EDITOR'S NOTE: Since March 10, the readership of the Jaffe Briefing has spiked by an average of nearly 40% each day, as about 25,000 New Jerseyans turn to us for a lighter look at the news. We pledge to be here for you throughout this entire crisis. (Actually, we can’t go anywhere.)
OFF THE RAILS – It’s not exactly a great time to be hat in hand with the feds. But NJ Transit, which is always on the lookout for more money, is now asking Washington for $1.25 billion to keep afloat, Politico reports. That’s because ridership is off a whopping 88% since March 9 for obvious reasons, as businesses are closed and commuters are reminded every moment of the day to just stay home. NJ Transit is the third largest rail and bus network in the United States, so it is a little too big to fail. That said, the rail agency is looking squarely at a $1.25 billion hole in a doomsday budget for the upcoming fiscal year. And a dozen people or so riding on a bus into NYC each morning isn’t going to help. New Jersey’s congressional delegation must somehow try to reason with Trump, the same guy who perennially ignores the Gateway Tunnel project. Good luck with that.
TRENTON – State lawmakers took only about four days to put together almost 30 economic-relief bills to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Phil Murphy has already put his signature on one, which prohibits evictions and foreclosures during this ongoing state of emergency. And he promises to move swiftly on the remaining measures, which include funds for food banks, companies that are having trouble making payroll and people who can’t earn a paycheck because they’re taking care of sick relatives or kids furloughed by statewide school closures. NJ Spotlight reports that Murphy and the legislators did something else right, telling the federal government to pump more money to the states. Trenton – like NJ Transit – eagerly awaits the checks.
TRENTON – No one wants to be negative here, but it’s hard to ignore what the heck is happening with the proposed state budget. State lawmakers are going to be earning their part-time paychecks on this one. The stock market is kaput. Countless businesses that generate sales tax are closed. Payroll taxes are plummeting, as people work less. There’s a 21% uptick in unemployment claims. We are talking billions of dollars in state revenue that have simply evaporated, now a distant mist somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Yet, there are the annual commitments for aid to school districts and municipalities, as well as health care costs, pension payments, yada, yada, yada. Of course, there needs to be more hats in hands for the federal government, which can only print money so quickly that our great-grandchildren may finally pay back at some point. Where’s the solution? It all begins, strangely, with us washing our hands.
DOWN THE SHORE – Staying at home is for the birds. And maybe that’s why we are so darn excited about an early sign of spring: ospreys trekking back to the Garden State from their winter habitat on the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean and South America. Pairs are already being seen at the Jersey Shore and are looking for love. Younger, footloose osprey will be on the hunt for fresh fish and fun. The Conserve Wildlife Foundation tells NJ 101.5 that our annual avian visitors have made a remarkable comeback since the 1970s, with now nearly 1,000 osprey expected to summer here. The reason, they say, is our cleaner, healthier coastal and river waters, kindhearted volunteers installing nesting platforms and perhaps all those kids who happily drop funnel cake on the boardwalk.
BRIEFING BREATHER: Yo-yos were used as weapons by warriors in the Philippines in the 16th century.
STATEWIDE – Likely the worst job at the moment is the guy stuck answering the phones at any insurance company that offers “business disruption” policies. He’s the poor schlub who has to explain to frantic business owners about this itty-bitty new clause that excludes coverage for any “loss due to virus or bacteria.” Those six words were quietly slipped in after the SARS outbreak in 2006, the Philly Inquirer reports. Now, Assemblyman Roy Freiman, is trying to get those insurance companies to pay up, introducing a bill on Monday to access a large pool of cash to help shore up the economy. The bill is being held from a floor vote, as Freiman hopes insurance companies come to the table with solutions. “This has got to be a shared responsibility from a million different places,” he says. Meanwhile, insurance companies are wondering how they could possibly be responsible for paying claims not covered in their current contracts. Who knows? But they should pay anyway.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – It was the “cow-hunt” of the century, and now it’s over. It’s taken South Florida cops months on end to find a wandering female cow who somehow managed to elude authorities at every turn, the Sun Sentinel reports. Cops complained the 1,600-pound brown cow was faster than she looked, seemed to really enjoy swimming pools and was a “talented fence jumper.” On Tuesday night, Pembroke Pines cops finally got the big break they were hoping for, with reports she was loitering near Sheridan Street and Interstate 75. Cops descended on the area and were able to direct her to an enclosed area. They then had fun writing tickets for “MOOving violations,” “UDDERing false checks,” and “Fleeing & Eluding police." This bovine wasn’t really booked, so don’t have a cow.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1991 that the U.S. forgave $2 billion in loans to Poland. Uh, could we reconsider that now?
WORD OF THE DAY
Fusty – [FUSS-tee] – adjective
Definition: Saturated with dust and stale odors
Example: If this coronavirus keeps up throughout spring, my office is going to get musty and fusty.
WIT OF THE DAY
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”
- George Orwell
“95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, 53% overall. Not bad considering I get nothing but Fake & Corrupt News, day and night. “Russia, Russia, Russia.”
-Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun