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Assemblyman Auth : “It’s time to give the taxpayers an opportunity to catch their collective breath”

Assemblyman Robert J

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Cresskill NJ, Assemblyman Auth’s Response to Governor Murphy’s State of the State Address :

I am extremely disappointed with Governor Murphy’s lack of a plan for the future of New Jersey. While the State is choking on excessive regulation, unparalleled taxes, and profligate spending; Governor Murphy has decided to double down.

In his speech he listed programs on ad infinitum without a plan to pay for his utopian dream. Eventually, we all know who will bare the brunt of that future bill.

Instead of finger pointing at the President and our former Governor, our new Governor, needs to remember that many of the successes that he took credit for today were the direct result of the past administration. If he truly wants to help the citizenry of our State, he needs to re-think his agenda and work closely with legislators who want to emphasize property tax relief and a reduction in extravagant spending. It’s time to give the taxpayers an opportunity to catch their collective breath.

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NJ Attorney General Investigates Fatal Police-Involved Shooting In Logan Township

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

LOGAN TOWNSHIP NJ, The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of a fatal police-involved shooting of a man today in Logan Township, N.J.

The shooting occurred outside a UPS facility on Birch Creek Road in Logan Township. Law enforcement officers, including members of the Gloucester County SWAT Team, responded to the facility at approximately 8:45 a.m. on reports that a man with a gun had taken two women hostage inside the facility. According to the preliminary investigation, the shooting occurred after the gunman and hostages had exited the building. Multiple members of law enforcement fired at the man, who was armed with a handgun. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The deceased man has been identified as William Owens, 39, of Sicklerville, N.J. The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.

In New Jersey, all investigations of police deadly force incidents are governed by the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive, issued in 2006 and strengthened in 2015, which establishes strict procedures for conducting such investigations. It requires the Attorney General to review all deadly force investigations, and in some cases conduct them as well. In this case, the investigation is being conducted directly by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team. The Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating in this case because of the involvement of the Gloucester County SWAT Team. The directive further provides that unless the undisputed facts indicate the use of force was justified under the law, the circumstances of the incident must ultimately be presented to a grand jury, composed of 23 civilians, for its independent review.

The Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website at the following link: www.nj.gov/oag/dcj/agguide/directives/2006-5_SRT_OIS.pdf

Further information about how officer-involved shootings are investigated in New Jersey under the directive is found at this link:
www.nj.gov/oag/independent-prosecutor

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Three Women File Governor Murphy Recall Petition

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Hackensack NJ, According to a report from the Shore News Network, three women have filed an official petition to recall Governor Murphy.

Representing the official recall committee, according to the report, are Hackensack resident and former gubernatorial candidate Monica Brinson, Patty Hoch, and Terry Beck.  They told the Shore News Network that the Governor’s ‘actions will not be tolerated.  We are a very strong and powerful committee. We bring lots of knowledge, skills and contacts to make a difference’.

The Asbury Park Press notes in their report on the filing that the petition would need 4 million signatures for a successful recall.

A Facebook page associated with the effort, Stop Phil Murphy, has over 1,000 members, and states that it was created as an ‘effort to help New Jersey residents organize an effort to keep Governor Phil Murphy accountable for his actions’.

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Report: Murphy Out Of State Twice As Much As Christie In First Year

Tax and Spend Democrat Phil Murphy for Governor

the staff of the Ridgewod blog

Trenton NJ, According to a NJ.com report, Governor Murphy spent twice as many days out of the state than his predecessor in his first year in office.

Murphy spent all or part of 100 days out of NJ in 2018, according to the report.  Former Governor Christie spent 49 days out of NJ in 2010, the first year of his governorship.  He spent 261 days (72%) out of state in 2015, the year of his failed presidential bid.

Murphy’s Press Secretary Dan Bryan told NJ.com that approximately half of the travel was on weekends, and about a third of the weekday travel involved state business, such as the October economic mission trip to Germany and Israel.

NJ.com breaks down the Governor’s travel here.

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Senator Mike Doherty says, “While millions of New Jersey residents were struggling to cope with the highest property taxes in the country, the State was handing out millions in tax breaks, and getting little in return”

Senator Mike Doherty

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) is calling for legislative action following the release of a report by the State Comptroller that proved that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) has failed to ensure companies that received corporate tax subsidies were using those funds to create jobs.

“While millions of New Jersey residents were struggling to cope with the highest property taxes in the country, the State was handing out millions in tax breaks, and getting little in return,” Senator Doherty said. “As far as I’m concerned, any company that claimed tax breaks and failed to keep their promise to use that money to create jobs has committed tax fraud. The lack of oversight at the EDA is appalling. I am exploring all legislative options to ensure every subsidy that was wasted in this corporate welfare scheme is returned to our taxpayers.”

The comptroller audit released on Jan. 9, 2019, showed that New Jersey companies that were given tax incentives to create in-state jobs sometimes failed to do so. The report also revealed that there is insufficient oversight of the tax incentive programs managed by the EDA.

“Our state’s egregious corporate tax breaks continue to have a mediocre return on investment,” Doherty added. “Instead of picking winners or losers, let’s focus on cutting taxes for everyone, so businesses and homeowners alike can afford to stay in New Jersey. As a good steward of taxpayer dollars, I will not rest until all misused corporate subsidies are recaptured.”

https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/nj-comptrollers-nj-economic-development-authority-audit-pdf/

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Sexually Harassment Runs Rampant in the Murphy Administration

Phill Murphy -Sara Medina del Castillo

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, seems sexually harassment along with criminal convictions is the norm in the Murphy Administration . As we previously reported Katie Brennan has filed a tort claim against the State of New Jersey, the Murphy for Governor campaign, and former Murphy administration official Al Alvarez, whom she has accused of rape. Brennan is seeking damages and an emergent application to change state policies and procedures regarding workplace investigations. Brennan’s attorney Katy McClure said ‘Ms. Brennan is pursuing justice through this lawsuit because I couldn’t get it any other way. She pursued every avenue she could, but waved every red flag she could access, and she was ignored’. The Legislative Select Oversight Committee will continue its hearings this morning at 10:30am, with testimony resuming for Chief of Staff Pete Cammarano and others.

Politico NJ now reports that NJEDA Vice President of Policy and Planning Allison Kopicki has resigned, saying she faced retaliation from members of the administration after speaking to the press regarding claims of a hostile work environment within the Murphy campaign and an incident in which Joe Kelley allegedly threw a chair at Julia Fahl.  

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MS-13 killers Use New Jersey Sanctuary Status to hide from the law

photo by RH

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ,  Fulfilling its statutory mandate to keep the public informed about the operations of organized crime in New Jersey, the State Commission of Investigation today introduced a new project, “Organized Crime Spotlight,” that will periodically provide up‐to‐date profiles of significant criminal groups impacting the State and region. The inaugural report focuses on La Mara Salvatrucha, commonly referred to as MS‐13, a criminal street gang known for extreme violence.  

The State Commission of Investigation is an independent New Jersey watchdog agency  established in 1968 to investigate organized crime and corruption, waste of tax money and  other abuses of the public trust. Copies of public reports are available at the Commission’s  offices or via its Web site at www.state.nj.us/sci.index.shtm  

The Commission found that while aggressive law enforcement efforts and prosecutions at the state and federal levels have been somewhat effective in suppressing MS‐13, it remains a persistent threat in New Jersey, preying primarily on immigrant communities through extortion, robbery and street‐level drug sales.  With a ceaseless thirst to command respect through fear, its trademark ideology of advancing in rank through violence and its rivalries with other groups, murder is always just a spark away for MS‐13 members, the SCI found.  

The most infamous example of MS‐13’s savagery in New Jersey was the slaying of three individuals – and the grave wounding of a fourth – in a Newark schoolyard on the night of Aug. 4, 2007. Six of the gang’s members, including the leader of the Newark clique, are serving long prison sentences for the grisly attack. Such vicious incidents of violence have been less frequent in recent years, and some policing experts believe elements of MS‐13 may be intentionally lying low to avoid law enforcement scrutiny.  

Further, the Commission learned that New Jersey is a central command post for the gang’s operations on the East Coast.  Over the past decade, an effort by MS‐13 leaders in El Salvador to exert greater control over U.S.‐based cliques, or sets, has taken root. These cliques take orders directly from compatriots in El Salvador for killings and pay tribute by wiring cash to leaders in the Central American nation.  New Jersey has played a prominent role in this movement with leaders in Monmouth and Hudson counties directing operations along the East Coast.  

Founded by immigrants fleeing war‐torn El Salvador in the 1980s, MS‐13 originated on the streets of Los Angeles. New Jersey law enforcement officials identified the first MS‐13 members in Elizabeth, Union County, in the mid‐1990s. Today, MS‐13 members are scattered throughout the state from Union City to Morristown, Trenton to Red Bank, and Lindenwold to
Lakewood.

Along with outlining the gang’s origins, expansion, structure and activities, the report also highlights some of the obstacles facing law enforcement as well as approaches some officials have used to tamp down violence and to prevent vulnerable teenagers from bolstering MS‐13’s ranks.  

Combating MS‐13 presents unique challenges to law enforcement due to the insular nature of the gang, which often targets immigrants from El Salvador as both victims and as potential recruits. In some municipalities, outreach is hampered by a lack of Spanish‐speaking officers. Law enforcement officials across the State told the Commission efforts are ongoing to build relationships with these communities but that many people, principally those who are undocumented, are fearful of deportation or of retaliation by the gang.  

Notwithstanding these challenges, law enforcement in some jurisdictions, particularly in Hudson County, have adopted strategies that have successfully headed off potential violence and muted the gang’s predatory behavior. Most notably, law enforcement officials in Union City, Hudson County, told the Commission that while many MS‐13 members are present in the city, the gang does not conduct overt criminal activity there because of a zero‐tolerance approach that involves multiple city departments and the school system.  Some measures taken in Union City include a midnight curfew on those under 18 and a requirement that building owners swiftly remove graffiti, such as gang‐related tags, or face significant financial penalties.  

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Volcker Alliance : New Jersey has funded Only 36% of its pension debt with an unfunded liability of $143.2 billion

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, the state of New Jersey received a report card for managing its pension debts . The non-partisan Volcker Alliance, founded by former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, rated the state a D- for its failure to have properly “provided adequate funding, as defined by retirement system actuaries, for pensions and other promised retirement benefits for public workers.”New Jersey was one of six states to receive the lowest possible grade in the analysis, along with Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas and Wyoming.

As of June 2017, the Garden State has funded a mere 36% of its pension debt with an unfunded liability of $143.2 billion, 2nd worst in the nation behind Kentucky’s 34% funding.

The 2018 Volcker Alliance report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis, which, in addition to legacy costs, grades and proposes a set of best practices for policymakers on issues including: budget forecasting, budget maneuvers, reserve funds and transparency.

The report adds fuel to the fire of support for New Jersey pension and benefits reforms proposed in the recent “Path to Progress” report issued by State Senate President Steve Sweeney’s bi-partisan New Jersey fiscal policy working group.

· Shift new state and local government employees and those with less than five years of service in the Public Employees’ Retirement System and the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund from the current defined benefit pension system to a sustainable hybrid system and preserve the current system for employees with over five years of service who have vested contractual pension rights.

· Shift all state and local government employees and retiree’s health care coverage from Platinum to Gold.

· Require all new state and local government retirees to pay the same percent of premium costs they paid when working.

· Merge the School Employees Health Benefits Program into the larger State Health Benefits Plan and make the plans identical in coverage.While formal legislation has yet to be introduced regarding Senator Sweeney’s proposals, reports indicate that bills will be introduced by the end of the year or early 2019.

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Activist from Both Left and Right Rally to Oppose NJ Democrat Gerrymandering Plan

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Activists Gather Outside Legislative Caucus Meetings to Urge Legislators to Oppose Redistricting Proposals

East Brunswick-Activists from grassroots, good-government, and progressive groups gathered today at the East Brunswick Hilton to silently protest legislative efforts to move a ballot question aimed at changing the state constitution to grant legislators increased power in the redistricting process and enact changes experts have decried as exacerbating gerrymandering.

Members of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, NJ11th for Change, NJ7 Forward, New Jersey Citizen Action, Our Revolution New Jersey, and UU FaithAction NJ, all convened in their expressed opposition to the amendment as proposed.

“Since 2015, NJ Working Families has stood firm in its opposition to a process that places elected officials at the helm of a process to create their own districts. We stand in solidarity with those who also express concerns for varying reasons and urge legislators to pause in order to make the entire process more transparent, fair, and garner broader support.” said Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, which withdrew support for a similar proposal in 2015 in part because of its failure to ban legislators from serving on the commission.

Leaders of organizations who played an integral part in the 2018 midterm victories across the state joined the action to demand legislators pull support from the resolutions.

Saily Avelenda, Executive Director of NJ11th for Change said, “It should not shock our legislators that organizers from around the state are united in opposition to these proposals. We stand for good government and transparency– not for granting a select few legislators broader powers that they have already claimed for themselves. We showed up today to remind our legislators that there will be a political price to pay if they vote in favor for these terrible amendments. Voters are paying attention and so are we.”

“We are here to put our representatives on notice, said Margaret Illis, co-founder of NJ7Forward. This isn’t an electorate of years past. We have become an engaged and activated electorate and demand better from our representatives. This isn’t about partisanship or parties, this is about our voice and vote.”

“When a legislator is on the redistricting commission, their sole mission is to create a safe district for themselves. No one is going to say “Give me a less safe district to ensure a fairer map for everyone,” said Barry Brendel, Chair of Our Revolution New Jersey, the Sanders-inspired grassroots organization.

Activists from faith organizations also joined the call to oppose the redistricting proposal. “Good governance, in congregations as well as in the statehouse, depends on an open and fair process that doesn’t impact the bedrock principle of ‘One person, one vote,’ said Rev. Rob Gregson, Executive Director of the Public Policy and Social Justice Office of the 21 Unitarian Universalist congregations in NJ. “Unitarian Universalists and many of our faith partners unequivocally oppose carving up the state in ways that give an unfair advantage to either party, Democrats or Republicans. It’s bad for religious institutions and it’s bad for democracy in New Jersey.”

Actions against the redistricting proposal by grassroots organizations will continue in Trenton today as public hearings on SCR 43/ACR60 are scheduled.

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Third Circuit Panel split decision upheld a NJ statute banning gun magazines over 10 rounds

Guns
Heather Darling

Heather is a Lawyer from Morris County 

A Third Circuit Panel split decision upheld a statute banning gun magazines over 10 rounds. In a 2 to 1 decision, along the same lines as pre-bench political party contributions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected a challenge by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, an NRA affiliated organization, to the ban of ‘large-capacity’ gun magazines holding over 10 rounds.

The statute arose following a rise in mass shooting incidents in the United States, although little to no attention has been given to the enactment of mental health legislation designed to treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Judges Joseph Greenaway Jr. and Patty Shwartz, both having pre-bench ties to Democrats, decided in favor of upholding the ban. Judge Setphanos Bibas, with pre-bench ties to Republicans, wrote a dissenting opinion seeking to enjoin the ban until the state could show that the ban could actually prevent harm by mass shooters rather than simply being a knee-jerk reaction without evidence of actual effectiveness.

Greenaway and Shwartz found the ban ‘reasonably fits’ the State’s interest in public safety without causing under burden on the Second Amendment rights of citizens. Shwartz, writing the opinion of the majority, noted an increase in mass shootings from 2006 to 2015 as supporting evidence for the ban but did not cite statistics bearing on mental health, addiction, social or economic pressures or other factors which may trigger a mass shooter to act.

U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan, also with pre-bench ties to Democrats, initially refused to enjoin the large-capacity magazine ban. Judge Sheridan also cited to evidence from a mass shooting at an all-night arts festival in Trenton in June 2018 relating to the opportunity created when the shooter has to stop and reload but nothing about the mental state or other issues of mass shooters.

Without methods and programs to treat underlying issues of those who commit acts of mass violence, this ban seems to be more along a party line concept of decreasing or eliminating gun ownership among private individuals than preventing mass injury as the decision not only fails to address underlying issues but also fails to address the reality that other mass violence has occurred through the use of bombs, motor vehicles and other means.

A Third Citcuit Panel split decision upheld a statute banning gun magazines over 10 rounds. In a 2 to 1 decision, along the same lines as pre-bench political party contributions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rejected a challenge by the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, an NRA affiliated organization, to the ban of ‘large-capacity’ gun magazines holding over 10 rounds.

The statute arose following a rise in mass shooting incidents in the United States, although little to no attention has been given to the enactment of mental health legislation designed to treat the cause, not the symptoms.

Judges Joseph Greenaway Jr. and Patty Shwartz, both having pre-bench ties to Democrats, decided in favor of upholding the ban. Judge Setphanos Bibas, with pre-bench ties to Republicans, wrote a dissenting opinion seeking to enjoin the ban until the state could show that the ban could actually prevent harm by mass shooters rather than simply being a knee-jerk reaction without evidence of actual effectiveness.

Greenaway and Shwartz found the ban ‘reasonably fits’ the State’s interest in public safety without causing under burden on the Second Amendment rights of citizens. Shwartz, writing the opinion of the majority, noted an increase in mass shootings from 2006 to 2015 as supporting evidence for the ban but did not cite statistics bearing on mental health, addiction, social or economic pressures or other factors which may trigger a mass shooter to act.

U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan, also with pre-bench ties to Democrats, initially refused to enjoin the large-capacity magazine ban. Judge Sheridan also cited to evidence from a mass shooting at an all-night arts festival in Trenton in June 2018 relating to the opportunity created when the shooter has to stop and reload but nothing about the mental state or other issues of mass shooters.

Without methods and programs to treat underlying issues of those who commit acts of mass violence, this ban seems to be more along a party line concept of decreasing or eliminating gun ownership among private individuals than preventing mass injury as the decision not only fails to address underlying issues but also fails to address the reality that other mass violence has occurred through the use of bombs, motor vehicles and other means.