In New Jersey politics, it’s one thing to call a candidate a lying scoundrel. It’s quite another to say he’s a mobster.
That’s the argument lawyers for state Sen. John A. Lynch presented this month in asking the state supreme court to overturn a lower court decision and allow the Democratic senator’s defamation suit against the New Jersey Education Association to go to trial.
The case dates back to 1991, when Mr. Lynch was the president of the Senate and introduced legislation that would have, in effect, capped teachers’ salaries. The state’s largest teachers’ union retaliated by supporting Mr. Lynch’s opponent in his re-election bid that fall. Just 10 days before the election, the National Education Association affiliate released a newspaper advertisement and other campaign materials that called Mr. Lynch a “boss of bosses,” with interests in three mob-owned companies involved in illegal toxic-waste dumping.
Though the senator narrowly won re-election, the ads permanently damaged Mr. Lynch’s reputation and good name, said his lawyer, Stephen M. Holden.
But Ed Gallagher, a spokesman for the union, contends that no harm was ultimately done to Mr. Lynch’s political career and that the language in the ads was “acceptable in campaigns.”
Back to the drawing board
Idaho’s exit-standards commission is going back to the drawing board on the state’s high school graduation standards.
A final draft was to be submitted to the state board of education this month. But the commission is postponing the process to consider comments from the Aurora, Colo.-based Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory. Last month, after the state commission sought its advice, the laboratory said the standards should be more specific.
“We wanted to know where we were lacking,” said Lydia Guerra, the coordinator for the exit-standards commission. Now, “we will be moving forward.”
The commission hopes to make revisions so a final draft can be submitted to the state school board by March.
--Jessica L. Sandham & Karen L. Abercrombie
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 1999 edition of Education Week