OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY
TRENTON - The governor-elect has been talking plenty about his new commissioners, but is mum on the big, pressing issue of the moment. Will Phil Murphy reinstate a cap on the raises that arbitrators can award police officers and firefighters? The cap expired Monday, and Murphy is delaying a decision until he sees the final report of the Police and Fire Interest Arbitration Task Force. The issue: That report likely isn't coming. And earlier versions of the unfinished report say the cap contributed to $531 million in property tax savings. The unwinnable conundrum for a new, untested governor: Do you side with the labor unions or the taxpayers?
STATEWIDE - Under the title of terribly boring, yet terrifically important, a state panel says New Jersey's water infrastructure is antiquated and desperate for what could be a $40 billion overhaul. That's why you keep reading about pipeline breaks, trickling water service and pollution from runoff. Because no one exactly has $40 billion at the moment, a joint legislative panel suggests the state get started with a $400 million bond issue to deal with the worst of the worst. NJ Spotlight says you can read all about it in a 30-page report, which offers plenty of expensive solutions to a daunting - and perennially ignored - problem.
AT THE PUMP - New Jersey likes to point to Oregon as proof that other states understand the wisdom of full-service gas. But now, New Jersey is alone. With the Beaver State now permitting Oregonians to pump their own gas, NJ.com poses the age-old question: Why don't we have self-serve? An informal, unscientific poll says it's time to get rid of Jersey's roadside attendants. Yet, NJ.com reports strong support for full-service, with one responder saying New Jerseyans are just too stupid to undertake the basic task: "People can't even handle driving as they used to. So without common sense, how are they supposed to handle a flammable liquid surrounded by gas-powered vehicles and people in a concentrated area?" Hmm. We're sure we can figure it out.
EDGEWATER - The chances of winning a $5 million lottery seem impossible enough, but what if you didn't even mean to buy the ticket? A 46-year-old mom of two is stunned, after she was handed a $10 "Set For Life" ticket by mistake after buying a $1 scratch-off, the Record reports. Now she'll receive $172,068 annually for the rest of her life, making it clearly possible to pay for her kids' college. Playing the lottery by accident may not be sound college financial planning, but in this case, it worked.
IN THE MEDIA
David Wildstein, of Bridgegate fame, is back. You may remember that Wildstein had a journalism career before famously pleading guilty to his role in the Bridgegate mess. He ran PoliticsNJ.com under the alias of Wally Edge. Then, he was at PolitickerNJ.com. And now he has launched another website about New Jersey politics, known as PoliticsDW.com. It looks as if he is a one-man band at the moment, without any reporters. The enterprise also begs the question: Can New Jersey support yet another news website covering state politics?
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
TIFFIN, Ohio - His name is Bruce Wayne, and to the marketing folks at Chipotle, he is their real-life super hero. Fox News reports that Wayne has set a new record by eating a meal at his local fast food place for 426 consecutive days - and counting. Wayne documented his daily trips to Chipotle on Instagram, with a stream of photos of his food and receipts. In response, the marketing gurus awarded Wayne a custom-made Batman cape and cufflinks in recognition of his love for the caped crusader and, obviously, a steady diet of burrito bowls.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1983 that the fledgling United States Football League holds its first player draft, making the grand assumption that potential NFL players would happily jump to this unknown, unproven, completely irrelevant rival league.
WORD OF THE DAY
Hornswoggle - [HORN-swah-gull] - verb
Definition: To bamboozle, hoax
Example: Will Donald Trump get hornswaggled by Kim Jong-un?
WEATHER IN AN IMAGE