THOROFARE – Let's assume this South Jersey tavern once served angry patriots demanding a declaration of independence from England, as they glugged their grog. And you can bet the Mount Royal Inn also served up drinks to those toasting the end of the Civil War, World War II and any other darn war they wanted to toast. Always steady in its stead, this 258-year-old watering hole on Kings Highway has served generations - until now. The inn has been nabbed twice for violating the governor’s executive order, serving food and drink, and may have its liquor license revoked if the Attorney General’s office gets its wish, NJ.com reports. Could it finally be last call?

STATEWIDE – News coverage about COVID-19 and college has focused on these dispatched students, now stuck home, but that’s only half the story. NJ Spotlight says college administrators are struggling as well, as students and parents are demanding refunds, claiming they were not buying virtual lectures and labs. School officials have tried to defend online learning, but it’s like arguing that watching the Super Bowl on your laptop is just like being there. Another worry is what happens if the pandemic hasn’t passed by September. There’s been a lot of talk about a second outbreak and a much larger worry: What if students don’t come back? Not a few, but enough to hurt a school’s academic standing. Gap years and jobs might be more appealing as we recover. Perhaps the biggest fear — so disturbing that no one wants to utter it aloud — what if the jocks don’t come back? That could end up costing colleges across the country hundreds of millions, and, really, how can we live without Big 10 football?

TRENTON – COVID-19 is here, and one day, it will be gone. But one thing New Jersey will always be stuck with is its mounting pension obligations for public workers, a constant noose around the state budget. NJ.com reports the state piled nearly $10 billion onto its debt last year. Deemed the worst-funded pension system in the country, the $102 billion system had enough cash to cover 58.6% of its $174 billion in liabilities, as of July 1, 2019. That leaves the fund about $72 billion or so short in what the state needs for the 800,000 active and retired workers out there, assuming, magically, that the pandemic hasn’t taken a toll.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

There are 18.6 million vacant homes in America. There are 3.1 million homeless people.

PATERSON –This city’s first ‘vote-by-mail only’ election went so wonky that a Superior Court judge had to intervene Tuesday night. Judge Joseph Portell is giving the county Board of Elections seven more days to count (correctly, with any luck) the 17,688 mail-in ballots for six contested City Council seats amid widespread accusations of voter fraud. The Paterson Times says FBI and U.S Postal Inspectors are also on the case after the election board tossed out hundreds of ballots for bad signatures or no signatures at all; found hundreds of ballots got mishandled by mail carriers, and several bundles of ballots were inexplicably dumped together into a few city mailboxes. This is all-important since New Jersey will soon coordinate a statewide primary election on Tuesday, July 7 that relies strictly on mail-in ballots. So, the honor system has got to work.

STATEWIDE – Very soon, your local chain pharmacy will not only be the place for greeting cards, picture frames and deeply-discounted Easter candy. Both CVS and Rite Aid are beginning to stock coronavirus tests. CVS will do swab-and-send testing by the end of May in 50 stores in New Jersey, while Rite Aid will offer self-administered tests in 14 stores. It’s a big deal and some real progress, if you think back to the lines of cars waiting at state-designated testing sites just a few short weeks ago. Not only are these tests so much more available, you can now pick up this week’s Soap Opera Digest with your COVID-19 test, an added bonus.

ATLANTIC CITY – Remember the last time you were here? Well, erase your mind of the experience. That’s because Atlantic City will likely be very, very different the next time you visit, as the casinos make plans to ensure guest and worker safety. You gotta keep that roulette wheel spinning, and that means dealers in masks, six-foot social distancing around the craps table and plexiglass barriers that keep employees at a distance. Also expect lines at the elevators, as a limited number of people can ride the cabs, guests checking in digitally and no lines permitted at restaurants. Curious to see the impact on the old lady working a slot machine for hours, as she takes deep drags off her cigarettes. Will she mind wearing a mask? And don’t get us started on the prostitutes.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

PARIS – Now this whole coronavirus thing has gone waaay too far. France is preparing to dump 10 million liters of beer – about the size of four Olympic-sized swimming pools.  Why? Because these undrunk, unsold suds are about to expire and there are no bars open to pour them. Most of the beer going down the drain is craft. Often unpasteurized and hoppy, they expire quickly. Beer producers, who were once giddy with the growing popularity of craft beers, will be losing millions of euros and pray for the taps to once again flow.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2013 that a Belize-based construction company clawing for road gravel destroyed a 2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid. “Oh, Uh, Whoops. Hey, who wants a beer?”

WORD OF THE DAY

Decoupage – [day-koo-PAHZH] – noun

Definition:  The art of decorating surfaces by applying cutouts (as of paper) and then coating with several layers of finish, such as lacquer or varnish.

Example: The next time you come to my office, I’ll show you a small table decorated in my absolute favorite decoupage.

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“The slander of some people is as great a recommendation as the praise of others.”

-Henry Fielding

 

TODAY'S TRUMPISM 

 

“Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Glorious