Monthly Archives: September 2010

SWEENEY WANTS TO MOVE ON BILLS FOLLOWING GAMING SUMMIT

sweeneyAt the close of the final meeting of the Legislative Gaming Summit, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said the ideas put forward during the three sessions would now be woven into long-range solutions that will allow Atlantic City to remain competitive and protect the thousands of residents employed at New Jersey’s horse-racing tracks.

Sweeney said he is directing Senate staff to work alongside the Assembly to draft and finalize legislation that can be implemented swiftly to ensure momentum is not lost.

“Over the past eight weeks, we’ve heard countless ideas and concerns from the people whose livelihoods rely on a strong and stable gaming industry, whether they work in Atlantic City’s casinos or at one of the horse tracks,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “We can’t afford to let even one job hang and twist in the wind. We have momentum coming from this summit that we cannot lose.”

BODY FOUND BURNED IN VEHICLE

Authorities are investigating the death of a person found burned beyond recognition in the back of a four-door car in Hammonton early Wednesday morning, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel announced.

At 3:18 a.m. this morning Hammonton police and fire personnel responded for a 911 report of a vehicle fire in the 100 block of Linda Avenue. Upon arrival, personnel discovered a vehicle fully engulfed in flames. When the fire was extinguished personnel discovered charred human remains. The Prosecutor’s Office was subsequently notified and Major Crimes Unit detectives responded to the scene, Prosecutor Housel said.

As of this time the victim has not been identified. An autopsy took place on Wednesday. More information will be released as it becomes available.

The vehicle was removed from the scene for further examination. The cause and circumstances of the fire and the identity and death of the individual are still under investigation.

The Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit is conducting the investigating along with the Hammonton Police Department. Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood performed an autopsy on the victim in the Hammonton incident. He found evidence of blunt force trauma to the head and evidence that the victim may have been alive when the fire was set. The identity of the victim is not yet known.

LOBIONDO PRAISES COAST GUARD BILL

160px-FranklobiondoU.S. Representative Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), Ranking Member of the House Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, today praised the passage of H.R. 3619, the “Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Authorization Act of 2010” which authorizes $10.2 billion in funding for the Coast Guard in fiscal year 2011. This funding level rebukes the President’s proposed budget cuts for the Service, which faced bipartisan opposition. Furthermore, the bill allows for an additional 1,500 personnel to be added to the Service’s roster rather than the 1,100 personnel cut as called for by the President’s proposed budget.  

“From clean-up in the Gulf to protecting our ports, the men and women of the Coast Guard are constantly told to do more with less. They rightly deserve our continued support and the full resources of the federal government to help them succeed at their missions,” said LoBiondo, a member of the Congressional Coast Guard Caucus. “I applaud my colleagues for recognizing the critical role the Coast Guard plays daily across the country and abroad while recognizing the need to completely reject the President’s request for irresponsible and devastating cuts to the Service.”

Nationally and locally in South Jersey, the availability of quality housing for Coast Guard personnel and their families has been a significant issue for the Service. Making a positive step in the right direction, the “Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Authorization Act of 2010” now enables the Service to use revenues from the sale of excess property to rehabilitate and build new service member housing.

H.R. 3619 also incorporates three separate pieces of legislation previously introduced by LoBiondo.

Included in H.R. 3619 is LoBiondo’s bipartisan legislation, the “Coast Guard Service Member Benefits Improvement Act” (H.R. 2901), which would eliminate discrepancies in benefits between members of the Coast Guard and members of the Armed Services. Now, Coast Guard personnel and their families will have expanded child care services, improved housing, Chaplain-led family programs, enhanced retention and medical travel reimbursement. Additionally, it authorizes two (2) new service medals for service members: a Coast Guard cross and silver star.

“The Coast Guard is unique within the military community because it is located outside of the Department of Defense, and, while these authorities have been made available to the other military services, this provision was necessary to provide the Coast Guard similar capabilities,” said LoBiondo in introducing the original legislation.  “This was a common sense step which will improve services to service members and their families.”

Also included in H.R. 3619 is LoBiondo’s efforts to provide liability relief to U.S. merchant mariners who are attacked by pirates. Modeled after his “U.S. Mariner and Vessel Protection Act” (H.R. 2984), the provision would provide civil liability protection to crewmembers who use force to defend a U.S. vessel against a pirate attack. As part of a classified Special Forces trip in September 2009, LoBiondo met with Navy Seal teams in Kenya who are currently training local forces to battle ongoing pirate attacks.

Finally, the “Coast Guard & Maritime Transportation Authorization Act of 2010” would make it a crime and creates new penalties on those who fail to ‘heave to’ or stop a vessel for the Coast Guard or other law enforcement when knowingly smuggling undocumented individuals into the country abroad vessels. This provision is modeled after LoBiondo’s “Maritime Law Enforcement Improvement Act” (H.R. 1440).

Previously approved by the Senate, H.R. 3619 passed the full House on voice vote late Tuesday evening. It will now go to the President for his signature.

TRAFFIC FORECASTING ON ITS WAY TO PARKWAY, TURNPIKE

70px-New_Jersey_Turnpike_Shield_svgInformation will soon be made available regarding delays on two of New Jersey’s major roads. The Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike will be posting traffic delay information to drivers. The equipment comes from a contract with En Pointe Technological Sales Inc. that will post traffic delay information to drivers on these roads. The forecasts will be for the next five to 15 minutes of driving. The Turnpike Authority feels this information will work very well, especially in the summer.

UPDATE: TROPICAL DEPRESSION BECOMES TROPICAL STORM NICOLE

The upcoming weather event has turned into a Tropical Storm. The storm’s name is Nicole and it is passing over Cuba. Rain is still be predicted to fall tonight and into Thursday. Currently, one to two inches of rain are being predicted, but more could come depending upon the track of the storm. The heavy rain will come before the eye of the storm passes through the area.

CHRISTIE: I’M NOT READY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT

gov_christieGov. Chris Christie told a crowd in Ohio that he doesn’t want to run for President. Christie has been dogged with the question as of late because of the national publicity he has been getting from the job he is doing in New Jersey. The Governor has been visit battleground states in support of Republican candidates. Christie said in order to be President you have to want it more than anything else, and he isn’t ready for that kind of commitment.

NEW STUDY: TAXES UP, INCOME DOWN

New census information has been complied and showed that state residents made less and spent more on property taxes last year. The median income of the state went down about $2,000 to $88,343, while median taxes rose about $200 to $6,579. Legislation has been passed that caps property tax increases at no more than two percent.

STATE POLICE: SIX CHARGED IN TRAILER PARK SHOOTING

An on-going investigation into a shooting at the Tips Trailer Park shooting has led to six arrests. Tara Marie Valentin was found dead as a result of the shooting. Matthew Allison, of Hopewell Township, and Anthony Ridgeway, of the trailer park, have both been charged with murder. Four other people have been charged with lesser crimes relating to the death. Allison and Ridgeway had bail set at $1 million.

BILL INTRODUCED TO CLOSE LOOPHOLE DEALING WITH PUBLIC WORKERS WITH CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and Assembly that would allow a judge to take more information into consideration when dealing with a public employee with a criminal conviction. A former Hunterdon County sheriff’s officer was allowed to return to work under law, even though he admitted to criminal sexual contact. The judge said it took place inside of home with his girlfriend, and was not subjected to New Jersey’s law of forfeiting a job.

TURNPIKE AUTHORITY GRABS FEDERAL DOLLARS FOR IMPROVEMENTS

Nearly $2 billion will be taken in by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for improvements. The federal dollars were apart of the stimulus package and might have expired at the end of the year. The “Build America” bond program allows for a 35 percent subsidy of improvements. Work is going to be done between Exit 6 and Exit 9 on the Turnpike to widen the roadway.