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Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

Pension fund managers face panel

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2008 at 12:24 pm

By TOM BALDWIN
Gannett State Bureau

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20081125/NEWS01/811250356

Stewards of the state-employees’ pension fund on Monday promised greater communication with workers at a time when Wall Street’s troubles are sapping retirement plans for legions of workers.

The fund managers said they would, for example, disclose emergency investments even if they are less than the $50 million threshold.

The vow came in testimony to the State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee by the state’s director of the division of investments, William Clark.

The issue was whether Clark and his staff should make smaller investments without prior review by a larger governing body, the state investment council.

An OK from the council is mandated for investments more than $50 million.

The session marked the first chance lawmakers had to delve into how the state-workers’ pension fund is being battered by Wall Street’s almost daily woes.

Last Thursday, the investment council disclosed a loss of $16 billion over three months ending in October. Clark said the fund held $62 billion on Oct. 31, after being as high as $81 billion.

Monday’s budget-committee hearing sought answers and direction, said Budget committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex.

“I don’t think any of us could have predicted we would fall so far so fast . . . At the end of the day, people want solutions and not theatrics,” she said.

“There clearly is a lot of fear out there . . . Things are happening that should not be happening,” said Clark, who drew praise from some members for keeping the state-workers’ pension fund performing at a level that is better than an array of other institutional investors.

“Mr. Clark, you’ve done a very good job . . . New Jersey is performing better than most places,” said Senate Majority Leader Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

A bevy of Republican committee members asked why Orin Kramer, the chairman of the larger body, the investment council, did not appear at the hearing.

“The agenda said that Investment Council Chairman Orin Kramer had been invited to appear,” said Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris. “When the state has one-year losses approaching the magnitude of the entire state budget, the investment council chairman should be there to reassure the people.”

He was joined in his complaint by Sens. Kevin O’Toole, R-Essex, Steven Oroho, R-Sussex and Philip E. Haines, R-Burlington.

“Democrat leaders tell us that Kramer’s appearance was put on the agenda by mistake,” Haines said. “Mistakes in agendas should be corrected long before the meeting starts.”

“The investment council is ultimately responsible for pension performance,” Oroho said.

Noting the pension plan had gone unfunded by the state for 10 years, union official Hetty Rosenstein, issued a statement saying: “The pension plan could not in any way handle vicissitudes of the market because it is grossly underfunded.”

Rosenstein is New Jersey area director for the Communications Workers of America, which represents many state workers.

Reach Tom Baldwin at tbaldwi@gannett.com

http://www.courierpostonline.com/article/20081125/NEWS01/811250356

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Official: State underestimated scope of crisis

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Monday, November 24, 2008
BY JOHN REITMEYER
STAFF WRITER

http://www.northjersey.com/politics/Official_State_underestimated_scope_of_crisis.html

The state official in charge of New Jersey’s hemorrhaging employee pension fund tried his best today to explain how the fund lost $16 billion over the last three months.

William Clark, director of the New Jersey Division of Investment, conceded state analysts underestimated the scope and speed of the collapse of the financial markets, but said losses actually could have been worse.

A move in 2005 to allow alternative investments saved as much as $2 billion, he said.

“I think we positioned the portfolio appropriately to try and minimize the losses,” he told the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee this morning.

Clark’s appearance before the committee came less than a week after pension fund managers reported losses of $9 billion in October. The fund, which supports benefits for government workers, police officers, firefighters and teachers, was down a total of $16 billion over the last three months.

The losses don’t affect the monthly pension checks that are sent to state retirees and their beneficiaries — about 240,000 — but taxpayers would be on the hook for bigger payments in the future if the fund performance doesn’t turn around.

Clark stressed that the pension losses come as the stock market and other investment opportunities are experiencing across-the-board failures. He said now is not the time to try “time-the-market” strategies instead of a long-term approach.

“In general, I don’t think we believe we should abandon the course,” he said. “We think diversification makes sense.”

Still, some legislators grilled Clark, asking why the state invested $180 million in failed Lehman Brothers earlier this year, taking a $115 million loss.

“We are alarmed when issues like that come up,” said state Sen. Kevin O’Toole, R-Cedar Grove.

Clark called it a poor investment and said the state may sue to recover damages.

“It’s something we’re looking at very, very seriously,” he said.

He also said some administrative changes would be made to make the state’s investment decisions more transparent.

But state Sen. Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the blame for the pension system’s poor condition — it has an estimated $28 billion unfunded liability at last count — should go to the previous legislators who allowed past governors to enact pension payment holidays when the stock market was more healthy.

“If we’re looking to find who the bad guy is here it’s the Legislature,” Sweeney said.

E-mail: reitmeyer@northjersey.com

http://www.northjersey.com/politics/Official_State_underestimated_scope_of_crisis.html

Pension chief vows to map investments

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Amid legislators’ flak over losses, director promises transparency

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1227591370311770.xml&coll=1

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
BY CLAIRE HEININGER
Star-Ledger Staff

Under fire from lawmakers who criticized their actions as too secretive, managers of New Jersey’s pension fund will now disclose any emergency investments immediately, even if they fall below the $50 million threshold for public review, officials said yesterday.

The change comes after three such deals were not revealed in October, sparking frustration at the Statehouse as the financial crisis focused a bigger spotlight on the embattled pension fund.

During wide-ranging testimony that also touched on an ill-fated Lehman Brothers investment, state pension director William Clark told the Senate Budget Committee he would increase transparency on future deals.

Clark said he and his staff will still be able to make such investments without prior review by the state investment council — which is required for investments of more than $50 million — but will make them public right away on the state website, rather than waiting for the next monthly council meeting.

He also defended the state’s controversial strategy of alternative investments, which allows the pension fund to buy into hedge funds, private equity and real estate as well as stocks and bonds. The pension system covers 700,000 public workers and teachers.

The strategy came under fire at the hearing.

“I believe firmly that the alternative investment program has gone too far, too fast,” said Jim Marketti, who represents the AFL-CIO on the investment council.

The pension fund, which started the year worth $81.3 billion, has lost $23 billion in value amid the markets’ collapse.

But Clark said that without the alternative investments, the fund could have lost about $2 billion more. He said hedge funds are down 20 percent this fiscal year, compared to 37 percent for the U.S. stock market.

“We’re not making the argument that hedge funds are no risk, we’re making the argument they’re lower risk,” Clark said.

Last month, the state put $49.5 million apiece into three hedge funds: Canyon Special Opportunities Fund, GoldenTree Credit Opportunities Fund and the BlackRock Inc.-managed Credit Investors Co-Investment Fund. The state initially invested in the funds in September 2007, with $100 million for each. He said they needed the new infusions quickly to protect New Jersey’s existing investments, and to create the potential for lucrative returns.

“There was no attempt to hide anything here,” he said.

But prominent lawmakers, including Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex), said the $49.5 million figure sent up a red flag.

“On its face, the infusion of capital just below the threshold amount raises the specter of an opaque, secretive process,” said committee chairwoman Barbara Buono.

Afterward, Buono (D-Middlesex) said she needed time to evaluate the step announced by Clark before deciding whether the new disclosure goes far enough.

“I believe that we have to give the division enough discretion to be able to do their job effectively, but you have to balance it against the need for transparency,” she said.

Republicans on the panel zeroed in on the state’s June investment in Lehman Brothers, the bank that has since filed for bankruptcy. New Jersey lost $115.5 million on a $180 million Lehman stake in less than four months.

Sens. Steven Oroho (R-Sussex) and Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex) asked whether there was a conflict of interest, since two members of the investment council were Lehman employees and one member was a former Lehman employee at the time of the investment.

Clark said the division made the decision to invest in Lehman without council input and there was no conflict. He said the state will soon decide on whether to sue Lehman officials to recoup some of its losses. “Obviously, I wish we had that one back,” he said.

Gov. Jon Corzine said he believes the pension investments “were made entirely on merit” and not personal relationships.

Staff writer Tom Hester contributed to this report.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1227591370311770.xml&coll=1

So when does "protect and serve" cross the line into harassment or does it?

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 at 1:39 pm


Cops beefing up DWI enforcement for the holidays
Monday, November 24, 2008

http://www.northjersey.com/news/crimeandcourts/Cops_beefing_up_DWI_enforcement_for_the_holidays.html

Last updated: Monday November 24, 2008, EST 7:04 AM

Police will step up patrols and drunken-driving checkpoints beginning this week and are warning drivers against underage drinking as homecoming events and the holiday season approach.

“From Thanksgiving through the first of the year, we’re stepping up our patrols and will run some extra police details,” said Upper Saddle River Police Chief Mike Fanning, whose officers patrol local roads and a stretch of Route 17. “With the holidays approaching, there’s an extra eye out to combat this.”

Other police departments in northwest Bergen are doing likewise.

Glen Rock police will add patrols over the Thanksgiving holiday, said Police Chief Steven Cherry.

“It is part of the countywide enforcement,” Cherry said. “The project is sponsored by the Bergen County Office of Highway Safety and participation enhances our ability to receive funding for similar projects throughout the year.”

Ridgewood Detective Chris McDowell said the public should check the village Web site to become familiar with Ordinance 3065, which outlines the penalties for underage consumption and/or possession of alcohol.

“If your kids are having people at the house, make sure alcohol is not being consumed,” McDowell said. “Usually the parties start small and then they tend to grow &hellip as word gets out.”

The public is becoming more aware of ordinances that outline the penalties for underage drinking, Fanning said.

“We have an ordinance in effect about underage drinking on private property and we’re vigilant in enforcing it,” he said.

Cherry said the focus is on keeping people safe.

“The first thing affected by the consumption of alcoholic beverages is your judgment,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent tragedies.”

— Evonne Coutros

Resident Brings Cable Vision Issue to the Attention of the Village Council

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 at 1:17 pm

“please let the record show that Boyd Loving caught this and brought it to the council’s attention. not the first nor the last time, i’m sure … but credit where credit is due, and this is his latest coup” … annie (Anne Zusy VC )

3balls Golf

Bank sells state bonds, then warns of default

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Advice has the potential to be costly to taxpayers

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1227417449161150.xml&coll=1

Sunday, November 23, 2008
BY DUNSTAN McNICHOL
Star-Ledger Staff

After making millions selling New Jersey bonds to investors, Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs told other wealthy clients they could profit by betting the Garden State may not be able to pay off its bonds as scheduled, according to a confidential presentation made two months ago.

The advice would cost state taxpayers if investors believe New Jersey bonds appear riskier than they actually are — and force the state to pay higher interest rates on future bonds.

While not illegal, it is troubling Goldman Sachs almost simultaneously marketed New Jersey bonds to one set of investors, while suggesting to others they would be smart to buy insurance from the investment bank because those bonds may not be repaid, according to Geoffrey M. Heal, professor of public policy and business responsibility at Columbia University.

“That’s not a good way to do business,” he said. “They’ve got a conflict of interest and they’re acting against the interest of their customers.

“You act in the interests of your clients. You don’t screw them, to put it bluntly.”

Goldman’s strategy of “shorting municipal credit,” or essentially betting the state bonds would decline in value, was outlined in a 58-page report obtained by ProPublica, a New York-based nonprofit group specializing in investigative reporting. ProPublica assisted The Star-Ledger in reporting this story.

This summer, Goldman, which once employed Gov. Jon Corzine as its chairman, shared in $1 million in fees for helping New Jersey sell $345 million in highway improvement bonds to investors. The fees are among $15 million Goldman has earned since 2002 for selling investors hundreds of millions of dollars in New Jersey debt.

With the September pitch, Goldman was essentially casting doubt on many of those bonds by suggesting New Jersey and five other states might be considered ripe for default on their bond payments because of huge shortfalls in pensions and other public employee retirement benefits.

Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, denied there was anything untoward about the firm’s roles as a seller of bonds and a provider of insurance against their default, saying the advice came from different divisions separated by “a Chinese Wall.”

“There is absolutely no conflict,” he said in an e-mail response to written questions. “The material was prepared by a group within the Securities Division on the public side of the ‘Chinese Wall’ and does not represent the views of Goldman Sachs as a firm.”

Tom Vincz, a spokesman for the New Jersey Treasury Department, declined to comment. Douglas Love, a member of New Jersey’s State Investment Council, which sets investment policy for the state’s pension funds, said he was not troubled.

“Research is research; it’s supposed to be independent,” said Love, chief investment officer for an insurance fund. “That is proof they’re independent.”

In the 58-page proposal, Goldman said it identified 11 states where prospects for a default might be on the upswing.

Six of those states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, were judged as vulnerable because of “significant unfunded pension and OPEB (post-retirement health insurance) costs.”

New Jersey’s pension problems have been known for years and are getting worse.

Experts said that as of July 1, 2007, the fund set up to cover long-term pension payments contained about $28 billion less than is needed to pay the benefits already promised to the 700,000 workers and retirees it covers.

At the time, the funds held investments worth about $82 billion. Since then, the global economic crisis has drained at least $23 billion from the accounts, officials said last week. On top of that, New Jersey has promised its retirees $50 billion in medical benefits, for which no funds have been set aside.

According to the Goldman report, New Jersey is one of just 15 states that has both unfunded medical expenses and a pension system that is at least 20 percent underfunded.

Goldman’s confidential presentation outlined various potential strategies for investors to consider in light of unprecedented instability in worldwide credit markets. The material was only presented to investors with at least $10 million in assets, according to a footnote.

Goldman recommended that investors could take positions against New Jersey bonds by buying complex financial instruments called credit default swaps.

The swaps are like an insurance policy, where an investor pays a bank — like Goldman — a premium in exchange for protection against the risk that New Jersey could default or, more likely, make a late or lesser payment than scheduled. Goldman and other bankers routinely sell such insurance to investors who do not hold the bonds being insured, despite the fact such investors have no direct stake in whether or not the bonds are repaid.

Selling the swaps could, if done properly, help New Jersey by reassuring nervous investors who would not buy the bonds without insurance. But the swaps have also drawn criticism for their role in the near-collapse of insurance giant AIG in September, and for their propensity to be used by speculators in a market that remains unregulated.

Goldman acknowledged in its document that the firm “may have potential conflicts of interest” and that it may “by virtue of its status as an underwriter, advisor or otherwise, possess or have access to non-publicly available information,” which it would not disclose to its credit default swap customers.

Goldman’s foray into the business of “shorting municipal credit” proved short-lived.

DuVally said Goldman was no longer giving the trading advice to clients “in any meaningful way,” and that the traders who came up with the idea are now promoting new investment ideas.

Nevertheless, this incident shows the growing intricacies of the financial markets, according to professor Heal. “For a company that’s dealing with many entities, big firms, local and state governments, it’s actually quite hard to avoid conflicts,” he said. “And it’s getting more difficult as the market gets more concentrated. But you know, if I was New Jersey, I might want to look for someone else to issue my bonds.”

Dunstan McNichol may be reached at dmcnichol@starledger.com or (609) 989-0341.

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1227417449161150.xml&coll=1

Ridgewood Junior Football Wins 6th Grade Super Bowl

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Ridgewood junior football league sends Jets A1 team (6th grade) to Super Bowl and come out on top. They played a barn burner in frigid temps last night in Franklin Lakes against Pequannock. Ever determined, they didnt lose their composure when scored upon early in the game, they came back to win 21-12. This is a first for the village, in this age group. Kudos to Coach Tarleton (a village native) and his fine staff of coaches, for providing quiet and good-tempered guidance and kind leadership, as well as developing the boys skills. This team has played cohesively all season, often turning it on in the 2nd half. Congratulations to all parents, coaches and players!

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.

Village Council Directs Village Manager and Village Attorney to Investigate Legality of Recent Cablevision Decision

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 at 7:41 pm

The Ridgewood Village Council recently directed Village Manager James Ten Hoeve and Village Attorney Matthew S. Rogers to investigate the legality of Cablevision’s recent decision that requires their subscribers to obtain, and in some cases pay for, digital cable boxes to receive public access channels (including Channel 77, where Village Council and Board of Education meetings are broadcast).

Here’s what officials in Yonkers, NY have to say about Cablevision’s actions:

September 26, 2008

Mayor Blasts Cablevision for Limiting Public Access Channels

Yonkers Suggests Cablevision May Have Violated Federal Law in Placing on Availability Restrictions on Public, Education and Government Access Channels

City May Seek Injunction Against Cablevision to Protect Residents’ Rights

YONKERS, NY — Mayor Phil Amicone is blasting Cablevision for moving unilaterally earlier this month to limit the availability of public, education and government access channels to many of its subscribers in the City of Yonkers, and is now threatening legal action if the company does not immediately remove those limits.

Public, education and government access channels, or PEG channels, are public amenities provided for by franchise agreements between cable companies and municipalities like Yonkers. It is standard in those agreements for the franchisee, in this case Cablevision, to provide those channels free of charge to all subscribers including those on its most basic cable service package.

However, on September 16, 2008, Cablevision began requiring its customers to obtain, and in some cases pay, for digital cable boxes in order to receive PEG channels, a move Yonkers believes is in violation of federal law.

“Access to PEG channels has always been a basic right of the cable-viewing public and should continue to stay that way. We believe that what Cablevision has done in limiting access to and in some cases charging its subscribers additional fees for these channels is not only wrong, it may in fact be a violation of federal law. I have directed our Corporation Counsel to notify Cablevision of our intent to use any and all legal means available in order to ensure that the public’s access to these important informational channels will continue unfettered,” Mayor Amicone said.

Amicone said that although Cablevision has a limited offer of one free digital cable box for its analog customers (those without digital boxes), the move effectively limits access to PEG channels in several ways:

1) The free digital box offer lasts only 60 days;

2) Only one digital box is included in the offer, limiting PEG channel availability to one TV set per household; and

3) Cablevision may begin pushing hidden charges once digital boxes are installed.

The mayor said that even more troubling was the fact that Cablevision’s began imposing these limits unilaterally and without approval from the City of Yonkers, the NYS Public Service Commission or the Federal Communications Commission.

The issue is an important one since PEG channels offer informational programming about the public school system and city government, allow officials to communicate with their constituency, televise important public meetings and provide the public at large with an opportunity to disseminate information over cable airwaves.

The city notified Cablevision of its demand to immediately remove the new limits in a letter dated today. The letter cites specific requirements provided by federal law requiring cable companies to provide PEG access to subscribers without restriction and free of charge, and warns the company of the city’s intent to pursue legal remedies if the limits are not removed.

A copy of the letter is below:

Cablevision maintains in an August 12, 2008 letter to the city that it would only affect a small number of customers and that the move was part of an ongoing effort to improve service through the ongoing transition to digital technology.

But with more than 40,000 subscribers in City of Yonkers, even the approximately 10% of its subscribers who Cablevision estimates are affected by the new restrictions still amounts to thousands of customers.

Mayor Amicone also acknowledged that technology upgrades are a normal part of doing business for service companies like Cablevision and expressed his support for Cablevision’s efforts to augment service quality.

“We understand that technology upgrades are a necessary and even a welcomed part of doing business. But we can’t allow ordinary customers who have been loyal for years and have paid their bills on time to be left behind at the whim of a corporation. Safeguards must exist for the average consumer, and in this case city government as administrator of the franchise agreement is that safeguard. We will therefore do everything within our power to make sure Cablevision provides PEG access to all its customers free of charge,” Amicone concluded.

Below is a copy of the city’s letter to Cablevision…

September 26, 2008

Mark Weingarten, Esq.
DelBello, Donnellan, Weingarten, Wise & Wiederkehr, LLP
1 North Lexington Avenue
White Plains, New York 10601

Robert Hoch, Director, Government Affairs
Cablevision
Six Executive Plaza
Yonkers, NY 10701

RE: City of Yonkers Objection to Cablevision Transition of PEG Channels to Digital Tier of Programming

Dear Mr. Weingarten and Mr. Hoch:

Cablevision Systems, Westchester Corporation (“Cablevision”) informed the City of Yonkers, New York (“City”) on August 12, 2008, that it intends to shift all public, educational and government channels (“PEG”) to digital transmission, thereby effectively creating a second basic tier of service. This action will require City residents to acquire set-top boxes in order to access City programming. Cablevision created this second basic tier on September 16, 2008, and did so without the permission of the City. Cablevision’s unilateral action is in violation of federal law and is a material breach of the existing franchise between the City and Cablevision entered into on December 17, 1985 (“Franchise Agreement”). Accordingly, the City objects to Cablevision’s action and demands that it reinstate transmission of PEG channels to a single basic tier of service available to all subscribers in the City of Yonkers without need for a set-top box.

The Franchise Agreement requires Cablevision to “comply with all laws, rules and regulations of the local, state and federal governments and their regulatory agencies or commissions which are now or may hereafter be applicable to the construction and operation authorized herein.” (Section 6). In addition, the Franchise Agreement requires that Cablevision’s provision of PEG channels is “[s]ubject to the applicable Rules and Regulations of the FCC and Commission” (Section 15).

The FCC requires cable providers to provide PEG channels on a single basic service tier. See In the Matter of the Section of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 Rate Regulation, 8 FCC Rcd 5631, 5644 (1993) (1992 Cable Act contemplates that each cable operator must offer only one basic tier); Time Warner v. FCC, 56 F.3d 151, 199 (D.C. Cir. 1995) (finding single basic tier requirement consistent with statute). Further, a basic tier is presumed to be in analog, unless the cable system is fully digital. In the Matter of Implementation of Section 3 of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, 20 FCC Rcd 2718, 2720 (2005). Cablevision’s division of its Broadcast Basic tier into channels that do, and do not, require a digital converter box creates a dual basic tier in violation of law. Further, the dual tier evidences that Cablevision is not operating a fully digital system at this time.

In addition, Cablevision may not place PEG channels on what is effectively a higher level of basic service without the City’s explicit permission, which has not been provided. See 47 U.S.C. § 543(a)(7); In the Matter of the Section of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992 Rate Regulation, 8 FCC Rcd at 5737-38 (cable provider required “to carry PEG channels on the basic tier unless the franchising authority explicitly permits carriage on another tier” ).

Cablevision’s shift of its transmission of PEG channels to a second basic tier, without the City’s explicit consent, is in violation of federal law and is a material breach of the Franchise Agreement. Therefore, the City demands that Cablevision revert its transmission of the PEG channels to a single, non- digital basic service tier no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 10, 2008, and to inform this office immediately upon taking this action. If Cablevision fails to take the demanded action, the City intends to enforce its rights in an appropriate forum.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Frank J. Rubino

cc: Mayor Philip A. Amicone
Deputy Mayor William Regan
Chief of Staff Lisa Mrijaj
City Council President Chuck Lesnick
Majority Leader Sandy Annabi
Minority Leader Liam McLaughlin
Council Member Patricia McDow
Council Member Joan Gronowski
Council Member John Murtagh
Council Member Dee Barbato
Mark Blanchard, Deputy Corporation Counsel
William Derasmo, Troutman Sanders, Special Counsel
Honorable Jaclyn Brilling, Secretary, NYS Public Service Commission

SOURCE: Press Release

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT LEAD IN YOUR DRINKING WATER

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Ridgewood Water found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings in our community. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and children 6 years and younger. Please read the following notice Information about Lead in Drinking Water Click Here to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water and to learn what Ridgewood Water is doing to address this problem.

Call us at 201-670-5520 for more information.

http://water.ridgewoodnj.net/

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Was driver in pedestrian mishap operating her vehicle in violation of multiple NJ Motor Vehicle Laws?

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 at 6:45 pm

It is being reported that the driver involved in last Sunday evening’s pedestrian/stroller accident, Elizabeth Searle, has resided on South Pleasant Avenue in Ridgewood since August of 2006. However, at the accident scene, Reverend Searle presented a NY State driver’s license to the investigating patrol officer, and was driving an automobile registered and insured to an address located in the State of NY.

In 2007, NJ governor Jon Corzine signed into law an amendment to NJSA 39:3-17.1 which requires that a person who becomes a resident of New Jersey and was permitted to operate a motor vehicle under a license granted from another State must register any vehicles owned by him that he operates on the highways of our State within 60 days. The statute as amended provides for fines on first and second offenses and mandatory impoundment for third or subsequent offenses. Presumably, the third offender impoundment would occur following a conviction for the offense in municipal court.

The amendment was enacted to put a stop to the problem created when people from other jurisdictions come to New Jersey and continue to operate their vehicles which are not registered in New Jersey.

A copy of the amended statute as underlined follows:

1. Section 1 of P.L.1955, c.53 (C.39:3-17.1) is amended to read as follows:

1. a. Except as provided in section 9 of P.L.1990, c.103 (C.39:3-10.17), any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall not lose his right to so operate and drive such motor vehicle or motor vehicles by becoming a resident of this State, but such right shall continue to be in full force and effect for 60 days, unless a longer period of reciprocity is otherwise provided by law, after the establishment of his residence in this State in the same manner and to the same extent as though he were a nonresident. The chief administrator shall not issue a driver’s license to a person who is entitled to operate a motor vehicle in this State under a reciprocity privilege granted by any law.

b. Any person who becomes a resident of this State and who immediately prior thereto was authorized to operate and drive a motor vehicle or motor vehicles in this State as a nonresident pursuant to R.S.39:3-15 and R.S.39:3-17, shall register any vehicle operated on the public highways of this State within 60 days of so becoming a resident of New Jersey, pursuant to R.S.39:3-4 or section 2 of P.L.1968, c.439 (C.39:3-8.1).

c. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section is subject to a fine of not more than $250 for a first offense and not more than $500 for a second or subsequent offense.

d. Any person who violates subsection b. of this section a third or subsequent time shall have the vehicle impounded by the law enforcing agency for not less than 96 hours. The vehicle shall only be released to the registered owner upon proof of registration and insurance and payment of all reasonable towing and storage fees.

If the owner of an impounded vehicle fails to claim the impounded vehicle by midnight of the 30th day following the day on which the vehicle was impounded, that vehicle may be sold at auction. Notice of the sale shall be given by the impounding entity by certified mail to the owner of the vehicle, if the owner’s name and address are known, and to the lienholder, if the lienholder’s name and address are known, and by publication in a form prescribed by the chief administrator by one insertion, at least five days before the date of the sale, in one or more newspapers published in this State and circulating in the municipality in which the vehicle is impounded.

At any time prior to the sale of an impounded vehicle, the owner or other person entitled to the vehicle may reclaim possession upon showing proof of registration and insurance and paying all costs associated with the impoundment, and reasonable towing and storage fees.

The owner-lessor of an impounded vehicle shall be entitled to reclaim possession without payment or proof of insurance and the lessee shall be liable for all outstanding costs associated with the impoundment, towing, and storage of the vehicle.

e. Any proceeds obtained from the sale of a vehicle at public auction pursuant to subsection d. of this section in excess of the amount owed to the impounding entity for the reasonable costs of towing and storage and any other costs associated with the impoundment of the vehicle shall be returned to the owner of that vehicle, if his name and address are known.

Was Reverend Searle issued a summons for violation of NJ 39:3-17.1, in addition to her violation of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and has an investigation been started into possible insurance fraud on her part (i.e., was it cheaper to insure her car in NY instead of NJ)?

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