TRENTON – In our new Bizarro world, in which anything printed in a newspaper must be “fake,” you need to applaud basic journalism. Look to NJ Spotlight, which actually took the time to go through the line items in the new state budget, unlike 8.8 million New Jerseyans. There were plenty of little goodies dropped in at the last minute, as the state borrows $4.5 billion to stay afloat. So, in this crisis, there is an apparent priority for shade tree management in Metuchen, a municipal facility renovation in East Brunswick, a museum renovation in Edison and the dredging of a reservoir in Clark. This budget also supports an Essex County youth golf program, with a generous $4 million grant. Just the must-haves.

GLOUCESTER COUNTY – You can call this county a “battleground,” with voters supporting Trump in 2016 and then going for Gov. Phil Murphy in 2017. And perhaps that’s why local politicos are now squabbling over the specific locations of those ballot drop boxes. New Jersey Globe reports the issue is even going to court, with a judge ordering the county to halt the printing of public notices announcing the location of the drop box locations. What the heck is going on? Well, the Republicans are upset that the boxes have apparently been placed in Democratic towns, and they argue the Board of Elections’ decisions are being made without their input. Very, very specifically, the GOP wants to know why Harrison and East Greenwich aren’t getting drop boxes, as they just happen to be Republican hamlets. The county’s all-Democratic leadership may need to explain.

OFF THE RAILS – Does it ever feel like NJ Transit is not listening to complaints? The Record notes email addresses or phone numbers for board members are not publicly available. A “board feedback” form on the NJ Transit website first goes to the customer service office, and it’s unclear if messages are forwarded anywhere, or die in a cyber vacuum of nothingness. Public meetings are heavily scripted, leaving little time or patience for dialogue about points not on the agenda or reaction to public comments. The Record notes that may all finally be changing, as new board members are demanding more response. Bob Gordon, for one, has been outspoken, meeting on his own time with riders, while demanding an overhaul to this rigid structure of communication that fuels bureaucracy, as well as fury.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Drivers convicted of DUI in Ohio must use yellow license plates.

ASBURY PARK – A missing half-million dollars at the Asbury Hotel? Auditors finally figured out the problem – an employee who was able to rip off the hotel over three years. The money blindly flowed in many ways, like $159,898 to cover his AmEx bill, $165,144 deposited in his personal checking account and $51,150 in cash withdrawals from the hotel account. He even pocketed $6,791 for the heck of it. Unclear what this thief’s end game was here, as it seems some auditor, at some point, would figure out quite easily how the Asbury Hotel was bleeding money. NJ 101.5 reports the employee, of Montclair, was arrested Tuesday and let’s just assume he was relieved of his check-writing duties.

NEW BRUNSWICK - What can 65 cents really buy? If you happen to be Rutgers University, you can get an oyster. But, under this very specific deal with shellfish farmers on the Delaware Bay, Rutgers needs to buy 76,000 of them. Because of the pandemic, and the closure of restaurants, oyster farmers have been desperate to unload their overgrown shellfish. The oysters are being transported from Delaware Bay-area farms to targeted oyster restoration sites in Little Egg Harbor and the Mullica River in New Jersey this month. This shellfish exchange is a smart deal for all. Farmers unload surplus, the oysters help the ecosystem and RU funds the deal with a $70,000 federal grant.

NEW BRUNSWICK – In response to this pandemic, do the people in this city have to do everything? Apparently so, reports TAPInto New Brunswick.  First, Rutgers earned international acclaim for quickly developing a saliva test for COVID-19, with FDA approval by April 13, just as the virus was spreading and testing was desperately needed. Now, Johnson & Johnson, headquartered in the city, is looking for 60,000 people around the world to test its fresh, new vaccine, with plans to manufacture 1 billion doses next year. Amazing to see so much landmark news, addressing an international crisis, smack in the center of New Jersey. Who knew?

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ABERHOSAN, UK – The generations have collided in this small Welsh town, as scores of millennials were infuriated that their broadband signal vanished at 7 a.m. every single morning for the last 18 months. Engineers scratched their heads, as the Internet company was slammed with ongoing complaints from nearly 400 inhabitants. But there was one inhabitant who wasn’t complaining; an old man still using his second-hand TV from the 1970s, Openreach reported. As engineers trudged up and down every street in the village, cursing, they finally discovered an electrical interference at this man’s home. It was quickly learned that the broadband went out just as he turned on the TV at 7 a.m. and settled in with a nice cup of tea. When a loud knock was heard at his door, the elderly man quickly learned of the problem and vowed to finally retire the rabbit ears.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

 

It was this day in 2012 that Chinese bookstores suspended the sale of books by or about Japan, and all books by Japanese authors. So much for that terrific book on haiku.

WORD OF THE DAY

Crabwise – [KRAB-wyze] – adverb

Definition: Sideways

Example: I inched crabwise on the couch, trying to find the remote.

WIT OF THE DAY

“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.”

- Louis Nizer

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“When Biden was vice president, he was a complete disaster on the swine flu, which was a much easier thing to handle.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Gorgeous