NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers hit the national news this morning with its landmark decision to mandate that all arriving students this fall be vaccinated. CBS sat with Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, who described himself as a “COVID President,” as he has yet to experience this massive campus teeming with students. He believes the university is fully within its rights to require vaccination to ensure RU returns to normal this September. He also suggests that students refusing vaccines have plenty of other exciting educational programs they can pursue – just not on a Rutgers campus. Of course, this is very controversial stuff, and every other university is eagerly watching for fall-out of the Rutgers mandate. Whatever the case, local businesses and service providers in New Brunswick, as well as in Newark and Camden, eagerly await the return of all these vaccinated students, as it has been a very, very long school year for those who earn their living by serving the university community. 

STATEWIDE – Plenty has been written about the faceoff between landlords and tenants these days. Even if tenants have not paid a nickel of rent since the pandemic began 13 months ago, the state is preventing landlords from giving them the boot. The overdue balance continues to climb and climb, and most fed-up landlords – who have been carrying all the costs and taxes – assume considerable debt will never be paid. Gov. Phil Murphy has extended his generous moratorium until at least mid-June, while landlords have filed 58,861 eviction cases in the courts through the end of March. What a colossal mess, especially as this moratorium also benefits tenants who clearly have the ability to pay.  And the state is very aware of impending disaster, the Record reports, forecasting that nearly 200,000 New Jerseyans are looking squarely at eviction. Are we talking about more federal bailout? The more we write, the more complicated it all gets. So, we will stop here.

STATEWIDE – With billions of dollars in federal money flying all over New Jersey, likely getting stuck in the trees and stuck in windshield wipers, Murphy has plenty of leeway to pursue all of his progressive promises. And one of them is his “Garden State Guarantee,” in which low-income students can achieve the dream of a college degree without the risk of bankruptcy or a lifetime of paying heaping interest on student loans. The “guarantee,” part of Murphy’s proposed state budget for fiscal ’22, would make it possible for thousands of eligible students to attend any public college or university in the state for two years without tuition, while tuition costs would be locked for all students regardless of income level. Great stuff, as the federal cash is now piling on the Statehouse lawn. But, with the state’s historically rocky finances and tuition costs always on the rise, is this program really sustainable?

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NEW BRUNSWICK – It is a very tough morning for Johnson & Johnson. Despite the fact that its groundbreaking one-shot vaccine negatively impacted just one in a million people who received it, the feds are taking a pause for a few days. Gov. Phil Murphy says 235,000 doses have been administered in New Jersey without one issue. But the fact that six U.S. women suffered severe blood clots – an “extremely rare” occurrence, the feds say –  all 50 states are taking a break on the vaccine. While many, many, many believe this issue is just a hiccup, it is a certain PR nightmare for J&J’s global sales, as well as the national campaign encouraging as many Americans as possible to take whatever vaccine is offered.

BRIEFING BREATHER

If you plug your nose, you can't tell the difference between an apple, a potato, and an onion.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – There’s more than 2.5 million registered Democrats in New Jersey, but not one of them is taking on Murphy in the June 8 primary election. NJ.com reports there were a couple of Democrats who tried to gather 1,000 signatures on petitions, but a judge tossed them off the ballot for inadequate numbers. In one case, the would-be aspiring gubernatorial candidate couldn’t amass one valid signature from the 1,951 she submitted, which could be a record for ineptitude. In any case, it all means that Murphy doesn’t have to spend a nickel to win the party line, targeting his war chest for the November general election – a powerful incumbent in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 1 million voters.

STATEWIDE – Are you ready for the summer? Are you ready for the sunshine? Then hurry up and get your kiddies enrolled in camp, as NJ 101.5 reports that limited slots are filling up fast and there is already a waitlist. Why? Because camps have fewer slots available due to COVID restrictions, while parents are eager to disconnect their kids from the devices that have controlled all their time and their minds over the past 13 months. The NJ Camp Association notes the state camps welcomed tens of thousands of children last summer, yet reported only 14 “non-significant” cases of COVID. The key message here: Don’t wait to enroll your kid, or this summer will equate to a few hundred more hours of Fortnite. And you can’t say “it just doesn’t matter…”

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

VILLE De BITCHE, France – The French town of Ville de Bitche is absolutely lovely, but ended up as Facebook’s bitch. The social media behemoth removed the town’s page, based on the name's proximity to the common English insult. Ville de Bitche Mayor Benoit Kieffer says it was a real bitch on March 19, when Facebook removed the town, saying its entire existence was “in violation of conditions applying to Facebook pages.” The mayor tried to appeal, but received no reaction from a very bitchy Facebook. "At first, you wonder, was there a technical problem? However, with the length of time, it can be considered a real censorship," the mayor told CNN. Finally, on Tuesday morning, Ville de Bitche was fully restored.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was 1963 when George Harrison saw the unsigned Rolling Stones perform, telling others he was “impressed.”

WORD OF THE DAY

Abattoir – [abəˌtwär] – noun

Definition: A slaughterhouse

Example: “The Abattoir Grill” seems like a cool name for your favorite steak place, until you read today’s Word of the Day.

WIT OF THE DAY

“This is our history - from the Transcontinental Railroad to the Hoover Dam, to the dredging of our ports and building of our most historic bridges - our American ancestors prioritized growth and investment in our nation's infrastructure.”

-Cory Booker

BIDEN BLURB

“This is infrastructure.”

-Joe Biden, holding up a computer chip

WEATHER IN A WORD

Warmer