New Jersey

  • What is the secret to success in Major League Baseball? In the case of former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder Lenny Dykstra, it could be gay extortion. TMZ reports.

  • ASBURY PARK - (AP) - Thousands turned out for Asbury Park's 23rd annual gay pride parade.

  • TRENTON, N.J. -- For the second time in nine months, a federal judge in New Jersey has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on gay conversion therapy.

  • TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says it shouldn't be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether states allow gay marriage.

  • Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill this week that would have eased the process by which transgender individuals can change the gender markers on their birth certificates.

  • During Chris Christie's first term as governor, he made tax incentives a cornerstone of a promised "New Jersey Comeback" that would lure new businesses to the state. With New Jersey's job growth still poor at the beginning of his second term last year, the governor doubled down.

    New Jersey's Economic Development Authority has handed out more than $2 billion in tax breaks since 2014, more than the total amount issued during the decade before Christie took office.

    The aid has gone disproportionately to businesses in Camden, a city of 77,000 that ranks among the nation's most impoverished. Development projects in the city received $630 million in future tax breaks last year. Because of those grants, Christie said in his State of the State address, Camden is "seeing a new tomorrow."

    As Christie considers a Republican presidential campaign, the prospect of a renaissance for heavily Democratic Camden would offer a useful counterpoint to New Jersey's lackluster economic performance. But a closer look at the grants - which will amount to nearly four times Camden's annual budget - indicates they may do less for the city than advertised and more for Christie's political alliances. The state law that set up the more generous grant program was adopted in 2013 by a Democrat-controlled legislature and signed by Christie.

    Most of the jobs coming to Camden are filled by existing employees who currently work just a few miles away. One tax break exceeded the value of the company that received it. Another went to a developer who owes New Jersey millions of dollars in long-unpaid loans. And nearly all the recipients boast notable political connections - either through an affiliation with a prominent southern New Jersey power broker, Democrat George Norcross, or through donations to Christie and the Republican Governors Association during his tenure overseeing it.

    New Jersey's Camden incentives raise questions about his administration's stewardship of New Jersey's finances - and whether Christie's claims of revitalizing Camden will resonate with Republican voters opposed to corporate welfare. For conservatives, incentives buck the free market and could undermine New Jersey's prospects for legitimate tax reform.

    "Giving huge subsidies to companies moving from the suburbs of Camden to the city is just off-the-charts crazy territory," said Michael Doherty, a Republican state senator. "If you're a high-profile individual, you can get the EDA to make decisions to your benefit."

    Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said in an email that critics of the tax breaks "offer no alternative plans for creating jobs, growing the economy or renewing our urban centers."

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    Driving the 4 miles from Subaru's current U.S. headquarters in Cherry Hill to its new home in nearby Camden takes eight minutes. Tax credits granted by the state of New Jersey will make that trip worth nearly $118 million for the company.

    Subaru's short trip is not an exception: Most of New Jersey's incentives for Camden have gone to projects shifting existing employees from nearby locations. Holtec International Inc., a manufacturer of nuclear reactor components, is receiving $260 million for relocating 160 nearby jobs and adding 235 more. Cooper University Hospital will receive $40 million, mostly for returning 353 employees that it previously moved to the suburbs. The Philadelphia 76ers will receive $82 million for bringing 250 jobs across the Delaware River, just a few thousand feet from the Pennsylvania state line.

    The low bar for incentive payouts is justified due to Camden's dire circumstances, said Timothy Lizura, president of the Economic Development Authority.

    A top economist at Rutgers University's Center for Urban Policy Research, Nancy Mantell, said: "It always concerns me that you're just moving people around, not creating anything particularly new to the regional economy. And this is not going to help the places the companies left."

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    The scale of New Jersey's generosity has bolstered one profitable new industry: the resale of tax incentives by businesses that can't use them.

    Economic development incentives are transferrable under state law. When New Jersey awards tax breaks in excess of a company's tax bill, the recipient can sell them to an unrelated corporation looking to pay less in taxes. The 76ers, for example, told the AP last year that the team expects to sell a portion of its $82 million in New Jersey incentives - the NBA franchise doesn't make enough money to use them all.

    In at least one case, the value of the tax credits outstripped the value of the business that received them. In November, a Maryland medical testing startup, DioGenix Inc., received a $7.9 million tax incentive to relocate to Camden. Two months later, DioGenix sold itself for between $8 million and $10.9 million to a buyer that announced it would resell the tax breaks for at least $6 million.

    Lizura said he was unaware of DioGenix's upcoming sale when it received its state tax credits but called the sale evidence of success. The incentives are awarded only when companies meet their job and investment obligations.

    "If a capitalized company comes in and buys a startup company and they live up to the approval we had, how great is that?" he said.

    Diogenix's buyer, Amarantus Biosciences Holdings Inc. of San Francisco, has been unprofitable since its founding in 2008, has less than $2 million in assets and warned investors in November that there is substantial doubt about whether it can stay in business, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. The company did not return phone calls from The Associated Press over several weeks.

  • It’s a sad state of affairs that abled-bodied individuals have created a lot of the content about disabled people in popular culture. This is especially true in Hollywood, where most disabled characters are renditions of what someone imagines disability feels or looks like. Consequently, they have created a society where the disabled are dualistically romanticized and de-eroticized.

  • SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — A former Seton Hall University chaplain who says he was fired for supporting an anti-gay bullying organization has been given a new position in the Archdiocese of Newark.

  • This past week I was away celebrating my father’s 87th birthday in the great state of New Jersey.

  • In a recent court filing, Haddon Township, N.J., officials reiterated their refusal to offer desk duty to a police officer with impaired vision who alleges same-sex workplace harassment.

  • A New Jersey nonprofit found to have violated consumer fraud laws for offering therapy it said would turn gays to heterosexuals must shut down, a judge ordered this month.

  • CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — There's a beauty contest for almost everyone in pageant-obsessed Venezuela.

  • (AP) Officials in a New Jersey shore town won't sign off yet on a proposed $369,000 settlement with a gay former police officer who filed a discrimination lawsuit.

  • OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky county clerk may have again defied a federal judge’s order regarding gay-marriage licenses by altering license forms to remove her name, an attorney who represents one of the clerk’s employees told the judge Sept. 18 in a court filing.

  • (WB) New Jersey and Illinois’ LGBT-inclusive curriculum laws go into effect this academic year.

  • After a public dustup, a New Jersey school this week announced it would work with the family of one of its students to respect her gender identity.

  • NEWARK, N.J. — Nearly 4,000 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples in New Jersey since the state Supreme Court cleared the way for gay marriages one year ago.

  • A Republican candidate for the state Assembly dropped out of the race after a book he wrote surfaced that includes rants against Asians, gays, immigrants, breast-feeding moms and others.

  • Federal agents have arrested a man suspected of trying to blow up an LGBT community gym.

  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender news bites for the week.

  • While Republicans in Texas are embracing reparative therapy as official plank language in the party’s platform, matters are played out differently in New Jersey last week when a superior court judge ruled that a conversion therapy organization could be liable for damages inflicted on four young people whose sexuality it claimed they could change.

  • PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — A Republican Assembly candidate who dropped out of the race after his book of rants about gays and others surfaced participated in a campaign debate anyway on Wednesday, saying he's not the same person he was when he wrote it.

  • TRENTON (AP) — With gay marriage already legal in New Jersey, state lawmakers have ended their push to codify some of the details through a bill.

  • A New Jersey police officer is filing a discrimination lawsuit which alleges her supervisors created a hostile work environment for her.

  • Nearly a dozen students and their parents have been brought into a lawsuit filed by a New Jersey teenager who accused two school districts of not doing enough to stop eight years of bullying.

  • Paulette Armstead, an out black woman, was defeated in her bid to be the next Supervisor of Elections of Palm Beach County Tuesday night. She lost to the incumbent, Wendy Sartory Link, in a landslide with 71% of the vote.  

  • Thomas Vandergrift is speaking out against Facebook postings made by a member of the Pennsauken Board of Education, which he views as homophobic and transphobic.

  • We here at SFGN tried to get our hands on a couple bags, but had problems getting to the website to make a donation. Now we know why.

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  • (CNN) -- Its impact didn't reach the epic levels many government officials had warned of, but the first blizzard of 2015 is keeping much of the U.S. Northeast shut down -- at least for the day.