‘Burn Your Masks’ Message Boggles Crisis-Minded Murphy

By Fred Snowflack | July 13, 2020

Insider NJ

Gov. Phil Murhpy

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No, protestors really weren’t burning masks outside Phil Murphy’s Middletown home over the weekend. But it may have sounded that way.

The governor probably raised many virtual eyeballs at his Monday briefing when he spoke of a “Burn Your Mask” rally outside his Middletown home. Later, he explained that no masks were set aflame although “Burn your Masks” was the name of the rally.

He shrugged it off as something that has happened before during the pandemic.

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Trump’s attack on international students is a new low | Editorial

Posted Jul 13, 2020

Last year, there were 9,000 international students from 130 countries educated on Rutgers’ three campuses.

At Princeton, there were another 2,400 foreign kids, which represents one quarter of that university’s enrollment.

There are about 23,456 foreign students who attend college in New Jersey in 2019, and they do it because our state appeals to young people seeking superior instruction, a welcoming environment, an urbane culture, and, until recently, a good labor market.

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NJ Hospitals Say Insurance Companies Have Denied More than 1,000 Claims for COVID-19 Care

LILO H. STAINTON | JULY 14, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

One hospital also reported nearly 1,500 denials related to coronavirus testing services.

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Hospitals in New Jersey say they are not always being properly paid by health insurance companies for caring for coronavirus patients, despite state and federal requirements that health plans must cover a wide range of costs related to COVID-19 testing.

Thirty acute care facilities reported more than 1,000 claims related to coronavirus patients were denied by various health insurance companies between March and the end of June, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. In half the cases, the company questioned the medical necessity of the treatment, the association, a trade organization representing the 71 acute care hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities hospitals, said.

One hospital alone also reported nearly 1,500 denials related to testing services, regardless of the requirements these services be covered, the association said. More than half of these denials involved an invalid payment code, the hospital told the association, and others were connected to patients who tested negative for COVID-19.

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‘I Don’t Want to Go Back’: Many Teachers Are Fearful and Angry Over Pressure to Return

By Dana Goldstein and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 11, 2020

“I want to serve the students, but it’s hard to say you’re going to sacrifice all of the teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and bus drivers,” said Hannah Wysong, a teacher at the Esperanza Community School in Tempe, Ariz.Credit...

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Many of the nation’s 3.5 million teachers found themselves feeling under siege this week as pressure from the White House, pediatricians and some parents to get back to physical classrooms intensified — even as the coronavirus rages across much of the country.

On Friday, the teachers’ union in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest district, demanded full-time remote learning when the academic year begins on Aug. 18, and called President Trump’s push to reopen schools part of a “dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students and our families at risk.”

Teachers say crucial questions about how schools will stay clean, keep students physically distanced and prevent further spread of the virus have not been answered. And they feel that their own lives, and those of the family members they come home to, are at stake.

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What’s in a name? A lively political fight featuring a Kennedy and a Democrat-turned Republican | Mulshine

Posted Jul 12, 2020

A couple days after Jeff Van Drew’s primary victory last week, I left a message on his Voicemail:

“Have you considered changing your name to Kennedy?”

When he called back, the Republican incumbent from New Jersey’s southernmost congressional district assured me that he’d be keeping his current name through the November general election against Democratic nominee Amy Kennedy.

But he also said, “the Kennedy name helps” when it comes to explaining the surprisingly large margin of victory that Kennedy ran up in dispatching the choice of the party bosses.

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Roger Stone: The Ultimate Dirty Trickster, Formed by Watergate and Tempered in New Jersey

IAN T. SHEARN | JULY 13, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Roger Stone in 2019

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Roger Stone enjoyed a long career as a bombastic and shifty political operative, constantly weaving in and out of the truth and changing the rules of engagement as he went. He was always on the attack, simultaneously firing and dodging bullets — none closer and more harrowing than the one he ducked Friday when President Donald Trump commuted his upcoming federal prison sentence.

Whatever happens going forward in Stone’s life, it will likely be only a postscript to the prominent and notorious place he carved himself in American political history, one that grew to prominence in New Jersey.

Over the course of a half-century that went from the State House in Trenton to the White House in Washington, Stone launched one scorched-earth campaign after another for a list of clients that started with Richard Nixon and ends with Donald Trump. No one else can make that claim.

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Could This City Hold the Key to the Future of Policing in America?

By Joseph Goldstein and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 12, 2020

Sgt. Dekel Levy, left, and Sgt. Kevin Wilkes on patrol on State Street in Camden, N.J., where the police force was disbanded nearly a decade ago and then rebuilt.Credit...

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CAMDEN, N.J. — As officials across the United States face demands to transform policing, many have turned to a small New Jersey city that did what some activists are calling for elsewhere: dismantled its police force and built a new one that stresses a less confrontational approach toward residents who are mostly Black and Latino.

The Camden Police Department’s efforts to reduce its use of force have made it one of the most compelling turnaround stories in U.S. law enforcement. The changes have led to a stark reduction in the number of excessive-force complaints against the police and have helped drive down the murder rate in what was once one of America’s most dangerous cities.

“If you’re looking to be a high-speed operator, we’re probably not the right department,” said the current chief, Joseph Wysocki, referring to the type of officer he does not want to attract. “If you’re looking to be a guardian figure in your neighborhood, this is for you.”

Still, even as many other communities look to Camden as a template for reform, it is far from a neat model.

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A Political Title ‘Born From Racism’ Will Be Eliminated

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 10, 2020

The New Jersey governor, Philip D. Murphy, has stopped using the Woodrow Wilson desk shown in this photo with his social media team.Credit...

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The office of freeholder is unique to New Jersey, a title for politicians elected to one of the state’s 21 county legislative boards.

It dates back to New Jersey’s original Constitution of 1776, meaning those who had some form of an estate and at least “50 pounds of proclamation money.”

It also harkens back to a time when only white, male landowners could hold public office.

On Thursday, in the midst of a national reckoning over racial injustice and symbols of hate, Gov. Philip D. Murphy and the two Democratic leaders of the State Legislature announced that it was time to eliminate the word — and to instead call county elected leaders “commissioners.”

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Newark Museum of Art to commemorate 53rd anniversary of Newark Uprising

Posted Jul 10, 2020

Sunday will mark the 53rd anniversary of the Newark Uprising.

To commemorate the day, the Newark Museum of Art will offer a series of programs as a part of its virtual Community Day: Say It Loud - A reflection on the ’67 Newark Uprising, Then and Now.

The Newark Uprising featured a series of riots and unrest over a five-day stretch in 1967, when racial tensions in the area were at an all-time high, “triggered by undressed poverty and decades of oppression,” according to the press release.

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New COVID-19 Concern for NJ Schools: Will Teachers Return to Classrooms?

JOHN MOONEY | JULY 10, 2020

NJ Spotlight

How many teachers will be reluctant to return?

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A great deal has been said about reopening New Jersey schools in the fall while ensuring that children remain healthy and safe. But worries are also surfacing about what going back will mean for teachers — and even whether enough of them will be willing to return to the classroom.

Steve Beatty, a top officer of the New Jersey Education Association, said Thursday there is growing concern over teachers who are hesitant to return to the classroom and unwilling to take the health risk for either themselves or their families.

“That’s a real question, will we have enough educators when we return, whatever those conditions are?” said Beatty, the secretary-treasurer of the state’s dominant teachers union in a press call on school building safety.

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