North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 6, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy said President Donald Trump’s decision to attend a fundraiser in New Jersey showed “a lack of leadership and not for the first time” in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis after being in close contact with one of his closest aides who had tested positive for the coronavirus. “To put it bluntly, the action leading up to and at this event have put lives at risk,” said Murphy at a press briefing Oct. 5. “This is a matter of leadership by example and it is clear that the President and his staff acted recklessly in coming to New Jersey in the first place knowing they had been exposed to someone with a confirmed positive test.”

President Donald Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House, while he noticeably gasped for air, on Oct. 5 after leaving the Walter Reed Medical Center where he has been receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19. Trump, as he posed for pictures without a mask, said despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans and then he entered the White House without a protective mask. The Wall Street Journal

The White House has decided not to trace the contacts of guests and staff members at the Rose Garden celebration Spet. 26 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, where at least eight people, including President Donald Trump and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, may have become infected. Instead, it has limited its efforts to notifying people who came in close contact with the President in the two days before his COVID-19 diagnosis Oct. 1. Additionally, White House officials have cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the government’s most extensive knowledge and resources for contact tracing, out of the process. The New York Times

Fourteen health care institutions in New Jersey were cited by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration for failing to provide enough equipment and other protections to healthcare workers who fell sick and died during the coronavirus pandemic. Among the hospitals, nursing homes and ambulance companies cited were Clara Maass Medical Center, The Valley Hospital, Hackensack Meridian Health, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, CarePoint Health Christ Hospital, Atrium Post-Acute Care of Wayne, Care One at Livingston Assisted Living, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. The Record 

Newark’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) regional center will be closed for the next 10 days after an employee tested positive for coronavirus. Commission managers learned of the positive test last week and closed the office as of Oct. 2. The agency’s Newark location handles driver’s license transactions. Jersey City’s MVC office is set to reopen after closing for a week when a worker tested positive. News12 New Jersey

About 7,000 ballots in Teaneck were printed with the wrong congressional candidates, causing Bergen County election officials to reprint the ballots. Teaneck is split between the 5th and 9th congressional districts and some voters received ballots for the wrong House district.  Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) represents about 80% of Teaneck, while Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) has the remainder of the township. New Jersey Globe

Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are partnering with Rep. Mikie Sherrill on bicameral legislation designed to protect federal judges and their families in the wake of the fatal attack on U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas’s family. Under the act, personally-identifiable information on federal judges and immediate family would be shielded from the public, including home addresses, social security numbers and tax records. Federal agencies, state and local governments, and commercial data collectors would create safeguards for active, senior, recalled, and retired federal judges. Grants would be provided to cover costs in preventing the release of the information.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office told county election officials campaign workers can stand next to secure ballot drop boxes as the boxes are not polling places. If there is a question of whether voter interference or intimidation is occurring as well as planned rallies or demonstrations centered around the ballot boxes, officials should notify local law enforcement officials. New Jersey Globe

State Sens. Kristin M. Corrado and Steven Oroho said the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) report confirms top officials in Gov. Phil Murphy’s inner circle were well aware of the patronage hiring spree by former Schools Development Authority (SDA) chief Lizette Delgado-Polanco. “This investigation confirms what we have known for two years—the Murphy administration encouraged, approved, and then vehemently denied blatant nepotism and cronyism,” said Corrado (R-40) in a press statement. “Firing highly qualified government employees and hiring family and friends who lack sufficient skills is the epitome of abuse of power and personal greed. The Murphy administration must be held fully accountable for their aversion to the truth.”

Stewart Mader, NJ Transit’s first customer advocate and experience officer, is no longer with the transit agency. With Mader’s departure, NJ Transit will re-examine the position in its entirety, including the qualifications of a replacement candidate as well the position’s location in the agency’s organizational structure.

New Jersey would suspend bear hunting starting in 2021 under a plan announced by Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor wants the state Fish and Game Council, which in 2015 approved annual bear hunts as part of a five-year management plan, to develop a new black bear policy that promotes public safety while protecting important wildlife with a focus on non-lethal management techniques. The 2020 hunt begins Oct. 12 in parts of Sussex, Morris, Warren, Passaic, Bergen, Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties. New Jersey Herald

The Jersey City Council will introduce an ordinance requiring developers of residential projects to set aside 20% of their total units for affordable housing if they receive a use variance or have been permitted to build with increased density or height. Residential developments with 15 or fewer units and projects undertaken by the Jersey City Housing Authority would be exempt from the affordable housing requirement, under the ordinance. Additionally, projects impacted by rezoning because of a redevelopment master plan update or amendment will also be exempt. The Jersey Journal

And finally…The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the ALDS. The Record 

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