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Camden County & South Jersey Democrats in the news:

Bill aims to help domestic violence victims

Bill aims to help domestic violence victims

TRENTON — A bill allowing domestic violence victims to break their leases and get their security deposits back has advanced.

The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee approved the measure Thursday.

Bill co-sponsor Fred Madden, D-Gloucester, said being trapped in a lease can contribute to a domestic violence victim's sense of helplessness and keep a victim from getting out of a desperate situation.

The other co-sponsor, Dana Redd, D-Camden, said the legislation will provide an escape valve for victims who might otherwise be unable to secure safe housing because a broken lease would damage their credit rating.

Read the rest of the article on Courier Post online.

Engaging the Clergy to Revitalize Camden

Norcross, Faison urge clergy to aid Camden
By Adam Smeltz, The Courier Post

Joined by South Jersey power broker George Norcross III, city Mayor Gwendolyn Faison on Monday night announced an eight-point plan to engage Camden clergy in a hoped-for revitalization.

The plan, introduced to an audience of more than 75 at Malandra Hall Community Center, encourages clergy to clean up the areas around their houses of worship, offer grief counseling, drive youth employment and partner with city schools.

"How do we dare (think) that anyone is going to stand up for us if we don't stand up for ourselves?" said Bessie LeFra Young, the city schools superintendent, addressing the crowd of community and religious leaders. "I want (students) to know that if you don't love yourself, you can't love God or anyone else."

She asked for the clergy's help in uplifting the city schools. An enthusiastic Faison and city police leaders also spoke to a warm reception. The mayor said the group would reconvene in December.

But it was Norcross, the board chairman at Cooper University Hospital, who was the keynote speaker for the event, one of Faison's regular ministerial information meetings.

Faison said Norcross had asked for the opportunity. Members of the faith community, she said, wanted to hear from him, "to know what's going on in the city."

Norcross, assisted by computerized slides and graphics, provided a flattering overview of the $500 million worth of expansion projects now being undertaken at and around Cooper in Camden...

Read the rest of the article at the Courier Post online

Camden chief partly credits new tactics for crime drop

Camden chief partly credits new tactics for crime drop

Two months after the Camden Police Department tripled the number of officers on the streets, deployed caravans of cruisers into troubled neighborhoods and began targeting people who buy drugs, the city's violent crimes appear to be on the wane, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said yesterday.

The downward shift cannot be credited solely to the police department's new tactics, Thomson said. Crime ebbs and flows on its own, and also tends to decline somewhat after the summer is over.

Still, the nunbers are encouraging to Thomson, whose challenge is to get results from a department that has undergone six leadership changes in as many years, and which has long struggled to suppress rampant drug dealing, a rising gang presence and a troubling homicide rate.

This week, Camden saw its 43d homicide of the year - the same number of killings that the city experienced in all of 2007.

In his first lengthy interview since taking over as head of the Camden department, Thomson said yesterday the department's massive reorganization has already improved community relations, as well as had an impact on crime.

Police officers are getting out of their cars and talking with residents, Thomson said. Calls for shootings and assaults are down. And officers are seizing what they say could be a record number of illegal guns, which Thomson believes is key to tamping down the city's violence.

Read the rest of the article at the Philadelphia Inquirer online.

South Jersey residents can help area go green

South Jersey residents can help area go green

When it comes to slowing global climate change, every little step toward eco-friendly living counts.

You don't have to live at the Arctic circle to see that global warming is becoming a growing environmental problem. As polar glaciers continue to melt at record rates, scientists expect the seas off the U.S. coasts to continue rising. Coastal communities could be swamped if more efforts are not put into slowing the warm-up of the Earth.

There is no doubt that people's everyday activities are contributing to global warming. So, people can change the global forecast.

We commend school districts, counties and municipalities in the tri-county area for encouraging residents to use greener technologies and strategies for meeting their needs.

In Collingswood, municipal officials offer residents an energy efficient alternative to getting around town. Instead of driving a fossil-fueled, greenhouse-gas emitting vehicle, residents can pay $25 to borrow a bicycle -- also known as "green machines" in Collingswood. This not only helps the environment, it also has provides the rider some heart-healthy exercise.

The municipality also has made available discounted rain barrels to encourage residents to use rainwater to water their plants and grass. Using rain water reduces the demand from the municipal water system. Again, there's a dual-benefit: Residents can reduce their water costs and the borough can reduce the amount of energy needed to serve water customers.

Collingswood has taken full advantage of a Camden County grant program to encourage waste recycling and other greener technology.

Read the rest of the editorial at the Courier-Post online.