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The Jaffe Briefing - January 5, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY
 
STATEWIDE - There's a lot that will be said about Gov. Brendan T. Byrne this morning, as the state learns that one of its beloved politicians has died at age 93. There was no one who could master a one-liner better than the former governor, and everyone has a story. We recall, quite fuzzily, when Byrne attended an event in Woodbridge in the 1990s to mark the construction of a new municipal complex, replacing a small town hall named in honor of veterans. "I had a building named after me once, too," he quipped, dead-panned, referring to the former Brendan Byrne arena in the Meadowlands.

Other fabled Byrne quotes:
  • "You know, I look out this window at the Delaware River and I figured if I walked across the water, the headlines next day would say 'Byrne Can't Swim'."
  • "It is not true that I can only read at a fifth-grade level. I read out-of-state papers too."
  • "A New Jersey politician is a guy who is born poor but honest, and spends a lifetime trying to overcome those habits."
  • "In New Jersey, if you are not getting something for nothing, you aren't getting your fair share."
ON THE RAILS - When Steven Santoro took over as head of NJ Transit 15 months ago, there was hope the rail agency would finally get on the right track. Well, Santoro is stepping down in April, and it is unclear if his tenure accomplished much to deal with the chronic delays, clogged trains and much-needed infrastructure improvements. It is also unclear if any one individual can steer this industry toward safe, modern, efficient, affordable rail transportation into Manhattan and back. Meanwhile, NJ Transit is announcing its latest much-needed upgrade project at Penn Station, causing some trains to be cancelled, renumbered and/or diverted to Hoboken over the next five months or so. It seems the only solution is the $12.7 billion Gateway tunnel, which President Trump may or may not be thinking about.
 
TRENTON - On one hand, Gov. Chris Christie's year-long anti-opioid campaign is valuable and important to saving New Jersey lives. But "Reach NJ" is also a magical way for Christie to keep his face on our televisions and his voice on our radios, at a cost to taxpayers of $42.6 million, none of which the state Legislature directly allocated, Politico reports. In fact, the governor has done precious little to explain where the money for his ad campaign and $200 million in other anti-opioid efforts has come from, just mumbling about refinanced debt service, "lapsed funds" and anticipated revenue. There is no question Christie has a tremendous ego, and is focused on reshaping his legacy from being the most unpopular governor in state history. If this campaign is all about truly fighting opioids, and there is actually "extra" money for all this, then great. But if this is all about reshaping Christie on the taxpayer dime, which we strongly suspect, that's a completely different story.
 
OCEAN CITY - It has been 45 long years of waiting, but New Jersey is finally in the mix for the coveted "National Teacher of the Year" designation. All hopes and dreams are pinned on Amy Andersen, a sign language teacher at Ocean City High School, who is going to the big dance on behalf of New Jersey. She has been announced as one of four teachers in the running for the glorious title, to be announced this spring. It's the first time since 1972 that a New Jersey teacher has clawed this far into the race and is now competing against some - let's assume - terrible teachers from North Carolina, Ohio and Washington, all of whom - let's assume again - couldn't teach themselves out of a paper bag. Go Amy!

UP IN SMOKE - There have been these big dreams of a $1 billion a year marijuana industry lighting up New Jersey. But now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to throw water on the party, rescinding an Obama policy that permitted happy states like Colorado and California to legalize weed without fear of federal intervention. Now, under Sessions, the feds will decide how aggressively they want to pursue marijuana laws. The Colorado governor, a Republican, is rightfully infuriated, saying Sessions is trampling on the will of his voters. Assume lawsuits. Also assume mass confusion in New Jersey, questioning if Trenton can have the authority to look the other way when people grow, buy and smoke pot. It's all quite hazy at the moment.
 
 
IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS
 
ALL OVER - There's endless buzz over the new tell-all Trump book. But of all the tasty tidbits, likely the greatest gob of gossip is the deal behind the President's crazy comb-over. According to "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," Ivanka Trump gushes about how her father had scalp reduction surgery to remove his bald spot. Then, she says, his clean pate is surrounded by a furry circle of hair, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a super-stiffening, gravity-defying, industrial-grade hair spray. And what about the dye job? Ivanka says her dad uses a cheap product called "Just for Men." The longer it is left on, the darker the hair gets, apparently. But Trump is impatient, as we all know, resulting in his signature clown color orange.
 
 
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
 
Maybe two French television journalists went a wee bit overboard in their news coverage on this day in 1989, arrested for trying to plant fake bombs on three airlines at JFK airport for a tell-all expose on travel security.
 
WORD OF THE DAY

Moira - [MOI-ruh] - noun
 
Definition: One's fate or destiny
 
Example: It has been my moira to shovel the driveway right before the plow arrives.
 
WEATHER IN AN IMAGE
 

Posted in Morning Briefing

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