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High turnout for Obamacare registration under East Orange General Hospital's Watch

DSC_0932On March 22, 2014 East Orange General Hospital held their registration campaign for the last remaining days before the March 31, 2014 Affordable Healthcare Act deadline. Hundreds of people came before the opening time at 10 a.m. at East Orange Campus High School for registration. They all prepared to register and brought with them the required documents like their last 3 pay stubs or W-2 form or wage statement, social security number, and health insurance plan if any were through an employer.
When I left the place at about 12:00 noon, there were over 168 persons signed up for registration and a few where standing in line. The momentum was there for registration. All registration tables were full. Everyone was talking about how much they were excited to see people continuously coming for registration. I call it a success.
Ron Stevens, Sales Executive from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, gave insight into his company's involvement with the signup.
"Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is here to help people get enrolled in health plans before the March 31st deadline. We're educating the public on plans Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield offers and what they're entitled to inter terms of tax credits and tax subsidies from the federal government.
"The advantage is that the Federal government is making health care affordable by lowering out of pocket costs for consumers. The disadvantage is that if they don't have health insurance, it limits their access to care when medical services are needed. There's also the disadvantage of having to pay the penalty that will be assessed to them from the federal government if they do not sign up for coverage before the March 31st deadline. The penalty varies, $95 for a single person or one percent of their income, whichever is higher."
When asked about why young people should get coverage even though they may not need to see a doctor, Stevens responded, "Insurance is insurance. You never really need it until something happens. Preventative services, and finding out things before things get serious, that's very important to them."
Ophelia at the Family Health Center spoke on how patients deal with primary doctors.
"We get patients enrolled with a primary doctor, and if it's a lady, we get them enrolled in the OB-GYN clinic at the Family Health Center. We set appointments with patients and send reminder cards as well. Once they get to the appointment desk, if the doctor refers them to a specialist, an appointment will be made on the patient's behalf."
"It's a matter of people's rights to have decent healthcare," a representative for the People's Organization for Progress and the NAACP said. "There's no reason why the United States can't afford affordable healthcare for their citizens. It should be a right."
Nelson D. Rodriguez, Individual Account Executive at AmeriHealth, gave his company's involvement in the healthcare push.
"We're one of three companies that work with the Affordable Care Act. We're actually getting a lot of individuals that come out of East Orange General, and letting them know about the insurances...I see the ACA as bringing services that are needed in the community. It's not a good choice to go around living without health insurance. There will be a plan for you."
When asked why there was no transparency in terms of the rates from the insurance companies, he answered, "It goes by individuals. You can't have one specific chart for everybody. If you're 23, you might be different from someone 52. Each company is different, so each company has different services being provided. We have a plan online."
This open enrollment at East Orange Campus High School by East Orange General Hospital was in partnership with Caribbean Medical Mission, City of East Orange, FamilyCare, Happy Bands Foundation, Jamaica Organization of New Jersey, Coalition of Caribbean American Commission, Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, Grenadian American Organization of NJ, Guyana American Heritage Foundation, Help Jamaica Medical Mission, Hispanics For Progress, Jamaica Nurses Association, and the NAACP of Oranges & Maplewood.
East Orange General Hospital also represented the World Health Organization's motto of "Save Lives, Clean Your Hands" very prominently. They were giving out hand sanitizers to the visitors.

Orange Cheerleading Squad Wins International Competition

FabulouCity_1ORLANDO, FL. - On March 13 and 14, 2014, FabulouCity All-Stars school competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance from Orange, New Jersey attended the UCA International All-Star cheerleading competition in Orlando, Florida. The entire gym had to receive a bid to attend. FabulouCity received the bid when they attended cheer camp during the summer of 2013 in Pennsylvania.

The members of the gym then went on to compete this past weekend for a chance to win an International Championship title. It was a great experience competing up against a large amount of teams from all across the country including but not limited Costa Rica and Ecuador. After two tough days of competition FabulouCity All-Stars of Orange, NJ ended up in first place both days. The members of the gym were awarded a 3.5 foot trophy, and International Championship jackets for the members and coaches.

This was a great success for all of the members of the gym who reside in the Essex and Hudson county area. FabulouCity All-Stars gym encourages youth to focus their lives in a positive way. The gym teaches them to be competitive, social and productive members of society that are exposed to a wide variety of people and cultures that exist outside of their city limits.

For more information, please contact December Moore at 973-698-7318 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

A step towards the real world at Orange Career Day

DSC_0899On March 19, 2014, Orange High School hosted "School to Work Day - Preparing Today's Youth for Careers." This career day event was the initial phase of a three phase project designed to expose high school students to careers.

During this phase, students participated in a question and answer session with guest speakers who represented varied career fields. The follow up phases of this project will include Phase 2, which involves students "job shadowing" at the respective workplaces. Phase 3 includes educational opportunities, including summer work/internships.
The event was kicked off by Orange Superintendent Mr. Ronald C. Lee and Orange Mayor Mr. Dwayne Warren. The companies/organizations that participated included Verizon, Noble Strategy Inc., Rutgers Business School, Rutgers Medical School, Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Local Talk Weekly Newspaper, TATA Consultancy Services, and Movado. The event was deemed highly successful.

The purpose of the Career Day is to have understanding for students in a real-life work setting by real life professionals in their field. The training and presentation by the experts included Monica Pachon - Human Resources Manager of Movado, David Bell - Network Engineer of Verizon, William Parrish - President of Noble Strategy, Alfred Blake - Assistant Program Director of Rutgers Business School, William Lovett - Financial Representative of Washington Mutual Insurance, Walter Douglas - Chief Operating Officer of Rutgers Medical School, Nicole Graves Watson - Community Justice Coordinator of Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Dhiren Shah - Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Local Talk Newspaper, and Michael Maron - Senior Program Analyst of TATA Consultancy Services.

The Career Day gave them real information from the business world. In my group, there were 16 students and a French Language teacher that started the class. The subject was journalism. I started asking them questions, like what is the meaning of journalism. Some students were involved in the discussion immediately and others joined at a later stage. However, my purpose was to have an exercise for their brain and bring out their best ideas. Everyone enjoyed the presentation. There were some other students who joined the group, even they were not part of the class. It was a really fun time for the students. I wish Dr. Ronald Lee and Orange Board of Education can arrange more programs like this to give practical training to the students.

High school students only learning the text is not helping them for the practical world. I believe that students learn best from actually thinking rather than memorizing. Orange's Career Day is a step towards the practical training for the business world.

Mayor Warren Vetoes Orange Council Election Shift


Mayor Dwayne D. Warren and North Councilwoman Tency Eason have decided, as of March 4, to settle the question of whether to move the city's nonpartisan municipal election day from May 13 to Nov. 4 for at least this year.
Voters will be choosing their respective four ward council members May 13.
Warren vetoed Ordinance 1-2014, which would have moved the May election ballot to coincide with the November General Election, 4:25 p.m. Feb. 28. A 4-3 majority of city elders passed the ordinance on second reading Feb. 18 and, in a similar split, waived the 20-day new law waiting period.
Warren, instead of signing 1-2014 to make the ordinance law, drew a full-page "VETO" on the pending legislation.
Warren outlined his reasoning for the veto in a two-page statement. The mayor started by citing the emergent need clause in NJSA 40:45-7.1 - the state law which allows municipalities and school boards to move their spring elections to November.
"The Municipal Council hasn't provided any documentation to support the claims made in 1-2014," said Warren, "and, despite these 'naked claims,' matters of this magnitude should be decided by the voters, not the politicians."
Warren was thereby indicating a preference for holding a public question referendum on the proposed calendar shift. The mayor also said he was considering the "citizens who appeared before the council" and "the numerous persons who contacted my office by way of telephone and petition," who opposed the calendar change.
"Citizens should be advised that my veto could be overridden by a 5-2 vote by the council," said Warren. The only way to bar the ordinance after that is by way of referendum, which is final. A group of residents informed me that they had formed a 'Referendum Committee of Citizens,' for the purpose of having this matter on the ballot for a referendum."
"The council has failed to consider the financial and social costs associated with the arbitrary, late notification to the public about the election day change," continued Warren. "In addition, there was no consideration of the monetary and non-monetary consequences to the rights of the voters, citizens and potential candidates who would be subject to a sudden late change of the election date."
The mayor was referring to the Jan. 28 introduction and February first and second approval votes on 1-2014. Warren was aligning himself with critics who said that the May-to-November date shift should be done ahead of - not during - the municipal election cycle.
"Many residents called into question the council's concerns about saving money because the council failed to take advantage of opportunities that were presented to raise money and save money in the past," added Warren, The mayor then listed the Council's not passing a budgetary funds transfer resolution and a delinquent tax lien sale offer that would have each "netted over $1 million."
Warren further viewed the resulting six-month term extension of the affected incumbent council members' terms as receiving "12 additional months of paychecks totaling over $10,000 each in extra pay and benefits.
The mayor, then tried to link the extra incumbent council's pay periods with the ordinance's presumptive implementation during the current 2014 municipal election cycle.
"The nomination petitions for prospective candidates are due in the clerk's office on March 10," said Warren. "That means that the election date would be changed a just a mere eight days before persons must submit their petitions. The timing of this ordinance in prejudicial to prospective candidates (and) . . . opens the city up to potential litigation or at minimum to seek a show cause for an injunction."
Eason said, during her March 4 regular council meeting comment segment, that she had decided not to attempt a veto override. She, however, felt she had to counter what she called "falsehoods," in Warren's veto reasoning statement.
"The mayor said he had received 300 calls opposing the ordinance - I don't know where he got that number from," said Eason. "Second, the city would've saved $50,000 in election costs since that would've been borne by the county; Third, someone will be getting six months term extensions no matter who's in office - but we would not be collecting extra paychecks; our stipends will be the same."
Eason concluded her 1-2014 remarks with, "We have to find new ways of business. We're broke and we have to find ways of saving the taxpayers money."
Daryl Harrington, who is running for a ward council seat here, was among the City Hall Council Chamber Gallery.
"I think the mayor listened to the wishes of the people," said Harrington to "Local Talk" during a meeting intermission. "Candidates would've had to shoulder an extra six months' expense in campaigning."
"I agree in the concept of moving the election day to save money," said Citizens Budget Advisory Committee member Bruce Meyer. "The change, however, should be done before the start of the election cycle."
Hardware store owner Jeff Feld meanwhile questioned who from the city's law department signed off on the ordinance between the council's approval and its placement on Warren's desk.
"I see a 'Mr. Wolff" signature on the legislation and not the City Attorney (Dan S. Smith) signature," said Feld. "Does this mean that the city's law office had reviewed the ordinance in question?"
Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin, who was present March 4 to talk about election scheduling trends, clarified parts of the state law to "Local Talk."
"The ordinance approving an election day schedule change is not required to go to a public question referendum," said Durkin. "Should it go to a public referendum, the vote results would be binding."
Durkin's clarification runs counter to several council members' view regarding last Nov. 5's approval of two Orange school board public questions. A majority of voters had approved the Orange Board of Education becoming an elected board and to have a prospective election held in November. Several council members had told "Local talk," however, that those two votes were nonbinding.

Former Orange Mayor Hawkins Announces Run for Mayor of West Orange

In a statement released on Monday, March 10th, the former Mayor of a neighboring town, Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. announced his candidacy for Mayor of West Orange, a nonpartisan election now changed from May to November of this year (2014).

Hawkins, son of civil rights attorney and former NJ State Assemblyman (D-Essex) Eldridge Hawkins, Sr., was raised in West Orange and returned to his home town of over 25 years after serving as mayor in a neighboring Community. There, he brought in over $100,000,000 in alternative funding sources and revenues to ease the tax burden on residents. Hawkins was able to stabilize taxes through creative management, cross training of employees and redevelopment, which broadened the tax base. In addition, his administration reduced crime by 22% according to the NJ State Police Crime Statistics Report.

Upon returning to West Orange, Hawkins was approached by residents to throw his hat into the mayoral race, which led to the formation of the "Eldridge Hawkins Exploratory Committee" co-chaired by businessman and developer Richard Groves as well as military veteran, former Edison School PTA president and law enforcement official Joe Sorbino.

According to spokesperson Richard Groves, the committee after months of due diligence, found that Hawkins, who in previous elections garnered the support of leaders such as Senator Richard Codey, Assemblyman Tom Giblin, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., Congressman Donald Payne, and a host of other elected officials, currently has encouraging local grass roots support and viability in his challenge against incumbent Mayor Robert Parisi, who is presently rumored not to be running for a second term.

Sorbino indicated that Hawkins, also a retired West Orange Police Officer, received several commendations for his service to the residents of West Orange and "knows how to keep our families safe from the current spikes in crime.

Statement of Eldridge Hawkins, Jr.: "In addition to growing up and attending schools such as St Joseph's, Redwood School and Seton Hall Prep here in West Orange, I am the former Mayor of a neighboring community. Knowing I had returned here to my home town some time ago with governmental experience, various residents expressed to me dissatisfaction with the high taxes, failed redevelopment on Main Street and rise in crime under the current West Orange administration.

"In an effort to get a broader sense of residents' priorities and to better evaluate the potential campaign for Mayor, an exploratory committee was formed. That committee of residents spoke to many of their colleagues and neighbors. The response was very favorable, indicating that the time for change is now. I remain humbled and appreciative of the steady increase in support that we have received thus far. With the back drop of my experience including both a track record of success and lessons learned, I am looking forward to sharing my unique vision for West Orange over the coming months as we approach the November 2014 Mayoral election.

"After much thought and consideration, I have decided to answer the exploratory committee's call to public service and fight for a better West Orange. Accordingly, effective immediately, I am formally announcing my candidacy for Mayor of West Orange and ask for the support of all interested stakeholders in the upcoming November 2014 Mayoral election."

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Orange Cheerleading Squad Wins International Competition

Orange Cheerleading Squad Wins International Competition

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