Vatican defrocks disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick over sex abuse charges dating back decades

Updated Feb 16, 2019

Theodore McCarrick, the former Newark archbishop and cardinal who wielded immense influence within the Catholic Church, has been defrocked and cast out of the ministry by Pope Francis over decades-old sexual abuse allegations, in a final reckoning for the 88-year-old priest.

McCarrick was laicized, or dismissed from the clerical state — considered one the harshest forms of punishment that can be issued by the church — after he was found guilty of soliciting for sex while hearing Confession and sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, the Vatican announced Saturday.

It marked an extraordinary moment for a church still struggling to come to terms with the sexual abuse crisis within its priesthood. McCarrick was one of the highest-ranking American Catholic leadersto ever be so disciplined.

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Newark literally sent Amazon a huge Valentine’s Day heart to try to get its attention

Posted Feb 14, 2019

New York may not love Amazon, but Newark certainly does — and it’s not afraid to show it.

City representatives sent Amazon a massive heart-shaped card on Valentine’s Day that read: “NJ & Newark still love u, Amazon!”

A courier — dressed in red, of course — dropped off the large red heart, a bag of cupcakes and a dozen red balloons to a Manhattan office on 33rd street where Amazon is a tenant. The special delivery arrived hours before Amazon announced it was pulling the plug on its deal to open a campus in New York’s Long Island City.

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LAWMAKERS WANT INVENTORY OF LEAD SERVICE LINES IN PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS

TOM JOHNSON | FEBRUARY 15, 2019

NJ Spotlight

In a step to get a better handle on the extent of lead contamination in New Jersey’s drinking water, a Senate committee yesterday passed a bill that would require public water systems to inventory the number of lead service lines in their systems.

Supporters of the legislation (S-1783) say it would help the state and local residents better understand the scope and magnitude of lead contamination in water, a problem that officials mostly attribute to lead service lines, which connect customers’ homes with water mains in the street.

Recent disclosures underscore lead in drinking water as a statewide problem, not just limited to urban areas with aging water infrastructure. Last month, Suez North America warned that thousands of homes in Bergen and Hudson counties may be at risk of having unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water.

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New Jersey Catholic Bishops List Names of Nearly 200 Priests Accused of Abuse

Roman Catholic bishops in New Jersey on Wednesday named nearly 200 priests who have been found credibly accused of sexually abusing a child. The disclosure is just the latest reported in recent weeks by dioceses and religious orders across the country as law enforcement officials examine the church’s response to an epidemic of abuse.

As with many of the other lists published, most of the priests identified by the New Jersey bishops are dead, and the accusations involve alleged abuse that happened decades ago.

The list of names included Theodore McCarrick, the former cardinal who stands to be one of the highest-profile Catholic figures in modern times to be defrocked, and a parish priest who was the first to be criminally charged as part of the New Jersey attorney general’s investigation into clergy abuse.

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FEWER NJ KIDS EATING BREAKFAST AT SCHOOL MEANS MORE HUNGRY CHILDREN

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 13, 2019

NJ Spotlight

The number of children eating breakfast at schools in New Jersey dropped last year for the first time this decade — a development that concerns advocates who say it means fewer low-income students are getting a meal that research shows boosts their participation in class.

The Annual School Breakfast Scorecard released today by the Food Research and Action Center also shows that New Jersey had the smallest percentage of eligible schools participating in the federal school-breakfast program, dropping from 50th to 51st, including the District of Columbia.

Advocates note, however, that New Jersey should begin feeding breakfast to many more students in the coming school year or even sooner due to a state law enacted last May requiring all schools with large low-income populations to offer a “Breakfast After the Bell” program. Experience has shown that more students eat breakfast when it is offered during the first period, rather than before school.

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Sexual Assault Claims Roiled Gov. Murphy’s Administration, but Inquiries Have Led Nowhere

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Feb. 11, 2019

Gov. Philip D. Murphy has said that he “accepted responsibility” for the response to a sexual assault accusation within his administration.

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The accusation rocked Trenton: A top official in Gov. Philip D. Murphy’s administration claimed that another official had sexually assaulted her during Mr. Murphy’s campaign in 2017. Yet despite the woman’s repeated pleas to Mr. Murphy’s senior aides, her colleague remained in his $170,000-a-year state job for months before resigning.

Mr. Murphy said he did not know about the assault accusation by Katie Brennan against Albert J. Alvarez before it became public and that his administration had technically done nothing wrong. The legislature launched an investigation, while the governor opened a separate review by an outside counsel.

Now, five months later, one simple, yet significant, question remains a head scratching mystery: Who hired Mr. Alvarez?

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Amazon may be rethinking its N.Y. plan. Phil Murphy reminds company’s execs: N.J. is still ‘open for business.’

Updated Feb 11, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy has a message for Amazon: Don’t you forget about us.

Reports surfaced last week that Amazon may be rethinking its decision to locate one of its two new headquarters to New York’s Long Island City. And that sparked speculation over whether that puts Newark back in the mix — or, at least, that some jobs that would have gone to New York might go to New Jersey’s largest city instead.

Murphy confirmed Monday that his administration has remained in contact with Amazon even after the online retail giant passed over Newark for HQ2. And he once again publicly pitched the company on Newark’s benefits.

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One of N.J.’s highest paid mayors might get a $50K raise

Updated Feb 11, 2019

The mayor of New Jersey’s largest city would receive a $50,000 spike to his salary -- topping his earnings to $180,000 a year -- under a new proposal to give him and his top administrators wage increases.

Under the plan, which must be approved by the City Council in the form of an ordinance, Newark will increase salary ranges for 29 positions, including departmental directors, aides in the mayor’s office and judges. City officials said the boosts are based on cost of living adjustments for the last 10 years when wages have remained stagnant.

“The annual salary for the position of mayor has been the same for over a decade,” city spokesman Crystal Rosa said. “After an increased salary, the mayor’s salary still does not rank in the top fifty elected and appointed officials’ salaries within the state.”

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LAWMAKERS MOVE TO IMPROVE PAID FAMILY LEAVE PROGRAM IN NEW JERSEY

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 11, 2019

NJ Spotlight

New Jersey’s paid family leave program could become available to more workers, pay out more generous benefits — and cost New Jersey workers more — if Gov. Phil Murphy signs legislation that Democrats in the Legislature have sent him.

The bill (A-3975) would double the amount of time workers could take leave, pay them a higher weekly check and open the program to those who work for smaller employers. It would also increase the amount of money workers pay to fund the program. While Murphy has not said whether he would sign this bill, he backed a similar bill 18 months ago while he was a candidate for governor and former Gov. Chris Christie had the pen.

“Expanding paid family leave would ensure families will be able to care for a loved one without having to worry,” Murphy wrote on his Facebook page at the time. “It is the compassionate and fair thing to do for working families.”

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LAWMAKERS SEEKING MORE DIVERSITY AMONG NJ’S PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 8, 2019

NJ Spotlight

In a state where public-school teachers are predominantly white and do not come close to reflecting the diversity of their students, lawmakers began a conversation Thursday to hear what state officials and colleges are already doing and what else can be done to correct the imbalance.

For nearly three hours, a joint meeting of the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees heard a host of ideas for attracting more African-Americans, Latinos and men into teaching. The suggestions included changes in teacher-preparation requirements, more targeted recruitment efforts, a revamped alternate route to teaching programs and increased pay for student teachers and the profession as a whole.

Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the main goal of the hearing was to find out about successful programs already in place to “uncover where the benefits are, where we can create policies that are uniform, where we can support programs that can be expanded and where we can generate extra resources … to be sure that we start really creating a pipeline to at some point in time diversify the workforce with teachers that are experienced and supported and represent the student body.”

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