BPU CONSIDERS GREATER ENERGY ASSISTANCE FOR POOR RESIDENTS

TOM JOHNSON | APRIL 30, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

The state is examining whether to expand its popular low-income energy-assistance program, a fund that ensures eligible recipients pay no more than 6 percent of household income to electric and gas bills.

The so-called Universal Service Fund, along with other energy-assistance programs, last year came to the aid of roughly 284,000 customers in New Jersey, according to estimates by the Office of Legislative Service. That total, however, includes people enrolled in other energy-assistance programs.

With ratepayers facing a slew of higher bills, as utilities file to strengthen gas and electric grids, build out the infrastructure for electric vehicles, and pursue other initiatives, consumer advocates say it is time to see if the energy assistance programs ought to be enlarged.

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N.J. mayor won’t talk about his police department leader accused of racism. Instead, he turns his fire on the media.

Updated Apr 29, 2019

The Democratic mayor of New Jersey’s fourth-largest city, facing a growing probe of his troubled police department, has yet to respond publicly to a call from the state attorney general for his longtime police director to step down.

But Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage in a series of Twitter posts over the weekend and on Monday lashed out at the “fake news,” claiming he was the victim of a media “lynch mob.”

His comments come amid mounting pressure from civil rights groups and local activists, who delivered a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures to Bollwage’s office Monday, demanding Police Director James Cosgrove’s ouster and “an end to police racism.”

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NJ DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES MAKES HELPING HOMELESS PRIORITY NO. 1

COLLEEN O'DEA | APRIL 29, 2019

NJ Spotlight

No one wants to be homeless, yet the New Jersey Department of Human Services is hampered in its efforts to help this vulnerable population by a rule put in place by the Christie administration that penalize those considered to have “caused” their own homelessness.

The department is pushing to eliminate that language. It is also proposing changes to some programs and implementing others outright. The goal: respond faster to those in need and provide housing assistance to individuals and families who are homeless or in danger of losing a home.

As part of this new push, the department is making helping people its priority, rather than following bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy has proposed a new government agency that would oversee initiatives having to do with homelessness statewide.

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Embattled Murphy official lands job at consulting firm run by governor’s senior adviser

Updated Apr 26, 2019

The top official in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration who resigned this week after being under fire for hiring family and friends at the Schools Development Authority will remain in the governor’s orbit after all.

Lizette Delgado-Polanco is joining a consultant firm founded by Adam Alonso, a senior adviser to Murphy and the state’s Democratic Party, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Delgado-Polanco will be a senior vice president at the firm, the Cratos Group. She starts Monday.

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These teens face racism in N.J. Now they’re helping kids in Ireland deal with religious discrimination.

Posted Apr 26, 2019

African-American youth from a Newark public high school thought a cultural enrichment trip to Northern Ireland was going to be a bad experience in December.

They assumed white kids, ages 15 to 19, from Belfast would not understand racial issues they face in America.

“We’re not going to be able to relate to these guys," said Zachery Halley, a 19-year-old at Eagle Academy for Young Men. “They’re not going to understand our struggle."

But then they saw a mural of African-American civil rights leaders. There was Frederick Douglass, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and so on. Their images were on a peace wall that has divided Catholic and Protestant communities in Belfast based on religion for the last 50 years.

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NEW SENSE OF URGENCY IN STATE’S MISSION TO REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING

 | APRIL 26, 2019

NJ Spotlight

 

New Jersey needs to step up efforts to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, including weighing whether to incorporate the social costs of carbon into an array of government decisions, lawmakers were told yesterday.

With a heightened sense of urgency that had been lacking at previous legislative hearings on climate change, Murphy administration officials and climate experts discussed pending actions to reduce global warming and, perhaps more importantly, what needs to be addressed in the future.

Plenty, the scientists suggested during a rare joint hearing of the Legislature’s two environmental committees. “We need to get the emissions down quickly,’’ said Robert Kopp, a professor at Rutgers University and associate director at the Rutgers Energy Institute, who argued the state should bring carbon emissions down to zero.

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Struggling with student loans? N.J. wants to make it easier.

Updated Apr 25, 2019

New Jersey isn’t going to erase student debt like presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren wants. But you can get help if you find yourself in financial straits.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a pair of bills Thursday to help student loan borrowers who have defaulted or may be on the verge of defaulting, saying more affordable repayment options will enable college graduates “to live and thrive here in the Garden State.”

One bill allows NJCLASS loan borrowers to make income-based payments for 25 years, after which the balance is forgiven. Another assists borrowers who have already defaulted on their loans and taken a hit to their credit.

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AT RUTGERS, BATTLE RAGES OVER SALARIES FOR PART-TIME FACULTY, TUITION FREEZE

CARLY SITRIN | APRIL 25, 2019

NJ Spotlight

AAUP-AFT union officials, including David Hughes (center) advocated for the PTLs at a rally on April 17

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Students and part-time faculty at Rutgers University are at war with the administration over the budget, demanding pay raises and a tuition freeze. But the school claims that putting the squeeze on revenue could backfire, triggering further tuition increases.

Ironically, Rutgers just settled what union officials are calling a “historic” contract agreement with full-time faculty and graduate assistants. But part-time professors and students are still taking the university to task, saying President Robert Barchi and his administration are prioritizing administrative salaries and athletics over academic salaries and efforts to keep tuition costs affordable.

“Their priorities are not in the right place” Teresa Politano, a part-time lecturer in the School of Communication and president of the PTL faculty union chapter told NJ Spotlight. “As a parent, I see the priority of a university to be instruction and that’s not what we see in the Rutgers budget … are we spending the money where we should? No.”

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‘Mr. Christie, you are a bully!’ declares Bridget Kelly, as the former aide is again sentenced to prison for her part in Bridgegate scandal

Updated Apr 24, 2019

Speaking out for the first time since her conviction in the ill-fated scheme of political retribution, Kelly turned her fury on the governor and members of his administration. Kelly has long maintained Christie and others in the governor’s office knew about the scheme of political retribution at the George Washington Bridge and did nothing to stop it.

“The fact that I am on these steps in place of others from the Christie administration, and the governor himself, does not prove my guilt. It only proves that justice is not blind,” she said, speaking from a prepared statement and at times choking back tears. “It has favorites. It misses the mark. It misses the truth. And it picks winners and losers that are sometimes beyond anyone’s control.”

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Top Murphy official resigns. She was under fire for hiring friends and family to N.J. agency.

Updated Apr 23,  2019

An embattled top official in Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration resigned Tuesday after critics for months accused her of turning the state agency she ran into a patronage pit.

Lizette Delgado-Polanco, Murphy’s pick to head the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, submitted a letter of resignation, according to a copy provided the governor’s office.

She’s been accused of unceremoniously firing state workers when she took control of the agency to help make room for family and friends. She has denied the claims and referred to them as “distractions.”

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