Around New Jersey

image74

BALLOT PLACEMENT DOES NOT GUARANTEE VICTORY

Election Results Show Ballot Position is Helpful, but not a Clincher


By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - "Local Talk" used May 12th's unique election results to prove or disprove the presumption that candidates who get the first three drawn ballot positions have better chances of winning their elections than later-placed competitors.


What "Local Talk" found among the 20 mayor, council and/or board of education races that receiving the ballot's pole position is helpful but far from assuring a victory. A similar pattern played out among the top three - or "A1, A2, A3" ballot positions.


Proving whether positions A1-3 would automatically give candidates more votes came after Bloomfield Board of Education President Fleischmann presented such a report to her colleagues July 18.


Fleischmann, in her report to the BBOE, said that voters in its 2007-18 elections granted the candidate on A1 a school board seat. Voters also granted candidates in positions A1-3 all three board seats in 2013 and 2015-18.


The board president submitted her report while her colleagues were considering whether to ask Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin to move their elections back to April. The report covered the elections before and after BBOE moved them to join the November General Election ballot in 2013.


Ballot positions are publicly drawn before candidates by a municipal or school board clerk - as what happened on or by March 16. That drawing may have been the most straightforward aspect of the elections in the wake of the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus-curbing "shelter-in-place" executive orders.


Gov. Phil Murphy (D-Rumson) shortly afterward issued an executive order adding the scheduled April 21 school board elections onto the May 12 nonpartisan municipal elections ballot - and to make that combined election all Vote-By-Mail.


Registered voters in IRVINGTON, for example, found themselves reading two lines on their combined ward council-school board ballot.


Although "Irvington First" candidates got "A1" in three of the four ward council ballots, more voters selected "Team Irvington Strong" candidates.


Incumbent East Ward Councilman Paul Inman, for example, lost to challenger Rev. Sean Evans. Fellow South Ward challenger Al-Tariq Shabazz lost to Jamillah Z. Beasley McCloud. Challenger Destin Nicholas lost to Vernin Cox in the West Ward.


North Ward incumbent and TIS runner Orlander Glen Vick took first place in the results, followed by 2A's Micano Evra and 3A's Eric Dixon.


In the regular BOE member elections, independent runner Conrad McPherson, despite drawing 1B, placed fourth. Incumbents Gene Etichson, Seysha Benbow and Audrey M. Lyon, from their 2B-D places, finished second, third and first.


While the two incumbent "Irvington Children's Team" members were also re-elected to finish unexpired terms, Annette Beasley, 6A, outdrew colleague Gloria Chison, 5A.


While it appeared that candidates in Irvington drew individually, "Local Talk" is still checking whether NEWARK BOE candidates drew as a team.


Incumbent Josephine Garcia, newcomer Hansani Council and incumbent Flohisha Johnson - all on the "Moving Newark Schools Forward" ticket - finished first, third and second against three independents.


ORANGE's respective mayoral and at-large council elections were variations of the hypothesis.


Incumbent Mayor Dwayne D. Warren, who drew 1A, got the most votes of the six balloted candidates. Independent Rayfield Morton, in 2A, was placed fifth in the vote totals.


Donna K. Williams, in 3A, finished second. Independent Shawn D. Hunter, who drew 6A, received the third-highest vote count.


Warren's "Keeping Orange Safe" platform was shared by council teammates Clifford Ross (7B), Coram Rimes (14B) and Adrienne Wooten (17B).


Returned ballots granted incumbent Wooten, despite her balloted position, the most council votes. Ross came in second-highest. Rimes, however, finished seventh.


One of Williams' "Team Orange 2020" running mates, Weldon "Monty" Montague (16B), received the third and last council seat over independent Edward Marable (9B) by 17 votes.


In MONTCLAIR, a majority of voters largely went down to Line C to choose most of their next mayor and council.


It appears that independent at-large council candidate Carmel Loughman, "Your Voice, Montclair" runners and "Montclair 2020" campaigners had agreed with the township clerk to draw by platform or ticket.


That drawing placed Loughman on Line A or, actually A2 since she was nor running for mayor. The Dr. Renee Baskerville led "Your Voice" got Line B and the Sean Spillar-headed "Montclair 2020" Line C.


The municipal clerk then laid out each line by contests for mayor, at-large council and ward council.


Township-wide voters selected Spillar (1C) over Baskerville (1B). Loughman, despite being at A2, placed fourth for the two at-large council places. "Your Voice" newcomer Peter Yacobellis (B2) and "2020" incumbent Robert J. Russo (C2) placed first and second in the voting.


"2020" candidates William "Bill" Hurlock, Robin Schlager (both incumbents) and Lori Price Abrams - all C4 - won their respective First, Second and Third Ward seats. "Your Voice" runner David Cummings - who ran without opposition - got the Fourth Ward Seat.


In BELLEVILLE's Ward Council elections, "A" was where incumbent candidates were chosen in three of the four races.


Marie Strumolo Burke (1A) was returned to her First Ward seat against "A Better Belleville" backed challenger Carmine Mattia, Jr. (1B). In the Second Ward, voters helped return Steven Rovell (2B - ABB) over challenger Frank Velez (1A) In the Fourth Ward, ABB incumbent John J. Notary (1A) was picked over Miosotty Martinez (1B). ABB incumbent John Cozzarelli (1A) ran unopposed in the Third Ward.


In NUTLEY, all 12 candidates, each with their own campaign slogans, were vying for the five Board of Commissioners seats along Line A.


Lorenzo Marchese, 1A, placed 10th while his 2A neighbor - incumbent Mauro Tucci, Sr. - tied with current Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli, 7A, as top vote-getter.


Fellow incumbents Alphonse Petracco, 4A, and Thomas J. Evans, 11A, placed third and fourth in vote totals. Independent Maria Hamlin, 3A, was edged out for the fifth and last seat by former runner John V. Kelly III, 6A.


Candidates landing the top or first three drawn ballot positions, concludes "Local Talk," is helpful but does not guarantee a coronation to office.


There are other variables - including name recognition and campaign resources and organization - that are factors when voters choose their next representatives.

NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED TO NURSING HOMES

By Walter Elliott


NEWARK - Members of the state's National Guard and/or Attorney General's Office detectives may be at your loved one's nursing home while you read this.


There is no real way of knowing whether any the 120 NJ National Guardsmen and Guardswomen sent by Gov. Phil Murphy are performing "non-clinical tasks" are at any particular nursing home, long-term care centers, assisted living communities or the like.


The same can be said on whether one or more of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal's detectives from his Newark headquarters are interviewing staff, reading record files, and/or inspecting a particular home's property.


Gov. Murphy himself imposed an executive order March 13, following a similar federal order, that closed the said homes statewide to all but home employees and first responders. Murphy's order means that relatives of said residents will not know - unless a staff employee or a resident says so.


Murphy (D-Rumson), in his April 7 daily COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus briefing, modified his earlier order to send the 120 of National Guard troops to mostly state-owned and/or operated veterans homes and related long-term health care facilities.


N.J. Health Commissioner Judy Perschilli, the same briefing, said that 22 of the 120 NG troops would be sent to Sussex County's Andover Subacute and Rehab Center II - a private center that made headlines last month when 17 deceased residents' bodies were stored in a makeshift morgue.


The 120 NG troops are in addition to another 75 troops who were deployed in late April to the state's veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus - where their combined COVID-19-related deaths exceeded 100.


The overall 195 troops are to help nursing home employees to further focus on their clinical care of their residents. Murphy, at Monday's briefing, added that the deployed state guard will be paid until late June through the U.S. government's Title 31 program.


While Murphy brought in the National Guard to assist highly-stressed nursing home clinical employees, Grewal brought in his detectives to investigate "any malfeasance, malpractice and negligence" in the homes' handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.


Those OAG investigators have been acting on complaints and/or tips left on the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman's hotline or e-mail since April 19.


Both Murphy and Grewal have pointed out that 53 percent of New Jersey's 9,317 COVID and related deaths, as of May 11, have been nursing home and long-term care facility residents. There have been over 38,800 such deaths, or around 45-percent, among the U.S. May 11's 79,707 overall death count.


"It was also the reporting we were seeing and hearing about how bodies were being handled (and) the lack of communication and transparency with families," that Grewal said Monday from his Newark office on National Public Radio prompted his investigation probe. "We felt an obligation to look for answers - and to figure out if something went wrong, what happened and, if there are people to be held accountable, who those people are."


Grewal added that his detectives are looking at what pre-existing conditions were in the said homes (or LTCs in the AG's terminology) as well as what happened in their COVID-19 response.


"It could be anything from consumer fraud to criminal homicide to criminal or civil false claims to regulatory violations," said the AG. "If people cut corners, put profits over patients, inadequately staffed, if there were some degree of negligence, if there was anything criminal in the aspect of handling corpses - we're looking at that as well."


"All Things Considered" co-host Alisa Chang asked whether the state has had closer monitoring and/or stricter regulation on the LTCs. Grewal replied that while "it's an aspect we're looking at that, it would be premature for me to reach that conclusion."


There are some critics who compared state officials' LTC probe as an unintended consequence of a March 30 directive issued by Murphy and Persichilli.


They had told LTCs back then that they could not bar the readmission of residents or patients who are coming from hospitals after being found COVID-19-positive. Their order was intended to free up hospital beds for anticipated coronavirus cases.


Grewal finished his interview by saying that the LTC Ombudsman and his staff are following-up on some 200 leads left since April 19. He cautioned that he could not discuss the investigation's specific allegations, places or other details.


The AG's LTC Ombudsman can be reached at 1(877) 582-6995 and/orombudsman@ltco.nj.gov.

STATE DEMANDS NURSING HOME COVID-19 CLARITY

By Walter Elliott


EAST ORANGE / MONTCLAIR - Gov. Phil Murphy may have visited "nursing facilities in Paramus and East Orange," to see how they are complying with the tighter COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus reporting he and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli had ordered since April 20.


Murphy (D-Rumson), on one hand, has most likely toured the NJ State Department of Veterans and Veterans Affairs' Paramus Veterans Memorial Home - which, at 39 residents' deaths as of Monday, has the highest mortality toll of any of the 425 nursing homes statewide.


It is not clear, as of 11 a.m. April 22, whether Murphy had intended to visit Park Crescent Rehabilitation and/or Windsor Gardens Care & Rehabilitation Center in East Orange - or possibly the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital here.


Park Crescent, in the NJ Department of Health's "LTC Facilities Outbreaks" list issued Monday, reported 46 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.


Windsor Gardens reported 18 cases and four deaths as of Monday.


The two East Orange homes are among the 40 state and private such facilities in Essex County - including 25 among eight "Local Talk" towns - who sent their confirmed case and death data to the Department of Health and Human Services' Trenton headquarters.


They and the 423 other such facilities, however, are to do more than provide the said data. They are to isolate those who have contracted or fallen ill from the virus away from the rest of their residents.


This order is in addition to Murphy's March 18 executive order, which closed these facilities to all but their staff and emergency first responders. Barring everyone else, including residents' relatives, was a measure taken to curb COVID-19's spread.


About one-third of New Jersey's COVID-19 death toll, some 1,400 people as of April 21, have died in nursing homes, long term care and/or rehabilitation facilities.


The rising body count caused staff at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II in Andover to stack 17 of its up to 68 dead in an on-site morgue designed to hold four. Andover police, acting on an April 13 tip about a body bag request, discovered the room - news of which reached the ears of an outraged Murphy and Persichilli.


None of the "Local Talk" nursing or care homes reached the seven "worst centers like the ones in Paramus or Andover. That and the foregoing are cold comfort to families who have lost loved ones in centers within or near "Local Talk" Land.


Cathy Konciak recently told of shock and frustration when a Hackensack Meridian Health-Mountainside Hospital called her North Arlington home March 28 and April 5 regarding her husband. Edward R. Konciak, 66, was admitted to Families of Caring-Montclair March 12 to complete his recuperation from a fall while playing basketball.


The Mountainside physician's first call, March 28, was to directly tell C. Konciak that Edward was admitted there - and had tested positive for COVID-19. The doctor, said Cathy, said he had to call her because he was unable to reach anyone at FOC's Upper Montclair facility.


Konciak shared her frustrations with the doctor's with FOC's apparent lack of internal and external communication. Although Edward had a personal bedside phone, the nursing home's front office staff did not have that number.


Part of FOC's disjointedness may be in part because they lost their administrator, John Confranesco, 52, of Bergenfield, had died from the virus March 19. An FOC spokeswoman, on April 7, said that the three-floor, 67-patient home has been complying with CDC directives on virus spread prevention and that "we haven't had a positive case the last 11 days."


Mountainside's April 5 call to Cathy was to tell her that Edwards had succumbed to complications of the virus. Memorial donations honoring Edward - a Securitas employee who was born in Newark April 2, 1954 - may be made to the Secaucus Animal Hospital.


Montclair resident Alixandra Handy said that FOC gave her several calls about her residing mother - Lona Erwin, 86 - March 17-18. The first was that "she needed supplemental oxygen," followed by "she's fine," "this facility has COVID-19 and she's declining rapidly," 3 p.m. March 18 - and that she had died 7 p.m.


Erwin, who was born in Framingham, Mass. May 20, 1933, moved to Montclair in 2015 to be close to "Alix." A second daughter, three sons, a sister, a brother, 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren also survived her.


The following confirmed cases and death counts were as of April 20.


BLOOMFIELD: 

-- Job Haines Home; 38 cases, eight deaths


EAST ORANGE:   

-- Park Crescent Rehabilitation; 46, 11

-- Windsor Gardens Care & Rehabilitation Center; 18, 4

IRVINGTON: 

-- Alaris Health at Essex; 24, 4


MAPLEWOOD: 

-- Winchester Gardens; 1, 0* (*Resident died)


MONTCLAIR: 

-- Family of Caring; 36, 14* (Including those who died in hospitals)

-- Gates Manor/Montclair Care Center; 24,8

-- Horizon Manor - North; 9,1

-- Horizon Manor - South; 7,2

-- Waterview Center/Genesis at Cedar Grove; 52,14


NEWARK: 

-- Broadway House for Continuing Care; 3,1

-- Forest Hill Health Care Center; 37,3

-- NCC Extended Care Facility; 26,5

-- New Vista; 3,0* (*NJDOH: "Called multiple times April 18, unable to complete.")

-- Sinai Post-Acute, Nursing & Rehab Center; 47,11


ORANGE:  

-- Alaris Health at St. Mary's; 29, 7

-- White House Nursing Home; 4,0


WEST ORANGE:  

-- Alaris Health at West Orange; 17, 1

-- Brighton Gardens of West Orange; 13,3

-- Brookdale Senior Living of West Orange; 8,3

-- The Cliffs at Eagles Rock; 3,1

-- Complete Care at Summit; 11,5

-- Daughters of Israel; 35,0

-- Green Hill Assisted Living; 13,2

-- Stratford Manor Rehabilitation Center; 53,8

NEW MEASURES IN EFFECT IN SOUTH ORANGE AND NEWARK TO FIGHT CORONAVIRUS

By Lev D. Zilbermints


Almost three weeks ago, on March 19, “Local Talk” reported on the impact the coronavirus was having on stores in Newark and South Orange. That article covered the situation right before Governor Phil Murphy issued his order on March 16, shutting down many businesses and limiting non-essential and non-emergency travel. 


The current article is an update on the previous one. It covers stores in Newark and nearby South Orange. Data is as of April 4, 2020.


“Local Talk” first went to Rose Hill Plaza to check what was happening there. Some stores, such as Dunkin Donuts, Dollar Plus, the laundromat, CityMarkets, were open. Other stores were closed.


Dollar Plus was open, and appeared to be well-stocked. Toilet paper was limited to one four-pack roll per customer, priced at $7.99 each. There was plenty of water in the store. Inside, “Local Talk” saw changes. There were plastic barriers between the cashiers and the customers. Everyone wore masks and stood six feet apart. There was space under the plastic barrier to slide the bank card into the automatic machine.


Masks were available, but the price went up. In late February/early March, the price was $3 for a three-mask packet. Now five masks cost $10.66, an average of $2.13 per mask.


Coliseum Gym was closed, effective March 16, 7 p.m. A notice on the door cited Governor Phil Murphy's order as the reason for closing.


The laundromat was open. There were many customers inside. All wore masks and stood apart from each other. There was no limit on the number of customers allowed inside.


CityMarkets store had a long line of customers outside, waiting to get in. All wore masks and stayed apart from each other. The store had a limit of 10 people at a time inside. A store employee stood by the entrance, ensuring that one or two customers at a time went inside.


Walgreens Pharmacy on Irvington Avenue had a limit of 10 people inside according to a notice posted on the door. Those outside wore masks and had to stay 6 feet apart from each other.


On the way to South Orange, “Local Talk” visited a convenience store. Business went on, but people wore masks. There was a Bitcoin machine inside the store, something rarely seen outside the airport. The machine converted regular money into cryptocurrency. The rate was $825 equaling $1000 in Bitcoin.


Crossing the border into nearby South Orange, “Local Talk” found a slightly different picture. The 31 South Orange-Newark bus still ran. One bus left from the South Orange/Academy Street bus stop. “Local Talk” saw the driver wearing a mask. There were only three passengers on the bus. Two sat together. The remaining passenger sat all the way in the back.


Walgreens Pharmacy on South Orange Avenue limited customers to 10 at a time. Sonny’s Bagels had a limit of 1 customer at a time. Pirates Pizza, which sells, soups, salads, pastas, baked dishes, pizzas, and other dishes, was open for dine-in/take-out/delivery. “Local Talk” saw at least two customers leave with take-out orders.


Liza Designer Labels was open by appointment. Phone is 973-809-6625. Sukura Teriyaki was closed, as were 2 for 1 Cleaners. The Dancing Blender was open for curbside pick up only, 10 am - 5 pm Monday - Saturday.


The 7-Eleven store on Valley Street in South Orange had notices on the door in Spanish and English warning customers that due to increased demand, the store reserved the right to limit the purchases of certain items. “Local Talk” found plenty of over-the-counter medicines for allergies, flu, stomach issues. There were condoms, vitamins and a decent stock of various foods and drinks. The cashier wore a mask. Like in the Dollar Plus store at Rose Hill Plaza, there was a plastic barrier to separate the cashier from the customers making a purchase.


At Ashley's Marketplace on South Orange Avenue, almost everyone wore a mask, including employees. There were a few customers and employees without masks, but these were the exception. Some shelves were empty but there was no shortage of food or water. The atmosphere inside could be described as worried but calm. By contrast, the atmosphere at the Newark supermarkets visited by “Local Talk” could be described as exceedingly worried.


Ashley’s Marketplace did not have a limit on customers, but there were fewer customers than usual. Store employees, wearing masks, were seen restocking toilet paper, flour, napkins, and other products. The hot bar and salad bars were closed. The olive bar was still open. A customer not wearing a mask was seen making filling a plastic glass with pickled cucumbers and olives.


Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, which sells rare coins, autographs, ancient Roman artifacts, political pins, was closed. Those wishing to sell something had to make an appointment. Beauty shops and nail salons were closed, as were shops selling clothes.

GOVERNOR MURPHY GIVES ANNUAL NEW JERSEY STATE ADDRESS

TRENTON - Progressive ideas and one nagging issue highlighted an annual address to state legislators and their constituents.


On Jan. 14, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy stood before a packed house at the Statehouse in Trenton to deliver the mandated state address. After some lamentations on the Jersey City shootout from Dec. 10, Murphy would delve into issues such as healthcare, state investment, the lead water crisis, NJ Transit and more. He also brought up the bugaboo about a millionaire’s tax.


Here now are excerpts from Murphy’s 2020 State of the State Address:


“Over the past year, by working together, we have made New Jersey a better, more hopeful place to call home. And, we will continue to do so. And, because of this, I am proud to report that the state of our state is stronger and fairer than ever…


…Every family worries about how they will make ends meet or how they can cover an unexpected expense. That’s why we’re raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, why we created and expanded tax breaks for working families, why we’re attacking the sources of high property taxes, and why we’re providing more property tax relief than ever.


Too many families wrestle with how they balance work and family - particularly at a moment of need. So, we expanded paid family leave and guaranteed the right to earned sick leave.


Some families - our military families - are also anxious about their futures, and whether they may soon be deployed. We owe it to them, and to the veterans who preceded them, to create a state where their place is secured, and where they feel supported.


Our families lose sleep over the cost of health insurance coverage, how to pay their medical expenses or about the financial turmoil an unexpected accident or illness will cause. 


In stark contrast to President Trump, we’re protecting the Affordable Care Act, which has benefited millions of our residents. I remain incredibly proud of the work we have done to protect the tenets of the ACA and to establish the State-Based Health Exchange which will go online later this year…But we can do more.


So, I am establishing an Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency, in the Governor’s Office, to work across state agencies and lead critical efforts to reduce consumer health care costs, make insurance more affordable, and improve price transparency.


And - to ensure we have the facts - I am directing the Department of Banking and Insurance to work with this new Office to track the actual costs residents pay for the health care services they receive. Armed with this data, we will make smart decisions to limit cost increases and set new standards for quality and transparency…


…This will also be a powerful tool to further combat our opioid epidemic – as well as the broader fight against addiction and mental health illnesses that, when left untreated, lead to tragedy.


The preliminary numbers suggest New Jersey saw a three-percent decrease in the number of individuals lost to opioids last year, after three years of double-digit increases. This is not a number to celebrate - 3,021 lives lost is still 3,021 precious lives too many. But, it should give us a measure of confidence that our targeted, evidence-based, and data-driven whole-of-government approach is the right one…


Our people want New Jersey to stand at the forefront of the national fight for justice, so we worked together, to allow the expungement of records of residents whose futures have been held back because of past convictions, to once again give residents on parole or probation their right to vote, and to give our proud immigrant community the ability to earn a driver’s license. 


We received the far-reaching and transformative recommendations of the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, led by former Chief Justice Deborah Poritz and former president of NOBLE Jiles Ship. And, I thank Senators Sandra Cunningham and Nellie Pou for serving on the commission.


Let’s recommit to enacting its recommendations, which include the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. Let’s lead the way for creating safe communities and neighborhoods through a criminal justice system that lives up to that all-important word, ‘justice.’


And, let’s do this not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because our state will only be stronger - and better - when everyone is a full participant in our economy, our democracy, and our society… 


…Two years ago, when our administration took office, New Jersey’s clean energy future was stalled. Today, we are on the way to an ambitious goal of 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035 - enough to meet half of New Jersey’s entire retail electric needs, remove billions of tons of fossil-fuel pollution from our air, and create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs.


And, in two weeks, I will unveil New Jersey’s new Energy Master Plan, our comprehensive roadmap for arriving at our goal of a 100-percent clean-energy economy by 2050.


We’re working to protect every school and home in New Jersey from the dangers of lead. I applaud Mayor Ras Baraka, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Freeholder President Brendan Gill, and many legislators, for their partnership to fast-track the elimination of lead service lines in the City of Newark.


But, we all know this is a statewide problem. It extends far beyond just lead in old water lines - lead paint is a much bigger problem - and it extends to our suburban and rural communities…


…Over the past two years, since the beginning of our administration and of our work together, our economy has responded by adding and supporting more than 72,000 new private-sector jobs.


In 2019, we set, and then reset, record lows for unemployment since the state began keeping records in 1976. Wages are increasing. More people are entering our workforce. 


I think we can all agree, our collective task is to fix the gimmicks in Trenton, not raise property taxes that hit the middle class the hardest…


…Some in Trenton claim the best way to make our state stronger is to undo the commonsense, middle-class-building accomplishments that we’ve made together. They want us to make the same false and failed choices made a decade ago.


Trenton tried their way. And, history is clear - that way failed. New Jersey hobbled its way through economic recovery because their choices failed to create jobs and failed to raise incomes…I am going to fight every day for the middle-class values that built New Jersey in the first place.


It’s why I am not giving up the fight for a millionaire’s tax, so we can ease the property tax burden on millions of middle-class families and seniors, and do more to help fund our public schools. Overwhelming majorities of residents - of all political stripes - support this. We should, too.


The millionaires and corporate CEOs made out just fine in the last recession - and, I assure you, they will again when the next one hits. Thanks to the federal tax system, the richest 400 Americans now pay a lower tax rate than the nation’s middle class - the first time that has ever happened.


The answer to ensuring we come out of any recession stronger than when we went in is not to tell the middle class and the most vulnerable, ‘perhaps another day, but not now.’ That choice was made in the last recession. And, the middle class paid the price…


…NJ TRANSIT is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new rolling stock - rail cars, locomotive engines, and buses - to update its fleet for increased commuter comfort and greater reliability.


These steps, as we all know, are long overdue. The prior administration left NJ TRANSIT to wither on the vine. They allowed the ranks of rail engineers to be depleted. I want to thank the union men and women who have hung in there despite some very difficult working conditions.


Soon, NJ TRANSIT will announce a 10-year strategic plan, and, beyond that, a five-year capital plan, to guide the agency through this new decade. These aren’t just ‘new’ plans - it’s actually the first time these have ever been done…


We all must be disgusted by the stories which women - across the entire spectrum of race, age, and experience - tell of their mistreatment by men who felt empowered, if not protected, by Trenton’s culture.


For too many years, too many people in power have turned their eyes away from behavior they knew was not only happening, but was pervasive in Trenton. We know that Trenton is often resistant to change, and this is a most egregious failure.


Today, I am calling for us all to work together to tear down the existing system and replace it with one that treats everyone with equal dignity and respect. I am calling on my partners in government to join me in this mission. And, I am calling on those who have stood idly by and allowed this behavior to flourish to start speaking up and speaking out whenever they witness injustice.


To my fellow men, we can and must do better, not just by changing our own behavior, but by making the conscious choice to not ignore the behavior of others…


I am not going to lose sight of who it is we have to look out for. In our effort to make New Jersey stronger, we will not leave out our middle class, or those striving to join its ranks.


Our job is to lift New Jersey up, and to make it stronger, fairer, and more resilient to the unknowns of tomorrow - so our residents can feel more secure not just in their futures, but also in their children’s.


We’re now two years into this journey together, and look how far we’ve come. And, yet, we have so much more to do and so much more to fix. And, as we do so, we will continue to be who we said we’d be.


And, we will keep making New Jersey stronger and fairer for everyone who calls our state home.


Thank you, may God bless us and the people we represent, and may God continue to bless the great State of New Jersey and the United States of America.”

NEWARK CELEBRATES 52ND AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE STATEWIDE PARADE

By Dhiren Shah and William Hathaway


The City of Newark has a lot of history, and the pride of the city was showcased this past Sunday with the 52nd Anniversary of the legendary African American Heritage Statewide Parade.


The event kicked off on the newly christened Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson Blvd., named after the city’s first black mayor. In the City Hall Rotunda, there was a breakfast/brunch, thanking the sponsors of this year’s event, and a brief ceremony hosted by the African American Heritage Parades Organization (AAHPO) along with city officials.


There was a brief prayer and pre-parade ceremony held in front of the grandstand. AAHPO President Charles N. Hall Jr. and Vice President Curtia Orr co-hosted this year. Also, there were a reading from the Holy Quran, call of the drums, and the Black National Anthem before the march down the former Broad Street. 


One good part about the parade is that it started right at 1 pm on the dot.


Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. served as this year’s Grand Marshal, and was presented a sash by Hall at the start of the parade. 


Payne said, “I am humbled to be the Grand Marshal. This is important to our legacy and it’s an honor to be part of this year’s event.”


The were some Newark city council members who attended the event as well. Central Ward councilwoman LaMonica Mclver said this event has been legendary event in Newark. Other groups who attended and marched down Gibson Blvd. were the Malcolm X. Shabazz High School Marching Band and the Orange High School Band. There was even a marching band from Hillside.


Members of the Newark Fire Department and the Newark Police Department Motorcycle unit were on hand. There were floats of legendary African Americans Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Crispus Attacks. Newark’s current mayor Ras J Baraka presented a proclamation to the African American Heritage committee.


This year, about 5,500 to 6,000 spectators and participants were there to enjoy the parade, which is growing. Also, on Friday and Saturday the community enjoyed the festival celebration for a three-day event in all.


The event also featured some Spanish music, and the audience was encourage throughout the African American Heritage Parade.