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From Capitol Hill to the courtroom: Bob Menendez doesn't want you to be distracted by shiny objects

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Don’t be distracted by the shiny object.

Or 13 shiny objects — as in bars of gold bullion.

That’s the goal of the attorneys for Sen. Bob. Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey. The senator is on trial for the second time in less than a decade on unrelated charges.

U.S. senators don’t go on trial very often. The late Sen. Ted Stevens, the Republican from Alaska, was on trial back in 2008. A jury convicted Stevens. Then Stevens had the case overturned. Stevens died in a plane crash after he lost his bid for re-election.

DEMOCRAT SEN. BOB MENENDEZ FACES SECOND FEDERAL CORRUPTION TRIAL WITH JURY SELECTION STARTING MONDAY

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But who was the last U.S. senator on trial?

Bob Menendez in 2017.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., talks at a Senate Finance hearing on Capitol Hill March 21, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

In that case, Menendez was accused of accepting lavish gifts for doing favors for an eye doctor. The case ended in a hung jury.

Menendez torched prosecutors for even bringing that case. And he broke down when the case concluded.

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“The way this case started was wrong. The way it was investigated was wrong. The way it was prosecuted was wrong. And the way it was tried was wrong, as well,” said Menendez. “Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot understand or, even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County can grow up to be a United States senator and be honest.”

Menendez seemingly found redemption upon being given a second lease on his political career.

“Today is Resurrection Day, and I want to thank God once again for allowing me to stand before you, as I walked into this courthouse 11 weeks ago, an innocent man,” Menendez said at the time. 

He then ran for re-election in 2018 and won.

The government says that’s where trouble began.

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Menedez is accused of taking bribes from businessmen in the Garden State in exchange for favors. Among them, operating as a foreign agent for Qatar. That’s where the gold bars come in. The feds accuse Menendez of accepting the gold bars from New Jersey businessman Fred Daibes in exchange for using his muscle to help get a deal with a Qatari investment fund.

The goal of Menendez’s defense counsel is to convince jurors there isn’t necessarily a connection between the gold bars and official favors.

Although prosecutors will point out that Menendez did multiple internet searches, trying to determine the worth of gold bars in kilos.

Another charge targets Menendez and the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Investigators claim they were doing the bidding of Egypt. In particular, the feds accuse Menendez of writing shadow letters on behalf of senators, trying to dislodge a Senate holdup on $300 million in military aid targeted for Cairo.

JON STEWART CALLS OUT NANCY PELOSI, HUNTER BIDEN AND BOB MENENDEZ IN SEGMENT ON POLITICAL CORRUPTION

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Prosecutors also accuse Menendez of taking payments to help Wael Hana, an Egyptian American businessman, score an agreement with the government of Egypt. Hana wanted the Egyptians to certify that his imported halal meat met appropriate dietary guidelines for Muslims.

Menendez argued that working with constituents was just what lawmakers do.

“What a chilling effect on the mere engagements and of these conversations it would be,” Menendez said of lawmakers simply engaging with people who seek government assistance. “The United States Attorney’s Office is not engaged in a prosecution but a persecution. They seek a victory. Not justice.”

Jury selection took place over several days.

BOB MENENDEZ

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

On the first day, Judge Sidney Stein dismissed 38 possible jurors outright, then hauled in another pool of 50 prospective jurors. One possible juror cited work at the Rockland County New York Humane Society as a problem with her serving.

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Another said she had a non-refundable trip scheduled to Rome. Stein let her go but questioned the validity of the lack of an available refund.

A children’s librarian from Greenwich, Conn., was one of the jury candidates. After she left, Stein opined on that line of work in another life.

“I’m telling you, that’s what I would do. Children’s librarian,” said Stein.

SEN BOB MENENDEZ MAY BLAME HIS WIFE NADINE DURING FEDERAL CORRUPTION TRIAL: COURT DOCS

It’s probably not that different from negotiating terms for a federal trial for a U.S. senator.

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One jury candidate told the court about a fear of heights, noting that the courtroom is on the 23rd floor of the Daniel P. Moynihan Courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

Another possible juror announced she just had an ingrown toenail removed and couldn’t serve due to a litany of other maladies.

“I think she’d be too much of a problem,” Stein said after excusing her.

At least it wasn’t a hangnail.

And, after all, the goal of Stein is to avoid a hung jury.

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Menendez and his wife enter court in New York City

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, left, and his wife Nadine Menendez arrive at the federal courthouse in New York Sept. 27, 2023.  (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon, File)

Stein also told potential jurors some of the testimony in the trial may be in Spanish and Arabic, through an interpreter.

Stein also presented a list of various political figures, ranging from Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., to Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., to Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y. Stein advised the jury candidates they should speak up if they know any of those figures or are familiar with them. Stein didn’t say they would appear as witnesses, but he did say their names may come up in the trial. None are accused of wrongdoing.

At the 2017 trial of Menendez, his Garden State colleague, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., sat in the courtroom on the first day for moral support. Booker testified as a character witness on behalf of Menendez, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

But for this trial, Menendez appears to be on his own.

“I’m not going to follow the day-to-day. I’ll be waiting for the verdict,” said Booker.

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Menendez has disappointed Senate Democrats who hoped he would resign. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., often gives a variation of the same pat answer when asked whether Menendez should step down or if the Senate should expel the senator.

“The Senate has standards as to proper behavior. And Sen. Menendez’s behavior has fallen way below that,” replied Schumer.

Menendez will not run for re-election as a Democrat. But he could do so as an independent. In fact, the senator cracked open the door to that possibility. The filing deadline is June 4. The trial could run through mid-July.

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Boston, MA

Joseph Slavet, ‘fearless’ and thoughtful watchdog of Boston government, dies at 104 – The Boston Globe

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Joseph Slavet, ‘fearless’ and thoughtful watchdog of Boston government, dies at 104 – The Boston Globe


In that era, “Boston politics was a struggle for the spoils of government between the Irish and the Boston Brahmins,” said former US representative Chester G. Atkins. “Joe was a significant part of moving politics beyond that to something that was professionalized, that was governed by rules and fairness, and on delivering services to everybody, not just to certain ethnic groups.”

Mr. Slavet, who also had been the first leader of the anti-poverty agency Action for Boston Community Development, was 104 when he died May 4 in NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, where he had been living.

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As a key Boston official from the late-1940s into the 1960s, Mr. Slavet was “in a lot of ways the last living link to the transition of Boston from James Michael Curley to Hynes” and beyond, said Atkins, who before Congress had served in the Massachusetts House and Senate.

“Joe was in the scrum for a long time and was always respected as being thoughtful,” said Larry DiCara, a former Boston city councilor.

“Looking back, he was fearless, even when he was on a public payroll,” DiCara said. “He let it be known when he thought something was right or something was wrong. Some might have thought of him as a bit of a scold.”

In June 1960, amid what Mr. Slavet called the “frustrating and bitter experiences with the multimillion-dollar Prudential Center and Government Center projects,” he published a detailed and concise essay in The Boston Globe, breaking down why construction was lagging.

“Many of the crises, snarls, and wrangles which have beset the two projects can be attributed to planning pitfalls,” he wrote, detailing everything from an inhospitable tax climate to “the absence of a single city agency staffed by experience professionals to pull all the pieces together, to harmonize conflicting viewpoints, and to keep things moving.”

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After his leadership roles with the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and ABCD, Mr. Slavet moved into academia, first at Boston University, where he held a leadership role with the urban affairs department, and then at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he was a senior fellow at the McCormack Institute.

“He transitioned from a player in government and quasi-government entities to being an academic and was a pioneer in the early academic programs that looked at urban crises,” Atkins said.

In those university roles, “Joe was one of the earliest, and perhaps the earliest and most comprehensive thinker, about what we call today workforce housing,” Atkins said. “A lot of his work on housing is as relevant today as when he wrote it in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Born in Boston on March 31, 1920, Joseph S. Slavet was a son of American-born Anna Adelman Slavet, and Dan Slavet.

In a 2007 interview for the Veterans History Project that is in the Library of Congress, Mr. Slavet said his father was born in an area that was then part of Russia, and had arrived in the United States as a teenager. Mr. Slavet said his father had been an apprentice plumber who later worked in a plumbing and hardware supply business.

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The older of two brothers, Mr. Slavet graduated from English High School and was a professional musician by his teen years.

“By 15, I was in a jazz band that played in ballrooms throughout New England,” he said in the Veterans History Project oral history.

He said he used his saxophonist income from those regional gigs to pay his way through Boston University, after turning down an offer to join a nationally touring band that would have paid the equivalent of about $3,000 a week in today’s dollars.

While a BU student, he learned that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. “When I heard that, I turned to my mother and I told her that I think my life has taken another turn,” he recalled.

Serving in the Army, he landed in Normandy, France, seven days into the D-Day invasion. A gunnery officer, he was in charge of 40mm anti-aircraft weapons.

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His unit was in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. A few months later, the unit discovered a mass grave near a concentration camp.

“This was my first personal experience of what Hitler had done to the Jews,” he said in the oral history.

“Our officers were so enraged,” he recalled, and his unit insisted that because of their complicity with the Nazis, residents of the nearby village should remove the remains of those in the mass grave and give them all proper burials. Among those in the village there was “a lot of handwringing and denying and crying,” he said.

Back home after the war, Mr. Slavet resumed his education. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston University, he received a master’s in history from BU and a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University.

He also met Muriel Vigor at a dance. They married in 1947 and raised their family in West Roxbury. Mrs. Slavet died in 2011, and Mr. Slavet had lived in the Orchard Cove retirement community in Canton before moving to NewBridge on the Charles.

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Staying involved in public policy research long after his colleagues had retired, Mr. Slavet “didn’t stop working,” said his daughter Beth of Washington, D.C. “He always said he did some of his best work in his 80s.”

Mr. Slavet “was generally regarded as the straightest of straight arrows,” DiCara said.

A service has been held for Mr. Slavet, who in addition to Beth leaves two other daughters, Amy Glaser of Easton and Julie of Philadelphia; four grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren.

Mr. Slavet spoke only Yiddish when he started school as a boy, and he delivered his Bar Mitzvah speech in Yiddish. Just before turning 104, he attended his great-grandson’s bris “and he spoke so eloquently there,” Beth said. “He had an incredible life.”

Through his work in public service and academia, Mr. Slavet had a career “that spanned the significant transition of Boston from a city in decline to a city that once again became a city on a hill, and he was a pioneer in the marriage of higher education and municipal policy,” Atkins said.

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“To the very end Joe was calling balls and strikes, commenting on politics, calling people out who were self-serving, and praising people who were acting in the public interest.”


Bryan Marquard can be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.





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Pittsburg, PA

Pittsburgh-area non-profit organization collects supplies to distribute to those in need

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Pittsburgh-area non-profit organization collects supplies to distribute to those in need


GREEN TREE, Pa. (KDKA) — A non-profit organization in Green Tree is helping the environment. 

When stepping into Global Links, you’re met with thousands of donated chairs, beds, tables and other supplies that fill shelf after shelf. 

“Walkers and wheelchairs, sutures, anything you can think of that you might use in a hospital, we have it here,” Stacy Bodow, outreach and engagement manager at Global Links. 

All of the medical supplies are new. 

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“We have about 400 different soft supply items, medical supplies that you would see in any hospital that are regularly coming through,” Bodow said. 

One morning, KDKA-TV saw workers loading up furniture that will travel by land and then sea to Honduras, where a hospital recently burned down and lost everything. 

“Everybody got out safely, but the whole hospital is gone. They need to replace the entire thing,” Bodow said. 

Much of the items the non-profit organization sends were donated from local universities and hospitals like UPMC. It also partners with 1,200 local groups. 

“What can we do to help the communities and the environment overall?” said Michael Carlson, director of environmental services at UPMC Mercy. 

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The partnership between Global Links and UPMC has even helped keep unwanted items out of the landfill. 

“Waiting room furniture that we didn’t need in the hospital anymore,” Carlson said. “Things like that, that we were just storing. Instead of throwing it out in the dumpster, we’re donating it.”

But it’s the volunteers who are keeping things moving at Global Links. Many are from local universities, church groups or are retired. 

“This is fun,” one volunteer said. “It’s one of the best parts of the week.”

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Connecticut

Just Salad To Open Second CT Restaurant Location In Norwalk

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Just Salad To Open Second CT Restaurant Location In Norwalk


NORWALK, CT — Just Salad, a popular fast-casual restaurant chain that serves up inventive salads, wraps and warm bowls, has confirmed plans to open a second Connecticut location in Norwalk next year.

Just Salad Spokesperson Nicole Natoli confirmed to Patch the store is planned to open near Walmart at 644 Main Avenue.

While a specific date has not been announced yet, Natoli said the Norwalk location is tentatively scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2025.

“After opening our first Connecticut store in Fairfield last year,” Natoli said, “we’re excited about the opportunity to continue expanding our footprint across new local communities.”

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Just Salad currently operates locations in nearby states New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, as well as Florida and Illinois.

Last spring, Just Salad officially opened its first Connecticut restaurant at 2267 Black Rock Turnpike in Fairfield. A grand opening celebration was held in April 2023.

In a statement sent to Patch, Mayor Harry Rilling said Just Salad’s decision to expand into Norwalk underscores the city’s growing reputation as a hub for diverse dining options.

“The Main Avenue area near Walmart, particularly near the Wilton border, offers several enticing factors for businesses,” Rilling said. “It is not only located on the cusp of two municipalities and directly off of the Route 7 connector, but it is within walking distance from iPark, ASML and Merritt 7, which all offer significant built-in customer pools. Its proximity to a major retailer like Walmart also helps ensure a steady flow of foot traffic, providing businesses with increased visibility and accessibility to potential customers.”

Rilling also noted the area’s demographic profile, which includes a mix of residents and commuters, offers a diverse customer base with varying preferences.

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“Norwalk’s overall economic vitality, coupled with its reputation as a walkable community and center of commerce and leisure activities,” Rilling said, “makes it an attractive location for businesses seeking growth opportunities.”

In light of the addition of another major chain to the city’s ever-growing roster of businesses, Rilling emphasized that Norwalk is “one of the fastest-growing cities in the state” that offers something for everyone.

“People are moving to Norwalk and opening up their businesses in Norwalk because of its world-class transit and the cultural institutions that anchor its two downtown areas that are centers of commercial activity: South Norwalk and Wall Street,” Rilling said. “Furthermore, Norwalk’s development as a culinary destination is evident by the number of new businesses and various cuisines opening in Norwalk, including businesses opening their second or third operations in [Connecticut]. This is the case for the upcoming addition of Just Salad’s second Connecticut location coming to Norwalk, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Customers at Just Salad can choose from a wide menu of inventive salad combinations, including Crispy Chicken Poblano, Thai Chicken Crunch, Chipotle Cowboy and Buffalo Cauliflower, as well as warm bowls such as Peruvian Chicken, Chicken Fajita, Cilantro Lime Chicken and Edamame Crunch.

Wraps, avocado toast and smoothies are also available.

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“Overall,” Rilling said, “the decision to open new store locations in Norwalk, particularly in the Main Avenue area, reflects both the city’s appeal as a dining destination and the strategic opportunities it offers for businesses looking to expand their presence in the region.”



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