News

Wil Haygood: Racism and The Academy Awards

Feb 23, 2017
Wil Haygood
Allan Wolper for WBGO

Author Wil Haygood believes that Hollywood is finally becoming emancipated.

Haygood had accused the Academy Awards in 2014 of being “culturally  biased” against African American actors and filmmakers when it declined to give a single nomination to the critically praised ,The Butler, the story based on the life of Eugene Allen, a black butler in the White House who served eight presidents.

Advocates want Christie to abandon his 'fairness formula'
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver his final budget address to the New Jersey legislature next week. Education and civil rights advocates hope it won't include his so-called 'fairness formula'.

Betsy Ginsburg with the Garden State Coalition of Schools hopes Christie abandons his proposal to provide the same amount of per pupil funding to all school districts.

"We believe that it is a misconceived band-aid solution for high suburban property taxes that will trigger a fatal educational hemorrhage in the state's poorest districts."

NJ Residents Open To Alternatives To The ER

Feb 22, 2017

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that most New Jersey residents are treated by private physicians, but they're open to other options.

3 percent say they go to an urgent care facility for treatment all of the time, while 46 percent do some of the time.

Linda Schwimmer is the President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. She says urgent care centers are a better alternative than an E-R when your doctor's unavailable.

Spotswood resident Keesha Sanchez testifies at review panel hearing.
Phil Gregory

Patients with illnesses not eligible for New Jersey's medical marijuana program are urging the list of qualifying conditions be expanded.

41-year-old Keesha Sanchez from Spotswood has RSD, a condition that causes severe burning pain in her arms and legs. She'd like to try medical marijuana in hopes of some relief.

"There's days that I wake up and the swelling that are in my feet that I can't walk. My husband has carried me to the bathroom, carried me to bed. I have two children. I've lost the last three years from this progression."

Opponents Rally Against Pinelands Pipeline

Feb 21, 2017
Opponents rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

A few dozen environmental activists rallied in front of New Jersey's Statehouse to oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline though the Pinelands.

The proposed 21-mile pipeline is part of a South Jersey Gas project to convert the B.L. England generating plant from coal and oil to natural gas.

Dave Pringle with New Jersey Clean Water Action says a vote by the Pinelands Commission to approve the project would violate its comprehensive management plan to protect the heavily forested area that's an important natural resource.

NJ Advocates Fighting To Preserve Obamacare

Feb 21, 2017
Ray Castro is an analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective
Phil Gregory

Those in New Jersey striving to preserve the Affordable Care Act say it's the political fight of a generation.

Maura Collinsgru leads the New Jersey for Health Care coalition. She says repealing Obamacare without an adequate replacement would threaten every community.

"The loss of federal funds, jobs, and coverage losses will harm not only already struggling families. It will strain the resources of state, county and local governments."

Lamoureux
USA Hockey for WBGO

Many refer to two-time Olympic silver medalists Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux as just "The Twins."  They seem to be okay with that even though they are both married now.  They realize people will group the Team USA hockey players together for obvious reasons, especially since they've been teammates all their lives.  The twins from Grand Forks, North Dakota joined Hilary Knight and Meghan Duggan on a recent promotional tour of New York City.

Sarah Vrablik / Speckle Photo

A New Jersey woman has found a unique way to raise awareness of her heart condition. 

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition, thickens the walls of the heart and disrupts blood flow in the body.  If it goes undetected or mistreated, it becomes life threatening.  Such is the case for Lisa Salberg of Rockaway Township, whose family has battled HCM for generations.

Ishmael Martinez / WBGO

There were 163 reported protests, riots, rebellions, and uprisings across the United States in the summer of '67.  No communities more impacted than Detroit and Newark.  Max Herman is the author of ‘Summer of Rage: An Oral History of the 1967 Newark and Detroit Riots’.  He says that year is difficult for many residents of both cities to revisit.

“In Newark it has been commemorated but in Detroit, I think for the first time they’re having a program this summer,” Herman said.

Ang Santos / WBGO

It’s been over twenty years since the state took control of Newark Public School’s because of low graduation rates and overall poor student performance.  It’s been a rocky road for the city’s education system since, and many residents believe not much has changed over the course of time.

At First Avenue School in Newark’s North Ward, about 100 city residents gathered to hear Mayor Ras Baraka’s latest updates on regaining local control of schools.  They had their own concerns.

Indian Head
Luna Stage for WBGO

Indian Head is a provocative play by Obie Award-Winner Nikkole Salter.   Indian Head was commissioned in partnership with the NJPAC Stage Exchange, a program of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It is currently wowing audiences at Luna Stage in West Orange, New Jersey.

UNCF's Vaughn McKoy chats with WBGO's Alexandra Hill about the organization's efforts to address the current crisis in black education, and their ongoing mission to provide college scholarships and opportunities to African-American students. 

Christie Moving Ahead With Statehouse Renovations

Feb 16, 2017
New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is moving ahead with a $300 million dollar renovation of the New Jersey Statehouse.

Christie says the building constructed in 1792 is falling apart and workers have covered some of the windows with plywood.

"Those windows are boarded up now because those windows were judged when they were inspected to be ready to fall out of the building. So, we're boarding them up and the fact is that this is an unsafe building for all of us to be operating in it every day."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey judge has ruled a criminal case against Governor Christie involving the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge can go forward.

Municipal court judge Roy McGeady determined there’s probable cause to believe Christie knew the lane restrictions were more than just a routine traffic study.

The complaint filed by former firefighter William Brennan accuses Christie of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor’s reelection campaign.

Christie Signs Law To Combat Opioid Addiction

Feb 15, 2017
Christie signs the legislation at the Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation intended to curb the opioid addiction epidemic.

The law limits initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and mandates that state-regulated health insurers cover six-months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.

Christie says he's not sure how much that will cost.

"Because you don't know how many people are going to take advantage of this and utilization is going to drive a lot regarding the costs. But the fact is whatever the cost is of this it's certainly less than 1600 lives a year."

NJ Assembly Votes To Expand 'Joan's Law'

Feb 15, 2017
Rosemarie D'Alessandro
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that calls for life imprisonment without parole for the murder of anyone under the age of 18 during commission of a sex crime.

The measure expands what's known as Joan's Law, named for a 7-year-old Hillsdale girl who was sexually assaulted and killed by a neighbor in 1973.

Her mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro, says the denial of parole eligibility now applies to such crimes involving victims under 14.

Entrepreneur Shares Wisdom at Berkeley College

Feb 15, 2017
Ang Santos / WBGO

Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO of the Newark based national consulting firm BCT Partners won season four of the reality television ‘The Apprentice’.  He visited Berkeley College in Woodland Park to share his experience in business with students for the school’s Black History Month speaker’s series.

So what advice does the CEO of a billion-dollar company give to college students? Pinkett says to find your passion.

MLB Network in Secaucus hosted this month's launch of the 2017 Topps Baseball Card Series.

Through a partnership with the Network, Topps has included a set of cards of several MLB Network personalities and analysts including broadcaster and studio host Greg Amsinger.  Amsinger was thrilled to be included in the new set:

Bill Would Require Water Loss Audits

Feb 14, 2017

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would require water companies to determine how much water is lost because of leaks and breaks in aging pipes every year.

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Larry Levin told an Assembly committee such audits can guide efforts to control water loss.

"There are 130 million gallons of treated drinking water we estimate lost each day across the state. And of that about 50 million gallons per day valued at $10 million a year are likely to be cost effective for utilities to reduce to solve that loss."

Council On Local Mandates Considers Bail Reform Case

Feb 14, 2017
NJ Association of Counties executive director John Donnadio
Phil Gregory

The Council on Local Mandates hears oral arguments tomorrow on a motion by the state of New Jersey to dismiss a challenge of the bail reform law that took effect in January.

The New Jersey Association of Counties claims the law is an unconstitutional unfunded state mandate because counties have had to spend more than $35 million on personnel and improvements to implement it.

In December the council denied the counties' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

Bill Would End PARCC Test Graduation Requirement

Feb 13, 2017

A New Jersey Assembly committee wants to end a requirement that high school students pass the standardized PARCC test to graduate.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey says she introduced the measure because she believes regulations adopted by the state Board of Education last year are inconsistent with legislative intent.

"The PARCC exams to my understanding were always meant to assess and inform instruction, not to make decisions about graduation."

Jamie and Christopher Bruesehoff
Phil Gregory

A package of bills advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would give transgender residents some protections against discrimination.

The measures help establish a transgender equality task force, provide access to business assistance programs, and prohibit health insurers from denying coverage based on gender identity.

Vernon resident Jamie Bruesehoff has a 10 year-old transgender daughter.

Hilary Knight
Fox Sports

The USA Women’s National Hockey team is now less than a year away from the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea.  The team's goal is clear, WIN THE GOLD MEDAL. Two-time Olympic silver medalists Hilary Knight and twins Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux sat down with me during their media tour of NYC last week…Meghan Duggan was also on the trip.

Mark Krasovic
Doug Doyle for WBGO

The 37th annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture Series is February 18th at the Paul Robeson Campus Center at Rutgers University-Newark.  The series was founded by the late Dr. Clement A. Price and Giles Wright. 

This year's MTW is once again being put together by Mark Krasovic, an assistant professor of history and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.  Krasovic is also the interim director of the Clement A. Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.

The theme of this year's one-day event is City Moves: Black Urban History Since 1967.

John Bolger and Suzzanne Douglas
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Stage and screen stars Suzzanne Douglas and John Bolger return to George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ for the award-winning play American Son, which runs through February 26th.

Douglas is returning to GSP for the sixth time.  She plays Kendra Ellis-Connor.  Bolger plays her estranged husband, Scott Connor.  Their son Jamal's car has been pulled over in the middle of the night and the Connors can't get any answers about his whereabouts. 

Douglas says her character fights like a tiger to save her son:

Assemblyman John McKeon
Phil Gregory

An Assembly committee will consider legislation on Monday that would require candidates for President to disclose their federal income tax returns to get on New Jersey's ballot.

Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns during the Presidential campaign.

Assemblyman John McKeon says his bill is intended to make sure that doesn't happen in the future.

"I think it's very important from a transparency perspective for the voters to have that information and if our society norms aren't going to force the issue, then we need to do so as a matter of law."

Christie Signs Sandy Foreclosure Bill

Feb 10, 2017
Sandy-damaged homes.
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie has signed legislation to prevent mortgage foreclosures on homes damaged more than four years ago by Superstorm Sandy.

Amanda Devecka-Rinear directs the New Jersey Organizing Project founded by those affected by Sandy. She's relieved the governor approved the measure.

"I am so incredibly glad that we're going to see some relief for families. I am only sad that this didn't pass even two years ago because I know as many people as it will help there are a number of families for whom this is too late."

Most NJ Voters Not Sure Who Next Governor Should Be

Feb 9, 2017
Governor's office entrance
Phil Gregory

The primary election in New Jersey's governor's race is four months away.

Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll director Krista Jenkins says most registered voters are unsure who should replace Governor Chris Christie.

“50 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans say they don’t have a clue with about 1 in 7 in both groups who would prefer someone other than those who have already declared or are at least thinking about throwing their hats into the ring.”

Faith Leaders Open Doors To Fearful Immigrants

Feb 9, 2017
Ken Downey Jr. / WBGO

“Build community. Not a wall,” was what echoed down Broad Street, Thursday morning, as a bit over a hundred people gathered in protest of President Trump’s executive order, in front of Grace Church in Newark. Grace Church, which stands on the corner of Broad Street and Walnut since 1837, is directly adjacent to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building. The rally that began around 9 a.m. brought in several members from various religions that offered their support to immigrants. 

Phil Gregory

Mayors who held their annual meeting with legislative leaders at the New Jersey Statehouse want to know how funding for transportation projects will be distributed.

Fanwood Mayor Coleen Mahr says a case-by-case process is not the way to determine if the state will reimburse a municipality for costs resulting from Governor Christie's shutdown of road projects during last year's impasse on replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund.

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