SUSSEX COUNTY – C’mon people. Those who claim mail-in voting does not work have yet another botched election in which to wag their fingers. Politico reports that nearly 1,700 mail-in ballots for the July primary went uncounted for two months, as they were apparently sitting in a mislabeled bin, collecting dust in some darkened corner. “AH-HA!,” shouts all the Trump supporters, claiming yet again that this election will be rife with outrageous fraud and full-on ineptness. Election officials say those votes were finally counted Sept. 12, and thankfully the updated results did not mess up the outcome of the county’s primary races. But, please, please, can we sort this all out by Nov. 3?

TRENTON – If you have a choice between a root canal and visiting a Motor Vehicle Commission office, good luck with that oral surgery. At least there’s Novocaine, and the dentist might have you out before lunch. We certainly can’t say the same at the MVC, as the Assembly Budget Committee took turns yesterday hammering MVC chief administrator Sue Fulton about the motionless lines and Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to raise some agency fees by a buck. Also on the hit parade: Why didn’t the commission spend the four months it was closed to plan for the crush? And why wasn’t it spending some of the overtime it accrued during those months to add staff? NJ Spotlight was there to witness the carnage, noting Fulton did a decent job of defense. And that probably means nothing is going to change anytime soon - except you’ll pay that extra $1 in fees. 

BRIEFING BREATHER

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Billy goats urinate on their own heads to smell more attractive to females.

STATEWIDE – If you are a gambler, would you ever plunk a wager on the fact that New Jersey could create an instant, brand-new industry generating billions? There is an absolutely huge story in the fact that New Jersey now leads the entire nation in the amount of money we bet on sports. Last month, there was $668 million in wagers in the state, as there was live baseball, basketball and hockey. That whopping amount smashed the former record, $614 million, in Nevada last year. Not only are we beating Vegas, we are now fully into football season. Could we be talking a billion a month? Whatever happens, what a lifeline for our depleted casinos and racetracks – finally on a streak.

STATEWIDE – Sure, our criminals are back out in society – thanks to the pandemic that prompted corrections officials to open up their cells in the spring and bid them adieu. But, for all of us eternal optimists, there is a silver lining. State officials say a decrease in the inmate population by 3,500 since May 2018 – which includes the 2,200 who received their walking papers during the pandemic – has generated $60 million in savings to the state budget, NJ 101.5 reports. And that’s nice.

STATEWIDE – Here’s your morning mindbender: What do bicycles, heat lamps and tequila have in common? Usually, absolutely nothing. But in this lingering pandemic, these three items have been listed as this moment’s hardest-to-get items, NorthJersey.com reports. (Move over toilet paper and hand sanitizer) The news site reports that higher-end tequila is the official trendy drink of this very second, fueled by the fact that there is a shortage of agave in Mexico. Heat lamps are also an obvious biggie, as restaurants gobble them up for outdoor dining this fall. And for anyone who attempted to buy a decent bicycle over the past few months, the shortage is obvious as we all enjoy the great outdoors.

IN THE MEDIA

NEW BRUNSWICK – The Daily Targum – the second-oldest college newspaper in the nation – has had its struggles. Not only did RU students vote to strip financial support last year, the newspaper has struggled with advertising. And now, there is a pandemic. And now students are not on campus. How can this newspaper survive? The Editor-in-Chief tells TAPInto New Brunswick about a plan for survival, focusing on digital. This fall, there will be only one print run a month for this former daily paper. There is also a revamped website coming, as well as an app. But the message is clear: Now is the time for The Not-So-Daily Targum to shine and build connections with RU students - most at home - showing the value of a consistent campus voice. Unclear how these scrappy journalism students can exactly do that, when no one is around. But strong, solid, unique reporting is a good first step.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

NEW YORK – Nothing to see here. Nothing at all. That is the message from the 94th-annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is greatly limiting the festivities to keep everyone safe. In fact, you are really not welcome, as this will be a Made-for-TV event with 75% less participants, many of whom are paid professionals. The parade won’t really be a parade, at it will all focus on two blocks surrounding Herald Square over two days, as the TV cameras roll.  So, no high school or college bands, as anyone fortunate enough to participate will be in masks, gloves and social distanced to the hilt. This “reimagined” concoction of orchestrated celebration will be broadcast Nov. 26 at 9 a.m. Maybe this is the year Snoopy decides to just work from home. 

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2012 that tends of thousands of Russians protested Vladimir Putin in Moscow, chanting “We are the power here!” and “Russia without Putin!” All of those protesters then went out for milk, apparently, and haven’t been seen since.

WORD OF THE DAY

Sisyphean – [sis-uh-FEE-un] – adjective

Definition: Requiring a continual and often ineffective effort

Example: I felt stuck in a Sisyphean loop, writing about the MVC over and over, with the story never changing.

WIT OF THE DAY

“People of conscious need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.”

-Desmond Tutu

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

 

“It'll start getting cooler. You just watch.”

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Fall?