TRENTON - State officials are happy if you carry a balloon. Heck, carry as many as you want. Just don't ever let go. There's talk, once again, in Trenton about legislation that creates fines for people who intentionally release balloons. They target is not little Susie, who attempts to juggle an ice cream cone and a balloon as she navigates a windy boardwalk. The focus are people who carelessly dispose of balloons by just sending them into the heavens and figure they will magically land in a trash receptacle, perhaps in England. The state's Balloon Council - which many never realize existed - argues that legislation isn't necessary because the industry is promoting "smart balloon practices" and the legislation is clearly anti-balloon. But many local towns - especially along the shore - already have local ordinances in place to keep these balloons off the beaches, and away from wildlife. Could local legislation be enough?
STATEWIDE - Why are New Jersey's public colleges and universities so expensive? Hard to say, NJ Spotlight reports. Gov. Phil Murphy's proposed budget allocates $1.65 billion to support higher education, a 2.6 percent increase. Yet during four hours of testimony at an Assembly Budget Committee meeting, officials from the Garden State's ivory towers made it politely but firmly clear: That funding bump is not enough. It's not even close. Compounding the issue: Even with the high costs of in-state schools, New Jersey still has more college students flocking out of state than any other. An alarming stat: 55 percent of our high school graduates leave New Jersey to pursue higher education. If the problem continues, more than 31,000 college-bound students will flee each year, taking billions of dollars in tuition dollars. And many will never, ever return. Read it all here.
HOWELL - There's a whole new level of crazy on New Jersey roads. And it comes fresh from Howell, where an 18-year-old teen got out of his vehicle, cursed out the bus driver and smashed the driver's side window. Meanwhile, a bunch of kids, ages 5-8, sat on the bus, quiet and wide-eyed, as they got their first crash course in the Jersey pastime of senseless road rage. First, there's a car horn. Then the bus driver yells for the other driver to slow down. He responds: "Slow down? You f***ing bitch, you almost killed us, you f***ing idiot." And then, shattered glass. There's video of all this April 16 nonsense, of course, courtesy of NJ 101.5. "That was really mean," one of the kiddies noted, with two others agreeing, as the video ends. Cops say the teenaged driver turned himself in.
KENILWORTH - One would assume the former Kenilworth schools superintendent who famously lost his job for pooping under the bleachers of a high school field would quietly move on. But he is furious with the Holmdel cops, who appear to have gleefully released his mugshot to the media and turned him into a national media spectacle. The former superintendent, who lost a job paying nearly $150,000, has filed a federal lawsuit against the department, questioning why a mugshot was taken for this "low-level, non-criminal" offense and then leaked to media, NJ.com reports. The former school officials, who said the May 2018 incident was the result of a medical condition, argues he will never earn as much because of this worldwide news story that will never, ever leave Google. He raises an important point: Police are supposed to protect and serve, not feed the 24-hour news cycle.
STATEWIDE - New Jersey has its famously-high property taxes. Yet our towns apparently don't have the resources to attract volunteer and paid firefighters. NJ 101.5 is reporting about a federal FEMA grant - with a pot of $350 million - designed to entice more firefighters into our ranks, so they can be properly staffed when the bell rings. Recruitment is always a challenge - especially for the volunteer departments - in which firefighters need to be trained - and then be prepared to flee their families, or work, or fun - to run into burning buildings. And for absolutely no pay. Cities like Trenton, East Orange, Paterson and Elizabeth have smartly taken advantage of federal cash to swell the ranks. Hopefully many volunteer fire departments jump in, as well.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
JUNEAU, Alaska - Politics can really, really stink. That's the message from one airline passenger to airport inspectors, who were inquiring about the moose poop in opted to place in his carry-on. KTOO Public Media reports the man told agents he collects the moose nuggets and is pleased to present it to "politicians and their bleep policies." TSA folks said the discovery - while clearly disgusting - did not merit the need to file an official report with headquarters in D.C. Instead, this very odd man was sent on his way, with his treasured souvenirs from Alaska, although something still doesn't smell right.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 2017 that promised to end the days of indentured servitude in New Jersey. The state promoted a program to help employers actually pay their summer interns. The state threw $1.5 million into a program, and even gave it a jazzy name: the "Many Paths, One Future Internship Grant." The program reimbursed employers 50 percent on wages paid to the interns, up to $1,500. A smart way to get the kids off the couch, out the door and somewhere else.
WORD OF THE DAY
Minatory - [MIN-ə-tohr-ee] - adjective
Definition: Menacing or threatening
Example: Waking up at 5 a.m. to write this, I wore an ill-omened and minatory look.
WIT OF THE DAY
"What do people do with all the extra time they save by writing 'k' instead of 'ok'?"
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun