IN THE BRIEFING - If you love the Jaffe Briefing, we assume it's because of our exclusive comic strip, The New 60, which we have been happily publishing for more than a year. But what is it? What makes it so darn funny? And why can you only find it here? We ask it all to the creators, Andy Landorf and John Colquhoun. The duo recently stopped by the podcast studio to chat about all the great characters in The New 60 and what it takes to create two new strips each week from the comfort of a diner booth or wherever else they sit to discuss, create and laugh their heads off.  Listen (and enjoy) Andy and John here. 

NEWARK - There's lots more questions swirling this morning about the cost of school construction in the city, with TAPInto Newark reporting that the state paid $250 million or so to build schools for only 3,733 Newark children - an average of more than $70,000 per student. State lawmakers had limited construction costs to just $143 per square foot, yet the New Jersey Schools Development Authority (SDA) spent nearly three times more to build the five schools in Newark. SDA officials explain it all away, saying LEED, security requirements, energy codes and building code changes make it impossible to stay within the spending cap.  Fine. Either seek to raise the cap or control the spending. But blatantly ignoring the law is not the viable third option.

JEFFERSON - So, what's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "bloom"? Probably something fresh and delightful, enough to have you singing a happy tune. Well, not in New Jersey these days - where "bloom" is tied to two far less delectable words. Those would be "harmful" and "algae." The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued a dire warning that not a toe be dipped in Lake Hopatcong, the state's largest recreational lake, because of a "harmful algae bloom," NJ Spotlight reports. Speaking of dire warnings, one conservationist predicted that it's "absolutely the beginning of a big, big problem for New Jersey" and that such unbecoming blooms will be "the new normal.''  Happy Monday.

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TRENTON - If you have been following the messy debate over state tax credits, now is your time to jump in your car, battle Route 1 traffic, reach the Statehouse and then tell lawmakers what you think. That's because the public is invited today to give its two-cents to a task force investigating the tax credit program that has been a political football, consuming the political elite and the politically connected, battling over millions of dollars in give-aways. Tax credit legislation expired July 1, so something ultimately has to be done to cap the awards or continue with the status quo. 

WESTWOOD - You know all those those bins where you donate used clothing? Apparently, there's a bit of a war brewing in Bergen County over who actually has control of one of them. St. Andrew's Parish in Westwood, which collects nearly 300 tons of clothing and household goods, has been suddenly stripped of accepting items in its bin, NJ.com reports. Fingers are pointed at the Archdiocese of Newark, which explains the local charity is now being replaced with a new collection bin for Catholic Charities, which, moving forward, will be handling things. Apparently, the local program became too popular and a strain on the church in terms of sorting, packing and distributing thousands of pounds of clothing. OK. But with several dozen parishioners gathering in the church parking lot last Thursday to protest, it doesn't exactly seem like the parish is on board.

STATEWIDE - As you trudge back to work after the holiday - and wonder if you will ever retire - a new poll shows nearly 25% of us plan to never stop working. That is according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, which also reports that another 25% of us plan to continue working beyond our 65th birthdays. For many, it is about money. But for 30% or so respondents over 50, who say they are well prepared for retirement, they are likely looking down the barrel at stagnant life in South Florida. They envision old, bored people arguing over how best to split the early bird check, and then saying, "Yeah, I think I'm just going to keep this work thing going."

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

WASHINGTON - Just when you think that one woman could not get any sexier, she is again crowned the winner of a burger-eating competition, somehow downing 32 of them within 10 minutes at the 10th-annual Z Burger Eating Championship over the holiday weekend. You could see that Molly Schuyler has been practicing hard, clearly beating her earlier record of 27 consumed burgers.  "You don't have a reliable income with competitive eating," the 40-year-old said. "So you make yourself eat cause if you don't, you are broke."  Her pre-competition warm-up? Joining two other contestants to pig out on 30 McMuffins and three dozen Dunkin Donuts. This is her fifth championship in a row, showing that no one else - man or woman - can come close.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Checking the baseball standings on this day in 1973, the Mets were stuck 12 games back. And we all know what happened then... You Gotta Believe.

WORD OF THE DAY

Qua [KWAH] - preposition

Definition: In the capacity/character/manner of

Example: Why the heck does this word exist?  Still, no clue. But it is used below.

"Sure, there have been other big pop music phenomena over the years ... but the Beatles qua phenomenon was due to a confluence of forces that defined a historical moment." - Candy Leonard, The Huffington Post, Dec. 18, 2014

WIT OF THE DAY

"If you don't like to argue, you are not a good American."

 

George Will

WEATHER IN A WORD

Tank-Top

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun