Public Administration

Policy Discussions at the Annual Conference of the League of Municipalities – Atlantic City hosted the annual New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference from Nov. 14-16 of this year. The ACLU led the first-ever panel of NJ caucuses of color, including the Legislative Black Caucus, the Legislative Latino Caucus, and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus to establish a collective agenda, discussing intersectional issues such as policing, juvenile justice reform, and immigration. A panel of high-ranking state legislators discussed priorities for the upcoming ‘lame duck’ session, including property tax relief, judicial vacancies, and affordable housing. They also discussed the issue of open records legislation. Some view the current policy as too restrictive while others are concerned about increasing costs as more people submit requests and for-profit companies use the process for data mining. The lawmakers also discussed revamping the current liquor licensing process, an area in which Governor Murphy hopes to institute broad changes. New policy must balance efforts to relax restrictions with fairness to those who have already invested significant resources in obtaining licenses according to current regulations. (Sources: NJ Spotlight News; NJ Spotlight News)

Court Rules Juries Cannot Automatically Exclude Police Officers – A NJ state appellate court ruled on Nov. 16 that police officers cannot be automatically excluded from juries in counties where they serve. Longstanding NJ Supreme Court rules restrict the circumstances under which police officers may serve on juries, but the new decision establishes they may not be categorically excluded “for cause.” The case on appeal considered a 2021 Hoboken assault, for which William J. Silvers III was convicted and sentenced to five years. Silvers’ public defenders appealed the decision based on poor investigation and the inclusion of two police officers on the jury. The court rejected their arguments. (Source:


Mixed Results as School Districts Vote on School Safety Measures – On election day, five NJ school districts voted in referendums on whether to increase school security measures in their schools, yielding mixed results. School safety has been on the ballot nationwide, especially as incidents like the Uvalde school shooting in May 2022 spark fear. A defeated proposal in the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District would have allocated $2.72 million to purchasing safety equipment and hiring retired police officers to protect each school. A River Vale, Bergen County proposal for $230,000 to hire three armed guards was also defeated. Voters in the Hillsborough School District approved the creation of a district-wide security department, allocating $934,636 to do so. A referendum in the School District of the Chathams in Morris County to allocate $850,000 to install security vestibules and improve security infrastructure also passed. Clinton Township voters approved the funding of a school resource officer from the town’s police department but rejected the creation of a second school resource office. (Source:

Advocates Call for Action on Bill for Safety Plans for Students with Disabilities – In March 2022, NJ senator Shirley Turner introduced to the state senate bill S2057, which would require schools to plan for the specific needs of students with disabilities in emergency situations. The Senate approved the legislation on June 26, and sent it to the Assembly, where it remains. Current policy requiring emergency safety plans and drills in schools only mentions that staff must “[assist] the special needs population.” Accounts of inadequate staff training and equipment to assist students with disabilities in emergency situations have spurred calls for specific security plans, and advocates hope to see the assembly review the legislation in the ‘lame duck’ session beginning Nov. 20, 2023. (Source: NJ Herald)


Port Authority to Raise Tolls to Pay for Capital Improvements – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed a $9.3 billion 2024 budget, $1 billion higher than 2023’s budget, allotting $1 billion for increased safety and cybersecurity measures and $220 million for climate resiliency and flood mitigation efforts. $3.6 billion would go towards capital projects, including design for a new Midtown Bus Terminal, a tap-and-go payment system for the PATH train, and improving the regional airports and the AirTrain. To pay for this, the Port Authority will raise tolls at bridge and tunnel crossings by 63 cents and increase the AirTrain fare by 25 cents. A public comment period will last until Dec. 14, 2023. (Source: NJ Spotlight News)


Atlantic City Housing Authority to Demolish Public Housing Development – A Nov. 16 meeting of the Atlantic City Housing Authority Board of Commissioners yielded a unanimous resolution to demolish a 420-unit public housing community, Stanley Holmes Village. The Authority may now submit a Section 18 demolition and disposition application. Over 90 tenants have sued the Authority over neglect that has led to unsafe housing conditions. On Nov. 10, the lawyer representing the tenant plaintiffs proposed to the presiding judge rent abatements for tenants over the past three years – 100% during the winter months, when heat and hot water are often out, and 60% during summer months, when the lawyer argued the tenants must live with risk of gas leaks. U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Nov. 12 calling for the agency to take over the Authority after an audit found 75 violations of federal standards. (Sources: Press of Atlantic City; Press of Atlantic City; NJ Spotlight News)