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    The man told police he was a headed to a police training seminar in Florida and the device was to be used in the training

    UPDATE: Israeli flying to bomb-detection training sparks airport panic with fake bomb in carry-on, cops say

    The third level of Terminal C at Newark Liberty International Airport was temporarily closed Tuesday morning while police investigated a suspicious package, causing long security lines.

    An Israeli citizen was taken into custody after Transportation Security Administration employees detected the item during a screening, according to Port Authority spokesman Scott Ladd.

    He told police he was headed to a police training seminar in Panama City, Florida after arriving in Newark on a flight from Tel Aviv and that the material was to be used as part of the training, according to Ladd. 

    The Essex County bomb squad seized the device. The identity of the man has not been disclosed. The spokesman said he didn't yet know if the Israeli would be charged. 

    Photos on Twitter showed an extremely long line as passengers waited to pass through security before heading to gates to catch flights. 

    Others complained that neither United Airlines nor TSA employees have offered an explanation for the delays. At one point seven of nine screening lanes were closed, the Port Authority said. 

    Rene Schwartz-Burger described the situation in Terminal C as a "disaster," adding the TSA closed pre-check with "hundreds of people on line." 

    Terminals A and B operated normally, officials said.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Geoffrey Owens, who lives in Montclair, played Elvin Tibideaux on the "Cosby Show" and had been working recently at the grocery store to make ends meet

    The former "Cosby Show" actor job-shamed by some media outlets over the weekend with photos showing him working at a Trader Joe's in New Jersey to make ends meet, said Tuesday he was so upset that he quit his job.

    owens1.jpgGeoffrey Owens 

    "I was really devastated," Geoffrey Owens, who lives in Montclair, said during an interview on Good Morning America.

    But Owens said the outpouring of support he received on social media from the entertainment industry and beyond helped him through it.

    "The period of devastation was so short because so shortly after that, the responses my wife and I started to read - literally all over the world ... fortunately, the shame part didn't last very long."

    "It hurt, but then, it's amazing," he said.

    On the "Cosby Show," Owens played Elvin Tibideaux, the husband of one of the Huxtable daughters, Sandra.

    He told the Good Morning America hosts he hasn't had an acting job that lasted more than 10 weeks since leaving the sitcom.

    However, he has taught acting at Yale and worked other jobs related to entertainment. Those positions didn't pay enough to make ends meet, he said.

    The actor said he worked at the Trader Joe's store for 15 months before photos of him working as a cashier appeared in the Daily Mail and on Fox News.

    Ask Alexa

    He said people had recognized him in the past and that it was never an issue.

    "People recognized me every day and they were very, very cool about it," he said.

    Owens added that he wants people to realize that every job is "valuable and worthwhile."

    "No one should feel sorry for me," he said. "I've had a great life and I've had a great career."

    Moments after the interview, Tyler Perry tweeted: "I'm about to start shootings OWN's number one drama next week! Come join us!!!"

    Read more 

    Woman who took photo of 'Cosby' actor working at N.J. Trader Joe's totally regrets it

    Stop shaming 'Cosby Show' actor for working at N.J. Trader Joe's, internet says

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

     

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    NJ.com releases its first boys soccer Top 20 of 2018.


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    Where do you need to be on the first week of boys soccer season?


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    The best matchups Opening Week


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    Theodore "Ted" Stephens replaces Robert Laurino, who was on his second stint as acting prosecutor.

    Gov. Phil Murphy has picked Essex County's surrogate -- a former municipal judge -- to take over as the county's acting prosecutor.

    Theodore \"Ted\" Stephens IIActing Essex County Prosecutor Theodore "Ted" Stephens II. (Essex County photo) 

    Theodore "Ted" Stephens II replaces Robert Laurino, a career trial attorney who was named acting prosecutor in June 2017 after his predecessor, Carolyn Murray, was appointed by then-governor Chris Christie to a Superior Court judgeship.

    It was Laurino's second stint in the office's top position.

    Stephens, a Seton Hall University School of Law graduate, worked as a corporate and municipal attorney prior to his appointment in 1994 as a city judge in East Orange. He was appointed as a municipal judge in Orange 10 years later, before mounting a successful campaign for county surrogate in 2011.

    Stephens, a lifelong New Jersey resident who earns $122,024 as surrogate, was re-elected in 2016 for a five-year term. In that role, he oversaw the approval of wills, estates and adoptions in the county.

    He was sworn in as acting prosecutor Tuesday. 

    In his new role as acting prosecutor, Stephens assumes responsibility for prosecuting serious crimes in a county home to the state's largest and most historically violent city.

    Both of the last two attorneys to lead the county prosecutor's office served only on an acting basis.

    The last Essex County prosecutor confirmed by the Senate was Paula Dow, a future state attorney general.

    Stephens, in a statement, said he was "deeply honored" by the appointment.

    "I look forward to working with law enforcement and the community to ensure that the vital mission of promoting safety and justice in Essex County will be performed in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, excellence, and service," he said.

    Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. congratulated Stephens in a statement.

    "Ted has a long history of public service to Essex as an attorney, municipal court judge and Essex County Surrogate. This experience will serve him well as the top law enforcement officer in Essex County," he said. 

    Each county political committees will pick its own candidate to run for the surrogate position in the November election. The winner of that race will be elected to a full five-year term. 

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.

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

    Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    An Israeli citizen headed to a training event on X-ray detection of explosives caused a scare at Newark airport Tuesday when he was caught with a mock bomb in his carry-on bag, officials said.

    An Israeli citizen headed to a training event on X-ray detection of explosives caused a scare at Newark airport Tuesday when he was caught with a mock bomb in his carry-on bag, officials said.

    Alon Felman, 50, was charged with creating a false public alarm and interfering with transportation after the realistic-looking replica improvised explosive was spotted by a Transportation Security Administration officer at the Terminal C checkpoint, according to officials.

    Felman told police he arrived from Tel Aviv and was bound for Panama City, Florida, to take part in the training conference, a Port Authority spokesman said.

    The suspicious "test" item, designed to look like a fully-assembled bomb when viewed via an X-ray monitor, was found to be harmless after a response from police and the Essex County bomb squad, officials said. A TSA officer initially spotted the device and alerted her supervisor.

    "Everyone reacted to the event properly," said TSA's New Jersey Federal Security Director Tom Carter.

    "The item was built to look exactly like an explosive device. The terror threat is real and we do not take chances when it comes to protecting the lives of travelers," Carter said in a statement.

    Six checkpoint lanes were temporarily closed and travelers were moved to other available lanes in order to allow bomb technicians to confirm the item was not an actual explosive, according to officials. Screening resumed after the area was deemed safe.

    "The individual who brought this device to the checkpoint knew he had a replica bomb with him and as such, he should have known better than to bring it to an active checkpoint. His foolish actions inconvenienced hundreds of passengers today," Carter said.

    In addition to criminal charges stemming from his arrest by Port Authority police, the TSA could impose civil fines.

    Penalties of up to $13,000 are possible for people who bring weapons to airports, according to the TSA. Violations also exist for bringing "realistic replica explosives" to checkpoints or interfere with security screening.

    It was not clear if Felman had retained an attorney to comment on the allegations.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The baby's head was already starting to pop out when the officer arrived

    An off-duty sheriff's officer was awakened early Sunday morning by an unusual call for help.

    The daughter of Essex County's jail warden was about to give birth, and they needed an escort to the hospital from their Piscataway home. 

    Officer Kaisha Madera, a seven-year veteran of the Essex County Sheriff's Office, rushed to the home of warden Charles Green -- her boyfriend's uncle -- arrived to find the warden's daughter, Rajine Green, did not need a ride anymore.

    The expectant mother was on the floor and in labor.

    Rajine's water had already broken, and she was in the final phases of labor, the sheriff's office said. 

    "My dad wasn't home and I really needed a ride, because the contractions were getting to a point where I just couldn't tolerate it," Rajine told NJ Advance Media. 

    Madera, a mother of two teenagers, safely guided the baby's head and shoulders out, Sheriff Armando Fontoura said in a statement. 

    After Madera cleaned up the newborn -- who weighed in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces --  she then wrapped her in a blanket and called 911 for that ride.

    "She wanted to make a grand entrance, and she did," Green added. 

    Green and her newborn daughter Koren were taken to St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick for further observation, and are expected to return home Tuesday evening, the sheriff's office said.

    "The whole experience was a bit of a shock to all three of us, but everything turned out for the best," Madera said in a statement Tuesday.

    Green, who was still in the hospital Tuesday, praised Madera for her help. 

    "I know she was pretty scared, even though she wasn't showing it," Green said. "I love her, and I appreciate everything she's done for me and my baby." 

    She also shared some wisdom for other expecting mothers.

    "If you're having contractions, don't wait too long for that call from the doctor," she said. "Go straight to the hospital." 

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Unsurprisingly, people looking to stay in N.J. want to be either close to the Jersey Shore or New York City.


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    It's New Jersey vs. Pennsylvania in three nationally ranked showdowns and multiple rivalry games highlight the action.

    WashingtonTwp.JPGUnder second-year coach Mark Hendricks, Kingsway hits the road for this WJFL Royal matchup looking to extend its winning streak to five games against the Minutemen. The Dragons won last year's contest 25-0. The game will also mark the debut for Washington Township coach and 2008 graduate Mike Schatzman. The Minutemen are coming off back-to-back losing seasons. 

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    More than 79 percent of the firearms seized by New Jersey law enforcement during the first six months of the year were first purchased out of state.


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    After more than 50 years of neglect and decay that no individual government entity could stop, the residents of Garden Spires are being rescued through a multi-agency collaborative effort.

    By Ras J. Baraka

    This is the story of how the failure of government agencies to collaborate to achieve clean, decent, affordable housing resulted in 50 years of misery for the residents of Newark's Garden Spires apartments and how collaboration is now about to change the tragic narrative.

    On Oct. 28, 1965, two years before the Newark Rebellion, our city celebrated the opening of Garden Spires, which comprised two apartment towers on the site of the former Newark Academy, with 275 one-bedroom, 205 two-bedroom, and 80 three-bedroom units. It was the first high-rise apartment complex built in Newark for moderate-income families. Financing of $9.1 million from the Federal Housing Authority made it affordable for the local teachers, city and federal government employees, and commercial and industrial workers who were the first tenants.

    Yet, four years after its opening, conditions at Garden Spires had already begun what would become a 50-year downward spiral that rendered the buildings virtually uninhabitable. In 1969, a number of tenants staged a rent strike complaining of "intolerable maintenance conditions" in the buildings including failure to regularly supply heat and hot water, frequent elevator breakdowns, a broken incinerator, and cracked plaster walls. This was just the beginning.

     

    Nearly 20 years later, in 1986, tenants complained to the Newark Municipal Council about daily elevator problems, weak security, decaying stairwells, and other serious maintenance problems. The building manager testified that conditions were being fixed and blamed the city and the tenants. Municipal officials pushed back by stating that they had fined the landlord for multiple violations. Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) representatives said their agency had sold the building to a Massachusetts corporation three years before with HUD continuing to hold the mortgage and provide rent subsidies for most tenants.

    Since the building had a HUD mortgage, it was not subject to local rent control regulations or inspection by local officials at the time--infuriating the community. It had to be inspected by state, not city inspectors, although state inspection results could be used as the basis for Municipal Court action. The bottom line: with HUD, the Municipal Court, and State inspectors each operating in their own separate silos, virtually nothing got done.

    Fast forward to 1999. Then-Councilmember Cory A. Booker staged a 10-day protest at Garden Spires, living in a tent on the parking lot. This drew national attention, but the inability of city, state, and federal agencies to develop a collaborative action plan preserved the status quo. In the ensuing years, conditions continued to deteriorate, with the complex becoming increasingly riddled with crime and drug dealing.

    Fast forward again to 2015. I had been elected mayor the year before and inherited the Garden Spires mess. Our code enforcement, health and Fire Division teams raided the complex on an early morning, finding inhumane living conditions, which included rat infestation, raw sewage, and stairwells where homeless people defecated and urinated regularly. Our officers closed the unlicensed food store on the ground floor that was selling expired and rotten food. It was clear that control of Garden Spires had to be removed from its owner, First King Properties.

    By September, we had found a developer willing to take over Garden Spires, renovate it, and preserve it as affordable housing. The Municipal Council unanimously approved a measure to make it part of a redevelopment plan, opening the door for a tax abatement and other incentives needed to renovate the buildings.

    The new developer, Omni America, LLC, led by former all-star Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn and developer Eugene Schneur, is an experienced owner and manager specializing in affordable housing with buildings in New York, Wyoming, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and throughout the Southeast. Omni pledged to rehabilitate the buildings without displacing tenants and that work would be performed apartment by apartment, with tenants leaving only during the day and coming back to a freshly refurbished home.

    For tenants, it was a moment of hope, but hope was soon dashed when the planned incentives were rejected by the State, which insisted that First King Properties make extensive repairs before it would enable Omni to buy the building. For two years, the buildings languished with First King refusing to make the necessary repairs while continuing to collect rent on outrageously substandard housing and HUD wrongfully continuing to pay the owner Section 8 subsidies without diverting the money to fix up the building.

    Last year, the City began implementing an audacious new strategy. We sued First King Properties and HUD, seeking to have the court declare the buildings uninhabitable, appoint a receiver to assure that rents were used for essential repairs, and require the landlord to pay to resettle the residents. At the same time, we sued First King for accepting funds from HUD for apartments that were vacant or uninhabitable.

    This set in motion a chain of events that led the city, HUD, and the state of New Jersey to work collectively to rescue the tenants. HUD stepped up to the plate and required the landlord to pay $800,000 for not complying with their rules. With the election of a Gov. Phil Murphy, and his Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, the state sprang into action. The New Jersey Home Mortgage Finance Agency contributed $59.3 million in financing plus tax credits that enable $49.1 million in additional private equity. The State Economic Development Authority also awarded Omni America $43 million in Economic Redevelopment tax credits.

    The story of Garden Spires will end well, but let's not forget the many residents of Newark, including children, who have endured unconscionable living conditions for decades. And let's not forget slumlords who sat on their hands and looked the other way. Action and accountability -- or lack thereof -- are key themes that ran throughout this story.

    Now, after more than 50 years of neglect and decay that no individual government entity could stop, the residents of Garden Spires are being rescued through a collaborative effort being put forth by the City of Newark, Murphy and Oliver (who are committed to saving affordable housing), the cooperation of HUD, tenants who never gave up fighting for their rights, and a developer committed to social justice.

    This kind of collaboration is exactly what's needed to begin solving the nation's housing crisis and ensuring that housing is affordable, clean, and decent.

    Ras J. Baraka is mayor of the City of Newark.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    NJ Advance Media breaks down the top playmaking threats back in 2018.


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    Newark has reported elevated levels of lead in its tap water for the last 18 months, according to state data. The last six-month period from January to June of this year shows 12 percent of samples contained lead over the accepted federal level.

    The water group suing Newark over elevated levels of lead in its tap water wants city officials to provide bottled water for its most vulnerable residents. 

    The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is asking a judge for an emergency order mandating door-to-door water deliveries or water filters for families with children under the age of six, pregnant or nursing women, homes with lead services lines or homes that tested above a certain threshold for lead in the water. 

    "For the last year, Newark officials have been more focused on denying there's a problem with lead-contaminated drinking water than pursuing solutions," NRDC attorney Sara Imperiale said.

    She worried the city's fixes would take too long; residents need immediate access to safe drinking water while the federal lawsuit winds its way through court, Imperiale said.

    Newark has reported elevated levels of lead in its tap water for the last 18 months, according to state data. The last six-month period from January to June of this year shows 12 percent of samples contained lead over the accepted federal level. 

    Lead is measured in parts per billion; although no amount of lead in water is safe, lead concentration should not exceed the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. In Newark, one July sample recorded lead levels at 250 parts per billion -- more than 16 times the federal action level, data show. 

    Newark officials declined to comment on the particulars of the latest motion but in a statement maintained the city's water is safe and the allegations made by the NRDC were "outrageously false."

    Officials blame the city's old lead service lines -- that connect publicly-owned water mains to each property -- for the problems. The source water, the city said, is safe and purchased by eight other water systems. 

    "We sell water from our system to other municipalities, including Pequannock Township, Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville, Elizabeth, and Wayne. If our water supply was contaminated, we would not be allowed to sell our water to them," the city said. 

    "The bottom line: Our water is safe. It is our goal to be transparent and keep our residents informed every step of the way. Again, we reiterate this issue is confined to a limited number of homes with lead service lines."

    The city does not own Newark's lead service lines, which means property owners are responsible for any replacements costs. To help mitigate the expense, Newark has launched a $75 million program to replace 15,000 lead service lines over eight years, absorbing 90 percent of the costs and leaving affected residents to pay up to $1,000 each. 

    Last month, Gov. Phil Murphy cemented that into law, signing a bill that allows municipalities to issue bonds to fund such replacements. 

    But the NRDC said it's unfair for residents to shoulder the costs. The group alleges it is city's fault for failing to properly treat the water that is causing the lead pipes to corrode.

    "The city has an obligation to be treating the water properly such that it's not corrosive," Imperiale said. 

    The city's lead service line inventory, obtained through a public records request, shows some pipes some date to the 1880s. 

    Newark defended its water treatment and said it is undergoing a corrosion control study but has treated its water since the last study was performed in 1994. 

    The NRDC motion asks the city to: 

      • Respond to all residents requesting tap water testing in an expedited manner and provide results within a week.
      • Provide 10 cases of bottled water for at-risk residents each week. Each case contains 24 0.5L bottles.
      • Open drinking water resource centers where residents can request water testing or pick up filters or bottled water.
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    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

     

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    A look at some of the top linemen, tight ends, kickers and punters in New Jersey this season


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    Which teams have the best dual threat offensive combinations?


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    WalletHub has ranked Newark as the worst place to raise a family and residents are not having it.

    WalletHub has done it again to Newark and some residents are tired of seeing the place they love get thrown under the bus. In a study comparing 180 cities using 46 metrics the measure family dynamics, WalletHub determined that Newark is the worst place to raise a family.

    Newark scored 37.16 and was ranked dead last in a report that looked at categories such as family fun and recreation, health and safety, education and child care, affordability and socioeconomics.

    Enough already, residents say. Newarkers know the problems.

    The school system is struggling, but it's no longer under state control after 22 years. Crime, of course, is an issue, much like most urban communities.

    In spite of it all, Newarkers love Newark.

    Debi Hall-Dean, born and raised, has lived here 62 years and was stunned to hear that her city was last. Numbers in a study, she said, do not define Newark.

    The people do.

    "Newark has overcome so much,'' Hall-Dean said. "I've had the opportunity to leave, but this is where I want to be.

    Hall is not alone. Newark residents see a city on the rise. They get tired of listings that backhand the hometown, and residents don't understand how WalletHub only surveyed one other New Jersey city, which was Jersey City, for this report. Its ranking was 80.

    This is not the first time Newark has received a poor grade from WalletHub. It has listed Newark as the second most stressed city to live out of 182 that were surveyed. When it comes to the "Best & Worst Cities for First Time Homebuyers" list, Newark was ranked 292 out of 300. If you'd want to retire, Newark was again placed last at 182 as the worst place to live out your golden years.

    WalletHub could not immediately be reached for comment about its many rankings.

    "I get offended when I hear stuff like that," said Al-Tariq Best. "There are people here who are die-hards and they're making a difference."

    A stone-cold believer in Newark, Best said the city is vibrant with arts and culture and development. Too much attention, he emphasized, is given to what his city is not, rather than what it actually is about.

    While community organizers work on reclaiming neighborhoods through mentoring and educational programs, Amazon has Newark on its short list of cities for a new headquarters.

    One Theatre Square, a luxury high-rise apartment building, has opened across the street from the New Jersey Performance Arts Center.

    Around the corner on Rector Street, NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal, a Newark native, and developer Wasseem Boraie will open up a 168-unit apartment building by the end of this year.

    "The Diesel," one of O'Neal's many nicknames, and Boraie are teaming up again for a 35-story building known as "The House that Shaq Built," on McCarter Highway.

    There's more, but you get the picture.

    Marcus Allen sees the progress both in the neighborhoods and downtown. He's inspired by the change in the city where he's lived his entire life for 37 years.

    Whenever he comes across rankings like WalletHub's, Allen said it puts Newark in a bad light for someone who may want to relocate.

    "They see these numbers that don't necessarily represent our city, that don't represent our community," Allen said. "I wish there was something I could do about it."

    There is something. Ignore the listing. Keep representing Newark the way you do - loud and proud.

    Read More

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     This puck is for you. Kids get outdoor hockey rink at N.J. school

    Barry Carter may be reached at bcarter@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Garden Spires and Spruce Spires will be renovated by December 2019, officials announced Wednesday.


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    "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of what's going on in this country," former Vice President Joe Biden said at Montclair State University while stumping for Democratic congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill. Watch video

    Former Vice President Joe Biden gave New Jereyans a (sometimes loud) taste Wednesday of what his speeches might sound like if he challenges President Donald Trump in two years. 

    Shouting at points during a nearly 40-minute address, Biden tore into Trump's handling of America during a campaign appearance at Montclair State University for Democratic congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill.

    He admonished Trump's fellow Republicans who lead Congress for staying "silent."

    And he said states like New Jersey could be key in helping Democrats win back control of the U.S. House this November in what he dubbed "a battle for the soul of America."

    "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired about what's going on in this country today," said Biden, who's considered a potential Democratic challenger to Trump in the 2020 presidential election. "This is not who we are. This is not the America I know."

    "We are a generous people. We are an honorable people. We are an inclusive people," he added, without ever mentioning Trump by name. "That's who we are."

    Expo preview

    Biden didn't focus much specifically on Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor who is running in a key battleground race against Republican state Assemblyman Jay Webber. The candidates are fighting over the seat being vacated by retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen in north Jersey's 11th congressional district. 

    But Biden stressed that November's midterms are "the most important election any of us have voted in thus far."

    "If we don't build up a bulwark against the erosion of our American values by winning back the Congress, God forbid what happens in 2020," he said. 

    "We desperately need, in both parties, men and women of character," Biden added. "Mikie gets it."

    These N.J. voters are angry and anti-Trump

    The midterm races are being viewed as a referendum on Trump, and New Jersey -- where polls show the president is deeply unpopular -- is critical to Democrats' efforts to flip the 23 seats they need to take back the House.

    The Sherrill vs. Webber battle is for one of four Republican-held seats in New Jersey in the state. Frelignhuysen has held the seat since 1995 but announced his retirement in January, as it appeared his re-election would suddenly be a challenge amid the anti-Trump sentiment in the Garden State.

    After opening his speech Wednesday with the attack on Trump, Biden's tone became much more hushed. The usually bombastic politician from Delaware almost sounded like he was whispering for a stretch.

    But by the end, the Biden of old returned. He said while Republicans in Congress helped pushed then-President Richard Nixon out of the White House, much of the current Republican-led Congress today is afraid of standing up to Trump.

    "What has become of us? My Republican colleagues know better, but they're silent," Biden said, raising his voice. "Where are they?"

    Gov. Phil Murphy, a fellow Democrat, had a similar message at the rally, saying the U.S. needs "leaders with steel in their spines."

    "We need leaders who talk with us one on one and don't tweet at us," Murphy said in an apparent reference to Trump. 

    Murphy also linked Webber, R-Morris, to former Gov. Chris Christie, the Republican whom Murphy succeeded in January.

    The governor said Webber was "handpicked" by Christie to be New Jersey's Republican Party chairman from 2009-11 and was a "solid yes man for the Christie agenda that wrecked our state."

    "The nation's eyes are on us because we are on the cusp of doing something special," Murphy added. "Right now, New Jersey is the most important state in the United States. If we are going to take the nation back from Donald Trump and his enablers, the wave will start here in Montclair."

    Biden didn't mention Webber by name but argued: "We can't afford another Trump acolyte in the House."

    In her own remarks, Sherrill said Americans "have a duty now."

    "To fight for what we know is true, to fight for what our country stands for," she said.

    How Nate Silver predicts N.J. House races will turn out in Trump midterms

    Webber's team said Tuesday that Biden's appearance shows Sherrill is "a professional politician" who is "beholden to Democrat Party bosses."

    "Make no mistake, you will continue to see Democrat party elites campaigning for Mikie up until Election Day, because they are fighting to send someone to Congress who will support their liberal platform that includes trillions of dollars in new taxes, and that is weak on Syria, Iran, and Israel," Webber spokesperson Ronica Cleary said in a statement.

    "With no voting record or proof to back the promises she makes, we must look to the company Mikie keeps, and that company is decidedly out of touch with New Jersey's 11th congressional district," Cleary added.

    Biden's appearance came just weeks after current Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Springfield for a low-profile, private fundraiser for Webber. 

    That event was behind closed doors, with the minimum ticket price at $1,000 -- though Pence did make an unscheduled stop at the Florham Park Diner. 

    So far, Sherrill has been the slight favorite. The Cook Political Report rates the race "lean Democratic." And a Monmouth University poll from June 27 showed Sherill leading Webber 40 to 38 percentage points among potential voters/

    Sherrill also led fundraising as of July, which she entered with $2.9 million to spend, compared to Webber's $171,720.

    This was hardly Biden's first trip to New Jersey. Last year alone, he stumped twice for Murphy is his successful race to succeed Christie. 

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Jonathan D. Salant contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    The girl was able to escape, authorities said.

    Newark police are searching for a man they say forced a 16-year-old girl into the back seat of a vehicle Tuesday morning.

    The city's Police Division, in a statement, identified the suspect as a bearded black man between the ages of 25 and 30 who had a medium complexion, low-cut hair in waves and eyeglasses. The man was between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall, police said.

    A police spokesperson, reached by email Wednesday evening, said the girl was on her way to school at the time of the attack, which took place at the intersection of Muhammad Ali Avenue and Broome Street around 7:30 a.m.

    Classes at Newark's public schools began Tuesday morning.

    Police said the girl was able to escape unharmed after the man forced her into the vehicle, which they described as a black four-door that may have been a Cadillac.

    Authorities on Wednesday urged parents in the city to keep a close eye on their children, and asked them to report any suspicious vehicles near schools in session. 

    The Newark Police Division is asking anyone with information about the attack to call its tips line at 1-877-NWK-TIPS (1-877-695-8477) or 1-877-NWK-GUNS (1-877-695-4867), place anonymous tips online at www.newarkpd.org or provide information through the Newark Police Division smartphone app.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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