TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy sure likes to bill himself as “Captain Transparency.” But when it comes to delivering facts about how he’s spending more than $5 billion in federal funds to cope with COVID-19, this masked crusader may not be living up to the big red “T” emblazoned on his chest. Sure, he just announced a website and dashboard to track the money. But four months into this pandemic, that announcement — though welcome — isn’t exactly timely, NJ Spotlight tells us. True, it took former Gov. Chris Christie more time to get his Sandy Recovery Dashboard up and running, but you really don’t want your transparency agenda compared to the former governor. In the meantime, reporters are trying to glean what they can from scouring press releases and filing OPRA requests, while Murphy has extended the response time for OPRA requests, citing the pandemic. Will Captain T be the hero or villain? Kids, stay tuned.

STATEWIDE – If cops knew judo, karate or kickboxing, maybe they’d be less likely to draw their guns. That’s why Assemblymen Brian Bergen and Gordon Johnson want all of New Jersey’s 46,000 sworn officers to get 48 hours of hand-to-hand self-defense training every year. The lawmakers even suggest enlisting local martial arts schools to chop training costs. The Record says skeptics are already taking cheap shots at all this proposed Kung fu, calling it excessive in light of all the state’s other training mandates. Critics also say it would overburden many police agencies, drive up overtime spending with officers at the dojo, and risk of lawsuits if cops go all Bruce Lee. But, Bergen insists: “We have to do something … if we do nothing, we will get nothing.” Hi-yah!

PATERSON – This city is now President Trump’s ‘poster child’ for mail-in ballot fraud after campaign shenanigans sullied May’s municipal elections. For a second time, Trump cites Paterson as a prime example of what not to do in November when his name is on ballots everywhere. At a White House press briefing, Trump claims mail-in voting is “subject to tremendous fraud and being rigged. You see that in Paterson (where) 20 percent of the vote was fraudulent. You’ll have tremendous fraud (with) mail-in ballots.” Trump isn’t entirely wrong. The Paterson Times says 3,200 tainted ballots got trashed in the city's botched election. It triggered multiple recounts and lawsuits. And, four people were criminally charged with vote tampering, including a councilman, a council candidate, a former councilman’s brother and a campaign worker. If things go this badly again in the fall, perhaps Trump won’t need Russian meddling.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

The entire world’s population can fit shoulder-to-shoulder inside the 503 square miles of Los Angeles.

STATEWIDE – So, we’ve reached this point? A proposed $250 annual tax credit for anyone who subscribes to the local newspaper? That is, at least, the proposal in Congress as part of “The Local Journalism Sustainability Act,” which also would provide generous payroll credits for news organizations to employ reporters. Moreover, businesses would get an initial tax credit of $5,000 to run ads. It all sounds like an amazing lifeline for local journalism – both print and online –running on fumes in recent months. No clue if this bill will ever be seriously considered; the current president is not exactly enamored with the “fake news” media and has little interest in all those pesky, inconvenient questions in search of the “truth,” whatever that is. But this bill offers some recognition on Capitol Hill that local journalism is on life support and perhaps will spur debate on how to keep the presses humming through this pandemic. 

LONG BRANCH – In Jersey, there’s always an angle. Take Long Branch, where city officials are desperately trying to reduce the number of people crammed onto their beaches during this heat wave. They have stopped selling badges when the beaches get too tight, in an effort to maintain some small degree of social distancing. It’s all sprouted a secondary resale market, NJ.com reports. It’s simple: When you leave the beach, just resell your $7 badge to someone who couldn’t get on. Cops didn’t immediately respond to NJ.com yesterday, with the grand assumption they had more pressing matters along the 2.5-mile-long oceanfront jammed with bathers.

LONG BRANCH – It seems everyone is cramming into the water at Pier Village these days – even a deer. Witnesses spotted the deer trying to swim in the ocean Thursday morning near Rooney’s restaurant, prompting the city police to launch a once-in-a-lifetime rescue. Cops, as well as lifeguards, beach rescue teams, and even an animal control offer, sprung into action – paddling out in the waves in small boats and somehow guiding the deer onto the safe shores of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park. The deer, amazingly, was ok; no one had a clue where the heck he came from. Cops, on Facebook, reminded everyone – humans and animals alike – “to only swim when a lifeguard is present.”

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

MINNEAPOLIS – Among the many challenges these days facing the Minneapolis police are those darn skinny dippers. So annoyed are the Minneapolis Parks Police that they are now resorting to drones, hoping they will scare off the naked people belly-flopping into Twin Lake. Apparently, there has been a steady stream of complaints, prompting police to devise this new strategy. One topless sunbather told KARE-TV that there were no signs posted that stipulated all bathers must be clothed, and, therefore, she argued her citation should be torn up. It was also noted there were no signs posted that banned murders, assaults, car thefts, drug dealing and toxic polluting – so they are also all, apparently, permissible in this one park, according to this woman’s logic. She continued to argue, as the KARE-TV cameras were rolling, offering this commentary: “It's ridiculous when I turn around and there's a gentleman who has boobs that are as big as, or bigger than mine. And he can keep his shirt off.” Park Police, meanwhile, laud the drones, saying the new effort validates all the complaints.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Four More Years! Those were the words that rang out on this day in 1944, when Franklin Roosevelt of New York once again accepted his party’s nomination for President.

WORD OF THE DAY

Volte-face – [vawlt-FAHSS] – noun

Definition: A reversal in policy

Example: If the Big 10 ultimately cancels its football season, you can’t say you weren’t warned about this volte-face.

WIT OF THE DAY

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

-J.K. Rowling

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“I am the ultimate member of The Book of the Month Club. First I have lowlife dummy John Bolton, a war mongering fool, violating the law (he released massive amounts of Classified Information) and an NDA in order to build badly needed credibility and make a few dollars, which will all end up going to the government anyway. Next up is Mary Trump, a seldom seen niece who knows little about me, says untruthful things about my wonderful parents (who couldn’t stand her!) and me, and violated her NDA. She also broke the Law by giving out my Tax Returns. She’s a mess! Many books have been written about me, some good, some bad. Both happily and sadly, there will be more to come!‬‬”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Steaming