STATEWIDE – Homeowners in New Jersey still have bitter memories from 2017, when President Trump famously decided to cap federal property tax deductions at $10,000. Made a lot of sense at the time. For him. His voters come from less-taxed states, and – in his thinking – who really cares if Blue states pay more in federal taxes? But now, there’s talk to reverse this particular tax on non-Trump supporters, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledging to work with Congress to make things fair across all states, no matter who we prefer as president. Yellen agrees that the limitation on state and local tax, or SALT, write-offs in Trump’s 2017 tax law is causing “disparate treatment across taxpayers.” Yup.
DOWN THE SHORE – It’s almost April, so that means you’ve rented a summer beach house by now, right? Right? Giddy real estate agents say summer rentals are flying off the shelves, as it seems property owners can demand whatever sum they darn well please. The Philly Inquirer says the shore towns are filling up quickly – but not just with renters. Former city dwellers are paying a pretty penny to move to the shore, but are still able to save money from the ridiculous NYC rents. In Ocean County, median sales prices in January and February jumped 38.5% to $360,000 from a year ago, with nearly 500 units sold, a jump of 17.2%. Also, many are diving into all-year-round rentals, in which you can live a few blocks from the shore and still save money from the big city. “Once you step off the hamster wheel of New York,” says one former NYC resident now living in Ventnor, “it’s hard to go back.” Just remember your checkbook.
STATEWIDE – As information is spread more and more rapidly across the globe and beyond, the U.S. Postal Service is backtracking to the days of the Pony Express. When business and society demand same-day delivery, the postmaster believes this is the ideal time to announce even slower mail delivery standards and a cut in service hours at some post offices. It is all part of some 10-year plan to “stabilize” this federal service that has been bleeding money for decades. Sure, there is a $160 billion hole in the upcoming years that must be addressed. But it is hard to fathom the success of any business strategy that calls for worse service and more inconvenience when the rest of the world is zipping by. A proposal to now deliver first-class mail in up to five days? C’mon, Mr. Postman.
The King of Hearts is the only king in a deck of cards without a mustache.
IN SCHOOL – Kids say the darndest things. And a state lawmaker wants to make sure they keep doing so in their school newspapers. Assemblyman Hal Wirths wants to block public school and college administrators from gagging student journalists. Wirths’ bill, up soon for an Assembly vote, prohibits school censorship except for anything libelous, that incites violence, or invades someone’s privacy. It also protects faculty from discipline if they stand up for students’ rights to free speech. Wirths tells the Shore News Network that student journalists can be “important watchdogs (whose) voices deserve to be heard. Censoring students sets a dangerous precedent.” The state Senate has already unanimously passed an identical bill. So, expect a scathing review of the cafeteria meatloaf.
ON THE ROAD – If you need any more reason to mistrust online studies, there's a new one that claims we are safer on New Jersey’s traffic-clogged highways than, say, driving across the open expanse of Wyoming or New Mexico. Huh? Numbers-crunchers at Zutobi, a driver-ed company, rank the Garden State as the eighth safest state for drivers. Their ‘deep dive’ into federal highway safety makes some other incredible statements. Some “facts” include that New Jerseyans are slightly better behind the wheel than Connecticut drivers. Huh? It also says Massachusetts motorists are America’s second safest drivers. That’s baloney, especially if you’ve ever had some wild-eyed Mass-hole tailgate you at 95 mph on the Parkway. The #1 safest place to drive? This study says it's Washington DC. – the overbuilt city where exasperated Uber drivers scream at 24-hour, rush hour traffic.
IN THE MEDIA
LAKEWOOD – It is now Day Three of the story about the sexist photo caption posted Sunday on the Asbury Park Press website, as the newspaper is getting a crash course in crisis communications. Now, following pressure from Sen. Vin Gopal and others demanding details about how the offensive caption appeared in the first place, the newspaper is offering the expected explanation. Here we go: The newspaper’s content management system allows staffers to publish directly to the news website without editors. Such a reckless practice is allowed because, the editor explains, it ensures “that breaking news can get to readers as quickly as possible.” The real reason reporters can self-publish is because Virginia-based Gannett does not want to pay for editors to watch over everything, especially on a Sunday night. If newspapers were properly staffed – like when the Asbury Park Press was in its glory days – this nonsense would not have happened. But when Gannett cuts, cuts and cuts, stories like this are inevitable. The editor – doing what he can – now pledges that no photo and caption will be published without another staffer looking it over, regardless of the time of day. Or, Gannett can hire more editors to properly staff its operation.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
DUESSELDORF, Germany – The pandemic has shut down all restaurants and bars here, creating a terrible quandary for the landmark Fuechschen Brewery. Stuck with 1,585 gallons of old, unsold beer, the brewery struck up a deal with local bakers, now using the grains from the brewing process to produce loaves of “Treberbrot,” or “Spent Grain Bread.” “It would have been such a shame to just toss out such a tasty beer,” said the brewery owner. “We came up with this idea to bake the bread with the beer, to leave out the water. I think it’s great that these two craft industries have come together like this.” So far, a dozen bakeries have signed on, selling loaves for $4.95 apiece with the added bonus of Fuechschen’s Altbier, a specialty beer, for free with each loaf. What a deal, which would never be allowed in New Jersey, with all our silly regulation.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
The United Nations was born on this day in 1947, when John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donates a site on the East River in NYC.
WORD OF THE DAY
Inimitable – [in-IM-it-uh-bul] – adjective
Definition: Not capable of being imitated
Example: Good writers are inimitable even as they are widely imitated. (Mull that around for a bit.)
WIT OF THE DAY
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
“You have to try and get control of the mess that was inherited.”
WEATHER IN A WORD