North Jersey News Roundup for Feb. 22, 2021

OPINION: Efforts to pressure Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to drop her State Senate Bid are ill advised. In the last year, State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) has spearheaded efforts to remove misogyny in New Jersey politics. According to Vainieri Huttle, it is a lesson that the Democratic bosses in Weinberg’s district have not yet learned in their ill-advised whisper campaign against Vainieri Huttle to have her exit the State Senate race. Bergen Democrats need to be reminded that the old days of bullying women to get their way are over.

Long-time North Jersey GOP State Senator Gerry Cardinale passed away on Feb. 20 after a brief non-coronavirus illness. The 86-year-old Cardinale, who served the 39th Legislative District for 42 years, was the second longest serving Senator in New Jersey history. “There was never a hand he did not want to shake, a door he did not want to knock on, or a train station where he did not want to greet commuters with a smile,” said Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39). “It will be a long time before we see another public servant like Gerry Cardinale who had guts, commitment and passion for his constituents.”

The number of Americans hospitalized for COVID-19 on Feb. 21, 56,159, is at its lowest point since Nov. 7 just before the Winter surge swept across the country for months. The total number of U.S. residents who have died from the coronavirus is nearly 500,000. The New York Times

COVID-19 vaccine sites in Essex and Monmouth counties cancelled appointments scheduled for Feb. 22 due to continued weather-related delivery delays. About 9,000 Essex County vaccine appointments are set to be rescheduled by the end of the month. County officials say that they hope to receive as many as 28,000 doses by Feb. 24. News12 New Jersey

The state will apply to the federal government for a waiver of statewide standardized testing, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. “We went over this in great detail. The reasons to apply for this waiver are many fold and very valid,” said Murphy at his press briefing Feb. 19. Additionally, Acting New Jersey Department of Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan announced that to fill data gaps caused by interrupted statewide assessment administration, the department will collect data from locally administered assessments that provide a snapshot of student learning during this school year. 

Police are investigating a social media comment encouraging physical violence against officials in Sparta over schools not being fully open due to the coronavirus pandemic. The district was informed of a Facebook comment that stated “If (schools) don’t open soon, it will be time for physical violence against the people keeping the schools closed” as well as that parents “should be knocking down the doors of the (board of education) members and union leaders.” New Jersey Herald

The state’s legislators are working to shore up future elections after the coronavirus pandemic forced New Jersey to embrace mail-in voting. Legislation designed to create and deploy an in-person early voting procedure that was advanced by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. Meanwhile, a bill sponsored by State Sens. Kristin Corrado and Tom Kean, Jr. to address a shortage of election poll workers was approved by the Senate Labor Committee.

A bill creating a fund to assist New Jersey residents facing foreclosure is headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk after it passed the State Senate Feb. 19. The measure would create the New Jersey Foreclosure Prevention Act, which allows the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to purchase properties facing foreclosures to help residents in retaining control of their homes. It would also allow the agency to work with homeowners for a more affordable mortgage.

New Jersey Senate and Assembly Republicans want Gov. Phil Murphy to call a special session of the legislature to adopt coronavirus economic relief for a state that has seen considerable unemployment and business closures as a result of the pandemic. Republican legislators say that millions of New Jerseyans are suffering from the “broad shutdowns and restrictions” related to the pandemic, with “looming tax increase on employers scheduled to go into effect July 1 threatens small businesses, nonprofits, and their employees.” New Jersey Globe

New Jersey tax collection figures edged up in January. Revenue collections for the major taxes increased 0.3% to $4.1 billion in the Garden State when compared to January 2020, representing a $10.3 million jump. Year-to-date, total tax revenue collections reached $18.75 billion, up 4.4.% compared to the same seven months of 2020—rising $793.3 million in total.

State lawmakers are to vote on a “clean-up” bill related to recreational marijuana Feb. 22. Under the new bill that has forced the delay of marijuana legalisation and decriminalisation since December 2020, those between 18-21 would get two written warnings if they are found with marijuana illegally. A third offense would require a $50 fine or community service. News12 New Jersey

The New Jersey Senate voted unanimously Feb. 19 for a resolution calling for the head of the prison system to lose his job amid a growing outcry over a series of alleged beatings at the state’s only women’s prison. State senators voted 35-0 to support a federal takeover of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, the transfer of all women inmates to a safer facility and the ouster of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced $100 million in clean transportation projects. The funding, resulting from the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Funds, will be used to bring electrification programs, equitable mobility projects, and electric charging infrastructure to environmental justice communities across the state. Additionally, the governor signed an executive order which established the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy in the Governor’s Office.

The Jersey City Council plans to introduce an ordinance creating a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to investigate complaints of police misconduct. The ordinance calls for a CCRB to be created with investigatory and subpoena powers, as well as a voice in how police officers are disciplined. The 11-member board would be made up of six board members from each specific wards and five board members nominated by an eight-person committee comprising the three at-large councilmembers and representatives from five community-based organizations. The Jersey Journal

Police Director Tawana Moody will lead the Jersey City police department, the first time a civilian has led the force. According to Mayor Steven Fulop, the appointment is meant to bring greater transparency and accountability to law enforcement. The Wall Street Journal

Republicans have won a seat on the Rochelle Park Township Committee, ending a two-month court battle and leaves Democrats with just one seat on the five-member governing body. Perrin Mosca’s victory in the contested race was finalized on Feb. 19 when seven ballots initially disqualified from the November 2020 election results were added to the race total. Mosca won all seven, giving him a three-vote edge over Democrat Michael Warren. The Record

Three former Dover employees are suing the town and its current administration for unlawful termination and harassment because they supported the previous mayor, who lost the 2019 election. The lawsuit alleges plaintiffs Ana Maria Amin and Sharon Wagner were terminated from their roles because of their public support of former Mayor James Dodd during the town’s 2019 mayoral election. Meanwhile, fellow plaintiff Michelle Espada claims Mayor Carolyn Blackman and the Board of Aldermen created a hostile work environment to force her to resign. The Daily Record

And finally…Nick Jonas will do double duty on Saturday Night Live Feb. 28 when he hosts as well as being the musical guest.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.