NJ Transit still needs major reforms. And that’s Murphy’s blind spot | Editorial

Published: Dec. 15, 2021

There is a bipartisan New Jersey Transit reform bill that makes the agency far more transparent, fortifies a Board of Directors that is still treated as an afterthought, and promotes customer service that isn’t just PR piffle.

But that bill is still stuck in the Assembly, which is another sign that Gov. Murphy doesn’t seek to change much at the nation’s third-largest commuter system, no matter how often he dusts off the if-it-kills-me sales pitch. Indeed, his stewardship suggests a preference for a status quo that could send NJT careening into another ditch.

Start with this reform package, which passed the Senate two weeks ago in a 25-5 avalanche, with five of the governor’s closest allies the only dissenters.

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Why Black and Latinx drivers pay more for car insurance

TAYLOR JUNG | DECEMBER 16, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Black drivers in New Jersey pay much higher insurance premiums than white drivers.

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When Cuqui Rivera searched for a new car insurance policy at the end of 2019, she said she did not expect a new company would offer over $1,800 in savings.

Rivera said she was a loyal customer with a national car insurance company for about 20 years, always paying her premium on time and keeping a good driving record. Her annual rate was $2,997 — which she thought was a deal — and didn’t think a new company’s price would be much different.

“I went to NJ CURE for comparably the same full coverage and the whole year’s cost would have been $1,188. That’s a very big difference,” she said.

Rivera was shocked — and angered — when she saw her rate drop. At the time, she was part of a coalition of organizations that included her employer Latino Action Network, as well as New Jersey Citizen Action, New Jersey Policy Perspective and others. They were looking at findings from a Consumer Federation of America report that showed how the auto insurance industry may take occupation, education, credit score and home ownership into account when setting rates. And that, they say,  disadvantages Black and brown communities who do not have the same access to economic and educational opportunities. And now that coalition is pressuring lawmakers to approve a bill now stalled in the Assembly that would ban this practice.

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Mayor Baraka: Feed the hungry? Absolutely, but safely. | Opinion

Published: Dec. 15, 2021

By Ras J. Baraka

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says that encouraging the homeless to congregate for food in the Penn Station area, where there are no transitional services, only contributes to their hand-to-mouth existence. Above, the homeless sleep under a bridge outside Penn Station. 
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There has been recent criticism of Newark’s policy requiring permits from the well-meaning groups who bring food to the homeless around Penn Station.

This has been presented as insensitive to the needs of our residents without addresses but, in fact, it is done with their safety, health and welfare in mind.

Our required permit for food distribution in public places is designed to protect the consumers, whether they be at a street fair, a Heritage Day, or at Peter Francisco Park across from Penn Station where the homeless congregate.

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New Jersey’s ousted Senate president has eyes on new job: Governor

 Politico

12/14/2021

Steve Sweeney speaks to a gathering at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. 

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New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney is saying it out loud: He plans to run for governor in 2025.

Sweeney, an Ironworkers union leader who was defeated for reelection last month by Republican Ed Durr in one of the biggest political upsets in New Jersey history, told dozens of union leaders Tuesday that he plans to make a run for governor in four years.

A source in the room at the New Jersey State Pipe Trades Association convention in Atlantic City confirmed Sweeney’s announcement, which was first reported by New Jersey Globe. The source requested anonymity when discussing Sweeney’s remarks.

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Prudential Financial Awards Grant to Newark Unites Tutoring Center, Will Expand Center's Services Throughout School Year

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More brutality at Essex Jail: Will the feds come to the rescue? | Editorial

Published: Dec. 13, 2021

At Essex County Jail earlier this month, a 27-year-old pretrial detainee was stabbed by a fellow inmate with a sharpened metal rod, sent back to his cell – not to a hospital – and died the next day.

This travesty follows a horrific beating of another inmate in September, with a video that recently surfaced showing a 22-year-old with schizophrenia, who clearly didn’t belong in a unit with violent criminals. A gang of inmates stomped on his face over and over, then slammed two microwave ovens onto his head as he lay helpless, with no guards in sight for at least two minutes, leaving him on the verge of death.

Both cases show a colossal failure of security. The 22-year-old, Jayshawn Boyd, should never have been placed into “a designated gang unit,” a lawyer for his family says. And the jail’s staff didn’t respond quickly enough to intervene.

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NJ boosts child tax credits

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER | DECEMBER 14, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

While tax season is still several months away, a recently enacted state law is triggering big changes for a tax credit that can help offset child care expenses for thousands of New Jersey families.

For starters, the new law has more than doubled the amount of money that taxpayers can earn annually in New Jersey while remaining eligible for the state’s child and dependent care tax credit.

The increase, from $60,000 to $150,000, will mean an estimated 80,000 more families will be eligible for the tax credit, starting with the current, 2021 tax year.

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Murphy will lead Democratic Governors Association in 2023

By David WildsteinDecember 12 2021 

New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy. 

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Governor Phi Murphy is looking at two years of potentially heavy out-of-state travel after securing a second stint as the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Murphy will serve as DGA vice chairman in 2022 and chairman in 2023, the DGA announced on Sunday.  He will become the governor to serve a second term as head of the Democratic Governors Association since the precursor of the group was formed in 1965.

At the same time, the recently re-elected New Jersey governor is serving as the vice chairman o f the National Governors Association.  In July 2022, Murphy is set to assume the NGA chairmanship.

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New Jersey moves closer to declaring racism a public-health crisis

TAYLOR JUNG | DECEMBER 13, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

People wait for a distribution of masks and food. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Americans to have experienced job and other income losses due to the pandemic.

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New Jersey has been grappling with how to dismantle systemic racism — or how white supremacy has created disadvantageous structures for Black and brown communities — for the past year and a half, ever since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide.

While the country was energized with rallies against police brutality and the legacies of enslavement, Black and brown communities were dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

For legislators like Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, as well as other members of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, one way to break down the system is by declaring racism a public health crisis.

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N.J reports 8 COVID deaths, 3,500 cases. Hospitalizations above 1,000 for nearly two weeks.

Published: Dec. 12, 2021

New Jersey on Sunday reported another eight COVID-19 deaths and 3,500 confirmed cases, as both hospitalizations and the state’s seven-day caseload average continued an upward trajectory.

The state’s seven-day average for new positive tests increased to 3,657, up 22% from a week ago and more than triple the average from a month ago. That’s also the highest average since April 6. By comparison, however, the seven-day average was 5,077 a year ago on Dec. 12, 2020, when vaccinations were not yet available.

There were 1,522 patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected coronavirus cases across 69 of New Jersey’s 71 hospitals as of Saturday night. Two hospitals did not report data. New Jersey has reported more than 1,000 hospitalizations daily for nearly two weeks now.

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