OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - Here's a story like eating vegetables. It's no fun, but you gotta do it. We're talking the state's long-term debt. Ok, pick your head up off the keyboard, wipe away the drool and try to read carefully. New Jersey's long-term debt grew by 12 percent last year, roughly $18 billion. We are a state of deadbeats, now owing nearly $172 billion. Or, says NJ 101.5, equal to $19,200 per state resident. (That includes this morning's newborns, already drowning in debt.) Everyone's share grew by $2,000 since last year's fiscal budget. Blame pension liabilities, health care costs, or whatever. Or, blame no one, and throw it all on our grandkids.  

SOUTH ORANGE - Sure, we all embrace "innovative education" to provide the kiddies with a top-notch public education. But perhaps curriculum gurus in South Orange innovated a wee bit too far, having fifth graders make their very own slave auction posters. It is now national news, after parents were stunned to see the posters displayed in the hallways. School officials are now working with an anti-bias consultant and planning a public meeting to hear all opinions. Unclear if the assignment will continue next year. But with all this unwanted attention, perhaps teachers will just stick to the textbook. 

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STATEWIDE - With word that a foot of snow will hit the state, beginning tonight, with a rare March blizzard, expect a desperate frenzy at the supermarket. To prepare, we have been able to secure this carton of organic whole milk on the black market, and will open the bidding at $50. Sealed bids can be emailed to milk@jaffecom.com, with the winner notified at 7 p.m. tonight. Bid generously to be seriously considered.

LAVALLETTE - C'mon, a crackdown on ice cream trucks? As the rest of New Jersey gears up for the snow - and considers bidding generously for a carton of milk - borough officials are concocting ways to put the brakes on ice cream trucks this summer. Specifically, town leaders are targeting those ice cream trucks that use really, really, really loud speakers to lure beach-goers off the hot sand for Italian ices and orange-swirl ice cream cones. Mayor Walter LaCicero tells Shorebeat that complaints about blaring music are a "perennial issue," and he "wouldn't mind blocking (trucks) from using amplified sound." No Creamsicle for him. 

ORANGE - Take your pick: Either a judge or Mother Nature may thwart tomorrow's special school board election for this city's first-ever, popularly elected board members. Voters here overwhelming chose to switch last year from a mayor-appointed seven-member board to an elected, nine-member board. There are 19 candidates on tomorrow's ballot for those two additional seats. However, NJ.Com says current board members will go to Superior Court today for an injunction to halt the election. If that fails ...well, there's a very real chance the snow storm will postpone the election. Smart money is on snow.  

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

OXFORD, England - For a couple of centuries, it made for one awesome flower pot at a palace in England. But then, one day, an antiques expert passed by, took a quick casual look and stopped dead in his wingtips. Apparently, the antique was meant for much, much more than a philodendron. It was actually discovered to be a 1,700-year-old marble coffin, which has now been fully restored and put on display at Blenheim Palace in Oxford. Let's blame the 5th Duke of Marlborough in the 19th century, that dumb ass who thought the 881-pound sarcophagus - valued at $365,000 - would make for lovely décor.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1994 that the people of Bophuthaswana had no more "Hope for Mangope," booting out their President. 

WORD OF THE DAY 

Vade Mecum - [vay-dee-MEE-kum] - noun 

Definition: A guidebook or other handy resource manual  

Example: Oh, where the heck is my rifle and the vade mecum that says how to shoot the thing? 

WEATHER IN A WORD 

Bracing