OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie talked for more than two hours yesterday, in his farewell "State of the State" address, highlighting all of his accomplishments. He served eight years (well, minus the two years he ran for President) and has done so much that we must recognize and appreciate. So, without further ado, free of slant or snark, here is Christie, unfiltered, talking about Christie:

  • Says Christie: It was eight years ago that Christie inherited a bloated state budget, out of balance and riddled with gimmicks. There was a $2 billion deficit in a fiscal year that was only five months from ending. A projected $11 billion deficit in the coming year. A total of $13 billion in projected deficits over his first 18 months. Too many employees doing too little and costing too much. One-shot gimmicks that accounted for more than 13 percent of revenue.
  • Then, Christie got to work. The result? Cutting the state's unemployment in half. Private sector job loss of 248,000 turned into 334,400 new jobs with more than 108,000 new businesses created in New Jersey in 2017 - an all-time economic record for our state. 
  • The governor, according to the governor, was also spectacular at slapping around the state Legislature, vetoing nearly $7.3 billion in spending. He also controlled property taxes with a 2 percent cap, saving us all $18.2 billion. The governor also saved Atlantic City, Camden, the state's higher education system, the criminal justice system, the state pension system and - as a cherry on top - vetoed more tax increases than any governor in modern American history.

There you go, Mr. Christie, your swan song. Thank you for your service.

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UNDER THE BIG TOP - State lawmakers want to ban elephants and other exotic animals from circuses, carnivals and fairs. The legislation, named "Nosey's Law" after a 35-year-old African elephant who was abused, would be the first in the nation, according to NJ.com, and awaits the governor's signature. While protecting animal rights is a good and noble cause, two things come to mind: Do people still go to the circus? And if they do, can the Legislature also ban the sale of overpriced, overly-stupid souvenirs designed to make kids throw tantrums until their parents fork over cash?

 RIVERSIDE - There must have been a perfectly good reason why a 19-year-old parishioner broke into his church, stripped down to his underwear and then trashed the place. The teen was found Saturday afternoon at the First Moravian Church, where he apparently wrecked stained glass windows, musical instruments and Christmas decorations. Cops say he also threw around some Bibles, sprayed the fire extinguisher and dumped a bunch of marijuana on the church lectern. NJ 101.5 reports this unsaintly fellow was busted on charges too lengthy to mention here and must also answer to a higher authority, who is certainly going to ask about the underwear.

STATEWIDE - Imagine a high school football team that can grab top talent from the cross-town rival, creating a team of super beefy adolescents. TAPInto New Brunswick is reporting on legislation now on the governor's desk, which would allow high schools to merge varsity football programs within the same school district. The NJSIAA, which oversees school sports, opposes the bill, arguing it could dramatically alter the landscape of high school sports. The silver lining: Maybe these public all-star teams could finally compete against the parochial powerhouses that rule the rankings every year.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

ROME - So, how ugly was the city's Christmas tree this year? It was so ugly, so droopy and so dried-out that it was nicknamed il Rognoso - "The Mangy One." And its true awfulness can now be remembered for generations, for a price. City officials are carving up the tree and turning it into souvenirs. The wood will also be used to build a lactation hut for mothers and babies, for some reason. Workers on cranes started taking down the ornaments yesterday, dropping dead needles all over the place. But then they heard the mayor wanted to have a "formal farewell ceremony" tomorrow in Rome's main square. So, the ornaments are back up on this $57,000 tree - an international joke that just refuses to go away.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1997 that "Entertainment Tonight" broadcast its 4,000th episode, vowing to finally offer viewers a shred of actual news.

WORD OF THE DAY

Denouement - [dey-noo-MAHWN] - noun

Definition: The outcome or resolution of a doubtful series of occurrences

Example: For anyone in that packed Assembly chamber yesterday, the "State of the State" and its denouement offered a great interpretation, from one perspective, of the Christie Administration.

WEATHER IN A WORD

Normal?