TRENTON - Raise those taxes! That's the message from New Jerseyans, many of whom tell pollsters they are perfectly fine with the state jacking up the taxes on our fast-fleeing millionaires. No surprise. It is common sentiment in New Jersey: We demand a lot of stuff and we want others to pay for it. A joint Rutgers Eagleton-Fairleigh Dickinson University poll says 46% strongly support the millionaire's tax, 26% somewhat support it and 28% are against it. Interesting to see how those numbers would be skewed if millionaires actually took the time to respond to polls.
TRENTON - Lawmakers rarely get the chance to publicly quiz the heads of the various state departments. So, when they do, they like to give them a good grilling. There was plenty of pent-up inquisitiveness on display yesterday when Attorney General Gurbir Grewal appeared before the Assembly Budget Committee. Members peppered him with questions on everything from bail reform to marijuana legislation, with stops along the way for gun fees and anti-Trump lawsuits. In passing, NJ Spotlight reports, the AG mentioned that in anticipation of marijuana legislation, drug-sniffing dogs are being trained differently because the odor of burned marijuana will no longer be legal grounds to search an adult suspect. That surely qualifies as one of the more interesting factoids to be dropped at a budget hearing. Follow the trail of the information-sniffing lawmakers at NJ Spotlight.
ON THE ROAD - For years, we've been hearing that New Jersey has some of the absolute worst bridges in the nation. And yet another report confirms it, NJ 101.5 says. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association is pointing to 544 crumbling bridges that are "structurally deficient." There's also about 2,300 bridges around the state that need some kind of repair, and all this would cost billions and billions. Five absolutely awful bridges sit in over-traveled North Jersey: the Route 4 bridge over the Hackensack River, the Route 80 bridge over the Passaic River, the Route 495 bridge over Route 1&9, the Route 46 bridge over Lower Notch Road and the Route 17 bridge over Central Avenue. Motorists are urged to travel with Duct tape and apply it generously.
GARFIELD - School officials have apparently been making cell phone calls to Uranus, Jupiter and some far-off dwarf planets. That seems the only logical reason as to why some district-issued cell phones are racking up thousands of dollars in bills. The Record notes one phone line somehow generated $12,000 in 17 months and another hit $9,000 over 13 months. School officials are talking to the phone company to figure how the heck this could happen. All the major carriers have well-publicized unlimited calling for $100 or so a month, so the results of this investigation should make for some interesting reading.
NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers finally has Penn State beat. It's also ahead of Purdue, Clemson and Michigan State when it comes to the latest academic rankings, reports TAPInto New Brunswick. There's yet another new list out there, through Business First, that ranks the top 250 schools based on test scores, graduation rates and projected future earnings. But before all the high-fives, also note that Rutgers fell behind Maryland, Connecticut, Binghamton University in New York, Delaware and Pittsburgh. Assume they all cheated.
IN THE MEDIA
Happy "Hug a Newsperson" Day!
STATEWIDE - Another hedge fund that slashes and burns newspapers to squeeze out profit apparently is the latest investor looking to take over Gannett, which owns the Bergen Record, the Asbury Park Press and many other media outlets in the state. MNG Enterprises, which tore through the Boston Herald and the Denver Post with layoffs, real estate sales and other cost-cutting, is trying to replace shareholders on the Gannett board, the NY Post reports. MNG, the so-called "vulture capitalist" that own about 200 or so newspapers, argues the only way Gannett will agree to sell itself for $1.7 billion is with a good, old-fashioned takeover. Shareholders are expected to make the big decision May 12 when they vote on Gannett's board. Meanwhile, honchos at Gannett are trying to figure out if MNG is trying to buy Gannett, or sell to Gannett, with all this public posturing. Hard to tell, especially for the Gannett reporter on his or her way to cover a local council meeting, and second-guessing this whole career in newspapers.
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
VILNIUS, Lithuania - Finally, some decent leg room for one Lithuanian air passenger flying to Italy, who ended up the only passenger on a Boeing 737-800. The man was flying to a ski holiday in the Italian city of Bergamo and had the whole plane - which can usually sit up to 188 people - to himself. That is, except for the two pilots and five crew members. A travel agency had chartered the plane to fly a group home from Italy. To avoid flying empty, one-way tickets were sold for the two-hour trip. Only this guy bought a ticket. Even more amazing: his luggage didn't get mixed up.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 2016 that a city resident was sentenced to up to 20 years of hard time, at least, for stealing $31 in candy bars from a dollar store. That's courtesy of the state's controversial habitual offender law, with the culprit already convicted on five previous crimes, the New Orleans Advocate reports. "Isn't this a little over the top?" Judge Franz Zibilich said when presented with the case. "It's not even funny. Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar."
WORD OF THE DAY
Abyssopelagic - [ə-BISS-ə-pə-lah-jik] - verb
Definition: Resembling, or pertaining to, the ocean's depths
Example: Regarding today's home opener: Will the Mets meet all the hype this year, or will they end up, once again, abyssopelagic in the standings?
WIT OF THE DAY
"Someone asked me, if I were stranded on a desert island what book would I bring... 'How to Build a Boat.'"
- Steven Wright
WEATHER IN A WORD
THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun