News

Mildred Antenor
David Tallacksen for WBGO

WBGO commentator Mildred Antenor talks about her concerns regarding how people treat immigrants in the United States.

Mildred is a social commentator, author and Seton Hall University Professor.

governor.ny.gov

Governor Andrew Cuomo laid out a long list of plans including legislation to remove firearms from domestic abusers, ways to eradicate gang violence, and a package to reform the state’s criminal justice system.

“The truth is, our lady justice is still not colorblind and her scales are still not balanced," Cuomo said during the 2018 State of the State address.  "Our bail system is biased against the poor.  Our jail systems are cruel and inhumane.  Our courts system is too slow.”

The Children
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews Junk, Describe The Night and The Children.

The History of the New Year's Eve Ball Drop

Dec 29, 2017
Times Square
Scott Pringle for WBGO News

Many eyes will be on Times Square as officials drop the ball to bring in the New Year.

The very first Times Square celebration to bring in the new year was back in 1904.

“When they came here to Times Square the first couple years, they did fireworks. The hot ashes would reign down on revelers below, burning their heads, not a great way to start the new year.” So, Jeff Strauss with Countdown Entertainment says in 1907 the New York Times asked its chief electrician, Walter Palmer to come up with a new idea.

It's cold now, but New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says this has been the 6th warmest year on record in the Garden State.

“We had a warmer February than March, which was really quite remarkable. February was record warm and March was a bit below average. April was the warmest on record. September was the 10th warmest on record and October was the 2nd warmest on record. And those records go back to 1895."

Robinson explains why it was so warm.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has selected another member of his cabinet.

Murphy is appointing Jared Maples to lead the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. He’s been Acting Director since June.

Maples spent more than a decade in various leadership roles at the CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense.

He’ll continue to serve as the governor’s Homeland Security Advisor and coordinate the state’s counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and emergency preparedness efforts.

When New Jersey's minimum wage goes up on January 1st, some workers who make more than that might also get a raise.

Brandon McKoy with New Jersey Policy Perspective says the 16-cents-an hour increase will directly affect 91,000 workers who now earn less than the new $8.60 minimum.

He says another 209,000 employees are also likely to make more.

"They currently make between $8.60 and about $8.76 an hour and they're going to basically see an increase in their pay as employers adjust the pay scales upward to reflect the new minimum wage."

New Jersey lawmakers are expected to consider legislation in the new year to legalize recreational marijuana in the Garden State.

One shore town doesn't want marijuana sales within its borders.

The Point Pleasant Beach council has passed an ordinance that bans marijuana dispensaries.

Mayor Stephen Reid says they would not be a good fit for his community.

This edition of Newark Today highlights some of the non-profit organizations and groups who provide essential community services during the holiday season. The panel of representatives of charitable organizations who serve the communities in and around New Jersey's largest city will discuss the needs in the community and the struggles they often face to fill those needs. Needs which are essential to promoting health and wellness, while providing for those who are most vulnerable during the holiday season and beyond.

The new year will bring some tax changes in New Jersey.

A 2016 law that raised the state tax gas also provides for tax breaks taking effect January 1st.

Senator Steve Oroho says for residents 62 and older, the amount of pensions and other retirement income excluded from the state income tax goes up to $45,000 for individuals and $60,000 for those who file joint returns.

"I actually do think It'll keep more people here in the state. Our retirees do want to stay around by their families."

The estate tax will be completely eliminated.

Harlan Jacobson
David Tallacksen for WBGO

It’s been a good December at the movies.

Major titles that are out there to see include James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, which finds fun and meaning in the worst movie of all time, The Room, made in 2003 by a couple of strange actors; Guillermo del Toro’s, The Shape of Water, a sugar water addition to his fantasy canon, with Sally Hawkins courting a best actress nomination as cleaning crew in a top-secret military research facility who is in the tank for an alien merman.

Pride and Prejudice
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews Twelfth Night, Pride and Prejudice and It's a Wonderful Life!

Kathy Fitzgerald
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Roald Dahl’s treasured tale is now Broadway’s Golden Ticket! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is hilarious and filled with energy.  The show for all ages includes songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters of Hairspray.

Joanna Wolper's The Man Who Could Be Santa

Dec 22, 2017
Joanna Wolper
Joanna Wolper for WBGO News

Joanna Wolper, an Emmy Award winning writer and documentary filmmaker, has uncovered the true identity of Santa Claus. She writes about her discovery in a children's book called The Man Who Could Be Santa, based on a true family adventure.

Joanna Wolper's book has a web site, at www.themanwhocouldbesanta.com, featuring the real children in the story.

Original music written and performed by Gabrielle Gewritz.

Click above to hear the entire podcast.

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says lawmakers will hold a hearing to examine insurance products being offering by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says he wants to make sure insurance companies aren’t making enormous profits at the expense of quality health care for consumers.

“Horizon dominates the market right now. They have more than 50% of the market and they’re coming out with another product to deal with Medicare. And we want to know the impacts of these products for consumers and hospitals.”

New Jersey’s minimum wage goes up to $8.40 an hour at the start of the new year.  A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to inflation. Larger increases could be on the way.

Analilia Mejia, the director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, says the 16 cent an hour increase that takes effect January 1st is not enough in a such a high-cost state.

“Think about, how much people have to pay for rent and transportation and food and child care. You’re finding yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to make ends meet.”

Governor-elect Phil Murphy has selected the EPA’s regional administrator to lead New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

If she’s confirmed as DEP Commissioner, Catherine McCabe says one of her priorities will be focusing on climate change.

“It’s over time for us to start taking some action on that and to building up the shore resiliency. There have been a lot of efforts. The federal government has been part of that as well as the state, but we haven’t done enough and we haven’t done it fast enough.”

Ang Santos / WBGO

The shelter targets the homeless population around Newark Penn Station, the public library, and several surrounding parks, but Mayor Ras Baraka says anybody who needs a bed and a meal, are welcome to stop by to get warm.

“We have to provide shelter but also give services so we can help them march their way into society.  It’s one thing to give people fish, it’s another thing to teach them how to fish.  That’s what we are trying to do here.  Give them the opportunity and provide a shelter that is not like the other shelters that exist.

After a five-hour hearing on the measure, legislation that could impose a surcharge on electric customers to keep three nuclear plants open in South Jersey has been advanced by a joint Senate and Assembly committee.

Public Service Enterprise Group says the nuclear plants could become unprofitable in two years and be shut down.

Ratepayer advocate Stefanie Brand worries the legislation could cost ratepayers over $300 million a year. She says there’s no evidence to demonstrate subsidies are needed.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti is a 21-year veteran of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and currently serves as the CEO of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise.  Governor-elect Phil Murphy says Gutierrez-Scaccetti has the experience to get the best out of the state’s transportation systems.

Ang Santos / WBGO

  

The line stretches around the block as hundreds of Newark families wait outside on an unseasonably warm December day with their kids, for early holiday presents.  Newark Mayor Ras Baraka makes small talk with residents and looks over piles of toys organized by the appropriate age group. 

What were some of the toys a young Ras Baraka desired as a kid?

“I loved those chemistry sets, bikes, skateboards, or a football uniform.  Pittsburgh Steelers, football uniform, Lynn Swann.”

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy continues his theme of diversity in selecting members of his cabinet, nominating a Cuban-American Assemblywoman to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance.

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride says she'll work to ensure New Jersey residents are treated fairly by lending institutions and insurance companies.

New Jersey lawmakers will hold a hearing tomorrow on a bill that calls for raising the cost for electricity customers to keep two nuclear plants in Salem County open. 

Public Service Enterprise Group CEO Ralph Izzo told lawmakers earlier this month that the nuclear facilities could become unprofitable to operate in two years and might have to be shut down.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports the objective of keeping the nuclear plants open as long as they can be operated safely.

Local government officials in New Jersey are urging Governor-elect Phil Murphy to support permanently extending the 2% cap on police and firefighters salary increases when contract disputes go to binding arbitration.

The cap is set to expire at the end of the year and Democratic legislative leaders are waiting to hear whether Murphy supports it before taking action to extend it.

Murphy is awaiting a final report from a commission studying the cap before making his decision.

Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon doubts that report will ever come.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy is nominating a former Passaic County freeholder and administrative law judge to be New Jersey’s next Secretary of State.

If she’s confirmed by the state Senate, Tahesha Way will oversee New Jersey’s Division of Tourism, all state historic and cultural commissions, and the Division of Elections.

Murphy says he’ll ask her to take the lead in efforts to modernize and expand the ability of residents to cast their votes.

Mildred Antenor
David Tallacksen for WBGO

WBGO commentator, author and Seton Hall professor Mildred Antenor has some major concerns about students as the fall semester comes to a close.

The New Jersey Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing Monday on legislation that would require the state Attorney General’s Office to operate a statewide gun buyback program.

Ten occasional buyback events were held over the past five years in various parts of the state allowing citizens to turn in firearms for cash payments.

Senator Linda Greenstein says her bill would requiring nine gun buyback events every year.

Know somebody who's sick? It could be the flu that's starting to show up in New Jersey.

Dr. Bradley Pulver is the director of emergency services at Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township.

“We’re starting to see some cases over the last couple of weeks, but there is concern that it is going to be a worse than usual flu season. It’s very widespread in many of the southern states and the expectation is it’s going to hit here very hard over the next few weeks.”

And that could be troublesome.

Nate Burleson
Joe Favorito for WBGO

Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson's transition into sports television has been impressive.  Burleson is the co-host of the NFL Network's Good Morning Football and he's also an analyst on CBS' NFL Today.

Burleson sat down recently with SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about his work in television, his NFL career and his family.

Burleson, his wife and children have recently moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey.

A measure to help combat opioid overdoses is awaiting final legislative approval in the New Jersey Senate.

Senator Colin Bell says his bill would allow emergency personnel to administer multiple doses of an opioid antidote to overdose victims.

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