North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 17, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to create a modified vote-by-mail (VBM) election for the November election in New Jersey. The order requires each county’s elections officials to send VBM ballots with pre-paid postage to all active registered voters for the General Election. Additionally, every voter will have the option to either return their ballot through a secure drop box or turn in their ballot at a polling location on Election Day.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has told New Jersey it can’t guarantee all mail-in ballots will be delivered in time to be counted in November. USPS wrote that under New Jersey’s election laws, certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are “incongruous” with the Postal Service’s delivery standards, creating a “significant risk” a ballot could be requested and returned too late to be counted. The agency requested state officials use First Class mail to send blank ballots to voters. Voters are being urged to mail their completed ballots at least one week ahead of the election in order to arrive in time.

While a viral photograph of mailboxes being removed in Morristown was part of an upgrade to high security mailboxes, USPS has decided to postpone any future removal of post office collection boxes for 90 days as they evaluate customer concerns. According to a USPS spokesman, the box removal was part of the agency’s normal review routine to remove redundant and/or seldom used collection boxes. New Jersey Globe

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is calling the House back from its annual summer recess for a vote on legislation to block changes at USPS that voting advocates warn could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic. The announcement came after the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows signaled openness to providing emergency funding to help the agency handle a surge in mail-in ballots, and as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service. The New York Times

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) released protocols for schools to follow for the 2020/2021 scholastic year regarding the coronavirus in the Garden State. Among the details contained in the COVID-19 Public Health Recommendations for Local Health Departments document include the six regions the state is being divided into, a color-coded system detailing a schools’ risk level and what constitutes an outbreak that would force schools to close.

The Democratic National Convention begins Aug. 17. Featured speakers include Michelle Obama on Monday, vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday and Sen. Cory Booker on Thursday, the night Joe Biden is to accept the party’s nomination for President.

OPINION: Gov. Phil Murphy is in a bind when it comes to New Jerseyans wearing masks in public, put there by the presidential nominee of his own party. Joe Biden stepped to the podium a day after naming Sen. Kamala Harris his running mate and used the occasion to call for a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In 2020, we have seen that leadership matters and Murphy must follow the leadership of Joe Biden in ordering universal masking in the Garden State.

A draft ordinance creating a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) in Jersey City tasked with investigating and proposing disciplinary actions for police officers has been made by the city council. The ordinance would establish a nine-person panel to review any complaints made against police, and report its findings and propose disciplinary action to the city’s public safety director. Under the draft ordinance, the CCRB would develop a system— with the public safety director and bargaining unit—for imposing disciplinary action. The Jersey Journal

A bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell to expand federal first responders benefits to include disability or death from COVID-19 among the criteria for payments was signed into law by President Donald Trump. The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 is similar to the HEROES act, which secured benefits for the families of those who gave their lives during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The new bill ensures payments to emergency workers and their families if they are disabled or killed by COVID-19, which they contact in the line-of-duty. New Jersey Herald

New York City’s annual 9/11 light installation will take place next month. The announcement comes reversing an earlier decision to cancel the annual tradition to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Wall Street Journal

The Sussex County GOP hosted a boat parade supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election bid on Lake Hopatcong Aug. 15. Approximately 125 boats circled the cove near River Styx bridge in Hopatcong sporting Trump-themed pool floats, swimming suits, yellow wigs, cardboard cutouts and a boat named after Trump. New Jersey Herald

The Jersey City Council approved a measure to turn Exchange Place into a pedestrian plaza. The city would close off the eastern end of Montgomery St. from Hudson St. to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway to the majority of vehicular traffic in order to create a pedestrian plaza. The area is already used as a pedestrian plaza though not codified by the city. Hudson Reporter

And finally...A recent Bloomberg study found that 71% of people working from home are experiencing physical pain caused by their new work set-up.

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