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Legal fees rising in tunnel fight By KAREN ROUSE STAFF WRITER

Governor Christie’s fight to keep the federal government from reclaiming $271 million spent on the Hudson River rail tunnel he scuttled has so far cost more than $333,000 — for one month of legal work — records show. Washington, D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs submitted a 30-page invoice to

N.J.’s one-month bill to battle feds: $333,000 NJ Transit — sponsor of the “Access to the Region’s Core,” or ARC, rail tunnel project — in February. It covers legal fees and expenses incurred between Dec. 1 and Dec. 30, including hundreds of hours of work by eight attorneys, $2,737 for research and $4.58 for postage.

The invoice has not yet been paid, according to the Attorney General’s Office, which said the firm will bill on a monthly basis. Invoices for January and February have not been received. “NJ Transit’s budget contains funds for legal and other such expenses and this

will come out of that,” spokesman Paul Wyckoff said. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake here. This is certainly, we feel, worth the best legal effort we can produce. … Patton Boggs is a highly regarded, highly professional firm See TUNNEL Page A-6

By the numbers

$271 million: Federal bill N.J. is fighting on canceled Hudson River rail tunnel

$333,000: Cost of one month of legal work in that fight

$485: Hourly tab for attorney

services from Patton Boggs law firm

Muslim leaders angry over inquiry


House hearings start today By HERB JACKSON


North Jersey Muslims who helped law enforcement get to know and understand their community after 9/11 resent their patriotism being challenged as the House Homeland Security Committee opens a series of controversial hearings on Islamist radicalism today. “It’s painting a very broad brush on an entire community,” said Sherine El-Abd of Clifton. “Every Muslim has to prove they are innocent.” The committee chairman, Rep. Peter King, assured television interviewers Wednesday that the hearings KING opening about “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response” will be fair. King, R-N.Y., dismissed critics for suggesting the committee ignore what he sees as a serious threat to national security. “Too many of the leaders of the Muslim communiSee MUSLIM Page A-6

Hot issues raise spending on N.J. lobbyists 14% CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand getting kissed on the head by coach Greg Schiano on Wednesday during a surprise visit to the school’s pro day, when players work out for NFL scouts. At left is LeGrand’s girlfriend, Rheanne Sleiman. LeGrand, who is in a rehabilitation facility after being paralyzed in a game in October, continues to make improvement.

N.J. development on the fast track Proposal would waive environmental rules


The Department of Environmental Protection will be able to waive many of its rules for developers and property owners under a proposal that critics say will erode New Jersey’s environmental standards. The plan unveiled Wednesday is one

of the most significant moves by the Christie administration to reshape the DEP into a more “customer-friendly” agency that promotes economic growth. “We can cut through unnecessary red tape and provide real solutions to real-world problems, while maintaining

our high protective standards,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. But environmental advocacy groups say the move will weaken environmental protections in one of the most polluted and densely populated states in the nation. They say it’s a threat beSee WAIVERS Page A-6

What’s next

A public hearing on the waiver proposal is scheduled for April 14 at 3 p.m. in the DEP’s hearing room at 401 E. State St., Trenton. Written comments may be submitted through May 6 to Gary J. Brower, Attn: DEP Docket No. 03-11-02, NJDEP, Office of Legal Affairs, 4th Floor, PO Box 402, Trenton, NJ 08625-0402. The proposed rule can be read at:


Spending on lobbyists in New Jersey rose by 14 percent last year to $65.6 million, but many local governments heeded Governor Christie’s call to stop using taxpayer money to influence Trenton — except in North Jersey. Despite fewer registered lobbyists for the third year in a row, total spending on lobbying increased by $8 million from 2009 to 2010 — the largest one-year surge since 2006, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, the agency charged with tracking all state government lobbying. The 14 percent jump was fueled by a record $10.3 million in television, radio and mailer campaigns, including the New Jersey Education Association’s $6.6 million public relations drive against Christie, according to the commission’s annual report on lobbying activity, which was released Wednesday. “The center of lobbying activity seems to be shifting away from more traditional personal lobbying to grassSee LOBBYING Page A-6

INSIDE Libyan fighting damages oil sites

Farmhouse fire kills 7 children

A giant fireball shot into the sky above Libya on Wednesday after fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi set two oil installations ablaze and inflicted yet more damage on Libya’s energy industry. Gadhafi claimed victory in recapturing Zawiya, the city closest to the capital that had fallen to rebels. The claim could not be verified. — Complete story on A-10

Seven children ranging in age from 7 months to 11 years died in a fast-moving fire in a Pennsylvania farmhouse while their mother milked cows and their father dozed in a milk truck down the road, police said Wednesday. As the heavily Amish and Mennonite community mourned, neighbors arrived to help with the chores Wednesday morning, some by horse and buggy. — Complete story on A-7

First winner praises spelling bee Margaret Schak of Rutherford is unequivocal about the positive impact that winning the first North Jersey Spelling Bee in 1935 had on her life. It’s a point she makes in a video to be shown at this year’s bee before semifinals today and Saturday. “It made me self-confident, much more than I was at 13,” Schak said Wednesday. Schak was the first woman mayor of Rutherford. Almost 90, she is still involved in borough politics. — Complete story on L-1

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Wisconsin Senate cuts union rights The Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers in an unexpected yet simple move that ended the stalemate. The Senate requires a quorum to spend money. So Republicans separated the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, from the proposal to plug a budget shortfall. — Complete story on A-8

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Muslim: Leaders angered about inquiry

From Page A-1 ty … are not cooperative and are not willing to speak out and condemn this radicalization that’s going on,” King said on CNN. That’s not so in North Jersey, say Muslim leaders, law enforcement officials and members of Congress from North Jersey. El-Abd, president of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women, said she reported some troubling encounters she had when working as a defense contractor recruiting U.S. citizens in the Northeast who were fluent in Arabic to work in Iraq and Afghanistan. “People might say they would not consider [taking such a job] because they’re against the war, and that’s someone’s opinion. You might disagree, but it’s not disturbing. “But if people in the community are saying [American troops] are there because they want to wipe out Islam, and we have to have a plan to get even with them, it’s a different story,” she said. Those incidents were reported to authorities.

A distraction

She called King’s approach a distraction from the war on terror, since the first step in winning a war is correctly identifying the enemy. “If he wants to fight radical Islam in the United States, he should be reaching out to leaders who are on the same page. In the Muslim community, the No. 1 enemy is the radicalization of Islam,” she said.

Instead, King has put people on the defensive with his public statements and the witnesses he’s chosen to invite to the first hearing, said Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, a teacher at Passaic County Tech. “People are disgusted by the hearings and they feel singled out. It’s being compared to what happened with the Japanese and the camps” during World War II, he said. Waheed Khalid of Palisades Park, a board member of the American Muslim Union and past president of Darul Islah Mosque in Teaneck, said the hearings should have looked at all types of domestic terrorism, “rather than targeting a specific community.” “I’m not as much concerned with the reaction within the United States because people know for years we’ve been working with law enforcement and the community,” Khalid said. “But overseas, people will not see it as clearly. This is another excuse to provide the radicals, who are a tiny minority, to go out and get recruits.” Journalist and community activist Ayat Oraby of Nutley said she expects protest rallies in New York and New Jersey after the hearing if King’s comments continue in the same direction. “His statements were 100 percent against us,” said Oraby. “We are American before anything else. He has no idea of who we are.” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, stopped short of saying the hearings should not be held, but he worried it could provide fodder

Waivers: DEP

From Page A-1 cause it could allow developers to build in areas that would harm water quality and open space. The DEP said the waivers would be limited and that developers would have to meet certain criteria. The DEP has thousands of rules developed over years that govern everything from air and water quality to land preservation and development. Governor Christie’s executive order last year called for all state agencies to get rid of rules that hinder New Jersey’s economy. Strict compliance of the DEP rules has led to “an unreasonable, unfair, or unintended result,” according to the proposal. The proposal allows the agency to waive some rules if they would “be unduly burdensome” or an “exceptional hardship” for a developer or homeowner. The proposal does not define “burdensome” or say what constitutes a hardship other than a rule that would “result in excessive cost.” “It would be determined on a case-by-case basis,” said Larry Ragonese, a DEP spokesman. “When a person in West Milford wants to add an addition to his property but can’t do it because he lives 3 feet too close to a stream, that’s a case where we have to use common sense,” Ragonese said. But David Pringle, of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said that homeowner’s action could be harmful to others. “Who exactly is feeling the hardship?” he said. “Do we need someone being able to build something up in West Milford that may eventually flood someone down in Wayne? Look at what’s happening with the flooding this week in Passaic County. Do we need fewer rules that keep people from building where they shouldn’t?”

Debbie Mans, head of the NY/NJ Baykeeper, said the “unduly burdensome” waiver proposal is “so vague, it’s unworkable.” Waivers could also be granted when rules conflict with other rules, when there is a public emergency or when forgoing the rule would provide an environmental benefit. Assemblyman John McKeon, D-West Orange, said the proposal is a threat to clean drinking water because it would allow development in environmentally sensitive areas. “Creating a loophole that will allow developers to threaten drinking water supplies opens the door for economic and environmental disaster,” said McKeon, who heads the Assembly Environment and Energy Committee. The New Jersey Builders Association declined to comment. A spokesman for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce did not return phone calls seeking comment. The proposal was developed over the course of a year with meetings between the DEP and stakeholders including business groups and environmental advocates. But several environmentalists say their concerns about the proposal were never addressed. “A more accurate statement is that environmentalists expressed opposition and the rule advanced in spite of our concerns,” Dena Mottola Jaborska, head of Environment New Jersey, said in an email to Martin. DEP officials say the proposal would give them much more flexibility in deciding if an application should be approved. Decisions on whether to grant a waiver would likely be made by assistant commissioners in charge of different divisions, Ragonese said. E-mail:

‘Spider-Man’ won’t open till June NEW YORK — Producers of Broadway’s “Spider-Man” musical postponed the show’s official opening for a stunning sixth time, announcing Wednesday that it will not officially open until this summer and that Julie Taymor will no longer helm the production.

Taymor, who directed “Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark,” will remain a part of a new creative team, the producers said. The delay takes the show out of the running for Tony Award consideration this year. — The Associated Press

for al-Qaida recruiters and has sent a private letter of concern to King, with whom Pascrell has worked on security issues. “If I was chairman, I would not be holding the hearing. You cannot single out one segment. The majority of Muslims I know are law-abiding, patriotic Americans,” he said.

No attempts to do damage

He also downplayed fears about a lack of cooperation in the community. “Every meeting I’ve had with the FBI since 9/11, this is what I’ve been told: There is no evidence in the 8th Congressional District of any noticeable attempt in the Muslim community or mosques to overthrow the government or do damage to the United States of America,” Pascrell said. U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman refused to comment about King’s hearings specifically. But he said his office, the FBI and state and local police all have reached out since the 2001 terrorist attacks to build two-way cooperation with Muslim leaders and residents. “Our goal is not just to get people to identify those in their communities who may pose a risk,” he said. “We want to make sure that they feel they can trust us with other concerns.”

Staff Writer Carol Lawrence contributed to this story. E-mail: Blog:

Lobbying: Up 14% in N.J. in 2010

From Page A-1 roots lobbying, or issue advocacy,” said Jeff Brindle, the commission’s executive director. “Those in the lobbying community know that to win policy battles, it helps to have public opinion on your side.” The overall increase in spending on lobbyists was largely caused by the changeover from a decade of Democratic governors in Trenton to Christie’s Republican administration last year, Brindle said. “There were many hot-button issues last year, and it obviously caused a sharp reaction,” he said. Christie, shortly after taking office in January 2010, banned state agencies from hiring lobbyists to influence state government, and he also pressured local government agencies — including towns, counties and New Jersey’s many authorities, boards and commissions — to stop using taxpayer money to lobby the state as well. The effort largely worked, according to the report, which shows spending on state government lobbyists by other government entities in 2010 totaled $900,000, a decrease of $1 million from the year before. Yet many North Jersey governments and public agencies continued to spend taxpayer money on lobbying contracts in 2010, including the embattled Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission and Passaic Valley Water Commission. The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, Bergen County Utilities Authority, Bergen County Improvement Authority and Bergen County Economic Development Corp. also paid for state government lobbying last year, according to the report. And several North Jersey towns — Cliffside Park, Edgewater, Hackensack, Haledon, Northvale, Passaic, Pompton Lakes, River Edge, Secaucus and Totowa — spent money on lobbyists last year while also paying dues to the New Jersey League of Municipalities, a statewide lobbying and advocacy organization for local governments. The $1 million reduction in public agency lobbying expenditures last year was more than offset by the record $10.3 million spent on mass communication

Who spent what

$333,281. … There are lots of good lawyers in New Jersey that don’t charge $485 an hour.” The state hired Patton Boggs to represent NJ Transit in connection with the Federal Transit Administration’s demand for repayment of $271 million in federal funding that NJ Transit spent on the ARC project before Christie shut it down in October. Patton Boggs last month sent the FTA a detailed explanation of why NJ Transit should not be required to pay back the money. In the 55-page document, the attorneys argued that: ä Federal estimates that project costs could climb from its budgeted $8.7 billion to as much as $13.7 billion forced the state to pull the plug on ARC, and that under federal statutes governing the agreement between NJ Transit and the

FTA, repayment is required only if “an applicant does not carry out the project for reasons within the control of the applicant.” ä Federal statutes only require that money provided under the federal agency’s “New Starts” program be returned. Of the $271 million, just $51 million was New Starts funds. The remaining federal portion used toward ARC was provided under a congestion and air-quality grant, geared toward urban areas, and federal stimulus funds and should not be paid back, attorneys said. ä A portion of the $271 million was spent on preliminary engineering and design work that has “enduring value,” even though the project is not going forward. Data compiled from work on the project can be used toward another project that addresses the problem

Year by year

Fewer taxpayer dollars were used to lobby state government in 2010 by local governments — including towns, counties and New Jersey’s many authorities, boards and commissions — but many North Jersey government agencies still used public money to hire lobbyists. Here’s a rundown of some of the agencies and how much they spent on lobbying contracts: Bergen County Utilities Authority: $88,054 Bergen County Improvement Authority: $60,038 Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission: $46,000 North Jersey District Water Supply Commission: $40,000 Passaic Valley Water Commission: $30,600 Bergen County Economic Development Corp.: $23,333 Cliffside Park: $12,000 Secaucus: $5,937 Passaic County: $1,320 Haledon: $600 A record $10.3 million was spent in New Jersey last year on mass communication lobbying, helping boost total spending on state government lobbying in 2010 to $65.6 million. Here are the top 10 spenders on mass lobbying campaigns last year: New Jersey Education Association: $6,611,499 Excellent Education for Everyone Inc.: $458,928 Exelon Corp./ Exelon Generation Co. LLC: $446,456 Reform Jersey Now Inc.: $402,932 Competitive Suppliers Coalition: $348,179 New Jersey Credit Union League: $177,048 New Jersey Hospital Association: $136,748 New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association Inc.: $121,750 AARP New Jersey: $100,733 Health Care Institute of N.J.: $99,581 Source: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission

lobbying efforts, including television commercials, radio advertisements and mass mailer campaigns, according to the report. The NJEA led the way in the mass communications category with its $6.6 million outlay. Steve Wollmer, the education association’s spokesman, said the union had never spent so much on radio, television and newspaper ads in a single year. Ads targeted specific issues, such as the Christie administration’s failure to win a $400 million federal grant or the union’s stance against vouchers, he said. “Everyone would agree this has been an extraordinary year,” he said. “We never had a governor launch a systematic, yearlong at-

Tunnel: Fees rising in fight over bill

From Page A-1 that is working to save state taxpayers money as efficiently as possible.” NJ Transit is paying the firm $485 per hour for attorney services, $125 per hour for clerks and law assistants and $90 per hour for paralegals, according to a Dec. 2 letter the Attorney General’s Office sent to Robert Brams, a partner at Patton Boggs, confirming the retention of the firm. Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, called the invoice amount “outrageous” and said he would like to see details of the billing. That information was redacted in the document. “I’m not suggesting the state shouldn’t have counsel. I hope the state wins,” he said. “But


A protest on Sunday in New York against planned congressional hearings on Muslims’ role in homegrown terrorism.

of getting more commuters across the Hudson River and into Manhattan, Patton Boggs says. The attorneys also argued that New Jersey residents will be harmed if the $271 million is paid back because it would force the agency to postpone or cancel projects, including work to maintain the condition of trains and buses. Various agencies had committed funding to the $8.7 billion project, including the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which approved of a toll hike on the Garden State Parkway and turnpike that would support a $1.25 billion contribution to ARC. With the project now dead, Christie has proposed using that $1.25 billion to support highway, bridge and transit projects around the state. Democrats are challenging Christie’s plans with legislation

The New Jersey Election Enforcement Commission released a report Wednesday on all state government lobbying activities in 2010. Here’s how last year’s spending on lobbying compares with prior years: 2010 $65,587,994 2009 $57,565,043 2008 $55,661,277 2007 $54,891,382 2006 $55,321,166 Source: New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission

Reform Jersey Now paid for a series of mailers and radio advertisements in 2010 that boosted the governor’s attempt to pass local government reforms, including a 2 percent cap on property tax hikes. Brindle said the spending on such grass-roots lobbying campaigns has been occurring more and more at the federal level as well. “The advocacy explosion that began at the national level is coming to New Jersey,” he said. Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the lobbying data show that Trenton is being heavily influenced by special interests and major lobbying campaigns. Builders and utility companies — which dominate the top 10 list for total spending on state government lobbying last year — all received favorable treatment in 2010, he said. “Special interests funding is not only alive and well in New Jersey, but is increasing,” Tittel said. “Not only do they spend money, they get results.” The report also tracked lobbyists who hold seats on the authorities, boards and commissions — a practice that is legal in New Jersey and can enable the lobbyists to enroll in the state pension system even while lobbying state government. An estimated 227 registered lobbyists held such positions in 2010, according to the report.

tack on public education, our members and our union. “Members insisted that we correct misinformation and offer balance to the debate,” he said. Most of the money came from union reserves, but some funds came from money for a campaign that features real teachers talking about the successes of public schools, Wollmer said. Other top spenders on mass communication campaigns last year included Excellent Education for Everyone, a non-profit schoolchoice advocacy group; Exelon Corp., a major electric, gas and nuclear energy company; and Reform Jersey Now, a federal non- Staff Writer Leslie Brody contributed profit with close ties to Christie to this article. E-mail: and other top state Republicans.

The back story

Governor Christie announced in October he was killing ARC after projections from the Federal Transit Administration and NJ Transit showed it would run at least $1 billion over its $8.7 billion budget. Between 2005 and last December, NJ Transit had spent $610 million on the project, according to Paul Wyckoff, spokesman for NJ Transit. Of that, $271 million was federal funding. Weeks after Christie’s decision, the FTA sent NJ Transit a letter demanding that the money be paid back.

that would roll back that toll hike, which is scheduled for Jan. 1, 2012. Whether NJ Transit will be on the hook for a portion or all of the $271 million spent on ARC remains unknown. A representative for the FTA said the legal arguments Patton Boggs made on behalf of NJ Transit remain under review. Patton Boggs has represented major government agencies and organizations, including the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Bloomberg LP, Wal-Mart

Stores and Bristol-Myers Squibb, according to the website It has also contributed thousands to candidates and officeholders around the nation, most of them Democrats, including $5,000 each to the campaigns of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the website shows. Patton Boggs has also given $30,000 each to the Democratic Congressional Campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Legal fees in ARC tunnel fight  

The Record

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