North Jersey News Roundup for Jan. 11, 2021

New Jersey officials said over 650,000 New Jerseyans have signed up at the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System for the COVID-19 vaccine in the first week the state’s website was up and running. “The number alone gives us great optimism as we continue to roll out our robust statewide vaccine program,” said Gov. Phil Murphy recently at a press briefing. “We know the process wasn’t perfect for anyone who tried to preregister….but we’re incredibly encouraged by the tremendous interest in volume of incoming preregistrations.”

Acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine is high among New Jersey frontline healthcare workers, according to hospital officials. University Hospital in Newark has vaccinated 70% of the 5,000 eligible personnel, Hackensack Meridian Health has vaccinated 73% of its eligible workforce, 19,000 employees have received the vaccine at RWJBarnabas Health hospitals around the state, Holy Name Medical Center has given first doses to everyone on its staff who wanted one, The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood had immunized 57% of its staff and St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson and Wayne vaccinated more than half of the 7,200 employees and affiliated medical staff. The Record 

Sussex County’s first vaccination site will open Jan. 14. The Sussex County Department of Health and Human Services will administer the vaccine at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Frankford. To receive the vaccine, residents must meet the criteria for Phase 1A and 1B of the vaccine distribution, which includes long-term care residents, healthcare personnel, law enforcement personnel and fire professionals. Vaccinations are by appointment only. New Jersey Herald

Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer are backing efforts to have the 25th Amendment evoked by Vice President Mike Pence or the impeachment of President Donald Trump after his actions surrounding the attack on the U.S. Capitol building Jan. 6. Sherrill said “The President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. We cannot tolerate a president who fomented an armed insurrection and actively thwarts the peaceful transfer of power,” with Gottheimer adding “We cannot ignore the actions of President Trump to obstruct our democracy, encourage violence, and threaten our security. That is why he should be removed from office by whatever legal means possible.”

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. has called for an investigation into the Capitol Police action on Jan. 6. “Even more disturbing than the operational failures of the day are the videos that show USCP officers opening barricades to let this armed mob into the Capitol, taking selfies with them and allowing them access to vandalize sensitive leadership offices,” Payne said. “These images of accommodation and acquiescence to stand in stark contrast to the heavily-militarized police forces assembled last Summer to confront nonviolent, unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters.” Insider NJ

Gov. Phil Murphy ordered the U.S. and New Jersey flags flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities in honor of Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol Police Officer who died after a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Sicknick, a 42-year-old South River native and former member of the New Jersey Air National Guard, suffered head injuries when the mob breached the building. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

Major U.S. corporations are pausing their political action committee donations in the wake of the riot at the U.S. Capitol. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. said they are pausing all PAC donations to Republicans and Democrats in the coming months, while Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance group and Marriott International Inc., stopped donations to Republican lawmakers who objected to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol. The Wall Street Journal

Twitter permanently suspended President Donald Trump’s account, saying he had repeatedly violated its policies on glorification of violence. “After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them—specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter—we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a press statement. PoliticoNJ

The PGA of America cut ties to President Donald Trump when it voted to take the PGA Championship event away from his New Jersey golf course. The board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the agreement” with Trump National in Bedminster for the tournament scheduled to be played at the course in 2022.

OPINION: The Rhetoric Of Violent Domestic Extremism Comes To The Halls Of Congress. As both the political and legal process moves forward to hold those responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are reminded of the words Sen. Mitt Romney spoke that same night, “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth.” The domestic terrorists that marched on the Capitol must be brought to justice and punished, including those who had a hand in the killing of U.S. Capitol Guard and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick. Those who incited the pro-Trump supporters must have their day of reckoning as well.

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly tapped veteran diplomat William Burns to be his CIA director. A former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, Burns, 64, had a 33-year career at the State Department under both Republican and Democratic presidents. He rose through the ranks of the diplomatic corps to become Deputy Secretary of State before retiring in 2014. News12 New Jersey

A deal between Democratic lawmakers and the Murphy administration on penalties for underage possession and use fell through. Lead sponsors State Sens. M. Teresa Ruiz and Nicholas Scutari have no intention moving forward with the measure after pulling their names from a compromise bill, claiming it could potentially impose unnecessarily harsh penalties on minors charged with possession of the drug, echoing concerns first raised by Legislative Black Caucus leaders State Sens. Ron Rice and Nia Gill. PoliticoNJ

Five North Jersey bars and restaurants are in danger of temporarily losing their liquor licenses after allegedly violating COVID-19 safety protocols. Altogether 12 businesses across the state face at least a 10-day suspension for failing to comply with ongoing restrictions placed on eating and drinking establishments, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.

PSE&G has received approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to invest about $700 million to install smart meters to its 2.3 million customers over the next four years. The first phase involves deploying 80,000 smart meters this year as well as deploying a communications network for the entire territory. Then the utility company will ramp up in year 2 to about 300,000 meters, finishing another 1.8 million meters in years 3 and 4.

The state’s Assembly Higher Education Committee advanced legislation focused on suicide prevention and mental health on college campuses. The Mental Health Early Action on College Campuses Act would require mental health experts on campus to work with and annually train faculty and resident assistants to recognize signs of depression, as well as warning signs and risk factors of suicide. This new legislation expands on the Madison Holleran Suicide Prevention Act, named after the Allendale resident was enacted in 2016.

Sussex County Republicans plan to hold a special election convention to replace Joshua Hertzberg, who gave up his county commissioner post to become a Sparta councilman. So far, two Republicans are seeking to replace Hertzberg: Frankford Township Committeeman Christopher Carney and former Lafayette Mayor Carl “Bud” Luthman. The winner of the special election will fill the remaining eleven months of Hertzberg’s term. New Jersey Globe

And finally….The New Jersey bald eagle population has soared to record numbers as nesting pairs now in all 21 counties NJ Spotlight News

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