TRENTON – Maybe it’s time to stop screwing property taxpayers eligible for New Jersey’s Homestead rebate, NJ Spotlight reports. It has been a time-honored tradition for lawmakers to shortchange New Jersey homeowners who are eligible for the property-tax relief program based on income. NJ Spotlight reported how the proposed state budget still uses woefully outdated property tax bills to calculate Homestead benefits, saving the state millions of dollars, yet shortchanging taxpayers. Lawmakers are now asking the right questions, such as why the state is still using bills from 2006 as a baseline for calculating benefits that are supposed to keep pace with the ever-increasing taxes. For the past 15 years, property taxes have increased an estimated 40%. Perhaps, with the state flush with cash, now is the obvious time to make the program whole.

HOWELL – It may be a bit of a witch hunt in Howell, where the mayor is getting criticized for using her nonprofit medical organization to secure COVID vaccines for cops and residents. The Asbury Park Press says the town attorney wants the state to look into whether Mayor Theresa Berger acted unethically by connecting locals with vaccines. Lakewood-based Ocean Health Initiatives, of which Berger is president & CEO, coordinated vaccine doses for the township. The two-term Democrat insists she receives no financial benefit, yet the town attorney is making the stretch assumption that those billings go into the same pool of money that, in part, somewhere, pays Berger's salary. “This isn't about stopping vaccines in Howell…I'd rather make sure we have all our ducks in a row,” the attorney says in seeking the opinion of the state's Local Finance Board. In the grand scheme of things – 14 months in this pandemic – is this really a priority?

TRENTON – Under the category of “no surprise,” but still slightly “newsworthy,” Politico is reporting that the bigwigs of major cannabis businesses have contributed more than $20,000 to Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign. (Gasp!) It would have been newsier if these corporate honchos refused to give a nickel to the guy who worked over the past four years to bring their very lucrative business to his state. Anyway, Politico is reporting that a company called Verano Holdings has been very generous to Murphy, for obvious reasons. Illegal? No. Unethical? No. Fully expected? Of course. Relevant? Sorta.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The tool used to measure your feet at the shoe store is called a "Brannock Device."

WAYNE – So, what’s it worth for you to sit in a high school classroom all day, being routinely ignored? It’s worth a ton, which is why the Wayne schools have taken the unprecedented step to double the pay for its substitute teachers, NJ.com reports. The school district has been able to recruit 68 more brave souls for the soul-sucking job since February by jacking the daily pay to $225 for “permanent substitutes” – a terrific oxymoron – and $200 for folks who are willing to sacrifice their day from time to time, in service to the local, budding scholars. “We are so grateful for the many community members who have signed up to be district substitutes during a time when we are in great need,” a school official said.

BELLMAWR – It’s the Great Retaining Wall of Camden, and it has collapsed.  It all began with a well-intentioned project to clear up the traffic-clogging spaghetti highway of where Interstates 295 and 76 and Route 42 meet in Camden County – a project that began seven long years ago. But then, in late March, a retaining wall collapsed, thus pushing out the expected completion to 2028 or so, the Philly Inquirer reports. State Transportation Commission Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti says she doesn’t “want the orange barrel to be the state flower,” as the state figures how to end the endless construction. Meanwhile, in just six weeks, Memorial Day will be upon us, filling those highways again with eastbound Jersey Shore revelers. In the interim, state officials are eager figure out what caused the collapse and – dammit – how to repair it. “Imagine if you had a child enter the Bellmawr Park Elementary kindergarten class on the first day of construction. By the time it concludes, they’d be able to have earned an associate’s degree, at least,” adds Assemblyman William F. Moen Jr.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

RENO, NV – Any “athlete” who bowls – between healthy pours from the Bud pitcher – will share stories of the ever-elusive 7-10 split, two pins left standing on opposite sides of the lane. Of course, this bowler will tell you how he was able to do some super-spin and hit both pins for a spare. And, of course, he would be lying. But that is not the case with 18-year-old professional bowler Anthony Neuer, the first competitor in 30 years to convert a 7-10 split during a televised match. Neuer, who still ended up losing the match, offered this inspiring gem of a quote to the media horde: “It was pretty cool, honestly. I mean, I'm not gonna say it was bad.” 

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1992 that Pepsi giddily began test marketing the beverage of the future – Crystal Pepsi – with limited sales in Providence, Denver and Dallas. Customer response? What a great bottle to hide vodka while watching your kid’s Little League.

WORD OF THE DAY

Hoosegow – [HOOSS-gow] – noun

Definition: Informal term of jail

Example: Can I borrow some bucks to get out of the hoosegow?

WIT OF THE DAY

"You aren't taking the guns of law-abiding citizens of our right to bear arms, Mr. President.”

- Rep. Mike Rogers

BIDEN BLURB

“Nothing I'm recommending in any way infringes on the Second Amendment…. But no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.” 

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Drying