New Jersey taxpayers to fund local journalism

New Jersey political leaders ended a four-month budget impasse on Sunday night just hours before the government was scheduled to shut down. Most news stories focused on the big political compromise: Instead of the millionaire tax sought by the governor, the budget included a  new multimillionaire tax — a 10.75 percent tax rate on anyone earning more than $5 million.

But buried within the legislation was another provision that is starting to attract attention around the country. The budget included $5 million in seed money for a fund to support local journalism in underserved communities.

The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is expected to dole out the money and attract additional funding from private, charitable organizations. The consortium will have a 13-member board — two appointed by the governor, one by the Senate president, one by the Assembly speaker, and four appointed by the heads of Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, and Rutgers University. Those eight members will select the remaining five members.

Louis Greenwald, the Assembly’s majority leader, said New Jersey residents rely heavily on New York City and Philadelphia media outlets for their news. “Local news is the lifeblood of a community,” he said. “It adds local context to stories and keeps those in power accountable. Supporting it is undoubtedly in the public’s best interest.”

The bill originally called for $100 million in funding, drawn from the $332 million sale of unused public television licenses. But the amount was steadily whittled down as the measure moved through the legislature.

Mike Rispoli, the New Jersey state director for the Free Press Action Fund, said the consortium won’t replace community support for local news and it isn’t intended to rehire journalists cut by downsizing media outlets.

“This is really about identifying the needs of communities when it comes to news, and then investing in that need,” Rispoli said. “It might be civic technology; it might be civic literacy.”



Gov. Charlie Baker plans to sign the “red flag” gun bill on his desk. (State House News)

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that, under existing law, voters must register at least 20 days before an election. (Boston Globe)

AFI-CIO president Steven Tolman said he thought the abolition of mandatory overtime for workers as part of the Beacon Hill “grand bargain” was giving up too much. (Keller@Large)


The Walsh administration wants to renovate the brick desert at City Hall plaza, which means Boston Winter won’t be able to go on as usual during construction. (Boston Globe)

Fall River police have agreed to a new one-year contract that gives them a 2 percent raise as well as a pilot program that will allow them to grow facial hair. (Herald News)

Framingham officials are looking at creating a new database that would require landlords to notify city officials when a commercial property is vacant so they can track available storefronts and match them to private companies looking to relocate in the area. (MetroWest Daily News)


More EPA staffers are stepping forward and telling congressional investigators about embattled administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management habits, including pushing aides to find his wife a six-figure salary job and ordering assistants to scrub his calendar to hide meetings. (Washington Post)

The suspect in the Capital Gazette shooting spree mailed threatening letters to the newspaper’s attorney as well as local and state courthouses dated the day of the massacre warning he was about to launch the deadly assault. (Washington Post) President Trump initially declined a request by the Annapolis, Maryland, mayor to lower flags in honor of the shooting victims. (Baltimore Sun) He relented Tuesday after a public backlash, ordering flags be flown at half-staff on all government buildings home and abroad as well as ships. (Politico)

For the first time since Gallup began asking the question 17 years ago in polling, the majority of those surveyed said they are not “extremely proud to be Americans.” (Bloomberg)

Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says he “could not care less” that he’s being shunned by longtime friends on Martha’s Vineyard, where he now lives, because of his defense of President Trump, even though he wrote an oped saying how much he could not care. (The Hill)


Lyft buys Motivate Co., which operates the Blue Bikes system in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville. (Boston Globe)

Opponents of the Berkshire Museum’s sale of artworks have put up billboards calling for an end to the sales. (Berkshire Eagle)

Mall vacancies have hit a six-year high as online sales continue to extract a toll on some of the most iconic chains such as Sears, JC Penney, and Toys ‘R Us. (Wall Street Journal)


Four minority groups criticized Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s process in choosing the interim school superintendent without outside input and called on Walsh to be more inclusive when selecting a permanent replacement. (Boston Herald) Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi says Mayor Marty Walsh’s “interim” appointment of Laura Perille as Boston schools superintendent looks like it’s going to be permanent.

More than 30 percent of Massachusetts preschool-aged children do not receive any type of education because the cost — $12,000 to $18,000 a year — often exceeds tuition at a state college or university. (Wicked Local)

The Pickering Middle School in Lynn symbolizes a problem facing many Gateway Cities. Many parents of students at the school are protesting the dilapidated condition of the building, which was built in 1916, but voters in 2017 rejected a measure that would have allowed the city to build two new middle schools and have the state pick up 80 percent of the cost.


The Institute of Contemporary Art prepares to open the Watershed, a branch of the museum across the harbor in East Boston. (WBUR)


A woman injured her leg when it was caught between an Orange Line train and the platform on Friday, but the story that is still resonating is what she said to those who tried to help: Don’t call an ambulance. “It’s $3,000. I can’t afford that.” (Boston Globe) A New York Times editorial said the discord between agony and arithmetic has become America’s story.

Suicide is now among the top 10 causes of death in the United States even as the rate of suicide declines in most other developed countries. (U.S. News & World Report)

A new study shows coffee drinkers, even those who overindulge, are 10 to 15 percent less likely to die over a 10-year follow-up period than their caffeine-free peers. (Associated Press)


A Cape commercial lobsterman will be selected to test the use of ropeless buoy equipment used in Australia to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglements. (Cape Cod Times)

The great white sharks have arrived in force as at least five were spotted off Cape Cod beaches over the weekend, including in Harwich in Nantucket Sound where they have been rarely seen previously. (Cape Cod Times)


The Cannabis Control Commission awarded the license for the state’s first retail pot store to be opened in Leicester.The company’s president initially told reporters he’d be open for business “in a few weeks” but later admitted it will likely be after Labor Day before he sells his first recreational joint. (CommonWealth)

US Attorney Edward Lelling restates his position on prosecuting people for using or selling marijuana — it’s not a high priority, way behind opioids. (WBUR)

The Herald’s Hillary Chabot wonders if the scandal-ridden State Police can be trusted to oversee the state’s new casinos because of their propensity for corruption.


An American citizen who expressed interest in joining foreign terrorist groups was arrested in an FBI sting and charged with planning an attack on the 4th of July in downtown Cleveland during a fireworks display. (New York Times)


Former editor and reporter Hilary Sargent had a five-hour meeting with the Boston Globe’s outside investigator to talk about her allegations of receiving unwanted sexually suggestive and inappropriate messages from editor Brian McGrory. (CommonWealth)

ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross, who was suspended in December for a story in which he wrongly said Trump advisor Michael Flynn would testify about pre-election contact with Russia, is leaving the network after being banished from live reports and placed in the “long form” story division. (New York Times)