Local Beat: Mayor Baraka hires Bridgegate defense lawyer Michael Critchley

Local Beat is the NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best reporting by community news sources.

MAYOR BARAKA HIRES BRIDGEGATE DEFENSE LAWYER MICHAEL CRITCHLEY 
Newark mayor Ras Baraka has hired Michael Critchley, one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the state who represented Bridget Anne Kelly in the Bridgegate trial, to defend him in a civil suit brought by the city’s former attorney. Elana Knopp of TAP into Newark says the high-profile attorney will defend Baraka in a discrimination and retaliation suit brought against him by Willie Parker and three co-defendants in June.

EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS AND AUDIO FROM INSIDE LAKEWOOD MEDICAID FRAUD AMNESTY EVENT
Gavin Rozzi of Ocean County Politics obtained audio and photos from inside the Medicaid fraud amnesty event held on Tuesday night by the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office. The event introduced the “Ocean County Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Program,” which allows Lakewood residents who knowingly defrauded Medicaid to turn themselves in and avoid criminal charges as long as they agree to pay back the fraudulent benefits they received, plus restitution.

CAMDEN COUNTY GOVERNMENT ROLLS OUT HOMELESSNESS INITIATIVE
The Camden County Board of Freeholders rolled out a six-point plan to address the issue of homelessness in the region. Matt Skoufalos of NJ Pen says the plan involves greater coordination between government agencies and independent groups that connect with county residents, and creates a series of initiatives aimed at addressing medical and other needs of those who find themselves homeless in Camden County.

AN INTERACTIVE MAP OF RAHWAY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
With more than 1,000 additional development projects in the works or in the planning stages, it can be hard for Rahway residents to keep up with all the changes to their local community. With that in mind, Mark Hrywna of Rahway Rising has created an interactive map to display the development projects that have been recently completed, approved or presented in concept.

MICE INFESTATION IN MAPLEWOOD SCHOOLS DECLARED ‘HEALTH HAZARD’ BY LOCAL OFFICIALS
Maplewood officials have acknowledged an infestation of mice in several district schools. In a letter sent late last month, officials declared the situation to be “an immediate health hazard.” Joe Strupp of TAP into SOMA says the apparent cause of the infestation appears to be the food that is consumed in classrooms and other areas without being properly stored or cleaned up after the fact.

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