STATEWIDE – Hey, buddy, can you spare some change? Sure, times are tough, but these nickels and dimes are especially needed as our sputtering nation is dealing with yet another blow: a national change shortage. First COVID, then a shattered economy, and now this. (Can 2020 suck anymore?) The dilemma has risen to the highest ranks, with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell admitting “the flow of coins through the economy has kinda stopped.”  Of course, this is because of the pandemic. NJ.com notes there’s about $47.8 billion in coins now in circulation, but so much is holed up in shops, eateries, banks, laundromats and all these other businesses shuttered since mid-March. So, on top of everything else, what do we do? The feds have sprung to action, creating a hashtag: #getcoinmoving. While government comes up with other bright ideas, businesses have two options: asking you for exact change or suggesting you “round up” your purchase, with the extra being donated to charity. Flip a coin.

NOT NEW JERSEY – A hotel in Rutland, Vermont is swarming with teenage New Jersey girls, thus panicking Vermont officials and locals about the possibility of a COVID-19 spread into the boonies. A caravan of charter buses bought more than 400 high school girls to a Holiday Inn here for a three-week summer camp and some sightseeing. Get this: Jittery townsfolk even convinced Gov. Phil Scott and the state Attorney General to step in. State inspectors tell the Rutland Herald that none of the girls wore masks when they arrived and the hotel is “over-capacity,” violating pandemic safety rules. The camp’s director explains that all campers tested negative for coronavirus; he’s canceled their tour bus trips, and he’s trying to find last-minute lodgings for a few dozen of the girls. But, if this guy mentions they’re a bunch of out-of-state “flatlanders” from Jersey, well, good luck with new bookings at the height of tourism season.

TRENTON – We’re all eager to lambaste Garden State lawmakers for letting good, smart legislation languish in Trenton. So when these folks get something done in a hurry, pile the accolades on Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney. These bigtime Democrats cut a deal that will let a $10 billion emergency-borrowing bill sail through the Legislature. New Jersey needs the money desperately, to offset financial losses incurred during the ongoing pandemic. Not to steal any of the thunder from the moment, but could this be the beginning of a new, happy era for Murphy and Sweeney? The two are often at loggerheads, which does no one any good. Right now, the executive and legislative branches seem to have two speeds: slower than slow and Warp Factor One. NJ Spotlight suggests perhaps there can be a middle ground, too.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The House of Representatives earmarked $50 million to build an indoor rain forest in Iowa.

TRENTON – Maybe our capital city can get a lucrative deal from Suez North America to run its troubled Trenton Water Works. The Paramus-based water supplier is probably twiddling its thumbs since voters in Edison foolishly rejected its $500 million offer to manage the town’s water and sewer systems. Now, the Trentonian says Ewing, Hamilton and Lawrence officials are so fed up with the problem-plagued Trenton Water Works that they’re begging a Superior Court judge to privatize it. At the very least, they want stricter state oversight. The three towns hope their 40,000 residents will get better service and, maybe, better rates. But, City Hall is likely to fight back since, as the tabloid explains, the Water Works is a huge “cash cow.” For years, city officials have shifted millions from the utility’s surplus to plug gaps in its municipal budget so taxpayers don’t get soaked.

NOT BEIJING – Hey China: We’re the only ones who mess with our politicians, got that? China is well deserving of the Jersey salute, after deciding to level sanctions against one of our very own congressmen: Rep. Chris Smith. Why? Because he joined in criticizing three senior members of Beijing’s ruling Communist Party for human rights abuses. Announcing the “corresponding sanctions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying claims the latest U.S. actions “seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously violate the basic norms of international relations and seriously damage Sino-U.S. relations,” Politico reports. Ok, so Smith is in the hot seat. Perhaps China will now ban him from making a Tik-Tok.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

So, $114,000 can buy you five nights in the glorious Presidential suite at the Hotel Cala di Volpe in Italy. Or it could buy you a copy of a video game from 1985 that no one has played this century. While it’s obvious which way you are leaning, one guy has plunked down $114,000 to purchase a sealed copy of Super Mario Bros., the highest price ever paid for a video game that likely was once in the home of Marty McFly. The auctioneer claims – with a straight face – that this one copy is considered “especially rare” because it was part of a short production run with a cardboard hang-tab underneath the plastic, a feature found shortly after Nintendo started using shrink-wrap instead of stickers to avoid theft. (Insert your awe here.) This sale shatters the record from February 2019, when someone else was stupid enough to spend $100,150 for the same game. 

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1989 when it was unclear if there would ever be another James Bond movie, as the 16th one – “License to Kill” – premiers.

WORD OF THE DAY

Tutelage – [TOO-tuh-lij] – noun

Definition: Instruction, especially of an individual

Example: Under the tutelage of demanding morning editors, I am continually forced to produce an entire newsletter by 9 a.m.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.” 

-Voltaire

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“The Lamestream Media is not talking about what is happening with the Stock Market and JOBS. Both are doing GREAT!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Beauty