STATEWIDE – The time-honored graduation ceremony – a time to sit in uncomfortable gowns in the summer heat, listen to an unmemorable speech by some unknown guy and wait endlessly for all names to be called – has somehow been elevated to the panacea of the high school experience. And, so, following all the petition drives, social media campaigns and news articles, Gov. Phil Murphy has OK'd the live graduations. They can begin July 6, as you already know from every media outlet in the state who has breathlessly reported on this news. The next step: tempering the growing expectations of our high school seniors, envisioning something spectacular to magically occur on the football field. Desperate superintendents are now frantically Googling their speeches.
STATEWIDE – Would you buy a used car from a guy in a mask? Suspend, for a moment, the cheap shots about highway robbery, and consider this: You’ll be wearing a mask as well. Murphy, in his continuing efforts to pump some life into our battered economy, has lifted the ban on in-person shopping at New Jersey’s 500 car dealerships, NJ Spotlight reports. Sales during the lockdown fell through the floorboards, off 80% in April compared with the year before. That crash dive isn’t just bad news for dealers and the 36,000 folks they kept employed. The retail car business is good for about $2 billion in state and local taxes a year. So, the doors are now wide open with Deals! Deals! Deals! C’mon down! No money down (but bring that mask!)
NORTH WILDWOOD – Allow beach bars to mix up cocktails and allow beach revelers to drink them outside. What could possibly go wrong? Apparently, nothing, as the grand experiment in North Wildwood over the Memorial Day weekend went off just fine. No crazy parties, akin to Mardi Gras, could be found. Perhaps it was the shaky weather or the pandemic, but everyone behaved just fine, NJ.com reports. Thirsty customers reported the temporary measure was “nice, convenient and easy,” as they sipped outside, while bar owners wistfully look to a day when their customers can drink inside, and perhaps order an app or two. Kudos to town officials for taking the risk to help local bars, as well as to patrons who could have easily gone overboard.
PATERSON – This city’s first vote-by-mail election is still in chaos, a bad omen for the July 7 primary when most voters statewide will rely on mail-in ballots. Outcomes for six City Council seats are in jeopardy as federal authorities investigate voter fraud accusations. Of the 16,750 votes cast, the county Board of Elections tossed out 3,200 ballots. Among the rejects are mail-ins from a state assemblyman and his family, a freeholder’s wife and a few former school board and council members. Losing by 245 votes, Councilman William McKoy is demanding a recount, suggesting all results be discarded due to “rampant voter disenfranchisement.” And a local activist tells the Paterson Times that this mail-in voting caused “the biggest mess in modern history in this town.” That’s saying a lot.
Thirteen percent of Americans actually believe some parts of the moon are made of cheese.
PERTH AMBOY – Fifteen poker players packed into a barbershop did not get arrested for after-hours gambling. Nope, these guys got busted for breathing on each other, a violation of the state COVID-19 ban on gatherings. Cops broke up this poker game last week after they saw lights inside a closed State Street barbershop, still visible although its windows were lined with thick black plastic. Officers also heard “poker chips being bounced around,” the police chief told the Home News Tribune. Inside, they found poker and craps tables and, yep, plenty of booze. The chief says a few gamblers had surgical masks pulled down to their chins “completely ignoring directives about illegal gatherings and safety protocols.” Each gambler faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, as they roll the dice with a judge.
PATERSON – Here, however, a city councilman’s victory party with dozens of supporters has brought no charges for ignoring that same state ban. At least, not yet. The Paterson Times got video of Councilman Shahin Khalique celebrating his re-election in a crowded campaign headquarters. There’s lots of hoopla for his eight-vote win, but no social distancing. Khalique’s ally, Council President Maritza Davila, is seen wearing a surgical mask; but most other partiers are not. The Times also has photos of Khalique hosting an iftar meal for 22 fellow Muslims at the end of Ramadan. He says the photos are from 2019, but they show a few men in masks. Curious, right? Asked about these potential violations, Mayor Andre Sayegh and Police Director Jerry Speziale did not respond to the Times.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
PENSACOLA, FL. – A local minor league ball club – the Pensacola Blue Wahoos – have concocted a way to make a couple of bucks during this pandemic – renting out its stadium on Airbnb. For just $1,500 a night, you and nine other baseball fans can get the “most intimate, behind-the-scenes ballpark experience in history.” That means full access to the field, a batting practice session, a picnic in the outfield and unlimited mustard packets from the concession stand. The Wahoos report the original rental dates have quickly sold out, but they may have more dates available in July. Still, there are high hopes the field could actually be used, at some point this summer, for, y’know, baseball.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1961 that the first black light was sold; motel managers cringe.
WORD OF THE DAY
Coeval – [kōˈēv(ə)l] – adjective
Definition: Having the same age or date of origin
Example: My lack of patience is coeval to the beginning of my son’s at-home math studies.
WIT OF THE DAY
“The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful.”
“Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”
- Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD