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    Augusto Amador: We want policies that strengthen our cities, not gut them. Immigrants have long played an important role across our city.

    By Augusto Amador

    As councilman for Newark's East Ward for the last 20 years, I've been proud to witness our city's economic and cultural resurgence. A

    s a native of Portugal, I'm also proud of the role immigrants from all over the world have played in Newark's prosperity. Immigrants in our Congressional district, contribute almost $2 billion in taxes and wield nearly $5 billion in spending power, according to the bipartisan nonprofit, New American Economy. We are also 63 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than native-born Americans, which means we're not just providing vital services to the entire community but creating jobs for our American neighbors.

    For these reasons, I was dismayed to learn that the Trump administration is considering a new policy that would dramatically reduce the number of immigrants who are eligible to obtain green cards, resulting in the possible deportation of millions of people across the country and loss of up to $164 billion, according to NAE.

    The proposed policy would make any immigrant who uses more than 15 percent of the poverty line in public benefits for themselves or their non-American children a "public charge"-- and bar them from permanent residency. Of course, we want people to be self-sufficient. But by this standard, according to the conservative-leaning Cato Institute, an immigrant who uses just $2.50 in benefits a day -- i.e. is 95 percent financially independent -- would be considered a "public charge."

    This policy could have serious consequences for Newark. The construction industry is expected to be highly impacted by the new policy -- a problem considering that almost 60 percent of our district's construction industry is foreign born. Professional and business services as well as industries like transportation to utilities are also likely to be impacted.

    These too, are fields in which sizable portions of our city's workforce (40-50 percent) are foreign-born. The fact is, 90 percent of Newark's low-skilled immigrants--the demographic most likely to require some public assistance -- are employed fulltime. We need them to keep our buses running, our offices open and our lights on.

    Dependence on public assistance isn't an immigrant problem; it's an American problem. It's a result, in part, of sluggish wage increases and a shortage of affordable housing, things that affect all of us. And in fact, low-skilled immigrants in Newark are actually less dependent on public programs like welfare, Medicaid and food stamps than their native-born American counterparts. Immigrants may come here with very little, but more often than not, they work their way upwards until they can stand on their own feet.

    That was certainly true for my family, when we came here from a small town in the north of Portugal. When my father arrived in 1927, the only jobs available to him were in construction and manufacturing, but he worked tirelessly to build a strong foundation for our family. When I first arrived here in 1966, I also hustled, attending Rutgers University at night while working a factory job during the day. The support I received from my family -- but also the community -- was essential to my success. It's what allowed me to believe in the American dream.

    Now, the administration's new public charge policy --  which is unjustly punitive and economically short-sighted -- is poised to dash that dream for a new generation of immigrants. We want policies that strengthen our cities, not gut them. Immigrants have long played an important role across our city and especially in the Ironbound neighborhood of the East Ward.

    In fact, Newark just placed first in New American Economy's Cities Index, which ranks how well immigrants are integrating and succeeding in the nation's 100 largest cities. We were awarded top scores in the categories of government leadership, legal support, community, job opportunities, economic prosperity and livability. 

    The city of Newark clearly believes in the potential of its foreign-born residents. Thanks in part to municipal outreach, we now have 32,400 naturalized citizens. Thousands of others dream of becoming American.

    All of these people are in the process of realizing the American dream, leaning not only to adapt but to thrive.

    Many of them have spent decades raising their families in Newark, shopping in our stores, running local businesses and contributing to our community's cultural fabric. Some of them needed help when they first arrived; perhaps some still do. But economically and civically, they are giving far more than they take.

    Augusto Amador, a Democrat, is a Newark councilman representing the East Ward.

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


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    The first victim was killed Wednesday night and the second early Thursday morning

    Essex County authorities are investigating two unrelated killings in Newark committed less than five hours apart, the county prosecutor's office said.

    The prosecutor's office, in a statement, identified Jamil Thompson, 23, of Newark, as the victim of a fatal shooting reported in the 100 block of Huntington Terrace around 8:12 p.m. Wednesday.

    Thompson, whom police found at the scene suffering from apparent gunshot wounds, was pronounced dead at a local hospital approximately two hours later, according to the prosecutor's office.

    The second victim, Daquan Cuttino, was shot in the 600 block of South 18th Street around 1 a.m., authorities said. Cuttino, 25, of Newark, was pronounced dead at University Hospital 40 minutes later.

    The prosecutor's office said both slayings remain under investigation. No arrests had been made in either case as of Thursday evening.

    Authorities have asked anyone with information to contact the county Homicide/ Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    NJ Advance Media reported in May that the Pagans, which have a heavy presence in SouthJersey, were looking to expand north.

    A North Bergen man wearing Pagans Motorcycle Club clothing was arrested in Newark early Wednesday after he was spotted firing a gun, police said.

    Larry M. Ortiz, 28, also tried to escape police by speeding away from officers on his motorcycle, but eventually crashed in Elizabeth, Newark police said in a statement.

    image003.jpgLarry M. Ortiz, 28, of North Bergen

    Newark police responded to the 100 block of Sherman Avenue around 12:30 a.m. after officers were alerted by the city's gunshot detector system, Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said.

    Officers saw a man on a motorcycle drive away from the scene, and witnesses told the officers that a man on a motorcycle fired a gun on Miller and Vanderpool streets, which run parallel, police said.

    No injuries were reported to police.

    Officers then located a man on Frelinghuysen Avenue and Empire Street who fit a description given to them. Police said the man ignored the officers' demands to pull over.

    Instead, police say, he sped away.

    He was later found lying on the street at North Broad Street and Newark Avenue in Elizabeth, and identified as Ortiz. He was arrested and taken to the hospital. As of Wednesday afternoon, he was in stable condition.

    Ortiz was charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and eluding. He was also given additional summonses for several traffic violations.

    NJ Advance Media reported in May that the Pagans, which have a heavy presence in South Jersey, were looking to expand into northern New Jersey.

    After an Edison man was charged with brutally beating a Hells Angels associate near a clubhouse in Newark, the New Jersey State Police sent an unclassified memo to law enforcement warning of the Pagans intentions of expanding their territory "violently if necessary."

    The memo, obtained by NJ Advance Media, said the Pagans are beefing up membership on the entire East Coast by absorbing other outlaw motorcycle gangs.

    Along with South Jersey and the Jersey Shore, the Pagans are also known to congregate in Elizabeth.  

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Trains are delayed by an hour as of 7:30 a.m. to and from New York Penn Station. Rail tickets are being cross-honored on PATH and buses

    UPDATE: As of 10:30 am, an Amtrak spokesman said all equipment has been cleared from Hudson River tunnel derailment site and regular service has resumed. There is no damage to the rails. 


    New Jersey Transit riders are in for more misery Friday morning with major delays for trains to and from New York City after a piece of Amtrak track equipment derailed in one of the Hudson River tunnels.

    As of 7:30 a.m., trains to and from New York Penn Station are delayed by 60 minutes, NJ Transit said. Midtown Direct trains are being diverted to Hoboken. Delays were 30 minutes around 6 a.m. but increased to an hour shortly after 7 a.m. 

    Passengers bound for Hoboken are delayed by about 30 minutes. 

    Railroaded NJ Transit riders are losing their minds (again) on social media

    As of 8:10 a.m, the car has been rerailed, but has not been moved out of the tunnel yet. All trains are single-tracking through the south tube, Amtrak said. 

    NJ Transit rail tickets will be accepted by PATH, NY Waterway ferries, private bus carriers and on NJ Transit buses. 

    Amtrak trains were delayed by 45 to 60 minutes as of 7 a.m. due to what a spokesman called "disabled rail maintenance equipment."

    Earlier this week, problems at the 111-year-old Portal Bridge caused major delays on during the evening commute. Also this, week about, 1,500 people were trapped on a train for more than 90 minutes after it lost power. 

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

     

     


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    Doracase Ephraime Dolcin is one of 10 children who died in the adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Passaic County.

    When their daughter was born with profound medical problems, Modeline Auguste and Ocroimy Dolcin said they decided they would never have another child. 

    "We wanted to give her all our love," Auguste said.

    The parents said they always knew their daughter, who needed a both a tracheostomy and a feeding tube to live, probably would not have a long life. 

    But they never thought she would die just three weeks after her fourth birthday. 

    Doracase Ephraime Dolcin is one of 10 children who died in the adenovirus outbreak that has swept through the pediatric unit at the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Passaic County. Another 27 children have been infected. The state Health Department assigned a team to monitor Wanaque's infection control practices and closed admissions to the facility.

    In an interview at their East Orange apartment this week, her parents insisted that Wanaque's decision to delay transferring their daughter to a hospital denied Doracase a chance at survival.

    Legislature to look into outbreak that led to 10 deaths at pediatric facility

    Auguste said during a visit on Sunday, Sept. 30, her daughter developed a fever that would rise and fall over the next few days. By Wednesday, Oct. 3, Doracase spiked a 102-degree temperature, the mother said the nurse told her.

    "I said, send her to the hospital," Auguste said, a Haitian native whose neighbor, Nidja Charles, translated for the couple. "They said they were waiting for the doctor."

    The next day, the nurse told her there was blood around Doracase's trach. Her mother said she insisted that Wanaque take her to the emergency room. "They were still waiting for the doctor," Auguste said.

    "It was negligent," Dolcin said.

    By that evening, workers told her a blood test said she needed to go to the hospital, Auguste said. The parents said they didn't yet know she had the adenovirus.

    When the child arrived Friday night Oct. 5 at Saint Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, the doctors told them she had pneumonia and a stomach infection, Auguste said. Doracase was sent to the intensive care unit.

    "By Sunday, she was already gone," Dolcin said, meaning she was unresponsive. "It was so quick." 

     She died the next day, Oct. 8.

    Wanaque did not respond to a request for comment.

    The adenovirus is usually not fatal. It's a respiratory illness that feels like the flu.

     But to children with anemic immune systems like Doracase, the virus is life-threatening.

    Doracase smiling.pngDoracase Dolcin was suffering from an intermitten fever in the week leading up to her death, her parents say. (Photo courtesy of the family)
     

    Doracase -- named after a woman in the Bible who helped feed and clothe the poor -- was delivered two months early because Auguste said she could not feel the baby moving inside of her. The doctors explained she wasn't getting enough oxygen.

    She was born Sept. 16, 2014, at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where the parents said they were taught how to take care of an infant with such profound feeding and breathing problems.

    "They were good. They loved that baby so much," Auguste said of the Barnabas staff.

     Doracase lived at home for only three months, said Dolcin, 41, who works at a warehouse loading trucks, and Auguste, a 40-year-old certified nursing assistant. She underwent brain surgery at University Hospital in Newark at age 2.

    The state Health Department decides whether babies as ill as Doracase need around-the-clock skilled nursing care, which is paid for by the Medicaid system. There are four such facilities in New Jersey, and where a child ends up is usually based on closest available bed to the family. 

    The couple said their daughter spent time at Children Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick and in another skilled nursing facility in South Jersey, and complimented the care their child received there. But they requested a location closer to home. The state transferred their toddler to Wanaque about two years ago, they said.

    The couple said they would visit multiple times a week, separately or together,  and usually on the same days. But when they visited on a different day, on several occasions they found daughter laying in a dirty diaper, with feces visible on her body. 

    "She was dirty with poop. Even the chair was dirty," Auguste said. 

    "When they don't know you are coming, the baby was always dirty," Dolcin said.

    The parents complained, but Dolcin said he sometimes discouraged his wife from speaking up. He was afraid if they complained too often, his daughter's care would suffer.

    "I would go and bathe her. I told them, when I am here, you don't have to do nothing -- I'm good. "I washed her clothes. Shampoo, soap and towels -- everything I buy. I wanted nothing from Wanaque," Auguste said.

    "The  baby was always smiling, laughing. She knew my voice," she said.

    The couple's home is crowded with a basinet, a pack-and-play and stacks of photos of Doracase, some of her dressed in a princess gown and a tiara for her birthday.

    Dolcin said he doesn't understand why the employees -- some of them themselves parents -- lacked the "compassion" to send her to the hospital at the first sign of trouble. Wouldn't they want the same for their own child? he asked.

     With his only child gone, he said he hopes state officials come to the same conclusion he and his wife have.

    "That place should close."

    Do you have a family member on the pediatric unit at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, or a child who has been affected by the viral outbreak there? NJ.com would like to hear from you. You may reach us at (732) 902-4559, or write to Susan Livio at slivio@njadvancemedia.com, Spencer Kent at skent@njadvancemedia.com, or Ted Sherman at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook. 


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    Recent testing shows Newark's water also contains high levels of a byproduct disinfectant, a chemical known as haloacetic acid.

    First it was lead. Now it's a likely carcinogenic chemical.

    Newark has again violated a federal standard, allowing a potentially cancer-causing contaminant to flow through the drinking water -- and the water it sells to nearby towns, according to state test records.

    The state records show Newark's water contains high levels of haloacetic acids, a group of five possibly carcinogenic chemicals that are byproducts of the water disinfection process. People exposed to elevated levels of haloacetic acids for years are at an increased risk of getting cancer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

    The test results deal yet another blow to public trust in Newark's water system.

    The city is already under pressure to address elevated levels of lead in its drinking water and recently acknowledged it wasn't properly treating the water for corrosive properties at one of its plants.

    The elevated levels of haloacetic acids are not considered an acute public health emergency by state and federal authorities, according to Kareem Adeem, the city's deputy director of water and sewer utilities.

    He said Newark is aware of the high levels of haloacetic acids and is working to solve the problem. Specifically, Adeem said the city is making changes to its disinfection process and instituting a flushing program to remove old water from the system more quickly.

    He said there were no additional problems with how the department was treating its water. He said "recent increases in organic material in source water and demands for higher chlorine dosages" caused a recent spike in haloacetic acids.

    At least one water expert disagrees.

    "The answer is for the city to get its act together," said Erik Olson, a drinking water expert for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. The NRDC has also sued the city and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection over Newark's "dangerously" high levels of lead.

    Chlorine is added to water supplies to clear them of bacteria. Olson said haloacetic acids are created when chlorine reacts with natural matter like leaves in the water. Having elevated levels of haloacetic acids is indicative of problems with how Newark is disinfecting its water, he said. The disinfection process, he said, needs to be adjusted so fewer of the acids are produced. 

    The maximum acceptable levels of haloacetic acids in drinking water, according to federal standards, is 60 parts per billion. The water coming from Newark's system, based on an average of the last four quarters, has halocetic acid levels as high as 81 parts per billion in one testing site.

    Of the city's 12 testing sites, eight recorded elevated average levels of haloacetic acids. One of those sites: Newark's Health Department building on Williams Street.

    Surrounding towns affected

    More than 270,000 Newark residents drink the city's water that comes from two sources, the Wanaque Water System and the Pequannock Water System. 

    Pequannock serves every part of Newark except for the city's East Ward.

    The elevated levels were found at various test sites around the city and not at the treatment plants. 

    Eight municipalities buy some or part of their water from Newark to serve their own residents. Those towns are Bloomfield, Belleville, East Orange, South Orange, Nutley, Liberty Township, Raritan and Pequannock Township. At least 500,000 customers are served by the Newark water system, according to the EPA. 

    Ask Alexa

    New Jersey American Water, which operates the water systems in Liberty and Raritan, said its water supply was not affected. Raritan only purchases Newark water during emergencies.

    Belleville exceeded the federal standard for haloacetic acids in June and again in September of this year, records show. Bloomfield has violated the standard repeatedly since 2017.

    "This mayor, this council, me as the administrator and the engineers, we are very, very concerned," Bloomfield's township administrator Matthew Watkins said. He said the township was "addressing our problem holistically" and has invested $10 million in improving its water system.

    In the township's September public notice, informing residents of the presence of the contaminants, officials said they were working on building their own water pump.

    Watkins said the intent of building a new facility was to save money. It should be operational by 2020 with the goal of supplying 75 percent of the town's water.

    "Now, the water quality is obviously an issue," Watkins said. "We'd like to think that Newark is taking responsible action to correct the situation."

    Belleville officials did not immediately return a request for comment.

    Elevated levels of haloacetic acids have been found in water systems across the country.

    Previous problems

    The NJDEP's Bureau of Safe Drinking Water determined that Newark's water violated the standard on Oct. 3, and officially issued a violation on Nov. 1.

    This is not the first time that Newark's water has been found with elevated levels of haloacetic acids. According to NJDEP Spokesman Larry Hajna, the city has violations dating back to the fourth quarter of 2003 up through 2005. Hajna added that the city was previously able to bring its water back into compliance.

    The EPA learned of Newark's haloacetic acids violation this week but had not taken any enforcement action, according to spokeswoman Tayler Covington. She added that enforcement is up to the NJDEP.

    Newark is preparing to send letters to affected residents on Nov. 4 notifying them of the elevated levels of haloacetic acids, as required by the state, according to Adeem. The city must also submit a plan to address the contamination within 30 days of receiving the violation from NJDEP, and the city has one year from the violation date to bring its water system into compliance.

    The coming pubic notification only compounds questions about Newark's drinking water quality, as the city is also dealing with elevated levels of lead and distributing filters to affected residents

    The city has blamed the lead issues on aging service lines and is in the process of replacing them over the next eight years. But the problem is two-fold. Earlier this month, city officials acknowledged its corrosion control treatment to reduce the water's corrosive properties at the Pequonnock plant was no longer effective. As water corrodes and eats away at the aging pipes, lead can leach into the water. 

    Newark officials have maintained there is nothing wrong with the water they are supplying, or the water mains that distribute it.

    Haloacetic acids, sometimes called HAAs or HAA5, include five chemicals that are byproducts of chlorine disinfection. The five chemicals are dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, chloroacetic acid, bromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid.

    Adeem noted that haloacetic acids are "possibly carcinogenic to humans because of evidence of carcinogenicity in laboratory animals and limited evidence in people." According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, haloacetic acids have been linked to bladder cancer in humans as well as liver cancer in animals.

    Vulnerable populations, like pregnant women, are particularly at risk from haloacetic acids according to Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist for Environmental Working Group, a non-profit that advocates for stricter drinking water standards.

    "I think for vulnerable populations, I would be cautious since disinfectant byproducts in general can be very harmful during pregnancy," Stoiber said.

    If the haloacetic acids levels were a health emergency, Adeem said that the public would've been notified within 24 hours. But since this is not considered an emergency, he said, the notices did not go out when the city learned of the violation in early October.

    "If I was a consumer, I would probably want to know as soon as possible," Stoiber said.

    Read more: 

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

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    A 39-year-old woman was arrested at Cafe Central in Newark. Alcohol was found hidden in condiment bottles, police said

    A Newark coffee shop owner has landed in hot water after also selling customers alcohol and offering them the chance to gamble on keno machines, authorities said. 

    evora.jpgTereza Evora (Newark police) 

    Tereza Evora, 39, of Newark, was arrested and charged with maintaining an unlicensed liquor establishment, selling alcohol illegally, unlawful possession of alcohol and unlawful possession of a gambling device, according to police. 

    Cops showed up at Cafe Central on Wilson Avenue at 2:10 p.m. Thursday after getting complaints about the illegal sale of alcohol and gambling machines.

    When they arrived, officers found people drinking beer out of plastic cups and sipping wine from glasses, police said. Four Keno machines were also allegedly set up in the shop while alcohol was also found hidden in condiment bottles, police said. 

    A spokeswoman couldn't immediately be reached to provide additional information. 

    Newark police have shut down establishment illegally selling alcohol several times in recent years, including last year at the the Portugal USA Soccer Club on Lafayette Street.

    cafe-central-newark.jpgCafe Central in Newark. (Google) 

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

     

     


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    There was travel chaos at Newark Liberty International on Friday, as a storm delayed more than 250 flights and canceled nearly 40.

    There was travel chaos at Newark Liberty International on Friday, as a storm delayed more than 250 flights and canceled nearly 40. 

    Storms and wind are delaying flights arriving and departing from Newark Airport for over 90 minutes, a Port Authority spokeswoman confirmed. 

    Flightaware.com shows 265 flights were delayed in and out of Newark, with 38 cancellations. 

    Newark Liberty airport ranked worst in country (again)

    United Airlines accounted for the most cancellations, with nearly 90 flights delayed, according to flightaware.com. 

    Delays are expected to worsen this weekend as heavy rains move across the state Friday night into early Saturday, with winds picking up in intensity as the storm leaves the area, forecasters said. 

    Staff reporter Lens Melisurgo contributed to this report. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook. 

     

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    Scrutiny of the quality of Brick City water is building, and Mayor Baraka is trying to distance his city from the Flint water crisis that gripped the nation.

    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had an emphatic message Friday for Brick City residents who are concerned about the water they drink.

    "Newark is not Flint."

    The mayor said he decided speak out to rebut "deliberate misinformation circulating in the media."

    Newark's water woes have been compared to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is currently suing Newark over the elevated lead levels.

    Representatives from the NRDC, in an April interview with NJ Advance Media compared Newark's water issues to those in Flint, which made national headlines in 2014 for greatly elevated lead levels in its water supply.

    This week, Erik Olson, a drinking water expert for the NRDC, defended the group's comparison during an interview with WNYC's Brian Lehrer.

    "There are echoes of Flint," Olson told Lehrer. "They're not exactly the same, but if you go down the litany, there's a significant health problem with elevated lead levels coming out of people's tap water, you've got a situation where the city is not exactly being straight with people and saying the water's fine and people should drink it."

    After months of Newark defending its method of treating its water supply, NJ Advance Media reported in October that the city admitted its treatment was "no longer effective," and allowed lead to leach into the water. The lead problem received more attention this week after additional reports in other media outlets, like The New York Times, which published a story headlined "In Echo of Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Now Hits Newark," and WNYC.

    Pipes in N.J. city were installed in the 1880s. There's lead in them, and it's a problem. 

    For three consecutive six-month periods, the city has reported elevated levels of lead in more than 10 percent of its tap water samples according to state data.

    Baraka has not denied that the lead problem exists. But Newark city officials maintain the issue is with old, private service lines that are made out of lead. The lead pipes can corrode and leach lead into the water they carry if the water's pH shifts too low.

    Records show that there are at least 15,000 properties with lead service lines and another 3,000 suspected of having lead service lines in Newark.

    Flint's water crisis was caused in large part by the city's failure to properly apply corrosion control treatment to its drinking water. According to Baraka, Newark's corrosion control has simply become less effective, and the city is taking steps to remedy that issue.

    Newark became aware of the ineffective corrosion control treatment in October after it commissioned a report.

    Specifically, Baraka said that corrosion control improvements are coming to the city's Pequannock Water Treatment Plant. The other plant that treats Newark's water, the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission's Wanaque Water Treatment facility, has more effective corrosion control.

    "[Mayor Baraka is] correct that the city is working on the steps required under the Safe Drinking Water Act to comply with the federal lead and copper rule," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

    Baraka also pointed out that unlike Flint, Newark is not dealing with widespread water main breaks and the city has not issued a boil water advisory.

    "Newark is moving more aggressively on the lead issue than any city ever has," Baraka said.

    Specifically, the mayor noted that Newark is providing water filters and paying to replace resident's lead service lines despite not being required to do either under the state's Safe Drinking Water Act. Baraka said that the city wants every lead service replaced in the next eight years.

    "Newark is going above and beyond what the law requires to make sure the city's water infrastructure will support the tremendous growth and development that is on the horizon for Newark," Baraka said.

    Baraka's statement did not address the elevated levels of haloacetic acids that have been found in Newark's water. The chemicals, which are byproducts of the water disinfection process, are potentially cancer-causing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Where to get filters

    • Boylan Recreation Center: 916 South Orange Avenue
    • John F. Kennedy Recreation Center: 211 West Kinney Street (entrance on Howard Street)
    • Vince Lombardi Center of Hope: 201 Bloomfield Avenue
    • St. Peter's Recreation Center: 378 Lyons Avenue
    • Hayes Park West Recreation: 179 Boyd Street
    • The Water and Sewers Facility: 239 Central Avenue

    For more information or to get your home tested for a lead service line call: 973-733-6303.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Karen Yi contributed to this report.

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Fall has finally arrived in the Garden State, which means stunning hues of red, orange and yellow are taking over the trees.


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    Lots of runners from New Jersey are taking part in Sunday's 26.2-mile race.


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    Amazon officials are discussing details about establishing its second business hub with Crystal City, Virginia, government employees, according to a recent Washington Post article.

    Newark's chances at landing Amazon's second headquarters is looking more like a long shot. 

    Amazon officials are reportedly in "advanced discussions" about establishing its second business hub in Northern Virginia, according to a Washington Post article on Saturday.

    Cities across the continent have contended for the new headquarters, dubbed HQ2, offering huge tax breaks in exchange for the retail giant's estimated 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment.

    But on Saturday it appeared as if Crystal City, Virginia, had emerged as the front-running city for the online behemoth. 

    The Post reported that officials from the northern Virginia city and the surrounding county have discussed how quickly employees could move there, what office real estate was available and how to publicly announce the decision. JGB Smith, the city's top real estate developer has even pulled some of its buildings off the market and earmarked them for Amazon, according to the article.

    There has been no official word from Amazon, though, and the company could also be discussing similar details with other cities.

    The news would likely come as a huge disappointment to cities that have been wooing the company since it announced its HQ2 competition in fall 2017.

    Newark offered a $2 billion incentive in August, but even paired with Jersey's $5 billion tax break, it likely wasn't enough to lure Amazon to the Brick City. Online gambling sites indicated in September that Newark was towards the bottom of the 20-city candidate list.

    Newark officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

    Cassidy Grom may be reached at cgrom@njadvancemedia.com Follow her at @cassidygrom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    An off-duty officer shot and killed Michael Gaffney in a bar brawl two years ago Watch video

    In Texas, it's illegal to carry a gun into a bar.

    In Tennessee, you can bring your handgun into a bar, but you can't have even a sip of alcohol.

    In Iowa, the threshold for when you're too drunk to carry a gun is the same as driving: .08.

    Many states have similar laws -- but not New Jersey.

    It may be because the state's strict laws mean most carrying handguns are current or retired officers, and you might think cops know better than to get drunk while armed.

    But that's exactly what happened when Michael Gaffney lost his life to a drunk, off-duty cop in 2016.

    gaffney-selfie.jpgMichael Gaffney 

    Now that his killer has been convicted, his loved ones want lawmakers to create and pass a bill they're calling "Gaffney's Law," named for the 37-year-old Piscataway father killed during a fight with a then-Newark cop outside a Union Township bar in 2016.

    Gaffney walked away but Joseph Macchia, 36, restarted the brawl and then he shot him three times, a jury found in June.

    Macchia was fired and is now serving a 6-year prison sentence.

    "I think all 50 states should have drink and carry laws," said Gaffney's mother, Judy Valdes of Berkeley Township. "This never should have happened to Michael. It should have already been a law."

    Johanna Aguilar, Gaffney's girlfriend of 10 years before his death, said she believes most cops are smart enough to leave their guns locked at home if they plan to drink.

    "It's common sense. If you're intoxicated you shouldn't be able to carry or fire a weapon, just like you can't drive a car," she said.

    Not long after Gaffney died, his friend started a petition on Change.org calling for "Gaffney's Law" to make it illegal for police officers to drink while armed with a handgun or to carry weapons into any bar or establishment where they plan to drink. Valdes said they now think it should apply to anyone who has a handgun in New Jersey.

    State law only allows certain people to carry firearms, like current or retired police officers and people who can need it for their jobs, or rare cases when a civilian can prove he or she needs a handgun to protect themselves from a specific, proven threat.

    macchia.jpgJoseph Macchia (NJ prisons photo) 

    Aguilar, of Piscataway, said that soon after Gaffney died, she contacted her state senator, Sen. Bob Smith, but never heard back. She contacted and met with Assemblyman Jamel Holley, whose district includes the township where the shooting occurred. She said he seemed interested in packaging it with another bill, but nothing ever came of it.

    Aguilar or Valdes have not reached out to any legislators since then, but they're hoping news coverage and the more than 6,000 signatures on the petition will encourage a lawmaker to sponsor a bill.

    After hearing about the proposed law Friday, Rev. Robert Moore, the executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action, in Princeton, which includes the anti-gun violence group CeaseFire, said it sounds like the kind of legislation his group could get behind.

    "We should proactively take steps to stop that from reoccurring," he said of Gaffney's death.

    He said it would need refining, such as specifying whether the legal limit would be .08, as it is for driving a car.

    "It certainly sounds like a good idea and a reasonable, common-sense idea," he said.

    Calls and emails to the state offices of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) , the Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Association of Chiefs of Police were not returned Friday.

    James Stewart, president of the Newark FOP Lodge 12, said in a statement that Macchia's case has been dealt with and that a law wasn't necessary.

    "I can cite at least five other instances where Newark cops have been in liquor establishments where armed robberies occurred and they were able to take action only because they were armed," he said.

    "In today's climate, where everybody knows what the term 'active shooter' means, cops need to be the professionals they took an oath to be, and be responsible for their actions," he said. "More legislation is not the answer."

    Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, declined to comment on whether such a law is necessary, but said "rule number one" of responsible gun ownership is never mixing alcohol and firearms.

    Even if one beer may not make someone intoxicated, he said, instructors and responsible gun advocates always advise gun owners to avoid any alcohol while carrying.

    Roubian said noted that drunken shootings are not common, especially in New Jersey, where so few people can carry handguns.

    "There's no epidemic of people going out and doing this" because most gun owners are responsible, he said.

    Roubian said he also believes that since most people carrying guns in New Jersey are police officers, the state Attorney General's Office could make such a rule statewide without having to go the legislative route.

    Current policies

    The state Attorney General's office doesn't have existing rules or guidance about when and how officers can carry guns while off duty, spokesman Peter Aseltine said.

    "Issues related to law enforcement officers carrying firearms off-duty are addressed in police training and Standard Operating Procedures issued by individual police departments," he said.

    The New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police suggests in a model firearm policy on its website that departments include the following language:

    "Officers shall not carry a firearm while consuming or under the influence of alcoholic beverages to any degree whatsoever (unless such consumption is approved in accordance with the performance of official department duties)."

    The policy also says that while officers are encouraged to carry their service weapons while off duty "to enhance their ability to take law enforcement action when appropriate and necessary," they should not be carried if officers "anticipate consuming alcoholic beverages."

    Cop arrested, 3 suspended after party brawl

    NJ Advance Media inquired and sent public records requests about the off-duty firearms policies of the seven biggest municipal police departments in the state.

    Newark's policy dictates that off-duty officers "may be unarmed at their own discretion" when on vacation, when there is a risk of loss or theft of the gun, such as a beach, or when participating in activities where it would not be advisable. "Such activities especially include those at which alcoholic beverages are consumed," the regulation says.

    In Atlantic City, according to Sgt. Kevin Fair, "the decision to carry off-duty is up to the individual officer and they must consider several factors when making that determination, including the consumption of alcohol."

    Elizabeth officials said they had no policy specifically addressing off-duty drinking while carrying. Jersey City, Paterson, Trenton, and Camden did not provide answers by Friday evening.

    There is a federal law that mentions current or retired officers carrying guns while drinking, but the law is primarily meant to deal with reciprocal carrying rights and not people carrying in their home state, Aseltine said.

    The 2004 Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act says "qualified" current and retired officers can carry a handgun almost anywhere in the U.S., but specifies that being under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance" is disqualifying.

    However, the Attorney General's Office decided in 2005 that the federal law did not change gun ownership rules within the state.

    'This needs to be done'

    Aguilar said she hopes law enforcement wouldn't be opposed to "Gaffney's Law," because it's obviously a bad idea to drink and carry a weapon -- and most cops know that.

    Sure, there are "cop bars" where officers like to wind down after a shift, but Aguilar said she believes most lockup their guns before imbibing, based on conversations with her friends and family in law enforcement.

    And while some might say that what happened to Gaffney was a rare occurrence, Aguilar pointed to headlines from around the country where drunk officers shot people.

    In a single week in 2014, articles from the New York Times and the New York Post detailed three drunken shootings by New York City cops, though one was accidental.

    Valdes said she also supports the police, but she thinks the law could prevent unjustifiable killings like the one that took her son.

    "If I'm going to get anything out of this, to find peace in my heart, it's getting this law passed so it doesn't happen to anyone else," she said. "It's not even in my heart. It's in my gut. This needs to be done."

    "For me, Mike was supposed to be my forever. I never saw any future without him," Aguilar said of her late partner.

    She said it's also hard to see his 15-year-old daughter, Alexia, grow up "knowing how much she meant to him, and all the plans he had for her."

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cats await adoption at shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We accept dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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


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    Recent reports do not list Newark as a top three finalist city, but a new report says Amazon might split its HQ2 between two locations.

    Amazon is getting closer to announcing its decision on where it'll open its second headquarters among a field of 20 finalist cities.

    And while recent reports suggest it might not be Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka on Monday said it wasn't over for the city, yet.

    "It's not over 'till the fat lady sings," Baraka said. "We're just glad to be here, we have already benefitted from being in the running."

    The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported that the retail giant plans to split its facility between two locations. It's not clear if those locations would be close to each other or far apart. 

    Dividing the facility will help secure enough tech talent and lessen concerns about driving up the housing market or worsening traffic or infrastructure issues, the Journal reported. 

    The newspaper previously reported that Dallas, Crystal City in Virginia and New York City were in "late-stage" talks with Amazon. 

    Should Amazon decide to split HQ2 among neighboring cities, however, that could mean Newark could have a shot -- New York City is about 11 miles away.

    "It's not chosen yet," Baraka said on Monday. "We are so excited." 

    Newark is offering Amazon a $2 billion tax break and New Jersey has approved an additional $5 billion in incentives.

    Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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


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    NJ Transit's legendary penchant for breakdowns has been a regular target of Democratic candidate for congress Mikie Sherrill's ire. Will the trains get their revenge? Watch video

    Speaking to several dozen volunteers in Parsippany before they began canvassing on Sunday afternoon, Democratic congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill had words of advice: Don't rely on NJ Transit.

    Sherrill urged volunteers to make sure that any voters commuting to New York City from Morris or Essex County consider casting their ballots first thing in the morning, lest delays prevent them from getting to the polls.

    "I've been talking a lot about infrastructure," said Sherrill, pausing. "I tell people, 'Maybe vote in the morning if you have to go to Manhattan?' Let's not rely on NJ Transit right now."

    It was a throw-away line, but the bitter laughter it provoked from the crowd spoke volumes about just how bad things have gotten.

    NJ Transit was named second-worst in the nation for commuter train breakdowns in 2017, based on Federal Transit Administration data released last month. NJ Transit buses were ranked the sixth worst in the nation for breakdowns.

    Adding to a possible Election Day headache, NJ Transit on Monday afternoon issued a travel alert for commuters on the Morris & Essex and Montclair Boonton rail lines which service the 11th Congressional District in which Sherrill is running.

    Due to installation of Positive Train Control, "some trains will be temporarily discontinued or have changes of origin/destination" this week, and right on through to January. Sherrill went on to note that "the weather report keeps looking worse and worse for Tuesday," with heavy rain forecast for most of Election Day.

    Autumn's falling leaves and wet weather have the potential to cause "slippery rail delays" when leaves are crushed by train wheels, releasing an oily residue that coats the rails. Trains are left spinning their wheels and causing slow-downs for the trains behind them, too.

    On Monday, NJ Transit was experiencing system-wide 30 minute delay due to "slippery rail" conditions.

    Polls are open in New Jersey from 6:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m on Election Day.

    Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at cbrodesser@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClaudeBrodesser. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    The 25-year veteran has also been charged with passing bad checks and abusing sick pay

    A 25-year veteran of the Newark Police Department has been jailed on allegations he forced a drug dealer to sell cocaine on his behalf, Essex County authorities said Monday.

    Photo of Anthony L. GibsonAnthony L. Gibson. (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

    Investigators from the police department and the county prosecutor's office discovered Officer Anthony L. Gibson, 50, had been giving the dealer $5,000 to buy cocaine and demanding $10,000 in return, officials said in a statement announcing Gibson's arrest.

    The officer has also been accused of stiffing a Georgia car dealership out of $19,000 for a Dodge pickup ordered using his police identification, as well as claiming $10,000 in city sick pay while working a security job at St. Michael's Medical Center.

    City Public Safety Director Anthony F. Ambrose, in a statement, said the police department had "no room" for officers like Gibson.

    "This type of conduct will not be tolerated," Ambrose said. "This officer does not represent the hardworking men and woman of the Newark Police Department.''

    The prosecutor's office said Gibson, who remained jailed Monday at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, has been charged with conspiring to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, distributing a controlled substance, theft and passing bad checks.

    The prosecutor's office said he could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

    Authorities did not immediately specify how they learned of Gibson's alleged crimes, or whether the alleged drug dealer -- who has not been publicly identified -- had also been charged.

    It was unclear Monday evening whether Gibson had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

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

     

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    He admitted fatally shooting a 19-year-old outside a liquor store in Newark two years ago.

    A 43-year-old man has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison for a 2016 Newark slaying prosecutors described as the second homicide of his criminal career.

    mustafa hill.jpgMustafa Hill. (Essex County Correctional Facility)

    Mustafa Hill previously pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and illegal gun possession in the Dec. 22, 2016, fatal shooting of Armani McPhall, 19, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

    Assistant Prosecutor Justin Edwab, in a statement, said Hill will have to serve more than 21 years before he's eligible for parole, and will have to spend five years under state supervision once he's released from prison.

    At the time of the guilty pleas, Hill was on the eve of his scheduled trial on murder and other charges in McPhall's killing, which took place outside a liquor store in the city's Vailsburg section.

    McPhall's killing was captured by surveillance video from inside the store, and detectives charged Hill later the same night, according to the prosecutor's office.

    Hill previously was sentenced in 1993 to 20 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter in an unrelated slaying. That sentence required him to serve seven years before he was eligible for parole, prosecutors said.

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

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    Newark had offered up $2 billion in tax breaks while New Jersey approved an added $5 billion in incentives

    Amazon reportedly plans to split its second headquarters between two sites in Queens and a Washington, D.C. suburb, dashing hopes of Newark hosting the online shopping behemoth's new base.

    The company is working to finalize a deal that would divide 50,000 employees between Long Island City and Crystal City, Virginia instead of a single HQ2 site, the New York Times reported Monday night, citing sources familiar with the process.

    The Times report came after the Wall Street Journal earlier on Monday reported Amazon would split its HQ2 between two cities. Cities around the country promised millions in tax breaks to lure the retail giant.

    Newark offered up $2 billion in tax breaks while New Jersey approved an added $5 billion in incentives.

    N.J. Legislature clears way for $5B in Amazon tax breaks

    "It's not over 'till the fat lady sings," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said earlier when reports surfaced that Amazon would not pick New Jersey's largest city. "We're just glad to be here, we have already benefited from being in the running."

    Amazon's HQ2 was expected to bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investments to whichever city the company picked.

    An online oddsmaker in September gave Newark long odds for scoring Amazon's new office, placing it above only Miami and Los Angeles, California on a list of top picks.

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

     

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    Westfield is in the running for NJ.com's Best Downtown contest.


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