Showdown set as Sweeney’s Senate will vote to override Murphy’s veto on homeless housing aid

Updated Feb 20, 2019

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he will ask his colleagues Thursday to override Gov. Phil Murphy’s veto that killed legislation preventing thousands of low-income people, some of them chronically ill and disabled people, from becoming homeless.

The decision to hold the override vote in the Senate significantly amplifies the simmering tension between Murphy and Sweeney, fellow Democrats who have repeatedly clashed over the party’s agenda and how it is pursued.

This is the first override attempt in the Murphy era. Democrats who control the state Legislature unsuccessfully tried to overturn Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s many vetoes.

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Marijuana Tax in New Jersey? It Could be $42 an Ounce

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Feb. 19, 2019

A dispensary in Secaucus, N.J., grows marijuana for medical purposes. State elected leaders are now trying to legalize recreational marijuana.

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Gov. Philip D. Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders in New Jersey have reached an agreement that could place the state on a path to legalizing recreational marijuana this year if they are able to win enough support in the state legislature.

The agreement, which establishes how marijuana would be taxed and sets parameters on a committee to regulate the drug, marks a significant step forward for Mr. Murphy’s promise to introduce the roughly $50 billion national recreational cannabis market to a major population center on the East Coast and on New York City’s doorstep.

But while the state legislature is controlled by Democrats and has embraced a progressive agenda, such as raising the minimum hourly wage to $15, efforts to legalize marijuana has divided lawmakers. Some African-American legislators, led by Ronald L. Rice, a state senator from Newark, are wary of supporting legalization because of the impact it may have on low-income and minority neighborhoods. Also, most Republicans in both chambers oppose legalization.

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Amazon jobs don’t have to come at the expense of a community. Newark can be proof.

OPINION

Ras J. Baraka, a Democrat, is mayor of Newark.

New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, center, speaks during a conference in Gordon Triangle Park in the Queens borough of New York, following Amazon's announcement Thursday that it would abandon its proposed headquarters for the area.

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In the midst of political feuding and community uproar, Amazon chose last week to withdraw plans to develop a major campus on Long Island City, N.Y., foreclosing its promise of 25,000 new jobs for the city. Reaction to the decision and its rationale will likely be debated for a long time, but central to that debate is the undeniable fact that a project of this size and scope presents a multitude of opportunities and equally matched challenges.

The concerns are real: rising housing costs, a question of access to jobs for local residents and a propensity to lend a helping hand to the corporate sector far more frequently than we do for actual human beings. But the criticism toward Amazon — whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Post — is somewhat misdirected; while the community engagement process was lacking and the pushback around incentives understandable, we cannot minimize the potential impact this development could have had on people’s lives.

There are real challenges inherent to the policies and systems that allow wealth to be concentrated in a few hands — especially within development and investment. But equally irresponsible and privileged is refusing to entertain how we can bring jobs and wealth to communities that suffer from serious, decades-long problems. It is not enough to respond to these issues with sloganeering and ideology. We have to figure out a way to advance these conversations within our existing structures.

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Here’s how much N.J. taxpayers have paid so far for an investigation into the hire of a Murphy staffer accused of rape

Updated Feb 19, 2019

New Jersey taxpayers have paid $22,500 so far for an investigation launched by Gov. Phil Murphy to examine how his administration responded to allegations that a former top staffer raped a campaign supporter, records show.

Peter Verniero, the former state Supreme Court justice who was tapped by Murphy to lead the inquiry, submitted a preliminary invoice on Jan. 16, according to a billing document obtained by NJ Advance Media through the state Open Public Records Act.

The is just the first invoice for the four-month investigation, a source familiar with the issue told NJ Advance Media. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the issue.

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PARCC COMPROMISE AVERTS A CRISIS FOR HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS AND JUNIORS

CARLY SITRIN | FEBRUARY 19, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has reached an agreement in the contentious battle over graduation requirements which would allow current seniors and juniors to earn their diploma using their PARCC scores.

After an appellate court decision invalidated the use of PARCC as a graduation requirement for all high school students in December, nearly 170,000 students were left without a clear pathway to graduation. The case, brought by the Education Law Center, the ACLU, and others sought to prove that PARCC — which consists of multiple exams that can be taken across several grades — does not meet the state mandate that students must pass one 11th grade assessment in order to graduate. The court agreed.

When the old PARCC requirement was invalidated, however, students and administrators were left “in limbo” as the Department of Education and legislators sought to reach an agreement or find a stop-gap measure through legislation. Late last Friday, the appellants in the court case, led by the ELC, announced an agreement with the Murphy administration that would keep the old requirements in effect for the graduating classes of 2019 and 2020.

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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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