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Hunting of police officers must stop now!

photo Joanne Chesimard killed a NJ State Trooper in 1979

Heather Darling Morris County Lawyer 

“I have remained silent all week about the issue and only expressed my condolences for the family of the officers. This time I’m going to say that what has apparently become the hunting of police officers must stop now! Taking guns from people will not stop trucks, bombs or any of the other methods people have employed to cause harm to officers and others. This is a societal issue that needs to be addressed. The criminals have more rights than the law-abiding citizens. Those in a position to change the situation need to take action now. We need tougher sentencing for crimes and we also need better coping mechanisms for individuals. Simply medicating the world and permitting everyone to abdicate responsibility by claiming some random diagnosis is not solving any problems, it is only making things worse.”

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New Jersey Ranks 38th Among All States in Efforts to Serve Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Paul_Aronsohn_theridgewood blog

file photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, in April Gov. Phil Murphy announced the appointment of former Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn to head up the newly created Office of the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families, serving as the administration’s lead advocate and ally for New Jersey residents in need of critical services ranging from early childhood through adulthood.

But according to the ANCOR Foundation,stagnant or declining investments in state programs that help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead more independent and productive lives have resulted in New Jersey dropping from 34th place in 2016 to 38th place this year in state rankings, according to the Case for Inclusion 2019, compiled by the ANCOR Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP).

The Case for Inclusion 2019 ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia on how well state programs, primarily Medicaid, serve those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The states are ranked in five key areas critical to the inclusion, support and empowerment of individuals with I/DD and their families: Promoting Independence, Promoting Productivity, Keeping Families Together, Serving Those in Need, and Tracking Health, Safety & Quality of Life.

The biggest factors affecting New Jersey’s poor performance are low marks in the areas of Promoting Independence and Promoting Productivity. New Jersey ranks in the bottom 10 of all states in these areas, at 42nd and 43rd, respectively. Particularly problematic for the Garden State in the area of Promoting Independence is that it fails to meet the coveted “80/80 standard”; although at least 80 percent of the state’s residents with I/DD received Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), the state failed to spend at least 80 percent of its Medicaid dollars on helping people with I/DD live in the community.

The Case for Inclusion, which has been published regularly since 2006 by UCP, compiles the most recent data available (generally from 2016 for this report) and analyzes 30 outcome measures in the five major categories. The ANCOR Foundation joins UCP this year in publishing the report. Among the other key findings on New Jersey’s performance:

• 5.8 percent of the state’s residents with I/DD—the fifth-highest percentage in the nation—live in one of New Jersey’s five state-run institutions.

• More than 3,100 New Jerseyans with I/DD live in large-scale congregate care settings, defined as group homes or Intermediate Care Facilities with at least seven residents.

• Only 11 percent of working-age individuals with I/DD in New Jersey were working in competitive employment—meaning they work alongside those without disabilities and earn market-driven wages—compared to the national average of 19 percent.

• One relative bright spot was in the area of Serving Those in Need, where New Jersey ranked 22nd, in part because of its relatively low number of individuals on the state’s waiting list for residential services (3,201).

Nationally, the report found that notable advances in the support of individuals with I/DD have stalled. For instance, just 29 states—two more than in the 2016 Case for Inclusion—report that at least 80 percent of these Americans are served in home-like settings, such as a family home, their own home or a small group setting—a number that hasn’t budged from the 2016 Case for Inclusion findings. And decades after states embarked on efforts to close large institutions that warehouse the intellectually and developmentally disabled, just 15 states have eliminated all such facilities, a number that is also unchanged from 2016.

The report documented downward trends in two critical areas: (1) the number of people on waitlists for residential and community services, and (2) the number of individuals with I/DD working in competitive employment. The Case for Inclusion 2019 found the number of people on waiting lists for Home and Community-Based Services was up 75,000 from the 2016 report to almost 424,000. Just seven states, down from 10 in 2016, reported at least 33 percent of working-age individuals with I/DD working in competitive employment.

“Individuals with I/DD, including the young and the aging, want and deserve the same opportunities and quality of life as all Americans. Yet some states do much better than others in demonstrating the needed political will and implementing the sound policies and focused funding necessary to achieve this ideal,” the report states.

“The pervasive theme across states and, specifically in New Jersey, is that the Direct Support Professional (DSP) crisis created by an inability to recruit and retain DSPs contributes to these challenges. I just learned yesterday that an agency has a house ready and waiting to receive three individuals that want to live within the community, however, the agency is struggling to find staff.

With New Jersey failing to meet the 80/80 standard meaning the state failed to spend at least 80 percent of its Medicaid dollars on helping people with IDD live in the community and in the bottom five for the number of institutions remaining, we can and must do more.,” commented NJACP CEO Valerie Sellers.

It is notable that during a period of polarization on many issues, policies that support individuals with I/DD have support from stakeholders across the political spectrum. For example, the 10 highest-ranked states are a political mix, including deep-blue Oregon and California and deep-red Kentucky and South Dakota. Armando Contreras, President & CEO of UCP, notes that “across the country, we see efforts by state policymakers to enhance their approach to Medicaid services and supports and related programs for the I/DD population by making the best use of existing and scarce resources. Of course, additional funding to keep pace with the diverse needs of this population would help, but new ideas and shared best practices from successful states have the potential to drive improvements even absent additional funding.”

The full Case for Inclusion 2019 report, along with scorecards for each state and additional resources, can be downloaded at

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Furloughed Federal Workers May Be Eligible to Collect Unemployment Benefits

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,  Furloughed federal employees assigned to work in New Jersey are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

Benefits are being paid to eligible federal workers beginning Dec. 23, 2018. Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said eligible employees would be paid for the duration of the shutdown, no matter how far into the shutdown their unemployment claim is filed.

“Thousands of federal workers are waiting for a paycheck due to President Trump’s shutdown,” said Governor Murphy.“In these challenging times, we urge furloughed federal employees in New Jersey to apply for unemployment benefits to supplement any lost wages.”

Commissioner Asaro-Angelo added, “Tomorrow, furloughed workers will miss their first paycheck because of the shutdown. The Labor Department is ready to assist these workers with their unemployment claims and get them paid as quickly as possible.”

Furloughed workers are eligible to apply for unemployment in the state in which they are assigned to work. They will be asked to provide proof of wages. Employees who are furloughed (not working) are generally eligible for benefits, so long as all other state eligibility factors are met.

The maximum weekly unemployment benefit for 2019 is $696. Regular benefits are exhausted after 26 weeks.

Furloughed employees who collect unemployment but are retroactively paid for the furlough by their employer must repay all overpayments to the state from which they collected.

To learn more about unemployment eligibility, click here. To initiate a New Jersey unemployment claim, click here. To learn more about the effects of the shutdown, click here.

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NJ Division of Taxation : State income tax refunds will start being issued March 1st

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Trenton NJ, according to Treasury Department spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino  the schedule is the same as in the past few years and is consistent with what it done in dozens of other states.

New Jersey has a reputation of being very slow with the refunds .

Sciortino told NJ1015 , “Anti-fraud protections need to be revised every year because perpetrators of refund fraud change tactics frequently,” Marita Sciarrotta, the state Division of Taxation’s deputy director of taxpayer services, said the refunds begin in March primarily to ensure the state has the data it needs to validate tax returns.

“Although people can start filing their income tax returns at the very end of January, there are some filing requirements by their employers or their banking systems or their pension holders that are not required by law to be in place to a taxing jurisdiction until later in February,” said Sciarrotta.

“Given the last six years of identity theft and taxpayer refund fraud, it’s much more difficult for us to vet a taxpayer, their attendant information on a tax return and the validity of what they’re claiming,” she said. “And to ensure that it is the person that we are sending it to, rather than somebody getting a jump on their tax return, it’s better to wait until we have much more concrete data systemically that we can do our matches with.”

Taxpayers who file electronically will generally get their refunds around four weeks after the returns are filed, with some turned around faster than that but others taking a bit longer if they are more complex.

“An old-school paper filing, we recommend that somebody just kind of make a cup of tea and relax because it may take 12 weeks for those tax returns to be fully processed and fully vetted,” Sciarrotta said.

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Assemblywoman Schepisi Calls New Jersey ,”one of the most corrupt states in the entire country”

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Saddle River NJ, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi is calling on New Direction to release the list of its donors. She says with major legislation being debated, the Governor’s Office needs to be seen as above reproach.

“Under no circumstances should there be any perception, in one of the most corrupt states in the entire country, that people are being able to buy influence within the Governor’s Office,” she said.

Attorney Daryl Kipnis said on Facebook ,”This is what happens when career NJ politicians in both parties (mostly Democrats of course) get re-elected without trying. $2.4M spent on lobbying gets a $300M/year annual subsidy (that YOU pay for) for 1 company, who then cuts a $55K “Thank You” campaign check to the wrong political slush fund.”…/dark-money-debate-focuses-on-…/

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Reader says, The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

The first rule of government is: “Embrace the status quo.”

Why? Well, the answer is simple: a lifetime appointment to a cushy job, with the added bonus of a pension.

Unlike the private sector, these people can’t be fired (unless they REALLY screw the proverbial pooch).

Why on earth would they make sweeping changes to satisfy the very people (the taxpayers) who make it possible for them to hold those cushy positions in the first place?

The majority of these government workers have no interest in the private sector because they would be held truly accountable. Instead, they don’t upset the apple cart and they milk that cow as for long as possible…

And, to the Federal employees who aren’t earning paychecks right now: quit moaning you greedy, self-serving bastards! Consider it a extended *paid* vacation courtesy of the taxpayers! Where can I get that deal?!?

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New Jersey investigating incident of a referee forcing a black wrestler to cut his dreadlocks

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Updated NJSIAA Statement / Buena Regional High School Wrestling  from Larry White, Executive Director, NJSIAA , “Following up on yesterday’s statement concerning a Buena Regional High School (Buena, NJ) varsity wrestler and a wrestling referee, the NJSIAA can now confirm that the matter will be investigated by state authorities. The NJSIAA will be working with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, providing all requested information. The State investigation will take precedence over the NJSIAA process.

“Further, NJSIAA can confirm that those groups that assign high school wrestling referees in New Jersey will not assign the referee in question until this matter has been thoroughly reviewed. This will help to avoid disruption of events for student athletes .

“Finally, as an African-American and parent – as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete – I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most. The NJSIAA takes this matter very seriously, and I ask that everyone respect the investigatory process related to all parties involved.”

The NJSIAA was established in 1918, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) is a voluntary, non-profit organization comprised of 437 accredited public, private, and parochial high schools. A member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, the NJSIAA conducts tournaments and crowns champions in 32 sports. 

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New Jersey Affordable Housing – Time to Make it Fair!

New Jersey is….

1st in the nation for highest property taxes
3rd most expensive state to live in
5th in the nation for highest per student school spending
5th in the nation for highest state income tax
6th most expensive state to purchase a home
#1 most densely populated state in the nation with 1,216 people per square mile

Land is at a premium and developers want to cash in and develop every last inch

FACT: Renting or owning a home should be affordable to NJ residents who qualify, but not at the expense of local ordinance that is contrary to NJ municipal land use law.
FACT: NJ’s affordable housing (AH) mandates are not working and our government is not listening to the voice of the people – who support AH but want it to be implemented fairly, honestly and sensibly.
FACT: The current pace of proposed AH development is not reasonable or sustainable and will be catastrophic to towns, schools, volunteer emergency services, infrastructure and to NJ’s natural resources, ecosystems, waterways and environment.

What We Want
1) We believe municipal AH obligations should not be determined by the courts and that there should be clear, statewide guidelines to follow.
2) “Builder’s remedy” lawsuits should be eliminated as a mechanism used to satisfy a municipality’s AH obligations.
3) We believe the laws governing AH must consider the impact on our schools, roads, traffic and congestion, emergency services and the preservation of open space and our quality of life.
4) NJ’s environment must be protected from sprawl and overdevelopment; AH should not be built on environmentally-sensitive land or land that has been remediated from contamination.
5) AH that is built should not “expire” and should count towards all future AH rounds and obligations.
6) We, the residents of NJ, seek to disband the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) who takes our hard-earned tax dollars to enrich the wallets of lawyers and developers at the expense of NJ’s future.
7) We, the people, demand a bi-partisan review of AH and legislative reform to make NJ’s affordable housing fair.

We are calling for reasonable ways to address the current problems to enact clear legislative guidelines that will: 1) ensure that AH benefits those in need; 2) implement a regional or statewide approach; 3) expand the ways in which municipalities can address their fair share of affordable housing—FAIRLY!

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Kean Calls Cancelling Of Redistricting Amendment Vote: ‘Big Win’ For People Of New Jersey

Tom Kean - High Quality

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Kean Statement On Redistricting Announcement

Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean issued the following statement in response to news that the redistricting amendment has been pulled from Monday’s Senate Voting Session agenda:

“This is a big win for the people of New Jersey. The proposed redistricting amendment would have disenfranchised millions of voters, taking away one of the most important rights we have as Americans: the power to choose who represents us in the halls of government.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Gerrymandering is wrong. We will remain vigilant, and fight back against any redistricting proposal that betrays democracy.

“I hope that this time, the sponsors will work with nonpartisan election experts and legislators on both sides of the aisle, so we can craft a redistricting proposal that we can all be proud of. The people we have the privilege of serving deserve no less than an amendment that ensures fair and equal representation for all.”

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Police Officers’ are technically in violation of the NJ’s standard capacity Mag Ban

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Phil Murphy’s attempt to disarm tax-paying NJ gun owners. It seems that in their ZEAL to make everyone “FEEL GOOD” about “doing something” about the great “firearms menace”, nobody in the in the Murphy Administration got the memo that NO EXEMPTION exists in the current statute for off duty Police Officers for ANY gun they carry! So how many Police Officers’s are technically in violation of the standard capacity Mag Ban simply because their department-issued equipment is in VIOLATION of the LAW put into place by the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in NJ (our Attorney General)?