News

ormer Governor McGreevey and company officials at Trenton summit.
Phil Gregory

Employers, government officials, and some ex-offenders gathered for an Employment Opportunity Summit in Trenton to discuss how to help former convicts rejoin society.

Stefan Oberman is chief of staff at AeroFarms in Newark. He says from a business perspective hiring past offenders makes sense.

Alexandra Hill

    

Nearly 40 troubled youth from Newark and the surrounding areas recently took part in the National Day of Empathy, an initiative devoted to creating empathy for those affected by incarceration. One particular workshop allowed them to express their feelings about their experiences within the juvenile justice system through art. It's all part of a partnership with The New Jersey Insitute for Social Justice, Youthbuild Newark, My Brother's Keeper, and Yendor Productions. 

Governor Christie delivers keynote speech at Employment Opportunity Summit in Trenton
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie says he wants to work with New Jersey lawmakers to help former offenders erase their criminal records.

Christie says he'd like an expungement measure to be approved by the end of June.

"I am open to doing this and doing it in a right and smart way. Now we have to find the right standard by which to institute expungement."

Senator Sandra Cunningham has a proposal she wants to discuss with the governor.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering changing a program that gives a property tax break to eligible senior and disabled residents.

Instead of having to wait to get a rebate, the measure advanced by an Assembly committee would provide what's called the senior freeze benefit in the form of a credit applied directly to property tax bills.

Assemblyman Ron Dancer says one of his constituents experienced such hardship, it inspired him to introduce the legislation.

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie's decision to change the rules on applying for a handgun carry permit in New Jersey is getting a mixed reaction.

Christie's new regulation allows police officials who approve carry permits to consider evidence of serious threats not directed specifically against an individual.

Scott Bach leads the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, and he says it's a good move.

Baby box advocates testify at Assembly committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would require the Department of Children and Families to put easily printable and updated information on its website about the ‘baby box’ program.

After registering online at babyboxuniversity.com, watching a video about safe sleep, and taking a short quiz, expecting and new parents in New Jersey can obtain a free laminated cardboard box with a snug, fitted mattress.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The former Port Authority Chairman who pled guilty to using his position to coerce a United Airlines flight to his vacation home in South Carolina was sentenced in federal court. 

David Samson was sentenced to a year of home confinement, 4 years of probation, community service, and a $100,000 fine.

Steven Rogers opposes the measure.
Phil Gregory

A bill awaiting final legislative approval in New Jersey's Assembly would keep employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from enforcing President Trump's order to bar residents of six countries from entering the United States.

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted along party lines to advance the measure.

Assemblywoman Annette Chapparo is among the Democrats supporting it. She  says her son is a marine and she knows it's vital to keep the nation safe.

Ang Santos / WBGO

An influential music venue set to close in New York City is moving to a revamped performance space at the New School’s College of Performing Arts.

The Stone was founded by multi-instrumentalist composer John Zorn, an experimental music extraordinaire who’s saxophone stylings have graced the stage alongside thousands of musicians over the last twelve years.  He opened the East Village hub so musicians wouldn’t need to depend on venue income to get booked.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey state and federal elected officials were at a Jewish Community Center in Tenafly to condemn the recent string of antisemitic acts across the country.

Governor Chris Christie says New Jersey law enforcement is aggressively perusing a recent spike in bias crimes.

“We now have $10,000 rewards available for any leads that lead us to the violation of bias crimes.  And anyone in this state who commits that type of crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and sent to prison,” Christie said.

Assemblyman Troy SIngleton
Phil Gregory

A bill advancing through the New Jersey legislature would create a tax-free savings account program to help first time homebuyers accumulate the money for a down payment.

Assemblyman Troy Singleton says the money deposited in those accounts would be excluded from gross income.

“We realize that one of the biggest stumbling blocks for folks trying to get their first home is having the resources necessary to make that first payment. So what we’ve tried to do is mimic the highly successful 529 plans that folks have used for college education.” 

Alexandra Hill

Residents in Newark are getting an opportunity to voice their concerns about the overhaul of the police department as part of the recently implemented federal consent decree.

The City of Newark in partnership with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice will be conducting a series of community surveys around public safety and policing. It’s all part of the overhaul of the department sparked by a 2014 federal probe that uncovered widespread civil rights abuses.  Andrea McChristian, Associate Council with the Institute, says community feedback is critical.

buds on trees
Phil Gregory

There’s a downside to the record warm weather we had in February. The allergy season is getting an early start.

Dr. Catherine Monteleone is an allergist and a professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She says buds on trees are appearing sooner than usual, and some people with tree pollen allergies are starting to suffer from sneezing, a stuffy nose, and itchy eyes.

Hudson Theatre
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne enjoys the Broadway revival of Sunday in the Park with George now playing at the revamped Hudson Theatre.

Roger Sherman: In Search of Israeli Cuisine

Mar 2, 2017
Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman for WBGO

Roger Sherman has produced a documentary that makes an extraordinary journey through Israeli kitchens, restaurants and vineyards. The movie, In Search of Israeli Cuisine, explores the ancient and modern farming and cooking techniques created by the polyglot of people who migrated to Israel or never left.  The film will open March 24th at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York and in theaters around the country.

Sherman says he found a wealth of tasty treasures in Israel:

Spring flowers getting an early start because of the warm weather.
Phil Gregory

It didn't seem much like winter in New Jersey last month.

State climatologist Dave Robinson says it was New Jersey's warmest February since record-keeping began in 1895.

"The average temperature In February was only about a degree lower than an average March temperature. So, we had March in February this year."

Robinson says a persistent weather patterns caused the record warmth.

Governor Christie delivers his budget plan to NJ Legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

In his final budget speech to New Jersey's Legislature Governor Chris Christie offered a $35.5 billion plan that does not include his so-called school fairness formula for spending the same amount on every student.

Christie says the 2008 school funding formula hasn't worked. He's willing to work with lawmakers on a new one, but says he wants it done within a hundred days.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is laying out a new strategy to reduce homelessness across the five boroughs.  He says the city will stop using private apartments, known as cluster sites, and commercial hotels to house the homeless.  He says they’ll build new or expand on existing shelters.

“Ninety new shelters will be necessary.  We think it’s more than a fair trade off to build new and better facilities, cleaner, safer facilities.  The overall number of buildings that are addressing the homeless crisis will be reduced by forty-five percent,” de Blasio said.

Assembly Financial Institutions Committee votes to advance the measure.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require operators of publicly accessible payment and withdrawal machines to inspect them every day to make sure a skimming device hasn’t been installed on them.

Assemblyman Dan Benson is one of the sponsors of the measure. He says consumers might not be able to tell if an ATM had a skimmer that could be used to steal their personal information and empty their bank account.

College officials testify at NJ legislative hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are focusing on hunger among college students.

Carey Wilson directs off-campus living at Rutgers University New Brunswick. She says a food pantry opened there in September to support students who don't have enough money for food.

"We have students who are disconnected from families and therefore lacking the support they need when times are tough.  We have returning adult students who are coming back to school after a layoff and have to support their family. We have students who are choosing between paying for textbooks and paying for food."

ancarlo Tello and Daniela Velez testify at Assembly committee hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are examining the impact of President Trump's executive orders to toughen enforcement of immigration laws.

23-year-old Glassboro resident Daniela Velez is an unauthorized immigrant. She came to New Jersey with her family from Venezuela 14 years ago.  She told an Assembly committee the President's executive orders have put her life in turmoil.

Pothole filling machine
NJ Department of Transportation

New Jersey's Department of Transportation says filling potholes is a priority for highway maintenance workers.

You don't have to travel far to find one. New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapior says constant fluctuations above and below the freezing point this winter have caused multitudes of potholes to erupt on New Jersey roadways.

Ang Santos / WBGO

There wasn’t much love for President Donald Trump from the hundreds of people who came to Republican Congressman Leonard Lance’s town hall meeting at Raritan Valley Community College.  A little ironic considering Trump’s Bedminster golf course sits only a few miles away.

“We actually have gone to his office his office to demand a town hall meeting, and it was kind of nice because a couple of days later there’s a town hall meeting.  I like to feel that we had something to do with it but I don’t think so,” said Michelle de Mico, a constituent of Lance’s.

Immigration
William Alatriste/NYC CIty Council

In the first several weeks of Donald Trump's presidency one of the hottest controversies has been sparked by the President's use of executive orders to make good on his campaign promises to crack down on illegal immigration here in the United States. How is New York City, a sanctuary city that has historically welcomed immigrant , responding?

Academy Awards
oscarwinners2017.com

A recent Hollywood Reporter poll, however, shows that 66% of Trump voters turn off the show when it goes political, but 43% of Clinton voters want speechifyers to slam Trump. And 60% of the country can’t name one best picture nominee. Well I can, and that’s Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight, and it’s the film of the year. Superbly made, with pitch perfect performances, in a script that began as a play and continually plays with our notions of black life and character.

The Future of NYC's Homeless Hotels

Feb 24, 2017
Hotel
Topher Forhecz for WBGO

New York City and its mayor Bill de Blasio are sending mixed signals over plans to end the controversial practice of renting out hotel rooms to house its homeless population. This comes as the number of people sleeping in city shelters reached record numbers last year. De Blasio says he wants to end the practice, which critics call disruptive and expensive.  Documents show the city may continue the practice for up to nine years.

Glenn Close Shines Again in Revival of Sunset Boulevard

Feb 24, 2017
Glenn Close
Michael Bourne for WBGO

WBGO Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival "Sunset Boulevard."  Glenn Close returns to Broadway to star in the role she wowed audiences 23 years ago.

Alexandra Hill

City officials and members of Newark’s arts community gathered at city hall this week for the release of the NC350 year-end report. The detailed report highlights the yearlong celebration of the city’s 350-year history and its impact on the community.

Phil Gregory / WBGO

New Jersey state Senate President Steve Sweeney is prioritizing special education as part of his school funding reform plan.

Sweeney says more funding for special needs programs in schools has been universally agreed upon by lawmakers and advocates during recent education hearings.  He believes families with special needs children are looked at unfairly in some communities.

Wil Haygood: Racism and The Academy Awards

Feb 23, 2017
Wil Haygood
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Author Wil Haygood believes that Hollywood is finally becoming emancipated.

Haygood had accused the Academy Awards in 2014 of being “culturally  biased” against African American actors and filmmakers when it declined to give a single nomination to the critically praised ,The Butler, the story based on the life of Eugene Allen, a black butler in the White House who served eight presidents.

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