Lead in Water Remains Pervasive Problem in New Jersey Schools

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NJ Senate Votes to Pay State Workers Affected by Shutdown

By Christian Hetrick • 07/13/17

Observer

The New Jersey state house.

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Public workers frozen out of their jobs during the three-day government shutdown would receive back pay under a bill that passed the state Senate in a 31-0 vote Thursday.

Gov. Chris Christie has said he would sign the back-pay legislation, should it pass the Assembly. The bill will be introduced in that house later on Thursday and will see a vote before the end of July, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said at a rally with workers.

After initially saying state workers shouldn’t count on back pay, Christie pledged to sign the bill Wednesday if it’s sent to his desk. Senate President Steve Sweeney said Thursday that Christie agreed to pay furloughed workers after a conversation they had.

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The Must-Build Swamp Mall, the Canceled Tunnel and Christie’s Era of Misrule

By Bob Hennelly | July 12, 2017, 4:06 pm | in News, Columnist

INSIDER NJ

While Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate gambit rightfully helped “knee-cap” his Presidential run, it was his cancellation, in 2010, of a trans-Hudson rail tunnel that will have generational consequences not just for New Jersey but for the entire Northeast Corridor. And yet, even as he pulled the plug on the essential second Hudson tunnel, he was doubling down on trying to provide public support to complete a two million square foot mall in the Hackensack Meadowlands that had already lost over $1 billion in public pension funds and been pursued by three of his Democratic predecessors.

For years now, a two-million square-foot mall has been sitting in the Meadowlands and never opened, a kind of white-collar crime scene visible from space, but invisible to the locals at ground-level, because it has become just a part of the New Jersey Turnpike landscape.  How it came to be built on state land is testimony to a culture of self-dealing and corruption that reaches all the way to Washington and back to the halcyon Clinton years.  It involves names of prominent partisans on both sides of the aisle.  Consider, it’s probably the only resume item that Republican strategist Charlie Black, of Manafort & Stone fame, and the late Democratic Governor of Texas, Ann Richards, have in common.

It is hard to imagine but the NJ/NY metro region hasn’t always been so dysfunctional when it came to infrastructure.  In the 1920s and ‘30s, the New Jersey/New York metro-region completed no less than four bridges linking New Jersey and New York–the Goethals, the Outerbridge Crossing, the Bayonne Bridge, and the George Washington Bridge–all ahead of schedule and well below budget.  Of course, that was thanks to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which more recently has suffered so badly under Christie’s authoritarian reign.

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David Wildstein, Ex-Christie Ally, Gets Probation for Lane Closings

NEWARK — David Wildstein, the professed mastermind in the so-called Bridgegate scandal, was spared prison on Wednesday when he was sentenced for his role in the blocking of lanes near the George Washington Bridge as political revenge against a New Jersey mayor, closing a final chapter in a bizarre episode that grounded the national political ambitions of Gov. Chris Christie.

Mr. Wildstein, 55, was instead sentenced to three years’ probation, 500 hours of community service and more than $20,000 in fines and restitution.

From the moment he first came up with the plan to the moment he received a now infamous email, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” to his eight days of testimony against his former friends and allies, Mr. Wildstein was the main protagonist in an affair that, as he stated in court on Wednesday, magnified “the stereotype of the politics of this state.”

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NJ Gov Race: Murphy Leads Guadagno by 27 Points in New Poll

By Salvador Rizzo • 07/12/17

Observer

Phil Murphy

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Phil Murphy has a commanding, 27-point lead over Kim Guadagno in New Jersey’s race for governor, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.

But neither candidate is well known among New Jersey voters, the poll found.

It was the latest reminder that the governor’s race has been a sleepy affair this year for the same voters who often complain about the direction of the state. And it was the latest sign that Murphy, a Democrat who has spent millions from his personal fortune on the race, is likely to win in November.

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American Dream Wakes Up: Financing in Place, Megamall Gets Busy Building

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As His Popularity Craters, Christie Eyes Another Sharp-Elbow Job: Sports Radio Host

“Just the beginning of the humiliation.”

That was Gov. Chris Christie’s playful self-assessment of his performance on Monday singing the opening jingle as the guest host of a sports talk-radio show. In some ways, it was an unintentional summary of Mr. Christie’s current political life. Another humiliation began not long before the show started.

An hour earlier, a poll from Monmouth University found that his constituents were furious that he enjoyed a state beach all to himself during a government shutdown, with more than 80 percent of New Jersey residents saying they disapproved of his job performance. Only 15 percent approved, the lowest of any New Jersey governor since state polls were first taken. Six percent of those polled “simply used some form of profanity to express their sentiments about Christie’s beach day,” according to a news release that accompanied the poll.

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Cost of Hudson Tunnel Project Could Hit Nearly $13 Billion, Report Says

Building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and fixing the existing one could cost nearly $13 billion — a steep increase over an earlier estimate of $7.7 billion, according to a report released on Thursday.

Transit officials are proceeding with planning for the project, which would improve a critical link between New York and New Jersey. The tunnel proposal is considered one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, but its fate is unclear under the Trump administration.

The new report, by the Federal Railroad Administration and New Jersey Transit, evaluated the plan’s environmental and economic impacts. The study was a major step before detailed design work and construction could begin, said John D. Porcari, the interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corporation, which was created to oversee the project.

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Gov Touts Lottery as Answer to NJ’s Pension Problems, but Critics Deride Plan

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Despite Budget Drama and Deadlock, School Funding Changes Survive

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