OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - New Jersey, one of the only employers who pays its workers for unused sick time, and then appears mystified when it struggles to balance its budget, may finally be capping sick-leave payouts.  The proposal, obviously unpopular with labor unions, has been discussed before, but not with traction. It is back in the mix again, to cap payouts to local government workers at $15,000 or whatever they've banked if they are above that number. It's all part of the latest effort to reign in costs, as media continually reports about retiring government workers reaping six-figure checks because they blessed enough to remain healthy.

JERSEY CITY - Well, that was fast. After Jersey City teachers hit the picket line Friday, prompting a half-day of school, it took 13 hours at the bargaining table yesterday to put an end to the quick strike. About 3,100 teachers returned to the classrooms this morning, ending an eight-month dispute. It's all being deemed as "fair and equitable," the Jersey Journal reports, although the contract details aren't being disclosed at the moment. But it looks like the teachers will be getting a boost in pay and some relief on skyrocketing health care costs, showing that organized labor can still pack a wallop when needed.

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BLAIRSTOWN - If you drank a lot of god-awful beer in college, and can still remember it, you never think much about the beer company behind it all. Yeah, it's just assumed to be a toxic brew of tap water and the cheapest grade of barley and hops permissible by Bangladeshi law. And so it is surprising to see the owners of Natural Light beer (Natty Light) stepping up to help one of its loyal fans. Ryan Campbell, a North Warren Regional High School graduate, is getting a $40,000 scholarship to pay off student loans from UNC. Campbell runs "Happiness is Camping," a summer camp in Hardwick for kids ages 6 to 15 who have cancer or siblings who are coping. "I did drink a lot of Natty Light," Campbell freely admitted to NJ.com. "And I never thought it would help me out in school, that's for sure."

TRENTON - Charities in New Jersey are wondering what's going to happen to the coffers this year, as Trump tax reform discourages generosity. That's because many less taxpayers will itemize deductions, giving them less reasons to donate to charity. Sen. Tom Kean has a solution, once again introducing legislation creating a state charitable deduction, like other states have done, preserving a safety net, NJ Spotlight reports. It makes plenty of sense to support the charitable sector, albeit a frustrating drain on state coffers. How many times does New Jersey have to take it on the chin from this President?

PENNINGTON - Count the son of one of New Jersey's favorite sons making a difference in protesting gun violence in schools. Jake Bongiovi, the 15-year-old son of New Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi, is stepping out of the big shadow, helping organize roughly 400 students walk out of the Pennington School last week with the support of private school leaders. He told NJ.com that inaction was not an option: "It's happened too many times that we watch it...And we cannot let it go away this time." Meanwhile, students elsewhere are still facing consequences for walking out, with students from South Plainfield High School getting word from their principal that any student who "leaves the building will receive an appropriate consequence as outlined in the student handbook." (Translation: one day of in-school suspension.) But the kids' record will be expunged, at the written request of parents. How nice.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - Romanian courts have made their decision: Constantin Reliu is dead. That is, of course, despite the fact that he flew in from Turkey a few days ago after living there for more than 20 years. It seems that in his absence, his ex-wife had him declared dead, and the local court, which is apparently staffed by Dilbert characters, refused to overturn the decision because his request was filed "too late." So now he's facing a predicament straight out of Monty Python: trying to prove that he's alive. "I'm a living ghost," he told the AP last weekend. "I am officially dead, although I'm alive." Sorta like Kevin Spacey.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

The news was a real Whopper on this day in 2012 when Wendy's surpassed Burger King as the second best-selling hamburger chain. Lesson learned: Never mess with a little red-haired girl in pigtails who owns a global empire.

WORD OF THE DAY

Anent - [uh-NENT] - preposition

Definition: About, concerning

Example: I have a strong opinion anent Wendy's blouse.

WEATHER IN A WORD

Brisk