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Shocking audit of Hoboken school spending, operations

The Hoboken Board of Education released a scathing audit Tuesday that cited more than two dozen irregularities.

The findings included the misuse of candy-sale funds, incorrect approval of overtime, and the payment of administrators out of funds reserved for instructors.

"It was just shocking," said Board of Education trustee Maureen Sullivan.

The audit, conducted by Fair Lawn-based accounting firm Lerch, Vinci, and Higgins, covers from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

Michael Lenz -- new Hoboken 4th Ward councilman -- a controversial figure in a controversial ward...in a controversial town

Roberts once called him a 'genius,' Times said some saw him as political 'Karl Rove'

Former Hoboken Board of Education President Michael Lenz was chosen by the City Council Monday night to fill the 4th Ward seat vacated by new Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

The 4th Ward is in the southwest part of town -- a politically heated part of town where the public housing projects sit side by side with new luxury condos.

For years, politicians looked askance at the 4th Ward as simply a place to pay low-income residents $40 each to help get out the vote on Election Day. The rest of the year, the thousands of residents of the projects were left to live in poor conditions.

Until the mid 1990s, the ward was represented by political families -- the Francones and the Amatos. "Reform" candidates who lived in the ward like Tony Soares and Ruben Ramos began bringing the problems in the ward to light during that decade, problems like flooding and nebulous public housing wait lists.

MORE SLAMMER JAM! Jail contract spurs pay-to-play lawsuit

Hudson County is in the cross-hairs of what may be the state's first pay-to-play lawsuit, a challenge to a $22 million contract for medical services at the jail and juvenile detention center.

CFG Health Systems of Evesham is accusing the county of circumventing the law when it awarded the contract to a campaign donor and former employee.

A $1,000 political donation made to Freeholder Anthony Romano should have disqualified the winning company from bidding, CFG contends, adding in other counts that the whole process violated the Local Public Contracts Law.

Ex-Bergen County Democratic chair convicted in corruption trial

NEWARK -- The former chairman of one of New Jersey's most powerful Democratic party machines was convicted today in a federal corruption trial that focused on his role in a consulting business that solicited contracts in towns where he had political influence.

Joseph Ferriero was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the northern New Jersey town of Bergenfield and two counts of mail fraud. He was acquitted on five other mail fraud counts.

Next big debate: How much can rents rise?

A City Council subcommittee is holding a series of hearings to analyze city’s rent control regulations, and advocates for both landlords and tenants are gearing up for what promises to be contentious debate over potential changes.

Hoboken’s Rent Leveling and Stabilization Ordinance, passed in 1973, limits how much a landlord of a multifamily building (built before 1987) can raise the rent each year. Usually the increase is limited to between 1 and 7 percent, the amount of the federal Consumer Price Index.

2 COPS CAUGHT IN DRUG RING PROBE $35G in coke sold weekly; also arrest Hoboken firefighter

 probe into a drug ring operating out of a Downtown Jersey City restaurant has led to 17 arrests, including a Hoboken police officer and Hoboken Fire Department battalion chief, as well as a Jersey City police officer who was already suspended, officials said.

The year-and-a-half investigation resulted in the arrest of Jersey City Police Officer Mark Medal, 52, of Fifth Street; Hoboken Fire Department Battalion Chief Henry Setkiewicz, 59, of Summit Avenue in Jersey City; and Hoboken Police Officer Ralph F. Gallo, 25, of Church Towers in Hoboken, said Hudson County First Assistant Prosecutor Guy Gregory.

F.D.A. Reveals It Fell to a Push by Lawmakers

WASHINGTON:  The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that four New Jersey congressmen and its own former commissioner unduly influenced the process that led to its decision last year to approve a patch for injured knees, an approval it is now revisiting.

The agency’s scientific reviewers repeatedly and unanimously over many years decided that the device, known as Menaflex and manufactured by ReGen Biologics Inc., was unsafe because the device often failed, forcing patients to get another operation.

But after receiving what an F.D.A. report described as “extreme,” “unusual” and persistent pressure from four Democrats from New Jersey — Senators Robert Menendez and Frank R. Lautenberg and Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. and Steven R. Rothman — agency managers overruled the scientists and approved the device for sale in December.

Court system expands public access to court records

Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin

The public will have more access to court records under a new rule adopted by the state court system, Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin announced Wednesday.

The rule change makes more court records available at public access computer terminals in courthouses statewide. It calls for posting on the Internet information about every civil case on file, as well as details about all criminal convictions. The court system will create a permanent advisory committee on public access, launch a public education effort on issues related to open court records, and address the availability of electronic records and other access issues.

"Some of our recommendations are intended to ensure that the judiciary provides free, readily available electronic access to court records wherever appropriate, while others take into account that in today's world of instant access to electronic information litigants need a certain measure of protection from unnecessary disclosure of their financial and other personal records," Justice Albin said Wed nesday. "In some instances, the rule and our recommendations simply reaffirm longstanding policies regarding the public's right to access court records in every court throughout the system."

New N.J. Supreme Court rule will open more evidence for public inspection

For decades, some residents could not get court documents they were entitled to see because the judiciary had limited guidelines on which records were available for public viewing.

That's expected to change next month when a new rule recently adopted by the state's highest court to goes into effect. Evidence admitted in New Jersey courts are just some of the records specifically defined as "open for public inspection" in the state's new guidelines.

Records not open to residents after Sept. 1 will include financial information in divorce proceedings and what the court calls "personal indentifiers" such as Social Security, driver's license, insurance policy and credit card numbers.

"We have to take into account the need for openness while taking into account the need to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society," said Justice Barry Albin, who chaired a 21-person committee whose 35 recommendations were accepted and slightly modified by the justices last month.

Cammarano, Cardwell & Suarez get the top lawyers

Two of the top criminal defense lawyers in the state picked up premier clients on Thursday:

Joseph Hayden is representing Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano:

Henry Klingeman, Gerald Krovatin's law partner, added Jersey City political leader Joseph Cardwell and Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez as clients

Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell has retained William Northgrave, who was Hudson County Executive Robert Jansizewski's Chief of Staff

Others: