Lavarro pleads not guilty in harassment charge
Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro pleaded not guilty in Hoboken Municipal Court on Sept. 17. Rampaul Guyadeen, a campaign worker for an opposing ticket in November’s school board election, accused Lavarro of harassment stemming from an incident outside one of the polling places. Judge Cataldo F. Fazio asked both parties to seek mediation, and scheduled them to return to the court on Feb. 20
New coalition would fight for wrongly convicted
The New Jersey Coalition for the Wrongfully Convicted was launched in early January to achieve accountability and justice for New Jerseyans who were convicted, jailed and forced on parole, probation, or the sex offender registry for crimes they did not commit. The coalition includes a diverse group of organizations and individuals, including criminal justice, civil rights, and labor organizations, as well as elected officials.
The coalition will be fighting for the passage of Assembly Bill 1037/Senate Bill 1765. This bill will change New Jersey’s wrongful conviction compensation law to remove the current bar on exonerees who pleaded guilty, and provide compensation for years wrongfully spent on the sex offender registry, parole or probation. The coalition’s activity will include direct lobbying of state legislators as well as paid ads and communications with the public.
Currently, exonerees who pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit cannot receive state compensation, despite the fact that many of them lost years of their life to prison. Nationally, one in 10 innocent Americans who were exonerated with DNA evidence pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit. New Jersey exonerees who pleaded guilty were eligible for state compensation until Gov. Christopher Christie barred them in 2013. The current law does not compensate exonerees for the years they wrongfully spent on parole, probation or the sex offender registry.
Sires introduces legislation for railroad and transit safety transparency
Rep. Albio Sires introduced legislation to compel federal agencies to inform members of Congress when a railroad or rail transit agency in their district is being investigated for safety violations.
The bill, H.R. 543, requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide Congress with notice of when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity or commuter rail transit agency that serves their district. This notice must come within 10 days of the FRA initiating a safety assessment and it must be sent to members of Congress, senators, and the relevant congressional committees. Once the safety assessment is completed, FRA has 90 days to inform those parties of the assessment’s findings, including specific defects and any recommendations to address them. An identical version of this bill was approved by the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and was passed by the House of Representatives without objection in the 115th Congress.
“I am pleased to introduce this bill to ensure that our constituents know when the railroad services they rely on are under audit for safety reasons,” said Sires. “Members of Congress and senators must know when and why these safety assessments are underway so that we may inform our constituents and work on ways to provide assistance.”
In the wake of the fatal New Jersey Transit accident in Hoboken which killed a young mother and injured 110 passengers and crew members, it was made public that the FRA had been conducting a “deep audit” on NJ Transit prompted by an increase in safety violations. At the time, this safety review was not known to relevant members of Congress or to the public who relied on NJ Transit to take them to work and bring them home safely every day.
Award-Winning Chef Jesse Jones comes to HCCC
The Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Foundation presents a five-course fundraiser – with wine pairings – prepared by Chef Jesse Jones. The cost is $75 per person. Proceeds will provide scholarships to deserving HCCC students. Reservations may be made by calling 201-360-4006.
Chef Jones’s “Southern Cooking with a Country French Twist” has earned him several awards, and has been enjoyed by celebrities such as John Legend, “Sunny” Hostin, Tyler Perry, and Michelle Williams. He is the author of “POW! My Life in 40 Feasts,” a memoir and cookbook.
The event will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in the HCCC Culinary Conference Center, 161 Newkirk Street in Jersey City.
Bill would assist disabled retired cops and firefighters
Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra Cunningham and Senator Jeff Van Drew, which would make disabled retired law enforcement officers and firefighters eligible for free tuition at public institutions of higher education, cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
The bill, S-2684, would make police officers and firefighters who retired in good standing due to a disability, eligible for free tuition. They could take up to 16 credits per semester tuition-free at New Jersey’s public colleges or proprietary institutions in the state.
To be eligible individuals would have to have retired because of a disability and have been a full-time officer for at least four years prior to becoming disabled. Officers would have to be accepted and in good standing, pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at the college. They would have to have applied for all available state and federal grants and scholarships.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0, and next heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.
Menendez introduces legislation to help community health centers
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that sets national health policy, introduced legislation to bolster New Jersey’s community health centers (CHCs) and expand access to vital heath care services for hundreds of thousands across the state. CHCs provide a full range of medical care from pediatric and women’s health care to behavioral health services and dental care, and are instrumental in the fight against New Jersey’s growing opioid epidemic.
The Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2019 would provide a five-year extension of mandatory CHC funding, which expires in September. New Jersey has 24 health centers operating 134 sites, providing preventative and primary health care services to nearly 538,000 individuals.
Lyft and KRE group launch ride-share partnership in Jersey City
KRE Group and Lyft announced a partnership in Jersey City that makes Lyft the official ride-share partner of 485 Marin—KRE’s newest luxury rental development. Lyft will provide tenants with special perks, including designated pickup zones and discounted rides, making 485 Marin the first residential building in Jersey City to offer these services.
485 Marin now appears in the Lyft app as a pickup destination in Jersey City. Lyft signage onsite identifies the building’s designated pickup and drop-off zones, making it easier for drivers and passengers to locate each other. Residents of 485 Marin will also receive a user code for 50 percent off all rides while supplies last for six months, followed by new user credits available for $5 off three rides after the initial six-month period ends.
New Jersey Leadership program opens applications for South Asian youth
The New Jersey Leadership Program (NJLP) announced the opening of its application for the NJLP 2019 Summer Fellowship Program. The fellowship seeks to expose South Asian youth in New Jersey to local government and politics. Applications are due by Friday, February 15, 2019; interested candidates can apply online at www.njlead.org.
The NJLP Fellowship is a six-week program in which youth of South Asian background in high school or college in New Jersey are placed in a full-time internship program with the Governor’s Office, State Agency, Member of Congress, or State Legislator. The Fellowship also offers weekly speakership series with elected officials, senior government staffers, business executives, nonprofit leaders, and others. There is also a field trip to Washington, D.C., career development workshops, networking events, and more.
More information about the NJLP Summer Fellowship Program can be found at www.njlead.org.