On pre-existing conditions, Republicans protect only themselves | Editorial

Posted Oct 25, 2020

Even if there were no COVID, no corruption or climate change, this issue alone provides ample reason to reject President Trump and Republicans in New Jersey: They are a grave danger to as many as 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions like cancer, asthma, and diabetes.

They are promising to protect people with those pre-existing conditions, a key component of the Affordable Care Act. But what they have done since 2016 is nothing – except pursue their all-out assault on Obamacare, where those protections lie.

So people like Daria Caldwell of Flemington, a 62-year-old cancer patient who lost her job and health benefits in this pandemic, live in constant fear. She’s still years away from qualifying for Medicare and could be left without any coverage if Republicans win in the Supreme Court next month.

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Newark plans new pedestrian skyway, and commuters are going to pay for it

Parking in Newark is getting more costly for non-residents who commute into the city, but the extra cash in the coffers will fund two major projects in the state’s largest city.

A 3.5% parking tax imposed on commuters will pay for a new pedestrian bridge — located a short walk away from Prudential Center — that will connect Newark Penn Station to the Ironbound section of the city. The parking tax will also fund a new homeless shelter and transitional housing.

Early cost projections for the bridge are $80 to $100 million and city residents will be able to get either an exemption or rebate on the tax, said Newark Chief Operating Officer Natasha Rogers. Included in that price tag are the housing and shelter projects.

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Newark schools get $7.5M grant to clean up lead in drinking water

Posted Oct 23, 2020

Newark public schools will receive $7.5 million in federal grant money to continue cleaning up lead in the drinking water for the city’s 64 schools, officials announced Friday morning.

In a press conference at Lafayette Street School -- an elementary building that was constructed in 1848 and chosen to host the announcement because of its aging infrastructure -- EPA officials and Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced the multi-million dollar grant that would help to remove and replace sources of lead in drinking water in the city’s schools. The schools have been undergoing remediation for lead in the buildings' drinking water since elevated lead levels were first detected in 2016.

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Federal judge tosses Trump lawsuit challenging Murphy VBM order

By David WildsteinOctober 22 2020

New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. February 19, 2020.

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A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by Donald Trump’s re-election campaign challenging the constitutionality of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order to hold a general election almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots.

“The court has carefully considered the parties submissions and deicides the matter without oral argument,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Shipp wrote in a decision.

“Today’s ruling affirms that Governor Murphy acted responsibly in setting up a system that balances the need to allow New Jerseyans to exercise our sacred right to vote while protecting public health during this challenging time,” said Democratic State Chairman John Currie.  “President Trump and the Republicans here in New Jersey who stood with him were interested only in sowing division and trying to undermine faith in our electoral process, and I’m glad to see the court ruled against them and stopped their partisan, cynical attack on our democracy. New Jersey is voting in this election in record numbers and I hope this ruling will be a clear signal to all residents that they can cast their vote with confidence knowing that their voices will be heard.”

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Trump Campaign Draws Rebuke for Surveilling Philadelphia Voters

By Danny Hakim and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Oct. 22, 2020

A voter depositing a ballot on Saturday at a drop box in Philadelphia. City officials rejected the Trump campaign’s assertion that the voters whom the campaign had photographed dropping off more than one ballot had necessarily done something improper.

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PHILADELPHIA — The Trump campaign has been videotaping Philadelphia voters while they deposit their ballots in drop boxes, leading Pennsylvania’s attorney general to warn this week that the campaign’s actions fall outside of permitted poll watching practices and could amount to illegal voter intimidation.

The campaign made a formal complaint to city officials on Oct. 16, saying a campaign representative had surveilled voters depositing two or three ballots at drop boxes, instead of only their own. The campaign called the conduct “blatant violations of the Pennsylvania election code,” according to a letter from a lawyer representing the Trump campaign that was reviewed by The New York Times. The campaign included photos of three voters who it claimed were dropping off multiple ballots.

“This must be stopped,” a local lawyer for the Trump campaign, Linda A. Kerns, wrote in the letter, adding that the actions “undermine the integrity of the voting process.”

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For the first time, NJ officials to get an early start on counting ballots

COLLEEN O'DEA, SENIOR WRITER | OCTOBER 23, 2020

NJ Spotlight News

July 7, 2020, Election workers in Union County sorted mail-in ballots on the day of primary elections.

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While thousands of mail-in ballots continue to flood into county elections offices, New Jersey officials Saturday will begin counting general election votes.

But while counties can start counting ballots early for the first time ever, due to a law Gov. Phil Murphy signed in late August, they cannot get any running tallies or reveal any count results. If they do, they risk criminal prosecution.

Murphy and the Democratic-controlled Legislature included the provision allowing the counting of ballots to begin as many as 10 days before the close of polls because of the expected flood of paper ballots that take longer to count than voting machine tallies and the need to get results processed more quickly due to federal deadlines.

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‘I’m going to do what’s right’: Bramnick criticism of Trump could hurt his statewide prospects

10/23/2020

Politico

New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick addresses reporters during the Republican response to Gov. Phil Murphy's 2019 State of the State address.

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Jon Bramnick, who leads the minority party in the state Assembly, is also a member of an even lonelier club — New Jersey Republicans willing to openly criticize President Donald Trump.

For three years, Bramnick has warned that Trump’s rhetoric hurts New Jersey Republicans. It’s been borne out by the party, which has lost several congressional seats and control of some counties that were once solidly Republican. This year, New Jersey Republicans face the prospect of even more suburban backlash to Trump.

Bramnick (R-Union) plans to decide sometime after the Nov. 3 election whether he’ll seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2021. But he knows full well that prescience doesn’t mean political success in a party whose base and other leadership is fiercely loyal to the president.

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Trump didn’t recover because he’s ‘a fighter.’ He can thank fetal tissue | Editorial

Posted Oct 21, 2020

President Trump got coronavirus, lived to tell about it, and likes to claim he was cured. What he doesn’t tell you is that his treatment depended on medical research using fetal tissue, a practice he’s attempting to ban.

He would deny future generations the benefit of just this kind of research, by siding with zealots like Vice President Mike Pence. The Trump administration effectively cut off federal funding for any more research that uses fetal cell lines – even to fight diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, or find a vaccine for the next pandemic.

He set up a federal ethics board, stacked with ideologues opposed to fetal tissue research, that started denying virtually all funding proposals in August. He is undermining the science, while publicly praising it and reaping its fruits. In the words of Dr. Sean Morrison, a cancer researcher who directs the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern, “It is hypocrisy.”

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Murphy begins self-quarantine after senior staffer tests positive for Covid

10/21/2020

Politico

Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at an event in Blackwood, N.J., on Wednesday. The governor left the event early to quarantine after finding out that he'd been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy abruptly left a press event in Camden County on Wednesday minutes after learning that one of his senior staffers had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Though Murphy has tested negative for the virus, he and First Lady Tammy Murphy will quarantine until the end of the weekend, Communications Director Mahen Gunaratna said in a statement.

Murphy, who was informed of the staffer’s positive test during an event at Camden County College in Blackwood, said he came into “close proximity” of the person on Saturday. The governor said he tested negative for the virus on Monday — before he was aware of the exposure — and has had no symptoms.

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N.J. eases rules at nursing homes to allow more indoor visits

Posted Oct 21, 2020

The Department of Health on Wednesday issued new directives aimed at allowing more families see their loved ones in nursing homes after weeks of criticism from relatives who said they have been denied entrance.

All long-term care facilities in the state with no new COVID cases in the last 14 days may allow expanded indoor visitation under a set of new criteria outlined in the Health Department directive.

The changes will also permit the use of cheaper and faster test kits to screen guests for COVID-19, which the state had been reluctant to approve because of concerns over their accuracy.

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