ATLANTIC CITY - Hard Rock International has already invested $562 million to completely overhaul the former Trump hotel. And yesterday, in pledging another $15 million in investment - the Hard Rock CEO had one request to Atlantic City: Can you fix the damn traffic lights? The CEO complained that traffic lights have been out for two months on several blocks of Pacific Avenue, an obvious safety concern for his customers and makes his host city look like a banana republic. You'd think a half billion dollars or so would translate into working traffic lights on some type of consistent basis. NJ.com noted the lights appeared to be working by yesterday afternoon. But, in Atlantic City, everything is a gamble.

KEYPORT – Lewdness? Inappropriate touching? Whoa, say it ain’t so! Yet, transgressions like these, dating back to 2016, finally forced a Route 35 strip club called “Fantasie's” to agree to a 135-day shutdown and to pay a $300,000 penalty to the state Division of Alcohol & Beverage Control. Undercover investigators say they uncovered scantily-clad dancers and hostesses engaging in prohibited no-no’s, especially with the booze flowing into the wee hours. The go-go bar disputed these accusations, saying there was nothing dirty going on. But, the Asbury Park Press reports, that Fantasie's has agreed to remain closed until May 16 and make annual $60,000 penalty payments for the next five years to keep its liquor license. So, expect a new, inflated price list taped to the pole.

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MIDDLETOWN – A local municipal court judge is now disbarred, after fixing 4,000 or so motor vehicle tickets to intentionally generate more cash for the local towns he served. The judge admitted to a fourth-degree offense of falsifying records. It was a pretty simple, but effective, scam to help the nine towns where he dispensed justice. He just converted motor vehicle fines into contempt of court fines so that none of the money would go to Monmouth County. (For motor vehicle fines, the towns would have to split the cash 50-50.) The good judge tried to argue the contempt of court fines were designed to hold defendants accountable for failing to appear in court, rather than just fill the municipal coffers with more cash. But, then, the judge admitted the towns looked favorably upon him when he maximized revenue. And there, folks, lies the problem.

TRENTON – In “The Mandalorian,” Baby Yoda can stop giant monsters with his mind; ask your kids if you need more information about that. Elsewhere in the galaxy, our star heroes commonly use deflector shields and other intergalactic gizmos. This week, Gov. Phil Murphy is using some of his own out-of-this-world defenses against the Trump administration’s continuing efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. “We’re too exposed if we’re relying on an unsettled, if not hostile, reality in Washington. We have to protect ourselves,” NJ Spotlight reportshim as saying. Then the governor unsheathed his shield, which in this case is nine bills that he signed into law to protect ACA health insurance for New Jersey residents.

BRIEFING BREATHER: "Stewardesses" is the longest word that can be typed on a QWERTY keyboard with only the left hand; "lollipop" with your right hand. Go ahead, give it a try.

STATEWIDE – Lucky us! We may get to pay taxes and fight traffic longer than those living across the Hudson. Why? New Jerseyans apparently live longer than most Americans (or maybe it just seems longer), according to a new life-expectancy study from insurance website TermLife2Go.com. It reports the average Jerseyan’s lifespan is now a rosy 80.7 years, tied for third highest with those wrinkly, plaid-wearing Minnesotans. The study also says our average national age is now 78.7 years and Hawaiians – perhaps because of all that hula dancing – are the longest-living Americans, with an average age of 81.7. 

OUT TO LUNCH – Fajitas, quesadillas and chalupas may soon cost more now that Taco Bell is promising to pay $100,000 salaries to “some managers” at “some” of its company-owned restaurants. That includes “some” in New Jersey, where we’ve got 90 Taco Bells (not all company-owned). Managers now earn $50,000-$80,000. Higher salaries would be similar to ones that maître'ds make at fancy joints that don’t offer meals on plastic trays with plastic sporks, plastic packaging and plastic straws. A big enchilada at Taco Bell HQ tells MarketWatch these bigger paydays are one way to “invest in our people, enhance morale, and boost retention.” Another way is offering “some valued employees” 24 hours of paid sick time each year. So, eat up to help out.

BELLEVILLE – While it has been months since the drinking water crisis became national news, the concern has not evaporated for many local residents. Mayor Michael Melham – who famously placed a billboard on Route 21 to raise awareness of the issue – has been able to raise $70,000 to provide water filters for eligible residents at no cost. This morning, he will join Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at Belleville Town Hall to distribute the filters and provide an update on water treatment plans. All should know that Belleville is under no federal or state mandate to provide filters, but is coordinating this give-away out of an abundance of caution, especially for seniors, little children and others who could be harmed by higher levels of lead in drinking water.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SCARSDALE, NY – Here’s yet another teen-aged over-achiever to make you feel bad about yourself. A local 17-year-old high schooler earned an internship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Between fetching coffee, taking lunch orders and walking back and forth from Parking Lot ZZ, he discovered a brand new planet. Oh, and that was on his third day on the job. He was checking out a solar system some 1,300 light years from Earth, perhaps hoping to find Lando flying the Millennium Falcon, when he noticed something in the orbit of two stars that was blocking the light. He informed his bosses, who likely laughed uproariously and dispatched him back to his rear cubicle. But then they took a look through a high-powered telescope. And then another look. And then a third. They confirmed it: the kid found a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth, CBS News reports. NASA made the discovery public at an astronomy conference this week in Honolulu, where the intern did a great job carrying luggage and hailing Uber.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1908 that New York City’s Board of Aldermen passed a law that banned women from smoking in public establishments. Katie Mulcahey was then jailed overnight, refusing to pay a $5 fine. (The mayor vetoed the law two weeks later.)

WORD OF THE DAY

Tontine – [TAHN-teen] – noun

Definition: A joint financial arrangement whereby the participants usually contribute equally to a prize that is awarded entirely to the participant who lives the longest.

Example: I won the tontine! But I’m 108 years old. Now what?

WIT OF THE DAY

“Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” 

― Ronald Reagan

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer, (is) someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Brr

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun