Good Thursday morning!
One fault with the news media — and I’m as guilty of this as anyone — is that we often report on something, say a lawsuit or an investigation, and don’t follow up.
So recently I remembered the case of State Police Detective Jason Dare, who went missing for several days in March. Dare was found, but the controversy was just beginning. People began asking questions about the big “Blood Honor” tattoo on his neck that was visible in a photo the State Police circulated, then took down. Internet sleuths then surfaced social media pics of other tattoos he has, like an iron cross and a pit bull that appears identical to the symbol of a Pennsylvania white supremacist group, and a photo of him wearing a tank top featuring a skull wearing a helmet that looks like those worn by Germany soldiers during World War II.
So here’s the follow-up for now: An internal investigation into Dare has been shifted from the State Police to the Division of Criminal Justice, and Dare is suspended without pay. I wish could offer more, but that’s all I can dig out for now.
If Dare’s “Blood Honor” tattoo was a one-off, I could see how an innocent explanation would be possible. But with all those other tattoos as well, it’s hard to think of one.
If Dare did harbor abhorrent views and associations that have no place with someone charged with enforcing New Jersey’s laws equally, is it believable that he could have spent nearly 20 years on the force without anybody knowing about it? Especially when he didn’t do a very good job hiding any of it, if he tried. This isn’t just an isolated case. The State Police are once again under a lot of scrutiny on how they handle race, both within the department and in traffic stops. So I hope that once this investigation concludes we get a thorough answer.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT standing up here” — Chris Christie on Vivek Ramaswamy during Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Tom Considine, Camilla Kofod
WHERE’S MURPHY? In Somerville at 11:30 a.m. to sign a bill that, among other things, acknowledges the existence of Central Jersey
PROGRAMMING NOTE — New Jersey Playbook will not be publishing from Aug. 28 through Sept. 4. We’ll be back to our normal schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
RELEASE THE MCCRACKEN — Murphy’s office bars disclosure of records part of Covid-19 independent review, by POLITICO’s Daniel Han: The governor’s office is withholding the release of records that state agencies are providing to the law firm and consultants tasked with conducting the long-anticipated independent review of the state’s handling of Covid-19. The governor’s office took the unusual step of responding on behalf of multiple state agencies — ranging from the Department of Health to the Motor Vehicle Commission — after POLITICO sent public records requests seeking completed questionnaires sent to Boston Consulting Group and Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, which are conducting Gov. Phil Murphy’s long promised Covid-19 “post-mortem.” … According to an April 2023 contract between Boston Consulting Group and Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, the “foundation of the review” will be based upon information gathered from state agencies through questionnaires and interviews. The governor’s office denied the disclosure of those records citing attorney-client privilege and records being advisory, consultative or deliberative.
I CAN’T IMAGINE WHY — “Diversity in law enforcement remains elusive in New Jersey,” by NJ Spotlight News’ Colleen O’Dea: “Still dominated by white males, New Jersey law enforcement agencies have made a little progress in diversifying their ranks to better mirror the racial and ethnic makeup of the communities they serve, according to new data from the state attorney general’s office. At the end of 2022, non-Hispanic white people remained the vast majority among police officers — about 68% of all in agencies across the state, compared with 52% of New Jerseyans who are white. … Many departments appeared to not be following several laws designed to increase diversity in state law enforcement and provide transparency about the race, ethnicity and gender of officers … Even greater disparity exists by gender. More than 88% of all police are men.”
WHO’S GOING TO PAY THE BRIBES? — “Is the 2026 FIFA World Cup really a partnership between NY and NJ?” by The Record’s Katie Sobko: [W]hile the tournament’s stop in the tri-state area is planned to be co-hosted by New York and New Jersey, it appears to be premature to call the bi-state effort a partnership. … Requests made to the governor’s office, the Economic Development Authority, the Department of Community Affairs and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority provided no responsive records for contracts or agreements with Office of the Mayor of New York City or any New York city agencies or entities regarding a partnership to host the FIFA World Cup. From setting up a host committee to working on the stadium, even hiring contractors and approving designs has been a multi-pronged operation. Much of the burden will fall to the NJSEA and its Board of Commissioners. They’ve already hired construction companies and architects to get the stadium into shape. They’ve already hired construction companies and architects to get the stadium into shape. And most of those expenditures have borne considerable costs. New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for the tournament to the tune of millions while New York is merely lending its name — at least so far.And most of those expenditures have borne considerable costs. New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for the tournament to the tune of millions while New York is merely lending its name — at least so far.”
TOTAL COINCIDENCE — “ANCHOR property tax payments will go out every fall in N.J., state says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Karin Price Mueller: “Tax-weary homeowners and renters in New Jersey can make new plans for their long-term budgets. Eligible residents can expect to receive their ANCHOR property tax relief payment every year in the fall, the state Division of Taxation told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday. Payments for the first ANCHOR benefit, which was for the 2019 tax year, didn’t go out until the end of March 2023. But now that the agency has information on well over a million eligible taxpayers, it plans to send out the annual payments in fall, with this year’s payment going out by Nov. 1 for most taxpayers, Treasury spokeswoman Danielle Currie said.”
IT’S NOT DELIVERY, IT’S DANKGIORNO — “Door stash! Legal marijuana could come right to your door in New Jersey,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Mike Davis: “It wasn’t that long ago that marijuana was illegal to even keep in your pocket in New Jersey. Now, it’s not only legal to sell over the counter — before long, it might show up at your front door. On Sept. 27, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission will open license applications for cannabis delivery companies, which will contract with dispensaries to deliver cannabis products directly to consumers’ homes. The commission will also begin accepting applications for cannabis wholesaler and distributor licenses, which buy, sell and transport cannabis products between other licensed cannabis businesses.”
R.I.P. — “Barbara Keshishian, ex-NJEA president, dies at 72,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Barbara A. Keshishian, who battled Gov. Chris Christie as the head of New Jersey’s largest public employees union, has died. She was 72. Keshishian served as president of the 200,000-member New Jersey Education Association from 2009 to 2013. … ‘I believe 100% in public education—it’s what makes this country strong. When public schools are attacked, I take it personally. It’s a shame there’s not enough time to sit with everyone and change minds one at a time,’ Keshishian said in a 2009 interview. … During his 2009 gubernatorial campaign, Christie sent a letter to the NJEA saying he was not interested in being interviewed for their endorsement. The union had spent heavily in support of Gov. Jon Corzine’s re-election. After Christie took office, he sought pension and benefit reform that put Keshishian and the Republican governor at odds.”
WAKKOBELLIS AND DOT STILL IN CONTENTION — “Yacobellis won’t run for mayor,” by Montclair Local’s Liz George: “Montclair Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis, who announced he would run for mayor back in May, announced Wednesday he would drop out of the mayoral race and not seek reelection in the Montclair municipal elections in May 2024. In an email to constituents, Yacobellis said: ‘I’ve reached a point in my life where I want to make choices that give me the opportunity to thrive and to be happy and healthy. Becoming Mayor of Montclair isn’t something that’s going to make me happy. I’m also choosing not to run for re-election to the Council as this really is about stepping back from this very public lifestyle overall, after I’ve fulfilled my commitment.’”
BAGEL INJUSTICE NEWS — “N.J. bagel shop owner fined $1,500 a day for window shades,” by NJ Advance Media’s Anthony G. Attrino: “A bagel shop owner in Essex County says he’s fighting officials in West Orange trying to fine him $1,500 a day for pulling down his window shades, allegedly in violation of a town ordinance. Jarrett Seltzer, owner of Bagels By Jarrett, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in municipal court to a summons charging him with violating the ordinance, which states windows must not be opaque and left uncovered .… ‘My shades don’t harm anyone,’ Seltzer said Wednesday. … The bagel shop, located in the 400 block of Mount Pleasant Avenue, has eight windows facing west. Decorative banners covered some of the windows until town officials told Seltzer they violated the ordinance. In response, Seltzer said he cut the banners in half. But he still found it necessary to pull down the shades, especially when the afternoon sun shines through, heats up the shop and runs up his air conditioning bill.”
GOOD LUCK HIRING KIDS TO CORRECT THE SPELLING OF ‘NEWTON TOWN CENTRE’ — “Newton approves curfew for minors: What to know before it starts in September,” by The New Jersey Herald’s Bruce A. Scruton: “A formal curfew for the town goes into effect Sept. 14 after the Town Council approved an ordinance which sets up formal hours as well as allows police to write tickets for being out ‘after hours.’ … The curfew is in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. … During the formal public hearing, only three people spoke, including residents of Newton Town Centre, an apartment building for mostly senior citizens … One resident said, ‘Good kids won’t be out that time of night.’”
THE JACKSON FINE — “Jackson close to settling antisemitism lawsuit with NJ Attorney General,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Mike Davis: “The township is inching closer to a settling a lawsuit by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office that alleges rampant discrimination against the town’s Orthodox Jewish community, the most recent example of township officials trying to clear the township’s plate of outstanding civil rights lawsuits. The Jackson Township Council on Tuesday authorized its attorneys to settle the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office’s lawsuit alleging township officials discriminated against the town’s Orthodox Jewish community.”
REVENGE PORN — “A woman sent nude selfies to her boyfriend. Now she’s successfully sued her former high-school math teacher for posting them to a revenge-porn site,” by Insider’s Jane Ridley, Nate Schweber, and Haven Orecchio-Egresitz: “Kaitlyn Cannon was fresh out of Pennsylvania State University and embarking on what she felt was a promising career in television news when a March 2018 text message changed her life. An old friend reached out with nightmare news: Intimate photos of Cannon were on a website notorious for trafficking in nonconsensual pornography — or “revenge porn.” Cannon had sent the photos to an old boyfriend when she was in college and they were still dating. Now she’s won a New Jersey lawsuit against her high-school math teacher after an investigation revealed the nude selfies were posted from his home IP address. An Ocean County jury on Friday found that Christopher Doyle, who was Cannon’s teacher at Wall High School in New Jersey, disseminated 14 of her nude and seminude selfies online. She still has no idea how he got them.”
—“Fulop administration loses two more rounds in cops and cannabis fight”
R.I.P. — “Mark Hardenburg, Piscataway’s longest serving councilmember, dies”
—“[Plainfield] official who invoked ICE to protestors is removed from planning board”
—“Edison set to ink contract for privatized crossing guards. Here are the details”
—“Why did Paterson school board block new superintendent’s first staff appointment?”
—“Hoboken could hike many salary ranges; $290k max for police chief & $260k for fire chief”
A CRYPTO SCAM? NOW I’VE HEARD IT ALL — “Ex-corrections officer targeted first responders in $600K crypto scam, authorities allege,” by NJ Advance Media’s Nicholas Fernandes: “A former corrections officer was arrested Wednesday in an alleged cryptocurrency scam that defrauded first responders out of more than $600,000, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. John DeSalvo, 47, of Upper Township, is also accused of soliciting about $100,000 from members of an online investment group in a similar scam. In both schemes, he is alleged to have withdrawn most of the funds to spend on unrelated expenses, officials said.”
—“HBO docuseries chronicles Civic Development Group telemarketer scam”
—“Newton man gets 60 years for ‘senseless’ murder on former senator’s estate”
—“My sister was kidnapped in Iraq. Will Princeton help bring her home? | Opinion”
CORRECTION — Yesterday I wrote that one of the school districts the Attorney General is suing over their gender ID policies is in the 11th District. None are.