TRENTON – Well, how about this? The state Treasury actually has some money. Of course, this is just a fleeting moment, a speck in time because of the mountains of pandemic borrowing. There’s some real hope the cash won’t be squandered as state debt swirls like the February winds. The reason for all the moolah? The state is now borrowing $4 billion for pandemic response, NJ.com reports, while more people are paying their state taxes than expected. Meanwhile, the state could soon reap another $6 billion in federal aid. So, what does New Jersey do? Go on a typical spending spree? Or pare down ongoing obligations, like the unemployment fund and state pension payments? We find out tomorrow, when Gov. Phil Murphy delivers his annual budget message, in his reelection year. All hope for fiscal brilliance and prudence.

TRENTON – State Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks has been tarred and feathered for weeks, but still has his job, unbelievably. Now, the State Senate has voted 35-0 to fire him, as well as called for a federal takeover of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County and the eventual transfer of the women inmates to a safer facility. Meanwhile, to pile on, the state Assembly finished drafting articles of impeachment against the commissioner, NJ.com reports. The pressure mounts and mounts on Murphy, after six female prisoners said they were injured by staff last month, and one woman claims she was sexually assaulted. Three officers have been charged, so far, and the feds say sexual abuse was rampant. Yet, still, the commissioner whistles off to work this morning, as the torch-in-hand mob calls again for his ouster.

SPARTA – Sure, some get a little wacko with their Facebook posts – especially if it involves school closings during this pandemic mess. But there is a line. And a Sparta resident clearly crossed it, posting: “If (schools) don’t open soon, it will be time for physical violence against the people keeping the schools closed.” This resident also claimed that parents “should be knocking down the doors of the (board of education) members and union leaders.” School officials referred the case to Sparta police, but also dashed off a letter to parents which read, in part, “We will not tolerate those who try to take matters into their own hands or incite violence as an intimidation tactic, simply because they are dissatisfied with the Board, Administration and our teachers who are doing their best in these very trying circumstances.” Here’s hoping the district letter doesn’t prompt a whole new round of colorful posts, as frustration reaches a boiling point.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The microwave was invented when a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket. 

MONTCLAIR – Sex ed in kindergarten? That’s the suggestion from a Montclair State study, which says the curriculum must start much, much earlier and include more than tips on avoiding sexually-transmitted diseases or getting pregnant, NJ.com reports. OK, great. But why so early? University researchers say that sex ed classes are myopic in focus, avoiding such heavy topics as child sex abuse and partner violence, sexual diversity, improved environments for LGBTQ+ students and discussions on nurturing lifelong healthy relationships. Researchers say: “If someone had suggested to us: let’s not introduce any math concepts at all – addition, subtraction — until 8th grade algebra and then start teaching everything, we would say that’s ridiculous, and the same is true of sex education.” Sure, but some may still argue that 5-year-olds should first learn about birds and bees before they, well, learn about the birds and bees.

TRENTON – The state Legislature is having some more votes today to legalize weed. We refuse to write about this story again until Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill, hopefully this week. But don’t count on it. We go dark on this topic. Beginning… Now.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

CINCINNATI – More frost, less flake. Customs officials say they found an interesting shipment of cereal, which was actually cocaine-coated corn flakes. In fact, there was a total of 44 pounds of it, which a narcotics dog named Bico sniffed out from incoming freight from Peru. It seems the shipment bounced all over the word, from South America to a Hong Kong home, before arriving in Ohio last week. Customs authorities say the big interception is Gr-r-reat! 

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – The local court is busy with an interesting case: A local man and woman – who did not know each other – got into an argument in August 2019 during a clash in a park. The man clenched his fist as if to punch the woman. She responded, oddly, by pushing into him and kissing him on the mouth. “During the course of that, she bit through his tongue, which caused a piece of his tongue to be removed,” the court said. Then, things got weird, Edinburgh News reports. The man walked off and spat a chunk of his tongue onto the ground, which was immediately grabbed by a large seagull, who then flew away with it. The woman was then arrested, as the man, with “oozing blood” from his mouth went to the hospital. Now the court is figuring out what to do with the woman, facing jail time for “permanent disfigurement,” yet with the key evidence vanishing with the bird. The big question: so, what was this argument all about?

WORD OF THE DAY

Snollygoster – [snälēˌɡästər] – noun

Definition: A shrewd, unprincipled person

Example: Give generously; don’t be such a snollygoster.

WIT OF THE DAY

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."  

-Winston Churchill

BIDEN BLURB

 

"We literally have the chance to shape the future - to put our own stamp on the face and character of America, to bend history just a little bit."

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Messy