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New Jersey

It's A Free Country ®

Coastal Access and Greenhouse Gas in New Jersey

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We're trying to get away from one-size-fits-all regulation. Towns come forward to the DEP and say, look, because of physical constraints or whatever, we can provide this much parking; we can't provide these three access points onto the beach, but we can do more parking over here and more bath facilities over here. It's about trying to find best combination for towns going forward.

Bob Martin, New Jersey Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, on The Brian Lehrer Show

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Coastal Access and Greenhouse Gas in New Jersey

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Bob Martin, New Jersey Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, discusses the DEP's proposal regarding public access to the waterfront; Governor Christie's announcement that NJ will opt out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and fracking in New Jersey.

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Features

WNYC's Guide to Outdoor Summer Film Festivals

Friday, May 27, 2011

“Top Gun” on the roof of the Intrepid. "The Brother from Another Planet" on the banks of the East River. "Ghostbusters" in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Nothing says summer like outdoor movies — and this year the city has a rich, diverse offering of free and low-cost flicks. Choose one from WNYC's interactive map here, then grab a friend, pack a picnic dinner and check out a film under the city stars.

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Transportation Nation

Christie Pulls Plug on Greenhouse Gas Initiative For NJ

Thursday, May 26, 2011

(New York, NY -- Ilya Marritz, WNYC) UPDATED WITH VIDEO New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is withdrawing New Jersey from a greenhouse gas emissions reduction program by the end of the year.

The cap-and-trade program — the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — requires power plants in 10 northeast states to buy emissions credits for every ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

In recent months, Christie cast doubt on the science of global warming, and eliminated the state's Office of Climate Change.

"The whole system is not working as it was intended to work," Christie said. "It is a failure."

But State Senate President Steve Sweeney said the program "has wide-spread support and its principles are largely endorsed by the people of New Jersey. Removing New Jersey from RGGI can only cause harm to our state’s environment."

The New Jersey Sierra Club called the move "an environmental disaster."

Proceeds from the program have been used to fund energy efficiency and environmental programs. Last year, Christie raided the fund to help balance the state's budget.

Here's the video from Christie's office -- note the headline, "NJ's Future is Green," is Christie's office's own spin on the announcement.

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It's A Free Country ®

Reaction: NJ Schools Spared Budget Cuts

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[Christie] said, 'Listen, it's not just about money. We've been spending money in urban areas, committing money to building schools in these districts, and not getting results.'

— WNYC reporter Bob Hennelly on The Brian Lehrer Show

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The Brian Lehrer Show

New Jersey: Christie and the Court

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

WNYC reporter Bob Hennelly discusses the breaking New Jersey Supreme Court ruling ordering the state to increase funding for the state's poorest schools.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NJ Gov Christie No Friend to Commuters, and Hydrofracking Leads to Attorney Boom

Monday, May 16, 2011

NJ Governor Christie's approach to transportation has led to higher tolls and more expensive transit.  (NY Times)

Automakers are trying to convince the Chinese to drive electric vehicles -- not an easy sell. "In addition to general suspicions of new technology and logistics of where to plug the cars in, there is also a huge problem with Chinese government oversight and regulation." (NPR)

NY's MTA is testing out buses which apparently have low ceilings and cramped legroom. (NY Post)

The U.S. natural gas boom is paving the way for another kind of all-American boom: litigation. (Marketplace)

The NY Times has a photo essay about old subway cars used as reefs -- a practice which is ending.  (Can't help but note that WNYC had this story a year ago, almost to the day. )

Ray LaHood returned to his alma mater to deliver the commencement address; video below. (FastLane)

According to a Detroit Free Press editorial, transportation in Grand Rapids is one of the reasons why that city is in better shape than Detroit.

British author Robert Penn already owned six bicycles -- but none of them was the perfect one. NPR interviewed him about his quest to build the perfect bike.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you  missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- DC's DOT is losing key staff, and the mayor has yet to appoint a head (link)

-- Boston says 1/3 of transit riders are using transit apps (link)

-- the AAA says 630 bicyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 (link)

-- does driving make you fat? Could be. (link)


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WNYC News

Christie, Dems Continue Stalemate on Medical Marijuana

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Jersey Democrats want the Christie Administration to re-write the rules on dispensing medical marijuana.

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Soundcheck

At Mexican Sonidero Parties, It's About the Music and the Message

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recent census data reveals that the Mexican population in New York City has increased by 71 percent in the last decade. That means a lot more cumbia sonidero parties will be happening in community centers and banquet halls across the city's boroughs.

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It's A Free Country ®

Guadagno: The Business of Bringing Business to New Jersey

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Competition is good for everybody, I think. Hunts Point is in the Bronx, there are 3,200 jobs, and we're fighting very hard to attract them to New Jersey. The 3,200 people who can move to New Jersey from New York are going to be very happy, because we're going to save them a lot of money when they come here.

Kim Guadagno, Lt. Governor of New Jersey, on The Brian Lehrer Show.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Doing Business in New Jersey

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kim Guadagno, Lt. Governor of New Jersey, talks about her efforts to expedite business growth in New Jersey.

Small business owners: Are you looking for the phone number the Lt. Governor Guadagno gave out on the air? You can reach the Business Action Center by calling (866) 534-7789.

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Transportation Nation

DOT vs NJ Over ARC Tunnel Money - Documents

Friday, April 29, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) In a "final agency determination," the Federal Transit Administration today told  New Jersey the state has to pay back the full $271 million NJ spent of federal money digging out the beginning of  the ARC transit tunnel  under the Hudson River.  NJ Gov. Chris Christie canceled the project in October, halting the boring, and filling in the hole -- after which US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood demanded the money back.

NJ filed paperwork contesting the bill in January and has hired a well known Washington law firm to fight it as well.   As of March, the Newark Star-Ledger reported, NJ Transit had already paid a third of a million dollars  in legal bills.

It had seemed possible that New Jersey would only be asked to pay half the $271 million in late January.

But now, LaHood is sticking to his guns, telling Christie he has to pay back all the money.  Christie is expected to continue to resist paying for the ARC tunnel.

Catch up on our past coverage of the money fight here.

Here's the response to the decision-posted below-from Kevin Robert, a spokesman for Governor Christie:

"We disagree with the FTA’s conclusion and its continued efforts to bill New Jersey taxpayers for completed work that will be of substantial value to future transportation projects not just in New Jersey, but in the Northeast corridor. Furthermore, New Jersey was unable to move forward with the ARC project for reasons beyond the State’s control -- billions of dollars in unaccounted for cost-overruns and re-estimates of project costs late in the process only continued to increase New Jersey’s already heavy financial burden. For now, we will review the decision before determining next steps moving forward."

Here's the full 52 page final decision of the Federal Transit Administration on the debt collection action, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Access to the Region's Core Project (ARC). (PDF)

And the two page letter from Transportation Secretary to NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg, (Dem.), a supporter of the ARC project.

Dot Arc Repayment

Lautenberg also released this statement.

SENATORS LAUTENBERG AND MENENDEZ STATEMENT ON ARC REPAYMENT DECISION

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) released a statement today following the U.S. Department of Transportation decision that the State of New Jersey must repay the full $271 million in federal funding spent on the cancelled Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel.

“This is an unfortunate situation.  We worked hard to get the parties to negotiate a fair resolution of this conflict.  However the state's outside lawyers pursued an all or nothing approach, which brings substantial risk to New Jersey taxpayers.  Given the high stakes involved in this matter, we hope the state's approach is ultimately successful,” the Senators said.

Following Governor Christie’s decision to cancel the trans-Hudson tunnel project, Senators Lautenberg and Menendez called on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to ease the financial impact on the State.  In response to the Senators’ efforts, Secretary LaHood agreed that if the state repaid $271 million, the federal government would return nearly half the money by placing $128 million in New Jersey’s Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) account for mass transit and emission reductions projects. However, the Governor’s legal team pursued a different course.

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WNYC News

Financial 411: Xanadu Rescue in the Works

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Economy Grows, Albeit Slowly

The economy grew at a disappointing 1.8 percent annual rate in the first three months of 2011. That's down from 3.1 percent in the final months of last year. The drop is being blamed on harsh winter weather, the ongoing slump in the housing market and higher oil and prices. A sharp drop in state and local government spending also pinched economic growth.

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It's A Free Country ®

Billions in Ed Funds Up For Vote in NJ

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Across the state of New Jersey, 538 local school districts submit their budgets to voters for their approval. Also on the ballot are almost 2,000 local board of education seats.

This will be the first time that New Jersey voters get to weigh in on local school budgets since Trenton imposed a two percent cap on the local property taxes that fund them. More than 450 of the districts are at or below the two percent cap.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

New Jersey School Board Elections

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

John Mooney, education writer and co-founder of NJSpotlight.com, discusses the elections occurring tomorrow in New Jersey and compares this years' elections with the same elections last year.

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It's A Free Country ®

Property Tax Cap Leads to Stark Choice in New Jersey Town

Monday, April 25, 2011

If you want to whip an audience into a frenzy in New Jersey, bring up property taxes.

Within five minutes of greeting the crowd at a town hall last week, Governor Chris Christie landed on the surefire crowd-pleaser, taking credit early for the two-percent property tax cap he signed last July.

“People said it would work. Now the early returns are in,” Christie told a town hall in Jackson, New Jersey last week. Out of 566 towns in New Jersey, just 14 opted to ask voters to approve a higher rate. That’s the rightful place for the decision, he told the friendly audience at a retirement community in Jackson, New Jersey.   

“I want to put the power in your hands to make that decision, take it out of the hands of politicians that have screwed this up so badly over the past thirty years that we’re in the spot we’re in," he said.

Christie speech went on to chastise the "do-nothing" legislature, in contrast to his "reform agenda."

But the story is a little more complicated in Brick Township, along the Jersey Shore. It's one of the 14 towns asking for more than two percent higher taxes. It's asking residents to approve a budget that exceeds it by $8 million, the biggest increase of all the towns.

It’s a big ask, and the town is giving residents a stark choice: pay the higher taxes, or the town will stop collecting your trash.

The question goes right at the heart of the budget fights being fought in towns across the country. Resentful taxpayers feeling exploited and angry after year after year of increases, while the local unions have their backs up after Wisconsin and Governor Christie’s persistent hammering. A referendum vote on Wednesday is forcing residents to pick a side, and some feel boxed in by a cap that was supposed to lighten their load.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

When Tito Loved Clara

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Jon Michaud, the head librarian at The New Yorker, talks about his novel, When Tito Loved Clara. It’s about two people who grew up in the Dominican community in Inwood—Clara and Tito—who reconnect 15 years after their young love ended. Clara is struggling with assimilating into a new life in New Jersey, while Tito has never left the old neighborhood.

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Features

Executive Director of New Jersey State Arts Council Resigns

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

There's been a shake-up in New Jersey politics. Steve Runk, the executive director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, has resigned.

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It's A Free Country ®

In Newark, Zuckerberg School Money Sparks First Fallout

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The real job here is for [Mayor Corey] Booker to be a Geronimo and convince people that he's not just going to apply what Zuckerberg wants him to do; that he's out there, he's listening to parents, that he wants to get their feedback and doesn't want to plow through reforms already thought out in his head or Christie's head.

Barbara Martinez, The Wall Street Journal, reporter covering public education, on The Brian Lehrer Show

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Facebook and the Newark Schools

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Barbara Martinez, The Wall Street Journal reporter covering public education, talks about the controversy in Newark over how contributions for schools -- including a $100 million donation from Facebook and $44 million from other donors -- are being distributed.

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