STATEWIDE - Hey, did you hear this one: "A minister, a rabbi and an imam pull into a parking lot... and they are all taxed."  It's no joke, contends NJ.com, which reports the new Trump tax rules regard free parking at houses of worship to be a taxable benefit for employees. The law slaps a 21 percent tax on fringe benefits at houses of worship for designated parking spots, among other things. Luckily, there appears to be a work-around: Get rid of the signs that read "Reserved for Rabbi Nussbaum" and just leave it all as general, public parking. Apparently, for this fleeting moment, the IRS hasn't figured how to tax that. Yet.

OCEANPORT - The idea of using an old army base as a college campus is nothing new, as old-timers are quick to remind anyone that part of the Livingston campus of Rutgers University was once Camp Kilmer, a staging area for World War II.  Now, the former Fort Monmouth is eyed by New Jersey City University, which has grandiose plans to expand much further than its tight footprint in constricting, urban Jersey City. That begins with rehabbing Squier Hall, a 1935-era building for 15 classrooms and labs, the Asbury Park Press reports. The developer has big dreams for a dorm, academic lab, athletic center, parking garage, performing arts center and athletic fields. But Oceanport officials have concerns about quick and big growth. The bustling and thriving Livingston campus is a good indicator of what could (and will) ultimately come to Fort Monmouth.

STATEWIDE - The feds have deemed parts of 75 communities in New Jersey as "opportunity zones," opening them up to some glorious federal tax incentives for development. This is happening as the state's very own multibillion-dollar incentive programs are under a cloud, as you recall, after a recent audit showed they operated with, let's say, a lot of loose ends. Let's hope the feds keep a tighter grip on their effort. It could be a boon to the Garden State - a recent study concluded that some communities here have the best potential for economic growth of any in the country. Yup. NJ Spotlight zones in on the opportunities. 

ALPHA - A guy rakes in a $162.5 million lump-sum jackpot in the Mega Millions game, but still his ex-wife has no interest in him. You would have thought last week's big winner would get an immediate and enthusiastic congratulatory call from his ex as soon as his winnings got announced last Thursday. But the New York Post quotes his wife saying he's "not appealing...all of a sudden because he has this money," noting their marriage ended in October after 15 years. And, she swears she won't go after a share of his winnings. Apparently, she was the breadwinner in the relationship and had to pay spousal support, as he was deemed a "homemaker," (even though they didn't have children.) One may safely assume those payments will be ending posthaste.

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FAIRFIELD - Catnip is apparently no longer for your cat. That's why cops raided a Route 46 health store, seizing 61 bottles of "catnip cocktail," a synthetic hallucinogen that police say is similar to the "date rape" drug GHB. Cops also scooped up 29 bottles of human growth hormones from the Nutrition Zone and busted its owner, a 48-year-old Pennsylvania man, on drug and weapons charges for seven high-capacity rifle and handgun magazines. The police chief tells NJ.com his officers targeted the business after they found one customer dancing and yelling outside it, and arrested another dazed customer driving erratically. Leave the catnip to Felix.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

AHLEN, GERMANY - Lots of debate today about local tax policies. The deal is simple: If you don't pay your local "dog tax," German officials may come to your house, seize your family pooch and sell it on eBay. Local newspaper Ahlener Tageblatt reports that officials from the town of Ahlen showed up at the home of one taxpayer, looking for valuables to cover the dog tax. At first, they thought about taking the homeowner's wheelchair, local media reported.  But that seemed a little cold-hearted. So, instead, they scooped up the family's pedigree pup named Edda and sold her on eBay for $854, about half the taxes due. Most European countries scrapped this dog tax years ago, but Germany still rakes in million of euros a year from it. Edda's tearful family considers the seizure illegal. But this is an important lesson for the three children, ages 9, 7 and 5: Pay your damn taxes, kiddies.

ATLANTA - Monday mornings aren't exactly the best time to read about unbelievable overachievers. So, apologies, as you guzzle coffee and learn about this high school senior who has already been accepted to 39 colleges (and counting) and secured $1.6 million in scholarships (and counting.) "The crazy thing is, I'm still waiting on decision letters, but I was not expecting that at all," says the 17-year-old superstar. She applied to 50 schools, for some reason. In letter after letter, the same word keeps showing up: Congratulations. "It's shocking, each and every time. You're taken aback every time you open one," she says. Unclear where the teen will ultimately go to school, and most really don't care.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was a day that shook Popsicle-eating world to the point of brain freeze. For on this day, in 1986, it was announced the traditional twin-stick frozen treat was being phased out for the one-stick model.  That solo-grip model remains today.

WORD OF THE DAY

Poppysmic - [pə-PIZ-mic] - adjective

Definition: Lip-smacking

Example: I'm a poppysmic fool when it comes to Popsicles.
 

WIT OF THE DAY

"You know you must be doing something right if old people like you."

 

Dave Chappelle

WEATHER IN A WORD

Springy

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