TRENTON – No surprise that not everyone is on board with Gov. Phil Murphy’s mandate for all of us to wear masks outside. Of course, there are some concerned Republicans, who’ve been known to fire off a press release, or maybe two, just to be critical of anything. And there’s lawmakers like Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Warren), representing some of our state’s most rural towns, claiming straight-faced that our governor is “exploiting a public health crisis for power” with new COVID-19 cases decreasing. Other GOP lawmakers, who represent the Jersey Shore, are also calling for Murphy to show some justification. So, inquiring minds want to know: Is this a power-thirsty governor blinded by king-like power or a strong leader exercising caution and his authority to subdue this pandemic?

STATEWIDE – This is New Jersey, where we love our loopholes. Here’s a new one: While indoor dining in the state is still banned, if your restaurant or bar happens to have the ability to open up 50% of your walls in some way, you are in business. The governor signed another executive order yesterday, this time saying that eateries that can somehow open two of their four walls can now serve customers in this version of “inside” because of ample air flow. Meanwhile, if you happen to run one of those stodgy, traditional “four-walled” businesses, you remain out of luck – unless your boiling frustration soon involves a sledgehammer.

JACKSON – Like it or not, this town is getting 1,110 more houses; 550 now and the rest later. Although plenty of people don’t want this development and the planning board unanimously denied it, that really doesn’t matter, right? Developers of the controversial “Jackson Parke” project persuaded a Superior Court judge to let them build the first half of their sprawling Perrineville Road development. The Asbury Park Press says Judge Mark Troncone would not approve the second 550-unit phase to give town planners a chance to hold more hearings and potentially approve it themselves. If that doesn’t happen, you can bet developers will just run back to the judge. Once built, Jackson Parke would be the town’s largest single housing development in decades. Yippee.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Hawaii is moving towards Japan by four inches each year.

EAST BRUNSWICK – The real battle for a soon-vacant Assembly seat begins now that 18th District lawmaker Nancy Pinkin won the Democratic nomination to run for Middlesex County Clerk, as expected. The New Jersey Globe says early voting has Pinkin trouncing a retired Piscataway engineer by 27,217–4,427 votes, almost assuring her a win this November. The larger issue is how many Democrats will duke it out for her Assembly seat. So far, there are four potential contenders: East Brunswick Councilman Sterley Stanley, Highland Park Councilwoman Elsie Foster-Dublin and two Edison councilmen, Ajay Patil and Joseph Coyle. Party insiders predict another Edison officeholder is “very unlikely” because that’s Assemblyman Rob Karabinchak’s home turf. And many Middlesex Dems would prefer sending “another strong woman” to Trenton. There’s plenty of time for even more challengers to emerge. Get ready for a pile-on.

STATEWIDE – Remember those harmful algae blooms that caused dozens of lakes in New Jersey to be closed last summer? They’re baaaack. The state Department of Environmental Protection has devised a color-coded warning system so we know when to stay out of the water. NJ Spotlight reports local groups also want to help, installing so-called green infrastructure to stymie this green, gross stuff. They’re also going to install rain gardens and rock cages to absorb contaminant-laden runoff that feeds the blooms. It’s not a quick fix, but folks in organizations like the Deal Lake Watershed Alliance and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation hope the effort pays off. Of course, it could all go much easier if we all eased up on the fertilizer, built our own home-grown rain gardens and — oh, yes — made sure there were no leaks in our septic systems.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TOKYO, JAPAN – You are welcome to the amusement park, you can go on the roller coaster, you can have fun. But don’t you dare scream. The Wall Street Journal had a little scoop, noting how theme parks are urging visitors to keep their mouths shut so they don’t spread COVID-19. Two execs at the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park even shot a video where they rode a roller coaster in complete silence, frowning, in shirts and ties, clad in masks, plunging 230 feet at one point, and then urging others to “please scream inside your heart.” Violators, however, will not be punished.

FLORENCE, Ky. – You may play catch with your boy or take him on a bike ride. Or, you can be like the 55-year-old dad in this town: Get drunk, challenge your son to a late-night arm wrestle, lose multiple times, become enraged, shoot two bullets into the ceiling and then have an eight-hour standoff with Kentucky deputies. Ah, family time! A fully-armored SWAT team was dispatched to the family home at 1 a.m. Monday, finally subduing this guy around 8:30 a.m. and throwing him in the clink – always a great place for arm wrestling.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are talking about a rematch this year after decades of retirement from the ring. Expect plenty of chatter about this day in 1997 when Tyson was banned from boxing for biting off a part of Holyfield’s ear.

WORD OF THE DAY

Stentorian – [sten-TOR-ee-un] – adjective

Definition: Extremely loud

Example: I can’t wait to one day, once again, hear that stentorian crowd as I arm wrestle my son.

WIT OF THE DAY

“When the silent majority opens its mouth, it is usually to yawn.”

-Gerd de Ley

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

 

“The silent majority is stronger than ever. Just watch!!!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Thick