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N.J. voting machines face twin challenge. A lawyer calls them uncertified. A professor calls them easy to rig

The electronic voting machines used in most of New Jersey were never properly inspected as state law demands, according to a new legal claim filed by voter rights activists. Had the machines been tested, they would have proved to be a hacker's dream, the activists say.

This week Newark attorney Penny Venetis, representing a coalition of plaintiffs, will ask a judge in Trenton to decommission machines used by 18 of the state's 21 counties.

Similar models of the computerized touch-screen machines made by an Oakland, Calif., company, Sequoia, are currently being tested by a Princeton University computer scientist, who says they easily could be rigged to throw an election.

Venetis filed legal papers Friday claiming the state never certified some 10,000 Sequoia AVC Advantage machines as secure or reliable as required by law.

It's make or break time for hospital

It's make or break time for hospital

Friday, February 02, 2007 Jersey Journal

Yesterday was the first full day of the new/old hospital in Hoboken. St. Mary Hospital is no more. Mile Square residents now have the Hoboken University Medical Center. Just how long they will have this health care facility is not known, but for the sake of local taxpayers it had better be for a long time.

On Wednesday, an agreement was signed transferring title of the hospital building and land to the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority - an autonomous body set up by the city to own and oversee operations. It is the end - or is it beginning? - of an attempt to save the hospital from permanently closing.

There were few noticeable changes apart from the addition of new signs and the removal of religious icons that graced the hospital once operated by Bon Secours Health Systems.

The city agreed last year to take over the financially strapped hospital on Willow Avenue. Last year, the hospital recorded losses of about $18 million and was doomed to oblivion. Instead, the city created the hospital authority and engineered a rescue effort that is financed by a $52 million bond - backed by the city - that will pay for improvements and upgrades, as well as funding start-up operations and creating a reserve fund. Hoping the new hospital succeeds, Bon Secours is also providing $13 million in funds to help with operating costs.

Those upgrades will include a new emergency room, labor and delivery rooms, private patient rooms, a new cardiac catheterization lab and new surgical suites.

Additional land on Fourth Street - the site of the Midtown Garage - will be transferred to the city as part of the agreement, which also calls for the sale of the Faith Services building on Willow Avenue and the Family Health Services building on Clinton Street to the HMHA for $5.35 million.

City officials believe that they will have an idea of its success within a year and that the land is a valuable asset and security for taxpayers. The property could be sold for development to recoup the financing, say officials. This newspaper did not support the large financial commitment placed on city taxpayers to save the hospital. Now that the deed is done, it had better work - and quickly.

Part of the agreement provides that should the hospital be sold within two years for any purpose other than health care, Bon Secours would receive 50 percent of any profit after bills are paid.

The "new" hospital should make a concerted effort to market itself. Also, city residents wanted to save the hospital, now they should make use of it.

101 Dumbest Moments in Bussiness This years's biggest boors, buffons, and blunderers

101 Dumbest Moments in Bussiness

This years's biggest boors, buffons, and blunderers


89. Hoboken, N.J.

Asimov's Fourth Law of Robotics: Don't screw with the sys-admin... Asimov's Fourth Law of Robotics: Don't screw with the sys-admin...

The city of Hoboken, N.J., signs a deal to have Robotic Parking operate its Garden Street Garage, tripling the number of available spaces by shuffling cars in and out through automated lifts.

When Robotic hikes its monthly fees by 20 percent, however, Hoboken officials give the company the boot.

One small problem: Robotic's employees are the only ones who know how to operate the system, and the company disables its software, trapping dozens of customers' cars in the garage for days. After a court order restores its control of the garage, Hoboken pays $1.9 million to another firm to install a new system.

Man With Mannequin Fetish Sent to Prison

A man who acknowledged a sexual fetish for female-shaped mannequins was sentenced Thursday to more than a year in prison after repeatedly breaking into storefront windows.

Ronald Dotson, 39, of Detroit, was sentenced to 18 months to 30 years on charges of breaking and entering and being a habitual criminal.

He was arrested in October after police in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak spotted him near a smashed storefront window containing a mannequin wearing a French maid outfit.

Stack to announce Senate candidacy

Stack to announce Senate candidacy

January 25, 2007 (JJ)

Union City Mayor and Assemblyman Brian Stack is expected to announce tonight that he will run for the Democratic nomination for the 31st District Senate seat, which is now held by Senate Majority Leader Bernard Kenny of Hoboken.

Stack has long been rumored to be interested in the post and many political observers believe it is his for the taking. Kenny, a fellow Democrat, has not publicly said whether he will fight Stack in the primary or retire.

The Democratic nominee in the heavily Democratic district - which includes much of North Hudson, Hoboken, and portions of Jersey City - is virtually assured of election.

The announcement will be at Schuetzen Park, 32nd Street and Kennedy Boulevard, North Bergen, at 7:30 p.m.

Poll: Corzine blamed for no tax reform

New Jersery voters are dubious about the prospect of property tax reform anytime soon, and it’s taking a toll on their feelings about the job Gov. Jon Corzine is doing.

A Qunnipiac Poll released this morning showed two out of three voters surveyed said they thought it was unlikely lawmakers would cut property tax bills.

And more than half of the voters polled disapproved of how Corzine has handled the tax reform effort. That apparently has affected his overall approval rating, too. It fell to 42 percent - the first slip below the 50 percent mark since the budget showdown last July and his lowest mark since April of last year.

Corzine can't have it both ways

TRENTON — Gov. Corzine came to Trenton promising ethics reform. Sounded good, but then he hired a lobbyist to write two major speeches. Behold the crumbling Corzine credibility.

Lobbyist Eric Shuffler worked for former U.S. Sen. Bob Torricelli and Gov. Jim McGreevey, both of whom left office under dark clouds in disgrace. Shuffler also lobbies for Geico insurance, which wanted its lizard mascot on billboards at the George Washington Bridge.

Earth to Corzine: You can't reform ethics until you recognize a conflict of interest.

NJ Senate tries again to push key property tax reforms

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Most New Jersey home owners may inch closer Thursday to getting a 20 percent property tax cut, but that inching may not come easy.

The Senate is slated to meet to consider two property tax reform measures, including creating a fiscal watchdog demanded by Gov. Jon S. Corzine if he's to approve the tax cut meant to help 95 percent of state homeowners pay the nation's highest property taxes.

The Senate tried Monday to approve the post, but with Republicans and Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono opposing the bill, and with Democratic Sen. Nicholas Scutari absent, Senate President Richard J. Codey couldn't get the 21 votes needed to pass it.

Must-see minutes.. N.J. superior court judge hears arguments in Hoboken BOE closed meetings case

New Jersey Superior Court Judge John O'Shaughnessy heard arguments this week in a lawsuit concerning tapes of three closed sessions held by the Hoboken Board of Education in 2005.

Hoboken resident Elizabeth Mason filed suit in November of 2006 in order to have the tapes made public under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act, after her written request to see the minutes was denied by the board earlier last year.

According to Steven Kleinman, the Attorney representing the Board of Education on behalf of the firm Scarinci and Hollenbeck, the judge reserved his decision until a later date.

Budget battle ensues at City Hall Possible amendments for the 2007 budget

At the heart of the current budget debate simmering between City Hall and 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo is the municipal garage on Observer Highway, which the city has been using to plug budget gaps for the past two years.

The anticipated revenue that the city expects to generate from the sale of the municipal garage on Observer Highway has been included as $3 million line item in the introduced SFY 2007 budget, which is approximately the same amount of money Russo claims to be able to save the city through his amendments.

According to the city's Business Administrator, Richard England, the only issue currently preventing the 2007 budget from getting the state's approval, which would allow the city council to make it official, is a contract involving the sale of the garage and a developer who would be required to provide $3 million to the city on or prior to June 30 of this year, which is the last day of Hoboken's 2007 fiscal year.