Murphy doubles down on N.J. wind power as Al Gore hails his push toward clean energy

Posted Nov 19, 2019

Sharing a stage in Jersey City on Tuesday with one of the world’s most prominent climate activists, Gov. Phil Murphy took the next step in his plan to reach New Jersey’s clean energy future.

Flanked by former Vice President Al Gore and New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, the governor announced the signing of a new executive order that sets a goal to have New Jersey produce 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035 — more than double the current goal of 3,500 megawatts by 2030.

“That’s more investment. That’s more jobs,” Murphy said. “That’s more clean energy.”

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Political boss denies he wanted protesters thrown out of Senate hearings in Trenton

Updated Nov 19, 2019

Just a day after a contentious Senate committee hearing in Trenton which saw Camden activist Sue Altman dragged out of the room, South Jersey powerbroker George E. Norcross denied any involvement in the decision to have protesters forcibly removed.

Norcross, who has come under intense scrutiny and investigations for receiving millions of dollars in state tax breaks, spoke at the Political Science and Law Salon Series at Montclair State University late Tuesday afternoon, an appearance that had been scheduled since August.

And his introduction did bring a round of chants from a few protesters in the crowd.

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Screening Reveals 4,500 Kids in NJ Have Elevated Blood-Lead Levels

LILO H. STAINTON | NOVEMBER 19, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

 

Nearly 4,500 children in New Jersey were found to have elevated levels of lead in their blood last year according to a new state report that involves a stricter standard than used in the past to identify — and help — more kids at risk for heavy metal poisoning.

The state’s 2018 report on childhood lead exposure released Friday notes that these cases account for some 2.3 % of the more than 191,000 youngsters tested last year. But the rate of children impacted varied significantly across the state, ranging from 0.4% in Sussex County to 5.6% in Salem County, and reaching 6.4% in two cities, Irvington and Trenton.

Previously the state considered children with 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood to require follow-up attention, but in 2017 the standard was cut in half to 5 micrograms/deciliter to align with federal recommendations. The new standard, first included in the 2018 report, resulted in more than four times the number of kids flagged with elevated levels.

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Norcross Testifies on Tax Breaks — Amid Boos, Cheers, and at Least One Arrest

JOHN REITMEYER | NOVEMBER 19, 2019

NJ Spotlight

South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross

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The latest legislative hearing on state tax-incentive programs turned into a spectacle yesterday as much-anticipated testimony from Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III was at times overshadowed by protests and the arrest of an outspoken critic of the tax breaks.

The hearing in many ways mirrored the intra-Democratic party stalemate that has been playing out for over a year as lawmakers have largely defended tax-break programs amid heavy criticism from Gov. Phil Murphy and progressive activists who make up his base and have called for major reform.

One such activist, New Jersey Working Families leader Sue Altman, was dragged out of the hearing by state troopers at the direction of Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), the committee chair, as audience members on both sides disrupted the contentious hearing.

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Cory Booker: Stop Being Dogmatic About Public Charter Schools

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nov. 18, 2019

 

About 15 years ago, when I was living in Brick Towers, a high-rise, low-income housing community in Newark’s Central Ward, a neighbor stopped me and told me about how her child’s public school was failing its students, like many others in our area at the time. Desperate, she asked if I knew a way to help get her child into a private school. She knew, as all parents do, that a great education was her child’s primary pathway to a better life.

My parents knew this all too well. When I was a baby, they fought to move our family into a community with well-funded public schools. These neighborhoods, especially in the 1960s and ’70s, were often in exclusively white neighborhoods. And because of the color of my parents’ skin, local real estate agents refused to sell my parents a home. My parents responded by enlisting the help of activists and volunteers who then set up a sting operation to demonstrate that our civil rights were being violated. Because of their activism we were eventually able to move into the town where I grew up.

Fifty years later, access to a high-quality public education still often hinges on the ZIP code a child lives in, skin color and the size of the family’s bank account.

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N.J.'s only black-owned community bank was closed by the feds. Here’s why.

Updated Nov 17, 2019

City National Bank in Newark, the only black-owned bank in New Jersey, closed Nov. 1 after federal officials said it was losing money quickly due to unsafe or unsound practices.

The failed bank reopened that same day as Industrial Bank, a Washington D.C.-based black-owned bank. Customers continued using their accounts and cards with no interruptions, a bank associate said.

The Office of Comptroller of Currency acted after the bank “experienced substantial dissipation of assets and earnings due to unsafe or unsound practices," according to a press release. It also cited the bank’s failure to submit a capital restoration plan acceptable to the office.

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Murphy-backed law encouraging you to vote by mail was just killed by powerful N.J. board

Updated Nov 15, 2019

A controversial state law Gov. Phil Murphy signed last year encouraging more New Jerseyans to vote by mail was just thrown out by a little-known but powerful state board.

Under the law, Garden State residents who voted by mail in 2016 or later automatically receive mail-in ballots from their county clerk for every subsequent election, unless they request to opt out.

But the New Jersey Council on Local Mandates invalidated the law Friday, ruling that it amounted to an unfunded mandate on the state’s 21 counties.

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New Booker ‘Super PAC’ Airs a Message: We Don’t Need More Candidates. We Have Cory.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nov. 14, 2019

Senator Cory Booker spoke about his criminal justice reform plan at a town hall event in Philadelphia on Oct. 28.Credit...

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With Senator Cory Booker’s campaign still struggling to break through in fund-raising and at risk of being excluded from the Democrats’ December debate, a new super PAC has emerged from the swamps of New Jersey to support Mr. Booker. Its message: We don’t need more candidates, we’ve got Cory.

The super PAC, United We Win, was filed on Thursday, the same day that former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts announced he was entering the race. It takes aim at the increasingly public vexing in Democratic donor circles that the largest field of candidates in the party’s history needs yet another candidate.

The group said it planned to spend $1 million on Facebook and Instagram ads over the course of the next month. The ads will mainly target moderate Democrats across the country, though they will also feature issue-based themes, highlighting Mr. Booker’s progressive policies on issues like gun control and criminal justice reform.

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Taking Inventory Seen as First Step in Legislative Fix for NJ’s Lead Issues

TOM JOHNSON | NOVEMBER 15, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Replacing lead service lines in Newark this summer

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A legislative approach to dealing with the pervasive contamination of drinking water with unsafe levels of lead moved forward yesterday, with a bill (S-4177) requiring a statewide inventory of lead service lines in New Jersey and calling for their eventual replacement over the next 10 years.

While the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee approved Sen. Troy Singleton’s (D-Burlington) measure as part of a three-bill package, the legislation is likely to change significantly based on input from interest groups who endorsed the effort, but still want substantive changes to the measures.

The legislation is part of a growing concerted effort to address statewide problems posed by lead contamination of drinking water, an issue confronting Newark and many other parts of the state. That city has adopted an aggressive approach to replace lead service lines with a $120 million bond issue in as little as three years.

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Racial disparity in N.J. prisons ‘galling,’ Murphy says. He backs easing sentences.

Posted Nov 14, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy and leaders of the state Legislature said they’re planning to act swiftly on new recommendations to overhaul how people are sentenced in New Jersey, where prisons have had the worst racial disparity in the nation.

Murphy said during a news conference in Trenton on Thursday that he supports calls to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug and property crime and to speed up when people convicted of second-degree robbery or burglary are eligible for parole in the Garden State.

The recommendations were detailed in a new report by the New Jersey Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission.

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