TRENTON – Marinara with dearly departed Mario? Herring with dead Harriet? Sloppy Joes with, well, you know… With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Phil Murphy is now letting us eat and drink at funeral homes, as we mourn our loved ones. That means you can mix your condolences with condiments (hot sauce, anyone?), your salami with psalms and load up on open-face sandwiches at the next open casket. Or is it “too soon” to joke about this?

LAVALLETTE – We all know phone books are about as obsolete as live telephone operators. Still, once a year, those quickly thinning white-and-yellow page relics land on everybody’s doorstep. At the request of residents, the borough council here wants that to end, saying the deliveries are a nuisance and telltale sign to burglars that homes are vacant. Shorebeat says the council may copy the efforts in Mantoloking, which recently asked Verizon to drop phone books at Borough Hall, not people’s homes. Or, as Mayor Walter LaCicero jokingly suggests, “a good place to deliver them … the recycling bin.” Fun fact: It costs U.S. municipalities more than $65 million annual to recycle 675,000 tons of phone books. Time to bury them behind the outhouse.

EAST RUTHERFORD – Ever dream of plowing a 16-story-high indoor ski slope? Or to be a professional carny at an 8-acre amusement park that never closes? Or spend your days blowing up tubes at an indoor waterpark, cleaning out climate-controlled gondolas on a Ferris Wheel or putting together roomfuls of LEGOs? Any (or all) of these jobs could be yours, potentially, if you have what it takes to pursue the American Dream. We’re talking about the super-duper, mega-mall, of course, allegedly opening this fall. TAPInto Newark reports a job fair is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Essex County College gym in Newark. Bring your resume and perhaps the ability to snowboard. At this mall, you may need it.

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DOWN THE SHORE – It’s been a little over a year since New Jersey enacted a silly tax on short-term property rentals. It was an attempt to level the tax playing field between online marketplaces like AirBnB and the state’s hotels and motels. But, as NJ Spotlight explains, it created a lot of disgruntlement, especially down the shore where direct rental agreements between homeowners and renters are the thing. The homeowners didn’t like one bit that their transactions were subject to the same 11.6 percent tax rate applied to stays in hotels and motels. Gov. Phil Murphy has now enacted a policy fix that exempts direct rental agreements from the levy. Translation: Tax-free beach houses, once again.

FRANKLIN – A nice bit of local journalism, showing Franklin cops appear to be wildly abusing an obscure paid time off policy, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. NJ.com reports dozens of cops are taking advantage of a stipulation in the union contract, compensating their officials “or designees” for time spent on union business. Translation: Paid time off for golf outings, vacations, apparent headaches and other things that have nothing to do with protecting and serving Franklin. The town pledges to reform this “substantial abuse,” which has wasted $470,000 since 2016. That will be a direct hit to the union president, who has taken 229 paid days since 2016, costing the town more than a year’s worth of his current $123,228 salary. Moving forward, it looks as if Franklin cops would actually have to use real vacation time to play golf, which someone, somewhere, will somehow deem unfair.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

HENRICO COUNTY, VA – Unclear where pranksters are getting all these vintage televisions, but an odd thing has been happening in one Virginia neighborhood. Glen Allen residents are collecting doorbell camera footage of people wearing televisions on their heads and leaving old TVs on peoples’ porches. Recently, more than 50 of these TVs have been dropped off, prompting Henrico County cops to work with recyclers to haul away all these big, useless TV sets. It is unclear if this is a crime, but it is certainly weird. The same thing happened a year ago, when about 20 TVs were left on porches. No perpetrators have been caught. But like TVs, this is certainly something to watch.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2016 that the owner of a weekly newspaper in Hardwick, VT offered an interesting contest. The 71-year-old publisher of the Hardwick Gazette wanted to retire, but couldn’t find any takers for the weekly he and his late wife bought in 1986. So, Ross Connelly announced he would give it all away to whoever writes the best 400-word essay on the value of hyper-local journalism. Submissions were mailed (there was no email) along with a $175 entry fee. The winner would get the paper, its old building, a dusty old Linotype machine, and several well-used computers that still use 5¼-inch floppy disks. The problem, ultimately? Only 140 essays were received, much lower than the 700 he envisioned. The contest was scrapped by October 2016.

WORD OF THE DAY

Palooka – [pə-LOO-kə] - adjective

Definition: An awful boxer

Example: You bet on that Palooka? Ya nuts?

WIT OF THE DAY

 

“Life opens up opportunities for you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them.”

 

- Jim Carrey

WEATHER IN A WORD

Scattered

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