Booker imparted a critical Newark lesson | Editorial

Posted Jan 15, 2020

There is an allegory that Cory Booker shares in his book about a woman named Virginia Jones, a brusque and intimidating 68-year-old tenant organizer in Newark’s Brick Towers, a nightmarish human warehouse across King Boulevard where Booker lived as a law student.

He had come to introduce himself and explain that he was starting a non-profit that would provide landlord-tenant legal help. After a few perfunctory questions, Jones dragged him out of her office, down five flights of stairs, through the lobby where her own son was murdered, through a courtyard, past the drug dealers on the front steps, and onto the street, which to a 27-year-old Booker “looked like a war zone.”

“Describe what you see,” said the woman, a former corrections officer, in a tone that did not invite debate.

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Affordable Care Act Has Upped Racial Equity in NJ’s Health Care Coverage, Access

LILO H. STAINTON | JANUARY 16, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Study by the Commonwealth Fund found New Jersey’s uninsured rates for underserved groups dropped significantly by 2018.

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Before the federal Affordable Care Act took effect, four in 10 Hispanic adults and greater than one in five African Americans in New Jersey lacked health insurance. By 2018, the uninsured rate had dropped to nearly 25% for Hispanics and was cut in half for black residents, to less than 11%.

The findings are from a study released today by the Commonwealth Fund, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the U.S. health care system, particularly for underserved populations. Coverage also expanded among white individuals, but not as much as for minority residents.

While the Garden State was not alone in this trend, some populations here had coverage gains that bested the national averages, according to the study, which looked at data from 2013 through 2018. Across all states, uninsured rates fell from 40% to nearly 25% among Hispanic adults and from 24.4% to 14.4% for African Americans between the ages of 19 and 64. The rate for white adults dropped from 14.4% to 8.6% during this period.

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Trump brags about all he’s done for cancer patients. Give him the credit he deserves | Editorial

Posted Jan 14, 2020

There’s nothing quite like seeing President Donald Trump champion himself as a hero in the fight against cancer. It feels almost surreal.

“U.S. Cancer Death Rate Lowest In Recorded History!” he said on Twitter last week. “A lot of good news coming out of this Administration.”

And, to put a finer point on it: “I was the one who saved pre-existing conditions in your health care,” Trump declared on Monday.

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Jersey City Attackers’ Bomb Had Range of Up to 5 Football Fields

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jan. 13, 2020

Officers at the scene of the deadly shooting in Jersey City last month.Credit...

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A bomb found in the van used by the man and woman who attacked a kosher market and killed four people in Jersey City, N.J., last month could have killed or wounded people up to five football fields away, federal officials said on Monday.

The man and woman, David N. Anderson and Francine Graham, also had materials to make a second bomb, officials said at a news conference.

In addition, officials provided new details on Monday about the activities of Mr. Anderson and Ms. Graham in the hours, days and weeks before their deadly rampage and, for the first time, linked them to a highway shooting near Newark on Dec. 3.

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Halfway Through Term, Murphy Touts Record in State of the State Address

JOHN REITMEYER | JANUARY 15, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy delivers the State of the State address, Jan. 14, 2020.

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With a potential bid for reelection looming in less than two years, Gov. Phil Murphy used his State of the State address on Tuesday to highlight some of his administration’s biggest achievements, such as increasing the minimum wage, boosting K-12 education aid and tackling climate change.

The first-term Democrat also unveiled a number of new initiatives during the annual speech to the combined Legislature, saying he will be targeting things like the rising cost of health care and the state’s persistent wealth disparities in the months ahead.

Murphy also returned to several familiar themes, like promising to keep pushing for new economic-development tax incentive programs. That was a main focus of his first State of the State address in 2019, but his preferred package of reforms is stalled in the Legislature, even though fellow Democrats control both houses.

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Booker says he ‘wasn’t good enough’ to deliver message of unity in presidential campaign

Posted Jan 13, 2020

WASHINGTON  Cory Booker says he ran the race he wanted for the White House but "was not good enough” to get his message of unity through to the Democrats who will nominate the party’s presidential candidate.

“This is one of those strange campaigns where I wouldn’t change things,” Booker said told Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Monday night, hours after he ended his quest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Booker said he ran the uplifting campaign he wanted, the same type of campaign he ran in Newark to become mayor

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Bill to End Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations Collapses in N.J.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jan. 13, 2020

Protesters who are against ending a religious exemption for school vaccinations demonstrated on Monday outside the State House in Trenton, N.J.Credit...

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TRENTON, N.J. — It began as one of the nation’s broadest proposed bans on religious exemptions to childhood vaccines.

But after weeks of sustained and boisterous protests by vaccine skeptics, as well as a last-minute effort to amend the proposed bill to win the support of key lawmakers, the effort collapsed on Monday in the New Jersey State Senate.

The Senate president, Stephen M. Sweeney, maintained that science, not protesters, would eventually emerge victorious.

“It’s going to get done,” Mr. Sweeney, a Democrat, said, repeating a vow he had made since last month when a far more sweeping version of the bill passed in the Assembly but failed to win enough support in the Senate. Democrats control both chambers.

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School Funding Discord Pits Murphy Against Sweeney — Again

JOHN MOONEY | JANUARY 14, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy, left, and Senate President Steve Sweeney

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Two years ago, the agreement on school funding that Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney cobbled together was born out of the need to avoid a protracted government shutdown.

Yesterday, that accord appeared to break down when Murphy vetoed a measure pushed by Sweeney that would ease some of the worst pains of the new funding agreement.

It didn’t go over well on either side, and how lasting the rift will be and how much it will affect the coming state budget are yet to be seen.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Bridget Kelly Appeal Tuesday

By Fred Snowflack | January 11, 2020

Insider NJ

Politics is nasty and vindictive. But that’s not a crime – it’s just the way things are. Strip away the legal prose and citations and that just about sums up the argument of the Bridget Kelly legal team before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is set to hear the latest chapter in the classic New Jersey scandal lovingly known as Bridgegate this coming Tuesday.

We must digress. You may have thought this saga, which likely derailed Chris Christie’s path to higher office, was over. After all, it has been six years since we all read Kelly’s infamous email about, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

To recap, Both Kelly, who worked in Christie’s gubernatorial office, and Bill Baroni, a muckety-muck with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted in federal court for their involvement in a crazy scheme that closed two of three lanes connecting downtown Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge in September, 2013, presumably to punish the town’s mayor for the sin of not endorsing Christie’s reelection. This caused massive traffic tie-ups in Fort Lee for the better part of a week, inconveniencing untold thousands of people.

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‘Far-Reaching’ School Segregation Lawsuit Kicks Off in Trenton

JOHN MOONEY | JANUARY 13, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson

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It may soon go down in the lexicon of New Jersey’s most famous equity court cases: Latino Action Network v. State of New Jersey.

Right up there with the Abbott v. Burke school finance case and Mt. Laurel’s affordable housing rulings, the nascent school segregation lawsuit brought by the Latino rights group and others opened in earnest in a Trenton courtroom on Friday.

And after close to 90 minutes of mostly procedural arguments and exchanges, state Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sent a clear message that this is one of those epic cases that could take a while.

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