All Articles Tagged "New Jersey"

Is The Neighborhood You Live In Setting You Up For Failure?

March 14th, 2016 - By Deja Jones
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I live in one of those cities where once you leave, you don’t come back voluntarily. It’s one of those places where it’s instilled in you that to be successful you have to leave. So I did. I left in 2007. But years later, I found myself in one of those financial situations that placed me back in the city I worked so hard to leave and stay away from. 

As I drove down familiar streets of my past, I lost count of the multitude of abandoned but once beautiful houses that lined the streets. I couldn’t help but notice the emptiness of the once lively neighborhoods, the cold and distant vibes I was feeling. It was disheartening. Life in a lost city.

I live in Trenton, New Jersey, a city with a population of a little over 80,000 with more than half at or below the poverty line. When you think of ‘hood life and all of its casualties, the things you might zone in on are gang violence, gun violence, and the mounting issues of police brutality. You might think of the rising population of homeless people, the lack of resources. But what is very present that you might not pay attention to are the things that seem convenient, but are also detrimental. You might not notice that for every block you pass, there’s a liquor store. You might not realize that you can count the number of McDonald’s restaurants, Burger Kings and Wendy’s eateries on two hands less than five miles of each other. You might not recognize the vast amounts of chicken shacks within walking distance of each other. Nothing healthy. Nothing all that useful. But it’s clearly the norm. 

My first few months back in Trenton, I found myself wondering what exactly I could do to keep myself entertained–aside from packing on the pounds eating at the fast food joints. After asking people I know in Trenton, the consensus was “nothing.” In the state capitol of New Jersey, somehow, there’s nothing to do here (and boy, does that statement have a broad meaning). 

Blame it on the city of Newark, in its early stages of gentrification, for spoiling me. There seemed to be so much to do there. Out of nowhere, Newark started to sprout with cafes, art galleries, gyms, community events and festivals. An attempt was being made to revitalize the large city. But what about Trenton? 

No such attempts are being made. Upon my return, I noticed the lack of social activities, diverse food options, fitness facilities and health awareness & education programs. The sprinkling of positive recreational activities for residents. I observed the overall emotional state of this now dilapidated city. The quality of life went downhill a while ago, and people aren’t really doing anything about it. 

I got to thinking about how so many urban cities like Trenton set their residents up for failure, cities that do nothing to boost the quality of life or morale of its taxpayers. Cities that often leave their inhabitants to fend for themselves. Since being here, I’ve become dormant and often find myself hopping on the first train to Newark when I need to see something different, experience something offbeat, and really, just need a breather. I live in a city without balance. And perhaps the change starts with us, the residents. But I’m often left wondering how many people feel the way that I do. How many are comfortable with their circumstances. And how many are focused on the traditional plan we were taught growing, to get out by any mean’s necessary, as opposed to staying and working on bettering the community. 

Is “Redevelopment” Of A City Really Just A Fancy Word For Gentrification?

October 7th, 2015 - By Deja Jones
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Newark PF


Urban development is something that has always been at the top of the political agenda for many cities ridden with crime, poverty and homelessness. Most would see redevelopment as a way to tackle some of these issues. With the redevelopment of downtown Newark, Jersey City, parts of New York City, D.C., Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans, some people are excited. But some of the long-standing residents of these cities fear that what is really going on is gentrification that will leave many displaced in their own towns.

Almost a decade ago, I moved to the city of Newark to start my new life and go to school. Although my college campus was a sumptuous place, downtown Newark, and its surrounding areas, were a totally different place, an entirely different story. Moving to Jersey’s largest metropolitan city from Trenton, the state’s capital, I saw it as me moving from one ‘hood to a larger ‘hood. It had the same city aesthetics with the homeless loitering in front of stores, the thugs lurking the streets, petty crimes, homicide. The usual. And yet, there I was on a pretty campus smack in the center of it all being warned not to stray too far from the “safe zone.” But I often did.

Back then, the downtown area was an urban mecca of Black and Indian-owned businesses, pawn shops, chicken shacks, Dr. Jay’s stores and other urban wear and sneaker shops. It felt like I never left home. Newark was great to me, but the truth was that it had never recovered from the riots of the ’60s. And with all its White and upper-class residents fleeing to the surrounding cities of Maplewood and South Orange, Newark became an oasis for the lower class.

Today, Newark, N.J., home of the New Jersey Devils, Prudential Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), has seen a vast transformation. In the last four years, luxury lofts, artisan restaurant chains, a growing nightlife and a charter school system have all popped up. It’s also seen a mass migration of what some would consider the “hipster” Whites inhabiting the downtown area. Living in a neutral area, I take the bus to the South Ward for work every day, a place considered to be the worst part of Newark. It doesn’t take long on my bus route to see the city go from lofts, fancy restaurants and a tourist area to the slums with vacant, boarded-up housing.  It’s unsettling.

There have been many debates about the changes in Newark. Some believe that the revitalization of the city, or “Newark 3.0” as they call it, could potentially cause more harm to those who live within a particular means on the socioeconomic ladder. Some even question if Newark is becoming more and more like Brooklyn with the redesign of Military Park and the establishment of Hotel Indigo and Teacher’s Village apartments. A change has come, and not everyone is happy about it.

As a young professional, it leaves me at a crossroads. On the one hand, I think that the beautification and redevelopment of the city of Newark will help to create more job opportunities thanks to the increase in businesses. It will increase the city’s population, improve the overall well-being of Newark and expand the resources offered. However, as someone who identifies with lower-paid working-class citizens, there is the risk of isolating a particular demographic, and that could produce high concentrations of crime and poverty. And, of course, when city value increases, so do rent prices and taxes. It makes me wonder how much worse Newark is going to get on the other side of the tracks. Already, housing developments are being shut down due to them being deemed unlivable. Public school buildings are at capacity due to several institutions sharing one building. Community centers and organizations are going out of business. Yes, change has come indeed, but it’s not a good change for everyone.

Even though Newark is rebuilding for the first time post-riots, what about the people in the areas off of the radar? I understand that the alleged agenda is to revive the city, but what are the costs that come with that? Is revitalization really just a fancy euphemism for gentrification?

3-Year-Old Boy Struck And Killed In Newark Police Chase

September 12th, 2015 - By Ashley Monaé
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It has been reported by authorities that a 3-year-old boy was struck and killed during a police chase in Newark, New Jersey on Friday (Sept. 11) morning. According to CBS, the toddler was on his way to day care with his mother in a residential neighborhood when the tragic crash occurred.

According to authorities, police officers were trying to stop a 22-year-old man who was wanted on aggravated assault and weapon charges dating back to May. The police spotted him near 15th Avenue and Seventh Street around 7:40 a.m. and tried to pull him over. The suspect did not stop.

The young man hit a car on 15th Avenue, which resulted in his car mounting the same curb the mother and son were walking on. The child, Rahmere Tullis, was pronounced dead on the scene.

“I don’t know what’s going on in this moment; all I know is I’m missing my son and my son is gone,” Cordel Tullis, Rahmere’s father said.

The driver, who has been identified as Troy Ruff, was immediately arrested after hitting Tullis, according to authorities. He has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and eluding police, in addition to the charges he faced back in May. While Ruff’s bail was set at $500,000, it is unknown if he has an attorney or not.

“The tragic and unnecessary death of the three-year-old child struck by a felony vehicle this morning weighs heavy on the hearts of every law enforcement officer from each agency in the city tasked to protect the citizens of Newark. In the trying days to come for the Tullis family, we in the law enforcement community offer our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family,” he continued.” Police Director Eugene Venable offered in a statement.

Watch the video above as Cordel Tullis speaks on the tragic crash that took the life of his son.


Applying For A Job In New Jersey? There’s No Need To Provide Your Social Media Passwords

December 2nd, 2013 - By Raven Carter
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From Black Enterprise

Recruiters and employers have used social media to vet employees, and many workers have had to deal with the potential fallout of access and issues of privacy in the name of landing —or keeping—a gig.

In many cases, prospective employers have requested usernames and passwords to get information, posing even more of an issue for workers who may not want their boss privy to their messages, updates and hidden photos.

Well, now, New Jersey workers can look forward to no more snooping, as, according to reports, the state’s new law barring employers from asking for social media account passwords has finally gone into effect.

Read more about this victory for privacy on

We Can Dig It: Bruno Mars Rumored To Headline the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show!

September 7th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Adriana M. Barraza /

Adriana M. Barraza /

Bruno Mars’ star is shining bright and it looks like things are about to get even brighter. He’s expected to be announced as the performer for the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show!

While Bruno is quite the entertainer, this one comes as a bit of a surprise.  But according to sources who spoke with the Los Angeles Times, said the big announcement could come as soon as Sunday (this is week one of the 2013-2014 NFL season).  If he gets the gig as the big act for the Super Bowl Halftime Show, his stock would easily skyrocket through the roof. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events.

The Times says that neither the NFL nor Fox (they carry the Super Bowl on their station for all of you non-sportsnistas) would comment on Bruno taking the stage by storm, but an NFL spokesman did say that both Miley Cyrus and Janet Jackson have been “ruled out as performers.”

They still have Janet “jokes,” huh? Moving on.

The 2014 Super Bowl will be taking place in New Jersey at the Met Life Stadium, home to both the New York Giants and New York Jets, and since that announcement, there’s been a lot of talk about what local is big enough and current enough to hold down that stage.  Bruce Springsteen is almost always in that conversation but he likely wouldn’t be able to keep the attention of younger viewers. So it looks like they completely scrapped the idea of a local act and just went with someone who could likely please everyone

There’s something about Bruno Mars and his shows that makes people of any age love him. He appears to be charismatic, put on an electric show and almost always sounds great. His Moonshine Jungle tour has received rave reviews and there’s no doubt that if he kicked it up a few notches, his show would be perfect for a 15 minute performance on the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

His career is still in its semi-early stages but he just might be ready for this.

What do you think? Would you be excited to see Bruno Mars as the performer during the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show?

Former Fugees Director Gets 90 Years In Prison For Raping And Impregnating His Daughters

July 29th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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His name is Aswad Ayinde, director of the MTV Video Music Award winning Fugees video, “Killing Me Softly,” and aside from some serious jail time, Ayinde needs the butt-whooping of a lifetime.

We told you earlier in the year about the “Killing Me Softly” director around the time his second of five trials had started. It was reported today that he was given 50 years in prison for his actions, which included raping one of his daughters since she was eight years old, and impregnating her four different times. Ayinde was accused of sexually assaulting five of his seven daughters and impregnating some of them, bringing about six children, so that he could create a “pure bloodline.” A few months ago, his wife, Beverly Ayinde, recounted her life with the director, including his control over herself and their children:

“He equaled himself to being a prophet. As time went on, he was god-like. I had to call him, ‘my god.’ He equated himself to Jesus Christ … He would sit us all down and lecture us about his greatness and his power … At another point, he equated himself to Prince and Michael Jackson.”

Not only did Ayinde sexually assault his daughters many times, he also walked around his family’s home unclothed according to testimony, and he even made lewd comments about his children in front of Beverly. This includes a time where he told her that spirits were telling him that he should perform oral sex on the victim of this second case when she was just eight years old. Beverly claims she didn’t call police because he threatened to kill the girls, and according to reports, all of his sexual assaults went on for 30 years in different homes (and even an abandoned funeral home), until Beverly left her husband. But despite all that, it was his daughters that went to the police in 2006. As the victim from this second trial put it, “We found out we had other siblings, young siblings, and we had to put him to a stop. Even though we were healing, they could still fall victim.” She’s probably referring to the 12 other children Ayinde had with other women over the years. Ayinde was also accused of beating his daughters and brought some of the children they had into the world in the family home, with at least two dying in the home and being buried without authorities knowing at the time.

Though he was given 50 years for his crimes against his daughter on Friday, in 2010, he was sentenced to 40 years for assault for raping and impregnating another one of his daughters (hence the 90). The women impregnated were given separate trials, so that’s why Ayinde has three more to face. The daughter from this second trial, now 35, has had two children from her father who have genetic illnesses caused by incest (and reportedly had four in total with one dying of spinal muscular atrophy). She is doing better these days, and she even went back to school to study communications. But she took time out to speak out against her father, and to him, at his trial in New Jersey on Friday as he prepared for another sentencing by saying, “I can’t describe how much you hurt me and my sisters.” The last time Ayinde tried to assault this particular victim, was in 2003.

While 90+ years in prison sounds like a hell of a punishment, what God has in store for this man is on a whole other level…


Miraculous: 5 Year Old Saves Father’s Life Using His ABCs

May 20th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: NBC

Source: NBC

Heroism has no age. And 5 year old Nathaniel Dancy Jr., a New Jersey kindergartener, proved that this past Monday when he saved his father’s life.

Nathaniel and his father had been out all day, going to the movies and shopping for school shoes, when Nathaniel Dancy Sr. began having a stroke and aneurysm while driving. Somehow he was able to pull the car off the highway and into a parking lot before he lost function.

From there little Nathaniel took his father’s cell phone and called his grandmother who often takes care of him while his mother is at work. In the middle of the conversation Nathaniel Jr. hung up the phone. His grandmother called him back and put his mother on 3-way.

When the women tried to ask him where he was, he had trouble pronouncing the name of a nearby store. So they asked him to spell the name of it. That’s when Nathaniel said: “F-U-R-N-I-T-U-R-E,” the number 22 and then told them they had just gone through a tunnel, which was a highway overpass.

Nathaniel’s grandmother went to a nearby firehouse to find out where they might have been. They told her and then she dialed 911while her daughter rushed over to a parking lot at 22 Furniture Gallery on Route 22 in Hillside, N.J.

The ambulance arrived shortly after Nathaniel’s mom did.

Nathaniel Sr. was taken to the hospital where he is still in intensive care, on a feeding tube. Dancy Sr., 33, had been taking high blood pressure medicine before the incident.

In an interview with NBC New York, little Nathaniel’s mother, Janel Blackman, had this to say about Nathaniel Sr.’s condition and Nathaniel Jr.’s efforts:

“He is still in the hospital, still trying to survive. They did in fact save him just in time. I congratulated Nathaniel for being so heroic and helping his dad, and at the same time, his dad was a hero, too. To be in the midst of a stroke and know to get off the highway and get yourself and your child to safety is amazing, especially when you’ve lost feeling in half of your body.”

Nathaniel Jr. is the youngest of five brothers and sisters and is a kindergartener at West Side Park Elementary School, a charter school in Newark.

His mother says Nathaniel is very smart and has great diction. She says listening to him speak, you would never guess he’s just five. She says he’s on a third grade level and can spell words and understand concepts average elementary school students cannot.

Blackman told NBC she has yet to take Nathaniel to see his father in the hospital.

“I don’t think that it’s sunk in to him. He just thought his dad needed help. He’s not aware of the full severity of the situation. They are very close, and I don’t know the traumatic side effects it could have on him.

“I said to him, ‘Daddy might not be the same daddy you remember,’ and he said, ‘I hope my dad doesn’t end up in a wheelchair.’ It just melted my heart. He’s just so compassionate as a little guy.”


And It Just Keeps Getting Worse… Lauryn Hill Sued For Eviction On Top Of Tax Troubles

April 19th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Poor Lauryn Hill. If it ain’t one thing it’s another with her — although I’m wondering when she’s going to learn that people don’t play when it comes to their money. We all know the Grammy-Award winning singer is in major trouble with the IRS, having pled guilty to tax fraud last year. Now she’s being sued for eviction by her landlord and could find herself out on the street.

According to TMZ, Lauryn’s been renting a mansion in South Orange, NJ, since 2009, but apparently stopped paying rent last month. As a result, her landlord went to court to file a legal ultimatum demanding that she pay up or get out. Apparently she still hasn’t paid, so the landlord is moving ahead with the eviction lawsuit.

Unlike Lauryn’s odd reasoning for not paying her taxes — she claimed she had received frightening threats — she likely has a somewhat decent reasoning for not paying her rent. According to TMZ, next week Lauryn will be sentenced for tax fraud and since she’s facing several years in federal prison, paying rent likely isn’t at the top of her list of priorities — if she even has the cash to pay. Still, the landlord needs his money too and it’s not the smartest move to add more money woes on top of others. Let’s just hope her babies have somewhere to stay for the time being and after if, unfortunately, she goes to prison.

Well We Know Where The First Cut Is Going: $338 Million Powerball Winner Owes $29K In Child Support

March 29th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: AP

Source: AP

Oh, Pedro. Just when the world was getting ready to offer congratulations to 44-year-old Pedro Quezada, the New Jersey man who won the $338 million Powerball jackpot Tuesday, news comes out that he’s something like a deadbeat dad. According to CBS News, Mr. Quezada owes $29,000 in back child support.

“[A]uthorities said Quezada owed child support payments that go back to 2009. It’s not known which of Quezada’s five children, who range in age from 5 to 23-years-old, are covered under the payments.”

I wonder if that child is who the Dominican Republic native was referring to when he said he wanted to use his earnings to help those in need? On Tuesday when he claimed a lump-sum payment worth $221 million –$152 million after taxes, which is the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history —  Quezada said he hadn’t made up his mind on what to do with the money, but he could “use a good car and give back to his community and ‘help those in need,'” CBS stated.

Regardless of whether he had child support payments in mind or not, authorities intend on making sure that $29K gets shelled out. According to CBS:

A spokesman for Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik said the sheriff’s office’s warrant squad is attempting to find Quezada to resolve the matter.

Spokesman Bill Maer also said the state Lottery Division generally satisfies such judgments before winnings are released. He added that Quezada is subject to potential arrest like everyone else until the warrant is satisfied.

Anyone else hear Biggie’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems” playing in their ear?

What’s The 411, Hon? Mary J. Blige Hit With A Tax Lien!

February 17th, 2013 - By Drenna Armstrong
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Mary, this is…out of hand.

In documents obtained by TMZ, singer Mary J. Blige has been hit with a tax lien by the state of New Jersey. The documents state that Mary owes the government $901,769.65 in back taxes.  They didn’t state what years the IRS is seeking back pay but she’s probably missed at least two years.

This is just the latest string of financial problems and embarrassments for Mary.  It was just over a week ago that we told you she defaulted on a loan from Bank of America and now owes them over $500,000. When she was asked about it, she said was that all she can do is just keep pushing on on and “let haters hate.” Ahhh yes, those haters sure do know how to get you in alleged financial trouble, don’t they?

But even prior to that, she defaulted on a $2.2 million dollar loan and  before that, she was sued because of her charity not paying back money.

It would seem like when you suddenly find yourself in major situations like this on an almost consistent basis, not only would you fire your accountants (even if they’re flesh and blood), but you might also consider taking some accounting classes so you can figure out how to go over the books yourself.  There just doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for these things to keep happening.

TMZ reached out to Mary’s reps but so far, they’ve received no response.