News

Ignition interlock device displayed at  Assembly committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock device displayed at Statehouse hearing,
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing the state's drunken-driving laws to increase the use of devices that require a breath sample from a driver before allowing a vehicle's engine to start.

Assemblyman Joe Lagana says his bill would cut driver's license suspension times for those convicted of drunken driving, but mandate installation of ignition interlock devices.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Recent Quinnipiac University Polls show a split in New York City voters overall approval of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

When it comes to Mayor de Blasio, voters polled by Quinnipiac University are divided evenly, give or take a few percentage points on his favorability, leadership skills, or whether he deserved to be re-elected.  Poll assistant Director Tim Malloy says they’re even 50-50 on de Blasio’s public disputes with Donald Trump.

Tim Raines
Newark Bears

Former Montreal Expos and New York Yankees outfielder Tim Raines got the word this week he had hoped to hear for many years.  He will be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in July.  Raines will be joined by former Houston Astros star Jeff Bagwell and former Texas Rangers' catcher Ivan Rodriguez who also spent time with the Yankees. 

Many analysts consider Raines to be the second-best leadoff hitter in baseball history behind Rickey Henderson who played for the now defunct Newark Bears in 2003.  Raines, meanwhile, managed the Bears from 2009 to 2011. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Mayor Ras Baraka says planning and investment is ready to complete Newark’s long awaited park project to revitalize the space in front of Prudential Center.

It’s been talked about for eleven years but now it finally looks like the 'Triangle Park Project' is ready to bring new retail and public open space to the Prudential Center.  Newark Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson says there’s been a change in design.

“At one time the project was a triangle, but because of a street and some realignment it became more of a rectangle.  So we ended up changing the name,” said Wilson.

David Sciarra testifies at Assembly Education Committee hearing
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has launched hearings to examine how to revise the school funding formula of 2008.

David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, told the Assembly Education Committee the Christie administration has repeatedly failed to provide money in the budget to fully fund the formula.

He says Christie's proposal for state school aid to be based on an equal per pupil amount in every district would turn the clock back 50 years.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark’s Department of Public Safety is introducing its first class of school crossing guards to their ranks.  Twenty-eight vetted and trained residents are being assigned to the most traffic burdened areas of the city.   

“We had a group of people, we went through 500 people to get these 28.  They are the first point of security that these kids will see going to school and out of school,” says Anthony Ambrose, Director, Newark Department of Public Safety.

Mayor Ras Baraka says hiring more crossing guards has been a request from city parents since he took office.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno announces her candidacy in Keansburg
Phil Gregory

The woman who's been New Jersey's Lt. Governor for the last seven years, has kicked off her campaign to replace her boss in 2018.

In her first campaign speech, Kim Guadagno told supporters in Keansburg that she wants to be governor because she believes the state can do better.

"You want your governor to be committed to making New Jersey a place for families, who strives to do better, who answers the phone, who is there in a crisis, who walks in your shoes, who cares fearlessly and without exception about you, and only you."

Scott Pioli
Atlanta Falcons

Scott Pioli's 25th NFL season has been another magical one.  He's the Assistant General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons, a team that has advanced to the NFC Championship Game this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Success is nothing new for Pioli.  He has been named NFL Executive of the Year by various national media outlets five different seasons during his career, including honors from the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated and Pro Football Weekly. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Democrats in New Jersey’s congressional delegation staged a rally in Newark against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The republican majority congress in both houses are already beginning the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.  The president-elect ran on the platform of repealing and replacing Obamacare.  Democrats in Congress find that troubling.

“They don’t have a plan, we know that,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, a point that was made by each speaker at the rally.

Archbishop Tobin
Ang Santos for WBGO

There's a new Archbishop in Newark and he's the first Cardinal to hold the position in the 164-year history of the Archdiocese.  If he wasn’t dressed in the robes of a Cardinal, you might think Joseph Tobin was a bodybuilder.  As it turns out he sort of is.  Tobin and his six foot three frame were a regular fixture at a gym in Indianapolis, where he previously served as their Archbishop.  Late last year Pope  Francis had other ideas for him.  For Tobin that was a surprise.

Nat Hentoff during the annual "A Great Night in Harlem" Benefit Concert at The Apollo Theater in New York City.
STEPHEN LOVEKIN / FILMMAGIC VIA GETTY IMAGES

Lifelong Jazz and Blues fan Dr. Cornel West, the American philosopher, political activist and social critic wished he could have had more conversations with the late Village Voice columnist and jazz critic Nat Hentoff.  Listen above to Dr. West's thoughts on why Hentoff was so instrumental in his work.

Edison Jaquez
Doug Doyle for WBGO

After spending four months in jail for selling drugs six years ago, Edison Jaquez has turned his life around and is now giving back to his community.  Jaquez, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey is the 2016 Berkeley College Alumnus of the Year.  Jaquez created the mentor group B-Men so he could help troubled teenagers.  Listen above to the in-depth interview with the author and WBGO News Director Doug Doyle.

Hidden Figures
complex.com

Silence, by Martin Scorsese, is a good old fashioned art film about selflessness in a Facebook planet. The Jesuit mission to convert Japan to Christianity has failed in 1633, as Buddhist Japan searches out and executes Jesuit priests and their followers. The last priest, Father Ferreira, played by Liam Neeson has sent word back to Portugal that he has apostasized—renounced God and become a Buddhist.

Should you see The Babylon Line?

Jan 16, 2017
The Babylon Line
lincolncenter.org

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews one of the new plays of the 2017 season, The Babylon Line.  Listen above to see if Dr. Bourne was applauding at the end of the show.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker says the explanation of benefits that insurance companies send to patients contain message codes that are difficult for consumers to understand.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says it's irritating to get pages and pages of confusing information about why a medical bill hasn't been paid.

"I think it can frustrate people to the point where they don't know what to do. They end up maybe they don't provide the documents that the insurance company needs because they can't quite figure out what they need."

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to help make sure people with disabilities are allowed to take a service dog into public places.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says her bill calls for fines up to a thousand dollars for denying that access.

“The American Disabilities Act allows for service dogs to be with their owner to various locations, be it a restaurant, be it department store. However, those within the general population don’t always understand where service dogs can reside.”

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
Phil Gregory

One Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey is scaling back his campaign. Another is just getting into the race.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli says he's planning to limit his campaign appearances to two or three days a week because he's having side effects from radiation therapy after surgery for throat cancer.

"I thought I would be one of those people who would get through radiation therapy entirely without feeling the most significant aspect of those side effect challenges. I'm not."

State Treasurer Ford Scudder testifies at Senate committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are questioning the Christie administration's proposal to spend $300 million on renovating the Statehouse in Trenton.

Senator Jim Whelan is among the members of the Senate Economic Growth committee who wonder if a less costly project could adequately resolve the building's safety hazards.

"Is there a sweet spot below the $300 million and above doing nothing that addresses the safety issue, that maintains the architectural and historic integrity and so on and so forth? I don't know if that's $125 million or $150 million or $75 million.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Ever dream of securing that law degree but didn’t have the time to pursue it?  Seton Hall is launching a program to make entry level law degrees more accessible to working professionals. 

Kathleen Boozang, Dean of Seton Hall University School of Law says they’re launching a weekend program at the Newark campus to work around people’s family and work schedules.

“Two-thirds live, one-third online, so each semester the students attend in person classes eight weekends a semester, every other weekend.  Then in the off week they work in small groups with the professor online.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver the final budget proposal of his time in office when he speaks at another joint session of the New Jersey legislature next month.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo says the governor did not give many indications in his state-of-the-state speech about any new policy proposals that might be included in the budget plan.

Jersey Shore coastline
NJ Department of Environmental Protection

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $92 million contract for the last major portion of a coastal protection system along the Jersey Shore.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says constructing large, wide beaches along 14 miles of the Barnegat peninsula in Ocean County will prevent the kind of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy's storm surge.

Martin says 110  beachfront property owners in Bay Head, Mantoloking, and Point Pleasant Beach have still not granted easements needed for the dunes to be built.

Governor Christie speaks to joint session of NJ legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

Governor Chris Christie devoted his final state-of-the-state speech to outlining a plan to fight drug addiction.

Christie told a joint session of the New Jersey legislature that addiction is the single most important issue he wants to address in the final year of his term.

"I will not have the blood of addicted New Jerseyans on my hands by waiting to act. I will not willingly watch another 1,600 of our citizens die and watch their families mourn and suffer."

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is meeting with Dr. Ben Carson, the secretary-designee of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, ahead of his confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Senator Bob Menendez questions whether Dr. Ben Carson understands the responsibilities of his pending appointment.

“I want to get a view of Dr. Carson’s understanding of what HUD’s mission is, and the priorities he will have as the secretary designee,” Menendez said by conference call with several New Jersey mayors.

Alexandra Hill

 

New Jersey Senator and senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, is vowing to hold the Trump administration fully accountable when it comes to Russia-U.S. relations.

Menendez calls Trumps’ denial of Russian interference in the election nonsense and Says there’s never been such unanimity among the intelligence community. 

Governor Christie signs the legislation
Phil Gregory

Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation to add 20 new judges to New Jersey's courts.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says the additional judges are needed to support criminal justice reforms that took effect this month requiring swift action in pretrial proceedings and bringing cases to trial sooner.

"This can't fail. You know there's a lot of people that want this to fail. You saw not too long ago some possible legislation to bring back cash bail. There is a business of poverty and preying on the poor shouldn't be accepted by government."

Theresa Carroll and Gary Brozowki react to getting birth records.
Phil Gregory

More than 1200 adults adopted as children have filed to obtain birth records under a law that took effect in New Jersey at the beginning of the year.

Two got their birth certificates at a Statehouse event marking the change in policy that had limited access to the sealed records.

East Islip, New York resident Theresa Carroll says her parents told her 45 years ago that she was adopted and she hopes that finally getting information about her birth parents could help link her to other family members.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Democratic Ambassador Phil Murphy received some pretty good news regarding his campaign for governor.  

New Jersey US Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are the latest to endorse the democrat for governor. 

"Two extraordinary United States Senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez.  As good as it gets in this country.  As good as any partners you can hope to have.  I’m humbled by your endorsement today gentleman.  I’m looking forward to getting out in the hustings and rolling up our sleeves together,” Murphy said.

Stephen Lovekin / FilmMagic via Getty Images

The jazz world mourns the loss of jazz critic and producer, author and journalist Nat Hentoff.

Nat Hentoff, a legendary voice journalist and critic, as written in his Village Voice obituary, passed in his Manhattan home on Saturday.  His son Nick says by Twitter, “He died surrounded by family listening to Billie Holiday.”

For fifty years Hentoff wrote articles and criticisms for The Village Voice.  He was passionate for politics but arguably more so for jazz music. 

Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera
CUNY

Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera is a historian, blogger, author and cultural critic who teaches several classes at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.  Rivera is an expert in the role Puerto Ricans have played in U.S. Military history.

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