Trenton, NJ

N.J. landlord forfeits slum, $1M after HUD probe

May 25, 2000
An influential Ocean County rabbi pleaded guilty yesterday to a felony tax charge and, as part of a related civil settlement, forfeited a notorious Newark housing project.
     The company owned by Rabbi Meir N. Hertz that controlled the Brick Towers Apartments agreed to pay $1 million to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and cease operations as part of the civil settlement.
     The company, BTA Properties Inc., also pleaded guilty yesterday, admitting it lied to HUD, which gave it millions of dollars in low-income housing funds, by certifying twice in 1995 that the 298 apartments were "decent, safe and sanitary."
     Actually, the 1,000 tenants lived in "deplorable conditions," complaining for years of leaky roofs, balky elevators and sewage backups, said Paul Aprigliano, director of HUD's enforcement center for the area. 

N.J. court upholds visitation rights for gay parent

April 06, 2000
The New Jersey Supreme Court Thursday ruled that the former partner of a lesbian lover should have visitation rights to the two children she once helped raise.
    In one of the strongest rulings to date on same-sex partnerships, a unanimous high court upheld a lower appellate court ruling that gave visitation rights to a New Jersey woman identified only as V.C.
    While denying a request for joint custody, the court said V.C. ranked as a ``psychological parent'' to twins born to her former lover through artificial insemination in September 1994.
    ``Although the case arises in the context of a lesbian couple, the standard we enunciate is applicable to all persons who have willingly, and with the approval of the legal parent, undertaken duties of a parent to a child not related by blood or adoption,'' Justice Virginia Long wrote in a separate opinion. 

Black leaders protest a proposed bank merger

February 01, 2000
Black leaders made a last-minute pitch Monday to block the $3.6 billion merger of Hudson United and Dime Savings banks, saying Hudson United should seek "confession and repentance" for biased lending instead.
    "We find it appalling that [Hudson United] now steps forward for expansion with its dismal record of helping the minority community," said the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey. "This merger must be stopped."
    Government data show that out of 1,000 loans Hudson United made statewide in 1998, nine went to black applicants. Of the 281 mortgages and refinance loans issued by Hudson United that year to applicants in Bergen and Passaic counties, one went to a black borrower and 14 to Hispanics. 

New Jersey officials at odds over racial profiling

January 07, 2000
Attorney General John Farmer wants the state Supreme Court to decide if evidence of racial profiling by state troopers should require that criminal cases against those they arrested be dismissed.
    At issue is whether the state police carried on a widespread pattern of racial discrimination for many years along the New Jersey Turnpike and other highways, and whether that pattern may be used as the basis for throwing out potentially hundreds of criminal cases.
    Farmer filed papers with the Supreme Court early last week asking it to assign the statewide dispute to a single judge, and the Office of the Public Defender on Thursday filed briefs contesting the request, saying it was better to let different judges address the matter in the various counties. 

N.J. accepts monitor in racial profiling case

December 24, 1999
Under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, New Jersey agreed Wednesday to the appointment of an outside civilian monitor to make sure the State Police end racial profiling and other discriminatory practices.
      The consent decree, which awaits judicial approval, is a way to avoid a full-blown civil rights battle in open court, according to Bill Lann Lee, acting chief of the Justice Department's civil rights division.
      Federal authorities also required the state to expand its planned system for tracking trooper patrols with an eye toward detecting any troubling patterns. Authorities also required that the system be in place within six months.

Boy Scouts can't ban gay scoutmasters, court says

August 05, 1999
The Boy Scouts of America's ban on homosexuals is illegal under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled today.
    The Boy Scouts vowed to appeal the court's ruling, which upheld a state appellate court decision, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court, in a unanimous decision, sided with James Dale, a Matawan assistant scoutmaster who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts nine years ago when leaders found out he is gay.
    The court said the Boy Scouts organization constitutes a "place of public accommodation" because it has a broadbased membership and forms partnerships with public entities and public service organizations.
Thus, the court said the Boy Scouts fall under New Jersey's anti-discrimination law and cannot deny any person "accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges" because of sexual orientation.

Panel finds bias in NJ state police

July 03, 1999
A state panel that concluded some State Patrol officers target drivers on the basis of race has found that minority and female troopers are mistreated by their own colleagues.
     Attorney General John Farmer said the report found that minority and female troopers often did not receive ``fully respectful,'' treatment -- and that there were enough stories and lawsuits alleging discrimination or harassment to cause concern.
    Supervisors and troopers themselves have done too little to address the problem, Farmer said Friday.

N.J. police superintendent is fired

February 28, 1999
Gov. Christie Whitman fired the head of the New Jersey State Police on Sunday after he said in a newspaper interview that minority groups were more likely to be involved in drug trafficking.
    The Black Ministers Council of New Jersey and the state chapter of the NAACP had been calling for State Police Superintendent Col. Carl Williams' ouster for weeks, saying he was not acknowledging a history of racist procedures on the part of the State Police.  

Advocates for disabled hit group-home policy

August 26, 1998
Questioning the legality of an interim policy that allows the state to reject group homes in towns that have their so-called fair share, a coalition of advocates for the disabled has demanded that the policy be rescinded.
     In a letter to the state attorney general, the New Jersey Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities charged that the "saturation" policy, which was implemented by former Commissioner William Waldman, "is a discriminatory housing practice violating the federal Fair Housing Act." 

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