Lakewood Briefs

Jackson Council Introduces and Pulls Ordinance for Town Wide Eruv

The Town Council of Jackson briefly proposed and then withdrew a proposal for a town-wide eruv amidst disapproval for the idea both from voices in the Orthodox community as well as from many in the general population.

Jackson’s struggles over eruvin are hardly new. In 2017 the town passed an ordinance that effectively banned residents from constructing them. Shortly afterwards, Jackson was hit with a lawsuit by the Agudath Israel of America claiming that the law was motivated by animus against the town’s growing Orthodox population. Amid threats of investigation and additional suits from the state attorney general’s office, Jackson officials entered into arbitration ostensibly in an attempt to reach a compromise on the matter.

Over a year ago, negotiations stalled and formally broke down following the revelation of several emails and documents that attorneys for the Agudah felt showed Jackson officials had entered into talks on bad faith. One glaring example was a message from Mayor Michael Renia describing his approach to dealing with conflicts with the Orthodox community as “gloves off, game on.”

The idea of a town wide eruv was introduced by the council at a public meeting last week. It was presented as a solution that in the council’s mind would save the need for smaller more visible eruvin in areas of Jackson where Orthodox residents live.

According to an individual who attended the meeting, several town members expressed anti-Semitic sentiments and accused the council of pandering to the needs of the Orthodox community. Several Orthodox attendees pointed out that several halachic and technical problems were likely to make the idea of enclosing the entire town, which spans nearly 100 square miles, problematic.

By the end of the meeting, the proposal had been tabled and was never voted on.

A representative of the Orthodox community told Hamodia that while seemingly a positive gesture, the fact that the council made their announcement without consulting with Jewish residents or rabbis who are experts in the field betray that the move was little more than a thinly veiled attempt to show courts “good faith.”

Freeholders Release New Recycling Guide

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders have released an updated recycling guide for 2019-2020 with updated information for residents.

The guide contains information on programs such as Paint Management, Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Residential Document Shredding, and addresses questions on every day recycling concerns.

“Knowing what is recycled in our communities will save everyone time and money in the long run,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, who serves as liaison to the recycling program.

Residents can find information regarding bulky waste disposal, medication/needle disposal and medication drop-off locations, plastic film recycling, single stream recycling, backyard composting and recycling, and more.

Last year, the county’s recycling expenses shot up significantly as a result of American’s trade war with China, which for years had dealt with much of the nation’s recycling processing. As a result, several procedures were changed to streamline the process, most notably a crackdown against placing plastic bags in recycling bins.

The guide is being distributed throughout the County and is available in every municipalities’ town hall and recycling center, as well as the Northern and Southern Recycling Centers in Lakewood and Manahawkin, respectively as well as being acceptable online.

“Ocean County residents have always embraced recycling. We want to make certain they have the correct information as programs and requirements have changed over the years,” Quinn said. “Ocean County is making a substantial investment into its recycling program with new equipment, allowing us to stay competitive in an ever-changing market. We encourage our citizens to help in this effort.”

Rep. Kim Comments on Death of Al-Baghdadi

Congressman Andy Kim (D-NJ) was one of many on Capitol Hill to welcome news of the death of ISIS leader Abu Al-Baghdadi.

“The death of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is a massive blow in the fight against ISIS and their hateful mark on the world,” he said.

While serving as a defense advisor during the Obama administration, Rep. Kim was involved in efforts to track Al-Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders.

“I know the painstaking work that our professionals and partners undertook to make this possible,” he said. “I also think of those innocent victims murdered at Al-Baghdadi’s order. No measure of justice can be achieved in the face of the genocide Al-Baghdadi unleashed through an unrelenting campaign of ultraviolence. I hope we all pause today to remember what went through our minds when we heard about the Yezidis trapped on Sinjar Mountain or the tragic deaths of Americans held hostage by ISIS. People across our country and across the globe unified against Al-Baghdadi’s twisted ideology.”

Legislators Introduce Bill Calling for Transparency in School District Funding

Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and Dave Wolfe have introduced a bill to address the methods used to determine state school aid. The bill would require the Department of Education to release to school districts, data and software programs used to calculate aid. Schools in the 10th Legislative District have had their funding severely cut under Gov. Murphy’s budget. Senator Holzapfel and Assemblymen McGuckin and Wolfe will introduce a bill to require the Department of Education to release to the school district the data and formula used to calculate aid.

“We have repeatedly demanded full transparency from the Department of Education about their process for calculating our Local Fair Share,” said Senator Holzapfel. “It’s appalling that the DOE continues to keep secret their calculations of what they think our property taxpayers should pay. We are in a position now where legislation is needed to get the answers our school districts deserve.”

The trio of legislators are Republicans representing the 10th legislative district including Toms River and other municipalities which have suffered large cuts in school funding during recent attempts to adjust the aid formula under the Murphy administration. The move was a response to over a decade of calls to fix what was widely seen as an antiquated formula that shortchanged districts whose needs had grown and overfunded some were trends had gone in the opposite direction.

In addition to hard data that goes into decision making the bill would require the DOE to provide the details of any adjustments made when the calculated local share exceeds the adequacy budget for every such district in the State.

“The Governor believes that it’s ok to take money away from schools in our district that he has labeled as ‘rich’ but that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” stated Assemblyman McGuckin. He went on to cite census data on average household incomes in Brick, $73,051 and Toms River $76,475 as proof that the areas should classify as “middle class.”

“It’s clear that Governor Murphy doesn’t have our back and his plan is certainly not fairer or stronger for our residents as he suggests,” said Assemblyman Wolfe. “In fact, it will only have a lasting negative impact as property taxes will be forced higher in order to preserve the quality of education in our local schools.”