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Breaking Local News from New Jersey

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    Candidates are under fire for perceived support of Gov. Chris Christie

    lesniak.JPGState Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union), shown here in this 2010 file photo, faces a tough primary battle on Tuesday.

    TRENTON — Sen. Ray Lesniak could be in for a rough time. So could Assemblyman Joseph Cryan. And state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco could have a battle on his hands.

    Some of the most powerful lawmakers in New Jersey will be fighting to preserve their careers when primary voters go to the polls Tuesday.

    There are contested primaries for the Senate and Assembly in 16 of the state’s 40 legislative districts, but the fireworks are limited to a few.

    Lesniak (D-Union), a 34-year legislative veteran and one of the state’s top Democratic power brokers, faces his most serious challenge in recent memory. So do his running mates — Cryan (D-Union), who is the Assembly majority leader and former Democratic state chairman, and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union).

    The three are being challenged by a slate of candidates connected with the Elizabeth Board of Education, a rival political machine. They have taken the unlikely position of attacking Lesniak for backing parts of Gov. Chris Christie’s legislative agenda — even though one has endorsed Christie, a Republican, and donated to his campaign.

    "They’re primary sponsors of Republican-style legislation that’s taking place in Trenton," said one Assembly candidate, Tony Monteiro, who is a former councilman and school board member in Elizabeth.

    Monteiro is running with Jerome Dunn, a state Senate candidate and assistant school superintendent in Elizabeth, and Carlos Cedeno, an Assembly candidate who is a city councilman and former school board member.

    Their campaign ads attack Lesniak and Cryan for supporting a bill to deregulate the phone and cable industries, and say that Lesniak has sponsored measures backed by Christie, including one to abolish the Council on Affordable Housing and another for a school voucher-style program.

    Yet as recently as February, Monteiro organized busloads of Elizabeth school employees to testify in Trenton on behalf of the Republican strategy creating Hispanic-dominated legislative districts.

    Monteiro said he endorsed Christie for governor because he was a "good U.S. Attorney," but added, "I never applauded his policies."

    When asked to rate Christie’s performance as governor, Monteiro said "poor." Then, after reconsidering for a moment, he said "incomplete."

    "Although we certainly oppose him on a lot of policies, we have to work with him as our governor," he added.

    The challengers’ campaign funds were partly frozen after Lesniak sued on the ground that they did not meet state disclosure requirements. But Chief Justice Stuart Rabner on Friday ruled that the challengers could dip into their $122,000 in campaign funds, much of which was raised from Elizabeth Board of Education employees.

    Lesniak’s team, which has raised more than $2 million, has countered with automated phone calls from former President Bill Clinton.

    "Anything that he says about me supporting Republican policies, being by the way one of the most liberal Democrats in the Legislature, coming from a Christie supporter is absurd," Lesniak said.

    About 25 miles northwest of Elizabeth, in the wealthy suburbs of Morris County, another race has taken a nasty turn.

    Bucco (R-Morris), a lawmaker since 1995, faces an unusual contested primary from William Chegwidden, a county freeholder and the mayor of Wharton.

    Chegwidden has brought up a nearly decade-old sexual harassment suit against Bucco by a former staff member that was settled in 2004.

    He said he raised the issue because the state paid $48,000 to defend Bucco since the Senate was named as a co-defendant. Moreover, he said Bucco cast the first stone by accusing him of triple-dipping as a teacher, a mayor and a freeholder. If elected, he would have to give up two of the elective offices.

    The mudslinging doesn’t stop there, however. Chegwidden has accused Bucco of unethical conduct, saying he allegedly used his position to try to secure loans to help move his glue business from Newark to Paterson.

    A spokesman for Bucco dismissed the charge, saying that "small businesses like Senator Bucco’s get access to capital often times by taking out standard federal loans like these which are available to any business."

    In Hudson County’s 33rd District, state Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson) is running unopposed, though two Assembly candidates appear to be competing for his support.

    Councilman Ravi Bhalla of Hoboken is challenging the two Assembly candidates — an incumbent, Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson), who seems assured of Stack’s support, and Sean Connors, a Jersey City police detective and school board member.


    The new operation will be contractually obligated to provide a nightly newscast and at least 20 hours of Jersey-centric programming weekly

    njn.jpgNew Jersey Network is expected to be run by a newly created subsidiary of WNET, Channel 13 in New York.

    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie today announced the state will hand over the reins of New Jersey Network's TV operation to a newly created subsidiary of WNET, Channel 13 in New York. Christie said the state will sell the network's radio licenses to two public radio broadcasters for a combined $3 million.

    NJTV, as the new operation will be called, will be contractually obligated to provide a nightly newscast — to be called New Jersey Today — and at least 20 hours of Jersey-centric programming weekly, Christie said. The deal also requires election night coverage and the broadcast of important events from the Statehouse, such as budget and State of the State addresses.

    The Legislature has 15 days to veto the deal. If it doesn't, the agreement goes into effect July 1.

    The new TV operation will employ 15 to 20 people and will partner with Caucus Educational Corp, to provide New Jersey-centric programs. CEC, run by Steve Adubato, Jr., has co-produced public affairs shows with WNET for two decades.

    The new entity, New Jersey Public Media, and will have a governing board of New Jersey residents.

    Josh Weston of Montclair, who serves on the board of WNET, and Liz Thomas, a former member of the state's broadcasting authority, are the first two trustees.

    Christie said the agreement fulfills the goals he outlined 14 months ago of providing independence and sustainability to New Jersey's public television operation.

    "We need to have robust New Jersey public broadcasting but we need to have it in a way that is not continuing to cost the state taxpayers and can be perceived as truly independent from state government,' Christie said.

    Christie also said WHYY in Philadelphia will purchase five licenses for just under $1 million, while New York Public Radio, which operates WNYC in New York City, will buy four for $1.8 million and unspecified in-kind contributions.

    For more New Jersey arts coverage, follow Peggy McGlone on Twitter at twitter.com/PeggyMcGlone

    Related coverage:

    Channel 13 subsidiary will get $4M in fees, grant to operate NJN

    N.J. lawmakers, union officials ask Christie to reconsider NJN management transfer plan

    Fate of employees uncertain as New Jersey Network public television station to be run by PBS flagship

    Officials announce slight delay in NJN management transfer as N.J. begins bidding process

    N.J. broadcasting authority approves $2.1M budget for NJN

    Gov. Christie signs bill allowing NJN to privatize, suspends planned layoffs

    NJN could get funding to stay on air as lawmakers weigh network's fate

    N.J. broadcasting agency approves long-term lease agreements despite uncertain future of NJN

    Gov. Christie to keep NJN on air to give potential suitors a chance to work out deal

    N.J. groups campaign in support of New Jersey Network



    TRENTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants the nation's governors to join him in Houston in August for a day of prayer and fasting. Don't count count Gov. Chris Christie out yet. "We received the invitation from Gov. Perry, but it is pending with the scheduling office," Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said. The program, called "The Response," is being...

    christie.JPGGov. Chris Christie, shown here speaking at a press conference at the Statehouse in Trenton today, has been invited to attend a prayer summit hosted by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in August.

    TRENTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry wants the nation's governors to join him in Houston in August for a day of prayer and fasting. Don't count count Gov. Chris Christie out yet.

    "We received the invitation from Gov. Perry, but it is pending with the scheduling office," Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said.

    The program, called "The Response," is being held to pray for solutions to some of the biggest problems facing the nation, according to the event website. Perry, a Republican, is listed as the "initiator" of the event.

    "We believe that America is in a state of crisis," the website explains as its purpose. "Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles. According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America."

    Perry, who said earlier this year that he won't run for president, has become another name being mentioned as a possible Republican nominee in 2012. Christie, who has spoken favorably of Perry, says he isn't running for president in 2012.

    Related coverage:

    Gov. Christie to meet with Iowa GOP donors who want him to run for president

    Hoping to pull Christie into presidential race, Iowa fundraisers head to N.J.

    N.J. voters strongly oppose a potential Christie presidential run, poll says

    Poll: Is Gov. Christie running for president?

    Gov. Christie continues to reject rumors of 2012 presidential run

    N.J. Gov. Chris Christie has work to do before a White House run — in 2016


    Bills would only affect officials who have not yet taken advantage of the loophole Watch video

    statehouse.jpgView from above the New Jersey Senate Chamber at the Statehouse in Trenton in this 2010 file photo.

    TRENTON — A double-dipping pension practice that stoked outrage earlier this year may become a thing of the past.

    The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee unanimously approved two bills today to prevent elected officials from collecting their pensions without actually stepping down from their jobs.

    The bills would only affect elected officials who have not yet taken advantage of the loophole, which has been broadened since its inception in 1985.

    Many elected officials and public employees retire, start collecting a pension, then get a different government job. But the law targeted by the committee today allows elected officials like lawmakers and sheriffs to start collecting a pension while still holding the same job and collecting a paycheck, as long as they are eligible to retire and once had a different public job.

    Five lawmakers, some sheriffs and county surrogates — little-known elected workers who handle legal tasks — have used the loophole.

    Although the overall dollar figure involved is small, state Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sussex), the bill's sponsor, said it’s important to eliminate lucrative exceptions for elected officials.

    "The perception and appearance is what really matters," he said. "It’s an issue of the public trust."

    The bills had been stalled for years until news reports in April said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. had been using the loophole since August. He had "retired" three months before winning his unprecedented third term in office. State records peg his monthly pension at almost $5,740, while his salary was $153,207 last year.

    The bills now goes to the full Senate for a vote. Similar bills in the Assembly have not yet advanced.

    "It was one of the first bills I put in," Oroho said. "I’m glad to see it move forward."

    DiVincenzo has defended his pension as legal and in the best interests of his family.

    In a statement today, he said the committee’s decision "represents a noteworthy shift" in the Legislature.

    "Pension costs contribute to financial challenges being faced by state, county and municipal governments," DiVincenzo said. "I hope today’s vote enables us to continue the discussion and find additional ways to provide relief."

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

    N.J. officials launch investigation into possible double-dipping by sheriff's officers

    Gov. Christie criticizes N.J. Sen. Weinberg for simultaneously collecting pension, paycheck

    Gov. Christie criticizes N.J. Sen. Weinberg for simultaneously collecting pension, paycheck

    Loophole allows Essex County Executive DiVincenzo to collect full salary, pension

    N.J. lawmakers push to end loophole allowing Essex County executive to simultaneously collect pension, salary

    Christie says Essex County executive is wrong to collect pension, full salary

    Only select few in N.J. can use loophole allowing Essex County executive to collect pension while still working

    State's largest police union calls for Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo to resign

    Loophole allows Essex County Executive DiVincenzo to collect full salary, pension


    Of New Jersey's 40 legislative districts, only 16 have contested primary contests today.

    New-Jersey-Primary-Elections-2011.JPGIt's primary election day in New Jersey, which means scenes like this one will be played out all across the Garden State as voters head to the polls. All polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    It's 6 a.m., which means polls are open for today's primary elections in New Jersey.

    The top of the ticket is the state Legislature, where candidates are competing for their parties' nod to run for one of 120 seats for state Senate and Assembly in the November general election.

    A total of 86 candidates are competing for either the Democrats' or Republicans' nomination to run for one of 40 Senate seats, while 179 candidates are seeking to win their parties nod to run for one of 80 Assembly seats.

    Dozens of contested elections are also on tap today on the local level throughout the Garden State.

    Voting is open to the state's 1.7 million registered Democrats and 1 million registered Republicans. The 2.4 million unaffiliated voters can vote, but they'll have to register with a party first.

    Of the state's 40 legislative districts, however, just 16 have contested primary contests. Here are some of the ones to watch:

    20TH DISTRICT

    In Union County's 20th District, powerful state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) faces Jerome Dunn, an assistant school superintendent in the Elizabeth, for the Democrats’ state Senate nomination. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union), recently chair of the state Democratic party, and Assembly running mate Annette Quijano (D-Union) face former Elizabeth Board of Education Member Tony Monteiro and Elizabeth Councilman Carlos Cedeno. The race has gotten especially heated in recent weeks, as both sides have attempted to paint the other as Republican-leaning.

    25TH DISTRICT

    In the Morris County-dominated 25th District, state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Morris) faces William Chegwidden, a Morris County freeholder and mayor of Wharton, for the GOP nomination. The race has gotten more nasty than usual for genteel Morris County. On the Assembly side, John G. Sierchio is running against incumbents Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) and Anthony M. Bucco (R-Morris) for one of two seats.

    New-Jersey-Election-Day.JPGA familiar sight at polling sites all across New Jersey, as voters head to the polls today for primary elections that will determine who represents the two major political parties in the November general elections.

    27TH DISTRICT

    In the Essex and Morris County-based 27th District, which leans Democratic but some Republicans think could be competitive in November, tea party Republican William H. Eames is running against establishment-backed William Sullivan in the GOP primary for the chance to run against longtime incumbent Richard Codey (D-Essex) in November. On the Assembly side, it's the Democrats who face a primary, with former Millburn Township Committeewoman Ellen Steinberg challenging incumbents Mila Jasey (D-Essex) and John McKeon (D-Essex).

    33RD DISTRICT

    In Hudson County's 33rd District, Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla is running an independent challenge in the Democratic primary to organization-backed Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson) and Jersey City police detective Sean Connors.

    38TH DISTRICT

    In the mainly Bergen County 38th District, Bergen County Freeholder Chairman John Driscoll is running against Kenneth DelVecchio, a conservative filmmaker.

    1ST DISTRICT

    In South Jersey's 1st Legislative District — made up of Cape May County and part of Cumberland and Atlantic Counties — GOP organization-backed state candidate David S. DeWeese is facing Thomas Greto for the party nod for state Senate. For Assembly, organization-backed Samuel Fiocchi and Suzanne M. Walters face Peter F. Boyce and Paul J. Halley. This Republican-leaning district is represented by three moderate Democrats, and Republicans hope to put it in play in November.



    ⇒ LIVE ELECTION RESULTS TONIGHT

    American-Flag.jpg

    Polls close at 8 p.m. at every polling site across the state.

    Results of the Senate and Assembly races will be posted on NJ.com's election page — nj.com/elections — as soon as they become available tonight, and results of contested local races in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties will be posted on NJ.com's county news pages as soon as our reporters confirm the numbers.


    TRENTON — The state Supreme Court is expected to rule this morning whether a blogger is protected from revealing her sources for what she wrote about a Freehold-based software company on another website. Depending how far the ruling goes, the case involving Washington State resident Shellee Hale could more clearly define whether bloggers receive the same type of protections...

    blogger-press-shellee-hale.JPGShellee Hale, claimed security flaws in a company in the online porn industry, is being sued by a Freehold firm for slander. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case today.

    TRENTON — The state Supreme Court is expected to rule this morning whether a blogger is protected from revealing her sources for what she wrote about a Freehold-based software company on another website.

    Depending how far the ruling goes, the case involving Washington State resident Shellee Hale could more clearly define whether bloggers receive the same type of protections as "traditional’’ journalists in New Jersey.

    Hale, a former Microsoft employee and a private investigator, argues she was preparing an article for her website, Pornafia, on the infiltration of pornography on the Internet when she posted her comments about Too Much Media Inc. in 2008.

    In comments she posted to a message board about a security breach by TMM, Hale claimed its owners had threatened her. TMM, which helps online adult entertainment companies track sales, sued for defamation and Hale sought protection of New Jersey so-called shield law from revealing her sources. TMM argued Hale is not a journalist and fabricated the purpose of her website to seek the protection.

    A Superior Court judge in Monmouth County ruled in 2009 that the protection did not apply to Hale. An appellate panel later that year upheld that decision.

    Previous coverage:

    Today in Trenton: N.J. Supreme Court to hear case of blogger sued for defamation

    Blogger in online porn company lawsuit wants case to go to N.J. Supreme Court

    N.J. appeals court hears arguments over whether blogger is protected by shield laws

    N.J. court rules blogger is not protected under shield law in porn company defamation case


    Money would come from combination of additional revenue, spending cuts

    sweeneyandchristie.JPGAt this May press conference, N.J. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), left, is all smiles with Gov. Chris Christie, but Senate Democrats may challenge the governor's proposed budget with a spending plan of their own, sources said.

    TRENTON — Senate Democrats are thinking of introducing their own budget that would increase school financing by as much as $1.1 billion, including about $600 million for non-Abbott school districts, according to four people familiar with the plan.

    The money would come from a combination of additional revenue, some cuts in spending, and possibly a millionaire’s tax, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the plan.

    The proposal is emerging less than three weeks after the state Supreme Court ordered the state to increase financing for poor school districts, known as Abbott districts, by $500 million, and with three weeks to go until the legislature is required to approve a budget for the next fiscal year.

    The plan was unveiled by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney at a recent Senate Democratic caucus, the sources said. Derek Roseman, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said he would not comment on internal deliberations, nor would he confirm or deny the proposal.

    The state Supreme Court stopped short of ordering the restoration of the full $1.7 billion in cuts that Gov. Chris Christie relied on to balance this year’s budget. The governor said he would comply with the order after giving some mixed signals, but left it to the Democrat-controlled legislature to work out the details — as long as there is no tax increase.

    The Senate plan would satisfy the court ruling as well as provide additional money for up to 240 other districts that are not spending as much as they should be under the school funding formula. Many of those districts have high numbers of at-risk students, but were not granted any financial relief by the court.

    David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, who has lobbied lawmakers and Christie to restore the funds, said the additional money would go to all students who need it, not just to those in the poorer districts.

    "If this were done it would go a long way towards fulfilling the commitment made by the Legislature in the (school funding) formula, which was to make sure that at-risk students, whichever district they were in, received the funding they were entitled to receive," he said.

    Woodbridge, a district with 13,000 students, about 30 percent of whom are low income, would receive $18.6 million in additional aid, he said, while Hamilton Township in Mercer County, also with about 13,000 students, would get an additional $9.8 million.

    To pay for the proposal, Democratic Senators would rely on the revenue estimates provided by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services instead of the less optimistic figures put forth by the Christie administration, sources say. The OLS figure of $913 million is $400 million higher than the administration’s figure.

    The Democrats would also rely on up to $300 million in budget cuts that have not yet been determined, sources said. A millionaire’s tax has been discussed despite Christie’s objection to it.

    The sources said Democrats are divided on whether to pursue the strategy in part because it would require them to sponsor the budget and make it difficult for them to criticize the governor for his handling of the state’s finances.

    Last year, the budget was approved with the slimmest of Democratic support, handing Republicans ownership of a plan that included huge cuts and froze property tax rebates.

    Lawmakers have until June 30 to approve Christie’s $29.6 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Christie has called for tripling current property tax rebates next year, but only if legislators agree to make changes to health and pension benefits for state and municipal workers.

    Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor, said he wouldn’t comment on a plan put forward by lawmakers until it was more than a rumor.

    "We will review a budget bill once the legislature fulfills its own obligation to pass such legislation and it reaches the governor’s desk for consideration," Roberts said in an e-mail message. "We won’t be responding to abstract proposals in the interim."

    A spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, Tom Hester Jr., said the governor’s budget puts the heaviest burden on working-class residents, and that lawmakers are committed to doing everything possible to resolve that problem.

    "But as everyone is also well aware, nothing gets to the governor’s desk without garnering Assembly support," Hester said. "We look forward to a cooperative discussion in the month ahead built around the goal of advocating for working class residents."

    By Jarret Renshaw and Matt Friedman/Statehouse Bureau


    A new app unveiled by the state's consumer watchdog agency allows users to search a database of nearly 600,000 professionals certified by New Jersey, from doctors and dentists to morticians and acupuncturists.

    iphone.JPGA new app for iPhone and iPad users will allow New Jerseyans to research professionals to ensure they are properly licensed.

    TRENTON — Does your doctor have a clean record? Is your plumber on the up-and-up? Once upon a time, those questions took valuable minutes out of busy days and sent consumers flipping through something called a "phonebook" — whatever that is.

    But for the tech-savvy masses armed with iPhones and iPads, the answers are now mere keystrokes away.

    An app unveiled Monday by the state's consumer watchdog agency allows users to search a database of nearly 600,000 professionals certified by New Jersey, from doctors and dentists to morticians and acupuncturists.

    It’s what you call instant ratification: In a matter of seconds, the Apple gadgets can suss out whether a nurse is properly licensed or if an accountant has ever been disciplined for cooking the books — essential bits of information for anyone shopping around.

    "This app represents a new and easy way for consumers to access that information," said Thomas Calcagni, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. "Consumers expose themselves to great risk, and not just financially, when they work with so-called professionals" that lack credentials.

    The app is called "New Jersey Professional License," a somewhat-fusty name for what is really a cutting-edge security update, especially for the hordes of frazzled multitaskers dashing off e-mail messages on the go. The database is updated daily, and users can download it at no charge from the App Store.

    Officials said it’s another weapon New Jerseyans can use to fight consumer fraud.

    "We have seen people lose out on thousands of dollars," said Neal Buccino, a spokesman for the Division of Consumer Affairs.

    Last year, for example, the state received 1,400 complaints about dishonest home improvement contractors.

    "Many of (them) were unregistered and simply skipped town after collecting payment," Calcagni said. "Registration means that the contractor has an established business address and at least $500,000 of liability insurance."

    And over the last two years, he said, the state has arrested close to 20 unlicensed doctors and dentists, who inflicted their patients with "horrific infections, broken teeth that were not fully extracted, and unconsciousness following the inappropriate use of anesthesia."

    Buccino said one of the state’s technology contractors built the app over the last six weeks at no additional cost for New Jersey. The contractor, NICUSA, will monitor the application’s progress on Apple’s store and develop any necessary upgrades.

    The app could help consumers crunched for time, but it only offers so much information, Buccino said. If someone wants to check why a doctor or veterinarian was disciplined, they should phone the Division of Consumer Affairs, he said, or use a good, old-fashioned computer to get details online.


    NJN will be reintroduced next month as NJTV, under a five-year agreement with WNET Channel 13 in New York. Watch video

    njn.jpgNew Jersey Network will be run by a newly created subsidiary of New York's WNET, Channel 13.

    TRENTON — New Jersey public television will have a new name, a new schedule and a new — and much smaller — workforce when it is reintroduced next month as NJTV, the independent broadcaster that will replace the state-owned New Jersey Network.

    Making good on last year's promise to get the state out of the TV business, Gov. Chris Christie yesterday unveiled a five-year agreement with WNET Channel 13 to operate the state's TV network. Christie also announced the state will sell the network's radio licenses to WHYY in Philadelphia and New York Public Radio in New York for almost $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions.

    Lawmakers, some of whom have opposed the deal, responded by saying they will hold hearings. Unless the Legislature vetoes the contracts, the agreements will go into effect July 1.

    The deal means the end of NJN, the state-owned-and-operated broadcaster that has been on the air for 43 years. The network' 130 employees will be laid off and the facility in Trenton will be shut down. NJN interrupted “Barney and Friends” yesterday to broadcast the announcement live.

    WNET’s subsidiary, Public Media NJ, is obligated to air a nightly news show and 20 more hours of New Jersey-focused programming a week, Christie said. The contract also mandates the network cover election night and major events at the Statehouse, such as the annual State of the State and budget addresses.

    Christie said the agreement with WNET will result in better programming and more New Jersey-centric programming at less cost to the taxpayer.

    “We need to have robust New Jersey public broadcasting, but we need to have it in a way that is not continuing to cost the state taxpayers and can be perceived as truly independent from state government,” Christie said. The deal will save the state about $11 million a year, according to the Department of the Treasury.

    Neal Shapiro, president of WNET, said the new subsidiary will have its own board of New Jersey residents and a staff of fewer than 20, led by interim general manager John Servidio of Montclair. Servidio currently serves as general manager of WLIW, which is a part of WNET.

    NJTV will air more national PBS offerings and WNET shows, including “The Charlie Rose Show,” Shapiro said. He also promised more children’s programming, more educational offerings and a “dramatically improved” website.

    He said the nightly show, to be called “NJ Today,” will have a “new tone” and be a cross between “PBS NewsHour” and “Meet the Press.”

    “We will cover the state, the whole state, in a new way,” Shapiro said. “More in-depth coverage and extended interviews.”

    A “start-up” version will begin airing on July 1, with a “full launch” set for September, he said. The new show, like “NJN Nightly News,” will be broadcast on Channel 13.

    A major partner with WNET will be Caucus Educational Corp., the nonprofit production company led by Steve Adubato Jr. CEC’s series, including “New Jersey Capitol Report,” “Caucus: New Jersey” and “One-on-One with Steve Adubato,” will migrate to NJTV, but Adubato will remain an independent producer.

    "I am very involved in the creation of the new network," said Adubato, whose CEC has a full-time staff of nine. "But none of us will work for the new entity."

    He said broad collaboration will give new voices access to the state’s public TV broadcast. “Other people, other organizations who have historically not been able to provide content will be able to, without being employees of the new entity,” he said.

    Shapiro said other content partners will include universities, newspapers and online journalists. The Star-Ledger is one of the media companies Shapiro has approached.

    About $4.7 million in revenue that currently supports NJN will go to the new subsidiary.
    Included in that is the state’s $2.2 million Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant, which must be used for programming costs.

    Shapiro said millions of dollars must be raised from private donors to support the broadcast. “The money we raise in New Jersey will stay in New Jersey,” he said.

    The new company will have an office in the state, though Shapiro could not say where it will be located. It will not use NJN headquarters and facility in Trenton, he said.

    NJN’s smaller radio operation will be split between two public radio companies. WHYY in Philadelphia will buy five southern licenses (in Manahawkin, Atlantic City, Cape May Court House, Bridgeton and Berlin) to expand their coverage in Southern New Jersey.

    They will pay $1 million in cash and provide another $1 million in on-air and website message time and broadcasting programs for Camden students.

    New York Public Radio will buy the network's remaining four radio licenses for $1 million and another $1.8 million in in-kind contributions, including on-air message time and staff costs. Located in Netcong, Sussex, Trenton and Toms River, these licenses will be used to create a new public radio station with a New Jersey’s news bureau, according to the state officials.

    A few hours after Christie's announcement, union and civic leaders joined lawmakers in seeking intense scrutiny of the long-awaited plan.

    "Just because the governor stands up and says 'The deal is done,'
    doesn't mean that everyone should jump to rubber stamp it," Senate Majority Leader
    Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex) said. "Any deal, especially one conceived behind closed doors and formulated in private, deserves a public airing."

    Star-Ledger staff writers Ginger Gibson and Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

    For more New Jersey arts coverage, follow Peggy McGlone on Twitter at twitter.com/PeggyMcGlone

    Related coverage:

    NJN is turned over to newly created subsidiary of WNET, Gov. Christie announces

    Channel 13 subsidiary will get $4M in fees, grant to operate NJN

    N.J. lawmakers, union officials ask Christie to reconsider NJN management transfer plan

    Fate of employees uncertain as New Jersey Network public television station to be run by PBS flagship

    Officials announce slight delay in NJN management transfer as N.J. begins bidding process

    N.J. broadcasting authority approves $2.1M budget for NJN

    Gov. Christie signs bill allowing NJN to privatize, suspends planned layoffs

    NJN could get funding to stay on air as lawmakers weigh network's fate

    N.J. broadcasting agency approves long-term lease agreements despite uncertain future of NJN

    Gov. Christie to keep NJN on air to give potential suitors a chance to work out deal

    N.J. groups campaign in support of New Jersey Network


    TRENTON — In a morning new conference, Gov. Chris Christie will unveil his long-delayed blueprint for how New Jersey should produce electricity in the future, known as the Energy Master Plan, according to sources with knowledge of the announcement. The plan outlines how the state will meet its energy demands while keeping costs down and protecting the environment, according...

    christie-envrionment.JPGN.J. Gov. Chris Christie, pictured in this June 6 photo, is set to unveil his 'Energy Master Plan" in a news conference today.

    TRENTON — In a morning new conference, Gov. Chris Christie will unveil his long-delayed blueprint for how New Jersey should produce electricity in the future, known as the Energy Master Plan, according to sources with knowledge of the announcement.

    The plan outlines how the state will meet its energy demands while keeping costs down and protecting the environment, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak in advance of the announcement.

    Environmental groups will hold a rebuttal press conference at 12:15 p.m. at the Statehouse.

    Christie began working on revisions to the plan as soon as he took office, but the final version has been delayed for months. Christie said the most recent delay was to give planners time to take into account the announcement this winter that the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will close in 2019, 10 years ahead of schedule.

    In the plan, Christie will likely address the future of nuclear energy in the state, the role of renewable energy such as solar and wind, and the need to build three new natural gas power plants. The plan will be used by state departments, lawmakers and industry as a guide to developing energy policy and law in the future.

    During his campaign for governor, Christie vowed to be “New Jersey’s No. 1 clean energy advocate.”

    Christie previewed a portion of the plan last month when he said he will pull the state out of a landmark regional program aimed at cutting power plant emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas known to contribute to climate change. He said the 10-state partnership was “gimmicky” and a “failure.”

    Dismayed critics derided the governor for the move, calling it a token gesture to conservatives nationwide who staunchly oppose such carbon-reduction programs – known as “cap and trade” – as nothing but a tax on industry and consumers.

    The initiative was one of several ways the state aimed to reduce power plant emissions of greenhouse gases – those that contribute to climate change – to 1990 levels by 2020.

    As of 2008, the state had already met that target, according to a recent report by the Department of Environmental Protection.

    By Christopher Baxter/Statehouse Bureau and Ginger Gibson/Statehouse Bureau.


    Previous Coverage:

    New Jersey plugging into a more efficient energy plan

    N.J. to shift priorities from solar to gas


    TRENTON — Voters are lining up outside the polls, but it's still too early to tell if turnout will swell or sink this year in the state's most competitive districts. "This is just anecdotal but right now it doesn't seem to be real heavy," said George Hanley, president of the Board of Elections in Morris County, where Republicans have...

    lesniak.jpgState Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), exits the polling booth after voting Tuesday morning at Public School No. 23 in Elizabeth.

    TRENTON — Voters are lining up outside the polls, but it's still too early to tell if turnout will swell or sink this year in the state's most competitive districts.

    "This is just anecdotal but right now it doesn't seem to be real heavy," said George Hanley, president of the Board of Elections in Morris County, where Republicans have mounted primary challenges to incumbent legislators including state Sen. Anthony Bucco. "Sometimes it picks up later in the day, with people coming home from work, but with the out-of-state ballot process it's a little easier to vote for people who commute. We'll have to wait and see."

    In another battleground county, Passaic, "it's been a little on the light side," said Board of Elections Chairman John Currie.

    "I would expect it to pick up. We do have some challengers on the Republican side" for county-level races, he said.

    Few details were available from Union County, where Democrats including state Sen. Ray Lesniak and Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan have been fighting a tough primary battle in recent weeks. An election board official said he had received no word from the field.

    Joanne Rajoppi, the county clerk, said she had no reports either but that there had been a spike in the number of voters who asked to mail in their votes. She said 2,692 voters applied for absentee ballots this year.

    "Now you have to recognize that this is a legislative election," she said. "That is a somewhat higher number than previous legislative years."

    But absentee ballots may not be the best indicator of how turnout will fare this year across the state. Morris County also saw an uptick in applications, but in Bergen County the number was the same, according to officials, and Passaic had a smaller number of absentee ballots compared with previous elections, Currie said.

    Of the state's 40 legislative districts, only 16 have contested primaries this year, but a number of county and local offices are also up for grabs. Polls have been open since 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

    Related Coverage:

    Some of N.J.'s most powerful lawmakers face tough primary battles this week

    Edison sees large number of primary election candidates, including 21-year-old

    Investigation finds Elizabeth school board pressures workers to fill campaign coffers

    N.J. primary elections offer a few power struggles, some big names

    Upcoming primary elections could change voice of Essex County freeholder



    ⇒ LIVE ELECTION RESULTS TONIGHT

    American-Flag.jpg

    Polls close at 8 p.m. at every polling site across the state.

    Results of the Senate and Assembly races will be posted on NJ.com's election page — nj.com/elections — as soon as they become available tonight, and results of contested local races in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties will be posted on NJ.com's county news pages as soon as our reporters confirm the numbers.


    TRENTON — A blogger from Washington State is not protected from revealing her sources for what she wrote about a Freehold-based software company on another website, the state Supreme Court said this morning. The court said the on-line bulletin board is nothing more than a forum for discussions. The case involving Washington State resident Shellee Hale more clearly defines...

    blogger-press-shellee-hale.JPGShellee Hale is not protected from revealing her sources for what she wrote about a Freehold-based software company on another website, the state Supreme Court said this morning

    TRENTON — A blogger from Washington State is not protected from revealing her sources for what she wrote about a Freehold-based software company on another website, the state Supreme Court said this morning.

    The court said the on-line bulletin board is nothing more than a forum for discussions.

    The case involving Washington State resident Shellee Hale more clearly defines whether bloggers receive the same type of protections as ``traditional'' journalists in New Jersey but says they have to be writing for online sites ``similar to traditional news media.''

    Hale, a former Microsoft employee and a private investigator, argued she was preparing an article for her website, Pornafia, about the infiltration of pornography on the Internet when she posted her comments about Too Much Media Inc. in 2008.

    In comments she posted to a message board on the website Oprano about a security breach by TMM, Hale claimed its owners had threatened her. TMM, which helps online adult entertainment companies track sales, sued for defamation and Hale sought protection of New Jersey so-called shield law from revealing her sources. TMM argued Hale is not a journalist and fabricated the purpose of her website to seek the protection.

    A Superior Court judge in Monmouth County ruled in 2009 that the protection did not apply to Hale. An appellate panel later that year upheld that decision.

    "Our focus in this case, though, is not on what the law protects,'' Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote for the unanimous court. "Instead, we are required to determine whom the legislature intended to cloak with an absolute privilege and, in particular, whether the law's reach extends to the use of message boards like Oprano.''

    Previous Coverage:

    N.J. Supreme Court to rule whether blogger is protected by journalist shield laws

    Today in Trenton: N.J. Supreme Court to hear case of blogger sued for defamation

    Blogger in online porn company lawsuit wants case to go to N.J. Supreme Court

    N.J. appeals court hears arguments over whether blogger is protected by shield laws

    N.J. court rules blogger is not protected under shield law in porn company defamation case


    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to give his opinion on the most recent controversy taking the political world by storm. At a news conference in the Statehouse today, a reporter attempted to ask Christie about U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who admitted Tuesday to sending lewd photos of himself to women he met on the Internet, as...

    weiner.jpgRep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) arrives on Capitol Hill in this 2010 file photo. Gov. Chris Christie wouldn't discuss Weiner today. On Tuesday, Weiner admitted to sending lewd photographs of himself to women he met on the Internet.

    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie isn't going to give his opinion on the most recent controversy taking the political world by storm.

    At a news conference in the Statehouse today, a reporter attempted to ask Christie about U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who admitted Tuesday to sending lewd photos of himself to women he met on the Internet, as the press conference was wrapping up.

    Warning that they were going to back into a question, the reporter began by asking what Christie thought of "internet usage by public officials."

    "There is no chance," Christie interrupted, drawing laughter from the presser corps. "I fear where you are getting to which means there will be absolutely no chance I'm going down that road. No way"

    "Listen, New Jersey has often been on the receiving end of those type of stories. I use to hate it when you had politicians from other states who would feel the uncontrollable desire to comment on those type of things. I always felt it was kind of out of bounds to be commenting on those things. So you can count on the fact that you're aren't going to hear anything from me."

    When the reporter tried to interject and rephrase the question, Christie added laughed and cut them off.

    "Don't even try, no, no no, — about anything surrounding it, anything in the vicinity, in the radius, I'm not answering," Christie laughed. "I'm not doing it."

    Christie is frequently asked by members of the press to weigh in on national stories. He rarely takes the opportunity.

    Related coverage:

    Congressman Weiner admits to tweeting lewd photos, says he won't resign


    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie said today that he has not signed off on a proposal to increase tolls on Port Authority-controlled crossings of the Hudson River. "There has been no plans presented to the board of the Port Authority for consideration, certainly none has been presented to me," Christie said at a Statehouse news conference. "If one is...

    lincoln-tunnel.jpgGov. Chris Christie today denied that he has agree to a toll increase at the Lincoln Tunnel, above, and other Port Authority-run crossings.

    TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie said today that he has not signed off on a proposal to increase tolls on Port Authority-controlled crossings of the Hudson River.

    "There has been no plans presented to the board of the Port Authority for consideration, certainly none has been presented to me," Christie said at a Statehouse news conference. "If one is presented, I certainly will give it due consideration."

    The governor said he spoke with David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority who was appointed by Christie, today about a report in the New York Post that toll increases were being considered. The article reported that Gov. Chris Christie had already signaled his approval for the increases.

    "That story is wrong this morning," Christie said.

    Christie said he also has spoken with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the topic of toll increases have not come up. Since both governors would have to sign off on a toll increase, Christie said if the board put forward a proposal that both governors would review it.

    Related coverage:

    Port Authority budget leaves tolls untouched, offers no plan for canceled ARC tunnel funds


    TRENTON — Hudson County, embroiled in ongoing legal battles over housing prison inmates, will not be able to seek as much money as it wants from the state, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today. The court, in an unanimous decision, said the county did not follow the correct legal procedure when amending its lawsuit involving a contract dispute....

    hudson-county-jail.JPGThe Hudson County jail in this Star-Ledger file photo. The N.J. Supreme Court ruled today that Hudson County may not receive all the money it asked for from the state to house prisoners in the jail because the county did not follow the correct legal procedure.

    TRENTON — Hudson County, embroiled in ongoing legal battles over housing prison inmates, will not be able to seek as much money as it wants from the state, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today.

    The court, in an unanimous decision, said the county did not follow the correct legal procedure when amending its lawsuit involving a contract dispute. That means the county may not receive the full $8.6 million it was awarded by a trial court in May 2008.

    "We are very pleased with the court's decision," said Lee Moore, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.

    Hudson County and the state have been battling over how much to pay for housing state inmates in county facilities since 1997.

    A new round of litigation started in 2004. The county argued that the state needed to pay for 100 beds, regardless of how many inmates were there. In response, the state said it only needed to pay for occupied beds.

    Later, when the county discovered more evidence it was being underpaid, it updated its lawsuit. But the Supreme Court said the county did not comply with the Contractual Liability Act, which requires all contract claims to be "asserted through the timely service of a notice of claim."

    The court also said the county wouldn't have needed to update its lawsuit if it had been paying closer attention to the situation, such as reviewing inmate records or monthly state reports.

    "There can be no dispute that county knew, or should have known through the exercise of reasonable diligence, the way in which the state calculated payments," wrote Associate Justice Helen Hoens in the unanimous decision.

    Hudson County has also fought a separate legal battle with the state over the housing of civilly committed sex offenders. Although the offenders were moved from Kearny to Avenel last year, the state still owes the country for rent and facility renovations, according to James Kennelly, a county spokesman.

    He said the county is seeking up to $2 million in that case, which he called a "long and winding saga."

    "We find ourselves still in court, still looking for the state to make us whole," he said.


    Towns that opt into the program would lay off existing police forces, and new officers would be selected by county officials and the towns' leadership

    camden policePatrol cars in the city of Camden. Camden County is considering creating a countywide police and fire service and allowing towns to opt in for a fee.

    CAMDEN — Camden County is inching closer to a district-based county police force, according to a broad proposal released today by county officials.

    Participation in the proposed Camden County Police Force would be voluntary for municipalities. If they opt in, towns would lay off existing police forces through a municipal resolution. County officials and participating towns' leadership would then select the new officers, with a priority on rehiring officers from current staffs, the proposal said.

    A "public safety professional" would run the department, and its administration would be centralized.

    The plan does not include a timeline, but comes a few months after Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Attorney General Paula Dow met with Camden County leaders to begin planning. Since that announcement, the Camden County Police Department Advisory Committee has studied logistical issues like collective bargaining agreements and staffing.

    Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the governor's office will review the proposal.

    "We will want to take a close look at it and see what they came up with," he said. "It's an exciting and potentially ground-breaking effort."

    Peter Aseltine, spokesman for the attorney general, said Dow has offered her support to the committee creating the proposal.

    "Local leaders and law enforcement need to consider options that could potentially save costs while improving efficiency and fulfill the mission of protecting our communities," he said.

    A regional police force is not intended to bail out Camden City, according to the proposal. If the city, which has laid off scores of police officers in recent months, joins the regional force it would act as its own district.

    The document emphasizes the plan would mean savings for towns in a tough budget climate, while maintaining local police force identity.

    "The County Police Department will hire the most qualified officers with the necessary skills, good work ethic and know-how to work well with the public," the proposal reads. "Pay and benefits will be fairly determined and consideration will be give to experienced officers."

    Other counties, such as Essex and Mercer, have also been involved in discussions about regionalized police forces. While the proposal released today is the furthest step toward creating such a force, leaders around the state have touted the idea of shared police services as a way to reduce costs and streamline administration without compromising public safety.

    John Williamson, president of Camden's Fraternal Order of Police chapter, said the proposal released today is only a broad outline.

    "What I'm gathering is that this is still a long way out," he said.

    Williamson said his city's police department should not be dissolved to create a countywide force.

    "The city of Camden needs Camden police officers, not a county department," he said. "They should find money for us to hire more officers."

    Chris Megerian contributed to this report.

    Read more on Camden County's proposal:

    Camden County Police Proposal

    Frequently Asked Questions


    TRENTON —Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford has filed to run for state Senate as an independent. He confirmed the decision in an interview today. Langford will be facing off with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jim Whelan and Republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina. Langford, who was elected mayor in 2001, criticized Whelan as a "traitor" to Atlantic City. "That's a view shared...

    acmayor.JPGAtlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford addresses the League of Municipalities delegates in the Crown Ballroom of the Sheraton Atlantic City in this 2008 file photo. The mayor has just announced he is running for state senate as an independent.

    TRENTON —Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford has filed to run for state Senate as an independent.

    He confirmed the decision in an interview today. Langford will be facing off with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jim Whelan and Republican Assemblyman Vince Polistina.

    Langford, who was elected mayor in 2001, criticized Whelan as a "traitor" to Atlantic City.

    "That's a view shared by many of my constitutents here," he said.

    The two politicians have tangled in the past. Whelan served as Atlantic City mayor for more than a decade, fending off two challenges from Langford before losing to him in 2001.

    Whelan later served two years in the Assembly before being elected to his current Senate seat in 2007.

    Langford cautioned that he's still exploring a campaign and will decide by the end of the summer whether to push forward with his candidacy.

    "In order to run a credible campaign, you're going to need to raise an adequate amount of funding," he said. "We'll need to gauge that as well."

    And although he's confident of support from Atlantic City and Pleasantville, Langford said he needs to take the pulse of suburban voters.

    Because of a law against holding two elected offices, Langford would need to give up the mayor's office if he won the Senate seat.


    TOMS RIVER — Gov. Chris Christie held his 19th town hall meeting this afternoon, deriding the state Supreme Court and answering questions about his education overhaul proposals. Christie said that in July he and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf will begin working on a new education funding formula, in response to the state Supreme Court ruling that ordered him to...

    christie-file.JPGGov. Chris Christie, appearing here in this 2010 file photo, today criticized the New Jersey Supreme Court while responding to questions on his plans to change the education funding formula during a town hall meeting in Toms River.

    TOMS RIVER — Gov. Chris Christie held his 19th town hall meeting this afternoon, deriding the state Supreme Court and answering questions about his education overhaul proposals.

    Christie said that in July he and Education Commissioner Chris Cerf will begin working on a new education funding formula, in response to the state Supreme Court ruling that ordered him to put more funding into the state's poorest school districts.

    Christie said after he and Cerf put together a new formula, he will have to get it approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

    "If you all come out and turn out for the Republicans this fall, maybe I'll have a Republican legislature," Christie said, getting cheers from the receptive town hall crowd.

    Christie continued his criticism for the state Supreme Court for what he called "tinkering" with the education funding formula, including calling Associate Justice Barry Albin out by name.

    "He is the symbol of what is wrong with the Supreme Court," Christie said.

    He often ties getting a Republican legislature to changing the court.

    "A lot of these things are going to be subject to review by the Supreme Court which so far has considered itself above us," Christie said.

    While Christie called on the town hall members to elect a Republican legislature, he didn't mention any of the primary races being waged today by name. There were no contested primaries in Toms River or the surrounding large towns.

    Previous coverage:

    N.J. Gov. Chris Christie to hold town hall meeting in Toms River

    N.J. Senate Republicans discuss strategy following state Supreme Court education funding decision

    Christie says he won't fight N.J. Supreme Court order to add $500M in funding for poor school districts

    Poor N.J. districts must receive $500M more in school funding, state Supreme Court rules

    Christie refuses to talk about flouting N.J. Supreme Court if it orders more school funding

    If N.J. Supreme Court orders increased school aid, Gov. Christie says not complying is among 'options'

    Gov. Christie's legal team tells N.J. Supreme Court to keep hands off education dollars


    ELIZABETH — When Jeffrey Brookman went to vote at School 12 in Elizabeth today, a man with a stack of flyers approached him. The man asked him to read one. Brookman glanced at it, then told the man he didn’t need to finish: He already knew all about state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union). With that, he walked out of...

    lesniak2.JPGState Sen. Raymond Lesniak exits the polling booth after voting Tuesday morning at Public School No. 23 in Elizabeth. Lesniak faces a tough primary challenge for the for 20th Legislative District.

    ELIZABETH — When Jeffrey Brookman went to vote at School 12 in Elizabeth today, a man with a stack of flyers approached him. The man asked him to read one. Brookman glanced at it, then told the man he didn’t need to finish: He already knew all about state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union).

    With that, he walked out of the heat and into the school to vote against Lesniak.

    “Lesniak’s time is up — he’s taken enough from the honest people of New Jersey,” Brookman said.

    For the first time in years, Lesniak, a 34-year veteran of the legislature, faces stiff competition from an opposing ticket led by Jerome Dunn, an assistant superintendent of Elizabeth schools.

    In Union County today, voters seemed to cast their ballots based on how they felt about Lesniak, not so much about his opponents’ platform. Many were like Brookman, who could speak at length about Lesniak’s shortcomings.

    Brookman, of Elizabeth, was upset about what he’d read on the flyer. In short blocks of large-font text, the flyer alleged Lesniak was a good friend of Albert Cernadas, a former International Longshoremen’s Association official who faces racketeering and other federal charges.

    “I believe the flyer because I’ve lived in Elizabeth my entire life,” Brookman said. “Politicians promise the world, and when they get in, they don’t do anything.”

    Another Elizabeth resident, Jesus Diaz, a Kean University professor, also voted against Lesniak because of personal feelings. Kean needs a new president, Diaz said, and Lesniak supports the current president, Dawood Farahi.

    “If Lesniak is out, then Farahi will lose one of his biggest supporters,” Diaz said.

    For all the voters like Brookman Diaz, there were also people like Rosaria and Mariano Sfameni, of Elizabeth, who voted for Lesniak because they recognized his name.

    “I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing. No one will do a better job,” Rosaria Sfameni said.

    While Elizabeth voters seemed split on their candidate, in Union, voters aligned more toward Lesniak. At one polling place, a senior center, Lesniak supporters camped out in lawn chairs and handed out slips of paper with Lesniak’s ticket printed on it.

    A crushed Diet Coke in one hand and the slips in the other, George Petkov asked people how they intended to vote as they walked in. Many were his acquaintances and friends. One woman pulled up outside the center, stepped out of her car and waved to Petkov.

    “How ya voting?” he yelled.

    “Line B obviously!” she shouted back, referring to the ticket opposing Lesniak.

    She giggled. Petkov laughed. Everyone knew she was kidding.

    Related Coverage:

    Some Elizabeth residents make time to vote for Lesniak in competitive Union County race


    ⇒ LIVE ELECTION RESULTS TONIGHT

    American-Flag.jpg

    Polls close at 8 p.m. at every polling site across the state.

    Results of the Senate and Assembly races will be posted on NJ.com's election page — nj.com/elections — as soon as they become available tonight, and results of contested local races in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties will be posted on NJ.com's county news pages as soon as our reporters confirm the numbers.


    Polls are now closed for today's primary elections in New Jersey, and election officials are busy counting votes to see who won. Check back here as the results come in. Final numbers from the state legislative races will be posted on the pages linked below: State Senate | State Assembly Results from contested local races in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon,...

    voting-primaries.jpgBruce Finnie signs in Laurie Harmon to vote in the primary at Princeton Fire Department Engine No. 1 in Princeton Borough on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.

    Polls are now closed for today's primary elections in New Jersey, and election officials are busy counting votes to see who won. Check back here as the results come in.

    Final numbers from the state legislative races will be posted on the pages linked below:

    State Senate | State Assembly

    Results from contested local races in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties can be found below. The numbers will be updated throughout the night:

    Essex | Hunterdon | Middlesex | Morris | Somerset | Union

    The top of the ticket is the state Legislature, where candidates are competing for their parties' nod to run for one of 120 seats for state Senate and Assembly in the November general election.

    A total of 86 candidates are competing for either the Democrats' or Republicans' nomination to run for one of 40 Senate seats, while 179 candidates are seeking to win their parties nod to run for one of 80 Assembly seats.

    Dozens of contested elections are also on tap today on the local level throughout the Garden State.

    Voting is open to the state's 1.7 million registered Democrats and 1 million registered Republicans. The 2.4 million unaffiliated voters can vote, but they'll have to register with a party first.

    Of the state's 40 legislative districts, however, just 16 have contested primary contests. Here are some of the ones to watch:

    lesniak.jpgState Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), exits the polling booth after voting Tuesday morning at Public School No. 23 in Elizabeth.

    20TH DISTRICT

    In Union County's 20th District, powerful state Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) faces Jerome Dunn, an assistant school superintendent in the Elizabeth, for the Democrats’ state Senate nomination. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan (D-Union), recently chair of the state Democratic party, and Assembly running mate Annette Quijano (D-Union) face former Elizabeth Board of Education Member Tony Monteiro and Elizabeth Councilman Carlos Cedeno. The race has gotten especially heated in recent weeks, as both sides have attempted to paint the other as Republican-leaning.

    25TH DISTRICT

    In the Morris County-dominated 25th District, state Sen. Anthony R. Bucco (R-Morris) faces William Chegwidden, a Morris County freeholder and mayor of Wharton, for the GOP nomination. The race has gotten more nasty than usual for genteel Morris County. On the Assembly side, John G. Sierchio is running against incumbents Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) and Anthony M. Bucco (R-Morris) for one of two seats.

    27TH DISTRICT

    In the Essex and Morris County-based 27th District, which leans Democratic but some Republicans think could be competitive in November, tea party Republican William H. Eames is running against establishment-backed William Sullivan in the GOP primary for the chance to run against longtime incumbent Richard Codey (D-Essex) in November. On the Assembly side, it's the Democrats who face a primary, with former Millburn Township Committeewoman Ellen Steinberg challenging incumbents Mila Jasey (D-Essex) and John McKeon (D-Essex).

    33RD DISTRICT

    In Hudson County's 33rd District, Hoboken Councilman Ravi Bhalla is running an independent challenge in the Democratic primary to organization-backed Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson) and Jersey City police detective Sean Connors.

    38TH DISTRICT

    In the mainly Bergen County 38th District, Bergen County Freeholder Chairman John Driscoll is running against Kenneth DelVecchio, a conservative filmmaker.

    1ST DISTRICT

    In South Jersey's 1st Legislative District — made up of Cape May County and part of Cumberland and Atlantic Counties — GOP organization-backed state candidate David S. DeWeese is facing Thomas Greto for the party nod for state Senate. For Assembly, organization-backed Samuel Fiocchi and Suzanne M. Walters face Peter F. Boyce and Paul J. Halley. This Republican-leaning district is represented by three moderate Democrats, and Republicans hope to put it in play in November.

    Full election coverage from The Star-Ledger


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