THE STICKS – Assemblyman Hal Wirths represents one of the emptiest areas of the state, so rural that his legislative district spans 36 towns in three counties. So, from his vantage point in a place where there are more barns than people, Wirths feels he can tell Gov. Phil Murphy that there is absolutely no need to create commissions to study the reopening of the state. “You know what we just need to do?” the assemblyman asks. “We need to open up our damned state already — that’s a simple economic plan. We don’t need Harvard professors and University of Pennsylvania professors and top business people telling us how to do it. No more nonsense. Open up the damned state and let the businesses start making money.” Because there are no people that live anywhere near each other in the 24th Legislative District, it is hard to get a pulse on what Wirths’ constituents think of his comments. But assume the horses, pigs and roosters recognize New Jersey is the densest state in the nation with the second highest coronavirus death rate.
STATEWIDE - Take some solace: Not only will your high school have a virtual graduation next month, so will every other high school in the state. The governor's uniform policy makes a pile of sense, avoiding the fury of inconsistent rules in which one school district decides to throw a live ceremony, while the neighboring one opts to play it safe. State education officials sent out guidance to all districts, stating that as long as there is an executive order against gatherings, there will be no live celebrations. But, no worries: you can still get plenty of pomp and circumstance via minivan caravans, apparently.
SWEDESBORO – There’s nothing like owning a Cold War-era missile base. Yet this quaint, quiet Gloucester County town thinks it's about time to unload it to the first taker with $1.8 million. The abandoned missile base is among a dozen built in the 1950s to protect Philadelphia from invading Soviets. Decommissioned in 1974, Swedesboro (a.k.a. Woolwich Twp) snapped it up from the U.S. Army in 2009. The Inquirer says town officials now want to cash in, envisioning the 33-acre site could be home to stores, restaurants and parks. Buyers just need to bulldoze a crumbling launch control and radar buildings, a barracks and a mess hall. Not for sale: A bunch of underground missile silos, most with rusting rockets buried beneath sealed hatches. No worries; just try to avoid that red button, ok?
About a third of all Americans flush the toilet while still sitting on it.
NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers may not be your super-fancy, ultra-selective Ivy League, like that school a few miles south on Route 27, but it has been kicking some serious coronavirus ass. First, it lands FDA approval for a saliva test for coronavirus. And now the FDA has granted emergency authorization for the first at-home saliva collection kit. This kit, of course, was developed by a Rutgers University laboratory most never heard of: RUCDR Infinite Biologics. The feds say Rutgers was able to prove that testing saliva samples collected by patients themselves, under the observation of a healthcare provider, are just as accurate as those painful deep nasal swabs that health professionals were collecting. RU has 75,000 of the saliva test kits ready to ship and can process 20,000 tests each day, with a 48-hour turnaround. Now watch labs around the country start calling, seeing if a shipment or two can be sent their way. Selman Waksman would be proud. (No clue about this reference? Google him.)
TRENTON – We have an overwhelmed state Labor Department, buried under thousands of unfilled claims and phones that just. won’t. stop. ringing. And then we have other state workers, twiddling their thumbs. Hmmm. What can be done here? Senate President Steve Sweeney asks: Hey, why not loosen civil service regulations so more state employees can be used to help process these claims? Seems logical. But this is New Jersey, so first there needs to be legislation to allow this, Politico reports. And if a bill is proposed, it needs to be introduced, negotiated, re-negotiated and receive the blessing of labor unions, etc., etc., while addressing seniority issues and detailing who, exactly, would be reassigned. This proposal has bi-partisan support, so hopefully this cavalry can arrive soon.
STATEWIDE – In case you didn’t know, The World Series of Birding is a renowned, annual competition for close to 40 years and is clearly a Jersey thing. It attracts eagle-eyed birders from around the globe, where they spend 24 hours driving all over the state, trying to see and hear the most species at the height of the spring migration. The Garden State happens to sit squarely under the Atlantic Flyway, the East Coast migratory route that brings millions of breeding birds north from Central and South America every spring. NJ Spotlight reports that the competition organizers, New Jersey Audubon, realized they couldn’t have gaggles of birders (they work in teams) flitting about the state, given the need for social distancing, etc. So, organizers rewrote the rules to conform to COVID-19 protocols, dramatically expanding the geographical footprint to 18 states, but birders could not travel more than 10 miles from their homes. The upshot? The event, held Saturday, drew plenty of novices eager to do something new. In Mendham, Sasha Avery, her husband, Peter, and their three children were among the newbies. She said, “…you’ve been stuck at home for eight or nine weeks, and you’ve exhausted all the obvious things, and now it’s time to do some different stuff.”
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
LUDLOW, VT – He wore a shirt and shoes, but no pants. So that meant no service at Dunkin Donuts for a 39-year-old Vermonter. This guy caused a stir in mid-April, wandering into the donut shop with his trousers on his arm and exposing himself to a clerk. Denied a large coffee and some maple-cream donuts, he scooted away in a small black car. (Because America runs from Dunkin.) WCAX-TV says it took cops a month to nab this pantless pervy perp, arresting him last week in nearby Springfield. He got charged with lewd and lascivious conduct, plus got jailed for violating his probation on a prior voyeurism offense. He’s now getting the prison favorite – powdered eggs – for breakfast. And there’s plenty of time to make the donuts.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1963 that true musical magic was honored, when “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” by Peter, Paul and Mary hit No. 2 on the charts.
WORD OF THE DAY
Indomitable – [in-DAH-muh-tuh-bul] – adjective
Definition: Incapable of being subdued
Example: Aren’t you just excited this morning about the indomitable human spirit?
WIT OF THE DAY
“If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the UP button.”
“(COVID-19) is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time. You may have some flare-ups … sometime in the fall. Maybe, maybe not. You may have some flare-ups next year, but eventually its going to be gone. There are some viruses and flus that came and went. They disappeared. They’ve never shown up again. They die too, like everything else, they die too.”
-Donald J. Trump
WEATHER IN A WORD