Day: November 10, 2020

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Clarifying Eligibility of Employees of Education Institutions to Receive Unemployment Benefits

November 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed S2852, which clarifies when employees that are denied employment during a summer or holiday break are eligible for unemployment benefits by setting forth a standard for determining whether there is a reasonable assurance of reinstatement after the break.

“Our adjunct professors have too often been caught in limbo in terms of their eligibility for unemployment benefits,” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation will provide adjunct instructors and other employees the clarity they need to receive full unemployment benefits so they can get back on their feet.”

The bill will also require educational institution employers to inform the New Jersey Department of Labor of employees who do not have reasonable assurance of reemployment at least 10 days prior to the end of the academic term.  The bill further requires an educational institution to notify the department of employees who have reasonable assurance of reemployment  at least 10 days prior to the end of the academic term, and to provide a statement explaining the manner in which the employee was given a reasonable assurance of reemployment. The failure of an employer to meet the 10-day deadline will result in a rebuttable presumption that the employee does not have reasonable assurance of reemployment and is therefore eligible for unemployment benefits.  These procedures will allow eligible claimants to receive benefits in a timely matter.

“The critical role of New Jersey’s teachers has never been more apparent than during the current public health crisis,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “We applaud Governor Murphy and the Legislature for improving educators’ access to benefits when the certainty of their job fluctuates from one school year to the next.”

“With colleges facing severe revenue losses and deep budget reductions, adjunct professors are often the first to be cut, and even those who have not been affected yet face uncertainty for the spring semester,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “They are experiencing the same economic hardship and anxiety as employees in other fields of work, and they deserve the same safeguards as everyone else. By allowing them to collect unemployment, we can help ensure they are able to support themselves and their families in any future shutdowns.”

“I am grateful the Governor sees the value in this legislation, our adjunct professors play an important role in educating students,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham, the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “They should be treated fairly so they can support themselves and their families during this time of crisis. We need them to be able to return to the classroom when conditions allow. Our colleges and universities need them.”

“We are living in deeply uncertain times. It’s difficult for many employers – including colleges and universities– to give their employees complete assurance that their jobs will be waiting for them after an extended break,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “Higher education staff should have the same access to unemployment insurance benefits as all other workers in New Jersey, particularly if there’s a chance they won’t be needed to teach the next semester.”

“Before COVID-19, many college professors could close their classroom doors at the end of the spring semester with the confidence that they’ll soon open those same doors again in the fall,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “As the virus continues to tighten college budgets and force many schools to make cuts, the future feels far less certain. This new law will allow employees of education institutions to file for unemployment if they enter a summer or holiday break without reasonable assurance that they will return, giving them time and peace of mind to plan their next steps.”

“Adjunct professors are among higher education’s most valuable employees, yet they are among the lowest paid,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “Thanks to Gov. Phil Murphy signing S2852/A4613, New Jersey adjuncts have access to the unemployment insurance benefit system that is essential to anyone who is out of work through no fault of their own.”

“The passage of this legislation is a perfect example of the positive change that can occur when you elect people who care about workers,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Thank you, Gov. Phil Murphy, and the other pro-labor officials responsible for coming up with a solution to a problem that’s plagued part-time, non-tenured college and university educators for years.”

“This groundbreaking legislation provides greater clarity for the conditions under which education employees are eligible to collect, and it increases the likelihood that the evaluation of unemployment claims by this class of employees will be fair and equitable,” said Dr. Susanna Tardi, AFTNJ Higher Education Executive Vice President.

“We make up almost 75 percent of the faculty in higher education, and we need to have access to the same benefits as other public workers,” said Bill Lipkin, Secretary/Treasurer for the United Adjunct Faculty of New Jersey (Local 2222). “Hopefully this law will simplify the process and allow adjunct faculty the right to survive when they are not employed.”

Professional Boards Revoke Licenses of Engineering Executive Involved in Criminal Pay-to-Play Scheme

Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Order

Board of Professional Planners Order

November 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that two professional boards have revoked the licenses of a former executive of the Birdsall Services Group (“Birdsall”) engineering firm after he was convicted for his role in a criminal scheme to funnel more than $1 million in corporate political contributions through the company’s employees in an effort to evade New Jersey’s campaign finance laws.

James Johnston, 58, of New Brunswick violated multiple rules and regulations governing both the practice of professional engineers and professional planners, when he made illegal corporate political contributions that were reimbursed by the company through disguised bonus payments.

After a hearing of testimony and evidence, the New Jersey State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, and the New Jersey State Board of Professional Planners (the “Boards”), independently found that Johnston’s criminal conviction relates adversely to the practice of professional engineering and planning. 

In final orders filed today, both Boards separately revoked Johnston’s licenses to practice as a professional engineer and a professional planner in New Jersey, and barred him from applying for any professional license in the State for a minimum period of five years. Additionally, Johnston was ordered to pay attorneys’ fees and investigation costs in the amount of $2,820.09 by each professional board, totaling the full cost assessment of $5,640.18.

Johnston previously was sentenced in June 2017 to 270 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of two years of probation.

“Individuals who abuse their professional credentials and the public trust in order to violate our campaign finance laws should be prepared to face severe consequences,” said Attorney General Grewal. ”Professional licensees involved in schemes to avoid our pay-to-play laws face not only jail time and monetary penalties, but also loss of the licenses they rely on to earn their livelihood.”

“Johnston’s conduct and subsequent criminal conviction signal a blatant disregard for the rules promulgated by the professional boards, and raise serious concerns about his professional judgment and fitness to practice,” said Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez. “The resolution of this case should send a clear message to all licensed professionals who may be tempted to violate the public trust and confidence.”

Under the scheme, instead of Birdsall making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by certain government agencies, shareholders and employees of the firm made personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable.  Multiple personal checks were bundled together at Birdsall and sent to the appropriate campaign or political organization.  The shareholders and employees were then illegally reimbursed by Birdsall, directly or indirectly, through added bonus payments, and the firm falsely omitted the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) and with government agencies that awarded the firm engineering services contracts.  The scheme continued for more than six years and involved more than $1 million in contributions.

Eight Birdsall executives and employees pleaded guilty to criminal charges, as did the company itself.

The revocations of Johnston’s licenses are effective November 16, 2020. Before then, Johnston must complete any projects on which he is working, or make arrangements for them to be completed by another professional engineer or professional planner. Johnston shall not take on any new clients or projects, and if there are any companies that rely upon his ability to practice, he must immediately provide them with the Board’s decision to revoke his licenses to practice as a professional engineering and a professional planner.

Under his criminal guilty plea, Johnston is debarred for 10 years from personally bidding on public contracts in New Jersey or holding an interest of 5 percent or more in any company that bids for such contracts.

Deputy Attorney General Daniel Evan Leef Hewitt of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law represented the State in this matter.

The matter was investigated by the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs.    

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The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.

Mayor Gusciora Statement on Yankees’ Plan to Move Double-A Affiliate Out of Trenton

November 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Our city and many of our residents were shocked and heartbroken to wake up to discover that the Yankees had pulled their beloved AA affiliate, Trenton Thunder, out of the Capital City for the more affluent suburbs of Bridgewater Township.

The franchise has been an integral part of our landscape for many years. We were able to draw a loyal fanbase from across the region with some of the highest attendance records in the country, taking full advantage of our strategic position between New York City and the Philadelphia Corridor. The fact remains the Trenton Thunder is a major part of our local economy and provides hundreds of badly needed jobs for our youth and families.

But this decision was especially painful for the multigenerational fans who make up one of the most diverse cities in the country and grew up watching some of the all-time greats visit the stadium. Watching Thunder players was a living testament to what one can achieve regardless of race or economic background, a message that is more important than ever in these challenging times. I remember being in awe watching Roger Clemens pitch at the stadium or when Derek Jeter brought record crowds during his appearances – imagine what that meant to the children from our underserved communities.

For an organization that has made it a point to highlight their contributions to diversity and inclusion, the Yankees struck out with this move. Gone will be the job opportunities for many of our youths and local small businesses who occupy Thunder’s concession stands. When it came time for the Yankees to show their support for a Capital City that has supported them in every way possible, they still opted to make this decision to abandon us. We encourage the Yankees to reconsider their choice.

NJTP Crash Prior To Exit 8

November 10, 2020

EAST WINDSOR-HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–The Hightstown Fire Department, Hightstown First Aid, Robbinsville Fire Department and EMS were sent to the NJ Turnpike at mile marker 67 north bound outer lanes for a crash just prior to Exit 8. Initially there was reported entrapment but upon fire department arrival the vehicle was found in a ditch and the driver was out of the vehicle. The driver was checked by the first aid squad and refused medical advice and was able to walk away on their own power.

New Jersey State Police was investigating the crash, no other information was available.

I-195 Westbound Closed and Detoured at Exit 3 For Emergency Sign Structure Repairs in Hamilton

November 10, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced I-195 westbound will be closed and detoured tonight at Exit 3 – Yardville/Hamilton Square for emergency overhead sign structure repairs in Hamilton.

Beginning at 9 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, November 10 until 5 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, November 11, NJDOT’s contractor IEW Construction Group Inc., will close and detour I-195 westbound at Exit 3B to remove an overhead sign structure before Exit 2 that was damaged by a crash. Temporary ground mounted signs will be installed. Exit 3A to Yardville will remain open. If work is completed early, the roadway will reopen sooner. The following detour will be in place overnight:

I-195 westbound detour:

• Motorists on I-195 westbound will be directed to take Exit 3B toward Hamilton Square
• Turn left onto Kuser Road
• Turn left onto Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road
• At the traffic signal, bear left onto Whitehorse Avenue
• Go through the Whitehorse Circle Roundabout to Route 206 south
• Take the ramp to I-195 westbound

NJ DOT – TOC South: Construction , overhead sign repair on I-195 westbound at Exit 3 – Hamilton Square-Yardville Rd (Hamilton Twp) All lanes of 2 lanes closed and detoured Until 5:00 AM

Started11/10/2020 09:00:10 PM

Firefighters Quickly Extinguish Garage Fire In Windsor

November 10, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–At 2:50 pm 9-1-1 calls were received at the Robbinsville Township Police Department for a building fire in the 1st block of South Main Street in the Windsor section of Robbinsville. Robbinsville Township Police, Robbinsville Township Fire Department and the Hamilton Township Fire Department responded to the scene.

When Robbinsville and Hamilton firefighters arrived they found a unattached garage on fire with flames and smoke visible. Firefighters used an 1 3/4 hand line to extinguish the fire. The fire was quickly knocked down and brought under control within 10 minutes.

The Robbinsville Township Fire Marshal investigated the cause of the fire and determined the main contributing factor was discarded oil soaked rags.

Hightstown and East Windsor Fire Companies were also dispatched to the scene but were recalled prior to arrival. The Robbinsville Township Police Department provided traffic control by closing South Main Street until hose and equipment was returned to the fire apparatus.

Asbury Park Man Arrested For Attempted Child Luring

November 10, 2020

ASBURY PARK, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On November 6, Edgar Finol-Carrillo approached a minor and gave her a letter attempting to lure her to his residence to engage in sexual activity.   Shortly after receiving this letter, the Asbury Park Police Department was contacted and quickly apprehended the suspect.

Finol-Carrillo is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) in Freehold Township pending a detention hearing tentatively scheduled for November 12, 2020 before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon.

The investigation was the product of a joint investigation by members of the Asbury Park Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

Investigators are seeking additional information about Finol-Carrillo’s activities. Anyone with any information please contact Detective Charles Trucillo of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160 or Detective Daniel Savastano of the Asbury Park Police Department at 732-774-1300.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android –, by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at

If convicted, the defendant is facing up to 10 years imprisonment on the Luring charge and up to 5 years imprisonment on the Endangering the Welfare of a Child charge.  In addition, he would be subject to Parole Supervision for Life and required to register under Megan’s Law.The case is assigned to Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendants have all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Get Out And Enjoy Unseasonably Warm Weather With Current High Of 77F This Afternoon

November 10, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE-UPPER FREEHOLD, (MERCER/MONMOUTH)–At 1:30 pm the weather is mostly sunny, and 77F (as measured from Joint Base MDL) and unseasonably warm today, so get out and enjoy it while you can. Normal average temperature for this day in November is 56F with a low of 40F.

This pair of bald eagles was seen this afternoon flying back and fourth between Robbinsville Township and Upper Freehold Township and appeared to be enjoying the weather.

Governor Murphy Announces New COVID-19 Mitigation Measures

November 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 194, which includes new COVID-19 mitigation measures. The measures include restrictions on seating and hours for restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges, and prohibition of interstate indoor K-12 and youth sports.“As cases of COVID-19 increase across the country and in our state, we must take all measures necessary to stop the spread,” said Governor Murphy. “In the interest of public health, we are requiring modifications in operations for businesses that serve food and drinks, and temporarily prohibiting interstate games and tournaments for indoor K-12 sports. We must come together as a state to once again beat back this deadly virus and to save lives.”The measures being announced today include:

Restrictions on Hours for Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Lounges, and Casinos –

  1. Restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and other businesses that serve food or drinks will not be able to operate their indoor premises between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.  Outdoor dining can continue after 10:00 p.m., as can takeout and delivery services. 
  2. Casinos will not be able to serve food or drinks between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., with the exception of room service delivered to guest rooms and takeout.  Other casino operations would be unaffected.

Restrictions on Bar Seating, Increased Flexibility for Restaurants –

  1. Seating at the physical bar in the indoor areas of bars and restaurants will be prohibited during all operating hours.
  2. Due to the impact this may have on restaurants with small seating areas, restaurants will be allowed to have groups at tables indoors that are closer than six feet together, if they are separated by barriers that comply with guidance from the Department of Health. 
  3. Restaurants will be allowed to set up plastic domes outdoors, limited to one group each, as additional outdoor dining space.

Restrictions on Interstate Indoor Sports Competitions –

  1. All interstate games and tournaments involving indoor sports, up to and including the high school level, will be prohibited. 
  2. Collegiate and professional sports will be unaffected.

The measures will take effect on Thursday, November 12th, at 5:00 a.m.For a copy of Executive Order No. 194, click here.