STATEWIDE – Even when most schools in New Jersey are remote at the moment, the school bus industry is still being slammed. Usually, at this point of the year, media is writing about drunken, hopelessly lost, or overly-angry bus drivers, or the ones who simply forget to drop off the kids at the correct school. This time, the news comes from the Attorney General, following reports in Gannett, charging a school bus company with fraud. The allegation: for five years, the company hired unlicensed drivers, or those with criminal histories or who use illegal drugs. Even more: the company apparently falsified vehicle inspection forms, while it enjoyed $3.5 million in contracts with school districts in Essex, Passaic, Morris and Union counties. With the heaps of money it costs taxpayers for transportation, this report offers hope that more bus companies can be run with some degree of professionalism.
JERSEY CITY – City officials continue to clean up the town, and that now includes all the porta-johns. The City Council is finally calling for maintenance and cleaning standards for those often neglected toilets, in which they would need to be cleaned at least once a week, the Jersey Journal reports. That would include the basics – like removing all the waste, like sanitizing and perhaps including one or two of those lovely urinal cakes. City officials are even shooting for the stars with this ordinance, even demanding hand soap, sanitizer and – get this – hand towels. While they are at it, perhaps require a nice collection of magazines? We prefer The Week, if recommendations are being sought.
The only Japanese person on the Titanic survived; then considered a coward in Japan for not diving in with the other passengers.
NEWARK – Just in time for Columbus Day, city officials are giving the Italian explorer the boot. A city park where Christopher Columbus’s statue proudly stood for generations will now be renamed to honor underground railroad hero Harriet Tubman, as Tubman Square, TAPInto Newark reports. Mayor Ras Baraka says Washington Park will now proudly celebrate Tubman with a statue, as her railroad of freedom often went through Newark. The Columbus statue was a gift of Newark’s Italian community, which raised $25,000 or so. It was unveiled in 1927 in front of a crowd of 50,000, following a parade and floats that attracted Gov. A. Harry Moore. You can now discover the Columbus statue sitting in a city DPW storage yard.
STATEWIDE – Dollar General may soon be called Two Dollar General, as the super-duper discount store is trying to go upscale. It is now unveiling a new concept called “Popshelf,” in which non-essential stuff like home décor will be sold. The whole idea is to tap a market beyond the bargain hunters who shop at the retailer's 16,700 dollar stores around the country; Popshelf will sell items upwards of $5 apiece, Fortune reports. So, in targeting families who earn $125,000 a year or so, Popshelf will be selling beauty products, Christmas decorations and even fancy food items for parties, like charcuterie plates, whatever the heck that may be. Will Popshelf work? Well, that last quarter at Dollar General saw a 25% increase in sales, to $8.7 billion, with about 400 stores in New Jersey. So, let’s assume that Target better watch out.
SPOTSWOOD – New Jersey sure takes its food trucks seriously, which is why we must tell you the sad story of the Zeppole Guys food truck. The three-year-old business – based on a 100-year-old family recipe for “gourmet” zeppole – went up in flames at the owner’s Helmetta home, the Home News Tribune reports. It had sat proudly during business hours in the parking lot of the American Legion Post 253 until 3 a.m. on Sept. 27, when a powerful explosion destroyed it, further frying the Oreos. Liability insurance does not cover the $30,000 loss; a GoFundMe page has been set up. The zeppole food truck generously donated proceeds to the American Legion, so all are hopeful it can rebuild – especially with its six for $6.95 deal.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
WASHINGTON – You never know what’s going to attack you these days on the White House lawn. Just ask CNN reporter Joe Johns, who had an on-air confrontation with an aggressive raccoon. (No, not Kellyanne Conway.) Johns was preparing to deliver his report (also known as “fake news” in some circles) when he was caught on video yelling “Get!” at a raccoon and throwing a bag at him. “Frickin' raccoons, man. God, again! This is the second time! Jesus. It always comes around right around when I'm about to go on TV ... get!” Johns shouts in the footage. Apparently, this is an ongoing problem, as CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid reported Sept. 28 of raccoons attacking numerous media crews at the White House. If this doesn’t teach a lesson, Trump may try bobcats.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
Hey, it still counted as six fantasy football points on this day in 1960, when Cowboys QB Eddie LaBaron threw the shortest TD pass ever – just two inches.
WORD OF THE DAY
Leitmotif – [LYTE-moh-teef] – noun
Definition: A melodic phrase or figure that accompanies the reappearance of an idea, person, or situation in a music drama
Example: An annoying fly has been the Internet’s leitmotif since Wednesday night.
WIT OF THE DAY
“I knew this job would be hard. But I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this."
“My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist."
-Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD