More screaming Trump bigotry. And more silent GOP complicity | Editorial

Posted Jul 15, 2019

It came as no great surprise that Donald Trump dusted off a feeble-minded trope popular among white supremacists in a Sunday tweet-thread, telling four minority Congresswomen, three of them American-born, to essentially “go back where you came from.”

By now, we all understand that our president is a bigot. He no longer tries to hide it much, and neither do many of those who champion his cause. White nationalist messages are broadcast from the White House. Racist memes bleed onto the pages of national websites. White supremacist laments get shouted from cable news, where people like Laura Ingraham wonder how “massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people…changes that none of us ever voted for, and most of us don’t like.”

All of it is in broad daylight.

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Attorney General Grewal: It’s time to end mandatory minimums for non-violent drug crimes

Posted Jul 15, 2019

By Gurbir S. Grewal

 

One of the first lessons I learned as a young prosecutor was also one of the most important: that our success is measured not by the number of people we convict, or the length of the prison sentences we obtain, but by whether justice is done in each and every case.

It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me during my time as a federal prosecutor, as the Bergen County prosecutor, and now as New Jersey’s attorney general. And as I reflected on that lesson, it led me to a simple conclusion: the time has come for our state to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses.

It’s helpful to understand how we got here. In 1987, at the height of America’s “War on Drugs,” New Jersey followed the lead of other states and enacted laws requiring strict mandatory prison terms for certain drug crimes. Well-intentioned as they may have been, the laws didn’t do a particularly good job of distinguishing between high-level traffickers and street-corner dealers, and over the past three decades, tens of thousands of New Jersey residents have been subject to their broad reach.

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NEW FORECLOSURE LAW AIMS TO INHIBIT LOSS OF AFFORDABLE HOMES IN NJ

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Rape apologists don’t belong on the bench | Editorial

Posted Jul 14, 2019

The story was horrific: A 16-year-old boy allegedly led a visibly intoxicated girl into a dark basement during a house party, filmed himself raping her on his phone, and shared it with his friends – bragging, “When your first time is rape.”

But what reverberated most was the judge’s reaction. From a family court bench in Monmouth County, James Troiano urged leniency for the boy, on the grounds that he comes from a “good family who put him in an excellent school.”

From there, it only got worse. Troiano cited this young man’s potential for “not just college, but probably for a good college,” and the victim’s drunkenness, when denying prosecutors’ request to charge him as an adult.

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New Jersey Governor Promises No State (or Beach) Shutdown

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

June 27, 2019

A budget showdown between Gov. Philip D. Murphy and legislative leaders threatened a state shutdown that would have closed Island Beach State Park.

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In New Jersey, a nasty fight among top Democratic elected leaders threatened to ruin escapes to the Jersey Shore.

A new state budget is due by midnight Sunday. Without one the state would shut down, closing, among many other things, Island State Beach Park, a 10-mile stretch of sand along the Atlantic Ocean that’s a popular destination in the summer.

But on Thursday, Gov. Philip D. Murphy, who has been quarreling with fellow Democrats in the Legislature, announced that the state would meet its deadline and avoid a shutdown.

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New Jersey dug its own hole, former legislator says. Now, it’s time to climb out.

Posted Jun 27, 2019

By Gordon MacInnes

 

Twenty-five years ago, New Jersey was just one of eight states that enjoyed Wall Street’s highest AAA credit rating. How times have changed!

Today, only Illinois suffers from a lower rating. But for some reason, New Jersey’s political leadership seems anxious to claim the title as the nation’s Least Responsibly-Financed State Government.

How could any state’s leaders act willfully to increase its unfunded liabilities, and thereby increase the bill to taxpayers by hundreds of millions of dollars? It’s easy! Few citizens understand the complexities of public finance, but all voters notice increased taxes, be they local property taxes or state income, sales and gasoline taxes.

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Why the Democratic Takeover in New Jersey Is More Civil War Than Progressive Revolution

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

June 26, 2019

Gov. Philip D. Murphy has been engaged in a battle with Democratic legislative leaders that has stalled many of his signature proposals, including the legalization of marijuana.

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On paper, Democrats in New Jersey have rarely commanded so much power: They control the governor’s office and both chambers of the Legislature, and a liberal surge last November nearly wiped congressional Republicans off the map. Just one G.O.P. lawmaker remains in the state’s 14-member delegation.

Yet the state finds itself in crisis, paralyzed by an intraparty war between the governor and other top Democrats, and a legislative session that has yielded relatively modest results in a state that is tilting more liberal.

The governor, Philip D. Murphy, and Democratic legislative leaders have had testy relations since the start of Mr. Murphy’s tenure two years ago, fueled in part by clashes in personalities and management styles. Their differences have made it difficult to forge agreements, and now a fight over the governor’s push to tax the wealthy, among other issues, could shut down the state. Rancor over the state budget erupted into all-out war on Wednesday, with accusations of duplicity and tantrums.

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LAWMAKERS WANT EMERGENCY FUNDS FOR STRUGGLING HOSPITAL

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Tolls From New Jersey Into New York May Increase (Again)

By Patrick McGeehan

THE NEW YORK TIMES

June 25, 2019

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is planning to raise tolls on its bridges and tunnels by at least $1, including on the George Washington Bridge. 

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Drivers bound for New York City already pay some of the highest bridge and tunnel tolls in the country. After next year they will also have to pay a congestion fee to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan.

But even before that fee goes into effect, the cost of traveling into and around New York may go up as part of a plan by the agency that operates the main airports in the region and the bridges and tunnels that connect New York and New Jersey.

Those new or increased charges would come ahead of — and possibly in addition to — New York’s congestion pricing plan.

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Top Dems want to force Murphy to close 2 prisons, send more inmates to halfway houses.

Posted Jun 25, 2019

The state budget lawmakers sent to Gov. Phil Murphy would pressure his administration to reshape New Jersey’s prison system, calling for the closure of two of the state’s 13 prisons and cutting the corrections department budget by more than $40 million.

Language inserted by state legislators would also seek to divert an additional 1,000 prisoners into halfway houses, a nearly 40 percent increase.

The budget proposal comes amid tension between the first-term Democratic governor and legislative leaders from his own party. Murphy has refused to say exactly what he’ll do about the budget lawmakers sent him, which he must act on by Sunday to avoid a government shutdown.

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