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SPOOKED YANKEES TO FACE A MONSTER ON THE MOUND. BOB KLAPISCH, S-1 50 Cents TUESDAY October 16, 2012

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SuperPACs make mark in N.J. races Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez entered the home stretch of his reelection campaign with $8.3 million in the bank, but challenger Joe Kyrillos had a single Republican donor put down $250,000 to help him, campaign filings made public Monday showed. In the 9th District House race in North Jersey, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson raised $350,000 while a single supporter is spending $470,000 to help his Republican opponent, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood. The large donations epitomize the world of campaign finance in 2012, with individuals barred from giving more than $5,000 directly, but free to spend unlimited amounts through SuperPACs. — Complete story on L-1

Minimum wage hike may go to voters

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Quick look at terror suspects

Judge allows them to skip hearings

By SHAWN BOBURG STAFF WRITER

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Tom and Josephine Acquaviva got their first look Monday at the five al-Qaida plotters accused of killing their son on Sept. 11, 2001. But the alleged terrorists didn’t look back. “I wish one of them would turn around and look at me,” Tom Acquaviva said, standing at the back of a highsecurity courtroom, with a large photo Sketch of self-proclaimed 9/11 master- of his son Paul Acquaviva hanging mind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. from a chain around his neck. “I would

show them this picture.” It may have been the last chance for the Acquavivas, who traveled from Wayne to Cuba for the hearings this week, to show the accused 9/11 planners a picture of their loss. The judge overseeing the military commission case on Monday ruled that the men don’t have to appear in court during the rest of the week’s hearings. The Acquavivas, who are being hosted by the Department of Defense, could not be reached for comment later in the

day. But during the arguments Monday morning, the 10 family members of victims in attendance gasped collectively when one of the defense attorneys argued that coming to court could make the defendants emotional. “Our clients may believe that, ‘I don’t want to go to court, I don’t want anything to do with the court, I don’t recognize the jurisdiction of the court, I don’t want to be subjected to this,’ ” said James Harrington, attorney for Ramzi bin al See 9/11 Page A-5

Lost perk angers transit workers

STAGE IS SET FOR CRITICAL DEBATE

Senate Democratic leaders argued Monday that the state’s minimum wage needs future regular increases — and are banking on the state’s residents to agree. Under a resolution proposed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, voters would face a question on the 2013 ballot proposing an amendment to the constitution to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $8.25, and tie future increases to inflation. Sweeney said his plan would help those people out of poverty while ensuring regular raises rather than erratic hikes. — Complete story on L-7

Board approves plan to take away free rides for some

Preparing to strike back at al-Qaida The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali if investigators can find the al-Qaidalinked group responsible for the death of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya. But officials say the administration, with weeks until the presidential election, is weighing whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on al-Qaida is worth the risks. The White House wants to balance its need to respond forcefully to al-Qaida with its long-term plans to develop relationships and a permanent U.S. counterterrorist network. — Complete story on A-4

Americans make progress on debt Three-plus years into a recovery from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Americans finally are getting their finances back into shape, Federal Reserve figures show. Household debt as a share of disposable income sank to 113 percent in the second quarter from a record high of 134 percent in 2007 before the recession hit. Debt payments on that basis are the smallest in almost 18 years, while the delinquency rate for credit cards is the lowest since 2008. — Complete story on L-7

Medical marijuana center set to open The first medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey could open soon, after state officials announced Monday that they had issued a permit to a center in Montclair and were ready to send patients their identification cards. Greenleaf Compassion Center is the first of six marijuana dispensaries to receive all of its permits. “Greenleaf can begin planning to open and schedule appointments,” Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said. The opening date for the center has not been determined. — Complete story on A-3

www.northjersey.com ä Check out our roster of bloggers at northjersey.com/blogs

By KAREN ROUSE STAFF WRITER

REUTERS

Stand-ins for Mitt Romney and President Obama working with the production crew and moderator at a rehearsal on Monday for tonight’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island.

The new battle to win Ohio By DAVID LAUTER

TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU

With the second of three presidential debates set for tonight, Mitt Romney has redoubled his efforts to win the campaign’s most critical battleground, trying to overcome President Obama’s monthslong lead in Ohio. Ohio has been on the win-

ning side of every presidential election since 1964, largely for the same reason that consumer-products companies like to use the state as a test market — it closely resembles the nation in miniature. But the resemblance is not perfect; the state has leaned just slightly more Republican than the country

as a whole, meaning that a GOP nominee who cannot carry Ohio is unlikely to win nationwide. None ever has. As recently as two weeks ago, with polls consistently showing a strong Obama lead in Ohio, demoralized Republicans openly talked of long-shot strategies to amass a

majority of electoral votes without Ohio’s 18. Now, with Romney riding a wave of enthusiasm since the first presidential debate and the national polls in a dead heat, that talk is gone. He has made a sudden infusion of cash and a major investment of time, intensifying the fight and directly testing the two See DEBATE Page A-6

An analyst for NJ Transit who takes a bus and a train to work each day called it “the biggest slap I’ve ever taken.” A worker in the finance department said, “It goes against the spirit of equity and fairness.” An engineer questioned how the state’s transit agency could lure new talent if its “last big selling point” is taken away. But the pleas of Bonnye Randolph, Allen Kratz, Kelly Giblin and other current and past employees failed to move members of NJ Transit’s board on Monday. Without discussion — or a nod to personal tales of financial hardship or volunteer contributions employees have made to the system — the board voted 6-0 to revoke the free transit passes all employees have enjoyed since NJ Transit’s inception 30 years ago. Removing the perk is the latest in a stream of aggressive changes aimed directly at state workers by Governor Christie. Last year, under Christie’s direction, NJ Transit eliminated cash payouts to new employees for unused sick and vacation days. And statewide, employees have had to contribute more money to their own health care and pension benefit plans. The agency said 43 percent of the non-union workers use the benefit and that if all were paying cusSee TRANSIT Page A-6

Fine line between patriotism, politics A mailer that includes images sometimes take for granted. One of George Washington crossing of those freedoms is our right to the Delaware, the flag-hoisting vote and to have our voices heroes of Iwo Jima and other heard,” Hogan wrote on the valiant veterans from our counmailer, which was sent to try’s history landed in Bergen 347,000 Bergen households. County mailboxes over the past “We owe our veterans, these two weeks. brave men and women, a debt of CHARLES gratitude for the sacrifices they At the very top of this notice — STILE have made. We can do our part paid for with $61,000 in public funds — is a smiling John S. honoring their memories by POLITICAL casting Hogan, the Bergen County clerk. our votes in the presidenSTILE tial election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.” Hogan’s is, by far, the biggest face on the page. It’s a fine sentiment, not one “Since the Revolutionary War, millions that many people would dispute. And it’s of Americans served, fought, and in many perfectly appropriate for Hogan to send cases died to preserve the freedoms we out a notice reminding residents of to-

day’s voter registration deadline as well as when and how to request a mail-in ballot. But the colorful mailer also gave the Northvale Democrat exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential voters — at the same time that it might have momentarily given some of them the impression that he is on this year’s ballot. He’s not. Hogan is up for reelection in 2016, unless, as some Republicans suspect, he runs for county executive in 2014. Republican insiders aligned with County Executive Kathleen Donovan view him as an ambitious foe in the making and expect him to aggressively use the clerk’s office as a steppingstone. The mailSee STILE Page A-6 Bergen get-out-the-vote flier.

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FROM PAGE ONE

A-6 THE RECORD

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Transit: Workers angry over lost perk Stile: Voting flier

From Page A-1 tomers, it would amount to $1.6 million in additional revenue. NJ Transit is in contract talks with all 28 of its unions, and agency officials have said that everything is on the table for discussion. There are 9,200 union employees who have the benefit, but are working on expired contracts. Starting on Jan. 1, an estimated 1,800 non-union employees will have to pay for commuting and leisure trips on system trains and buses – for some, a financial hit that amounts to $300 or more per month. In addition, 700 nonunion retirees will also lose the privilege. After the vote, gasps were heard throughout the packed room at NJ Transit’s headquarters in Newark. One woman, who said she will be retiring soon, cried, saying she felt the board did not value the emSIMPSON ployees. Others were as upset with the board’s silence as they were with potential loss of money. “If the board WEINSTEIN had voted against it and got it repealed by the governor, at least we would have felt like they supported us,” said Briann Horn, a safety supervisor whose commute to Newark from South Jersey will now cost her about $400 per month. She said she came to the meeting with “a little bit of hope” the board would reject the proposal, but left disappointed. Pat Siano, an executive secretary for three years, was dismayed by the board’s response. “I have never seen a board not say a word,” she said. “This means the decision was made a long time ago.” She said some employees are considering going back to union positions. “You make more as a union employee,” she said. Asked why the board responded to the employees’ emotional pleas with silence, Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson, chairman of the board, said after the meeting that the board understands the employees’ issues, “but that doesn’t change any of the realities of the state.” “The state is in dire fiscal straits,” he said. “This agency is having a difficult time moving forward.” Simpson also took issue with the assertion that revoking the passes would harm the agency’s ability to attract talented employees. “Have you looked at the un-

From Page A-1 er, paid for with document-handling fees charged to clerk’s office customers, fanned the suspicions. Donovan declined to comment Monday, but Jeanne Baratta, her chief of staff, criticized the mailer as a blatant piece of “self-promotion.” “It’s unprecedented that a county clerk would send out a mailer that looks very much like a campaign mailer,” Baratta said. Hogan brushed aside any tealeaf reading about his own political future. “I have no thought of doing that,” he said of running for county executive. He said his only goal was to boost voter participation, which he promised to do during his 2011 campaign for the clerk’s office. “This is a get-out-the-vote mailer. It’s a presidential election year. Of course it would have a patriotic theme,” Hogan said last week. “Even in a presidential election year, when you’re not getting a vast majority of the voters coming out, there’s a problem. Part of my FILE PHOTO job is to promote the election An NJ Transit bus in Elmwood Park. Shields are being added to protect drivers. process.” He also said there was no connection between the veteransheavy mailer and a complaint his office received from Republican By KAREN ROUSE protection to drivers. presidential candidate Mitt RomSTAFF WRITER NJ Transit is among several agencies across the ney’s campaign. Romney reprenation to purchase the shields. Jim Weinstein, exsentatives had accused Hogan’s ofNJ Transit’s board on Monday voted to install ecutive director for NJ Transit, said some drivers fice of failing to properly email abbus shields on 820 more buses across the state, in- were nervous that the shields would “imprison sentee ballots to overseas military cluding those that serve Bergen and Passaic coun- them” in the bus. But Ry Greaves, a state official personnel by the Sept. 22 deadline. ties in response to a series of recent attacks on bus with the Amalgamated Transit Union, which repRomney staffers, conducting a drivers — from spitting on them to stabbings. resents bus drivers, said he welcomes them. state-by-state monitoring of absenThere are 70 NJ Transit buses that have Assaults against NJ Transit bus drivers have tee ballots, randomly picked shields under a pilot program begun two years dropped from 60 incidents in 2010 to roughly 25 Bergen County for a routine check ago. Another 210 buses will arrive at the agency so far this year, according to the agency. last month. They concluded that with shields. The vote on Monday awards a Retrofitting each bus will cost about $2,220. the county did mail out paper bal$1.82 million contract to Philadelphia-based Benlots by the deadline but had not tech to design plastic shields that will give partial Email: rouse@northjersey.com complied with requests for some ballots to be sent by email. They based their complaint on a employment rate? I’m serious. gram that would allow employees to late-night calls to fatalities, of series of phone calls with Marlene The economy is very bad,” Simp- to use a pre-tax savings account to volunteering to help with major son told reporters. “These are the pay part of their commuting costs events like the Bamboozle or new realities we’re facing, whether as well as providing incentives for Electric Daisy festivals, or assisting you’re in the public sector or pri- car-pooling. a customer when a wheelchair lift vate sector. We’re just trying to Others who will lose the transit got stuck. keep this place viable.” pass privilege include nine board One even quoted Scripture, Christie’s office did not respond members, two members of the telling the board that “I was very to a request for comment, but fol- state Department of Transporta- scared to speak this morning so THE ASSOCIATED PRESS lowing Monday’s board meeting, tion staff, nine attorney general I opened up my Bible and it NEW YORK — Two more drugs NJ Transit’s Executive Director employees at NJ Transit, and 27 said, ‘Don’t be afraid, even the Jim Weinstein said the agency “is special advisory committee mem- hairs on your head are numbered. from a specialty pharmacy linked looking at things that don’t give us bers. … You are worth more than to a meningitis outbreak are now as public employees a special adOn Monday, more than 100 many sparrows.’ The employees being investigated, U.S. health ofvantage over our customers.” employees filled the board room here are worth many, many spar- ficials said, as they urged doctors to contact patients who got any kind Asked about how the move will and the adjoining lobby, as well as rows.” impact morale at NJ Transit head- a cafeteria on another floor, to lisDavid Peter Alan, of the New of injection from the company. The New England Compoundquarters, where secretaries, plan- ten to the testimony of co-work- Jersey Association of Rail Passenners, customer service workers, ers, and see if Christie’s proposal gers, told the board they will lose ing Center of Framingham, Mass., engineers and other non-union would be realized in the board’s far more than $1.6 million by cut- has been under scrutiny since last month, when a rare fungal form of employees commute to work, We- vote. Several used vacation time ting the passes. instein offered an alternative per- to attend the meeting. “If you expect a demoralized meningitis was linked to its steroid spective: “You know what? I’ll tell They eagerly described assis- work force to be as productive as shots used mostly for back pain. Monday’s step by the Food and you what the best thing for morale tance they were able to give to a happy work force, you are very is; it is that we did this today. The customers voluntarily during their much mistaken,” he said. “This Drug Administration followed reboard did this and we have not off hours — all because they were may cost you more than you get in ports of infections in three people who got different drugs made by had to lay off one person.” using the public transit system. additional revenue.” the company. One is a possible Weinstein said NJ Transit is There were stories of helping pasmeningitis illness in a patient who looking into a transit benefits pro- sengers find lost items, responding Email: rouse@northjersey.com

Bus shield installations expanded

Verrastro, the election supervisor, and information from an unnamed Bergen County member of the military, who reported a delay in receiving his ballot, according to Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman. Hogan’s office strongly disputed the findings. Hogan said the flier was not crafted to blunt any possible fallout from the Romney campaign that had been bubbling behind the scenes at the clerk’s office in late September. Instead, he said, the concept for the mailing was chosen months earlier. Part of the reason that Hogan is getting so much attention stems from last year’s campaign. County clerk races are normally low-key affairs, but Hogan and the Democratic Committee of Bergen County aggressively criticized the incumbent at the time, Republican Elizabeth Randall, accusing her of being a no-show and tracking her movements with a video camera. That has put him high on the GOP’s watch list. They see him as a candidate who will play hardball to get ahead. And, as the mailer indicates, he’s not shy about using the power of the office to boost his visibility. Spending on the mailer was appropriate and consistent with the guidelines for a trust fund that collects the handling fees charged by the clerk’s office, Hogan said. Those guidelines allow the money to be used to pay for upgrades to the office, such as computer equipment, and for “education,” he said. “In this instance, it was education of the public, as far as the clerk’s functions are concerned,” he said. That’s accurate. The public also got a brief education on John Hogan, the person smiling above George Washington and his crew. Email: stile@northjersey.com

FDA expands meningitis probe to firm’s other drugs got a spine injection of another type of steroid. The agency also learned of two heart transplant patients who got fungal infections after being given a third company product during surgery. The illnesses are under investigation, and it’s very possible the heart patients were infected by another source, FDA officials cautioned. They did not say whether the meningitis case involved a fungal infection or where the three patients lived. As of Monday, the current outbreak has sickened 214 people, including 15 who have died, in 15 states. Symptoms of meningitis include severe headache, nausea, dizziness and fever.

Debate: Tonight’s event could be crucial to tight Ohio race

From Page A-1 campaigns’ core strategies. Tonight’s town-hall-style debate has the potential to extend his momentum in Ohio and finally break the race’s stubborn tie nationwide as it roars into its final, decisive three weeks. The 90-minute debate at Hofstra University, which begins at 9 p.m., comes with the two men neck and neck after Romney bested Obama in their first debate, gained in the polls and climbed back into contention. Obama, sharply criticized for a listless performance in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, is expected to more aggressively question Romney’s shifts in tone and position over the years — and in some cases recent days — on tax cuts, immigration, abortion and other subjects. Obama, who has been practicing in Williamsburg, Va., is expected to press Romney hard on the Republican’s contention that he can cut current income tax rates 20 percent across the board without increasing the federal deficit. Romney, who has been preparing in the Boston area, is expected to counter not only with a vigorous defense of his plan but with a recitation of economic woes that he says the Obama administration has helped exacerbate. The debate could mark a turn in the Ohio battle specifically. After a summer-long advertising barrage by Obama meant to set the agenda for the campaign, Romney’s strategists were seeking an event that would cause people to give Romney a second look. For voters like Molly Johnson,

the Oct. 3 debate provided that moment. “The debate was huge for me,” said Johnson, of Blue Ash, a Republican-leaning suburb north of Cincinnati. “Smaller government is a big thing for me,” she said, “but I do have concerns about whether Romney is too much supporting big business to keep the rich, rich.” In the debate, “I understood Romney,” she said, and she now leans toward him, although “I wouldn’t say 100 percent.”

Sowing doubts

The Obama advertising strategy in Ohio was meant to hold the line against any late-developing Romney surge. Democratic strategists believed that in a state with a long history of manufacturing, Obama’s bailout of the automobile industry in 2009 and Romney’s opposition to it would give the president a strong opening argument with the white, blue-collar workers who make up Ohio’s swing vote. They hoped to build on the success of a union-backed campaign last year that overturned a new state law restricting collective bargaining by public employees, including police and firefighters. Interviews with voters show that the campaign’s aggressive efforts to portray Romney as a wealthy businessman out of touch with the lives of ordinary voters has succeeded in sowing doubts even in the minds of some Republican-leaning Ohioans. But Romney’s strategists argued all along that in Ohio, as elsewhere, voter unhappiness with the direction of the country

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stand-ins for Mitt Romney and President Obama running through a rehearsal with moderator Candy Crowley on Monday for tonight’s debate at Hofstra University on Long Island. would keep Obama vulnerable. But now the Republicans have moved quickly to try to solidify voters who liked Romney’s performance in the first debate. Romney has spent at least part of each of the past five days in Ohio, drawing crowds of unaccustomed size and enthusiasm, if still small-

er than Obama’s. Wednesday, some 9,500 supporters waited for hours on a bone-chilling evening in Sidney, in the state’s rural west, to cheer Romney on. “I’m overwhelmed by the number of people here,” the Republican told them. “There are even people out there,” he said, point-

ing into the distance. “That’s another county over there.”

Barrage of ads

kets were among the nation’s top 15 for political ads in September; Obama had the advantage in each one, according to data analyzed by the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks campaign advertising. This past week, Romney and his allies drew even. Sources familiar with the ad buys said the Republican campaign doubled its purchases of time going into this weekend, and Democrats expect to be significantly outpaced in coming days. That’s bad news for the state’s beleaguered voters. In addition to the constant ads, “every other phone call during the day is politics,” sighed Julie Ruskin, an Obama supporter from Symmes Township, another northern Cincinnati suburb. The ads on both sides mix general campaign themes — jobs and the economy, Medicaid, taxes — with state-specific appeals. To counter the expected Republican advantage on the air, Obama will rely on his formidable get-out-the-vote operation, based in 120 offices in every part of the state. Already, just over a week into early voting here, that has begun paying off. The early vote so far comes to nearly a fifth of the likely turnout, election officials estimate, and so far has been disproportionately from areas that went for Obama in 2008. (An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Thursday showed that 18 percent of likely voters said they already had cast ballots and 63 percent supported Obama.)

At the same time, Romney’s campaign and allied “super PACs” have begun pouring money into Ohio’s already-saturated This article contains material from airwaves. Four Ohio media mar- McClatchy Newspapers.


Transit workers lose free passes