North Jersey News Roundup for April 14, 2021

The New Jersey Department of Health paused the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across all sites in the state following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. The decision to stop giving the one-shot dose of the COVID-19 vaccine comes as the two government agencies want to investigate six cases of blood clots occurring among women between the ages of 18 and 48 after vaccination from the approximately 6.8 million doses administered in the nation.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli stated New Jersey residents getting seriously ill from the coronavirus is a much greater risk than the side effects from the vaccine. “Your risk of being in that cohort is far greater than being the 1 in a million that gets a blood clot,” she said, adding other vaccines and medications have been developed there have been “pausesed” and many prescription drugs contain warnings about possible serious side effects, including death, so people need to keep this situation in perspective. 

Gov. Phil Murphy said he does not expect a pause in the use of vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson to push the state off its goal of vaccinating 4.7 million New Jerseyans by the end of June. “As we do the math right now, and obviously this is somewhat dependent on where the feds come out on J&J, I’m still very confident we’ll be able to get there,” Murphy said. “We had enough breathing room.” New Jersey Globe

The desire to reduce the tax burden for residents of the 5th Congressional District continues to top the agenda for Rep. Josh Gottheimer, even if it means voting against key elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda. “I support the American Jobs Plan with a big line in the sand (that it must reinstate) the state and local tax (SALT) deduction,” stated Gottheimer in an exclusive interview with “You are talking about hitting people with higher tax rates here without addressing SALT, that is unconscionable…they whacked us in 2017 and we will get whacked again.”

President Joe Biden is expected to announce the withdrawal of American combat troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, declaring an end to the nation’s longest war. The decision is reportedly overruling warnings from his military advisers that the departure could prompt a resurgence of the same terrorist threats that sent hundreds of thousands of troops into combat over the past 20 years on the belief that a “conditions-based approach” would mean that American troops would never leave the country. The Wall Street Journal

President Joe Biden will address a joint session of Congress for the first time on April 28. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi extended the invitation to the President where he is expected to make the case for the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package he unveiled earlier this month, which the House is aiming to pass by July 4.

Federal and state lawmakers are pushing back hard against a congestion pricing plan in New York that acts as a de facto tax on Garden State residents. The issue raising the ire of North Jersey lawmakers is the federal government giving New York the green light to implement a proposed congestion tax plan that would cost New Jersey drivers an estimated $3,000-per-year daily fee for taking the George Washington Bridge to head below 60th Street. “New Jerseyans are used to paying our fair share but New York’s congestion pricing scheme is a bridge too far,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9). “New York’s plan would saddle Jersey commuters with extra taxes. This is wrong and we won’t stand for it.” Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) added “This is just New York mooching off Jersey to solve their own problems. It’s a ridiculous joke.”

An inspector general’s report has found the Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, including the potential for violence in which “Congress itself is the target.” The report criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the mob violence, including officers being instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob. The New York Times

Sussex County resident Scott Fairlamb pleaded not guilty April 13 to charges he stormed the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots and assaulted a police officer. Fairlamb was indicted in February on 12 federal criminal counts, then was hit with an updated indictment on April 7 that upgraded a charge of entering the Capitol to disrupt government business while carrying a baton, considered a deadly weapon. New Jersey Herald

Elizabeth Valandingham pleaded guilty to filing false reports regarding political campaign contributions. Valandingham admitted she illegally certified employees at her Morris County law firm had made political donations to candidates in Bloomfield and Mount Arlington, when she knew that was not true. Additionally, donors to campaigns in both municipalities were illegally reimbursed in cash by the firm, which had been seeking contracts for tax work. The Daily Record

Gov. Phil Murphy will face no primary opposition after the state Democratic Party successfully challenged the petition signatures of his only two challengers. In separate cases in front of Administrative Law Judges, the court found the 1,951 candidate petition signatures submitted by Lisa McCormick were invalid and Roger Bacon did not meet the requisite 1,000 signature requirement largely because 281 of them came from registered Republicans. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey child care providers are now eligible to apply for $10 million worth of federal coronavirus aid. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill in Paramus April 13 authorizing the monies in the form of grants. It’s one of several relief packages Murphy recently signed into law recently that totals $100 million in federal grants for organizations and businesses crushed financially by the pandemic.

In-person jury trials in New Jersey won’t resume until at least June 15, suffering another setback as the state slowly reopens its legal system during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent notice from the state judiciary cautioned that recent COVID-19 trends suggest it’s too soon to expand in-person events at the state courts, including jury trials, which have been suspended since November. The Record

The Bayonne school district has designed a hybrid model of instruction that will be implemented upon the students’ return to classrooms on May 3. On Mondays and Tuesdays, Cohort A will report to school buildings and Cohort B will be virtual. On Thursdays and Fridays, Cohort B will report to school buildings and Cohort A will be virtual. All students and faculty will be virtual on Wednesdays. Hudson Reporter

FEMA has opened a new vaccination site in Paterson focused on giving shots to residents of Paterson, Passaic and Prospect Park considered especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Residents of a dozen ZIP codes will have priority for the vaccines, based on an assessment by the federal Centers for Disease Control of their “social vulnerability” that includes socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, and housing type and access to transportation. The Record

And finally…Montclair and Paterson were among the 22 New Jersey municipalities selected for going above and beyond to address community health needs this past year. The Record

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