City still collecting Christmas trees

Need to toss out your old Christmas tree? The city is currently picking up trees on upcoming Thursdays, Jan. 20 and Jan. 27.
Christmas trees must be free of ornaments and/or lights and placed curbside Wednesday night between the hours of 7 – 10 p.m. for Thursday’s collection. Once curbside, all bags must be removed from the tree.
Wreaths and/or artificial trees will not be collected with Christmas trees. Please place these items curbside with your regular garbage.

Federal attorneys want to reinstate charges in Manzo case

Government attorneys were in a federal appeals court in Tuesday morning arguing that dismissed charges against former state Assemblyman Louis Manzo and his brother Ronald should be reinstated.
Four counts of extortion and attempted and extortion charges were dropped in May against the Manzo brothers in connection with the government’s Operation Bid Rig political corruption sting. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jose Linares found that Louis Manzo, a 2009 Jersey City mayoral candidate, did not hold public office, and neither did his brother, a political consultant, at the time of the crimes they allegedly committed. Both had been charged under the Hobbs Act, a federal law barring government officials from using their positions to obtain payments.
Rebekah Carmichael, spokesperson for the N.J. United States Attorney’s Office, said the judges could take “months” to render a decision.
Louis Manzo issued a statement after today’s hearing ended that stated in part: “This appeal was merely a specious exercise by the government. A distraction intended to provide cover for a group of United States Attorneys who used the power of their office for personal gain while denying others due process.”

New HCCC ‘Welcome Center’ opens

Officials from Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and other dignitaries attended the grand opening of the college’s new “Welcome Center” Tuesday morning.
The $780,744 facility, located at One PATH Plaza in Journal Square, will house a 32-station computer lab for students that includes Wi-Fi Internet access, a host of computer programs, a support desk, and Smart Board. The center, according to HCCC President Glen Gabert, is located in a renovated space leased out by the Port Authority on a five-year renewable basis.
Present for the grand opening were Gabert, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and other local elected officials.
Gabert said he hopes to see as many students in the center as there were for the opening.

City Hall holds ‘Seniors Know Your Rights Day’

Senior citizens can find out their rights as part of “Seniors Know Your Rights Day” on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m. The event will take place in the City Hall Council Chambers – 2nd floor, 280 Grove St., Jersey City.
Seniors from Jersey City and Hudson County can find out about their rights under the Federal and State Fair Housing Laws Act, for homeowners and renters. Consumer fraud, reverse mortgaging, short sales, how to create a will and any other legal issues that may concern the residents that help to build a great city will be discussed.
Panelists include Donald W. De Leo, Hudson County Surrogate Office; Sandra Vasquez, Hudson County Office of Aging; Victoria Lindsey, New Jersey Citizen Action; Rodney Hairston, Jersey City Division of Community Development; Larry Eccleston, Jersey City Senior Affairs and Joseph Murray, Esq., North East New Jersey Legal Services.
The event is sponsored by Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Jersey City Municipal Council, Division of Economic Opportunity, and Jersey City Human Rights Commission. For group transportation call Carol (201) 420-8249.

Menendez calls for liability cap raised on oil companies
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said at a Tuesday press conference at Liberty Science Center he will reintroduce a bill in Congress to remove the $75 million liability cap for oil companies.
Standing in front of one of the center’s aquariums, Menendez said he will reintroduce the Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act that he authored last year. The act would raise the liability for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion. The act was proposed as a result of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April of last year. The explosion led to 11 deaths and billions of dollars of damage to gulf waters from oil gushing out, with the oil company British Petroleum (BP) held responsible.
His announcement came a short time after a presidential commission studying the oil spill issued its final report. The report cited management failure by BP and other companies operating the oil rig as a key cause for the oil spill.
The act was blocked from a vote by Republicans last year. Menendez said he wanted to reintroduce the act because BP is fighting any future liability for damages with plans for lawsuits.
He said BP is also contesting the estimated amount of damage the spill caused and is looking to make sure they are only responsible for up to $75 million with taxpayers to pay for future costs.
“If you mess up, then you clean up,” Menendez said.
Menendez said to a reporter that despite Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in the November elections, he believes both houses of Congress will vote on the bill before the year’s end.

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