News

Ang Santos / WBGO

It’s been over twenty years since the state took control of Newark Public School’s because of low graduation rates and overall poor student performance.  It’s been a rocky road for the city’s education system since, and many residents believe not much has changed over the course of time.

At First Avenue School in Newark’s North Ward, about 100 city residents gathered to hear Mayor Ras Baraka’s latest updates on regaining local control of schools.  They had their own concerns.

Indian Head
Luna Stage for WBGO

Indian Head is a provocative play by Obie Award-Winner Nikkole Salter.   Indian Head was commissioned in partnership with the NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It is currently wowing audiences at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey.

UNCF's Vaughn McKoy chats with WBGO's Alexandra Hill about the organization's efforts to address the current crisis in black education, and their ongoing mission to provide college scholarships and opportunities to African-American students. 

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is moving ahead with a $300 million dollar renovation of the New Jersey Statehouse.

Christie says the building constructed in 1792 is falling apart and workers have covered some of the windows with plywood.

"Those windows are boarded up now because those windows were judged when they were inspected to be ready to fall out of the building. So, we're boarding them up and the fact is that this is an unsafe building for all of us to be operating in it every day."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey judge has ruled a criminal case against Governor Christie involving the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge can go forward.

Municipal court judge Roy McGeady determined there’s probable cause to believe Christie knew the lane restrictions were more than just a routine traffic study.

The complaint filed by former firefighter William Brennan accuses Christie of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor’s reelection campaign.

Christie signs the legislation at the Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation intended to curb the opioid addiction epidemic.

The law limits initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and mandates that state-regulated health insurers cover six-months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.

Christie says he's not sure how much that will cost.

"Because you don't know how many people are going to take advantage of this and utilization is going to drive a lot regarding the costs. But the fact is whatever the cost is of this it's certainly less than 1600 lives a year."

Rosemarie D'Alessandro
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that calls for life imprisonment without parole for the murder of anyone under the age of 18 during commission of a sex crime.

The measure expands what's known as Joan's Law, named for a 7-year-old Hillsdale girl who was sexually assaulted and killed by a neighbor in 1973.

Her mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro, says the denial of parole eligibility now applies to such crimes involving victims under 14.

Entrepreneur Shares Wisdom at Berkeley College

Feb 15, 2017
Ang Santos / WBGO

Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO of the Newark based national consulting firm BCT Partners won season four of the reality television ‘The Apprentice’.  He visited Berkeley College in Woodland Park to share his experience in business with students for the school’s Black History Month speaker’s series.

So what advice does the CEO of a billion-dollar company give to college students? Pinkett says to find your passion.

MLB Network in Secaucus hosted this month's launch of the 2017 Topps Baseball Card Series.

Through a partnership with the Network, Topps has included a set of cards of several MLB Network personalities and analysts including broadcaster and studio host Greg Amsinger.  Amsinger was thrilled to be included in the new set:

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would require water companies to determine how much water is lost because of leaks and breaks in aging pipes every year.

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Larry Levin told an Assembly committee such audits can guide efforts to control water loss.

"There are 130 million gallons of treated drinking water we estimate lost each day across the state. And of that about 50 million gallons per day valued at $10 million a year are likely to be cost effective for utilities to reduce to solve that loss."

NJ Association of Counties executive director John Donnadio
Phil Gregory

The Council on Local Mandates hears oral arguments tomorrow on a motion by the state of New Jersey to dismiss a challenge of the bail reform law that took effect in January.

The New Jersey Association of Counties claims the law is an unconstitutional unfunded state mandate because counties have had to spend more than $35 million on personnel and improvements to implement it.

In December the council denied the counties' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

A New Jersey Assembly committee wants to end a requirement that high school students pass the standardized PARCC test to graduate.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey says she introduced the measure because she believes regulations adopted by the state Board of Education last year are inconsistent with legislative intent.

"The PARCC exams to my understanding were always meant to assess and inform instruction, not to make decisions about graduation."

Jamie and Christopher Bruesehoff
Phil Gregory

A package of bills advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would give transgender residents some protections against discrimination.

The measures help establish a transgender equality task force, provide access to business assistance programs, and prohibit health insurers from denying coverage based on gender identity.

Vernon resident Jamie Bruesehoff has a 10 year-old transgender daughter.

Hilary Knight
Fox Sports

The USA Women’s National Hockey team is now less than a year away from the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea.  The team's goal is clear, WIN THE GOLD MEDAL. Two-time Olympic silver medalists Hilary Knight and twins Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux sat down with me during their media tour of NYC last week…Meghan Duggan was also on the trip.

Mark Krasovic
Doug Doyle for WBGO

The 37th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series is February 18th at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University-Newark.  The series was founded by the late Dr. Clement A. Price and Giles Wright. 

This year's MTW is once again being put together by Mark Krasovic, an assistant professor of history and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.  Krasovic is also the interim director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.

The theme of this year's one-day event is City Moves: Black Urban History Since 1967.

John Bolger and Suzzanne Douglas
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Stage and screen stars Suzzanne Douglas and John Bolger return to George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ for the award-winning play American Son, which runs through February 26th.

Douglas is returning to GSP for the sixth time.  She plays Kendra Ellis-Connor.  Bolger plays her estranged husband, Scott Connor.  Their son Jamal's car has been pulled over in the middle of the night and the Connors can't get any answers about his whereabouts. 

Douglas says her character fights like a tiger to save her son:

Assemblyman John McKeon
Phil Gregory

An Assembly committee will consider legislation on Monday that would require candidates for President to disclose their federal income tax returns to get on New Jersey's ballot.

Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns during the Presidential campaign.

Assemblyman John McKeon says his bill is intended to make sure that doesn't happen in the future.

"I think it's very important from a transparency perspective for the voters to have that information and if our society norms aren't going to force the issue, then we need to do so as a matter of law."

Sandy-damaged homes.
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie has signed legislation to prevent mortgage foreclosures on homes damaged more than four years ago by Superstorm Sandy.

Amanda Devecka-Rinear directs the New Jersey Organizing Project founded by those affected by Sandy. She's relieved the governor approved the measure.

"I am so incredibly glad that we're going to see some relief for families. I am only sad that this didn't pass even two years ago because I know as many people as it will help there are a number of families for whom this is too late."

Governor's office entrance
Phil Gregory

The primary election in New Jersey's governor's race is four months away.

Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll director Krista Jenkins says most registered voters are unsure who should replace Governor Chris Christie.

“50 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans say they don’t have a clue with about 1 in 7 in both groups who would prefer someone other than those who have already declared or are at least thinking about throwing their hats into the ring.”

Faith Leaders Open Doors To Fearful Immigrants

Feb 9, 2017
Ken Downey Jr. / WBGO

“Build community. Not a wall,” was what echoed down Broad Street, Thursday morning, as a bit over a hundred people gathered in protest of President Trump’s executive order, in front of Grace Church in Newark. Grace Church, which stands on the corner of Broad Street and Walnut since 1837, is directly adjacent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building. The rally that began around 9 a.m. brought in several members from various religions that offered their support to immigrants. 

Phil Gregory

Mayors who held their annual meeting with legislative leaders at the New Jersey Statehouse want to know how funding for transportation projects will be distributed.

Fanwood Mayor Coleen Mahr says a case-by-case process is not the way to determine if the state will reimburse a municipality for costs resulting from Governor Christie's shutdown of road projects during last year's impasse on replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The hometown of Grammy Hall of Famers Paul Simon, Whitney Houston, Sarah Vaughan, and Franki Valli will now be directly connected to the music world’s most prestigious award.

Governor Christie has signed legislation requiring New Jersey regulations on elevated lead levels in children's blood to be consistent with federal guidelines.

Ann Vardeman with New Jersey Citizen Action says that's a good move.

"This is what the science has shown is that smaller levels of lead can caused damage in children than what was previously thought. Previous levels that New Jersey had the actionable level was actually long after damage was being caused in children." 

Paying for health care is the primary concern of U-S families, according to a new poll.

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says health care costs are now creating the most anxiety for 25 percent of Americans surveyed.   

"That's a big jump from the last time we asked just a couple of years ago when health care was one of a number of issues in the top tier. It seems like concerns about paying for costs of health care right now are the things that are really driving the worries that Americans have that keep them up at night."

Lawmakers and advocates say the resolutions are significant.
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Senate has approved symbolic resolutions condemning President Trump's now-stalled executive orders on immigration.

One resolution opposes building a wall along the southern U.S. border and the ban on the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. 

The other measure expresses the legislature's intent that colleges continue to serve as safe zones to protect students and their families from action by immigration agents.

Imam Mustafa El Amin from Newark believes the resolutions will have a significant effect.

Senate Education Committee
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation prohibiting the state Department of Education from limiting what a school district can pay its superintendent.

Senate Education committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz says a salary cap that took effect in 2011 was intended to save money but has kept school districts from getting the best people.

"I think it's the responsibility of the district if they have funding in their budget to make their decision on hiring someone who is capable and that won't necessarily at some point make less than perhaps a sitting principal."

Newark's four elected living Mayors join host Michael Hill for a historic discussion about the hurdles they've faced and the victories they each achieved as leaders of the city for last 5 decades.

Chapter & Verse

Feb 3, 2017
Chapter and Verse Partners, LLC

The film is directed by 64 year-old Jamal Joseph, a former Black Panther who is now a professor at Columbia University. Joseph spent several years behind bars himself after being convicted of a variety of crimes including the sheltering of members of the Black Liberation Army and Weather Underground involved in the infamous Brinks robbery and murders in 1981. During a prison stint in Kansas he became a playwright and has been active in film and theater since he was freed. His focus has very much been on the plight of black men in America.

Ang Santos / WBGO

With the tolling of flag poles all around, and a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, top lawmakers from New York and New Jersey huddled together in opposition to President Trump’s travel ban.

“My name is Senator Michael Gianaris.  I’m from New York, not New Jersey but we’re happy to be here on the New Jersey side today.”

Gianaris is the deputy democratic leader of the New York State Senate and author of legislation that would prevent the Port Authority from using its resources to support Trump’s Executive Order.

Nick Davidson
Bloomfield College Athletics

The Bloomfield College men's and women's basketball teams are rolling, both on top of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.  The captains of the Bears men's team got here via different paths.  6-foot-6 junior forward Nick Davidson had a brilliant senior season at Rancocas Valley High School and has emerged as this year's leading scorer on the Bears.  Rakwan Kelly, a 6-4 junior forward, transferred to Bloomfield after playing at Division 1 Mississippi Valley State.  Davidson, Kelly and women's 6-1 sophomore forward Bobbi Floyd are all pursuing degrees in the communications field. 

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