As A Female Politician, I Spent 20 Years Keeping Quiet About Sexism. Now I’m Speaking Out.

02/17/2020

Huffington Post

My appointment in 2008 as chair of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee didn’t come without a fight. Setting a respectful tone while quietly making history as the first woman in this post was paramount.
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Over the course of my 20 years as a New Jersey state legislator, it never occurred to me to disclose what’s to follow. I was too afraid of being stigmatized and destroying my career in public service. So I didn’t speak up after I was elected as the first female Senate majority leader. Not after I had the honor of serving as the first woman to chair the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Even after running as the first female Democratic Party candidate for governor in 2013, my secrets remained unspoken.

Starting out as an idealistic — some might even say naive — female politician, I approached my job with the expectation I’d be treated as a co-equal partner by male colleagues. I took comfort in believing all of the carefully honed grit and tenacity that landed me in office would overcome — or at the very least, keep in check — any sexist behavior. I figured it would be easier navigating it now than it had been as a teenager new to my first paying job as a waitress. That was the first and last time I quit my job because I felt denigrated and threatened by a man.

Little did I know how outmatched I was.

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Newark mayor fires back at Barr over ICE plan that ‘incites hatred’

Posted Feb 16, 2020

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is defending the city’s sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants, one day after the Trump administration announced federal agents who patrol the U.S. border will be deployed to cities across the country where local jurisdictions are hindering stepped up immigration enforcement.

In a statement issued Sunday, Baraka called the latest move divisive and disputed Attorney General William Barr’s assertion that “sanctuary cities” protect criminals living in the country illegally. Barr’s language “incites hatred,” Baraka said.

“The Trump Administration plan to bolster ICE enforcement forces with tactical units will undermine our efforts to build community trust," Baraka said in a statement released Sunday. “When (Barr) says sanctuary is ‘misguided ideology triumphing over common sense law enforcement,’ he undermines the common decency aspects of our policy."

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The Portal triumph does not erase the mortal transit threat | Editorial

Posted Feb 16, 2020

As 200,000 daily riders know, there are times when the Portal Bridge is neither portal nor bridge.

It is a rusty, creaky, swing-truss contraption that squats 25 feet above the Hackensack River, and when boats need to pass underneath, it becomes the vortex from hell. Sometimes it fails to close properly — this happens 15 percent of the time — and it triggers a sequence of events that can haunt your dreams.

Trains from Boston to D.C. stop and smolder. The control center at Penn Station freaks out. Jersey commuters, sacks of jangled nerves in sweaty human packages, re-evaluate the choices they’ve made with their lives. Amtrak crews literally march out to the middle of the bridge and bang the rails into a closed position with sledgehammers.

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Inside one of N.J.'s last Black-owned bookstores, where ‘your Black is beautiful’

Posted Feb 14, 2020

This story is part of a new NJ.com series: “Black in N.J.,” which celebrates Black culture in the Garden State and seeks to further discussion about issues facing New Jersey’s Black community.

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When you walk into Source of Knowledge in Newark, you’re in a space that is unapologetically Black.

Incense burns. Soulful music plays in the background. Books by Black writers line the shelves and art pieces from Senegal adorn the walls.

Yet the small book shop, located downtown on the corner of Broad and Lafayette streets, is easy to miss. Other than a tiny beige banner displaying the store’s name, the building’s worn facade is nearly invisible, outshined by the gleaming buildings nearby: chic new apartments, a Courtyard Marriott hotel, the cavernous Prudential Center arena.

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New Jersey dioceses push victims fund deadline to Feb. 29

Posted Feb 14, 2020

New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a two-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering filing for compensation from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Friday.

Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $10 million in 81 different cases has been paid out. The previous deadline for submissions to be filed with the fund was Feb. 15. It is now Feb. 29.

This is the second time the deadline had been extended.

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Murphy pledges workplace reforms amid allegations of harassment in N.J. politics

Posted Feb 13, 2020

As the focus tightens on allegations of harassment against women in New Jersey politics — including in his own campaign — Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday the state government will re-evaluate its current workplace standards and training.

The goal, the Democratic governor said, is to make sure all state employees are treated equally, regardless of sex, race, or gender identity.

“I have said time and time again that my goal is to make New Jersey stronger and fairer for everyone," Murphy said in a statement. “Make no mistake: I believe that a more respectful culture for women in our state is a moral imperative.”

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State Lawmakers Move to Halt NYC Homeless Relocation Program

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 14, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Detail of an apartment in Newark that was rented under the NYC SOTA program.

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New Jersey landlords would not be allowed to accept housing assistance from an out-of-state agency under a bill that cleared a Senate committee Thursday, designed to prevent the future relocations of homeless families from New York City or elsewhere into cities like Newark.

A controversial New York City program that prepays landlords for a year’s housing of individuals and families in city shelters came to light last year when Newark officials complained that it had resulted in a number of people living in squalid conditions and verging on homelessness again — this time in Newark — once the year was up.

Individual stories of families living in Newark in poor or dangerous conditions — some without heat or hot water, others infested by roaches or rats — drew headlines and outrage. But New York City records show that its Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) program has relocated at least 2,226 families into some other 60 New Jersey communities, including East Orange, Irvington and Jersey City, as well.

 

 

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Hudson River tunnel closing would hurt U.S. economy, Trump’s Fed chairman says

Posted Feb 12, 2020

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s Federal Reserve chairman said Wednesday a lengthy closing of the Portal Bridge or Hudson River tunnels could deliver a hit to the U.S. economy.

Powell, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, acknowledged the economic threat if the century-old infrastructure should fail before it is replaced.

"If it were sustained, yes,” Powell said. “Things happen and we fix them and they don’t show up much in GDP, but if they’re sustained, then, yes.”

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Nothing to see here: Trump takes over the Justice Department | Editorial

Posted Feb 12, 2020

The powers of the Justice Department are among the gravest our government has, to strip people of their liberty. And now, apparently, they are subject to the stormy impulses of one man: The Mad King.

President Trump is interfering with a purpose that is nakedly political and getting what he wants, thanks to his loyal henchman, Attorney General William Barr. In an extraordinary reversal, the DOJ just downgraded its recommended prison sentence for Trump’s buddy, Roger Stone, hours after the president fumed about it on Twitter.

“This is a huge deal,” Elie Honig, a former New Jersey and federal prosecutor, told us on Wednesday. “There’s a long-standing norm that has been observed, going back many decades in both political parties, that you just do not mess with DOJ.”

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Mistreatment of Women in NJ Politics: Weinberg’s Group Holds First Hearing

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 12, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

First hearing of Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics took place Feb 11, 2020.

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An ad hoc group looking into the treatment of women in New Jersey politics heard Tuesday about lewd comments, groping, intimidation and bullying as well as promises of imminent reforms to improve the political culture in the state. 

Even before the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics began its first hearing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he will be implementing changes in state government soon and apologized for any ways his 2017 gubernatorial campaign failed women. The workgroup was formed by Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen).

“We built that campaign based on the tenets of equity, justice, fairness and respect for all New Jerseyans, and we know that those ideals must be achieved in both word and deed, both externally and internally. To those we failed in that mission, I apologize,” Murphy told reporters following an unrelated event Tuesday.

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