At Senator Menendez’s Trial, Stakes Are High for Democrats

When Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey goes on trial on federal corruption charges in less than three weeks, far more than his own fate hinges on the outcome.

If Mr. Menendez, a Democrat, is convicted and then expelled from the United States Senate by early January, his replacement would be picked by Gov. Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey and an ally of President Trump.

That scenario — where Mr. Menendez’s interim replacement would more than likely be a Republican — would have immediate and far-reaching implications: The Republicans would be gifted a crucial extra vote just as the party remains a single vote shy in the Senate of advancing its bill to dismantle President Obama’s signature health care law. Those potential consequences only heighten the drama around the first federal bribery charges leveled against a sitting senator in a generation.

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Murphy Plans to Raise $1.3 Billion in Taxes

By Christian Hetrick • 08/17/17

Observer

Phil Murphy.

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Phil Murphy’s proposed tax increases would raise roughly $1.3 billion a year, his spokesman told Observer on Thursday, releasing for the first time a cost estimate of the Democratic gubernatorial nominee’s plans to pay for a multitude of campaign promises.

A separate $80 million to $100 million would be generated through savings from reining in out-of-network health care costs for public workers covered by state plans, the spokesman said, for a total annual gain of $1.4 billion in revenue.

Injecting $1.4 billion to New Jersey’s revenue stream would provide significant budget relief for a state that has suffered 11 credit-rating downgrades since Gov. Chris Christie took office, all of them largely due to a failure to collect enough money for schools, pensions, health benefits for public workers and other rising costs. The extra revenue Murphy seeks would represent nearly 4 percent of this year’s $34.6 billion budget.

The new taxes would fall on the state’s wealthiest residents — and on pot smokers.

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The Long Goodbye: State Board Plans Newark Exit Strategy

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Trump Weakens Protections for Buildings in Flood-Prone Areas

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Meet Seth Kaper-Dale, the Green Party Candidate Running for NJ Governor

By Alyana Alfaro • 08/11/17

Observer

Seth Kaper-Dale.

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The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale — a Protestant minister from Highland Park — is running as the Green Party’s candidate for governor in New Jersey’s world of highly organized and dominant political parties.

“The Democratic Party in New Jersey is such a poor excuse for progressives, that is what drove me to the Green Party,” said Kaper-Dale. “I have voted Democrat most of my life.”

Democrat Phil Murphy amd Republican Kim Guadagno have dominated the conversation about the November general election to replace Gov. Chris Christie. Guadagno is the current lieutenant governor. Murphy is a privately-wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive and ambassador to Germany who self-funded his primary campaign with over $16 million of his own money.

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Planning for Trans-Hudson Tunnel Chugs Ahead with Release of Draft EIS

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Johnson on 2018 Plans: ‘I’ve Heard from Serious and Thoughtful People’

By Max Pizarro | August 9, 2017

Insider NJ

 

Jim Johnson, the attorney and former assistant secretary of the treasury from Montclair who ran a never-say-die progressive campaign for governor and lost in the June Democratic Primary, wouldn’t rule out a run for county executive next year when prodded by InsiderNJ amid ongoing countywide rumblings.

A source earlier this week noted that an emissary or two connected to the Black Ministers of Essex County poked Johnson on his prospects for a 2018 run against powerful incumbent Executive Joe DiVincenzo.

“I think it’s fair to say that I’ve heard from serious and thoughtful people, including, most importantly, my family, about what my next steps should be,” Johnson told InsiderNJ, but elected not to elaborate further on the matter.

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Can Sheila Oliver Run for Assembly and LG at Same Time?

By Christian Hetrick • 08/02/17

Observer

Sheila Oliver and Phil Murphy.

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Democrats plan to run Sheila Oliver for lieutenant governor and for re-election to the Assembly in the 34th legislative district this November, arguing that state law allows her to seek both offices at the same time, even though she would only be able to occupy one of them.

New Jersey law generally bars candidates from appearing twice on the same ballot.

But, technically speaking, the state regulation at issue bars candidates from accepting “a nomination by petition” for more than one office in a single general election. Since Oliver was selected by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy — and not nominated by petition — Democrats say the regulation does not apply to her or any lieutenant governor nominee.

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Masonic Unity - From Paper to Practice

By essexcountypolitics.com

August 5, 2017

Screen_Shot_2017-08-05_at_10.46.12_AM.png

Inside the Freemasons' Hall, United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), From Left to Right:
Bro. Mike Binsted, Provincial Assistant Grand Scribe Ezra - Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch
Bro. David Walker, Worshipful Master - Orion In The West Lodge No. 415
Bro. Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. Bethel Lodge No. 10, F & AM - PHA Orange, NJ

London - This month, Former Mayor Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. a member of Bethel Lodge #10, Orange, NJ, a local subset of the Prince Hall Masonic organization, made history by being the first member of the Lodge to cross an ocean and visit the The United Grand Lodge of England.

Freemasonry, a fraternal order historically shrouded in secrecy, with various organizational bodies dating back to the early 1700s, had a membership which was once closed to blacks.  Accordingly, Freemasonry in the United States has maintained a split along racial lines for centuries due to racial divides.  Although significant changes have been made, the racial gap was never completely bridged. However, Masonry in the State of New Jersey has shown significant leadership in its quest to have racial unanimity within its fraternal order by addressing segregation and lack of mutual recognition between the two State Grand Lodge Masonic bodies.

Specifically, The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New Jersey formed a Pact with its Caucasian counterpart the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, aboard the Battle Ship New Jersey on September 22, 2002 to establish a level of mutual recognition.  The United Grand Lodge of England had also listed New Jersey’s Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge as a recognized body on its website.  Former Mayor Hawkins’ historic visit to Orion in the West Lodge No. 415 & New Welcome Lodge No. 5139 of London, England, proved that fraternal masonic recognition was indeed in practice and transcended racial lines.

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Court reinstates Bridgegate records suit against Christie administration

TRENTON -- A state court on Thursday revived a public records fight against Gov. Chris Christie, finding members of his administration could be on the hook for civil penalties for withholding e-mails about the Bridgegate scandal from the media.

The three-judge appeals panel reinstated two lawsuits brought by North Jersey Media Group, which publishes The Record newspaper, alleging the Governor's Office engaged in a pattern and practice of hiding public documents in violation of state records law.

The news organization had filed a series of requests under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act for e-mails exchanged between members of the governor's staff and the Port Authority just a few weeks after the lane closures that would become a national scandal.

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