TRENTON - When you find yourself paying $10 for some pancakes and a cup of coffee, thank state lawmakers. On one hand, news that the state will be steadily raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 is tremendous for many struggling families. But someone has to pay for it. That, of course, will be the consumer. So, yeah, breakfast will be getting a little pricey at your local diner, and the management may decide to keep on one less cook for the morning rush to save money. But our state can proudly proclaim it finally has a livable wage for those who are scraping to get by. And kids with summer jobs - flush with cash - will certainly be able to afford those pancakes. NJSpotlight, of course, has the story.
TOMS RIVER - Here's a meteorite mystery. Two sisters found a huge crater on the beach and the big rock that made it while strolling in the Normandy Beach section. NBC News says resident Jean Muchanic and her sister found the crater, 48 hours after hundreds of people saw a "fireball" streak across our night sky. So, did they find a meteorite? A Stockton University physicist and a geologist from Philly's Franklin Institute are doubtful. Neither examined Muchanic's rock - they only saw photos. But the geologist says he'd rather "rule out anything terrestrial before saying the rock is extraterrestrial." So, the truth is still out there. Just like the aliens preparing to invade New Jersey and steal all those $15-an-hour jobs.
TRENTON - It sounds so sinister, all these "dark money" groups who directly impact New Jersey elections, but refuse to disclose their financial backers. There's now a bill in the Senate that would try to close this gaping campaign financial loophole that has ensnared Gov. Phil Murphy, who freely admits to accepting "dark money," which he calls "kosher" under our outdated campaign disclosure laws. Sen. Troy Singleton, a bill sponsor, sums it up in Politico: "These entities often create a web of clandestine groups that live in the shadows of our political system with benign sounding names designed to conceal their identities and true intentions from the public." This bill has strong support from Senate President Steve Sweeney and obviously Murphy has to show some "conceptual support" as it moves to the Senate floor. Maybe we'll finally learn about some other lawmakers that dark money has fueled.
TRENTON - Cops and firefighters are pawns in the latest money squabble between Mayor Reed Gusciora and his contentious City Council. The Trentonian says Gusciora is threatening to layoff at least 20 police officers and use firehouse "brownouts" (cutting on-duty firefighters per shift) to balance his $208 million budget for 2019. Gusciora was counting on millions of dollars in new revenue from a big May tax sale. But the City Council quashed it claiming it may unfairly penalize struggling property owners. PBA brass says the city "can't afford to lose even one" of its 285 cops whose ranks nearly recovered from a massive 2011 layoff.
HAMILTON - Speaking of financial disputes, there's another kerfuffle brewing in Mercer County. Hamilton's chief financial officer is suing Mayor Kelly Yaede and two other officials. Yaede tells the Trenton Times that CFO John Barrett neglected his duties, abused sick time and asked for more vacation time to work as a consultant in Spring Lake Heights and elsewhere. Conversely, Barrett says he was unfairly suspended from the $136,700 job he's held since 2007 just for being just too darn good at it. He's asking the Superior Court to grant him legal protections as a "whistleblower." This unfolding court drama could become a real nail-biter. Stay tuned.
STATEWIDE - People continue to flock from New Jersey, and that apparently includes undocumented immigrants. New Jersey saw 90,000 fewer illegal immigrants living here between 2006-17, which the Pew Research Center says is the sixth-largest decline of any U.S. state. The reason, says Pew, is "almost entirely due" to a dramatic drop in the volume of people sneaking over the border from Mexico. (Well, so much for that ultra-expensive border wall.) But, Pew is quick to note, New Jersey still has an undocumented population estimated at 475,000, one of the nation's highest levels - behind only New York, Florida, Texas, and California. Maybe the cheaper alternative is to build the wall around New Jersey.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
KUTZTOWN, Pa. - If asked to serve, I shall. The local police department sought some volunteers to get positively plastered as part of its "research." The Kutztown Police Department secured three volunteers willing to drink hard liquor to the point of inebriation so officers could be trained on how to administer field sobriety tests during traffic stops. (Really?) A call for volunteers on Facebook naturally accumulated hundreds of responses and more than 1,000 shares in less than a day. The post was soon updated with the news that the department had its volunteers for the April 4 training session, likely secured from the list of participants at the department's Labor Day picnic.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 2014 that a new world record was achieved when the United Kingdom's Lewis Clarke - just 16 - trekked to the South Pole. Great, but what the heck is wrong with his parents?
WORD OF THE DAY
Abstemious - [əb-STEE-mee-əs] - adjective
Definition: Marked by restraint, especially in the consumption of food or liquor
Example: Will the Kutztown Police Department's volunteers be abstemious?
WIT OF THE DAY
"An optimist thinks that this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears that this is true."
- Robert Oppenheimer
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun