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New Jersey News

Is Booker Really More Popular Outside of Newark Than Within?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

WNYC

The last time Newark sent someone to the U.S. Senate, the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery had just been issued — 1863. And that could give Newark Mayor Cory Booker a boost in popularity as he runs for the U.S. Senate, says Clement Price. He is a History professor at Rutgers University and a longtime observer of Newark’s politics.

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New Tech City

Civic Hackers Take on the Problems of the Poor

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

People in the tech world have sometimes been accused of catering mainly to their own needs, with apps for hailing taxis and finding romantic partners. But there’s another movement afoot – so called “civic hacking," aimed at solving serious problems.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Meet the NJ Senate Candidates: Cory Booker

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Brian Lehrer Show continues our series of interviews with the candidates in New Jersey's special election to fill Frank Lautenberg's seat. Today: Newark mayor, Cory Booker.

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WNYC News

Booker Announces Run for Senate

Saturday, June 08, 2013

WNYC

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has formally announced that he is running to fill the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s seat.

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New Jersey News

Special Election Throws a Wrench in Booker's Plans for the U.S. Senate

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

WNYC

The death of Senator Frank Lautenberg on Monday began a scramble in New Jersey’s political world to figure out how the seat will be filled.

Governor Chris Christie announced Tuesday the state will hold a special election on October 16, 2013. The decision has thrown a wrench into Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s plans to run for the seat.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Boyhood, Baseball, and Violence in Newark

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jonathan Schuppe, New Jersey reporter and author of "A Chance to Win" (Henry Holt and Co., 2013), discusses this new book about an inner-city baseball team in Newark.

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New Jersey News

Newark Promoting Urban Farms

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WNYC

Newark got close to $90,000 from the USDA to promote farmer’s markets through “culturally appropriate marketing." And for the first time starting this June, the city’s 77,000 residents on food stamps will be able to use them at each of the cities community-run farmer's markets.

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New Jersey News

Ghosts of Sneakers Past

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

WNYC

The cover of Boston magazine's May issue is a photo of running shoes worn by people who ran the marathon. In New Jersey, shoes are drawing an emotional reaction from young people who are walking a trail of shoes that represent lives lost to gun violence.

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New Jersey News

A Spin on Eminent Domain: Newark Considers a Controversial Approach to (Maybe) Stop Banks from Foreclosing

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WNYC

Under eminent domain city governments have the power to take private property for the benefit of the public. Activists in New Jersey argue that preventing foreclosures is a public benefit, and they want city officials to tap into their eminent domain power to buy homes from banks that are on the brink of foreclosure. The twist: the city would allow the current homeowners to stay in their home.

Newark City Council members are intrigued by the idea.

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New Jersey News

Banks Abandoning Newark Properties

Friday, April 19, 2013

Almost 43 percent of bank-owned properties in one Newark neighborhood remain vacant, even years after foreclosure, according to a new study.

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New Jersey News

Report: Foreclosures Cost City of Newark $56 Million

Thursday, April 18, 2013

WNYC

Foreclosures in Newark cost taxpayers $56 million over the last four years, according to a report by the activist group New Jersey Communities United.

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New Jersey News

Old Water Pipes, New Development...Big Problem

Thursday, April 04, 2013

WNYC

A string of water main breaks in Hoboken last week is causing the city to take a closer look at its aging drinking water system.

The city has had to repair anywhere from 12 to 37 water mains each year. In 2012, the city had to repair 21 water mains.

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Transportation Nation

One Train Ticket in New Jersey Can be Valid for Years ... If You Never Get on a Train

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The main waiting room at Newark Penn Station (photo by Luke H. Gordon via flickr)

(Sarah Gonzalez - WNYC/NJPR) John Williams says he’s been living at Newark Penn Station for a couple months.

His nails are almost an inch long; his grey beard less groomed than he’d like. But the 60-year-old is dressed sharp in a light brown plaid suit.

“I done had it on for two months,” he said. “I don’t smell and stuff like that but that’s a problem, you got some people in here that really, really smell bad.”

Laws prevent transit police from asking anyone – including the homeless – to leave stations unless they’re breaking rules.

“We can sleep sitting up in here, but if you lay down in here they’re going to wake you,” Williams said. “They take a stick and stick you with it. Or hit on the side of the wall or the bench.”

Inspector Al Stiehler with NJ Transit Police says managing the homeless in train stations takes officers are away from their primary role, which is counter-terrorism and safety.

“Sometimes we’re dealing with the same person two, three times a day,” Stielher said. “They’re intoxicated, they go to the hospital, they come right back. They have a seizure, they go to the hospital, they come right back. Police officers didn’t have the tools to do what they needed. It was just a cycle.”

(photo by Laser Burners via flickr)

Since New Jersey Transit can't ask homeless people to leave the waiting areas, they’re trying to offer help instead.

Michelle Walsh is the Community Intervention Specialist with New Jersey Transit. She tries to get the homeless into shelters and connect them to programs that offer food and services. She says the program has two goals.

“Helping the homeless but also making it more comfortable for passengers when they’re riding through,” she said.

Walsh says she engages about 75 percent of the homeless in some way.

“Even if it looks like someone isn’t working with me, we might be working on… getting their birth certificate from a different state which takes time.”

Many of the homeless men and women have mental disorders, Walsh said. Many want to stay at train stations.

And they have the right to be there, according to Ed Barocas, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey.

“If someone is simply sitting up on a bench, whether they do it for a half hour or 4 hours that’s their right to do it,” Barocas said. “These are areas open to the public, and people who are homeless are a part of the public.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the state $24 million dollars to help with the homeless. And some of that money will go to organizations that New Jersey Transit partners with.

Buying a Ticket to Sleep on the Benches

John Williams says he prefers to stay at train stations where there are a lot of other homeless people – like a station in Summit. He says it makes him feel more comfortable.

And if he wants to sit, or rest his eyes, on the benches for ticketed passengers only, he knows what he needs to do.

“I have a ticket, okay. This is what you need to have to stay in,” Williams says. “If you doesn’t have that you’re going to have to go out in the cold.”

He doesn’t need to buy a train ticket every night in order to sleep on the benches.

“No I don’t buy a ticket every night. I buy a ticket one time, as long as it’s not punched it’s good. As long as it doesn’t have a hole in it. I done had this for two months.”

Once you’re on a train, conductors, which cost taxpayers about 30 million dollars a year, come by with a hole-puncher, manually punching two holes in every passenger’s ticket.

If you never get on a train to get your ticket punched, your ticket will never expire.

Some of the homeless people at Newark Penn Station have been there for years. One has been at the station for 19 years; another for 26 years.

Inspector Al Stiehler says NJ Transit has been tossing around ideas to create a system where tickets would eventually expire, but he says that’s way down the line.

He says train stations attract large homeless populations because they offer amenities the homeless can’t get elsewhere.

“They have access to liquor stores and bars, there’s people around here that can get money, there’s food, and they have 24/7 hour police protection. They’re not going to get that at a shelter.”

John Williams says he shouldn’t have to go to a shelter.

“Because I am a taxpayer,” he said. “Well, I used to be a taxpayer.”

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Schoolbook

Feisty Forum on Newark School Reform

Thursday, March 21, 2013

WNYC's Brian Lehrer moderated a forum on schools in Newark. Hear the next-day analysis of the conversation which touched on charter schools, private money, and teacher contracts. The themes -- and the emotion -- will sound very familiar to those watching the New York City school system.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Debating Newark School Reform

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Brian Lehrer moderated a community forum on school reform issues in Newark and throughout the state of New Jersey. On today's show, hear analysis of the conversation from New Jersey Public Radio's Nancy Solomon and John Mooney of NJ Spotlight.

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WNYC News

Bus Tour Brings Philip Roth's Newark to Life

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WNYC

It’s a curious way to celebrate a famous writer’s 80th birthday: go back to the city of his youth and read excerpts from his books.

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New Jersey News

Why Poverty, Disability Are Baked into Student Test Scores

Monday, March 18, 2013

WNYC

Starting next year teachers in New Jersey are going to be held accountable for how much their students learn, as part of Governor Chris Christie’s teacher tenure reform plan. At least a third of their evaluation will be based on how much they raise test scores on the NJ ASK – New Jersey’s standardized test. But some question whether the use of standardized tests fairly reflects how well teachers are doing their job.

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WNYC News

Philip Roth and Fans Return to Newark for his 80th

Monday, March 18, 2013

Philip Roth fans and scholars from across the country are descending on Newark this week for several activities honoring the city's most famous literary son on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

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New Jersey News

Policing Takes Center Stage at Cory Booker State of City Address

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

To a crowd of about 500 people, Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced that after years of difficult but necessary budget cuts, Newark can start investing again.

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New Jersey News

Special Education Expansion Brings Challenges, Hope to Newark School

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Hechinger Report

Quitman Street Renew School is one of seven buildings that are the focus of plans to improve the Newark public schools. One of it's new programs has brought an influx of special education students, which raises concern that a school with so many kids with high needs will make it hard for the school to pass it's state tests.

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