North Jersey News Roundup for Nov. 2, 2020

OPINION: Yes Your Vote Matters. We understand how the discourse and division could turn you off from voting, that your one vote will not matter in New Jersey. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the opportunity for your voice to be heard. Vote on the issues that matter to you. We do not care if you vote Republican, Democrat, a third party candidate or write in your Aunt Jenny. What we do care about is that you make a choice. Vote as it truly can make a difference.

A large motorcade of President Donald Trump’s supporters brought the northbound express lanes of the Garden State Parkway to a standstill on Nov. 1, before the caravan drove north to Union County. Trump supporters also packed the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in New York with similar caravans clogged roadways in Texas, Arizona, and Washington state. The Wall Street Journal

About 240 New Jersey National Guard members are working in 18 counties to help process mail-in ballots arriving in advance of Election Day. Twelve Guard members are working in Bergen County in the ballot counting room. Another dozen are in Hudson County working in two shifts, helping to open ballots’ outer envelopes and get them ready for signature review. New Jersey Herald

As of 7 PM Nov. 1, 3,509,434 New Jerseyans have voted, which is 57.9% of all eligible registered voters. The total number of vote-by-mail ballots received and recorded by county election officials represents 86.7% of the total votes cast in the 2016 presidential election. New Jersey Globe

State officials plan to use “hotspot” teams used successfully in Lakewood in October to combat the second wave of the coronavirus in New Jersey. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the department created hotspot teams to support communities needing help responding to an increase in COVID-19 cases that have begun to surge in the state. The teams are focused on increasing testing, contact tracing capacity, education and awareness, and ensuring places are available to isolate and quarantine.

An executive order Oct. 31 clarified that for professional and collegiate sporting events, athletes, coaches, referees, trainers and other essential staff will not count towards indoor or outdoor attendance limits in New Jersey. The new order allows vending machines and stroller rentals to operate at New Jersey malls, provided the machines are properly sanitized and the order allows private tutoring facilities to reopen for students and clients.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed two bills ordering reforms to the long-term care industry recommended by the Manatt Health Report. The first bill requires minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios in New Jersey long-term care facilities, while the second law mandates long-term care facilities to institute policies to prevent social isolation of residents, addressing issues experienced by long-term care residents and their families as a result of prohibitions and limitations on visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stevens Institute of Technology suspended the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity for one year after it threw a house party that violated coronavirus safety measures. The university, currently only holding in-person classes for freshmen, new transfer students and new graduate students, has suspended 11 students from campus for violating its health code and given 87 warnings this year. The Jersey Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order mandating health and safety standards to protect all New Jersey’s workers at work during the pandemic starting Nov. 5. The executive order will require both private and public sector employers to follow health and safety protocols that will serve to protect their in-person workforces. Employers, at minimum, will be required to have individuals at the worksite maintain at least six feet of distance from others to the maximum extent possible and require employees and visitors to wear masks when entering the worksite, subject to certain limited exceptions.

A Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hasbrouck Heights Police Chief Michael Colaneri against the borough and Mayor Jack DeLorenzo. The suit alleged borough officials retaliated against Colaneri for supporting a rival candidate for mayor in 2015. The case was dismissed because Colaneri and his attorney failed to state a sufficient claim. The Record

Jersey City Public Schools is facing an estimated $300 million budget deficit for the 2021-2022 school year. The school’s superintendent said he will work to ensure that there are no layoffs as a part of the budget balancing process and city council members suggested allocating any future revenue generated by a local marijuana tax to the school district. The Jersey Journal

The Hackettstown school district canceled the remainder of the Fall athletic season after another positive COVID-19 test within the district. All four of the district’s schools are currently learning virtually. Willow Grove School and Hackettstown Middle School are due to return to in-person instruction on Nov. 9, while Hackettstown High School will return on Nov. 12. The Daily Record

The Montague Board of Education has run up a tab of thousands of dollars for catered dinners for its members and the superintendent while working in closed session, when school officials declined to offer federally funded free meals over the summer to students impacted by COVID-19. School officials have defended the decision to not offer the meals program on the possibility of federal tax dollars going to benefit those who didn’t need the help, but there is no evidence the board entertained such considerations when it came to spending local tax dollars to feed themselves. New Jersey Herald

A judge ordered Paramus council members to obey and enforce the borough’s code when it comes to hiring in a dispute involving the mayor’s son. Superior Court Judge Christine Farrington ruled the borough’s code which discusses hiring practices was “valid, constitutional and legally binding.” Vincent LaBarbiera, son of Democratic Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, had filed a lawsuit against the borough after Republican council members refused to hire him as a police officer for nine months. He sought to clarify what council members can or cannot consider while hiring. The Record

And finally…Tips to reduce COVID-19 risk if you’re voting in person this year. News12 New Jersey

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