Saturday, April 6, 2013
Buybacks take thousands of guns off New Jersey streets, but critics argue the millions spent on programs could be put to better use.
State officials, with the help of local authorities, have been conducting a gun buyback campaign in several New Jersey cities, an effort to reduce gun-related crimes that they say was planned before the Newtown, CT, shooting. Tom Reilly, executive director of the Police Institute at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in Newark, tells NJ Spotlight: “Buybacks are done with a community partnership, in most cases with the support of community leaders and church leaders. It sends an important message as to lack of tolerance for violence in the community.” Since December, the state has spent $1.2 million on five buybacks. They’ve collected a record haul of more than 9,000 firearms, including rocket launchers, assault weapons, and submachine …
Monday, April 1, 2013
Data from study could help save money, reduce number of avoidable ER visits.
New Jerseyans who live in different communities use hospitals at widely different rates, and those differences could pave the way to improving healthcare and reducing costs, according to a new report by Rutgers University researchers. The report, Hospital Utilization Patterns in 13 Low-Income Communities in New Jersey: Opportunities for Better Care and Lower Costs, found wide variations in how many avoidable ER visits residents make. The reason that this information is so valuable, according to coauthor Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, is that it opens up the possibility that communities that rely heavily on hospitals for primary care can learn from those who make fewer trips to the ER. For example, the …
Friday, March 1, 2013
Aid numbers show a 1.9 percent increase in aid for the district over 2013.
Friday, March 1
Despite the shadow of sequester cuts looming over education, New Brunswick's state aid numbers are strong, with an increase of 1.9 percent, according to a report on NJ Spotlight. New Brunswick's school budget for the 2014 school year will be padded with a proposed $122.6 million in total aid, a 1.9 percent increase over $120.2 million in 2013. Superintendent Richard Kaplan said a $2.3 million increase in general aid has been proposed, as well as a $1.3 million increase in early childhood aid. The NJ Department of Education has promised $8.7 billion in state aid to the state's 580 school districts. The overall increase was one percent, but only 300 districts saw any worthwhile increases in their aid, according to the report. Stay informed …
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Eliminating insurance as college perquisite could create coverage gaps, especially among lower-income students.
A bill being floated in the state Legislature is meant to help keep college students in school, but it could have the unintended consequence of allowing thousands of them to drop their health insurance - despite the federal mandate extending coverage to all U.S. citizens. Understanding the quandary means grappling with the complex calculus of some of the state's insurance regulations. The current law requires anyone attending college in New Jersey to be covered by health insurance. To keep attendance high, some colleges offer relatively inexpensive coverage. The new proposal would eliminate health coverage as a prerequisite to college. But under the federal Affordable Care Act, all Americans - students and slackers alike - must have access…
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Youths with nowhere to go need counseling, education, safe places and adult mentors.
Wednesday, January 2
This month the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released results of its “point in time” survey, for which local teams count all the homeless people to be found on one night in January. In New Jersey, there were 13,025 people without permanent housing that night, including 2,695 severely mentally ill people and 592 veterans. More than 1,500 of them were found in Newark or elsewhere in Essex County. Those totals don’t parse out all of the young people who have no place to go, the young adults who aged out of foster care without families, who got kicked out of their homes for being gay or pregnant, or who are couch-surfing because their parents can’t or won’t shelter them. Counting homeless young people is a challenge in any …
Sunday, December 23, 2012
'Multifaceted approach to violence' stresses treatment for mentally ill, not jail-time.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
New Jersey would declare violence a public health crisis and establish a commission to study its causes under a bill announced by state Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) on Wednesday. The measure also would expand mental health programs and recommend that the federal government adopt gun control measures in the wake of the Newtown, CT massacre. “We want to do whatever’s possible to avoid something like that,” Lesniak said. The mass shooting appears to have opened a window of opportunity for proposals to increase gun control and funding for mental health services, judging by the number that have been introduced nationwide. While New Jersey already has one of the most stringent gun laws in the country, bill supporters said there are other …
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Environmentalists applaud proposed measure, industry argues it won't do much to reduce litter.
If legislators have their way, when New Jerseyans go shopping in the future, they may pay a small tax if they want their groceries packed in a paper or plastic bag. In a move to curb plastic bags from littering the landscape and waterways, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee has approved a bill (S-812) that would impose a five-cent surcharge on consumers who fail to bring a reusable bag to their grocery or convenience store. The move was opposed by manufacturers of plastic bags, who claimed stores already are voluntarily recycling plastic bags, which they and a member of the Senate panel argued constitute a minute portion of the litter that winds up in streets and waterways. Environmentalists have long advocated such legislation, …
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Shootings at Columbine more than a decade ago opened educators' eyes to the need for stringent school safety,
As the news from Newtown, CT, unfolded on Friday, New Jersey's schools started sending emails of reassurance to families, letting them know that local schools remained safe places for their children. In some communities, including New Brunswick, local police were dispatched to schools during their Friday and Monday dismissals, just for a show of presence. But over the weekend another response was less visible in many New Jersey schools, as superintendents and principals made quieter plans: meet with staff, go over safety procedures, and be especially alert to the emotions of students and staff in the days ahead. “If any students are particularly concerned, or seem emotional about the news they have heard, please alert a counselor or …
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Legislature grapples with basic issues concerning online charters, starting with working definitions.
As New Jersey’s Legislature grapples with how, or if, it will step up the state’s oversight of charter schools, a vexing issue remains as to what will happen with schools relying on online instruction. The Joint Committee on the Public Schools last week held the third of four hearings on online schooling, both strictly virtual and blended models, which use a combination of online and in-class instruction. The plan is to develop legislation to address the state’s oversight. But frustrating question remain about where draw the line between schools that rely on online instruction and where it is only a piece of an overall program. And regardless of the model, is cyber-education more appropriate for some ages than for others? The chairman of …
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Lesniak bill calls for stormproofed substations, widely deployed smart meters, to prevent the outages that followed Sandy.
Its most prominent proponent calls it the "Never Again Campaign", a curious choice of words given that one of the most trusted tenets in Trenton shared by lobbyists and politicians alike is: “Never say 'never.'’’ Nonetheless, the Legislature may soon move a bill that would require the state’s electric utilities to make significant improvements to the power grid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to a veteran lawmaker. The bill's goal is to prevent the type of widespread outages in the wake of the storm, which left more than two million customers without power, some of which (on the state’s barrier islands) have yet to get their lights on. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) said yesterday he hopes to introduce the bill early next month, …