OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - There's really no clue what version of Gov. Chris Christie we will see at 2 p.m. today, as he delivers his last "State of the State" address in the Assembly rotunda. Will he be a lion (like early March) or a lamb (like late March)? If he's talking about fixing skyrocketing property taxes, free-falling debt ratings, fleeing taxpayers or unfunded pensions, expect it to be a hectic few months in Trenton. If he is talking about drug addiction and recovery - which has become his "safe" issue - expect all the gabbing in Trenton to be about who the next governor could be. Christie says he expects to exit the State House "loudly." Eager to learn what that means. 

TRENTON - The words "upstaged" and "big-footed" leap to mind when we hear that four declared gubernatorial candidates will get a chance to put their own spin on affairs of our state today, and will do it just a few hours ahead of Gov. Chris Christie's seventh and final State of the State address. Republican Jack Ciattarelli and Democrats Ray Lesniak, Phil Murphy and John Wisniewski will be making personal pitches and laying out their own Jersey agendas before a few hundred political and business leaders at a NJ Advance Media luncheon in the Wyndham Garden hotel. It all streams live on NJ.Com ... perhaps under the heading: Stealing Trenton Thunder. 

Sign Up for E-News

YOUR DRIVEWAY - When you head outside to warm your car, there could be a guy from the state Department of Environmental Protection with a clipboard, a thermometer and a stopwatch. That's because of a state law that says you can't idle your car in your own driveway for more than 15 minutes AND idling is allowed only if the temperature drops below 25 degrees, NJ 101.5 reports. Your first offense will cost $250, it doubles for the second offense and doubles again for the third offense. No clue who gets fined in their own driveway, but citations can be issued by the DEP, county environmental officers and local cops with apparently nothing else to do. Think we are making this up? Feel free to call the 24-hour hotline at 877-927-6337. And feel free to rat out the guy who lives at 354 Stockton St. in Princeton.

WALL - Aw, jeez, here we go again. PETA, which can make an animal-rights campaign out of virtually any topic, is proposing a new use for the site of the Circus Drive-in in Wall: create an "empathy museum" focusing on the plight of circus animals. Wow for taking a news story about a famous roadside drive-in that has been serving burgers, fries and grease for 62 years and pivoting it into an animal rights campaign, scoring quality news coverage such as this. Under its low-ball offer, PETA thinks the site could showcase the capture of wild animals such as tigers and elephants, as well as whips, chains, tiny cages, flaming hoops, and other implements. Or, whatever. PETA, once again, gets some free ink.  

TRENTON - Finally, it looks like the state will ban the sale of supplemental baby mattresses. These are fatal products that suffocate babies who fall through the sides, yet are commonly sold. In December, the Assembly voted unanimously to support the ban, fueled by Assemblyman Jamel Holley. And, yesterday, a companion bill in the Senate, courtesy of Sen. Teresa Ruiz, unanimously passed the Senate Commerce Committee, over the howls of one mattress manufacturer who has been profiting from this crap for decades. The credit goes to Keeping Babies Safe, a non-profit organization in Warren that has persistently raised this issue, and is the reason this industry will hopefully be decimated in New Jersey. And heaps of kudos to the likes of Toys R Us, buy buy Baby, Target, Sears, Wayfair, Kmart and others, which already refuse to sell this thing.  

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

MONMOUTH, Ore. - Emergency responders sprung to action in this frozen tundra of Oregon, pulling out all the stops to rescue a cow stuck on a frozen pond on Friday. The Polk County Sheriff's Office heard the cow had fallen and couldn't get up. In freezing temperatures, they were able to lasso the cow and pull her safely off the ice. How moo-ving. Happy to report the cow is doing fine; sheriff's officers celebrated with pints of milk and extra rare T-bones.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY  

It was this day in 1982 that Dave Lapham, a 259-pound guard for the Cincinnati Bengals, decided there really was no reason to wear long sleeves, even as the wind chill dipped to 59 degrees below zero in a playoff game with the San Diego Chargers, forever known as the "Freezer Bowl." Lapham, No. 62, played in the NFL for one more year, before likely dropping dead of pneumonia.  

 

WORD OF THE DAY 

Crepitate [krep-i-teyt] - verb 

Definition: To make a crackling sound  

Example: As Donald Trump takes his oath of office in 10 days, expect a nearby candy wrapper to crepitate. 

WEATHER IN A WORD 

Better