Presented by Pre-K Our Way

Good Monday morning!

Another Supreme Court vacancy, another young woman to fill it.

Gov. Murphy will nominate Rachel Wainer Apter, the director of the Division of Civil Rights, to the seat being vacated by Jaynee LaVecchia, Ive confirmed. David Wildstein reported it first. The big headline here is that shes a former clerk for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose 88th birthday would have been today.

If she’s confirmed, Murphy will have placed two women on the court who will be able to serve for 30 years. Thats a long legacy, though Im not sure whether it really is one. As Gov. Christies picks have shown us, state Supreme Court justices dont necessarily vote the way their nominator would like them to. But if youre just looking for another reliably liberal vote, this nominee doesn’t seem likely to veer right once on the bench.

WHERES MURPHY At the newly-named Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall at Rugter-Newark for a 9 a.m. press conference announcing the new Supreme Court justice; in Burlington for a noon event with First Lady Jill Biden.

CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: 2,800 newly-reported positive PCR tests for a total of 742,051. 15 more deaths for a total of 21,429 (and 2,474 probable deaths). 1,807 hospitalized, 392 in intensive care. 987,158 second doses of vaccine administered, for about 11.1 percent of the population.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: I come before you with something that Chris Christie didnt get. I come with Mayor Sokolichs endorsement. Bergen County Clerk John Hogan, who faces a challenge from Bridget Kelly.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY State Sen. Nia Gill, Judge L. Grace Spencer, NJ Advance Medias Justin Zaremba, Vainieri Huttle COS Katie Wertheimer, Cherry Hill Councilmember Brian Bauerle.

A messsage from Pre-K Our Way:

Thanks, Governor and Legislature! Pre-k expansion fundings been in every

recent state budget! Working families in 150+ school districts have pre-k expansion but families in 110+ districts still wait. Theyre waiting in rural, suburban and suburban communities from east to west, north to south. Continue substantial pre-k expansion THIS YEAR! Visit prekourway.org

WHAT TRENTON MADE

NURSING HOMES For Murphy and Cuomo, questions persist over decision to readmit nursing home residents. Heres what happened, by NJ Advance Medias Susan K. Livio and Ted Sherman: New Jersey issued similar guidelines on readmission and health officials have repeatedly said that specific exceptions and conditions involving non-critically ill patients were clearly spelled out. It was crystal clear, the governor said on Monday Despite those caveats, James McCracken, president and CEO of LeadingEdge New Jersey, the statewide association of not-for-profit senior care organizations, said the policies on COVID-positive nursing home patients returning from hospital stays were not always clear to some administrators … ‘Department of Health memo to read that they were required to take hospital admissions,’ he said. At the time there was a lot of talk about the shortage of hospital capacity. Both states contracted with a number of nursing home operators to create special COVID-dedicated facilities or wings to isolate those patients who could not be accommodated where they had been living.”

BROKEN RECORDS Transparency during COVID? Here are the things the Murphy administration refuses to share, by The Records Dustin Racioppi: For anyone interested in learning how the Murphy administration prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, or where it sent protective gear, or how it decided to reopen parts of the economy, or who is eligible for vaccines, it has a litany of reasons you cant. ‘Advisory, consultative or deliberative material’ is a popular one. So is ‘no responsive records.’ The threat of terrorism was cited once. And the urgency of the pandemic itself was all Democratic lawmakers and Murphy needed to bypass voters and borrow up to $10 billion for the budget. Despite frequent pledges by lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy to run government transparently in the pandemic, a year later there is a large body of evidence suggesting otherwise. Requests for records have been extended for weeks, denied or extended for weeks, and then denied.

Murphy administration has blocked some information from the public during COVID pandemic, AP finds

IF ONLY THERE WAS AN AGENCY THAT COULD SUPPLY PUBLIC TRANSIT PEOPLE COULD USE TO GET TO WORK NJ Transit workers misused cars for personal use, spent most miles commuting, 2018 audit finds, by NJ Advance Medias Larry Higgs: NJ Transit employees who were assigned company vehicles in 2017 overwhelmingly used them for commuting rather than their intended business purposes, and in some instances misused them for personal reasons, according to the results of an internal audit conducted in 2018 and obtained by NJ Advance Media. Although employees assigned those vehicles were allowed to bring them home, the audit revealed that many workers were using them primarily for commuting rather than the justified reasons allowed by the policy. Those assigned ‘Category 1’ vehicles included specialized technicians, employees required to provide 24/7 emergency responses, those who needed tools or specifically equipped vehicles, and those who were dispatched to various locations for NJ Transit. The executive director was also allowed to assign vehicles at his or her discretion, according to policy.

HES GOT A GOLDEN TICKET Golden slams DiMaso on ethics, attendance days before Monmouth GOP convention, by New Jersey Globes David Wildstein: Golden accused DiMaso of giving tax breaks to a hospital while where she served on the Board of Trustees and criticized her for triggering an ethics investigation after spoofing the telephone number of Democratic legislators in a robocall with a message recorded by the two-term assemblywoman. Issues have been raised with respect to unethical behavior that exposes our party and all of our candidates, said Golden, noting that her actions ‘exposed the New Jersey Republican Assembly caucus and our treasurer to legal jeopardy The New Jersey Join Legislative Committee on Ethics Standards dismissed an ethics complaint filed against DiMaso, but called the robo call really sloppy work. In several instances, Golden alleges, DiMaso missed Assembly votes and committee meetings while she was away on vacation.

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BIDEN TIME

AND I SUAREZ Why Esther Suarez is an awful pick as next top federal prosecutor, by The Star-Ledgers Tom Moran: Sen. Robert Menendez wont confirm it, but several reliable sources say he has asked President Biden to nominate Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez to be the next U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, the top federal prosecutor in the state. Its an awful choice, and one of grand consequence. Suarez has no experience in federal law enforcement. Its extremely rare that this top job goes to a newcomer who would have to master federal statutes and procedures on the fly, while managing more complex federal cases. In selecting Suarez, Menendez is passing over more qualified candidates, including Latinos like Ricardo Solano Jr., a widely respected private attorney with deep experience in federal and state law enforcement. Suarez would be in charge of investigating political corruption in New Jersey, and it is there where her shortcomings are most glaring.

… SAYS STATE SEN. TOM KEAN You deserve to know everything about pro-Trump Capitol riot, says ex- N.J. Gov. Tom Kean, who led 9/11 commission, by NJ Advance Medias Jonathan D. Salant: ‘There will continue to be unanswered questions,’ Kean said during a program sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center. We need to know how the Capitol was breached. It was such a shock. How did it happen? Why did it happen? Why wasnt the Capitol defended properly? Who were these groups? We dont know the answers to those questions, he said. Any effort to get those answers will end in failure unless party loyalties are set aside, something Kean and Hamilton said the learned during their investigation For example, they disagreed with a proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to have the president and the congressional leaders all appoint members, thus giving the Democrats a majority.

How the stimulus will help New Jersey: Unemployment, $1,400 checks, tax credits

2 inmates begged for release from federal prison in N.J. where coronavirus raged. They both died of COVID

Biden administration’s support in PennEast legal battle comes under fire

Who is Van Drew? is new group protesting congressman’s actions

A messsage from Pre-K Our Way:

LOCAL

BRUSH FIRE Lakewood forest fire: Homes evacuated in Brick, Parkway shut down, by The Asbury Park Press Jean Michael and Amanda Oglesby: Some homes in Brick were evacuated and the Garden State Parkway is closed in both directions from exits 83 to 90 due to a large forest fire that started off Airport Road, according to police and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. Maris Gabliks, a spokesman for the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, said the fire was traveling eastward, driven by Sunday’s blustery, dry conditions. Firefighters trained in both structural and wildland fires from across Ocean and Monmouth counties were responding to the blaze, which spread across 75 acres, he said. We have two helicopters and a single engine air tanker working the fire. The fire did cross the Garden State Parkway and it’s threatening residential and shopping center type areas (along Route 70), Gabliks said.

BRIDGE TO TERRIBLETHIA ‘Juvenile drama:’ Bergen County clerk John Hogan trolls rival, announcing campaign at GWB, by The Records Terrence T. McDonald: Bergen County Clerk John Hogan announced his reelection campaign Friday with the George Washington Bridge looming behind him, trolling rival Bridget Anne Kellys involvement in orchestrating the September 2013 lane closures that became known as Bridgegate. Hogans location choice makes clear the Bridgegate saga will be a key part of his campaign strategy as he tries to convince voters to award him a third term in November and deny Kelly, 48, a chance to reenter the world of New Jersey government. The setting for Fridays event drastically highlights the difference between me and my opponent, said Hogan, a 63-year-old Democrat.What was done on those days was deplorable and should anger anyone who stands for and works hard for good government, he said [Kelly] characterized the episode as ‘juvenile drama’ in a statement on Friday that also trashed Hogan, a former Northvale mayor and councilman. John Hogan, the scion of a local ‘political dynasty,’ never had to work a day in his adult life,Kelly said. Today, he seized on juvenile drama to distract from his own record of misappropriation of taxpayer dollars on promotional materials and patronage for his political friends.

ENTRANCE TO OCEAN COUNTY GOP HQ MYSTERIOUSLY BLOCKADED BY ANTIQUE COCA COLA MACHINES Lawyer, private investigator: The fight in Ocean Countys GOP is serious, by The Asbury Park Press Erik Larsen: In the weeks before the Toms River Republican Club was stripped of its credentials by the Ocean County Republican Party, the municipal organizations leadership hired a private investigator and asked one of the most prominent election law attorneys in New Jersey to explore legal options to stop the decertification. The Toms River Regular Republican Club, which is controlled by former county GOP chairman George R. Gilmore, was replaced this past Wednesday with a new municipal club called Republicans for Toms River, which is aligned with current county GOP chairman Frank B. Holman III. The result is a more than 30-page report paid for by the Gilmore-aligned club that makes accusations against Republicans for Toms River for ‘falsehoods, fiction, farce and an apparent attempt at fraud and skullduggery and scandalous actions,’ according to a copy of the report provided to the Asbury Park Press. The report is a formal response to the county organizations notice to the club that its credentials were to be rescinded. In the weeks before Wednesday nights convention, the acrimony only intensified as Holman sought to rein Gilmore in. During a private meeting between the two men recently, Holman threw Gilmore out of his office at Ocean County Republican headquarters in downtown Toms River.

DECEASED FORMER ELECTED OFFICIALS TO GET VOTES AS GHOST COMMITTEE MEMBERS New Jersey Party Bosses Try To Fend Off Progressive Reformers, by WNYCs Nancy Solomon: Camden County … is taking the bylaws changes one step further. Leadership wants to give official status to non-elected committee members, and allow them to vote in the endorsement process. It’s saying, well, progressives can organize and maybe they’re going to win elections, but even if they join the ranks, we’re just never leaving said South Jersey activist Kate Delaney, a rare outsider who won a seat on the Camden County Committee in 2019 to represent Collingswood. o me, it really seemed like an attempt to make sure that South Jersey progressive Dems could not effectively organize enough to make inroads so that we could potentially vote in a new party chair. But party officials say the proposed change would only affect about 40 people in the 500-member committees The idea behind it [is] these folks would be a positive asset to the committee as a whole, said Mike Porch, executive director of the Camden County Democratic Committee. I don’t think it’s undemocratic because the vast majority of the committee is still directly elected and the folks that were adding on as these at-large members are ultimately being voted on the ballot.

EVICTIONS N.J. could soon face a historic housing crisis. A city devastated by COVID-19 might be the epicenter, by NJ Advance Medias Payton Guion: More than 14,000 eviction cases are pending in Essex County court most of them thought to involve Newark tenants delayed because evictions have been suspended during the pandemic under Gov. Phil Murphys emergency order ut as more people get vaccinated and the state climbs out of the devastation wrought by the pandemic, Newark and other cities could be plunged into an eviction crisis theyre not prepared to face. Unless there is something systemically done to address this overwhelming backlog and imminent avalanche (of evictions), I do not think things are going to be back to normal, said Khabirah Myers, a lawyer in Newarks Office of Tenant Legal Services. Were going to see potential homelessness at historic levels. The problem is not confined to Newark. A staggering number of New Jersey residents could be thrown out of their housing unless substantial funding is earmarked for rental assistance for tenants who have fallen behind on rent and evictions are further delayed, experts say.

ABOUSHI WILL FIND YOUR ABUSES Patersons new law director is a frequent critic of cops who he says covered up misconduct, by The Paterson Press Joe Malinconico: Mayor Andre Sayeghs new city law director has accused the Paterson Police Department’s Internal Affairs division of conducting sham investigations that are aimed at covering up police misconduct like excessive force, false arrests and illegal searches. The lawyer, Aymen Aboushi, has filed five federal civil rights cases against the Paterson Police Department in recent years, along with more than 15 other lawsuits against state, county and municipal law enforcement agencies around New Jersey, according to court records. The City of Paterson approved Crsettlement payments totaling $695,000 in four of the cases handled by Aboushi.

SO WHICH TOWNS ARE MORE AND LESS IMPORTANT THAN LAKEWOOD, GOVERNOR? Gov. Murphy visits Lakewood vaccination clinic on pandemic anniversary, by The Asbury Park Press Gudtavo Martinez Contreras: Gov. Phil Murphy visited a COVID-19 vaccination site here Friday to cheer on those receiving and administering shots, as the nation continued to observe the one-year anniversary of the the World Health Organization’s declaring the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. Lakewood is one of the most important communities in our state, said Murphy, visiting the Center for Health Education, Medicine and Dentistry, joined by state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli Murphy came two days after registering concern about COVID in Lakewood public schools, following news reports that four township elementary school teachers had been hospitalized with the disease, among eight teachers stricken at the Ella G. Clarke Elementary School The governor did not visit Lakewood schools or meet with school district officials; Murphy, however, said his administration is in contact with them.

Lakewood forest fire: Homes evacuated in Brick, Parkway shut down

R.I.P. Keyport school board president dies after battle with COVID-19, by The Asbury Park Press Jerry Carino: Ann Marie Panzarelli, president of Keyports board of education and longtime beloved presence in the borough, died Saturday after a monthlong battle with COVID-19. She was 50. Panzarelli checked into Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank Feb. 15 after experiencing a fever, cough, body aches and the loss of taste and smell, her son Vincent Panzarelli told the Asbury Park Press last month. Within a day, she was put on a ventilator.

NOT MAD. JUST DISAPPOINTED Paramus Council “Very, very disappointed” about state marijuana legislation, by TAPIntos Rebecca Greene: On March 9, Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said he was ‘truly disappointed’ about the legislation. As a parent, I hold kids accountable for their actions,” he said. ‘We have talked about it many times here. LaBarbiera is referring to an ordinance the Borough Council passed late last year that prohibits dispensaries for recreational marijuana sale within the borough’s borders. Another councilwoman on the teleconference called the new law a free pass for kids.

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Four Bergen towns decry anti-Asian violence while Biden denounces ‘un-American’ attacks

Clifton hired a firm to investigate its police department. Now the firm is suing the town

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EVERYTHING ELSE

Federal aid pushes Hackensack Meridian, RWJBarnabas into positive territory after rocky 2020

A messsage from Pre-K Our Way:

Thanks to the Governor and Legislature, theres been pre-k expansion funding in every recent state budget! Thats enabled NJ to expand pre-k for working families into 150+ school districts.

However, families in 110+ eligible districts still wait in rural, suburban and urban communities, and from east to west and north to south.

The proposed FY2022 budget would continue to recognize pre-k expansion as a priority for now, and for our future. We agree with former Governor Tom Kean, There are a few priority reforms we need to make to improve education in our state. One of our highest priorities should be the availability of quality pre-k programs for all of our children. These programs offer our best hope for future success in school and life.

Lets maintain pre-k expansion as a statewide priority. Continue substantial pre-k expansion in the coming year for New Jersey, and especially for its working families.

Visit prekourway.org