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Kean doled out $19 million to administrators in 2014

By Cheryl Hehl, Staff Writer

UNION COUNTY , NJ — Last year at Kean University, there were 170 administrators paid approximately $19 million in taxpayer dollars for working at a variety of positions. The highest paid was university president Dawood Farahi, who not only earned $293,550 last year but also took home a longevity bonus of $200,000.

The longevity bonus was the result of a rider the Kean Board of Trustees made to Farahi’s contract in 2008, guaranteeing him a $200,000 bonus if he stayed five years. That payment came due in 2014 and, as promised, Farahi was paid the bonus in addition to his regular annual salary of $293,550.

Although the university is still close to $330 million in debt, Kean just announced that they hired two more administrators, or senior managers, and promoted two others. The new hires are in addition to the 170 administrators already on staff.


Kean U. to lay off 54 union workers, outsource cleaning services

By Kelly Heyboer | NJ Advance Media for

UNION — Kean University will lay off 54 full-time employees and hire an outside vendor to clean and maintain its campus, school officials said today.

The university’s board of trustees approved a plan Monday night to outsource housekeeping and grounds maintenance services on its Union campus. The move is expected to save the public university $3.45 million annually and save additional money on supplies and equipment.


Construction ahead of schedule on TCNJ $120M Campus Town project

By Cristina Rojas | Times of Trenton


Lentine said the project is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working well together. The New Jersey Economic Stimulus Act of 2009 gave TCNJ the authority to bypass public bidding laws and enter into a partnership with a PRC.

“PRC has basically become the expert in public-private partnerships in the state of New Jersey,” he said, adding that he has been approached by a number of colleges and universities. “It’s been exciting and we’re hoping that we can help other colleges do the same thing.”

A major advantage is that PRC takes on the financial risk of the project without burdening the college or taxpayers, he said.

“The college can now take the money they would have allocated to improve their dorms and facilities and put it into education,” he said.

One challenge, however, has been acknowledging that the college and developer speak two different languages.

“We want to make a decision and move forward,” Lentine said. “The university tends to want to form committees and have input from everybody.”


Chris Christie’s bold plan to remake public schools is running into trouble

By Lyndsey Layton

NEWARK — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went on a publicity blitz when he vowed to fix this city’s struggling schools with the most expansive re-engineering of urban education anywhere in the country.

He told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 that Newark would become a “national model.” He said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the plan would be “paradigm shifting.” And he took ownership when community leaders began to complain about some of the plan’s controversial elements — bragging last year about the day he faced down Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who had been elected on the promise to fight Christie’s schools plan.

“I’m the decider,” Christie said he told Baraka. “You have nothing to do with it.’

But five years after Christie launched what could have been a career-defining policy initiative for an aspiring future president, city leaders are in revolt. On Wednesday, a band of city, county and state elected officials, along with leaders from the NAACP and others, will board a train bound for Washington for a meeting with Obama administration officials. Newark parents have filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the plan, called “One Newark,” disproportionately affects African Americans, and the local officials plan to ask the administration to help halt a plan they say has thrown their city into chaos.

The plan, which fully took effect during this academic year, essentially blew up the old system. It eliminated neighborhood schools in favor of a citywide lottery designed to give parents more choices. It prompted mass firings of principals and teachers, and it led to numerous school closures and a sharp rise in the city’s reliance on charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.

Many families saw their children spread among multiple schools or sent across town. The scattering has been problematic for a city divided along gang lines, where four in 10 residents don’t own cars.

In addition, state test scores have stayed the same or even declined. Amid protests, Christie’s hand-picked Newark superintendent, Cami Anderson, faces calls for her removal — even from some of her onetime allies.


Newark to feds: “Somebody has got to pay attention!”

A delegation of some 25 political, union, civil rights, and religious leaders is scheduled to meet Wednesday with “senior officials” of the US education department in an effort to force federal intervention in the state-operated Newark school district. The trek to Washington, DC, was announced with rhetoric invoking the city’s and the nation’s history of both racial discrimination and the discord it provoked.


14 unions make common cause in suit against Christie

By Max Pizarro

Fourteen unions under the auspices of the New Jersey AFL-CIO announced today that they want to take Governor Chris Christie to court to compel him to make New Jersey Annual Required Contribution to the pension system for FY 2016.

The suit presses Christie to follow the 2011 pension law he signed, specifically the requirements of Chapter 78.

“This governor’s continuing disregard for his own pension funding law leaves us no choice but to go back to court to resume this fight in court on behalf of hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers who make their full pension contributions and depend on the modest income they earn in retirement,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, in the aftermath of the governor’s budget address last week. “This governor’s illegal underfunding has brought the pension system to the brink of crisis and resulted in more credit downgrades than any previous governor in history. It’s a shame that this governor has decided to spend all his time courting Iowa caucus-goers, not addressing the serious problems plaguing his home state.”

Leaders of three large unions that will be part of the lawsuit shared their reactions:

American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) President Donna M. Chiera: “The governor needs to meet his obligation so future generations of teachers, nurses and public safety workers can care for themselves after long productive careers of caring for others. New Jersey’s working families and the court plainly see that the Governor’s manufactured budget shortfall is a result of his refusal to hold millionaires and large corporations accountable to contribute their fair share to the State’s Treasury.”


Unions say they’ll sue Christie over pension payments

By Dustin Racioppi, State House Bureau, The Record

Fourteen unions – including the largest teachers’ organization that signed on to Governor Christie’s outline for further pension reform — announced Tuesday that they intend to file a lawsuit to require the governor to comply with the reforms he signed into law four years ago.

The announcement comes after the governor announced in his budget address last week that he plans to drastically reform the current pension and health benefits system by freezing current public employee pensions and converting to a 401(k)-style plan. In his address, Christie touted an “unprecedented accord” with the New Jersey Education Association, who had been a longtime adversary but backed the framework for the governor’s proposal.

But Tuesday’s announcement by the unions may strike a blow to that accord. The association’s president, Wendell Steinhauer, said in a statement that “it’s time to return to the rule of law in our state and to protect the future of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey families.”

Christie’s 2016 budget includes a $1.3 billion pension system payment, less than half of what was agreed upon in the 2011 reforms he led and signed into law. Christie has also cut the pension payments in his last two budgets.

The administration is also considering an appeal to a Superior Court judge’s ruling last month that required Christie and the Legislature to find a way to restore $1.6 billion in pension funding for the current fiscal year. That ruling was the result of lawsuits brought by unions following earlier cuts to the pension funds.


Unions to sue Christie over shortchanged pension payment in proposed 2016 budget

By Samantha Marcus, NJ Advance Media for

TRENTON — More than a dozen unions today announced they plan to sue Gov. Chris Christie to force him to increase next year’s payment into the public worker pension system.

Christie’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins this July, which he introduced last week amid a call for sweeping new pension reforms, includes a $1.3 billion pension payment. That’s nearly double this year’s contribution but still far below what Christie agreed to under a 2011 pension overhaul.

That 2011 overhaul promised workers higher contributions — ramping up to the full payment recommended by actuaries. In exchange, workers have paid more for health and pension benefits, the state suspended cost-of-living increases and the retirement age was raised.

This lawsuit could be expected to mirror a suit filed last summer and decided just last week that argued those payments were contractually protected and Christie broke the law he signed when he slashed them.

“This governor’s continuing disregard for his own pension funding law leaves us no choice but to go back to court to resume this fight in court on behalf of hundreds of thousands of public-sector workers who make their full pension contributions and depend on the modest income they earn in retirement,” New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said in a statement.


Petition To Stop The Closure Of The Lebanon Worker’s Compensation Court

We understand it has been proposed to close the Lebanon Worker’s Compensation Court, located in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. It has also been proposed that the matters venued in the Lebanon Court will be heard in Mount Arlington (Morris County) and New Brunswick (Middlesex County).

The closure of the Workers’ Compensation Court in Lebanon will result in there being no Workers’ Compensation Court serving the Counties of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren.

We believe it is wrong to close the Lebanon Court. It violates statutory law, which allows cases to be heard either in the county in which the injury occurred, or in which the petitioner or respondent resides, or in which the respondent’s place of business is located.

We understand that the Workers’ Compensation Court in Lebanon was created as part of a settlement. The Lebanon Court was considered to be a central location or “regional court” and was agreed to in lieu of filing a lawsuit against the State to compel the State to keep separate Courts in each County, as required by Statute. The proposed closure of the Lebanon Court violates that agreement.

The closure of the Lebanon Court will directly affect injured workers residing in Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties who will now be required to travel sixty (60) to ninety (90) minutes each way just to get to a Workers’ Compensation Court.

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Video: Nine Months of #ReclaimRutgers

Working together with students and community for a fair contract. Shows campus events from June 2014 through Feb. 2015.

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