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Verona Voting Place Moved Over Mayor’s Objections

Thursday Apr 28, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey. 

VERONA VOTING PLACE MOVED TO CONDO OVER MAYOR’S OBJECTIONS
Over objections of Verona’s mayor, the Essex County elections board has decided to move the voting location for one of the town’s districts to a private luxury townhouse building, MyVeronaNJ reports. The mayor calls the polling place change, which goes into effect with the June primary, “politically motivated,” and argues that the condo not only lacks handicap parking spaces but has a steep grade that may make access difficult for some voters.

DJ, DECRYING TICKETMASTER FEE, CREATES A WORKAROUND
When DJ Rich Russo of the syndicated radio show “Anything Anything” discovered that Ticketmaster was marking up tickets for a July 15 show he’s hosting in Asbury Park by 45 percent, he was outraged. But he figured out a way to help music lovers bypass Ticketmaster. He’s offered to go to Asbury Park himself, buy the tickets locally at a more reasonable 15 percent markup, and distribute them to concert-goers himself. NJArts.net has the story.

WHAT’S KILLING THE FISH IN A PRINCETON LAKE?
Hundreds of dead and rotting fish have floated to the surface of Princeton’s Lake Carnegie this spring, and nearby residents say they’ve never seen anything like it. Planet Princeton reports that the state’s Department of Environmental Protection sent an officer to investigate after resident complaints, but the official was not alarmed, saying that temperature changes this time of year can result in fish deaths. An investigation, however, continues.

TOMS RIVER MAY FINALLY GET MUNICIPAL BOAT RAMP
Despite its miles of waterfront, Toms River has never had a municipal boat ramp. The Toms River Times reports on efforts to get one built.

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Local Beat: Two Versions of Shooting at Franklin/New Brunswick Border

Thursday Apr 14, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

 

FRANKLIN MAN SHOT BY FRANKLIN POLICE, IN NEW BRUNSWICK: TWO VERSIONS
The police shooting Saturday of a 27-year-old man, Diahlo Grant, near the border of New Brunswick and Franklin Township became a story for two local news outlets, New Brunswick Today and Franklin Reporter & Advocate. The victim, Diahlo Grant of Franklin Township, was black; police reports say he carried a gun and exchanged fire with police officers. He was being pursued for outstanding warrants.

Although the Franklin Township police began their chase in Franklin, the shooting actually took place across the border in New Brunswick. That means that the Middlesex County prosecutor, rather than the Somerset County prosecutor, will investigate – and that is the focus of Charlie Kratovil’s story for New Brunswick Today. “Now it is up to [Middlesex Prosecutor Andrew C.] Carey and his controversial agency, which has been accused of covering for cops in the past, to investigate the fatal shooting and determine if the out-of-town police ought to be charged with crimes,” Kratovil writes.

Kratovil’s story also points out how rare it is for police to be charged for shootings in NJ: “New Jersey police officers shot and killed seventeen people in 2015, and killed another five by running them over with vehicles, but only one cop was charged with crimes stemming from the incidents.”

The Franklin Reporter’s initial story covers the same ground about the shooting, but has been updated with a series of articles from the community perspective: the creation of a Facebook group called #JusticeForDiahlo, a GoFundMe campaign to pay for Grant’s funeral, the reaction of the local NAACP and photos of a candlelight vigil.

CHALLENGER TO DONALD NORCROSS LOSES COURT BATTLE
NJ Pen writes about a court challenge by Alex Law against Camden County Clerk Joseph Ripa, charging the clerk with “secrecy, stonewalling, and carrying out partisan political agendas” in the construction of the primary ballot that pits Law against incumbent Donald Norcross in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District. Law lost his case, which involves extremely technical and complicated issues about “bracketing” of candidates, in superior court. Norcross, of course, is the brother of NJ power broker George Norcross.

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Local Beat: BOE Calls for Investigation of Roselle Park Tuition Scandal

Thursday Apr 07, 2016  |  0 comments

ROSELLE PARK BOE CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF TUITION SCANDAL
The Roselle Park Board of Education has appointed an independent investigator to look into allegations that the principal of Robert Gordon Elementary School allowed an out-of-district relative to attend the school tuition-free for more than five months. Saul Qersdyn of Roselle Park News says no payments were made from September 2015 to January of this year, despite contract requirements.

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Local Beat: Farmingdale Mourns Passing of Longtime Mayor

Thursday Mar 31, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

FARMINGDALE MOURNS PASSING OF LONGTIME MAYOR
The borough of Farmingdale, NJ is mourning the loss of Mayor John P. “Jay” Morgan, who died earlier this week after serving his community for 13 years. The Howell Times says Morgan had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

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Local Beat: The Montclarion Takes Home Newspaper Contest Wins

Thursday Mar 24, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

THE MONTCLARION TAKES HOME NEWSPAPER CONTEST WINS
Montclair State’s campus newspaper, The Montclarion, took home three awards from the 2015-2016 NJ Collegiate Newspaper Contest. The competition is hosted by the New Jersey Press Foundation in order to reward exceptional media from student newspapers in the state.

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Local Beat: Citizen Journalist Documents Crumbling CSX Rail Bridge

Thursday Mar 10, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey. 

CITIZEN JOURNALISM: DOCUMENTING A CRUMBLING BRIDGE IN HOPEWELL
When a Hopewell Borough man heard an NPR story about poorly-maintained rail bridges used by tankers transporting crude oil, he decided to take a look at a CSX train bridge right near his home, and documented what he found on video. MercerMe, which has been closely following CSX, ran the video and asked CSX for comment.

COURT RULING MAY PAVE WAY FOR MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NJ
The Ocean County Superior Court ruled last month that 13 local municipalities had not met their affordable housing requirements. Ocean County Politics says the decision could be a victory for affordable housing proponents throughout the state because it cast doubts on a report commissioned by the League of Municipalities and prepared by Econsult Solutions, which asserted that only 37,000 new affordable housing units need to be developed statewide over the next decade. Affordable housing advocates put the number at 202,000.

700 TESTED FOR LEAD CONTAMINATION IN MORRISTOWN  
Following up on last week’s story that lead was found in drinking water at Morristown Medical Center, Morristown Green reports that 700 people – including children at the hospital’s day care center – have been tested for lead levels in their blood.

NJ CRAFT BEER MAKERS FACE CHALLENGE FROM BIG BEER
Jersey Bites looks at a new incentive plan rolled out by Anheuser Busch, which will reward beer distributors whose sales are at least 98 percent AB products, and how that could endanger craft beer makers in NJ.

NEWARK ROBOTICS CENTER SPACE FOR LEASE
While the grudge match between Gov. Christie and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka over charter schools continues to grab headlines, Essex County Place notices that a tiny vacant lot, owned by the Newark Schools, has now been listed for lease. In 2008, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the East Ward lot to celebrate a future robotics center for the Newark Schools. It was never built.

BELLMAWR SUED FOR NOT TAKING MINUTES AT MEETING
Freelance open records advocate John Paff has sued Bellmawr Borough under OPRA for failing to keep any minutes or records of its regular caucus meetings, South Jersey Observerreports.  “I have been doing this for about 20 years and I don’t think I have ever found an instance of Borough Council or a Municipal Council not keeping meeting minutes at all, for a class of meetings,” Paff told the Observer.

CELEBRATE 350 SONGS ABOUT NEW JERSEY 
NJArts.net spent a year on a project called 350 Jersey Songs, which featured a daily feature on a song related to New Jersey. This Sunday, there’ll be a concert-fundraiser in Garwood to celebrate the project and raise money for NJArts. Tickets are $25 and available here.

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Local Beat: A Manifesto for Non-Partisan News

Thursday Feb 25, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting from local news sites around New Jersey. 

A MANIFESTO FOR NON-PARTISAN NEWS
The mudslinging and partisan politics that began immediately after news of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death turned Susan Haig’s stomach. “By Monday morning, headlines trumpeted an epic political battle between those ‘for’ or ‘against’ a timely nomination, while a family grieved,” Haig wrote. So the publisher of CivicStory, a news site dedicated to elevating public conversation in NJ, wrote a manifesto of what she thinks news should be like. Haig imagines “non partisan news,” newspapers that don’t pander to “fear, indignation, or anger,” which tackle complexity and demonstrate independent thought. Making a similar point, Matt Taibbi makes a powerful case in Rolling Stone that the media is complicit in the electoral politics circus that has catapulted Donald Trump. “The presidency is serious,” Taibbi writes. “The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the rope line.”

LAKEWOOD PARENTS PRESS FOR STATE TAKEOVER OF SCHOOLS
Parents in Lakewood are asking the state to take over their local schools, Reporte Hispanowrites, because the district’s school board is comprised mostly of Orthodox Jewish members who don’t send their own children to the public schools and don’t represent the interests of the predominantly Hispanic students who attend them. The latest outrage, according to the story, is the elimination of bus services for students in the district. Note: this story is in Spanish, but if you read it using a Chrome browser, you have an option of seeing it translated instantly into English.

PRINCIPAL’S RELATIVE SKIPS OUT-OF-TOWN SCHOOL FEES 
After Roselle Park News received two tips that the out-of-town relative of a school principal was attending a district school for free, it submitted an OPRA request asking for proof of payment. The request was submitted on Friday Jan. 29 and – voila! – on Monday Feb. 1, a check covering five months of tuition for the relative suddenly materialized. Tuition is supposed to be paid on the first of each month.

BELMAWR EMT GETS $32.5K IN WRONGFUL TERMINATION SETTLEMENT
The Borough of Bellmawr has settled out-of-court with a former EMT who said he was wrongfully fired in 2013. Bellmawr agreed to pay $32,500. The settlement was discovered as a result of an OPRA request by the South Jersey Observer.

BLOOMFIELD RELEASES POLE-CAM VIDEO DESPITE SUPREME CT CASE
And in one more OPRA-related story, this one penned by yours truly, the Township of Bloomfield has released pole-cam video from a municipal parking lot security camera – despite its position that such video should be subject to a blanket exemption from OPRA. A case testing the question is currently before the state supreme court. You can read the story on the website of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Local Beat: Last-Minute Resolutions Almost Cost Taxpayers Over $40k

Wednesday Feb 10, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

LAST-MINUTE RESOLUTIONS ALMOST COST TAXPAYERS OVER $40K
An apparent power play at the Mayor & Council meeting Thursday night almost cost Roselle Park taxpayers an extra $40,000. Saul Qersdyn of Roselle Park News says it all started when Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey suggested an additional resolution that included a $25,000 pay raise for the borough clerk.

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Local Beat: Who Needs a Shovel? Paramus Family Melts the Snowfall Away

Thursday Jan 28, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

WHO NEEDS A SHOVEL? PARAMUS FAMILY MELTS SNOWFALL AWAY
Anyone who has ever had to shovel out two cars and a driveway after a big snowstorm knows there’s a point when you’d do just about anything to trade in your snow shovel for a flamethrower – everyone except for Parikh family, that is. Matt Speiser of the Daily Voice says Asit Parikh and his father Raj spent three years rebuilding their Paramus home from the ground up to be eco-friendly and entirely self-sufficient. Their eco-modded home includes a solar-powered system that pumps heated water underneath the driveway to melt away the snow, without even touching a snow shovel.

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Local Beat: Manasquan Reservoir Stays Active During Warmest Winter on Record

Thursday Jan 21, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

MANASQUAN RESERVOIR STAYS ACTIVE DURING WARMEST WINTER ON RECORD
Record-breaking warmth throughout the northeast this season has caused confusion for local flora, fauna, and humans in Howell, NJ. Caitlin Brown of The Howell Times says the unusually warm weather has prevented the 770-acre Manasquan Reservoir from freezing over.

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Local Beat: Despite Deferred Action, ICE Snatches New Brunswick Resident from His Home

Thursday Jan 14, 2016  |  0 comments

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

DESPITE DEFERRED ACTION, ICE SNATCHES NEW BRUNSWICK RESIDENT FROM HIS HOME
German Nieto was taken into custody by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last Tuesday after they broke down his door and charged into his home. Charlie Kratovil of New Brunswick Today says Nieto had recently been granted “deferred action” by the government, and the authorities were actually looking for someone else when they arrived, but they ultimately decided to take Nieto to jail anyway at the end of the botched 6am raid.

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