STATE – Many New Jersey residents will remember 2012 for Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall near Atlantic City on Oct. 29 and left 38 people dead while causing an estimated $36.9 billion in damage in the Garden State.
Millions of New Jersey residents were left without power following the storm, some for weeks, and Gov. Chris Christie temporarily instituted gasoline rationing to combat shortages.
The Jersey Shore that many of us remember is gone. Christie pledged to rebuild it, but noted, “it won’t be the same. It’ll be different, because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean.”
The tragedy brought out the best and worst in people. There were many heart-warming stories, like the seven-year-old boy who emptied out his piggy bank to help The Arc of Union County. But there were also allegations that some businesses engaged in illegal price gouging to profit from the misfortune of others.
President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney, winning both the popular and electoral vote decisively but by smaller margins than he claimed in 2008.
The bitter, acrimonious election campaign broke new records in fundraising and negative campaigning. Obama, Romney and independent political action committees entering the fray on the side of one candidate or the other combined to raise nearly $2 billion. The total cost of the entire presidential campaign was approximately $5.8 billion, or $50 per voter.
According to one estimate, more than 80 percent of the political advertising in the campaign were negative ads focusing on opponents.
As a result of the number of New Jersey residents still displaced from their homes on Election Day because of Superstorm Sandy, state officials allowed citizens to vote by email for the first time in history. The process did not go smoothly and election officials were forced to extend the email voting three days after Election Day. Because of the number of mail-in, emailed and provisional ballots cast, final election results weren’t available until after Thanksgiving.
In Perth Amboy, Mayor Wilda Diaz survived a challenge to her re-election bid. Although she won a second term, Diaz only had the support of 35 percent of the 13,866 voters who participated in the city election. A field of five challengers made it possible for Diaz to win re-election with less than a majority of the vote.
This Election Day was also notable because it was the first time many school districts held their elections in November, taking advantage of a new law that allowed communities to save money by combining the school elections, traditionally held in April, with the general election.
U.S. Marine Corporal Kevin J. Reinhard of Colonia was killed on Jan. 19 when the CH-53D helicopter he was riding in crashed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Many Americans watched as Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne of the United Kingdom on Feb. 6.
On Feb. 17, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage. Weeks earlier, the Republican governor urged lawmakers to put the question to voters through a referendum process.
Christie called for an across the board 10 percent state income tax cut, phased in over three years, in his budget speech on Feb. 21. Democrats criticized his proposal, which would result in a savings of just $80.50 per year for a family making $50,000 once fully phased in, saying it wouldn’t do enough for the middle class.
New Jersey adopted a ban of synthetic marijuana on Feb. 29.
On March 16, former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was found guilty of a hate crime and invasion of privacy for filming a romantic encounter between his college roommate Tyler Clementi and another man and transmitting it via the internet in 2010.
The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted to reject Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination of Philip Kwon to the New Jersey Supreme Court 7-6 on March 22. It was the first time the committee had rejected a governor’s Supreme Court nominee in the modern era and Christie’s first significant setback at the hands of Democrats since taking office. Kwon, who would have been the first Asian-American to serve on the court, later received a job with the Port Authority.
According to a federal Centers for Disease Control report released on March 29, one in 49 New Jersey children have been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder.
Lottery fever struck New Jersey and the rest of the nation when the multi-state MegaMillions jackpot reached a record $640 million for the March 30 drawing. Winning tickets were sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.
Gov. Chris Christie visited Israel and spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 2.
More than 3,000 people voluntarily turned themselves in at a Fugitive Safe Surrender event held at an Atlantic City church from April 21-25. A Middlesex County program held April 21-22 to get guns off the street collected 311 guns.
Marie Munn, then president of the Elizabeth school board, was indicted on May 30 for allegedly stealing from a federally-funded free lunch program at the school by filling out false applications for her children.
On May 31, the state Senate Judiciary Committee rejected Gov. Chris Christie’s nomination of Bruce Harris to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Harris later was appointed to a job with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Bill Pascrell defeated Steve Rothman in the June 5 Congressional primary. The two incumbent Democratic representatives were forced to face off because New Jersey lost a seat in the House in the redistricting that followed the 2010 Census.
At a June 8 town hall meeting in Lyndhurst, Gov. Chris Christie said that he would not sign a bill to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and make further annual increases to offset inflation.
In June, the state Department of Transportation briefly directed 21 of the 25 municipalities in New Jersey’s red light camera pilot program to suspend issuing summonses until a timing issue with the traffic signals could be worked out.
On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most provisions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” which will require health insurance companies to cover all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions but require Americans to purchase coverage or pay a penalty.
Linden mourned the death of Amber Duncan Wilson, who was fatally shot on July 10 just weeks after graduating from Linden High School.
An investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller uncovered evidence that attorneys and other professionals working as independent contractors for local governments were improperly participating in the state pension system.
Gov. Chris Christie signed bill into law to reform the state’s public school teacher tenure system on Aug. 6. The new law makes it easier for school districts to fire educators and forces teachers to undergo yearly evaluations.
NASA’s Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars on Aug. 6.
On Aug. 28, Christie took the national stage to deliver the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. He received criticism for using the opportunity for self-promotion instead of focusing on GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
A 16-year-old Clark girl ran away from home on Sept. 30. The case earned national attention because she a message she posted on her Twitter account, “There is somone in my hour ecall 911,” just before she went missing, went viral. No one actually broke into her home and the girl was reunited with her family several days later.
Amtrak announced record ridership levels on the Northeast Corridor during FY 2012 on Oct. 10. The rail line running between Washington, D.C. and Boston carried 11.4 million passengers, a third of all Amtrak passengers.
Lottery fever returned to New Jersey when the multi-state Powerball jackpot reached a record $587.5 million on Nov. 28. Two winning tickets were sold in in Arizona and Missouri, but 8 NJ players each won $1 million.
On Dec. 2, for the second year in a row, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey increased tolls on its Hudson River crossings. It now costs $13 cash to use the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the George Washington and Bayonne bridges or the Outerbridge Crossing. Additional toll increases are planned for each of the next three years.
On Dec. 3, the Legislature passed a bill to raise New Jersey’s minimum wageto $8.50 with future annual increases tied to the Consumer Price Index. Gov. Chris Christie was not expected to sign it into law.
State Sen. Barbara Buono, a Middlesex County Democrat, became the first to officially announce plans to challenge Chris Christie for the governor’s office on Dec. 11.
A school shooting incident in Newtown, Conn. led to the deaths of 26 people, including 20 children, on Dec. 14. New Jersey communities grieved for the shattered families, and renewed discussion of gun laws and school security measures following the tragedy.
On Dec. 20, Newark Mayor Cory Booker decided not to run for governor even though many had viewed him as the favorite to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Christie in 2013.
U.S. athletes won 104 medals, including 46 gold, in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. New Jersey residents Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath, Carli Lloyd, and Christie Rampone were part of the gold medal-winning women’s soccer team; Asjha Jones was part of the gold medal-winning women’s basketball team; swimmer Rebecca Soni won two gold medals and one silver; fencer Maya Lawrence won a bronze medal; wrestler Jordan Burroughs won a gold medal and Matt Emmons won a bronze medal for shooting.
In professional sports, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, which was watched by a record 111.3 million television viewers.
The New York Mets celebrated their 50th anniversary, and Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in team history on June 1.
The New York Yankees won their 18th division title, but were eliminated from the playoffs by the Detroit Tigers.
The New Jersey Devils advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Los Angeles Kings to conclude the 2011-12 NHL season. Team owners locked out players in a labor dispute, putting the 2012-13 season in jeopardy of being cancelled, but professional hockey players took part in a charity game in Atlantic City to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims in November.
Carteret, Elizabeth, Sayreville, South Brunswick and Summit all won high school football state championships in December. The Rahway High School Boys’ Winter Track team won its fourth consecutive sectional championship in February.
Union County College Women’s Basketball Team defeated Lackawanna Community College 60-53 to become the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XIX Division II Champions on March 3.
Arts & Entertainment
“The Artist” won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture, while “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” were among the highest grossing films, taking in over $1 billion worldwide.
Other big films included “Skyfall,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and “The Hunger Games.”
Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and her album “21″ was chosen as the Album of the Year. “We Are Young” by Fun featuring Janelle Monae, “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “One More Night” by Maroon 5 all spend significant time at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
According to iTunes, Adele’s “21″ was the top-selling record of 2012, Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was the top single, and “The Hunger Games” was the best-selling movie.
On Dec. 12, 39 U.S. television stations broadcast “12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief,” which sold out in minutes. The charity concert raised money for the Robin Hood Relief Fund to benefit victims of the hurricane in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It included performances by local stars such as Bruce Springsteen, Bill Joel and Alicia Keyes, as well as rock legends like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.
Notable deaths included: jazz singer Etta James (Jan. 20), pop singer Whitney Houston (Feb. 11), baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter (Feb. 16), “Monkees” star Davy Jones (Feb. 29), New Jersey Congressman Donald M. Payne (March 6), author Adrienne Rich (March 27), “60 Minutes” journalist Mike Wallace (April 7), “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark (April 18), “Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak (May 8), Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb (May 20), author Ray Bradbury (June 5), civil rights figure Rodney King (June 17), actor Andy Griffith (July 3), actor Ernest Borgnine (July 8), astronaut Sally Ride (July 23), author Gore Vidal (July 31), composer Marvin Hamlisch (Aug. 6), comedian Phyllis Diller (Aug. 20), astronaut Neil Armstrong (Aug. 25), actor Michael Clarke Duncan (Sept. 3), singer Andy Williams (Sept. 25), former NFL player and actor Alex Karras (Oct. 10), actor Larry Hagman (Nov. 23), jazz musician Dave Brubeck (Dec. 5) and musician Ravi Shankar (Dec. 11)
In a nod to changing times, both Encyclopedia Britannica and Newsweek magazine announced that the were discontinuing their print editions in 2012.