Officials far and wide are mourning the passing of former Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, who died on Jan. 4 at age 93.
Gov. Christopher Christie made the announcement shortly after the news reached his desk.
“Governor Byrne had an extraordinary career of public service. He served as counsel to Governor Meyner, Deputy Attorney General, Essex County Prosecutor, Superior Court Judge and two-term governor of New Jersey. He did each of those jobs with integrity, honesty, intelligence, wit and flair. He cared deeply for the state’s environment, led the charge for the development of the Meadowlands Complex and for the establishment of casino gaming in Atlantic City,” Christie said. “He served his country in World War II and went on to graduate from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He was the proud father of seven children and was a treasure to his home state where, in 2011, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.”
Christie, who appeared with Byrne in Jersey City three years ago at the dedication of Martin’s Place, a prisoner reentry center, said he considered Byrne “a mentor and a friend.”
“My life is richer for having known him, as I am sure are the lives of every person who had the privilege to meet him,” Christie said.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said the state has lost a towering leader and an extraordinary role model.
“History will remember Gov. Byrne for his achievement in creating a state income tax that averted the financial collapse of our schools,” Baraka said. “But this could not have been accomplished without Brendan Byrne’s courage to risk his own future doing what was right even when immensely unpopular. Governor Byrne understood that public service is about the people you serve and not your own political career. His life stands as a role model for all those who today seek or hold positions of public trust.”
Rep. Albio Sires said, “I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of Governor Brendan Byrne, who passed away earlier today. The residents of New Jersey and the Byrne family have lost a beloved patriarch. Governor Byrne served his country with pride during World War II and spent his entire career in public service as counsel to former Governor Meyner, Essex County Prosecutor, Superior Court Judge all leading up to his two terms as governor. He was a champion for all people and believed that everyone should have the chance to realize their potential to the fullest.”
Byrne served two terms as governor from 1974 to 1982, and was a times extremely unpopular, particularly when he signed legislation instituting the state’s first income tax.
Although accused of being stubborn at times, he was also known for his humor, and often deflected political attacks with a quip.
One of his most famous quotes concerned his death. He said he wished to be buried in Hudson County so he could continue to vote after he was dead.
Despite periods of unpopularity as governor, he became one of the state’s leading statesman and a popular speaker at various political functions.
He was well-known for a reputation of honesty. A federal wiretap recorded an underworld crime boss who said during a recorded conversation that Byrne could not be bought.
Byrne is quoted as not seeking elected office and in fact, ran for only one office in his lifetime, and won that twice.
“He was an icon in New Jersey politics whose impact on the state and our residents will be felt for generations to come,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. “He deserves our upmost thanks for a life dedicated to public service, fighting proudly in World War II, protecting the environment and moving New Jersey forward. Gov. Byrne was a one-of-a-kind class act, honest, dignified and ahead of his time. He will be deeply missed.”
JC police lieutenant killed on NJ Turnpike
Christopher Robateau, 49, of Carteret, a 23-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department, was killed on the NJ Turnpike on Jan. 5 when he exited his car to help a stranded motorist.
City officials said the matter is being investigated by the New Jersey State Police, which have jurisdiction over incidents on the Turnpike.
“We lost a great JC Police Officer on his way to work,” said Mayor Steven Fulop in a tweet. “He exited his car to help someone and was struck by a car on the turnpike. We consider him on duty in JC being that he was looking to help someone which is what we want all JC officers to do all the time. R.I.P Lt. Chris Robateau.”
The accident happened shortly after 6:30 a.m. at Exit 14.
He was promoted to lieutenant in October 2014 and worked in the East District that includes downtown. He served for a time with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office on loan from the JCPD.
Man shot dead on New Year’s Day
Gun violence spilled over into the new year when a resident of Brunswick Street in Jersey City was found dead as a result of a gunshot to the head.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said that on Jan. 1, at approximately 6:15 a.m., Jersey City Police Officers responded to a report of a possible gunshot in the area of Brunswick and Montgomery streets in Jersey City. Upon arrival, officers found an unresponsive male victim in an alley near Brunswick Street.
The victim, later identified as Taiwon Robinson, 23, of Jersey City, suffered an apparent gunshot wound to his head. Robinson was transported to Jersey City Medical Center by Emergency Medical Services where he was pronounced dead shortly before 7 a.m.
The cause and manner of his death are pending an investigation by the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. The Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit is actively investigating the case with assistance from the Jersey City Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at (201) 915-1345 or to leave an anonymous tip on the Hudson County Prosecutor’s official website at: http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/. All information will be kept confidential.
JC deputy mayor becomes director of HECD
Deputy Mayor Marcos Vigil has been named the director of the city’s Department of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce (HECD). Vigil will leave his post as deputy mayor, a position he has held since 2015.
“During the past three years, Deputy Mayor Vigil has proven his commitment to Jersey City and his experience in the areas of housing and economic development,” said Mayor Steven Fulop. “He has played a major role in helping to bring development away from the waterfront, in building more affordable housing, and in prioritizing sustainable growth. I thank him for his service to the people of Jersey City in this capacity, and I am confident in his ability to lead HEDC with the same dedication, understanding, and expertise.”
Vigil replaces Anthony Cruz, who previously held that position.
Vigil served his term as deputy mayor overseeing economic development and real estate, and developing strategies for sustainable development and affordable housing. He is also represents the city as a member of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities’ Legislative Committee and as the Mayor’s Alternate Trustee for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
“I’m honored by the confidence Mayor Fulop has shown in me and the opportunity to continue to move his progressive and inclusive agenda forward on the economic development front,” said Marcos Vigil. “I know from my interaction with staff at the department that we have the most committed professionals and public servants. Together we will work to provide the best services to our constituents while looking to improve the quality of life for all residents throughout Jersey City.”
Prior to his role with the city, Vigil served as deputy secretary of state for New York during Governor Andrew Cuomo’s first term, leading and managing the operations for its Divisions of Consumer Protection, Licensing Services, Corporations, Cemeteries and the NYS Athletic Commission. Before joining public service, Marcos practiced commercial and employment law in New York City. Marcos also serves as a board member at Princeton AlumniCorps, a nonprofit whose mission is to mobilize people, organizations, and networks for the public good, and has served as board member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and as deputy general counsel for the National Hispanic Bar Association.
Free diabetes self-management workshop series offered in Jersey City
Are you a person with Medicare living with diabetes or know someone who is? Take control of your health through a free and fun six-week workshop series. Meet others going through similar experiences and learn about preventing complications, healthy eating, exercise, medication management, dealing with stress and depression, action planning, and much more.
The free diabetes self-management workshop series will be offered at Triangle Park Community Center on 247 Old Bergen Road in Jersey City, NJ 07305 on Tuesdays, Jan. 23 to Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Free literature and resources will be provided.
To register, e-mail Joyce Davison at Davisonjg@gmail.com. All attendees must register by the second workshop session.
The workshop series is being offered by Quality Insights as part of the national Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program, which is funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Learn more at www.qualityinsights-qin.org.
Wandering incidents increase harm to autistic adults, kids
With two recent deaths on Christmas and Christmas Eve, the National Autism Association is warning caregivers about the increased risks of autism-related wandering during the holiday season.
On Christmas Eve, a 15-year-old boy with autism died from injuries sustained after being struck by a vehicle. The next day, the body of 7-year-old boy with autism was found floating in a nearby pool.
Each year, hundreds of children and adults with autism go missing, but holiday-related wandering cases are especially dangerous. According to a study from the National Autism Association (NAA), incidents that occurred from a social or family gathering, such as those during the holidays, ended in death 69 percent of the time. In recent years, cases have occurred on Mother’s Day, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Similar to wandering behaviors in the Alzheimer’s community, wandering/elopement, or “running” behaviors in children and adults with autism have led to countless tragedies across the country. A pediatrics study in 2012 found that half of children with autism attempt to wander/elope from a safe environment. According to NAA, accidental drowning is responsible for the vast majority of lethal outcomes, especially among younger children with autism. The second leading cause of death is by fatal traffic injury, typically in teenage males with autism.
Times of transition, commotion and stress can increase wandering and elopement behaviors, and this is especially true during the holidays and holiday gatherings. Not only do unfamiliar places, noisy settings or disrupted routines bolster the chance for a child or adult to exit-seek, it can also make it difficult for caregivers to respond. With the commotion of gatherings, caregivers may not be aware the child is missing, which can prolong search efforts.
Preparation ahead of holiday gatherings can decrease risk. It’s important that caregivers make relatives and friends aware of wandering risks ahead of time, and assign one trusted adult to closely supervise the at-risk children at all times for an agreed-upon period of time. Tools like door chimes and stop sign prompts are inexpensive enough to take to a relative’s home during visits, and items that reduce noise can also help. Consider tracking technology or distance monitors, especially if visiting someone else’s home. Having identification on your child is essential, especially if communication challenges are present. Avoiding triggers is also key, so allowing the child to do what makes them feel comfortable and happy may help decrease anxiety. In the event of an emergency, call 911 and search nearby sources of water first, even if it’s murky or icy.
For more tips, download the free toolkit for caregivers from the NAA.
Got a story, novel, essay, or script in your head -- or on paper?
Reporter editor and published novelist Caren Lissner is bringing her one-shot writing and publishing class to Little City Books in Hoboken, five blocks from the train station, in January. Do you have an idea for a novel, story, memoir, essay, or script, or have something partly written but don’t know the next steps? You can bring up to two pages, double spaced (500 words) for critique and publication advice, or just sit in on the class and participate in the discussions, without bringing anything. There’s a nominal fee for those bringing work to read, and a lower fee for those who just want to sit in and participate in the discussion.
The next “Get It Out” class takes place Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the bookstore, walking distance from the Second Street Light Rail and Hoboken terminal stations.
“There are so many ways to get published these days,” said Lissner. “Anyone who’s working on a piece of writing is a writer. They shouldn’t be shy about getting their work out there. I’ve known people who went from publishing nothing to publishing in a major newspaper or website.”
Lissner’s humorous first novel, Carrie Pilby, was published in 2003, sold 74,000 copies worldwide, and was released as a movie this year. The book is available new on Amazon, and the movie is currently showing on Netflix and purchasable on DVD at Amazon.
She has also published serious essays, articles, and humor writing/satire in the New York Times, Atlantic.com, McSweeney’s, Harper’s, LitHub, and National Lampoon. Read more of her writing and advice and contact her via carenlissner.com.
The link to sign up for the class is http://www.littlecitybooks.com/event/get-it-out-writing-and-publishing-workshop-caren-lissner (as a reader or as an auditor), or stop by Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., corner of First and Bloomfield, Hoboken. (201) 626-READ. If you have questions, contact the bookstore or lissner via carenlissner.com.