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Newark Public Library

Life-long Newark resident Richard Cammarieri was a teenager in the city's central ward in 1967.  

"There was a sense that things were quite inferment throughout the 60's if you were paying any attention at all,"  Cammarieri said.  "My father worked in a town not too far from Newark.  I recall drving with him one day to work.  It was probably the second day.  Because we were white, we were able to pass through the road blocks and cross checks without any problem.  Other cars being stopped had black drivers.  Both men and women, old and young, it didn't seem to matter."

atlantictheater.org

Not every New York theatre is a grand palace. WBGO theater critic Michael Bourne is staying busy after the Tony Awards.  You can hear his stories of watching productions in places like churches and warehouses by clicking the link above.  

CHUCK STEWART / COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Saxophone legend Sonny Rollins is attaching his legacy to Harlem in a big way.  He’s donated a life’s worth of writings, recordings and other materials to The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.  Rollins recently sat down with Jazz Night In America’s Christian McBride and NPR’s Audie Cornish to talk about it.

hearingisbelievingfilm.com

  

Twenty-three-year-old insrumentalist composer Rachel Flowers has spent the entirety of her life developing an ear for music.  Born 15 weeks premature, Flowers lost her eyesight at birth.  Lorenzo Destefano’s new film ‘Hearing is Believing’ takes us into Rachel Flowers’ world.  

“We shot for 52 days over almost a two-year period.  It got bigger than we expected.  It’s about a little girl, in a little town, in a little house, but we found a big story there we feel,” said Destefano.   “We call her hyper abled, as opposed to disabled.”

Majority Democrats in New Jersey's Senate want more money in the state budget for a program offering financial aid and support services tor thousands of low-income college students.

Governor Christie's budget plan calls for a $3.5 million cut for the Educational Opportunity Fund. Democrats want to restore that and add another $1.5 million.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says funding for that program is a crucial part of the state budget.

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would authorize the issuance of $125 million in bonds for the construction and expansion of public libraries.

New Jersey Library Association executive director Patricia Tumulty says the money would finance half the costs of building or repairing a library or making technology improvements and the local government would have to pay the other half.

Judge Pratt
Judge Pratt for WBGO

Victoria F. Pratt, the first judge of Dominican ancestry to become a municipal judge in Newark, New Jersey, has won an international following for her campaign to reform the city’s criminal justice system.

The chief municipal judge presides over a cutting edge program called Community Solutions that offers defendants in minor criminal cases a chance to avoid jail time by obeying specific rules of behavior.

A top New York City judicial official has called her a warrior to improve criminal justice. Why did she want to go to law school?

As the June 30th deadline for enacting a state budget approaches, New Jersey lawmakers are also considering whether to pass several other controversial bills.

Democratic legislative leaders have been delaying action on a budget bill until they reach a compromise with Governor Christie on their proposal to increase state aid to schools.

After Democrats in the Assembly met for several hours in a closed-door session, Budget Committee Chairman Gary Schaer was optimistic.

Health care advocates are worried that the bill Republican U.S. Senators are considering would be a disaster for New Jersey.

Ray Castro with New Jersey Policy Perspective says eliminating Medicaid expansion and health insurance subsidies would reverse progress made under the Affordable Care Act.

“The current un-insurance rate of 10 percent would increase to about 14 percent by 2020 and 15 percent by 2026. That’s a 50 percent increase. The rate would actually be higher than it was before the Affordable Care Act.”

Shannon Rouillard
Doug Doyle for WBGO

The Director of the U.S. Open Women's Championship next month at Trump National Bedminister has quite a story to tell.  Shannon Rouillard didn't start playing golf until she was 15.  She was a gymnast before that, but her father told her she needed to pursue a sport that could lead to a scholarship in college.  Golf was the choice.

Shannon was driven to succeed at golf.  She was a walk-on star at the University of Oregon and eventually became the head coach at Oregon for eight seasons.

Governor Christie expects a new state budget will be enacted by the end of the month deadline.

Christie questions the specifics of the school funding proposal Democratic legislative leaders want resolved before acting on a budget bill.

But he's confident Democrats won't block a new budget and shut down state government.

"I don't think that the Democrats would be that irresponsible nor that politically stupid to close down the government in an election year. I just don't believe it will happen so I'm not worried about it."

Thanks to a higher gas tax, more than 925 road and transit projects are underway in New Jersey. Governor Christie is touting one set to improve a stretch of a heavily traveled highway in Mercer County.

Christie says the $15 million resurfacing of a five-mile portion of Interstate 95 through Ewing, Hopewell, and Lawrence will begin this summer and be completed in the fall of 2018.

New Jersey lawmakers want the federal government to reimburse the town of Bedminster and Somerset county for security costs when President Trump spends the weekend at his golf club there.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says if Trump visits the golf club seven weekends a year, it will cost the town an estimated $1 million over the next four years in overtime costs to help with security.

Most of those who testified at a New Jersey Senate committee hearing said they support legislation to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

Princeton psychiatrist Dr. David Nathan say there's no evidence marijuana is a gateway to using opioids or other drugs.

Julius Caesar
Shakespeare in the Park

Summer means baseball, barbecues, heat -- and free Shakespeare in the Park.  Theater critic Michael Bourne  reviews the first of the plays this summer at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Steve Seskin
Allan Wolper for WBGO

“Don’t Laugh At Me"

“Don’t Call Me Names"

“Don’t Get Your Pleasure from my pain"

“In God’s eyes we’re all the same"

Grammy award nominee Steve Seskin co-wrote the anti-bullying anthem, Don’t Laugh at Me, with his friend, Allen Shamblin, a song that was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary. It inspired the creation of Operation Respect, a foundation that encourages children to get along with each other.

Top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in New Jersey's Assembly are joining to call for civility and respect in politics.

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick is urging those in leadership at every level of government to tone down the rhetoric.

"When public officials speak with disdain in their voice towards other public officials, that gives a license to the public to do the same, and even more."

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says politicians must work together to deal with the public's concerns.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering several measures to expand the state’s wine industry.

One of the bills advanced by the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee would make low interest loans available to farmers for preparing land and purchasing vines and equipment for new vineyards.

Another bill would provide tax credits for purchasing barrels, crushers, tanks, and other equipment for a new winery or making improvements at existing ones.

Alexandra Hill / 4323619530

On this month's edition of Newark Today Mayor Ras Baraka talks summer in the city, the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Newark Rebellion, and announces his bid for re-eelection. 

  

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would allow riders to use low-speed electric bikes on streets, bike paths, and sidewalks.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace believes the bikes with speeds under 20 miles an hour would be a good means of transportation for short distances.

"Around the world when you look in cities you see people using electric bicycles to get around town. It reduces traffic congestion. It reduces pollution. It gets people outside."

Assemblywoman Annette Chapparo has some concerns about allowing electric bicycles on sidewalks.

Even though he has some concerns about it, Governor Christie says he’ll consider a school funding agreement hammered out by Democratic leaders in New Jersey's legislature.

The plan would provide an additional $100 million in the state budget for underfunded school districts and reallocate $46 million in so-called adjustment aid to districts with increasing student enrollment.

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto says it’s a good compromise.

Governor Christie is touting a new park project to help revitalize New Jersey's capital city.

A four-and-a-half acre strip of land along the Delaware River will be developed into a Trenton park.

Christie says the state Department of Transportation will use $15 million in federal funds to build a pedestrian walkway over Route 29 from the park to the roof of the Statehouse parking garage.

"It's going to provide access to a part of the Trenton waterfront separated from the downtown area since the 1950s when Route 29 was developed.

Governor Christie's voter approval rating is now at a record low.

Christie's rating is the worst for any governor in any state surveyed by Quinnipiac University in more than 20 years.

Only 15 percent of New Jersey voters approve of the way he's handling his job and 81 percent disapprove.

Pollster Maurice Carroll says 94 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans have a negative view of Christie's job performance.

"He's not well regarded even by his own party. And the way he's performing lately, he's irrelevant. He doesn't matter."

Bipartisan legislation proposed by several federal lawmakers would extend the U-S flood insurance program for six years and make some changes to discourage waste and abuse.

Louisiana U.S. Senator John Kennedy says the legislation would cap flood insurance premium increases for homeowners at 10 percent a year.

“That’s a big step because if you look at what we have now, flood insurance can go up 18 percent for a homeowner. And if it’s your second home or a commercial establishment, it can go up 25 percent.”

Alexandra Hill / 4323619530

The city of Newark recently celebrated it’s third class of Hire Newark graduates. The unique job readiness program, in partnership with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health, that is giving unemployed residents a fresh outlook on life.

“We are so immeasurably different than people think we are by just looking at us.”

Fatima Hargrove is one of 20 graduates of Hire Newark, an employment boot camp and job readiness program that helps chronically unemployed residents re-enter the workforce.

A New Jersey lawmaker says you shouldn’t have to take your cell phone, laptop, or tablet to a company-approved store for repairs.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty has introduced legislation that would require electronics equipment manufacturers to make diagnostic and service documents and parts available to consumers and independent repair providers.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a new initiative to promote local art and help towns reinvigorate their business districts.

A bill advanced by an Assembly committee would encourage the state Commissioner of Community Affairs to help towns deal with the selection process and liability issues of having artists display work in the windows of vacant stores.

Ann Marie Miller with ArtPride New Jersey says that would show art galleries and gift shops the potential for opening there and also helps the artists.

The Higher Education Committee in New Jersey's Assembly has approved a resolution urging the appointment of a voting student representative to Rutgers' Board of Governors.

Suzanne Link is the legislative affairs chair of the Rutgers Student Assembly. She says current Rutgers students know best about the challenges they face and the services they value.

New Jersey's Gubernatorial Race is Set

Jun 9, 2017
Kim Guadagno
The New York Times

The New Jersey Gubernatorial race is now set after Democrat and former Goldman Sachs Executive Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno won their respective primaries earlier this week.

Guadagno greeted her party faithful in West Orange on Primary night.  She took her shots at her new opponent and addressed reporters on her first campaign stop after the election.  Guadagno defended why she didn't mention Governor Christie in her victory speech.

Tony Awards
Michael Bourne for WBGO

The Tony Awards will be presented on Sunday.  WBGO Theater Critic Michael Bourne gives us an idea of what we can expect.

Click above to hear Michael's thoughts.

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