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Rescue teams bulk up

A Paterson tenement collapses and firefighters are unsure how many people are trapped inside. They do their best to get to possible survivors, but a paucity of search and rescue equipment hinders their efforts. They're forced to watch and wait helplessly as vital minutes pass before assistance arrives.

The scenario was a very real possibility for firefighters in the Silk City, in Hackensack, and in West New York -- pretty much all of North Jersey, with the state's search and rescue team based in Lakehurst.

But a fleet of shiny new rescue trucks unveiled Thursday at Liberty State Park in Jersey City will help change that, authorities said. The trucks -- neatly arranged in a crescent in what once was the shadow of the Twin Towers -- will be used by a new Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Strike Team aimed at responding quickly across the region.

Menendez defends himself, denounces timing of probe. Democrat sees 'orchestrated' smear campaign

Facing a federal investigation just two months before his election, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez offered a fiery defense of his honor yesterday and accused the U.S. Attorney of engaging in an "orchestrated" smear campaign to destroy him.

Menendez also faced new questions about the rental deal that triggered the investigation. He has said the House Ethics Committee gave him verbal clearance for the arrangement in 1994, but that there is no written record of the conversation. Yesterday, for the first time, he offered the name of the lawyer he said he consulted: Mark Davis.

However, according to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill publication, Davis left the ethics committee in 1993. Davis died last year.

Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: GOP state senator alleges Menendez violated House ethics rule

TRENTON, N.J. - A Republican state lawmaker alleged Thursday that Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez violated ethics rules by trying to block a merger involving a company in which he holds stock.

State Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, said she planned to file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee early next week. Menendez served in the House for 14 years before being appointed in January by Gov. Jon Corzine to serve out the remaining year of his Senate term.

Hoboken Italian Festival starts tonight

Hoboken Italian Festival starts tonight

The Hoboken Italian Festival kicks off tonight in Sinatra Park, on the Hudson River waterfront between Fourth and Sixth streets.

All-girl rock band Broad Band plays at 6:30 p.m., followed by the band Spitroast Muppets at 7:30. At 8:30, the a pizza eating contest will be held, with prozes for the winner.

The festival continues throughout the weekend, with more bands and singers, as well as fireworks Saturday at 9 p.m. The festival will close Sunday night at 9 when actor Danny Aiello takes the stage with his six-piece band.

Editorial: Menendez's Iraq stance untenable and unwise

Menendez's Iraq stance untenable and unwise
Editorial: Home News Tribune Online 09/7/06

Ambition makes politicians say the most foolish things. Take, for instance, the call by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez for the accelerated removal of American troops from Iraq within the next 12 months. The statement and the stance are worrisome examples of how politically motivated agenda-setting can warp a candidate's public policies and views.

Menendez, a Democrat, is locked in a nip-and-tuck battle to defend his U.S. Senate seat against Republican challenger Thomas H. Kean Jr., a state senator and critic of the war himself.

Menendez clearly wants to be seen as the more "anti-war" of the two, so that he can differentiate himself from Kean in a state where most voters now say they are unhappy with the progress of the war.

He'd better be careful, though. Lack of enthusiasm for the way in which the war has been managed doesn't necessarily translate into public support for an abrupt exit before the job is finished.

Toward that point, Menendez' demand for so quick and arbitrary a withdrawal is out of sync with any measured or practical strategy to bring about a successful end to the hostilities, let alone a successful end to U.S. involvement. More than that, so extreme are his words, one has to wonder if Menendez even believes them himself. It's a good bet that he doesn't, but he is willing to lay aside his own sound judgment to pander to the most virulent critics of the war, a big part of his core constituency.

But the tactic may backfire with voters at large.

Most straight-thinking individuals — no matter what they think about the course of the war, or what they believe about its genesis — understand that a rapid pullout by the U.S. military at this juncture would further destabilize Iraq and, by extension, further embolden militant factions.

Menendez claims that the Iraqis will be able to secure their own country within the coming year. How does he know? Not even the best experts can agree on that score. What is clear is that the Iraqi security forces are not battle-ready yet. Until there is some inkling that day is at hand or is fast approaching, all talk of walking away is premature — and, frankly, unwise.

Bribes, Payoffs, and Politics: Feds subpoena records of Menendez rental deal

Federal investigators have subpoenaed records of a rental deal between U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and a non-profit agency in Union City, launching a criminal investigation that is sure to rock New Jersey’s hotly contested Senate race.

Affordable Housing: Affordable housing in N.J. nears its 'sunset' As 30-year deals expire, experts fear rising prices

As part of a sweeping national trend, New Jersey could soon begin losing tens of thousands of affordable housing units built decades ago with either federal housing subsidies or financial incentives offered by state judges.

Private developers, who agreed to keep the units affordable for between 10 and 30 years in exchange for the breaks, are being tempted to sell or convert the buildings by soaring condo prices and a hot rental market.

Board of Education: Teacher contract battles continue

With both sides citing tough economic times, many school districts and local unions statewide continue to battle it out at the bargaining table, fighting over salary increases, health care costs and work schedules -- key issues for teachers and taxpayers.

Nearly 115 districts in the state, including about 20 throughout North Jersey, are negotiating contracts as students head back to class this week. Of New Jersey's 593 school districts, 193 required new pacts this fall, according to school officials.

Board of Education: Santana-Alicea fills vacant Board of Ed. seat More criticism about the perceived lack of process

Without any public discussion or the opportunity for members of the public to apply for the position, the Board of Education voted to add Wanda Santana-Alicea to the board on Tuesday night.

Former Board Trustee Santana-Alicea fills the unexpired term of John Raslowsky II, who resigned so he can become a candidate for the next superintendent of schools.

Board of Education: Public advocate joins eminent-domain foes. He'll take part in appeal of Long Branch decision

LONG BRANCH — Embattled homeowners in a waterfront neighborhood fighting the city's efforts to take their homes for private redevelopment gained a powerful ally Wednesday — their second in two days — in their fight to protect their properties.

State Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen said he would participate in an appeal to block upscale condominiums from replacing homes in the Marine Terrace-Ocean Terrace-Seaview Avenue area, commonly known as MTOTSA, which residents say is a well-established, close-knit neighborhood.