Ang Santos / WBGO


The line stretches around the block as hundreds of Newark families wait outside on an unseasonably warm December day with their kids, for early holiday presents.  Newark Mayor Ras Baraka makes small talk with residents and looks over piles of toys organized by the appropriate age group. 

What were some of the toys a young Ras Baraka desired as a kid?

“I loved those chemistry sets, bikes, skateboards, or a football uniform.  Pittsburgh Steelers, football uniform, Lynn Swann.”

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy continues his theme of diversity in selecting members of his cabinet, nominating a Cuban-American Assemblywoman to be the next Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance.

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride says she'll work to ensure New Jersey residents are treated fairly by lending institutions and insurance companies.

New Jersey lawmakers will hold a hearing tomorrow on a bill that calls for raising the cost for electricity customers to keep two nuclear plants in Salem County open. 

Public Service Enterprise Group CEO Ralph Izzo told lawmakers earlier this month that the nuclear facilities could become unprofitable to operate in two years and might have to be shut down.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports the objective of keeping the nuclear plants open as long as they can be operated safely.

Local government officials in New Jersey are urging Governor-elect Phil Murphy to support permanently extending the 2% cap on police and firefighters salary increases when contract disputes go to binding arbitration.

The cap is set to expire at the end of the year and Democratic legislative leaders are waiting to hear whether Murphy supports it before taking action to extend it.

Murphy is awaiting a final report from a commission studying the cap before making his decision.

Republican Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon doubts that report will ever come.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy is nominating a former Passaic County freeholder and administrative law judge to be New Jersey’s next Secretary of State.

If she’s confirmed by the state Senate, Tahesha Way will oversee New Jersey’s Division of Tourism, all state historic and cultural commissions, and the Division of Elections.

Murphy says he’ll ask her to take the lead in efforts to modernize and expand the ability of residents to cast their votes.

Mildred Antenor
David Tallacksen for WBGO

WBGO commentator, author and Seton Hall professor Mildred Antenor has some major concerns about students as the fall semester comes to a close.

The New Jersey Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing Monday on legislation that would require the state Attorney General’s Office to operate a statewide gun buyback program.

Ten occasional buyback events were held over the past five years in various parts of the state allowing citizens to turn in firearms for cash payments.

Senator Linda Greenstein says her bill would requiring nine gun buyback events every year.

Know somebody who's sick? It could be the flu that's starting to show up in New Jersey.

Dr. Bradley Pulver is the director of emergency services at Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township.

“We’re starting to see some cases over the last couple of weeks, but there is concern that it is going to be a worse than usual flu season. It’s very widespread in many of the southern states and the expectation is it’s going to hit here very hard over the next few weeks.”

And that could be troublesome.

Nate Burleson
Joe Favorito for WBGO

Former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson's transition into sports television has been impressive.  Burleson is the co-host of the NFL Network's Good Morning Football and he's also an analyst on CBS' NFL Today.

Burleson sat down recently with SportsJam host Doug Doyle to talk about his work in television, his NFL career and his family.

Burleson, his wife and children have recently moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey.

A measure to help combat opioid overdoses is awaiting final legislative approval in the New Jersey Senate.

Senator Colin Bell says his bill would allow emergency personnel to administer multiple doses of an opioid antidote to overdose victims.

More than 94,000 New Jersey residents with criminal convictions are not allowed to vote.  Civil rights groups are pushing for that to change.

Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey's population but represent about half of those who cannot vote because of a criminal conviction.

Senator Ron Rice says that disproportionately reduces the political power of black communities because of systemic racism in the criminal justice system. 

A former Rutgers student has pleaded guilty to launching the cyberattacks that shut down the server used for communications between faculty and students. 

William Fitzpatrick is the acting U.S Attorney in New Jersey.  He says 21-year-old Paras Jha of Fanwood was a student at Rutgers when the attacks occurred between November 2014 and September 2016.

New Jersey Governor-elect Phil Murphy has selected a member of the Assembly to be the next state Treasurer.

Murphy says Assemblywoman Elizabeth Muoio is the right person to help him with his first order of business when he takes office in January, preparing a balanced budget and growing the economy with policies that support the middle class.

Murphy wants New Jersey to return to being the state it was years ago.

After six years of increases, participation in the school breakfast program in New Jersey fell by two percent this year.

Cecilia Zalkind , the president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, says some schools are backing away from serving breakfast in the classroom during the first few minutes of the school day.

“There are leadership changes. There are people who have this perception that it’s too difficult to do that. And our experience is this is it. This is the way to reach the most kids.”   

New Jersey could become the first state in the nation to have a Sikh-American as its Attorney General.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy is nominating Bergen County Prosecutor and former Assistant U-S Attorney Gurbir Grewal to be New Jersey’s top law enforcement official.

Murphy believes Grewal will protect immigrant communities from discrimination, stand up for the LGBT community, protect air and water from a hostile EPA, and defend New Jersey’s gun laws.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Governor-elect Phil Murphy says the Gateway Tunnel project is one of his administration’s top priorities, and it will take co-operation between state and federal government to get it done.

“It’s a game changer for New Jersey.  It’s a game changer for New York.  We want to unlock those keys and get that up, funded, and running.”

US Senator Bob Menendez rues what he calls a lost opportunity to build a new Hudson River rail tunnel under current Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Alcoholic beverages might be available at more New Jersey theaters if a bill passed by a state Senate committee becomes law.

New Jersey law now allows non-profit corporations that conduct musical or theatrical performances in a theater with at least a thousand seats to apply for a special liquor license.

Senator Patrick Diegnan says his bill would lower the threshold.

Legislation advanced by a New Jersey Senate committee would allow towns to use digital parking meters, but those meters would not be permitted to issue an electronic summons for parking violations.

Dan Phillips with the Administrative Office of the Courts says a pilot program in Palisades Park that allowed digital meters to automatically issue summonses resulted in a big increase in tickets.

Cheryl Lee / The Captain Mark V. Lee Christmas Fund Drive

Since the mid 1980’s, the Jersey City Fire Department Engine 10, Ladder 12 have gathered for a Christmas fund drive.  The head of Santa’s sleigh was Captain Mark V. Lee Sr., a 9/11 first responder that suffered from respiratory failure in the following years.

“When my husband became ill, he asked my son and I if we would continue this Christmas drive.”

Uma Thurman
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews several shows that don't shed positive light on President Trump, including a new play starring Oscar nominee Uma Thurman.

Armando Galella
Scott Pringle for WBGO News

Thursday was the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  More than 23 hundred Americans were killed on that early Sunday morning.

The Newark Yoga Movement has been trying it’s best to reduce stress around the city for a number of years. 

“And in regard to the schools which is our primary focus, it was really to try to help children perform a little bit better academically and feel better personally," said Debby Kaminsky, founder of the Newark Yoga Movement.  Her classes are regularly visiting students and teachers in city classrooms ranging from K-12.

New Jersey may soon have its first statewide law to regulate the use of drones.

Senator Paul Sarlo says the drone industry is growing fast and and it’s time to regulate the unmanned aircraft systems to prevent problems.

His bill would make it a disorderly person’s offense to operate a drone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

New Jersey’s Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission has issued its final report on reforms it says are needed to prevent public employee benefits costs from overtaking other budget priorities.

Commission member Tom Healey says despite unprecedented levels of funding and the dedication of the state lottery to the pension plans, the state’s estimated unfunded liability is now $90 billion, $10 billion more than in 2014.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds a majority of New Jersey residents believe opioid addicts suffer from a treatable disease rather than a lack of self-control.

Only 20 percent of New Jersey adults surveyed say they’d oppose having a treatment center in their community for those addicted to painkillers while 72 percent would support it.

Fairleigh Dickinson pharmacy practice professor Anastasia Rivkin says that’s a shift in public perception. 

Ashley Cole
Jerry Milani for WBGO

Here's the transcript of this edition of SportsJam with Doug Doyle featuring Ashley Cole:

Doug Doyle: We’re here in New York City for this edition of SportsJam, and what a special edition it is. Ashley Cole, the legendary footballer is here to talk to us about a special event coming up right after this interview. You’re heading over to Harlem to dedicate a new field. The kids are going to go crazy when they see Ashley Cole. Tell us how Chelsea F.C. gets involved in community activities like this.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Office of the New Jersey Medical Examiner says there were more than 2,000 drug related deaths in New Jersey last year.  A majority related to drugs like heroin and its stronger synthetic counterpart fentanyl.  Dr. Andrew Kaufman with the University Hospital Comprehensive Pain Center in Newark says the state’s northern counties have had better success dealing with overdose.

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would eliminate the $10,000 limit on the amount of property taxes that can be deducted on state income tax returns.

Republican Senator Joe Pennacchio says allowing the full amount of property taxes to be deducted on New Jersey tax returns would soften the blow of Congress’s plan to limit federal tax deductions. And he hopes Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports it.

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation to ban nondisclosure agreements that conceal the details of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg says keeping sexual harassment settlements secret allows perpetrators to continue their abusive behavior.

“Their names are never put out there. Companies continue sometimes to cover for them, continue to provide the resources to settle the lawsuits, and the environment is not changed because the perpetrator is not punished in any way.”  

New Jersey lawmakers are examining whether to act in the final weeks of the legislative session to provide some financial help for nuclear power plants in Salem County.

Public Service Enterprise Group CEO Ralph Izzo says low natural gas prices have hurt the profitability of the Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants and he might shut them down in two years.

“We believe it is cheaper to keep nuclear power than to watch it close. We are not asking for a bailout. We’re asking you to join us in correction of these market flaws.”