Sharing Services Has Saved Money for NJ Local Governments: Wall Street Analysis

RON MARSICO | DECEMBER 20, 2019

NJ Spotlight

“The main takeaway is this is an opportunity for cost savings,’’ said a Moody’s analyst.

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It’s a simple formula: Sharing equals savings in the Garden State, according to Moody’s Investors Services.

Pooling services has reduced costs for New Jersey’s municipalities and counties, while maintaining service levels and preserving resources, Moody’s determined in a research report issued this week.

Moody’s specifically found: “New Jersey local governments will continue to curb expense growth and save money via shared services agreements in an environment of rising costs and declining appetite for raising taxes.’’

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Trump Impeached for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress

By Nicholas Fandos and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Updated Dec. 19, 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi arriving at her office on Wednesday before the House voted on articles of impeachment against President Trump.

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WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, making him the third president in history to be charged with committing high crimes and misdemeanors and face removal by the Senate.

On a day of constitutional consequence and raging partisan tension, the votes on the two articles of impeachment fell largely along party lines, after a bitter debate that stretched into the evening and reflected the deep polarization gripping American politics in the Trump era.

Only two Democrats opposed the article on abuse of power, which accused Mr. Trump of corruptly using the levers of government to solicit election assistance from Ukraine in the form of investigations to discredit his Democratic political rivals. Republicans were united in opposition. It passed 230 to 197, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling the vote to a close from the House rostrum.

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Was Newark’s water crisis preventable? Records reveal problems festered for years.

Updated Dec 18, 2019

Before the comparisons to Flint, Michigan, before trucks full of bottled water rumbled through Newark’s streets, before parents rushed to test their kids for lead poisoning, somebody knew there was a problem.

A state regulator, alarmed by Newark’s water disinfection practices, warned city officials that residents should boil their water, according to never-before-released letters from 2014 obtained by NJ Advance Media.

“If the monthly operator reports are correct then the water provided ... potentially compromised public health,” the state official wrote, citing five months of water testing.

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NYC countersues Newark over controversial homeless relocation program

Updated Dec 17, 2019

New York City is countersuing Newark in an ongoing legal battle over a controversial homeless program, claiming that a new local rule banning the relocation of low-income families to the New Jersey city is unconstitutional and accusing Newark of trying to “wall off” itself from that demographic.

At issue is NYC’s placement of homeless families in apartments across the country with a year’s worth of rent paid up front. About 1,200 families have been relocated to Newark since 2017 to residences that had been undisclosed to the city. But Newark officials say those families are often left in uninhabitable conditions without any leverage to force repairs.

Newark took NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to federal court earlier this month to temporarily halt future relocations until both sides could work out a compromise. The lawsuit came after Newark outlawed the NYC program through an ordinance prohibiting landlords from accepting more than a month’s worth of rent from a subsidy or voucher program and prohibiting any party from bringing a needy person to the city for government assistance.

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Strict Vaccine Law Stumbles in N.J. Legislature

By Sharon Otterman and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 16, 2019

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey in September.

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The New Jersey Legislature, seemingly on the verge of passing one of the strictest vaccine laws in the nation on Monday, postponed a final vote on a bill that would have ended religious exemptions to vaccine requirements for students enrolled in any school or college, public or private.

The decision came amid raucous protests, with dozens of parents and children who oppose mandatory vaccines standing just outside the door to the State Senate stomping and chanting, “Do not touch my child!” Hundreds of other protesters shouted from outside the building.

After the State Assembly passed its version of the bill — 45 to 25, with six abstentions — on Monday afternoon, the bill moved to the Senate, where the vote had been expected to pass by a small margin. But as the evening wore on, lawmakers realized they did not have enough votes.

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Bill paving way for bigger school property tax hikes heads to governor

Updated Dec 16, 2019

The state Legislature on Monday passed a bill that would allow some school districts in New Jersey to charge higher property taxes than state law allows.

The measure would apply to school districts that have lost aid as the state shakes up its funding formula, allowing these districts to make up their losses by exceeding the 2-percent cap on tax increases.

Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has already come out against the measure, which was introduced just three weeks ago by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

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Trump praises N.J. Congressman Jeff Van Drew, who’s ready to switch political parties

Updated Dec 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to sing the praises of U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Democrat who’s about to switch sides.

“Wow, that would be big,” Trump tweeted in response to reports that Van Drew would become a Republican. “Always heard Jeff is very smart!”

Trump, a Republican, met with Van Drew at the White House on Friday after the New Jersey lawmaker said he would vote against impeaching the president over allegations that he withheld aid to Ukraine to force that country into announcing investigations to benefit him politically.

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Undocumented N.J. student won a big award -- that she may not be able to accept

Posted Dec 15, 2019

Esder Chong doesn’t limit herself to the boundaries of her reality.

She’s an undocumented immigrant.

Had she surrendered to her status, Chong said she wouldn’t be a senior at Rutgers University-Newark. She wouldn’t be an outspoken activist, either. Undocumented immigrant students and their families who face barriers to education, healthcare and driving would have missed her voice on these issues that she’s addressed at the state and national level.

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Cory Booker Leads the Charge to Change Debate Rules That Excluded Him

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Updated Dec. 15, 2019

Senator Cory Booker did not make the cut for next week’s debate, but said he would not “argue with the refs” about the December event.Credit...

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WASHINGTON — At the urging of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, eight Democratic presidential candidates, and Mr. Booker, have signed a letter urging Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, to lower the thresholds to qualify for the party’s January and February debates.

The letter, written and circulated by the Booker campaign, was sent to Mr. Perez and his top deputies Saturday afternoon. It comes amid angst that Thursday’s debate in Los Angeles will include just one candidate of color — the businessman Andrew Yang — among the seven qualifying participants.

Mr. Booker did not qualify for next week’s debate and is unlikely to meet the criteria for the debates in January and February unless thresholds are lowered or he sees a significant improvement in his polling numbers.

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Jersey City Shooting Was ‘Domestic Terrorism,’ Officials Say

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Dec. 12, 2019

Mourners gathered on Wednesday for the funeral for one of the victims of an attack on the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, N.J.Credit...

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The deadly rampage that ended with one police officer slain and three bystanders killed at a kosher market in New Jersey is now being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, the authorities said on Thursday.

Investigators believe the two attackers were “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, told reporters at a news conference.

As a result of the evidence so far, the F.B.I. was investigating the violence as “a domestic terrorism incident with a hate crime bias,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s office in Newark.

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