Essex County leader gives top aide $45K salary increase to handle illegal immigration program

Updated Mar 11, 2019

The political appointee who oversees the Essex County’s troubled detention program for unauthorized immigrants has been getting a significant boost in pay each year, atop his six-figure salary, for managing the county’s lucrative contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Records show Philip Alagia, the top aide to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, is currently being paid an additional $45,900 a year to keep tabs on the troubled detention program, which has come under scathing criticism by federal inspectors. And those bonus payments have increased substantially over the past five years.

DiVincenzo announced the creation of the additional position of County Director of ICE Programs in 2011, naming Alagia to the job and adding $30,000 to his then-$108,645 salary. Last year, Alagia’s total annual salary including the nearly $46,000 adjustment in connection with the ICE detention contract came to $163,599, according to documents released by the county under a public records request.

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A priest, a minister and a rabbi get free parking spots …. and the Trump tax law makes their congregations pay! We’re not joking.

Posted Mar 10, 2019

WASHINGTON — Suburban Torah in Livingston offers free parking for its employees.

Under the Republican tax law signed by President President Donald Trump, the synagogue soon will have to pay taxes for providing this “benefit.”

“I really doubt anybody thought that when a secretary parked her car at our synagogue, that would be a taxable event,” said Suburban Torah’s rabbi, Elie Mischel.

But it is.

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Catholic leaders knew N.J. priest was accused of abuse. He became a ‘youth minister’ anyway, lawsuit says.

Posted Mar 9, 2019

Catholic Church officials learned in 2003 one of their priests had been accused of sexually abusing a boy years earlier while he was a Boy Scout leader before he joined the clergy, according to a new lawsuit.

But Archdiocese of Newark leaders still assigned the priest to a Union County parish, where he became “head of youth ministry” and began abusing another young boy a year later, according to a civil lawsuit filed this week by the alleged victim.

The Rev. Kevin Gugliotta, a nationally-ranked poker player, pleaded guilty in 2017 to disseminating child pornography in Pennsylvania. He was sentenced to up to 23 1/2 months in jail and has been permanently removed from ministry.

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Ex-Murphy staffer accused of rape is set to testify next week. Murphy still mum on who hired him.

Updated Mar 8, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy still has “nothing new” to say about who may have hired a former top aide accused of raping a campaign supporter, even as that ex-official is set to testify in public next week.

Albert J. Alvarez is scheduled to appear before state lawmakers in Trenton on Tuesday and may finally answer the nagging question that has surrounded Murphy’s administration in recent months: Who actually tapped him for a state job?

Up to now, numerous officials close to Murphy have all said they don’t know who brought Alvarez on board. And Murphy himself has been mum on the question.

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NJ Spotlight


Additional funds for a number of community-based healthcare initiatives that have long been priorities for advocates and lawmakers are included in Gov. Phil Murphy’s $38.4 billion state budget plan for fiscal year 2020.

Murphy’s proposed spending plan for FY2020, which begins in July, allots $800 million to programs and services that benefit individuals with developmental disabilities, state officials said, including many who receive healthcare benefits through Medicaid.

That funding includes a $22.5 million increase for programs designed to improve care for individuals with developmental disabilities and also mental health needs, something advocates said is desperately needed. These include efforts to improve emergency care and inpatient treatment, better coordinate healthcare services, and expand programs designed to keep these residents out of institutional facilities.

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‘Give victims a taste of justice.’ Sexual assault survivors plead for more time to file suit over past abuse in N.J.

Updated March 8, 2019

Bearing photos of themselves as children, six sisters came to a Statehouse hearing in Trenton on Thursday to plead with a panel of state lawmakers to vote in favor of bill allowing child sex assault victims in New Jersey to sue over past abuse.

Five of the Fortney sisters say they were sexually assaulted decade ago by Father Augustine Giella, a priest who was transferred to their parish in western Pennsylvania from the Archdiocese of Newark. They are still seeking answers.

The legislation would expand the state statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in the state, allowing the women to sue and perhaps be able to find out the extent of his horrific acts, they said.

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Who should pay for a Walmart employee’s health care, Walmart or taxpayers? | Editorial

Updated Mar 6, 2019

Corporate behemoths such as Walmart and McDonald’s are just starting to catch on to that fair wage concept. But they still don’t offer “affordable” health care. The result: Their low-wage employees must rely on Medicaid, so you are paying for the health insurance for many of the 450,000 recipients in our state.

That’s right, you’re in the burger business. You’re in the big box store industry.

No doubt, the new $15 wage is a wonderful thing, but it’s still a bare-subsistence equation. Too many workers still need public help for housing, food, and health care. It’s the kind of socialism that corporate types find tolerable.

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Murphy says there will be no fare hike for NJ Transit riders, says he will fix agency ‘if it kills me’

Posted Mar 5, 2019

For the second straight year, Gov. Phil Murphy promised no fare increase for beleaguered NJ Transit riders in his state budget address, as long as the legislature passes his proposed fiscal year 2020 budget.

“Last year, commuters were spared a fare hike. And, if we pass this budget’s investment, there won’t be one this year, either,” Murphy said during his speech Tuesday at the Statehouse in Trenton.

Murphy name-checked NJ Transit 14 times in the speech as he laid out his second state budget proposal.

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NJ Spotlight

There was a pro-public schools protest at the State House to coincide with the governor's address.


Before Gov. Phil Murphy presented his fiscal year 2020 budget yesterday, the scene outside the State House belied what would come inside. Dozens of placard-carrying students and teachers lined the sidewalk, doing their part to make sure that a pro-public school message would carry the day.

And indeed, Murphy proposed in his $38.6 billion budget an increase in state aid to districts by $206.2 million and another $68 million for preschools, continuing a trend from his first two years in office. Overall school aid is by far the single biggest piece of the budget, now amounting to $15.5 billion.

And maybe the best news for schools is there seemed to be general agreement between Murphy and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership, with Senate President Steve Sweeney even saying afterward that there may be more money to come.

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N.J.’s Governor Pushes ‘Millionaire’s Tax’ as His Party Tilts Left

By Nick Corasaniti


March 5, 2019

Gov. Philip D. Murphy wants to raise the income tax on those making more than $1 million, but some Democrats have said they will not embrace new taxes without significant reforms in spending.


TRENTON — Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, a Democrat who won a decisive victory two years ago by promoting a progressive agenda, wants to raise the income tax on those making more than $1 million to help pay for what he says are some of the state’s most pressing needs, including expanding preschool and making higher education more affordable.

His proposal, unveiled on Tuesday, is similar to the plan he pursued last year, which set off a confrontation with the Democratic-controlled Legislature that nearly shut down the state’s government and led Mr. Murphy to accept a compromise that raised taxes on a smaller pool of the wealthy.

But now the national conversation is much different: Progressive Democrats, including several candidates for president, have shifted the party to the left, arguing that taxing the wealthy will not only address growing income inequality, but will help pay for expansive social programs like Medicare for all that are priorities for the party’s more liberal wing.

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