N.J. unemployment rate falls in June as private sector adds 9,600 jobs

By Alexi Friedman | The Star-Ledger
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on July 17, 2014

New Jersey's unemployment rate fell in June to 6.6 percent, as the private sector added nearly 10,000 jobs, but the public sector lost 1,400.

 

New Jersey's unemployment rate ticked down in June to 6.6 percent, adding nearly 10,000 more private sector jobs, according to preliminary data from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The May unemployment rate was 6.8 percent.

Public sector employment continued to fall however, with 1,400 newly unemployed, led by a drop of 2,200 at the state government level.

The monthly job gains were made in the private sector, which added 9,600 jobs last month.

 

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Amid Debate Over Spread of Charters, State Education Chief Stays the Course

John Mooney | July 18, 2014

NJSpotlight

Acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe

 

Charter schools have lately become the tinderbox of New Jersey education policy, but acting state Education Commissioner David Hespe hasn’t hesitated to promote the often-controversial approach to education reform.

This week, the state Department of Education cleared the way for more expansion of charter schools next fall, with the focus on Trenton and Camden.

Two of the five individual charters cleared to open next fall will be in the state capital.

In addition, the state finalized the expected opening of two more charter networks in Camden under the separate Urban Hope Act, a move that could have an even more sweeping impact.

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N.J. approves 5 new urban charter schools for September

By Peggy McGlone | The Star-Ledger
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on July 15, 2014

The Christie administration announced final approval for five new charter schools. In September, 88 charters school will be open in the state.

 

TRENTON — Five new urban charter schools — with focuses on international studies, STEM and health sciences — received final approval to open in September, state education officials announced today.

Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe announced approvals for the Atlantic City Community Charter School, Great Futures Charter High School for Health Sciences in Jersey City, International Academy of Trenton Charter School, Trenton STEM to Civic Charter School and Link Community Charter School, serving students from Newark, Orange, East Orange and Irvington.

Each school had to complete a multi-stage application and approval process designed to ensure high-quality education for its students, according to the Department of Education. Applicants also had to submit proof they comply with state regulations by June 30. The final decision followed this documentation.

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New Jersey State Parole Officers union files EEOC complaint, alleging racial discrimination at training academy

By Mark Bonamo | July 16th, 2014

 

 - The New Jersey State Parole Officers Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 326 announced on Wednesday that they have filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Newark Area Office, against the New Jersey Parole Board for alleged racial and gender-based discrimination against parole officer recruits at the Division of Criminal Justice Academy. The charge details the dismissal of recruits, all of whom are women and/or minorities, from the academy based upon what the union claims to be the arbitrary application of physical fitness standards.

“We chose to file the charge on the behalf of the recruits because we have seen a startling trend of discrimination,” said Tom Lambert, President of PBA Local 326, which represents 315 parole officers across New Jersey. “Multiple recruits have come to us with strikingly similar stories about how, despite the fact that they believed they were meeting the same or similar standards of physical fitness as their fellow recruits, they were evaluated on an additional set of unspecified and seemingly shifting criteria by hostile instructors, which has resulted in their dismissal. All of the dismissed recruits are either minorities or women.”

PBA Local 326 filed the charge last month with the EEOC after the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, under the auspices of the Police Training Commission, failed to respond to requests for clarification of several aspects related to the application of physical fitness standards required for recruits to successfully qualify for the position of New Jersey state parole officer, according to a statement from the union. The complaint also was submitted after the union launched their own investigation into the allegations at the academy revealing several similar stories of discrimination and unfair treatment, the union claims. The alleged discriminatory practices at the academy would be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the union asserts. 

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Gov. Christie and State Teachers Union Not at Odds on All Fronts

John Mooney | July 16, 2014

NJSpotlight

 

It can be hard to figure out the relationship between Gov. Chris Christie and the state’s biggest teachers union, the New Jersey Education Association.

In the beginning of his first term, he vilified the union -- and vice versa -- over budget cuts and pension changes. Then the two worked together developing the state’s tenure reform law, even meeting together for the signing.

Now, he faces the NJEA’s wrath again, over his failure to meet promised pension obligations -- earning him a lawsuit from the union.

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Joe DiVincenzo for N.J. governor? He'll think about it

By Matt Friedman | The Star-Ledger
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on July 15, 2014

Democratic Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo is shown endorsing Republican Gov. Chris Christie last year in West Orange. DiVincenzo said today he'll think about running for governor.

 

WEST ORANGE — Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo is persona-non-grata in some New Jersey Democratic circles, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking about seeking the party’s nomination for governor in 2017 — or earlier, if need be.

“We’re going to look at it after November,” said DiVincenzo, who is expected to have little trouble winning a fourth term in the fall against Republican Cedar Grove Councilman Peter Tanella. “Listen, I’ve got one race at a time.”

DiVincenzo made the remarks to two reporters after Gov. Chris Christie joined him at a ribbon cutting ceremony with him to open a new building at the Turtle Back Zoo. He acknowledged that his relationship with Christie, a Republican, has hurt him with Democrats.

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Cory Booker urges small business owners to be 'audaciously imaginative'

By Amanda Eisenberg | The Jersey Journal
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on July 15, 2014

 

If Sen. Cory Booker is known for one thing, it's his love of social media. The former Newark mayor has close to 1.5 million Twitter followers, and knows how to engage an audience.

This became evident for the approximately 400 attendees at a technological and social innovation small business forum hosted at Stevens Institute of Technology last week.

"We need to stop thinking of ourselves by which sector we're in," Booker said, citing business or government.

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Rice on Essex County judicial nominations: ‘There’s going to have to be a meeting of the minds’

By Chase Brush | July 10th, 2014

 

TRENTON - Two weeks after Gov. Chris Christie yanked eight Essex County judicial nominations during a quarrel on the floor of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, state Sen. Ron Rice (D-28) told PolitickerNJ he’s confident the governor will come around.

“I suspect he’s going to bring them back to us eventually, primarily because we’re going to be short 22 judges, this month or next month,” Rice said during a confirmation hearing on two Port Authority nominations today. “I think there’s just going to have to be a meeting of the minds.”

The ongoing standoff between Christie and various members of the senate over judicial appointments in Essex County has left its court system with 22 vacancies. A package that would fill eight of those vacancies was halted two weeks ago when members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lead by state Sen. Nia Gill (D-34) and Loretta Weinberg (D-37), held up one of the nominations.

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Baraka to Christie on Newark's fiscal crisis: "We're going to wear him down with love"

By Mark Bonamo | July 9th, 2014

 

 Mayor Ras Baraka referred to one of America's greatest civil rights heroes when asked how he would negotiate with Gov. Chris Christie for additional state aid. 

"We're going to do a little Martin Luther King [Jr.] - we're going to wear him down with love," said Baraka to a crowd of about 100 people on Wednesday, while at the Newark Public Library to discuss the administration's transition team report outlining Baraka's first 100-day plan for Newark. "We're going to wear him down with that. At the end of the day, we're just trying to improve the city. There is nothing political about what we're trying to do here."

Baraka's comments came days after Christie publicly stated that he’s “not making any commitment” to providing additional aid -- specifically in monetary form -- to the state's largest city. Newark is facing a $93 million budget deficit.

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Christie to Baraka on Newark's fiscal crisis: Trenton will assist, but mayor will have to "deal with it"

By Cbrush | July 7th, 2014

 

KEANSBURG - Expressing little sympathy for newly-elected mayor Ras Baraka and his tender-footed administration at a press conference earlier today, Gov. Chris Christie said he’s “not making any commitment” to providing additional aid -- specifically in monetary form -- to a debt-ridden Newark.

“What I intend to do is work with the mayor as I worked with [U.S. Sen. and former Newark mayor] Cory Booker -- in a cooperative way, where when responsible actions are taken by the government, to reward those actions, and when irresponsible actions are being taken, to call them out on that, and make sure that they take care of the money that’s already being invested in the city of Newark,” said Christie, who addressed a small crowd of residents and press core members perspiring under a hot sun in Keansburg, NJ, this morning. “Billions of dollars by the state and it’s taxpayers to be used in the right way.”

As the state’s largest city, Newark currently suffers from a budget deficit of $93 million. Essex County lawmakers -- including Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28) and other members of the county’s delegation -- recently asked for $25 million in transitional aid from Christie to help alleviate that shortfall, but the governor’s latest budget included no such provisions.

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