STATEWIDE – Happy Juneteenth, (or Freedom Day or Jubilee Day or Liberation Day!)

STATEWIDE – For years, people living in Manhattan have grudgingly fled to New Jersey for the lower real estate prices, as they snubbed their collective noses at anything Jersey. But, hey, the Garden State is looking pretty darn good these days as people head for open space during this pandemic. NJ is looking so good, in fact, that real estate experts say all those rich New Yorkers may be pushing our home prices to the highest levels in 16 years, especially in Bergen, Essex, Union and Middlesex counties. The Otteau Valuation Group sees a dip in single-family home prices this year, followed by a 6% jump in 2021, the biggest annual increase since 2005, Bloomberg reports. Experts liken this trend to the 1970s, when so many New Yorkers fled the filthy, decaying, crime-ridden city for the leafy suburbs. So, welcome all you Manhattanites. We look forward to soaking you at every turn.

STATEWIDE – It won’t be the typical mall experience, but it’s better than nothing. Jersey malls will finally reopen June 29 – a welcomed relief – but, of course, the party comes with plenty of conditions. Forget about those food courts; they will stay closed. And all customers will have to wear masks, while store owners will have to ensure no more than 50% occupancy at any one time. (Hear that, Apple?) In addition, some of the traditional staples of the mall experience – movie theaters and arcades – must remain closed, while restaurants can only provide outdoor dining and take-out. Yet, hey, this opening is a great move forward, getting people back to work and giving our bored teens somewhere to go, finally, over what promises to be a really long summer. 

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TRENTON – It’s been too easy to make stoner jokes about Trenton’s ongoing push to decriminalize marijuana. Frankly, we’ve run out of new ones. So, let’s just say that our staid, sober legislators in the Assembly and Senate have crafted a package of eight bills that could drop the penalty for possession of up to two ounces of pot to a measly $50 (according to one Assembly measure) or even less for a pound (so says the Senate bill). Getting high isn’t the main issue. All of these bills are being correctly pitched as social-justice reform and should ease the punitive burden faced by our communities of color, NJ Spotlight reports. If Gov. Phil Murphy signs one of these bills, decriminalization would be a reality before the recreational use ballot question comes up in November. So what happens if the ballot question goes up in smoke? One step at a time, folks. Meanwhile, does the tie-dye make my butt look big?

BRIEFING BREATHER

California has issued six driver’s licenses to people named “Jesus Christ.”

CAMDEN – School districts can name their buildings after whomever. And that is why – for 90 years – the school district honored President Woodrow Wilson by putting his name on one of the high schools. But, as we all know, opinions change and people love those Change.org petitions. And, so, following a petition that began a year ago, school officials say it is high time to give Wilson High a new name. TAPInto Camden reports that Wilson – New Jersey’s governor from 1911-13 – expressed many of the racist views of that time period, so it makes zero sense to honor a segregationist in a city with nearly a 95% minority population.

TRENTON – So, how exactly does New Jersey blow through $300 million in emergency response funds? The Record tried valiantly to answer that question, noting the state spent $1 million for a refrigerated warehouse as a temporary morgue and $200,000 on food to feed National Guard troops, emergency operations staff and hospital patients, which included $91,000 at a Vineland pizzeria and another $91,000 at a deli in Tabernacle. Another $40,000 went toward hand sanitizer, which was in such short supply that the state hired two alcohol distilleries to provide it. There’s obviously much, much more of the nearly $300 million spent on COVID-19-related supplies and services since March 4. But, the Record says, a lot of that spending is still unknown. It will ultimately be fascinating reading to see who was thrown a ton of cash when we all have the luxury to reflect with some clarity.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ON AIR – There may actually be a reason to watch daytime soap operas. Of course, it is not for the ridiculous plot lines or the ability to stretch out a flimsy, banal story for six months. It is the fact that The Bold and the Beautiful must resort to using blow-up sex dolls for stand-ins during the love scenes in this era of social distancing. It is all about keeping the actors safe, but this news is probably the most interesting thing to happen to this perennial soap since one of the actresses came back to life for the umpteenth time, after being possessed by the devil through the 1990s. The first test with the sex doll came when the producers dug up an old doll that had been used as a corpse. The doll was posed and dressed, the actor then slobbered all over it and – voila – it somewhat passed as authentic! “It's a great doll and we'll be using her with hair and makeup as a stand-in to match some of our leading ladies,” one writer gushed.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1865 when Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger announced federal orders in Galveston, TX, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free. (Although the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them almost two and a half years earlier and the Civil War had largely ended with the defeat of the Confederate States in April, Texas was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops, so enforcement of the proclamation had been slow and inconsistent.)

WORD OF THE DAY 

Whodunit – [hoo-DUN-it] – noun

Definition: A detective story or mystery story

Example: On Father’s Day, I’m ready to sit on the beach and read a whodunit.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Science is truth.”

-Dr. Anthony Fauci

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Religious Liberty, among many other things, are OVER and GONE!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

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