Golf Club for the 1 Percent Wants to Seize a Migratory Bird Habitat

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jan. 9, 2020

Rick Cordner, a retiree who lives in Jersey City, regularly goes to Caven Point in Liberty State Park to spot rare birds.Credit...

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The snowy owl was first spotted just beyond the 18th hole of one of the most expensive golf courses ever built.

The bird was resting on a sandy beach filled with seashells and driftwood at the edge of Liberty State Park. Waves lapped the New Jersey shoreline of the Hudson River as birders with binoculars stood in awe two years ago.

Nearby, behind a tall black fence, were the willow-lined fairways of Liberty National, an exclusive private golf course where luminaries like Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka have played, and where the original initiation fee for members was about half a million dollars.

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Murphy Signs Lead Pipe Replacement Bill

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation allowing municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements.
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Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday allowing municipalities to adopt an ordinance to enter properties to perform lead service line replacements, after providing notice to residents. 

The bill was sponsored by Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor and Shanique Davis Speight, who represent the 29th District, which has been ground zero of a drinking water crisis caused by lead service lines.

“As municipalities around our state replace lead service lines, we must ensure that they have timely access to properties,” said Governor Murphy. “This law equips cities and towns with a crucial tool in combating the nationwide issue of lead in water.”

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Senate Finally Approves Corrections Commissioner, Murphy Signs Bills to Help Prisoners

COLLEEN O'DEA | JANUARY 10, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Marcus O. Hicks was confirmed as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

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New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday gave their final approval to the last of the original Cabinet members nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy as the governor signed into law two measures designed to improve the lot of the incarcerated.

Some 20 months after Murphy first nominated Marcus O. Hicks to be commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed and cleared Hicks, and then the full Senate voted to confirm him to head the second-largest state agency, which has a budget of almost $1 billion and 8,000 employees. Hicks, of Robbinsville, has served as acting commissioner during that time.

“It has been my honor to lead this department in the fulfillment of our mission to protect the public by operating safe, secure and humane correctional facilities through effective treatment of offenders and by providing … services that promote successful re-entry into society,” Hicks, who has held several positions at the corrections department since 2007, told the committee during an early afternoon hearing.

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Booker left campaign trail for White House briefing on Iran. He didn’t like what he heard.

Posted Jan 08, 2020

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker cut short a campaign trip to Iowa to hear from top Trump administration officials about the conflict with Iran.

He emerged from the closed-door briefing unhappy with what he had heard about the imminent danger to the U.S. that President Donald Trump cited in ordering the killing of top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani.

Iran then retaliated by firing missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing American troops.

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Advocates Blast Superintendent’s Call to Close Four Newark Charter Schools as ‘Unfair’ and ’Alarming’

PATRICK WALL, CHALKBEAT | JANUARY 9, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Roger León at a school board meeting

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Charter school advocates are firing back at Superintendent Roger León after he called for the closure of four Newark charter schools last month and warn that his actions could reignite district-charter clashes.

Two advocacy groups sent strongly worded missives to the state Monday in response to a series of letters León wrote in December urging the state to shutter four charter schools: M.E.T.S., People’s Prep, Roseville Community, and University Heights.

“The ideology and factual misstatements that permeate those letters threaten years worth of work to create harmony between district and charter schools in Newark,” wrote Kyle Rosenkrans, executive director of the New Jersey Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes cooperation between Newark’s traditional and charter schools.

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NYC will stop paying full year of rent to move homeless to N.J.

Posted Jan 07, 2020

New York City will stop giving landlords a full year’s worth of rent up front to house homeless families amid mounting complaints that the controversial relocation program leaves people with little leverage to demand better living conditions.

Starting next month, New York City officials will begin paying landlords on a month-to-month basis and give families the option to halt payments if units fall into disrepair.

The special one-time assistance program has placed more than 2,200 homeless families in 62 municipalities in New Jersey. Newark sued NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio over the relocations, alleging families were forced to sign leases for illegal and uninhabitable apartments. Newark said NYC failed to disclose the addresses where families were living.

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Newark lead levels are lower but still elevated, new water tests show

Posted Jan 06, 2020

Lead levels in Newark’s drinking water remain elevated but dropped slightly in the last six months, the latest sampling shows.

The results come amid the city’s aggressive $134 million program to remove every lead pipe providing water to homes and businesses.

Lead has plagued Newark’s water since 2017. City officials previously said they expected high lead levels to continue until a new water treatment takes full effect or lead pipes are replaced.

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Will Booker Hit a 2020 Wall? DNC talks Diversity but Lives and Dies by Campaign Cash and Polls

By Bob Hennelly | January 5, 2020

Insider NJ

 

For most of the career of Sen. Cory Booker, he’s been at the center of establishment politics, but now, thanks to the DNC’s high bar for participation in the Jan. 14 debate, he finds himself on the outside looking in.

With the DNC’s reliance on polling and campaign cash metrics for qualifying, he faces the prospect that for the second time in a row he won’t make the televised debate stage, less than a month before the first Democratic voters vote in for the Feb 3 Iowa Caucus.

Not since his days of running as an insurgent, confronting the powerful incumbent Newark Mayor Sharpe James, has Booker faced such long odds.

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N.J. university will pay millions for role in defrauding government program for veterans

Updated Jan 03, 2020

Caldwell University in Essex County has agreed to pay the United States more than $4.8 million to resolve its role in a scheme to defraud a federal education benefit program for veterans, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Friday.

"Caldwell University tried to hoodwink the Department of Veterans Affairs and, worse, veterans themselves, by claiming to offer online classes developed and provided by Caldwell that were in fact marked-up offerings by an online correspondence school,” Carpenito said in a statement. "Our veterans should never be treated this way, and we will continue to work to ensure that they receive all of the benefits that they deserve as a result of their service to the country.”

Under a deal marketed by Ed4Mil, a Pennsylvania-based company, veterans could use their Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition benefits to enroll in online courses offered by Caldwell, authorities said. The bill was designed specifically to help veterans who served in the armed forces following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

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Essex County approves civilian panel to review jail housing ICE detainees

Updated Dec 19, 2019

Essex County has announced the creation of a nine-member civilian panel to review the county’s jail, which houses ICE detainees, though critics say the move is an attempt to silence the calls for the county to end its ICE contract.

County officials said the Correctional Facility Civilian Task Force — comprised of formerly incarcerated people, advocates, various experts and a member of the public — will hold the Essex County Correctional Facility accountable in light of recent events, including a lawsuit filed by an ex-ICE detainee who said guards allowed another inmate to attack him.

County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said the task force, approved Dec. 12, will ensure “conditions of their confinement are safe, sanitary, respectful and humane," according to the ordinance for the board’s creation.

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