North Jersey News Roundup for May 3, 2021

OPINION: How the Next 100 Days In Washington Are Critical to New Jersey. On his 99th day in office, President Joe Biden laid out his agenda to a Joint Session to Congress for the next 99 days and beyond that will shape the direction of New Jersey for the next century. New Jersey has been a piggy bank for moocher states for too long, getting taken advantage of by other states keeping their taxes lower than the Garden State. It is time for New Jersey to be placed at the head of the line for federal projects while at the same time reducing the tax burden for those that live here.

Gov. Phil Murphy is promising a “major announcement” on easing restrictions imposed in New Jersey due to COVID-19 May 3. The governor said in a Twitter post that with COVID-19 metrics “decisively trending in the right direction,” his 1 p.m. announcement will deal with “easing restrictions and ramping up our vaccinations.” News12 New Jersey

The rate of transmission for the coronavirus in New Jersey dropped to 0.46 on May 2, its lowest level in a year. Any number under 1 indicates the outbreak is slowing and each new case is leading to less than one additional case. The state reported 1,048 coronavirus cases and an additional 19 deaths as 3,081,748 residents are now fully vaccinated.

The next generation of COVID-19 vaccines in development could come as a pill or a nasal spray and be easier to store and transport than the current handful of shots that form the backbone of the world-wide vaccination effort. These newer vaccines, from U.S. government labs and companies including Sanofi, Altimmune and Gritstone Oncology, have the potential to provide longer-lasting immune responses and be more potent against newer and multiple viral variants, possibly helping to head off future pandemics. The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy received his second, and final, dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on April 30. Murphy and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, received their second Pfizer vaccine shots at the state’s mega-site at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle called for Assemblyman Gordon Johnson to once and for all clarify allegations of inappropriate sexual comments made against him earlier this year. Vainieri Huttle raised the issue after Johnson posted on social media in support for Denim Day on social media. “At the end of the day, one thing is abundantly clear: as I have fought for survivors of sexual violence and harassment, Gordon has been accused of it,” said Vainieri Huttle. “So, Gordon, let’s stop with the charade, stop dodging questions about your actions and while you’re at it, stop taking credit for your opponents hard work.”

The Passaic County Board of Elections acknowledged 19 ballots in a do-over of a Paterson City Council were cast by voters who didn’t live in the city’s Third Ward. The revelation could lead to a third election as Councilman Alex Mendez won the second Third Ward race in November by nine votes over William McKoy. Mendez was indicted in March, ten months after Attorney General Gurbir Grewal arrested him on charges of election fraud, mail-in ballot fraud, unauthorized possession of ballots, tampering with public records and falsifying records tied to the first election. New Jersey Globe

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is now accepting applications for driver’s licenses from people without federal immigration status. Starting May 1, nearly 750,000 residents previously unable to obtain a driving license are now eligible including certain senior citizens, formerly incarcerated residents, transgender people whose documents may not match their given gender identity, domestic violence survivors who are unable to retrieve legal documents, homeless people, veterans and low-income residents who cannot afford to recover legal papers.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. sent a letter to Mondelez International CEO Dirk Van de Put demanding information on the company’s decision to close its facilities in Fair Lawn. “We seek further details concerning Mondelez’s policy of paying workers in Mexico low wages and how it may relate to the elimination of U.S. jobs. Reports that the company has been demanding cuts to wages and benefits in factories across the U.S. appear related to decisions to invest in and move operations to Mexico,” wrote Pascrell.

Gov. Phil Murphy and a host of state and local officials broke ground on a new $30.9 million train station in Lyndhurst. The new stop on the Main Line will replace a 107-year-old station at the intersection of Delafield and Court avenues and be closer to the commuter parking lot as well as being ADA-compliant.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) joined State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) in blasting the State of New York’s attempts to collect income tax from New Jersey commuters who have been working remotely since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. During a joint press conference in Hardyston April 28 to announce a letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary and IRS Commissioner, the legislators asked for new guidance to ensure states cannot tax those who neither live nor work within its boundaries.

A funeral was held May 2 for Donny Morris, the 18-year-old Bergenfield man killed during a deadly religious event in Israel. Morris, a Bergen County native who was studying in Israel during a gap year after graduating from the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy in Manhattan, was one of 45 people killed during a stampede April 30. The Record

A science teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, has been suspended with pay after he went on a rant against Black Lives Matter and George Floyd. In a 15 minute video taped by a student, science teacher Howard Zlotkin said Floyd was “not a hero, he’s like a criminal” and chastised students for, as he described it, making criminals into heroes “because they’re Black or because they got a bad story.” The New York Times

Kittatinny Regional High School will eliminate 12 positions and 20 programs as it faces a $929,000 state aid deficit. Among the announced cuts are the eliminations of a middle school science teacher, an English teacher, a paraprofessional, a business teacher and the school’s graphic arts program. The Daily Record 

The Montague Board of Education is dropping the legal effort it began over two years ago to end its send-receive relationship with High Point Regional High School. Following the 5-2 vote, board members Jennifer VanNess resigned in protest, stating “The children and taxpayers are the ones who are losing out. This goes against all of my moral and ethical beliefs.” New Jersey Herald

Starting May 3, non-residents who use Montvale’s basketball courts without obtaining a special badge could face up to a $200 fine under a new ordinance after residents’ complaints that they had to vie for time on the busy courts. The courts will now be members-only, with free badges going to Montvale residents. Non-residents must pay a $25 annual fee to use the basketball courts. “People were playing and just hogging the fields, playing game after game, and not giving our residents a chance to play,” Mayor Mike Ghassali said. The Record

And finally… New Jersey could be a hotter destination for vacations this Summer.

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