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Courier Post Endorses Cappelli & Cream for Freeholder

In Camco, stick with Dems
Courier Post Editorial -- October 23, 2008

Incumbents Louis Cappelli and Riletta Cream should stay on as Camden County freeholders.

Whether Democrat or Republican, New Jersey's ghastly taxes and oversized and overly expensive government demands a level of fiscal conservatism from all elected officials.

We need politicians who see that people are suffering because of high property taxes and moving out of this state because they no longer want to pay for an army of government workers with cushy benefits.

In Camden County, the freeholder board has focused in recent years on shrinking the size of county government to reduce the burden on taxpayers. Nearly 300 jobs have been eliminated since the beginning of 2005, according to county officials. Last year alone, 86 positions in the county government were cut, shaving about $4 million off the county payroll.

Camden County Freeholder-Director Louis Cappelli Jr. and Freeholder Riletta Cream should be re-elected because even though there would be benefit in having opposing party voices on the all-Democratic board, the freeholders are on the right path with shrinking the payroll in the county through attrition, not layoffs.

Republicans Alice Wood and Mary Cortes are passionate candidates who would no doubt enliven the board and spur debate at public freeholder meetings, something the board could use. But the county government has gotten better about spending under Cappelli's stewardship -- the ridiculous purchase of Marlkress Road in Cherry Hill for $1.7 million in 2006 notwithstanding. Wood and Cortes don't seem ready to focus on the nuts and bolts of county finances and further reducing payroll spending.

So we endorse incumbent Democrats Cappelli and Cream.

Courier Post Endorses John Adler for Congress

In the 3rd District, Adler is the choice
Courier Post Editorial
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Democrat John Adler has a solid platform and should get the chance to follow through on his ideas in Washington.

In the hotly contested 3rd Congressional District, two accomplished men are vying to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton, the Mount Holly Republican who has served for more than two decades.

While both are capable candidates, we're endorsing Adler, the Democratic state senator from Cherry Hill.

On so many of the issues that matter -- the economy, health care, Iraq, energy independence -- Adler has strong ideas that 3rd District voters should welcome.

The Republican candidate in the race, Chris Myers, has questioned Adler's ethics in using $50,000 from a discretionary state fund for public safety and community projects in five Camden County towns. Adler didn't personally benefit; he was responding to constituent needs.

Still, Adler readily acknowledges there could have been more transparency in the process and is glad the program has ended. As a congressman, Adler said he would push for more transparency in federal earmarks.

Adler also is on the mark with the economy. He says he would have voted against the bailout bills, including the version that was eventually approved by Congress and signed by President Bush. He thinks lawmakers didn't fully understand what they were voting for and didn't take the time to correct some of the regulatory mistakes that led to the economic meltdown. We agree; Congress shouldn't have rushed the process so members could run home to their re-election campaigns when there was work left to be done.

To get an understanding of the economic collapse and how it happened, Adler has talked with economists, Wall Street workers, bankers and business people. His approach of getting so many perspectives and doing the hard work to inform or educate himself is how a lawmaker should operate.

On energy, we fully agree with Adler that one of the most important things our nation can do is build cars and trucks that run on something other than gasoline. He proposes an effort similar to the Manhattan Project of the 1940s to corral our best scientific and engineering minds together with aid from Washington to produce vehicle engines that run on other fuels. As Adler noted at a debate Sunday night in Cherry Hill, getting off of oil would free our foreign policy, our economy and our environment.

On health care, Adler says he wants to make the words "pre-existing condition" curse words, at least when it comes to people getting rejected by health insurers. Adler knows how painful that can be; his father lacked health insurance, had several heart attacks, lost the family business and eventually died. It's clear that experience has had an impact on Adler and that he will go to Washington fully motivated to make good health care available to more Americans.

Myers, the Medford mayor, Lockheed Martin executive and veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, also has some good ideas. Particularly, he's right that our state and our nation should lower business taxes so more companies locate here. On energy, he has several good proposals, including extending tax credits on alternative energy for 20 years so more companies see the long-term financial benefits and are willing to invest in wind and solar.

Overall, however, we believe Adler's platform is the better of the two. Both candidates are capable of doing the job, but we believe Adler will do the job best; he gets our endorsement.

New registrations swamp S. Jersey election boards

PENNSAUKEN — It was the last day for voter registration here Tuesday and several 8-inch-high stacks of forms sat on tables throughout the Westfield Avenue office of the Camden County Board of Elections, waiting to be processed by 24 election workers.

Around 2:30 p.m., an estimated 4,000 people had walked in to register, while thousands of mailed registrations had been received.

"I'm not sure anyone ever dreamt the magnitude of what this election would bring in here," said Camden County Superintendent of Elections Phyllis Pearl.

To cope with all-time-high registration numbers, Pearl's and other county election departments statewide must continue to work overtime and on weekends to complete processing before the Nov. 4 election. The state has agreed to help fund part of each county's registration expenses, and Pearl noted her department will get $12,000 to help pay overtime and for about a dozen temporary hires.

Pearl said it's worth the sacrifices.

"It's refreshing to see people taking interest and knowing they can have an impact. It would be even more exciting to see them come out to vote," she said.

Eula Johnson, 69, of Pennsauken, who had moved from Camden three months ago, said she had to assure she was a part of history, by voting in this year's presidential election.

"It's so important with the economy. I remember when Clinton was in and everyone had a dollar," said Johnson, who supports Democrat Barack Obama.

J. Nicole Johnson, another Obama supporter who registered here Tuesday afternoon, said this presidential election is crucial.

"There are a lot of things going on in the economy I think he can fix, and I agree with his position on health care," the 26-year-old Camden resident said.

Public interest in this year's presidential election and the state's September push to register voters who had visited state motor vehicle offices, are the two main reasons county and state elections officials cited for registration increases.

The total number of registered voters statewide has increased by nearly half a million people to more than 5.2 million.

In Burlingon, Camden and Gloucester counties, registration increased by almost 70,000 over 2007, up to 793,570, according to state statistics.

The numbers of unaffiliated voters locally, which once outnumbered both Democrats and Republicans combined, has dropped almost 20 percent in each county.

Also, there are more than 60,000 newly registered voters the tri-county area: 18,249 Democrats, 5,421 Republicans and 47,770 unaffiliated, according state statistics.

Although Pearl and Gloucester County Superintendent of Elections Stephanie Salvatore feel some pressure, they are confident all registrations will be processed by Nov. 4.

Salvatore said she will receive $9,000 from the state to help defray overtime and the cost of temporary hires.

Burlington County Superintendent of Elections Joanne Nyikita, however, is not as certain. Nyikita said her 21-member staff, which includes four temps, will try its hardest and continue working 14-hour days and weekends. She said she expects $12,000 from the state.

"I really can't say if we'll finish. It depends on how much mail we keep getting in through the end of the week. We are backlogged several days, and a lot of people waited until the last day," she said.

Still, voters whose counties do not process their registrations by Election Day need not worry.

Read the rest of the article online at the Courier-Post online.

Equipment May Speed Emergency Response

Equipment may speed emergency response
By Adam Smeltz, Courier-Post

Camden County residents could soon see quicker, more efficient responses from police, medics and firefighters.

A $531,000 technology upgrade, approved in September by freeholders, will let the communications center in Lindenwold track the locations of at least 100 police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances in the county, said Herb Steelman, the county director for public safety.

The new equipment also will let responders pinpoint the locations of callers who report emergencies via cell phones -- provided that their phones are equipped with tracking technology. All late-model devices include the tracking ability.

For police, medics and firefighters, the upgrade to an Automated Vehicle Location system, or AVL, should speed the response to high-priority calls, Steelman said. Within seconds, dispatchers will be able to identify and deploy the units closest to a reported emergency.

The system should be in place by early 2009, Steelman said.

"It streamlines," said Bob Smith, a director at the Association of Public-Safety Officials International. "It immediately processes faster than you can go through a (roster) sheet or ask for (officer) availability over the radio."

At least seven of Camden County's 37 municipalities did not wait on the county initiative and already have installed their own AVL systems for police vehicles. They include Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Gloucester Township, Merchantville and Mount Ephraim.

But for other county towns, emergency responses have until now hinged on more conventional and slower means, such as radio communication. So far, Waterford, Collingswood and the county park police have signed on to use the new county AVL system, which Steelman said will be available to any county municipality that wants to participate.

"We may dispatch a unit that's 10 blocks away when there may be a unit one block away," he said. "(The new system) will improve response time to emergencies."

Read the rest of the article online at The Courier-Post.