Northampton County will have a new district attorney. Monday, incumbent Terry Houck withdrew from the race in a surprise move. Houck lost the Democratic nomination back in May; he did, however, receive enough Republican write-in votes to get on the ballot and until yesterday, Houck said he planned to run as a Republican in the general election this November. The Democrat who defeated Houck in the primary is now the frontrunner for the DA position. Stephen Baratta says he is surprised by Houck's decision.
Verizon's proposed cellular tower got the green light from Upper Milford Township's zoning board Monday night. It's both a victory for Verizon and the local fire company, which stands to gain $18,000 per year for lending its backyard for the tower. The point of Monday night's meeting was to decide whether Verizon would be granted variances to a number of ordinances, to be able to put the tower in. Verizon plans to put up a 188-foot tower near the Hills of Powder Valley. Many residents worry it will be an eyesore.
A state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would allow school districts to decide whether to use other forms of tax to replace a portion of the revenue generated by a property tax. Local tax revenue provides more than half of the funding school districts depend upon and property taxes account for the bulk of that local revenue. Republican Representative Jason Ortitay says his legislation would be more equitable because it would allow local school boards to cut property taxes by increasing other taxes. Those include possibly using taxes for earned income, occupation taxes, per capita taxes as well as business privilege and mercantile taxes.
Legislation attempting to fix the state's probation system continues to face resistance from some justice reform groups. A bill passed the state Senate in June that would require courts to hold probation review conferences and establish a presumption that probation will end unless the person doesn't qualify. It would also allow the review conference to happen earlier if the probationer demonstrates good conduct. But some civil rights groups say the bill fails to address core problems with the system, such as not having a limit on the amount of time that a person can be sentenced to probation. The legislation moved out of a House committee but has not yet come up for a vote before the full chamber.
New Jersey's longest serving legislature and former governor Richard Cody is announcing he will be stepping down after fifty years in New Jersey politics. The Roseland Democrat says he will finish out his term and retire. Cody first took office as an assemblyman when he was twenty-seven and first became a state senator in 1982. Cody also served as interim governor for New Jersey following Jim McGreevey's resignation in 2004.