OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY
STATEWIDE - It's still a mess out there, evident in the numbers: As of 6 a.m., nearly 230,000 electrical customers were without power. There was thunder, snow, fallen trees, downed wires, stranded motorists and more than two feet of heavy snow impossible to shovel without help from the Hulk. Closed schools, delayed openings of government buildings, cancelled flights, train delays (of course) and plenty of closed roads will be the hallmark of this late winter nor'easter, which hopefully will quickly melt. Silver lining: The first pitch at CitiField is just three weeks from today.
STATEWIDE - There was an official "State of Emergency," leaving New Jerseyans with one burning question: What is the governor wearing? Well, following the signature fleece of former Gov. Chris Christie, all eyes were on Gov. Phil Murphy as he responded to the storm. He, too, was also in fleece. But not your typical Christie fleece. Politico reports Murphy had on this impressive 5.11 Tactical brand fleece liner, issued to State Police as part of the official "gear." Murphy also wore the matching State Police ball cap, sending the clear message that he is running the command center and - back off, pal - he is completely in charge.
ON THE RAILS - Rail commuters this morning were steamed, but couldn't really blame NJ Transit for the trains that didn't show up. That's because of the big tree limbs dropping on the tracks, making it impossible for the choo-choos to get through. So, all the early-morning trains on some major lines were suspended, as workers cleared the tracks and commuters were late to work, once again. Annoying? Yes. Frustrating? Of course. But, this time, you gotta blame Mother Nature.
ON THE ROADS - With word the nor'easter was slamming New Jersey, state officials repeatedly said: Stay off the roads. Yet, apparently, no one listened. NJ.com reports hundreds of car crashes yesterday, as State Police had to use their over-stretched resources to respond to all the fender-benders and disabled vehicles skidding all over the state roadways. There were plenty of spin-outs, flat tires and engine issues reported. With two feet of slush and snow, perhaps all these pizza joints could temporarily halt the promise of 30-minute delivery and give these cops a break.
STATEWIDE - New Jersey taxpayers are fed up, but reasonable. A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll says that 76 percent of taxpayers would actually be willing to pay even more in taxes, if that is possible, to fund investments in much-needed infrastructure improvements, like fixing the damn roads. There's also 70 percent of us willing to put up more money for education, and 62 percent are ok with a reasonable bump in taxes to handle the state pension mess. Of course, in typical Jersey fashion, we want someone else to pay those extra taxes. The poll found plenty of interest in the proposed millionaire's tax, as well as taxes on recreational marijuana, to foot the bill.
STATEWIDE - If anyone still reads U.S. News and World Report, time to cancel your subscription with a flourish. That's because this online publication is slamming New Jersey as one of the worst states in the union. Huh? Maybe we are perfectly fine with our last-in-the-nation fiscal stability, or the fact we can't exactly balance a budget, or our awful credit rating or our sketchy long-term fiscal outlook. The news site did graciously recognize that New Jersey has great health care, education and public safety - but it's no where near enough to dig the state out of the basement in comparable rankings.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ever wonder what punters on college football teams do in their spare time? OK, likely not. But one of the punters for Ohio State is spending the off-season trying to get in the Guinness Book of World Records, with talents that have nothing to do with the gridiron. Check out Drue Chrisman, who posted a video on Twitter showing his impressive ability to flip 63 water bottles in just one minute. Our cursory review of the Guinness website shows no one has the distinction yet for this world record, but the record-keepers note they are uninterested in any feat less than 34 flips per minute. So it looks like Chrisman has the record - until, of course, the kiddies go to summer camp.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1995 that Konstantinos Stephanopoulos wins the presidency of Greece, likely because his was the only name that could fit on a campaign sign.
WORD OF THE DAY
Bird-dog - [BERD-dawg] - verb
Definition: To watch closely
Example: Greeks closely bird-dogged the election of Konstantinos Stephanopoulos in 1995
WEATHER IN A WORD