OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - It's like shutting the barn door after the prize Clydesdale escapes. But making future presidential candidates disclose their income tax returns before their names are allowed on New Jersey's ballot sounds like a capital idea. Assemblymen John McKeon and Troy Singleton want the Garden State to join five other states that have similar laws, saying it restores transparency. Coincidentally, their proposal comes just as our unpredictable President fesses up he's never ever releasing his tax returns. Ever.  

METUCHEN - Next time you ride your horse down Route 27 through Middlesex County's "Brainy Borough," don't count on watering your thirsty steed at Woodwild Park's historic horse trough. The 116-year-old cast iron landmark is gone. It's getting refurbished at an Alabama ironworks, part of a $60,000 restoration to the stonework, driveway and sidewalks at the undeveloped 3.5-acre park and wildlife sanctuary. The Edison-Metuchen Sentinel says there's one hitch: The non-profit group that manages Woodwild Park has only raised $21,000 so far. To help, visit www.woodwildpark.org. Your horse will be grateful.   

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STATEWIDE - It really wasn't that long ago that New Jersey had two area codes: 609 and 201. But then, with the explosion of fax machines, cell phones and internet phone numbers, it seems like every living, breathing thing has its own New Jersey phone number and area code - even if he or she lives nowhere near the state. So, now we have 908, 973, 551, 732, 848, 856 and 862. But, darn it, that is still not enough. State officials are now considering a new area code to help out 609, as it appears that area code will run out of numbers by the third quarter of next year. At this rate, every county will soon have its own area code.

STATEWIDE - Wondering why you never have any money? Perhaps it is because property taxes increased yet another $700 million across New Jersey last year - the biggest jump in six years. NJ 101.5 has crunched the numbers, showing the average taxpayer is coughing up another $200 for the honor and privilege to live in the state. You may recall that Gov. Chris Christie instituted a 2 percent cap on tax hikes. But there are exceptions to pay for stuff like pensions, debt, health insurance, construction and anything deemed "an emergency." So, pay up.  

MIDDLETOWN - Eight hundred residents made their presence known last night to rage against a plan to build a 10-mile-long, high-voltage power line through residential neighborhoods. They called themselves "R.A.G.E.," or "Residents Against Giant Electric." (Pretty clever.) And they are immensely ticked off by the $111 million proposal that cuts through Holmdel, Hazlet, and Middletown, connecting substations in Red Bank and Aberdeen. Residents are talking about health issues, aesthetic issues, real estate values and all the other top "NIMBY" concerns. Such a project is needed to ensure reliability in the power grid, we assume, but why does it have to be routed through neighborhoods?  

SECAUCUS - Make sure you don't leave your toothbrush in the hotel room. Oh, and also don't forget your stash of pot. That's the mistake a trio of North Jersey residents made, forgetting a one-pound vacuum-sealed bag of marijuana in their Plaza Drive hotel room. The housekeeping staff at the Residence Inn made the discovery. Cops then tracked down the proud owners: a North Bergen woman and two Union City men. The trio now faces various possession charges; two were released with summonses and one remains a guest of the Hudson County jail. No mints on his pillow this morning.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

BEIJING - Hard to tell what is a real tweet from our President or what is completely fabricated by a crazy person. But, apparently in China, there has been plenty of fake tweeting on websites, in which, you too, can create messages at a fake @realdonaldtrump. These websites even have his avatar and a real-time timestamp. Here are some tweets being generated in China, by people having an absolute blast:  

- @realdonaldtrump's "favorite boy band" is the South Korean group GOT7: "They are so cute!" 

- @realdonaldtrump thinks Shanghai Jiaotong University is better than its crosstown rival. 

- @realdonaldtrump wants to buy a jianbing (typical Chinese street food) and wants Mexico to pay for it.  

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1979 that we first witnessed two unemployed hicks speeding around the dirt roads of backwoods Georgia in a 1969 Dodge Charger, with dumb cops in full, reckless pursuit, as CBS unveiled the "Dukes of Hazzard."  

WORD OF THE DAY 

Barbican [BAR-bih-kun] - noun 

Definition: A tower at a gate or bridge  

Example: The President is going to build the biggest, greatest barbicans for the shark-infested moat surrounding the United States of America. 

 WEATHER IN A WORD 

 Winds