DiVincenzo wants a casino in the City of Newark

By Max Pizarro | 12/03/14

PolitickerNJ

 

As the state wrestles with a gaming crisis emanating from a downbeat Atlantic City, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo said he wants state leaders to consider the City of Newark and Essex County as the host community for a new casino should such a facility be allowed outside of Atlantic City.

In letters sent today to Governor Chris Christie, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32), the County Executive pointed out that developing a casino in Newark would contribute to the continued revitalization of the State’s largest city.

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Transforming Schools With Five Ingredients

Cami Anderson

Superintendent, Newark Public Schools

The Huffington Post

Newark is a city comprised primarily of financially struggling residents -- with over 50 percent receiving public assistance and 71 percent of students eligible for free lunch. The neighborhood surrounding Alexander Street Elementary School is among the poorest in the city. Time and again, research affirms that young people in our poorest neighborhoods are extremely likely to be in failing schools. To be more blunt, in America, in the 21st century, a child's zip code can reliably predict their ability to attain academic excellence, post-secondary education, and access to the American dream of economic prosperity. If you believe as I do, that every student, in any zip code can succeed at the highest levels, and that it is the obligation of adults to create the conditions for success, then you can understand why I enthusiastically accepted the role as Superintendent of Newark Public Schools almost four years ago.

My team discovered that Alexander had been saddled with several labels. One predecessor called it "struggling" and the other "Tier 1", different ways of describing a school that consistently posted inadequate results. Unfortunately, the school's performance reflected exactly what statistics would predict: only 29 percent of students could read at or above grade level. Beyond low-test scores, community dissatisfaction was high, enrollment was plummeting as families voted with their feet, and classroom visits revealed unprepared and uninspired teachers. There also appeared to be no sense of urgency to change what adults seemed to have accepted as the inevitable, unfortunate fate of their school, and therefore their students.

I cried the first time I visited Alexander. The conditions of the school were that depressing. In the majority of the classrooms I visited there was no explicit, let alone rigorous and skillful, instruction occurring. Crumbling paint, dirty restrooms, and buckled floors reminded me of something out of a Jonathan Kozol book. The principal was filing papers in his office, and when I challenged the state of teaching and facilities, he seemed to have accepted the staggering lack of quality as an intractable fact -- "This is a tough neighborhood". I couldn't believe it. A radical solution was needed; it was simply unconscionable that we allowed students to attend a school that was overtly squandering their extraordinary potential. We simply cannot accept poverty as a passport to terrible schools.

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In New Jersey, a Court Fight Over Sports Betting

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At Baraka’s “North Jersey Explosion” party, Kenney says “I’m interested” in blowing up LD 29

By Mark Bonamo | 11/20/14

PolitickerNJ

ATLANTIC CITY – The New Jersey League of Municipalities conference is known for its semi-staid cocktail parties. It can also be known for a good time. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s Wednesday night party, held at Dusk inside of Caesars, was on ’til the break of dawn.

Essex County politicos hit the dance floor hard as DJ Nice played old-school rap songs like “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang while co-host and rap legend Eric B presided. Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones and Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin shimmied side by side. The mayor’s chief of staff and brother, Amiri Baraka, Jr., and Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad, a strong ally of both the Baraka family and of organized labor, worked the crowd. A dance troupe from Montreal, straight from performing at the Tropicana, injected even more chaos into the strobe-lit scene.

Politics did momentarily invade during a PolitickerNJ bar-side interview with Alturrick Kenney, mentioned by sources as one of the potential candidates in a possible 2015 Democratic primary fight in Legislative District 29.

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LD29 Gutcheck: signs now point to Democratic Primary

By Max Pizarro | 11/07/14

PolitickerNJ

 

Accelerated fundraising efforts by forces affiliated with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka suggest that the mayor’s political allies want to move forward with a plan to run primary candidates against LD29 incumbents Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer and Assemblywoman Eliana Pinor Marin.

Sources say the likely challengers will be Alturrick Kenney and Pat Council.

Kenney is a senior consultant at Impact Public Affairs and former School Advisory Board member; Council the director of neighborhood services and a past member of the School Advisory Board. He ran unsuccessfully earlier this year for an at-large council seat.

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Monmouth Poll: 53% of NJ voters approve of Christie’s Ebola response

By Politicker Staff | 11/06/14

PolitickerNJ

 

Gov. Chris Christie gets better marks than the federal government for his handling the Ebola situation, with the vast majority of voters agreeing with the state’s move to quarantine a nurse from Maine, according to this morning’s Monmouth University Poll.

Most say that the actual threat Ebola poses to the Garden State is no more than a minor one, but a 1-in-4 minority fear that it may present a serious risk.

Practically every New Jersey voter has been following news about Ebola, including 88% who have heard a lot about the issue.  About 1-in-4 (26%) believe that Ebola poses a major public health threat to  New Jersey, while a 7-in-10 majority say it poses only a minor threat (48%) or no threat at all (21%).  There are no notable demographic differences in who thinks Ebola is more or less of a public health risk.

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Essex County election results 2014

By Jessica Mazzola and Bill Wichert | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
on November 04, 2014

Here are the unofficial results of Tuesday's local government elections and school elections in Essex County. Winning candidates are designated with a check mark. Asterisks denote incumbents.

Please be sure to refresh. Results will be updated on this file throughout the evening.

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Will the 2,500 West Orange residents make their voices heard today?

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By Owen Petrie | Essex County Politics
Email Owen | Owen's Facebook

November 4, 2014

What does the outcome of the West Orange mayoral election mean for the at least 2,500 concerned residents who signed a petition seeking the repeal of an ordinance that would issue general obligation bonds totaling $6.3Million taxpayer dollars to the developer of the Edison property on Main Street, Prism Capital Partners, LLC. 

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Agenda: NJ Test Scores, Newark Super To Take Center Stage

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Following Belmar blowup, questions arise over limits of anger as a Christie power tool

By Mark Bonamo | 10/30/14

PolitickerNJ

 

BELMAR – The late Joe Strummer of The Clash voiced an idea in the 1980 song “Clampdown” that some say has become a regular theme in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political song book: “Let fury have the hour, anger can be power. Do you know that you can use it?”

But when Christie used anger on Wednesday in Belmar to address a heckler, demanding that the detractor on his Hurricane Sandy efforts “sit down and shut up,” the moment led PolitickerNJ to ask some statewide political observers a critical question. With his Garden State poll numbers sagging to an all-time favorability rating low of 42 percent, has Christie’s native Jersey brashness and flashes of anger reached the limit of political effectiveness, both locally and nationally?

“The governor has always defended his behavior, saying that this is his personality and he’s not going to compromise his personality for politics. But that aspect of his personality has not resonated with every demographic group in the state of New Jersey,” said Brigid Harrison, professor of political science and law at Montclair State University. “There are certain people who find his brashness charming, and there are others who find it objectionable.”

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