Cory Booker Wants DOJ to Probe Discrimination in Setting of Prison Sentences

By Madina Toure • 02/06/18

Observer

Sen. Cory Booker.

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Sen. Cory Booker is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Sentencing Commission to evaluate the automated methods used to determine prison sentences on the grounds that they are influenced by individuals’ demographic characteristics.

In 2014, the DOJ requested that the USSC—a bipartisan, independent agency in the judicial branch of government—compile a report on how algorithm risk assessment tools come up with prison terms, set bail and support findings of guilt or innocence.

The request stemmed from concerns that the tools were guided by factors such as an individual’s age, gender, education level, family circumstances, employment status and drug history, among other factors.

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N.J. looks to recover $4M in 'sanctuary city' fight with Trump

New Jersey's attorney general on Wednesday waded into another battle between President Donald Trump and left-leaning states, signing onto a federal lawsuit looking to pry loose money being withheld from "sanctuary cities."

The suit claims the Trump administration violated federal law by placing conditions on a law enforcement grant program requiring police departments that get federal dollars cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In July, the Justice Department announced it was placing the new condition on recipients of the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance program, which provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to state and local police.

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Justice Department Dismisses Corruption Case Against Menendez

The Department of Justice on Wednesday dismissed all the remaining charges against Senator Robert Menendez, a decision that underscores how a 2016 Supreme Court ruling has significantly raised the bar for prosecutors who try to pursue corruption cases against elected officials.

The motion to dismiss comes less than two weeks after prosecutors said they were intent on retrying Mr. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and it allows him to run for re-election without having to face a second trial.

The Justice Department on Wednesday cited last week’s decision by Judge William H. Walls to throw out several charges the senator had faced, including bribery counts stemming from accusations that Mr. Menendez lobbied on behalf of a wealthy Florida eye doctor in exchange for political donations. All charges against the doctor, Salomon Melgen, were also dismissed.

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A New Leader for a Troubled New Jersey Transit

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Kevin Corbett is about to step into what may be the hardest job in New Jersey.

On Tuesday, Mr. Corbett, a top executive at Aecom, a global construction and engineering firm, was introduced by Gov. Philip D. Murphy as the next executive director of New Jersey Transit, whose cascade of problems and rampant delays has turned a once model transportation agency into one of the worst commuter railroads in the country.

“It’s a phenomenal challenge, but it’s one that is solvable,” Mr. Corbett, 62, said in an interview. “There was a lot of stuff that was done right early on — without getting into why it deteriorated — clearly where it is now, the ability to bring it back is there. It’s leadership.”

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Phil Murphy backs 'once in a lifetime' Amazon proposal

Posted Jan 29, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy.

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Gov. Phil Murphy, a staunch critic of former Gov. Chris Christie's generous tax breaks used to lure companies to the state, on Monday stepped up his support for the $7 billion tax subsidy New Jersey hopes will entice Amazon to open a headquarters in Newark.

"The answer is yes," Murphy said on CNBC Monday after asked if he was "on board" with the proposal Christie offered the company shortly before Murphy took office.

Newark is one of 20 Amazon identified as finalists for the location of the Seattle-based company's second headquarters.

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Chris Christie joins ABC News as a contributor

Former Gov. Chris Christie has landed a TV gig, NJ Advance Media has learned. 

Christie has been hired as an occasional contributor to ABC News, according to sources familiar with the discussions.

The hiring is scheduled to be announced Tuesday on "Good Morning America" during the 7 a.m. hour, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss it publicly.

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Rodney Frelinghuysen, Powerful House Republican, Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election

United States Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican from New Jersey who is chairman of the powerful appropriations committee, delivered another blow to Republican efforts to hold onto the House in 2018 on Monday after he announced that he would not seek re-election.

With Mr. Frelinghuysen’s decision to retire at the end of his term, which party leaders for months had feared was a possibility, he became the latest prominent Republican to head for the exits this year ahead of what party strategists worry could be a brutal fall election. Among those are eight who lead some of the House’s most powerful committees.

Mr. Frelinghuysen, 71, did not give a specific reason for not running, but he was likely to face the stiffest challenge in his nearly quarter-century occupying his northern New Jersey seat and his departure gives the Democratic Party a better chance of winning the seat this fall.

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EDUCATION TRANSITION REPORT DELIVERS SOME DETAILS AND EARLY DIRECTIONS

JOHN MOONEY | JANUARY 29, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Lamont Repollet

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A new governor's transition reports probably should be taken with a grain of salt, more about broad approaches than detailed policy blueprints for the administration to come.

But when it comes to education, Gov. Phil Murphy's release of his transition committee's report on Friday did signal some early directions - and changes of direction - about what could be one of the high-profile issues of his tenure.

For example, the 11-page report played up Murphy's campaign promise to fully fund the state's school finance law, but also tempered expectations that this would happen overnight.

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NJ SIGNS ON AS PART OF MULTISTATE COALITION TO BATTLE GOP TAX-CODE REVISION

JOHN REITMEYER | JANUARY 29, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Governor Phil Murphy

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Within a matter of weeks, New Jersey and at least two neighboring states may be going to court to officially challenge the federal tax-code overhaul that was recently enacted by President Donald Trump. At the heart of the case that's now being organized is a new policy that caps a longstanding federal write-off for state and local taxes.

The formation of the multistate legal coalition was announced on Friday by Gov. Phil Murphy, along with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The trio of Democrats are alleging the tax changes that were signed into law late last year are effectively targeting only "blue" or Democratic-leaning states that didn't support Trump in the 2016 president election.

The lawsuit would specifically challenge the tax changes on constitutional grounds in federal court, arguing they violate the equal-protection clause and other provisions. A total of 12 high-tax states are being hit the hardest by the new tax-deduction cap, and the governors said they're now encouraging their colleagues in those other places to join the coalition.

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Your waitress makes $2.13 per hour. And now Trump wants to take her tips | Editorial

Wrong on both counts.

New Jersey, like many states, has a $2.13 minimum wage for restaurant servers, so "they live on tips" is simply a fact.

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