MAHWAH – Did the local cops go a wee bit too far in their investigation of alleged cyber-harassment of a pre-teen? That’s what a local mom is saying, after her 12-year-old son was dragged down to Police HQ to determine if he was involved in an Instagram image allegedly depicting one of the boy's classmates with facial hair drawn on by permanent marker, the Record reports. While that doesn’t really seem to rise to the crime of the century, the boy maintained his innocence. Yet, the cops filed a complaint in juvenile court without any corroborating information, it is alleged, and now a very angry mom is suing the town. She says the boy was “thrust shamelessly into the criminal justice system” and notes the charges have since been dropped. But there is still that thorny issue of “emotional harm and distress” to be hashed out in court. This one isn’t going away soon. She will make sure of it.

HAWTHORNE – There’s always one guy every year who takes Halloween a bit too far. And, this year, that distinction goes to a Hawthorne resident, who the police have visited to discuss the 15th-annual zombie display on his front lawn. The Record reports he sadly dismantled his 90 zombie statues on Saturday night, after cops warned all his visitors would be ticketed if they kept blocking the road in front of his house. What likely irked the cops was that this house had become an unpermitted tourist attraction, with people from as far away as Vermont coming by to witness all the great gore. And the final straw may have been the fact the resident dressed as a zombie, blending in with his walking dead statues, and frightening the heck out of his gleeful visitors. Following the closure, local sympathizers showed support for the zombie house on Sunday night, declaring a “Night of Darkness” and turning off their own decorations in solidarity.

TRENTON – Prisoners being released may quickly realize they are better off than those who didn't do time. The first breath of freedom is dealing with the cheerless NJMVC, now charged with setting up makeshift mobile agencies for inmates so they can get ID cards without having to deal with the maddening lines at the MVC offices around the state. NJ Globe reports that soon-to-be-released prisoners are taking buses to Trenton, where the MVC has tents set up to provide them with non-driver ID cards. Very convenient, but state lawmakers are also wondering why similar mobile tents can’t be erected at the MVC offices for motorists who have been standing outside for hours for basic service over these very long months. State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco, for one, calls this white-glove service “just outrageous” and “a slap in the face to everyone who is waiting out in the cold and the rain today.”

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Hot water freezes quicker than cold water.

MONTCLAIR – Cuban Pete’s is finally shut down – following its third violation for blatantly ignoring the state’s indoor dining rules. The owner proclaimed: “I'm not doing 25%, and I'm not doing 6 feet apart. It's a free country." Montclair cops came by to change the locks early yesterday, after a very defiant business owner has been gabbing with the media over the past few weeks about his refusal to comply with the health mandates designed to keep his customers and staff safe. The Record reports Cuban Pete was slapped with three citations and he is now, finally, out of business. The owner still has his day in court on November 19, but there always seemed to be something wrong with his contention that he can do whatever he pleased, no matter the risks. His story is also eye-opening for other restaurant owners who were quietly watching Cuban Pete to see how far he could go and still remain open. Now you know.

STATEWIDE – Chestnuts roasting on an open fire… along with the overwhelming scent of clogged arteries, splattered grease and regret? This could be your home for the holidays now that fast-food chain KFC has announced it is bringing back its fried chicken-scented 11 Herbs & Spices Firelog for a third year. This Walmart exclusive ($15.88!) has sold out the past two years, so you better move fast – although we’re assuming “move fast” isn’t in your vocabulary if you’ve been living on a steady diet of three-piece chicken combos, mac & cheese and an extra side of potato wedges. Disclaimer: Firelogs – when ignited – are not finger-licking good. But they can be extinguished with your jumbo Mountain Dew.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

SALEMI, ITALY – Just how crappy is this town when the mayor sends out a press release to the world, offering to sell dilapidated, abandoned homes for $1.18 a piece. That’s the mayor’s strategy to build some excitement for this sad little town in Sicily, which is putting dozens of unsaleable homes on the auction block. Mayor Domenico Venuti said the scheme is part of last-ditch efforts to revitalize the town, which has seen its population continue to dwindle after about 4,000 residents fled following a 1968 earthquake. Those tremors are obviously still being felt, as the City Council is desperate to bring in some new residents – more than 50 years later. To get ready for the auction, CNN reports, the city had to rebuild all the sewage pipes and electric grids. Now, the town is ready for the big, next step – with investors plunking down – who knows - $5, $10 or, perhaps, even $25 for these unwanted, unlivable hovels. Dare to dream.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1997 that Ulysses S. Grant gets a nice facelift, albeit a bit off-center, as the U.S. Mint unveils a redesigned $50 bill.

WORD OF THE DAY

Guttersnipe – [GUTT-er-snype] – noun

Definition: A person of the lowest moral or economic station

Example: “Unfurl yourselves under my banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes,” wrote Mark Twain in 1869. (That’s some good writing…)

WIT OF THE DAY

“My husband purchased a world map and then gave me a dart and said, `Throw this and wherever it lands—that’s where I’m taking you when there is a cure for COVID.’ Turns out, we’re spending two weeks behind the fridge.”

-Anonymous

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“The Fake News Media is riding COVID, COVID, COVID, all the way to the Election. Losers!"

-Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Clouds