North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 20, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy called the daily COVID-19 infection numbers being over 1,000 for the third straight day “sobering” and hinted it may be playing a role in delaying an increase in indoor dining capacity. “We are trying to do everything we can to help the industry,” said the first-term Democratic governor who conceded that while officials are wargaming a list of potential steps to take to relieve the burden restaurants have borne during the pandemic, his uneasiness has increased.  “I am more sobered than I was on Thursday or any point last week,” stated Murphy.

A bill reimbursing restaurants that lost money when the planned reopening of indoor dining this summer was delayed was vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The bill would have provided $30 million in loans or grants to restaurants harmed by the rescinded reopening, funded by the state’s federal CARES Act aid. Murphy noted he recently announced $100 million in new CARES Act funding for businesses, including at least $35 million for restaurants and bars. News12 New Jersey

Interim Morris County Superintendent Angelica Allen-McMillan will be nominated as the next state education commissioner. Allen-McMillan, a former Newark Public Schools administrator and Montclair Board of Education member, would replace Lamont Repollet, who stepped down as education commissioner to become president of Kean University. PoliticoNJ

Newark public school students will continue remote learning until January. The board cited New Jersey being “in a (second) surge of COVID-19” in making the announcement of the school remaining remote until Jan. 25.

Westwood regional school district moved to full remote instruction for the two weeks after cases of the coronavirus were identified in school buildings. The move comes after the district identified three positive cases of COVID-19 across school buildings, but it initially said the cases wouldn’t affect the reopening schedule. The district has schools in Washington Township and Westwood. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a first-in-the nation bill reducing sentences in a prison system with the highest coronavirus death rate in the country. The move will release approximately 2,000 inmates beginning Nov. 4. Adult and juvenile inmates with less than a year left can have up to eight months knocked off their sentences under the law. Prisoners convicted of aggravated sexual assault, murder and “repetitive, compulsive” sex offenders are not eligible.

A bill requiring all uniformed patrol officers to wear body cameras was conditionally vetoed due to funding concerns. The bill proposed local, county and state law enforcement agencies buy the bodycams with forfeiture money, a revenue pool Gov. Phil Murphy believes is too shallow. The state Department of Law and Public Safety estimated that the cost of outfitting New Jersey police with bodycams could eclipse $55 million, while the forfeiture fund contained less than $2 million. The Record

A Bergen County man was arrested for threatening a federal judge. William Kaetz faces one count each of making an interstate communication containing a threat to injure a person and of threatening to assault and murder a federal judge after he sent a letter to the unnamed officer of the court that repeatedly called the judge a “traitor” and threatened to release their home address. New Jersey Globe

Three New Jersey congressmen are calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to allow an inspection of Kearny processing facility after numerous reports of discarded mail. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Albio Sires and Tom Malinowski were denied entry of the Dominic V. Daniels Processing and Distribution Center, which handles mail destined for the region, including Hudson County. Hudson Reporter

A recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found the approval numbers for Gov. Phil Murphy and President Donald Trump are going in opposite directions when it comes to the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Seventy-two percent of Garden State residents say Gov. Murphy is doing a good job managing the state’s response, with 33% who say he’s doing a very good job, and 39% who rate his performance as somewhat good. Comparatively, New Jerseyans are not satisfied with the actions of President Trump, with 56% disapproving of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic and 41% rating the response under Trump’s leadership as very bad.

Sussex County Freeholders opted not to take a vote on a resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey. The resolution, which was to urge voters to oppose the state referendum, was tabled at the board’s last meeting as members agreed its language needed some work. The freeholders said they are concerned the legalization would increase access to children, especially the edible form. New Jersey Herald

Jersey City Redevelopment Agency and Kushner Companies reached a settlement over the development 1 Journal Square. The agreement settles lawsuits brought by Kushner Companies in 2018, claiming construction delays were caused by the city’s alleged anti-Trump agenda. The city said the settlement includes the execution of an updated redevelopment agreement that does not include tax abatements, which the developer originally sought. The $900 million project would see two residential towers built in Journal Square. Hudson Reporter

Newton is looking for a solution to replace a home-made pedestrian bridge that will connect and expand local bike trails. Initial discussions to replace the wooden bridge are on hold as submitted bids for the work are too high. The bridge connects the trail that leads north along the old railroad tracks into Andover Township and parallels the Wabasse Junction Road into the Hyper Humas area. New Jersey Herald

And finally…Line holders are paid to wait all night outside New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission offices. The New York Times

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