Chris Christie cashes in on coronavirus lobbying

Chris Christie dreamed of becoming president. Now, he’s settling for a different role in Washington: lobbyist.

The former New Jersey governor is making big money from businesses trying to tap the gusher of coronavirus relief funds coming from the federal government. Newly filed disclosures show Christie’s firm pulled in $240,000 in less than three months for lobbying the Trump administration on coronavirus aid on behalf of three New Jersey hospital systems and a Tennessee-based chain of addiction treatment centers.

Christie appears to be leaning on his ties to the administration as he makes his way on K Street. In a pitch to consult for Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority earlier this year, Christie bragged that he had served as chairman of Donald Trump’s transition effort to staff the federal government — leaving out that he was ousted days after Trump unexpectedly won the 2016 election.

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Trump has given up on COVID. That’s terrifying | Editorial

Posted Jul 23, 2020

America now has the highest COVID death toll of any country, yet still no national plan for doing the testing, contact tracing and isolation that stops big outbreaks.

These measures have allowed other countries to tamp down on new infections early, by identifying them even before people show symptoms. You need a low transmission rate to ensure that enough customers are willing to go out and support local businesses.

Yet incredibly, President Trump now has a plan to cut funding for testing and contact tracing from a Republican proposal – exactly what you need to keep things open in a pandemic.

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Bacteria Are Fouling the Water off NJ’s Beaches, Advocates Warn. It’s from Leaking Septic Systems, Farms and More

JON HURDLE | JULY 24, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Sea Isle City, where the EPA standard was topped on one day last year

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About a third of New Jersey beaches had water containing fecal bacteria that exceeded a federal health standard on at least one day last year, a coalition of environmental groups said on Thursday.

In a report based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the groups said 73 out of 222 beaches tested in 2019 sometimes exceeded the agency’s “Beach Action Value,” a level at which 32 out of every 1,000 swimmers can be expected to get sick from bacteria in the water.

The worst affected in New Jersey were Beachwood Beach West near Toms River and Barnegat Light Beach on Long Beach Island, each of which exceeded the EPA standard on nine days last year. Woodward Beach in Brick topped the limit on eight days.

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What if we did things differently to make schools safe in the age of COVID? | Opinion

Posted Jul 22, 2020

By Claire Cahen and Leah Z. Owens

COVID-19 has illuminated disparities that exist in our society, and in our educational system specifically. These challenges require a set of bold solutions. How we decide to go about reopening schools, frankly, can help us usher in a more egalitarian era, say Claire Cahen and Leah Owens of the Newark Education Workers (NEW) Caucus.

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Parents, students and education workers are anxious to know: will Newark Public Schools campuses reopen this fall? The official announcement has yet to be made, but we know that many questions exist in the minds of Newark education workers regarding the extent to which it is safe to return to buildings that weren’t fit before COVID-19. The delays and hesitation that have peppered this decision belie what many of us know to be true: resuming in-person learning prematurely will risk the lives of our students, education workers and the entire community.

Let’s consider the facts.

Though New Jersey has made important progress in flattening the curve, keeping infection rates low for most of June, Gov. Phil Murphy announced on July 2 that the state was no longer on track to contain the virus. Past experience has taught us how quickly one localized, but unmanaged outbreak can turn into large-scale community spread.

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Health Department Pledges to Solve Several Long-Term Care Concerns by End of July

LILO H. STAINTON | JULY 23, 2020

NJ Spotlight

File photo: Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says 17 of an outside consultant’s recommendations for NJ’s long-term care facilities will be implemented within days.

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New Jersey health inspectors have nearly cleared a massive, multiyear backlog of thousands of nursing home complaints in recent months, the state now says, and they have conducted infection control surveys at almost 450 sites and taken initial steps to establish an emergency operations center to support long-term care facilities’ response to the pandemic.

State Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced the efforts Wednesday as part of an update on the agency’s progress in implementing recommendations from Manatt Health, a consultant the state hired in May amid growing concerns about the coronavirus’ impact on nursing homes. More than one in five of New Jersey’s 177,600-plus COVID-19 cases and roughly half of the nearly 13,800 deaths have been connected to long-term care facilities.

Persichilli said the state plans to phase in changes Manatt called for in its June 2 report, as well as additional initiatives, with 17 of the consultant’s 35 near-term recommendations slated to be in place by the end of July. “These steps that I announced today will support the improved performance hopefully of long-term care facilities moving forward,” she said.

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Murphy v. Christie

By Fred Snowflack | July 22, 2020

Insider NJ

Former Governor Chris Christie

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Chris Christie said this week that Phil Murphy should be making better use of the EDA to help struggling small businesses.

That prompted Murphy to fire back that Christie should shut up about the EDA,  claiming that under his (Christie’s) tenure, the EDA  was used as a “piggy bank” for special interests.

Raw partisan politics has been largely absent from Murphy’s regular pandemic briefings. We have even seen the governor say a lot of nice things about President Trump and the White House staff. But bipartisanship – even in a pandemic- apparently has its limits.

The EDA, or Economic Development Authority, is an ongoing source of friction between Christie and Murphy.

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Owner of $17.4M Jersey Shore mansion tried to create a private beach for himself. Activists put a stop to it.

Posted Jul 21, 2020

On a busy weekend at the Jersey Shore, there was an empty space where no beach-goers dared to sit.

Planters and orange traffic cones, combined with six white pop-up canopies and a sign reading “No trespassing” were enough of a deterrence to keep sunbathers off the half-acre of sand in front of an 11,000-square foot estate in Long Branch.

But beach access advocates insisted they gave a false but strong impression that the area was off-limits to the public, which would go against a 2010 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that expanses of beach created by a public replenishment project, which this one had been, cannot be claimed as private property.

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Murphy pleads with Republicans in Congress to give states more aid in next coronavirus relief plan

Posted Jul 21, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday once again pleaded with Congress to provide more direct aid to states and local governments across the U.S. that otherwise may have to make deep spending cuts to education, health-care programs, first responders, and more in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

His comments came hours after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell excluded state and local aid from the priorities he said he would include in his version of the next coronavirus stimulus legislation.

Murphy, acting in his role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, released a statement saying the proposal “leaves states and cities behind.”

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New Jersey Families Were Promised $416 per Child in Coronavirus Food Benefits. Some Are Still Waiting

PATRICK WALL, CHALKBEAT NEWARK | JULY 22, 2020

NJ Spotlight

The payments were supposed to make up for meals that students missed after schools closed because of the coronavirus.

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Even as child hunger surges during the pandemic, some New Jersey families are still waiting for emergency food assistance that Congress approved months ago.

The program, which Congress established in March, is meant to make up for meals that students missed after schools closed nationwide this spring. In New Jersey, the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer program is supposed to provide $416 in food benefits to every child who qualified for subsidized school meals.

But bureaucratic delays in New Jersey have held up the money, which is expected to help feed more than 500,000 children. After promising to distribute the benefits in June, the state only began making payments this month, officials said.

The wait continues for many Newark families, including some of the roughly 30,000 students in traditional Newark public schools who are entitled to the emergency food money. Several families told Chalkbeat last week that they still hadn’t received the aid, even as parents in some Newark charter schools and other nearby districts said their payments already arrived.

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‘Anti-Feminist’ Lawyer Is Suspect in Killing of Son of Federal Judge in N.J.

By Nicole Hong, William K. Rashbaum and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 20, 2020

The judge’s son, Daniel Anderl, died from a gunshot wound to the heart. Her husband, Mark Anderl, was shot multiple times and was in the hospital, according to her older brother.

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Roy Den Hollander was a self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer who flooded the courts with seemingly frivolous lawsuits that sought to eliminate women’s studies programs and prohibit nightclubs from holding “ladies’ nights.”

In one of his most recent cases, he openly seethed against a federal judge in New Jersey, Esther Salas, whom he described in a self-published, 1,700-page book as “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.”

Mr. Den Hollander left the case, in which he challenged the male-only United States military draft, last summer, telling a lawyer who replaced him that he had terminal cancer.

On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Den Hollander showed up at Judge Salas’s home in North Brunswick, N.J., and fired multiple gunshots, killing the judge’s son and seriously wounding her husband, who is a criminal defense lawyer, investigators said. The judge, who was in the basement at the time, was not injured.

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