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Step 1 to fix Hoboken's budget, layoffs

In a move to streamline Hoboken's budget, the city announced yesterday that seven provisional municipal employees have been laid off.

The layoffs mark the first stage of a workforce reduction in the city under the control of state monitor Judy Tripodi. The city is expected to reduce its workforce by 65 employees, or 10 percent of all full-time municipal workers, throughout this year.

Shakeup at City Hall

The city’s financial firm of the past three years is out, as is controversial Tax Collector Louis Picardo.

Due partly to the mile-square city’s precarious financial situation and to scheduled retirements, several top Hoboken officials and consultants retired or were replaced in the past few weeks.

The city’s state-appointed fiscal monitor, Judy Tripodi, has hired a new full-time financial director, Nick Trasente, at $125,000 per year. She hopes he can help lead the mile-square city out of its financial difficulties, which led to a 47 percent overall tax hike this year.

The financial firm of Donohue, Gironda, and Doria was under contract to handle city finances for the past three years, but their contract recently expired and was not renewed by the city.

Finance director for Hoboken

HOBOKEN - In the continuing effort to pull the city out of its financial quagmire, state monitor Judy Tripodi yesterday announced she is bringing in a new financial planner.

Nicola Trasente is a former administrator and CFO of Highland Park and a municipal auditor for New Jersey's Division of Local Government Services' Distressed Cities Team.

Anthony Romano takes office as Hoboken's county freeholder

Hoboken Police Capt. Anthony "Stick'' Romano was sworn in this morning as the city's representative on the Hudson County Board of Freeholders, the county government's legislative body, The Jersey Journal is reporting on Hudson County Now.

Romano replaces Maurice Fitzgibbons, who decided against running last year for a sixth three-year term as the representative for the 5th Freeholder District.

Corzine should run . . . for the hills

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

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

California challenge to Senator Barack Obama

A new challenge to Senator Barack Obama’s citizenship was filed November 12th in California demanding that the court stop certification of the election results until the state’s secretary of state can ascertain from Senator Obama his legal qualification to be a candidate for President. This 18 page petition is a quick read. It offers a good summary of what is at stake and the questions that surround Senator Obama’s citizenship.

A few points:

Petitioners Ambassador Dr. Alan Keyes, Dr. Wiley S. Drake, Sr., and Markham Robinson, establish their standing to file the petition as members of the American Independent Party, for which Drs. Keyes and Drake were presidential and vice-presidential candidates on California’s ballot, respectfully. (This is a technical point that doomed some other lawsuits.)

Petitioners note that Senator Obama has not provided proof of his citizenship eligibility despite repeated requests during the primary and general election campaigns.

Constitutional crisis looming over Obama's birth location

The California secretary of state should refuse to allow the state's 55 Electoral College votes to be cast in the 2008 presidential election until President-elect Barack Obama verifies his eligibility to hold the office, alleges a California court petition filed on behalf of former presidential candidate Alan Keyes and others.

The legal action today is just the latest is a series of challenges, some of which have gone as high as the U.S. Supreme Court, over the issue of Obama's status as a "natural-born citizen," a requirement set by the U.S. Constitution.

The Justiciability of Eligibility. May Courts Decide Who Can Be President?

The 2008 election cycle has been a busy one for legal disputes over the qualifications of presidential candidates, with federal cases having been filed to challenge both major candidates’ eligibility under the “natural born Citizen” clause. These cases unquestionably present vital questions of constitutional law, touching on matters of selfevident national importance. It is doubtful, however, that they are justiciable in lower federal courts. Standing requirements and the political question doctrine make it unlikely that a federal court will reach the merits in cases of the type filed to date.

The current federal lawsuits challenging the presidential candidates’ eligibility to serve as president are not justiciable, and it is questionable whether any justiciable case could be brought in federal court as an initial matter. Fortunately, there are alternative means to adjudicate this matter that are consistent with the U.S. Constitution.

The most promising is a preelection state-court lawsuit seeking to keep an allegedly unqualified candidate off the ballot. In the event that a renegade state court rejects a candidate who is, in fact, eligible or that two or more state courts reach conflicting conclusions on a candidate’s eligibility, U.S. Supreme Court review should be available as a backstop. This avenue seems less fraught with peril than congressional resolution of the matter, given Congress’ dubious legal authority to not count electoral votes of a candidate it believes ineligible. Those who seek to challenge a presidential candidate’s eligibility would thus be well-advised to dust off their state election codes and head to state court.

Phil Berg discusses lawsuit against Obama

Hear Savage interview Democrat attorney Philip J. Berg, former deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania, about his lawsuit demanding Barack Obama present his original birth certificate to prove he was born in the United States and qualified to serve as president.

Hoboken's tax jump: 47 percent

HOBOKEN - Already hard hit by the tanking economy, there's no letup in sight for taxpayers in the Mile Square City.

To correct the problem of a budget that hasn't been fully funded, property owners can expect to be whacked with a 47 percent municipal tax hike - $646 more for a home assessed at $250,000 - for at least the next two quarters, officials say.

City officials said they expect to send out the next tax bill within a few weeks and taxes are due 25 days later.