TIME Accident

This Pickup Was Ditched on an Icy River With a Dog Trapped Inside

U.S. Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic A helicopter crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City located a truck that fell through the ice on Toms River, New Jersey, March 1, 2015.

Driver and passenger were reportedly doing stunts on the ice

Two people in New Jersey abandoned their pickup truck in a frozen river with a dog inside, after an attempt at some winter daredevilry went awry.

Authorities were alerted by a call just after midnight on Saturday, reporting that a pickup truck had driven onto the frozen Toms River near Pine Beach, N.J. and was doing “donuts” on the ice.

“The headlight and brake lights could be seen from the shoreline as the vehicle headed South and West towards the other side of the river,” the Toms River Police Department said in a statement. “After a period of time went by the lights suddenly were no longer visible.”

Sergeant First Class Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police Dive team told the New York Daily News that police found the submerged vehicle around 3 p.m. on Sunday with a frozen dog inside.

Toms River Police said that two individuals have turned themselves in for questioning in connection with the incident.

TIME republicans

Real TIME: Chris Christie Jabs at the Media at CPAC

New Jersey Governor and likely presidential hopeful Chris Christie addressed his critics in the media and spoke out on his pro-life stance and passion for his job during his Q&A at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington at the weekend.

Watch #RealTIME to hear what he had to say.

TIME 2016 Election

Chris Christie Looks to Get His Groove Back With Union Talks

Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.

A long overdue reset for the governor of New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to get his mojo back.

The can-do, tough-as-nails, straight-talking governor has spent the last several months tossed around in the shifting seas of presidential politics. Jeb Bush raided his prospective campaign piggy bank. Scott Walker claimed his old crown—the conservative fighter willing to put taxpayers ahead of government workers. And an imprecise vaccine comment in London left Christie fleeing reporters has he sped to his plane back home.

Just last week, during a speech in Washington, a deflated Christie seemed to distance himself from his own state’s economic record, blaming the state legislature for the status quo. “I don’t know exactly whose economic plan has been implemented or not,” he said of the state he runs. It was a far cry from the victorious Christie, who declared upon winning reelection in 2013, “I did not seek a second term to do small things. I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it.”

“Now” will finally arrive on Tuesday, his advisers promise, when he reveals a new plan to address New Jersey’s struggling finances, a new schedule for another statewide tour and a well-kept secret: For months, he has been breaking bread with his one-time union foes, the New Jersey Education Association, discussing further reforms to the state’s underwater state pension system Christie began to reform with controversial legislation during his first term.

“I did not come here just to identify the problem, shrug my shoulders and return to business as usual,” he plans to say later today, returning to his old rhetorical style. “And that is why I am here today to ask you to do what may be politically difficult, but what is morally and physically the right thing to do. This is what it is about. Coming together. Thinking differently. Serving the people. Addressing the long term. This is how we get things done.”

The shift in tone is long overdue for a governor who has never played defense as well as offense. Just a year ago, he was a formidable force in the Republican Party, with a mainline connection to the establishment looking for someone to take on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. But an uneven message, a distracting criminal investigation over his staff’s involvement in a politically motivated road closure and deteriorating economic conditions in his state have tarnished his reputation.

“There’s an opportunity here for a comeback, because the press will love that,” says John Weaver, a former presidential strategist for Republicans John McCain and Jon Huntsman. “But they have to act fast or he will go down in history having squandered a great opportunity.”

The state’s fiscal situation, which will be the focus on Tuesday’s address, may prove the problem least fixable by a quick shift in strategy. On Monday, just a day before the planned pivot, a state judge ruled that Christie had failed to live up to his own signature legislative accomplishment by failing to fully fund the state’s share of recalculated public employee pensions. In her ruling, state judge Mary Jocobson took a shot at Christie’s public claims to have achieved a historic reforms during his first term, since he had since decided not to fund the state’s share of his own plan. “The governor now takes the unusual position in this court of claiming that this legislative contractual guarantee, which embodied significant reforms for which he took substantial credit with great national fanfare, violates the New Jersey Constitution,” she wrote.

Christie has promised to appeal the ruling which requires him to spend $1.57 billion more on pensions this year, arguing that other state governors have also failed to fully fund the program in the past. But such explanations won’t make good campaign slogans. In part because of the standoff, credit-ratings agencies have repeatedly cut New Jersey’s standing, a fact that could be easily used against the governor in 2016 campaign ads.

Christie’s pre-campaign messaging will also need some attention, as the early state voting map provides him with few credible paths to the nomination. “Christie’s path has narrowed considerably,” said one veteran GOP operative, who is not yet working for a 2016 presidential contender. “Lesser-known candidates have thicker skin with the media and even Rand Paul exhibits more discipline.”

On the road in Iowa or New Hampshire, Christie’s message has thus far boiled down largely to his personality, a move that worked well through two elections in New Jersey. He tells audiences of his family upbringing in an attempt to turn his legendarily brash persona into an asset. “You’ll always know what I believe and you’ll always know where I stand,” he said in Iowa last month.

But the personality pitch depends on a state record to back it up, and may need to be refined for voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. That’s where a potential truce with the unions could come in handy. Just a few years ago, union leaders were circulating an email joking about Christie’s death, and the governor was regularly lobbing words like “greed and self-interest” in the direction of the union. Now Christie has another talking point to add to his claim that he can bring conservative ideas to a blue state and make divided government work.

The New Jersey teacher’s union was a party to the lawsuit that resulted in Monday’s decision, but in a statement to reporters, Christie aides said the new negotiations represented a new chapter in the relationship. “The issue has come full circle – back in 2010 and 2011 when Governor Christie first took on pension and health benefits reform, the NJEA was opposed to any changes,” reads the guidance from the governor’s office. “But today, just five years later, the Governor has reached out to a political adversary and offered them partnership in working toward a solution and they have accepted.”

Any new chapter is a welcome one for Christie at this point. But this won’t be enough. In the coming months, he will need several more to win the nomination of his party.

TIME relationships

This Man Has Written a Love Letter to His Wife Every Day for the Last 40 Years

Fellas, the bar has now been set ridiculously high

This Saturday, like every Valentine’s Day, lovers young and old will try to find the perfect gift, word or gesture that will show their significant other the extent of their adoration. But one man in New Jersey has been doing that for his wife every day for the last 40 years — with more than 10,000 love letters.

Bill Bresnan, 74, describes the letters to his wife Kirsten, which are stored in 25 boxes in their attic, as a “love diary,” chronicling their journey together since they first met. “For example, I could pick out a day in 1982, and it’ll begin with the restaurant we ate in or a movie we saw and then a reaction to that,” he told ABC News.

The couple have been through a lot together, including when both of them were diagnosed with cancer within the space of a few years, but Bresnan has never missed an opportunity to write of his love for his wife.

And when every day is Valentine’s Day, it’s no surprise that the couple doesn’t have any big plans on Feb. 14.

“We’ll probably have a nice dinner, a special bottle of wine and a piece of chocolate,” Bresnan said. “We’re past the craving for jewelry and expensive nonsense. We just enjoy simply being together.”

[ABC News]

TIME fire

New Jersey Fire Leaves 1,000 Homeless

Massive fire at apartment complex in New Jersey
Cem Ozdel—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Firefighters at the scene after a fire broke out in an apartment complex at in Edgewater, N.J. on Jan. 22, 2015.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze

A massive fire at a luxury apartment complex in New Jersey on Wednesday night left more than 1,000 people homeless on Thursday.

There were no deaths in the blaze that destroyed the complex in Edgewater, just across the Hudson River from New York City, NJ.com reports, and only a few minor injuries were reported. Officials were still investigating the cause of the fire Thursday morning. The Avalon complex was quickly engulfed in flames that destroyed 240 units, leaving 500 residents homeless. It then spread to nearby homes, displacing another 500.

“Everyone got out,” Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland said. “You can always rebuild.”

[NJ.com]

TIME New Jersey

N.J. Governor’s Trip to Cowboys Game May Have Been Ethical Violation

Chris Christie Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons—USA Today Sports New Jersey governor Chris Christie, center, greets Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and owner Jerry Jones prior to the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 4, 2015

New Jersey governor Chris Christie may have violated his state’s code of ethics for politicians in accepting gifts from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, according to the International Business Times.

Christie attended Sunday’s Cowboys-Lions game at AT&T Stadium as a guest of Jones. The Cowboys owner paid for Christie’s ticket and travel expenses, a spokesman told NJ.com.

New Jersey’s ethics rules prohibit government officials from accepting any gifts related to their “official duties.” Christie and the state of New Jersey have previously done business with the NFL, giving the league an $8 million tax break in conjunction with last year’s Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium.

In October, Christie signed a bill into law which would allow sports betting in New Jersey, a law the NFL has challenged in court.

The governor’s office pointed NJ.com to a separate code of ethics for governors, enacted through an executive order by former governor Jim McGreevy, which says, governors “may accept gifts, favors, services, gratuities, meals, lodging or travel expenses from relatives or personal friends that are paid for with personal funds.” Under that interpretation, the gift would not be an ethical violation if Jones invited Christie as a friend, rather than as governor.

Christie, who says he roots for the Cowboys because he was a fan of Roger Staubach, has been to three Cowboys games this season. He went to two games in December: one in Philadelphia and one in Dallas, while the Christie family was already traveling to Texas.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Transportation

New Jersey’s Red Light Camera Program Is Going Dark

Red Light Cameras
Mel Evans—AP A red light photo enforcement sign is seen on Route 1 in Lawrence Township on July 25, 2012. New Jersey's red light camera pilot program will end Dec. 16, 2014.

The 5-year pilot program will end Dec. 16

Over the last five years, red light cameras across New Jersey have caught drivers speeding through intersections, irking motorists who view them as cash cows for local government rather than true safety measures. But after Tuesday, New Jersey residents won’t have traffic cameras to kick around anymore.

The state’s red-light cameras will go dark at midnight, ending a program some said would reduce traffic accidents at intersections. The program brought in millions of dollars to city and state governments, prompting many red light opponents to argue that the cameras are just moneymakers in the guise of a safety device.

(MORE: Ohio’s Traffic Cameras May Be on the Way Out)

City officials often argue that the cameras’ presence affects driver behavior. Union Township, for example, says 27,000 fewer drivers have run red lights in the 30 months it has used the cameras. Statewide, New Jersey Department of Transportation studies claim that crashes overall are down. The DOT numbers have been championed by public officials like Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who has pushed for legislators to continue the pilot program.

But a couple of grassroots engineers have challenged those stats. Rick Short and George Ford produced a report detailing discrepancies between the red light camera safety claims and raw DOT crash data. “We have proved that the crash reduction percentages spread by the camera industry and town leaders are fictitious,” they said.

Polls show that the cameras have have slowly lost favor over the years, mirroring what’s happening in a number of states around the country. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 495 communities currently use the cameras down from a peak of 540 in 2012.

TIME weather

Know Right Now: Northeast Braces for a Holiday Nor’easter

Watch today's #KnowRightNow to catch up on the latest trending stories

In today’s trending stories, winter weather will wreak havoc for the 41 million holiday travelers expected to hit the roads on Wednesday and Thursday. Storms could dump as much as 18″ of snow in northern New Jersey, and will affect most of the northeast.

Airports in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Newark, NJ are expected to experience the most cancellations and delays. Interstates 76, 81, and 90 will experience the worst weather and traffic.

And lastly, many major airlines are allowing customers to rebook without fees. More than 200 flight cancellations have already been announced for Wednesday.

TIME Disaster

Before and After: How East Coast Bounced Back After Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, 2012 near Brigantine, N.J., cutting a swath through one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S.  Two years after the storm, a look back at how Sandy-ravaged areas fared in the 12 months afterwards.

TIME ebola

Christie Says Nurse Quarantined for Ebola Can Go Home

Governor had been criticized for quarantine measures

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that a nurse being quarantined for Ebola despite testing negative for the disease can complete her isolation period at home in Maine, reversing course after his mandated quarantine drew criticism from health officials and a legal threat from the nurse.

Kaci Hickox was being discharged Monday morning, the New Jersey Department of Health said.

“Since testing negative for Ebola on early Saturday morning, the patient being monitored in isolation at University Hospital in Newark has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours,” the department said in a statement. “As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the CDC and the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being discharged.

“Since the patient had direct exposure to individuals suffering from the Ebola Virus in one of the three West African nations, she is subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order,” the department added. “After consulting with her, she has requested transport to Maine, and that transport will be arranged via a private carrier not via mass transit or commercial aircraft. She will remain subject to New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine order while in New Jersey. Health officials in Maine have been notified of her arrangements and will make a determination under their own laws on her treatment when she arrives.”

Hickox had been confined to a tent outside a New Jersey hospital for the past three days, after she returned from a trip to west Africa where she treated Ebola patients. Hickox publicly condemned the state for holding her under conditions that she described as inhumane. She also singled out Christie for blame for overstating her status as “obviously ill” when she had no fever-like symptoms upon landing, and her lawyer threatened to sue.

Christie defended his actions Monday.

“The fact of the matter is we’re going to protect the people of our state,” he told reporters in a video posted to YouTube by his office. “…I’m not going to step away for a minute from protecting the people of my state and our region. So I understand that she didn’t want to be there. She made that very clear from the beginning but my obligation is to all the people of New Jersey and we’re just going to continue to do that. So the critics are the critics no matter what you do there will be critics and you don’t worry that, you worry about doing what’s right for the people you represent and that’s what we’ve done.”

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