Presented by Pre-K Our Way

Good Friday morning!

Sorry that District 37 has been dominating this space so much, but its the craziest thing in state politics right now.

Yesterday, Dierdre Paul, the Democrat-turned-Republican political activist whose letter that included vague allegations against Assemblymember/state Senate candidate Gordon Johnson last week, went into detail with me about her allegation. She said that in a private meeting, Johnson suggested she should be his concubine and asked what are you willing to do for Englewood? You can read it here.

Johnson in a statement that seems to walk the line between saying what Paul said is false and admitting her charge said he has no recollection of making those comments and while he has never been accused of inappropriate behavior before, I would never want any person, man or woman, to feel uncomfortable.

Paul came forward to tell the story a day after Johnson received the endorsement of Gov. Phil Murphy and state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Weve seen before that these kinds of allegations are politically survivable at least if theres just one. In making the endorsement, theyre clearly betting that others wont come forward with similar allegations.

WHERES MURPHY?: In Maplewood for an 11 a.m. vaccine site visit, then Orange for an 11:45 a.m. vaccine site visit. Media: CNBC at 8 a.m.

CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: Still ticking up. 3,840 newly-reported positive PCR tests for a total of 754,817. 31 more deaths for a total of 21,561 (and 2,515 probable deaths). 1,966 hospitalized, 423 in intensive care. 1,092,112 second vaccine doses administered, or about 12.3 percent of the population.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Congressman Van Drews vote is completely hypocritical and represents a slap in the face to the mothers, sisters and daughters he represents. Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick on Rep. Jeff Van Drews vote against the Equal Rights Amendment

, which he had co-sponsored when he was a Democrat

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: State Sen. Patrick Diegnan, Assemblymember Angelica Jimenez, Assembly candidate/NOW NJs Anjali Mehrotra, ELEC825s Mike Makarski, Ocean County Dems Zach Doughtery. SaturdayforZwicker COS Petra Gaskins, Capitol Impact Groups Gerry Gibbs, Democratic consultant Adam Silverstein, NJOAG’s Jeremy Feigenbaum, Newark Housing Authority’s Victor Cirilo.

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

DI-NO-MAS-O From POLITICOs Daniel Han: Holmdel School Board President Vicky Fylnn beat Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) for the party line at Thursday nights Monmouth County GOP convention, imperiling the Assemblywomans bid for a third term and setting the stage for an intense primary battle among the two Monmouth Republicans. Flynn beat DiMaso 145 to 87 at the convention, according to Monmouth County GOP chair Shaun Golden. DiMaso alluded to running for the Republican nomination off the party line, though she would face steep odds. Winning the party line gives Flynn a strong advantage in the primary election, since it brackets her under big-ticket politicians, in this case GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciaterelli. I will turn my attention to June, where every Republican vote and voter will have a chance to voice their opinion on my record and the record of my opponents, she told POLITICO in a text message.

THE LEAD STORY NJ’s unequal rules put some at greater risk of drinking lead. These families pay the price, by The Records Stacey Barchenger and Dustin Racioppi: About 4,000 families in New Jersey get the same terrible news each year: Their children have consumed lead. But what the test results do not show is a discord in state policy that allows their families, most of whom live in urban areas, to consume more of the dangerous metal than those who live in suburban and rural areas and tend to be wealthier. No amount of lead is safe for children or pregnant women, yet New Jersey has two different standards for how much is allowed. For the roughly 1 million people the state says rely on private well water, the limit is 5 parts per billion. The water that flows to the taps in apartments and in schools and most homes can have three times the amount, 15 parts per billion. New Jerseys haphazard approach to remove the threat of lead in water pipes has left a hodgepodge of rules that residents and advocates say only deepens economic divides and injustice.

EDNA MAHAN 4 more officers charged in attack on inmates at N.J. womens prison, by NJ Advance Medias S.P. Sullivan and Joe Atmonavage: State authorities on Thursday charged four more officers with assaulting inmates during a violent incident at New Jerseys womens prison in January, bringing the total number of officers criminally prosecuted over the beatings to eight The four senior correctional police officers were alleged accomplices to the other officers previously charged over the Jan. 12 incident, in which teams donning riot gear marched into the prisons ‘restorative housing unit’ and began forcibly removing prisoners, authorities said. More charges may be coming, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday.

0.001 MASTROS NJEA contributed $10K to Norcross, South Jersey super PAC after working to defeat Sweeney, by POLITICOs Sam Sutton: A political action committee controlled by the states largest teachers union contributed $10,000 to a super PAC aligned with South Jersey Democrats and party powerbroker George Norcross, signaling a thaw after a decade of frigid relations between two of the states most powerful constituencies. The New Jersey Education Association made the contribution to General Majority on Sept. 15, about two months after Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney that delivered on reforms long-sought by the states public school employees. The contribution may have been linked to a Sept. 16, high-dollar fundraiser for General Majority that was headlined by Sweeney and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald.

GATSBER THE UNFRIENDLY GHOST GUN Company agrees not to sell ghost guns in N.J. in a groundbreaking settlement, by NJ Advance Medias Blae Nelson: A California company has agreed to stop selling guns in New Jersey and pay a $70,000 fine after the state accused it of trying to sell illegal weapons. The settlement was the first of its kind nationwide, according to David Pucino, an attorney with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. New Jersey bans so-called ghost guns, which can be manually assembled and do not have serial numbers. The state attorney generals office filed a complaint against U.S. Patriot Armory two years ago, after the company allegedly sold a kit to assemble an AR-15 rifle to an undercover investigator.

3,333 CUPS OF COFFEE Former candidate tied to N.J. corruption case gets probation over $10K campaign contribution, by NJ Advance Medias Ted Sherman: It began with $10,000 in a coffee cup. A former Morris County freeholder candidate tied to an ongoing New Jersey pay-to-play corruption investigation was sentenced to probation Thursday over campaign contribution she took from a tax attorney who allegedly had been looking to lock-down lucrative municipal contracts. Mary Dougherty, the wife of the current mayor of Morristown, originally had been charged with bribery, but pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February of falsifying a campaign finance report. The plea means she will not face prison. She was also required to forfeit the $10,000 contribution.

GRIN AND EHRET Fran Ehret named CWAs new state director, by POLITICOs Matt Friedman: Fran Ehret, a longtime labor leader who for years represented New Jersey Turnpike employees, has been named to lead New Jerseys largest state workers union. The Communications Workers of America announced Thursday that Ehret will replace Hetty Rosenstein as state director for the CWAs New Jersey chapter. Rosenstein, who is retiring next month, has led the union for 14 years. I grew up in a union household, where we never passed a picket line we didnt join. Ive grown so much at CWA, a union that involves members in every issue that impacts working people, Ehret, who has been with the CWA since 2013 and is its national staff representative, said in a statement.

Edison Democratic officials chide Grewal for failure to solve racist flyer cold case

NJ legal weed changes on the way? New rules pushed for drug testing, underage marijuana use

Election officials warn NJ isnt ready for true early voting

BREAKING Ray Lesniak saw two large birds and issued a press release about it.

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BIDEN TIME

DO VAN DREWS CONSTITUENTS EXPECT HIS SUPPORT FOR THEM TO BE UNDYING? Local NJ Republican leaders eagerly grab stimulus cash Congressional GOP opposed, by The Records Charles Stile: From the upper-middle class suburb of Montvale in Bergen County to the casino-industry ravaged Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County, Republican officials are welcoming with open wallets this new trickle-down relief from Washington . These on-the-ground Republicans have little time or patience to wage an ideological debate over the size and necessity of the stimulus. They need the money to keep police on patrol, fire trucks in operation and trash collected on time It’s a lifeline for us, [Egg Harbor Township Administrator Paul J.] Miller said of the $4.1 million that is pegged for the township Yet, that sentiment didn’t sway the two New Jersey Republican congressmen. In voting against the package, they voted against extended unemployment benefits, against $1,400-per-person stimulus checks, against health insurance subsidies and a child tax credit that is expected to cut the nation’s child poverty rate in half, according to one study. It was the first major vote of the post-Trump era and New Jersey’s GOP duo refused to break ranks.

Sussex, Warren counties may see boost to broadband internet thanks to COVID relief funds

WE ARE WEED FARMERS. BUM BA DUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM Legal weed businesses would be allowed to buy insurance under new bill by N.J.s Menendez, by NJ Advance Medias Jonathan D. Salant: Legal cannabis operations would be allowed to buy insurance just like any other business under legislation introduced Thursday by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. The bill is a companion measure to a bill allowing federally regulated banks to provide checking accounts, credit cards and other financial services to legal cannabis businesses. The problem that both banks and insurers face is that marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even as more and more states, including New Jersey, legalize the drug for medical or recreational use.

FASCISTS FROM MONTCLAIR North Jersey man arrested after being identified in Capitol riot surveillance photos, by The Records Julia Martin: A former Montclair High School student is facing federal charges after he was identified in surveillance photos taken at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Elias Irizarry, a freshman at the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, South Carolina, is accused in a criminal complaint filed by the FBI of attending the riot. He and another man, Elliot Bishai, are seen in photos and videos entering the Capitol by climbing through a broken window, walking down corridors and taking photos next to a statue of Dwight Eisenhower, according to the complaint They are not accused of any violence. While a student at Montclair High School, Irizarry was chairman of the Essex County Teenage Republicans. In 2017 he spoke at a Township Council meeting against naming Montclair a sanctuary city. We need to put Montclair citizens first, not undocumented foreigners, he said.

Asian Americans are frightened after Georgia shootings, says N.J. congressman Andy Kim

A messsage from Pre-K Our Way:

LOCAL

CANNON IS FODDER Stokes upsets 27-Year incumbent in race for Mercer commissioner, by New Jersey Globes David Wildstein: Terrance Stokes, a football official and first-time candidate from Ewing, defeated nine-term incumbent Ann Cannon in a race for the Democratic organization line for Mercer County Commissioner. On the third ballot, Stokes beat Cannon by 20 votes, 201-181, 52.6% to 43.4%. Stokes will now run on the organization line with incumbent Samuel Frisby and Hopewell Township Committeewoman Kristin McLaughlin, a former mayor. Cannon, a 27-year incumbent, lost after a group of reformers voted to force two incumbent county commissioners into a six-way race for three seats rather than automatically approve their renomination.

GOOD NEWS: YOUR TAXES ARE ONLY GOING UP $996 After great debate, Jersey City BOE narrowly approves 1st reading of amended $814M budget, by Hudson County Views Daniel Ulloa: After a great debate that included several amendments, the Jersey City Board of Education narrowly approved an $814,051,708 preliminary budget, with the tax levy dropping from $100 million to $85 million and the annual tax increase down to $996 instead of $1,168.

JUST DON’T STORM THE STATE CAPITOL, OK? Hunterdon commissioners step up campaign for more state school aid, by MyCentralJerseys Mike Deak: The Hunterdon County commissioners are rallying their comrades in other counties to join their fight against cuts in state aid to school districts. Though overall aid to New Jersey school districts is increasing by more than a half billion dollars, aid to Hunterdon County school districts is being reduced by $2.6 million, or 6.33%, for the 2021-22 school year. Seventeen of the 26 school districts in the county would see decreases in state aid.

MAGICALLY DISAPPEARING AUDIO Man claims Elmwood Park police made anti-Muslim remark. Now he’s suing, and wants apology, by The Records Katie Sobko: The complaint does not contest the stop, which resulted in his arrest. During the stop, Malak claims, one of the officers said he looked like a troublemaker, and asked his ethnic background. Malak alleges that after he told the officer that he was Egyptian, the officer responded by saying Oh, youre one of those Muslim terrorists. Malak later received video footage of the arrest from the Police Department after a public records request. However, he alleges some footage is missing and in some places on the video, conspicuous sudden and inexplicable absences of sound. Malak alleges that the officers or the department altered the footage to remove the evidence and that one or both officers were reprimanded and/or received additional training for deficiencies concerning the footage.

TRUMPED UP ALLEGATIONDistrict pays $325K to former teacher; claims she was forced to digitally edit students Trump T-shirt in yearbook, by News 12 New Jersey: A New Jersey school district is paying $325,000 to a former teacher who claimed she was forced to digitally edit a former President Donald Trump T-shirt worn by a student in a yearbook photo. The Wall Township school board approved the settlement agreement with Susan Parsons on Tuesday, NJ Advance Media reported. The district made no admission of wrongdoing or liability. The money will be paid by the district’s insurance carrier. Parsons was the high school’s yearbook adviser when she said a secretary acting on behalf of the principal ordered her in 2017 to remove Trump Make America Great Again and make it appear as if the student was wearing a plain navy blue T-shirt. That has to go, the suit alleged Parsons was told. Parsons, who said she voted for Trump in 2016, said she was made a scapegoat and received death threats.

Return $125K painting from N.J. mayors office or were taking legal action, official says

Tewksbury sued by second employee claiming illegal termination

MCPO closes ‘Sunshine Law’ probe, no fines for Trenton council over secret Wire Works pitch

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EVERYTHING ELSE

FLUGAZI The ‘twindemic’ that never was: How COVID measures helped crush NJ’s flu season, by The Records Scott Fallon: New Jersey is experiencing its most mild flu season in recent memory thanks in large part to the efforts to combat the pandemic. Restrictions that limit person-to-person interactions and new everyday practices like mask-wearing and increased handwashing have significantly stunted the spread of the flu virus in the Garden State and across the United States, experts say. Everything we did to keep the spread of COVID down has resulted in the lower transmission of the flu virus, said Sandra Adams, a biology professor at Montclair State University who specializes in viruses. With the peak of the flu season December through February now over, the low numbers on influenza are remarkable: There have been only 134 confirmed flu cases in New Jersey as of early March, a stunning decrease from past years that saw 11,489 in 2020, 3,898 in 2019 and 5,232 in 2018 at the same point in the calendar.

THE GARDEN HATE White supremacist propaganda surged last year, especially in New Jersey, ADL says, by The Records Hannan Adely: New Jersey went from 12 incidents of reported hate propaganda in 2017 to 323 incidents in 2020, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which released its report Wednesday. Scott Richman, ADL regional director for the New York and New Jersey region, called the rise in the Garden State truly shocking and said it outpaced almost any other region of the country.

CANCEL BACTERIAL CULTURE N.J. colleges are canceling spring break, hope it will prevent COVID spread, by NJ Advance Medias Rebecca Evereett: Earlier this week, photos showed college students crowding beaches, partying together in hotels and congregating in huge crowds near Miami Beach nightclubs. Local officials begged them to wear masks and take other precautions, but news reports show many did not heed their advice. Its exactly the kind of scenario that led most of New Jerseys colleges and universities to cancel spring break entirely this year. The concern is that traveling during break and then returning to campus will increase the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission post-break, said Corey Basch, chair of William Paterson Universitys public health department. The activities typically associated with spring break generally do not include social distancing and mask use, which further intensifies the concern.

As one South Jersey mall comes down, others see need for change

N.J. gyms owe millions in back rent that went unpaid during COVID pandemic, court records show

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