TRENTON – This horrible winter is really messing with Gov. Phil Murphy, who has vowed to get 9.4 million doses of vaccine into New Jersey arms by Independence Day. Even with picture-perfect weather, a fool-proof logistics plan, and a steady supply of vaccine from the feds, that goal is a bit, well, lofty. All these mega, mega-sites around the state keep having to close because of snow, and shipments are being delayed, forcing people to have to reschedule appointments and sending the whole system into a further tizzy. Murphy told reporters yesterday that he frankly doesn’t know when the next delivery from the federal stockpile is coming; the state was due to receive 230,000 first and second doses. Yet, there’s no question the governor’s timetable will be met by Independence Day. It just depends on what year we’re talking about.

TRENTON – One of the benefits of legalized weed in New Jersey is that we’ll no longer have to write about all the political shenanigans to get the bill finally signed. Hard to believe we are still writing about this, but – sigh – here’s the very latest: The Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting this afternoon in a final push to prod Gov. Phil Murphy to go with the flow. The latest rendition further clarifies penalties for kids busted with a joint – Murphy’s sticking point. There need to be 21 votes in the upper house to get something to the governor. Our completely uninformed take on the backroom dealings: Voters overwhelmingly want recreational weed, the governor has been promoting it for four years and somehow, someway this will all get done at the latest second of the 11th hour. If we are wrong, cancel your free subscription.

STATEWIDE – There’s some bright end-of-the-week news that is unrelated to your snowman. The state’s unemployment rate continues to drop, reaching the lowest levels we’ve seen during this pandemic. There were 11,563 new claims last week, a nice, healthy drop of 29%, and lower than the four-week average of 16,100. A stunning fun fact: Since the pandemic started, the state has shelled out $22.8 billion in unemployment benefits over just 11 months, the average claimant receiving $15,550, NJ.com reports. All would agree: the more people returning to work now, the better for the long road to recovery.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Women blink nearly twice as much as men. 

ATLANTIC CITY – Trump Plaza is now smoldering rubble. Now what? That is the big question in Atlantic City, as the original plan was the construction of a $1.5 billion casino, to put Trump’s gaudy marble and brown shag carpeting to shame. Now, as workers spend the new few months cleaning up all the blown-to-bits concrete, the city will be looking to the property owner, tycoon Carl Icahn, to see how the billionaire plants to maximize his investment. Of course, the hope is for a family-friendly destination or mixed-use development that generates local jobs. Many agree: Don’t build another wall between the city and its shore. And, maybe, diversify the use so the site is not just another competing casino, but can attract more people to town. With Icahn in charge, expect something big and hopefully very taxable.

BOONTON – We’ve bid a farewell to freeholders, now it’s adiós to aldermen. The governing body here just switched from calling itself a “Board of Aldermen” to the more common title “Town Council.” The Daily Record says the name change leaves Dover as New Jersey’s only town with aldermen. The old-timey title, that dated back to 1867 in Boonton, discourages women from public office, as the town only had seven ‘alderwomen’ in its history: "One of the board’s two opponents countered the move, questioning “Where does it stop?” They are suggesting the words "mankind" and "manmade" may be next words erased from town, which should make for an interesting local ordinance in Boonton.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The next time you use an outhouse in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter in the middle of the backcountry, watch out for bears peeking out from under the toilet seat. That is the lesson learned by one local woman, who tells the AP: “I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt.” Her brother heard the screaming during the Feb. 13 incident, and raced toward the outhouse. He tells the AP: “I opened the toilet seat and there’s just a bear face just right there. I just shut the lid as fast as I could.” They figured the bear was looking for a warm place and slid through an opening at the bottom of the back door. Again: you have been warned.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2015 that Walmart announces a salary bump to $9 an hour for 500,000 employees – exceeding the minimum wage by $1.75 – and ensuring all these workers will still be hopelessly broke.

(Current minimum wage at Walmart? A pathetic $11 an hour.)

WORD OF THE DAY

Anodyne – [AN-uh-dyne] – adjective

Definition: Not likely to offend

Example: Another weekend at home and another weekend of watching anodyne Disney films.

WIT OF THE DAY

“I love California; I practically grew up in Phoenix.” 

-Dan Quayle

BIDEN BLURB

“Be careful — microphones are always hot, and understand that in Washington, D.C., a gaffe is when you tell the truth. So, be careful.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Flurries