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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Brick residents argued that it's their taxes that are paying to keep the beaches clean and staff the lifeguards.

    Military veterans and active-duty personnel will have free access to Brick beaches, regardless of where they live, while everyone else will pay the same $8 fee, under an ordinance adopted this week that originally intended to give a discount to non-military residents compared to their out-of-town counterparts.

    The Brick Township Council adopted the ordinance on second and final reading Tuesday night, after striking the provision that would have given residents a discount, the mayor and the township attorney said Wednesday.

    They said the provision would have violated the so-called Public Trust Doctrine, an ancient legal principle dating back to Roman times that provides universal access to the sea.

    Mayor John Ducey, a lawyer, said the ordinance was approved by the council upon introduction on Oct. 9 with the residents' discount included. But Ducey, who does not vote with the council, said it had been drafted by the business administrator's office in conjunction with the township's recreation commission, and that he only saw the text of the ordinance following its introduction.

    It was then that Ducey said he informed fellow officials of a 1972 New Jersey Supreme Court case, Borough of Neptune City v. Borough of Avon-by-the-Sea, that successfully invoked the Public Trust Doctrine to bar Avon from giving its residents preferential beach access over non-residents.

    The Public Trust Doctrine has also been invoked to prevent condominium associations and other private property owners from denying beach access to the general public.

    A bipartisan bill codifying the rights of all people to swim, fish, and otherwise use tidal waters and beaches under the Public Trust Doctrine is now awaiting a hearing by the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The bill, S-1074, has already passed the full Senate after having been introduced in January by Senators Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, and Christopher "Kip" Bateman, R-Somerset.

    The township attorney, Kevin Starkey, who concurred with the mayor's opinion, said the solution was to remove any distinction giving residents preference.

    "It was pretty simple," he said. "We deleted the line for non-residents."

    Ducey said the main reason officials revisited the beach ordinance was to do something for military beachgoers, whose granting of free-access by the ordinance is legally permissible because it applies to all veterans or active service members, regardless of their residence.

    Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a Highlands-based group that advocates for beach access, said he was unaware of any challenges ever having been raised to free or discounted beach access for veterans or active-duty military personnel.

    "I don't have a problem with it," Dillingham said, adding that there were too few veterans and active-duty personnel to mean that a preference for them would effectively discriminate against others. But, he added, "In the best of all worlds, everybody would get on the beach free." 

    Ducey said the idea of a residents' discount had been an afterthought of the military preference, following requests by residents that they pay less for beach badges because it was their property taxes alone, not those of out-of-towners, that were paying the lifeguards, beach attendants and other costs of operating Brick beaches.

    Other provisions of the amended beach ordinance that will remain in effect include an increase in the cost of one-day beach badges, from $5 to $8, though the price of seasonal passes will remain at $25 if purchased before June 15, or $30 after that.

    While the ordinance may please veterans, service members and advocates for universal beach access, Ducey harbored no illusions that his taxpaying constituents might be consoled by the knowledge that they would not, or at least should not, pay more than residents of other towns when going to the beach outside of Brick.

    "I don't think they're going to look at it that way," he said.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    The latest weather forecast for New Jersey has the nor'easter storm arriving Friday night with strong wind gusts and heavy rain into Halloween weekend


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    Townships around New Jersey are asking their residents and businesses to get onboard. Watch video

    In an era where nearly everything is caught on camera, law enforcement officials around New Jersey are increasingly encouraging businesses and residents to register their security camera systems with their local police.

    So when there's a crime, police can quickly and easily tap into the system and hopefully catch criminals in the act.

    And while cities where crime is more rampant, like Newark and Trenton, have taken similar steps, suburban and rural areas around the state are also looking to harness the collective power of this technology.

    The latest is Monmouth County, where Sheriff Shaun Golden announced the countywide program, "Operation Watchdog," Wednesday morning outside of iPlay America in Freehold.

    In February, Denville announced its "Virtual Crime Watch" initiative, which was modeled after Voorhees and Hanover Township. In Gloucester County, police in Mantua and Washington Township also have similar programs.

    Golden said his program -- inspired by the Operation Watchdog program in Toms River, one of the largest municipalities in Ocean County -- is the first countywide initiative to embrace this new public-private partnership.

    "Surveillance cameras, as you know, are all around our communities and neighborhoods," Golden said. "They're a tool used to fight crime and registering them with Operation Watchdog will save members of law enforcement time when it comes to determining and canvassing areas that have camera locations where there is crime or some type of criminal activity."

    watchdoggolden.jpgMonmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, flanked by local and county officials, announces his new Operation Watchdog program. (Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    The program is voluntary, Golden emphasized.

    For interested businesses like iPlay, an indoor amusement and entertainment facility, the owners log onto the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office website and provide the department with information on the locations of their surveillance cameras.

    Rook coffee, which has 11 locations in Monmouth County, is also registered with the program, Golden said.

    The camera location appears as a red dot on a virtual map of the county that police officers and dispatch communicators can access. The information is not available to the public, authorities said.

    "This will make a difference in helping us solve crime," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said. "It's the electronic version of neighborhood watch."

    Surveillance video, Gramiccioni explained, is also beneficial in the courtroom, where juries have come to expect to see video and audio evidence.

    According to a research report released in April by Strategy Analytics, the smart home surveillance market will exceed $9.7 billion in consumer spending by 2023. Spending on video doorbells, the fastest growing segment of the industry, is expected to reach $1.4 billion by 2023, up from $500 million in 2018, the report noted.

    Law enforcement has capitalized on the growing market, sharing videos from homeowners of suspected burglars snooping around homes.

    In Howell, a Monmouth County township of approximately 50,000 residents, police Chief Andrew Kudrick said police received a 911 call in September from a resident who was watching a burglary happening in his home from work. Police posted the video of the two suspects on Facebook and, with information received from tips, were able to make an arrest days later, Kudrick said.

    "Technology plays a major role in a significant number of our investigations," he said. "Social media is a huge tool."

    One of the most popular video doorbell systems, Ring, has a Neighbors smartphone app, where residents can get real-time crime safety alerts from the people who live around them. This creates a web of evidence for law enforcement to track the steps of a suspected burglar.

    A bill that was signed into law by former Gov. Chris Christie in 2015 paved the way for the creation of these programs. The legislation said a municipality can enact an ordinance to establish a private outdoor video surveillance camera registry. It also laid out guidelines as to what information law enforcement can request.

    "The ordinance shall provide that registration of a camera does not constitute a waiver of any rights granted under the Constitution of the United States or the State of New Jersey," the law states.

    When the bill was first introduced, it would have made the security camera registration mandatory. But the language of the bill was scaled back to make it voluntary.

    How surveillance cameras led police to charge 6 after the killing of 2

    In Morris Township, a township with approximately 22,000 residents in Morris County, around 60 residents have registered their cameras since the township's police department started promoting its program in the past year, Sgt. Heather Glogolich said. 

    Gogolich said the program paid dividends immediately, helping officers to identify that three suspects were involved in a shooting in December. The registry also helps aid officers investigating car crashes and other non-criminal incidents.

    "If we know people have cameras we'll automatically go to them when we're canvassing," she said. "Most people are willing to help." 

    The Newark program, however, goes a bit further. It allows residents to access cameras placed by police around the city. Officials in the state's largest city say being transparent about the locations of the cameras helps deter crime, but the American Civil Liberties Union contends it's an invasion of privacy. 

    Golden, the Monmouth County sheriff, addressed those concerns by explaining how law enforcement is not invading anyone's surveillance system. 

    "There's no misuse or abuse here," he said. "The business owners and the residents, they own their camera systems. If at some point, they don't want to cooperate ... that's fine." 

    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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    A true 90s kid probably remembers Sabrina Spellman, but it takes a true New Jerseyan to recognize her house


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    Both were sold at Monmouth County convenience stores

    The holders of two winning Jersey Cash 5 lottery tickets will share Thursday night's $689,956 jackpot. 

    Both tickets were sold at convenience stores in Monmouth County - one at Deal Food Mart on Deal Road in Ocean, the other at Welsh Farm on Broad Street in Eatontown, according to state lottery officials. 

    Each ticket matched five numbers and is worth $344,978. The winning numbers were: 12, 17, 29, 31 and 40, and the XTRA number was 2.

    What a break! Man's fall leads to winning share of $1M Mega Millions prize

    Retailers sold 618,440 tickets statewide for Thursday's drawing, which climbed to nearly $700,000 after five daily drawings were held without a jackpot winner. 

    The odds of a $1 ticket matching all five numbers are 962,598 to 1.

    While the monster Mega Millions jackpot was won on Friday, the other big multi-state lottery, Powerball, continues to see its jackpot climb. The estimated top prize for Saturday's Powerball drawing is $750 million.

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

     

     


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    And Saturday's game is No. 1 vs. No. 3 - all available live or on-demand on any device

    We have six games via NJ High School Sports Live available for live and on-demand streaming this weekend  - the last week of regular-season HS football.

    Friday night's featured game matches up two Super Football Conference teams who have both spent time at No. 1 this year - No. 2 Bergen Catholic vs. No. 7 DePaul. Also in action is No. 9 Red Bank Catholic, a Shore Conference power looking to stay undefeated against rival Middletown North.

    And Saturday's game might just be an early look at this year's Non-Public, Group 4 championship - No. 1 St. Peter's Prep vs. No. 3 St. Joseph in Montvale.

    The full list of games is below, with links to the broadcast pages.

    If you couldn't make it to the games or want to watch an on-demand replay, NJ High School Sports Live was made for you. You can watch these games on your computer, phone or tablet - and you can watch live or on demand. Our season pass also give you access to any in-network game. 

    FRIDAY, OCT. 26
    Point Pleasant Boro at Donovan Catholic (homecoming), 7 p.m.
    Montclair at Irvington, 7 p.m.
    Passaic at Kearny, 7 p.m.
    Middletown North at No. 9 Red Bank Catholic, 7 p.m.
    No. 2 Bergen Catholic at No. 7 DePaul, 7 p.m.

    SATURDAY, OCT. 27
    No. 1 St. Peter's Prep at No. 3 St. Joseph (Mont.) 1 p.m.

    Andrew Koob can be reached at akoob@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoobHS. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook


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    The seal depicts the murder of Hannah Caldwell in 1780 by a British soldier during the Revolutionary War.


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    A pickup truck slammed into a vehicle and then crashed through a school fence onto an athletic field in Hoboken Thursday.

    JERSEY CITY -- A Holmdel man faces heroin charges after crashing into a vehicle in Hoboken and then plowing through a fence and onto the Wallace Elementary School athletic field at 5 p.m. Thursday.

    An adult and a 13-year-old boy in the Honda struck by the pickup truck driven by Alessandro Mautone, 23, at 11th Street and Willow Avenue were taken to Hoboken University Medical Center for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.

    After Mautone was extricated from the pickup, police found several bags of suspected heroin inside. An officer with drug recognition training performed several tests on Mautone and determined he was under the influence of narcotics, police said.

    Mautone was charged with two counts of assault by auto, as well as drug possession and being under the influence, police said.

    He was also issued summonses for driving under the influence, DUI in a school zone, failing to observe a traffic signal, possession of drugs in a motor vehicle and not having a valid license, police said.

    Mautone was taken into custody and transported to the Jersey City Medical Center for treatment.


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    About 11,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in 2017, records show.


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    Thomas Tramaglini's story went viral earlier this year. He said the public reaction has cost him his livelihood and hurt his family.

    His name is Thomas Tramaglini.

    Google it and up will come nicknames he can never expunge from his Internet record.

    The nicknames are puns related to the reason Tramaglini was in court pleading guilty to a single offense of public defecation last Wednesday.

    You won't read those names here. It would defeat the purpose of this column, which is to humanize a man whose life has been reduced to a juvenile punchline.

    "What I did was wrong," Tramaglini said in his first interview since his arrest. "I had a bathroom emergency and I went behind the bleachers."

    After his arrest on May 1, Tramaglini went through a battery of tests by Dr. Barry Kaufman of Atlantic Gastroenterology. Kaufman concluded he did suffer from an exertion-triggered bowel condition known as runner's diarrhea. That report was put in the hands of Holmdel municipal prosecutor Steven Zabarsky before Tramaglini pleaded guilty.

    "It's been getting worse as I've gotten older," said Tramaglini, 42. "But I run 40 miles a week and it's not like it happens all the time."

    He said the sudden, uncontrollable urge has come over him "two or three times" -- not enough to make him stop running. 

    He said that the only incident he had at the Holmdel athletic field was the day he was arrested.

    The arrest, and publicity around it, has been devastating, he said. In the public eye, he said, it erased all else about him.

    Traglamini is the father of two children, a 10-year-old son and a 7-year-old girl. He has a doctorate degree from Rutgers in education administration and he taught in the state university's graduate program for 10 years.

    He was the superintendent of the Kenilworth School District, making $147,504 a year. On the day he was arrested for defecating under the bleachers, he says he was about to sign a five-year extension on his contract.

    "I loved my job," Tramaglini said during a phone interview Thursday night. "I wanted to stay there for my whole career."

    He paused for a moment, then added, "Ironically, I did."

    Tramaglini said he was naturally embarrassed by what happened and "didn't know where to start" when asked what his transgression cost him.

    "My kids are taking a beating," he said, with his voice breaking. "They're being ostracized and teased. That's, by far, the worst part. And you know how people like to Google their names? When they Google theirs, this will always come up."

    Think that one over for a second. Thomas Tramaglini, who pleaded guilty to defecating one time under the dark bleachers of an empty high school running track, is now worried he has sentenced his children to a life of ridicule.

    "I've been portrayed as a horrible, deranged person," he said. "There is nothing you can say or do to change the people's minds."

    Tramaglini plans to sue the Holmdel police for getting that impression rolling with a May 1 Facebook post, which announced Tramaglini's arrest. The post said "human feces" was found in the area "on a daily basis," and identified the "subject responsible for these acts" as Tramaglini.

    Tramaglini was arrested at 5:50 a.m., before dawn, and given municipal summonses for defecating in public and littering. A third ticket, for public lewdness was mailed to him, postmarked the next day.

    But by then, his face and story had gone viral. The mugshot that Tramaglini said police told him was "for internal purposes only" somehow escaped Holmdel police custody and showed up on a Keansburg town website. (Tramaglini was previously employed as director of instruction in Keansburg.) Traglamini's attorney, Matt Adams, wants to know how and why.

    "We've filed OPRA requests for emails and text messages (that may have included the mugshot)," Adams said.

    Under New Jersey statutes, the release of mug shots of people not charged with indictable offenses is generally prohibited.

    "I was used for click-bait," Tramaglini said. "What I did was wrong, but I had a bathroom emergency. I (eventually) admitted to it in court. But I could have never predicted what happened next."

    The comments on online stories were insulting, often vicious. His own Facebook "friends" turned on him.

    "People would write stuff like, 'Crawl back into the hole you came from' and much worse," he said. "I shut all my social media down."

    There were physical threats. His says his kids and ex-wife were harassed. He lost his job. He now has little income. He feels unemployable for the foreseeable future. The $100,000 severance he received will go to his child support and the lawyers he hired to stop the hemorrhaging of his life and reputation.

    "I can't believe this has happened to him," said Michelle Derpich, a former Summit schools administrator who worked for Tramaglini at Keansburg. "He has a huge heart and had a soft spot for the lower socio-economic kids. He ran a program to get them computers, so they would be better prepared for college. He was very passionate about what he did."

    She added, "I can't believe this has cost him the chance to keep using his talents. It hurts the kids."

    On the morning Tramaglini was given his summonses, the arresting officer told him "it was no big deal," Tramaglini said.

    He went into work and immediately told the Kenilworth school board president.

    "She seemed supportive at first," he said. 

    Then Tramaglini went viral.

    Viral is an interesting word. It usually pertains to an infectious disease.

    It's appropriate in Tramaglini's case.

    It's a disease of insensitivity at best, and downright cruelty at worst. The line between humor and decency has been obliterated. 

    And when some stories go viral, people like Tramaglini become pinatas for press, public and comics to whack until they break open. And when they are broken, the party moves on.

    Many in my business would argue that Tramaglini is a "public figure" as a publicly-paid employee. True. But when does the coverage of the case exceed its true news value? Or do we play it fast and loose with person's life and reputation? Is it dangled to lure the lower selves that live in all of us?

    We know the honest answers to these questions.

    What we may not know is what happens to people, people, like Tramaglini when we lose sight of their humanity - and ours.

    Read more Mark Di Ionno

    Inside the life of a Essex homicide detective

    Meet the man who will lead the next phase of major Newark redevelopment

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Manasquan captured the victory in what officials said was some of the best conditions the competition has seen in recent history. Watch video

    Manasquan High School captured its fifth straight surfing state championship title Sunday in what officials said was some of the best conditions the competition has seen in recent history.

    "It's as good as it gets," said Randy Townsend, the National Scholastic Surfing Association Northeast Conference director.

    The competition featured 210 high school surfers from 15 schools along the Jersey Shore and from New York. Each individual surfer gets points from a panel of judges as he or she competes in a heat against other surfers. Those individual scores are then totaled for a team score.

    Manasquan, riding on the back of strong performances from seniors Jude Clark, Keaton Fortney and junior Morgan Iglay, beat Ocean City to capture first place on its home turf in Spring Lake.

    "It's surreal," Manasquan co-coach Kris Buss said. "We've been here for 12 years as coaches. We used to struggle to finish in the top five. To think that we won the state championship now five years in a row, it's just a surreal feeling."

    "It's an amazing feeling," added co-coach JD LaCarrubba. "We've gone five for five these past years. Just to see so many kids that I've worked with from an early age and now they're state champions ... it's just really amazing."

    The heat of the day came from Clark, 18. He connected on three barrels - when a surfer tucks into the curl of a folding wave - to take first place in the men's division. Clark nailed his first barrel to a rousing applause from the Manasquan fans and teammates that came out to support the home team.

    But for Clark, it was business as usual.

    "As I was pulling into the barrels, I said, 'hey, this is pretty regular,'" Clark said, still dripping with sand and water. "... We do this all year long around here, so it's nothing new. It's just crazy that it has this much acknowledgment now because surfing is something you do for yourself."

    Clark, a senior from Sea Girt, took second place as a freshman in the men's division but didn't compete in his sophomore and junior years. When asked how he feels winning in his final year, he said: "The job is complete."

    Fortney, 18, cruised to his fourth straight first-place finish in the men's longboard division for Manasquan. That competition features surfers on boards at least 9 feet long.

    Also for Manasquan, Iglay, 18, won her third first-place finish in the women's division.

    "I was really happy to win," she said. "I hurt my ankle. So I was really happy to win even though I feel like I couldn't surf.

    "I'm excited for next year," Iglay, a junior, added. "My sister will be on the team with me, and watch out for my sister, because she's really good. So I'll have more competition next year."

    Rounding out the top five was St. Augustine Prep in Buena Vista, Atlantic County, Long Beach, New York, and Wall Township.

    For the past five years, Manasquan has been neck and neck with Ocean City. Last year, the 1st place trophy was originally given to Ocean City, but then it was rescinded and given to Manasquan after the judges recounted the final scores.

    From 1988 to 2012, Ocean City, a seaside resort city in Cape May County, won the championship every year except in 1997, when Atlantic City took home the top honor.

    Next year's competition will be held in Spring Lake, where Manasquan will be looking for its sixth straight championship. 

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


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    The man reportedly fell overboard from a ship into the shipping channel Saturday morning.

    The U.S. Coast Guard has called off its search for a man who fell from a ship into waters off Sandy Hook Saturday morning.

    The Coast Guard had begun searching for the 35-year-old man after he fell overboard into the Ambrose Channel around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, officials said in a statement Sunday.

    The missing man was reportedly adjusting a rope ladder in heavy sea conditions when he fell overboard. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit at the time but did not have a life jacket, according to the Coast Guard.

    Rescuers searched for more than 24 hours across 460 square miles before suspending their efforts just after noon Sunday, officials said. The Coast Guard sent out two helicopters, a fixed-wing airplane and an 87-foot boat to help with the search.

    Authorities have asked all mariners in the area to keep an eye out for the missing man and to call the Coast Guard at 718-354-4353 with any information.

    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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    Consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group.

    Halloween is filled with light-hearted tricks and treats, and it's important to keep safety in mind for every member of the family--including your pets. Halloween can pose a number of potential safety hazards for pets, who tend to experience high levels of stress due to the hustle and bustle of the holiday.

    Here are a few tips from americanhumane.org to keep you and your four-legged family members safe and happy this Halloween:

    -2e494a9b757a636d njadvancemedia.JPG 

    Costumes, while cute, can be dangerous for pets. If you choose to dress your pet up in costume, make sure they can move in it comfortably and most importantly, safely. Avoid costumes that require tying anything around your pet's neck that can choke them, or costumes that hang to the ground that they may stumble over.

    Keep your pet away from harmful Halloween candy and food. Before you give in to your pet's pleading eyes and feed them that Halloween candy bar, be aware of the harmful consequences of feeding human food to any animal. To reduce temptation, feed your pet before any guests arrive so they will be less likely to beg and steal food. Tell your guests of any house rules regarding your pet, such as not feeding them scraps from the table.

    If nicotine and alcohol will be consumed in your home this Halloween, be extra vigilant to keep these items out of your pet's reach. These substances can be highly toxic--even deadly--to animals.

    Keep your home a safe space for your pet. Animals can get stressed with the hustle and bustle of guests and trick-or-treaters. It's best to keep your pets indoors and provide them with a safe, quiet, escape-proof room where they can be removed from the energy and excitement of the holiday.

    As trick-or-treaters come to your door, there will be many opportunities for your pets to slip out unnoticed. Make sure that your pets always wear current identification tags, consider having your pets microchipped if you haven't already--and watch the door!

    Follow these tips, and your pet will have just as much fun as you and your kids this Halloween.

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

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    The $687.8 million Powerball lottery jackpot was won Saturday by two tickets sold in New York and Iowa. Two tickets sold in N.J. won $1 million second prizes


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    A city ban on 'aggressive panhandling' has been criticized by the ACLU and advocates for targeting the homeless

    Asbury Park's waterfront development boom and the revitalization of its downtown retail and restaurant district has drawn investors, shoppers and diners with cash to spare.

    But, city officials and community leaders agree, those folks have attracted less prosperous people who are sometimes desperate for cash and not always bashful about asking for it.

    So last month, the City Council adopted a ban on what it officially labeled "aggressive panhandling." The new law, which went into effect last week, was criticized by advocates for the poor and is being monitored by civil libertarians.

    Violators of the begging ban are subject to fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus community service or jail time for repeat offenders.

    "We think it's better for the city, now that the city is growing," said Councilman Jesse Kendle, who said Asbury Park's panhandlers were "embarrassing" to the city, and spread fear among residents and visitors alike. "When a man goes out with his fiance, his family, his children, he doesn't wasn't that kind of thing."

    The ban defines "aggressive panhandling" as following individuals in a menacing manner, using verbal abuse, or physically blocking someone's path while soliciting funds.

    The ban also outlaws asking for money even peacefully in certain areas, including within 10 feet of an ATM or bank entrance, and from soliciting funds from certain types of people at specific locations, for example, patrons sitting at outdoor cafes on Bangs Avenue, Cookman Avenue, Lake Avenue, Main Street, the boardwalk, "or any other location(s) within the city where a sidewalk cafe permit has been issued."

    Dozens of panhandling bans around county, including one out of New Brunswick, have been curtailed or struck down as unconstitutional by courts holding that asking for money is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment.

    Since 2015, following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Arizona speech case known as Reed v. Town of Gilbert that limited a municipality's authority to regulate signage, 25 out of 25 local panhandling bans challenged in court have been struck down, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

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    In August, the law center launched a campaign urging hundreds of cities and towns across the country to repeal their panhandling bans.

    In an attempt to guard Asbury Park's ban against a First Amendment challenge, city officials used language specifically targeting what they call "aggressive panhandling" that involves physical or other types of coercion, listing several examples.

    "The Mayor and Council of the City of Asbury Park recognize a constitutional right to beg or solicit in a peaceful and nonthreatening manner," the city's ban states.

    However, it adds, "an increase in aggressive panhandling throughout the city has become extremely disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses and has contributed not only to the loss of access to and enjoyment of public places, but also to an enhanced sense of fear, intimidation and disorder."

    But Jeanne LoCicero, who this month was named legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said tailoring the ban to focus on "aggressive" forms of panhandling, or panhandling in certain locations, still fails the constitutionality test.

    "This ordinance is targeting speech that is protected," said LoCicero, adding that the ACLU was monitoring the ordinance for its impact on residents.

    Kendle said the constitutionality issue had been raised among council members in discussing the ban ordinance. However, he deferred to the city attorney, Frederick Raffetto, when asked how the ban would stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

    Raffetto's firm did not return a request for comment.

    If officials want to discourage aggressive behavior by people who are panhandling, LoCicero said, they should prosecute that behavior under existing, constitutionally permissible laws against assault, harassment, trespassing or whatever other offense is alleged.

    "I really can't comment on why the town decided to pass this ordinance," LoCicero said. "But restricting the speech of people, especially the most vulnerable people, is not the way to address their homelessness problem."

    Others agreed.  

    "This is a backhanded way of arresting the homeless," said Felecia Simmons, a local civil rights activist from the city's predominantly African American west side, where the city's poverty and unemployment is concentrated.

    She said Asbury Park's panhandlers are a finite group, familiar to the police and to city and community leaders. Rather than targeting them with local laws of questionable constitutionality -- and fines the perpetrators couldn't pay if they wanted to -- Simmons said the city should be getting the panhandlers help for the mental and substance abuse problems keeping them from more gainful employment.

    "The panhandlers that they're talking about, everybody knows them," she said. "They're panhandling because they're hungry and they're homeless."

    Simmons led a successful petition drive to ask voters in the Nov. 6 election whether the city should switch to a ward-based city council, and she is challenging Kendle for his at-large council seat in the city's non-partisan election.

    Kendle rejected Simmons' assertion that the city should provide more social services for homeless people, including its panhandlers. Despite Asbury Park's rapid development in recent years, Kendle said the city could not afford to spend more on the homelessness problem, and that it still had to rely on state aid to help make municipal ends meet.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    The season opening production of a new play by Walter Anderson feels too safe and predictable.

    There exists a line where genre passes from a collection of tropes and stock characters into something new and exciting, using the familiarity of type as a jumping off point from which to explore fresh terrain.

    The new courtroom drama opening the season at New Brunswick's George Street Playhouse, "The Trial of Donna Caine," spends two hours searching in vain for that line but ultimately settles comfortably and safely into pre-baked formula.

    All the elements of courtroom drama are here: the villainous prosecutor; the incredulous defendant; the underdog attorney with a heart of gold; the sassy judge; and a trial that trends one way before being whiplashed around by a clumsy deus ex machina. We've seen it all before, and little about Walter Anderson's new rendition of this old formula invites us to think at all differently about the genre.

    Our defendant is the play's title character (Flor De Liz Perez), a Marine staff sergeant at Paris Island, who lead a nighttime march through tidal waters where five recruits under her commission drowned and died. The Marine brass is convinced that she screwed up, and Sgt. Caine agrees -- she wants to plead guilty to five charges of involuntary manslaughter and accept whatever punishment may be due to her.

    Prosecutor Roy Gill (John Bolger) is more than happy to oblige: a former politician who was responsible for the gender integration of Paris Island is just dying to make an example of Caine as a rogue failure, help the Corps save face, and set himself up for a job in the White House. Enter Emily Zola Ginsberg (Margarita Levieva), a young New York attorney whose is sure that Caine made a mistake but didn't commit a crime, and is being set up to take the fall for the Marine Corps. Ginsberg has to convince Caine as much as she does a jury.

    The trial and the play progress how you expect it would: twists, turns, reversals, small details that turn out to be significant, lies and their exposure, and plenty of cross-examination pageantry.

    Director David Saint moves the production along apace with a series of short, rapid scenes. (The conversations don't need to be fleshed out because it is clear enough where they are going.) But the play's characters mostly taken off the shelf and rolled out, not asking the performers to offer anything that is unique or unexpected.

    Perhaps best described as "A Few Good Men Lite," "The Trial of Donna Caine" aims for many big ideas and impactful topics, but never manages to free itself from the rigors of the courtroom drama blueprint.

    The Trial of Donna Caine

    George Street Playhouse

    103 College Farm Road, New Brunswick

    Tickets: Available online at www.GSPonline.org or by phone (732) 246-7717. Running through November 11th.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at patrickjmaley@gmail.com. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.


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    Marisela Trevino Orta's new play, now playing in Long Branch, is a dark and moving folktale.

    The legend goes that a wolf may show up at the door disguised as a sheep to connive entrance into a house full of tasty living flesh. Marisela Trevino Orta's new play "Wolf at the Door," world premiering at the NJ Rep in Long Branch, ponders a complication to that familiar story: perhaps the wolf is already inside, and the visitor brings salvation rather than destruction.

    A dark and moving folktale, "Wolf at the Door" explores the uneasy balance between the physical and spiritual world, creating a crucible of tension that can seemingly only be relieved by easing strict conditions of realism in order to exercise spirits of terror.

    Isadora (Desiree Pinol) opens the play pregnant and in horrible pain. Her baby is on the way a month early as Isadora sports fresh bruises from her abusive husband, Septimo (Oscar A.L. Cabrera). Conditions in the Mexican home only worsen after the infant arrives stillborn. Septimo blames Isadora for failing to deliver him a son while, Isadora's grief and terror mingle into wretchedness that her faithful nurse, Rocio (Liz Zazzi), struggles to contain.

    Into this cauldron enters the mysterious figure, Yolot (Alexandra Lemus), who wanders to the home in the winter night naked and pregnant. Septimo sees in her an opportunity to replace the son he lost, but Isadora and Rocio seem to recognize something more mystical and powerful about the stranger. Throughout the play, Lemus is affecting with her ability to embody a character that is ethereal and otherworldly while also beset by a very physical, earthly struggle.

    In a taut ninety minutes, directed confidently by Daniel Jaquez, "Wolf at the Door" creates a tense environment of real danger. On stage, much of the credit for that goes to Cabrera and Pinol. Cabrera crafts a villainous Septimo who is at once monstrous and recognizably human. He is so frightening precisely because he is so believably real. Pinol captures a similar level of authenticity by giving us an Isadora who is justifiably woeful and frequently terrified, but not pathetic. Isadora is the character who will have to travel the greatest distance of development, a journey that Pinol navigates with significant nuance.

    Moments of spiritual movement combine with Jessica Parks's delicate, suggestive set to capture an air of wonder and fantasy attending upon this play. Like Yolot, the play never seems either too real or too mystical, but rather a production that hangs delicately in the balance between those two worlds. It is a space rife for legend and folktale.

    Wolf at the Door

    The NJ Repertory Company

    179 Broadway, Long Branch

    Tickets: Available online at www.njrep.org Running through November 18.

    Patrick Maley may be reached at patrickjmaley@gmail.com. Find him on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickJMaley. Find NJ.com/Entertainment on Facebook.


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    Gov. Murphy announced a plan to get people back home after Hurricane Sandy. But the event was just as much a rally for Sen. Menendez.

    Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday marked the sixth anniversary of when Hurricane Sandy slammed the New Jersey coast by reminding the rest of the state that about 1,200 families still have not finished rebuilding.

    The Democratic governor, speaking in the coastal community of Union Beach, announced a pair of measures he said will help "clear this final hurdle" to get everyone back in their homes

    Implicit in his remarks was that his Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, who gained rockstar status in the state in the days and weeks after Sandy hit, didn't finish the job before he left office.

    "We must make it clear to the families still rebuilding from Sandy that they aren't going to be forgotten," Murphy said.

    "It is all too easy to think that we're back entirely from the havoc Sandy wreaked  on our shore communities," he added. "But the survivors still trying to get back in their homes tell a different story. They've been waiting a long time -- six years."

    More than 300 homes in Union Beach were rebuilt after Sandy. But work on 56 homes remain unfinished, Murphy said.

    Those are among the about 1,200 families still waiting to return home six years after the storm.

    "They are why we are here today," Murphy said. "We can congratulate ourselves all we want on the rebuilding, ... however, we cannot stop until every family, in every impacted community, is once again able to walk back through the doors of their homes."

    The state is making $50 million available to the roughly 1,200 people still without a home, Murphy said.

    The funds will be distributed in the form of a no-interest, forgivable loan program for people for people who are in New Jersey's two main rebuilding programs: The Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, and the Low-to-Moderate Income Homeowner Rebuilding Program, Murphy said.

    Booker just wowed 'em in New Hampshire

    Also, the state will also allow people to apply for an "extreme financial hardship allowance" for families ordered to repay storm aid that was determined to be exorbitant.

    Money to fund the programs will come from unspent federal recovery funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    As much as the event was to mark the sixth anniversary and unveil the programs, Murphy, joined by Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., heaped praise on Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

    Menendez is trying to fend off a challenge from a wealthy Republican opponent, Bob Hugin, though he should have a comfortable lead in Democrat-heavy New Jersey.

    Polls show Menendez leading only with single digits as others say the race is a tossup.

    "I don't know where we'd be without Sen. Bob Menendez. Everyone has to understand the centrality of the role that he played (in getting federal disaster relief funding)," Murphy said near the top of his remarks inside a Union Beach fire station.

    Menendez, for his part, was less subtle in his jabs at Murphy's predecessor.

    "Some politicians showed up and were all fleeces and photo-ops," Menendez said, an obvious shot at Christie and the famous fleece he donned for days after the storm hit.

    "But I didn't leave," he said. "When the cameras left, I stuck by New Jersey."

    It marked a stark departure from Menendez's praise for Christie in the months and years after Sandy struck.

    The senator regularly appeared with Christie at Sandy recovery events and the two often lauded one another for their work in the recovery effort.

    "It started off all right," Menendez responded when asked about his new criticism of the former governor. "(But) the programs weren't working to respond to the needs (of the people)." 

    Matt Arco may be reached at marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.


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    Gov. Phil Murphy has been appearing in public with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez as he fights Republican challenger Bob Hugin in a tight race.

    In the final stretch of the fight of his political life, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is is getting a boost from some of New Jersey's other high-profile political figures.

    Gov. Phil Murphy and his wife, First Lady Tammy Murphy, are expected to visit all 21 of the state's counties before Election Day on Nov. 6 -- next Tuesday -- to make campaign appearances for fellow Democrats running in closely watched midterm elections. 

    That included multiple stops Sunday for Menendez, who's facing a tough challenge from Republican Bob Hugin as he vies for a third term in the Senate.

    "This election is the most important in memory, and we absolutely cannot afford to sit on the sidelines," Murphy said in a statement, referencing how Democrats across the nation are trying to wrest control of Congress away from a Republican Party led by President Donald Trump.

    New Jersey's other Democratic senator, Cory Booker -- a potential presidential candidate in 2020-- has also hit the campaign trail for Menendez this week. 

    And on Monday, Menendez stood alongside both Murphy and Booker for a news conference in Union Beach to mark the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy slamming into New Jersey's coast.

    Though it may have been a government event, it was as much a pep rally for Menendez as an announcement on how to help families still struggling to rebuild get back into their homes all these years later.

    "I don't know where we'd be without Sen. Bob Menendez," Murphy said near the top of his remarks inside a Union Beach fire station. "Everyone has to understand the centrality of the role that he played (in getting federal disaster relief funding)."

    Menendez, Hugin answer some personal questions

    Murphy isn't just focusing on Menendez as he tours the state this week. He's also stumping for the Democrats running in New Jersey's 12 U.S. House races. 

    Still, the Menendez race is getting the most attention.

    The senator would normally cruise to re-election in Democrat-heavy New Jersey. The state hasn't elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. And Democrats are bolstered by Trump's unpopularity here.

    But Hugin, a retired pharmaceutical executive, has pumped more than $30 million of his own money into the race -- mostly on negative ads focusing on how Menendez was put on trial last year on federal corruption charges. Menendez escaped via a hung jury, and the U.S. Justice Department dropped the charges, though he was "severely admonished" by the Senate. 

    While he hasn't trailed in any public opinion poll, surveys show Menendez leading by only single digits. And the Cook Political Report is now calling the race a "tossup," though FiveThirtyEight says it's not.

    Senate Democrats' super political action committee, Senate Majority PAC, announced last week it was pouring another $2.8 million into the race to help Menendez -- on top of the $3 million it has already spent.

    A Menendez loss could be detrimental to the Democratic Party's already-slim hopes of taking back the Senate and hurt the party's broader effort to fight Trump.

    Murphy, a rookie governor with approval ratings in the 50s, spent all of Sunday stumping for Menendez, culminating in an appearance at a rally in Jersey City. 

    Then, in Union Beach on Monday, Booker joined in the Menendez lovefest. 

    "I'm telling you right now: I wished every New Jersey resident knew what I knew, could see what I see, day in, day out," Booker said at the Sandy anniversary event. "I have seen this man work, sweat and fight."

    "I have seen him love this state in a way that would inspire every New Jerseyan," he added. "This is who Bob Menendez is: He lives and dies for this state. His heart breaks for this state. He gets up to struggle for this state."

    "We need Bob Menendez," Booker concluded.

    U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., was also at the event, exclaiming that New Jersey needs a lawmaker like Menendez in Washington because "programs at the federal level" like the federal aid relief that helped New Jersey recover from Sandy "don't work unless somebody (like Menendez) is watching."

    Booker and Pallone joined Menendez at campaign events later Monday. And Booker is scheduled to be back on the trail with Menendez on Tuesday evening at a rally in East Orange. Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver will be on hand, as well.

    Menendez will appear earlier in the day with Murphy at another government event, this one focused on the Affordable Care Act, at the War Memorial in Trenton.

    Hugin spokesman Nick Iacovella called it a "disgrace" that Menendez and his fellow top Democrats on Monday "had to exploit Hurricane Sandy victims in a shameful attempt to try and distract voters from the fact that Bob Menendez is a morally bankrupt, corrupt politician."

    "But we should expect nothing less from a New Jersey Democratic establishment that continues to put their own partisan politics ahead of the people of New Jersey in hopes that voters will 'choke it down' and vote for a crook like Menendez," Iacovella added.

    Meanwhile, Hugin -- who has never before run for elected office -- received the endorsement Monday from La Alianza Civica Ministerial, a Passaic County alliance of Hispanic ministers.

    It came as Hugin held a roundtable discussing issues affecting New Jersey's Hispanic communities.

    "Today's discussion reaffirmed that the best way to serve the people of New Jersey is by bringing people together to work constructively to solve problems," Hugin said in a statement. "New Jersey needs an independent leader who brings people from both sides of the aisle together to deliver solutions for the people of New Jersey. 

    Matt Arco may be reached at marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

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


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    Exact change lanes have gone the way of the dinosaur on Garden State Parkway's main toll plazas. Is cash next?


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