Monday, July 24, 2006

Farber - Courier - Declares she's not quitting

Published in the Courier News, Sunday, July 23, 2006

Farber declares she's not quitting

The Associated Press

TRENTON -- New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber acknowledges making a mistake by rushing to the scene after her boyfriend was pulled over by police, but she does not think the mistake warrants her stepping down from her post.

"I am not resigning," she flatly stated during an interview at her office with The Associated Press on Saturday. "I don't believe that my mistake rises to the level that would require my resignation."

She added, "I was reacting like any human being to a call for help from a loved one."

Farber, 61, says she did nothing to intentionally influence the Fairview officers who pulled over Hamlet Goore's minivan on May 26 at a seat belt checkpoint, which ironically was part of the "Click It or Ticket" campaign overseen by Farber's office.

Goore then called Farber, who was driven to the site in her state car.

The minivan, it turned out, had an expired registration. Goore's license also appeared to have been suspended, although that later was found to be a mistake by the Motor Vehicle Commission.

Police were arranging to tow the van until Farber arrived, but they ultimately allowed Goore to drive it back to the North Bergen home he shares with Farber, the state's first Hispanic attorney general. Goore received two tickets -- one for having a suspended license and one for having an expired vehicle registration -- but officers never handed the citations to him.

A patrolman later submitted the tickets to the court for dismissal, though Goore still received a court summons for the expired registration ticket.

"I heard nothing of any tickets," Farber said.

Critics, though, say Farber's judgment in going to the scene calls into question her fitness to serve as New Jersey's top law enforcement officer.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine's chief counsel, Stuart Rabner, has appointed retired Judge Richard Williams as special prosecutor to examine Farber's role in the incident.

With eroding support among Democrats and increasing calls for her resignation, Farber said she decided to meet with the governor's advisers Thursday to tell them she wanted to come forward with her story.

She did an interview with public television Friday and had scheduled at least four interviews with print media Saturday.

"This became such a topic ... and there were so many incorrect facts being repeated," she said. "I decided we did not have the time, the luxury of waiting" for the results of Williams' investigation.

Meanwhile, many in New Jersey are surprised that Farber would put herself in a position to be accused of asserting her influence, given her own driving record.

Farber has had 12 speeding tickets, one accident ticket, four bench warrants issued for her and three license suspensions. That spotty record was enough to prompt former Gov. James E. McGreevey to drop her as a potential nominee to the state Supreme Court in 2003.

Goore, 65, has had similar problems. He has had his license suspended 10 times for offenses from excessive parking tickets to driving without insurance.

On Saturday, Farber said she expected the independent investigation to show she did nothing wrong at the traffic stop but didn't expect to ever escape the cloud over her driving record.

"I'm never going to be over those issues," she said. "My driving record will be on my tombstone. There lies Zulima Farber. She had 13 tickets in 30 years."

Link to online story.

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Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.