STATEWIDE – Good morning, and welcome to four more taxes in New Jersey. It is Oct. 1, there is a new state budget and here is how it may or may not be smacking you. If you drive, the per-gallon gas tax has gone up. If you are a millionaire – and good for you – you are now paying more income taxes. If you have health insurance – and, again, good for you – the HMOs will be paying more in taxes and expect that to somehow dribble down to you. And, if you are a business owner with more than $1 million in taxable net income, yep, your taxes are going up, as well. On the bright side, pumpkins are plentiful!

TRENTON – In a nugget of news of no surprise to anyone, the State Commission of Investigation reports that Gov. Phil Murphy’s office was well aware of a hiring spree at the state Schools Development Authority, which became a patronage pit. Everyone already assumed the governor’s office knew about it, as it occurred right under their noses. But still, the SCI released a report that said the executive director was “woefully inexperienced” to run this massive school construction agency and had plenty of “suspect hires and outright managerial malfeasance.” It’s all great fodder for gubernatorial hopefuls on the Republican side, who have some nice, pre-packaged red meat for next year’s campaign.

ORANGE – Allegations of bribes and kickbacks. Yawn. This is New Jersey.  But it still seems newsworthy to report that authorities are piling the charges on a former assemblyman, who served as the city’s acting business administrator. There’s plenty to unravel here, as NJ.com reports that former Assemblyman Willis Edwards III now must answer to charges of 31 separate crimes. The biggie: awarding a $350,000 contract for a computer network without competitive bidding. Edwards then accepted a $20,000 “gift” from that vendor, listed on his spreadsheet as “Gift WE.” And, as part of the pile-on, apparently the former assemblyman did not make any mention of this “gift” on his federal tax returns. There’s a lot of other stuff, with common words like “fraud,” “extortion,” “misuse” and “theft.” Again, all allegations. And the opportunity to provide a jury with a very creative defense.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Rhode Island is the only state where the hammer throw is a legal high school sport.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Former Gov. Chris Christie, now forever linked to prepping President Trump for that “shit show” of a debate on Tuesday, is thankfully not defending the president’s performance. Usually, Christie will go to whatever lengths to spin a news story in Trump’s favor, but admitted to ABC that the president came off as “too hot.” (Ya think?) Christie said the whole idea was for the president to be aggressive (as he is behind in the polls), but “it was hotter than it was planned to be.” Coming off as a deranged, seething lunatic apparently wasn’t in the GOP playbook, thankfully. Let’s see what happens when the bell rings for Round 2 on Oct. 15.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – And yet more news from our former pontificating governor, who hit the airwaves yesterday to spin Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys. Christie told “Good Morning America” that he “heard it differently” Tuesday night. Huh? George Stephanopoulos asked about the president's now-famous "stand by" directive, Christie reiterated that he “didn’t read it that way, but if you want to read it that way that’s your prerogative.” Christie suggested Trump better explain himself. “The way to do that is the next opportunity the president has to clarify that answer because folks like you and others are confused by it, then he should do that,” the former governor said. Meanwhile, the White House doesn’t think there is anything to clarify, highlighting the part of Trump’s sentence in which he told the Proud Boys to “stand back.” But no comment about his suggestion that they also “stand by."

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

PUNAHOU, HI – There’s some big news coming out of the 1970s-era Punahou High School basketball team, with Barack Obama’s “23” jersey set to go back on the auction block. Anyone who knows anything about Hawaii basketball in 1979 will know that Obama was a 6-2 swingman with decent ball handling skills on the state champion team. Maybe that is why his jersey is expected to fetch upwards of $200,000 in its latest resale at auction, following a $120,000 sale last year. Or maybe the enormous interest is because Obama was elected President after his basketball career. You decide.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1995 that MLB held its first wildcard game ever. And, of course, the Yankees won it.

WORD OF THE DAY

Translucent – [trans-LOO-sunt] – adjective

Definition: Permitting the passage of light

Example: I like to make sure my onions are nice and translucent before I add minced garlic and jalapeno to the pot.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Beauty