Newark City Council Approves Lead Line Replacement Contracts

Newark aims to replace all 18,000 lead lines serving city residents over the next two years.
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NEWARK, NJ — The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved two contracts to two utility contractors that will conduct parts of the first phases of the Newark’s lead service line replacement program citywide.

The Linden-based Underground Utilities Corporation was awarded a nearly $4 million contract while the Newark-based Roman E&G Corporation won a more than $3.5 million bid. Both utility contractors will replace 500 lead lines each in contracts that span about nine months concurrently.

The money for the contracts comes from part of a $75 million loan the city secured in 2018 from the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank. That loan was intended to pay for the city’s lead service line replacement program before Newark secured a $120 million loan from Essex County to speed up the timing of the project, chief water engineer John George said. 

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A Guide to Help Victims Navigate a Major Disaster

JOHN REITMEYER | OCTOBER 30, 2019

NJ Spotlight

The guide has information useful in the aftermath of any major event that causes significant property damage or loss.

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As victims of Superstorm Sandy know well, recovering from a major disaster can require individuals and businesses to complete many tedious but important tasks. They include preparing insurance claims for damaged properties and replacing credit cards and other lost or ruined personal documents.

To ease the process, the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants has created a comprehensive “disaster-recovery guide” that victims can turn to for key information and suggestions.

For example, the guide — which is available free online — provides detailed instructions to help victims report losses to insurance companies and offers tips on how best to avoid price gouging by businesses and other types of scams that often are targeted at disaster victims.

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Declining Enrollment of Asian and Hispanic Children in State Medicaid Program

LILO H. STAINTON | OCTOBER 29, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

Family Care — New Jersey’s Medicaid program — has lost nearly 50,000 youngsters in the past year and a half alone, according to a new study.

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The number of children enrolled in New Jersey Family Care — the state’s Medicaid program — is now at a five-year low, having lost nearly 50,000 youngsters in the past year and a half alone, according to a new study. But all racial groups have not fared the same.

The number of Asian and Hispanic kids in New Jersey without health insurance increased between 2017 and 2018, a situation that is particularly concerning since these two racial groups already make up more than half the uninsured children statewide, New Jersey Policy Perspective said in the study released Monday.

During that same period, the number of African American and white children without coverage fell by even greater numbers, the left-leaning research group found after analyzing new census data.

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N.J. judges get schooled on rape, domestic violence cases after comments landed some in hot water

Posted Oct 28, 2019

Superior Court judges across the state left their courtrooms Monday to take part in a training instituted after several judges were slammed for comments they made regarding sexual assaults.

The judiciary announced the training Friday, describing it as a “mandatory full-day educational conference focusing on the areas of gender violence and bias.”

The announcement made no mention of the judges’ comments that precipitated the training. The Judiciary on Monday did not disclose the training’s exact location, citing security concerns.

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Murphy made a mess of the PARCC. Will he help clean it up? | Editorial

Posted Oct 28, 2019

The PARCC was the only objective measure that told us the truth about whether kids were really learning what they needed to.

The test uncovered achievement gaps inside of districts, huge disparities between black and white students in Montclair and South Orange-Maplewood that civil rights advocates are now challenging. The ACT or SAT won’t tell you that.

It was also a check on grade inflation. Kids can graduate with passing grades and still be unable to pass a 9th grade level test. They land in deep water in college.

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A highway could have connected routes 280 and 78. Neighborhood fight stopped it.

Updated Oct 27, 2019

Junius Williams still has the map of Route 75, a proposed six-lane highway that never happened in Newark nearly 50 years ago.

“We stopped that highway," said Williams, Newark’s city history. “That was my favorite campaign."

At the time, Williams was director of the Newark Area Planning Association (NAPA), a grassroots organization that raised hell in 1968 to fight against the transportation project to connect Route 280 and Route 78.

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New hope for oversight at Essex County jail | Editorial

Posted Oct 27, 2019

Essex County’s powerful executive, Joe DiVincenzo, has just agreed to bring on a panel of outside experts to oversee his jail in Newark, after an outcry over inhumane conditions and alleged abuses.

His lockup is one of the biggest in the nation with a multi-million-dollar contract to hold immigrants for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now, he says he’s placing it on the cutting edge of incarceration reform.

It’s great to see the county executive take steps to invest in oversight, along with other local officials. That this was in reaction to intense public pressure does not make it any less valuable.

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State Medicaid Extends Family Planning Benefits to More People of Low Income

LILO H. STAINTON | OCTOBER 28, 2019

NJ Spotlight

First Lady Tammy Murphy said Plan First is part of an effort to “ensure healthier mothers, babies, and families.”

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Hundreds of thousands of men and women who earn up to $2,134 a month are now eligible for a suite of family planning services — including birth control, pregnancy tests and sterilization surgery — thanks to New Jersey’s new Medicaid expansion.

The state Department of Human Services rolled out the Plan First benefit earlier this month to help individuals who earn too much for the traditional Medicaid program to access certain family planning services, without paying out of pocket. It does not provide full health insurance benefits and does not currently include abortion coverage, DHS said.

The expansion is based on legislation Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed in February 2018 as one of his first official acts in Trenton — the same day he restored state funding for family planning services that Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, had discontinued. But the Medicaid expansion concept actually dates to the end of the tenure of former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, another Democrat, although it was also defunded by Christie soon after the latter took office.

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Democrats just made it harder for Booker to qualify for December presidential debate

Updated Oct 25, 2019

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has yet to get more than 3 percent support in most polls of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. But he will have to poll at least 4 percent in four different surveys over the next two months if he is to reach the stage for the party’s December debate.

The Democratic National Committee said Friday that candidates wishing to qualify for the Dec. 19 debate at the University of California, Los Angeles must receive at least 4 percent in at least four polls conducted nationally or in the early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Candidates can also qualify by polling at least 6 percent in two surveys in the early states.

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Newark police delayed access to reports, videos in cop’s fatal shooting of driver, federal monitor says

Updated Oct 25, 2019

The federal monitor overseeing the Newark Police Department was repeatedly denied reports and video of the police chase that ended when an officer fatally shot a driver in January.

The media received body camera footage of Officer Jovanny Crespo shooting at the vehicle before the city or police department gave it to Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general who was appointed in 2016 to oversee sweeping reforms at the department.

Harvey outlined the denials in his ninth quarterly report that is part of Newark’s consent decree, an agreement the city entered into after a U.S. Department of Justice review found a pattern of unconstitutional practices within the police department. Each report examines progress the police division has made in reforms.

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