News

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is ordering a review of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Murphy says the Christie administration put roadblocks in place that have stifled the spirit of the eight-year-old program.

“The ability of dispensaries to open has been slow-footed.  Doctors have faced stigmatization for participating. And non-smokable and edible products that could benefit patients have been blocked from the market. Quite simply, politics replaced compassionate care.”

  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says it’s time to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the opioid epidemic.

“Those who created the problem have to feel the consequences, change their ways and finally address the damage they have done.  The suit targets seven manufacturers and three distributors who are most responsible for creating this crisis.”

He says they deceived the public, while putting lives at risk, all for the sake of profits.

In 2011, then Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and vetoed three attempts by the legislature to rejoin it.

Lawmakers expect Governor Phil Murphy will be receptive to their latest effort to get back in.

Supporters and opponents for a measure that would require the state to be part of RGGI testified at a Senate Environment Committee hearing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says the RGGI program improves air quality and reduces pollution that contributes to climate change.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is ordering a full-scale audit of New Jersey Transit.

After recent disruptions for riders and longer commute times, Murphy says the public deserves a full accounting for how the once-model mass transit agency has fallen so far so fast.

Martin Robins is chairman emeritus of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers. He says there have been a lot of studies and hearings on New Jersey Transit, but doesn’t believe they’ve revealed all the problems.

mandoki-soulmates.com

It’s very likely that you’ve never heard Leslie Mandoki, and he’s ok with that. 

“Everybody thinks in Europe that I’m crazy.  You reload and restart your life in America, but I love America so much.”

It’s likely you’ve heard Peter Frampton, Ian Anderson, Randy Brecker, Al Di Meola.  Those are only a few of the iconic musicians that have performed as a part of the interchangeable super group Man Doki Soulmates. 

NJEA
NJEA for WBGO News

Chris Christie repeatedly blasted the New Jersey Education Association during his eight years as governor. The leader of the state’s largest teachers’ union and the new governor are indicating their relationship will be much different.  

Christie was a constant critic of the NJEA, calling it a political thuggery operation that rules by fear and intimidation. He claimed the union’s leaders put their own interests ahead of their members.

Gabriel Hernandez
Richard Termine for Two River Theater

The world premier of EL COQUI ESPECTACULAR AND THE BOTTLE OF DOOM runs through February 4th at Two River Theater in Red Bank.

The superhero in this play, written by Matt Barbot and directed by Jose Zayas, is actually an out-of-work comic book creator who keeps getting beat up in alleyways, wearing an homemade pajama costume. 

The villain in the show, El Chupacabra, is played by actor and Hoboken resident Gabriel Hernandez. 

Alexandra Hill / News

With the looming federal government shutdown over immigration policies, the Trump administration ending low-level temporary work visas for Haitians, and President Donald Trump reported use of vulgar language when referring to Haiti and African nations. 

Officials and activists in and around New Jersey’s largest city are taking a stand against the Trump administrations list of ever growing anti-immigration policies.

“For the record all of us are immigrants, if he wants us to teach him history, we definitely will.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing the state comptroller to conduct an audit of the Economic Development Authority’s tax incentive programs.

Murphy says the EDA approved $8 billion in tax incentives since 2010 and the audit will compare the actual economic impact with the projected benefits when the awards were granted.

“We’re going to look back at the types of jobs that were created and where they were created. And we’re going to examine the entire application process including the fees that were paid to lobbyists and consultants.”

The future of New Jersey’s ad campaign to combat the opioid epidemic is being examined.

The state spent about $42 million on the ‘Reach NJ’ ads that featured former Governor Chris Christie telling people where to call for help.

“If you’re struggling with addiction, supporting someone who is, or just don’t know where to turn, don’t suffer. Help is within reach.”

Senate Health Committee chairman Joe Vitale says the state needs to determine whether the ads are having the desired effect.

 

Republicans in the New Jersey Assembly say they’re willing to work with Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, but they have concerns about the fiscal impact of his proposals.

Murphy has a progressive agenda that includes paying more to fund pensions and full funding for the school funding formula, universal pre-kindergarten programs, free county college tuition, and fixing New Jersey Transit.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says some of those proposals are good ideas, but believes they would cost 5-to-7 billion dollars.

Medieval Times
Medieval Times for WBGO

The times...they are changing at Medieval Times housed at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey castle. In the Medieval Times’ 34-year tradition, a queen has never ruled the land…until now.

It started late last week. Queen Isabella is now in charge. Isabella is cast as firm but kind ruler respected throughout the kingdom, inheriting the throne after her father passed away.

Medieval Times leadership team developed the idea to cast a matriarch, based in part on guest feedback that they would like to see women having more significant roles.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is tightening the rules on the disclosure of gifts he can receive from personal friends

Murphy signed an executive order that makes a change in the governor’s code of conduct.

“The most meaningful tweak and this is one that I think is important is a very bright line distinction between preexisting relationships and folks that we’ve met in a political context.”

Murphy says if he were friends with someone at least three years before his inauguration, he would not have to disclose gifts they gave him. 

New Jersey now has the nation's first Sikh Attorney General.

There was no opposition when the New Jersey Senate voted to confirm former Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal as the state's top law enforcement officer.

Judiciary committee chairman Nick Scutari says he's confident Grewal is the right person for the job.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Arnetta Johnson, a New Jersey-born trumpeter, was onstage with Beyoncé during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. But in her last semester at the Berklee College of Music, she had trouble finding other female trumpet players to practice with.

“Ultimately it never happened, unfortunately,”  Johnson said at the New School on Monday, during a Winter Jazzfest talk called Jazz and Gender: Challenging Inequality and Forging a New Legacy.

Percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington was one of Johnson’s professors at Berklee. 

In his inauguration speech, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy vowed to take the state in a new direction.

Murphy promises a stronger and fairer New Jersey that creates better jobs and provides higher wages, funds public schools and delivers on the promise of property tax relief.

Murphy says he’ll put his ideals into his first state budget in a few weeks, but believes there’s no need to wait for that to alter the state’s trajectory.

Just hours after being inaugurated, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed his first executive order. It promotes equal pay for women.  

Murphy says the order prohibits any effort by a state agency to ask a job applicant about their wage history.

“Here and now we begin the process of bulldozing the roadblocks that have kept women from being paid fairly, that have kept many women of color from fulfilling their dreams of entering the middle class and that have allowed our wage gap to persist.”

Newark YMCA

 

The Newark YMCA held its annual MLK day of service breakfast honoring the late Civil Rights leader.

Local and federal officials in attendance say Dr. King’s message continues to ring true to this day.

“We are one, and we have to fight this injustice and inequality so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed in life.”

Michael Bright president and CEO of the Newark YMCA, says Dr. King’s legacy needs to be kept alive now more than ever.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Page after page of paperwork is one of many hurdles a non-American recording artist faces coming stateside.

“US immigration law requires that somebody coming to the US to perform have an employment visa,” said Mathew Covey, immigration lawyer and director of Tamizdat, an organization that helps foreign artists address the hurdles presented by US Immigration policy.

Spongebob Squarepants
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews Farinelli and the King, Meteor Shower, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

The schools superintendent in Asbury Park is Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s choice to be New Jersey’s next Education Commissioner.

Murphy says Lamont Repollet is an educational leader who’s focused on students.

“What Dr. Repollet has accomplished is nothing short of a turnaround. Literacy rates are up. Test scores are up. Attendance is up. Confidence and morale among staff are up.”

Repollet says the long-term success of the state relies on the ability to provide children with access to quality education.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy wants to end the use of the standardized PARCC test in New Jersey.

New Jersey started using PARCC assessments to measure student skills in the 2014-15 school year.

At an elementary school in Asbury Park where he announced Lamont Repollet to be the next education commissioner, Murphy said it’s time to scrap those tests.

“We are asking Dr. Repollet to end the failed experiment that has been PARCC testing and create new more effective and less class time intrusive means for measuring student assessment.”

David Sanborn
David Sanborn for WBGO News

Legendary saxophonist David Sanborn and his quintet performed two shows at B.B. King's in New York City Friday night.

WBGO's morning host Gary Walker spoke with Sanborn about the musician's career and thoughts on jazz and an upcoming internet series called "Sanborn Sessions."

Sanborn doesn't want to be put in a genre box.

Governor Christie
Phil Gregory for WBGO News

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is now serving his final days in office. On Tuesday, Democrat Phil Murphy will be sworn in. With a bigger than life personality, Christie was hailed for his commanding leadership after Superstorm Sandy, but Bridgegate took its toll on his political viability.

He leaves office with historic low approval ratings for a governor. Political analysts say Christie made some big changes, many positive, but they say most residents are glad to see him go.

Seeing Eye
Jon Kalish for WBGO

The first institution to train guide dogs for blind people in the United States began in 1929. Two years later it moved to New Jersey and it's been here ever since.

Now located in Morristown, the Seeing Eye helps about 250 blind people bond with their new four-legged partners every year. WBGO's Jon Kalish visited the Seeing Eye.

New Jersey doesn't mandate training on preventing sexual harassment for state lawmakers and their staff and some legislative leaders want that to change.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin say it’s time to update the state’s policy that was enacted nine years ago.

Weinberg says the Me-Too movement shows women don't have to put up with sexual harassment.

Governor Christie and some of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers want the entire Atlantic Coast excluded from the Trump Administration’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department granted a request from Florida officials to exempt that state from offshore drilling because it could devastate its tourism industry and coastal economy.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez believes New Jersey should also be exempt.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy might not be getting speedy approval from the New jersey legislature for some of his priorities.
 
Murphy wants to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires and use the money to increase funding for public schools.
 
Senate President Steve Sweeney says state lawmakers won’t rush to do that.  He’s forming a panel of economists and tax experts to study the impact of federal tax changes that limit the deductions for state and local taxes and consider possible tax reforms.
 

New Jersey Governor Christie spent most of the time in his final state-of-the-state speech highlighting the accomplishments of his eight-years in office.

Christie credited the Democratically controlled legislature for helping him control public employee pension costs, reign in property tax increases, restructure higher education, and make needed improvements in Atlantic City and Camden.

Alexandra Hill / News

After months of speculation, Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield-Jenkins officially launched her campaign today to unseat incumbent Mayor Ras Baraka. 

Chaneyfield-Jenkins first served on the city council from 1995 to 2006, and was re-elected on the 2014 Baraka ticket. The two former allies have since butted heads on a myriad of issues. Chaneyfield-Jenkins says she believes the city and its residents deserve more form their elected officials, and says the time is now.

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