about rising gas prices and the effect on individuals as well as our country as a whole. It will raise some prices, and that may hurt. But the folks complaining that it costs $100 to fill the Hummer? Good, I hope it hurts. You bought it, buddy, you pay for it. Gas prices adjusted for inflation are still nowhere near where they were 25 years ago. And remember that a portion of that cost goes to support countries whose governments and policies you dislike.

My solar panels probably only reduce our dependency on foreign oil a very small bit, in ways such as I bought a rechargeable electric lawnmower instead of a gas one. It's mostly reduced our dependency on dirty-burning coal used to produce electricity in Our Fair State. Our last car purchase, however, was a very small one, and our next one will be a hybrid, or the most fuel-efficient technology available at the time. We will continue to try to reduce our family's dependence on oil as much as possible while continuing to utilize alternative energy sources as available. My friend has a good point; it's great that we can come to the same conclusion, especially since we came from very different starting points.

Support the War! Screw the soldiers.

In an article from Newsweek about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder:

"Often soldiers can only talk to folks who have been there," says Colonel Ritchie, who is especially concerned about those in the National Guard and Reserves who might return home isolated and be unable to find outlets to discuss what happened there. Batres has started a new soldier-to-soldier counseling program he hopes will help. He believes that outpatient treatment usually works best—and not just because the VA's budget is in the red.


The soldiers, the brave men and women who are doing the fighting (and all too often dying) in this war get too little support from our government. How can Teflon Dubya sit there and beg for the American People's support for his war, while he won't even put enough into the VA budget to pay for their treatment when they return home? Let'snot forget the treatment of loyal GOP man Chris Smith, who only wanted to get more money for our veterans.

Here's some ways to actually support our troops: The DOD maintains a list of over 150 organizations you can utilize to support our brave men and women overseas. None of them require a yellow ribbon magnet be attached to your car.

I finally committed

I haven't been committed, silly; I committed for the gubernatorial election. I have a Jon Corzine sign in my yard, and I'll put a banner up here on the Center of NJ Life too.

It was never a question of if I would vote for him; I certainly will. Actively supporting a candidate and simply voting for him/her are two very different things. I just crossed the line to active support, albeit with trepidation.

I'm upset about a few things, such as his stance on Petty's Island and the appearance of a Norcross connection, and the lack of true property tax reform plans. But I appreciate that Corzine has a vision for Our Fair State, whereas Forrester only has a vision of himself as governor.

I'll still be as critical and sarcastic as ever. I think criticism is a necessary tool to view our politicians truthfully, and I think sarcasm is needed whenever we talk politics because I like sarcasm. But now, I will say it:

Vote Corzine.

The Big Easy

In the National Geographic magazine, Oct. '04, there is a story on the vanishing bayou of Louisiana. Go get yours right now, if you have it, and read the story; it starts on p. 92. (UPDATE: It's here, too.) It starts with a hypothetical story about a future hurricane hitting N'Awlins on a hot August day, killing thousands.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency lists a hurricane strike on New Orleans as one of the most dire threats to the nation, up there with a large earthquake in California or a terrorist attack on New York City. Even the Red Cross no longer opens hurricane shelters in the city, claiming the risk to its workers is too great.
"The killer for Louisiana is a Category Three storm at 72 hours before landfall that becomes a Category Four at 48 hours and a Category Five at 24 hours- coming from the worst direction," says Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at LSU who has spent 30 years studying the coast.


"It's not if it will happen," says University of New Orleans geologist Shea Penland. "It's when."
-Joel K. Bourne Jr.

As of this writing, Katrina is a category three hurricane, expected to strengthen in the next few hours to a four, and make landfall directly on Louisana Monday evening.

Boy, I hope they were wrong. It sounds all too likely to happen now.

More on Petty's Island

A few weeks back (I really am behind in my blogging,) Mayor Jack Killion of Pennsauken and the Cherokee Investment developers put forth their new, detailed proposal for Petty's Island. 1000 homes (condo, townhome and single-family,) a golf course, hotel, and shopping are all on the new map township officials would like to draw for this brownfield island overlooking Philadelphia. The Courier-Post has a map in their article here.

Even though the size of the development has been scaled down from half to a third of the island, bad publicity seems to be hounding the proposal, and the pro-development folks are feeling the strain. From the C-P: " "For one day, gives us a little credit. We're trying to improve the future of Pennsauken," an impassioned Mayor Jack Killion said during a news conference at the municipal building."

From the Philadelphia Inquirer: " "Would you rather have this?" asked Killion, pointing to an enlarged photo of the huge oil storage tanks and industrially scarred land. "Or would you rather have this?" he asked, gesturing to the developer's rendering of the island. "... We know this is 1,000 times better." This shock tactic is silly, since no matter what, Citgo will be required to clean up their mess; they just want to donate the island so they can do it while avoiding as many fines as possible.

There are other ways to improve the future of Pennsauken. Substantial parts of this Southern Jersey town are in need of redevopment, which could benefit more residents. The new homes on the island would be out of range for current township residents; C-P article quotes a resident who states the price of the housing would be "way too steep" for most to afford. At the very very least, the development could be clustered in one area of the island, instead of fragmenting the habitats of the island's wildlife.

After Pennsauken has 30 days to review the information from Cherokee, other regulatory agencies can weigh in on the plan. It is expected that the Department of Environmental Protection will revise the size of the development but they're not making any statements yet.

Since this has all started, the eagles that were at the heart of all the controversy have moved on. I guess they were tired of hearing all the politicians squawk. Unfortunately, they've moved to Camden's Cramer Hill, where a development project is being planned by... none other than Cherokee Investment.

I can't f*ckin' believe he said that #2

I wonder if Rob Hudnut has a good psychiatrist for his delusions. Or, for his complete lack of conscience, as the case may be. Hudnut is the vice president of entertainment development for Mattell, which makes Barbie straight-to-video movies showcasing brand new Barbie product lines. From this week's Newsweek:

Parents might see the movies as underhanded advertising. But Mattel, which has sold nearly 27 million Barbie films worldwide since 2001, doesn't agree. "Kids see through that," says Rob Hudnut, vice president of entertainment development. "We're trying to fill a void in the education system in teaching kids about the arts."

Line by line adjustment for reality:

"might see the movies as underhanded advertising." How about, "view this junk as blatant target-directed advertising with lousy production values?" A little more accurate that way.

"But Mattel doesn't agree." Let's try, "Mattel makes money hand over fist so they don't care."

"Kids see through that." Hmm. "Kids are very suggestible and want most things they see advertised, so they'll bug their parents for our toys."

"...fill a void in the education system in teaching kids about the arts." This is where my head starts spinning. I just can't see a way to alter that for truth. I wonder if he could keep a straight face while saying it? Did his nose grow? You're off Santa's 'nice' list for this year, Rob Hudnut. Do us parents a favor and make the next DVD release straight-to-landfill.

I can't f*ckin' believe he said that.

No shoes, meet No feet.

Remember the adage about complaining that you have no shoes, then meeting a man with no feet?

I'm home with the Happy Hopper this weekend. Happy Hopper is my greyhound named Summer who lost a leg last week to cancer. She's doing fairly well, and we hope for continued improvement. She's a happy dog who is learning to walk on three legs, hence she quickly was nicknamed the Happy Hoppy Dog.

Anyway, not ten minutes ago I took the Happy Hopper on a very short walk down my street when I ran into a new neighbor with whom I'd barely made an aquainance. Summer hops over and I introduce her and give the quick version of her story, only to find out my new neighbor lost his leg due to cancer 5 years ago.

It's awful to have this fear for my beloved dog, but at least she's not a beloved spouse and parent of two.

My neighbor learned to walk just fine. I think the Happy Hopper will be ok.

Bye Bye, Miss America

(What, no pie?)

Miss America will finally be leaving Atlantic City. It seems no one wants to broadcast the pageant anymore and the Miss America Organization can't afford to pay to keep the show in AC without a big TV contract. Ratings hit a new low last year after a steady decline.

In general, I hope beauty pageants are a thing of the past. In recent years there has been talk about it being a "scholarship contest" and a lot of other hooey- but it's really about young women in bathing suits and evening gowns. They'd have a lot more traction to that arguement if a young woman won who wan't attractive but a science whiz with a sparkling wit.

When I was a tween I enjoyed watching pageants, with all the, um, pageantry and the sparkly dresses. I'd pick a favorite pretty dress and root for Miss NJ, who never had a chance (appologies to Suzette Charles.) As a parent, though, I'd never let my kids watch them; they are degrading and silly.

The organization is apparently planning to take the show on the road; maybe change cities every year or find a new permanent home. A better solution would be to let the whole thing just go. It's a piece of nostalgia that has no real place in a new century.

Wear a Helmet!

Yesterday Acting Gov. Codey signed into law an expansion of Our Fair State's bike helmet laws. Helmets will be required for anyone riding a bike under age 17 as of next spring.

Helmets will be required for anyone riding a bike who has good sense, starting now.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Real Life intrudes on the Center of NJ Life

Whenever I see something on which I want to comment in this here blog, I tear it out of the newspaper or magazine I'm reading and put it next to my computer. Or, if I heard it on the radio, I write it on scrap paper to leave here.

I have a big stack next to the keyboard, and I just can't get to it all now.

What have I been doing? Well, our tripod greyhound came home from the vetrinary hospital for the second time on Wednesday. I rushed her back there again today with wound issues but she was able to come back home. She's in a lot of pain and her wound is still seeping, but she's home and that's for the best. I've been helping a three-legged dog to walk and making sure she's not licking, bleeding, or in intense pain for the past few days. Plus all my regular stuff to do- blogging became a distant last on my list of priorities.

But I hope to catch up.

This weekend- a beautiful, end-of-summer weekend- I'll be stuck in my house with no family, a sick dog and a laptop. If you're around, stop by. I hope to make a dent in the stack.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- Update

Well, Hamilton is still trying to figure out what they're going to do about agreeing to vastly overpay for Klockner Woods. Last week they finally hired a surveyer to comply with the Department of Environmental Protection's order for a wetlands review. Van Note Harvey Assoc. will take no more than 30 days to finish the job. It's a shame that the deadline to begin paying Fieldstone is in 8 days.

And this week, documents were revealed that show the township planners knew last year that 41 lots was most likely not feasable. The chief planner, Allen Schectel, reviewed the original plan for 48 homes and felt that there were more wetlands than Fieldstone assumed. The memo eliminates seven units and suggests that more would be lost once a flood plain and wetland survey was completed. None was ever done; a year later, Hamilton agreed to pay $4.1 million based on an incomplete assesment of a plan that didn't include surveys recommended by their own planners.


Our best hope here is, as stated by township spokesman Rich McClellan, "If the township finds there was any misrepresentation involved in the information provided by the developer as part of the negotiating process, we will petition the judge to vacate the consent judgment." Maybe someone should have looked for any misrepresentation before agreeing to overpay with township, county and state money. Or at least listened to the planners who said a survey should be in order.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


That's how much my electric bill was this month. I mention this because, well, I love it. I take every opportunity to mention our solar panels and how much we've saved on our electric bill. I worship solar energy!! But apparently, Our Fair State is not on board with that- or are they?

There was an article in the Times of Trenton yesterday about New Jersey's poor management of incentives being a main reason for our lack of solar production. State Sen. Peter Inverso (R-Hamilton) wants to transfer management of our Renewable Energy program from the Board of Public Utility to the Treasury. Why, you may ask? Well, apparently only 11% of our solar energy projects approved in this state have been completed as of the end of June '04. We need to "refocus efforts... given the lack of results to date."

If you are going to complain about the current state of our progress on any issue, I think you probably should have information that's something approaching "current, " not over a year old. Solar has exploded in Our Fair State, increasing from 6 installations in 2001 to 616 now, according to the BPU. The BPU also cites our clean energy program as a model according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. I suggest the Senator asses new statistics as they come available on the increase of solar usage.

Having navigated the rebate and installation system with the guidance of an experienced solar installer, I found it easy and straightforward. The only evidence I see of Our Fair State not pushing solar power is that most people with whom I've spoken are unaware of the rebate program. Also, the only delay we had in our installation process was with getting our panels due to a world-wide shortage. Germany, in particular, has very substantial incentives and initiatives to increase their solar production, thereby increasing demand for the panels. Inverso should investigate other reasons besides mismanagement before we attack the Board's performance.

The BPU has new initiatives which have just begun, such as the "Power Crop Initiative." I find this extremely cool, especially since the debut installation was at Lee's Turkey Farm in East Windsor, near the Center of NJ. Incentives, investors and credits all cover the initial installation and upkeep costs of installing solar panels on large buildings on farms- no trees! Ideal locations! This is a wonderful program, and some credit should be paid to the BPU.

I appreciate any effort to increase solar use, and I believe that Sen. Inverso wishes to do just that. But at this point it seems premature at best, mistaken at worst to strip the Board of Public Utilities of their authority over solar incentives.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Our vacation, an essay.

Imagine a great vacation.

You're staying at a beach house in a great little Jersey Shore town. The beach is three blocks away, the bay one, the state park very close too. It's a nice house, owned by the parents of one of your best friends, and he's invited you and a bunch of other good friends to spend the week there with his family. You don't know everyone staying there, but it takes only a short time to realize how well you all get along. There are a bundle of kids the same ages as yours and they hit it off immediately too. The TVs "break" on the first day and no one misses them. You stay up almost every night until 2 or 4 or later, playing games and drinking and talking and mostly laughing. The parents all take turns getting up early to watch the kids play. The weather is pretty good and there are some great beach days. You get to the boardwalk a couple of times and your kids have a blast on the rides. Everyone makes delicious food to share most every day. A few people get away for solo trips but most things are done as a group. You love this and it's a great, great vacation.

Imagine something goes wrong.

Very late one night you get a phone call telling you that your younger dog broke her leg. You spend hours in the emergency vet in Red Bank getting X-rays and starting her treatment. The X-rays are suspicious so more are taken in the morning; you get the phone call early the next morning that she has bone cancer. Her leg is amputated the next day, while your kids are on the boardwalk rides. The dog is only six. Based on the X-rays they decide her prognosis with treatment is 12-18 months.

Imagine adding one more thing.

While your kids are at the boardwalk that day, the eldest suddenly sprouts a high fever. The wonder drug of Children's Motrin brings it down and you hope for the best, but one of the other kids already has antibiotics for strep throat. You get the pediatrician appointment at home and have to rush off on the last day of vacation to get there on time, only to wait over an hour to discover an ear infection and probably strep. You go to the Coldest CVS In The Universe (why does it have to be 60 degrees in every public place this time of year?) to get the prescription, with a sick child who is freezing. The next day the doctor calls to confirm strep, and a few hours later the vet calls to say that you can bring the greyhound home.

Remember those good friends from the beginning?

You realize that if you are having a wonderful time, it's great to have your best friends around you. You realize that if you have to have an emergency, it's great to have your best friends around you. Even when something goes wrong and then there's one more thing, you can still have a great vacation- one I imagine no one will forget anytime soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Down the Shore

I'll be out of the blogosphere for a few days. Don't forget to check out this week's Carnival at Riehl World View.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jersey Fresh Wine & Food Festival

If you have some time to spend in Central NJ this weekend, here is where you'll want to do it. The Jersey Fresh Wine and Food Festival will be at Mercer County College Saturday and Sunday from 12-5. It promises to be a good time for all; a Kid Zone is planned for the youngsters, music, vendors, and of course- NJ wines and foods.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Petty's Island

Water Works* recently published an article about Petty's Island, the piece of land off Pennsauken which has stirred up some controversey in this year's gubernatorial election. If you don't know the story of Petty's Island, the environmental and development issues being discussed, I suggest a start here. This New York Times article, reprinted on Garden State EnviroNet (not behind the paywall!), has a full discussion of both sides of the issue. has a slightly shorter one here.

To incredibly oversimplify:

The environmentalists want to preserve the island for pairs of rare and endangered nesting birds (including a pair of bald eagles.) Citgo wants to donate it as protected land and clean it up, avoiding some environmental-damage fines and getting nice clean PR. But, some doubt the environmental value of land that has seen such contamination and in such a location.

Pennsauken wants to put 2700 homes, a big golf course, a conference center, office and retail space on a small island with a great view of the Philadelphia skyline, preserving a portion of the island for wildlife, using an "environmentally sensitive" developer. The NJ DEP is ok with this. But, the developers have shown barely any environmental consideration so far. Many environmental groups also feel that any but total conservation of the island is too little.

There are solid legal issues and ethical questions on both sides, as well. If I go into all of them here, I won't have saved you 30 seconds compared with reading the above-mentioned articles, so go read them.

Here's where the candidates step in. Doug Forrester is against development of Petty's Island. Why? Well, his stance is a "transparent political ploy," and his "motives may not have been pure," according to a Home News Tribune article cited on his own web site. (Um, someone should be reading this stuff all the way through before it gets posted.) It's interesting to see him against development and for an environmental cause, going against the stereotypical Republican grain. Standing with an oil company? Well, that we expect.

Sen. Jon Corzine is more restrained- basically, we need to study it more. "Corzine has reserved judgment on the island, saying it might not be wise for the state to accept owner Citgo Petroleum Corp.'s offer to donate the land for a park if it means letting the oil company off the hook for toxic cleanup there." (Phily Inquirer) He also wrote an op-ed piece to that effect about two weeks ago, but it's behind the paywall now. Now, Forrester's folks feel this is all due to the influence of George Norcross, who is from Pennsauken and supported the developement from the beginning. Corzine has a perfect rating on the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard for his voting record in Washington, as well as the support of the Sierra Club for his candidacy- so, what's up here?

From Water Works: "Someday, one of us may see a bald eagle soar over Independence Hall. Or perhaps a kid in Camden might see one on a day when it matters most, a reminder that his world is a lot bigger than Camden. I imagine Ben Franklin would have admired the vision it takes to keep eagles nesting in that stretch of the river, by the bridge that bears his name. Instead of eagles on Petty’s Island, Pennsauken’s visionaries and our visionaries in Trenton would rather see – shopping."

Environmental damage has been done to Petty's Island, serious damage. But eagles appearing there show that Nature has begun to retake the land. Get this land designated a protected area, have Citgo do whatever they can to clean it up, and leave it the hell alone after that. For Pennsauken, of course they must continue to work on urban renewal- just do it on the mainland, with views of your own nature preserve as a highlight. Don't just turn this salvagable island into another condo development and suburban mall.

(Big tip o' the hat to Ron Gutkowski for information in this post.)

*Water Works is- well, it can tell you better than I can: "Water Works tells the story of the fight to protect one of the most environmentally sensitive watersheds in New Jersey. The series began in response to a state Department of Environmental Protection plan to increase the amount of water mined from the headwaters of Lockatong Creek, near the village of Quakertown in Franklin Township. Water Works appeared in the Hunterdon County News from March, 2003 to May, 2004. It is now produced independently, providing reports and commentary on a wider range of issues concerning water in New Jersey and beyond, while the story of Lockatong Creek continues."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Let's talk about the money.

Yes, please, let's talk about the money.

A Newsday article published a few hours ago does a fairly good job of assessing the new money scandals on both sides of the gubernatorial races.

First, the Dems: as we all know by now, Jon Corzine lent his then-girlfriend Union boss Carla Katz several hundred thousand dollars, then forgave the loan. He said he paid the gift tax, and it was years before he was a candidate for governor. The NJ GOP has picked it up as a HUGE scandal, mainly because they've had very little to actually pin on Corzine so far. My favorite line, seen quoted in a couple places lately, by Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson: "A year later, we can substitute the name Jon Corzine for Jim McGreevey and the name Carla Katz for Golan Cipel."

In your dreams, Tom. It was a legal loan, it was a legal gift, and Corzine didn't make any big moves to hide it. He also didn't give her a high-ranking job for which she wasn't qualified, nor did she threaten to blackmail him. It was a gift from an extremely wealthy man to an ex-girlfriend. (My husband gave me a mixer while we were dating; Carla got $470,000. We live very different lives from the wealthy.) Yes, there's a chance they may be on opposite sides of the negotiating table from one another someday, and I guess some may think that Corzine's ability to negotiate will be compromised by the fact that they dated once. These aren't people who took any kind of a look at his record as a businessman, and aren't people who may have voted for him anyway.

Now, the Forrester money. He has a 51% stake in Heartland Insurance Co., based in Washington D.C., which does most of its business in Our Fair State. Under NJ law, insurance companies and those with majority holdings in them are barred from contributing to political campaigns. But, Forrester is spending his own money in this race, as is Corzine. Forrester's campaign immediately defended him, saying Heartland "is a D.C. company. It is not regulated by the State of New Jersey," he said through his campaign spokeswoman, Sherry Sylvester. "The statute is not intended to reach beyond the boundaries of New Jersey." (quoted in Phily Inquirer article.) has posted these "documents" relating to the GOP candidate's financing of his campaign and donations to other campaigns. (To me they look like Dem talking points or another article.)

This one may be in (Dem state chairman)Bonnie Watson Coleman's dreams. It looks like one for the lawyers to sort through, but in the meantime, it'll be on the front pages. Steve Kornacki at Politics NJ takes a good look at the candidates' stances on this one, and it looks as if this story doesn't have too much teeth; Forrester's folks are rather confident and Corzine's folks aren't pushing too hard for a formal investigation. However, if it comes out that the law applies and Forrester can't donate to candidates or fund his race, the implications are huge. I find it interesting that the GOP is already trying to push it off the front page with this little "stick with your candidate" stunt.

But everyone likes to talk about the money, don't they?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Carnival of Bloggers XII


Welcome to the Center of NJ! I'm so glad you're visiting the central region of Our Fair State. I love good food, so I thought I could show you some of the best restaurants in the area during your tour. That way we'd get a chance to talk and catch up.

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
We simply have to go to the diner, get a cup of coffee, and talk about what's going on around town.

Where is the Remote? Willow Avenue, Hoboken, prepared in the highway style with pedestrian signs, if available.

NJConservative: Representative government, on a bed of Clinton Township Fair Housing.

Tigerhawk: A chef's sampler of Princeton's new offerings, including P.F. Chang's, skateboarding, and digital textbooks.

Mister Snitch!: Our beloved Tillie, served two ways: Asbury and Coney.

Clifton Blogs: Please don't drink and drive.

Dojo Mojo: Jersey City manhole covers, in a surprize presentation, complete with sparklers. Wildwood days, sliced and diced.

Karl's Corner: Blame and sadness, tossed in Camden.

MyNewJersey: Bennys blended with beer pong in Belmar. Served only until Aug. 17th.

Where do you want to go for lunch?
In Trenton we could go to Chambersburg, but I was thinking The Mill Hill. It's right here by the Court House. Since we're here, I wanted to ask you, what did you think of what happened in Our Fair State this week?

The Jersey Shore Real Estate Bubble: Unfinished construction, slowly simmered.

Media In Trouble: The Asbury Park Press editorials, held over the fire.

Poetic Leanings: A different preparation of The Asbury Park Press- on a skewer.

Blanton's and Ashton's: New mud slinging, served fresh daily until the election.

Jersey Writers: A twist on that classic dish, Jaberwocky.

eCache: A slaw of Curtis Bashaw, Sun Bank, former Gov. McGreevey, and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The Rix Mix: Fresh, hot summer thunderstorms. Scary jolt of electricity on the side.

Dynamobuzz: McGreevey's book, served "honest and revealing." (NOT on the children's menu)

Joe's Journal: A stacked presentation of new condo development, cut-down forest and local opposition, in a petition sauce.

Let's get a quick beer before dinner.
How about Triumph? Oh, it's so hot out. Summer always makes me nostalgic...

Down The Shore: Fresh, young summer romance, served in the classic style.

Sluggo Needs a Nap: Refreshing seltzer combined with sharpened knives.

Parkway Rest Stop: Mr. Clean, prepared in your choice of three ways: mobster, pro wrestler, or model.

Greg Gethard's Amazing Personal Journey: Galagher, with the classic fruit salad on the side. Memories served with lots and lots of champagne.

Dinner is a tough choice.
Palace of Asia? Rat's? Tre Piani? Royal Orchid? All great choices. You decide. We should go somewhere quiet, so we can discuss all this stuff in the national and world news this week.

The Opinion Mill: Allegory, served Sopranos-style.

Jersey Days: A home-town hero, presented with deep sadness.

The Nightfly: Palmiero, on chef's choice of prescription drugs.

Enlighten-New Jersey: Jersey-Fresh Representatives, in a shell of the Small Business Health Fairness Act.

Armies of Liberation: A tangle of Yemeni news (served hopefully without locusts.)

Daily Fry: Powel and Rove, presented by the chef in a fun sauce.

Sloppydawg: Classic racial profiling, served in a new way.

Tami, The One True: Straightforward preparation of the value of life.

Exit Zero: The future for Saudi Arabia, with 9/11 lawsuits removed.

Mamacita: Directions to the Supreme Court, your choice of toppings: left or right.

How about dessert?
I know- let's head over to Princeton. Halo Pub and Thomas Sweets are there, but my new favorite is the Bent Spoon. We didn't get a chance to talk about what's new in your life.

The Art of Getting By: The run-around, served on a bed of weights. Hold the Spanish.

The Bad Hair Blog: A classic Cuban party dish with ill-advised Mexican accents, accompanied by a proper linen napkin.

This Full House: Worry and hate artfully arranged on the Parkway.

Did I Say That Out Loud?: Prosecutor and felon, served side-by-side on the River Line.

The Pink Panther: A rough week, topped with a nice Russian weekend.

Cripes, Suzette!: A mesclun salad lyric mix, dressed in middle aged panic.

Poor Impulse Control: New apartment, presented on a brave sage-green sauce. Blog!: A hash of shock jocks, t-shirt slogan and podcasts, served with mean spirits.

A Planet Where Apes Evolved From Man?!?: Busted foot with a side of bad neighbors.

Big Windbag: Atlantic City, presented on an anniversary, complete with $10 tables and an Xbox360.

Shamrocketship: Award-winning shredded Panda.

If This Is Paradise, I Wish I Had A Lawn-Mower: A new home, presented under cardboard boxes.

KateSpot: Popcorn with lots of freshly happy animals.

Mary's Lame Attempt at Fame: Hot water served after the bar exam.

My Life as a Rabid Blog: An interesting blend of writing and vacuuming.

Gigglechick: A fresh, new web design of a classic dish.

I'd love to grab a cup of coffee before you have to go.
Let's stop at the Slow Down in Hightstown. We can chat about anything else that's come up this week.

Inadmissable Evidence: The future of the Shuttle Program, served with a side of common sense.

Jersey Beat: Preserved CBGB, a very rare treat.

Dossy's Blog: AOL served in a new style.

CobWeb Photoblog: Freshly caught off Sandy Hook.

Gigglechick: A new t-shirt, served with a late-season spoiler alert and some banned stalkers.

Laughing at the Pieces: A variety of summer reading- chef's choice.

Barista of Bloomfield Ave.: New jeans smothered with at least 96 comments. $429-

Professor Kim's News Notes: Bill Cosby and education reform, served without fun sauce.

Jersey Perspective: Conservative pundit, with a very light sprinkling of votes.

Tequila Shots for the Soul: Dreaming, tossed in a light cheating sauce.

Confessions of a Jersey Goddess: Mercury rising, contributing very bright flavors to people.

Extreme Psychosis: 113-year old murders, in a surprisingly modern sauce.

Where is the Remote?: Note from the management- these premesis may be monitored.

I hope you're not too stuffed, but the restaurants here in NJ, like the bloggers, are just the best. Maybe I'll see you next week at the Carnival- it will be at Riehl World View. You can email with the permalinks to the posts you want included. Thanks for coming by!

The Center of NJ Life

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Klockner Woods update

Tuesday, a state appeals court ruled that open space preservation, to avoid development, is a legitimate reason to take land through eminent domain rules. Mount Laurel in Burlington County had a tract that the township tried to take away from a developer for open space. They initially lost in court but this week their appeal was won.

Now, remember that Hamilton Township declined to go to court on Klockner Woods, because they thought they might lose- so they're overpaying for the land instead. Well, lookee here, it probably would have gone the same way as it eventually did for Mt. Laurel. Hamilton says they'll study the decision. Let's hope they start quickly; now there less than 4 weeks to go until the Sept. 1 deadline to begin the purchase. Hmmm.

Hamilton has until Sept. 1st to start paying on their $4.1 million deal, but they've yet to hire an engineer to complete a new survey as requested by the state DEP. The town council may vote on it on Aug. 16th (with only two weeks left to go at that point.) Hmmm.

Why are they dragging their heels?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Carnival Avatar

Enlighten-NJ has come up with avatars for the last several Carnival of NJ Bloggers hosts. I just love mine.

Still time to get your entries in, folks! We still have room under the big tent! Send your entry to


Send in those carnival links when you can!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's always the yoga, isn't it?

Martha Stewart gets three extra weeks for leaving her house during her house arrest. Apparently, she didn't know she can get yoga DVDs via Netflix so she left the house to go to class. Went for a drive, too.

We'll all just have to wait three extra weeks for the next phase of Martha's Big Comeback. I'll order some yoga DVDs to pass the time.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Oh, Frank...

Dear Representative Frank Pallone,

I read your remarks about Doug Forrester in the Star-Ledger article and the New York Times article today. I don't think you've done Corzine any favors here. When Rep. Andrews had his press conference on Friday to talk about the Philadelphia Inquirer article, he asked some good questions about Mr. Forrester's contracts with state and local governments and pay-to-play. You'd have thought Forrester would have responded a bit more strongly, since he's using governmental ethics as a big campaign issue, but he just had the spokeswoman basically refute it and comment on how competitive the marked for drug benefits is. Not a strong answer and he should have said more.

But on Monday, you piped in and I got to read this in my paper today: "This guy on the campaign trail is essentially using his run for office as a marketing tool to sell Benecard," said Pallone, the Long Branch Democrat hoping to finish Corzine's U.S. Senate term if Corzine is elected governor. "As he goes around and promotes himself as a candidate _ then (in 2002) for Senate or now for governor _ he has the opportunity to make himself known, make Benecard well-known, and essentially his campaign becomes a marketing tool to sell Benecard." (AP article) Boy, that sounds like political campaign sniping to me, especially when it's brought up that you really want that senate seat. Why did you say it? Do you really believe he's spending tons of his personal bucks and eating up the GOP's shot at the NJ Governor's seat simply to promote his business? I guess you do- from the NYTimes: ""This is almost as much as a gubernatorial campaign as it is a campaign for marketing BeneCard, particularly if you think he's not going to win, and I don't think he's going to win," said Mr. Pallone." Did you consider how petty these statements sound?

You also mentioned how he used the same pay-to-play practices he decries as a candidate to build his business. The Star Ledger writes: "U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, a Monmouth County Democrat, said Forrester's "fortune is built on pay-to-play contracts. This is hypocrisy at its worst." " Good, important point! But it kind of got lost in the shuffle, since I've got four articles linked here and only one quoted it. Even if you were right about everything you and Rep. Andrews said, all that is resonating right now is how snide your attacks were and how Forrester threw together a press conference of his own to refute yours.

This is Corzine's election at this point- he's 13 points ahead in the last Fairleigh Dickenson poll- but that also means it's his to lose. Corzine has an actual platform, plans for Our Fair State, a property tax plan (without a catchy little name, unfortunately) that may have some chance to help taxpayers- all things Forrester is behind in establishing. So the last thing the Dems should be doing is appearing to sink to that mud-slinging level.

Good luck on that whole senate-seat thing, if/when it comes up.

-Sharon GR

The Next Carnival of Bloggers

The next Carnival of the New Jersey Bloggers will be here at the Center of NJ Life on Sunday, Aug. 6th. I'm already hoisting the tents and setting up the rides, all I need now are some posts.

Please send your submissions to . I'm looking forward to reading everyone's blog!

Monday, August 01, 2005

New Jersey Treasure #4

There are so many good things about living here in the center of NJ, I could go on and on about them. And I've decided to do just that. Periodically I'm going to pick something that has recently made itself a pleasure in my life and tell you why it's a NJ Treasure, in hopes that you'll enjoy it too and have more pleasures in your life.

This installment features: Home-grown tomatoes. The garden is overwhelmed these days, with tons of zuchini, carrots, lettuce and green beans- but the real attraction to summer gardens in Our Fair State is the tomato. It doesn't matter what kind; I plant Brandywine, Rutgers, these little orange ones and some big pink ones I've long since forgotten the names for, super-sweet cherry tomatoes, and Romas. I save the seeds and grow my favorites again each year, plus some cross-bred wierd ones which show up from rotten tomatoes that fell in the garden, leaving seed. (We had an orange Brandywine last year. They were good!)

There's nothing like that home-grown tomato. Oh, the farmstands are close, and if you can't or don't have a garden you should visit one and get some big beautiful examples. But if you're lucky enough to have a few plants or neighbors who have too many, you will get that summer beauty. Still warm from the sun if you can. My youngest goes out into the garden and picks them with me, eating all the way. My husband slices the big juicy ones and put them on Lebanon Bologna sandwiches made with good bread and lots of mayo. My oldest will only eat them cooked so we make pasta sauces. I love tomato salad with fresh mozarrella and basil. If I visit anyone during August, I will bring them a bag of our fresh-picked bounty.

The peaches here are outstanding. Oh, I love blueberries too. But for summer produce, the winner is the tomato. Go pick some Jersey Fresh tomatoes and enjoy one of New Jersey's Treasures.