Thursday, July 14, 2011

Obama Owns the Debt-Ceiling Fiasco By Karl Rove

It doesn't help that he's declared high-speed rail and even unspent stimulus funds as untouchable..


JULY 14, 2011

President Barack Obama and Congress face a mess if the federal government hits the debt ceiling Aug. 2. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, projects that the government will receive $172 billion in revenues between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, but it is on the hook to spend $306 billion, leaving a shortfall of $134 billion.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama told Scott Pelley of CBS News that "there may simply not be the money in the coffers" to issue Social Security, veterans and disability checks after Aug. 3.

Not so. The $172 billion in revenues collected over the rest of the month can pay the $29 billion interest charges on the national debt, Social Security benefits ($49 billion), Medicaid and Medicare ($50 billion), active duty military pay ($2.9 billion), Department of Defense vendors ($31.7 billion), IRS refunds ($3.9 billion), and about a quarter of the $12.8 billion in unemployment checks due that month.

There will, however, be no cash for highway construction, no checks for federal workers or retirees, no agriculture payments, no open national parks. Interest rates are also likely to rise if U.S. debt is downgraded, adding massively to the deficit and further damaging the economy. This would be a disaster with no political winners.

The president wants a $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling increase to get him past next year's election—and the deal he's proposing is based on promised future cuts paired with substantial tax increases on households earning more than $250,000 a year.

House Speaker John Boehner proposed matching a debt-ceiling hike with substantial spending cuts. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal spending at $46.1 trillion over the next 10 years, a dramatic escalation from projections before Mr. Obama took office. Mr. Boehner's modest proposal was to trim that back 5.2% over the decade, but the president balked.

Yet the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that Mr. Obama talks about is shy on details. No one who's attended his frequent negotiating sessions knows what his proposal really is.

The president has made a bipartisan agreement even more difficult by declaring certain spending off-limits to cuts. Mr. Obama's "untouchable" list includes his $1 trillion health-care reform, $128 billion in unspent stimulus funds, education and training outlays, his $53 billion high-speed rail proposal, spending on "green" jobs and student loans, and virtually any structural changes to entitlements except further squeezing payments to doctors, hospitals and health-care professionals.

Mr. Obama has offered no evidence since becoming president that he wants to restrain the upward trajectory of government spending. He does want higher taxes to pay for significantly higher federal spending. But he wants Republicans to deliver the tax increases, since Democrats couldn't pass them last year despite controlling both chambers of Congress.

Republicans have wisely declined. Demanding the GOP vote for immediate tax increases that would be offset by vague, future tax cuts conjures up images of Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football. The tax increases would be real—the future tax rate cuts would be imaginary. And Mr. Obama has opposed any serious spending enforcement mechanisms, such as a balanced budget amendment or hard caps on spending.

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.

Smith sworn-in as Superior Court judge By Danielle Camilli

Janet Z. Smith of Cinnaminson is sworn in as a New Jersey Superior Court judge Wednesday at the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly in a private ceremony. Burlington County Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder swore her in as her husband, Brad Smith (left), held the bible. Photo/Donna Mazzanti

July 14, 2011

MOUNT HOLLY — New Superior Court Judge Janet Z. Smith was sworn in Tuesday during a private ceremony at the Burlington County Courthouse.

Burlington County Assignment Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder administered the oath of office to Smith as her husband, Brad, held the Bible. The Cinnaminson resident was welcomed to the county bench by other judges and court staff.

Smith, who was confirmed by the state Senate on June 29, will serve in the family division of the county courts, joining five other judges there. Gov. Chris Christie nominated the fellow Republican for the post in March.

Smith, who was admitted to the bar in 1976, had been in private practice since 1992 with her husband, and has served as a municipal prosecutor and solicitor. Brad Smith is a former township mayor and former state senator, and served as a county freeholder from 1985 to 1992.

The new judge also is a former deputy assistant public defender. She spent 12 years with the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office, serving in Burlington County courts.

Bookbinder said Smith brings to the bench integrity, honesty and a desire to serve and help the public. Her appointment also helps ease a shortage of judges on the county bench, and particularly the family division, he said.

“With the number of filings, the family division really needs seven judges and now we have six,” Bookbinder said. “At one point, we were as low as four judges within the last year.”

The county’s top judge hopes two more attorneys will be nominated to the judiciary and be assigned to Burlington County to bring the bench to its full complement of 18.

“We are happy to be back at 16. We need to be at 17. We are hoping that we get 18 that our workload requires,” Bookbinder said.

Since taking office in 2010, Christie has nominated two judges to the county bench — Smith and Superior Court Judge Philip Haines, who was sworn in last October.

However, Christie also left the county courts with one less experienced judge when he choose not to renominate now-retired Judge James Morley, a registered Democrat, last summer. At the time, Morley was the county’s presiding judge of its criminal division and decisions and comments he made from the bench in two-high profile cases appeared to be a factor, but the governor never explained his reasoning.

Capturing The 'New-collar' Vote

Source: Posted: December 21, 1986

In Camden and Burlington Counties, where for years the political terrain has been carved by traditional party loyalties, there is a vast colony of voters who have a few things in common.

In the past five years, leaders of both the Democrats and the Republicans acknowledge, these voters have placed little trust in partisan politics, voting on the strength of individual candidates, not party devotion. Some of them have upscale jobs, but the vast majority of these voters are concerned with so-called pocketbook issues: taxes, mortgage rates and job security.

They are young voters. And, leaders of both parties say, they are up for grabs.

In both counties, political organizers have maneuvered quietly behind the scenes to gain the trust, and the votes, of thousands of these young residents - an effort that has been gathering momentum since Ronald Reagan helped the Republican Party rob the young vote from the Democrats in 1980.

But now the fight is out in the open, and both Republicans and Democrats are looking to corral those young voters into their respective camps.

"The record is clear," said George Geist, chairman of the Camden County Republican Committee, "that in this county, GOP does not stand for Grand Old Party. In Camden County, GOP stands for Golden Opportunity Party."

There is no accurate count of young voters. But local political experts think they can closely approximate their strength by counting the number of voters who have registered as independents - 106,000 of them in Camden County and 80,000 in Burlington County. Leaders of both parties say these "open voters" are increasingly more important in determining the outcome of local elections.

In traditionally Democratic Camden County, Geist, a 31-year-old lawyer, has been out front pushing young organizers to join the Republican Party and bring young voters along with them.

But in Burlington County, where the Republicans dominate local and county elections, leading Democrats say they have confronted a dilemma about their party's future: take advantage of a younger, more dynamic group of candidates and voters or face more years of frustration.

The Democratic revival in Burlington County, sidetracked in November by a Republican sweep of county offices, is being put together, oddly enough, by a retired surgeon, Ralph V. Franciosi of Edgewater Park. He's 54 and recently had heart bypass surgery, but he is convinced that the Democrats need a transfusion of new blood.

"Sometimes," he said, "it's hard to get young people active politically, but all we want is them active at the polls. We want to get them out to vote."

But the effort to attract young voters is not a simple story of the parties on the outside - Republicans in Camden County and Democrats in Burlington county - looking for a way to gain power on the inside. Even the entrenched incumbents have begun to recognize the need for candidates with a new approach.

In 1985, for example, three Camden County Republicans - emphasizing the need for a change and a fresh approach to county government - were elected to the county freeholder board for the first time in a decade.

Taking the hint, the Democrats went on this year to nominate two new faces on the Camden County political scene - Robert E. Andrews, 29, and Matthew E. Segal, 31. Both men were swept onto the freeholder board last month.

The chairman of the Camden County Democratic Committee, Haddonfield attorney Lou Meloni, said the Democrats are not necessarily looking for candidates who are young, but ones "with style and aggressiveness."

"Our strategy," Meloni said, "is to try to show that the Democrats are synonymous with good government. That's what our game plan is."

Paul Maslin, a political consultant in Washington who has worked as a pollster for Democratic Congressman James J. Florio, said the baby-boom generation makes up about half the adult population. About half of that segment of the population is made up of what has been called "new-collar" voters.

"In general," Maslin said, "they are of the baby-boom generation, about 20-40 years old. They have a blue-collar background, but they work in the service industries now."

They are not "yuppies," Maslin said, referring to the upwardly mobile class of the baby-boomers made famous by advertisers.

"They are people who have been deceived by the 'you-can-have-it-all' Michelob commercials," said Andrews, one of the two newly elected Democrats on the Camden County freeholder board. In short, said Andrews, they are voters who are in search not so much of a party, but a candidate, one who can deliver a new approach to government.

The largest pockets of open voters are in the sprawling, developing townships that border the two counties: Mount Laurel and Evesham in Burlington County and Voorhees in Camden County.

Sandra Featherman, a political science professor at Temple University, said that while there has been no study to pinpoint the voting patterns of the new residents of these townships, their political roots lie in Democratic Philadelphia. Yet, these voters have chosen to leave their loyalties across the river, she said, and vote - if they vote at all - on the basis of the candidate's quality, not the party.

"You have a new professional class of informational specialists working in industries in that area," said Featherman. "They're the kind of people who are used to making up their own minds about things."

In Voorhees, for instance, the stakes are high. According to county records, Voorhees Township has 5,709 open voters on the rolls. That's twice the number of registered Democrats and five times the number of registered Republicans.

In Burlington County in November, the Republicans kept all five seats on the freeholder board and gained the sheriff's office for the first time since 1959. They did it with a strong showing in traditionally Republican townships such as Medford and Moorestown and points east. The Democrats were able to get a clear majority in the western portion of the county, particularly Willingboro Township, but were unable to help themselves in Evesham and Mount Laurel.

Republican incumbent Freeholder Director Bradford S. Smith defeated Democratic challenger Paul Guidry by 1,200 votes in Mount Laurel and 500 votes in Evesham. The Republican candidate for sheriff, Henry W. Metzger, beat his Democratic opponent, William Rowley, by similar margins in both towns. By comparison, the Republican victory in Medford Township was by a ratio of more than 2-1.

But county Democrats did make inroads in November. An example is Shamong Township, where a Democrat cracked the Republican domination of municipal government for the first time in years, but only on the sheer persistence of one woman, Mary Ann Reinhart, who won a Township Committee seat in November after failing in three previous tries.

Reinhart, 39, said that her involvement in politics had little to do with any trend of young candidates seeking young voters. She said she ran for elected office after the Township Committee failed to help provide pressure against the state and federal government to clean up a toxic-waste site near her house.

"I was upset with the way they handled the issue," she said. "And I was determined to do something about it."

Across the border in Camden County, in Magnolia, the Republicans took control of the Borough Council in November for the first time in 10 years. The Republican comeback was engineered by Darleen Quigley Owens, 27, who is divorced and has a 3-year-old son and lives with her mother, Catherine Quigley.

For years, Owens said, she had been wondering why the Republicans were dormant in Magnolia. After working at the borough's election polls in November 1984, she decided to attend Republican meetings. With her son in a stroller, she went door to door in the borough, asking residents to join the Republican Party. In June 1985, she was elected chairwoman of the borough Republican organization, and that November her mother was elected to the Borough Council.

This year, despite a 2-1 Democratic edge in voter registration, the Republicans won three seats on the Borough Council, and Catherine Quigley was sworn in as mayor Nov. 13.

"I really believe that our party offers more to the young voter," said Geist, chief architect of the Republican resurgence in Camden County.

But Lou Capelli, a law student from Collingswood who is president of the Young Democrats of Camden County, countered that the Republicans relied on the appeal of Ronald Reagan to attract young voters. As Reagan's attraction ''wears off," he said, the Democrats will regain the loyalty of young voters they enjoyed in the previous two decades.

"People liked Ronald Reagan because they thought he'd make it better for them economically, but they really didn't look at the issues," said Capelli.

In both counties, party leaders are looking for more young candidates and organizers such as Darleen Quigley Owens - people with drive - to appeal to voters and get them to the polls.

Burlington County Democratic chairman Franciosi identified one candidate for a leading role in the party. He is Ted Costa, the 30-year-old son of state Sen. Catherine Costa (D., Burlington County) and the treasurer of the Burlington County Democratic Committee.

Costa, a lawyer who lives in Delran, said that he would like to run for office in the future, but that his primary concern is reorganizing the party under Franciosi, who became chairman in June.

Democratic strength in the so-called river towns on Burlington County's western edge has to be solidified, and the party has to move aggressively eastward, paying particular attention to the potential swing votes in Mount Laurel and Evesham.

"Voter identification has declined," said Costa. "Certain pluralities - and voter patterns - cannot be taken for granted."

Burlco Oks Referendum On Insurance

Source: Posted: July 27, 1989

Ignoring a protest from their director that they were flirting with scandal, four Burlington County freeholders yesterday voted to put a nonbinding referendum on auto insurance reform on the November ballot.

By approving the referendum, Burlington becomes the 13th county to ask voters whether the freeholders should request the state legislature to effect several insurance revisions.

Those revisions include a reduction in auto insurance rates by 20 percent, elimination of New Jersey's Joint Underwriting Association, repeal of the insurance industry's protection against antitrust laws, establishment of a computerized auto insurance price information system and creation of a nonprofit corporation to represent consumer interests before the state Insurance Department.

The freeholders had been advised by their solicitor, Michael Hogan, that the referendum was illegal because the freeholders had no authority to tell the legislature what to do.

And Freeholder Director Michael J. Conda had said at earlier meetings that he would sue the other freeholders if they disregarded Hogan's opinion.

Before the vote in yesterday's public meeting in Mount Holly, Conda likened a vote for the referendum to "the HUD scandal and the Burlington Bristol Bridge Commission scandal" and said he did not want to see the freeholder board's reputation tainted by a vote for an illegal referendum.

Conda referred to allegations of influence peddling within the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and of expense padding against the former executive director of the bridge commission.

Freeholder Eugene W. Stafford told Conda he was "frustrated by your remarks."

"There is no way . . . I can understand how you can bring in scandals and conflicts of interest" to a discussion about the referendum, Stafford said. He said the question before the board was simply whether residents should be given a chance to voice their opinions on auto insurance reform.

Earlier, in an open conference session, Conda said the referendum would mislead voters into believing that their vote would by itself change insurance laws.

"When it passes, they're going to think insurance rates are going to go down," Conda said.

"We (Republican freeholders) never, ever played with the public," Conda said. "We've always been straight with the public. We all know we're playing with the public" with the referendum, he said.

Mary Adams of Willingboro, one of about 30 referendum supporters at the 11 a.m. public meeting, said she only wanted a chance to voice her opinion.

"I'm sure that the people are intelligent enough to understand it's not a law as soon as it (the referendum) is passed," she told Conda.

Roland Sauvageau of Evesham Township told the board that he knew of people ''who said: 'I can't go to the (freeholders) meeting because I have to work overtime to pay my insurance.' "

Sauvageau asked whether Hogan had been diligent in researching his opinion on the referendum to find out how 12 other counties in the state had managed to legally place the question on their ballots on Nov. 7.

Freeholder Bradford S. Smith, a lawyer, said he has followed the insurance issue and "quite frankly, whatever individuals worked on this referendum and put it together knew what they were doing, particularly in the antitrust area."

"They (the insurance industry) are the only industry in the country who can get together and set rates," said Smith, who attributed that ability to the money and power held by insurance companies.

The referendum was prepared by "Citizens Auto Revolt," a public-interest group.

The other counties that have put the referendum on their ballots are: Atlantic, Bergen, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic and Salem.

New Burlco Judges Assigned Amid Backlog

Source: Posted: June 02, 1990

Burlington County's top judge yesterday mapped out assignments for three new judges but warned that they would not be a cure-all for the county's clogged court system.

Superior Court Judge Harold B. Wells 3d - the county's assignment judge - said he expected the new judges to help contain but not reduce the system's mounting backlog. The new judges, however, will bolster the county's capacity for hearing criminal and civil cases, he said.

Ronald E. Bookbinder of Burlington City will become the county's third full-time criminal judge. Patricia R. LeBon of Edgewater Park will become a civil judge. And Marvin E. Schlosser of Burlington City will hear both family court cases and civil cases involving claims of less than $5,000.

Bookbinder will be sworn in on June 19, Schlosser on June 20, and LeBon on June 25.

Wells' assignments must be approved by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz, but Wells said he anticipated no problems.

Two of the judgeships were created through a bill sponsored by State Sen. C. William Haines (R., Burlington) that boosted the number of Superior Court judges in the county to 12. The other appointment replaces Martin L. Haines, who retired in February. The three judges were approved by the Senate last week.

During an interview in his chambers yesterday, Wells said the county's caseload had grown so much that even the additional judges would not be able to solve the problem.

From April 1989 to April of this year, the county's backlog grew 47 percent, Wells said. There are now 3,544 cases in the county that are overdue to be heard.

Under state guidelines, criminal cases should be heard within four months and civil cases within a year. In all, there were 11,103 cases pending in Burlington County in April, the most recent month for which statistics were available.

Wells said that the county would only be at full strength for a short time. LeBon is almost eight months pregnant and, once her baby is born, is not expected to be working steadily until September.

In late September, Judge Dominick J. Ferrelli will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. And Judges Paul R. Kramer, Anthony P. Tunney Jr., and J. Gilbert Van Sciver are now eligible to retire if they want, Wells said.

Wells said that the county would need to hire additional judges if they were to eliminate the backlog.

"I do not see us reducing the backlog until we get judges 13 and 14," Wells said.

Assemblyman Thomas P. Foy (D., Burlington) has introduced legislation calling for two more judges for the county.

Bringing New Energy To Bench

Source: Posted: October 07, 1990

It is 4:23 on a Thursday afternoon in the Burlington County Courthouse in Mount Holly. The courthouse officially closes at 4:30 p.m. As a practical matter, it is usually dead before 4 p.m.

But on the bench is Ronald E. Bookbinder, the county's newest criminal court judge. Bookbinder still has five sentences to do. Many judges in Mount Holly have reached the same point and have postponed sentencings to another day. Bookbinder presses on.

He sentences the five defendants with breakneck speed, a pace that sometimes causes him to skip details. In one case, he omits the length of the sentence. But the sentences are done shortly after 5 p.m., eliminating what might have taken an entire morning of another day.

Bookbinder is bringing a new style to the criminal bench, an energetic - some would say hyperactive - approach that seems designed to work on reducing the county's mounting backlog of cases - a total of 468 as of Aug. 31.

The approach has worked already. July had the highest disposition of cases since the county started keeping monthly computer records in 1987. In all, 156 defendants either pleaded guilty or received a verdict in a jury trial in July, 44 more than the next highest month - January of this year.

Although some of the increase can be attributed to the addition of a third criminal judge, many courtroom observers say Bookbinder deserves most of the credit.

Bookbinder is on the bench at 9 a.m. each day. His five-minute breaks last five minutes. He is constantly looking for matters to be brought before him, sometimes walking in the hall in search of lawyers.

During lulls, he often hangs around the courtroom, his robes hanging open as he jokes with the courtroom regulars.

Some observers are happy with the bustle in Bookbinder's court, but worry that his enthusiasm will wane and he will become impatient in some of the more detailed or tedious motions. Bookbinder, moreover, has been handling mostly routine court matters. So far, he has had only two brief jury trials.

But many prosecutors and defense attorneys say they are pleased with the new judge and optimistic he will help get the county's criminal justice system rolling again.

On that Thursday afternoon, it took Bookbinder until 5:10 to get through the five sentencings. It was overtime for the sheriff's office, comp time for the court clerk, and just good will from the court reporter, Janice Tanzone, who stopped being paid at 4:30 p.m.

In his hurry to finish, Bookbinder forgot to mention the number of years one defendant was being sentenced to. (It was evident to the defendant's attorney, David Jacobs, that the sentence was five years, because that is the minimum for a youth reformatory sentence. But it was not evident to the defendant's family.) Another time, Bookbinder did not give the defendant his right to speak until after the sentence was pronounced.

In both cases, the sentencings were in line with what defense attorneys were asking for and no objections were made.

On another occasion, he postponed a case, but was told by a court worker that the new date was too soon to be recorded in the county's case management computer system.

"We will see if a computer will listen to a court order," Bookbinder said jokingly.


Bookbinder was selected in June along with Marvin E. Schlosser and Patricia LeBon, the county's first female judge, to fill a vacancy and two new positions on the bench. He was by far the best-known of the three new judges.

He had been the county's Democratic chairman from 1981 to 1986 and was on the Democratic state committee until he was named a judge. He was a frequent visitor to the Burlington County Courthouse, introducing himself to strangers and greeting acquaintances with his familiar "What's happening?"

In an interview, however, Bookbinder answered questions carefully. He said that he got into law because he enjoyed helping people. That was why he got involved in politics. And that was why he became a judge.

But he laughed heartily at the suggestion that the public was not likely to look at government workers, lawyers or politicians with as rosy a view.

"When I became involved in politics, it was sort of a famous time in our country called the '60s," Bookbinder said. "There are a lot of people who got involved with politics to help people in the 1960s."

Bookbinder offered a similarly positive view of his role as a judge.

"I'm helping victims and I'm helping innocent people," Bookbinder said. ''And the people who are guilty I'm helping because, number one, we are trying to get them a fast disposition, and, number two, we are trying to get them some rehabilitation."

In court, Bookbinder sometimes asks defendants who are scowling or talking under their breath to stand up and tell him what is wrong.

In one case, a man was brought before him for not paying child support. The man told Bookbinder that he could not work because of medical reasons. Bookbinder ordered him to make a doctor's appointment or go to jail.

The man went to a doctor the same day.

Bookbinder was born July 23, 1949, and has spent nearly his whole life in Burlington County. He attended Burlington Township High School and then Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., before going to George Washington University's law school in Washington, D.C. There he was on the law review and graduated in 1974 with honors.

He went to work with his uncle, local lawyer Sidney Bookbinder, after graduation. Within three weeks he had gotten involved with government work, becoming Planning Board attorney for Burlington Township.

Because those jobs - offering legal advice to a municipality or an agency of a municipality - were part time, Bookbinder took a lot of them. He was legislative counsel in Burlington Township, solicitor in Fieldsboro, and legal adviser to the Mount Laurel Utilities Authority, Pemberton Township Utilities Authority, Pemberton Township Planning Board, Delran Planning Board, Eastampton Planning Board, Wrightstown Planning Board, Riverside Zoning Board, Wrightstown Zoning Board, Mount Holly Zoning Board, Hainesport Zoning Board, Beverly Zoning Board, Edgewater Park Zoning Board, and Bordentown Utilities Authority. He was also municipal prosecutor in Palmyra and Pemberton Township, public defender in Burlington City, and hearing officer in Evesham.

Also after graduation, Bookbinder - who said he was always interested in politics - began to make his presence known in the county political scene. He was on the executive committee of the county's Democratic Party for five years before taking over as party chairman.

"No one in the past 20 years has done as much for his party," said Edward A. Kelly Jr., the county clerk and a prominent Republican.

But being a Democrat in Burlington County in the 1980s was not easy. The last Democratic freeholder was Catherine Costa, now a state senator, who left office in 1983. The last Democrat to hold a countywide position was Sheriff Francis P. Brennan, who left office in 1986. Bookbinder said that he had wanted to resign from the party chairman's job for two years, but could not find anyone who would take it.

Now Bookbinder - who, as a judge, is barred from participating in politics - said he did not miss it at all.

Becoming a judge, Bookbinder said, was one of many rewards he realized was available after his work on Gov. Florio's 1989 campaign. It enabled him to get out of the late-night meetings and spend more time with his family - wife Sylvia, and daughters Pamela, 10, and Linda, 6.

Many of the lawyers who practice in the Burlington County Superior Court have welcomed Bookbinder. They say his energy and enthusiasm are just what the county needs to battle the backlog.

"I'm very pleased with him," County Prosecutor Stephen G. Raymond said. ''It appears that he's going to be very concerned with moving cases."

Anne T. Manning, head of the county's Office of the Public Defender, said Bookbinder's work habits were a big help.

"He will get on the bench at 9 a.m. and stay however long it takes to finish what has been assigned to him," Manning said.

Sometimes, however, lawyers appear to get ruffled by the judge's abruptness. Others have complained of having to spend extra time in court for matters that are routinely handled out of court. For example, at a pretrial conference, a prosecutor and a defense attorney would normally discuss plea bargaining in a side room. If the deal is agreed to, the defendant would plead guilty. If it is not, both attorneys could leave. Bookbinder, however, has ordered that the attorneys discuss the terms of plea negotiations on the record in open court.

Bookbinder defends the practice.

"I want to keep track of what's going on in every case," he said. "If they come back into court and they write it down, then there's an official minute. We all can keep track of what's going on."

But some lawyers worry that Bookbinder might be pushing too much.

"He wants to do so much and he has so much energy," said one lawyer who asked not to be identified. "Sometimes that can be counterproductive."

Bookbinder's former law partner, Kenneth S. Domzalski, said he could see where lawyers would have some concerns.

"Maybe there were times he almost tried to take on too much and didn't get to these things as quickly as he should."

But Domzalski said Bookbinder always sorted himself out and got his work done.

Other acquaintances expect Bookbinder to carve out his own niche as a hard- working judge who can work with others.

"I believe he will retain a good feel for the real world," said Brian M. Guest, another of Bookbinder's former law partners.

"I don't think he's going to be a book judge," said Kelly, the county court clerk. "I think he's going to use common sense."

Republicans Take Aim At Incumbents In 7th

Source: Posted: October 29, 1991

Bradford S. Smith wants to take back the job his father lost nearly two decades ago: the state Senate seat representing much of Burlington County. Thomas P. Foy now fills that seat.

Priscilla Anderson, Willingboro's mayor, is competing with Barbara Faith Kalik, a former Willingboro mayor for one of two Assembly seats in that same legislative district, the Seventh.

And former Palmyra mayor John E. Casey wants the same job that the current Mount Holly mayor, Jose Sosa, wants: another one of those two Assembly seats.

These are the motives behind the telephone-pole and front-lawn signs, the frequent junk mail and the many news conferences that have, since September, been part of life in the 15 communities from Pennsauken to Mount Holly that make up the Seventh District.

Smith, Anderson and Sosa are Republicans, challenging the incumbent Democrats, Foy, Kalik and Casey.

The Seventh District, a swath of towns that borders the Delaware River north to Burlington Township and reaches to Maple Shade, Cinnaminson, Willingboro, Westampton and Mount Holly, has been the property of the Democrats for many years.

But this year, a couple of factors have encouraged the Republicans to believe they can take back a political territory where they have been unable to elect a candidate since redistricting in the early 1970s. The last Republican elected to represent the towns that now make up the Seventh District was Walter L. Smith, Bradford Smith's father.

The Republicans believe they see widespread resentment to Gov. Florio's tax programs. They have done their best to focus voter attention on those programs and to emphasize the negative aspects of the taxes.

The same theme is at the heart of Republican campaigns across the state. In the Seventh District, as elsewhere, the Republicans are criticizing not only Florio's plans but local Democratic legislators Foy, Kalik and Casey, who have supported the increase in the income and sales taxes.

But in the Seventh District, the Republicans have another weapon not available in other district races: A former Democrat is on the Republican ticket.

Priscilla Anderson was a Democrat throughout her public life until April, when Burlington County Republican Chairman Glenn R. Paulsen invited her to run for the Assembly under the Republican banner.

Anderson said that she had never felt welcomed by the Democrats and that although she had supported Florio's election as governor, she now disagreed with his methods of raising taxes and addressing the state's educational problems.

Now Anderson, teaming with Sosa, will face off against Casey and her Willingboro neighbor Kalik, trying to wrest from them a Republican victory.

Anderson and Sosa, along with Smith, have dubbed themselves the "tax repeal team."

"We deserve elected officials who understand how to make government work for us without needlessly raising our taxes," says one of their brochures. The brochure gives no specifics of the Republicans' plans.

Asked individually to name the issues, Anderson, Sosa and Smith all named the Florio tax increases.

Anderson said Florio raised the sales and income taxes too quickly, without analyzing where economies could be found in the state's bureaucracy.

Sosa criticized the incumbents for failing to hold "town meetings" with constituents, a practice he said the Republicans would inaugurate.

Smith said that Florio's tax increases were driving residents to move from New Jersey to states with lower sales taxes.

In a series of news conferences, the three Republican candidates have claimed that Kalik was poised to take a job in the Florio administration if she were re-elected, and would thereby give up her Assembly seat. If that happened, the seat would be filled by county committee members, not the electorate. That, the Republicans said, would rob voters of a chance to choose their representative. Kalik has said no job offers have been made.

The Republicans also have accused Foy of an ethics violation by working for a company that got a big state contract. Foy has denied any impropriety.

In response to the Republicans, the Democrats have noted that, through the Florio tax plan, 12 of 14 original towns in the Seventh District have received state money to lower local property taxes.

Kalik, who, like Foy and Casey, voted for most of the Florio tax provisions, said the governor used some of the money "to fill a hole that the previous governor (Republican Tom Kean) had left."

"That's indisputable," Kalik said. "It's also disgraceful."

Casey said the Florio income tax increase moved the burden from the middle- income taxpayers. "Sixteen percent of the people in the state . . . paid for most of it," he said. "I think that's what is upsetting some of our opponents."

Foy said the issues in the Senate race were his record in creating jobs in the Seventh District and his work to "control health-care costs."

7th District Democrats Face Battle For Senate Nomination The Seat Is Now Held By A Freshman Republican. The Contenders Are Catherine Costa And Thomas Foy.

Source: Posted: April 16, 1993

TRENTON — Despite Gov. Florio's efforts to avoid hot Democratic Party primary fights that could weaken his re-election campaign, one developed yesterday in the riverfront Seventh Legislative District of Burlington and Camden Counties.

Two former state senators will compete in the June 8 Democratic primary to become the party's nominee for the seat now held by freshman Republican Sen. Brad Smith, who faces opposition in his own party's primary.

Catherine Costa, who represented the Seventh District from 1984 to 1990, and Thomas P. Foy, who served from 1990 to 1991, both formally entered the race yesterday, the deadline for entering this year's state and local races.

Costa left the Senate when Florio named her director of the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Division in 1990. Foy, then serving his fourth term in the General Assembly, was selected by the party to complete her term. He lost a re-election bid to Smith two years ago in the wake of the anti-Florio tax protest.

There were no other real last-minute surprises in legislative races. All key leaders of the legislature in both parties filed for re-election as expected.

The key races in South Jersey are in the Fourth, Sixth and Seventh Districts, which are considered competitive or swing districts - where both parties have a reasonable chance of victory. In contrast, the Fifth District is solidly Democratic and Eighth usually votes Republican.

Democrats must carry at least two of those three swing districts if they are to regain control of the legislature, which they lost to Republicans two years ago.

The Seventh District runs along the Delaware River and includes Pennsauken, Maple Shade, Cinnaminson, Delran, Willingboro, Burlington and Mount Holly and other towns. About 80 percent of the district is in Burlington County, with the rest in Camden County.

The Republican slate that won an upset victory in the Seventh District two years ago is running for re-election and is favored to win. Sen. Smith's Assembly running mates, Jose F. Sosa and Priscilla B. Anderson, have been given high-profile leadership opportunities by Assembly Speaker Garabed ''Chuck" Haytaian during their first term and will receive heavy support from his organization.

Two Republicans running without party support under a new and little-known banner - United We Serve - will be opposing the incumbents in the Republican primary. Donald P. McCabe of Delran will oppose Smith, and Cordell P. Wise of Willingboro will be seeking one of the seats now held by Sosa and Anderson.

In the Democratic primary, Foy's slate includes Jack Casey, a former mayor of Palmyura who succeeded Foy in the General Assembly but lost a re-election bid two years ago, and Lavonne Johnson, a former Willingboro school board member.

Costa's Assembly running mates are Camden County Freeholder Steven Petrillo, a Pennsauken lawyer, and former Maple Shade Mayor George Williams.

Richard Buccigrosse of Cinnaminson, a member of former California Gov. Jerry Brown's "We the People" organization, will also be seeking one of the Seventh District Assembly seats in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, in the Fourth District, the slate backed by U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews and George E. Norcross 3d, Camden County Democratic Party chairman, filed as expected. Their state Senate candidate is Bernard F. "Ben" Lynch of Sewell, a retired high school principal. His Assembly running mates are Sean Dalton of Glassboro, a lawyer who initially planned to run for the Senate, and Sandra L. "Sandi" Love of Laurel Springs, who owns a travel agency.

Two who don't have support from the party organization also filed in the Fourth District Democratic primary: former Monroe Township Mayor Jack Luby filed for the Senate seat and Luisa Ragonese of Blackwood for the Assembly.

The Democrats who win the primary will seek to unseat the Republican slate that won an upset victory in the Fourth District two years ago - Sen. John J. Matheussen and Assembly members George F. Geist of Gloucester Township, a former Republican Party chairman in Camden County, and Mary Virginia "Ginny" Webber of Washington Township.

Assembly candidate Kirk Erickson of Turnersville will be on the Fourth District ballot in November as an independent backed by Ross Perot's "United We Stand" organization.

Elsewhere in South Jersey:

In the Third Legislative District, all three incumbents filed for re- election - Sen. Raymond J. Zane (D., Gloucester), Assembly Majority Leader Jack Collins (R., Salem) and Assemblyman Gary H. Stuhltrager (R., Gloucester).

None drew an opponent in their party primary but will be opposed in November. Zane will face Republican Senate candidate Edward J. Reynolds of Sewell and the Republican Assembly members will face Democrats Amelia B. Kressler of Wenonah and Joseph J. Riley of Bridgeton.

In Camden County's Fifth Legislative District, the three Democrat incumbents filed for re-election - Sen. Walter Rand of Bellmawr and Assemblymen Wayne R. Bryant of Lawnside and Joseph J. Roberts of Camden. Rand will be opposed in the Democratic primary by Dwane Davis of Camden. The Republican candidates are Anthony J. De Gerolamo of Magnolia in the Senate race, and Hans Berg of Bellmawr and Marle Ways of Camden for the Assembly seats.

In the Sixth Legislative District, also in Camden County, all three incumbents filed for re-election - Sen. John H. Adler, a Democrat, and Republican Assemblymen John A. Rocco and Lee A. Solomon.

There will be a Democratic primary contest for the Assembly seats. George Lyne of Gibbsboro, a Jerry Brown "We the People" candidate, will try to defeat one of the Andrews-Norcross candidates - John Phillip Maroccia of Voorhees and Jane M. Kershner of Haddonfield. The two top vote-getters will oppose Rocco and Solomon in November.

Sen. Adler, an Andrews-Norcross candidate, will run unopposed in the Democratic primary, but he will face Republican Louise Di Renzo Donaldson of Haddonfield in November.

Ex-senator Picked For Casino Panel Bradford Smith Would Head The Commission. The Governor Also Nominated Several Others.

Source: Posted: August 11, 1994

ATLANTIC CITY — Gov. Whitman yesterday nominated former Republican Sen. Bradford S. Smith, a Burlington County lawyer, to the post of chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

If confirmed by the Senate, Smith would replace Margate Democrat Steven P. Perskie, who left in April to become vice president and general counsel for Players International Inc., a Louisiana-based riverboat-casino concern. The term is one year, at a salary of $95,000.

The governor also nominated Ocean County resident Diane Legreide, deputy director of the state Senate's Democratic minority, to fill a vacancy that was created when Commissioner Frank Dodd's term expired last year. The job pays $90,000.

Whitman announced her selection of the two legislative insiders from opposing political parties at a news conference at the Hammonton Municipal Building at the start of an appearance in Atlantic County for GOP congressional candidate Frank LoBiondo.

She also named Commissioner Leanna Brown to a full five-year term on the panel. Brown was selected in June 1993 to fill the unexpired term of another commissioner. That term ended Aug. 4, and she continued to serve as a holdover with acting Chairman James R. Hurley and Commissioner Jeannine LaRue.

The nominations are subject to Senate approval.

"They are people of character and experience who will help assure the continued intregrity of the casino industry in New Jersey," Whitman said.

The five-member panel oversees the workings and licensing of the state's billion-dollar casino gambling industry. Under state statute, only three of the commission's five members may belong to the same political party.

Whitman's nominations reflected that mandated political balance. Smith, Hurley and Brown are Republicans. Legreide and LaRue are Democrats.

Smith, of Cinnaminson, was ousted from the state Senate in last year's election. He had represented the Seventh Legislative District, which includes parts of Burlington and Camden Counties, in 1992 and 1993. He is a former Burlington County freeholder and a Cinnaminson Township Committee member.

Legreide, of Point Pleasant Beach, has been the Senate Democrats' deputy director since 1986. She once was executive director of L.E.G.A.L., a lawyers' lobbying firm, and an aide to former Senate President John F. Russo.

Whitman's original choice for the vacancy left by Dodd was Wenonah Mayor Dale T. Taylor, who withdrew his name this year after he was opposed by the NAACP and others for comments he made in a weekly column in a southern New Jersey newspaper in the 1980s. The critics labeled his comments sexist, racist and homophobic.

For the last four months, the commission operated with only three members - Hurley, LaRue and Brown. Under state regulations, at least three favorable votes are needed for approval of any agenda item. That means that any vote by the trio had to be unanimous before the measure could be passed. Items on which they could not agree were tabled.

The next few years could prove interesting for the commission in terms of casino regulation, as other places - including Pennsylvania and New York - consider legalizing gambling, officials said.

Casino Panel's Chairman Resigning To Boost A.c., Lawyer Bradford S. Smith Has Courted Investors. He Said He Wanted To Go To The Private Sector.

Source: Posted: July 31, 1998

ATLANTIC CITY — Bradford S. Smith, who as chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission for four years cast himself as a booster of Atlantic City to both Wall Street and the casino industry, announced his resignation yesterday.

Smith, 47, has overseen the commission during a time when the Atlantic City market grabbed the attention of Wall Street financiers and big-name casino operators whose promised investment has been touted as a ``second wave of casino development.''

Mayor James Whelan said yesterday that Smith helped to change the impression that New Jersey and its regulatory system were hostile to the casino industry. ``He has been fairly aggressive about helping sell development in Atlantic City,'' Whelan said.

Smith said yesterday he was leaving in order to ``maximize my earning capacity'' in the private sector. A lawyer by profession and the father of four, Smith has earned $95,000 a year as chairman. His resignation will take effect Sept. 4.

He said he would like to continue in some capacity in the casino industry, although he is prohibited from working with any Atlantic City company or parent company for two years. He said he had not yet started his job search.

As chairman, Smith continued the work of his predecessor, Steven Perskie, in working with the casino industry to relax and streamline regulations to make the resort a more industry-friendly and competitive environment.

One key change was the elimination of the requirement that the casinos be located in a single room, which led to several new expansions, including Bally's Wild Wild West Casino. This also led to city zoning changes that would permit gambling on ocean piers.

Smith had no qualms about cozying up to Wall Street and to the casino industry to tout the benefits of the new business climate in Atlantic City.

He began a ``Wall Street outreach'' program, actively seeking out market analysts to tout Atlantic City as a favorable place for both expansion and new investment. Smith credited this policy for encouraging Wall Street to finance vast casino expansion throughout the resort in the last few years.

``They had never had a chairman come speak to them,'' Smith said, of the Wall Street executives he met with. ``It helped generate renewed interest and investment in Atlantic City.''

Wall Street's enthusiasm for the market was followed by numerous out-of-town casino companies' desire to enter the market, including Mirage Resorts, Boyd Gaming, Circus Circus, MGM Grand, Hilton, ITT/Sheraton and Sun International.

The five-member panel oversees the workings and licensing of the state's billion-dollar casino gambling industry. Last month, Gov. Whitman appointed Susan Fowler Maven to the commission. She is the first Atlantic City resident to serve on the commission in its 20-year history. Other members are Diane Legreide, Leanna Brown and James R. Hurley.

Smith, of Burlington County, served as a state senator representing the Seventh Legislative District in 1992 and 1993. He is a former Burlington County freeholder and a Cinnaminson Township Committee member. He was mayor of Cinnaminson at age 26.

Smith summed up his tenure on the commission as ``opening the windows of the regulatory agency, allowing in the fresh air of common-sense policy and improving communication with the casino industry.''

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

White House fumbles towards debt disaster By Charles Krauthammer


Jul 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — Here we go again. An approaching crisis. A looming deadline. Nervous markets. And then, from the miasma of gridlock, rises the president, calling upon those unruly congressional children to quit squabbling, stop kicking the can down the road and get serious about debt.

This from the man who:

• Ignored the debt problem for two years by kicking the can to a commission.

• Promptly ignored the commission’s December 2010 report.

• Delivered a State of the Union address in January that didn’t even mention the word “debt” until 35 minutes in.

• Delivered in February a budget so embarrassing — it actually increased the deficit — that the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it 97-0.

• Took a budget mulligan with his April 13 debt-plan speech. Asked in Congress how this new “budget framework” would affect the actual federal budget, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf replied with a devastating “We don’t estimate speeches.” You can’t assign numbers to air.

President Obama assailed the lesser mortals who inhabit Congress for not having seriously dealt with a problem he had not dealt with at all, then scolded Congress for being even less responsible than his own children. They apparently get their homework done on time.

My compliments. But the Republican House did do its homework. It’s called a budget. It passed the House on April 15. The Democratic Senate has produced no budget. Not just this year, but for two years running. As for the schoolmaster-in-chief, he produced two 2012 budget facsimiles: The first (February) was a farce and the second (April) was empty, dismissed by the CBO as nothing but words untethered to real numbers.

Obama has run disastrous annual deficits of around $1.5 trillion while insisting for months on a “clean” debt-ceiling increase, i.e., with no budget cuts at all. Yet suddenly he now rises to champion major long-term debt reduction, scorning any suggestions of a short-term debt-limit deal as can-kicking.

The flip-flop is transparently political. A short-term deal means another debt-ceiling fight before Election Day, a debate that would put Obama on the defensive and distract from the Mediscare campaign to which the Democrats are clinging to save them in 2012.

A clever strategy it is: Do nothing (see above); invite the Republicans to propose real debt reduction first; and when they do — voting for the Ryan budget and its now infamous and courageous Medicare reform — demagogue them to death.

And then up the ante by demanding Republican agreement to tax increases. So: First you get the GOP to seize the left’s third rail by daring to lay a finger on entitlements. Then you demand the GOP seize the right’s third rail by violating its no-tax pledge. A full-spectrum electrocution. Brilliant.

And what have been Obama’s own debt-reduction ideas? In last week’s news conference, he railed against the tax break for corporate jet owners — six times.

I did the math. If you collect that tax for the next 5,000 years — that is not a typo — it would equal the new debt Obama racked up last year alone. To put it another way, if we had levied this tax at the time of John the Baptist and collected it every year since — first in shekels, then in dollars — we would have 500 years to go before we could offset half of the debt added by Obama last year alone.

Obama’s other favorite debt-reduction refrain is canceling an oil-company tax break. Well, if you collect that oil tax and the corporate jet tax for the next 50 years — you will not yet have offset Obama’s deficit spending for February 2011.

After his Thursday meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership, Obama adopted yet another persona: Cynic-in-chief became compromiser-in-chief. Highly placed leaks are portraying him as heroically prepared to offer Social Security and Medicare cuts.

We shall see. It’s no mystery what is needed. First, entitlement reform that changes the inflation measure, introduces means testing, then syncs the (lower) Medicare eligibility age with Social Security’s and indexes them both to longevity. And second, real tax reform, both corporate and individual, that eliminates myriad loopholes in return for lower tax rates for everyone.

That’s real debt reduction. Yet even now, we don’t know where the president stands on any of this. Until we do, I’ll follow the Elmendorf Rule: We don’t estimate leaks. Let’s see if Obama can suspend his 2012 electioneering long enough to keep the economy from going over the debt cliff.

Charles Krauthammer’s email address is