N.J. Dems want to target white supremacists and other extremists in fight against domestic terrorism

Posted Sep 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — Two days before the anniversary of 9/11, two New Jersey lawmakers announced a new effort to target domestic terrorism, whether inspired by al-Qaida or white supremacism.

Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell Jr. proposed legislation that would allow law enforcement authorities to freeze the assets of domestic terrorists or those who provide material support, and to set up a national clearinghouse to collect and share information about terrorist incidents in the U.S.

The lawmakers made their announcement in Ridgewood after hearing from Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. They said Maples identified homegrown violent extremists as the state’s top threat.

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Here’s how to end the Newark water crisis — and prevent the next one

Updated Sep 9, 2019

By Dan O’Flaherty and Alexander van Geen

New York Jets offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum loads water into a car outside Clinton Hill Early Childhood Center last month to deliver to families dealing with the lead poisoning water crisis in Newark.

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Making Newark’s tap water safe to drink won’t do much good unless people believe that the water is safe and resume drinking it and using it normally. Once the treatments to keep lead from leaching into water (known as anti-corrosives) become effective for the flows from the Pequannock (the affected reservoir), a simple announcement won’t suffice because many Newarkers no longer trust official statements about the water. The crisis won’t really be resolved until almost everyone goes back to using Newark water regularly, and no report or announcement is going to make that happen any time soon, even if the anti-corrosives are successful.

Fortunately, restoring trust in the water, once trust is warranted, can be done without a splashy PR campaign and even without restoring trust in official pronouncements. The key is water testing: free, abundant, easy-to-use, customer-friendly, and consumer-driven water testing. And setting up a program that lets Newarkers find out for themselves about their own water doesn’t require any innovative genius. Just look across the river to New York City.

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N.J. is facing a $1.2B public-worker pension time bomb

Updated Sep 8, 2019

In the waning days of his administration, Gov. Chris Christie left his successor Phil Murphy a parting gift, of sorts.

For years, New Jersey had assumed its public pension fund would make more money on its investments than it could realistically expect. So, Christie went ahead and changed it.

Without notice, the outgoing governor cut how much the pension system should expect to earn on investments from 7.65 percent to 7 percent a year.

Doesn’t seem like much, right?

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Murphy’s bogus spin on Newark’s lead crisis | Moran

Posted Sep 8, 2019

Here’s what Gov. Phil Murphy said a few days ago about the lead poisoning crisis in Newark, during a call-in show on WNYC radio:

“I commend everybody involved, including the folks in our administration, that we moved as quickly as we did, and again hats off to Newark and I want to give Mayor Baraka a big shout out.”

This is Trump-level chutzpah, folks. In Murphy world, no one made any mistakes. Sorry about those poisoned kids, but it’s not our fault.

People in Newark have been drinking contaminated water for at least two years, while the mayor assured everyone it was perfectly safe. The state knew all about it from the start, because Newark tested every six months and dutifully passed on the horrifying numbers, which show the problem is becoming more severe, not less.

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Dishes, pasta, and brushing teeth. What it’s like in Newark to live on bottled water.

Sept 7, 2019

Geegee Moore crouched by the bottom of her opened refrigerator, placing water bottles in neat lines in the right hand corner. She divvies them up -- some bottles for the fridge, some for the freezer, and some on the floor in her kitchen.

“It’s so much you need—you don’t realize how much...water being contaminated affects you,” she said. “You need to make rice, you need to make coffee, like different things, Kool-Aid, different things throughout the day that consist of water.”

After she finished filling the fridge up, she grabbed a chilled bottle to take a sip, a small reward for finishing the necessary work of unloading the heavy cases into her home.

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N.J. gave out $11B in tax incentives. Was it just a waste of money?

Posted Sep 5, 2019

Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, who chairs the select committee, questioned whether New Jersey has put itself at a disadvantage by “unilaterally disarming” itself, as other states compete for companies and jobs.

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New Jersey is doing it all wrong.

That was the conclusion of economists and other experts who testified before lawmakers in Trenton on Thursday, as a Senate committee continued its hearings into how to reform a controversial business tax incentive program that has become mired in scandal.

Noting that the state's incentive awards were twice the national average, they said New Jersey can get “more bang for the buck” by targeting economic development programs in different ways, and by capping the amount of money offered as incentives for job growth.

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Newark wants to replace lead pipes on private property, with or without owners’ OK

Posted Sep 5, 2019

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the replacement of the 18,000 old lead pipes snaking underground will be mandatory -- and free -- for all city property owners.

On Thursday, Baraka asked the City Council to pass legislation requiring homeowners to either sign up for a $132 million lead service line replacement program or else change the garden-hose sized pipes themselves. Newark has grappled with elevated lead levels in its drinking water since 2017.

Lead is leaching off old pipes that connect water mains to homes; the city is working to replace them within three years.

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Use the n-word in front of kids, and tenure still has your back? | Editorial

Posted Sep 5, 2019

In an incredible feat of mental acrobatics, a state arbitrator just reinstated a tenured teacher who used the n-word in front of kids.

Even a relatively new law aimed at helping districts remove teachers like this can’t prevent every bad decision. Let’s break down the logical leaps, for those who strain to understand why a man who used a racist slur still belongs in front of children.

First, science teacher Bruce Bassetti – who is white – said this epithet under his breath, to himself, after being provoked by a student, the arbitrator, Peter Adomeit, argues.

Kids in his 7th grade class at Penns Grove Middle School overheard him say “something to the effect of, ‘I’m done with these n******,” or ‘I’m not trying to deal with these n******,’” according to the decision.

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AFTER-SCHOOL SUPPERS OFFER ANOTHER WEAPON AGAINST CHILDHOOD HUNGER

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CPAS: ACTION FROM CONGRESS NEEDED TO HELP REDUCE STUDENT-DEBT LOAD

JOHN REITMEYER | SEPTEMBER 4, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Concerned that mounting student-loan levels are weighing down the state economy, a group representing New Jersey’s CPAs is backing a new federal tax break for companies that help employees pay off their college loans.

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants announced yesterday that it is urging members to contact the state’s delegation of federal lawmakers to rally support for pending legislation that would grant tax-exempt status to student-loan repayments made by an employer.

The measure is modeled on an existing federal tax benefit for companies that pay tuition for their employees’ ongoing coursework. So far, three members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation — Andy Kim (D-3), Tom Malinowski (D-7), and Frank Pallone (D-6) — have signed on as co-sponsors.

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