Health-Care $$$, Fire in the Pines – Monday’s Roundup

Steve Sweeney told a conference of school principals and supervisors he wants to move New Jersey school teachers off the School Employees Health Benefits Plan to the State Health Benefits Plan and that doing so would save $300 million annually, the valuable Spotlight reports.

EDA, ACPD and Put Down Your Telephone – Friday’s Roundup

A high-ranking official at the tax-prep firm Jackson Hewitt said, in testimony before a task force on the EDA, that a top executive at the company lied to get a $2.7 million tax incentive to keep them from moving to Florida or New York even though they already had a deal for a site in Jersey City, the Spotlight reports.

PSE&G, DuPont, Greyhound ‘Schedule’ – Thursday’s Roundup

The Division of Rate Counsel said it opposed PSE&G’s petition to spend $2.78 billion on energy-efficient upgrades, which they do before passing those costs on to customers. Rate Counsel “experts argued the utility overstated how cost effective the proposed six-year program would be,” the valuable Spotlight reports.

No on Marijuana, Shark Deaths, Strip Club Lawsuit – Tuesday’s Roundup

Everybody reports on the decision to pull the bill on legal marijuana for lack of votes in the senate.

NJ.com’s story points out the governor, the “state’s legislative leaders” and 60% of New Jerseyans support the idea but that is not the way this operates. Politico reports four South Jersey Democrats in the Senate were no’s and one was a “soft” yes.

Trafficking, Fireworks, King Kong’s Cats and More – Monday’s Roundup

Human Trafficking
Avalon Zoppo and Molly Bilinski have a very good and tough story on human trafficking in Atlantic County, which had nearly the same number of indictments as Bergen County between 2005 and 2018, even though Bergen County has 3.5 times the population. “She kept saying she deserves this,” the mother of one of the victims says. “I know that’s not true.”

Fireworks
Elsewhere in crimes, the case of the missing fireworks drags on as Jack May, a managing director at Keystone Novelties, tells Lynda Cohen he will not be doing business in Atlantic City this year. Readers may recall the video of ACPD officers nonchalantly removing boxes of fireworks from a tent behind the Ducktown Tavern last summer. May said the detective tasked with investigating his colleagues never got back to him and his emails to the county prosecutor, DOJ and ACPD chief have not been returned.

Free Trees!

The New Jersey Tree Recovery Program will be handing out free trees around the state over the next few weeks. The program, a joint venture between the state’s Forestry Service and the Arbor  Day Foundation, aims to provide trees to communities that lost urban canopies after Superstorm Sandy. To date, more than 300,000 trees have been handed out.

Skatepark Groundbreaking

Local nonprofit Skate AC broke ground Monday on a new skateboard park at the site of the old skate park at Sovereign Avenue and the bay.

Shoobies, Whales and the Worst People – Tuesday’s Roundup

Avalon Zoppo writes about moving a very old home that used to be in Avalon from Egg Harbor Township (where it was in storage) to Cape May, where it will now live, with the assistance of seven law enforcement agencies.

The shoobies grow tired of putting their houses on stilts and hoisting them into the air. Now they cut them into pieces and drive them down the Parkway instead. My, whatever will they think of next.

Prescription Case, Crime Boss, Bike Racks – Monday’s Roundup

There were seven new arrests Friday in the big prescription fraud case, everyone reports. This batch includes two guys I grew up playing various kinds of sportsball with. I don’t know what that brings the total to on former sportsballers I sportsballed with, who have gone on to get involved in this debacle. I stopped counting.

Home Rule, Immigration and Your Natural World – Friday’s Roundup

Home Rule
Micha Rasmussen has a fun op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on the proposal by Steve Sweeney for a pilot program for countywide school districts, which he (Rasmussen) says would “reduce duplicative administrative costs” and maybe even reduce segregation and the inequality that attends a system where students, “born into ZIP codes with strong property values go to better-funded schools than students born into ZIP codes with weak ones.” Of course people like their segregation and will even pay for 565 separate municipalities to maintain it. But I’m beginning to think people here secretly like the high taxes too. In Atlantic County, the small-governmenters want the homerule and the duplicative services and also want to replace the Hamilton Mall with an Amazon HQ somewhere that gets a 5,000-year tax abatement. Immigration
Today is the deadline for local law enforcement to implement new procedures for dealing with immigrants, and NJ.com has a helpful explainer.

Schools! Airports! Supermarkets – Wednesday’s Roundup

The New Jersey Department of Education released its School Performance Reports for 2017-2018. The valuable Spotlight has a tool that let’s you search by county, district or school, while NJ.com notes the rankings are often criticized as overly simplistic.