Number Of The Day
- May 21, 2013
New Jersey hospitals number 73, as of 2010, with 62 of them nonprofits, three owned by the state, and eight for-profit facilities, according to statehealthfacts.org, a nonprofit website run by the Henry J. Kaiser foundation that tracks healthcare nationwide. The 73 hospitals amount to 2.4 beds per 1,000 population, fewer than the 2.6 per 1,000 national average.
Interestingly enough, New Jersey has fewer emergency room visits each year (382 visits per 1,000 population) than the national average of 411. Further, the number of admissions to the hospital – 121 admissions per 1,000 population, was lower than the national average of 114.
- May 20, 2013
About 25 percent of New Jersey’s elderly cannot meet their basic living expenses, according to the New Jersey Foundation for Aging, which says rising rents of the last three years have made it difficult for most seniors to meet expenses.
According to the NJFA, the cost of living since 2009 has increased eight percent. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, try living on a social security income that isn’t rising as fast.
The NJFA says that 25 percent of New Jersey seniors live on social security as their only source of income. The average Social Security for a woman is $14,848, but according to its Elder Economic Index, the average living expenses for a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey are nearly $28,000.
- May 17, 2013
The Christie administration is putting $300 million in federal money into the state’s Blue Acres fund to allow for homeowner buyouts of Sandy-damaged properties. The administration says it will give owners the option of choosing what’s best for their situation.
The program will target clusters of homes or neighborhoods in tidal areas of New Jersey, which will eventually be razed and maintained as open space.
The plan calls for targeting 350 homes in Sayreville and South River in Middlesex County, which were severely damaged by flooding from the Raritan and South Rivers.
Other neighborhoods that will be targeted include Delaware Bay homes in Lawrence Township in Cumberland County and 300 repeatedly flood-damaged homes located in the Passaic River Basin.
Property appraisals will begin next month, and offers to willing sellers will begin in July. Although a case manager will reach out personally to some of the targeted areas, homeowners interested in selling their homes through this program should contact the state Department of Environmental Protection at 609-984-0500.
- May 16, 2013
About 66 percent of New Jerseyans say they believe in God with absolute certainty, below the national average of 71 percent, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life of the Pew Research Center.
The Center reports that more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God or some universal spirit, but a much smaller percentage are willing to say it with an “absolute” certainty.
New Jersey’s 66 percent ranks it 35th among states. Southern states such as Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas are the five states at the top of the rankings, while New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maine were the least certain of God’s existence.
- May 15, 2013
Official delegations to the Jersey shore were heralded in the news Tuesday, as U.S. Senator Robert Menendez cited his December tour of three shore towns with his Senate colleagues as a factor in winning a $30.6 million federal grant for beach replenishment.
That announcement was overshadowed, however,by the visit of the U.K.’s Prince Harry to Seaside Heights Gov. Chris Christie squired the prince along the boardwalk, and later presented the man who is third in line to the British throne with his very own monogrammed fleece, similar to the one worn by Christie throughout the Hurricane Sandy crisis.
Menendez and fellow U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers $30.6 million grant would be used to replenish the beaches along Long Beach Island, specifically Harvey Cedars, Surf City, and Brant Beach.
The corps is dumping 16 million cubic yards of sand to restore beaches in New Jersey. According to Menendez, who cited his December delegation of U.S. Senators to battered Long Beach Island as a factor in its winning congressional approval, the corps is using language to rebuild to “design” conditions instead of “pre-storm” conditions. This means that they will be built to be stronger than they were before the storm.
- May 14, 2013
The federal Department of Agriculture has allocated $3.9 million to New Jersey schools so they can obtain fresh produce for students during the day and offer them an education in nutrition.
The goal is to expose children to healthy foods, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and give them a good start toward positive lifelong dietary habits.
The program will benefit about 76,000 students in 144 schools throughout the state. The criteria for selection were schools with 50 percent or more students eligible for reduced-price lunch programs and those that said they wanted to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. A list of all the schools selected is available online.
- May 13, 2013
In 2012, 23,381 criminal offenders spent some time in one of New Jersey’s correctional institutions, whether they were prisons, youth correctional facilities, or halfway houses. Of them, 54 percent were serving time for violent offenses, 22 percent for drug offenses, and 4 percent for public policy offenses, which include racketeering, illegal gambling, corruption, and perjury.
Of the 747 women in prison, 25 percent were serving time for murder, while 21 percent of adult males were in prison for murder. About 38 percent of inmates were 30 or younger. The median age of prisoners in adult facilities was 34.
The median term was 6 years, and 72 percent of offenders had a mandatory minimum sentence. Sadly, 32 percent were convicted to a term of 10 years or more, and 5 percent were serving a life sentence with parole eligibility. There were 61 prisoners serving life without parole.
- May 10, 2013
As of 2011, New Jersey had 35,236 police officers throughout the state, according to the most recent Uniform Crime Report. That was a nine percent drop from the previous year, and unofficial calculations show a slight decrease from that number since.
Of those, only 3,723 officers were women.
The state as a whole had 2.2 officers per 1,000 residents; although the rate varied by county. The highest number of cops was in Essex County (2,515), followed by Bergen (2,011), Hudson (1,777), and Middlesex (1,477). But when looked at by rate per 1,000 residents, Cape May was tied with Essex at 3.2 and Atlantic County was next at 3.0.
Most of the cops were municipal police. In 2011, there were 19,366 municipal officers; 5,225 county police; 2,741 state police; 433 employed at colleges; and 7,471 sworn officers assigned to other state agencies.
- May 9, 2013
New Jersey coastal residents want the government to take a hard line on rebuilding after Sandy. The vast majority (71 percent) support creating a state commission to coordinate planning and rebuilding along the shore, according to a recent poll by Monmouth University Polling Institute.
An even greater majority (89 percent) want stricter storm-resistant building codes. And 55 percent support allowing state regulators to determine which areas of the shore can or cannot be rebuilt based on storm risk.
When it comes to dune restoration and other methods of protection that could block ocean views, 82 percent want these structures built. Indeed, 74 percent support allowing beachfront homeowners to rebuild only if they agree to have dunes or sea walls placed in front of their property. Oddly enough, support from those who would be directly affected -- waterfront home dwellers -- is running even higher (82 percent).
Nevertheless, the issue of whether to require easements of private property owners is controversial. Support for giving towns the authority is much higher among Ocean County residents (62 percent) than it is among those in Monmouth County (35 percent) or along the southern shore (40 percent).
- May 8, 2013
Tick season is upon us, and New Jerseyans would be wise to be on the lookout for any signs of ticks -- not just on their pets, but also on themselves and their children. In 2011, there were 4,262 reported cases of Lyme disease in New Jersey, ranking it third for the state with the highest number of cases, behind New York and Pennsylvania.
The Lyme Disease Association estimates that only 10 percent of cases get reported, so it extrapolates that more than 40,000 residents were infected with the disease in 2011.
According to the state Department of Health, symptoms of Lyme disease, which is spread through the deer tick in New Jersey, appear three to 30 days after a tick bite. The tick must be attached for a minimum of 36 hours to transmit the bacterium. May and June are the most likely time of year to become infected because the ticks are small enough to go undetected.
Common symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash that looks like a bullseye, fatigue, fever, headache, stiff neck, and joint pain. Antibiotic treatment is most effective in the early stages of the disease. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause heart problems, arthritis, or neurological issues.
- May 7, 2013
There are quite a few alternative fuel vehicles in use in the Garden State, since the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that in 2011 there were 29,712 of them on the road in New Jersey -- not including gasoline or diesel-fuel hybrids.
The federal DOE only includes vehicles that use an alternative fuel as their major source of energy. So plug-in electrics are considered alternative fuel vehicles, while regular hybrids are not.
The most common types of alternative vehicles in the state are those that rely on E85, or 85 percent Ethanol. Nearly 22,000 E85 vehicles are in use in New Jersey, followed by compressed natural gas (3,885), and liquid petroleum gas (3,109). In 2011, there were 314 vehicles fueled by electricity.
Most of these vehicles are owned by individuals (20,549). State (4,860) and federal (3,573) agencies owned most of the rest.
- May 6, 2013
New Jersey has an estimated 1.5 million volunteers, which translates into 170 million volunteer-hours a year. That sounds like a lot, but actually New Jersey ranks pretty low among states when it comes to volunteerism.
In 2011, the Garden State ranked 47th among states and Washington D.C., faring better than only Nevada, Hawaii, New York, and Louisiana, according to Volunteering in America. Utah, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota ranked highest when considering volunteer-hour per capita.
Still, New Jerseyans spend about 25.2 volunteer hours per resident. The majority of hours (30 percent) are spent with religious organizations and educational organizations (28.5 percent).
If you know someone who should be recognized for his or her volunteer efforts, consider a nomination for the governor’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
- May 3, 2013
The federal government is providing New Jersey $229 million in grants to address weaknesses in the state’s water infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Wastewater and drinking-water treatment facilities were severely damaged in the storm. The money is to be given to local communities as low- or no-interest loans, although 30 percent can be used as direct grants.
New Jersey’s water infrastructure has been deemed in major disrepair even before Sandy, with a recent report by a nonpartisan group of former state officials pegging the cost of fixing it at $40 billion. Sandy’s impact, which included damage to 20 percent of the state’s sewer plants caused by flooding and power loss, resulted in millions of gallons of untreated sewage pouring into waterways.
The Christie administration has come under heavy criticism from environmentalists and regional planners for not including sustainability and planning projects in the first round of federal Sandy grants. With the EPA’s announcement on Thursday, New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel, a frequent Christie administration critic, applauded the EPA for its help but continued to pound on the administration, saying it is just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed.
- May 2, 2013
The rate of international adoption has been steadily dropping in the Garden State and nationally for the past eight years. But the number of children adopted internationally by New Jerseyans dropped to 190, the first time in memory that it has been below 200, according to statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security.
Nationally, the total was 8,619 internationally adopted children. In comparison, in 2004 New Jerseyans adopted 835 children from other countries, and the number was 22,911 for the nation as a whole.
Of the 190 orphans adopted in 2012, 91 were boys and 99 were girls. The vast majority (122) were between one and four years old, with eight children under one year, 27 between five and nine, and 33 more than nine years old.
DHS does not publish statistics of birth origin by state, but the two largest numbers of children came from China (2,709) and Ethiopia (1,540), followed by Russia (759) and South Korea (621). Russia, which has been making international adoption increasingly difficult for the past few years, has since banned Americans from adopting their orphans due to a political dispute.
- May 1, 2013
The spigot seems to have been turned on this week for Sandy-related funds, with the federal Department of Education announcing that it will give an additional $1.25 million to 26 school districts in six counties to assist in Sandy recovery.
The monies are being provided by the DOE’s Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) program, which provides funding to districts for short- and long-term educational services designed to restore safe learning environments.
New Jersey’s districts, which were invited to apply, were granted 45 percent of what was asked. Some of the grant requests included overtime for staff, substitute teachers, emergency transportation and transportation to alternative sites, temporary security measures, and targeted mental health assessments.
The largest grant was $322,527 to Keansburg, followed by $211,891 to Brick Township.
- April 30, 2013
Gov. Chris Christie released a litany of numbers Monday that aim to help tell the story of Sandy from the administration’s perspective. One of the highlights of this long list was the $34 million that has been raised for the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, which is headed by Christie’s wife, state First Lady Mary Pat Christie. The fund continues to advertise for donations on TV and billboards around the state.
Christie’s list said the fund has over 28,000 donors and that it has already awarded $11 million in grants. The fund’s website, updated as of April 16, totals $6.8 million in grants, most of which seem to have gone to individual county efforts for recovery and mental health organizations. The site says it is ready to announce another $4.2 million. For a list of what’s been disbursed, see the fund’s website.
- April 29, 2013
Most of us living in New Jersey are overweight, according to statehealthfacts.org, a health-monitoring website funded by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
And the fact that we rank slightly better than the nation as a whole (61.5 percent vs. 63.3 percent), shouldn’t give us much solace. Men are more likely to be overweight than women (70.4 percent vs. 52.3 percent). Blacks (72.4 percent) and Hispanics (68.4 percent) weigh more than whites (60.3 percent) and Asians (41.4 percent).
New Jersey ranks 14th in the country in terms of weight, with most of the thinnest states in the west, such as Utah, Hawaii, Colorado, Montana, California, and Washington. But New York, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and Vermont are skinnier than New Jersey too.
- April 26, 2013
Together with the federal government, New Jersey has spent $882 billion replenishing its beaches as of 2012, according to the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at West Carolina University. The program monitors beach nourishment projects and has catalogued them going back at least 75 years.
There have been 313 replenishment projects in New Jersey, 161 million cubic yards of sand over 883,380 feet of land. And that doesn’t count the restoration projects due to Hurricane Sandy.
- April 25, 2013
It seems Republicans and Democrats can come together to agree on some things, at least here in New Jersey. Regardless of gender or political persuasion, New Jerseyans seem to agree when it comes to the impact of Hurricane Sandy and what to do about the Jersey shore, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll released today.
For instance, 84 percent of New Jerseyans support encouraging landowners to rebuild homes and business further from the waterfront, regardless of whether they call themselves a Democrat or a Republican. More Democrats (61 percent) said they were strongly supportive of the idea, while only 52 percent of Republicans offered strong support. However, when combined with those who said they were in favor, just not strongly, both parties totaled 83 percent. (Independents tended to split the difference and brought the total to 84 percent.)
A similar trend was found when asked if public funds should be used to replenish sand and create wider beaches. A total of 73 percent of Democrats and 74 percent Republicans agreed, as did 69 percent of Independents. When asking about sand dunes or seawalls being built and maintained between buildings and the beach, almost all New Jerseyans agreed (Democrats 89 percent vs. 90 percent Republicans, although Democrats were more strongly in favor of the idea.)
Even when asked whether a waterfront town should be abandoned if repair and rebuilding were to cost the government too much, the two parties seem to be in relative agreement. About 58 percent of Republicans supported that idea, while only 51 percent of Democrats did.
- April 24, 2013
The American Lung Association’s 2013 report on air quality across the country finds that New Jersey’s air quality may be the best on record but over 95 percent of residents live in regions with failing grades for ozone smog.
Following a national long-term trend, four New Jersey counties improved their ratings for particle, or “soot,” pollution. The Philadelphia-Camden-Vineland region is no longer listed among the 25 worst regions in the country for short-term pollution, falling to 29th. But it ranks 11th for long-term pollution.
The New York-Newark-Bridgeport metropolitan area, which includes 13 of the state’s northern counties, was ranked 55th for short-term pollution and 45th for long term.
New Jersey didn’t perform as well when it came to smog -- 11 counties were given an “F” and three were awarded a “D”. The state was tied for 17th worst in the country. South Jersey improved its ranking from 16th to 20th.
Information about north Jersey is scheduled to appear today. The American Lung Association also provides a mobile app that tells the condition of the air on any given day.
- April 23, 2013
New Jersey saw 42,622 of its residents become naturalized citizens in 2012, giving them nearly all the same benefits and rights of native-born Americans. Nationally, the number of naturalized citizens was 757,434.
The largest group of naturalized citizens in New Jersey last year were born in Asia (13,995, including 5,318 from India, 2,520 from China, 2,495 from the Philippines, 1,816 from East Timor, and 1,152 from South Korea). That was followed by 11,576 from North America. Surprisingly, few North American naturalized citizens were from Canada (243) and Mexico (678), but instead were from Caribbean islands such as the Dominican Republic (5,355), Haiti (1,068), and Jamaica (1,017).
There were 8,003 South Americans naturalized in New Jersey last year, from countries like Peru (1,562), Ecuador (1,216), Chile (951), and Brazil (815). Europeans are still becoming citizens in large numbers (a total of 5,082 including 1,167 from Poland and 548 from Portugal). Africans (3,907) made up most of the rest (including 1,216 from Egypt and 650 from Nigeria).
With the exception of spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens, an applicant for naturalization must meet a large number of requirements, including having lived in the U.S. continuously for five years; be at least 18 years old; speak, read, and write English; and pass a history and civics test.
- April 22, 2013
The new requirements of the state’s Graduated Driving Laws prevented about 1,624 crashes by teen drivers in only its first year of implementation (2010-2011), according to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The legislation also resulted in an increase of about 14 percent in citations for young drivers. There are about 65,000 youths participating in New Jersey’s Graduated Driving Laws, also known as Kyleigh’s Law.
New Jersey was the first state in the nation to require probationary drivers to affix a highly visible decal on their license plates. This allows police to notice when a probationary driver is not following restrictions, such as driving at night or carrying more than one passenger in the car.
The research was named the “Most Influential Research Article of 2012" by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
- April 19, 2013
The Puchack Well Field Superfund site in Pennsauken Township, which was first discovered to be contaminated in the 1970s, is set to be cleaned up after the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection reached an agreement with SL Industries, Inc. and SL Surface Technologies, Inc. to provide the funding for the cleanup.
In addition to the $23 million, the companies agreed to reimburse the EPA another $10.7 million for past cleanup costs.
Six public drinking-water supply wells near the site had to be taken out of use due to the contamination. The soil is contaminated with hexavalent chromium and is contributing to ground water pollution. Hexavalent chromium may cause cancer, as well as other health problems.
Groundwater contamination was first discovered at a limited number of wells in the 1970s, and subsequent testing in the early 1980s found contamination in more wells. The well field was removed as a source of drinking water in 1984, and the field was placed on the Superfund list in 1998.
The EPA has a webpage on the site
- April 18, 2013
As New Jersey officials debate how to fund the state’s nursing homes, it’s interesting to note that as of 2010, there were 45,766 individuals in 362 facilities, according to statehealthfacts.org, a website maintained by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
That year, there was an 89 percent occupancy rate of a total 51,219 beds. Of these occupants, 63 percent relied on Medicaid as the primary payer; 19 percent privately paid; and 18 percent used Medicare.
The state has 69 percent for-profit nursing facilities, and 26 percent nonprofit. The government owns 6 percent of the facilities.
- April 17, 2013
Nearly 7,000 volunteers collected 350,000 pieces of debris at Clean Ocean Action’s 2012 “Beach Sweeps,” in which New Jersey citizens organize to collect garbage on the Jersey shore. The semiannual event has become New Jersey’s largest environmental function, according to COA. Last year’s fall event was conducted just nine days before Hurricane Sandy hit, making the need for beach cleanups even greater.
In general, plastic is the most common debris collected during beach sweeps, making up about 83 percent of the items. The number one item picked up in 2012 was a cigarette filter (49,362), followed by plastic pieces (43,777), caps and lids (38,349), food and candy wrappers (33,162), and pieces of foam (22,094.)
Volunteers also picked up a toilet seat, hair rollers, a girdle, surgical boots, seats, a fire extinguisher, and a fully decorated Christmas tree.
The next beach sweep is scheduled for April 27. More information on how to get involved is posted online.
- April 16, 2013
Despite Gov. Chris Christie’s continued popularity, voters in New Jersey poll to the left of his political views on many issues. A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll out today says that 76 percent of New Jerseyans support a constitutional amendment to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, a question that will be on the November ballot. Earlier this year, Christie vetoed similar legislation.
When it comes to same-sex marriage, another measure Christie has vetoed, 62 percent of participating New Jerseyans say they would vote "Yes" on the question if it was put on the ballot. Only 30 percent would vote "No," and even 58 percent of those who favor Christie say they would vote for its legalization.
Voters are at least 15 points more likely to support Democrats than Republicans for Assembly and Senate candidates, and of those who have an opinion, twice as many voters view the Democratic-controlled Legislature favorably rather than unfavorably (41 percent to 20 percent), with independents strongly backing the Democrats.
The same poll found Christie holding a 30 percent lead against his presumptive challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex).
- April 15, 2013
With many New Jerseyans placing their tax returns in the mail slot today, it should be remembered that the high tax burden for the Garden State is not a figment of the imagination. The nonpartisan but right-leaning Tax Foundation pegged New Jersey as 49th in the country in its 2013 state Business Tax Climate Index, moving up a notch from the past couple of years when it was ranked 50th. New York is now listed at 50.
But business taxes are not the reason for New Jersey’s poor showing in the index.
The state was ranked 40th in terms of corporate taxes, above such states as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Hampshire. The reasons for New Jersey bottom-hugging slot seem to be property taxes (New Jersey ranked 49th, after Connecticut) and state income taxes (the state ranked 48th). When it came to sales tax, New Jersey ranked 46th; for unemployment insurance, it came in 24th.
Most states had a more mixed tax picture. California, for instance, was near the bottom of every type of tax with the exception of property taxes, in which it ranked 17th. Massachusetts ranked only 15th in income taxes. Maryland was 8th when it came to sales taxes.
- April 12, 2013
New Jerseyans believe the quality of higher education in the Garden State is quite high, with 78 percent of them rating colleges in the state as good or better, according to a new poll by the Stockton Polling Institute, which is part of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Those responding to the poll were split on the issue of affordability, with 47 percent saying they believe New Jersey’s colleges were either affordable (45 percent) or very affordable (2.2 percent.) About 40 percent said they were unaffordable (32 percent) or very unaffordable (8 percent).
Despite this, 71 percent of respondents cited cost as the major obstacle to attending and completing college. Respondents were also split on the reasons behind the continual increases in tuition and fees. Salaries and benefits were cited by 28 percent of respondents; funding cuts were mentioned by 26 percent; the cost of new facilities and technology was the reason given by 15.3 percent.
How to fix it? Again, the responses were split, with 22.5 percent citing a cap on tuition at the inflation rate; more student aid offered by 22.4 percent; tighter cost controls by 22.1 and more state funding by 19.7 percent.
- April 11, 2013
Two federal tax credits designed to assist families financially, helped lift 106,000 children out of poverty in New Jersey in 2010, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning think tank based in the Garden State and its Washington, D.C., partner, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
According to research, the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) make these children more likely to attend college and earn more as adults.
The report indicated that the extra funds gained by these programs allow single mothers to work more hours; enables young children in low-income families to do better in school with each $1,000 in annual income; and increases the likelihood of higher earnings as an adult.
The study said that one of six (581,000) New Jersey households benefited from the EITC and 466,000 from the CTC in 2010.
- April 10, 2013
Fifty years after the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the gender wage gap remains a real issue in New Jersey as in the rest of the country, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families, from data derived from the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the Garden State, woman are paid 78 cents for every dollar a man is paid. The average pay for a woman who holds a full-time job is $47,155 per year, while the average wage for a male full-time worker is $60,568. New Jersey is marginally better than the rest of the country, where women are paid 77 cents to every dollar paid to men. The situation is worse for African-American women, who are paid 64 cents, and Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
In New Jersey, 431,155 households are headed by women.