Emergency Centers In New Jersey Get More then $2 Million Despite Obama’s Request

21 10 2009

More than $2 million for emergency centers in North Jersey and billions for grant programs that have helped the region in the past were in a nearly $43 billion homeland security spending bill the Senate sent to President Obama on Tuesday.

Obama’s expected to sign it, even though Congress ignored his recommendation to eliminate some programs too steeped in politics. Here’s a look at the bill:

WHO’S GETTING MONEY: $60 million is provided for grants around the country to local emergency centers where public safety and civilian leaders coordinate responses to emergencies such as storms or man-made disasters. More than $5.3 million is earmarked for specific areas in New Jersey, including:

* $300,000 toward a $1.3 million emergency center Hackensack wants to build on its former pistol range in Johnson Park. City Manager Steve Lo Iacono said the city is raising money from other sources as well, but needs approvals from the state because some of the land has been preserved through the Green Acres program.

* $250,000 for Passaic County to renovate its emergency center, increase security and upgrade technology.

* $1 million for the Morris County emergency center.

* $500,000 for the North Hudson Fire and Rescue emergency center.

REJECTING OBAMA: Obama recommended in May that emergency center grants be eliminated because 60 percent of the $35 million appropriated this year was earmarked by Congress to specific places, rather than awarded where the risk was greatest. Rather that cut, Congress increased the program to $60 million, and earmarked 80 percent.

BUSES AND TRUCKS: Obama proposed eliminating security programs providing $12 million to bus companies and $8 million to trucking companies, saying federal grants were funding capital investments that private companies could make themselves. Congress did kill the truck program, but continued the bus program. New Jersey bus lines got $3.3 million in the last grant award.

SAFETY RESEARCH: The Transportation Security Administration gets $5 million to expand its explosives-detection research lab in Atlantic County. A California non-profit gets $1 million for training programs in five states, including New Jersey, on how to get different public safety communication systems to talk with each other.

REGIONAL GRANTS: Urban Area Security Grants were increased by $50 million, or 6 percent for next year. North Jersey got more than $35 million this year, which may increase. But port security grants were reduced by $100 million, or 25 percent. Obama had recommended a 37 percent cut.
(News Source: NorthJersey.com/Herb Jackson/PCJN)

Learn today at P.T.I in passaic

8 10 2009

Passaic County Sheriff Plays Politics

7 10 2009

passaic county sheriffI’m sure glad I don’t live in Passaic County. The sheriff might throw me in the slammer for impersonating J.J. Moon.

“J.J. Moon” is the screen name I use when I post on surfing websites. It’s also the name of a fictional surf star created by Surfer Magazine during the 1960s. J.J. would often be pictured riding a huge wave in Hawaii or riding the nose at Malibu.

But the photos were created with a cut-and-paste technique that was the low-tech equivalent of Photoshop. It was all a big joke, and you’d have to have been really dull-witted to take it seriously.

Sort of like Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale. At least I hope he’s dull-witted. Otherwise he’s guilty of the most blatant case of political persecution I’ve ever seen.

The victim was Harry Clark, a 49-year-old resident of West Milford who fixes copy machines for a living and who is active with the Republican Party. In 2007, for a joke, he created an account at this newspaper’s website, nj.com, under the screen name “JimGeist.” That name is very close to that of a local Democrat by the name of James Geist.

The joke was obvious to anyone paying attention. The profile of “JimGeist,” for example, included the statement “I am an admirer of the greatest guy in the world Harry Clark.”

Geist was not amused. He fired off a letter to his fellow Democrat, Sheriff Jerry Speziale, in which he noted that “some Republicans have been using the internet site http://www.nj.com/forums/westmilford/ to harass several of our members,” by which Geist meant members of the West Milford Democratic Club. He went on to call for the sheriff to bring criminal charges against whoever was doing the posting.

At this point, Speziale should have called up Geist and recited the old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Instead, he put his crack internet crime team on the case. Before long Clark was being hauled off by three officers. The sheriff’s office had signed off on two complaints charging him with forgery and identity theft based on “posting messages ridiculing and defaming others without consent.”

As I sat in Clark’s kitchen the other day reading that complaint I nearly fell out of my chair. I have a blog on nj.com. If posting messages ridiculing and defaming others under a false name is a crime, then half my readers belong in jail.

But there’s something about the internet that makes people go crazy, even people who should know better, such as journalists. The local paper led its Passaic County section with news of the arrest for “alleged misuse of the internet” that involved “anonymous, insulting remarks” without giving the slightest hint that insulting remarks, whether anonymous or not, are not against the law. The story ended with the reporter’s observation that “Clark most likely will face thousands of dollars in fines, and could be given jail time.”

Well maybe in the old Soviet Union. Here in the good, old U.S. of A. the prosecution was troubled from the beginning. Though a prosecutor initially told Clark, “these are very serious charges and you could go to jail for a long time for this,” he says, by September of that year the charges had been downgraded to a disorderly persons offense to be heard in municipal court.

That should have been the end of it, but the prosecutor persisted, changing the putative offense to “harassment” when it was obvious the fraud and identity-theft charges were bogus.

Finally, the case came before someone with some common sense, Pompton Lakes Municipal Court Judge Frank Santoro. Last month he threw the whole thing out.

When I got Sheriff’s spokesman Bill Maer on the phone, he said Speziale stands by the prosecution.

“We maintain that our investigators found that the manner in which this individual did this, by saying they were somebody else setting up a fictitious screen name and saying they were somebody else, was illegal,” said Maer.

Interesting. But then why isn’t the sheriff going after Geist himself? In the course of the proceedings it developed that he has been posting online using the name of a certain “Barack Obama.”

When I got Geist on the phone, he said his use of Obama’s name and the name of other political figures online was clearly satirical. And I’m sure it was. But Clark’s use of Geist’s name was also a joke, a common one on the internet. Of the thousands who play such jokes every day, only Clark had his name dragged through the mud and spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees.

Maer denied politics entered into the prosecution. And maybe he’s right. Maybe the sheriff and the prosecutor are so busy that neither has had the time to read the Constitution.

It’s about time they did, starting with the First Amendment.  Nj.com

Passaic Fire Parade

5 10 2009

PassaicFire_r1_c1.jpThe Passaic Fire Department 100th Anniversary Parade
“Help us celebrate 100 years of proud service to the City of Passaic.”
Sunday – October 11, 2009
Starting at 11a.m. – Rain or Shine
Parade starts at Eighth St., continues the length of Passaic St./Ave. and ends in Third Ward Park
Refreshments in the park after the parade
For more information or to purchase an advertisement in the Commemorative Ad Journal send an e-mail to: passaicfire100th@gmail.com

*SAVE THE DATE* Editors note unfortunately it is during Yom Tov

Experts speculate gas may drop below $1 a gallon

15 12 2008

A worker lowers the price of regular unleaded gasoline in Independence, Mo. in November
How low can the price of gas fall? With drivers paying the cheapest price to fill their tanks in nearly four years, it is a question many consumers are pondering, with some experts speculating it is possible prices could even drop below $1 per gallon.
Prices already have decreased to below $1.25 per gallon in some parts of the Midwest. With the economy in a freefall, analysts do not rule out crude oil, which traded Friday in the mid-$40 range, sinking to $20 per barrel, a price that could translate to gas at $1 per gallon.

“Right now, you look at the way demand is retreating, it tends to predict lower prices,” said John Kingston, global director of oil for Platt’s, a provider of energy information. “A drop to $20 per barrel is not out of the question.”

In New Jersey, the price of unleaded regular fell to $1.60 Friday, the lowest it has been since March 2004, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Services in Wall Township. In July, the state recorded its highest ever average price for unleaded at $3.99.

“I’m not in the camp where we’ll see prices fall to $1 per gallon or less,” said Kloza, who thinks crude could dip below $40 per barrel, but if so, only briefly. “Here, (in New Jersey), we will see some numbers below $1.50 per gallon.” Read the rest of this entry »

Capuana ops stay up and running in advance of next year’s contest

9 12 2008

PASSAIC – It stands right across from City Hall, and although he came up 400 votes short in last week’s mayoral election, sources close to Vinny Capuana say his headquarters isn’t going anywhere.

It will remain open and active.

There is a mayor’s race next year, after all.

As mayor, Capuana’s conqueror, Alex Blanco, will enjoy the advantage of incumbency in next year’s mayoral contest for a full, four-year term.

But both Blanco and Capuana are trying to secure the backing of those other contestants in last week’s race to fill the unexpired term of Sammy Rivera: real estate developer Jose Sandoval, City Councilman Joe Garcia, and bail bondsman Carl Ellen.  PolitickerNJ.com


Vinny Capuana's headquarter's

N.J. police stockpile assault weapons

20 08 2008

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — North Jersey police are stockpiling some of the most sophisticated tactical and assault weapons on the market, but some residents question the need for such firepower in sleepy suburban towns.

Nearly half the agencies in a Record survey of 44 police departments said they own tactical weapons or plan to purchase them in the near future. Most departments are buying semiautomatic guns capable of one to three shots per trigger pull, while a handful of departments have fully automatic weapons capable of firing 10 bullets a second. A few have military-grade M16s or urban rifles that can blast through body armor.

“You’re not looking at major crime in these towns,” said Eric Krasnov, a 26-year-old from Harrington Park who works in Tenafly. Read the rest of this entry »