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May   9

A New Mayor For Newark

Blainenewark004_1 Don't expect bicycle rides or other politics unusual today (sigh). Voters in Newark are at the polls choosing their next mayor - and for the first time in 20 years, it won't be Sharpe James. It's no Street Fight, but former councilman Cory Booker, who has a sizeable following in Baristaville, faces off with state senator and former deputy mayor Ronald L. Rice. Businessman David Blount,  and Socialist Worker's Party candidate Nancy Rosenstock are also on the ballot. Here's how the candidates spent the end of their respective campaigns. From The Star Ledger:

Booker spent most of the day in meetings and giving interviews to media members outside his Central Ward headquarters on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. He talked about the changes he plans to make in a city that has seen marked improvements in tBookersign2_1 he last 20 years but still struggles with basic issues such as safety and providing services to residents.

Rice dashed around the city and continued to characterize Booker as an inexperienced outsider who will be in debt to the campaign donors who gave him a record $6 million. Rice says he wrote many of the laws Booker wants to use to improve the city. Why not hire the man who wrote them? Rice has asked.

May 9, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

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May   4

25 Foot Smoking Buffer Zone Up In Smoke

Smoke When smokers step outside for a puff, they won't need to take a hike after all.  Strong protests from New Jersey's restaurant industry against a proposed 25 foot smoke free buffer zone may have snuffed out the proposed regulation. From the Express Times:

State officials are backing off a plan to create smoker-free zones within 25 feet of private businesses and public buildings.

"I thought that perhaps it was something local businesses and municipalities should deal with themselves," state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred Jacobs said Wednesday.

Jacobs is responsible for drafting regulations to go along with the Clean Air Act that took effect April 15. The law is designed to protect New Jersey residents from the effects of secondhand smoke and bans cigarette smoking in public places. The legislation makes New Jersey the 11th state with such a ban, joining Delaware and New York, among others.

Instead of the 25-foot proposed rule, business owners and municipalities have the right to set their own rules, provided they don't harm the public's health, Jacobs said.

"The staff have discussed it and agree (secondhand smoke) is a public health issue. But 25 feet from the door is probably in the street, maybe in front of a neighbor's business. The absolute number is difficult to enforce and unnecessary," Jacobs said.

May 4, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (35)

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April  27

Izo Factor Approved: One In Seven

After months of debate to come up with a building standard that will maintain economic diversity, Montclair town council came up with the formula for the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. Tuesday night's vote means developers will be required to build one affordable housing unit for every six homes selling at market rate.  From the Montclair Times:

The law, which has been amended several times since it was proposed last year by the Montclair Housing Commission (MHC), mandates that certain housing units remain perpetually affordable. It pertains to residents who earn between 50 and 80 percent of the area medium income.

The ordinance, considered vital in maintaining reasonably priced homes in the midst of Montclair’s booming real estate market, applies to all new residential developments, including the creation of cooperatives and condomini-ums.

The one-in-seven-units is a more aggressive version of the council’s initial proposal of one affordable unit for every nine market-rate homes built.

Developers will have to pay a fee of $180,000 per six units, effectively meaning that someone constructing one single-family home would have to pay one-sixth of every unit built, or $30,000, to a fund controlled by the munici-pal government to assist in the creation of affordable housing. If a developer builds an apartment, then the IZO fee would be $15,000.

April 27, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (48)

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April  25

Everything You Wanted To Know: Avian Flu

Currently there is no vaccine available against the Avian Flu. Trevor J. Weigle, Health Officer at the Bloomfield Health Department wants you to come to a community preparedness meeting to discuss  Avian Flu and pandemic flu. He'll explain how the Bloomfield health department is preparing for it, and what individuals can do to prevent it. Then there's a chance to clear up any misconceptions and get more info during a Q&A with a panel of health experts. You have two chances to attend:

Tonight, April 25, 7-9 pm: Watsessing School, Prospect and Locust Streets, Bloomfield.

Thursday, April 27, 7-9 pm: Fairview School,  Mongomery and Berkeley Streets, Bloomfield.

For more information: Bloomfield Health Department, (973) 680-4026.

April 25, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6)

daily dish

April  14

More Controversy At Woodman Field

Acf56c1First there were were the trees. Now it's the proposed sports complex at Montclair's Woodman Field that has some residents reeling. Jim Langell, a member of the Woodman Field Neighbor's Association (WFNA) who takes issue with the building of the 4200 square foot gym, writes:

On Monday, April 17th, the BOE will go in front of the planning board to formally present plans for the new Fuzzy Furlong Field House at Woodman Field.  The expenditure for this project is $4.5 million with the taxpayer burden being $1.5 million, due to the donation from the Furlong Family.  These funds will build new locker rooms, a reception room a 4200 ft workout gym, new bathrooms and a parking lot.

In true BOE fashion, no soil testing has been conducted yet either, even after contamination was found less than fifty feet away at the same site, delaying the completion at Fortunato and sending it way over budget.

The facility does need women’s lockers.  The bathrooms will be very helpful at Football games, the parking will get better. The question is do we need to build this 4200 sq. ft. gym?

Meanwhile, another resident, Nancy Iannace,  emailed WFNA members outlining some of the "neighborhood issues that surround this project": all night lighting, increased traffic, lack of adequate sidewalks, and the tax dollars needed to provide new equipment, staff salaries, maintenance, and landscaping.

Monday's meeting with the BOE and town planning board is at 6:30 p.m., First floor Council Chambers, 205 Claremont Ave. Let's hear all sides of the debate. Those in favor, against, or on the fence, take it away...

April 14, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (103)

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April  13

Train Station Reconstruction Temporarily Derailed


Have you been wondering what's holding up reconstruction of the Upper Montclair Train Station, destroyed in a blaze February 5? Apparently, repairs are being held up because the town can't figure out just how much the station was insured for. From the Montclair Times:

Nearly three months after a fire severely damaged the Upper Montclair Train Station, restoration is slightly further down the tracks.

Before developers can be contracted and blueprints approved, the municipality must determine the amount for which the historic building was insured.

“Our understanding is the [municipality’s] carrier agreed to provide coverage, and they are working out the details,” NJ Transit spokesperson Penny Bassett-Hackett said.   

A Reconstruction Task Force will be meeting for the next six months to consider options for the historic site, most recently occupied by restaurant Round Trip Fare. Not that they asked for our opinion,  but what would you like to see at the rebuilt station ?

April 13, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (75)

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April  11

New Jersey: A List We Don’t Want To Top

New Jersey may soon move up in national rankings – but in a category that we don’t care to lead.  From the Asbury Park Press:

New Jerseyans, already among the most taxed in the nation, could be moving closer to another undesirable ranking.

Gov. Corzine's plan to increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent would rocket the state toward the top of a national ranking that calculates how much each person, on average, pays in sales taxes.

Corzine's current budget proposal would put New Jersey behind only Vermont, Nevada, West Virginia, New Hampshire and Connecticut when it comes to most state sales tax collections per person, as measured by the Census Bureau. Currently, the state ranks 16th highest.

New Jersey already has the highest property taxes, 15th highest income taxes and fifth highest corporate taxes, based on Census Bureau per-person calculations.

Corzine’s proposal also lists some unlikely new targets for sales tax: golf and health club membership fees, landscaping, shipping and handling, self-storage, private investigators and downloaded music and videos.

Private investigators?  Yeah, it’s right up there with golf club memberships. You have to wonder how much extra revenue that one will bring in…

April 11, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (97)

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April   6

Montclair Rally To Save Darfur

Darfur_rallyThis Sunday, April 9, the Essex County Interfaith Coalition for Darfur urges you to attend the Save Darfur Rally at Watchung Plaza, Montclair from 2-3:30 p.m.  Learn how you can help end the genocide that has claimed more than 400,000 lives and displaced an estimated 2 million people in the Darfur region of Sudan. Listen to speakers from the Darfur Rehabilitation Project, American Jewish World Service, Church World Service, Help Darfur Now, United Jewish Communities/Metro West, and more.  Mayor Ed Remsen, Congressman Bill Pascrell, and Governor Jon Corzine are expected to speak as well. “Darfur is rightly placed in the other horrendous genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries,” Jeffrey B. Plaut, a Montclair resident who helped organize the rally, told the Montclair TImes.

Many local religious leaders, groups from Montclair State University, Montclair High School and other student organizations are expected to attend the event.

Congressman Bill Pascrell  sent this statement to the Montclair Times:

I am proud to represent a community that is vigorously campaigning to create awareness and inspire change in Darfur. The activism that will hit the streets of Montclair this Sunday will undoubtedly accomplish both. It will further encourage the type of action that Congress took this week when it considered the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.

During the rally,  African Drumming will be performed by the Northstar Navigators, with Reggie Workman, Maya Milenovic, and Kevin Jones.  There will also be information and a sign up for bus transportation to the National Rally in Washington, D.C. on April 30.

The Essex County Interfaith Coalition on Darfur is a consortium of synagogues and churches in and around Montclair, including the members of the Montclair Clergy Association. Visit Million Voices For Darfur, or Save Darfur to learn more about the crisis and what action is being taken to put a stop to the genocide.

April 6, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (124)

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March  31

Campus Fire Safety: Now You’ll Know

It’s a bizarre coincidence, that yesterday’s fire at the Montclair State University student dorm occurred the same day legislation was passed requiring colleges and universities to provide prospective and current students with fire safety information on campuses.  Baristanet received a press release from Congressman Bill Pascrell’s chief of staff, Ben Rich, Announcing that H.R. 2637, the “Campus Fire Safety Right To Know Act” passed yesterday afternoon on the House floor. 

Pascrell first introduced this legislation to the 106th Congress, following the tragic fire at Seton Hall University on January 19, 2000, which killed 3 students and injured more than 50 others:

“The common sense fire safety disclosure requirements passed today should have been in place many years ago," stated Pascrell, a longtime champion on fire safety issues.  "The actions of Congress will prevent countless families from experiencing the devastation that the families of Seton Hall had to endure after the tragic fires in 2000.  "

The Pascrell legislation would require campus fire safety information to be made public, and would provide a powerful incentive for colleges and universities to voluntarily upgrade their safety systems. Universities and colleges would also be required to provide statistics on the number of actual fires in each residence hall, including information on deaths, injuries, and structural damage over the previous two years.

March 31, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

daily dish

March  25

Lock It Up

Residents of the First Ward in Montclair called a meeting with the police to hear what they could do to cope with the rash of recent burglaries. Montclair police advised residents to lock their homes, cars, and garages. From The Montclair Times:

Lt. Kenneth V. Miscia Jr. singled out Yantacaw Brook Road, and Alexander and Gordonhurst avenues as having a high number of break-ins from the end of February to the beginning of March._

Miscia and Community Policing Officer John Timchak explained that perpetrators are typically entering homes through the side doors, which usually grants them access to hallways where purses and laptops are left. The lieuten-ant said that most break-ins occur between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.__“It is not like in the movies when robbers are walking out with TV sets,” Miscia said. “They take items quickly and avoid contact with the victim.”

Township Manager Joseph Hartnett said. “Most crimes are that of opportunity, not gangs or jewel thieves. Our basic message is we have very well-trained and sophisticated police [to deal with this].”

The police offered safety tips to the residents: dead bolt locks on all external doors, giving an extra key to neighbors instead of hiding it, installing a burglar alarm and using a light timer while away on vacation.

March 25, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (7)

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