Napoleon’s Brother Lived in N.J. Here’s What Happened to the Estate.

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jan. 31, 2021

Joseph Bonaparte

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The name Bonaparte brings to mind many locales: Corsica, Paris, Alexandria, Waterloo and, finally, St. Helena.

New Jersey? Not so much.

Napoleon, the French emperor, never stepped foot in the state, but New Jersey was home to another Bonaparte: Napoleon’s older brother, Joseph, who was once the king of Naples and then Spain.

Bonaparte built a sumptuous estate in 1816 called Point Breeze in Bordentown, N.J., just south of Trenton, between the power centers of New York City and Philadelphia. He constructed atop a promontory that allowed him to see any hostile forces and perforated the grounds with tunnels that allowed quick escape, if necessary, to a boat on Crosswicks Creek, and from there to the Delaware River.

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For a vaccine rollout that works, look toward Essex County | Editorial

Posted Jan 31, 2021

We have passed the one-month mark for vaccine distribution, yet the rollout is getting more confusing and frustrating as the coronavirus continues its rampage across New Jersey.

Whereas some states have an effective, centralized sign-up system for appointments — not to mention lines filled with people who know they’re going to get jabbed before they return home — our state is overpopulated by desperate shut-ins chained to their laptops, wasting hours poking at a refresh button, and overwhelmed by futility when another day’s toil produces the same message:

But this fraught moment shouldn’t pass without noting that some Jersey places have handled vaccine distribution well, such as Joe DiVincenzo’s Essex County, where organization, resources, political clout, and volunteerism have turned the state’s hardest-hit county into a model for rollout.

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Battle over NJ funding for schools in poorest districts is back in court. Yet again

IAN T. SHEARN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER | FEBRUARY 1, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Paterson’s School No. 14, built in 1886, is one of the many crumbling schools around the state.

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A four-decade legal battle over public school funding has landed back in the New Jersey Supreme Court, with a prominent watchdog group accusing state officials of again ignoring a constitutional mandate to repair and replace aging and shoddy school buildings in many of the state’s poorest communities.

The motion filed by the Education Law Center (ELC) on Friday claims that since 2014, neither the governor nor the Legislature has provided any additional money toward the court-required funding. That has left the Schools Development Authority (SDA), the state agency tasked with compliance in this matter, virtually broke and unable to initiate any of the dozens of “urgently needed” construction projects it identified in 2019. The solution ELC seeks is that the court order state officials to come up with a spending plan by June 30.

“It’s too bad we have to regularly go back to the Supreme Court to make the state fulfill its obligation to provide a thorough and efficient education to our students,” ELC Executive Director David Sciarra said in an interview Friday. “Unfortunately, this administration has been no different in this regard than its predecessors.”

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Mayor Baraka: Newark rescued itself from its water crisis | Opinion

Posted Jan 30, 2021

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The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently insinuated that their lawsuit with other citizen groups had “secured” safe drinking water for the residents of Newark and calls the settlement of the suit an “extraordinary victory” for the future children of Newark. They promise that the council, and their co-plaintiff, Newark Education Workers Caucus or NEW Caucus, “will monitor implementation of the settlement.”

This language implies that their lawsuit has been the driver of our diligent efforts to eradicate lead from our drinking water and to keep our residents educated and safe.

This goes beyond disingenuous. It continues to promulgate the false narrative that the NRDC and NEW Caucus rescued Newark residents from a government incapable of solving its own problem.

It also ignores the $200 million my administration has spent on new filtration and water quality technology and upgrades to our water treatment plant and delivery infrastructure – and that does not include the $190 million we are spending to replace lead service lines.

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Protesters call for federal civil rights probe into fatal police shooting in Newark

Posted Jan 28, 2021

Civil rights activists are calling on New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor to investigate the fatal shooting of Carl Dorsey III by a Newark plainclothes detective, after authorities released a videotape of the chaotic, deadly encounter just after midnight on New Year’s Day, and appeared to contradict an earlier assertion by local officials that weapons were recovered at the scene.

“Tonight, I’m calling publicly on Rachel Honig, the acting U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, to launch a civil rights investigation into the murder of Carl Dorsey,” said People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Lawrence Hamm, addressing two dozen protestors gathered in the bitter cold Thursday night at the scene of shooting on South 11th Street at Woodlawn Avenue.

“It’s not just the county prosecutor, it’s not the state attorney general that we have to rely on, there’s also federal courts and the federal justice system,” said Hamm, adding that he would reiterate the demand outside Honig’s office on Court Street next week during his group’s regular Justice Mondays rally. “And if Carl Dorsey was unarmed, then I have a suspicion that his civil rights were violated.”

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Clock running down for NJ’s troubled marijuana legislation

IAN T. SHEARN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER | JANUARY 29, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

A vendor makes change for a marijuana customer at a cannabis marketplace in Los Angeles, California, where recreational sales are legal.

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The push for legal weed remains mired in internal Democratic wrangling and is headed for a confrontation this Friday.

What seemed like a done deal on Nov. 3, when two-thirds of voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize adult recreational use, followed by the passage of enabling legislation last month, may be unraveling once again.

Gov. Phil Murphy set Friday as the deadline for the Legislature to fix a flaw in the cannabis legalization legislation passed on Dec. 17. In the latest face-off between the two government branches, Murphy is demanding that lawmakers immediately pass an additional “cleanup bill” to correct conflicting provisions in the measure concerning how law enforcement treats minors found in possession of pot. Otherwise, he said he will conditionally veto both bills, according to published reports and supported by three people intimately involved in the discussions.

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Murphy defends vaccination sign-up system as public criticism climbs

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | JANUARY 28, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Amid growing public frustration, Gov. Phil Murphy defended the state’s patchwork COVID-19 vaccination sign-up system as a process still being refined and reiterated his pleas for patience with New Jersey’s coronavirus immunization program.

“Remember we are building the airplane here as we’re flying it. It may be the most complex logistical undertaking — other than going to war — in the history of the United States,” Murphy said Wednesday, when asked about the increasingly unpopular registration program.

“Obviously this is a work in progress,” Murphy said, while listing successful aspects of the COVID-19 vaccine infrastructure, including several hundred immunization sites and a telephone hotline that took nearly 60,000 calls in the first four hours. “All of that is from scratch, literally in a number of weeks,” he said.

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NJ police union wins dispute over demand that town know if officers went to Capitol riot

BY CELINE CASTRONUOVO - 

A New Jersey police union on Tuesday announced that it had won a dispute over a town’s demand that local police officers identify if they participated in the violent Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the Capitol. 

Bob Fox, president of the Fraternal Order of Police’s-New Jersey Labor Council, said in a press release that it had resolved a grievance on behalf of members of Neptune Superior Officers Association Lodge 19, “preserving our members constitutional and contractual rights.” 

Fox added that Neptune Township on Jan. 20 sent out a notice that “demanded members identify if they participated in the ‘January 6, 2021 siege on the US Capital in Washington, DC,’” an event which he said the police union “at all levels clearly and unequivocally condemned.”

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This N.J. director is a model for police across the country, AG says. He’s retiring.

Posted Jan 27, 2021

Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose will retire March 31 after working 34 years in local law enforcement and overseeing several reforms among the city police.

Ambrose was named the city’s first public safety director in late 2015, when the police, fire and emergency management departments were consolidated under Mayor Ras Baraka. His departure announcement comes less than a month after the city appointed Lee Douglas as acting police chief when Darnell Henry retired.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done by my successor, but I’m pleased to be leaving the Police and Fire Divisions and the Office of Emergency Management in a better place than it was when I arrived five years ago,” Ambrose said in a statement Wednesday. “Mayor Baraka has been my strongest supporter, a great boss and will remain a good friend.”

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Yearslong Lawsuit Against Newark Over Lead Crisis Reaches Settlement

NEWARK. NJ — Newark and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection today resolved a three-year legal battle with groups who filed suit against the city in 2018 over the handling of its lead water crisis.

A settlement was submitted to federal courts requiring Newark to continue its ongoing progress on lead service line remediation, provide free water testing and other measures. In under two years, Newark has replaced more than 17,000 lead lines through a $120 million loan from Essex County, bringing the program to its final stages.

“Newark’s aggressive lead service line replacement program could serve as a model for the nation once it is completed,” said Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement.

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