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The Star-Ledger

November 12, 2001: Albio Who?

Joseph Doria and his aides stood smiling in a hallway outside. Some of them smoked cigars. The Democratic Party had just taken control of the Assembly for the first time since 1991, and Doria’s people cheerfully addressed the party’s longtime leader in the Assembly by a new title: “Mr. Speaker.” McGreevey had promised, they said. Around the same time, in another part of the Hilton, the governor-elect walked into a meeting room and quietly offered the speakership to someone else: Albio Sires.

November 18, 2001: Champion of openness flexes some backroom muscle.

Jim McGreevey campaigned for the New Jersey governorship by criticizing “business as usual” in the Statehouse: the shadowy deal-making, the special interests, the “empty promises” of its politicians. But even as his victory party was in full swing Election Night, McGreevey was privately pushing his choice for Assembly speaker, and he got a little help from two longtime political bosses.

March 6, 2002: Assembly chief led junketeers last year.

Jack Collins’ last year as Assembly speaker turned into a farewell tour of sorts, sponsored by New Jersey lobbyists and big business.

April 23, 2002: Treffinger drops out of U.S. Senate race.

Essex County Executive James Treffinger dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate yesterday, four days after federal agents raided his county offices in search of evidence in a widespread corruption investigation. Investigators want to know whether Treffinger traded lucrative Essex County contracts for donations to his Senate campaigns, gave political allies no-show jobs and used employees on the county payroll for campaign work.

June 25, 2002: Bruschetta, sushi or a few tasty votes?

Fund-raisers are a never-ending reminder of a fact of political life in Trenton: The next election is always around the corner. But when lawmakers solicit contributions at the same time they’re rewriting the corporation business tax, considering a Newark arena and preparing to vote on a $23.7 billion budget, a political fund-raiser can take on new meaning. “We get more bang for the buck now when they’re in the throes of the process,” said one lobbyist.

July 2, 2002: Norcross takes off the gloves.

They say he cursed. Threatened. Screamed. Some say he shoved.

October 1, 2002: Torricelli Quits Race.

U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli gave up his troubled fight for re-election yesterday under the pressure of plunging poll numbers and relentless questions about his honesty.

October 13, 2002: ‘Not Your Conventional Politician.’

Douglas Forrester’s first calling came at age 22, in a big white church on Route 1. It was 1975, and Forrester was in the seminary, helping out at Princeton Baptist Church and living in the leaky parsonage next door. Just a few months after Forrester arrived, the pastor abruptly resigned, and the young assistant suddenly found himself responsible for the spiritual well-being of about 100 souls. Three decades later, he was thrown into another unlikely situation because of a different sort of calling.

July 18, 2004: He Wheels. He Deals. Who Wins?

It takes months, even years, for most bills to arrive at the governor’s desk. This one took maybe 17 hours. As one veteran legislative staffer said at the time, “Things can happen quickly if the stars line up right.”

McGreevey Resignation

August 13, 2004: McGreevey Resigns: Political landscape in turmoil.

August 16, 2004: Democrats urging McGreevey to leave.

August 17, 2004: McGreevey resists pressure from own party to leave now.

August 18, 2004: Corzine consults leaders of party about running.

August 19, 2004: Corzine will not force governor out.

The Associated Press

July 7, 1997: Raised in America, immigrant faces return to strange birthplace.

Charlie Jaramillo – born in Colombia but raised in America – faces deportation for selling $40 worth of cocaine eight years ago. “It’s a death sentence. It’s like being dropped in the desert and being told ‘Find your way.'”

January 17, 1999: Teen-ager accused of hanging classmate.

She was a 15-year-old doing what all teens do: trying hard to fit in. The afternoon of May 10, Kimberly Jo Dotts found herself in the woods with a knot of kids she barely knew who were planning to run away to Florida that night. But as suddenly as she’d met them, they turned on her.

August 21, 1999: At Penn State, it’s a LaVar Lovefest.

In just one season, LaVar Arrington has dropped jaws by embracing everything Penn State is not: flashiness in the plain ol’ Paterno program; standing out on a team that cherishes no-names-on-the-jersey anonymity; and taking risks on a defense that hasn’t changed much in half a century. The Pittsburgh junior is probably the best athlete Penn State has ever had, and he may be the best defensive player in college football today. If only he could convince his coach.

March 20, 2000: A Deadly Disease Runs in the Family

Twenty-one people in six generations have died from a single illness, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease for its most famous victim.