CHERRY HILL – School officials may be backing down from their much-maligned tuna fish policy that spurred a statewide outcry. Alarmed by the number of students not paying for school lunches, totaling over $14,000, district leaders decided to crack down with a fishy new policy. Kids who owe money get tuna sandwiches for lunch. Kids who owe more than $20 wouldn’t even get tuna sandwiches, leaving hungry kids to dab their cracked lips with water from the hall fountain. Of course, the policy sparked district-wide debate, with pro-and anti-tuna factions apoplectic. But a compromise of sorts may have been reached: Kids who owe more than $10 can get the “meal of the day,” whatever the heck that is. Meals would keep coming, no matter how much is owed, under the policy to be voted upon September 24. Some obvious leniency here, but these deadbeat students better pay every darn nickel they owe, or they will ultimately be banned from attending prom. Translation: Cherry Hill will get you. Eventually. 

STATEWIDE – New Jerseyans are quite happy being skeptics. No surprise, then, that our eyebrows shot up to our hairlines as the latest stupid Internet study declares us the fifth happiest Americans behind the giddy people of California, Minnesota, Utah and Hawaii. Our gleeful cynicism is because these are the same data-crunchers who, this year alone, reported that New Jersey’s taxes are backbreaking, our roads are crumbling, our health care costs are enormous, start-up businesses are strangled and barely any of us can afford to retire here. To make heads do a 360-spin, the source, WalletHub, claims the Garden State is now, officially, among the best places to live, shop, raise families, and find top-notch schools for our kids. The lesson here? Question any “study.”

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BERLIN – Gangster fans may find $1.75 million a steal for Al Capone’s hidden hideout, now up for sale in this Camden County borough. It’s an even bigger bargain than fictional mob boss Tony Soprano’s pad, on the market for double that price, with a measly 1.5-acres on a North Caldwell cul-de-sac. Old-timey (and real) mobsters, like Capone, lived large in his gilded “Valley House,” boasting four bedrooms and five baths on 36 acres tucked between a 300-acre Boy Scouts preserve and snooty private golf course. And, some lucky buyer just might finally find Capone’s secret vault that famously eluded that silly Geraldo Rivera back in ’86.

TRENTON – Wanna guess how many people in New Jersey went to the hospital for falls in a random year, say 2017? How does 77,500-plus sound? Well, to a couple of Jersey lawmakers, it sounds pretty darn expensive for the state, not forgetting the physical and emotional consequences for each and every patient. NJ Spotlight reports that Medicaid’s tab for much of the hospitalization, rehabilitation and after-care for older long-term care residents soared to $1.9 billion in 2017. A lot of falls could be prevented if we all exercised regularly to stay strong and flexible, among other precautions. NJ Spotlight has all the answers to eternal life; read them here.

STATEWIDE – Our lead story at the beginning of the week was news of an alleged shortage of White Claw carbonated beverage. Lots of Jersey skeptics here, questioning if there was a real, true shortage, or if this was just a terrific sales ploy to create a fake shortage and, therefore, gin up sales of bad-tasting booze. Like any intrepid non-journalists, it was our job to get to the bottom of the story, spending the week in various liquor stores to “research.” Our conclusion? Wherever White Claw was not being hoarded by those convinced of this shortage, there were plenty of cans to go around, for those who enjoy anemic sodas with a hint of fake fruit. This photo was taken last night at the ShopRite in Westfield, which miraculously managed to hold back the panicked masses.

IN THE NIGHT SKY – A rare Friday the 13th “Harvest Moon” will start brightening New Jersey’s skies tonight. And, you’ve got until Sunday’s wee hours to catch the full spectacle that won’t happen again until Friday the 13th in August 2049. Called a “Harvest Moon” because it’s the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says peak visibility is 12:33 a.m. tomorrow. Werewolves, devils, hatchet-wielding murderers and other lunatics preying on New Jersey need not look up.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ALL OVER – Have you noticed this recent marketing gimmick that continually generates national news coverage? Companies are pulling the same idea from the same playbook– with plenty of success. The strategy: They hire someone to be the beer-drinking intern, or the stay-in-a-bunch-of-luxury hotels intern, or whatever other “dream job.” They create a “nationwide search,” crown a winner, throw a few thousand bucks at the so-called “employee” and then they blast out the “news” to media, who gobble it up. The latest? A website is offering $1,000 to a chosen “Starbucks addict” willing to go an entire month drinking coffee elsewhere. Wow. What sacrifice. Applications are being sought for this “job,” as the nonsense press releases – and the free publicity – keep churning. Expect these “jobs” to keep being publicized, until the media, finally, catches on and finally ignores them. Meanwhile, we are holding a contest to “hire” someone to count the vowels in this blurb. We’ll give you $100. Apply today.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2010 that Raul Castro really enjoyed the freedom of being a dictator-for-life, announcing he is firing a half a million government workers in impoverished Cuba to “improve the economy."

WORD OF THE DAY

Fuhgeddaboudit – (Or “fahgedaboudit,” “fahgedaboutit” “fahgeddaboudit” or “fahgeddaboutit”) – interrogative

Definition: In representation of the regional speech in northern New Jersey: “forget about it,” used to indicate that a suggested scenario is unlikely or undesirable

Example: Yo, youse gonna buy Capone’s house? Fuhgeddaboudit!

WIT OF THE DAY

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

- Thomas Paine

WEATHER IN A WORD

Pretty

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