West New York Mayor Roque on the hotseat
West New York Mayor Felix Roque took the stand in his own defense last week in an attempt to dispute charges that he allegedly conspired with his son, Joseph, to hack into the email and “RecallRoque” website of his political opponents. After a year and a half of speculation, Roque responded to questions from the prosecution about his activities during the alleged hacking. The testimony became heated when prosecutors challenged Roque on several key facts. Federal authorities brought a number of very powerful witnesses including a federal expert on internet fraud, a representative from Google, as well as an official from the provider of the allegedly hacked website. Federal authorities also produced an array of phone and other records trying to link Mayor Roque with his son’s alleged activities during the time when the hacking allegedly occurred.
In cross examination against Freeholder Jose Munoz, who is an FBI informant and the founder of the anti-Roque site, defense attorneys attempted to paint the whole affair as an elaborate political attack on Roque by “sharks” who were out to get the mayor. The case rests heavily on whether or not Roque’s son Joseph performed the alleged hacking on his own or with his father’s full knowledge.
Roque’s defense is expected to present their own media experts in an attempt to refute some of the testimony given by the prosecutions expert.
While the case has progressed rapidly, a verdict was not rendered by press time this past Thursday.
If found guilty of conspiracy, Roque would not only have to resign his office as mayor, but could face jail time as well as restrictions on his medical practice that could include loss of Medicaid and Medicare or even loss of his medical license.
The charges stem a February 2012 incident when Joseph Roque allegedly hacked into and closed down the website run by Munoz. Additionally, Mayor Roque has been charged with intimidating people connected with the website after his son allegedly stole their information from the website. – Al Sullivan
Assembly Transportation Committee holds hearing on jitneys; Ramos, Sacco introduce legislation in Trenton
HOBOKEN – The New Jersey State Assembly Transportation Committee convened in Hoboken on Monday to discuss the ongoing issues of unregulated jitney buses throughout Hudson County, which have created what chairman and Hoboken mayoral candidate Ruben Ramos referred to as a “drag race atmosphere.”
The hearing was held a month after an 8-month-old North Bergen resident, Angelie Paredes, was killed on Boulevard East in West New York when a jitney driver, allegedly using his cell phone, hit a street pole, which struck the child.
Since then, various elected officials, including U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Albio Sires (D-8th Dist.) have called for federal legislation regulating jitneys, and state legislators have introduced bills into the state Senate and the Assembly that would hold jitneys to stricter standards.
The hearing on Monday was called to hear testimony on an Assembly bill that would demand that jitneys adhere to stricter insurance guidelines and more licensing regulations. A similar bill has been introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Nicholas Sacco, who is also the mayor of North Bergen.
“The business practice … is why we see the Wild West, goosechases to pick up fares throughout the day every day, [and] why we see the drag race atmosphere on Bergenline Avenue, Boulevard East, Summit Avenue and Palisades Avenue and taking place throughout our roads in Hudson County,’’ Ramos said, according to a report on NJ.com. “This has to be addressed."
According to NJ.com, the jitneys are subject to biannual inspections, but limited insurance, more similar to taxi regulations than those of commuter buses. – Dean DeChiaro
Palisades Medical Center holds Guttenberg screening
Palisades Medical Center will hold a health screening in Guttenberg on Sunday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 6823 Jackson St.
The screening and information session will include: blood pressure, heart rate, percentage of oxygen in the blood, peak flow/respiratory, body mass index, sugar and cholesterol.
For more information, please call Joanne Riggs at (201) 854-5793.
PSE&G to offer STEM grants
To further strengthen its commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, the PSE&G Foundation will award $160,000 in grants to afterschool, summer, and youth development programs that develop or enhance educational opportunities in the STEM fields.
The Foundation will award funding to organizations serving youth in PSE&G's electric and gas service territory in New Jersey. Applications must be completed and submitted by Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 by 5 p.m. All applicants will receive notification about funding decisions in late November.
A national assessment conducted in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education found that less than one-third of eighth graders in the United States show proficiency in math and science. This is a problem, as jobs amongst those who excel in STEM subjects are among the best the economy offers. And as issues such as climate change, energy independence, and national security demand comprehensive and technical solutions, the need for people with knowledge in these areas is growing at a fast clip.
Applicants may apply directly through PSEG's online application. To apply, visit www.pseg.com/info/community/education/education.jsp.
Society sponsors trip to Amish Country
The German-American World Historical Society is sponsoring its annual bus trip to Amish and Mennonite country, Lancaster, Pa., on Oct. 19. The tour costs $60 for adults, and $45 for children ages 4 to 12. Refreshments will be provided on the bus.
For more information, call (201) 864-3245 or (201) 867-3585, ext. 249.
Animal League holds wine tasting fundraiser
The Hudson County Animal League is inviting everyone to help them celebrate their 20th Anniversary of saving the lives of homeless and abused animals through a wine tasting event sponsored by Bridgeview Liquors of Bayonne.
The wine tasting will be held on Nov. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the Bayonne Museum, 8th Street and Broadway in Bayonne.
Tickets, at $15, can be purchased in advance by contacting Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org or (201) 436-1848. You can also pay through PayPal by visiting the group’s “Donate” page. Tickets, at $20, can also be purchased the day of the event.
You can also help the Hudson County Animal League with the cost of caring for homeless felines by clipping cat food and litter coupons. Send them to P.O. Box 4332, Bayonne, NJ 07002 or P.O. Box 3589 Jersey City, NJ 07303.
People are also being sought to foster an animal until their permanent home is found. For more information on this, call Kathleen at (201) 895-3874 or Charlene at (201) 200-1008.
Youth group members are also being sought. If interested in completing 20 hours of volunteering, contact Lorma at (201) 437-7263. Adults can call the same number to volunteer.