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Archive for the ‘Criminal Justice’ Category

It’s that time of the year again. The New Jersey Press Association presents the Legislative Correspondent’s Club annual show.

Basically, the state’s  ( now dwindling ) press corps performs a series of skits and songs that mock the political and media elite of the Garden State. It is often quite funny replete with costumes, wigs and other flamboyant accessories that would make even Elton John blush.

As for my role…well, I am El Presidente this year. That means I don’t actually have to sing ( which is not my strong suit ). I have to deliver the introductory speech which is supposed to be funny and slightly mean spirited. Well, I don’t know how funny it shall be, although I’m working on it. It will most certainly be biting, and of course familiar.

Then of course, after the show is over, people get to stand around and hang out in a cocktail party-type atmosphere which is even more fun. And the whole evening is off the record. So, if you are remotely interested, I urge you to purchase tickets. Proceeds go to charity.

Contact Peg Stephan 609-406-0600 ext. 14. or pastephan@njpa.org

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New Jersey gun owners recently had a rude awakening when they were reminded that the state’s gun laws are some of the toughest in the nation. And it all started with a government sanctioned program that has been around since the early 20th century.

It’s called the Civilian Marksmanship Program. It’s nationwide, and it falls under the Federal Government’s Corporation for The Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety. Here is how it works. Civilians can apply for military surplus M-1 rifles, and receive one in the mail for a fee. The idea behind the program is to encourage safe and legal gun ownership. Each participant undergoes a thorough background check.

The program goes back to the late 19th century, but the direct lineage can be traced back to 1903 When President Teddy Roosevelt established the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice. Anyway, you get the idea. It’s been around for a long time. It may not be your cup of tea, but believe it or not there are gun owners in New Jersey who have participated.

Apparently in the beginning of April,  at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the New Jersey State Police contacted CMP ( which has outposts in Alabama and Ohio ) and informed its leadership that they believe the organization is violating NJ law by shipping rifles directly to people in NJ and not going through dealers. A couple of weeks later, representatives from the Attorney General’s Office, The state Police, ATF and CMP met in West Trenton to discuss how to comply with state statute which the Dept. of Law and Public Safety tells me is N.J.S. 2C:39-9i, and 58-3b. In order to purchase a firearm in New Jersey, one must present a special ID card expressly for that purpose. By allowing people to fax that card in, CMP was not looking at them directly which violates the law. In other words people have to go through dealers in order to physically present the card to a live person. If you think that sounds like a nit-picky technicality that is probably because you are right. It is.

Keep in mind we are not talking about handguns here. There is a whole other set of complicated criteria that needs to be met if you want to legally get ahold of one of them.

So, from now on people in New Jersey will not be allowed to purchase rifles directly and have them shipped through the mail. They will have to go through authorized firearms dealers. Not the end of the world, but it has kind of irked some gun owners who feel it’s just more regulation over something they have a legal right to do. The fact that the A-G’s office played a role further irritates them. They believe Paula Dow’s actions ( including weighing in on a recent California case that went to the US Supreme Court: see earlier post “Did Dow go Rogue?” ) are “not consistent with what you would expect from a Republican Administration.”

As for CMP, this is unusual but not unprecedented. They sometimes get calls from police departments, but usually those departments back off when its discovered that CMP is exempt from Federal law and can legally ship directly to people’s homes. Chicago and New York City have prevented that from happening, and now apparently so has New Jersey.

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Here is the piece from NJN News. Thanks to my Producer who alloted me five minutes and thirty seconds to tell the story ( an eternity in broadcast news ).

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Wow. Where do I even begin?

44 arrests including two sitting Assemblymen, a couple of Mayors, a Council President and others.

A lot of this information has already been reported, so I will try and focus on some things that have not, or at least not widely.

It’s been pieced together at this point that Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy is likely “Incumbent Official #4.” Leona Beldini, Deputy Mayor of Jersey City ( also arrested yesterday ) allegedly shook down bribes for Healy’s re-election bid earlier this year.

Beldini is named in the complaint as “Treasurer” of a campaign. She only served as Treasurer for Healy.

Two members of the Corzine administration have now been touched by this. Joe Doria, The Commissioner of Department of Community Affairs had his home and office raided by FBI agents. He subequently resigned.

And a Spokeswoman for Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts confirms that he is the unnamed official in the complaint against ( sitting Assemblyman ) L. Harvey Smith. Smith allegedly bragged about putting in a call to a high ranking DOT official to obtain a permit. Dilts and Smith did speak recently, but Dilts supposedly told him that he could not expedite the permit, and it would have to go through the process like every other apllication.

I say “supposedly” because I didn’t hear the call (obviously ).

I had joked earlier that it’s a testament to New Jersey’s diversity that Jews, Blacks, Italians, Latinos republicans and democrats could all be implicated together in the same corruption scandal, but it’s really not a laughing matter.

I should also point out that none of these individuals are guilty until proven so in a court of law. Or they  decide to plead guilty and snitch on each other.

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Can a Republican win statewide in New Jersey during this current climate?

Probably, but he or she would need to be what were once derisively referred to as a RINO ( Republican in name only ).

In other words, not a fire and brimstone Republican but a practical, pragmatic one. Christie made an interesting display of that this week when he spoke about the need to give some prisoners a second chance.

Law enforcement is obviously an area where he has much experience, so it was somewhat refreshing to hear him say that the only way to handle criminals is NOT lock ’em up and throw away the key. People in densely populated New Jersey understand that it’s a little more complicated than that with recidivism rates as high as they are. The goal here of course is keep people safe. Piece is below.

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