OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

IN COURT - Sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but the NJ Turnpike Authority has gone to court for years trying to stop a pizzeria chain whose logo is suspiciously similar to our beloved Garden State Parkway sign. Sure, nobody wants drivers searching for an on-ramp to end up in a pizzeria parking lot. But, that absolutely cannot happen: Jersey Boardwalk Pizza's restaurants are far away, in the Florida Keys. Its owners are formerly from Ocean County. Now, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has ruled against the Turnpike Authority, saying the pizzeria logo can remain. So did a federal court in 2015. The chain's Red Bank lawyer tells NJ Advance Media it's all a costly legal boondoggle: "You're talking lots of lawyers, lots of papers, and lots of time." Possible solution: A free pizza for every 10 rides through an EZ-Pass.

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VERONA - Connor Barshay just couldn't wait to be a chef. Now this enterprising 10-year-old is whipping up tongue-tingling varieties of spicy hot sauce in his family's kitchen as executive chef of "Connor's Saucery." Connor, who has muscular dystrophy, co-owns the business with his dad, but does his own slicing, dicing and stewing under mom's watchful eye. Connor, who creates two dozen, 8-ounces bottles at a time, will debut his sauces on Saturday at Verona's Green Fair. The family pledges a share of the profits to several MD support groups. Connor tells The Record: "I don't really care about money. I just want to make good sauce."

STATEWIDE - Hopelessly broke? Sadly,you are not alone. A startling statistic - 1.3 million households across New Jersey - can't afford a basic monthly budget that covers food, housing, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to the United Way ALICE Project. There's 41 percent of households in the state that are either impoverished or live as ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households are all likely one emergency away from disaster. The biggest concentrations of poverty? Essex, Cumberland, Hudson and Passaic counties. Good timing for this alarming report, as the Legislature is now deciding the winners in the proposed 2019 state budget.

TRENTON - Speaking of budgets, there's a tremendous quandary. Gov. Phil Murphy wants to add many new, exciting taxes to fund his progressive agenda, yet there's no plan to increase the state aid to municipalities. So, with the ongoing pressures to control skyrocketing property taxes, what is being done to make New Jersey more affordable, especially for those 1.3 million households? Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver says there needs to be a strong push for even more shared services and smart planning, which has been a consistent talking point for a generation or two of governors. Voters vote with their wallets, as we all know, which gives Murphy three more annual budgets to demonstrate he is the state's biggest penny-pincher.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SALINE, MI - She just wanted her annoying co-worker to go... and go, and go. So, police say, a 47-year-old woman baked a tray of laxative-laced brownies for her departing colleague's send-off party from an engineering firm. Apparently, she had loose lips and bragged about her prank to another employee who tipped off management. Police confiscated and tested the tainted treats, but Police Chief Jerrod Hart told the Ann Arbor News the brownie-baker could not be arrested because no one actually ate her brownies. The employer, however, immediately dumped this nutty employee. 

IN SEMI-IMPORTANT NEWS

ACROSS THE POND - We may be the only ones on the planet who couldn't give a hoot about tomorrow's wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle,  The most respected U.S. news stations have been embarrassingly ga-ga over all this pomp and nonsense, acting as if this is all actually relevant, real news. There's excruciating analysis of who will walk Markle down the aisle, the proper way to throw confetti, which stupid hat the Queen will wear, why the bride is actually speaking at the reception, how Princess Diana will be remembered and what the heck is wrong with the bride's father. Will Harry shave? Will Meghan's crazy half-brother show? Which celebrities weren't invited? So much "drama."  Keep calm and carry on.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1997 that the Cadillac NFL Senior Golf Classic was held at the Upper Montclair Country Club. Yep. And someone even televised it.

WORD OF THE DAY

Muliebrity - [myoo-lee-EHB-rə-tee] - noun

Definition: The quality of being a woman; femininity

Example: Muliebrity is best expressed by Wonder Woman. Wow.

WEATHER IN A WORD

Muddy