Second stimulus check update: You’re not getting $2,000. Senate Republicans blocked Trump’s request again.

Posted Jan 01, 2021

You won’t be getting a $2,000 stimulus payment after Republicans on Friday blocked a final request for a vote despite President Donald Trump’s call for larger checks.

The Senate then prepared to adjourn after overriding Trump’s veto of the defense policy bill.

GOP lawmakers blocked Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s final effort to get the chamber to take up the House-passed bill increasing the payments in the coronavirus stimulus package from $600 to $2,000.

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Minimum wage up by $1 an hour in NJ, bringing it to $12 for most low-income workers

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER | DECEMBER 31, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

The hourly minimum wage in New Jersey goes up by $1 for most low-income workers starting Friday, bringing it to $12.

The mandatory pay increase is the latest installment in the state’s ongoing ramp-up to a $15 hourly minimum wage and comes during the economic downturn triggered by an international pandemic that has hit low-income workers particularly hard.

Other minimum-wage workers in New Jersey, including those employed by farmers and seasonal and small businesses, will also get modest raises as the calendar turns to 2021.

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N.J. unemployment: claims rise while Labor Department awaits new rules for extended programs

Posted Dec 31, 2020

More than 20,000 new unemployment claims were filed for the week ending Dec. 26, an uptick in claims for the last week of a tumultuous year that saw 1.8 million New Jersey workers seek out jobless benefits in the wake of the shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 14% spike, an expected increase driven by seasonal workers, came as the Department of Labor awaits directions from the federal government on how to implement the federal relief extensions included in the new coronavirus stimulus bill President Donald Trump signed Sunday.

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GOP bashing Murphy for early prison vaccines

By David WildsteinDecember 31 2020 

New Jersey Globe

Former New Jersey Republican State Chairman Michael Lavery. 

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Republicans seem ready to make an issue of a Phil Murphy administration decision to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to some state prison inmates ahead of residents of state-run veterans homes.

“It is unconscionable that Governor Murphy’s administration is vaccinating the convicted criminals in our prisons before the heroes in our state’s veteran home,” said newly-elected GOP State Chairman Michael Lavery.  “From the beginning of this crisis the Governor has failed to protect the veterans homes from Covid, has refused to share details of what, if any, actions he took to minimize spread, and just recently missed a deadline to get our state’s heroes and vulnerable vaccinated promptly.”

Murphy has seen his approval ratings soar as a result of his handling of the pandemic, and Republicans seeking to defeat him in next year’s gubernatorial campaign are widely expected to use the deaths of nearly 7,500 nursing home residents and nearly 200 veterans as wedge issues to bring the governor’s standing to a politically competitive level.

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Gov. Murphy announces new NJ vaccine registration portal

LEAH MISHKIN, CORRESPONDENT | DECEMBER 30, 2020

NJ Spotlight News

Carole Johnson, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, has been tapped by President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to join the White House COVID-19 Response Team, specifically to help with testing on the federal level.

At home, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday the state is launching a new website to share vaccine news and help clear up confusion about eligibility and registration for the vaccine. According to the Murphy administration, nearly 63,000 people had been vaccinated as of Wednesday morning, with a goal of reaching 70% of residents by the spring. However, Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health, said states aren’t getting enough vaccines from the federal government to meet their goals. Correspondent Leah Mishkin reports.

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Another Arrest, and Jail Time, Due to a Bad Facial Recognition Match

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 29, 2020

Nijeer Parks is the third person known to be arrested for a crime he did not commit based on a bad face recognition match.

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In February 2019, Nijeer Parks was accused of shoplifting candy and trying to hit a police officer with a car at a Hampton Inn in Woodbridge, N.J. The police had identified him using facial recognition software, even though he was 30 miles away at the time of the incident.

Mr. Parks spent 10 days in jail and paid around $5,000 to defend himself. In November 2019, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Mr. Parks, 33, is now suing the police, the prosecutor and the City of Woodbridge for false arrest, false imprisonment and violation of his civil rights.

He is the third person known to be falsely arrested based on a bad facial recognition match. In all three cases, the people mistakenly identified by the technology have been Black men.

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Biden tells Trump to listen to Chris Christie and urge Americans to mask up

Posted Dec 29, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden offered some unsolicited advice to President Donald Trump on Tuesday: Listen to your pal Chris Christie and urge everyone to wear a mask.

Biden praised the former New Jersey governor as he urged Trump to “clearly and unambiguously promote mask wearing” to keep Americans safe from COVID-19.

Christie, a Trump adviser and supporter, starred in a television ad urging mask wearing after he contracted COVID-19 following a White House event where most attendees, including him, had no face covering. The event came as Christie, sans mask, was coaching Trump for his first debate with Biden.

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Legendary N.J. principal Joe Clark, who inspired ‘Lean on Me,’ dies at 82

Posted Dec 29, 2020

Joe Louis Clark, the former bat-wielding principal of Paterson’s Eastside High School whose strict disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean On Me,” died Tuesday at the age of 82, his family said.

Clark, a longtime resident of South Orange, retired to Gainesville, Florida, died surrounded by his family at his home after a long battle with an illness, they said.

“First serving as a Paterson grade school teacher and the Director of Camps and Playgrounds in Essex County, Clark soon found his calling in administration as Principal of PS 6 Grammar School,” his family said in a release. “Under Clark’s command, the once failing school was transformed into the ‘Miracle of Carroll Street’.”

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Second stimulus check update: Unemployment checks will come on time despite Trump delay in signing bill

Posted Dec 28, 2020

President Donald Trump’s delay in signing the new coronavirus stimulus bill into law won’t hold up extended federal unemployment insurance payments to 500,000 New Jerseyans, the state Labor Department said Monday.

Trump didn’t sign the bill until Sunday, a day after federal programs offering $300 a week in unemployment benefits and providing pandemic aid to gig workers and freelancers had expired.

That led to concerns that the next unemployment next check would be delayed.

Labor Department spokesman Thomas Wright said that wouldn’t be the case.

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Murphy bobblehead exceeds sales projections, company says

By David WildsteinDecember 28 2020

New Jersey Globe

Governor Phil Murphy bobblehead collectible.

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A bobblehead of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is exceeding sales expectations, according to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Milwaukee-based company launched a series of gubernatorial bobbleheads this year as governor’s were at the forefront of the battle to control the spread of COVID-19.

Murphy was part of the third set of governors released by the company and ranks sixth in sales out of twelve.

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