News

Should you see The Babylon Line?

Jan 16, 2017
The Babylon Line
lincolncenter.org

Theater Critic Michael Bourne reviews one of the new plays of the 2017 season, The Babylon Line.  Listen above to see if Dr. Bourne was applauding at the end of the show.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker says the explanation of benefits that insurance companies send to patients contain message codes that are difficult for consumers to understand.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick says it's irritating to get pages and pages of confusing information about why a medical bill hasn't been paid.

"I think it can frustrate people to the point where they don't know what to do. They end up maybe they don't provide the documents that the insurance company needs because they can't quite figure out what they need."

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to help make sure people with disabilities are allowed to take a service dog into public places.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says her bill calls for fines up to a thousand dollars for denying that access.

“The American Disabilities Act allows for service dogs to be with their owner to various locations, be it a restaurant, be it department store. However, those within the general population don’t always understand where service dogs can reside.”

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
Phil Gregory

One Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey is scaling back his campaign. Another is just getting into the race.

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli says he's planning to limit his campaign appearances to two or three days a week because he's having side effects from radiation therapy after surgery for throat cancer.

"I thought I would be one of those people who would get through radiation therapy entirely without feeling the most significant aspect of those side effect challenges. I'm not."

State Treasurer Ford Scudder testifies at Senate committee hearing.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are questioning the Christie administration's proposal to spend $300 million on renovating the Statehouse in Trenton.

Senator Jim Whelan is among the members of the Senate Economic Growth committee who wonder if a less costly project could adequately resolve the building's safety hazards.

"Is there a sweet spot below the $300 million and above doing nothing that addresses the safety issue, that maintains the architectural and historic integrity and so on and so forth? I don't know if that's $125 million or $150 million or $75 million.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Ever dream of securing that law degree but didn’t have the time to pursue it?  Seton Hall is launching a program to make entry level law degrees more accessible to working professionals. 

Kathleen Boozang, Dean of Seton Hall University School of Law says they’re launching a weekend program at the Newark campus to work around people’s family and work schedules.

“Two-thirds live, one-third online, so each semester the students attend in person classes eight weekends a semester, every other weekend.  Then in the off week they work in small groups with the professor online.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver the final budget proposal of his time in office when he speaks at another joint session of the New Jersey legislature next month.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo says the governor did not give many indications in his state-of-the-state speech about any new policy proposals that might be included in the budget plan.

Jersey Shore coastline
NJ Department of Environmental Protection

The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $92 million contract for the last major portion of a coastal protection system along the Jersey Shore.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says constructing large, wide beaches along 14 miles of the Barnegat peninsula in Ocean County will prevent the kind of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy's storm surge.

Martin says 110  beachfront property owners in Bay Head, Mantoloking, and Point Pleasant Beach have still not granted easements needed for the dunes to be built.

Governor Christie speaks to joint session of NJ legislature
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

Governor Chris Christie devoted his final state-of-the-state speech to outlining a plan to fight drug addiction.

Christie told a joint session of the New Jersey legislature that addiction is the single most important issue he wants to address in the final year of his term.

"I will not have the blood of addicted New Jerseyans on my hands by waiting to act. I will not willingly watch another 1,600 of our citizens die and watch their families mourn and suffer."

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is meeting with Dr. Ben Carson, the secretary-designee of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, ahead of his confirmation hearing on Thursday.

Senator Bob Menendez questions whether Dr. Ben Carson understands the responsibilities of his pending appointment.

“I want to get a view of Dr. Carson’s understanding of what HUD’s mission is, and the priorities he will have as the secretary designee,” Menendez said by conference call with several New Jersey mayors.

Alexandra Hill

 

New Jersey Senator and senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, is vowing to hold the Trump administration fully accountable when it comes to Russia-U.S. relations.

Menendez calls Trumps’ denial of Russian interference in the election nonsense and Says there’s never been such unanimity among the intelligence community. 

Governor Christie signs the legislation
Phil Gregory

Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation to add 20 new judges to New Jersey's courts.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says the additional judges are needed to support criminal justice reforms that took effect this month requiring swift action in pretrial proceedings and bringing cases to trial sooner.

"This can't fail. You know there's a lot of people that want this to fail. You saw not too long ago some possible legislation to bring back cash bail. There is a business of poverty and preying on the poor shouldn't be accepted by government."

Theresa Carroll and Gary Brozowki react to getting birth records.
Phil Gregory

More than 1200 adults adopted as children have filed to obtain birth records under a law that took effect in New Jersey at the beginning of the year.

Two got their birth certificates at a Statehouse event marking the change in policy that had limited access to the sealed records.

East Islip, New York resident Theresa Carroll says her parents told her 45 years ago that she was adopted and she hopes that finally getting information about her birth parents could help link her to other family members.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Democratic Ambassador Phil Murphy received some pretty good news regarding his campaign for governor.  

New Jersey US Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker are the latest to endorse the democrat for governor. 

"Two extraordinary United States Senators, Cory Booker and Bob Menendez.  As good as it gets in this country.  As good as any partners you can hope to have.  I’m humbled by your endorsement today gentleman.  I’m looking forward to getting out in the hustings and rolling up our sleeves together,” Murphy said.

Stephen Lovekin / FilmMagic via Getty Images

The jazz world mourns the loss of jazz critic and producer, author and journalist Nat Hentoff.

Nat Hentoff, a legendary voice journalist and critic, as written in his Village Voice obituary, passed in his Manhattan home on Saturday.  His son Nick says by Twitter, “He died surrounded by family listening to Billie Holiday.”

For fifty years Hentoff wrote articles and criticisms for The Village Voice.  He was passionate for politics but arguably more so for jazz music. 

Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera
CUNY

Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera is a historian, blogger, author and cultural critic who teaches several classes at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.  Rivera is an expert in the role Puerto Ricans have played in U.S. Military history.

The Global Tech Braintrust that is TWIT

Jan 9, 2017
TWIT
Jon Kalish for WBGO

Imagine hundreds of hard core geeks from around the world in one room, sitting at computers, ready, willing and able to help solve your tech problems.  This global brain trust does exist in cyberspace.  It's a chat room for a tech-focused podcast network known as TWIT.  TWIT is based in Northern California.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Archdiocese of Newark welcomes Cardinal Joseph Tobin as its new archbishop.   His installation ends the fifteen-year tenure of John Myers, who father Brian Gonzalez of St. Aloysius Parish in Newark’s Ironbound is grateful for.

“Sad in a sense for the loss of Archbishop Meyers.  He was very dear; I knew him since I came here.  He was the one who ordained me.  I love him very much, but happy to see also that God has given us a new shepherd,” said Gonzalez.

NJ Department of Transportation salt spreader
New Jersey Department of Transportation

The New Jersey Department of Transportation says it's prepared to deal with winter storms.

DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro says 2700 pieces of equipment are available and more than 200,000 tons of salt are stockpiled to deal with snow and ice on the highways.

He says the state tries to deploy salt trucks and plows where they’re most needed.

Doris Yao
Topher Forhecz for WBGO

The New York City Council may double the number of food vendors allowed on city streets. Proponents of the plan say the current cap on vending permits is outdated… And increasing it will hurt a black market that charges vendors thousands of dollars. But, critics of the plan worry adding more vendors could crowd public spaces. When Doris Yao immigrated to New York City in 1981 from Taiwan, she noticed there were not a lot of choices when it came to street food.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation to encourage the development of tiny homes to help meet the needs of the homeless and low-income residents.

Under the plan, towns in three regions of the state would be tapped for a pilot program that awards grants to qualified applicants who build homes with less than 300 square feet of interior floor space.

The towns would be get two credits toward their affordable housing obligation for each of tiny houses built.

More than 450 people with post-traumatic stress disorder have enrolled in New Jersey's medical marijuana program since that mental health condition was added as a qualifying illness in September.

Ken Wolski, the executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey, says a panel of medical experts is now considering patients' requests to include other medical conditions including chronic pain.

Governor Christie signs the legislation
Tim Larsen/Governor's Office

Governor Christie has signed legislation to help small businesses in New Jersey.

Christie says the measure directs the state Economic Development Authority to support small businesses and assist them in securing surety bonding.

"This is an important but little discussed issue. When you're going for federal and state contracts, you need to have that bonding, and small businesses often don't have access to it. The EDA is now going to provide opportunities for that so these entities can now more easily bid on federal and state contracts."

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick
Phil Gregory

The top Republican in New Jersey's Assembly is not running for governor.
 
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick has long supported Governor Christie but says Christie's declining popularity was not a factor in deciding against entering the race to replace him.
 
"This has nothing to do with Governor Christie, whether he's popular now or popular after Sandy. This has to do with my own personal decision to stay as Republican leader."
 

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City officials say overall crime was at all-time recorded lows in 2016.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says there were less than a thousand shootings in 2016.  The lowest figure since all-time recorded high’s in 1993.  He points to better neighborhood policing.

Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to keep police uniforms out of the hands of criminals.

Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer would require businesses that sell police uniforms to verify that buyers work for a law enforcement agency.

"In this terroristic era that we're all living in we need bills like this to be able to have a pre-emptive strike to go after to anyone who is attempting to purchase a law enforcement uniform and be a lookalike cop and then just simply slip through our security points."

Phil Gregory

Urban enterprise zones that allow businesses to charge a reduced sales tax expired in five New Jersey cities on December 31st, but legislation to renew them for two years isn't dead yet.

Governor Christie has until the end of the month to decide whether to sign the measure that would allow the UEZ’s in Newark, Camden, Trenton, Bridgeton, and Plainfield to continue and make the tax reduction retroactive to January 1st.

Michael Darcy, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, says the uncertainty is tough on businesses located in those zones.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing to offer free tuition at New York public colleges for eligible residents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan, ‘The Excelsior Scholarship,’ would provide free tuition to State or City University of New York colleges for residents whose families earn less than $125,000 a year.

“College is a mandatory step if you really want to be a success.  The way this society said we’re going to pay for high school, because you need high school, this society should say we’re going to pay for college,” Cuomo said.

gas nozzle in tank of car
Phil Gregory

It could cost more to gas up the car in 2017.
 
After a 17 cents a gallon increase in the past month, the seasonal reduction in driving could keep the price from rising--- at least in the first few weeks of the new year.
 
That’s the prediction from Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey.
 

New Jersey Statehouse dome
Phil Gregory

The legislation that raised New Jersey’s gas tax 23 cents in November also includes some tax cuts that take effect at the start of the new year.

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