News

Alexandra Hill

New Jersey’s senior US Senator is calling on the Committee on Foreign Investment to review a potential majority Russian stake in one the country’s ten largest oil companies.

Senator Bob Menendez says the Venezuelan owned oil company Citgo is currently at risk of a Russian takeover. Its all due to the economic crisis in the country which could result in a default on its debt to Russia, leaving the oil giant, which owns 48 petroleum terminals in 20 states and nearly nine U.S. based oil pipelines, under Russian control.

A poll conducted for a coalition of child advocates finds that 85 percent of New Jersey residents believe the youth justice system should focus more on prevention and rehabilitation rather than incarceration and punishment.

Mary Coogan with Advocates for Children of New Jersey says young people who commit crimes should be should be held accountable, but believes community-based counseling and treatment are more effective than putting them in prison.  

The warm, sunny weather may be a welcome relief after all the cool rainy days recently. But it could cause problems for people with allergies.

Dr. Leonard Bielory, is an allergy specialist who tracks the pollen count in New Jersey. He says the release of tree pollen is intensifying now.

"Pollen is primed and pumping. We'll actually see about tenfold increase in pollen over the coming week. So even people mildly allergic will have intense allergy symptoms by the end of the week."

Alexandra Hill

In the wake of the numerous deaths of young black men at the hands of police, the rise of the black lives matter movement, and the mass incarceration epidemic, tensions have been at an all time high in recent years. A new program being launched in the city of Newark is working to change all that. The All Star Project’s Cops and Kids program is working to break the stereotypes that often lead to tension between young people and the police.

“Their cousins, their family members, fathers have been locked up before so it makes them have that negative outlook.”

Mildred Antenor
David Tallacksen for WBGO

WBGO commentator Mildred Antenor wants to know what's the next step for those who participated in the historic march one day after President Trump's inauguration in D.C.

Miss Saigon
Michael Bourne for WBGO

WBGO's Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews the new musical Amelie, musical revival Miss Saigon and play revival The Price.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  

Knights of New Jersey explores four essential parts of the Renaissance Faire.  Honor, Courage, Loyalty, and Turkey Legs.  Lots of Turkey Legs.  It does so through the comedic life of fictional Renaissance Faire performers Sir Robert of Arden Dale and his mostly trusty squire Tom.  Director Michael Hadley says Knights of New Jersey started with a visit to Medieval Times in East Rutherford.

“I thought, what would it be like to have that as your day job?  To actually punch a clock, swing a sword, and that got me thinking about that lifestyle,” said Hadley.

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers tried to get more details about Governor Christie's plan for a $300 million Statehouse renovation, but the state Treasurer didn't offer many specifics.

Senator Jeff Van Drew asked Treasurer Ford Scudder if the legislature will have to approve the renovation project.

"How does this work? Who authorizes this? Is it purely the executive branch that has the ability to do that?

"Senator, we're working with bond counsel through exactly what steps that needs to take and it's not a finalized process at this point in time."

NJ officials announce the start of the program.
Phil Gregory

After an 8 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents last year, New Jersey is expanding the program used to report aggressive driving so the public can alert police about distracted drivers.

State Attorney General Chris Porrino says anyone who notices a distracted driver can call #77 and report the model, make and license number of the vehicle. He hopes that will deter cellphone use and other driver distractions.

Bob Hurley
FloHoops

Word came this week that St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City, NJ was closing at the end of the academic year.  That decision puts an end to one of the country's most successful and revered  high school basketball programs led by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley Sr. 

The Archdiocese of Newark has determined fundraising efforts would not be able to keep the doors open for another year.

Office of Legislative Services officials testify at Assembly Budget Committee hearing
Phil Gregory

The Christie administration says revenues in the budget year ending June 30th are expected to be $247 million below projections.

That's less than a one percent difference from the $233 million shortfall the Office of Legislative Services anticipates.

Legislative Budget Officer Frank Haines says revenue forecasts are not perfect, and the gap is not a signal of trouble ahead for the state's economy.

"We don't see a severe economic downturn coming. In fact we see modest economic growth coming for at least a few years, but the unexpected can happen."

State Treasurer Ford Scudder gives lawmakers some details of the plan.
Phil Gregory

In February, Governor Christie proposed using revenues from the New Jersey lottery to shore up the state's pension system. An administration official is now providing some details.

State Treasurer Ford Scudder says the lottery enterprise would be placed into the public employee pension system.

"You would still be buying the same lottery tickets. The retailer would still be getting their commission for sales. It would still be a division within Treasury. It would still be directed by the state Lottery Commission. It would just be owned by the pension system."

Four former New Jersey Governors are urging the state's Congressional delegation to defend environmental laws.

Republican Christie Whitman says the Trump administration's proposal to slash the Environmental Protection Agency budget would hurt environmental enforcement and scientific research on what's acceptable for human health.

Nearly 300 candidates are competing for a chance to run for the New Jersey legislature in the June Primary.

The 192 Assembly candidates are the most since 2001. The 88 seeking a Senate seat is the highest since 2003.

Seton Hall political science professor Matthew Hale says five Senators are retiring or seeking higher office.

"So you're seeing a lot of people want to take that shot because they're not sure when it's going to come around again."

Be prepared to pay more for gasoline.

The average price is 3 cents higher than a week ago.

Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey, expects it'll keep going up.

"I don't want to alarm people, but this will be a month probably unlikely any month they've seen in the last 15 months in that you're probably going to see prices increase by 15 or 20 cents a gallon and it may even follow through into a strong May as well."

Phil Murphy arrives at NJ Division of Elections
Phil Gregory

Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy has filed a record 43,000 petitions to get on the June primary ballot as a Democratic contender for Governor of New Jersey.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Peter Woolley says Murphy is the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination.

"He's trying a bit of shock and awe, I think, trying to demonstrate to anybody who might come out and offer in particular financial support to his competitors, that it is futile."

Bethany Jacobson

If you’re into New York City settings, mixed with the happenings of a struggling uptown neurotic, bedded to an original jazz score, then Hotel Bleu is a short flick for you.  It’s film maker Bethany Jacobson’s first dive into a full on writer, producer, director role.

“New York can be so many things in cinema.  It’s a challenge to make it something that we haven’t seen before in terms of the feeling of it.  I think I wanted through these characters to show a little bit of the feeling of the old and the new mixed together,” Jacobson told WBGO.

Monday is the filing deadline for candidates who want to run in New Jersey's June primary.

Political analysts expect a battle to get the Republican nomination for Governor.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno has won the endorsement of GOP organizations in 10 counties to get favorable placement on the primary ballot and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli will have that coveted designation in 7 counties.

You may have noticed the effects on outdoor plants. We've had some unusual weather in the area.

State climatologist Dave Robinson says it's only the third time, since record keeping started 123 years ago, that average temperatures in New Jersey in March were lower than February.

"It was record breaking warmth in February and March temperatures that are just about two degrees below average. For the first time all winter we had the jet stream deliver some cold air to us here in the east."

The December through February period was the 11th driest on record.

Linda
Manhattan Theatre Club

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Linda and How to Transcend a Happy Marriage.

Click above to hear his thoughts on the shows.

A company in Wall Township New Jersey makes a product they hope you’ll never need. But it could save your life.

(Worker announces “safety pins removed,  pressure is good. Alarms sound. Three, two, one. Sounds of evacuation slide unfolding)

That’s what it sounds like when an inflatable escape slide used on commercial airplanes is deployed during a test at the Zodiac Aerospace factory.

The company in Wall sells 65 percent of the evacuation slides put into new planes. Their products were also in the movie ‘Sully’.

A New Jersey lawmaker is calling on legislative leaders to move ahead with vacation and sick leave reforms.

Senator Jennifer Beck says New Jersey property owners have a nearly $2 billion property tax obligation hanging over their heads in terms of unused sick and vacation time accumulated by municipal and school employees.

She says some of those workers are retiring with half a million dollars or more in unused sick and vacation time.

A Democrat in the race for Governor of New Jersey has filed a complaint with state Election Law Enforcement Commission against the front-runner in the race.

Jim Johnson claims former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy, also a Democrat, violated state election law by using non-profit social welfare and political groups he set up before entering the race to avoid disclosing some contributions and expenditures.

Few Really Knew Ella Fitzgerald

Mar 30, 2017
Ang Santos / WBGO

You wouldn’t think a singer who was doing close to 300 shows a year at their peak would be nervous each time the curtains rose. Archivist Tad Hershorn with The Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers-Newark says that was the case for Ella Fitzgerald.

“She was always nervous before she went on stage as we are about any type of life experience we might even have a certain handle on.  But when that music started, there she was, it was like watching your grandmother turn into Superwoman,” Hershorn said.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he's honored President Trump has selected him to chair a commission focused on combatting the nation's opioid addiction crisis.

The President called Christie a very effective guy when he met with him at the White House to kick off the commission.

In a Fox News interview, Christie said it's an issue he and Trump care passionately about.

A Monmouth University poll finds most Americans believe fake news is widespread, but they have more confidence in the media than the information that comes from President Trump.

Poll director Patrick Murray says the public feels there's fake news everywhere.

"80 percent say that news websites online will report fake news, and about 63 percent say that our traditional sources like TV and newspapers will from time to time report fake news. In most cases they say when they do it, it's to push an agenda."

Many of the workers at Zodiac Aerospace have taken the training.
Phil Gregory

State officials, community college and business representatives in New Jersey gathered at an aerospace equipment company in Wall Township to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a workforce training program.

Carolina Diaz took the basic skills course when she starting work at Zodiac Aero Evacuation Systems ten years ago. She's now a quality control inspector at the company that makes inflatable escape slides for commercial aircraft.

Governor Christie signs the legislation at laborers union hall in Trenton
Phil Gregory

Just days after it received final legislative approval, a measure providing $400 million in gas tax revenues for transportation improvements this year has gotten Governor Chris Christie's OK.

Workers at the International Laborers Union hall in Trenton cheered as Christie signed the legislation designating $260 million for road and bridge repairs throughout the state.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto
Phil Gregory

Leading Democrats in the New Jersey legislature are thankful that Republicans in Congress were unable to muster the votes on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto is relieved there won't be a change in federal funding for Medicaid.

"It's a great win for New Jersey. 500,000 residents have taken advantage of Medicaid expansion. Those people would have lost coverage. We couldn't afford to keep that. The state would have had to pick up the slack if they wanted to."

Bad Jews
George Street Playhouse for WBGO

Two of the stars of the George Street Playhouse production of Bad Jews are newcomers to the theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Alec Silberblatt and Amos VanderPoel also sat down with WBGO's Doug Doyle to talk about the show. 

The smash hit comedy Bad Jews is making its New Jersey premiere, directed by Jessica Stone.

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