The Jaffe Briefing will go on Spring Break starting Thursday, April 11 - we will return (slightly sunburnt) on Monday, April 22

STATEWIDE - What's more alarming? The fact that 1.4 million people in New Jersey get their drinking water from water systems infused with lead, or the fact that this could have been happening for years on end, before people really started paying attention? The Star-Ledger published another story on the issue this morning, showing at least 35 water systems, big and small, in New Jersey with high levels of lead at the tap. Of course, the solution is ridiculously expensive, with public and private water companies having to replace old lead pipes throughout aging systems. Customers are a demanding bunch, looking for fast, permanent solutions for problems that stemmed decades. And accepting free water filters from the water company just won't cut it.

STATEWIDE - County political committees are overlooked entities in New Jersey politics. For the most part, they happily operate under the radar. But they quietly wield plenty of power endorsing candidates at all levels. Now comes the Central Jersey Progressive Democrats group, trying to upset the apple cart in Middlesex County - focusing on hot topics of sex and gender. NJ Spotlight reports that the county, like some others, requires voters to choose one male and one female to represent them on county party committees. One critic calls this "classic" sex and gender discrimination. This group wants to run four committee slates of two women each and has another candidate who identifies as non-binary. Is this the beginning of the end of the old boys' (and girls') club? NJ Spotlight has the story.

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STATEWIDE - Maybe your town can finally afford to replace that faded stop sign at the end of your street, with word Gov. Phil Murphy plans to hand out $161 million in transportation grants that magically include 95 percent of the towns in the state, Politico reports. Of course, it is not "free" money, as you already funded it through higher gas taxes since a 2016 deal to fund the state's Transportation Trust Fund. But it is always nice to think these "grants" are just gifts from the gods, who are always looking to help New Jersey taxpayers fill our potholes.

TRENTON - It only took one day for the City Council to screw up a $4 million deal to turn the old Roebling Wire Works building into a fiber optics plant that promised 400 new jobs. Mayor Reed Gusciora rolled out the red carpet last week for fiber optics company CEO Barry Zhang at a big media event. The next day both men were fuming after contentious Council members - aware of this deal for a year - voted 5-2 to throw more roadblocks in Zhang's path, risking his chance at state tax relief. Zhang tells NJ.com he plans to take his business elsewhere: "I am absolutely angry ... I am just sick and tired of looking at some of the council members' faces."

HAMILTON - An odd political twist got Mayor Kelly Yaede booted off Mercer County's official Republican ballot line in the June 4 primary. Because Hamilton Republicans could not manage to find two loyal party members to run for Town Council on Yaede's ticket, they saddled this two-term incumbent with a pair of former Democrats as running mates. Mercer County GOP Chair Lisa Richford tells The Trentonian it's "appalling" and "an insult" to her proud party. So, Richford flexed some rarely-used legal muscle to give away the official ballot line to Yaede's most ferocious critic, David Henderson, and his maverick GOP council slate.

PATERSON - This city's top cop must feel darn special. Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale finds himself in a tug-o-war between new Mayor Andre Sayegh and his boss in Hazleton, PA. Speziale has been moonlighting as part-time police chief in that Pennsylvania town since 2016. Now, Sayegh wants him to quit that $40,000 extra-duty job, telling the Paterson Press that Speziale is too valuable to Silk City. Eight of the city's nine Council members disagree, saying Speziale is still effective while wearing both hats. And, Hazleton Mayor Jeff Cusat says "Jerry is a member of my team" who pledged "to stay here as long as I am here. I plan to be here for awhile. We need (Speziale) ... he's doing a great job."

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SPILLVILLE, IOWA - The town of Spillville, population 351, now has a population of 350, with the passing of Tim Schrandt, 63, subject of the most honest obituary that anyone has published in awhile. Described as the most ornery resident of the Hawkeye State, where he worked for 30 years as a tool and dye maker with "a bunch of morons," he was remembered for beating up a nun while in grade school. "In fairness, she probably started it," the obit reads. "You didn't take a swing at Tim and not expect one back." The obit adds: "For those of you that did meet him, we apologize, as we're sure he probably offended you." And: "We are considering establishing a GoFundMe account for G. Heileman Brewing Co., the brewers of Old Style beer, as we anticipate they are about to experience significant hardship as a result of the loss of Tim's business. Keep them in your thoughts." Another gem: "Tim leaves behind a hell of a lot of stuff that his family doesn't know what to do with. So, if you are looking for a Virgin Mary in a bathtub shrine, you should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch with them... Tomorrow would be fine." Enjoy Tim's obit here.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

There have been plenty of modern marvels.  Vaccination. Penicillin. Discovery of DNA. But beauty queens may consider 1985 as the year when man truly mastered nature. It was on this day that Phyllis Diller underwent a landmark surgical procedure - permanent eyeliner to eliminate the need for eyelid makeup.

WORD OF THE DAY

Sashay - [sah-SHAY] - verb

Definition: To walk casually in a showy or flirtatious manner; to strut, swagger or flounce

Example: Joe Biden swiftly worked the room, sashaying up to the woman to say "Hello."

HALF-WIT OF THE DAY

 

"We have a ways to go, but not very far."

President Donald Trump

 

 

WEATHER IN A WORD

Spiking

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun