How this rookie Jersey congresswoman helped drive the Trump impeachment probe

Updated Sep 25, 2019

WASHINGTON — As the first Democrat in more than three decades to represent a northern New Jersey congressional district that had backed Donald Trump in 2016, Rep. Mikie Sherrill consistently shied away from calling for impeachment proceedings against the president.

That changed, big-time, after the revelations about Trump and Ukraine. And suddenly, Sherrill went from the sidelines to the nation’s limelight.

She and six fellow first-term Democrats with backgrounds in the military or intelligence — all from swing districts — switched gears and called for impeachment proceedings.

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Are Senate Republicans circling the wagons around Trump? Not so much.

By Jennifer Rubin

 

Senate Republicans have not exactly circled the wagons around President Donald Trump. Sure, one of the most devoted Trump enablers, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., put out a statement opposing Democrats who "plunged headlong into their nonstop obsession with impeachment." But his objection went to timing: "I only wish they'd get the facts before jumping to a conclusion." Even he did not defend the proposition that the president can solicit help from a foreign government to win reelection.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., said it was "inappropriate" for a president to seek foreign assistance, while clarifying that "I'm not acknowledging or alleging that the president did that." Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., among the most effusive Trump supplicants, said he would be "disappointed" if the allegations proved to be true. (Should we break it to him that President Trump has largely confessed to the allegations?) Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, all but encouraged the House to commence its inquest.

The beauty of impeachment proceedings on Ukraine is twofold. First, the facts will come out. Second, a number of GOP senators - perhaps not enough to remove Trump but certainly enough to humiliate him - cannot justify using U.S. taxpayer dollars for leverage to extract dirt on a political opponent from a foreign government.

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The state ignores my town, so I’m taking out a billboard about it, N.J. mayor says

Updated Sep 25, 2019

Frustrated by what he says is a lack of attention from the state, Belleville Mayor Michael Melham is taking some unique steps to spotlight its own lead problems.

On Thursday, Melham will unveil a digital billboard and media campaign calling on the state to provide water filters and filter cartridges for the nearly 6,000 homes in the township with lead service lines. The highlight will be a billboard on Route 21 in Belleville, but the campaign will also include a dedicated website and social media push.

The billboard will ask people to sign an online petition at FiltersforBelleville.org — a website that will be operational by Thursday.

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How One Address Led to a $100 Million Tax Credit Scheme

By Nick Corasaniti and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Sept. 24, 2019

Twelve New Jersey companies threatened to move to Blue Hill Plaza, an office complex in Pearl River, N.Y., unless the state provided significant tax breaks.

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PEARL RIVER, N.Y. — In the summer of 2015, Jaguar Land Rover North America told state officials in New Jersey that it was considering moving to an office development in New York called Blue Hill Plaza.

To keep the automotive giant’s headquarters in New Jersey, the state offered $26 million in tax credits. So Jaguar stayed.

Five months later, FC USA, a travel company, also told New Jersey that it was looking to relocate to the very same office development in New York.

So did Groupe SEB, an appliance manufacturer.

In total, over five years, 12 companies threatened to leave New Jersey and move to Blue Hill Plaza unless the state provided tens of millions in tax credits.

None followed through on the threat. In fact, an investigation by The New York Times suggests that nearly all of the 12 companies never seriously considered moving to New York.

But all 12 received lucrative tax credits from New Jersey to stay — more than $100 million in total, according to documents obtained by The Times.

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NJ Tweaks Portal Bridge Financing Plan in Effort to Win Federal $$$

Having already doubled what they said they would spend, state officials are now hoping to secure elusive funding from the Trump administration for the long-delayed replacement of the Portal Bridge in North Jersey by tweaking the financial plan for the critical rail project.

The latest application for matching funds for the proposed bridge replacement was submitted earlier this month by New Jersey Transit, the project’s official sponsor. It dedicates $45 million of the state’s $600 million funding commitment to cover potential cost overruns, agency officials said.

In addition, Amtrak, the owner of the 109-year-old Hackensack River crossing, is committing another $55 million from passenger revenues, according to the new finance plan. That money is in addition to $182 million Amtrak had already pledged for the bridge and other projects in the state.

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Connecting the Dots Between Race and Unsafe Drinking Water

TOM JOHNSON | SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

 

If you live in a community of color, the drinking water provided to your home is more likely to come from systems with a history of repeated violations of federal safe water regulations, according to a new report.

The study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Coming Clean and Environmental Justice Heath Alliance, analyzed three years of federal data involving violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and suggested it reinforces long-standing arguments by environmental justice advocates that there is unequal access to clean drinking water.

Drinking water systems that constantly violated the law for years were 40 percent more likely to occur in places with higher percentages of residents who were people of color, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency from 2016 to 2019.

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Newark Says Water Crisis Is Easing as Lead Filters Prove Mostly Effective

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Published Sept. 23, 2019

Newark started giving out bottled water in August under pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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NEWARK — Officials in New Jersey’s largest city announced on Monday that thousands of water filters handed out to residents had significantly reduced lead in drinking water to safe levels.

Bottled water would still be made available, but officials said the crisis that had gripped the city for months seemed to be easing.

Testing done jointly by city, state and federal officials found that the filters had been 97 percent effective at reducing lead levels to below a federally acceptable standard, meaning that 97 percent of test results showed the filters working properly.

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Dems just made it tougher for Booker to qualify for November debate

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and the other Democratic presidential candidates wishing to remain on the debate stage in November will have to raise more money and score higher in opinion polls under stricter criteria announced Monday.

Booker campaign manager Addisu Demissie on Saturday cited the expectation that the DNC would make it tougher for candidates to qualify for the next debate as one reason he did not see a way for Booker to win unless he could raise $1.7 million through Sept. 30.

Eleven candidates, including Booker, have qualified for the Oct. 15 debate in Ohio. A second day could be added depending on how candidates eventually meet the criteria of at least 130,000 unique donors and 2 percent in at least four separate surveys

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Why Cory Booker’s presidential campaign could be toast if he doesn’t raise cash fast

Posted Sep 22, 2019

WASHINGTON — Every day, there’s been an air of desperation in Cory Booker’s fundraising emails.

“When we report our financial numbers publicly, we need to have a strong showing,” Booker’s presidential campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, wrote recently.

“I’m going to cut to the chase — we need a strong showing to prove that we’re in this until Election Day 2020, no matter the donor or polling thresholds that are thrown at us,” Booker himself wrote in another.

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Newark to release lead filter testing results Monday, as 29K families rely on bottled water

Updated Sep 22, 2019

Gov. Phil Murphy together with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka will announce on Monday preliminary results showing whether the filters meant to eliminate lead from the drinking supply are working as city residents continue to rely on bottled water.

The highly-anticipated test results will be shared weeks after city and state officials raced to sample additional homes and figure out why two filters failed to reduce enough lead from the tap water. The troubling testing initially spurred the federal government to request a mass distribution of bottled water last month.

That was 42 days ago.

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