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Voters Fear Indefinite Shutdown, Worry Government May Make Things Worse

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewoood NJ, according to Rasmussen Reports ,voters question how long the United States can remain locked down because of the coronavirus, and most share President Trump’s worry that the government may go too far in its efforts to defeat the disease.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 36% of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States can afford to remain largely shutdown for an indefinite period of time to limit the spread of the coronavirus. A plurality (46%) believes America can’t afford an indefinite shutdown, while 18% are not sure.

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Not sure if closing all businesses, keeping everyone home was ‘the best public health strategy’


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Albany NY, in a press conference  New York Governor  Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that his stay-at-home order for the entirety of New York State was “probably not the best public health strategy.”

the New York governor  said the smartest way forward would be a public health strategy that complemented a “get-back-to-work strategy.”

Continue reading New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Not sure if closing all businesses, keeping everyone home was ‘the best public health strategy’

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Gottheimer Group ,Democratic Problem Solvers Caucus Meets with the President


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Wyckoff NJ, Democratic Members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Thomas Suozzi, Vincente Gonzalez, Anthony Brindisi, Dean Phillips, Max Rose, and Abigail Spanberger met at the White House to sit down with President Trump in the Situation Room regarding the shutdown. Entering the meeting, the Members released the following statement:

“Over the last weeks, we have been listening to our constituents and speaking with our fellow Members of Congress — in both parties and in both chambers. There is strong agreement across the aisle and around the country: We must reopen the government.  Our security, safety, and economy have been compromised, and millions of families are suffering.

“There is also strong agreement that if we reopen the government, the possibility exists to work together and find common ground to tackle some of our country’s toughest problems and fix them. But that conversation can only begin in earnest once the government is reopened. We accepted the White House’s invitation to meet today to convey that message.”

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Rasmussen : Voters Want Strong Borders, Say Wall is Not ‘Immoral’


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, according to Rasmussen Reports , most voters continue to favor strongly controlled borders and reject House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that it is immoral for the United States to build a border wall.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 53% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is better for the United States to tightly control who comes into the country. Thirty-nine percent (39%) disagree and say it is better to open our borders to anyone who wants to come here as long as they are not a terrorist or a criminal.

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Menendez Legislates from the Beach

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

San Juan PR, from the sunny shores of Puerto Rico U.S. Senator Bob Menendez announced that he is cosponsoring bicameral legislation to protect federal workers and contractors from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults as a result of not getting paid during the longest government shutdown in American history.  Now into Day 24, the partial government shutdown has impacted 800,000 federal workers, including more than 5,000 in New Jersey.

“Hardworking, dedicated federal employees and their families should not have to worry that they could lose their home, health coverage or face financial hardship as a result of falling behind on their bills during the shutdown.  It is absolutely unconscionable that President Trump has put them in this position by shutting down the government,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Congress must do its part to protect federal workers and their families from further harm.  I would implore President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell to immediately end this needless shutdown before anyone else gets hurt.”

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act addresses the real threat of federal workers losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay.  It prohibits landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans during and up to 30 days after the end of the shutdown, while empowering federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.

This is just the latest in a series of actions Sen. Menendez has taken to help federal workers and contractors who have lost pay:

·       Cosponsored the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which would guarantee all furloughed workers receive retroactive pay once the government is reopened and funds are fully restored and guarantees back pay in the event of future shutdowns, passed the Senate yesterday

·       Cosponsored the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, bipartisan legislation to pay members of the Coast Guard, civilian employees and contractors.  There are hundreds of service members from New Jersey charged with keeping our waters safe that are currently being forced to work without pay

·       Joined 33 Democratic colleagues in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees who generally have not received back pay after past shutdowns.

Sen. Menendez has repeatedly called for an end to the Trump Shutdown and pressed Majority Leader McConnell to call a vote on House-passed legislation to reopen the government that has already gained bipartisan approvals in the Senate.

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Reader says ,” GOVT. workers expect a cushy job for life “


What bothers me the most is that workers in the PRIVATE SECTOR get fired all the time; take the case of GM firing auto workers when they closed plant. Those laid off workers have to hustle and find a new job. BUT GOVT. workers expect a cushy job for life; with frequent pay raises, top health insurance, tons of vacation job, and other perks for real laid back easy work, most of the time. So now when they are facing the real world , what private sectors workers face every day, the possibility of being laid off they complain about being cheated. They don’t realize no one owes them a dime. They will just have to hustle and find other work. Improve their nonexistent skill sets, in many cases.

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Democrats Hit the Beach on Day 22 of Federal Shutdown

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“Champion of the little guy” here is NJ Senator Bob Menendez enjoying this weekend on the beach in Puerto Rico. Question Senator, did tax dollars pay anything towards your “End the shutdown” junket?

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

San Juan PR, Despite a partial government shutdown with no end in sight, about 30 Democratic members of Congress including NJ Senator Bob Menendez traveled to Puerto Rico to enjoy the weekend  with their families and lobbyists  for a winter retreat where they also planned to see a special performance of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”

Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC gathering in San Juan also planned to meet Saturday with Puerto Rican officials to discuss ongoing cleanup efforts from Hurricane Maria, according to a report.

They were joined by at last count 109 lobbyists and corporate executives who are named in a memo welcoming the guests, which include some from prominent Washington firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and of coarse unions like the National Education Association.

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Furloughed Federal Workers May Be Eligible to Collect Unemployment Benefits

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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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IRS Confirms Tax Filing Season to Begin January 28


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

WASHINGTON DC, Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service today confirmed that it will process tax returns beginning January 28, 2019 and provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled.
“We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
Congress directed the payment of all tax refunds through a permanent, indefinite appropriation (31 U.S.C. 1324), and the IRS has consistently been of the view that it has authority to pay refunds despite a lapse in annual appropriations. Although in 2011 the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the IRS not to pay refunds during a lapse, OMB has reviewed the relevant law at Treasury’s request and concluded that IRS may pay tax refunds during a lapse.

The IRS will be recalling a significant portion of its workforce, currently furloughed as part of the government shutdown, to work. Additional details for the IRS filing season will be included in an updated FY2019 Lapsed Appropriations Contingency Plan to be released publicly in the coming days.
“IRS employees have been hard at work over the past year to implement the biggest tax law changes the nation has seen in more than 30 years,” said Rettig.
As in past years, the IRS will begin accepting and processing individual tax returns once the filing season begins. For taxpayers who usually file early in the year and have all of the needed documentation, there is no need to wait to file. They should file when they are ready to submit a complete and accurate tax return.
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019 for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2019 to file their returns.
Software companies and tax professionals will be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 28 and then will submit the returns when the IRS systems open later this month. The IRS strongly encourages people to file their tax returns electronically to minimize errors and for faster refunds.

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Teen Fashion Website, “i-Dressup” Shut Down for Violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

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August 4,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Newark NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that a California company agreed to shut down its fashion-themed social website for teens and reform its business practices to resolve allegations that the company violated state and federal laws by improperly collecting personal information from more than 2,500 New Jersey children and by failing to appropriately safeguard its users’ account information which was compromised in a 2016 data breach.

The Division alleged that Unixiz, Inc., the company that owned and operated the online social website “i-Dressup”, violated the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, by, among other things, failing to adequately safeguard user information and failing to obtain verifiable parental consent prior to collecting and processing children’s personal information.
“Children are extremely vulnerable on the internet and we must do all we can to protect them from being exploited by advertisers or tracked by internet predators,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing state and federal privacy protections and we will do everything we can to ensure that website operators comply with their duty to provide an extra layer of security on sites catering to young children.”
The allegations against Unixiz stem from an investigation initiated by the Division after media outlets began reporting that the i-Dressup website had been breached by an unknown hacker and that user accounts were vulnerable.
The Division learned through its investigation that more than 24,000 of the compromised i-Dressup accounts belonged to New Jersey residents, 10,101 of whom were under the age of 18. The Division confirmed that 2,519 accounts belonged to children under the age of 13.

The Division also alleged that Unixiz had improperly collected personal information from the 2,519 children – including first and last names, email addresses, birthdates, and gender – without prior verifiable consent from their parents, as required by law.

“As a result of our investigation, Unixiz agreed to shut down the i-Dressup website and to reform its practices to comply with all laws protecting the privacy of children and others online, said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Our cyber fraud unit will continue to monitor the internet for reports of data breaches that affect New Jersey residents and take swift action to hold companies accountable.”
In a Consent Order entered with the Division, Unixiz agreed to put in place measures to obtain verifiable parental consent on all company-operated websites that collect children’s information, as well as measures to provide parents with the ability to review the information that the company is collecting from their child, and to revoke the right of that company to collect or maintain their child’s information. Unixiz also agreed to implement policies and procedures to safeguard users’ account information.

The company also agreed to civil penalties in the amount of $98,618, $34,000 of which has been paid and $64,618 of which will be suspended and automatically vacated after two years, provided that the company complies with the terms of the Consent Order.

The i-Dressup website, which billed itself as a “social hangout website” for teens, offered its users access to fashion and fantasy-based games, and a feature which allowed certain approved users to exchange messages.
The Division, through its investigation, confirmed that the website had actual knowledge that many of its members were under the age of 13, which triggered obligations to comply with COPPA.
COPPA and its regulations apply to operators of commercial websites and online services, including mobile apps, directed to children under 13, and operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13.

The primary goal of COPPA is to provide parents with control over what information is collected from their young children online, including first and last names, home addresses, screen names and other online contact information, telephone numbers, social security numbers, photographs, and IP addresses and other persistent identifiers that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different web sites or online services.

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Fish Urban Dining shut down of its Asbury Park location still a Mystery

December 13,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood

Ridgewood NJ, it was reported on News 12 that Fish Urban Dining abruptly shut down its Asbury Park location closed in early October.

Fish opened in Asbury Park in 2010 and followed with great fanfare a second location in the summer of 2015 in the Village of Ridgewood in the Citizens bank or Bank of America building depending on how old you are. Both locations are owned by the DeGilio’s City by the Sea Hospitality Group. DeGilio’s City also closed Cibo e Vino in Asbury Park in October as well.

Both restaurants were considered “popular ” and seemed to close abruptly leaving the shut down as a mystery.

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10 charged in protest that shut down George Washington Bridge

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By Craig McCarthy | NJ Advance Media for
on October 26, 2016 at 4:36 PM, updated October 26, 2016 at 5:08 PM

Police charged 10 people Wednesday in a protest on the George Washington Bridge that closed lanes and caused extensive delays during morning rush hour.

One of the protesters was a New Jersey resident, according to Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo. The eight were from New York and one was from California.

The immigrants’ rights demonstration stopped upper-level traffic completely for about 15 minutes before police arrested the protesters, who chained themselves to the bridge, blocking three lanes.

The demonstration caused up to 90-minute delays for drivers heading into the New York City. All lanes were reopened by 8:50 a.m.

The following people were charged in New York with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass:

Christina Fox, 27 , Oceanside, Calif
Felix Cepeda, 35,  Bronx, N.Y.
Diego Ibanez, 27, Brooklyn, NY
Karl Kumodz, 25, Brooklyn NY
Elana Gold-24, Brooklyn, NY
Claudia Palacios, 27, Brooklyn, NY
Jeremy Weissman, 22, Jericho, NY
Virgilio Aran, 38, East Orange, NJ
Juan Romero, 25, Queens, NY
Marco Abendano, 31, Bronx, NY

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Linwood Ave at Washington Township Boarder Shut Down due to Fallen Tree Monday

Linwood Ave at Washington Township Boarder Shut Down due to Fallen Tree Monday

photos courtesy of Boyd Loving’s Facebook

August 23,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Both directions of Linwood Avenue east of Route 17 in Paramus to the border of Washington Township and Ridgewood were closed for approximately two (2) hours on Monday morning, 8/22 because of a fallen tree near 1127 Linwood Avenue, Ridgewood. Ridgewood PD and FD, along with Paramus PD personnel, responded to the incident. A PSE&G trouble shooter disconnected electric service to a single family home in order to facilitate removal of debris on the roadway. Cable TV and telephone services to the same home, which sustained slight damage when the tree fell, were also disrupted. A Village of Ridgewood Shade Tree Division crew cleared the roadway. No injuries were reported.

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Ouch …Wave of Health Insurance CO-OPs to Shut Down in Latest ACA Failure


OCTOBER 22, 2015 10:08AM

Hundreds of thousands people will lose their insurance plans as a raft of health insurance cooperatives (CO-OPs) created by the Affordable Care Act will cease operations. Just last week, CO-OPs in Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee and Kentucky announced that they would be winding down operations due to lower than expected enrollment and solvency concerns (although the one in Colorado is suing the state over the shutdown order).  They join four other CO-OPs that have announced that they would be closing their doors. In total, only 15 out of the 23 CO-OPs created by the law remain. These closures reveal how ill-advised this aspect of the ACA was both in terms of lost money and the turmoil for the people who enrolled in them. The eight that have failed have received almost $1 billion in loans, and overall CO-OPs received loans totaling $2.4 billion that might never get paid back. In addition, roughly 400,000 people will lose their plans.

Sources:  Sabrina Corlette et al. “The Affordable Care Act CO-OP Program: Facing Both Barriers and Opportunities for More Competitive Health Insurance Markets,” The Commonwealth Fund, March 12, 2015; Erin Marshal, “8 Things to Know About Insurance CO-OP Closures,” Becker’s Hospital Review, October 20, 2015. Created using Tableau.

Notes: Hawaii and Alaska not shown. Neither state had a CO-OP. CoOportunity Health served both Iowa and Nebraska.

Proponents of the CO-OPs believed that they would be able to offer lower premiums than for-profit insurers because they did not have the same profit motive, but even non-profit insurers cannot operate at a financial loss indefinitely. When they were created, these CO-OPs had no customers, no experience in setting premiums, no networks and limited capital. The government tried to subsidize the early period of uncertainty by disbursing loans to help with startup and solvency issues, and money from other provisions like risk corridors would dampen losses in the initial years. Lower than expected payments from the risk corridors have exacerbated the issues facing some of these CO-OPs, who were counting on substantial payments to stay afloat. But this is hardly the only factor contributing to their struggles, some of them the product of other government policies like delaying employer mandate penalties and giving states the option to allow transitional policies through 2017. Some of these later developments could not have been anticipated, but many analysts, including Cato scholars, were skeptical about the prospects of CO-OPs from the beginning.  Even some ACA supporters recognized the flaws inherent in the CO-OP design: Paul Krugman derided them as a “sham”  and in a 2009 interview Professor Timothy Jost said could not see how a CO-OP “does anything to control costs.” There have been multiple warning signs that many CO-OPs were in trouble.  Earlier this year The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent letters to 11 CO-OPs placing them on “enhanced oversight” due to financial concerns, and a 2014 report from the HHS Office of Inspector General found that “most of the 23 CO-OPs we reviewed had not met their initial program enrollment and profitability projections,” and that the government “had not established guidance or criteria to assess whether a CO-OP was viable or sustainable.”

These CO-OPs were not a good idea at inception and were always going to face many obstacles to success.  Multiple changes to the law since they were established have exacerbated these problems, and already struggling CO-OPs have folded. Competition is indeed vital in health insurance markets, but the CO-OPs were a bad way to try to foster this competition. With these closures, billions of taxpayer dollars could be lost and hundreds of thousands of people will discover that the “if you like your plan, you can keep it” promise does not apply to them.

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East Hampton Police shut down Jerry Seinfeld’s lemonade stand


By ANDREA PARK CBS NEWS August 28, 2015, 1:50 PM

Jerry Seinfeld’s son got in trouble with the police — and he’s only 12 years old!

Don’t worry — the comedian doesn’t exactly have a derelict kid on his hands.

Seinfeld and his family were shut down by East Hampton, New York, police on Tuesday, Aug. 18 for setting up a lemonade stand, reports CBS New York.

Seinfeld’s wife Jessica posted a photo on Instagram of her son, Julian, and two of his friends with their hands up (jokingly) amidst the police drama.

When officers arrived after a neighbor complained about illegally parked cars, they informed the Seinfelds that it is not legal to run a lemonade stand on village property.

“Lemonade dreams crushed by local neighbor, but not before raising lots of money for @loverecycled,” Jessica Schneider wrote on Instagram. “Thanks to all of our customers and big tippers!”