News

An advocacy group says steps some public schools are taking to reduce chronic student absenteeism in New Jersey are making a difference.

Peter Chen with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says 9.7 percent of students in kindergarten through 12th grade missed 18 or more days of school last year. That's down from 10.3 percent the year before.

"Even though the decline was only 0.6 percent, that's about 8,000 fewer students who are chronically absent, which is 8,000 fewer students who are more on track to graduate from high school."

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says legislation to phase-in a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey will be a high priority when he takes office in January.

Murphy joined legislative leaders and labor officials at a Statehouse event where some workers said it's tough to get by on less than $15 an hour.

Sayerville resident Anthony Banos says he works at a warehousing distribution center and has a part-time job at a retail store.

Senator Bob Menendez
NBC News

New Jersey U-S Senator Bob Menendez is walking away a free man after the federal corruption case against him ended in a mistrial. it came after the jury in Newark deadlocked on a verdict.

For the second time this week the jury told the judge they could not come to a unanimous decision on the corruption charges facing Senator Menendez and a co-defendant. That’s when the judge declared a mistrial, saying it would be futile to go any longer.

Illyria
Playbill.com

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews three off-Broadway production during the year-end theatre marathon: Illyria, Jesus Hopped on the A Train, School Girls; Or the African Mean Girls

Denzel Washington
Harlan Jacobson for WBGO

At 58, Dan Gilroy has mostly been a screenwriter noted for Two for the Money in 2005 with his wife Rene Russo caught up in a gambling thriller with Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey, the Bourne Legacy in 2012 directed by his brother Tony Gilroy—that’s the one where Jeremy Renner stepped in for Matt Damon.

On Thursday, November 16th Newark Today presented a public forum on housing and foreclosures in Newark.  

In one of his first major speeches since winning the election, Governor-elect Phil Murphy told the League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City that New Jersey is poised to be the comeback story of the nation.

Murphy did not propose any new initiatives. He reemphasized his commitment to improving New Jersey’s economy, funding education, and investing more in the state’s transportation infrastructure.

“New Jersey Transit barely functions. I’m embarrassed by the service that we provide our customers.

New Jersey is using a million dollars from criminal forfeiture funds to pay for an information campaign intended to prevent conflict during police and civilian encounters.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino says traffic stops are the most common place where misunderstandings can escalate to dangerous situations.

He says videos that will air on television, social media, and in movie theaters provide tips to ensure those encounters are safe and mutually respectful.

Republicans in the New Jersey Congressional delegation were divided when the House of Representatives voted to pass legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program.

The legislation would increase flood insurance premiums for many property owners to fund a program stressed by frequent storms.  It would also make it easier for private companies to get in the flood insurance market.

Congressman Bill Pascrell voted against the bill, saying it does not apply the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy.

A Trenton-based recycling company has received an award from the United Nations for creating a shampoo bottle that’s made with plastic waste collected from beaches and waterways.

TerraCycle chief executive officer Tom Szaky says 25 percent of the world’s plastic ends up in oceans, rivers, and lakes.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has decided who will fill two top positions in his administration.

Murphy has selected Metuchen Mayor Pete Cammarano to be chief of staff. He'll oversee all the workings of the Governor's Office and the Executive Branch. It's a role he's had before. He served as chief of staff to Senator Dick Codey when he became Governor in 2004. He's also a former member of the New Jersey Casino Redevelopment Authority.

Cammarano will step down as mayor by the end of the year. 

Foreclosure
Bob Hennelly for WBGO

Years after the Great Recession there is one age group  still having a really tough time getting traction.  Across the country there are over five million 16 to 24 year olds who are neither in school nor working. This idleness, experts warn, puts these young people at an increased risk for opioid addiction. For this first edition of WBGO NEWS INVESTIGATES, Bob Hennelly went to Cumberland County where over 1 in 5 of young people find themselves idle and opioid addiction is taking a terrible toll.

In response to a recent State Commission Investigation report claiming that the New Jersey SPCA is failing to consistently respond to animal cruelty laws, state lawmakers are considering some changes.

At a legislative hearing Brian Hackett, the state director of the Human Society of the United States, said many of the officers in the SPCA that enforce animal cruelty laws serve on a voluntary basis with virtually no funding.

Majority Democrats in the New Jersey Assembly have selected their leadership team for new legislative session that begins in January.

Assemblyman Craig Coughlin from Middlesex County will be the new Assembly Speaker. He’ll take over for Vinnie Prieto who lost a leadership fight and will end his term as Speaker in January.

Coughlin says he intends to be a Speaker that leads by consensus to help move the Democratic agenda forward.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Republican Congressmen Rodney Frelinghuysen and Tom MacArthur are the only two yet to publically oppose the tax overhaul.  Governor-elect Phil Murphy is asking them to vote no.

“I plead with our republican brothers who represent the five districts that they do to look at what the facts are in their districts.  They are overwhelmingly compelling in terms of the devastation this bill would wreak upon the middle class and seniors in their districts.”

M. Butterfly
Michael Bourne for WBGO

The Broadway season is heating up for the holiday season, although not all the plays are light-hearted.  

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews the revival of the play M. Butterfly.

Click above to hear Michael's review.

Dizzy Gillespie Bigger Than Life

Nov 10, 2017
Dizzy Mural
WBLS Program Director Skip Dillard for WBGO News

Last month, Harlem hosted a 100th birthday tribute to trumpeter and innovator Dizzy Gillespie. The celebration included wonderful music and the unveiling of huge colorful murals of the jazz legend.

Global street art and human rights campaign, Education Is Not A Crime, announced the creation of the John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie 100th Anniversary mural at 229 West 135th Street. The mural is the project’s 20th and largest in New York.

With Democrats about to take full control in January, Republicans in the New Jersey legislature know that a higher minimum wage is not far off.

The top Republican in the state senate now wants to make sure that Democrats don’t go too far.  

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean says the issue of affordability is the greatest challenge confronting New Jersey lawmakers and he’s calling for a bipartisan compromise.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy takes office in January. He met with Governor Chris Christie in Trenton today for about an hour and half to discuss the transition.     

Murphy says it was a terrific meeting.

“Just a great willingness on the Governor’s part to be as helpful as possible and we welcome that obviously. So, it was a good discussion.”

Murphy did not provide any specifics about what they discussed.

He’s decided his Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver will serve as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs.

Now that he’s won reelection, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says Democrats who control the legislature want to work with Governor-elect Phil Murphy to advance legislation they couldn’t get through during the Christie administration.  

Sweeney says Democrats’ plans include funding for women’s health care, expanding paid family leave, a higher minimum wage, and phasing in higher pension payments and more money for schools.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Jersey, and other advocates are hoping lawmakers act on a bill to do that within a hundred days of Murphy's inauguration.

Scott Rudder is president of New Jersey CannaBusiness Association. He says after legislation is enacted, it'll take several months to develop regulations, license sellers, and grow the product.

"We really are looking at early 2019 on a very aggressive schedule, but more than likely mid 2019 is when we would see most of the retail sales coming on line."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says it wasn't only bad weather that caused anemic turnouts on Election Day.  He says his second administration will fight to change election laws in Albany.

“We are one of only thirteen states that doesn’t allow early voting.  Early voting is the greatest preventative measure to make sure people aren’t excluded because of the weather or because work went late, or the subway broke down.  If you don’t have early voting you’re implicitly allowing the disenfranchisement of a huge number of voters.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Wins Re-election

Nov 8, 2017
Bill de Blasio
CNBC.com

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio cruised to re-election Tuesday.  The mayor collected about 66 percent of the vote compared to 28 for his main challenger, Republican Nicole Malliotakis, with more than 95 percent of the election precincts reporting.

“We have a lot to be proud of, but we can’t stop now,” de Blasio said in a victory speech at the Brooklyn Museum.

WBGO's Scott Pringle was at the election night headquarters.  Click above to hear his report.

Democrat Phil Murphy will be the next governor of New Jersey, after defeating Republican Kim Guadagno in the race to replace Chris Christie.

In his victory speech, Murphy told his supporters says the days of division are over and as New Jersey’s next governor he’ll work to rebuild the state.

“It won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be overnight. But let there be no doubt. Starting here, starting now, and starting with us, New Jersey is coming back.”

Murphy says his first task will be living up to his campaign promise to build a stronger and fairer economy.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The owner of a New Jersey political consulting firm has pleaded guilty to tax evasion. NJ.com reports 35-year-old Linda Jumah entered her plea Monday.

Jumah faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she's sentenced in February.

According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Jumah intentionally underreported more than $121,000 in earnings in 2015 when she owned the Newark-based firm Elite Strategies. Prosecutors say that resulted in a tax loss of nearly $40,000.

A political action committee is spending about $400,000 on advertising that ties some New Jersey Republican candidates to unpopular Governor Chris Christie.

That could affect who holds the top position in the state Assembly.

Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin says most headcounts of majority Democrats in the Assembly show that current Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto does not have enough support to continue in that role. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

For weeks, Democrat Phil Murphy has focused on big name endorsements like former President Barack Obama, New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi, and even International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James Hoffa, who says Murphy's opponent is another Chris Christie.

“You know, so long with Chris Christie we’ve had so many problems in the state of New Jersey.  This is a great state.  We’ve got to turn it around.  We need a new man, new thinking, someone that is for the average person in this state and that is our man Phil Murphy,” Hoffa said.

A day before New Jersey voters select a new governor, a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows they're ready to say goodbye to the current one.

Poll director Krista Jenkins says only 17 percent of voters surveyed approve of Chris Christie's job performance while 73 percent disapprove.

"By comparison Governor Christie's predecessor left office with approval numbers that were also upside down, but Jon Corzine still had a higher approval rating when he left office than Governor Christie does now, with numbers that were more than double those for the current governor."

Terror Attack
Business Insider

Security will certainly be on the minds of the runners and spectators of the New York City Marathon this weekend, following the deadliest terrorist attack in the city since 9-11.

WBGO News Director Doug Doyle has reaction to the terror attack in Lower Manhattan. Click above to hear the report.

Wind turbines
Jon Kalish for WBGO

Recently WBGO's Jon Kalish took you to the eastern tip of Long Island to the village of Montauk. Fishermen there are worried about a massive off-shore wind farm proposed some 30 miles out in the Atlantic that they say will impact their livelihood. 

Click above to hear Jon's story.

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