After wrongful convictions, a cry for reform from Murphy's AG | Editorial

After filing a flood of lawsuits against the Trump administration and seeking to improve police transparency, Phil Murphy's Attorney General is narrowing his eye for justice on a badly bungled murder case in Passaic county. 
 
Gurbir Grewal this week vowed to do what Chris Christie's AG and a local prosecutor would not: investigate how two innocent men spent nearly 25 years in prison for the killing of a Paterson store clerk, while the most likely murder suspect still walks free.
 
He also wants to prevent this kind of mistake from ever happening again, and is asking outside experts for help.

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New Jersey Takes a Big Step Toward Renewable Energy (and Nuclear Gets Help, for Now)

TRENTON — New Jersey significantly altered the future of its energy sector on Thursday, passing two bills that set ambitious goals for expanding renewable power and curtailing greenhouse gases in the state.

The bills, which require power companies in New Jersey to generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and subsidize existing nuclear power plants, mark one of the biggest new policy steps that any state has taken toward cutting greenhouse gases since President Trump was elected.

The central piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 3723, sets the renewable energy goal and anchors much of the growth in wind and solar energy, aiming to hit 35 percent renewables by 2025 and eventually 50 percent by 2030. That goal would pull New Jersey in line with some of the leading states on the issue, like New York and California.

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Camden Superintendent Who Led Turnaround Is Stepping Down

CAMDEN, N.J. — The state takeover of this troubled city’s school district gambled on a big question: After years of experiments with more money and charter schools, could anything improve education in Camden?

Five years in, Camden’s answer seems to be yes. With a new model of charter and a new superintendent, student performance and the graduation rate have surged. The dropout rate has been cut in half. When the state arrived in 2013, 23 of the city’s 26 public schools were on the list of New Jersey’s worst performing, eight are now.

The takeover also promised to answer a question that has dogged charters since they were created 25 years ago: Can they produce impressive results if they have to take over neighborhood schools, rather than creating new ones made up of self-selecting families? On that score, the new charter schools have a higher percentage of special education students than the district’s traditional public schools — highly unusual, and maybe unheard-of.

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Acting Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio Says Tax Hikes Are Needed to Avoid Budget Deficit

By Christian Hetrick • 

Acting treasurer Elizabeth Muoio told skeptical state lawmakers on Tuesday that Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed tax hikes are necessary to help fix New Jersey’s shaky finances.

Testifying before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Muoio tried to sell Murphy’s $37.4 billion budget that includes $1.6 billion in tax increases. She said a “status quo” budget that doesn’t raise new revenue would lead to a budget deficit and a depleted surplus.

“This is not only unsustainable, it’s unacceptable, and the governor is proposing a series of new revenue and budget initiatives to get our fiscal house in order,” she said.

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Murphy commits $53M to pre-K expansion statewide

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent | April 9, 2018

 NJTV News

Gov. Murphy continues to check the boxes on many of his campaign promises. Monday, it was his promise to expand pre-Kindergarten education statewide. The governor was in Jamesburg to restate that commitment.

Murphy is putting $53 million new dollars into his goal of universal pre-K. That’s on top of the $25 million Gov. Christie and state legislators expanded the program by last year. The governor toured a pre-K class inside a Jamesburg elementary school Monday where they have a dual-immersion program, teaching preschoolers in English one week, and in Spanish the next. It gave the governor the backdrop for his message that preschool makes good sense.

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NYPD PAYS $1 MILLION, VOWS SURVEILLANCE REFORMS AFTER SETTLING WITH NJ MUSLIMS

MATT KATZ | WNYC NEWS | APRIL 6, 2018

NJ Spotlight

The NYPD will pay more than $1 million in legal fees and damages, and pledge to end religious-based surveillance, as part of a settlement with New Jersey Muslims who alleged that police officers crossed the Hudson River in the years after September 11 to monitor their mosques, stores, and schools. 

The lawsuit followed shocking revelations in the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series that the NYPD cast a wide net in its surveillance of Muslims — even traveling outside New York to photograph license plates parked outside mosques and infiltrate Muslim Student Associations at colleges. The settlement mandates that the NYPD now notify New Jersey authorities, like municipal police and county prosecutors, when operating in their jurisdictions. 

Also as part of the settlement, the NYPD confirmed that it dismantled the Demographics Unit that surveilled Muslims, and certain records from the Muslim surveillance operations will be expunged. 

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New Jersey Becomes a Key Battleground in Race for House Control

TOMS RIVER, N.J. — The tables inside the hotel room were full and Andy Kim, the candidate responsible for filling them, was pleasantly surprised. It was a weeknight fund-raiser after all, rescheduled once already, for this relatively unknown Democratic challenger in a Republican district and a thick fog on Route 37 had obscured the tiny sign directing drivers to the hotel.

“Seven months before Election Day this is not normal, to be able to pack a room on a weekday,” he told a crowd of about 150 supporters, each of whom contributed at least $10 to listen to Mr. Kim and snack on donated croissants.

Ever since the election of President Trump, Democrats across the country have seen a predictable surge in energy among a base eager to take on the White House. What has been perhaps less expected is the uprising against the president coursing through more moderate suburbs, including many Mr. Trump won. Democrats buoyed by recent victories in Republican districts have lofty aims in suburban New Jersey as they work to wrest control of the House from the G.O.P., given Democrats’ surprise victories in Virginia, Alabama and, most recently, Pennsylvania.

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DEMOCRATIC HEAVY HITTERS READY TO REVISE MURPHY’S BUDGET PLAN

JOHN REITMEYER | APRIL 4, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), left, testifies at budget hearing in Glassboro yesterday.

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State Democratic lawmakers are sending clear signals they are ready to rewrite major sections of newly installed Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget, particularly in the areas of taxes and K-12 education funding.

“It’s our job to correct whatever we think is wrong,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), at a budget hearing yesterday in Glassboro, where residents complained of Murphy’s proposals on K-12 funding.

Lawmakers traveled to the lower half of the state to hear firsthand from South Jersey residents about Murphy’s proposed 2019 fiscal year budget. With fewer big cities and lower population density, communities in South Jersey often have different needs from those in the more urban north. State budget investments can also be more impactful in South Jersey as the region is less populated and has fewer options for higher education.

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Trump trashes Jersey again, this time with the Census | Editorial

It's nice to see New Jersey's governor stick up for New Jersey for a change, after Chris Christie was such a chump for Trump.

He dutifully let the president order him meatloaf, and order cuts that would have stripped health care from thousands in our state, had a few votes in Congress not stopped him. He sang Donald Trump's praises on national TV. All roles for which we did not elect him.

Since Phil Murphy won in November, Trump has only continued to attack our state, trying to kill plans for a new rail tunnel under the Hudson and screwing us with the tax code. But at least our new governor is speaking up loudly about it.

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NEW JERSEY’S TROUBLING TREND, INCREASE IN BIAS AND HATE CRIMES

COLLEEN O'DEA | APRIL 2, 2018

NJ Spotlight

 

The number of bias and hate crimes in New Jersey rose in 2016, mirroring a national trend that many people – including the state’s attorney general – attribute to the campaign and election of Donald Trump.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal discussed the 417 reported hate crimes in New Jersey in 2016, a nearly 14 percent increase over the prior year, during a forum on the topic at Rutgers University last week. The most recent statistics available that track hate crimes are for 2016.

“It’s sad that we see bias incidents trending upward, but it’s not surprising, given that we have political leaders in this country who encourage the expression of intolerance and hatred, or in other cases, ignore or countenance it,” Grewal said. “What we need to do, as individuals and as a society, is to push back against this prejudice. We need to embrace the diversity that makes us stronger as a state and a nation, and we need to spread a countervailing message of tolerance and unity. To quote Nelson Mandela, ‘No one is born hating another person.’ If people can learn to hate, they also can learn to love and respect one another.”

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