DeCroce backs off Roe tribute

He’ll apologize for vote to name road for ex-lawmaker with DWI record

(and I still can’t believe – wait: actually I CAN believe our good for nothing Governor would sign this into law… I guess it’s true – he really doesn’t read anything…)

A state lawmaker from Morris County who voted for naming Route 23 for former Rep. Robert A. Roe — who seriously injured two people in a 1993 drunken driving accident in Rockaway Township — said Tuesday the honor should be revoked.Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, R-Parsippany, — a co-sponsor of the Roe highway bill signed by Gov. Jon S. Corzine in January — said he would ask the leading Democratic sponsor to “consider rescinding the name of the highway.”

“If he does that, I’m willing to go on board,” DeCroce said.

Apology coming

DeCroce added that he planned to write “a letter of apology” to the family of John and Julia Worosila. Their then-15-year-old daughter, Jodi, suffered numerous fractures in the accident on Green Pond Road and her spleen had to be removed. Julia Worosila broke her pelvis in two places while her husband was unhurt.

John Worosila, who lives in Hillsborough, said he was pleased by the latest development.

“If they knock that down, I think that’s fantastic,” Worosila said.

Roe pleaded guilty to drunken and reckless driving, lost his license for six months and paid $426 in fines. He avoided a more serious charge, assault by auto, after being admitted to a pretrial intervention program.

Roe, now 83, did not return a phone call Tuesday and has not commented publicly since the issue was first raised last week.

DeCroce said he spoke by phone Tuesday morning with the former 23-year Democratic congressman and told him he was withdrawing his support. Roe, according to DeCroce, indicated “that whatever had to happen, he would understand.”

Criticism of the Roe honor was growing Tuesday, a day after the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving urged Corzine to block it.

Frelinghuysen’s view

“It is hard to believe that such a proposal was not vetted by the governor’s counsel or those that advise the Legislature,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-Harding.

“Bob Roe is a tremendous public servant, and I understand and support people’s desire to honor that service but this particular proposal is not appropriate and should be repealed. Frankly, I agree with MADD,” Frelinghuysen said.

It was unclear how many officials had been aware of the 1993 accident before the Worosila family publicly raised an objection last week. The Assembly and Senate passed bills in support of the highway designation last year.

Corzine’s spokesman, Jim Gardner, said Monday that the governor had not known about Roe’s DWI accident (Can anyone say GOOGLE?). Gardner added that any effort to overturn the highway honor would have to be initiated by the Democratic-controlled state legislature (in other words – pass the buck).

Assembly Deputy Minority Leader Thomas P. Giblin, D-Clifton, listed as the Roe bill’s top sponsor, did not return a phone call Monday and state offices were closed Tuesday.

Another sponsor — Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex — said Monday he had been unaware of Roe’s driving history before voting (just GOOGLE) however DeCroce knew and still went along with it.

DeCroce knew

DeCroce acknowledged last Friday that he had been aware of the 1993 incident but decided that Roe, who chaired the powerful House Public Works and Transportation Committee, deserved the honor because of his lengthy public service.

While the legislation approved by the Assembly and Senate last year included $2,500 for new signs, the signs have not yet been installed and there is no timeframe for putting them up.

AAA in New Jersey spokeswoman Michele Mount said officials should “rethink” the honor for Roe.

“This didn’t happen 30 years ago. In the 1980s, our views on impaired driving changed,” Mount said.

Roe’s congressional district included Riverdale in Morris County and parts of Passaic, Essex and Bergen counties.

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