Christie Vetoes Bill to Expand Paid Family Leave and More

By Christian Hetrick • 07/21/17

Observer

Chris Christie

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Gov. Chris Christie vetoed 14 bills on Friday including a top priority for Democratic lawmakers, a measure broadly enhancing the state’s paid family leave law.

The bill (S3085) would have given workers more paid leave and time off to take care of a new child or sick relative, while also increasing job protections and covering more types of family members.

But Christie called the bill a “costly expansion” that would raise taxes and harm small businesses. His conditional veto of the bill gut almost all of the legislation, leaving only portions pertaining to processing, public reporting and promoting the benefits currently available under the state’s existing family leave law from 2008.

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Absentee Train Engineers Keep NJ Transit’s ‘Summer of Hell’ at Low Boil

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Meet Gina Genovese, an Independent Running for NJ Governor

Running for NJ Governor

By Alyana Alfaro • 07/17/17

Observer

Gina Genovese.

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Gina Genovese — a former professional tennis player and mayor of Long Hill — is running an independent campaign for New Jersey governor centered around sharing services between municipalities, a move that Genovese claims could slash property tax bills by up to 15 percent for many New Jersey homeowners.

“I feel that the only hope for New Jersey is if I at least bring this message to the governor’s race so people can talk about real issues and real solutions and look at the elephant in the living room,” Genovese told Observer on Monday.

New Jersey has 565 municipalities, many of which have fewer than 10,000 residents. In many cases, each of those towns has a mayor and council, a police force, a fire department and a school district. Property taxes are the main funding source for all those services and other local programs.

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NJ Jail Population Down Almost One-Fifth After Bail Overhaul

By Christian Hetrick • 07/17/17

Observer

 

New Jersey’s jail population dropped 19 percent in the first five months after a sweeping bail overhaul took effect, according to recently released state statistics.

Two-thirds of counties saw declines in their jail populations of at least 10 percent, while five counties shed more than 25 percent, during the period spanning Jan. 1 through May 31, according to data released by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Essex County saw a decline of nearly 37 percent of its jail population.

The statistics also showed a nearly 36 percent drop in the statewide jail population when comparing May 31, 2017, to the same date two years earlier.

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Lead in Water Remains Pervasive Problem in New Jersey Schools

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NJ Senate Votes to Pay State Workers Affected by Shutdown

By Christian Hetrick • 07/13/17

Observer

The New Jersey state house.

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Public workers frozen out of their jobs during the three-day government shutdown would receive back pay under a bill that passed the state Senate in a 31-0 vote Thursday.

Gov. Chris Christie has said he would sign the back-pay legislation, should it pass the Assembly. The bill will be introduced in that house later on Thursday and will see a vote before the end of July, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said at a rally with workers.

After initially saying state workers shouldn’t count on back pay, Christie pledged to sign the bill Wednesday if it’s sent to his desk. Senate President Steve Sweeney said Thursday that Christie agreed to pay furloughed workers after a conversation they had.

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The Must-Build Swamp Mall, the Canceled Tunnel and Christie’s Era of Misrule

By Bob Hennelly | July 12, 2017, 4:06 pm | in News, Columnist

INSIDER NJ

While Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate gambit rightfully helped “knee-cap” his Presidential run, it was his cancellation, in 2010, of a trans-Hudson rail tunnel that will have generational consequences not just for New Jersey but for the entire Northeast Corridor. And yet, even as he pulled the plug on the essential second Hudson tunnel, he was doubling down on trying to provide public support to complete a two million square foot mall in the Hackensack Meadowlands that had already lost over $1 billion in public pension funds and been pursued by three of his Democratic predecessors.

For years now, a two-million square-foot mall has been sitting in the Meadowlands and never opened, a kind of white-collar crime scene visible from space, but invisible to the locals at ground-level, because it has become just a part of the New Jersey Turnpike landscape.  How it came to be built on state land is testimony to a culture of self-dealing and corruption that reaches all the way to Washington and back to the halcyon Clinton years.  It involves names of prominent partisans on both sides of the aisle.  Consider, it’s probably the only resume item that Republican strategist Charlie Black, of Manafort & Stone fame, and the late Democratic Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, have in common.

It is hard to imagine but the NJ/NY metro region hasn’t always been so dysfunctional when it came to infrastructure.  In the 1920s and ‘30s, the New Jersey/New York metro-region completed no less than four bridges linking New Jersey and New York–the Goethals, the Outerbridge Crossing, the Bayonne Bridge, and the George Washington Bridge–all ahead of schedule and well below budget.  Of course, that was thanks to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which more recently has suffered so badly under Christie’s authoritarian reign.

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David Wildstein, Ex-Christie Ally, Gets Probation for Lane Closings

NEWARK — David Wildstein, the professed mastermind in the so-called Bridgegate scandal, was spared prison on Wednesday when he was sentenced for his role in the blocking of lanes near the George Washington Bridge as political revenge against a New Jersey mayor, closing a final chapter in a bizarre episode that grounded the national political ambitions of Gov. Chris Christie.

Mr. Wildstein, 55, was instead sentenced to three years’ probation, 500 hours of community service and more than $20,000 in fines and restitution.

From the moment he first came up with the plan to the moment he received a now infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” to his eight days of testimony against his former friends and allies, Mr. Wildstein was the main protagonist in an affair that, as he stated in court on Wednesday, magnified “the stereotype of the politics of this state.”

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NJ Gov Race: Murphy Leads Guadagno by 27 Points in New Poll

By Salvador Rizzo • 07/12/17

Observer

Phil Murphy

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Phil Murphy has a commanding, 27-point lead over Kim Guadagno in New Jersey’s race for governor, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.

But neither candidate is well known among New Jersey voters, the poll found.

It was the latest reminder that the governor’s race has been a sleepy affair this year for the same voters who often complain about the direction of the state. And it was the latest sign that Murphy, a Democrat who has spent millions from his personal fortune on the race, is likely to win in November.

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American Dream Wakes Up: Financing in Place, Megamall Gets Busy Building

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