STATEWIDE – With all these live high school graduations planned for tonight, it’s time to let loose. Just don’t even think of releasing a balloon, or be prepared for the stiff consequences. Besides the shame and disdain of all your neighbors and friends, a proposed law could also slap you silly with a $1,000 fine if you let one fly. Why such harshness? Balloons float out to the ocean and they kill marine life, which is why a statewide ban is being pushed by Clean Ocean Action and other environmental groups. There’s even a Change.org petition – like there is for every other cause these days – which has close to 5,000 signatures. Hey, we all love to celebrate with balloons. Just not the ones that get away and are ingested by fish and turtles, making them sick. Rather, perhaps a lovely greeting card, on recycled paper, of course.
TRENTON - Those glued to the political shows got to see Gov. Phil Murphy this morning with a grand announcement: Face masks will now be mandatory outside under an order he is expected to sign today. It promises to make for some tough tan lines, but Murphy is convinced the masks are "game changers" to fight the virus. "They've been strongly recommended outdoors, we're going to turn that up a notch today," he said. "If you can't socially distance, it's going to be required." The big question: Is this really enforceable?
STATEWIDE – Consider it Nightmare of Elm Street, if your local MVC office happens to be on Elm Street. Of no surprise to anyone, anywhere, the MVC offices around New Jersey are an absolute mess these days, after shutting their doors for three months due to the obvious. Throw social distancing out the car window, as some MVC offices were so jammed yesterday that dejected motorists were turned away after waiting hours in line, with hopelessly expired drivers’ licenses in hand. Even the MVC admitted to the “extraordinarily high” number of customers, noting state workers were already besieged by 6 a.m. at the busiest locations. If you truly, absolutely need to go to a MVC office, bring a chair, food, and a book, preferably “War and Peace.”
TRENTON – A couple of recent deals between influential public-worker unions and some of New Jersey’s top elected officials have been touted as saving hundreds of millions of dollars. You’d think, then, the fiscal All-Stars who are bringing us these big-time savings would be keen to share the recipe, pointing out precisely how the glorious savings is going to be diced and sliced. But here’s where they’ve gone all “Nothing to see here, move along.” NJ Spotlight reports that actuarial cogitations and detailed projections on the deals — to restructure teachers’ health-care plans and allow for the furloughing of some state workers — are not exactly forthcoming. Indeed, the Murphy administration claims some of the materials are protected from disclosure under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. It’s a strange turn of modesty for the State House chefs. Afraid someone will steal the secret sauce?
John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president, was widely known for skinny dipping in the Potomac.
LINDEN – The mayor didn’t break any law or violate any state ban by going door-to-door to help his favorite Sixth Ward council candidate. But it seems Mayor Derek Armstead did fib to media outlets, denying he was campaigning. Now, NJ.com snagged him, using a police body-cam video showing the mayor and his aide telling two cops they were, in fact, campaigning door-to-door on April 23. But, at that time, Armstead told the media they were merely strolling along Kennedy Drive toward the candidate’s house. They also called police to stop a neighborhood critic from hounding them and snapping photos. On the video, the mayor’s aide says: “We’re just trying to campaign here,” and Armstead adds: “We’re practicing our social distance, we got our masks on. We’re not kissing any babies or shaking hands.” This story is silly and generating way too much attention. But it’s also a good reminder that honesty among public officials is the best policy.
NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers is bleeding scarlet these days, expected to lose around $183 million or so because of this stubborn pandemic. Still, the university is freezing its tuition, as it prepares for a semester of online instruction. That’s not enough for some students, TAPInto New Brunswick reports, who have launched an online petition to demand discounts in their tuition bill. Nearly 16,000 people have signed the petition as of this morning. These students have a point: Rutgers’ “world-class education” will be hampered by remote learning. No question there. But the school – like every other tuition-based institution in the country – is gasping. If you can’t afford to support the state’s public university, and believe the quality of your higher education is in peril, county college is a terrific option in the interim and the credits often transfer.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
KRUGER, SOUTH AFRICA – While most New Jerseyans count down the seconds until they can get the heck off a train, there are some rich people in South Africa who are willing to plunk down serious bucks to not only hang out on a train, but to spend days there. We’re talking about the very narrow luxury hotel that is being built on a rail bridge, using an old train that will feature 24 renovated carriage rooms. It’s being marketed as “an express entryway to freedom, relaxation and meaningful connection,” as you sleep suspended over the Sabie River, enjoying “the most breathtaking natural splendours with well-deserved luxuries.” Uh, sure. And you can have it all for $520 a night beginning this December. Just don’t be that guy who asks for directions to the fitness center.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1992 that the Florida Marlins unveiled their uniform, thoroughly unrelated to their awful play for the next three decades.
WORD OF THE DAY
Aphelion – [af-EEL-yun] – noun
Definition: The point farthest from the sun in the path of an orbiting celestial body (such as a planet)
Example: Those who don’t believe they should wear masks should relocate to the aphelion.
WIT OF THE DAY
“If you’re going through hell, keep going,”
“BREAKING NEWS: The Mortality Rate for the China Virus in the U.S. is just about the LOWEST IN THE WORLD!"
- Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD