Local News

New Initiative Helps Transform Talking into Teaching for 500 Paterson Families

PATERSON, NJ – As hard as Paterson Public Schools officials have been working on closing the technology gap, a feat seemingly accomplished this past weekend through the delivery of 9,600 Chrombooks, efforts have also been ongoing to close the word gap.

At a press conference Wednesday Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer and representatives of the Paterson Education Fund and Paterson Reads, including Paterson First Lady Farhanna Balgahoom Sayegh, announced the launch of “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing.”  The campaign aims to give parents and caregivers the tools to talk, read, and sing more with their young children from birth, increasing meaningful interactions that are critical to healthy brain and language development.

“We’re not just giving away free bags of books. We’re providing to parents the tools to begin a child’s success in school,” Shafer at the press event held outside the district’s Full Service Community Center. “The time a parent spends reading and talking with a child is the very bedrock of that child’s future academic success.”

Shafer would go on to say that reading, talking, and even signing to a child helps grow their vocabulary from an early age, an asset, Rosie Grant, Executive Director of the Paterson Education Fund (PEF) explained typically lags in urban centers where students enter school with an average of 400 words, compared to over a one million in suburban communities.

“Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language and reading skills,” Grant said. “’Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing’ will motivate and support parents and caregivers to talk, read, and sing more with their young children.”

Through the program, Grant said, 500 parents who received the Talk, Read, Sing tote bags with books will also  be connected with “Trusted Messengers” through online Zoom meetings who will help families make the most out of the new resources.

The Trusted Messengers are individuals who already had close relationships with Paterson families. They were recruited through partnering organizations including the district’s Early Childhood and Family and Community Engagement Departments, CUMAC/ECHO, Oasis–A Haven for Women and Children, New Destiny Family Success Center, Partnership for Maternal and Child Health, Passaic County Coalition for Young Children, The Paterson Alliance.

Showing love for a microphone similar to his father’s, and more importantly illustrating the importance of interacting with young children through dialogue, was Ayden Sayegh. “How are you doing today,” his mother asked him, initiating a back and forth conversation with young Ayden’s responses being those of an infant, yet firm.


“He doesn’t have the words to articulate,” Balgahoom Sayegh said of the two-year-old, “yet he is taking it all in.”

State News

Trenton Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Role in Heroin Trafficking Conspiracy

TRENTON, N.J. – A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for his role in a large drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed more than one kilogram of heroin in Trenton and the surrounding area, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Davias Taylor, a/k/a “Vicey,” 28, of Trenton, previously pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Chief Judge Wolfson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In October 2018, Taylor and 25 other members of a drug trafficking conspiracy operating in Trenton were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. On Feb. 27, 2020, a grand jury returned a 10-count second superseding indictment charging Jerome Roberts, a/k/a “Righteous,” a/k/a “Lee”; David Antonio, a/k/a “Papi,” a/k/a “Pop,” a/k/a a/k/a “Santiago Ramirez”; Timothy Wimbush, a/k/a “Young Money”; Taquan Williams, a/k/a “Trip”; Jubri West; Dennis Cheston Jr., a/k/a “Beans”; and Wayne K. Bush with various crimes relating to the drug-trafficking conspiracy, as well as firearms offenses. To date, 23 defendants have pleaded guilty in connection with their participation in the conspiracy.

From as early as October 2017 to October 2018, the defendants and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated in the areas of Martin Luther King Boulevard, Sanford Street, Middle Rose Street, Southard Street, Hoffman Avenue, and Coolidge Avenue in Trenton, and that sought to profit from the distribution of heroin and numerous other controlled substances. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that defendants Jakir Taylor and Jerome Roberts obtained regular supplies of hundreds of “bricks” of heroin from defendant David Antonio, to whom they referred as “Papi.” The investigation revealed that during the conspiracy, Davias Taylor met David Antonio and introduced him to his conspirators, Jakir Taylor and Jerome Roberts, so that Antonio could supply the conspiracy with significant quantities of heroin. Davias Taylor himself also obtained and redistributed significant quantities of heroin for profit.

In addition to the prison term, Davias Taylor was sentenced five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, Trenton Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; officers of the Princeton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John P. Stemler III; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Bruce Painter; and detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Angelo Onofri; officers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff John A. Kemler; and members of the New Jersey State Board of Parole for their assistance in the case.

The government is represented by J. Brendan Day, Attorney-in-Charge of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Trenton Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Ramey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Greater Trenton Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals involved in gang-related activities, violent crime, and drug distribution in and around the greater Trenton area. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

The charges and allegations against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

U. S. News

Laura thrashes Louisiana, nearby states face tornado threats

LAKE CHARLES, La. — One of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the U.S., Laura barreled across Louisiana on Thursday, shearing off roofs and killing at least six people while carving a destructive path hundreds of miles inland.

A full assessment of the damage wrought by the Category 4 system was likely to take days, and the threat of additional damage loomed as new tornado warnings were issued after dark in Arkansas and Mississippi even as the storm weakened into a depression.

But despite a trail of demolished buildings, entire neighborhoods left in ruins and almost 900,000 homes and businesses without power, a sense of relief prevailed that Laura was not the annihilating menace forecasters had feared.

“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute, catastrophic damage that we thought was likely,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage.”

He called Laura the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, meaning it surpassed even Katrina, which was a Category 3 storm when it hit in 2005. The storm toppled trees and damaged structures as far north as central Arkansas.

Laura’s top wind speed of 150 mph (241 kph) put it among the strongest systems on record in the U.S. Not until 11 hours after landfall did Laura finally lose hurricane status as it plowed north and thrashed Arkansas, and even by Thursday evening, it remained a tropical storm with winds of 40 mph (65 kph).

The storm crashed ashore in low-lying Louisiana and clobbered Lake Charles, an industrial and casino city of 80,000 people. On Broad Street, many buildings had partially collapsed. Windows were blown out, awnings ripped away and trees split in eerily misshapen ways. Police spotted a floating casino that came unmoored and hit a bridge. At the local airport, planes were overturned, some on top of each other. Part of a transmission tower toppled into the emptied-out studios of KPLC-TV, whose staff evacuated hours before landfall to broadcast from other locations.

In front of the courthouse was a Confederate statue that local officials had voted to keep in place just days earlier. After Laura, it was toppled.

“It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who rode out the storm with three family members in Moss Bluff, near Lake Charles. He described Laura passing over his house with the roar of a jet engine around 2 a.m.

“There are houses that are totally gone. They were there yesterday, but now gone,” he said.

Following Laura’s passage, a massive plume of smoke visible for miles began rising from a chemical plant. Police said the leak was at a facility run by Biolab, which manufactures chemicals used in household cleaners such as Comet bleach scrub and chlorine powder for pools.

Nearby residents were told to close their doors and windows and turn off air conditioners, and the fire smoldered into the night. State and federal aircraft headed into the skies over the coast to look for signs of any other industrial damage.

The fatalities included a 14-year-old girl and a 68-year-old man who died when trees fell on their homes in Louisiana, as well as a 24-year-old man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside his residence. Another man drowned in a boat that sank during the storm, authorities said.

No deaths had been confirmed in Texas, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said would amount to “a miracle.”

Chevellce Dunn considered herself among the fortunate after a night spent huddling on a sofa with her son, daughter and four nieces and nephews as winds rocked their home in Orange, Texas. Left without power in sweltering heat, she didn’t know when electricity might be restored.

“It ain’t going to be easy. As long as my kids are fine, I’m fine,” Dunn said.

President Donald Trump planned to visit the Gulf Coast this weekend to tour the damage.

More than 580,000 coastal residents evacuated under the shadow of a coronavirus pandemic and calls for masks and social distancing to combat its spread. It was the largest evacuation order since the pandemic began and many people followed it, filling hotels and sleeping in cars. Although not everyone fled from the coast, officials credited those who did leave for minimizing the loss of life.

Forecasters had warned that the storm surge of 15 to 20 feet would be “unsurvivable” and could push 40 miles inland. Edwards said the storm surge wound up in the range of 9 feet to 12 feet — still bad, but far from the worst forecast. He was hopeful damaged homes could quickly be made habitable.

The priority, Edwards said, was search and rescue, followed by efforts to find hotel or motel rooms for those unable to stay in their homes. Officials in Texas and Louisiana have both sought to avoid traditional mass shelters for evacuees over fears of spreading COVID-19, and Edwards was concerned that the storm would inhibit coronavirus testing as schools and universities are reopening.

Bucky Millet, 78, of Lake Arthur, Louisiana, considered evacuating but decided to ride out the storm with family due to concerns about the coronavirus. He said a small tornado blew the cover off the bed of his pickup and made him think the roof on his house was next.

“You’d hear a crack and a boom and everything shaking,” he said.

The force of Laura’s winds blew out every window of the living room in the Lake Charles house where Bethany Agosto survived the storm with her sister and two others. They fled to a closet when the hurricane was at its worst.

“It was like a jigsaw puzzle in this closet. We were on top of each other, just holding each other and crying,” Agosto said.

The storm was so powerful that it could regain strength after turning east and reaching the Atlantic Ocean, potentially threatening the densely populated Northeast.

Laura hit the U.S. after killing nearly two dozen people on the island of Hispaniola, including 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic, where it knocked out power and caused intense flooding.

It was the seventh named storm to strike the U.S. this year, setting a new record for U.S. landfalls by the end of August. The old record was six in 1886 and 1916, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

Laura was tied with five other storms for fifth most powerful U.S. hurricane, behind the 1935’s Labor Day storm, 1969’s Camille, 1992’s Andrew and 2004’s Charley, Klotzbach said.


Local News

Two Paterson Companies Among Those Charged with Polluting Community

TRENTON, NJ – Two companies in Jersey City and two in Paterson are among those targeted in a lawsuit alleging they knowingly failed to contain pollutants on their properties, thereby putting the surrounding community at risk.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced the filing of 12 new environmental enforcement actions targeting polluters across New Jersey whose actions threaten the health and safety of residents in minority and lower-income communities in Newark, Orange, South Orange, Paterson, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Hillside, Fairton and Upper Deerfield Township.

These lawsuits are a part of the State’s comprehensive justice agenda to address harms disproportionately affecting the public and environmental health of New Jersey’s low-income, non-English speaking and minority residents.

“In New Jersey, we’re committed to our path breaking approach to environmental enforcement, which ensures that our efforts to clean up our environment will also serve our comprehensive justice agenda for low-income communities and communities of color,” said Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Today’s twelve lawsuits, filed in cities and towns across our state, are a reflection of that commitment to environmental justice principles.

“The message to New Jersey residents should be clear: everyone, and I really mean everyone, deserves to breathe clean air and live in a safe environment.”

Many of the properties that are the subject to the complaints have pollutants known to contribute to health problems including respiratory tract irritation, chronically reduced lung function, kidney problems, neurological disorders and certain cancers, which may only exacerbate COVID-19 risks.

Heba Auto Repair in Jersey City, whose owners Fathi Hassanein and Alia Hassanein, who are said to not be complying with DEP orders, have been cited for gasoline contamination, removing underground storage tanks without necessary permits, and back-filling the site with gasoline-contaminated soil.

125 Monitor Street JC, LLC, Jersey City has been cited for soil and groundwater contamination, including with arsenic, copper, lead, petroleum, PCE and TCE.

In Paterson David and Jacob Binson have been, in connection with American Fabric Processors for whom they serve as corporate officers, cited for emissions of volatile organic chemicals and Nitrogen Oxide, and failure to perform required emissions tests.

Also cited in the suit is Adolfo Auto Repair for where the owner, identified as Adolfo Gonzalez, allegedly failed to investigate and address potential petroleum product contamination and removed two deteriorating underground tanks containing sediment and water/petroleum sludge years ago without a site investigation to identify any discharges of hazardous substances.

Since the announcement of the State’s environmental justice initiative in 2018, Attorney General Grewal and Commissioner McCabe have filed numerous lawsuits, making New Jersey a national leader in environmental justice enforcement, they said in a statement.

“The actions the DEP is taking exemplify the Murphy Administration’s deep commitment to principles of environmental justice and equity that strengthen all of our communities, especially those most vulnerable to environmental harm,” said Commissioner McCabe. “Together, we are holding accountable those who, by design or circumstance, disproportionately harm the environment and communities of our low-income and minority neighbors. Today’s lawsuits complement the many ways that we pursue environmental justice, standing with every New Jersey community and for the shared natural resources that unite us.”

The complaints seek a variety of remedies, including clean-up of contaminated properties and compliance with all outstanding DEP orders, payment of damages and penalties, reimbursement to the State for clean-up costs expended to date and, in certain instances, natural resource damages.



Should the Devils Keep Pavel Zacha?

Today’s continuation of the “Should They Stay or Should They Go” theme here at AATJ has us looking at a polarizing New Jersey Devils forward. Yes, I am indeed talking about Pavel Zacha. the former 6th overall draft selection in 2015 who has been all over the Devils lineup since joining the team. Initially seen as one of the big pieces moving forward, the offense has yet to come consistently for Zacha, leading for some to see him as a player who could be dealt in a “change of scenery” deal. This feeling intensified as the Devils added Nico Hischier (in 2017) and Jack Hughes (in 2019) as a pair of first overall selections. Is Zacha really an expendable piece though? Let’s delve a bit deeper.

Pavel Zacha’s Time in New Jersey So Far

Zacha has spent four seasons now playing for our New Jersey Devils, and while he put up a promising 24 points in 70 games during his 2016-17 rookie campaign, the offensive totals never seemed to grow. Despite prominent top line auditions, including talented linemates at different times, Zacha’s totals stayed fairly flat with 25 points in 69 games in 2017-18, 25 again in 2018-19 (although in eight fewer contests), and a small increase to 32 this past season in 65 contests.

This will be the only part where I bring up draft position, as it’s no longer relevant now that four years have passed. Perhaps he was taken too high; perhaps things haven’t panned out the way everyone would have liked. Heck, perhaps they should’ve taken someone more high touted instead. It’s all inconsequential now as what was done five years ago is done. While the point totals are lower than we all would want, Zacha is at the very least an NHL player. You wouldn’t know that however from his stats this past season.

His stats from the truncated 2019-20 campaign (courtesy of Natural Stat Trick) paint the picture of a forward who put up some points on a bad Devils team, but wasn’t actively contributing to improving the run of play, as the chart below shows.

While again, Zacha’s point totals were good this past season, they seem inflated by his linesmates, as the rest of his rankings all rank near the bottom for the team’s forwards. Additionally, the most common names under him were either players lambasted by the fan base (John Hayden, Miles Wood) or players who weren’t really put in roles to succeed (Jesper Boqvist) due to their position on the depth chart.

More worrisome is that Travis Zajac, who just completed his age 34 season, consistently ranked above Zacha, if only by a bit, in most of the categories. That puts Zacha at the level of an older forward whose offensive skills have clearly begun to decline, but without the defensive responsibilities that Zajac shoulders. Consistently being deployed against the top opposing players has an impact on Travis’ numbers; Pavel doesn’t have that excuse. His mostly low rankings should be worrisome sign for his ability to positively affect the run of play going forward.

What do the Devils do With Zacha Long-Term?

This is the million dollar question right here, as many saw Zacha as a solid third line center behind Hughes and Hischier moving forward. His advanced stats, however, show him to be one of the Devils’ forwards being hemmed in and generating little for the team. Most, if not all of the articles that I have personally written for the site this summer have discussed needing players who “move the needle” or have a positive impact on play. I’m not sure Zacha can be part of that solution.

The encouraging news would be him putting up the highest point total of his career this past season; again though, much of it seemed to come after he was paired with Nikita Gusev and Jesper Bratt. It seems as though his increased production was more of a byproduct of being paired with them.

If I had to make a call as to what to do with Zacha going forward, I would listen to trade offers for him, but I would be hesitant to make a deal, unless there was an overpayment coming back for him. He has two years left on his current contract, and will still be an RFA when the deal comes to an end, which could make him attractive for the right team. However, he’s also been a very good penalty killer, and that effectiveness while being able to be placed in a bottom 6 role combined with cost control makes it difficult to jettison him.

Unless there’s an overpayment as mentioned above, I think Zacha remains a Devil for the near future. I do believe the organization will eventually draft/develop or acquire a player who does what he does, but better, and that will be when they part ways with him. Until that time comes, however, I think Zacha would best be suited as a New Jersey Devil.

I see Zacha at least playing out his current contract, but he could be dealt as early as prior to his next NHL deal. Unless he breaks out during the duration of his current deal, I do not view him as a long-term piece. He’s an elite penalty killer, but does not bring much else, needing players who can create offense around him to boost his totals. Again, when the Devils find a superior offensive player who brings comparable defense, Zacha’s time in New Jersey should come to an end.

Your Take

Now I want to know what you think. How long do you think the Devils will keep Pavel Zacha? Will his current contract be his last with the Devils or will he be re-signed past 2021-22? Can Zacha put together a better season than his 2019-20 campaign? Leave your thoughts an comments below and thanks as always for reading!

U. S. News

Trump’s convention blurs official business and politics

WASHINGTON – Plenty of presidents have walked right up to the line separating official business from politics — or even stepped over it. President Donald Trump has blown past it with a bulldozer, and his planned Republican convention speech from the White House lawn this week might be the latest and most blatant example yet.

Down in the polls and facing the headwinds of a coronavirus-battered economy, Trump made the case that the White House is the easiest location for the Secret Service and law enforcement to secure for his acceptance speech after Republicans were forced to scale back their convention because of the pandemic.

Left unsaid was that the Executive Mansion offers Trump a grand setting as he attempts to make his case that voters should stick with him in the midst of a health catastrophe that has touched nearly every aspect of American life.

“What makes this particularly galling is that the president owns a hotel four blocks away from the White House that he’s shown no qualms about profiting from over the course of his presidency,” said Donald Sherman, deputy director of the nonprofit government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Now he feels compelled to use the White House grounds to deliver this political speech?”

That’s not the only mixing of government and politics this week: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is among the Trump Cabinet officials who will address the convention, in his case a recorded address from Jerusalem while on a taxpayer-funded trip to the region. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talked up Trump’s reelection during an “official” visit Monday to a North Carolina farm with the president.

A video featuring Trump signing a pardon for Jon Ponder, an ex-convict who now runs an acclaimed prisoner reentry program, aired minutes into Tuesday night’s program. Later, ruffles and flourishes rang out ahead of “Hail to the Chief” as military aides opened the doors to the White House Cross Hall for Trump to preside over a naturalization ceremony for new Americans. Both events were taped in recent days as Trump and his re-election campaign looked to find ways to present a softer image to the American people.

Under a federal law known as the Hatch Act, civilian employees in the executive branch cannot use their titles when doing political work. They are also prohibited from taking part in any partisan activity while on the clock. The president and the vice president are exempt from the rules.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign criticized Pompeo’s speech, which is to air Tuesday evening. “Secretary Pompeo’s decision to address the Republican convention from Jerusalem isn’t just an abuse of taxpayer dollars, it undermines the critical work being done by the State Department,” said Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager.

The independent Office of Special Counsel advised lawmakers earlier this month that White House advisers would not be in violation of Hatch Act rules by taking part in the convention if the event was held on the lawn or in the residence and they attended while off-duty. But if the event were held in the West Wing or in another area of the White House that is regarded as a federal room, White House officials would be prohibited from attending even while off-duty.

In addition to Pompeo, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as well as White House senior advisers Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka Trump and Ja’Ron Smith are all slated to address the convention. The administration officials are expected to not use their titles to avoid violations, and all — with the exception of Ivanka Trump — are slated to deliver their remarks live or pre-recorded from a location outside the White House complex.

It’s only the second time that a president will deliver his acceptance speech at the White House. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his acceptance speech from the White House via radio to the Democratic convention that nominated him for an unprecedented third term.

“Any government employees who may participate will do so in compliance with the Hatch Act,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

Ivanka Trump, who in addition to her White House role is the president’s daughter, is scheduled to introduce her father before his acceptance speech on Thursday.

Her office said in a statement that she will be participating outside of normal working hours and will be speaking in her personal capacity as the president’s daughter.

Neil Eggleston, who served as White House counsel in the President Barack Obama administration, however, said that while Ivanka Trump and others can take part in the convention while staying on the right side of the law, “it’s completely contrary to the norms.”

“People talk about the White House as the People’s House,” Eggleston said. “Political parties come and go, but it doesn’t belong to one political party or the other.”

The Trump administration is hardly the first to mix business with politics.

Obama, for instance, allowed five members of his Cabinet to address the party’s 2012 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, as he sought reelection. Four years later, as his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, sought the White House, Obama decided to prohibit Cabinet members from taking part.

In 2012, Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s health and human services secretary, was cited for violating federal law prohibiting Cabinet members from engaging in politics on the clock when she called for the president’s reelection and touted the candidacy of another Democrat at an event she was attending in her official capacity.

In 2011, a report by Office of Special Counsel found that during the George W. Bush administration, senior staff members at the Office of Political Affairs violated the Hatch Act by organizing dozens of political briefings from 2001 to 2007 for Republican appointees at top federal agencies in an effort to enlist them to help elect Republicans to Congress.

The Trump administration has repeatedly stepped over the line, ethics experts said.

Perdue stepped into politics on Monday during a visit with the president to Mills River, North Carolina, to spotlight a federal food distribution program to assist workers impacted by the virus. Perdue noted appreciatively the many Trump supporters who lined the motorcade route en route to the event.

In November 2018, the Office of Special Counsel found six White House officials in violation for tweeting or retweeting the president’s 2016 campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” from their official Twitter accounts. Most notably, the office recommended in June 2019 that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway be fired.

Trump refused to take action against Conway, suggesting that the office was trying to take away her right to free speech. Conway, who announced this week she will be leaving the White House for personal reasons by the end of the month, is scheduled to deliver remarks to the convention on Wednesday.

Democrats have also pointed to other alleged abuses of power by Trump that had a political slant. In July, Attorney General William Barr deployed National Guard troops to clear the area outside the White House of demonstrators protesting police brutality minutes before Trump decided to stroll to a nearby historic church for a photo op.

Richard Painter, who served as the White House chief ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, said it’s unlikely that Trump’s use of the White House backdrop to help his reelection effort will make a difference to the outcome of the election. But the deliberate thumbing of his nose at ethics rules and historic norms points to a “great danger.”

“It goes to the core problem that the government — including the State Department and Department of Justice — are being used as extensions of the Donald Trump campaign,” Painter said. “This is about a lot more than Kellyanne Conway or Ivanka Trump or someone else in the administration showing up to give a campaign speech on the White House lawn.”

Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Local News

Overnight Shooting Leaves 25-Year-Old Injured

PATERSON, NJ – Authorities say they are investigating an overnight shooting in Paterson that left a 25-year-old man wounded.

According to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora, officers were dispatched shortly after 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to the area of Park Avenue and East 18th Street after receiving a report of shots fired.

Responding officers discovered “a potential crime scene” and could not locate a victim in the area, but a short time later, authorities were advised that a man arrived at St. Joseph’s Medical Center seeking treatment for a non-fatal gunshot wound, Valdes and Baycora said in a news release.

The investigation remains ongoing and additional details will be released once it becomes available, according to authorities.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to contain the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office tips line at 1-877-370-PCPO or, or the Paterson Police Department’s Ceasefire Unit at 973-321-1342.

Covid-19 State News

NJ COVID-19 hospitalizations hit lowest level since March, Murphy says

TRENTON, N.J. — Coronavirus hospitalizations have hit their lowest level in the state of New Jersey since late March, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Saturday.

The governor tweeted that the Garden State has 376 currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in a tweet. That’s the state’s lowest number since March 24. Murphy added that the peak saw over 8,000 New Jerseyans in the hospital with the virus.

“It’s incredible what we’ve achieved by pulling together as one New Jersey family, but we’re not over the finish line yet,” said Murphy.

New Jersey still announced 427 new positive coronavirus cases Saturday. The state’s cumulative total is now at 189,236. The state reported three more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total dead to 14,114.


Paterson Community Invited to Paint Massive Black Lives Matter Mural

PATERSON, NJ – The Paterson Chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) is encouraging supporters, community members, family, and friends to join them in efforts to install a mural that will be painted on Broadway, also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., between Church Street and Straight Street. The bold yellow letters will be located directly in front of the Underground Railroad Memorial Monument near the Paterson Police Headquarters.

Led by Paterson’s own muralist, Christopher Fabor Muhammad, the painting of the mural is set to begin at noon on Friday and extend through the weekend; Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

“We all deserve to be there. We all deserve to see this happen before our very own eyes but most of all, we all deserve to take part in this because we all fought for it,” BLM said in a statement.

“The “Black Lives Matter” mural is not just about some paint on the road,” said Joseph V. Moore, lead organizer of the Paterson Chapter of Black Lives Matter.  “But a clear sign that enough is enough. See us. Hear us. Take action because we are worth living,” he said, with Flormaria Gonzalez, organizer of the Paterson Chapter of Black Lives Matter, adding that “our people deserve the right to LIVE and this is what this mural means to us. Black Lives Matter Paterson fought for this for OUR people, and here we are. We couldn’t be prouder!”

Admitting that he was initially concerned that such a painting might “create controversy, discontentment and misplaced passion,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said he has since recognized “the unique opportunity that we have to meld the historical significance of this site with the calls for justice that we hear so loudly, today.”

Speaking to the historical role Paterson played in the plight of former slaves escaping to freedom Sayegh said that he remains “mindful of the constant calls to action for equality in our communities.”

“In Paterson, I am proud that we are able to largely subscribe to a philosophy that celebrates our diversity,” Sayegh said in a statement. “More importantly, I’m even prouder of our ability to celebrate our commonalities and togetherness.”

Covid-19 State News

Latest coronavirus updates in New Jersey: Friday, August 21, 2020

NEW JERSEY — Below you will find the most up-to-date information on coronavirus news impacting New Jersey. You can find additional resources and coverage on our coronavirus page.

1 p.m.
Gov. Phil Murphy held his COVID-19 briefing. Watch in video below.


  • N95 masks (Goal 5 million): 4.7 million
  • Surgical masks (Goal 13 million): 1 million +12 million on order
  • Face shields (Goal 2 million): 1.7 million
  • Ventilators: Stockpile of 1,447 with 500 on order, additional 600 in hospitals.

Contact tracers in NJ

  • More than half the people contact tracers are trying to get in contact with are not cooperating
  • Take the call and work with them.
  • Contact tracers can also link people to child-care resources
  • They will never ask for social security, finances and personal info.
  • About 1,612 contact tracers (By the end of the year,goal is to have 30 tracers per 100 people)
  • 52% of people not providing contacts to contact tracers
  • 19% not picking up contact tracers’ calls.

Testing in NJ

  • DOH and Optum are setting up mobile testing sites at senior housing facilities in Atlantic City, Camden and Trenton.Other sites coming to Elizabeth, Newark and Paterson.
  • 2.6 million tests have been conducted in NJ

COVID-19 in NJ

  • Public water, gas and electric utility shutoff moratorium extended until Oct. 15
  • Deferred payment agreements from 12-24 months will be offered from gas and electric utilities.

Overnight numbers

  • Total cases: 188,817 (313 new)
  • 1.42% positivity rate
  • 1.04 rate of transmission
  • 13 confirmed deaths (total: 14,112)


  • “We’re getting very close” to moving forward with gyms and other situations.
Recent numbers

As of Friday afternoon, there were 188,817 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey with 14,112 coronavirus fatalities.