News

Legislative leaders in New Jersey canceled a scheduled vote Monday on a plan to legalize recreational marijuana, citing a lack of support from members.

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said the Senate specifically did not have enough votes to pass the legislation, but the Assembly also called off its planned vote.

“I might’ve underestimated the challenge in getting this passed,” Sweeney said. “We’re postponing today. But that does in no way mean that we have failed or that we’re walking away from it.”

Tom Brady. NyQuil. Blue Magic.

New Jersey law enforcement authorities are urging heroin users to ditch their drugs if they see any packages stamped with these logos.

“Please, please, stay away from it. Your next fix could very likely be your last,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal at a Thursday press conference.

The unusual warning followed what authorities said was a major bust of a heroin production facility at a luxury apartment in Harrison in North Jersey.

Officials estimated it was churning out 15,000 doses of fentanyl-laced heroin every day.

Fiddler
Playbill.com

One revival is less than perfect but better than all the new shows he’s seen this season, and a very different revival is the best show he’s seen (so far). 

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews Merrily We Roll Along, and Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish.

Click above to hear both reviews.

Film Critic Harlan Jacobson Reviews Jordan Peele's "Us"

Mar 22, 2019
Jordan Peele
Harlan Jacobson for WBGO News

Ever since The Blair Witch Project in 1999, the indie art-house horror film has been making a steady comeback. Get Out in 2017, by actor turned director Jordan Peele, was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Director, leading actor, and won Best Original Screenplay. Peele’s back. Our Film Critic Harlan Jacobson went to the SXSW Fest in Austin to see his new film, US, which opens this weekend. 

It’s been a little more than seven years since New Jersey’s Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment law, or POSLT was signed by former Governor Chris Christie, empowering patients to work with their preferred medical professional to create advance directives.  But still people end up in hospitals with no living will.  The Governor's Advisory Council Report on End of Life Care says more than a quarter of adults, including seniors, have no documentation available if they're not able to make healthcare decisions for themselves.

Advocates on either side of New Jersey’s school funding debate made their views clear in Trenton Wednesday, as legislators kicked off their first round of public hearings on the next fiscal year’s budget.

Although the meetings are open to anyone who wants to speak, testimony was dominated by those weighing in on recent changes to the state’s school funding formula, which reduced aid to some districts and increased it to others.

The New York State Legislature has passed a bill to expand the use of speed cameras in New York City school zones.  

The bill would add roughly 600 school zone speed cameras across New York City, while increasing the enforcement period time, 6am to 10pm.

New Jersey has become the second state to ban “cashless” businesses. Proponents characterize it as an attempt to ensure that consumers without credit cards can participate in the economy.

It comes at a time when retailers such as Amazon are rolling out cashless stores that only accept credit cards in the name of efficiency.

Ang Santos / WBGO News

Host Michael Hill of NJTV will be joined by Mayor Ras Baraka, talking State of The City 2019 on the heels of the Mayor's address. We'll be exploring key aspects of Mayor Baraka's agenda including Universal Basic Income, establishing a Co-Op Company Owned by Reentry Employees, the push to expunge all marijuana convictions as part of the state's legalization legislation, and the newly announced $75 million program to replace lead service lines throughout the city.

Two key committees in the New Jersey Legislature have approved bills to legalize recreational marijuana and allow past offenders to expunge their criminal records.

Gov. Phil Murphy and top Democrats in the Legislature have long agreed on legalization in principle but had been negotiating the details of such legislation for months.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee held votes on the two bills late Monday night, following hours of delays and last-minute amendments to the legislation.

Law enforcement officials in New Jersey have announced the first criminal charges filed under the state’s new “ghost gun” law.

Signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in November, the law bans manufacturers from selling partially assembled guns that can be built into fully functional, untraceable firearms.

Cory Booker
Joe Hernandez for WBGO News

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., all but confirmed he would pick a woman as his vice president if he won the Democratic nomination for president.

“No matter what — I’m looking you in the eye and saying this — there will be a woman on the ticket,” Booker told the crowd at the Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon.

“I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or the president’s position, but if I have my way, there will be a woman on the ticket,” he added.

Mary Lane
www.icanonlybemarylane.com

The 10th annual Women In Media-Newark Women's History Month Film Fest runs from March 27 through April 5.  WBGO News Director Doug Doyle spoke with the directors of two of the festival's outstanding films.

Being Gladys will be screened March 27 at the Newark Museum.  I Can Only Be Mary Lane will be shown at WBGO on April 5.

Cher
thechershowbroadway.com

Theater critic Michael Bourne enjoyed "The Cher Show" on Broadway, mostly because he thinks Cher was an interesting person.  He wasn't as impressed as the teenagers were beside him while watching "Be More Chill."

Click above to hear both reviews.

Ask Governor Murphy
WBGO WHYY WNYC

The latest edition of Ask Governor Murphy focused on several issues, including the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey, why some school districts are seeing drastic cuts in funding through the proposed state budget and what is being done to improve NJ Transit.

Ask Governor Murphy is a WBGO News production in collaboration with WNYC and WHYY.  The show is hosted by Nancy Solomon.

Click above to hear the entire show.

The man at the center of a hiring scandal in New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration said Tuesday he did not know who approved him for a job in state government months after a colleague accused him of rape. He has denied the allegation.

Ang Santos / WBGO

The City of Newark is set to replace up to 1,500 lead service lines over the next year. 

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe says the state will work with Newark to replace roughly 15,000 lead service lines.  The Lead Service Line Replacement Program is expected to cost about $75 million over eight years.

“At his point our infrastructure is decaying, and these pipes need to be replaced with newer, safer, and more reliable materials, but that’s expensive,” she said.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka delivered his first State of the City address since being reelected last May, with a message highlighting investment in the city and its children, while defending an increase in development.

Amazon passed on Newark as a location for its new headquarters, but Baraka says the consideration was a major victory and believes opponents were wrongheaded for being skeptical. 

New Jersey’s perennial quest to find new sources of revenue has returned to a familiar idea: selling ads on state government websites.

A proposal in the state Legislature would allow the New Jersey Lottery and the state Economic Development Authority to sell ad space on their sites to raise money for the state budget.

“We struggle with funds as a state being dedicated and not having enough money in the till,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, D-Passaic, one of the bill’s sponsors.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a plan to offer parole to older inmates who are imprisoned for less serious crimes. The move could save the state millions of dollars and extend compassion to offenders who are not a public safety threat, they said. 

If signed into law, New Jersey would be the 18th state to offer “geriatric parole.”

New Jersey’s Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Thursday evening that would dramatically expand the state’s statute of limitations for sexual assault, allowing survivors to file civil lawsuits against their abusers for conduct that took place years or even decades earlier.

The upvote on a bill that had stalled in the Legislature in previous years came after hours of raw testimony from survivors about the abuse they had endured and the struggles of seeking justice with the state’s two-year limit.

A possible fight over transportation funding in New Jersey’s next state budget could end before it really started.

In his second state budget proposal Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy suggested increasing New Jersey Transit’s funding by $25 million.

The proposal prompted immediate pushback from Democrats in the Legislature, with whom Murphy will have to negotiate in order to pass his budget plan.

State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he wanted to see even more money funneled into the ailing transit agency.

Gov. Phil Murphy is again calling for New Jersey to raise its income tax rate on millionaires, a proposal that was shot down last year by legislative Democrats as the state hurtled toward a government shutdown.

In his second proposed budget, which he announced Tuesday, Murphy suggested expanding the state’s highest income tax bracket of 10.75 percent to include anyone making more than $1 million per year.

Murphy predicts it would mean additional $447 million if the state expanded its highest income tax brackets.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday that medical experts can testify about whether they believe plaintiffs are malingering, or faking the symptoms of an injury for personal gain.

Although such testimony was already occurring in civil cases across the state, the ruling formalizes the acceptance of testimony on malingering in New Jersey and sets standards for how it’s applied.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wants municipal control of the MTA.

“Municipal control means saying goodbye to the MTA,” he said during his first State of the City address.

Johnson calls the new proposed agency Big Apple Transit. He says the MTA’s current structure has too many decision makers.  In his plan, responsibility would fall on the mayor’s shoulders.

Brian Taylor
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Brian Taylor is one of the greatest basketball players to ever come out of New Jersey, still ranked in the Top 25 on the Garden State's high school all-time scoring list.

The "BT Express" was a star at Perth Amboy High School and Princeton University.  He would leave the Tigers program early to join the professional ranks.

Taylor would become the ABA's Rookie of the Year with the New York Nets, a team he helped win two ABA championships alongside Julius "Dr. J." Erving. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

New Jersey Transit bus operators are calling for several protocols they say would improve their safety if a passenger gets physical.  

A recently introduced federal law, the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act, would set aside $125 million for bus safety improvements and programs.  Ray Greaves with the Amalgamated Transit Union says operators across the country have little protection from violent passengers.

A new study predicts that back bay areas along New Jersey’s coastline could incur billions of dollars in property damage over 50 years if nothing is done to protect them.

The study, conducted by the Army Corp of Engineers with funding from the state Department of Environmental Protection, assessed the flood risk to back bay towns and suggested ways to bolster them against damage caused by future storms.

Officials calculated the value of property in New Jersey’s 84 back bay municipalities and projected how much storm damage could occur over the next half-century.

Martin Moran
Cassie Galasetti for WBGO News

The world premiere of Martin Moran's Theo renders the complexity of living with humor and truth.  Moran sat down recently with WBGO's Doug Doyle at Two River Theater in Red Bank to discuss his new five person play.

Moran's highly acclaimed solo shows The Tricky Part and All The Rage were also performed at Two River.  Moran is an Obie Award winner, but he has also performed in many Broadways shows including Titanic The Musical, Wicked, Spamelot and Cabaret.  He has a love for both writing and acting/singing.

Luge
Jon Kalish for WBGO News

All around the Northeast, nearly every town has a great hill for sledding.  A place where you can pick up a bit of speed, and go for a ride on the snow. But imagine if the best sledding hill in town was an immaculately-groomed, 150 foot vertical drop down a winding luge run. WBGO’s Jon Kalish found just such a hill in rural New Hampshire.

Click above to hear Jon's report on all the fun.

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