North Jersey News Roundup for Jan. 26, 2021

Walgreens has made commitments to reach certain COVID-19 vaccine benchmarks in the coming week after Gov. Phil Murphy expressed his frustration with the company in the federal program administering the vaccine at long-term care facilities. “We had a constructive call with the senior leadership of Walgreens (as they) committed to certain benchmarks within the next week,” said Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 25. “We shall see…We need to see the delivery of shots in the arms to our long-term care residents and staff.”

Two of New Jersey’s six coronavirus vaccine mega-sites had to close for at least a day because of the lack of available doses. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the Gloucester County site at Rowan College of South Jersey was closed Jan. 25 due to lack of supply and Bergen County’s mega-site at the old Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford was expected to be non-operational on Jan. 26, acting State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan said.

Students and parents in Montclair protested after the teacher’s union blocked the school district from reopening. A parent group, Montclair FAIL, or Families Advocating for In-Person Learning, asked students to keep their cameras off during remote learning and to post a background supportive of the return to in-person instruction among other actions. The school district had to cancel the resumption of in-school learning Jan. 25 after teachers objected to and boycotted in-person training for the reopening. The Record

The New Jersey Department of the Treasury reported a temporary revenue boost in December 2020 due to new tax policies as the state’s unemployment rate fell by over 2%. In the fiscal year-to-date, total collections were up 5.6% to about $14.7 billion in the same six months last year. The state’s unemployment rate fell by 2.6 percentage points to 7.6% in December, which the state’s Department of Labor stated was primarily due to New Jersey residents leaving the labor force rather than finding employment.

A Missouri congresswoman says her life was threatened in June by an alleged U.S. Capitol rioter from Sussex County, whose U.S. Secret Service brother reportedly led a security detail for former First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is Scott Fairlamb. In June, he threatened my life on social media,” tweeted Rep. Cori Bush, who represents Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. The tweet included a screen capture allegedly from a recently deleted social media account “@fairlambfit,” telling her, “You’re full of (expletive). Shoulda lit your (expletive) up.” New Jersey Herald

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is ready to move ahead with a power-sharing agreement in the Senate after two Democratic senators said they won’t support ending the legislative filibuster, a central sticking point for the GOP in the talks. The former Senate Leader said his concerns about the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes for most legislation to advance, had been assuaged by comments from Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) reaffirmed their opposition to its elimination. The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. Justice Department watchdog opened an investigation into whether any of the department’s officials tried to undo the results of the Presidential election. The investigation by the department’s inspector general follows the revelations of efforts by former President Donald Trump and a top federal law enforcement official, Jeffrey Clark, to push other Justice Department leaders to falsely assert that continuing fraud investigations cast doubt on the election results, including the installation of Clark as acting attorney general to carry out the scheme. The New York Times

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) demanded the head of New Jersey’s prison system be placed on leave in response to accusations that officers severely beat inmates at the state’s only women’s prison earlier this month. About 30 officers and staff have been suspended and the state attorney general’s office is investigating the alleged beatings. Weinberg, in a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy, stated she has lost faith in the people overseeing the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton.

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy unveiled Nurture New Jersey, a plan to help reduce maternal and infant mortality and racial gaps that experts say lead to deaths. New Jersey has among the worst maternal mortality rates in the country, ranking 47th, and Black mothers in the state are seven times more likely than white mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications. News12 New Jersey

Bridget Anne Kelly, an aide to former Gov. Chris Christie whose conviction in the Bridgegate scandal was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, is running for office in 2021. Kelly announced Jan. 25 that she is seeking the Republican nomination for Bergen County clerk. If she wins the GOP nomination, she would face incumbent Democrat John Hogan, who has served as county clerk for the past decade. County clerks are charged with a variety of tasks, including recording, filing and maintaining many public records as well as help run elections. PoliticoNJ

Candidates will be able to collect and submit nominating petition signatures digitally or in-person for the state’s June primaries. The move is a departure from last year, when Gov. Phil Murphy urged all candidates to collect and file their signatures electronically. “We want campaigns to have the option to collect signatures either virtually or in-person, but we are hopeful that all campaigns will ensure that the collection of signatures is done safely and responsibly,” Murphy said.  New Jersey Globe

New Jersey lawmakers are praising the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s plans to tear down its Midtown bus terminal and replace it with a new facility on the current site. State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), who has been pushing for a new terminal since 2014, said she was “pleased to see the Port Authority moving forward on construction of an expanded bus terminal at the current site, where New Jersey commuters will continue to have easy access to many subways and bus lines that run down Eighth Avenue.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will ask President Joe Biden to provide $12 billion of funding for the Gateway Tunnel project and billions in an additional infrastructure bill. Schumer indicated he wants to change the current funding formula for infrastructure projects, which usually means Congress allocates 80% of funds to roads and 20% to transit. ROI-NJ

DoorDash is giving the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association (NJRHA) $500,000 to help restaurants pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic. The NJRHA will distribute the money in grants of $5,000 and $2,500 to independent restaurants that have five or fewer locations and can show a loss of more than 30% of business. Restaurants do not need to be a DoorDash partner or a member of the association to qualify. The grant application will be available on the NJRHA website by Feb. 1. The Record

And finally…The Woman’s Club of Paramus is sewing masks to save lives. NJ Spotlight News

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