North Jersey News Roundup for March 19, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy and State Sen. Loretta Weinberg announced their support for the ticket in the 37th Legislative District headed by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. The announcement by Murphy and Weinberg comes after Johnson received nearly 80% of the Bergen County Democratic Committee (BCDC) votes to be the party’s State Senator nominee in the district—garnering 232 of the 292 ballots cast to be the party’s nominee to replace the retiring Weinberg. But Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle believes the BCDC convention showed Democrats want an open primary to determine who are the best candidates to represent the 37th LD.

Englewood political activist Dierdre Paul is going public with her story accusing Assemblyman Gordon Johnson of “sexual improprieties.” Paul said that Johnson, during a private meeting in 2008 about the prospect of her running for the Englewood City Council seat he planned to vacate, suggested she should be his “concubine” and asked “what are you willing to do for Englewood?” Johnson said he does not recall the meeting with Paul. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak capacity limits for restaurants, bars, casinos, gyms, personal care services and amusement venues increased to 50% beginning March 19. Additionally, the limit on private gatherings increased to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors. The increase comes after a steady decline in new cases and hospitalizations since the start of the year.

Gov. Phil Murphy rescind the prohibition on outdoor interstate youth competitions starting March 19. The order mandates all persons in attendance at youth sports competitions must follow all health and safety protocols for sports activities and attendees will be limited to players, coaches, and officials, and up to two parents or guardians per participating athlete. “As the weather begins to warm up and with outdoor sports seasons looking to begin, I am pleased that we are able to take this step,” said Murphy. “This has been a challenging year, and I am excited to know that our young athletes will soon be competing out on the field.”

A 19-year-old graduate of Montclair High School was charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In an indictment with two other individuals, the FBI alleges Elias Irizarry appears in several videos and pictures of rioters, including climbing through a broken window and holding a metal pipe. Irizarry, the son of soap opera actor Vincent Irizarry, faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building without lawful authority, knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted buildings, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The Daily Record

A majority of Americans want an independent commission to be established in order to investigate the January 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That was the finding of a Monmouth University Poll released March 17, which showed 53% of Americans believe an independent commission, one that has been proposed by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, is the best way to get the truth about the Jan. 6 riot by pro-Trump supporters. Additionally, many Americans want the commission to examine voter fraud claims in the 2020 election, with 33% of Americans looking for this type of investigation.

A Sussex County man is alleged to have fraudulently obtained $1.9 million in loans using the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Sparta resident John Jhong was charged with bank fraud, false representation of a Social Security number and money laundering, said New Jersey Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig. The government claims Jhong submitted 10 fraudulent PPP loan applications for purported businesses. New Jersey Herald

A California company has agreed to stop selling “ghost guns” in New Jersey and pay a $70,000 fine. The state accused the company of trying to sell “ghost guns,” which can be manually assembled and do not have serial numbers, which are illegal in New Jersey. The state attorney general’s office filed a complaint against U.S. Patriot Armory two years ago, after the company allegedly sold a kit to assemble an AR-15 rifle to an undercover investigator. The settlement is the first of its kind nationwide. News12 New Jersey

State authorities charged four more officers with assaulting inmates during a violent incident at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in January, bringing the total number of officers criminally prosecuted over the beatings to eight. Authorities charged Officer Jose Irizarry, of Paterson, of official misconduct after he allegedly rushed into Emmalee Dent’s cell, hit her with his shield and then did nothing as another criminally charged officer punched her 28 times. The three others—Courey James, of East Piscataway; Gustavo Sarmiento Jr., of Maywood and Tara Wallace, of Somerset— are all accused of using excessive force and failing to stop or report the violence committed by their fellow officers.

Sen. Bob Menendez introduced a bill removing barriers to insuring marijuana businesses. The bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Menendez and Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would bar governments from penalizing insurers who provide coverage to legal marijuana businesses, block limits on insurers on the basis of their work with a marijuana business, encourage or incentivize insurers to work with marijuana businesses and shield insurance company employees from liability related solely to business with cannabis companies. New Jersey Globe

Bayonne established ground rules for recreational marijuana establishments in the city. The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance March 17 that set a limit of two retailers, one cultivation facility and one processing facility in the city. Additionally, the city established a licensing process, complete with fee structures and qualifications criteria, a 2% tax on the product and zoning regulations limit cannabis establishments to Broadway, some industrial areas near Route 440 and Avenue C between Andrew and 22nd Streets. The Jersey Journal

Another 10,242 New Jersey residents filed new unemployment claims for the week ending March 14, a slight rise from the prior week, which was the first time initial claims fell below 10,000 since the pandemic began. Recently released Federal data released showed the state added 900 jobs in February as the unemployment rate rose to 7.9%, among the highest in the nation. Insider NJ

The state’s Motor Vehicle Commission closed the Jersey City Vehicle Center after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The center, which becomes the eleventh agency to close statewide, will reopen on April 1, after sanitizing, contact tracing and any employee quarantining is completed. The other center’s closed include those located in Springfield, North Bergen, East Orange, Oakland, Newton, Wayne, Bakers Basin, Trenton, Paterson and Rio Grande.

Franceline Ehret will succeed Hetty Rosenstein as the New Jersey state director for the Communications Workers of America (CWA), District 1, one of the most powerful worker’s unions in the state. Since 2013, Ehret has served as a national staff representative at CWA. Prior to that, she was president of the Turnpike Workers Union, IFPTE Local 194, where she fought efforts to privatize the New Jersey Turnpike under both Govs. Jon Corzine and Chris Christie.

And finally…Paramus High School Graduate Spero Dedes will handle the play-by-play when the Rutgers men’s basketball team faces off in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Clemson with tip off set for 9:20 p.m. The Record

Leave a Reply

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