Community Offers Feedback on Plan to Save Historic Newark Mansion

NEWARK, NJ – For the group of around forty people gathered in the basement of Abyssinian Baptist Church to discuss the future of an iconic Newark landmark, a quote from the Bible posted on the wall said it best – it’s time to build.

"We believe in the potential of this project," said Carmelo Garcia, deputy mayor and director of economic and housing development, regarding a plan to restore the vacant Krueger-Scott Mansion, a palatial Victorian-era house built at the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Court Street, after decades of dormancy. "We want to do something groundbreaking and transformative that will catalyze this area."

The Friday night community meeting was held to answer questions about the approximately $30 million restoration project, which is meant to be a mix of living space and work space.

Avi Telyas of Seaview Development Corporation, the developer who is partnering with the city on the project, noted that 66 apartments, both market rate and affordable housing, will be built on the back of the property, along with 16 workshops for small entrepreneurs all inside a seven-story building.

Telyas tried to allay concerns about the future of a nearly one-acre urban farm established by the Greater Newark Conservancy that is already on the property, saying that he hopes to work with the non-profit organization to move the farm to a greenhouse on the site.

"We want a community design to help you kickstart your business," Telyas said, adding that he hopes that the project will break ground later this year, with completion time approximately 14 months.

The mansion, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1888 on what was then known as High Street by German beer baron Gottfried Krueger at a time when Newark was renowned for its production of lagers and ales. Krueger built the mansion in response to the construction of rival brewer John Ballantine’s opulent home downtown, now part of the Newark Museum.

It was purchased by local entrepreneur Louise Scott-Rountree in 1958, who used the site to run a cosmetology college and other businesses and that became a de facto community hub in the Central Ward.

For Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree, her mother’s namesake, the project brings back memories of the house she lived in more than 20 years, but also opens a window to the future.

"My mother would love this, but what’s more important is what’s going to be there," Scott-Rountree said. "We have to be mindful that whatever we do in the community has to benefit the community. Then you have to know the community that you’re in. It’s not suburbia."

Part of Newark’s cultural memory is of a time when Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was named High Street, and when High Street was called Millionaires’ Row. For one resident, the next projected wave of redevelopment that the project represents, another sign of a rapidly changing Newark, was met not with nervous trepidation but with raised expectations.

"I remember Newark when we had a middle class and an upper-middle class. That’s what has to come back." said Alif Muhammad, 65, a Central Ward resident. "I want to see market-rate apartments in the area, because I remember how beautiful it was. So I don’t have a problem."

Another resident addressed the idea of increasing socioeconomic mobility in Newark.

"My impression of this project is very different than a lot of projects that you see. Even if you go over a few blocks, they’re building housing with plans to have a percentage to be for low or moderate income. But there is no plan to help people get to the place where they can even afford low or moderate income," said Pastor Linda Ellerbe of Israel Memorial A.M.E. Church. "This is an opportunity for people to have a space to work and to live, but to also have the support to be successful."

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Cremation gaining in popularity fast as burial costs rise

Cremation is becoming a popular choice for people in Florida.

Fred and Margaret, of Clifton, N.J., died one month apart during the winter.

The couple, whose last name their children asked not to divulge, met in high school and were married for 69 years. They were inseparable.

Death was not about to change that.

They made arrangements years ago: Margaret, 87, would take the last grave in the family’s plot at St. Nicholas Cemetery in Lodi, N.J. Fred, 88, a devout Catholic who was born some 30 years before the Vatican lifted its ban on cremation in 1963, decided his ashes would be buried by her head.

Perhaps, if there were space, Fred would not have chosen to be cremated, his daughter Donna said. But there was room for only one.

“I think he just wanted to be with my mom and that’s what he had to do in order for him to be with her,” she said.

For space and other reasons, cremation is a decision more and more Americans are making.

In 2016, the cremation rate inched past 50% for the first time, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. By 2025, it is expected to become the disposition of choice for 63.8% of people who die in the U.S., and by 2035, 78.8%.

“What’s pretty interesting is it took nearly 100 years from the first cremation in the U.S. in 1876 to reach 5% in 1972, and since then, it’s grown exponentially,” said George Kelder, executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association.

Western states lead the U.S. with cremation rates exceeding 70%.

The relatively cheap cost of cremation vs. traditional burial is a major driving factor, Kelder said. Burial costs an average of $4,741 in the state, including the price for a grave and burial vault and a cemetery fee for opening and closing the grave.

A casket can add $10,000 to that price tag, the association says.

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Cremation requires an average crematory fee of $306. An urn is about $200. The fees associated with a niche, a space that holds urns, can total about $2,000.

"The cost of burial continues to increase as the cost of real estate increases," Kelder said. "Cremation becomes an affordable alternative to that."

Weakening ties to religion and place have also chipped away at the number of burials. The days of weeklong religious funeral services with a large gathering of friends and family are over, said Judy Welshons, executive director of the New Jersey Cemetery Association.

Bringing families together

People are far more transient, she said. They’re less tethered to their hometowns, communities and religious institutions.

Customers look for simpler, quicker funeral practices, said Lou Stellato, president of Stellato Funeral Homes. Wakes last mere hours.

"Fifty years ago, four generations lived in one house, so everybody was there already," Stellato said. "Now it takes two to four days just to get the entire family" together.

Cremation is more conducive to a nomadic lifestyle, he said, allowing the remains of the dead to easily travel with loved ones.

Catholics are prohibited from keeping urns at home or scattering ashes, but even they are increasingly turning to cremation.

The Vatican’s reaffirmation in 2016 that Catholics can be cremated as long as their remains are laid to rest in a consecrated place, such as a Catholic cemetery, boosted interest, said Andrew Schafer, executive director of cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Newark.

The cremation rate at the eight cemeteries the archdiocese oversees jumped from 5.8% in 2000 to a projected nearly 19% this year.

"The Catholic population has been a little slower to embrace cremation," Schafer said. "You have a part of the population that now — because it’s been such a conversation out in the media — is exploring."

At East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clifton, N.J., superintendent Gary Sciarrino noticed the market changing some 20 years ago and decided to take the plunge.

The cemetery’s crematory opened in 2000 with one cremation chamber, called a retort, and became so popular that four more retorts were added in the span of three years. Burials have since dropped from 800 per year to 550 to 600 per year.

“We saw that there was such a demand that we had no choice,” Sciarrino said. “We built the facility with the idea that we would have the space to add if we needed.”

The crematory handles 2,500 cremations per year.

The room’s centerpiece is an oversized retort that can handle bodies of up to 900 pounds. The silver unit is loud, filling the high ceilings with the sound of roaring machinery when in use. There are no smells or smoke.

It takes about an hour to cremate 150 pounds, Sciarrino said. The remains are then swept up, pulverized and placed in a white box.

Mourners can watch the process from a viewing room, but few choose to do so, Sciarrino said. The majority opt to pick up the remains from a funeral home and take them home. Others place the ashes in niches in the cemetery’s outdoor columbarium or indoor mausoleum or sprinkle them in a scattering garden.

“It gives the family a little bit more closure,” Sciarrino said of the garden.


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The 15th Annual Tour de Elizabeth Comes to Elizabeth this Sunday

ELIZABETH, NJ – Cyclists of every skill level are readying their bicycles in anticipation as the 15th annual Tour de Elizabeth that will roll through the city.\ this coming Sunday.

This year’s ride, which is titled “Destination Elizabeth,” will begin and end at City Hall, is a family-friendly, 15-mile recreational tour of the City of Elizabeth’s historic neighborhoods.

Registration is still open online at and For those needing a bicycle, arrangements have been made by the Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization, which include a helmet, at

Walk up registrations are $25 each and also welcome. The registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the ride begins promptly at 9 a.m.

The Tour is open to all ages if the participant can keep a moderate pace of 10 miles per hour and is able to ride 15 miles, there is a bail-out at the halfway mark. Helmets are required for all riders. Members of the Elizabeth Police Department will also be on hand to escort cyclists on a route with rolling intersection closings and assist where needed.

Elizabeth is a destination City which boasts of great history, cuisine, and diversity. Groundwork Elizabeth and the City help to organize the Tour, assisted by the Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization, the Bicycle Committee, and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders are all working with the City to promote the theme and the Tour.

The event site is also home to vendors, nonprofit organizations and for the first time, it will feature a Wellness Center on the plaza in front of City Hall, courtesy of the City of Elizabeth’s Health and Human Services Department.

City Hall, which is located at 50 Winfield Scott Plaza in New Jersey’s 4th largest City. The event will go on rain or shine.

Part of the proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit organization Groundwork Elizabeth, whose mission is to build more sustainable communities. For more information, contact Groundwork Elizabeth at 908-289-0262.

Sponsorships, along with the commitment by Energy partner Elizabethtown Gas, help fund the Tour. Sponsors include: Elberon Development Group, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Brounell and Kramer Realtors, Harbor Consultants Inc., T&M Associates, Rotary Club of Elizabeth, State Farm Insurance office of Angel Rodriguez, Investors Savings Bank, Universal Peace Federation USA, Atalanta Corporation, BJ&M Auto, Tropicana Diner, the Gateway Family YMCA, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, the Election Fund of Carlos Torres, Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery, Infineum USA LP, the Elizabeth Avenue Partnership, the Historic Midtown Special Improvement District, the Elizabeth Housing Authority, Donald T. Alosio, Jr. DC, Hilton Newark Airport Hotel, Residential Home Funding, Stanley J. Appraisers. In-kind supporters such as Rock ’n’ Joe, IKEA, Gargiulo Fruit, Navy Veteran Printing, NJ American Water, and others add to the base of supporters who make the day a special event. is Elizabeth’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook at and Twitter @TAPElizabeth.

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Officials: 6-year-old Newark girl dies after fall from window


A 6-year-old girl has died after falling out of a third-floor window of her apartment building in Newark.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office says that Yodia Encarnacion was playing with other children inside an apartment on the 300 block of 14th Avenue when she fell out of the window. It is believed that the child may have been jumping on the bed. The incident happened around 11:40 p.m. Monday.

The child was taken to University Hospital but was pronounced dead several hours later.

Prosecutors say that no charges have been filed at this time. The incident remains under investigation.

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MENENDEZ ‘severely’ admonished — PORT AUTHORITY trashes Turner — SWEENEY goes negative on free community college

Good Friday morning!

The Senate Ethics Committee’s decision on Sen. Menendez is in, and it’s pretty brutal. It’s a “severe” admonishment over his advocacy for Salomon Melgen while receiving gifts from him.

A snippet: “While accepting these gifts, you used your position as a Member of the Senate to advance Dr. Melgen’s personal and business interests. The Committee has determined that this conduct violated Senate Rules, federal law, and applicable standards of conduct." Read the whole thing here.

The committee also demanded Menendez pay back all the gifts he’s received from Melgen that he hasn’t repaid already, though it gives no total value. "Accordingly, the Committee issues you this Public Letter of Admonition, and also directs you to repay the fair market value of all impermissible gifts not already repaid," the decision reads.

But the real cost for Menendez is political. Now Bob Hugin can spend his self-funded millions on commercials saying that Menendez’s own colleagues on a bipartisan committee found he broke federal law. On the plus side for Menendez: This letter comes more than six months before he faces reelection. That’s always been a long time in politics, but with new Trump administration scandals popping up every week it’s even longer. Trump is so politically toxic statewide that Hugin won’t even call himself a Trump supporter. And there are no new facts to the Menendez scandal that has been in the papers since 2013.

And as a last resort, there’s always the precedent of the last New Jersey U.S. senator to be admonished by the Ethics Committee, over a similar controversy: Bob Torricelli. That and the public blowback forced him to drop out. Democrats were able to convince the Supreme Court to let them swap him out late in the game, setting a precedent. So in the unlikely event it comes down to that, Democrats still have an option — if they could actually convince Menendez to step aside.

WHERE’S MURPHY? In New York, speaking at the Regional Plan Association Annual Assembly Conference. 10am at the Grand Hyatt by Grand Central

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Congressional candidate Steve Lonegan, DNC Northeast Director Mansoor Abdul Khadir. Saturday for Lampitt aide Rich DiCriscio. Sunday for Assemblyman Arthur Barclay, DSC E.D. Liz Gilbert, LD2 aide Rich DiCriscio, Gusciora aide Brendan Neal

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The LoBiondo seat is still a recruiting hole for us, I’ll be honest … I wish we had a better recruit in the LoBiondo seat but we don’t” — National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Shivers, all but conceding retiring GOP U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s seat to Democrat Jeff Van Drew.

** A message from 1199SEIU & Garden State CARES: NJ nursing homes are chronically understaffed, ranking 45th in the nation in staffing of certified nursing assistants, the workers who patients rely on for their daily needs. That’s why today, 1199SEIU caregivers are marching in Trenton —calling for passage of bill S1612/A382 to establish minimum CNA-to-patient ratios in nursing homes. Learn more: **


A GOVERNOR WHO DOESN’T HAVE YOUR BACKGROUND CHECK — New Jersey hires former investment banker previously accused of securities fraud, by POLITICO’s Ryan Hutchins: A former Citigroup executive once accused of defrauding thousands of investors was hired last month by the state Department of Transportation, where he is now in charge of overseeing several major divisions. Lewis E. Daidone, 60, began work in late March as the DOT’s assistant commissioner for finance and administration, according to memos obtained by POLITICO. He will manage the agency’s budget and capital investment staff, along with several other programs. Daidone, who was a managing director at Citigroup, was named in a 2005 enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The case was later dismissed by a federal judge, though a separate class-action lawsuit ended in a judgment and his employer agreed to a separate settlement requiring it to pay $208 million in fines and restitution. “The status of the matter was discussed with the candidate,” Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the state DOT, said in a response to written questions. “Notwithstanding the Citigroup settlement, Mr. Daidone pursued legal action to clear his name. The allegations were dismissed by the court.” Read the report

DEMOCRATS BEING DEMOCRATS — Democratic infighting escalates as Coughlin blasts key Murphy ally, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin fired a warning shot at a key ally of Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday, telling him it would be unwise to put political pressure on his caucus members through an advertising campaign. In a column Thursday, The Record’s Charles Stile paraphrased former Murphy campaign manager Brendan Gill saying that the pro-Murphy political nonprofit Gill runs, New Direction New Jersey, will launch an online and possibly television advertising campaign next month to “steadily mobilize public support and build pressure on resistant lawmakers” to pass Murphy’s progressive agenda. "Trying to pressure our members would be an unfortunate decision,” Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said in a statement. “Our caucus is focused on crafting a budget that represents the best interests of the taxpayers and no amount of pressure will deter us from doing what we believe to be in the best interest of New Jersey’s families. I would strongly advise the administration to distance itself from these remarks and these tactics." Read the report

—“Phil Murphy takes victory lap, but faces real test for tax hikes, legal weed,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “Gov. Phil Murphy took a victory lap Wednesday, claiming he "turned around the New Jersey narrative" in just 100 days in office. But it is in the next 66 days, and in the privacy of the closed-door Trenton clubhouse, where Murphy will face his first major test in governing. The pressure cooker of budget negotiations will challenge Murphy’s ability to persuade reluctant legislators to vote for his $1.7 million in tax hikes … He now has to make the pitch to grizzled Trenton veterans, like Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who couldn’t care less about Murphy’s ‘fairer and stronger’ sloganeering or poll numbers showing strong public support for parts of his agenda, like raising taxes on millionaires or legalizing marijuana for recreational use … He now has to make the pitch to grizzled Trenton veterans, like Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who couldn’t care less about Murphy’s "fairer and stronger” sloganeering or poll numbers showing strong public support for parts of his agenda, like raising taxes on millionaires or legalizing marijuana for recreational use.” Read the report

IT NEVER ENDS — 2 top Democrats question Murphy’s plan for tuition-free community college, by POLITICO’s Linh Tat: Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision for tuition-free community college hit a stumbling block Thursday, with two top lawmakers from his own party signaling they’re not yet sold on the idea. The questioning of one of Murphy’s key campaign promises means the $50 million he wants set aside in the upcoming fiscal year as a "down payment" on his plan to make two-year colleges tuition-free for all could be in jeopardy, since he’ll need the Legislature to agree to keep the money in the budget. State Senate President Steve Sweeney asked during a Senate budget hearing whether it makes sense to invest in a new initiative when the state has existing programs geared toward making college affordable. Sweeney noted that Murphy’s budget proposal would keep funding flat for the NJ STARS and Urban Scholarship programs. He also said the state is supposed to fund a third of the costs of community colleges, but only funds them at about 21 percent. “If we can’t fund the programs that we have existing now, and we’re not funding properly at the county level, can you explain why we’re creating a new program that we’ll have a hard time funding in the future?” Sweeney asked acting Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith Ellis. Read the report

COUGH COUGH COUGHLIN — Coughlin was in Colorado yesterday to tour its weed industry as New Jersey debates legalization. Assembly Democratic spokesman Tom Hester: “The Assembly’s focus right now when it comes to marijuana legalization is solely on getting public input through the hearings being held by Assemblyman Danielsen and his committee.” No word on whether Coughlin sampled the goods. And, honestly, I don’t know if he’s still there today.

BUT WHAT ABOUT MIT? YALE? LONDON BANKERS? — Port Authority goes to great lengths to distance itself from Caren Turner, by POLITICO’s Dana Rubinstein: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sought to make one thing abundantly clear on Thursday: Despite former Commissioner Caren Turner’s misbehavior, the agency has come a long way since the days when its chairman pleaded guilty to bribery and its executives were caught red-handed engineering the Bridgegate scandal. “Unethical and even criminal wrongdoing by past Port Authority leaders has badly damaged the agency’s reputation,” said Kevin O’Toole, the bi-state agency’s new chairman … Turner, in the statement also encouraged the “Tenafly Police Department to review best practices with respect to tone and de-escalation, so that incidents like this do not recur.” Yet the Port Authority board was so impressed with the police department’s performance and tone, that on Thursday it passed a resolution praising the department for its officers’ demeanor. “It is deeply unfortunate that former Commissioner Turner tested the patience and professionalism of the Tenafly Police Department on March 31, 2018,” the resolution read. “But it is a credit to the Tenafly Police Department that she did not succeed.” Read the report

THE LIFE OF BRIAN — “Stack unifies fractured statewide figures at Union City rally (without DeGise),” by InsiderNJ’s Max Pizarro: “Arrayed onstage with Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Bob Menendez and Senate President Steve Sweeney, Mayor (and state Senator) Brian P. Stack looked like he was ready for the German assault on Stalingrad tonight. His objective? Reelection in a walkover May 8th nonpartisan election. No one here in the Park Theater in this homage to Stack t-shirted humanity could name the person running against Stack … If irony was not the star of this apparent morality play, Stack in any event succeeded in providing a stage to convey a love bug vibe between fierce foes Sweeney and Murphy. Earlier in the day, sources coming out of the Trenton Senate Budget Hearing said they were stunned when Sweeney took the reins of the hearing to get some digs in on Murphy’s choice for higher ed.” Read the report

GUADAGNO GETS THE GREEN — “Guadagno joins law firm that has a cannabis practice,” by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: Kim Guadagno, New Jersey’s first lieutenant governor and the unsuccessful GOP nominee for governor last year, has a new job. The New Jersey-based Connell Foley law firm has hired Guadagno as a partner, Guadagno and the firm announced Thursday in a press release. She’ll work out of its Jersey City office. "It was an easy decision to join Connell Foley," said Guadagno. "After eight years of public service as New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor, I am eager to return to practicing law at one of the region’s most dynamic firms with an extraordinary group of dedicated and experienced professionals … Connell Foley has, over the years, had substantial state contracts. In 2015 — the last year for which the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission has information on its public contracts — it made $788,000 from public contracts, nearly half of which came from legal services for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. Guadagno during the campaign opposed legalizing marijuana, which Murphy ran in favor of. But her new law firm has a Cannabis Law Group that is "at the forefront of developments" in the cannabis industry, according to its website. Read the report

—“More than 3,000 attend Stack rally” Read the report

—“N.J. settles sex harassment case with $350K payout for state worker” Read the report

— PSEG subsidiary agrees to pay nearly $40M to settle FERC investigation Read the report

— Murphy tells PBA he’ll give ‘independence’ to pension fund Read the report


ETHICS COMMITTEE, POLITBURO. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? — “Sen. Bob Menendez wonders if the Russians are coming to get him in this election,” by The Record’s Herb Jackson: “It may just have been a humble brag in front of a bunch of reporters who cover foreign affairs about being on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s enemies list. But Sen. Bob Menendez is wondering whether Russian interference with American elections will include going after his bid for another six-year term representing New Jersey this year. ‘Whether or not Russia succeeded in affecting our elections, that’s not even the question,’ Menendez said Wednesday afternoon during a no-cameras discussion with reporters who primarily cover the Foreign Relations Committee … NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan Salant then asked Menendez if he really believed Russia would interfere in New Jersey. ‘I think the whole system is under assault as far as I’m concerned,’ he said. ‘But certainly as someone who is specifically on a small list of those who are sanctioned and cannot go to Russia, as a result of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act that we passed … You know, hey, there’s no one who’s pushed Russia sanctions harder than I have. So if you can mess around with an election, why not? I don’t know that they would or won’t do it. I’m just saying it,’ Menendez said.” Read the report

DENEUF! DENEUF! DENEUF IS ON FIRE! — “DeNeufville family foundation gave to Planned Parenthood,” by NJ Globe’s Nikita Biryukov: “Republican congressional candidate Peter DeNeufville’s family foundation has given $55,000 to Planned Parenthood and the Tides Foundation, a progressive policy group, since 2012 The foundation gave Planned Parenthood $15,000 for health education in 2016 and $20,000 to support family planning in 2012. Donations to the Tides Foundation, $5,000 in 2016 and $15,000 the year before, were not listed with a purpose. Though it was a small portion – roughly 4.4% – of the almost $1.3 million the Roxiticus Foundation gave to schools, charities and hospitals, among other causes, over the five-year period, the giving could prove to be a liability for DeNeufville, who is vice president of the foundation, as the June primary approach. DeNeufville campaign manager Gregg Edwards said donations from the foundation are often directed individually by the family members that sit on its board of directors.” Read the report

BEING FRANK — “N.J.’s Pallone tells Trump’s EPA head he is ‘unfit to hold public office’,” by NJ Advance Media’s Jonathan D. Salant: “Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. lashed into the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Thursday, calling him ‘unfit to hold public office and undeserving of the public trust.’ ‘Every indication is you really should resign," Pallone, D-6th Dist., told EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he is the ranking Democrat. Pruitt, accused of misusing taxpayer funds and for renting a room from the wife of a lobbyist with business before the EPA, said the attacks on him were an effort to sabotage President Donald Trump’s agenda of rolling back regulations.” Read the report


NO WORD ON WHETHER THEY WILL FOCUS CAMERAS ON 920 BROAD — “Newark ‘Virtual Police’ initiative will allow residents to view police cameras,” by ABC 7’s Anthony Johnson: “Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Thursday announced the launch of the "Citizen Virtual Patrol," a virtual policing program. "This invaluable technology puts a real-time crime reporting tool in the hands of every concerned community member," Baraka said. Beginning April 26, officials say 62 surveillance cameras will be put up around the city. Anyone will be able to log onto the Newark Police Department’s website and view the surveillance cameras. The hope is that this will encourage citizens to aid police during investigations and deter criminal activity.” Read the report

HE’S GOT JIMMY DAVIS LIES — “Mayor says city never tried to condemn sites, but resolutions show they studied it,” by The Jersey Journal’s Corey W. McDonald: “Mayor Jimmy Davis, in a statement, blasted The Jersey Journal for its story detailing how the city explored an effort by a development company to take two local businesses through eminent domain. ‘I want everyone to understand the truth about the Starting Point/White Glove eminent domain story in the Jersey Journal yesterday: The DAVIS administration NEVER took ANY action whatsoever to condemn the properties in connection with the re-development of the former Texaco site,’ Davis said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. But resolutions approved by the City Council in 2016 show the governing body knowingly approved several resolutions to determine if the properties ‘constitute a condemnation area in need of redevelopment,’ including the approval of a $25,000 study … The council then approved a resolution to go to bid for a company to conduct an investigation of the two properties, and in June 2016 the city hired Phillips, Preiss, Grygeil, LLC, a planning and real estate consultant company, to conduct the investigation of the site for a total fee not to exceed $25,000. The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether the two subject properties should be included in the Texaco Redevelopment Site, and thus available to be seized through eminent domain.” Read the report

—“Montville residents speak out about official’s post comparing Nazis to Democrats” Read the report

—“Baraka has edge in bid for 2nd term” Read the report

—“Lakewood growth: NJ says township must prove it has enough water” Read the report

—“Assemblyman Wimberly backs Sayegh for mayor of Paterson” Read the report

—“Officials tout jobs, tax revenue for proposed [North Bergen] power plant” Read the report

—“A sanctuary space for immigrants in Montclair | Di Ionno” Read the column

—“Cherry Hill schools arming campus officers at high schools” Read the report

—“Paterson police celebrates its new police chief, Troy Oswald” Read the report

—“Newark and Camden just got 400K each to clean up dirty land” Read the report


AUTISM — “Autism Disorder Increases in U.S. Children, CDC Study Finds,” by Bloomberg’s Elise Young: “U.S. autism prevalence has grown, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, with about 1.7 percent of 8-year-olds affected in 11 states. The study, based on 2014 research, again identifies New Jersey with the highest incidence. One in 34 children in that state, or 3 percent, fall on what’s called the autism spectrum, which encompasses a range of social, behavioral and learning disorders ranging from the barely noticeable to the profoundly debilitating. Nationally, the prevalence has increased 150 percent since 2000, according to the study, which called autism ‘an urgent public-health concern.’” Read the report

—“Black men kicked out of L.A. Fitness say experience was ‘humiliating’” Read the report

—“Pets could be next target of exotic tick that infested N.J. farm” Read the report

POLITICO’s Ben White is bringing Morning Money to the Milken Institute Global Conference to provide coverage of the day’s events and evening happenings. The newsletter starts on April 29th.Sign-up to keep up with your daily conference coverage.

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** A message from 1199SEIU & Garden State CARES: New Jersey nursing homes are chronically understaffed—jeopardizing quality care for 44,000 of our state’s most vulnerable residents.

Nursing homes in our state rank 45th in the nation for the staffing levels of certified nursing assistants (CNAs)—the primary direct care workers who patients rely on for their most basic daily needs. That’s why today, International Worker’s Day, the caregivers of 1199SEIU are leading the “March for Our Patients” in Trenton—calling on lawmakers to pass bill S1612/A382 to establish minimum CNA-to-patient ratios in nursing homes.

To send a loved one to live in a nursing home is never an easy decision. Families faced with these difficult, life-changing choices should never have to worry about whether facilities lack sufficient direct care staff to provide devoted personal care and attention.

Add your voice to support better staffing in nursing homes by signing the petition at **

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Newark hosts housing assistance fair

North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., Councilman-At-Large Carlos M. Gonzalez and Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo will sponsor the annual Newark Housing Assistance Fair for residents today at 6 p.m. at the Lady of Good Counsel Church, 654 Summer Ave.

The program is designed to offer information to homeowners and residents from housing counseling agencies. Representatives will provide assistance with finding affordable housing and emergency rental assistance. Participating organizations include La Casa de Don Pedro and the Essex County – Division Council for Supporting Housing.

Participants will also receive information about options available to avoid foreclosure through the New Jersey Foreclosure Mediation Program, which provides housing counselors, lawyers, and mediators to homeowners facing foreclosure. Information will also be offered on how to avoid foreclosure scams.

For more information about the housing fair, contact Councilman Ramos’ office at (973) 733-5136, or Councilman Gonzalez’s office at (973) 733-6425.

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Taylor Hall Raises the Bar for Himself, Devils in MVP-Caliber Season

Taylor Hall endured a rough start to life in New Jersey, but he’s become a man on a mission and has finally hit the playoff stage as the leader of a rejuvenated team back in the postseason for the first time in years.

Taylor Hall is picturing a recent memory, unremarkable yet personally momentous. It was early last fall, a couple days into his second Devils training camp. Beneath clear skies and a brilliant sun, Hall was lounging on the outdoor pool deck of his high-rise complex in Jersey City, finally feeling settled after the June 2016 blockbuster that brought him there from Edmonton. His apartment was furnished, his car was registered, his state license obtained … so much life-cluttering “little crap” sorted out. He looked around, digesting the scene. “OK, this is normal,” he thought. “This is home.”

Wounded in the wake of the trade, a one-for-one swap with defenseman Adam Larsson, Hall had spoken with Devils general manager Ray Shero, who likened what Hall would experience leaving the Oilers–the organization that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009–to the death of a family member.

“I’m giving you one year,” Shero told him. “Then you’ve got to move on.”

Even Hall will admit that the mourning period lasted until that time limit hit triple zeroes, no doubt worsened by New Jersey’s last-place finish and Edmonton’s run to the second round. Relocating was a yearlong adjustment too, since Hall knew almost none of his new teammates and absolutely nothing about the area. Shero looks back and laughs at how long he took to discover the tollbooth magic of EZ Pass.

Then came summer. Between a revamped training regimen and two illuminating meetings–not to mention a trip to Coachella with then-teammate Dalton Prout–Hall returned having rounded a personal corner.

“He came back on a mission,” coach John Hynes says.

He was thrilled when the Devils won the lottery and drafted Swiss center Nico Hischier. He was impressed when Shero signed veteran Brian Boyle and traded for winger Marcus Johansson. With Hynes and the rest of his staff also returning, “it just seemed like things were looking up,” Hall says. “Maybe we make the playoffs or we don’t, but we’re going to have an improved year. I had that feeling.”

Seven months after his poolside epiphany, the 26-year-old is sitting on a couch at Newark’s Prudential Center, slugging from a protein shake and side-eying NHL Network highlights on the television. He was correct, of course, and then some. The Devils have returned to the postseason for the first time since 2011-12 and will open against top-seeded Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Much of the credit belongs to a Hart Trophy-caliber, 93-point tour de force from Hall, who started the year believing that reaching 75 points would’ve counted as “really solid,” he says. “But you start playing better and better and you see, ‘How far can I push this?’”

Into ending his personal Stanley Cup playoff drought after 529 regular-season games, apparently. And into rarified air along the way: From Jan. 2 to March 6, Hall recorded at least one point in 26 straight appearances, something only seven others–including some dudes named Gretzky and Lemieux–have done. His 38 points during that stretch alone would rank fifth on the Devils’ season-long scoring list, at once a testament to Hall’s external dominance and internal importance. Indeed, he can feel the love; at Patrik Elias’ late-Feb. jersey retirement, co-owner David Blitzer dreamt about holding a similar ceremony for Hall in 2038.

“This is his team,” Shero says. “He cares. I don’t know if I could’ve said that last year. I don’t know if he was all-in.”

As the losses mounted last season–the Devils finished 28-40-14, their worst record in three decades, and were formally eliminated from playoff contention on March 25–so did the chatter. Six years in a Canadian market had steeled Hall against the usual cycle of fan fodder, but this was different.

“There were some people around me being like, ‘Hey, you should try to get out of Jersey. You should try to ask for a trade,’” he says.

So Hall called his dad. Steve Hall is a former CFL speedster who successfully switched to international bobsledding after retiring from the gridiron. When Taylor was 12, Steve had him taking pregame naps, drinking recovery shakes and warming up three hours prior to puck drop on the backyard rink.

“I just always loved doing it,” Taylor says. “It never seemed like work.”

Today Steve serves as a sounding board for his only child, speaking before every Devils game, exchanging thoughts over text after. When Taylor relayed what his buddies had been saying, Steve offered his unfiltered opinion: “No. You’ve got a job to do. It’s time to get to work.”

“And he’s never been more right about anything there,” says Taylor.

Shortly after the season ended, Hall recounted this exchange to Shero over dinner and beers at Del Frisco’s in Hoboken.

“That was the beginning of our conversation,” says Shero, though the meeting eventually extended past four hours. As a Ducks-Oilers second round game played in the background–Shero had purposely picked his seat so Hall’s back would be turned to the TV–both men were blunt in their postmortems. Shero asked Hall to grade his overall performance as a percentage; the latter suggested 50, while the Devils GM estimated closer to 30, telling Hall that his body language and practice habits needed to improve for the betterment of the team.

“I just said we needed some better players,” Hall says.

“It’s coming,” Shero told him. “Do you trust me?”

“I trust you,” Hall replied.

Upon returning from Coachella–according to Prout, the Drake and Skrillex shows were especially dope–Hall moved into a downtown Toronto apartment to spend the offseason with Andy O’Brien, the longtime trainer of Sidney Crosby. In years’ past Hall had always worked out in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, under the supervision of his father, whose inventive programs included bobsled-based acceleration drills and catching mini footballs to train spacial awareness. But Hall wanted to skate and conduct on-ice skill work alongside fellow NHLers in the city.

It was there that Devils coach John Hynes flew in late May and met Hall for lunch on a sports bar patio near Air Canada Centre. Their chat also lasted multiple hours, but focused less on Hall than the team. Hynes solicited advice about scheduling practices, rest days, and video meetings. Hall told Hynes that he wanted to be pushed harder and called out on film if necessary. Even then, Hynes could sense an evolution in his best player.

“He has a lot of pride,” Hynes says. “And I think that affected him, that he was deemed not part of the solution in Edmonton. And I think it took a little while to set in that this was going to be a really good fit for him, that we had his back and believed in him, and we needed more.”

The Devils have gotten more from many sources. Shero held up his end of the bargain by finding better players, acquiring defenseman Sami Vatanen from Anaheim last November, grabbing speedster Michael Grabner and below-the-net dynamo Patrick Maroon before the trade deadline. Role players like Stefan Noesen and Blake Coleman have balanced out the lineup, as have Hall’s teenage linemates Hischier (20 goals, 32 assists) and Jesper Bratt (13, 22). When starting goalie Cory Schneider faltered, emoji king Keith Kincaid rushed to the rescue.

Then there’s Hall.

“I think that Taylor has been more important to our team than any one else is to their team this year,” Devils defenseman Ben Lovejoy says.

Added Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly, who played for New Jersey last season: "He’s the MVP of the league."

Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, whose 24 goals finished second to Hall’s 39, says "He’s carried us all year. He’s turned the page. And that next page has been a good one in Jersey.”

Early into the third period on Jan. 7, with the Devils leading 4-2 at the exact midway point of their ‘17-18 season, Hall was whistled for cross-checking after taking a wayward stick in the face and retaliating against Islanders forward Brock Nelson. It was a rare emotional outburst from a normally calm presence, leading Hynes to ask Hall the next day what happened. Apologizing for the penalty, which led to a power play goal that sparked an Islanders comeback win, Hall explained that he was feeling extra “wired” lately. After all, he had never been in playoff contention that late into a season before.

Granted, no one expected the Devils to contend for anything but ping-pong balls this spring. Which explains their ubiquitous NEW JERSEY DEVILS VS. EVERYBODY slogan, plastered onto T-shirts and employed as a rallying cry. The roster began to gel during during a two-night training camp trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where players ate lunch with cadets, listened to a Navy SEAL tell combat stories and worked together to drag a giant boulder up a mountainside. Early in the season, a bowling tournament was held at West Edmonton Mall. Captain Andy Greene hosted the Super Bowl party. Hall enjoys a card game called 10 Up 10 Down that he and a small group play relentlessly on the road.

The camaraderie reminds Hall a bit of the young Oilers, flush with high picks and hoping to revitalize a proud franchise that had fallen on hard times.

“That was the feeling we had back then, we’re going to build something great,” he says, “and it didn’t work out.”

Hall was not the only collateral damage–Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle were also shown the door–but the criticism that he bore reminds him of another modern success story.

“If there’s one guy I could look at and be like, that’s a pretty cool storyline, it’s Phil Kessel,” Hall says. “The amount of s— that he took in Toronto, and he goes to Pittsburgh and wins two Cups, I thought that was pretty cool. It’s not like I’m going to be Phil Kessel, but you know what, people were wrong about this guy. Not that people were going to be wrong about me or whatever, but it’s a nice story to just have out there. It’s a little bit relatable, for sure. He took a lot of s—. I took some s—. And he has two Cups. I don’t have any Cups yet. But hope so soon.”

Tampa Bay presents a tough first test, but Hall is already thinking beyond whatever happens over the next two months. He knows that New Jersey has ample cap space and expiring contracts, plus a cache of young players still years from their primes. He also knows that merely making the playoffs won’t cut it in ‘18-19.

“As a team we have 95 points, as a player I have 93,” he says. “People are going to expect our team to have more points next year. And they’re going to expect me to have the same or more. You’ve got to find a way to do that, right? It’s a good problem to have, for sure. I’m excited for that challenge. I think our team’s ready.”

It is his team now. At one point Hall told Hynes that he thought the coach was being unjustly hard on certain players and asked for a looser leash. When Grabner was struggling to adjust after getting traded from the Rangers, Shero texted and asked him to intervene. On the ice, Hall remains the same old even-strength possession monster whose lateral speed ties defensemen into pretzels, but his power play points drastically improved from 15 to 37 from last season, “a crazy difference” that he attributes to greater patience with the puck.

“He just doesn’t try to blow it past the goalie every time,” Hynes says. “He’s added more deception to his game. A year ago, he’s either scoring, missing the net, or it’s in the goalie’s chest. Now he’s more unpredictable.”

It is his home now, too. He enjoys eating breakfast unbothered at his favorite neighborhood cafe, or taking the PATH train to walk around lower Manhattan, blending with the mid-20s finance bros.

“All my buddies are just starting jobs and whatnot, just graduating from university,” he says. “I’m sure I look like one of them.”

Obviously, that is not the case around the office. Last Friday, less than 24 hours after the Devils clinched their playoff berth with a win over Toronto, Hynes and Shero attended an all-hands meeting at Prudential Center, thanking marketing and ticketing staff members for their work. As he was wrapping up, Shero mentioned that one other person wanted to offer some appreciation. And when Hall walked through the door, the entire room broke into chants:


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