Strip Port Authority of its secrecy, then overhaul it: Editorial

By the Star Ledger Editorial Board

The Port Authority was a rogue agency long before its rotten underbelly was exposed in the Bridgegate scandal. An agency whose mission was to improve transit in the New York City region has morphed over the decades into a sprawling and secretive arm of the two governors, a way for them to dispense patronage jobs and fund pet real-estate projects without any of checks and balances that apply in the rest of our democracy.

That’s why Bridgegate happened. And that’s why drivers will soon pay an outrageous $15 toll to cross the Hudson River. If you are mad at that, you should be. Bold reform is urgently needed, and the Legislature is poised to take a first important step in that direction this week.

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Backlash Over Ramapo College Sexual Assault Presentation

By Candace Kelley
Correspondent

A presentation about alcohol and the consequence of drinking has some students at Ramapo College outraged. That’s according to an article in the school’s paper — The Ramapo News.

According to the article, during a presentation called Haven — Understanding Sexual Assault. Women were guided to avoid unwanted attention by being mindful of their body language, dress, alcohol consumption and even their facial expressions. The presentation was given by the coordinator of the school’s Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention programs, Cory Rosenkranz.That’s blaming the victim, according to one student who attended the presentation.

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N.J. Lawmakers say Port Authority reform bills would curb abuses by governors

By Steve Strunsky NJ.com

Sponsors of two bills intended to reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey say the measures would curb abuses by the governors or their proxies through enhanced transparency and accountability, without limiting the governors' veto or appointment powers over the agency. 

State Sen. Robert Gordon and state Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle are the principal authors of bi-state Port Authority reform bills that have been approved by both houses of the New York State legislature and the New Jersey State Senate, and are scheduled for a vote of the full Assembly on Nov. 13.

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Lawmakers Push Bills to Make Port Authority More Transparent

By Michael Hill, Correspondent

“Every street, two square miles around here. It was impossible. The worst I’d ever seen,” said Fort Lee resident Ted Allen.

Libertarian Allen recalls the traffic nightmares of September 2013 when an aide to Gov. Chris Christie emailed the Port Authority to tie up traffic in Fort Lee leading to the most traveled bridge in America — the GWB — in an apparent act of political retaliation against this borough’s mayor.

Now, lawmakers in both states have approved bills to make the Port Authority more transparent, opening up its decision-making to the public, mandating a study of the Port Authority every two years and setting up protection for whistleblowing.

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Legislative panel hears testimony on Bergen County heroin addiction

Rebecca O'Brien The Record 

HACKENSACK - State lawmakers considering a large package of bills targeting heroin and prescription painkiller addiction took their deliberations Tuesday to Bergen County, whose drug-related social services and law enforcement initiatives officials described as a possible model for statewide efforts.

The Assembly Human Services Committee heard three hours of testimony from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, representatives from county drug education and treatment organizations, and two women who lost children to heroin overdoses. All described a need for more prevention programs, the importance of sustained treatment, and the tremendous personal and logistical barriers facing addicts.

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Port Authority reform bills approved by N.J. Assembly panel

By Steve Strunsky NJ.com 

A pair of bipartisan bills that would subject the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to more expansive open public records laws, protect whistle blowers, and require annual reports to lawmakers were approved today by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

“As the legislature continues to investigate last year’s unexplained George Washington Bridge lane closures, it’s critical that we address the root of the problem – that this overwhelmingly flawed agency has no sense of accountability whatsoever,” Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), the bills' principal sponsor, said in a statement.

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N.J. Assembly panel OKs bills aimed at boosting Port Authority reforms

By MICHAEL PHILLIS

Two bills aimed at making the Port Authority operate more transparently were approved by an Assembly committee Monday.

The measures were sparked in part by the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal. One bill would open the bi-state agency  up to each states’ public records laws and the other would force the authority to issue audits, adhere to basic public meetings laws and would formally create an office of inspector general (although one exists now at the agency). Both bills were passed out of the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on unanimous 5-0 votes.

 

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N.J. lawmakers get insights on domestic violence issues during meeting with survivors, experts

BY MARY DIDUCH |THE RECORD

ROCHELLE PARK — Recurring homelessness. Issues with child care. Struggles to secure a job. Lack of funds.

These were a handful of issues that domestic violence experts and survivors raised to New Jersey state legislators Tuesday afternoon at the Center for Hope and Safety in Rochelle Park, during a roundtable discussion on how legislation can help such victims get back on their feet.

State Sens. Loretta Weinberg, Stephen Sweeney and Robert Gordon, and Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle listened to the survivors and workers in domestic violence — many from the shelter or county agencies — about what needs to be done to break the cycle of domestic violence and help victims stand on their own.

 

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The Record: Letters, Thursday, Oct. 16

State bullying law must be enforced

As schools across New Jersey were celebrating the Week of Respect last week, the troubling details of Sayreville's high school football scandal came to light. The timing just highlights what we already know: Hazing is bullying.

 

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NJ's Most Prolific Lawmakers

Matt Freidman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). Huttle, a funeral director who took office in 2006 and chairs the Human Services Committee, leads the Legislature as a prime sponsor of 311 pieces of legislation. They include bills to put more stringent transparency guidelines on the Port Authority (A1083), overhaul state autonomous authorities (A1086), designate four different state songs (A1085) and prohibit smoking at parks and beaches (A1080).

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