Ben Lesser, investigative reporter and trainer. Credit: Debbie Galant/NJ News Commons

Meningitis, Police Maps, and Transparency in Government

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

On Planet Princeton this week, editor Krystal Knapp reported the story that a Drexel student who died of meningitis had the same strain of the disease as the Princeton outbreak and had mingled with Princeton football players at a Drexel mixer. The story was picked up by The Trentonian.

Knapp got the scoop by attending a meeting at which the Princeton Health Officer reported to the Princeton Health Commission — a service that local outlets provide as larger media outlets cut back on local reporting.

At Morristown Green, Kevin Coughlin’s day-to-day coverage in his hometown brought him the story of how local officials are joining a coalition to sue the state to overhaul its primary system — saying that the current partisan system is unconstitutional because it excludes more than half the voters in the state.

Charlie Kratovil of New Brunswick Today had to file an Open Public Records Act lawsuit to get the city to produce maps of police jurisdictions for the municipal police force and the Rutgers police — showing recent changes to RUPD’s jurisdiction for pulling over motorists and making DUI arrests.

Baristnet‘s story of a dog’s death by poisoning in the Mill Reservation was picked up by CBS Local.

In Newark, Glocally Newark presents a three-part series on the real estate forecast, while Brick City Live has a take on “race-based vitriol coming from both camps” in a mayoral race in which two Black candidates are competing.

The NJ News Commons and Hack Jersey are trying to help  journalists, government officials, watchdogs and citizen activists work together to make more data in the state universally accessible. On May 15, they host the Open Data NJ Summit. Register here.

Here investigative reporter and trainer Ben Lesser, Kratovil and Joe Malinconico of The Paterson Press discuss the perils and joys of local investigative reporting here.

Ben Lesser, investigative reporter and trainer. Credit: Debbie Galant/NJ News Commons

Ben Lesser, investigative reporter and trainer. Credit: Debbie Galant/NJ News Commons

Our full roundup:

Opinion: Black like…? In a largely black city, the mayor’s race is being cast along very blurred racial lines Brick City Live
Dog Dies Suddenly, Hours After Being At Mills Reservation (Updated) Baristanet
Student Who Died from Meningitis Met Princeton U. Football Players at Drexel Mixer Planet Princeton
Hackensack police: Reported luring attempt not like others CliffviewPilot*
EXCLUSIVE: New Brunswick Releases Police Maps They Once Claimed Could Jeopardize Resident Safety New Brunswick Today
Jewish community rallies for NJ student injured in Australia New Jersey Jewish News
Paterson campaign notebook: Torres threatens blogger with defamation suit over ‘addiction’ comment Paterson Press
Legal tab for Paterson’s Community Development department may soar after $312K settlement Paterson Press
Morristown council president sues to overhaul New Jersey primary system Morristown Green
Westfield Girl Scouts Receive Over 37,000 Boxes of Cookies Westfield TAP
Temple B’nai Abraham Hosts Annual Purim Carnival TAP Livingston

West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade Proposal: She Says Yes TAP West Orange
Fanwood Man Charged in Friday Night Stabbing Incident TAP Scotch Plains-Fanwood
Cranford Band, Nothing Personal, Set to Debut First Album Cranford Radio
Westfield Coach Kevin Willard Re-energizes Seton Hall Basketball TAP Westfield
Westfield’s Daddy-Daughter Dance and Mobile Command Center Discussed at Town Council Meeting TAP Westfield

*Asterisked articles are available for reposting through the NJ News Commons Story Exchange.

Andrew Guadagnino, NJ News Commons intern, contributed to this report.