Chris Christie Vetoes New Jersey Beach Smoking Ban

Chris Christie announced last night that he was vetoing a bill that would have banned smoking in most of New Jersey’s beaches and parks.

“While I appreciate the sponsors’ concerns regarding the risks posed by smoking and second-hand smoke, I am not persuaded that a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all State ban on smoking at public parks and beaches is advisable at this time,” Christie wrote in his veto statement. “Too often, policy-makers at more centralized levels of government encroach into areas of public policy previously reserved for local governing bodies.”

Yes, it sounds like Christie is using this statement to help set himself up for a presidential run as a small-government conservative.

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Missing N.J. Student Found Dead in Israel

A photograph of Aaron Sofer, 23, is nearby as people listen during a news conference Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in Lakewood, N.J.  AP | Mel Evans

A photograph of Aaron Sofer, 23, is nearby as people listen during a news conference Tuesday, August 26, 2014, in Lakewood, N.J. AP | Mel Evans

The body of a New Jersey yeshiva student was found in a Jeruslaem forest, Israeli authorities said. Aaron Sofer, 23, had been missing since last Friday after going for a hike.

Sofer is from Lakewood, which has a large Orthodox Jewish population. Earlier this week, Sofer’s parents offered a reward for his return in a video posted to social media. The family also demanded the IDF get involved. The New York Daily News reported Hamas militants were suspected, though there was no concrete evidence to a link.

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3 Days After Pro Debut, Atlantic City Boxer Charged with Killing

Police have made an arrest in the January 17th killing of Nelson Viera, one of three homicides in Atlantic City this year. Omar Curry, 24, has been charged with murder and weapons offenses.

Just three days before, Curry boxed at Bally’s Atlantic City. Curry and Marvin Johnson fought to a majority draw in the four-round pro debut for each of the fighters last Saturday in Atlantic City.

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Superintendent Stands Up for New Jersey Trans Teen Who Was Told She Had to Enroll in School as a Boy

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Yesterday I told you about Rachel Pepe, the 13-year-old transitioning transgender student who was told she would not be able to enroll at Thorne Middle School as female. In a shameful turn of events, the school told her that she would have to dress as and answer to her birth name, Brian.

Thankfully the school district’s superintendent, William O. George, is stepping in to make the transition easier for Pepe. Yesterday evening he announced that he would work with staff to ensure she could attend school as Rachel, and do what he could to create a safe environment for her. This includes having the staff undergo LGBT sensitivity training.

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Morning Headlines: Was Revel’s Design to Blame for Its Failure (VIDEO)

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Looking back at its two-year life (and the process leading up to it), it’s easy to see where things may have started to go downhill for the Revel Casino Hotel. But could one of the falling dominos that factored in its demise have been its design?

The Architect’s Newspaper recently published a piece pondering this question, and referred back to a New York Times article that pointed out Revel’s design issue last week:

But in terms of Revel, specifically, its design may have been its fatal flaw. “The enormous cost of the property, its vast size and its peculiar configuration—patrons had to ride a steep escalator from the lobby to get to the casino, the 57-story hotel and the restaurants—made it difficult to turn a profit,” reported the New York Times.

Indeed, this “peculiar configuration” did not go unnoticed by critics. In June, the Inquirer’s Harold Brubaker mentioned many felt Revel’s layout faults “include[d] a long distance between the casino floor and the hotel’s front desk, a casino floor that fails to engage gamblers, and vast empty spaces that make Revel expensive to heat and cool.”

One of said critics was Alan R. Woinski, chief executive of Gaming USA Corp., who happened to be interviewed by NPR just a few days ago, and had this to add about the shuttered resort: Read more »

Morning Headlines: Could Revel Live On As A Mixed-Use Property?

Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on June 5, 2013. The Revel opened on April 1, 2012 at a cost of 2.4 Billion dollars. Photo | Shutterstock.com

Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on June 5, 2013. The Revel opened on April 1, 2012 at a cost of 2.4 Billion dollars. Photo | Shutterstock.com

With no buyers in sight, the all-but-shuttered Revel Casino Hotel is set to close September 10th. And yet, there is one person who stills sees potential in the failed $2.4 billion casino resort. Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming Hospitality & Tourism, says the 47-story tower can live on if its not restricted to one use.

From the Philadelphia Business Journal:

“I don’t think of it as being limited to the vision of [just] a hotel, casino or resort. “Posner said. “It can be that, and is that, but its potential use is much broader than that … It’s simply looking at it without the blinders on as a hotel and resort.”

PBJ’s Francis Hilario reports Posner proposed the building “be used as a mixed-use commercial property,” and evoked an image of city-living, saying, “Imagine being able to live above the office where you work [...] It’s like living on a main street where your apartment is upstairs.”

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Drive-By Shooter Fires 7 Shots into Police Station

A drive-by shooter fired seven times at the West Depford police department headquarters around Tuesday morning, police said. The shooter used a larger-caliber weapon, somewhere around 40 caliber.

At a Tuesday morning news conference, West Deptford police said they believe an officer or the police department in general were targeted.

“This was a drive-by shooting,” Deputy Police chief Sean McKenna said. “I definitely think that a police officer or the police officers were targeted. I don’t think this is a threat to any of our residents or businesses.” The seventh shot went into McKenna’s window.

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Jim McGreevey Reflects on 10th Anniversary of Coming Out

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It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey made his “I am a gay American” speech—unless you look at how far he’s (and we’ve) come since his scandal-ridden term as governor. In a new article published this weekend in The Courier-Post, McGreevey and other politicians reflect on how his revelation influenced younger generations of politicians, and shines a spotlight on McGreevey’s unlikely career change.

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