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The Morning Briefing - February 24, 2015

TRENTON – It may go down as the most dramatic budget message of all time, as Gov. Chris Christie will do a tango today worthy of “Dancing with the Stars.” This aspiring President – dogged by actually having to govern a financial mess like New Jersey – has been slapped by a judge, ruling he broke the law by reneging on a $1.57 billion payment to state pensioners. Of course, the governor’s office immediately decried the 130-page ruling as “liberal judicial activism,” delivered by a judge who happened to be appointed by fellow Republican Gov. Christie Whitman. Now Christie has to dance to find the money by June 30, when the fiscal year ends. Want to tour the Statehouse? Only $1 million a ticket.

TRENTON – Question: How does an aspiring President deal with a last-second blow to the budget? Answer: Blame others. We assume the only way out for this Republican candidate is to use the budget message to lecture the state Legislature about reckless spending and demand some difficult decisions – without, of course, raising taxes. Perhaps there could be some more “Blue Ribbon Panels” sprinkled in, which the governor would love to be involved with, but he has a punishing travel schedule. You know how it is…

TRENTON – Just to give you a better idea of what Christie is dealing with, he’s entering the lion’s den for help. The governor is teaming up with his archrival, the New Jersey Education Association, which has spent about $30 million in ads to discredit him, NJ.com reports. The dynamic duo are now working on “groundbreaking changes” to patch up the state pension system. Christie is expected to talk more about what that means during today’s budget address, especially in light of the $1.57 billion bill looming. Expect more tough talk about pension and health care reform – the two topics the NJEA has been blasting the governor for since he arrived in 2009.

SCOTCH PLAINS – Political assassination is always fun, as the buzzards swirl over the Assembly seat in the 22nd legislative district. That’s where Assemblywoman Linda Stender is clinging, following this PR mess with her husband’s desire to build a luxury beach house through Coastal Habitat for Humanity. Of course, the nonprofit – currently owed $11,000 in demolition costs from the Stenders - wasn’t going to entertain a five-bedroom, 3½-bath home with an elevator. But before the assemblywoman is hanged from the highest tree, with Democrats and Republicans already vying for her seat, perhaps we take a quick second to learn how she was involved. Unfortunately, the assemblywoman isn’t talking.

RIDGEWOOD – If you are going to select a backdrop for a program on “Civility in Public Discourse,” there’s no better place than the Ridgewood Public Library, where the last “Shhh!” occurred at some point in the 1980s. There’s an interesting program tonight, with the publisher of the Bergen Record, Steve Borg, talking civility with County Executive James Tedesco III, the local police chief and an Englewood councilwoman. Perhaps the venue for such a program should be places like Newark or Paterson, where the pound cake and Earl Gray tea are replaced with something a bit stronger.

LODI – We miss our bank-robbing bandits - the likes of Bonnie and Clyde; their crime sprees frightening and enchanting us all. Now we are stuck with robbers like the bozo who hit a Lodi bank on Monday, made off with $4,000 and then actually stopped at a local Dunkin Donuts for a cup of coffee. The get-away totaled one-fifth of a mile, NJ.com notes, as cops saw the suspect bumming a smoke off a guy in the parking lot. He was found with the cash, as well as the BB gun he showed the teller. Sigh.

AT THE MALL – Terrorists can threaten all they want, but you can never scare a blue-blooded American from a great sale at the mall. Terrorists known as al-Shabaab released a video threatening to do terrible things at our malls. These are the same evil-doers who attacked a mall in Kenya in September 2013 that killed 67 people. Even with such an ominous threat, it seems to be business as usual at the malls. There is beefed-up security by the likes of Paul Blart, as well as some super-secret security measures. And that seems to be perfectly fine for shoppers chasing the BOGO at Abercrombie.


It was this day in 1979 that someone paid the highest price ever for a pig - $42,500 - in Stamford, Texas. That must have been “Some Pig,” says Charlotte.



Posted in Morning Briefing


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