HAMILTON - There are nearly 11,000 people employed at NJ Transit, yet not one of them has the responsibility of opening the Hamilton train station each morning. Rather, NJ.com reports, that task is delegated to the people who work at Dunkin' Donuts. No sugarcoating here, NJ Transit freely admits that employees of the mega-coffee chain's location here have the key to the station doors and the responsibility for getting it open around 4 a.m. for early-bird commuters. Likely this is no big deal, until it is revealed that Wawa cashiers are also tasked with steering the trains.

STATEWIDE -  Nearly one out of five households in New Jersey need to spend more than half their income just to have a home. Such a lopsided burden means these families have precious little money left to spend on important items like good, nutritious food and needed medicine. Residents of Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties grapple with the most severe housing problems in the state, according to new rankings report. Residents in Union and Atlantic counties also have been hit hard. The rankings take into account high housing costs when compared to such factors as income, overcrowding, or even the lack of kitchens or bathrooms. NJ Spotlight has more on this commonly underreported story. 

TRENTON - Expect the New Jersey airwaves to be burning up over the next couple of days with one topic: marijuana. Monday has been hyped as the possible day for the state Legislature to finally vote on a recreational pot bill, which has been discussed and debated since Gov. Phil Murphy announced a run for governor. Murphy is still arm-twisting lawmakers for votes and is offering a new, clever twist: Voting for marijuana is now a civil rights issue, he says, as minorities have been unfairly targeted in drug arrests. The bill would include expungements on marijuana busts for as many as 200,000 people, and put plenty of drug dealers out of business. After all this, can't wait to hear the talking points on legalized prostitution.

PATERSON - To protect, to serve and... to rob?  That's what authorities are claiming in Paterson, where five cops are accused of stopping drivers and pedestrians, robbing them of cash, splitting the proceeds and then falsifying reports, NorthJersey.com reports. You just gotta shake your head at this one, as illegal traffic stops, shakedowns, civil rights violations are all part of this scam over a two-year period. Cops are proclaiming innocence, yet there are plenty of text messages between them. Three cops have been formally busted so far; two others remain unnamed.

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PATERSON - Plans to layoff 120 teachers come just days after six public school officials got back (no doubt, sporting nice tans) from a $14,000 junket to Puerto Rico to recruit Spanish-speaking teachers. Just bad timing? Perhaps. But, the Paterson Press now says the city's school superintendent Eileen Shafer says terminating 183 mid-level administrators, teachers, security guards and secretaries is the only way to close a $22 million budget gap. And, taxpayers still may see a 14 percent jump in school taxes. Hope those Mojitos were tasty. 

BRIGANTINE - The amount of plastic manufactured globally is expected to grow by 40 percent by 2030, yet recycling efforts will only address about nine percent of it. So, will the Earth be swallowed by plastic pollution? That's the big question among 180 students from 11 schools statewide who are in Brigantine this morning, participating in the New Jersey Clean Communities Council's 11th-annual Environmental Exchange. While there is little chance that developing countries will slow down plastics production for a growing and eager customer base, there is something that can be done: Creating a global culture of reduce, reuse, recycle. And any New Jersey student can take an important step forward, from declining a plastic straw or bag at the convenience store to urging their school leaders to stop serving cafeteria food in Styrofoam shells. The prevailing message: Everyone needs to play a part, as plastics are invading the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

GREECE, N.Y. - There's finally a sensible use for those flimsy plastic bags you get at the store. A local resident has somehow been able to knit 310 of them into a new suit. Yes, this 75-year-old woman from western New York may have had some extra time on her hands this winter, scissoring thin strips of brown bags into a skirt and jacket. She stitched them together with yarn and even lined it all with cotton fabric, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports. One observer noted the outfit looks pretty darn chic, with a nice tweed look, courtesy of the green printing on Wegmans brown bags. Next up: creating bikinis from shoelaces?

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2015 that the Izod Center (Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena) closed. Its grand opening in July 1981 gloriously featured Bruce Springsteen. Its last show on March 22, 2015 was a gaggle of elephants, tigers, horses and dogs, with animal rights protesters yelling at Ringling Bros. from behind a metal fence, near a parking garage.

WORD OF THE DAY

Collop - [KAHL-əp] - noun

Definition: A slice or slab, especially of meat; or, a fold or roll of excess flesh

Example: Two hundred sit-ups a day, and I still just can't get rid of this collop.

 

WIT OF THE DAY

"Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive."

 

Elbert Hubbard

WEATHER IN A WORD

Dreary

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