The Jaffe Briefing will be on vacation beginning Wednesday, July 1, returning Tuesday, July 7

TRENTON – Um, perhaps we started celebrating too soon. Minutes after yesterday’s Jaffe Briefing was sent to more than 26,000 subscribers – with full-throated excitement that restaurants and bars would reopen for indoor table service starting Thursday – Gov. Phil Murphy did a 180, announcing he’s rescinding his permission. While it certainly would have been nice for him to give us a friendly jingle beforehand with a heads up, hey, we get it: He’s a busy guy. We forgive him. And it does make plenty of sense to delay indoor dining. Knuckleheads continue to pack the Jersey Shore’s outdoor bars acting like, well, knuckleheads, giving the governor pause. Coronavirus loves to breed indoors, especially at crowded knucklehead bars. So, we now wait indefinitely for their grand reopening. And we appreciate Murphy doing what he thinks is right – despite howls and yelps from restaurant and bar owners whose businesses remain stuck in the muck. Damn those knuckleheads.

STATEWIDE – Black bears are showing up everywhere: Near shopping areas in Cranford, Westfield, Bridgewater and Short Hills; outside a closed Manahawkin theater; and in backyards in Roseland and Cliffside Park. Don’t panic. There aren’t more bears, just more people stuck at home to see them, a state environmental official tells The Record. He says the COVID-19 shutdown has kept more families home-bound, meaning less traffic to dissuade traveling bears and more enticing edibles in the curbside trash, as the pizza boxes mount. As a result, the state got 475 nuisances and damage complaints about bears since Jan. 1, double last year’s volume. Until we can all get back to work: Just grin and bear it.

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EDISON – Instead of rolling in dough, this town is sinking in debt from a new Water & Sewer Utility it got forced to throw together in eight months. This utility’s 14,000 customers are now getting whacked with whopping fees to pay for the pricey bureaucracy, the Home News Tribune reports. Town Hall had to hire 25 new employees, pay outside experts, buy loads of heavy-duty equipment and stock up on materials. This time last year, Edison officials were giddy about a lucrative long-term lease to outsource its water and sewer services, something it did for three decades. A new company, however, offered Edison a glitzy $100 million upfront; $370 million more in yearly payments; $500 million in upgrades; and reasonable customer rates. Sadly, that deal got shredded in this town’s brutal political buzzsaw, leaving Town Hall to flush wads of cash down the drain. Gotta love Edison.

BRIEFING BREATHER

Gerald Ford once worked as a cover model for Cosmopolitan magazine.

STATEWIDE – If you ever pulled the curtain closed and scanned the ballot on the voting machine, ready to do your democratic duty, only to be completely flummoxed by who’s running for what — well, welcome to New Jersey. The latest, greatest report from New Jersey Policy Perspective claims that Garden State ballots are designed to keep the candidates endorsed by their parties front and center, consigning others to what some cognoscenti call “Budget Siberia.” Another apt expression: “gerrymandering the ballot.” And in yet another dubious first for New Jersey, we’re the only state that has a ballot this difficult to decipher. Don’t expect it to change anytime soon: The party bosses think things are just fine as you keep your eyes glued on “Column A,” rather than, say, the well-meaning longshot on “Column H.” NJ Spotlight, like always, explains.

PERTH AMBOY – Mayor Wilda Diaz is facing a street fight for re-election with five potential challengers out to deny her a fourth term. Councilman Hemlin Caba is, so far, the only one to officially announce and is the most organized. The Home News Tribune says Caba, the city’s Democratic chairman, has already assembled his city council team. Councilmen Fernando Irizarry and Joel Pabon – two others with mayoral dreams – picked up nomination petitions from the City Clerk, but neither has made a move. The newspaper also mentions hotel manager Justin Maldonado and attorney Joseph B. Vas, son of the city’s disgraced ex-mayor who Diaz defeated in 2007. There’s no upcoming primary; this city has non-partisan races. That means plenty more time for politicking before the Nov. 3 election for a real smackdown.

TRENTON – You may find an old desk in the trash heap outside the governor’s office, as Gov. Phil Murphy is jumping on the bandwagon to scrub New Jersey of the name “Woodrow Wilson.” (Spit in disgust here.) Murphy now refuses to even sit at Wilson’s old desk, which has been banging around the governor’s office since around 1911, when Wilson was the state’s head honcho. “The governor has a new desk as of Friday,” proclaimed a spokesman. Murphy did note it was the only desk he had, but it is safe to assume the multi-millionaire will find something somewhere, perhaps at Staples.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

MELLONSFOLLY RANCH, NEW ZEALAND – Ready to get out of New Jersey? Go to a place that is 100% COVID-free – an abandoned Wild West pseudo-town. In fact, you can own the whole darn place for just $7.5 million – probably around the same cost as a decent house in LBI with an ocean view. The town was built in 2006 as a tribute to the Wild West right here in the good ol’ USA and includes 10 buildings and a honey business. It’s pretty cool, to tell you the truth. Mellonsfolly Ranch is built on 900 acres, designed to resemble a 1860s frontier town in Wyoming with plenty of space for the deer and the antelope to play. You even get to run the Lucky Strike Saloon, and sleep it off next door, at Miss Nancy Anne’s Hotel. Full disclosure: it might be tough getting some vittles and hooch; you would be living in a rural swath of central New Zealand, slightly outside the reach of Amazon.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1989 that Rep. Buz Lukens, an Ohio Republican, was found guilty for paying to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. Of no surprise, he was no longer a Member of Congress by 1990.

WORD OF THE DAY

Parse – [PARSS] – verb

Definition: To divide (a sentence) into grammatical parts and identify the parts and their relations to each other

Example: As we can’t meet for a drink inside a bar, want to get together and parse a few paragraphs?

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“Don’t forget to love yourself.”

-Soren Kierkegaard

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Sorry to inform the Do Nothing Democrats, but I am getting VERY GOOD internal Polling Numbers.”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Scattered