ATLANTIC CITY – From political bosses like “Commodore” Kuehnle and “Nucky” Johnson, to mayors like Richard Jackson and William Somers, to commissioners like Arthur Ponzio, Atlantic City has had more than its share of less-than-ethical public officials who’ve skirted the law. So, welcome to that club Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr., who admitted stealing $87,000 from a non-profit youth basketball club and has resigned with a “heavy heart.” FBI agents found $41,000 of that loot in the mayor’s home, with plenty more cash blown on pricey restaurants and fancy clothes. The mayor, not even in office for two years, now faces up to 20 years in jail. Once again, mayor, welcome. You are now a member of Atlantic City’s colorful corruption club. And welcome Council President Marty Small, taking over the reigns at noon today. Good luck.

TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers were at such odds when concocting the state budget earlier this year that eventually the governor froze a big chunk of funds — $235 million.  That’s because, as far as he was concerned, the legislators’ budget numbers would have had them doing the walk of shame in a kindergarten math class. NJ Spotlight reports that, according to state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio, and based on “preliminary data,” it’s possible some of the frozen dough soon will be unfrozen. On the other hand, don’t wait up for any corresponding thaw in the relationship between the guv and Senate President Steve Sweeney.  Add it all up at NJ Spotlight.

TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy is joining the pile-on, the latest lawmaker to slam vaping companies intentionally trying to hook our kids with their wonderfully-flavorful products. Murphy wants all this nonsense banned from New Jersey shelves, endorsing the recommendations of his very own task force on the issue. Following a 32-page report, which we freely admit we did not read, the governor says he wants to “slam the door on flavored product,” now sold under such catchy names as “Buttered Popcorn,” "Strawberry & Banana,” “Cinnamon,” and “Berries & Cream.” Vaping companies, which claim with a serious face that they are not trying to drill nicotine into a new generation, are now one of the biggest threats to public health. Ban 'em, governor.

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UNION – New Jerseyans could soon have one less place to buy drapes, decorative garbage cans and candles. Sixty Bed Bath & Beyond stores will close, to the shock of those who possess the iconic “20% off” coupons that seem to be mailed daily to our homes. The national company, headquartered in Union Township, plans to shut some of its more underperforming stores by the end of the year, focusing its energies on locations that rake in more cash. The company also owns Harmon Face Values, buybuy Baby and World Market, so it seems we will all be able to buy the exact same stuff, just presented to us with a different kind of flair. That’s a relief.

NORTH JERSEY – Mailbox “phishing” thieves and “porch pirates” are stepping it up again, cops in Bergen and Essex counties warn. Ramsey has the latest rash of mailbox thefts with culprits using glue mouse traps and sticky soda bottles to “phish” envelopes containing checks and credit card payments from mailboxes, enabling them to create counterfeit duplicates. And, in Belleville, brazen bicycle-riding porch pirates got caught on a half-dozen home security cameras making swift getaways with people’s parcels. Cops tell The Record that such “crimes of opportunity” may become more frequent as the holiday gift-ordering season approaches. Hey, why go to the mall for your holiday list when you can just visit your neighbor’s porch?

STATEWIDE – Capt. James T. Kirk is boldly going where few Starfleet officers have gone before: New Jersey. Disguised as actor William Shatner, he’s the guest of honor at tonight’s special screening of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” at Morristown’s Mayo Performing Arts Center, and again Sunday at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park. Shatner is to share behind-the-scene Star Trek tales and field questions from a sea of Trekkies who’ve left their parents’ basements wearing fake Spock ears, Klingon battle garb or, of course, their freshly pressed Star Trek TOS uniforms. Phasers must remain on stun.

FANWOOD – It’s a big dog among small towns, says New Jersey Monthly magazine, which launched a bracket-style competition pitting 16 small towns against each other in a contest to get the most votes. Fanwood, honored for its Transit Village and smart growth initiatives, defeated not-so-shabby Bernardsville, Chester, Park Ridge, and Lambertville (the "twin city" of New Hope, Pa.) Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, who is finishing her term as President of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, said: “This contest is a great recognition to what we’ve always known – what a wonderful place Fanwood is. Now, it’s clear that the rest of New Jersey knows it, too.” 

IN THE MEDIA

NEWARK – In an alarming piece of journalism, ProPublica tells the story of a 61-year-old brain dead man who was in the intensive care unit of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and allegedly kept alive for months to gin up the one-year survival rate of the hospital’s organ transplant program. This eye-opening story is very much worth a read.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BERLIN – He may never have kissed a girl or been outside during the daytime, but a German soccer fan has at least one thing to be proud of: He broke a Guinness World Record by playing his favorite video game, Football Manager, for 333 virtual seasons. This guy – whose name is frightfully unimportant – started chasing this silly record when he was working in Africa in late 2017 and spent plenty of time by himself. Playing for 333 seasons would take that number of years in real professional soccer, but the game allowed this guy to reach the goal in “just” 1,940 hours of play. What a winner.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1987 that fathers across America reconnected with their daughters, as the NFL used a bunch of replacement players to fill the striking teams on “Scrub Sunday.”

WORD OF THE DAY

Apropos – [ap-rə-POH] – preposition

Definition: With regard to something; concerning

Example: Apropos of nothing, I think Rutgers football will beat the spread against Maryland tomorrow. (13 points)

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“It’s freezing and snowing in New York. We need global warming!"

WIT OF THE DAY

“Keep the change, ya filthy animal.”

― Kevin McCallister

WEATHER IN A WORD

Winner

THE NEW 60
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by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun