News

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.



New Jersey lawmakers held a hearing to examine New Jersey Transit’s rail operations.

One of the things they’re concerned about is whether the agency will meet the end of the year deadline to install a collision avoidance system that can slow or stop a train if the operator doesn’t comply with signals or the speed limit.

Only 137 New Jersey Transit employees have been trained about Positive Train Control and just 6 percent of its locomotives have been outfitted with the equipment. 

NEON

2017 was, all in all, a good year for movies. The quest for the perfect too often drives out the arrival of the merely wonderful and good in parts. We’ve been hectored by the self-esteem tyrants that we are sublime creatures who deserve only the very best every second of the 24-hour day — in food, clothes, cars, beds, books (whatever they were), TV, and seats at spectacles, music, and movies. The demand for perfect self-offerings prevents us from appreciating what is merely wonderful and good in parts. We short change ourselves that way, particularly when it comes to film.

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.”

Pages