Convicted ex-mayor loses pension fight in what he calls an 'insult to justice'

An appeals court has refused to reinstate a year of retirement benefits for a former Newark mayor who worked as an Essex County Collegeprofessor, ruling that it was reasonable for the pension program to strip Sharpe James of those earnings because of his federal conviction

James, Newark's mayor for 20 years who served 18 months in prison, called the Appellate Division decision "ludicrous and an insult to justice and fair play," he told NJ Advance Media in an email. 

At issue was James' yearlong service as a senior fellow and municipal government professor for Essex County College's Urban Issues Institute between 2006-07. He earned $150,000 in a position created specially for him, according to the case. 

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Newark conference center rededicated in honor of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver

March 28, 2018

TAPintoNEWARK

A conference room in Newark's LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building has been rededicated as the "Sheila Y. Oliver Conference Center," after New Jersey's Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

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Newark, NJ--A conference room in Newark's LeRoy F. Smith, Jr. Public Safety Building has been rededicated as the "Sheila Y. Oliver Conference Center," in honor and in recognition of the public service contributions and accomplishments of New Jersey's first African American Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. officially renamed the 14th-floor conference center on Tuesday, which was previously named for Oliver in 2013 to recognize her for being the second woman to serve as Assembly Speaker in New Jersey history.

"Sheila Oliver has had a long career in public service, been a strong advocate for her constituents and a role model for other women and children, and raised awareness about a variety of social issues and injustices," DiVincenzo said. "She has also been a trailblazer and pioneer, including becoming the first African-American Lt. Governor of New Jersey. It is important to recognize and celebrate people such as Sheila because they break barriers, inspire us and show what can be accomplished with hard work and determination."

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He wrote a novel about life on the streets. Then, he was gunned down

Al-Tariq Brown penned a story with a conflict that has become all too familiar in the Newark South Side neighborhood where he was raised.

Can a man left to fend for himself overcome adversity and resist the lucrative pull of the streets?

Or, as a teaser for his self-published fictional novel states, "Will he fall victim to the very same system that nearly destroyed his family and his life?"

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This neighborhood is home to about a tenth of Newark crime. It's been 100 years since a police precinct opened there.

One police precinct staffed with 60 officers to cover 30,000 residents is big news for a community that has been without it for a century.

On Tuesday, Newark's Department of Public Safety announced the opening of the 6th police precinct in the Vailsburg section of the West Ward -- in what officials hailed as a milestone for the city. 

"It was overdue," Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. "This area hasn't seen a police precinct in over a century." 

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Groundbreaking sexual harassment ordinance unanimously passed by Newark city council

March 27, 2018

TAPintoNEWARK

Legislation passed by Newark's city council on Tuesday will offer greater protection to city employees who have been victims of sexual harassment.

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Newark, NJ—One by one they stepped forward, men and women who have suffered in silence, the victims of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of employers, colleagues, clergy, friends and family members.

One woman told of being sexually abused as a young girl by a prominent city figure, while another—a man in his 50s—was sharing his story for the first time.

“I was a victim of sexual abuse between the ages of five and 16,” said Newark resident Thomas Ellis. “I thought it was only right to speak out for the men and women. I’m standing before you and shaking telling this story. I know what it’s like to be sexually abused. I know what it’s like to keep it bottled up, and I know what it’s like to finally speak out. You can live another day.”

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Thousands rally in Newark as part of the nationwide March for Our Lives

March 24, 2018

TAPintoNEWARK

 

Newark, NJ—Thousands of protesters converged on Newark's Military Park today as part of the nationwide March for Our Lives demonstrations calling for an end to gun violence. 

Led by students from around New Jersey, the Newark rally was just one of nearly two dozen marches taking place across the state, and one of hundreds of protests across the United States, pushing for stricter gun control laws following last month's shooting in a Parkland, Florida high school that resulted in 17 deaths.

The rally kicked off at 10 a.m. with speakers that included student leaders from around the state, as well as local activists like Amina Baraka, the mother of Newark mayor Ras J. Baraka, who told the crowd that schools should not turn teachers into "armed security guards," but instead they should hire more social workers and support staff.

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Listen, N.J. We're changing Newark's bad rep and you need to get on board. Love, Mayor Baraka

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Newark Police Department reports compliance in DOJ monitoring plan of unconstitutional policing

March 21, 2018

TAPintoNEWARK

The Newark Police Department is working toward fulfilling the majority of requirements outlined in a 2016 consent decree between the Department of Justice, NPD and the City of Newark.

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Newark, NJ—The Newark Police Department is working toward fulfilling the majority of requirements outlined in a 2016 consent decree between the Department of Justice, NPD and the City of Newark that requires Newark police to implement significant reforms after a 2014 report concluded the NPD engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional policing.

Although a recently-released DOJ report shows noncompliance with the majority of requirements outlined in the agreement, the department said the six-month-old report is inaccurate and most of the mandated policies have already been drafted and are in varying stages of implementation.

The 2014 findings documented the NPD’s practice of constitutional violations in its stop and arrest practices; retaliation against individuals exercising their rights under the First Amendment; excessive use of force; and theft by officers. 

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N.J. college cuts 34 jobs amid struggle to stay afloat

Faced with a steep drop in student enrollmentEssex County Collegewill eliminate 34 positions by next year as it remains under close watch -- and probation -- by its accrediting agency.

The layoffs of 20 full-time staff and elimination of 14 vacant positions will save $2.76 million, college officials said. Included on the list: A top-ranking administrator who was placed on paid leave after a vocal group of clergy called for her ouster.

Joyce Wilson Harley, vice president of administration and finance, lobbed allegations of wrongdoing against President Anthony Munroe, who in turn, accused Harley of undermining his authority. The internal infighting sunk the college into further chaos and several members of the Board of Trustees stepped down. 

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Remarkable Newarkers: Robert Gregory

March 19, 2018

TAPintoNEWARK

Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Robert Gregory is a third-generation Newarker who has devoted his life to education and the advancement of Newark’s youth.

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Remarkable Newarkers is a series profiling people who live and/or work in Newark who are making a positive contribution to the city.

Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Robert Gregory is a third-generation Newarker who has devoted his life to education and the advancement of Newark’s youth.

Gregory—recently appointed to lead the district during its return to full local control after more than two decades under state intervention—has been instrumental in significantly increasing graduation rates over the last two years and has led the charge in establishing a culture of college attendance throughout the district.

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