News

A bill to set the regulations for sports betting in New Jersey is advancing in the legislature and could be ready for the governor’s signature as early as Thursday. 

Bryan Seeley, the head of investigations for Major League Baseball, urged lawmakers to add provisions to the legislation that would enable sports leagues to get information from casinos to help detect possible corruption.

“Part of my job is to protect the fans of baseball in this state and I need tools to do that.”

But he got a chilly response from Assembly Gaming Committee chairman Ralph Caputo.

Incumbent democratic US Senator Bob Menendez is seeking a third term in office.  He’s a former mayor of Union City, turned congressman, now senator.  Menendez says he’s always fought for New Jersey families.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Toys R Us employees are getting ready to move on from their jobs, all stores are expected to close by June 30th. 33-year employee Cheryl Claude of South River, New Jersey has never worked anywhere else.

“I spent every holiday, leaving my kids home for the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, everything to be at work and give my one-hundred percent to get nothing is incredible.”

Other Toys R Us workers like Shkeanah Best are left with concerns.

Paradise Blue
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne goes off Broadway to review Paradise Blue, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Click above to hear Michael's review of the new jazz play.

Barbara Kukla
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Barbara Kukla has written seven books about the people of Newark including the latest, Newark Women: From Suffragettes to the Statehouse.

Before her retirment from newspaper writing in 2004, Kukla spent 43 years as a journalist, most of the that at The Star-Ledger, where she first served as a general assingment reporter and Sunday city editor.

Many of her books have been focused on the jazz scene in Newark.

Lauren Pritchard
Cassie Galasetti for WBGO News

Songbird premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 to much critical acclaim, earning a New York Times Critic's Pick. 

Now the musical, written by Michael Kimmel along with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard, is gearing up for its run at Two River Theater in Red Bank.

Pritchard, who starred as Ilse in the original cast of Spring Awakening on Broadway in 2006 and performs now as LOLO, sat down recently with WBGO's News Director Doug Doyle to talk about Songbird and her career. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Of the hundreds of thousands of American student-athletes that hope to break into professional sports, about one-percent make a living out of it.  

“Out of all of the people in here, how many do you think will actually make it to the pros?” asked a student from West Side High School. 

New York Giants safety Michael Thomas told students it starts with a strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom.

Paul Schrade
Jon Kalish for WBGO

We recently told you about an archive in Massachusetts dedicated to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the authors who relied on it. Their books are being published to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death, which will be marked early next month. 

A labor activist in Los Angeles who was wounded during the assassination remains a skeptic that Sirhan Sirhan was the sole assassin.

Click above to hear WBGO's Jon Kalish's feature on Paul Schrade.

Solo
Harlan Jacobson for WBGO

WBGO film critic Harlan Jacobson has just returned from the 71st Cannes Film. It’s the highest platform for film art on Planet Earth.  One of the films he saw there had some familiarity to it to say the least.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the 10th installment in George Lucas’ saga begun in 1977.

Even the title is generic: Solo: A Star Wars Story. That’s like “Memorial Day Sale at General Motors: A Sedan!”

Ang Santos / WBGO

New York City is ranked 9th on The Trust for Public Land annual ParkScore index.  They rate park systems based on access, size, investment, amenities.

“How many residents live within a ten-minute walk of a park, spending per resident, and a bunch of what we call amenities, basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds, recreation and senior centers, and splash pads,” said Adrian Benepe, Senior Vice President with The Trust For Public Land.

Jersey City fell 13 spots to 53rd.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether the voting machines now used in the state should be replaced by a paper ballot system using electronic scanners.

Princeton University computer science professor Andrew Appel says the voting machines are vulnerable to hacking.

“So we should run our elections in a way that can detect and correct for computer hacking without having to put all our trust in computers. Therefore, we cannot use paperless touchscreen voting computers. They’re a fatally flawed technology.”

The election for a U-S Senate seat from New Jersey could be a close contest.

A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of registered voters shows incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez with only a four-point lead over Republican candidate Bob Hugin.

Poll director Krista Jenkins says the Senate Ethics Committee’s admonishment of Menendez for taking gifts from a wealthy doctor is weighing on his re-election efforts even though he was not convicted when put on trial for corruption.

An announcement from WBGO, WNYC and WHYY concerning the Ask Governor Murphy program:

Tonight’s edition of Ask  Governor Murphy, a statewide, bimonthly program designed to give New Jersey residents an opportunity to talk to Governor Phil Murphy about their concerns, has been cancelled.

Governor Murphy’s office made this decision after WBGO, WHYY and WNYC — the public radio stations that serve New Jersey and are co-producers of the program — declined a request to remove a reporter from a panel that would be asking the governor questions during one segment.

The official overseeing the $283 million renovation of the executive branch portion of the New Jersey Statehouse says everything is on schedule and under budget.

Raymond Arcario, the executive director of the New Jersey Building Authority, says about 15 to 20 percent of the work on the project has been done.

Legislation that won unanimous approval in the New Jersey Assembly would extend anti-nepotism rules to the state’s public and charter schools.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty says taxpayers deserve every assurance that the people charged with educating their children attained their positions because of what they know, not who they know.

Some public employees in New Jersey have been getting big payouts for unused sick time when they retire.

State workers have had a $15,000 cap on those payouts for decades. A limit that also applies to county and local employees hired since 2010.

A bill advancing the legislature would put impose some new restrictions.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says there would be no cash payout for leave time accrued after the enactment of her bill, but up to $7500 of the amount that was built up could be used for health care expenses for up to five years.

Ratepayer subsidies totaling up to $300 million a year will help keep three nuclear plants open in South Jersey now that Governor Phil Murphy has signed the controversial legislation.

Murphy says the legislation will protect the viability of the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants.

“To reach our clean energy goals we will need to keep these plants open and safely operational. They not only produce 40 percent of our power but as of today 90 percent of our clean energy.”

Updated at 12:50 a.m. ET

Philip Roth, whose novel American Pastoral won a Pulitzer in 1998 but who was best-known for the controversial and explicit 1969 Portnoy's Complaint, has died at age 85.

Roth's biographer Blake Bailey, who confirmed his death to NPR, says the author was surrounded by friends and family.

New Jersey lawmakers have ended their public hearings on Governor Murphy’s proposed budget and are now hoping an agreement is reached to get the budget enacted by the June 30th deadline.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo does not believe there will be a stalemate in budget talks that lead to a state government shutdown.

“Well I don’t think we’re that far off. I mean we’re making progress. Discussions are continuing and ongoing. I am confident that we’re not going to get to a situation that we had last year.”

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Senate would require that state parks, recreation areas and historic sites remain open to the public for 7 days if a stalemate over enacting a state budget results in a government shutdown.

Drew Tompkins with the Keep It Green Coalition says those public places should not be held hostage to budget negotiations.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit public schools and universities from selling food and beverages in Styrofoam containers.

Henry Gajda with the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters told lawmakers it takes about 500 years for a Styrofoam cup to biodegrade.

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal says check for ticks after being out in wooded areas.  Tick-borne illness is on the rise. 

“Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are active during the spring, summer, and the fall.  But May, June, and July are the peak seasons, the peak months rather for transmission of tick-borne illness,” said Elnahal.  “5,000 cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed in New Jersey last year.  The highest total since the year 2000.  Morris and Hunterdon County top the list in terms of the number of cases.”

Saint Joan
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater Critic Michael Bourne has enjoyed this year's jam-packed revival display on and off Broadway.

Click above to hear Michael's full rundown of shows that are worth your time and money.

Should Tackle Football Begin With Teenage Years?

May 18, 2018
Trey Schneider
Scott Pringle for WBGO News (used with parent's permission)

A New Jersey lawmaker has recently introduced a bill that bans children under the age of 12 from playing tackle football in the Garden State.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle points to studies that show brain injuries at a young age can have devastating effects later in life. Her legislation would limit children under 12 to just flag or touch football.

Just the thought of tacking tackle out of one of America’s most popular sports has outraged Sal, who coaches his child. “It’s horrible, why would we let the politicians decide what our kids are allowed to play.”

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would expand Medicaid coverage to help smokers quit.

Corrine Orlando with the American Heart Association says about 14 percent of Medicaid recipients in New Jersey smoke.

"It remains the one preventable cause of death and the New Jersey Medicaid program spends over a billion dollars a year just treating smoking related illnesses."

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is also a doctor. He says easier access to tobacco cessation services could decrease hospital admissions.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation to ensure the nearly 600,000 residents who do freelance work are treated fairly.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says his bill would require businesses that have a written contract with a freelance worker to compensate them no later than 30 days after they complete the job.

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of civil rights groups in New Jersey seeks to have the courts strike down provisions of state education law.

Retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein chairs the Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools. He says the lawsuit challenges the segregation of public and charter schools by race, ethnicity, and poverty.

“New Jersey’s public school segregation results from a long standing failure of state educational policy that legally and morally indefensible.”

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent your internet service provider from sharing your personal information without first getting your written permission.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says it’s a significant issue.

“Not only is our data being sold and used and they’re targeting us for advertisements. But our personal information is used for identity theft so this is a really big thing. This is about our banking. This is about our personal privacy.”

Zwicker says some internet service providers oppose his bill.

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Sheila Oliver told lawmakers the state is making efforts to help families who are still not back home five-and-a-half years after Superstorm Sandy damaged their primary residence.

Oliver, who also serves as New Jersey’s Lt. Governor, says the state has $1.2 billion dollars left of the $4 billion in Sandy recovery aid it got from the federal government.

New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor says she believes the state’s intervention in Atlantic City is working and the city’s worst days are over.

Sheila Oliver, who also serves as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, says 18-months of state oversight have helped Atlantic City make progress in dealing with its debt, its health and pension obligations, and its ability to attract investment in new development projects.

Oliver says continued stability requires both budget and management discipline.

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