HOBOKEN – It took a tragic commuter train crash for us to finally learn that the Federal Railroad Administration had slapped NJ Transit with more than a dozen safety violations in 2014 and 2015, and that our state-owned public transportation system has shelled out more than $500,000 in federal fines and penalties since 2011. Infractions range from workers' drug and alcohol use to ignoring proper safety protocols. NJ Transit also may have been hit with more safety infractions during a federal audit in June, the Record reports. Now, it appears the data recorder, or “black box,” found in the wreckage from last Thursday's crash is more than two decades old, didn't work, and will be absolutely no help to National Transportation Safety Board investigators. Our lawmakers, we hope, are not on board with any of this.

TRENTON – It all seems a bit anti-climatic. After hearing for years about how the state's Transportation Trust Fund is hopelessly broke; after listening for months about a proposed gas tax being the only solution, our lawmakers quietly hashed out a deal on Friday. We might have expected fireworks and a ticker-tape parade down West State Street, with Gov. Chris Christie, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto on floats, shaking hands with adoring masses, all celebrating the fact they actually agree on something. But, alas, no. So, now we have a 23-cent gas tax, some tax cuts to offset the bitter pill, and thousands of laid-off construction workers heading back to work. Congrats, gentlemen. You deserve the key to some city.

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BAYONNE – Mocking your political opponents doesn’t always work. Sometimes they strike back harder. Just ask Mayor Jimmy Davis, who blasted his childhood friend-tuned-foe's recall drive as being feeble. Former pal Pat Desmond retaliated, naturally, calling his former pal a do-nothing mayor, says the Hudson County View. Desmond then accused city business administrator Joe Demarco of going after city workers who dare oppose the mayor. Desmond also took wild jabs at one of his own recall allies, calling him a “jackass” and “the biggest liar on the face of the earth.” No end in sight to this. Vintage Bayonne.

BEACH HAVEN – So much for transparency. A former candidate for mayor of nearby Stafford Township took the concept a wee too far, wearing bikini briefs made of clear plastic wrap as he …um, er … hung out on the beach for two days in late September. Borough police charged Stephen Wojciehowski, 59, with lewdness for leaving nothing to the imagination of other wide-eyed beach-goers, the Asbury Park Press reports. In 2000, Wojciehowski ran in a hotly contested, three-way race for mayor of Stafford. He is to appear in Municipal Court this month. How he appears will be of interest to the court.

EDISON – Wearing bubble-gum pink T-shirts under their uniforms, cops here found a quirky way to fight more than crime in October. The department's 180-officers hope the pink T-shirts, visible only at their shirt collars, trigger conversations with township residents during national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Officers are armed with breast cancer pamphlets and will be raising money for medical research. PBA Local 75 Michael Schwarz tells the Home News Tribune: “If our slightly off-beat, unorthodox approach helps just one woman with early detection, encourages her to see a doctor and receive early, life-saving treatment — it's mission accomplished.”

TRENTON – Six years behind bars may have left this jailbird longing for a Slurpee. Could be why, just three days after his prison release, he pulled a gunpoint stick-up at a 7-Eleven in Wrightstown. Two months and four armed robberies later, the 25-year-old Burlington County man was finally arrested again after a hold-up at a Hamilton Avenue phone store last week, the Trenton Times says. Also charged in robberies at another Trenton phone store, pharmacy and gasoline station, perhaps this guy isn’t exactly ready for parole just yet.


ON AIR – A warm welcome to the return of Saturday Night Live, just in time for the big election. A Gov. Chris Christie impersonation also returns. Rather than try to write a recap, enjoy it all yourself.


Tough year at GM, as the auto maker announced on this day in 2014 that it was issuing its 71st recall of the year. This time, it involved more than 500,000 Cadillac SUVs, Saab SUVs and Chevy Spark cars. No biggie, just some non-working and loose parts.


Verbatim [ver-BAY-tim] – adverb

Definition: Word for word

Example: Will Donald Trump take Gov. Chris Christie’s debate advice as verbatim?