STATEWIDE – Clearly not a man to count his chickens, Gov. Phil Murphy says that a “responsible reopening” of the state is still a long way off. Nevertheless, he is expected to outline broad parameters of a reopening plan today. Let’s watch for what he says about contact tracing; that’s when health officials swoop in and interview every person who tests positive, find out who they’ve been in recent contact with, interview the latter and isolate them. A report in NJ Spotlight describes contact tracing as a decades-old, “shoe-leather tactic of epidemiology.” The most important piece of equipment needed? A phone, and not even a smartphone, at that. To be really effective, contact tracing in the Garden State could involve thousands of tracers. Hand us a flip phone; let’s all embrace this.
TRENTON – If you were hoping to spend your Sunday trying to get state unemployment benefits, annoyance led to frustration, which led to anger, which led to fury, which led to you launching that flip phone out the window. Why? There was a widespread system outage beginning in the morning, NJ.com reports. By 6:45 p.m. last night, the state’s wildly antiquated system was still not working, drowning in the unprecedented number of claims that continue to flood in. The state told NJ.com that it was “working feverishly” to identify what the heck is happening, and fully anticipates the system will be magically working today. If not, no doubt everyone will hear about it.
STATEWIDE – You aren’t supposed to go outside, but you still have to answer to that old, annoying ticket for texting while driving. That’s because some of the state’s municipal courts are re-opening for business today, NJ 101.5 reports. You just need to plead your case on video or by the phone, which, quite honestly, is considerably more convenient than being among the anxious herd in a municipal courtroom, where justice is dispensed like PEZ candy. Today marks the first time that many courts will be open, in any form, since the governor shut them down on March 16. Maybe this is your rare moment for some leniency, with an unshaven judge wearing pajamas under his judicial robe.
FORT LEE – One mayor is going to boldly defy property tax deadlines. Second-quarter property taxes are due Friday in every town in the state. But Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich is taking it upon himself to graciously extend the deadline for 30 days and charge no interest, including during the 10-day grace period. So, nobody in Fort Lee needs to pay up until June 10. Sokolich calls it “relief” for pandemic-weary property owners. Meanwhile, the state calls it ridiculously illegal, saying hizzoner has “zero authority” to shift deadlines. Sokolich tell The Record he’s “willing to assume all consequences … willing to take this chance.” Mayors in Englewood and Palisades Park are applauding Sokolich’s gusty gambit and say they now plan to do it too. Politicking and pandering by plucky pols promotes popularity at the polls.
BRIEFING BREATHER: With nine letters, "screeched" is the longest single-syllable word in the English language.
ATLANTIC CITY – When it comes to finances, city officials play musical chairs, praying the music never stops. Well, it has. And there doesn’t seem to be a chair to be found. Atlantic City relies on two helping hands: casino revenue and state aid, the Press of Atlantic City reports. In fact, last year, state funding and casino cash plugged 43% of the $208 million municipal budget. It all works great in good times. But now that the casinos are closed and the state is flat broke, what happens to Atlantic City? Dunno. And the council president admits that he is “very concerned.”
KNUCKLEHEAD OF THE DAY
HAMILTON – A math teacher’s meltdown got caught on video, screaming at two teenagers to “die a long, painful death” from COVID-19 after she saw them dare to toss a football in a park. The wild video went viral after the boys promptly put it on Snapchat and TikTok. The Trentonian says the Steinert High School math teacher yelled at the teens from behind a chain-link fence at an East Franklin Street park as she walked her dog last Thursday. On the video, the 37-year-old teacher says she doesn’t care if her rant gets splashed on social media, adding: “Get it through your thick heads … you’re the idiots doing the wrong thing. I’m just trying to save your ass.” The tabloid says police and the school district are aware of this run-in. No clue if she faces any fallout for her knucklehead-like aggression. One Murphy here.
KNUCKLEHEAD SCORE: 1 out of 5 Murphies
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
ONLINE – One industry thriving during these endless at-home days? Cybersex matchmakers, as Ashley Madison – a website that serves hordes of cheating spouses who have yet to be caught – reports a massive uptick in business. During the pandemic, Ashley Madison has added an estimated 17,000 new customers a day, NY Post reports. Company officials (aka “home wreckers”) say their members are using the site as a “release valve” for the tension of staying at home, day after day, week after week, as a way to connect with others who are not already completely sick of them. To fully maximize the crisis, Ashley Madison has even released a new tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.”
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was on this day in 1990 that the Barbershop Quartet Singing Convention held its 50th-annual conference, in Michigan.
WORD OF THE DAY
Rictus – [riktəs] – noun
Definition: A fixed grimace or grin.
Example: I have a pretty substantial rictus when friends suggest to my wife a “Word of the Day.”
WIT OF THE DAY
“Hamburgers! The corner-stone of any nutritious breakfast.”
- Quentin Tarantino
“I will often be in the Oval Office late into the night & read & see that I am angrily eating a hamburger & Diet Coke in my bedroom.”
- Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD: Damp
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun