STATEWIDE – New Jerseyans eager for a vaccine will provide whatever information required: be it a cell phone number, a street address or an email address. And that’s marketing gold for retail pharmacies, such as CVS, Walmart and Walgreens. The Wall Street Journal reports these private businesses are collecting tons of data from millions of people eager to get on waiting lists for shots. These “customers” are being enrolled in patient systems and are registering for online profiles – even if they have no interest of ever stepping foot back in these mega-retail chains. The pharmacies are unapologetic, saying they are using the information to further promote their great stores and services and to “keep in touch.” “Every one of these customers is coming through our digital front end, so we have their email, we have their text message, and we have the ability to communicate with them regularly,” says one CVS honcho. The obvious ethical issue: People are providing their personal information to secure life-saving vaccine, not a lifetime of coupons for deodorant and hair dye. Lists need to be separated.

TRENTON – An apple for the teacher? No, but finally our teachers will be getting in line for the vaccine, as Gov. Phil Murphy is greatly expanding the list of individuals eligible to attempt to get a vaccination appointment. In fact, hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans will become eligible this month, including a very diverse mix of people: childcare workers, homeless people, migrant farm workers, clergy, restaurant employees, grocery workers, those who work on our buses and trains and the friendly mailman. The big question is if (and when) our fragile appointment system will crash with this burst of fresh new arms, but much more vaccine is being trucked to the state to hopefully cover a portion of this increased demand. J&J’s one-dose vaccine arrives at the perfect time.

FORT LEE – Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee? Tell us something we don’t know. For the third straight year, the I95–Route 4 junction at the George Washington Bridge earned the 2020 prize as America’s most congested stretch of highway. Even the CEO of the American Transportation Research Institute, which does an annual study, tells NJ.com she wasn’t floored that “Fort Lee is still No. 1.” Although scores of commuters stayed home last year, she says, “trucks did not stop rolling during the pandemic” and many people still had business in NYC, regardless of stay-at-home orders. Also among the top 100 traffic-jammed U.S. roads is the Interstates 76–676 junction in Camden, ranking 70th. Again, not much of a surprise.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Spider webs were the very first form of Band-Aids

POMPTON LAKES – “I am not a Nazi…I’m a decent guy.” Assume if those are your comments to New Jersey Globe, you are not the frontrunner for a seat in the New Jersey Assembly. Christian Barranco, a former Pompton Lakes councilman who is challenging entrenched candidates for a 26th district seat, is busy explaining himself, defending two Facebook posts that include images of a swastika flag. The image Barranco posted shows a comparison to the National Socialist German Workers and the two major political parties in the United States, trying to make it seem as if Democrats are more like Nazis than Republicans. “That was a share,” Barranco explained. “I thought it was fitting for all of those who think Republicans are Nazis.” Again, he may want to move his campaign talking points away from Nazis and more towards, say, taxes and education. But, hey, that’s just our opinion.

LAKEWOOD – The local school system always seems to be on the brink of doom, with dizzying budget gaps and soaring transportation costs that keep district leaders always with hat in hand, seeking state bailouts. Under the category of “absolutely nothing new,” an administrative law judge ruled yesterday that the district “cannot provide a thorough and efficient education to its public school students,” but state aid is not to blame, Politico reports. The judge continues: “The statistics sadly indicate that Lakewood’s students are not prepared for college, career, or life due to a constitutionally inadequate education.” The judge is calling for the state to dispatch some finance experts to figure where the money is evaporating and why the district is so “unwilling or unable, on its own'' to do its job. The school district’s response? Just another Tuesday morning. More coffee?

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SACRAMENTO, CA – One very confident plastic surgeon believed he could do two things at once: perform a procedure while appearing in traffic court on Zoom. But the judge thought differently, refusing to move forward with the case last Thursday as the doctor appeared to be, well, distracted, the Sacramento Bee reports. “Hello, Mr. Green? Hi. Are you available for trial?” asked a courtroom clerk as an officer summoned to appear in trial raised her eyebrows. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?” “I am, sir,” Green replied. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. Yes, I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.” The judge, however, thought it seemed a bit weird, at best, rescheduling the case for this Thursday. Meanwhile, the Medical Board of California has now taken its own interest in this traffic case, vowing its own investigation into this multi-tasking surgeon.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1989 that Mets slugger Daryl Strawberry takes a swing at his first basemen, Keith Hernandez.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

-Albert Einstein

BIDEN BLURB

“Nothing suffocates the promise of America more than unbounded cynicism and indifference.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Blustery