TRENTON – The governor’s proposed school budget is damn awesome or friggin' awful, depending on who you ask. Spending is at a record high, up to about $16.3 billion – an uptick of 3.9% over last year. But the problem is there are plenty of losers (194 school districts, to be exact) each taking it on the chin. The hugest loser, by far, is Jersey City, which is seeing a draconian cut of $55 million. Another district falling into the super loser column is Toms River, dropping $5.3 million after sustaining millions in cuts over the years. Others getting killed include Asbury Park, Freehold Regional, Old Bridge, Jackson and Neptune. Many are howling, of course, as the state’s school funding formula is about as hazy and nonsensical as ninth grade algebra homework thrown together on the morning school bus.

JACKSON – It’s doesn’t seem very Christian to deny holy communion to an 8-year-old boy with autism. That denial is catapulting St. Aloysius Church into a national spotlight and igniting fire-and brimstone criticism on social media. The pastor told parents of this non-verbal child that he cannot receive the holy sacrament because he is unable “express contrition for his sins” in confession. But, a huge backlash seems to be making the church relent. It tells ABC News: “We have been researching how to best assist the most profoundly disabled in a better way.” The child’s mother calls her priest’s decision “a disgrace to my religion,” saying: “I just want my son treated like everybody else …he deserves the same rights that we all have.” Now, priests at other New Jersey parishes are stepping up, offering to give this child his first Communion. Thank heavens.

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DOWN THE SHORE – Screw your beach umbrellas into the sand or face hefty fines. That’s the upshot of a proposed law from Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, who doesn’t want wind gusts turning those Tommy Bahama umbrellas into projectiles, impaling nearby beach-goers. Besides lugging chairs, blankets, towels, snacks and coolers from your car to your favorite oceanfront spot, the Press of Atlantic City says this lawmaker wants you to haul a steel auger with tie-down straps (or maybe some heavy sandbags) to anchor your umbrella. Okay, sure, there are nearly 350 flying-umbrella injuries each year at our nation’s beaches, but not too many in New Jersey. Still, it’s a clever way for a lawmaker to create some national beach news in winter.

BEACH HAVEN – One place where you can still buy beach javelins, uh, we mean beach umbrellas, is Hand’s Store. Wanna know why? It has been saved! Following word last month of its impending demise, with its final markdowns on the final markdowns, a buyer has stepped forward to save the day, TAPInto LBI reports. Apparently, the latest sale runs until March 15, when a new shipment of knickknacks, souvenirs and other LBI merch will be delivered for the Summer of ’20, and the 71st year (or so) of this staple by the shore.

BRIEFING BREATHER: Marvin Gardens is the only Monopoly property NOT in Atlantic City. It's named for a neighborhood in Margate called "Marven Gardens," but Parker Brothers has misspelled it since Monopoly's first print run in 1935.

STATEWIDE – We should hold onto our hats in case of the “New Jersey Wind Rush of 2020.” In 1849, when storekeeper Sam Brannan strutted through Sutter’s Mill with a vial of gold taken from a nearby creek, he set off the California Gold Rush. Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy booted up the Garden State’s Wind Rush, laying out an aggressive timetable of solicitations for offshore wind projects between now and 2028, NJ Spotlight reports. The governor has a vision of enough turbines in place off the Jersey Shore by 2035 to power more than 3 million homes. Let’s see what pans out, and what’s just blowing in the wind.

EDISON – Putting his money where his mouth is, the school superintendent is spending $2,000 from his own wallet for a giant Route 1 billboard to advertise an even more giant March 10 bond referendum. Bernard Bragen Jr. tells the Criterion Sentinel: “I now have skin in the game (because) I think it’s the right thing to do.” The super hopes a digital billboard message will boost public support for an upcoming $183 million referendum to add more classrooms and other amenities at six public schools. Voters here rejected a similar bond package in December. But, Bragen says 2,900 of his district’s 16,000 students remain without classrooms, if that could be possible.

GARFIELD – Kudos to a local cop, paying out-of-pocket so a homeless family and their dog could stay in a motel, instead of their broken-down car. Officer Jonathan Librizzi found the homeless woman and her adult son living in their car for two weeks in a store parking lot. The pair used up their cash driving up from Florida and could not find beds at any area shelters. Librizzi says he “didn't feel good leaving (them) out in the cold … I had to get (them) someplace warm.” His sergeant tells Patch.com the seven-year veteran paid for their stay at local motel, gave them food money, and had their car towed. The towing company also fixed the car free of charge.

IN THE MEDIA

STATEWIDE – The Trentonian scored an appellate court victory, gaining access to police reports that show if and when cops use “brute force” to detain or arrest adults or children. The tabloid waged a two-year court fight to get Ewing Township to release reports about a 2018 arrest during which officers allegedly “roughly manhandled” a 16-year-old car thief suspect. A three-judge appeals court ruled that Ewing wrongfully denied the newspaper’s request for access, deciding that New Jersey police departments are legally required make public reports “upon request, no excuses.” The Trentonian – and others who are big with full disclosure – calls the decision “a significant win” for transparency and open government.

 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

CINCINNATI – Unclear if this is the purpose of Lent, but the sales manager of a local beer company is seizing on this solemn religious observance through Easter to sell more beer. So, in the apparent spirit of Lent, he is launching into a 50-day fast from food, in which he will only drink beer. This is the same guy who lost 44 pounds in 46 days in last year’s season of reflection, guzzling the suds as his only nourishment. Apparently, the world record will be shattered if he hits 50 days. “I don’t think the extra days are going to be a struggle. The hardest part will be the first few days,” he tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. Of course, this promotional guy has a video.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

It was on this day in 1836 that Texas declared its independence from Mexico. Time to build a wall.

WORD OF THE DAY

Interpolate – [in-TƏR-pə-layt] – verb

Definition: To insert words into a text or conversation

Example: Are these candidates interpolating the platforms of others into their own? Hard to tell anymore.

WIT OF THE DAY

“In Puerto Rico, we continue to see the perpetuation of second-class citizenship in the United States.”

- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“This is an island surrounded by water, big water, ocean water.”

-Donald J. Trump, on Puerto Rico

WEATHER IN A WORD: Sixty!

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