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Garage may be replaced by 12-story building. City moves to be able to sell Observer Highway facility to developer

The Hoboken Planning Board voted Monday to label the city's Municipal Garage on Observer Highway an "area in need of redevelopment." If the City Council accepts this recommendation at a special meeting Monday at 6 p.m., the council can choose a developer to build on the site and then sell the property to that developer for a needed cash infusion.

The city is already anticipating $5 million in this year's proposed $72 million municipal budget from the sale. A similar situation occurred last year, but a council minority balked at the deal, forcing the budget to be held up longer and city government to temporarily shut down. The minority did not want to be rushed into the deal. For the current fiscal year, a proposed city budget was introduced in December but has still not been finalized, even though the year began last July 1 and ends in three months.

Judge: Mob rat's tapes OK

A federal judge yesterday denied a motion by reputed mobster Joseph "Big Joe" Scarbrough seeking to throw out of court recordings made by an FBI informant.

Scarbrough's lawyer, Michael Koribanics, argued that the informant, Peter "Petey Cap" Caporino, continued his own criminal activities while working with the FBI for as long as a decade, making the FBI a collaborator in those crimes.

N.J. to let twentysomethings tap parents' health plans

N.J. to let twentysomethings tap parents' health plans

On your 18th birthday, you can buy a pack of smokes. Make it to 21 and you can belly up to the bar. Retirement at 65 was standard until the age was raised for future retirees.

Life is full of milestones marked by age. Now, New Jersey is giving residents an extra decade to reach another significant one: when to acquire your own health insurance.

A new law effective in early May will require health insurers to allow twentysomethings to piggyback on their parents' plans, extending current coverage by more than 10 years.

Countersuits also filed in suit vs. Janiszewski

Prison letters, countersuits and a freeze on millions of dollars of property are just a few of the details emerging from Hudson County's civil suit against disgraced former County Executive Robert Janiszewski and others connected to the notorious political corruption scandal.

The county filed a wide-ranging civil complaint in January seeking to recoup more than $26 million in bribes received and "illegal" county contracts doled out while Janiszewski - who is serving prison time for extortion - was in office.

DOC TAKES SWIPE AT LAWSUIT

Nail dirty pols, Union City psychiatrist says in counterclaim

The Union City psychiatrist who helped the FBI snare corrupt former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski and is now being sued by the county says he is a victim of retaliation by "cronies" of the former political boss, according to a counterclaim filed in federal court.

Dr. Oscar Sandoval, who once held contracts to provide psychiatric care at the county jail, is among 14 defendants in a lawsuit filed by the county in January seeking damages equal to bribes, "illegally" obtained contracts, interest and attorneys fees. That suit seeks $26 million, $7 million from Sandoval alone.

Sandoval: Jail death cover-up

Among the many charges made by Dr. Oscar Sandoval in his counterclaim against Hudson County is that he was silenced regarding the death of a prisoner he thought might have been a homicide.

"In 1994, after the suicidal death of a patient because of the negligence of the (Hudson County) Correctional Center which then tried to cover it up, Dr. Sandoval orally communicated that the death could have been a homicide," says Sandoval's complaint, filed in response to the county's suit seeking damages from bribes paid to disgraced former County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

"Dr. Sandoval was threatened that he would be criminally charged with interference with an investigation if he persisted in bringing to the attention of the authorities the non-suicidal nature of the incident."

Little Ferry Council acts to curb its own Eminent Domain power

LITTLE FERRY -- The Borough Council is proposing both an ordinance and a resolution to limit its authority to take private property through eminent domain.

Both moves are intended to give homeowners an added sense of security that their properties won't be seized for redevelopment.

ShapTalk: The Need For Serious Property Tax Reform

03-18-2006
As property taxes continue to skyrocket forcing senior citizens to sell their homes, barring young families from purchasing homes and squeezing the middle class who currently own homes, one thing is clear: unless we tackle New Jersey’s property tax problems, many people who currently live in, or would like to live in New Jersey will be unable to afford to do so. To reform the property tax system, our elected leaders must have the courage to examine the proclivity towards “home rule” and to require the wealthier Abbott Districts to begin to pay their fair share of property taxes. Until then, any talk of property tax reform is just that -- talk.

Time is ripe for poorer districts to contribute

David Sciarra (Executive Director of the Education Law Center) is a lefty lawyer whose mission in life is to help urban kids get a decent education.  And he's very good at it. For a decade or so, he's been beating the state over the head in court, forcing Trenton to send a flood of money to the poorest school districts, known as Abbotts.

Sciarra now believes that some of the healthier Abbott districts should lighten the state's load by raising their own property taxes. Hoboken, that yuppie haven, is only the most obvious case.

The problem of thin-skinned politicos

A New Jersey politician is hoping to outlaw anonymous speech on the Internet, claiming that civility must be mandatory in political debate.  State Assemblyman Peter J. Biondi, a Republican from Somerset County, recently introduced legislation that would require any "public forum Web site" to solicit the legal name and addresses of everyone who can post messages to it.

What irks Biondi, a top Republican in the state assembly, is the political free-for-all that has grown around the New Jersey Star-Ledger's discussion site at NJ.com. The site's forum for Somerset County--that is, Biondi's home district--is home to a slew of pseudonymous posts that tend to be less than kind to local politicians.