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Loud and clear, N.J. is not having a blast at coast | Editorial

Seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast is an unwanted precursor to offshore drilling, and New Jersey's lawmakers should try to stop it.

One reason that U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., will be missed when Congress reorganizes is that the congressman is fighting to the end to protect the New Jersey coastline from offshore oil and gas drilling.

With only about three weeks until retirement, LoBiondo let it be known last week that he's added his name to those of 92 other House members who are pushing back against the Trump administration's latest gambit to lure energy companies to the Atlantic Ocean in search of fossil fuels that they can convert into cash.

New Jersey's congressional delegation has long been successful in fighting off authorization to open the ocean off our state far and wide to oil rigs, the Trump drill-baby-drill team's newest effort pulls an end run under the guise of research.

Late last month, the federal government, through the National Marine Fisheries Service, authorized Marine Mammal Protection Act permits for five companies to use powerful compressed air blasts to survey what lurks beneath the ocean floor in the mid- and south Atlantic. The results of this "seismic testing," as it is called, are known to be of more interest to energy prospectors than to legitimate marine-life scientists. 

The automated air-gun blasts, which can take place every 10-12 seconds for months at a time in a designated area, provide data about sand and gravel and sea floor hazards, but they also help to discern where oil and gas deposits are lurking.

What's wrong with knowing if there are deposits? Nothing, really, except that in a Trump administration that is tone-deaf to threatened species -- and to threatened water-related tourism -- the cheerleading for pulling that oil and gas out of the ocean will get louder if the results suggest that even a teaspoon of black gold, Texas tea, etc., is recoverable.

The northernmost spot for the pending blast permits is the New Jersey-Delaware line. For a region whose economy depends so much on commercial and recreational fishing, beach-going and wildlife sightseeing, any spill from the drilling activity would be disastrous. It would be different if the United States were in an  emergency stemming from a severe energy shortage, but we're not. The temptation for President Donald Trump to open new offshore oil spigots just to ease price pressures -- caused in part by Trump's renewal of sanctions against Iran, for example -- might prove irresistible.

The negative impacts of the seismic testing itself are less certain and subject to some embellishment by environmental groups that claim it will drive into extinction species such as the North American whale. But it stands to reason that incredibly loud blasts and the sound waves they create will cause some disruption to habitat for all sorts of aquatic creatures.

It's U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and scandal-plagued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke who will issue the final go-ahead for the testing under misleadingly named "incidental harm authorizations." Don't expect a fair hearing from these zealots for the destruction of federally managed land. So, it's important for New Jersey's congressional delegation to hang together and use their political clout to oppose this threat.

New Jersey gets four new members of Congress next month. While it's expected they'll also oppose the seismic tests and any drilling authorization, they'll need to schooled on how to do so effectively. Sadly, LoBiondo's expertise will be gone, but other ocean champions like Rep. Frank Pallone, D-5th Dist., and Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both D-N.J., can lead the way.

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Marijuana debate reaches an unpleasant point at the beach | Mulshine

The mayor of a town filled with rowdy summer bars is leading the charge against legalizing marijuana; a former mayor argues it's hypocritical to slam marijuana when the town has lots of loud bars that attract a rowdy summer crowd

A friend of mine who grew up near the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk recalls a time when Martell's was not much more than a glorified shack on the beach where the kids could buy penny candies.

"Watermelon slices, red-hot dollars, pink nougats, Mary-Janes, baby Sugar Daddies and of course the string licorice," she recalled.

Now it's a giant nightclub that plays host every summer to hundreds of  people who look like they're answering a casting call for the next remake of "Jersey Shore." The same can be said of neighboring Jenkinson's.

There's a place for that sort of thing, I guess. But if you're going turn your town over to some of the rowdiest people on the planet every summer, why get all worked up about the prospect of some people buying a little pot?

That is the question riling the town at the moment. The mayor, Stephen Reid, has been having a tiff with a former mayor, Vince Barrella over the town's identity.

It seems that Reid is not only the mayor but the paid executive director of an anti-pot group known as New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJRAMP).

In that role he has been going around the state encouraging his fellow mayors to resist the establishment of marijuana dispensaries in their towns in the event legalization is approved by the Legislature, which could happen as soon as next week.

Barrella, who is a professor at a law school, questions whether that represents a conflict of interest.

Reid says no. But the issue has certainly livened up the meetings of the Borough Council.

Last week the representatives of a medical-marijuana advocacy group showed up to attack the mayor for opposing the expansion of medical marijuana at a  Nov. 26 meeting of a legislative committee.

"Your mayor has been going all over the state of New Jersey, against the wishes of the board of health no less, trashing us, stigmatizing us,"  said one member of the group called "Sativa Cross: Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse." Another said Reid  called such dispensaries "pot shops."

In the middle of the scrum, Barrella took the floor to decry statements from Reid and council members that Point Pleasant Beach is a family resort.

"We are not a quiet fishing town," Barrella said. "We're a town with 21 liquor licenses. The liquor industry here in town looks at the legalization of marijuana as a competitive disadvantage."

When Barrella was mayor, he pushed for an ordinance setting a midnight bar closing. The goal was to put a lid on the megabars in town, as Belmar successfully did in the 1980s, and perhaps forge a return to the days of the penny candies - adjusted for inflation, of course.

Opposing that ordinance was none other than the governor, Chris Christie. He engaged in a public fight with Barrella that ended with his Alcoholic Beverage Commission director nixing the midnight bar closing The mega-bars continued to thrive.

Though Christie was pro-bar, he is anti-marijuana. That set the parameters for the current debate, Barrella said when I called him the other day.

"I gotta think there'd be less intrusion from a dispensary than there are from multiple liquor licenses," said Barrella.   "It's hypocritical to pretend we're like Bay Head or Mantoloking or Spring Lake."

When I gave Reid a call, he said that Barrella is exaggerating the problems with the big bars along the beach.

"That's what Vince likes to say, but I really don't see too many problems  with Jenkinson's  and Martell's," Reid said. "They wouldn't belong in Bay Head, but like it or not this is a tourism town."

Who does belong in Bay Head? Chris Christie, that's who. When it came time to buy a summer home after he left office, he decided to buy in Bay Head rather than Point Pleasant Beach.

He will thus be spared the prospect of hearing loud drunks walking past his door after closing time at 2 a.m., a prospect with which his neighbors to the north are all too familiar.

As for the potheads, I suspect Christie will be safe from them as well.

But I certainly wouldn't trust them around the candies.

Follow Paul Mulshine on Twitter @Mulshine. Find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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N.J.'s Pantone names 2019 color of the year, and it's 'alive'

The Pantone Color Institute, based in Carlstadt, announced its color for the coming year

The word is out from Carlstadt's Pantone Color Institute: "Living Coral" is life. 

An orange with golden undertone, the hue, anointed Pantone's 2019 color of the year, is inspired by coral reefs.

It's a shade intended to be a salve for modern life, which is bombarded at every turn by digital technology and social media.

"With consumers craving human interaction and social connection, the humanizing and heartening qualities displayed by the convivial Pantone Living Coral hit a responsive chord," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a statement. 

At the end of each year, Pantone names a new color that is somehow meant to express the yearnings or feeling of the time. Many recent choices, like 2017's "Greenery," have taken a cue from the natural world. 

pantone-color-of-the-year-2019-is-living-coral.jpgCoral: friend to fish and lipstick fans alike. (Pantone)

Coral "emits the desired, familiar and energizing aspects of color found in nature," reads the company's statement on the choice. "In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, Pantone Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color."

Even if you've never seen a reef up close, the shade will of course also be familiar to anyone who has lived through the 1970s or otherwise encountered coral lipstick. 

 Pantone's color of the year for 2018 was the purple "Ultra Violet." 

 

Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.

 


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Let's hope Trump focuses on MS-13 and leaves his maid alone | Editorial

This is why U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ought to be focusing on "bad hombres."

The woman who makes President Donald Trump's bed at his New Jersey golf club while he's watching TV or tooling around in his cart is an unauthorized immigrant from Guatemala, the New York Times reports.
 
She's the one who washes the windows and dusts the table tops, who still hears the story of his outburst when another maid - also here illegally - couldn't get all the orange makeup off his shirt collar.
 
She's the one Trump personally praised for her meticulousness, tipped $50, and told, "Guatemalans are hard-working people."

NEW: Undocumented workers get the job done at President Trump's golf club. My story about who makes his bed, waters the greens and more. Right here: https://t.co/ErJx0tI7nu

-- Miriam Jordan (@mirjordan) December 6, 2018


 
We fear for her now. What's going to happen to Victorina Morales, since she came forward on Thursday and publicly admitted that she doesn't have papers, but has worked at his Bedminster club since 2013?

Does Trump have the stomach to throw her out of the country?
 
This is why U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ought to be focusing on "bad hombres." Everyone agrees the bad guys have got to go, given that we can't possibly deport all 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
 
Hundreds of MS-13 thugs are living in New Jersey, from Union City to Morristown to Trenton, according to a new report issued Wednesday by the State Commission of Investigation (SCI).

Meanwhile, ICE has been doing a bizarre job of prioritization. Under Trump, it's deporting grandfathers; churchgoers who fled to the U.S. decades ago to escape persecution, while their American children - like a Metuchen 7th grader - sit in our schools. The maid may be next.
 
Morales says she's hurt by Trump equating Latin American immigrants with violent criminals. It's emboldened others, like her supervisor, to make abusive remarks.
 
"We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money," she said. "We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation."
 
Will Trump deport her for speaking out? Take a guess.

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


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Annual special needs Christmas party gets visit from special guest (PHOTOS)

The Elks hosted its annual special needs party and had its own special guest.

HOBOKEN – The Elks Lodge here held its annual Christmas party for those with special needs and for Maria, Santa Claus is her favorite part of the event. 

"I love that fact that Santa comes and Frosty, look what he gave me last year," Maria, a longtime event-goer, said as she showed off her bracelet. "I believe in Santa." 

Maria is one of dozens of Hudson County residents who comes out to the party ebery year. She is also one of many who personally receives a present from Santa Claus.  

But Santa gets some help from Elks' members, who receive toy donations, wrap them and set them up behind Santa's chair. 

Rick Gerbehy, a former Elks exalted ruler, said that it's all for charity. 

"Charity is the cornerstone of Elks-ism," Gerbehy said, "as the slogan goes." 

Attendees – who range from children to young adults – enjoyed popcorn, sweets and festive music as they waited for their special guest, Santa.  

Click on the photo gallery above for a look at the party. 


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Dilly, dilly! Clydesdales make it a Bud Christmas in Hoboken (PHOTOS)

The Clydesdales hitch strutted along Washington Street.

HOBOKEN – Jingling bells could be heard for several blocks, but it wasn't an early visit from Santa Claus Saturday in Hoboken. It was the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales with some lager. 

The Budweiser Clydesdale made several stops along Washington Street – from First to Eighth Street – delivering cases of Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager.  

In 1933, the repeal of prohibition happened, and it marks one of the most crucial moments in history for the Anheuser-Busch and the beer industry. August Busch Jr. And Adolphus Busch III had surprised their dad with a six-hitch Clydesdale hitch, making them the symbol for Anheuser-Busch.  

Hundreds turned out to see the hitch make their deliveries Saturday. People followed the hitch for blocks, taking pictures with the majestic animals.  

"Those horses will stomp on your face," said an attendee, astonished by their size. 

Click on the photo gallery above for a look at the Clydesdales.


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The Katie Brennan case: What didn't Phil Murphy know and when didn't he know it? | Mulshine

Gov. Phil Murphy has claimed he was unaware of the sexual assault charges by Katie Brennan until the Wall Street Journal article two months ago; if so, why didn't his staff tell him about this ticking time bomb?

A lot of people are saying that Gov. Phil Murphy must have known about the accusation that one of his top campaign aides sexually assaulted a woman who was also working on the campaign.

Murphy says he didn't know. And maybe he didn't.

But in that case he qualifies as the single most incompetent politician in recent New Jersey history.

That was my conclusion after discussing the matter with Loretta Weinberg. She's the Democratic state senator from Bergen County who is leading the charge to find out just why Katie Brennan was stonewalled at every turn after she first reported that alleged assault last year.

Murphy's campaign for governor was in full swing at the time. After work one day, Brennan went out with a number of people from the campaign including Al Alvarez, a longtime Murphy ally who was serving as the Latino/Islamic outreach director.

According to Brennan, Alvarez offered to drop her off at her Jersey City residence. When they got there, he asked if he could come in to use the  bathroom. Once he was inside, she said, he began a sexual assault that ended only when she escaped long enough to lock herself in the bathroom.

Brennan reported the incident to the Jersey City Police  the next day. The subsequent investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office dragged on for months -  through Murphy's November victory and into the transition. Both Brennan and Alvarez were seeking posts with the new administration.

The timing of what happened next raises a lot of questions, said Weinberg, who was herself a sexual assault victim in her youth.

Brennan testified last week that after the election she told a member of the transition team that a highly placed campaign aide was the subject of a criminal complaint.

"Within an hour or so, she got a call from the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office to say, 'We're dropping the case,'" said Weinberg. "That's one of the unanswered questions: What are the parameters for dropping a case?"

Ask Alexa

Perhaps Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez has an explanation for why her staff declined to let Brennan tell her story to a grand jury. But the case Brennan presented to the Legislature over five hours last week sure sounded like it needed to be heard.

Her candor and sincerity bring up a question that goes to the heart of Murphy's leadership abilities: Why did no one in the transition team bother to inform the governor about an accusation concerning the most explosive issue of the time?

From a pure political perspective, the conduct of Alvarez revealed him to be someone unsuited for employment in the administration of a liberal Democrat in the era of the "me-too" movement. Yet he was given a plum $140,000-a-year job with the Schools Development Authority.

Brennan testified that in her new job as chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, she dreaded the thought of running into Alvarez at state functions. That led her to keep pressing the case with state officials, she said.

When she got no answers, Brennan said, she emailed the governor himself to tell him about a "sensitive matter" she needed to discuss with him.

What Murphy did next raises the most difficult questions the governor faces, said Weinberg.

After sending her back an email saying he was "on it," Murphy turned the email over to his lawyers. One was the governor's chief counsel, Matt Platkin, as might be expected. But the other was Jonathan Berkon.

 "He's the campaign attorney from Washington, D.C.," said Weinberg  of  Berkon.  "I'm not quite sure why he was involved in a personnel decision for state government."

According to Brennan's testimony, Berkon called her and assured her that Alvarez would be leaving government employment. But Brennan hadn't mentioned Alvarez by name in the email.

"How did the attorney for the campaign know that it was Al Alvarez?" asked Weinberg.

More important, how did Murphy not know?

At a press conference last week, Murphy maintained that he didn't learn about the alleged sexual assault until three months later, when Brennan went to the Wall Street Journal after finding out that Alvarez was still on the payroll - despite Berkon's assurances he would leave.

If Murphy is telling the truth, his campaign attorney was just one of many top aides who failed to tell him of a matter that could be deadly to his administration.

As of Friday, there were news reports that Murphy's chief of staff, Pete Cammarano, will soon be leaving the administration.

The reports didn't say whether the governor is aware of this.

Perhaps he didn't get his Wall Street Journal yet.

ADD - SEE-NO-EVIL GREWAL STRIKES AGAIN: 

Murphy's attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, has a habit of turning a blind eye to questionable behavior by public officials.

Back when he was the Bergen County prosecutor, Grewal had a chance to follow up on a complaint of misconduct in office filed against then-Gov. Chris Christie by Bill Brennan, a former fireman turned attorney. Brennan alleged that Christie  failed to stop the fake "traffic study" at the heart of the Bridgegate scandal.

Municipal Court Judge Roy McGeady ruled there was enough evidence to go forward. McGeady said Christie had direct authority over Bridget Kelly and "at the very least could have influenced her to reach out to Fort Lee and stop that traffic study and the resultant traffic jams. He chose not to do that."    

Instead of pursing the politically sensitive case, Grewal dropped it without explanation. Now in the Katie Brennan case he cleared his fellow Democrat, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez, of any wrongdoing - again without giving us an explanation of just why the Alvarez prosecution was dropped.

In his letter on the matter, Grewal states that Suarez did not interfere with the investigation. But he doesn't address the issue of whether other officials in the office were in any way pressured because the defendant had a high rank in the Murphy staff. 

Why didn't his people interview Brennan? If they had, they would have found her account entirely believable. As for the defense put up by Alvarez - that any contact was consensual - if that had been the case she certainly would not have immediately called her husband to tell him about it.

Murphy's fellow Democrats didn't do him any favors. And his "I was just following orders" defense is the lamest excuse I've ever heard.

Follow Paul Mulshine on Twitter @Mulshine. Find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook. 


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N.J. mom takes a dive into the 'Shark Tank,' pitches meal service for kids

Joanna Parker and her husband are the brains behind Yumble, a meal delivery service that caters to the youngest eaters.

Joanna Parker watched as the meal delivery craze took off in New Jersey -- vegetarian meals, healthy meals, clean meals, vegan meals, meals that meant you didn't have to shop, cook, or even think about what you wanted for dinner.

But Parker, 36, wanted to do the same for parents looking for an easy way to feed their children. 

A mother of three -- two daughters, 4 and 6, and a son, 8 -- Parker knew she could always pull something out of the freezer, but it wasn't ideal. 

"There's still an element of guilt," says Parker, who lives in Englewood with her husband David, 36. 

yumble-meals-shark-tank.jpgAt left, chicken pops, one popular Yumble meal. At right, pizza pockets with broccoli and mashed potatoes. (Yumble)
 

So two years ago, she set off with the goal of starting a fresh meal delivery service for kids. Now, her company, Yumble, sells children's meal plans to parents in 26 states east of the Mississippi.

"Our mission is to make parents' lives easier," she says, no cooking required (beyond a simple reheat for some meals).

On Sunday, Joanna and David Parker will pitch their business to "Shark Tank" in the hopes that the shark investors will bite on their plans to expand to the West Coast. 

The meal service first launched in Hoboken in the summer of 2017. 

"Jersey is definitely one of our highest volume states," Joanna says. 

Yumble's lunches and dinners are billed as healthy and wholesome, made using vegetables, natural sweeteners and antibiotic and hormone-free chicken and beef. The Parkers work with a nutritionist to make sure each meal is balanced. The food is prepared at a kitchen in New York state. 

Customers choose between three plans: either six, 12 or 24 meals a week, with each meal ranging from $5.99 to $7.99. (The 24-meal plan goes for $167.76.)

Joanna worked in product development for Macy's before becoming a teacher for five years and opting to stay at home after she had her second child. David was a consultant for a venture capital firm who started and sold a tech company. 

Picky Eater Pro Tip: Kids love eating with their hands. Try introducing easy to eat, handheld items like our Smac n' Cheese, Empanadas or Chicken Pops! #TheYumbleLife pic.twitter.com/5O1ObjxK28

-- Yumble! (@yumblekids) September 25, 2018

When coming up with meal ideas for Yumble -- originally called Panda Plates -- Joanna used her children as a guide. The service's five-ingredient chicken pops (chicken nuggets that are dippable hands-free) are especially popular at her house. 

"They were definitely picky eaters, but it was just more about the stress and time," she says. "The emotional burden that mealtime itself was creating." 

Other meals are abridged versions of kids' classics, like pizza pockets with broccoli on the side or mac 'n cheese with veggie tots. 

"We really try to strike a balance," she says. 

The Parkers also wanted to incorporate a Happy Meal approach to eating -- something fun with something nourishing. To that end, Yumble includes activity sheets, games, trivia cards and sticker charts with meals. 

Yumble meals are nut-free, meaning kids can bring them to school, and labeled by allergen, with options for dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian eaters. 

"Shark Tank" airs at 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 on ABC.


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NJ Transit promises to inform you when you're not getting home | Sheneman cartoon

Has it not heard of Twitter?

According to NJ Transit one of their top customer complaints is not the wretched state of its fleet or the crumbling infrastructure it runs on, but communication. Riders don't care so much that the trains don't run, apparently, they just really wish you would give them a heads up. 

The solution to this problem, like many troubled relationships, is communication.

After a lengthy and expensive audit at the behest of Governor Murphy found a profound lack of resources for providing information to riders, NJ Transit will be instituting new measures to let their patrons know exactly why they won't be getting home on time.

Apparently there will be a new app to update riders on delays and service outages.

Did NJ Transit officials know that they already have a website? Have they not heard of Twitter? It's 2018, there are a bevy of technological tools available at little or no cost to the user that would allow a state agency to keep its customers updated with ease.

I'm no computer expert, but I'm pretty sure the technology to update a website with pertinent information has existed for a few years now. If they couldn't be bothered to post about service issues on the website, why am I supposed to trust an app?

In addition, NJ Transit has spent $250,000 they don't have to contract a public relations firm to teach them how to communicate with the public. Here's an idea: If trains and buses are delayed or out of service, tell somebody.

Your welcome. Where's my $250,000?


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Jersey City fire displaces family of 5: Red Cross

The Red Cross of New Jersey has provided the family with emergency assistance.

JERSEY CITY -- A family of five has been displaced from their home following a fire on Summit Avenue early this morning.

The Red Cross of New Jersey has provided the family with emergency assistance for temporary lodging, food and clothing needs, according to a tweet.

Disaster Action Team responded to a #fire on Summit Ave in #JerseyCity, helping a family of 5 with Red Cross emergency assistance for temporary lodging, food and clothing needs.

— Red Cross New Jersey (@NJRedCross) December 9, 2018

The fire appears to have originated at 1180 Summit Ave. Additional information on the fire was not immediately available.

A spokesperson for the city did not respond to a request for comment.

Corey W. McDonald may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @coreymacc. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

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