Lakewood Briefs – March 4, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ -

Rep. Kim Votes for Partisan Police Reform Bill

Congressman Andy Kim co-sponsored and voted for a partisan police reform bill that opponents fear could curb the effectiveness of law enforcement if enacted.

“Our criminal justice system simply does not work for too many of our neighbors,” he said. “We’ve seen the impact of these deficiencies on communities of color across our country, and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others have shown that we cannot wait to take action. Last year I conducted a series of listening sessions across my district. I heard from community groups and law enforcement personnel. These changes strengthen both. This bill helps to bring law enforcement closer to our communities to make them safer. That’s our goal, and that’s why I’m proud to have voted for this bill.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act was introduced last year after the death of George Floyd while in police custody sparked protests, rioting, and weeks of vandalism around the country.

The bill’s most controversial clause would significantly lower the bar of immunity police officers are protected by regarding their actions on the job, which critics fear would make law enforcement personnel overly cautious in stopping violent crime.

It would also ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and racial profiling as well as redirecting federal law enforcement funds to local police departments to support “community” policing programs.

The measure passed last year, but was not taken up in the then Republican controlled Senate. At the time, Senate Republicans offered their own police reform bill, which Democrats declined to endorse.

The bill was passed in the House of Representatives last week will all Democrats voting for and all Republicans voting against.

Legislators Call on Governor to Deliver COVID Vaccines to Senior Communities

Three Ocean County state representatives called on Governor Phil Murphy to provide COVID vaccine delivery in senior citizen residential communities.

The letter, signed by Senator Robert Singer as well as Assemblymen Sean Kean and Ned Thomson (R-Monmouth/Ocean), called on the state to allocate resources to provide for such a service.

“Many of the people who live in these age restricted communities are older and many do not drive or drive long distances,” said Senator Singer.

Ocean County has a particularly high concentration of older residents and many residential developments geared for seniors.

Ocean County Health Department’s online booking system has largely been closed for new appointments since vaccines became available in the state at the beginning of the year.

The difficulty seniors have had with online scheduling was another reason the legislators cited for bringing vaccines directly to communities.

“We have heard from hundreds of seniors who still cannot schedule appointments online,” said Assemblyman Thomson. “There still is a great need for people to be able to make appointments without using a computer.”

In New Jersey, COVID vaccines are presently available to all adults 65 and older, nursing home residents, adults with disabilities and pre-existing conditions, and healthcare workers. Starting March 15, it will be available to child care workers, teachers and school staff, public transit workers, people living in homeless shelters.

Judge Issues Recommendation on Lakewood District Funding

Administrative Judge Susan Scarola issued a non-binding ruling recommending the state Education Commissioner to reexamine funding and operation of Lakewood’s public schools.

The decision came as part of a lawsuit filed by Aron Lang, a public school teacher. His legal action, which was originally filed in 2014, essentially claims that the state fails to properly fund Lakewood by ignoring the town’s large private school population in its funding formula, leaving the district with a mounting shortfall.

It is now up to acting Education Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan to decide whether to take up the court’s recommendation. She has 45 days to accept or reject the ruling.

Lakewood’s public school district funding woes date back more than a decade. The state is mandated to provide certain services for private school students such as transportation, nursing, special education, security, and textbooks. However, the funding formula is calculated using the town’s public school census of 6,000 children. For several years, the gap has been covered by loans from the state department of education.