2021 primaries to be held largely through in-person voting, Murphy says

By Nikita BiryukovMarch 22 2021

New Jersey Globe

New Jersey’s June 8 primary will see the return of in-person voting this year, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

“We can take this step because our numbers, while up a bit over the past week, are holding steady and we are expecting to be in a much better place two and a half months from now,” Murphy said.

He said “all of our regular operating polling places” would be open.

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Homelessness in N.J. increased before pandemic, annual count shows

Posted Mar 21, 2021

New Jersey’s homeless population grew by 9% last year, a bigger increase than 42 other states, according to a study from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The count conducted on Jan. 28, 2020, found 9,662 homeless individuals, up from 8,862 in 2019, according to the HUD report released Thursday.

The survey took place before the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey reported a 5% drop in its homeless population from 2018 to 2019.

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After early stumbles, state hotline delivers more vaccination appointments for seniors

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | MARCH 22, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

March 5, 2021: At Passaic County’s vaccination site in Woodland Park.

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Workers at New Jersey’s coronavirus vaccination hotline made tens of thousands of calls to elderly residents and scheduled more than 6,000 appointments as part of a recent targeted effort to connect members of this vulnerable age group with COVID-19 vaccines.

And the initiative seems to have paid off. According to the state Department of Health, the percentage of New Jerseyans over age 75 — the group most at risk for death from the virus — who have received at least one COVID-19 shot nearly doubled since late last month. The DOH said it has since expanded the effort to focus on the wider 65-and-over demographic.

“We did that because our main goal through our vaccination program will always be first and foremost to prevent morbidity and mortality,” DOH Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday. “And those individuals that are 65 and older are accounted for 80% of our mortalities. Those 75 and older are clearly close to 50%.”

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1 of the ‘Central Park 5′: I’m living proof that police transparency can be a life-changing matter | Opinion

Posted Mar 18, 2021

By Kevin Richardson

Kevin Richardson, the youngest member of the Central Park Five, says the secrecy around police discipline in New Jersey blocks people who are facing potentially life-altering criminal charges from knowing the full background of the officers involved in their cases. He says this issue is personal for him because the sorts of reforms proposed by legislation in New Jersey could have prevented his own wrongful conviction.
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This week, during Sunshine Week, people across the country are holding public conversations about the need for open government and the harms of government secrecy.

I am a living example of how high the stakes can be when it comes to transparency.

As a member of the ‘Exonerated 5′ in the infamous Central Park Jogger case, I can speak directly to the importance of a transparent government, specifically with respect to police disciplinary records.

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Murphy floats vaccine passports for New Jersey; RGA fires back

03/19/2021 

Politico

Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a news conference after witnessing the first coronavirus vaccinations at University Hospital's COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy floated the possibility of vaccine passports during an appearance on CNBC on Friday, laying the groundwork that the small cards signifying immunity from Covid-19 could be the ticket to a normal summer.

“Don’t get rid of the card, that’s likely to be something valuable,” Murphy said, adding that proof of immunization might be necessary to attend sporting events or board a plane. “Laminate it and put it in your wallet.”

Murphy, a progressive Democrat whose comments drew a quick rebuke from the Republican Governors Association, said his administration would follow whatever guidance is issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but that New Jersey would will have its own independent process as well.

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Meet the Mets! Former Gov. Chris Christie joins club’s Board of Directors

Posted Mar 19, 2021

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is adding a new line to his resume, joining the New York Mets’ Board of Directors.

Also joining the board is Jeanne Melino, who is chief inclusion and engagement officer at Point72, the hedge fund founded by Mets owner Steve Cohen.

“Chris and Jeanne are friends and trusted advisers with decades of leadership experience,” Cohen said Friday. “I welcome them both to the Board and I look forward to working with them on behalf of our fans, our community and the team.”

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N.J. colleges are canceling spring break, hope it will prevent COVID spread

Posted Mar 18, 2021

A year ago, as the coronavirus pandemic was ramping up in the U.S., news reports showed crowds of spring breakers hitting Florida beaches and nightclubs, even as public health experts warned they were risking everyone’s health for a good time.

Now, it feels a bit like déjà vu.

Earlier this week, photos showed college students crowding beaches, partying together in hotels and congregating in huge crowds near Miami Beach nightclubs. Local officials begged them to wear masks and take other precautions, but news reports show many did not heed their advice.

It’s exactly the kind of scenario that led most of New Jersey’s colleges and universities to cancel spring break entirely this year.

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Murphy nominates another remarkable woman to New Jersey’s highest court | Editorial

Posted Mar 18, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy has made another impressive choice for the state Supreme Court, a Harvard-trained lawyer who graduated magna cum laude and clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Rachel Wainer Apter is backed by a powerful roster of former chief justices, judges and the ex-president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. This is a strong nomination from a Democratic governor who made clear his priorities and is now acting on them, by choosing a woman with sterling academic credentials — right down to a perfect 1600 on her SATs — who’s followed a similar path as the late Justice Ginsburg, as a civil rights lawyer.

We always reserve final judgement until after the hearings, but welcome this highly promising pick. That the only person who’s come out loudly against her is Jack Ciattarelli, who is desperate to gain footage in his run against Murphy for governor, only underscores the seriousness of her candidacy.

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IRS delays tax-filing deadline until May 17

Taxpayers will have until May 17 to file their federal taxes, the IRS announced Wednesday, amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic and recent policy changes that could complicate filing for some.

The agency has faced weeks of pressure from top lawmakers to extend the traditional April 15 deadline, as it did last year when it moved the date to July 15.

“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a statement.

But he also urged taxpayers to file as early as they could, especially if they are owed refunds.

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Why is Hudson County at bottom for vaccines but near top for COVID-19 rate?

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | MARCH 18, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Jesse Aubrey, right, a resident of Secacus, in Hudson County, about to be vaccinated.

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Hudson County has the second-highest rate of COVID-19 cases among New Jersey’s 21 counties and currently ranks third when it comes to the rate of new cases weekly, according to state data.

But despite this — and the potential for the disease to spread among its densely packed residents — Hudson County comes in last for the number of COVID-19 vaccinations per person. It also has one of the state’s highest percentages of Black and Hispanic residents, populations at higher risk than others for infection, hospitalization and death from the coronavirus.

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