Former Jersey Councilman Vega gets 30 months

JERSEY CITY – U.S. District Court Judge Jose Linares sentenced former Jersey City Councilman Mariano Vega to 30 months behind bars on Monday for accepting bribes from a government informant.
Vega, who also served as the director of the Department of Parks, Engineering, and Planning for Hudson County, was among 44 public officials and religious leaders who were arrested in July 2009 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation corruption sting. He pleaded guilty last September in U.S. District Court to taking a $20,000 bribe from government informant Solomon Dwek. Vega admitted that he promised to expedite zoning approvals for a development Dwek said he planned to build on Garfield Avenue.
Vega also admitted in court that he had agreed to accept an additional $10,000 bribe from Dwek as part of the deal, although Vega was arrested before he received this final payment. — E. Assata Wright

Bhalla, Ramos, Connors to run for Assembly

HOBOKEN AND JERSEY CITY – Hoboken Councilman Ravinder Bhalla is also seeking a seat in Trenton. Bhalla, an attorney, confirmed Monday afternoon that he filed petitions to run to represent the 33rd District in the New Jersey State Assembly. Two seats are open, and two other Democrats are running in the June primary. They are the incumbent, Ruben Ramos of Hoboken, who served on the Hoboken council in the past; and Sean Connors, who lives in Jersey City. Ramos and Connors are backed by the Hudson County Democratic Organization, the county’s longtime political organization. Bhalla is allied with Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
The primary election is June 7 and the general election is in November.
Bhalla does not have a runningmate in this race.
Voters can choose two candidates for two seats.
Ramos and Bhalla have a bit of a history, and exchanged words (or letters) in the past over Hoboken issues, including controversial anti-wheeling legislation which went before the council in February.
The 33rd District includes all of Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and a portion of Jersey City. Due to Census changes, West New York was recently dropped from the district.

Benefit set for ‘Empty Sky’ memorial

JERSEY CITY – The New Jersey 9/11 Memorial Foundation has announced an ‘Empty Sky” Memorial Benefit dinner on Monday, May 9 at 6 p.m. at the Hilton in Short Hills. The memorial, which is being constructed at the northeast tip of Liberty State Park, is a tribute to the 746 New Jersey residents killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The dinner will feature NJ 101.5’s Dennis Malloy as MC and entertainment by The Midtown Men, four stars from the original cast of the Jersey Boys. Reservations must be received by April 25. Call (862) 485-0580 or (732) 816-7830. The Hilton is at 41 John F. Kennedy Parkway.

NJMC to offer ‘Dancin’ with the Honeybees!’ program

NJMC will offer ‘Dancin’ with the Honeybees!’ program for ages 3 to 11 on Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m. at the Meadowlands Environment Center.
Cliff Wright-Sunflower is a master beekeeper, environmental educator, storyteller, and performer. In his audience participation program, “Dancin’ with the Honeybees,” he brings the scientific magic of the honeybee hive to life, with storytelling, poetry, prose, puppetry, music, and dance.
Cost is $5 per person and $4 for MEC members. Pre-registration is required.
The Meadowlands Environment Center is located at 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst. For more information, call (201) 460-8300 or go online at www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec.


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