How Trump’s Hudson Tunnel Feud Threatens the National Economy

Economic risks keeping Americans up at night include the hastily rewritten tax code and the possibility of a global trade war set off by U.S. tariffs. Consider another cause for insomnia: President Donald Trump’s opposition to a new rail tunnel linking New York and New Jersey beneath the Hudson River.

The current link is shot, corroded by age and chemical-tainted flood water. That’s unnerving enough for the 820,000 passengers a day traveling to New York City jobs or some other U.S. Northeast destination. For those farther afield, there’s the chilling fact that a tunnel predating World War I is key to 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The first locomotive chugged through the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 2.5-mile tunnel in 1910. Amtrak, its current owner, says it’s still safe, albeit unreliable, and in constant need of temporary fixes. But say its haywire electrical system finally goes kaput, or its cracked concrete walls and ceilings yield to the river’s muck. There goes the New York City commute for Wall Streeters, big-city accountants and lawyers from New Jersey suburbs, plus the legions that work in health, tech, tourism and retail. Beyond New York, that’s the end of Boston-to-Washington service on the nation’s busiest passenger-rail route.

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IRS action on prepaid property taxes slammed as 'naked political payback' against N.J.

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. and other Democrats on Monday accused the Internal Revenue Service of "naked political payback" for refusing to allow taxpayers to deduct their entire prepaid 2018 property taxes and threatening to step up enforcement of those who try to claim the tax break.

In a letter to acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter, Pascrell, D-9th Dist., and the other Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee said there was no legal justification for the IRS to decide that only 2018 property taxes paid in response to an assessment -- which would cover just the first half of 2018 in New Jersey -- were deductible.

"We view this as a clear case of bureaucratic overreach, and now, as a result, many of our constituents are losing a valuable deduction -- and consequently part of their hard-earned income," the lawmakers said.

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Is Menendez's Republican challenger even more ethically challenged? | Editorial

Posted Mar 4, 2018

Bob Hugin announcing he's running for U.S. Senate as a Republican, challenging U.S. Robert Menendez, at the Springfield Elks Lodge in Springfield , NJ.

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Bob Hugin, an ex-pharma executive, is attacking Sen. Robert Menendez on ethical grounds, as he should. New Jersey deserves better than Menendez, as he says.
 
But is Hugin, who is seeking the GOP nomination to face Menendez, the man to point the finger on ethics?

His stewardship of Celgene, the big pharmaceutical firm based in Summit, raises serious doubts.

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Trump’s Yanked Support for Hudson Tunnel Angers Those Who Saw a Done Deal

For beleaguered commuters who ride trains into and out of New York City, the plan to dig new rail tunnels under the Hudson River must, by now, seem like a big tease.

Just a few months ago, the idea once again appeared to have gained the support it needed in Washington and, once again, it looks as if one powerful official — in this case, the president — could put a stop to it. The latest and perhaps most ominous threat came late Friday night when it was revealed that President Trump had asked Republican leaders to withdraw federal funding for the project.

Mr. Trump has promised to spur “the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history.” So his opposition to an established project that is widely considered a solution to one of the nation’s most critical infrastructure needs has confounded even veterans of his own party. Some fear that Mr. Trump is jeopardizing commerce along the Eastern Seaboard simply to spite Senator Charles E. Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York.

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Phil Murphy: NJEA Didn’t Make Me Fire Education Official

By Christian Hetrick • 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that the state’s largest teacher’s union didn’t make him fire a senior education official the same day she was given the job, calling questions about whether the union was involved in the decision “ridiculous.”

“I make decisions on who works for us on our team, and nobody else,” Murphy said during an unrelated news conference in Dayton. “I make decisions. Period. Full stop.”

Murphy, a Democrat, was responding to questions about Paula White, a charter school advocate who was recently approved by the state Board of Education to be the department’s next assistant commissioner, only to have the job offer rescinded hours later.

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Newark Airport's $2.7B terminal overhaul will make flying easier for millions

A sleek, modern terminal is coming to one of the busiest international airports in the U.S. and it could ease passenger congestion as soon as 2021. 

Newark Liberty International Airport is forging ahead with a $2.7 billion redevelopment plan to overhaul its oldest terminal and build a one-million square-foot terminal with 33 gates and a new 3,000-car parking garage. 

The project, named Terminal One, broke ground last June. Last week, the Board of Commissioners for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, approved additional funding and picked the team that will design and construct the terminal for $1.41 billion: Tutor Perini Corporation and Parsons Transportation Group Inc.

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A Subway Ride to New Jersey? It Could Happen, Officials Say

FEB. 27, 2018

The escalator to the No. 7 train in Flushing, Queens. The subway line could one day carry riders across the Hudson River to New Jersey.

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The idea of connecting the No. 7 subway line to New Jersey may not be quite dead yet.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is commissioning a long-term study of ways to expand the use of rapid transit across the Hudson River, and it expects to get some help from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway.

The two authorities are teaming with New York City and New Jersey Transit to consider a wide range of options for increasing commuting capacity two decades down the road. This week, the Port Authority received several bids from firms seeking the contract to produce the study, said Rick Cotton, the agency’s executive director.

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Baraka: Jobless rate for young black men is a national disgrace. What we're doing | Opinion

By Ras J. Baraka

Posted Feb 23, 2018

 

The U.S. economy is recovering from the great recession, yet the recovery has barely touched young black men. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately one out of every three black young men is unemployed, while white youth unemployment is roughly half that rate. Nationally, nearly 7 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are out of school and not working. T

hat's a national disgrace. Roughly 7,000 of these young people are in Newark alone, the majority of whom are young men of color.

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MURPHY JOINS FELLOW DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS TO HELP STEM GUN VIOLENCE

CARLY SITRIN | FEBRUARY 23, 2018

NJ Spotlight

 

If stronger gun control cannot be enacted on a national basis, it can on a regional basis - at least that's the thinking behind a new multistate group called the Coalition of States for Gun Safety. Gov. Phil Murphy, along with fellow Democratic governors of New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, announced a memorandum of understanding between the states to share intelligence and databases on gun issues.

"Gun violence is not a New Jersey problem, a New York problem, a Connecticut problem, a Rhode Island problem, or a problem for any particular state or region. It is a national problem," Murphy said. "We cannot wait for Congress or the President to act. As states, we must work together to take the steps and enact measures to protect our residents and our communities."

The coalition will create a joint task force to trace and intercept illegal guns crossing state lines, a coordinated plan to respond to threats of mass gun violence by sharing law enforcement resources, and a regional gun-violence research consortium leveraging universities to study and produce reports on gun violence.

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New Jersey Transit’s Hidden Danger: Bad Brakes, Bare Wires, Rotten Parts

By Elise Young

Federal inspectors found scores of New Jersey Transit train cars riddled with fire risks, faulty brakes and electrical hazards as they scrutinized the troubled railroad that brings 95,000 workers to Manhattan daily.

One engine was so defective it was declared unsafe, documents obtained under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act show. In some cases, NJ Transit’s own checks failed to identify faults brought to light a day or two later by Federal Railroad Administration officials. One was a locomotive with seized air valves and misaligned foundation gear that compromised the braking system’s very core. Another had broken equipment that provides traction on slippery tracks.

While federal regulators regularly inspect railroads, safety failures at NJ Transit led them to conduct a deeper audit in 2016. Though the agency appears to have mostly resolved its findings, the inspectors last year tested NJ Transit equipment with unprecedented frequency, uncovering persistent defects that speak to years of budget starvation and routine risks for more than 300,000 daily riders.

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