New Jersey’s State Constitution is unconstitutional. That’s apparently what one New Jersey election official seems to think.
A committee seeking approval from the state to petition registered voters on whether to move forward with a special election to recall U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was denied that request, in a letter on January 11 which stated that the U.S. Constitution does not provide for such a proceeding.
But in 1993, the people of New Jersey overwhelmingly voted to reserve for themselves “the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress” (emphasis added), and in 1995 made this amendment to their state constitution under Article I, 2b.
This has left many New Jersey voters wondering why Secretary of State Nina Mitchell Wells, a member of the Executive Branch, not the Judicial Branch, would take it upon herself and her position to declare the NJ state Constitution unconstitutional. After reviewing the committee’s preliminary appeal statement, a judge in the Superior Court of NJ Appellate Division has just issued an order allowing a motion to accelerate the appeal.
While the mainstream media swarmed all over Bernie Madoff, AIG and corporate billionaires, the gentlemen of the press, who are so proud of fighting for the Little Guy, were mostly out to an expense-account lunch when Melissa King allegedly made off with $42 million rightfully belonging to members of the Laborers International Union of North American (LIUNA).
LIUNA Local 147 is an elite underground construction unit known as the “Sandhogs.” With roots going back well over 100 years, the heavily Irish-ethnic 1,000-member union represents the workers who dig New York City’s subway, sewer and water tunnels, often at hundreds of feet beneath the ground. It was the sandhogs who did the excavation work for such engineering marvels as the Lincoln, Holland, Queens-Midtown and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnels. Their massive ongoing main project, the Third Water Tunnel, when completed in 2020 at a projected cost of roughly $6 billion, will carry 1.3 billion gallons of water per day for 9 million area residents and ensure that water keeps running should either of the first two tunnels fails. It’s grueling and dangerous work. And the workers are paid well. They also expect to collect their full retirement benefits. But thanks to the alleged actions of Melissa King, there’s a distinct possibility they won’t.
King, 58, a resident of Irvington, N.Y., through her home-based company, King Care LLC, handled all administrative functions for Sandhog benefit funds since 1980, and at an annual official compensation that eventually reached $540,000. That’s pretty lavish even for an international union president. Apparently, it wasn’t lavish enough. Starting in 2002, prosecutors charge, King illegally transferred about $42 million from three union accounts covering pensions, vacation pay and other benefits to accounts she personally controlled. A large portion of it, to put it lightly, was unrelated to union business. Of the alleged thefts, $7.2 million went to pay off American Express bills, more than $3 million to equestrian businesses (apparently she was grooming her daughter for an equestrian career), and $713,500 to a jewelry business. The criminal complaint states she also transferred $500,000 to an E*Trade Securities account without union authorization.