‘I Don’t Want to Go Back’: Many Teachers Are Fearful and Angry Over Pressure to Return

By Dana Goldstein and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 11, 2020

“I want to serve the students, but it’s hard to say you’re going to sacrifice all of the teachers, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers and bus drivers,” said Hannah Wysong, a teacher at the Esperanza Community School in Tempe, Ariz.Credit...

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Many of the nation’s 3.5 million teachers found themselves feeling under siege this week as pressure from the White House, pediatricians and some parents to get back to physical classrooms intensified — even as the coronavirus rages across much of the country.

On Friday, the teachers’ union in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest district, demanded full-time remote learning when the academic year begins on Aug. 18, and called President Trump’s push to reopen schools part of a “dangerous, anti-science agenda that puts the lives of our members, our students and our families at risk.”

Teachers say crucial questions about how schools will stay clean, keep students physically distanced and prevent further spread of the virus have not been answered. And they feel that their own lives, and those of the family members they come home to, are at stake.

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What’s in a name? A lively political fight featuring a Kennedy and a Democrat-turned Republican | Mulshine

Posted Jul 12, 2020

A couple days after Jeff Van Drew’s primary victory last week, I left a message on his Voicemail:

“Have you considered changing your name to Kennedy?”

When he called back, the Republican incumbent from New Jersey’s southernmost congressional district assured me that he’d be keeping his current name through the November general election against Democratic nominee Amy Kennedy.

But he also said, “the Kennedy name helps” when it comes to explaining the surprisingly large margin of victory that Kennedy ran up in dispatching the choice of the party bosses.

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Roger Stone: The Ultimate Dirty Trickster, Formed by Watergate and Tempered in New Jersey

IAN T. SHEARN | JULY 13, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Roger Stone in 2019

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Roger Stone enjoyed a long career as a bombastic and shifty political operative, constantly weaving in and out of the truth and changing the rules of engagement as he went. He was always on the attack, simultaneously firing and dodging bullets — none closer and more harrowing than the one he ducked Friday when President Donald Trump commuted his upcoming federal prison sentence.

Whatever happens going forward in Stone’s life, it will likely be only a postscript to the prominent and notorious place he carved himself in American political history, one that grew to prominence in New Jersey.

Over the course of a half-century that went from the State House in Trenton to the White House in Washington, Stone launched one scorched-earth campaign after another for a list of clients that started with Richard Nixon and ends with Donald Trump. No one else can make that claim.

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Could This City Hold the Key to the Future of Policing in America?

By Joseph Goldstein and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 12, 2020

Sgt. Dekel Levy, left, and Sgt. Kevin Wilkes on patrol on State Street in Camden, N.J., where the police force was disbanded nearly a decade ago and then rebuilt.Credit...

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CAMDEN, N.J. — As officials across the United States face demands to transform policing, many have turned to a small New Jersey city that did what some activists are calling for elsewhere: dismantled its police force and built a new one that stresses a less confrontational approach toward residents who are mostly Black and Latino.

The Camden Police Department’s efforts to reduce its use of force have made it one of the most compelling turnaround stories in U.S. law enforcement. The changes have led to a stark reduction in the number of excessive-force complaints against the police and have helped drive down the murder rate in what was once one of America’s most dangerous cities.

“If you’re looking to be a high-speed operator, we’re probably not the right department,” said the current chief, Joseph Wysocki, referring to the type of officer he does not want to attract. “If you’re looking to be a guardian figure in your neighborhood, this is for you.”

Still, even as many other communities look to Camden as a template for reform, it is far from a neat model.

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A Political Title ‘Born From Racism’ Will Be Eliminated

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 10, 2020

The New Jersey governor, Philip D. Murphy, has stopped using the Woodrow Wilson desk shown in this photo with his social media team.Credit...

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The office of freeholder is unique to New Jersey, a title for politicians elected to one of the state’s 21 county legislative boards.

It dates back to New Jersey’s original Constitution of 1776, meaning those who had some form of an estate and at least “50 pounds of proclamation money.”

It also harkens back to a time when only white, male landowners could hold public office.

On Thursday, in the midst of a national reckoning over racial injustice and symbols of hate, Gov. Philip D. Murphy and the two Democratic leaders of the State Legislature announced that it was time to eliminate the word — and to instead call county elected leaders “commissioners.”

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Newark Museum of Art to commemorate 53rd anniversary of Newark Uprising

Posted Jul 10, 2020

Sunday will mark the 53rd anniversary of the Newark Uprising.

To commemorate the day, the Newark Museum of Art will offer a series of programs as a part of its virtual Community Day: Say It Loud - A reflection on the ’67 Newark Uprising, Then and Now.

The Newark Uprising featured a series of riots and unrest over a five-day stretch in 1967, when racial tensions in the area were at an all-time high, “triggered by undressed poverty and decades of oppression,” according to the press release.

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New COVID-19 Concern for NJ Schools: Will Teachers Return to Classrooms?

JOHN MOONEY | JULY 10, 2020

NJ Spotlight

How many teachers will be reluctant to return?

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A great deal has been said about reopening New Jersey schools in the fall while ensuring that children remain healthy and safe. But worries are also surfacing about what going back will mean for teachers — and even whether enough of them will be willing to return to the classroom.

Steve Beatty, a top officer of the New Jersey Education Association, said Thursday there is growing concern over teachers who are hesitant to return to the classroom and unwilling to take the health risk for either themselves or their families.

“That’s a real question, will we have enough educators when we return, whatever those conditions are?” said Beatty, the secretary-treasurer of the state’s dominant teachers union in a press call on school building safety.

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Murphy to His Covid Critics: ‘Let’s Cut that Crap out’

By John Van Vliet | July 9, 2020

Insider NJ

Governor Phil Murphy

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During an interview Thursday evening, Governor Phil Murphy spoke with David Cruz of NJTV about developments in the state with respect to the coronavirus and new guidance from Trenton.  During the course of the interview, the governor took questions.  He was asked about the executive authority he has used, particularly in the form of executive orders, being told that “Some people are getting a little antsy about all the executive powers that you are asserting.”  He was asked why the public should not be concerned that he might seem to be ruling “by decree under the cover of a state of emergency” and that that state of emergency was one that only he could declare?

The governor responded point blank.  “Some of the constructive criticisms that we get that are responsible we take very seriously.  I want folks to know that.  We don’t have all the answers, Tony Fauci [Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] doesn’t have all the answers, there’s no expert—health or otherwise—who has all the answers, and that certainly includes yours truly.  If it’s constructive, responsible—even if it’s angry input—we’ve reacted at every step with a spirit of trying to find the right answer.”

Murphy counter fired at his critics and accusations volleyed against him, drawing a line where he determines the difference between “responsible” criticism, and that which is not.  “Some of it’s ludicrous,” Murphy said, “like people claiming that power’s gone to my head, that I find some joy in making everyone put a face covering on is ludicrous.  It’s also—and that’s why I wanted to call that one out—it’s irresponsible.”

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MVC extends license expiration dates, sets up new rules in effort to ease long lines

Posted Jul 09, 2020

Officials announced a slew of changes Thursday that they say should ease some of the congestion and frustration that has been plaguing MVC agencies across the state since they reopened this week after being closed for months during the coronavirus shutdown.

As part of the changes, Gov. Phil Murphy and Motor Vehicle Commission officials announced extended expiration dates for license and registration renewals and vehicle inspections, in an effort to ease long lines and wait times at MVC agencies.

Officials also set new rules barring drivers from being able to “camp out” overnight at agencies to get a prime spot in line the next morning, the governor said. Officials said customers can’t line up on MVC property until 7 a.m., an hour before agencies open.

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Ex-N.J. Assemblyman charged by feds in alleged kickback schemes while holding illegal city job

A former state Assemblyman from Essex County who has been embroiled in controversy in recent years has been indicted for allegedly defrauding the city of Orange while he held a municipal job that he was unlawfully appointed to, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

Willis Edwards III, who served one term in the Assembly as a Democrat in the early 2000s, faces 28 charges, including conspiracy to defraud Orange, theft from a federally funded local government, wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax fraud.

The indictment is the latest development in a federal investigation that has loomed over Orange in recent years.

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