TRENTON – Calling out “knuckleheads” and telling them to “cut the crap” is racking up lots of brownie points for Gov. Phil Murphy. Perhaps that’s why a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll shows Murphy’s job-approval rating has “catapulted” to 77 percent since last May. The chief pollster says these numbers make Murphy one of our most-liked governors in state history. Yep, really. This ratings jump, the poll says, is largely because of how voters perceive Murphy’s gutsy COVID-19 leadership. Eagleton’s director calls it “a rally ‘round the flag effect,” often seen during a crisis. But she warns Murphy’s popularity may shrink with rising taxes, joblessness and other post-pandemic fallout. For now, Murphy is riding high. Sure, some naysayers slam his no-nonsense lingo as “flippant and disrespectful.” But, in the ‘Sopranos State,’ we like putting our leaders on a pedestal – before we have them swimming with the fishes.

IN THE MAIL – Mail-in ballots are still showing up at county election board offices in Bergen and Essex, two weeks after the May 12 election. Sluggish mail deliveries of nearly 3,000 ballots means those votes won’t get counted. It also signals big trouble for the July 7 primary when most New Jersey voters are counting on mail-in ballots. The New Jersey Globe reports widespread delivery delays from conscientious voters in Belleville, Irvington, Montclair, Newark and Nutley with postmarks and the delivery dates “all over the place.” The post office brought another 1,300 mail-in ballots to Bergen County’s election board well after the deadline. No one knows why, but the Postal Service needs to sort it out.

STATEWIDE – Expect justice to be dispensed much, much slower in the upcoming months, as New Jersey is drowning in a backlog of court cases. In fact, with 39,000 cases sitting around and awaiting a judge, New Jersey’s backlog is bigger than the amount of lingering cases in Pennsylvania and New York combined. Why? New Jersey is desperate for more judges; there are ongoing vacancies on the bench. There’s also a surge in cases from sue-happy New Jerseyans, building the backlog by 230% over the past four years. Those stats come from Stockton University, which also notes that many judges are staying on the job waayyy beyond retirement. That includes an 89-year-old district judge in Camden County, who admits to researchers he has been having some sleepless nights, refusing to cut corners for the sole reason of moving to the next case.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

In America, you will see an average of 500 advertisements in one day.

(Today’s Breather is Sponsored by Jaffe Communications)

STATEWIDE – So, what will this much-anticipated high school graduation look like in July? NJ Spotlight paints the picture.  Outside ceremonies will be speedy, to limit the amount of time people are mingling. That means shorter speeches, a limited guest list, no one sharing microphones and everyone wearing masks. There will also be strict limitations on photography, perhaps a pool photographer would handle the job for everyone. Also, diplomas may not actually be handed to the graduates, with recommendations to pass them “electronically.” (Robotic arm? Drone? Parachute from the sky?) There could also be temperature screenings at the entrance, as well as a strong plea to any proud parent who is not feeling well to stay home. It will still be a “live” graduation – just with tearful air hugs delivered from a minimum of six feet away.

LAWRENCE – Getting away from work to visit a park can be relaxing, but three on-duty cops were supposedly getting away far too much. And the Mercer County prosecutor says this trio lied to get away with sneaking off dozens of times since March to the Delaware–Raritan Canal State Park in nearby Princeton. The veteran cops are now suspended without pay, facing charges of falsifying reports, records tampering and ignoring the state ban on park visits. Police brass allege one of the cops tilted dashboard cameras in his patrol cars to hide some of his 19 side-trips to the scenic park. That officer’s lawyer tells The Trentonian that all the charges “are complete crap manufactured by a corrupt police department,” claiming his accomplices are just “collateral damage.” Expect plenty of lively discussion the next time these three sit under a tree.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY – Unclear who is handling air traffic these days in Dusseldorf, but that individual allowed a plane to take off for a closed Italian airport. A flight from the super-cheap Eurowings air carrier took off Saturday for the Olbia Airport in Sardinia. All was great, until someone finally realized the destination airport is not accepting commercial traffic. And, so, ooops, the plane – carrying just two passengers – was forced to U-turn back to Dusseldorf, arriving four hours after it took off. Eurowings is calling the situation “very dynamic,” whatever that means, and then blamed the coronavirus for the fact that no one knows which airports are open and closed.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1990 that a biker had the longest wheelie, clocking in at 5 hours, 12 minutes and 33 seconds.

WORD OF THE DAY

Longueur – [lawn-GUR] – noun

Definition: A dull and tedious passage or section (as of a book, play, or musical composition) — usually used in plural

Example: Has anyone in Congress actually read the 300-page CARES Act with all its longueurs?

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

 

“Obamagate makes Watergate look like small potatoes.”

- Donald J. Trump

 

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.”

-Douglas Adams

WEATHER IN A WORD

Scattered