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Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Menendez dumps key adviser caught on tape seeking 'favors'

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez's closest political adviser was secretly recorded seven years ago boasting of political power and urging a Hudson county contractor to hire somone as a favor to Menendez, according to a transcript obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Menendez's campaign said last night he had severed his ties with the adviser, Donald Scarinci, after learning of the taped conversation. The two men were childhood friends and Scarinci, a prominent attorney with extensive contracts in state and local governments, has been a key fundraiser for the senator throughout his long political career.

PAINFUL AUDIT State checked Med Center's red ink; then Metsch quit

The sea of red ink had been rising for years when, several months ago, Jonathan Metsch, the president and CEO of the Jersey City Medical Center, told state officials that the hospital needed $3 million more per month to keep afloat.

The hospital had received several one-shot subsidies before, state officials said yesterday. But before agreeing to this latest request, they wanted to make sure they weren't throwing good money after bad.

Corzine reins in state's agencies. GOP urges vote on ethics reforms

With ethics clouds swirling once again over New Jersey's political scene, Gov. Corzine signed an executive order Monday to reform the state's independent authorities, which he said make up an "invisible government" that spends billions of dollars each year with little oversight.

Meanwhile, Assembly Republicans reiterated their 11-point ethics reform plan and called for support from the Democratic Party majority that controls the Legislature.

Part-time attorneys' pensions under fire Trenton seeks to restrict state retirement funds

Local government attorneys, who for decades have parlayed part-time political appointments into generous taxpayer-funded retirements, would be shut out of the state pension system under a variety of measures gaining momen tum in Trenton.

Trustees of the retirement system for state and local government workers have asked the Attorney General to review whether any part-time professionals should qualify for the state retirement program.

BLABBERMOUTH

Jim McGreevey may have blabbed too much in his tell-all autobiography - and not just about his sex life.

It's "not inconceivable" that the gay former gov's confessions about New Jersey's notorious "pay-to-play" politics and his ties to a parade of corrupt power players could get him criminally prosecuted, a corruption expert told The Post.

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Bryant out as budget chairman over ethics concerns

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Influential state Sen. Wayne Bryant, accused of having a no-work job with a state medical school he helped get millions in taxpayer dollars, has stepped down as chair of the Senate budget committee amid increasing pressure from Legislative leaders.

Senate President Richard J. Codey announced Bryant\'s removal early Monday afternoon, a week after a federal monitor appointed to look into possible Medicare and Medicaid fraud at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found the school created a job for Bryant in 2003.

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: How lease deal profited Menendez

For the 20 years that Robert Menendez owned a house on 41st Street in Union City, the property served him well -- first as his home and office, then as a profitable investment.

That was before the three-story brick building caught the attention of federal investigators and became a political headache for the Democratic senator in this fall's election campaign.

Editorial: Legislature must embrace strict ethical standards

The screaming headlines of political corruption, using public office for private gain and campaign mudslinging that plays the ethics card for political gain make plain yet again that real ethics reform must remain the cornerstone of any hope for restoring the public trust.

Editorial: Dreadful choice for negotiator

The legislative hearings in Trenton on public employee benefits reforms have provided absolutely no reason for optimism that lawmakers are prepared to do what is necessary to bring health care and pension costs under control.

Unfortunately, neither has the opening of contract talks between the Corzine administration and state employee unions, whose contracts expire in June. Those unions, along with the New Jersey Education Association, have made it clear they will resist any changes that would reduce the health and pension benefits of their members — present and future.

Questions about movie theater project

The Hoboken City Council has to decide if it’s worth giving a development company permission to build 100 units of market-rate housing so that they can also build a movie theater. The theater would not have to have any parking.  

Get out a tub of buttery popcorn, Gummi bears, and a large soda, because some drama is unfolding regarding the city's proposal to rezone a block of northern Hoboken to build a new movie theater.