OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

NEW BRUNSWICK - When you rent out apartments to Rutgers students, expect some surprises. But one landlord received a shocker beyond expectation: a $8,117.07 water bill for the last three months of 2017, TAPInto New Brunswick reports. The landlord went to the City Council meeting this week, pleading that the bill on his Comstock Street property has to be some crazy mistake. But city officials are holding firm, saying the meter has been checked a couple of times and everything seems to be working perfectly. So, if that is the case, what the heck were these kids doing? The world's biggest water balloon fight? A basement skating rink? A public bathhouse? Whatever the reason, the bill is past due and the city is eagerly awaiting the check.

WAYNE - I don't want to grow up. I'm a Toys "R" Us kid. But the world's biggest toy store is closing, after filing bankruptcy last fall. The Wayne-based company prayed for a strong holiday season, but was thoroughly trounced by the likings of Amazon. With all the bad debt, and kids now focused more on Fortnite than Candy Land, it was all just too much to sustain. So, all the Toys "R" Us stores will be vanishing off our highways, shutting down at a jughandle near you. Use those gift cards now, as Geoffrey is quickly moving from being endangered to becoming extinct. Gee whiz!

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 THE METUCHEN SECTION OF EDISON - No question that New Jersey has too many towns. Heck, even a gubernatorial candidate ran last year on that one obvious issue. But how is municipal madness diagnosed? In a 25-town listicle that could only exist in New Jersey, NJ.com offers a hilarious and arbitrary answer. Get rid of places like Shrewsbury, Hi-Nella and Teterboro - where teeny-weeny populations merit being gobbled by the nearest municipality. Then, there's Metuchen, a rail stop on the Northeast Corridor whose existence as Edison's doughnut hole has earned a place for future oblivion. Metuchen responded instantly in an article published in - wait for it - the Edison Patch, where the mayor blasted this doughnut hole logic, arguing it is like United States absorbing Canada because it "stands between the contiguous states and Alaska." The rapid response to NJ.com's clickbait is that we like our towns just the way they are. End of discussion.

ON THE RAILS - The federal transportation secretary is complaining that New Jersey and New York officials are trying to "bully" the feds into providing money for the Gateway bridge-and-tunnel project. Bullying? Hell, yeah. If DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and her boss continue to feign cluelessness about the critical importance of this infrastructure project, how else do our lawmakers proceed? Rational discussion doesn't work. Logic doesn't work. Embarrassment clearly doesn't work. Chao is whining that, "A campaign is being waged in the public arena to bully the department to pressure the federal government to fund these projects."  Yes, Elaine. Yes, it is.

PATERSON - Eyes are on a municipal auction today, praying that somehow the city will reap the $2 million that has been earmarked to balance the budget. It's akin to hoping for three-of-a-kind, rather than two-pair, to cover your monthly mortgage payment. The Paterson Press says city officials are wary of the administration's rosy revenue projections, especially as these are not spectacular properties in prime areas. In fact, many of the 46 parcels are in the slums. One councilman states the obvious: If these parcels had real value, they wouldn't be on the auction block.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

TOKYO, JAPAN -日本へようこそ.  That's the message from United Airlines workers on the tarmac in Japan, greeting a 10-year-old German shepherd that was supposed to be flown from Oregon to Kansas City. But, somehow, the airline sent the beloved family dog on a 16-hour journey to Japan, CNN reports.  The family realize the boo-boo on Tuesday when they went to retrieve "Irgo" at the cargo facility in Kansas City. But, boy were they surprised when Irgo was nowhere to be seen. Rather, they were presented with a wagging Great Dane, named Lincoln, that was supposed to be moving to Narita, Japan. Apparently the mess-up occurred when the flights connected in Denver. One dog here. One dog there. One dog everywhere.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2013 that scientists revealed they recovered frozen tissue from the 1970s and rejuvenated the cells of "Rheobatrachus silus," a species of frog extinct since 1983. Now a greater challenge: rejuvenating Matt Lauer's career.

WORD OF THE DAY

Telegenic - [tel-uh-JEN-ik] - adjective

Definition: Well-suited to the medium of television

Example: Imagine if Richard Nixon was remotely telegenic.

WEATHER IN A WORD

Greening