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    Legislators say many families "are totally unaware of the services and compensation that they may be eligible for," through the state's troubled crime victims' program.

    Many victims of violent crime say they are unaware there is financial help available from the state. 

    That could change under new legislation introduced Tuesday, which would require hospitals and ERs to provide information about compensation and other help available to those victims. The mandate, proposed by Senator Declan O'Scanlon and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, both R-Monmouth, was aimed at increasing awareness about the state's victims' compensation fund, which critics say often fails to reach those who need it most.

    The sponsors said bill was introduced in response to an investigation by NJ Advance Media earlier this year, highlighting the struggles many crime victims and their families say they routinely face when seeking help from the state.

    The report, Twice the Victim, found that the amount of money paid to victims has dropped significantly over the past decade, with some saying they were never told that help was available. At the same time, an analysis of data obtained through public records requests found the state returned $382,833 in related funding earmarked for federal assistance grants, which had been intended for support services across the state but was never spent.

    "Reading the article was heartbreaking," said DiMaso."Sending back over $380,000 of unspent federal victim assistance grant funding when it is so clear there are families struggling is something we need to correct."

    O'Scanlon, a member of the Law and Public Safety Committee, said there is no question that the Victims of Crime Compensation Office needs substantial reform. He called the proposed legislation "a simple first step" that focuses on where victims will go for medical care--hospitals and emergency rooms--to let them know that is available.

    "The fact that we are not making people aware of these tremendously-needed resources, in the most obvious places, and then sending unspent money back to the federal government, is outrageous," O'Scanlon said. "This is a simple action that should have happened a long time ago."

    The legislation would require the Commissioner of Health to work with the Attorney General to develop signs containing information on the benefits, contact information, and the procedure for filing a victims' compensation claim, that would be posted in all hospitals and satellite emergency departments.

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    State officials have acknowledged that the claims process for aid from the victims' compensation program remains cumbersome.

    New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has said the state needs to redouble its efforts in reaching those who need help--especially to "more vulnerable populations" in the state's urban areas. However, his office, which oversees the program, has yet to take any major steps aimed at reform.

    Victims' advocate Elizabeth Ruebman, an organizer with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a national organization of crime survivors, said it was "common sense" to connect with crime victims in hospitals and emergency rooms.

    "The New Jersey Trauma Center at University Hospital in Newark sees approximately 1,200 victims of violence and over 600 firearm injuries annually," she said. "Crime victims are traumatized and seeking out help can be more than they can handle. Help should come to them."

    The investigation by NJ Advance Media detailed a program operating under rules and regulations that have scarcely changed for decades, and many consider to be out of date with the times. Some advocates said the victims' compensation office acts more like an "insurance agency" looking to deny claims. Last year, only half of the people who applied received aid.

    Families can be denied burial expenses if the agency determines a victim had any responsibility for their own death. And the maximum amounts that can be paid out for most claims has not increased in nearly 20 years.

    Several other reform bills are currently pending in the legislature, but have yet to be moved.

    Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, has been pushing for changes that would raise the caps on victim payments, as well as expand the definition of who is a victim under the law to include additional family members, including the surviving unmarried parent of a child of a victim.

    A hearing on a similar bill, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, is scheduled for Thursday in Trenton. It would increase attorneys' fees, increase emergency awards, and expand the list of crimes for which a victim is eligible for compensation to include simple assault and harassment.

    Ted Sherman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find on Facebook.

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    New Jersey native Vera Farmiga and Montclair's Patrick Wilson are paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in the upcoming possessed doll film. Watch video

    Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are teaming up again for some more ghostbusting.

    Deadline reports that in "Annabelle 3" (pending an official title), the New Jersey-connected actors will reprise their roles as paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. They first played the characters in the 2013 horror film "The Conjuring."

    The roles and movies are inspired by cases from real-life ghost hunters of the same name. Ed was a demonologist and Lorraine a medium. Their work also formed part of the basis for "The Amityville Horror." 

    Annabelle is an evil doll inhabited by the spirit of a girl. In the upcoming film, the doll will reportedly trigger an attack on the Warrens' young daughter, Judy (Mckenna Grace).

    The report says the investigators will have a supporting role in the third "Annabelle" film, written by Gary Dauberman ("It"), who will also direct. The newest installment will be the sixth movie in the "Conjuring" franchise.

    Farmiga ("The Departed," "Bates Motel") and Wilson ("Watchmen") went on to play the Warrens in "The Conjuring 2" in 2016 but have so far not appeared in the various "Conjuring" spinoffs, including "Annabelle," "Annabelle: Creation" and prequel "The Nun," which was released on Sept. 7 and stars Farmiga's younger sister, Taissa, a Readington native. 

    Both Farmiga and Wilson have New Jersey ties.

    Farmiga, 45, a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, was born in Clifton and grew up in a Ukrainian enclave in Irvington (speaking only Ukrainian until she was 6), attending St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Newark. She also stars in "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," which will be out in May of 2019.

    Wilson, 45, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and lives in Montclair. He can next be seen as the villain Ocean Master in "Aquaman," due out on Dec. 21. 


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    He was one of three men charged in 2010 with killing an innocent bystander during a gang shootout

    A state jury acquitted Khalil Stafford of killing Hope Williams, and the Essex County prosecutor's case against him was closed.

    Khalil StaffordKhalil Stafford. (Essex County Correctional Facility)

    Five years later, the U.S. Attorney's Office is taking its own swing at Stafford, who was indicted Tuesday on federal murder and conspiracy charges in Williams' 2010 fatal shooting in Newark.

    Stafford, a 34-year-old alleged member of the Grape Street Crips, was already facing federal heroin trafficking charges stemming from a multi-agency investigation that dismantled the gang's Newark leadership in 2015.

    Authorities said Williams, 33, was killed in the crossfire of a gang shootout on June 19, 2010, after a dispute at a barbecue near her Garside Street home erupted in violence. 

    Two others were injured in the same shooting.

    The county prosecutor's office charged Stafford and two other men, Ishmael Scott and Aaron Terrell, with murder in Williams' killing, but a jury acquitted all three at trial in 2013.

    One of the jurors told The Star-Ledger at the time they "didn't think the state did enough" to prove the case, citing inconsistent testimony and a lack of physical evidence.

    Prosecutors' prepared statement announcing the new charges Tuesday did not mention the prior acquittal.

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    While the Fifth Amendment's "double jeopardy" clause protects defendants from being tried twice for the same crime, another legal principle allows those acquitted of violating state law to be prosecuted for violating federal law in the same incident.

    The new indictment against Stafford charges him with committing murder in violation of federal racketeering statutes, as well as racketeering conspiracy and using a gun in a violent crime.

    He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of murder and conspiring to distribute heroin.

    Stafford's attorney did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday evening.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook

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    Inaccurate state reports give the false impression that Newark has all but eliminated suspensions. Other numbers show the truth is far from that.

    By Patrick Wall, Chalkbeat Newark 

    This story is part of a partnership between Chalkbeat and the nonprofit investigative news organization ProPublica. Using federal data from Miseducation, an interactive database built by ProPublica, Chalkbeat is publishing a series of stories exploring inequities in education at the local level.

    Newark schools are suspending thousands of students, the majority of them black, according to 2015-16 federal data collected by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

    But because of reporting lapses, those suspensions are nowhere to be found in the state's published school report cards, where parents typically turn to seek out such data. Instead, the reports give the false impression that Newark has all but eliminated suspensions.

    The flawed reports reveal the district's longtime struggle to track suspensions -- a data challenge that has impeded efforts to stop schools from inappropriately removing students or punishing students of one race more harshly than others.

    ProPublica has compiled the federal data, which many people never see, in a new user-friendly portal, allowing the public to explore racial inequities across districts and schools. Using the tool to analyze suspensions in Newark, Chalkbeat found stark disparities between schools and between students of different races -- troubling patterns masked by the inaccurate state reports.

    The state and federal suspension rates for individual schools differ dramatically, creating uncertainty about schools' actual discipline practices. Current and former district officials say the federal data is more reliable than the state's figures, which they attributed to reporting failures at the school level.

    For example, the state's 2015-16 "school performance report" for Weequahic High School in Newark's impoverished South Ward says its suspension rate was zero. But the federal data indicate that Weequahic, where 98 percent of students were black, gave in-school suspensions to 233 students -- an astonishing 70 percent of the student body. (In addition, 31 students received out-of-school suspensions.)

    "You'd get suspended for anything," recalled Daquis Henry, 18, about his freshman year at Weequahic. Henry, now a senior, said suspensions have become less common under the school's new principal, but, in the past, the policy made him consider staying home.

    "It'd be like all my friends are suspended," he said. "What's the point of me coming?"

    District-wide, 2,087 students received out-of-school suspensions in the 2015-16 academic year, or 6 percent of the total enrollment, according to the federal data. About 960 students received in-school suspensions, or 3 percent of the enrollment. (Students who received both types of suspensions are included in both counts.)

    The state did not publish district suspension rates that year. But in 2016-17, it reported that 1.1 percent of Newark students received out-of-school suspensions, and 0 percent received in-school suspensions -- an improbable number in a state where nearly 53,000 students were given in-school suspensions that year.

    The federal data show that more than one-fourth of students who received out-of-school suspensions in 2015-16 hailed from just three Newark high schools, where the vast majority of students were black. The schools were Central, Newark Early College (now part of West Side), and Malcolm X Shabazz.

    The state report for Shabazz indicated its suspension rate was 0.6 percent, but the federal data show it gave out-of-school suspensions to 246 students -- or 44 percent of its student body. It also gave in-school suspensions, which the federal government defines as being removed from the classroom for at least half a day, to 161 students. (Damon Holmes, the school's former principal, disputed those numbers, saying he recorded a 24 percent suspension rate that year -- still about three times the statewide rate.)

    If suspension rates are as high as the federal data suggest -- or even close -- the consequences for affected students are potentially grave. Research has shown that suspensions impair students' academic performance, and that suspended students are more likely to drop out of school and become ensnared by the juvenile-justice system. (Six percent of Weequahic students and 14 percent of Shabazz students dropped out in 2015-16, compared to just 1.2 percent statewide.)

    And Newark's black students appear to be bearing the brunt of the district's harshest punishments. In 2015-16, black students made up 73 percent of those who received out-of-school suspensions as well as 67 percent of students who were referred to law enforcement, which includes receiving a ticket or being arrested, although they accounted for just 46 percent of the overall enrollment.

    By contrast, Hispanic students, who made up 45 percent of Newark's district-school enrollment that academic year, represented just 25 percent of students who received out-of-school suspensions and 29.4 percent of those referred to law enforcement.

    This racial disparity mirrors national trends, where black students make up 15.5 percent of the enrollment but 39 percent of suspended students, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis of 2013-14 data. The 28 percentage-point gap between enrollment and suspensions for Newark's black students exceeds the 23.5 gap that exists nationally.

    Andrea McChristian, an associate counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, said the inaccurate state reports hinder efforts to pinpoint which districts and schools are pushing the most students out of class -- and, potentially, into the criminal-justice system.

    This gap and lack of transparency is especially troubling in light of New Jersey's stark racial disparities in youth incarceration: Black youth are more than 30 times more likely than their white peers to be detained or committed to a juvenile-justice facility.

    "We have to look at the reasons at the front end -- what's the funnel?" McChristian said. "The schools seem like a logical place to start." But she noted, "It's hard to quantify that without the data."

    The state's annual report cards, which include Newark's inaccurate suspension information, are designed to give the public a view of each school's performance according to a range of metrics, including test scores and attendance. The reports are a critical tool for families in a "choice" system like Newark's, where parents are encouraged to compare schools' performance before ranking them on applications during the open-enrollment process.

    However, the state relies on districts to provide much of the data in the reports, including suspension rates. The suspension numbers that Newark submitted were incomplete because many schools, until recently, did not log suspensions in the district's online database, called PowerSchool, according to district officials.

    "It was really a matter of reporting," said Tashia Martin, a special assistant in the district's Office of Student Support Services, which oversees discipline policy. "Some schools may not have been reporting in the way that they should have."

    Instead, some schools recorded discipline incidents and responses in third-party systems, such as Google Sheets. Beginning in 2016, the district began to retrain school personnel on how to input suspension data in PowerSchool, Martin said. The district has provided three trainings this school year on discipline policy, including data entry, she added.

    "I'm confident that our numbers will be more accurate this year," she said.

    She and other officials said the federal data from 2015-16 is more accurate than the state reports because district officials gathered any missing data from schools.

    "A few years ago, when we did not have the right protocols in place, and schools were doing whatever they wanted to do, we had to do a lot more legwork," Martin said. Because of that "follow up with schools to collect the data, the CRDC report should be accurate," she said, referring to the federal survey.

    But even the federal data is incomplete, according to documents obtained by Chalkbeat.

    PHOTO: Patrick Wall/Chalkbeat
    Newark Superintendent Roger Leon is faced with a suspension-tracking challenge that has long bedeviled the district.

    In April 2017, Newark Public Schools officials informed the Office for Civil Rights that suspension data was "missing entirely" for two schools and "a few data elements" were unavailable for several other schools in the 2015-16 survey that the federal government collected. The district promised to "improve the consistency and comprehensiveness of suspension data" in the next survey, which is compiled every two years and will cover 2017-18, by retooling the district's data system, training school personnel, and monitoring data collection, according to an "action plan" submitted to the federal agency.

    The flaws in Newark's responses to the 2015-16 survey came after the district failed to submit any data at all for the previous 2013-14 survey -- making it one of only a few dozen districts out of 17,000 nationwide not to complete the legally required survey.

    A U.S. education department spokesman did not immediately reply to inquiries about Newark's survey responses. But in an email exchange last November with McChristian, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice associate counsel, an official from the civil rights office said that Newark was an outlier.

    "The CRDC is mandatory and we have very high response rates," the official wrote. "However, there are always some districts that do not submit, for whatever reason. As an example, for the 2015-16 school year, there are 17,000+ school districts and only 34 did not submit data."

    Michael Yaple, a New Jersey Department of Education spokesman, said that districts have previously had to submit suspension data in different forms to the state and federal governments. The state has recently put in place a new data-reporting system that should result in fewer differences between the suspension rates reported at the state and federal level, he added.

    "The NJDOE is working to continuously improve our data-reporting systems so residents can have better conversations in their communities about the needs of their students," he said in an email. "In the next few years, the public can expect to see fewer discrepancies between the two collections."

    Lisa McDonald, who was principal at Weequahic High School in 2015-16, could not be reached for comment. The current principal, Andre Hollis, noted in an email that he arrived at the school in October 2017. He said he has tried to steer the school toward "restorative practices," which are designed to help students reflect on their actions and make better choices rather than being sent out of school.

    "We currently record suspensions in PowerSchool and use Restorative Practices to reduce the number of suspensions," he said.

    District officials said they review suspension data each month and follow up with schools that have unusually high rates or disparities between students according to race, gender, or special-education status.

    However, the office that reviews discipline data has gone without a leader since June, when she and other top officials were forced out by the new superintendent, Roger Leon. Now, it falls on Leon to improve the district's suspension reporting, whose challenges predate his administration.

    "The fact that we're in transition and these important questions are being asked is a good thing," said Matthew Brewster, executive director of the superintendent's office. "That helps us get to a place where we need to be."

    This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for its newsletters here:

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    It's in your hands. Decide which New Jersey downtown ranks as Number 1.

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    Hahaha. Oh wait, you were serious?

    All right, Boston. Your Red Sox just beat our Yankees in the ALDS and the Patriots are miles better than both the Giants and Jets. You can have sports.

    But how dare you come for our pizza crown? 

    TripAdvisor released on Tuesday its list of America's 10 best pizzerias. And something called "Regina Pizzeria" in Boston topped the list. Not a New Jersey pizza spot, not even a New York one.

    A Boston pizzeria. No. 1 in the country. This feels like a "Black Mirror" episode -- and in this dystopian pizza future, the entire world has lost its taste buds.

    I've never been to Regina Pizzeria. I'll probably never go to Regina Pizzeria. You know why? You don't go to Hawaii to ski, you don't go to Colorado to surf and you sure as hell don't go to Boston for pizza. Obnoxious accents and mediocre coffee? Sure. Maybe even clam chowder -- we'll admit New England's take on the soup is better than Manhattan's, ya chowdahead.

    The best pizzeria in each of N.J.'s 21 counties

    But pizza? No. Is nothing sacred? The picture featured of Regina Pizzeria looks about on par with the za they're slinging at Costco. Which, you know, is fine if you're in a rush and trying to grab a bite while buying in bulk. But if you're looking for great pizza? Yeah, this ain't it, chief. 

    If I closed my eyes and started walking down any street in New Jersey, I'd probably bump into a better pizza place completely by chance than any joint in New England. The Garden State's pizza is so good that even The New York Times claimed that the best pizza in New York actually resides in New Jersey at Jersey City's Razza -- and trust us, it checks out.

    We should have seen this coming. David Portnoy, the highly problematic president of Barstool Sports, went to legendary Star Tavern in Orange in January and proclaimed the heavenly thin-crust pies couldn't "hold a candle to Massachusetts," but that it was "probably great pizza for Jersey." New England's pizza privileges should have been revoked right then and there.

    Star Tavern does more than hold a candle to Massachusetts pizza. It owns it. It's not even the same food. All we do is open amazing pizza spots: see this new list from our pizza pope Pete Genovese. 

    To be fair, TripAdvisor didn't use experts to crown Regina Pizzeria the best in the country. It was based on user reviews on the site. Which begs the question: what are they putting in the water in Boston? Whatever it is, it isn't helping make better pizza.

    Maybe Bostonians just don't know any better. Maybe, compared to the rest of the crappy pizza in the city, Regina Pizzeria is, in fact, stellar. Which is adorable. If I was used to eating floppy, greasy, disgusting monstrosity that Boston passes off for pizza every time I wanted a slice, I'd probably love Regina Pizzeria, too. Luckily for me I live in New Jersey, so that's a horror I don't have to live.

    So, Boston pizza fans? Stay in your lane. I know that's probably hard to do considering how terrible you all are at driving, but do your best. And if you want to have the actual best pizza in the United States, hop on I-95 and come to New Jersey. We'll show you around for a free slice or two.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.

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    Seminarians studying for the priesthood have been the targets of "foul language and incivility" on campus, school officials said.

    Seton Hall University's interim president sent the campus community a stern reminder to be civil to everyone -- even future Catholic priests -- after several cases where seminarians were the targets of verbal abuse on campus.

    As the Catholic Church continues to deal with the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal, Seton Hall Interim President Mary Meehan said seminarians studying for the priesthood have had expletives and insults hurled at them.

    "Recently my office has been informed of several instances of foul language and incivility being aimed at members of our Immaculate Conception Seminary. This is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated," Meehan wrote in a letter sent Monday to students and the campus community.

    Seton Hall hires investigators for sex abuse probe

    Meehan said she was "saddened" to have to remind the campus to be welcoming to everyone in a year when the South Orange school has launched a series of lectures and initiatives around the themes of inclusion and diversity.

    "The discourse in our world is often coarse, uncivilized and hurtful these days," Meehan wrote. "But here at Seton Hall, where our mission calls us to a higher standard, we expect nothing less than civility."

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    A Seton Hall spokeswoman declined to provide any details of the incidents where seminarians were targeted.

    "As a Catholic university we hold ourselves to the highest standards. We expect all members of the Seton Hall community to be welcoming and civil in their interactions with one another," the university said in a statement.

    Seton Hall, the state's largest Catholic university, has about 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Its South Orange campus includes Immaculate Conception Seminary, one of the largest schools in the nation for men preparing to become priests.

    Seminarians live on campus in their own residence hall. More than 45 other priests also live on campus, many in student residence halls.

    In August, Seton Hall hired a Newark law firm to independently investigate sexual abuse allegations that may have involved some of its seminarians.

    Some of the allegations involve former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was once the head of the Archdiocese of Newark and president of Seton Hall's board of trustees.

    McCarrick, who stepped down from the ministry and gave up his cardinal title earlier this year, is accused of sexually abusing young altar boys and engaging in sexual misconduct with priests and seminarians. He is awaiting a church trial.

    In another case, a priest at Seton Hall was allegedly removed after he hid a camera in the room of a young priest at College Seminary at Saint Andrew's Hall, a few blocks from the main campus.

    The Seton Hall investigation is being conducted by attorney Ted Wells, who previously led the National Football League's "Deflategate" investigation that involved the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.

    The Archdiocese of Newark has also hired an outside firm to audit past sexual abuse cases and personnel files.

    Once that audit is completed, the archdiocese will decide whether it will release names of those accused, an archdiocese spokesman said.

    Staff writer Rob Jennings contributed to this report.

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.


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    The attacker remained at large a day after the crime

    A 24-year-old woman was sexually assaulted inside her Maplewood home Tuesday morning by a man who followed her there and forced his way inside, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

    The attacker remained at large Wednesday. A description of the attacker was not made immediately available by Essex County Prosecutor's Office. 

    The attack occurred at about 11:30 a.m., the prosecutor's office said Wednesday morning. They did not say exactly where the incident occurred in town and did not immediately have any description of the offender.

    The woman was transported to an area hospital, where she was treated and released, authorities said.

    Maplewood police have added additional patrols in the area, and have alerted the community of the incident on social media, police and prosecutors said.

    Police Chief Jimmy DeVaul posted an online notice Tuesday evening warning residents to be aware of their surroundings, not to open their door for strangers, and to report suspicious activity by calling 9111.

    Anyone with information for police can contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

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    Even Houston's personal Bible is included in this new Grammy Museum exhibit at Prudential Center

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    The House speaker attends a rally for Jay Webber, facing Mikie Sherrill in a key Congressional race.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for 11th District Republican Congressional candidate Jay Webber on Wednesday, seeking to boost the GOP in one of the nation's most closely-watched Congressional races.

    Webber, a state Assemblyman from Morris County, is in a tight race with Democrat Mikie Sherrill, in a district that ordinarily favors Republicans. The seat opened up in January after Republican Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen decided not to seek a 13th term.

    Webber's race against Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor who launched her campaign eight months before Frelinghuysen exited, is drawing national attention as Democrats seek to pick up enough seats to win control of the House on Nov. 6.

    Ryan is not seeking re-election and leaves office in January, but is campaigning on behalf of about two dozen Republicans.

    "The rest of the country -- we're all counting on you, North Jersey, to deliver this man to the United States Congress," Ryan told Webber supporters who gathered at a hotel in Hanover.

    Ryan did not mention President Trump, with whom he has occasionally sparred, though he argued that Republican-backed policies were strengthening the nation.

    "This is what is at stake," Ryan said, adding, "You can see a person of character and integrity when you look at Jay Webber."

    Webber spoke before Ryan took the stage. He also didn't mention Trump, opposed in polls by a solid majority of New Jersey residents, while indirectly praising his leadership.

    "No one can look at the facts and say we aren't winning in the country these days," Webber said.

    Ryan also repeated the "Montclair Mikie" jab that Webber has been directing at Sherrill, who lives in Montclair, though Montclair is part of the 11th Congressional District.

    Sherrill issued a statement, about an hour before Ryan appeared, stating that Webber is "in lock step" with Ryan's tax hike -- a reference to the 2017 federal tax law that while lowering tax rates on some New Jersey residents also imposed the $10,000 cap on state and local deductions.

    "It is not surprising that Assemblyman Webber would bring the architect of the tax hike bill to our community," Sherrill said.

    "Their record as career politicians pursuing an ideological agenda may bond Ryan and Webber, but they break with the majority of New Jerseyans who want their full state and local tax deduction," Sherrill said.

    The race between Webber and Sherrill is drawing national attention. Though Republicans have a voter registration edge in the 11th district, which includes the hometown of former Gov. Chris Christie, Sherrill is seen as having a real chance at winning.

    Sherrill had a slight lead over Webber, 48 percent to 44 percent, in a Monmouth University Poll released last week.

    Ryan was the latest high-profile to weigh in on the race -- a list that includes Trump, who tweeted his support for Webber last month.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden headlined a rally for Sherrill at Montclair State University in September, one month after Vice President Mike Pence led a fundraiser for Webber.

    The 11th District includes parts of Morris, Essex, Passaic and Sussex counties.

    In addition to the rally with Webber, Ryan was planning to hold private events with two other N.J. House Republicans -- Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd District, who is facing Democrat Andy Kim; and Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th District, facing Democrat Tom Malinowski.

    Staff writer Jonathan D. Salant contributed to this report.

    Rob Jennings may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RobJenningsNJ. Find on Facebook

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    Lights ... camera ... what exit?

    During a sports broadcast last week, Walt Disney Studios released a trailer for its release of "Aladdin" ... in the summer of 2019. I understand this is a live-action version, but didn't they release the animated version in right after I got married (1992)?

    I'm hearing excellent reviews for "A Star is Born" starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper ... but wasn't the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version released when I was in high school (1976)?

    Remakes are certainly nothing new in Hollywood. Go to the Wikipedia page for 'List of Film Remakes' and prepare to sprain your index finger scrolling. It's split into two lists actually, because there are simply so many.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    But even though some of the films in this gallery scored ... quite low on, I still watch/watched them, because they're original. Some fall into the 'so bad it's good' designation, while others really ARE good but simply got overlooked.

    New Jersey has hosted film crews for some truly outstanding classics, like "On the Waterfront," and some ... others. The movie industry was BORN in New Jersey, beginning with Thomas Edison and moving to the cliffhangers that were actually filmed on and over the cliffs around Fort Lee and Palisades Park. Even though major studios no longer call the state home, they regularly returned to their roots for the unique scenery that is New Jersey.

    Here's a gallery of films that were made, all or in part, in New Jersey. If you think of one that might be missing, check this previous gallery for more.

    Vintage photos of movies filmed in N.J.

    And here are some other galleries you may enjoy:

    Vintage photos of famous people seen in N.J.

    Vintage photos of famous folks from N.J.

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

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    Look at the top freshmen in the state and cast your vote for the best of the best.

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    LinkNWK is now in Newark. The kiosks are also coming to Philly.

    New digital kiosks with 55-inch screens have sprouted across the city of Newark that will allow passers-by to make free phone calls, connect to public Wifi or charge their mobile devices. 

    Newark is the first in New Jersey to launch the LinkNWK sidewalk kiosks created by Intersection, a New York-based technology company. New York City was the first to roll out the technology in 2016 and Philadelphia will install the kiosks later this fall.  

    On Tuesday, officials debuted the newly-installed kiosks across from the Prudential Center on Broad Street. A total of 45 kiosks will be in operation in the city -- with at least one in every ward. So far, two are up and running.  

    "Newark is once again defining itself to the state, nation, and world as a cutting-edge, high-tech city," Mayor Ras Baraka said. "These kiosks will enable residents and visitors alike to gain immediate information about Newark, ranging from upcoming cultural events to emergency service response."

    The kiosks, which Intersection installed at no cost to the city, display information on city services, fun facts about Newark, upcoming events and advertisements. 

    The ad revenue will go to the company and be shared with the city as well.  

    Representatives at Intersection said this time, the kiosks will not allow internet browsing. When the devices were first installed in New York City people used the kiosks to watch pornography, according to reports at the time. 

    LinkNWK4.jpegLinkNWK kiosk on Broad Street. Oct. 16, 2018. (Courtesy: City of Newark)

    The company has not announced plans to install kiosks in any other New Jersey cities.

    The Newark kiosks will be the first to roll out with a Wifi app that allows users to connect to the LinkNWK network and pull up a map to find the nearest kiosk. 

    NJIT has also partnered with Intersection to find creative ways of using the devices to benefit the community. 

    "Newark is a rising star in the tech economy, and we are proud that LinkNWK will only add to this momentum," said Jen Hensley, President of Link at Intersection. 

    A minority investor in Intersection is Sidewalk Labs, which was created by Alphabet, the parent company of Google.

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

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    Newark police are asking the public's help in locating the man's tan-colored sedan with a dent in the passenger door

    Newark Police are searching for a man who they said tried to lure three young girls into a van on Wednesday evening. 

    The man, described as being in his 20s, approached the girls - a 10-year-old and two friends - near Spruce Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

    He told them to get in his vehicle, an older model 4-door, tan-colored sedan with a dent in the front passenger door, police said.

    The girls then fled the area, and the man drove away, heading westbound on Spruce Street.

    The area is close to Harrison, Jesse Allen and Lincoln parks. 

    The mother of one of the girls reported the incident to police. 

    Anyone with information about the incident can contact police department through their website, or through the Newark police department's app available for download on iTunes and Google Play.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind on Facebook.


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    Controversy has swirled round Emilio Karim Dabul, the New Jersey spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    More elected officials are calling on the nation's immigration enforcement arm to dismiss a government spokesman with ties to anti-Muslim hate groups. 

    The Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday passed a resolution supporting Democratic lawmakers' demand to oust Emilio Karim Dabul, the New Jersey spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

    Dabul previously worked as an editor for an anti-Muslim hate group and published a piece for another anti-Muslim hate group, praising an Islamophobe. The ties were first reported in an editorial by The Star-Ledger and later reported by other media outlets

    When reached on Thursday, Dabul referred comment to ICE's headquarters.

    "These continued personal attacks against a dedicated public servant are unacceptable and undermine the credibility of local officials who are engaging in reckless, false smear campaigns," ICE spokesperson Elizabeth Johnson said in a statement to NJ Advance Media.

    Several immigrant rights groups and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in New Jersey have pushed for Dabul's ouster. 

    Protest Activists protest outside before the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting Wednesday night. (Courtesy: Whitney Strub) 

    "We had quite a few residents who have been attending our meetings and brought this to the board's attention," Freeholder President Brendan Gill said. He said Wednesday's resolution passed unanimously.

    "We felt that it was the will of the board to issue a resolution to support our federal delegation and to make sure that it was clear that the board did not agree with the rhetoric that Mr. Dabul has used," Gill said.

    "Hate speech should not be tolerated and has no place in government."

    In August, New Jersey Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr., Frank Pallone Jr., Donald Payne, Jr., Albio Sires, Donald Norcross and Bonnie Watson Coleman sent a letter to ICE, calling for Dabul's immediate dismissal. 

    The lawmakers wrote that they would "consider his continued employment as tacit acceptance of his bigoted beliefs," according to the letter. 

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