CD WiRe (Nov. 3-9)Posted on November 9th, 2011 No comments
1. Nation’s newest national historic park in NJ
A majestic 77-foot waterfall in the heart of a working-class New Jersey city that inspired generations of newcomers to America, fueled the Industrial Revolution and was featured in everything from a William Carlos Williams poem to an episode of “The Sopranos,” became the nation’s newest national park Monday. The Great Falls in downtown Paterson was given the national park designation in a ceremony attended by New Jersey officials, local schoolchildren, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the head of the National Park Service.
2. Debate brews over new method to measure poverty
Debate over how the federal government measures poverty intensified Monday when the Census Bureau announced a second way to calculate the number of America’s poor. The new method for the first time adds the value of food stamps, school lunches, housing subsidies and the earned income tax credit. It also subtracts payroll and income taxes, child care costs and out-of-pocket medical expenses. The new estimate says 16% of Americans lived in poverty in 2010, slightly higher than the official rate of 15.2% released in September. Most important difference: The number of seniors termed poor almost doubled while the number of children classified as poor fell.
3. New Jersey Worse Off at End of Decade Than Start, Study Says
New Jersey had fewer jobs and more people living in poverty at the end of 2010 than in 2000, according to a study from a group that favors tax increases to benefit people of low or moderate means. Employment fell to 3.85 million last year from 3.99 million in 2000, while the jobless rate jumped to 9.5 percent from 3.7 percent, according to the study released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective, based in Trenton. The national rate climbed to 9.5 percent from 4 percent in that period, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. New Jersey’s weak economic recovery was cited by all three major credit-rating companies that each lowered the state’s bond ranking by one level this year.
4. Charter schools are ending the minority achievement gap
A poll commissioned earlier this year by Friends of Choice in Urban Schools found that District families who stand to benefit the most from public charter schools know the least about them. Many erroneously believe charter schools are privately funded, charge tuition and require admissions tests. So last month, FOCUS began a yearlong advertising campaign on Metro to educate parents in Wards 7 and 8 about the remarkable success of school choice in the District since 1996, when the city passed one of the strongest charter school laws in the nation. In a telling reversal of their student share, charter schools in the District educate 40 percent of the city’s public school children, but account for 60 percent of all the high-performing, open-enrollment schools.
5. Unable to pay bill, Mich. city turns off lights
As the sun dips below the rooftops each evening, parts of this Detroit enclave turn to pitch black, the only illumination coming from a few streetlights at the end of the block or from glowing yellow yard globes. It wasn’t always this way. But when the debt-ridden community could no longer afford its monthly electric bill, elected officials not only turned off 1,000 streetlights. They had them ripped out — bulbs, poles and all. Now nightfall cloaks most neighborhoods in inky darkness.
6. Recession Drives More Americans to Poverty-Wracked Neighborhoods
The number of Americans living in neighborhoods beset by extreme poverty surged in the last decade, erasing the progress of the 1990s, with the poorest areas growing more than twice as fast in suburbs as in cities. At least 2.2 million more Americans, a 33 percent jump since 2000, live in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is 40 percent or higher, according to a study released today by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. The report, which analyzed Census Bureau data, shows the extent to which the U.S. lost ground in efforts to fight poverty during a decade marked by recessions, including the deepest slump in seven decades.
7. Land Banks Can Aid in Reinvigorating NJ Cities and Towns
Most municipalities have at least a few vacant or abandoned properties within their borders. In some places these properties have become a huge problem, as their numbers increase and they outpace the market’s ability to reabsorb them. These vacant properties can become hot beds for crime, dumping, fires and other dangerous or unwanted activities. The burden of dealing with them is often passed on to the municipality, which must exhaust city resources on a property they may not even be gaining tax revenue from.
8. Despite Fears of a Crash, Solar Sector Remains White Hot
New Jersey’s solar market is continuing its rapid pace of growth—even amid warnings by some the sector could be headed for a crash. In October, more than 44 megawatts of new solar systems were installed in the state, bringing the total to more than 447 megawatts of installed capacity, according to information compiled by a state contractor who helps administer the solar program. That amount could be more than doubled (1,017 megawatts) if all of the projects in the pipeline are built. In fact, so much solar is being built that New Jersey is more than a year ahead of meeting a state-mandated requirement that specifies how much of the its electricity comes from solar energy. For most, that would be viewed as good news, but some say the explosive growth has created an oversupply of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), the primary means of financing solar projects.
9. Princetown Township And Princeton Borough Merging Into One Municipality
Voters in Princeton Township and Princeton Borough have decided to combine their two towns after having rejected consolidation at least three previous times in the past 60 years.Borough voters approved a merger Tuesday by a margin of about 3-to-2. It was even more decisive in the township, where the change was supported by a margin of more than 5-to-1. The merger takes effect in 2013. The township surrounds the borough like a doughnut, and Ivy League Princeton University straddles the town line. After three rejections of consolidation, this acceptance is an eye-opener for Rutgers University political science professor John Weingart.
10. Prudential Expands its Veteran Training and Employment Initiative
With veterans returning home in record numbers from ongoing conflicts abroad, Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU) announced today the expansion of its veteran training and employment program run by Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). The VETalent program is now available in partnership with Rutgers University, Penn State University-Abington, and the University of North Florida. In 2009 Prudential partnered with WOS, a nonprofit organization, and Rutgers University-Newark to develop a unique program called VETalent that would train Iraq and Afghanistan war-era veterans for jobs in information technology.
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