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    Another nor'easter storm is expected to dump up to 4 inches of snow in New Jersey

    For the third time this month, a nor'easter storm is bringing snow and gusty winds to New Jersey, forcing schools to call for closures and delayed openings. 

    The following Essex County schools are closed or have delayed openings for Tuesday, March 13. The list will be updated through Tuesday morning as announcements are made:


    • No announcements yet


    • Pride Academy Charter School - 2 hours

    If you know of any delays or closures not on this list, let us know in the comments.


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    Prosecutors said police officers were dispatched to the scene on a report of a shooting in progress.

    Authorities are investigating a broad daylight shooting in Newark's South Clinton neighborhood that left one person dead Monday afternoon, investigators said.

    The male victim, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene after being found unresponsive at the intersection of East Peddie Street and Frelinghuysen Avenue, according to Essex County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly.

    In a statement, the prosecutor's office said Newark police officers had been dispatched to the intersection around 1:20 p.m. on a report of a shooting in progress.

    Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said the victim was a resident of a halfway house in the city, making him the fourth halfway house resident killed in the past three years. 

    "Residential reentry centers are failing to provide the extensive supervision required to identify criminal activities among those residing in halfway houses. These facilities need to be more closely monitored," Ambrose said in a statement. "Some of these operations needlessly put our residents and others in our communities at serious risk. Only through the close scrutiny and assessment of halfway houses will we be able to assess their overall effectiveness and to determine whether the risks outweigh the benefits."

    The prosecutor's office said the victim's name will be withheld pending notification of his next of kin, and described the investigation as "active and ongoing."

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Two young people - one from Jersey City and the other from Newark - each have had the same Big Brother Big Sister mentor in their lives for nine years.

    Kabir Daniels-Verden was a shy 8-year-old boy who was afraid to speak up in class at his Jersey City elementary school.

    China Rogers, of Newark, was the just the opposite. She didn't follow rules, acted out in class, and was considered unmanageable. She was only 8 years old, too.

    They didn't know each other, having met for the first time recently, but both share an experience that has changed their lives for the better.

    Daniels-Verden, now 17, has had the same Big Brother mentor and Rogers, also 17, has had the same Big Sister mentor for nearly 10 years, who have helped them develop into responsible and motivated young people.

    "How could one person come into your life and change it like this?," asked  Rogers, who has been accepted to William Paterson University. "Me and Carmen (Villafuerte) go way back like four wheels on an old Cadillac. My love for her is unimaginable."

    It's been a long time, but every moment has been worth it for Villafuerte and James Basile, who have been nominated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union counties to be considered for the state's Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Year award.

    It's rare for a match to last this long, said Carlos Lejnieks, president and chief executive officer of BBBS. The average length is two years.

    "Both Jim and Carmen  -- especially in light of their long mentoring tenure -- speak to how such a relationship can move well beyond being part of a program; it can be about adding to one's family ... for both the 'Big'  and the 'Little,' " Lejnieks said. "They stay in the lives of our kids, and that's the blessing."

    Count Basile and Villafuerte among that special club, because the impact they've made goes far beyond any nomination.

    Daniels-Verden, a senior at County Prep High School in Jersey City, is no longer shy and quiet. He's a confident, goal-oriented young man on his way to Howard University, where he plans to study pre-med in the fall.

    From the time nine years ago when he met Basile, Daniels-Verden, a fourth grader at the time, said he could tell that his "Big" cared right from the beginning.

    Basile, 50, a North Jersey resident who is a technology project manager, would meet Daniels-Verden at his school for lunch. They'd play chess, maybe a board game or toss paper airplanes from the balcony in the auditorium. The bond grew stronger when the two began to get together on weekends, the next phase of a mentoring relationship that they both wanted.

    "I'm surprised it lasted this long," Basile said. "We've basically built up a friendship. He's a smart, kind, considerate young man, and I'm really proud to see that."

    Daniels-Verden, raised by his mom, Desreane Daniels, said he didn't have a relationship with his own father, so Basile's consistent presence was invaluable.

    "James has transitioned from being a lunch partner to a family member," Daniels-Verden said.

    In his mother's nominating essay about Basile, Daniels said he has been a friend and champion, who has shown her son that there are men who will keep their promises, reinforcing generosity and love for humanity.

    "James has been like Ashford and Simpson's 'Solid as a rock,' " she said, referring to lyrics from the rhythm and blues duo's 1984 album, "Solid."

    Daniels-Verden said Basile's greatest influence has been stressing academics -- and transforming him to a morning person to start his day at 5:30 a.m.

    "He would constantly remind me that school comes first," Daniels-Verden said. "A lot of kids don't put school first, and they go down a different path. I don't know what my life would have been like without him, but he's made a great impact."

    In spite of the age difference, the two have clicked, sharing their taste in music.

    Daniels-Verden likes rappers Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole; Basile is from the Metallica and Van Halen era.

    "It's a good feeling that our relationship prevailed," Daniels-Verden said. "When you think about it, wow, we surpassed many other relationships."

    His equal would be Rogers, who loves Villafuerte for believing in her potential when others didn't.

    "I never expected nobody to come into my life and change it for the better," said Rogers, a senior at University High School in Newark. "You never know who could do what, who's capable of what."

     Villafuerte, a special-education teacher assistant, was 23 when she saw a sweet, talkative, energetic kid who needed guidance.

    "I just fell in love with her personality," said Villafuerte, 33, of Roselle.

    MORE CARTER: Newark's My Brother's Keeper program is pipeline to opportunity | Carter

    She helped Rogers get enrolled in the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, which promotes leadership and activism for young women. She'd talk to Rogers' teachers and principal, staying on her about grades, helping with projects, too. When Rogers' stepfather died in 2014, Villafuerte was there with Big Sister comfort through a tough time over the loss of a man she called "Dad." 

     "She's always a phone call away," said Nyah James, Rogers' mother.

    "If she (China) can't talk to me, she can talk to Carmen. She's always there."

    That's the kind of support Big Sisters and Big Brothers provide. Now those they've mentored are preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: These two youngsters are among 10 BBBS members selected by the organization to travel to China at the end of this month for a cultural trip. Big Brothers Big Sisters is able to provide the experience by working with New Jersey City University and a funding partner.

    In a few months, Daniels-Verden and Rogers will be graduating. In the audience, they'll see Basile and Villafuerte, cheering them on.

    And when they go off to college and exit the program, these "Bigs" will continue to be big guiding their young lives into adulthood.

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or or or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL

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    If you can't wait for Taylor Swift to reach MetLife Stadium, this is an awesome appetizer

    Are you a Taylor Swift super fan, aka a Swiftie? Do you already have your tickets for her Reputation World Tour performances heading for MetLife Stadium this summer? Are you counting the minutes until July 19, when Taylor herself enters our state and all is again right with the world?

    Well, here's something to satiate you until then. The new Grammy Museum Experience at Prudential Center in Newark announced Tuesday morning that a new featured exhibit is coming soon: The Taylor Swift Experience. 


    Beginning April 6, head to the museum (located near arena's Mulberry Street entrance) and check out the most epic shrine of Taylor Swift memorabilia known to fan: never-before-displayed artifacts, personal photographs, home videos, interactive experiences, handwritten lyrics of Taylor's top-charting hits, iconic performance outfits, and more. 

    Some specific items:

    - Clothing pieces from her many music videos, including her Queen of Snakes dress from "Look What You Made Me Do," her hallway look from "...Ready For It?" and the iconic dress from "Teardrops On My Guitar"

    - Costumes from Swift's The RED Tour, The 1989 World Tour and GRAMMY performances from 2013 and 2016

    - Handwritten lyrics from Taylor's hits, including "22," "White Horse," "Teardrops On My Guitar," and "Welcome To New York"

    This is the second East Coast trip for the exhibit, which was featured at New York's Seaport District in fall 2017. 

    Tickets to visit the Grammy Museum Experience, which opened in October at Prudential Center range from $7 to $10 and can be purchased through or at the venue. The Experience is open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on non-event days and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on event days. 

    Swift performs at MetLife Stadium July 19-21, ticket information available on Ticketmaster. 

    Bobby Olivier may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Facebook. Find on Facebook    

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    NJSO performed the world premiere of Richard Danielpour's "Carnival of the Ancients."

    The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra billed this weekend's concerts as: "Zhang Conducts Tchaikovsky." On Friday night at NJPAC in Newark, Zhang indeed conducted Tchaikovsky--and conducted him well--but there was much, much more to the concert than that.

    This was a program that was bursting at the seams, but the most significant thing was that the Jersey band was performing the world premiere of Richard Danielpour's "Carnival of the Ancients." This is the sixth time the NJSO has debuted a work of Danielpour's and the 11th time they've played his music in the last 25 years.

    Like his last premiere for the NJSO, "The Wounded Healer," (from 2016) "Carnival of the Ancients," is a modest, 22-minute work. In a pre-performance chat on stage, the composer described the piece as a "piano concerto in disguise," and that it was a series of "Persian miniatures...based on the 'Shahnameh,' or Book of Kings, an ancient Persian book of fables." He wrote this piece in part to explore his own Persian background, and also as a showcase for the soloist, Sara Danielpour (no relation). 

    The piece begins austerely and ominously with low descending piano chords. About a minute in, the orchestra creeps in and there's smattering of marimbas and bells that chime along with the now high piano notes. Eventually the horns and timpani enter, bringing some oriental color into the soundscape. The first movement ends with soothing strings.

    The second movement is busy and bustling. It could easily be the underscore for chase scene through an eastern marketplace in a Hollywood film. Repetitious piano arpeggios and churning orchestral thrusts give the short music a likeable sense of motion.

    In contrast, the third movement is slow and moody. Instead of propulsive, Prokofiev-esque rhythm, it's brooding and at times atonal, as if Alban Berg were sitting in with a French band for a jam session at an old Tehran nightclub. The smoky orchestrations and spiky piano riffs are alluring and the movement resolves in a somber but elegant fashion.

    The final movement, which Danielpour calls "The Poets Celebration," is another flurry of motion. Calling to mind the famous whirling dervishes and chugging minimalism of the 1980's, this rollicking movement, filled with barreling drum rolls and piano flourishes (played with skill by Ms. Danielpour) all leads up to an understated ending.

    This maybe why the NJPAC audience gave the piece a less rapturous applause than "The Wounded Healer," back when Jacques Lacombe debuted that piece. But both Danielpours as well as Zhang deserve credit for bringing off this new work with energy and skill. It's an entertaining and colorful concerto that will hopefully get more performances in the future, with this band and others. 

    Then after intermission, Zhang led the NJSO in Haydn's Sinfonia concertante in B-flat major for Oboe, Bassoon, Violin, and Orchestra. This light, flowing work seemed mostly an occasion to let four NJSO principals perform as soloists--but there's nothing wrong with that. Robert Wagner on bassoon, Robert Ingliss on the oboe, Jonathan Spitz on cello, and Concertmaster Eric Wyrick on violin were all in good sound. They delivered each of their solo parts with charm and skill. At times Zhang and the full orchestra felt like backup musicians as the chamber elements of the score took center stage. But this is a small quibble about an otherwise lithe, pleasing performance of this 1792 jewel box of a symphony.

    Oh right, and then we should probably mention the Tchaikovsky. It's no surprise to anyone following the NJSO that Xian Zhang is a fine interpreter of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. This is, no doubt, why the concert was billed as such. And indeed, the opening piece--selections from the ballet "The Sleeping Beauty"--showed exactly why her reputation is so high in that regard.

    The opening fanfare rang out goldenly in the introduction and the brass was in fine form--even the harp plucks sounded authoritative. The third movement waltz danced beautifully under Zhang's baton and swept the ear up in its elegant rhythm. There was precision in the small details and Zhang even gracefully held up her hand to prevent the audience from applauding in between this movement and the finale. And wisely so, it would have broken the spell. Instead, the famous "adagio" from "Sleeping Beauty" could be heard springing naturally from the waltz. It was a lovely effect. Zhang herself chose these four passages to make the piece--and in doing so she gives the music the ultimate compliment: it doesn't feel like underscore to a ballet, but rather a symphonic work that stands up on its own. 

    The concert on Friday also ended with Tchaikovsky and his 1876 symphonic poem "Francesca da Rimini." In the classical world, there are few pieces that are outright duds--but this is one of them. Tchaikovsky wrote it shortly after traveling to Bayreuth to hear the first Ring Cycle and whether he knew it or not, he was trying to be Wagner in this 24-minute piece. It's a bombastic, wanna-be Teutonic mess, showing none of the Russian composer's characteristic elegance or storytelling. Zhang and her band made this tedious work sound less ugly and murky than it usually sounds. This was no small feat.

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    To remember the 17 lives lost during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting a month ago, students will walk out of their classrooms and demand safer campuses.

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    In a separate incident, another man was fatally shot elsewhere in the city earlier that day.

    A 28-year-old Bloomfield man was killed Monday evening in a shooting that marked Newark's second homicide that day.

    Shahad Smith was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m., less than 30 minutes after he was shot in the 700 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and the city's Department of Public Safety said in a joint statement.

    Authorities described the investigation as "active and ongoing," and did not publicly identify any suspects in the shooting.

    Earlier Monday afternoon, prosecutors said, a man was fatally shot at the intersection of East Peddie Street and Frelinghuysen Avenue. That shooting also remains under investigation, and authorities have yet to release the victim's name.

    The prosecutor's office has asked anyone with information about the shootings to call the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.  

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find on Facebook.

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    On Monday night's Jeopardy! one of the questions asked what city regained control of its schools after 22 years of state control.

    You could almost imagine the collective yell of Newarkers everywhere proudly screaming "What is Newark!" as a clue for a game quiz show flashed before their blue TV screens. 

    Newark schools made Jeopardy! 

    It was a double jeopardy round and a clue for $1,600. "In 2017 this N.J. city regained local control over its schools & 55,000 students, taken over by the state in 1995," host Alex Trebek read on Monday night's show.

    Social media exploded with excitement. 

    After more than two decades under state control, governance of Newark schools was returned to its locally-elected School Board this year. Though the state takeover technically ended on Feb. 1, the state voted to return control in 2017

    It was a proud moment for New Jersey's largest city, based on an even prouder moment for a school system finally under local control. 

    And yes, one of the contestants supplied the proper question for Trebek's clue. "What is Newark," one of the contestants, Zach, said. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Meier, who grew up in Maplewood, is accused of harassing four women who worked for him and a fifth woman he met at a party, according to The New York Times.

    Award-winning architect Richard Meier has taken a leave of absence after five women accused the 83-year-old New Jersey native of sexual harassment, which included exposing himself and groping, according to a report.

    meier2.jpgRichard Meier  

    Meier, who grew up in Maplewood, is accused of harassing four women who worked for him and a fifth woman he met at a party, according to The New York Times.

    The Pritzker Prize winner founded Richard Meier & Partners Architects, a firm that has done work for The Hague, the Getty Center in in Los Angles, and is responsible for a glass tower on Prospect Park that overlooks Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza.

    The Times reported four of the incidents occurred over the past 10 years and involved his employees.

    In those allegations, two women claim they were sent to his New York apartment, where he exposed himself. A third woman said Meier grabbed her underwear through her dress at a holiday party. A fourth said he asked her to undress at his apartment so he could take pictures of her.

    A fifth woman, who does not work for the firm, told the newspaper she was forced to flee Meier's home in the 1980s when she said he forcefully pulled her onto a bed.

    The Times confronted Meier about the allegations and he announced he would step away from his firm for six months.

    He issued the following statement:

    "I am deeply troubled and embarrassed by the accounts of several women who were offended by my words and actions. While our recollections may differ, I sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by my behavior."

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find on Facebook.

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    Two other men were killed in separate shootings on Monday.

    A 34-year-old Newark man fatally shot Tuesday morning is the city's third homicide in 24 hours.

    In a statement, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and Newark Department of Public Safety said police officers found Willie Jackson unresponsive and suffering from apparent gunshot wounds when they arrived in the 100 block of Brookdale Avenue on a report of shots fired shortly before 9 a.m.

    Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

    Two other men were killed Monday in separate shootings in the city. One man, identified by Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose as a resident of a halfway house, was fatally shot around 1:20 p.m. at the intersection of East Peddie Street and Frelinghuysen Avenue.

    Another man, Shahad Smith, was fatally shot Monday evening in the 700 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The killing of Smith, 28, of Bloomfield, drew a social media lament about the nation's gun violence from U.S. senator and Newark resident Corey Booker, who said he had known and lived above Smith in the now-demolished Brick Towers housing complex.

    "His death must matter," Booker said on Twitter.

    Police on said they were also investigating a shooting around 11 a.m. on Tuesday that wounded two people in the area of Stratford Place and Avon Avenue.

    Authorities have not publicly identified suspects or possible motives in any of the shootings.

    The prosecutor's office has urged anyone with information about the killings to call the Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.  

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find on Facebook.

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    New Jersey broadened the definition of child pornography and created harsher punishments for offenders.

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    See the latest girls basketball Top 20 as the TOC looms.

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    The bust led to the arrests of 29 individuals, the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, authorities say. Watch video

    One of three fugitives named in a massive drug bust in Ocean County that led to 29 arrests in seven different counties surrendered Monday.

    Lewis.jpgAkera Lewis, 27, of Newark.

    Akera Lewis, 27, of Newark, was arrested after she turned herself in and was charged with heroin possession and distribution.

    Her attorney, Adrienne Edward, was not immediately available to comment.

    Lewis is one of 28 others arrested in "Operation Heading Back," which led to the seizure of 90,000 doses of heroin, 191 pounds of cocaine, 20 guns, 27 vehicles and $850,000 in cash, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announced at a press conference on Friday.

    The massive bust received its name because it started with a drug transaction on a street in Lakewood and continued to work its way up north. The investigation encompassed seven New Jersey counties and New York.

    Coronato said it was the biggest bust in the history of the Ocean County's Special Operations Group, which formed in 1988. Capt. Jack Sramaty currently heads the team.

    There were no so-called "kingpins" of the drug ring, Coronato said. He said the "sophisticated" drug network utilized multiple lines of suppliers.

    Authorities also dismantled nine drug-making facilities in Bloomfield, Jackson, Parlin, Paterson, Plainfield and Piscataway (4).

    In one of the raids, authorities arrested Rasheed Sanders of East Orange after they found 8 kilos of cocaine and a loaded AK-47.

    At a detention hearing for Sanders, Judge Wendel Daniels in Ocean County Superior Court initially ruled for him to be released from jail with high-level monitoring.

    Prosecutors filed a motion to appeal the ruling, and also filed additional charges in the case -- certain persons not to have a weapon and unlawful possession of an assault rifled. Daniels ordered Sanders to remain jailed pending the outcome of his case at a second detention hearing on Tuesday. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    State Police operation recovered 16 loads of stolen cargo, say more could be coming.

    Officials at the State Police say they've dismantled a million-dollar cargo theft ring operating up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, arresting 11 men and recovering 16 loads of stolen cargo.

    "They took everything they could get their hands on," Col. Patrick Callahan, the head of the State Police, said Wednesday announcing the results of the investigation.

    Dubbed "Operation Botany Strike," the investigation centered on a warehouse facility located within the Botany Worsted Mills Historic District in the city of Passaic.

    It began in October of last year, when investigators from a State Police interstate theft unit were investigating the theft of a tractor-trailer containing more than $100,000 worth of meat from a trucking lot in South Amboy, according to a statement from police.

    The troopers found the truck abandoned later that day at the Vince Lombardi Service Area on the turnpike and launched an investigation that led them to the Passaic warehouse complex, authorities said.

    Det. Rob Cardiello, a trooper who worked on the case, said the group used four different locations on the property as an "off-loading point" where stolen cargo was stored and fenced.

    New law targets child predators

    The stolen goods included granite, landscaping equipment, home goods, clothing and groceries, police said. Cardiello said the stolen cargo came from as far south as Lakewood in Ocean County and as far north as Carlstadt in Bergen County. Authorities estimate the recovered haul was worth more than $1 million. 

    Police charged Ambiorix Canela-Rodriguez, 26, of Paterson, with fencing, receiving stolen goods and conspiracy. Ten others were charged with receiving stolen goods and conspiracy, including:

    • Adiel Acevedo-Ortiz, 26, of Paterson
    • Carlos Alcantara, 60, of Passaic
    • Bassim Fardos, 38, North Bergen
    • Elvis Valerio, 34, of Passaic
    • Wilfredo Valle, 38, of Passaic
    • Milton Vargas, 48, of Paterson
    • Nelson Pena-Restituyo, 51, of Union City
    • Luis Lourido, 50, of Union City
    • Eduardo Ramos, 32, of Union
    • Angel DeLeon, 35, of Hawthorne

    A spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice, which is handling the case, said prosecutors "did not have a basis" to seek detention under New Jersey bail rules and the defendants were released pending trial.

    None of the men could immediately be reached for comment and authorities did not have information on whether they had retained attorneys.

    Callahan said the investigation is ongoing.

    "I wouldn't be surprised to see additional cargo seized, additional suspects arrested and certainly charged," the colonel said.

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter. Find on Facebook.

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    Newark schools walk out, hoping city killings gain national attention, too

    The boys from St. Benedict's Prep were marching out on their soccer field as the girls from St. Vincent Academy rounded the bend from Market Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard in downtown Newark.

    From the steps of the Essex County Veteran's Courthouse, where the St. Vincent girls held their protest, the student body of Arts High could be seen, gathered outside their school, which is next to St. Benedict's.

    This was the scene at 10 a.m. today as city students supported the nationwide high school walkout protesting gun violence in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting last month.

    With the nation's sad eyes turned toward mass shootings in schools, the kids from the city hoped the gun violence they live with daily will be part of the conversation for common-sense gun laws.

    To put it in perspective, while suburban kids fear in-school shootings, the city kids worry more about what happens out of school.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns

    "I want this movement to shed light on the violence we experience every day," said Devionne Johnson, a senior organizer of the St. Benedict's protest. "For people who look like me (African-American), some don't make it home."

    Johnson has first-hand experience. He had a gun pointed at him outside his home in Newark last year. The assailant had a beef with a guy Johnson was talking to. Both men recognized Johnson from the "60 Minutes" piece from March 2016, during which reporter Scott Pelley found a 9mm. shell casing in front of Johnson's house. The guy with the gun let Johnson go inside and the two men settled their difference without a shot being fired. But still.

    "It's pretty frightening to have a gun pulled on you," he said.

    Jerry Miraval, another senior organizer, lives in a neighborhood near the Newark-East Orange border where "You hear shots all the time," he said. "Hundreds of people die in these cities and nobody cares. Nobody cares. We want to change that."

    Johnson personally knew three people who were killed. Nathaniel Cruz, another senior organizer, had an uncle murdered.

    "We've buried a half dozen of our guys," said Rev. Edwin Leahy, the headmaster at St. Benedict's.

    One was Robert Peace, who went on to Yale and majored in biochemistry but was shot execution style in a drug-related murder at age 30 in 2011. His college roommate, Jeff Hobbs, wrote a book called the "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" which became a bestseller. Still, the city bodies fall.

    Leahy also said the school deals with shooting deaths of friends and relatives of his students, "all the time. At least a couple of times a year."

    This is the reality of gun violence in the cities. In the waning days of the school year last June, Rashawn Cooper, a 16-year-old Weequahic High student was shot on the street. His history teacher, Bashir Akinyele, said he was the 46th of his students or former students to die over his 20-year teaching career.

    The kids who marched yesterday want the country to know these kinds of stories. The horrific mass shootings get the media attention; the daily loss of young lives seems to be business as usual.

    We ask about AR-15s and bump stocks, but forget about the illegal handguns that make their way onto city streets.

    Sylvia Onyejekwe, (CQ) an attorney from Rahway, was watching the girls from St. Vincent as they recited the names of the Parkland dead. She was recording the ceremony on her cellphone, saying "I'm so proud of these kids."

    "The street violence is more prevalent," she said. "I hope there is some solidarity (between urban and suburban schools) to put an end to all of it."

    With each name, a hand-held bell tolled, and the girls held up signs that said, "No More Silence - End Gun Violence," "Protect Kids, Not Guns" and simply "Enough!"

    Also, at the rally was Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo.

    "The adults have failed these kids," he said. "They experience this (violence) every day. This isn't only about school shootings. It's about what guns in general are doing to our society.

    "This," DiVincenzo said, pointing to the students, "is the only way it's going to change."

    June Favata, the nun at the helm of St. Vincent, said she, too, dealt with friends and relatives of students being killed "a couple of times a year."

    Stephanie Quarshie, a senior organizer of the rally, had a church friend gunned down.

    "Urban violence is real," she said. "Suburban violence is real. We are going to spread this message and this movement is going to grow."

    Cruz, the St. Benedict's organizer, echoed that thought.

    "We're not going to give up," he said. "They might not take us seriously because we're young, but this is going to keep going until we can vote. Then we'll see."

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook.  

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    Her partner in her consulting firm has also pleaded guilty to tax charges, as well as wire fraud.

    Linda Jumah, a political consultant and close friend of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, was sentenced to three years' probation Wednesday by a federal judge who cautioned her to stay on the straight and narrow.

    Under a plea agreement negotiated with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jumah in November admitted she cheated the government out of $40,000 in taxes by underreporting money she earned from her consulting and fundraising business. 

    Jumah was president of Elite Strategies, LLC which was contracted by the city of Newark and the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) -- the city's redevelopment arm.

    Her partner and chief executive officer of the firm, Kiburi Tucker, later also pleaded guilty to underreporting his income and embezzling money from The Centre, Inc., a nonprofit he ran. Tucker will be sentenced next month. 

    Addressing the court, Jumah said her choices had not only affected her personally, "but has embarrased my family."

    "I hope I can regain their trust and respect," Jumah said.

    Chief U.S. District Judge Jose Linares said he would order a portion of Jumah's probation be served under home confinement, and fined her $20,000, to be repaid after she makes full restitution.

    Linares said that while the charge to which Jumah pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison, federal sentencing guidelines recommended options of six to 12 months of incarceration, probation and/or home confinement.

    In asking Linares to avoid imposing prison time, defense attorney Robert Stahl said publicity about her case had already taken a toll on Jumah, who is currently looking for full-time employment that would allow her to make restitution.

    Stahl said former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey -- who sat with Jumah's family in courtroom -- had offered to let her work at the New Jersey Reentry Corporation, the statewide non-profit he runs that helps recently released prisoners find employment.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jihee Gillian Suh, who handled the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacques Pierre, said that although Jumah had no prior criminal convictions, she had received a disciplinary letter in her file as a state employee and had past brushes with the law.

    Linares cautioned Jumah that if she violated the terms of her probation, she could end up being incarcerated on a new charge for the violation.

    Most recently, Jumah worked as a manager for Jersey City's Department of Health and Human Services. She was hired in November 2016 and earned $75,000. After Jumah pleaded guilty to tax evasion, Jersey City suspended her without pay; she no longer works with the city, a spokeswoman confirmed.

    Jumah also helped organize Newark's Afro Beat Fest last July that Baraka resurrected and renamed. It was previously named "Africa Newark" but the annual event stopped in 2006 after it lost city support.

    City contracts 

    Jumah's company, Elite Strategies, was involved with several Newark entities, providing services to the city, Baraka's campaign and the quasi-governmental agency responsible for city redevelopment. 

    The NCEDC hired Elite Strategies in 2014 for $111,500, according to a contract obtained through a public records request. The work included $48,000 to create a media strategy and plan, $10,000 for publication strategies and $14,000 for website recommended enhancements. Payments typically ranged from $200-$250 an hour, according to the contract.

    The contract was signed by the NCEDC's former president, Otis Rolley who was ousted in 2016 amid questions surrounding bonus payments and financial reports. Aisha Glover, who now runs the NCEDC, said the agency does not have any existing contracts with Elite Strategies and has not worked with the consulting company since she took the helm. 

    Glover added that Elite's contract was competitively bid and the company was picked because it was a local and minority-owned firm within the proposed budget. 

    The city of Newark also paid Elite Strategies $26,500 for billboard design, printing services, outreach and other jobs between Sept. 2014 and Dec. 2015. The work was awarded under open market procedures which allow the purchasing officer to solicit bids and select the lowest responsible bidder, a city spokesman previously said. 

    Elite Strategies helped plan the 2016 Mayor's Ball and other events for Baraka's campaign but is no longer involved.

    Baraka said Tucker and Jumah are close friends whom he has known for decades. "They have a company together, they made some errors and they're paying for it," Baraka told NJ Advance Media recently. "Definitely it affects me because they're my friends."

    But Baraka said their actions were unrelated to city governance. "It had nothing to do with the functioning of the city, the management of the city. It has nothing to do with the functioning of the campaign, the management of the campaign," he said. "It has absolutely nothing to do with things that are happening in Newark."

    "It's their own money, it's their own business," he added. 

    The Committee to Re-Elect Ras Baraka paid Elite Strategies $95,000 between April 2015 through April 2017 for consulting services and coordinating a fundraiser, records filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission show.

    Jumah also made a $500 contribution to The Committee to Re-Elect Ras J Baraka 2018 in September.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook.


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    Banking executive Linda Weber is the latest Democratic candidate to withdraw.

    WASHINGTON -- Another Democrat has withdrawn from the race to take on Rep. Leonard Lance, strengthening the candidacy of former Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski.

    Banking executive Linda Weber said Wednesday that she would no longer seek the Democratic nomination after losing the Union County Democratic line to Malinowski. Weber had the party line in Somerset and Essex counties.

    "I will continue standing up for progressive values and causes," Weber said "I will continue fighting for gun safety, stronger environmental protections, a woman's right to choose, equal access to economic opportunity, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer] rights, public education, and so much more."

    "Additionally, I will continue to work hard to help flip the 7th District and to elect more Democrats, and in particular, more women," she said.

    Democrat suddenly withdraws from race

    Weber had been one of two women who initially sought the Democratic nomination in what was one of only 23 Republican-held congressional districts nationwide that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    She had been a prolific fundraiser, raising $318,584 last year, second only to Malinowski, who had brought in $517,471 and had $446,082 to spend, less than $200,000 behind Lance.

    "We share the same values and must be a unified party to win in November," Malinowski said. "We will need the support, guidance, and expertise of all those who have seen Linda through the last year of her campaign."

    Last month, two Democratic candidates, teacher Lisa Mandelblatt and lawyer Scott Salmon, withdrew from the race and endorsed Malinowski.

    Goutam Jois, a lawyer and businessman; social worker Peter Jacob, Lance's 2016 Democratic opponent; and environmental advocate David Pringle all have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run in the Democratic primary to take on Lance, rated just a slight favorite for re-election by the Cook Political Report.

    Jacob, who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in 2016, received the backing Wednesday of Our Revolution, the advocacy group run by supporters of his Democratic presidential campaign.

    "His experience serving his community has prepared him to represent the people of New Jersey in Congress," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution.

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    The judge's decision came after police unions sued the city over the board's investigative authority.

    A Superior Court judge in Newark on Wednesday took away subpoena and investigatory powers from the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board but said it could still conduct oversight of the police department.

    Mayor Ras Baraka called Judge Donald Kessler's oral decision "a setback to criminal justice reform in America and to the critical need for citizens to have complete trust that incidents of police misconduct will be dealt with fairly, appropriately and impartially."

    "For now, our CCRB will continue to move forward using its power of oversight, but Newark will appeal the court's decision," the mayor said in a statement.

    The city's first civilian-led police oversight committee was established by Baraka in 2015 through an executive order. The City Council later unanimously codified it through an ordinance in 2016. 

    But the creation of the 11-member board to review police misconduct allegations was met with resistance from police unions.

    The Fraternal Order of Police challenged the civilian review board's subpoena powers in court, arguing it violated state statute, an officer's due process rights and the attorney general guidelines. 

    The unions later obtained an injunction in December 2016 to prevent the board from exercising its investigatory power.

    Since then the board has largely reviewed changes in police department policies but has not conducted any investigations, a city official said. 

    The official said Kessler ruled that any investigations by the civilian board would violate due process rights; Newark police already have an internal affairs department to handle such complaints. 

    The unions argued the board's investigative powers undermine the police department's disciplinary process.

    "The FOP has said since day one that the powers given to the proposed CCRB by executive order were far too broad. We are not against reform or transparency, but it has to be within the confines of the law," James Stewart Jr., president of the FOP said in a statement. "We always said we would lay our cards on the table and let a judge decide the issue based on the merits of the case and today he made reference to many of our points in his decision."

    The ordinance allowed the civilian board to investigate misconduct and issue disciplinary recommendations to the police director. 

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find on Facebook.

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey always allowed for lots of choices.

    If you're looking for a place to go for a drink in New Jersey ... where will you have the most choices?

    I guess it all depends on how you measure it.

    Per square mile? If that's your criteria, says that Hoboken's your place, and the Huffington Post confirms it: "The quaint little town once held the Guinness Book of World Record for having the most bars per square mile." That was around 2011, though; it seems to have since been beaten out by Oswego, N.Y.

    By population? A ranking on says that Wildwood has the most bars per capita in New Jersey followed by Atlantic City and Asbury Park.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    New Jersey doesn't even scare the top of the list when it comes to bars per capita as a state;'s stats show us ranked 29th, with North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and South Dakota leading the way.

    As you scroll through the photos in this and past galleries I've posted on New Jersey bars and taverns, some other questions might arise, such as which bar had the most barstools crammed into the smallest amount of floor space? That might just have been Littman's Tavern in Newark. Were there and are there places that didn't have bars? The most recent tally by, ironically, shows that 32 of the state's 565 municipalities are still alcohol-free, the 21st Amendment notwithstanding.

    Here's a gallery of places to go to hoist a glass from days gone by in New Jersey. Didn't see a personal favorite? Click on the links to the following galleries - there's a good chance you'll find it there.

    Vintage photos of taverns and bars in N.J.

    Vintage photos of bars and watering holes in N.J.

    More vintage photos of bars and taverns in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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