In other election news…

While the results of the City Council at-large election was the big Election Day news in Jersey City, local voters also cast ballots in state legislative races. Each state district has one state senator and two Assembly representatives.
In the 31st District, state Sen. Sandra Bolden Cunningham (D-Jersey City) defeated Republican Donnamarie James and independent candidate Louis Vernotico, receiving more than 80 percent of the vote. On the Assembly side, Charles Mainor (D-Jersey City) and Jason O’Donnell (D-Bayonne) won their races against Republicans Michael Alonso and Daniel Beckelman.
In the 32nd District, state Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen) easily defeated Republican challenger Edward O’Neill and the independent Herbert Shaw. Incumbent Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) and Assembly newcomer Angelica Jimenez (D-West New York) won their races against Republicans Ronald Tarolla and Michael Bartulovich in 32nd District.
In the 33rd District, state Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City) beat Republican Beth Hamburger with more than 86 percent of the vote, while Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hoboken) and Sean Connors (D-Jersey City) won their Assembly elections in the 33rd against GOP candidates Fernando Uribe and Christopher Garcia.
Incumbent Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise, a Democrat, handily defeated GOP challenger Stephen De Luca, receiving more than 81 percent of the vote.

AG Report: Murder, other violent crimes down in JC

On Thursday, outgoing state Attorney General Paula Dow released the annual Uniform Crime Report for 2010. While statewide numbers showed a slight increase in violent crime over 2009, there was good news for Jersey City, which saw slight drops in several crime categories, including murder.
The Uniform Crime Report, prepared annually by the State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, measured violent and nonviolent crimes committed between Jan. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2010.
The report includes data on offenses which fall into seven crime categories, including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The Uniform Crime Report also contains crime data for New Jersey counties and municipalities.
According to the report, there were 26 murders in Jersey City in 2010, a drop from 28 the previous year. Aggravated assault also dropped to 831 incidents in 2010, down from 865 the previous year. Larceny and car thefts were also down, as were rapes. There were 44 rapes in 2010; in 2009 there were 49 rapes.
The city experiences slight increases in the crime categories of burglary and robbery, however.
The news wasn’t as good for the state of New Jersey overall. According to the report, there was a slight increase in the overall crime rate in New Jersey.

Assemblyman Ramos on Christ sale: ‘I have serious concerns’

Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hoboken) has joined the debate surrounding the sale of Jersey City’s Christ Hospital to a California-based for-profit hospital chain.
In July, Christ Hospital officials announced that they had signed a letter of intent to sell the 381-bed nonprofit facility to Prime Healthcare Services, a for-profit company that owns and operates 14 private hospitals in California.
The New Jersey Attorney General is currently reviewing the $15.7 million sale, which Christ President and CEO Peter Kelly has said is needed to save the hospital, which loses about $800,000 each month. Before the sale can be finalized, it must be approved by the state Attorney General, the Department of Health and Senior Services, and the State Health Planning Board.
Christ officials and attorneys for Prime have requested that the state expedite the sale and approve the deal by Dec. 31, despite mounting questions about Prime’s management of its hospitals in California.
In a two-page letter sent to New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow, Ramos requests that the state not expedite the sale and asks Dow’s office to consider bids from other potential buyers.
“I have serious concerns regarding the nature of the sale, the lack of transparency, the limited community involvement, and the reputation of Prime Healthcare Services,” Ramos wrote in a letter dated Nov. 9.
“There are reasonable alternatives to this deal, and expediting the review of this sale would not only shut out the community from public input, but leave out other equally sound deals that are in the public interest. In California, the attorney general has denied Prime Healthcare Services twice from purchasing financially failing hospitals, citing unfair market values and failing to be in the best interest of the public. California Watch, an investigative reporting group, also found that Prime Healthcare Services was inflating their Medicare reimbursements to increase profits and even cut medically necessary treatments because PHS deemed them ‘unprofitable.’ Cutting vital treatments and services on the grounds of profitability is not just unfathomable, but immoral. As a cancer survivor myself, I cannot allow, in good conscience, the sale of a hospital to a for-profit entity.”
Christ received bids from other potential buyers, including Jersey City Medical Center, before accepting the offer from Prime.
Meanwhile, in a separate letter dated Oct. 24 to Attorney General Paula Dow, Assemblyman Herbert C. Conaway, Jr. (D-Delran) asked the state’s top lawyer to look into several ongoing investigations into Prime Healthcare Services.
Conaway, a physician, wrote: “As you consider your decision with respect to the proposed sale of Christ Hospital to Prime Healthcare, I respectfully ask that you reach out to California’s Attorney General and HHS Inspector General Levinson to as about the status of state and federal investigations into Prime Healthcare. Further, I urge you to independently evaluate Prime Healthcare’s questioned business dealings, obtain third-party input regarding the fair market value of Christ Hospital and hold public hearings.”
Dow stepped down as attorney general at press time Friday. Her departure could affect the timing of the state’s review of the sale.

Empty Bowls fundraiser on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Art Therapy Association at New Jersey City University will participate in the international Empty Bowls Project, a grassroots effort to bring attention to global hunger. For the Empty Bowls Project, guests are asked to make a small cash donation for a simple communal meal of soup and bread. Each guest will also leave the event with a ceramic bowl as a constant reminder of all the people around the world who have empty bowls because they have nothing to eat. The money raised will be donated to St. Mary’s Food Pantry in Jersey City.

West Bergen library branch to reopen

This Tuesday, Nov. 15, the West Bergen Branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library will reopen. The library branch at 476 West Side Ave. has been closed to the public for repairs since Oct. 11. The library sustained weather-related damage as a result of recent rainfall in our area.

Capital One Bank to partner with PS 22

This week staffers from Capital One Bank and PCS Wireless will open the READesign Reading Corner in the school library at PS 22, the Ercel F. Webb Elementary School. The goal of the READesign corner is to encourage a love of reading among students by transforming library space into an attractive and compelling place that fosters the imagination.
Volunteers from Capital One and PNC will read aloud to students, lead financial literacy activities, and give each of the school’s 600 students two books to take home.

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