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STATEWIDE – A swish of Gov. Phil Murphy’s pen will make “Juneteenth” a new official state holiday. Legislators overwhelmingly approved the bill to designate the third Friday in June as “Juneteenth Day,” commemorating the end of slavery. Most states observe Juneteenth as a ceremonial holiday, fewer have made it an “official holiday.” Tone-deaf Assemblyman Hal Wirths isn’t on board, one of a dozen lawmakers to abstain, telling NJ.com this new holiday would cost more than $3 million annually, most for overtime to cover shifts for state workers who would get that day off. Wirths thinks New Jersey should dump one of its other 12 “official holidays” to offset the increase, but the frugal Republican didn’t say which one. Let’s assume it’s hands-off the biggies, so would he cut Good Friday? MLK Day? Hmm, perhaps Columbus Day? Good luck, there.

BERKELEY TWP – A gutsy councilwoman didn’t mince words about resigning. Judith Noonan didn’t drag out any of those non-excuses like “spending more time with family.” Nope, Noonan, 77, is quitting the Town Council because she no longer wants “any part of excessive spending and unethical political behavior.” Without mentioning specifics, the Berkeley Times quotes Noonan saying “unprofessional conduct (is something) I can no longer tolerate.” And she’s unwilling to put up with “more backlash and personal pain” for speaking out. Elected to the all-Republican council in 2009, Noonan is its longest-serving member. The mayor and other council members won’t talk to the media about her reasons for quitting. Might make voters ponder if Noonan is the one who should be going.

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TRENTON – Some lawmakers have devised a scheme to do something smart and sustainable with the state’s money: Make it greener. Here’s how: The public-worker pension system is going to hand off $100 million to a private-equity fund that invests solely in renewable-energy infrastructure. It’s the first time the pension-fund managers have made a sizable investment in renewables, NJ Spotlight reports. And it’s about time. New Jersey is catastrophically threatened by climate change, from the brown soup that can hang over the Turnpike during the doggiest days of August to the likelihood that our grandkids may scuba dive in the flooded remains of Hoboken and Jersey City. Not to shock anyone, but $100 million doesn’t seem to be much money these days, perhaps a worthy investment for a sustainable future.

BRIEFING BREATHER

In America, you will see an average of 5,000 advertisements a day…like above and below.

TRENTON – New Jersey is careening toward a housing crisis just in time for winter, as landlords are justifiably losing patience with tenants who can’t afford the rent. Pointing no fingers here, it is an impossible moment, as people want to work, but can’t because of this lingering pandemic. NJ.com says property owners have filed 15,256 evictions since April 1, which is a bit meaningless at the moment because Gov. Phil Murphy has placed a moratorium on evictions. But this moratorium can not last forever; landlords remain on the hook to pay their property taxes each quarter. The moratorium could be lifted as soon as November, or occur sometime in the dead of winter. In any case – with 1.44 million New Jerseyans filing unemployment in this Catch-22 situation – these landlords need to be paid, as fall turns to winter. The question is: Who will write the check?

IN THE MEDIA

WOODBRIDGE – Sue Epstein, a reporter at The Star-Ledger for her entire 42-year journalism career, was one of those people you meet in life who’s impossible to forget. She took immense pride in being a newspaper reporter and was very protective of her employer and her colleagues. Strong-willed, opinionated and ready to tell you like it is, she was always in your corner, ready to fight the good fight, whatever that might be. Epstein died at age 68 over the weekend, after a long illness. Tony Gallotto, her former bureau chief in Middlesex County, best summed her up for NJ.com: “Sue was an old-school newswoman. She wanted to get the story first. More importantly, she wanted to get facts right and give readers a fair, balanced article. She was just as diligent about writing someone’s obituary or a crime brief as she was about writing a front-page story.” Epstein will be laid to rest this morning; assume she’ll want it tight and bright.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BAHAMAS – Remember that big music festival scam that never happened? It was the highly-publicized “Frye Festival” – with a 2019 documentary on its colossal failure – that was supposed to take place in the Bahamas in 2017. Now, the U.S. Marshals Service is trying to raise at least some money for the victims of this $26 million scam. There are 126 items for sale through Aug. 13 from this bogus, luxury festival, marketed as “a conspiracy to change the entertainment world.” (That’s accurate.) There are sweatpants, shirts, wristbands, etc. awaiting your bid. The highest bid, currently, is $300 for a baseball cap bearing the festival logo, while the highest number of bids is for an aqua blue hoodie featuring the flag of the Bahamas on the back. At least now, someone can potentially get something.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1995 that “CNN en Espanol” was announced. Eso es bueno.

WORD OF THE DAY

Risible – [RIZZ-uh-bul] – adjective

Definition: Capable of laughing

Example: It is as surreal as it is risible: Yoenis Cespedes didn’t show up yesterday at the ballpark. The Mets sent security to his room. They found it empty; Cespedes just up and left. Through his agent, the left fielder informed the Mets mid-game that he was quitting the team and his prorated salary. And that’s it.

WIT OF THE DAY

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York.” 

-Dr. Anthony Fauci

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“With the exception of New York & a few other locations, we’ve done MUCH better than most other Countries in dealing with the China Virus. The Fake News is working overtime to make the USA (& me) look as bad as possible!”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Steamy