NEWARK - Gov. Chris Christie is still trying to wrangle $300 million in surplus from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield to fund care for cancer patients, veterans, and drug addicts. Sounds laudable, but many see this as just a $300 million tax hike on the non-profit's 3.8 million policy holders, as any legitimate insurance company must keep decent reserves for catastrophes. Meanwhile, the governor is taking the offensive, as usual, slamming the "monopolistic insurance company" for "outrageous and offensive executive salaries" with luxurious perks, and a payroll packed with "retired politicians and retired political operatives," NJ 101.5 reports. The silver lining: Just 263 days until Christie is a retired politician, with an outrageous and offensive executive salary, and luxurious perks.  

ON THE RAILS - With word that the chronic delay of NJ Transit trains will drag through summer, some great news: The agency is now issuing "delay letters" to commuters, which they can then present to the humorless boss to explain why they have been late for work every day for the past two weeks, why they have missed countless meetings, why clients are ticked off and why the company is now likely circling the drain. No worries; it's all explained in the letter, courtesy of your pals at NJ Transit. Each letter even features the official NJ Transit logo, as well as the date of the train delay and the reason for the delay. Now that's service!  

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NEW BRUNSWICK - An "online community" is often a great place to grouse, especially when your identity can be shrouded in secrecy. But some of the complaints on a section of Reddit called /r/Rutgers prompted Rutgers Career Services to act. As TAPInto New Brunswick reports, Reddit tore apart an employer called "Focus on China," which lures students with the promise of a spectacular internship abroad in a smog-filled Communist country. But the Beijing company then requires the students to pay for the privilege of the work. No thank you, says RU, stripping the job posts from the "CareerKnight" platform.

STATEWIDE - It's not a good time to be an undocumented immigrant living in New Jersey, as agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) tell NJTV they are arresting people like crazy. Busts are up by 20 percent since last October, while a focus in Newark over that same time has prompted a 30 percent uptick in arrests. A directive from the White House has prompted a lot of fervor, as agents are on the hunt for specific individuals they know are here illegally. Lots of frightened hombres, Mr. Trump.

CLOSTER - Remember when a good ol' cup of joe cost you some pocket change? Ok, probably not. But this whole super-deluxe coffee thing has now entered the realm of obscene. The first "Starbucks Reserve" coffee bar is opening in New Jersey, in the tiny town of Closter. Here, you can plunk down $10 for a measly 12 ounces of coffee - a "nuanced cup" via full immersion and vacuum filtration, NJ.com reports. Perhaps this coffee is actually ground by Tarzan as he swings from vine to vine in the Amazon, as Jane extracts the clearest cold water from a hidden, centuries-old virgin stream, to brew you the custom-crafted java you so richly deserve. (Linen-infused zarf: $8 extra.)

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NUTLEY - You learn plenty on a high school crew team. But rarely does that include emergency rescue of suicidal people. It was a memorable practice yesterday afternoon, when the team launched from its boathouse in Kearny and was rowing near the Bridge Street Bridge in Harrison. CBS reports the team saw a man splashing and threw him a flotation device and got him safely ashore. They later learned Harrison cops were dealing with a jumper, but could not hold on and he fell into the river. Amazingly, he was not seriously injured. And the crew team continued with practice. After all, state championships are tomorrow.


NEW YORK - It was certainly a unique "ribbon cutting" yesterday, as officials gathered at a new public toilet to officially cut the toilet paper. This is no ordinary johnnie on the spot. We are talking a $300,000, air-conditioned gem, with fresh flowers, imported tiles, classical music and artwork. This posh bathroom sits in the landmarked Beaux Arts building behind the New York Public Library, opening after a three-month renovation. Enjoy the eye-popping, LED-illuminated elegance, as you take in the art created by Bryant Park's painters-in-residence. And, yes, this facility is public, free and the, uh, place to go.


If there was ever a question of who was the favorite Beatle, this may help: It was this day in 1975, when John Lennon appeared on "The Tonight Show." At the same time, Ringo was booked by The Smothers Brothers.


Slough - [SLUFF] - verb 

Definition: To crumble slowly and fall away  

Example: I stopped in Monmouth Beach this morning to see how my sand castle fared over the winter. Apparently, at some point, it sloughed off into the ocean. Go figure.