Author

Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo

Dana DiFilippo comes to the New Jersey Monitor from WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR station, and the Philadelphia Daily News, a paper known for exposing corruption and holding public officials accountable. Prior to that, she worked at newspapers in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and suburban Philadelphia and has freelanced for various local and national magazines, newspapers and websites. She lives in Central Jersey with her husband, a photojournalist, and their two children.

In some N.J. towns, groups attempt to block legal weed sales

By: and - April 6, 2022

When New Jersey voters approved a 2020 referendum to make recreational marijuana legal, the residents of Princeton emerged as some of legalization’s biggest champions. Seventy-five percent of voters in this progressive college town gave legal weed a thumbs-up, compared to 68% of voters statewide. But nearly two years later, as talk turns to where to […]

State moves to make controversial civil forfeiture more transparent

By: - April 6, 2022

The state Attorney General’s Office inched toward making the controversial police practice of civil forfeiture more transparent. The state opened an online portal Tuesday for prosecutors to report what law enforcement officers in their counties have seized from citizens, when and why they seized it, what it was worth, and how they spent the money […]

Lawmakers unveil $350M plan to improve child care, eliminate ‘day care deserts’

By: - April 5, 2022

Several state lawmakers announced a $350 million, nine-bill legislative package Tuesday supporters say would make day care more affordable in a state where more than 35,000 babies and toddlers live with low-income, working families without access to child care. The bills aim to eliminate “day care deserts,” cover child care costs for more low-income families, […]

Appeals court reinstates bribery indictment of ex-assemblyman

By: - April 4, 2022

A New Jersey appellate court on Monday reinstated the dismissed indictment of former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, who state investigators say took a $10,000 cash bribe from an attorney during his unsuccessful 2018 bid for Bayonne mayor. Superior Court Judge Clarkson Fisher, writing for a three-judge panel, rejected O’Donnell’s argument that he can’t be charged with […]

Bias incidents reported in N.J. at 27-year high, state says

By: - April 4, 2022

Nearly 1,900 bias incidents were reported to law enforcement agencies in New Jersey last year, a record high for the third year in a row and the most since the state began tracking them in 1994. Bias incidents jumped 29% last year from 2020, when 1,447 incidents were reported, according to numbers compiled by the […]

Fifth confirmed federal judge could help end ‘judicial emergency’ in N.J.

By: - April 1, 2022

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Cherry Hill attorney Georgette F. Castner as a federal judge in the District of New Jersey, the latest in a flurry of confirmations intended to eliminate longstanding vacancies that caused a “judicial emergency.” Castner was confirmed by a 52-47 vote. She’s the fifth Biden nominee since last May to […]

Women lag in municipal office in N.J., study finds

By: - March 31, 2022

Women hold just 29.9% of municipal offices in New Jersey, lower than the national average of 31.5%, according to a new study from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. New Jersey ranked 30th nationally in how many of its mayors, council members, and other municipal officials are female, according to the […]

Police do not have an automatic right to qualified immunity, court rules

By: - March 30, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously agreed Wednesday to allow a wrongful arrest and imprisonment lawsuit against two Newark police officers to proceed, rejecting the city’s repeated efforts to shield the officers from liability. Reformers welcomed the ruling as a small step toward advancing their battle to end qualified immunity, a legal defense municipalities use […]

Lawmakers advance bill to help families stay in homes despite foreclosures

By: - March 28, 2022

New Jersey lawmakers advanced legislation last week that’s intended to both help families facing foreclosure hold onto their homes and create more affordable housing. Dubbed the “Community Wealth Preservation Program,” the bill would allow homeowners in foreclosure or their relatives to buy back their home at a foreclosure sale, help nonprofits buy foreclosed properties to […]

Lawmakers pass police bills, including measure targeting gun offenders

By: - March 28, 2022

New Jersey lawmakers advanced a number of law enforcement measures last week, including legislation that will allow authorities to imprison more gun offenders pre-trial. Reformers have protested that bill, saying it could land thousands more people in prison and disproportionately impact people of color. Assemblyman Gerard Scharfenberger (R-Monmouth) also spoke out against it, saying it […]

Second hitman pleads guilty in N.J. political murder-for-hire plot

By: - March 24, 2022

The second hitman charged in the 2014 murder-for-hire scheme that involves a New Jersey political operative pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday. George John Bratsenis, 73, appeared by video from a federal prison in Brooklyn to answer charges that he and a second hitman stabbed Michael Galdieri to death in his Jersey City apartment at the […]

N.J. fisheries netted $2.4M in improper COVID relief payments, watchdog says

By: - March 24, 2022

State environmental officials ignored red flags and distributed nearly $2.4 million in possibly improper COVID-19 relief payments to New Jersey marine fisheries in 2020, according to a state Comptroller’s report released Thursday. The Comptroller’s Office investigated 24 of the 90 fisheries that pocketed federal CARES Act funds and found fault with 10 of them. The […]