In what could be good news for Bayonne and other municipalities across the state, a New Jersey Appellate Court ruling blocked Gov. Christopher Christie from taking municipal housing trust funds. The appellate court ruled that the administration does not have the authority to take $161 million in affordable housing money from municipalities without convening the independent board of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH).
The funding is meant to allow towns to build affordable housing.
Bayonne City Council earlier this year began to allocate its Affordable Trust funding in order not to lose it, by assigning funds to specific proposed projects.
Concerned Citizens of Bayonne urge ban on assault weapons
In what they hope will become the start of a letter-writing campaign, the Concerned Citizens of Bayonne issued a letter to Gov. Christopher Christie this week urging stricter gun control laws.
“Have we learned anything from the shootings in the movie theaters in Colorado?” the Aug. 6 letter asked. “Can we agree that we are living in a time where there is complete disregard for human life?”
The letter criticized the ease with which weapons of this kind can be purchased in some states, noting that approve in Colorado takes only 20 minutes.
“Why do individuals need assault weapons? These should be reserved for law enforcement and the military only,” the letter said.
Ex-offender job bill signed into law
A bill sponsored by state senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Sandra Bolden Cunningham which will expand employment opportunities for certain ex-offenders in order to aid in their reentry into society was signed into law last week.
“If we’re serious about giving ex-offenders an opportunity to reclaim their lives from the cycle of crime and incarceration, then we have to recognize that the inability to find employment is one of the biggest factors contributing to the high recidivism rate in this State and around the country,” Lesniak said. “If you’ve paid your debt to society, there is simply no reason why you should be banned from working in an establishment where alcohol is served. This law will create meaningful job opportunities for people trying to do the right thing and become productive members of society.”
“The only thing that has been accomplished by the prohibition from employment at venues where alcohol is served is that you have a number of ex-offenders who can’t find work, and many of whom will turn back to a life of crime,” Cunningham said. “We want to give people the chance to truly reform themselves, and that means that they need access to employment. I’m glad we’re finally addressing one of the root causes of recidivism – lack of employment – rather than stick to the relics of tough-on-crime policies which simply did not work.”
The new law permits certain ex-offenders to be employed by alcoholic beverage licensees, so long as they are not involved in the serving, selling, soliciting, mixing or handling of alcoholic beverages. The legislation excludes from its provisions sex offenders and people convicted of a crime while employed on a licensed premises. Ex-offenders will also be prohibited from providing private security or admission-monitoring services, and from providing or participating in any management or professional services.
Under previous law, a person convicted of any serious crime was disqualified from being employed by an alcoholic beverage licensee, unless they had received a Rehabilitation Employment Permit from the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The fee for such a permit was $125 annually, and permits could sometimes take a long time to be issued.
Senators Lesniak and Cunningham noted that many alcoholic beverage licensees regularly employ people not involved in the serving or sale of alcoholic drinks, including cooks, janitors and dishwashers, in addition to live entertainment, including band members, singers and DJs. The sponsors noted that the prohibition from employment eliminated a large number of offenders, and the cost of obtaining a necessary permit to work was burdensome to many ex-offenders who had recently been released from incarceration.
The bill was approved by a vote of 36-0 in the Senate in February, and received final legislative approval from the Assembly in June by a vote of 70-7.