OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

NEWARK - One must assume there were tremendously powerful people able to convince a federal judge that former Port Authority chairman David Samson shouldn't go to jail for having United Airlines create a special flight to his vacation home in South Carolina. Very, very powerful people. So, we will gently whistle as we quietly walk away from this one. Quietly. Walking away...  

TRENTON - If you happen to be home during the day, enjoying the soaps on the telly, you can't help but see Gov. Chris Christie's commercial about opioid addiction treatment. A great message. Thank you, governor, for saving lives. But Democrats are a skeptical bunch, and they are wondering which state line item in the fiscal '17 budget is paying for all these image-shining ads on radio and TV. The Record reports the governor won't say how, specifically, his "Reach NJ" commercials are being funded, or how much it will ultimately cost weary taxpayers - forcing the Democrats to seek a formal inquiry.  

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NEWARK - How can you not be a fan of the Berkeley Knights? Now, you ask, who the heck are the Berkeley Knights? They are the basketball team of the for-profit college, which, beating every immeasurable odd, has a 50-game winning streak, two national championships and is roaring into the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Conference national tournament tomorrow. This is a team without its own gym, part of an often dismissed "second chance" school for down-on-their-luck students somehow able to secure loans. Berkeley didn't even have an athletic department before 1995 and finally became part of a basketball conference in 2005. You can't help but love these scrappy guys, who dismantle their opponents by a 27-point margin, on average. Read all about the Berkeley Knights in The New York Times and, you too, will become an instant fan of a team you never heard of.

PATERSON - A modern-day Hole-in-the-Wall gang has been busted for selling heroin, crack and marijuana through a hole in a wooden backyard fence. Like a drug store's walk-up window, police told the Paterson Press that buyers could conveniently swap money for drugs through the now-famous hole at Auburn Street and Godwin Avenue. Detectives arrested five people and seized 702 containers of crack, 293 heroin packets and 13 jars of marijuana from the house they consider the heart of the 4th Ward narcotics trade. Next time, perhaps the dealers should offer convenient home delivery, or perhaps drones.  

TRENTON - One long-shot for governor certainly knows the right words to get the media's attention: "ISIS" and "Unleash Hell." Steve Rogers, a 38-year veteran of the Nutley Police Department and not Captain America, showed up at an Assembly Transportation Committee hearing in Trenton yesterday to warn that ISIS would unleash hell if New Jersey blocks the President's travel ban on Muslim nations by restricting Port Authority cops. That proposal is now banging around the Assembly. 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS 

SHOALS, Ind. - This takes "clingy" to a new level. A trucker figured he lost his treasured cat, named Percy, when it jumped out the window while he was napping at a rest stop in Ohio. After a long and painful search, the trucker had no choice but to leave Percy, as he bawled his eyes out, his nose dropping snot through his handlebar mustache and onto the flannel. What the trucker didn't know was that the cat was clinging to the undercarriage of the 18-wheeler as it plowed 400 miles through snow, sleet and ice to Shoals, Indiana. The trucker, taking what we assume was a pee break, then spotted what looked like a stray, filthy cat. It was Percy!

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

It was this day in 1997 that the Japanese prime minister is sued by five citizens, saying his incessant cigarette smoking violates the country's constitution that mandates he must lead a wholesome life.

WORD OF THE DAY 

Genuflect - [JEN-yuh-flekt] - verb 

Definition: To touch the knee to the floor or ground especially in worship  

Example: Are White House staffers expected to genuflect upon arrival at work, or can they take of their coats first? 

WEATHER IN A WORD 

60s!