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The Morning Briefing October 2, 2014

on Thursday, 02 October 2014.

PERTH AMBOY – The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has apparently ordered one of its temporary toll takers to stop saying "God bless you" to motorists she meets at her Parkway toll both, News 12 New Jersey reports. That hasn't sat well with the temp, now suing her employer for back pay and benefits. "I feel like I'm taking a stand for God," the woman told News 12. Speaking as motorists, we would rather hear "God bless you," as opposed to some of the other choice words that toll takers mutter as we fumble with our quarters.

STATEWIDE – Gov. Chris Christie: Not here today.

TRENTON – When colleges are more consumed with the bottom line than the quality of education delivered, one must wonder if priorities are a bit skewed. For-profit colleges talk a good game about providing a superb education to those who, for some reason, don't attend traditional, non-profit schools. But state officials are rightfully skeptical, considering a bill today that would allow New Jersey to stop these schools from conferring degrees if they don't have minimum graduation rates. Good, but does pushing the students to graduation achieve the goal here?

TRENTON –Even though Gov. Chris Christie has decreed that sports betting is now legal in New Jersey, the Assembly's Tourism and Gaming committee is considering legislation today to bolster his claim. Expect the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA to fight this at every step, just like every other effort to bring sports betting here. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are digging in their heels, seeing sports betting as the boost Atlantic City sorely needs.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Quinnipiac University pollsters already see Sen. Cory Booker's election as a done deal, reporting our junior senator has an 11-point edge over his under-funded and unknown opponent, Jeff Bell. (NJTV reports Bell doesn't even have a campaign office, opting to meet reporters in a Teaneck hotel lobby with free Wi-Fi.) Booker has agreed to only one debate with his challenger, which makes plenty of sense when you are so far ahead. Such a lopsided race is a bit unfair to voters, who really can't weigh the positions of two legitimate candidates vying for a U.S. Senate seat. But the Democrats certainly aren't complaining.

ATLANTIC CITY – It's time to forget that original investors in the Revel casino have lost their shirts, with the $2.4 billion castle folding as quickly as a pair of threes. The future is with a casino company that owns the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas and Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas. The company took the Revel at auction for a measly $110 million. Winning the Revel at pennies on the dollar could be exactly what Atlantic City needs, as this experienced casino company will not be saddled with all the bloated debt that made it impossible for the original owners to compete in such a depressed market.

ON THE RAILS – It is a nagging issue that just won't go away: We desperately need another rail tunnel to Manhattan. reports that Amtrak's tunnels need to be shut down for a year to still repair the damage from Superstorm Sandy. Amtrak wants its proposed "Gateway" tunnels to be built to handle the daily flow as the 104-year-old tunnels are repaired. But that will cost billions and billions of dollars. And turning to the state's Transportation Trust Fund – which can't afford the Ajax to shine up a tunnel tile – is not an option. Of course, if Gov. Chris Christie didn't cancel the "Access to the Region's Core" tunnel project in October 2010 because of cost increases, construction of a new tunnel would be underway. Just sayin'.


NEW YORK – It is almost unbelievable to write, but the cleanest fast food restaurant in New York City is... White Castle. Yeah, we aren't convinced either, but an assistant professor at Pratt Institute has combed through the city Department of Health's website for the grading and inspection information. Fox News reports the findings: that White Castle had the fewest health violations. But perhaps that's what happens when your burgers aren't graded in the category of "meat."


It was this day in 2009 that the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro. The party began immediately, and continues into its fifth year.


The Morning Briefing October 1, 2014

on Wednesday, 01 October 2014.

ASBURY PARK – The weight of the world is apparently dragging down President Obama in New Jersey, where a new poll shows his lowest rating ever. The big hit is with women, who, for the first time, have a net negative opinion of Obama, with a 50 percent disapproval rating, says a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll out today.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Women don't seem particularly enamored of Gov. Chris Christie either, with a Quinnipiac University poll showing that 48 percent of New Jersey women disapprove of the Governor's job performance. Remember, this is the same guy who demolished former state Sen. Barbara Buono by 22 points just one year ago. Quinnipiac also shows that Hillary Clinton would beat Christie in New Jersey by 10 percentage points in a hypothetical match up, with Clinton enjoying a 20-point lead among New Jersey women.

NEWARK – Perhaps Gov. Chris Christie thinks he can boost those poll numbers by slamming President Obama for his dealings with the ISIS threat. Christie is jumping on the fact Obama admitted his national intelligence people "underestimated" the situation. Christie's response on CNN: "It should be 'we,' Mr. President. It's your administration and when you're the leader, you have to be held accountable for what they do." Sure, just like New Jersey's plummeting credit rating, state pension debacle and broke Transportation Trust Fund.

NEWARK – Following his criticism of Obama on the ISIS mess, Gov. Chris Christie outlined for CNN what he would do differently to protect the country. Right? Well, no. Christie's response:"I'm not the commander in chief." But he might want to have the job someday."But that day is not today," Christie quickly responded with a smile.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – You can actually catch Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey this morning, at the National Catholic Cemetery's Conference in the Meadowlands. It's a nice strategic location near major airports, for the convenience of a flight to Los Angeles to raise more money for Republicans tonight. Then, our Governor will be in Arizona and Denver before landing in the important early voting state of Iowa on Friday for an event dubbed "Building Iowa's Future Rally."

NOT IN NEW JERSEY – But while the governor is famously elsewhere these days, he wants to make sure he maintains his power in New Jersey, where perhaps he can run the state via Skype. Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon, a fellow Republican, has proposed that the governor would no longer have to sign his power over to the lieutenant governor every time he flees. That means Christie could sign and veto bills, as well as issue executive orders, as he barnstorms around the country to interview for his next job.

"I'm the governor, and I don't think there's any confusion among anybody in the state about who the governor is. I don't really think people think Kim (Guadagno) is the governor when I'm not here," Christie said, according to New Jersey 101.5. Yeah, but at least she is here.

TRENTON – State lawmakers say they want to phone it in when it comes to quorum calls in Trenton. And it seems a likely possibility, with state Assembly members unanimously voting to phone in for quorum calls if they can't get to the State House on time. They would also be able to email for the roll call, and perhaps text, under the resolution, the Record reports. It makes sense – just as long as it isn't the first step toward texting in a "yea" or "nay" on actual legislation.

PISCATAWAY – As the University of Michigan travels to Rutgers University this Saturday for an eagerly awaited Big 10 match-up, people are still talking about last Saturday's game between Michigan and Minnesota. That's when Michigan QB Shane Morris took a huge hit to the head, but was kept in the game while staggering around the field in a daze. Now, Rep. Bill Pascrell, a longtime proponent of better head safety for football players, wants the Big 10 to investigate. Meanwhile, Wolverine coach Brady Hoke said Morris had made his own decision to stay in, saying "I don't know if he had a concussion or not," yet added, "We would never, ever put a guy on the field when there's a possibility of head trauma." Huh?


It was this day in 1971 that Mickey Mouse expanded his empire by opening Walt Disney World on 42,000 acres of central Florida he quietly purchased. It's time for Minnie to finally push for that engagement ring.


The Morning Briefing September 30, 2014

on Tuesday, 30 September 2014.

ATLANTIC CITY - It seems the big winner in the Revel sweepstakes will be Glenn Straub, a Florida developer. As the bankruptcy court auction resumes today, he has a standing offer to buy the bankrupt casino for pennies on the dollar. And, as the lead bidder at $90 million, Straub will reap a $3 million "breakup fee" if his pitiful offer is topped by someone else, reports. In any case, good to see someone finally find a way to make money off the Revel.

NEWARK - In no surprise to anyone, four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA have a big problem with Gov. Chris Christie's loosey-goosey decree that sports betting is suddenly legal in New Jersey. The leagues are in court, calling the governor's decision both "astounding" and a "blatant violation" of earlier court orders. Earlier this month, Christie said casinos and racetracks could offer sports wagering as long as it wasn't state-regulated. The leagues pose a great argument: How can the state heavily regulate casinos and racetracks, as per the state Legislature, but then cherry pick which operations to ignore?

NEWARK - Apparently, according to the compassionate people at Walmart, it is Tracy Morgan's fault that he was critically injured in the deadly June crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one of his friends. WCBS 880 was in federal court yesterday, where the slew of Walmart lawyers was trying to weasel the company out of Morgan's lawsuit. Walmart lawyers argued: "By failing to exercise ordinary care in making use of available seatbelts, upon information and belief, plaintiffs acted unreasonably and in disregard of plaintiffs' own best interests." Apparently, that trumps the fact the Walmart driver hadn't slept in more than 24 hours before slamming into Morgan's van.

UNION TOWNSHIP - A new public high school stands to become a prototype for districts nationwide, as officials cut the ribbon at Kean University for a building focused on helping kids battle drug and alcohol problems. In partnership with Prevention Links, it is the brainchild of state Sen. Ray Lesniak, who believes such a nurturing place makes it possible for kids to undergo recovery without losing the opportunity for a quality education. Not dealing with all the silly peer pressure at a typical high school is an added bonus.

For more information, click here.

PLAINFIELD - It seems a recipe for disaster, with two Plainfield cops charged with signing off on each other's bogus timesheets for overtime and extra-duty shifts. All told, authorities say, this pair supposedly sworn to protect and serve is accused of stealing more than $11,000.

PERTH AMBOY - You likely don't know today is National PrepareAthon Day. But it is a really big deal for the likes of Verizon, PSE&G and the American Red Cross - all of which are on the front lines when disaster strikes New Jersey. Today, representatives are joining with Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz in a city that was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy to stress the importance of disaster preparedness, emergency communications and volunteerism.


ON AIR – Apparently, Viagra is not doing enough to penetrate the erectile dysfunction market by just targeting men, prompting Pfizer to begin airing commercials today that focus on the other, often-overlooked "sufferer" - women. The ad shows an older woman laying in bed in some tropical paradise, telling viewers, "So guys, it's just you and your honey. The setting is perfect. But then erectile dysfunction happens again...Plenty of guys have this issue — not just getting an erection, but keeping it." OK, good to know. But will this strategy prompt a rise (in sales)?

BROOKLYN, NY – We all have dreams of returning to high school, with throngs of people cheering us on, and the streets jammed with traffic for a hopeful chance to see us. That, of course, isn't going to happen. And that is because we are not Neil Diamond, who tweeted early yesterday that he would be stopping by Erasmus Hall High School in a few hours for a concert, the Daily News reports. "I saw a couple of faces here that are actually familiar," Diamond said. "I was wondering, are these people still going to high school?"


It was this day in 2010 that Somali pirates seized Indian crewmen and their Panamanian-flagged ship, as they were sailing off the coast of Tanzania – eerily similar to the plot of every "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie ever conceived.


The Morning Briefing September 29, 2014

on Monday, 29 September 2014.

NOT IN NEW JERSEY – Like many others who enjoy writing about Gov. Chris Christie, we have been reduced to compiling a daily travel log. Today, we note the Governor will be in Wisconsin to throw support to Gov. Scott Walker, who is in a tight race. Some drama here for national political junkies, as Walker is also being considered as a Presidential contender and, like Christie, has had his share of scrutiny from prosecutors.

IN NEW JERSEY – Likely, Gov. Chris Christie's stump speech today won't make mention of this fun fact: Every household in New Jersey would have to fork over $30,000 to cover the state's bill for unfunded pension and health benefits that will be owed to retired state workers, NJ Spotlight reports. The state's Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission divvied up the $95 billion tab among the 3.2 million households in the state to show the magnitude of the mess. Perhaps we should all just move to Delaware.

ATLANTIC CITY – There's at least some people hitting the jackpot in Atlantic City these days: the people who sue the city claiming to have been injured on the boardwalk. The Press of AC reports that checks worth more than $1.8 million have been handed out over the past five years in lawsuits claiming broken wrists and fractured hips. Just this year, the claims reaped nearly $800,000, which suggests any down-on-your-luck gambler go for a jog.

FAIRVIEW – You rarely hear about a day spa getting the last laugh when raided for prostitution. But, as the Record reports, the former Ritz Day Spa has settled with the borough, which forked over $145,000 for a 2008 police raid that resulted in no hookers and no pimps. Nor could anyone find a search warrant or probable cause.

SADDLE BROOK – Not only is a 21-year-old Lodi man busted for breaking into cars, he also must answer why he was poking around the unlocked and unmarked patrol car of the Saddle Brook police chief. The burglar was spotted in the car – sitting in the chief's driveway – at 2:45 a.m. Friday. A neighbor called police, prompting what we can only imagine was an "immediate" response. The suspect was found a couple of doors down from the chief, exiting another car, where his only take was some loose change.

STATEWIDE – The classic high school party – targeting any house where mom and dad are stupid enough to be elsewhere – may have tapped its last keg in North Jersey. Parents, who quickly recall what they were like in high school, are now signing the "Safe Homes Pledge" as part of a national movement, the Record reports. Parents are committing themselves to supervising the party, not serving booze to people under 21 and locking up the prescription meds. Hey, more Pepsi anyone?


COLUMBUS, Ohio – A local man who posted an online crowd-funding appeal to buy the ingredients for potato salad was shocked when his goof caught global attention. His request for a simple 10 bucks generated $55,000, the Columbus Dispatch reported, prompting him to throw a public party on Saturday with "peace, love and potato salad," dubbed PotatoStock 2014. The bash included bands, games and heaps and heaps of potato salad.


It was this day in 1977 that James Brown's band walked out on him, claiming the Godfather of Soul was a cheapskate who overworked them. Brown's unrelated response: "Hair is the first thing. And teeth the second. Hair and teeth. A man got those two things he's got it all."


The Morning Briefing September 26, 2014

on Friday, 26 September 2014.

GLASSBORO –The Rowan University judicial board is meeting today to figure out what to do with two fraternity guys who made a porn video with a female student, the South Jersey Times reports. It seems a slippery slope here, as these are adults and the, er, performance was shot at an off-campus house that the university does not regulate. The two men, of Tau Kappa Epsilon, are on an interim suspension from the school; no idea why the girl is not caught up in this. It is also unclear why Rowan would touch this mess with a 10-foot pole.

PATERSON – Wikipedia needs to update its entry for "Deadbeat Dad" by including the photo of a Maplewood man who was arrested for owing $132,000 in child support. When cops caught up with Super Dad in Paterson, he threw 42 envelopes of heroin under a parked car, put his hood over his head and changed route on his brisk walk. notes this all went down within 1,000 feet of a school and 500 feet of a park, piling even more charges on.

NEWARK – The frosty relationship between the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board and Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson is now even colder than a can of Coors Light, with the board now trying to freeze her salary until she shows up at one of their monthly meetings. notes Anderson stopped appearing in February because the board wasn't "focused on achieving educational outcomes for children." Doubtful if the board can actually hold back Anderson's salary, as the district is run by the state. But the move certainly makes for great theater.

DETROIT – The Chris Christie tour lands in Detroit Rock City this morning, following stints in St. Louis, Chicago and Connecticut. The Governor, who has spent more than a third of his second term outside the state, (but doesn't know if he will run for President), believes the best place for him to be today is at a Detroit coffee shop, raising money for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The AP notes Christie has raised $75 million for the Republican Governors Association since he named chair. Imagine if all that effort was focused on helping New Jersey – now begging for nickels.

AT HOME – While Gov. Chris Christie is anywhere and everywhere, the major Republican contender is sitting at home, wringing his hands over a decision to run. On one hand, Jeb Bush has to deal with the family dynasty – of an old, ailing father with lofty expectations and an older brother likely with no opinion. And then there is Jeb's wife, Politico reports, who has no interest in seeing her husband take his rightful place in the Bush legacy. It all makes for a hesitant candidate - spelling disaster on what would be a grueling campaign to beat the likes of eager beaver Christie and then try to topple a Clinton. Meanwhile, dad sits, watches and critiques.

NEWARK – One benefit Jeb Bush has – as well as any other Presidential candidate looking to defeat Gov. Chris Christie – is New Jersey's disaster of a pension system. Of course, Christie is only one of many to blame for the latest dismal news, showing the state's unfunded health benefit and pension liabilities has hit $90 billion. But in the world of Presidential politics, this issue could spell doom for the Governor – especially with state Democrats refusing to consider reform until Christie puts some money in the kitty. For starters, how about the $75 million he has raised for the GOP?

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL – Politicker loves to forecast what will happen next in Jersey politics. And so it is of no surprise the political website is squarely focused on what Republicans will run for governor in 2017. Politicker reports that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno somehow has "frontrunner status," at least for the moment, but there's buzz around others, such as state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23), Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) and state Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21), who you can never count out.


It was this day in 1992 that the Hollywood Walk of Fame – celebrating the likes of Clark Gable, Lucille Ball and Rock Hudson – became a meaningless piece of sidewalk, as Rosanne Barr is somehow given a star.


The Morning Briefing September 25, 2014

on Thursday, 25 September 2014.

TRENTON – It's the classic "What happens in Germany, stays in Germany" defense. But it may not be enough for two high school employees facing prosecution for having sex with four girls they were allegedly chaperoning on a trip to Germany. The state Supreme Court needs to mull this one over, as defense attorneys say the Paramus Catholic High School employees are in their right to have sex with the four girls because it occurred overseas – far beyond New Jersey's borders and the boundaries of responsibility, ethics and morals. The men have denied any wrongdoing involving these four girls and their strolls down the Unter den Linden.

TRENTON – For all those bored Hollywood screenwriters now considering a run at "Police Academy 8," grab the next flight to Trenton.You'll want to write the screenplay about Joseph "JoJo" Giorgianni, a local cheesesteak maker who managed to bring down the city's mayor in a bribery scheme. Giorgianni – who considered himself the "Boss Tweed" of Trenton – will be sentenced today in his dealings with Mayor Tony Mack and Mack's brother, Ralphiel Mack – both convicted earlier this year on extortion and bribery charges. Screenwriters: Take out your pens, as you learn how Giorgianni used such top secret code words as "cheesesteaks" and "Uncle Remus" to mean cash payments. It's all gloriously on tape, as Giorgianni brags about his control of the mayor – now sitting in a federal prison with plenty of time for interviews. Possible movie titles: "Trenton Cheesesteak" and the sequel, "Trenton Cheesesteak II: Return of the Provolone."

MONTCLAIR – It seems like a conversation that should've been held a decade ago, when state officials were raiding the Transportation Trust Fund, now hopelessly broke. But, yesterday, some ideas were thrown around in a forum, as all recognized New Jersey faces a massive quandary: 36 percent of the state's bridges are obsolete and there isn't a penny to fix them. An option, besides raiding another state's transportation fund, is to finally hike the gas tax, which hasn't been touched since the 1980s and is the second lowest in the nation. We can also stick a stretch of toll booths along Route 78 from Pennsylvania and any other road leading to New Jersey. But it's all a drop in the bucket, with about $2 billion needed each year to replenish the fund. Best option? Invade Delaware.

JERSEY SHORE –It is difficult to figure which is more offensive: That Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino had the hubris to think he didn't have to pay federal taxes on his income, or the fact that he and his brother managed to earn nearly $9 million from 2010 to 2012 without any discernable talent. The "Jersey Shore" cast member and his brother are now dealing with the feds, charged yesterday in a seven-count indictment and are to be arraigned Oct. 6. The Situation, now out on $250,000 bail, says he is innocent. In any case, here's another title for screenwriters: "Jersey Shore: Jailhouse Edition."

FREEHOLD – As President Obama implores nations to join in an epic battle against a "network of death" in the Middle East, a "humanist group" is battling with the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District over an issue they believe is of top priority: the Pledge of Allegiance. The American Humanist Association is suing the school district because the Pledge including the phrase "under God" –an apparent violation of the state constitution that "marginalizes" atheist and humanist students. Meanwhile, psychotic Islamic State jihadists vow to wipe the United States off the map with brute force, making the whole lawsuit seem a bit silly at the moment.

ATLANTIC CITY – To spark tourism, Atlantic City needs to be one big party. And that means throwing out the rulebook, reports. Sen. Tom Kean envisions Atlantic City must capture the festivity of New Orleans, Key West and the Las Vegas strip. That means turning the boardwalk into a Bourbon Street, where alcohol is served (responsibly) to those passing by. There should also be tax breaks for A-list celebrities to perform, small cruise ships settling into port, out-of-state online gambling in the casinos and big sporting events – like boxing and NASCAR. It all sounds promising, as opposed to the recent drumbeat of nails banging into the city's coffin.


It was this day in 1926 that Henry Ford changed everything – announcing an eight-hour workday, weekdays only. Today, with buzzing iPhones, international Skype calls and 24-hour customer service, Ford's vision is now commonly considered "partially retired" or "part-time" status.


The Morning Briefing September 24, 2014

on Wednesday, 24 September 2014.

MONTCLAIR – Another glaring issue in New Jersey – on par with the state pension mess – is the perennially broke Transportation Trust Fund. This account has served as the government's treasure chest for years and, of no surprise, has been completely raided, leaving us with generations of interest payments for money spent long ago. The Assembly's Transportation Committee is holding a hearing today in Montclair to plot a strategy, as something needs to be done to fund our road and transit infrastructure. Yes, more taxes seem the only viable option, unless the state government can somehow win its own lottery.

ATLANTIC CITY – Another glaring issue in New Jersey – on par with the state pension mess and the broke Transportation Trust Fund – is the future of our gaming mecca. Today, the $2.4 billion Revel casino goes on the auction block, with only one public bidder: a Florida developer with $90 million to spend and visions of creating a "genius university" in this gleaming structure on the water. Maybe the geniuses can save Atlantic City.

CAMDEN – Another glaring issue in New Jersey is our "here today, gone tomorrow" Governor. He will be making an appearance in New Jersey this afternoon, with three planned events to spread his face around Camden and to remind us all that he is hard at work. Gov. Chris Christie can be seen (if you act quickly) at a community event at Elijah Perry Park, a charter school and chatting with players from the Camden High football team on their field.

TRENTON – New Jerseyans are beginning to notice that Gov. Chris Christie seems to constantly be elsewhere, as a new poll shows his approval ratings have taken a bit of a hit. The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll has him at a 46 percent approval rating, a four percent drop since June. Pollsters think his numbers are slightly down because of all those out-of-state trips for fundraisers, speeches, conferences and other pre-Presidential activities we will never know about.

TOMS RIVER – It is a little early in the campaign season for smear ads on television, which is perhaps why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has agreed to pull an over-the-top ad. The group says it will stop running an attack ad against 3rd District Republican candidate Tom MacArthur, claiming he profited from some bad business practices of an insurance firm he used to own. MacArthur argued he didn't have a stake in the business when these shenanigans occurred. So the DCCC will go back to the drawing board and dig up other stuff, as the slugfest is just beginning in MacArthur v. Aimee Belgard in one of the most competitive races nationally.

ATLANTIC CITY – One of the most interesting plots in the Miss America pageant is unfolding weeks after the crown has been awarded. We are now hearing that Miss America was kicked out of her sorority at Hofstra University after sending an email to alumni to ensure an event was "scary" for pledges. It looks like Kira Kazantsev was a bit of a pledge-master at Alpha Phi, and admitted she had been hazed as a pledge and hazed others. While everyone is now aghast, such a sorority seemed the perfect training ground to become a beauty pageant contestant.

NEWARK – One of the glaring signs of urban decay are the trash-strewn, overgrown lots that only seem to serve the local crack addict. Nowhere is this more obvious than Newark, where Mayor Ras Baraka is targeting all the out-of-state creditors trying to foreclose on these lots. While the banks and lawyers work through the lengthy process, Baraka wants to make sure these properties aren't ignored. Under his proposed city ordinance, if you own the lot, you take care of it – if you want it or not. If you refuse, Newark will fine you $2,500 a day. Good law.

PASSAIC – Want to know when you are old? Like, really, really old? It's when your local congressman comes to visit you at your nursing home. And he is coming with a letter from the President of the United States, congratulating you on your long life. Rep. Bill Pascrell is that congressman and this afternoon he will be presenting a letter from President Barack Obama to 100-year-old Minnie Liggins in Passaic. Five other centenarians will be getting congressional resolutions before, we assume, their 3 p.m. dinner.


The Daily News and the New York Post, as well as other media in New York, are covering the story of a Brooklyn man who will be spending the next three months under psychiatric care for stalking CBS newscaster Diane Macedo. Apparently, he is a real nutcase, posting on Facebook to her that, "I'm surprised my c--k didn't fall out of my pants when I saw you on television," as well as offering her an apple while she was trying to cover the funeral of a police officer. So, widespread coverage here, except, strangely, for one place: CBS. If you are covering the news, you need to cover the news. Sometimes that can be uncomfortable.


It was one year ago today that workers in Bangladesh finally rose up, demanding more than pennies a day to make all those cheap T-shirts and other apparel that instantly dissolve in the washing machine. Hundreds of garment factories closed down as the workers picketed –a concern for anyone who sells 5 shirts for $10 on Broad Street in Newark.


The Morning Briefing September 23, 2014

on Tuesday, 23 September 2014.

STATEWIDE – There have been long-standing efforts to get public employees to live where they work, as firefighters, cops and teachers should be part of the community fabric. The problem is when that fabric happens to be in cities like Trenton, Camden and Newark. State officials hope to sweeten the pot, suggesting public employees get a $10,000 interest-free loan to live in Abbott school districts. It sure is nice to offer an incentive, but it doesn't consider that most professionals – especially teachers – want their kids at the best schools possible. Saving a few hundred bucks in interest is woefully inadequate – especially for parents weighing if the kiddies should stay in the leafy suburbs or enroll in, say, the Asbury Park public schools, where more than 50 percent of students don't even graduate.

E STREET – Life in New Jersey is about high taxes, traffic, and of course, knowing Bruce Springsteen's birthday. So, it's today (of course). And, of course, there is a poll out about it. A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll finds half of New Jersey residents think it's "kind of cool" that Gov. Chris Christie is obsessed with the 65-year-old musician – more than double the number who find it a wee bit embarrassing. The rocker maintains strong polling numbers here, with more than 40 percent describing themselves as fans. The other 60 percent of those polled likely just moved here and have yet to have been administered a stern talking to.

A HIGHWAY NEAR YOU – The sure signs of fall – crisp nights and falling leaves – have been replaced by the temporary Halloween shops that crop up at the first sign Labor Day is approaching. But the Record notes an interesting phenomenon this year: There are a lot less Halloween shops in North Jersey. It is good news, actually, showing that real, permanent businesses are gobbling up that vacant space on the highways, creating jobs that will be around long after the last Sugar Daddy has been dropped in the last plastic pumpkin.

IN THE MAIL – We've all gotten it – the official-looking mail that includes what really, truly, looks like a check written out to you. There are even routing numbers on the bottom, from what appears to be a real bank. But then reality rushes back into your mind, hopefully, and that junk mail is then filed in the most appropriate place. Now state officials want to crack down on these unsolicited checks – which, if cashed, sign the "beneficiary" up for a host of crap, like subscriptions to third-rate magazines or perhaps the "Olive Oil of the Month Club." A bill banning this scheme is now working its way through the state Legislature.

NEW BRUNSWICK – Maybe we will never know what exactly happened Sunday night at the Tropicana Bar. All we can tell from some sketchy reporting is a big brawl erupted, with broken beer bottles, cocaine, lacerations and some guy chasing another guy through the parking lot while waving a knife. City police found a whole host of people with injuries, and ended up with only charges for the one knife-wielding man who seemed to be in the center of it all.

TRENTON – "Sergeant, Welcome back to New Jersey and thank you for your service to your country! Now, here is your property tax bill." State officials want to give this sergeant and other returning soldiers a 90-day reprieve in paying their taxes. Under a proposed bill, the state would foot the local property taxes for the deployed soldier. When they return – and then do their duty for the bean counters in Trenton – the town would promptly reimburse the state.


ANCHORAGE – We've all thought of quitting a bad job in dramatic fashion, but one TV reporter in Anchorage has lived out the dream. Charlo Greene –now a former reporter for Anchorage's KTVA –quit on air to focus on legalizing marijuana in Alaska. She said: "For this job, well, not that I have a choice but, f--k it, I quit."

And then, a speech:

"There comes a time in each and every one of our lives where we must choose to continue to spectate or stand up for what's right," she said. "Why are Americans arrested every 37 seconds, Alaskans every 4.3 hours? Why should an aspiring someone lose their ability to earn a higher education, to become someone they were not meant to be? And why should you lose the ability to get public assistance in times of struggle and need?"

Alaskans are set to vote on Ballot Measure 2, which would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, in November.


It was this day in 1992 that Bradlees purchased all the Alexander's department stores in New York City. In true discount store style, curious if it was "Buy One Store, Get the Second Half-Off."


The Morning Briefing September 22, 2014

on Monday, 22 September 2014.

JERSEY CITY – Monday morning headaches will abound for commuters heading through Jersey City for the PATH ride into midtown. A fire erupted in the tunnel in Manhattan yesterday, forcing service to be halted today between Journal Square and 33rd Street. Commuters will be justifiably annoyed, having to shift over to NJ Transit, and missing the chance to stop for a bagel. But probably the bigger concern is, hey, a fire erupted in the tunnel yesterday.

WHIPPANY – The Jewish new year has been celebrated for 5,775 years now, so you need something really special to spice things up. Enter the more than 1,000 shofar blowers who blasted their way into the record books yesterday for the world's largest shofar blowing, taking place in Whippany. New Jersey now has bragging rights, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, beating out Swampscott, Mass. and its pitiful ensemble in 2006 of only 796 shofars.

TRENTON – Why is it that a U.S. Supreme Court justice gets a lifetime appointment, yet New Jersey judges must retire at 70? No one should get a "lifetime appointment" to anything (sorry Founding Fathers). Rather, how about some judicial consistency, especially with that legal scale and all? An Assembly committee decides today if the state should ask voters to increase retirement of Jersey judges to age 75. OK, but more importantly, why not work with a federal government on a universal retirement policy, from your local municipal court judge up to Chief Justice John Roberts?

TRENTON – Justice isn't cheap, especially in New Jersey. Besides the enormous costs of retaining an attorney – who has to speak extra loud to all those old judges – the state is raising fees on 65 various court services and adding 17 new ones, Gannett reports. It now will cost more to get divorced, to get your record expunged, to get a gun permit, to file a lawsuit or to file a claim against a deadbeat tenant. Probably even the cost of that god-awful courthouse coffee will be up a quarter, as the state tries to squeeze another $42 million of out of the court system each year. Best not get out of bed; it will cost you dearly.


NEW BRUNSWICK – Rutgers' beleaguered athletic director, Julie Hermann - dogged by the New Jersey media before even her first day on campus – must be doing a good job, as of late. Sports writers have a clear bias against her, yet have only found one off-the-cuff comment to blow ridiculously out of proportion. They are blasting Hermann for telling staff members to "reach out and touch the donors" of the Rutgers program, and her punch-line was to not do it "in a Sandusky way." That "revelation," after exhaustive reporting, came just days after she apologized for some fans' offensive signs at the Rutgers-Penn State game. Stick a microphone anywhere near a sports program and there will be off-color remarks. Time to leave Hermann alone; it's getting really old.


BUTLER, PA. – There's no question that the easiest way to attract a fine woman is to throw down some shots in a dive bar and then head out into the parking lot to do "donuts" in your pick-up. Right? But, reports the Butler Eagle, a local man didn't take into account all those stones in the unpaved lot. As he spun some tight circles – to what we can only assume was of shear delight to the local Daisy Dukes – the stones pelted parked cars, creating $14,000 in damage. Authorities are offering to drop the charges if he fixes all the cars, which will be tough because he is in jail on parole violations. Ladies: don't let this one get away.


It was this day in 1970 that President Nixon requests that 1,000 FBI agents be assigned to college campuses, one of the many reasons he was affectionately referred to as Dick.


The Morning Briefing September 19, 2014

on Friday, 19 September 2014.

TRENTON – The Christie Administration does not want the good people of New Jersey to be bogged down in details, deciding that we no longer need to see detailed accounting of the monthly tax collections. The Record reports the figures no longer give exact numbers of what is expected to be raised in taxes, as compared to what is actually collected. This "avoids unnecessary and complex additional comparisons subject to high volatility," the Treasury Department explained yesterday. Perhaps, to further streamline things, the Administration should opt to release budget highlights on Snapchat.

PATERSON – There will be nothing served sunny-side up for a former diner manager, to be sentenced today in a botched plot to kill the owner of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, who also happens to be his uncle through marriage. It looks like Georgios Spyropoulos is going to be spending at least 10 years behind bars, where the "meatloaf surprise" is less meatloaf and more surprise. But it has to be better than sitting through extended family dinners.

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – (Note: The next few sentences were written by a frustrated Mets fan.) Ever since Derek Jeter announced he is finally retiring from the Yankees, we've been besieged by curtain calls, standing ovations and hearing how this is Jeter's last trip to Baltimore, his last trip to Fenway, etc. etc. etc. But now we've had it, with word a South Brunswick farm has carved a 5-acre corn maze in his honor. This marketing gimmick is called "Thanks Captain Clutch," featuring a baseball with Jeter's No. 2. It will be viewable through Halloween. Truly scary.

MAPLEWOOD – Always happy to be proven wrong – especially when it comes to cases of teachers having sex with students. Just two weeks ago, we reported the first indictment of the school year and figured something else would pop up. Sigh. A 34-year-old teacher (and mother of two) at Columbia High School in Maplewood has been arrested for allegedly having sex with not one, not two, but three 15-year-old boys. Apparently, it all went down inside the high school and in her car last year, reports. She's now in jail, on $500,000 bail.


TRENTON - Robert Poole must be chuckling from his conservative perch in Los Angeles after highlighted a Reason Foundation's report about the high costs of maintaining and operating state roads in New Jersey. called Reason Foundation a "left-leaning" think tank. Huh? Poole, who founded the Reason Foundation in the 1970s is an unabashed Libertarian who even served on the Bush-Cheney transition team. That's about as far from left leaning as you can get. Shows what can happen when you cut the copy desk to the bones.


CHICAGO - Get ready to put on your red shoes and dance the blues, because Sept. 23 is David Bowie Day. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has marked the day in honor of "David Bowie Is...," a retrospective exhibit opening that day at the city's Museum of Contemporary Art. Expect fans to pay homage to the many Bowies through the ages – just as long as they don't show that freaky "Dancing in the Street" video with Mick Jagger. Still scarred by that one.


It was this day in 1988 that Israel launched its first satellite for secret military reconnaissance. Apparently, it was not so secret.


The Morning Briefing September 18, 2014

on Thursday, 18 September 2014.

NASHUA, NH - While Gov. Chris Christie was back up in New Hampshire yesterday, which happens to be an early primary state, media asked, yet again, when he will announce if he is running for President. Somehow, his non-response of "after November" was worthy of being reported, and is now being re-reported by other media. "After November" could mean December 2014, or 2018, or 2022 or in his senile ramblings one day at the Golden Oaks retirement home. Maybe media should just stop asking the question.

DUMONT - With all these Halloween shops cropping up in empty big-box stores near you, the Rockettes are doing their part to rush the season straight out toward Christmas. While, yes, it is still summer, two dancers from the Rockettes will be at a Bergen County dance school this afternoon to already begin promoting the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular." And we all wonder why we are sick of winter by January 15.

JERSEY CITY - It is called "the art of sustainability," and more than 200 small business owners will be at Saint Peter's University today to learn how sustainability can actually fatten the bottom line. Verizon and others are sponsoring the four-hour event, explaining how reducing energy and water use should all be part of Business 101.

STATEWIDE - Former Gov. Christie Whitman is diving into the issue of school district consolidation, noting in a NJ Spotlight op-ed that the state has 18 school districts with just one tiny school, yet somehow have both a superintendent and a school principal, averaging $121,000 apiece in salary in fiscal '13.Whitman, who pushed the consolidation issue 20 years ago while in office, says the issue has reached the boiling point and is pleased to see some districts out there finally willing to have the hard discussions - a victory for both kids and taxpayers.

Click here to read the op-ed.

SOUTH PLAINFIELD - Call it the Moons-Over-My-Hammy move from the political oppo playbook. A South Plainfield man has gracefully withdrawn his bid for borough council after it was discovered he was arrested seven years ago for shouting racist slurs while mooning patrons of a local diner. reports that the incident has generated strife between the campaigns. Bleary-eyed local diner patrons were unfazed, and generally complained that incident did nothing to liven up their meatloaf platter.


OXFORD, Ohio - The job of being an animal control officer must never be boring, as you are always stuck with worst jobs. Like the guy who needed to respond to a report of a skunk with a Miller Lite beer can stuck on its head. Animal control found a frantic skunk banging around near a fraternity house, trying to get the can off his head. Somehow, the animal control officer was able to remove the can without getting sprayed, which would seem to garner the distinction of "Oxford Employee of the Month," with a cake the reads: "Way to Go, Mel."


It was this day in 1990 that a 500-pound Hershey kiss was displayed in Times Square. It was smart to wait until the summer heat had passed - plus it gave the Rockettes something to dance around, with their "Christmas Spectacular" only three months away.


The Morning Briefing September 17, 2014

on Wednesday, 17 September 2014.

TEANECK – What the heck is going on at the University of Pennsylvania? First, the Ivy League school is somehow named the biggest party school in the country by the critical editors at Playboy magazine, dispelling every perception. And, now, Teaneck cops are accusing a Penn student of going on this crazy vandalism spree, shattering windows in nine homes and three parked cars. Probably celebrating the fake ID that got him into Smoke's.

TRENTON — Call it the "Rutgers, be nice to your employees" bill. Sen. Peter Barnes, in a nod to a working-class constituency, introduced a bill that would protect state (Rutgers) employees from adverse actions by their employer (Rutgers) if the employee (of Rutgers) can't show up for work during a state of emergency. The legislation would stop Rutgers, er, "employers" from requiring people to use any sick, vacation, or personal time during a state of emergency, or, when a flood or blizzard cuts off all access to New Brunswick.

NEWARK – Verizon is best known for its all fiber FiOS service and best-in-the industry 4G LTE wireless network, but now the telecommunications giant also wants to be known for its commitment to green energy. The company is announcing today a $13 million investment in three new solar power systems at facilities in Carteret, Freehold and Piscataway. Over the last two years, Verizon has invested more than $34 million in its on-site green energy program in New Jersey. Upon completion of the new projects, Verizon will generate roughly 7 megawatts of green energy – enough to power more than 2,000 homes annually and reduce carbon emissions by 6,300 tons. Let's hope more corporations jump on the solar bandwagon.

HOLMDEL – So, how has ObamaCare changed your life? Are your health insurance premiums suddenly affordable – if you are fortunate enough to even have health insurance? Industry insiders are equally eager for answers about the mysteries of the new federal law, which is why nearly 400 of them will pack the Robert B. Meyner Conference Center this morning for the sixth-annual "State of the State in Healthcare," brought to you by the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters.

ATLANTIC CITY – Masterminds behind Atlantic City have envisioned Boardwalk Hall as the must-stop venue for any superstar performer traveling from Philly to New York, a concert hall brimming nightly with the best entertainment that a flush can buy. Somber reality tells another story, as Boardwalk Hall plays host today to "Atlantic City Unites Here," with local labor unions for laid-off casino workers meeting with state labor officials to figure out a "Plan B."

ATLANTIC CITY – Though his name still graces casinos in Atlantic City, Donald Trump hasn't actually run a casino in the imploding seaside resort for years. But now the Donald wants to ride into town on his white horse to save the Trump Plaza, which shut down yesterday and Trump Taj, which is slated to close in November. On his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump, he bragged about his good timing in leaving AC and audaciously crowed that he "may buy back in, at a much lower price." This is the same Donald Trump that wants us to forget he declared bankruptcy three times before getting out.

JERSEY CITY – It is called "the art of sustainability," and more than 200 small business owners will be at Saint Peter's University tomorrow to learn how sustainability can actually fatten the bottom line. Verizon and others are sponsoring the four-hour event, explaining how reducing energy and water use should all be part of Business 101.

NEWARK – Even the purveyor of such offensive products as "Bud Ice Light" thinks the NFL is showing a lack of class; Anheuser-Busch is now joining the chorus of boos. But the Newark-based beer maker is not ready to pull its sponsorship, which, after all, leads to sales. Instead, Anheuser-Busch has had some strong words about the actions of Baltimore Raven Ray Rice beating his then-fiancee; as well as the Minnesota Vikings' decision to allow Adrian Peterson to play while he faces an abuse charge for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.


PALO CEDRO, Calif. – It may be tough to find an impartial jury for the case of a local hick who apparently killed his ex-girlfriend's dog, cooked it and fed it to her. Yes, the 34-year-old man was arrested after his former girlfriend told police the two had dinner last week to apparently reconcile. Following dinner, the suspect texted the woman, asking how she liked the taste of her dog, a Pomeranian named Bear, who had been missing since August. It just seemed a tasteless joke until two days later, when he left a bag on her front porch containing two of Bear's paws.


It was one year ago today that the latest installment of "Grand Theft Auto" hit the video game market, generating $800 million in sales in just one day. Where else can teen-aged boys fondle strippers, smoke pot, kill cops and torture rivals when mom just thinks they are really busy doing algebra?


The Morning Briefing September 16, 2014

on Tuesday, 16 September 2014.

JERSEY CITY – There are some big bumps in the road in Jersey City – forcing the city to lower some newly-installedspeed bumps. A quote in the Jersey Journal sums it up: "Oh my God, what moron did this?" as a reporter interviewed a motorist trying to navigate his pick-up over a massive speed bump on Erie Street. Then, another passing car bottomed out. The real entertainment, one observer noted, is the nighttime drivers who don't even know the bumps are there. In response, the city will lower the bumps and include some reflective coating – to the disappointment of area mechanics.

POINT PLEASANT BEACH – There may be some glorious revenge for the many boardwalk visitors who returned to their cars and found the most dreaded departing gift: parking tickets. One lawyer stuck with a ticket argued in court that the parking ordinance is unconstitutional, saying the signs do a lousy job warning motorists that they need to display their parking receipt on the dashboard. The Asbury Park Press says the town may now have to issue refunds to all the motorists slapped with tickets – depending on what the judge deems as fair.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – It seems the Trenton press corps has become more like armchair travel writers, as their main source is rarely showing up at the office. Rather, the news stories are more like a travel log, focusing on what part of the country Gov. Chris Christie is appearing at that moment. Today, news coverage focuses on Charleston, where the governor is raising money for Gov. Nikki Haley, after stopping in North Carolina to raise money for Senate candidate Thom Tillis. Really, how do you cover a Governor who is never around?

ATLANTIC CITY – New Jersey's unintended tribute to the 1980s – Trump Plaza – officially closed its doors at 6 a.m. today. The outdated casino was forever locked in the opulence of another era, when the gambling industry was booming, President Reagan's hair was the ideal shade of brown and it was perfectly acceptable to moonwalk down the boardwalk. New Jersey will miss this hulking tribute to marble and chandeliers, but the property's ideal boardwalk location suggests Trump Plaza will rise again, in some form or another.

ATLANTIC CITY – As tourism folks attempt to ignore the four shuttered casinos – dismissing it all as just some "exciting works in progress," – the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority wants to make sure there is some life over the next year. And that is going to cost some money, the Press of AC reports. The authority is budgeting $1 million to a concert promoter in subsidies and insurance from unprofitable shows. In turn, Live Nation promises to put on 12 "big-name" concerts at Boardwalk Hall over the course of a year. Hopefully, that isn't a 12-night stint featuring Cher.

PATERSON – As our smartphones can instantly adjust the thermostat in a home on the other side of the planet, there must be some sort of gizmo out there to ensure the right parent is picking up the right kid at school. The Paterson Press reports a grandma went to the Dale Avenue School last week to pick up her three-year-old granddaughter. She got the name of her granddaughter right, but ended up leaving the school with another pre-K girl with the same first name, hugging and kissing her all the way to the car. Once the right parents arrived, school officials quickly called grandma to alert her of the slight error. That prompted city education officials to now "tighten" security measures, whatever that means.


Scientists call it the zombie of amoeba – microscopic single cell particles that exist in water that feed on the brain. And this N. fowleri was found one year ago in the tap water near New Orleans, the first time ever found in the U.S. water supply.


The Morning Briefing September 15, 2014

on Monday, 15 September 2014.

ON THE RAILS – With Manhattan-bound trains packed to the gills, NJ Transit is figuring to spend $2 billion or so over the next 20 years to attempt to accommodate the masses. All the old rail cars will be replaced with multi-level ones, which helps decrease the number of trains fighting to get through the tunnels, but increases capacity and train speed. Getting an actual seat at rush hour may be worth all those fare hikes soon to come.

STATEWIDE – It's no surprise to learn that 38 percent of households in New Jersey are struggling to get by with basic needs. A United Way study shows a huge chunk of the population is just a lost job or medical emergency away from financial ruin, reports. The brandy-swilling sect may be quick to note that only 11 percent of state residents fall below the federal poverty line – so all must be well. But the harsh reality is that it is outrageously expensive to live here on a modest income, as opposed to most of the country. says 1.2 million households aren't even living with a basic survival budget. It is some eye-opening perspective, with no apparent solution.

TRENTON – Domestic violence is the issue of the day in Trenton, where the Assembly is looking at a bunch of bills targeting prevention. One of the most important measures is long-awaited: allowing victims of domestic violence to testify in court on a video, rather than have to be in the same room with the nutcases who attack them. Hopefully, such a law would encourage more victims to step forward and give them a stronger voice.

GREEN BAY – After a couple of deflating losses by Rutgers and the Giants this weekend, all seemed right in the world again with the Jets smacking around the Packers. Until the Jets found another way to lose. This time, it was a beautiful Jets TD pass to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. But unbeknownst to everyone, one of the Jets coaches called a time out – causing a huge "AUGHHH" throughout Jets nation. The TD was voided. Final score: Packers 31, Jets 24. Luckily, opening day for baseball is April 5, 2015.

JERSEY CITY – The winds of bi-partisanship will be blowing off the Hudson River today, as Gov. Chris Christie grip and grins with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, NAACP CEO Cornell Brooks, former Govs. Jim McGreevey, Tom Kean and others to mark the opening of a new prisoner re-entry center.The operation will help ex-offenders beat addiction and keep them on the straight and narrow – a pet issue of McGreevey, now a Jersey City official.


GOTHAM CITY – It must have been surreal for the two loud mouths who showed up in Times Square Saturday night to harass the costumed characters. The pair decided to mock two guys dressed as Batman and Spider-Man with "sexually suggestive gestures," the NY Post reports. Because Batman and Spider-Man were not the real caped crusaders, but just guys looking to make a buck, it quickly got ugly. Punches flew, prompting the faux heroes to be cuffed and hauled down to the station on assault charges. Only in New York can you get in a fistfight with Batman.

LOS GATOS, Calif. – Interesting to learn that the most questionable thing at a nudist colony has nothing to do with choice of attire. What really is ticking off the rangers with the Midpeninsula Open Space District is that the nudists are taking water from a nearby waterfall for the skinny-dipping pools. The AP reports that rangers disconnected the hose – a real downer for the midnight swim crowd – forcing the nudists to truck in their water instead, or pray it finally rains in California.


It was this day in 1977 that President Carter meets with 15 record company executives. Perhaps Jimmy was interested in a groovy "White House Does Disco" album.


The Morning Briefing September 12, 2014

on Friday, 12 September 2014.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Yet more frequent flyer miles for Gov. Chris Christie today, as our neck-tied crusader is up, up and away to another out-of-state fundraiser. This morning, he will be hanging out in a Panama City restaurant with Florida Gov. Rick Scott before attending a rally outside a courthouse. It is all about celebrating Scott's plan to promote tax cuts, something that now seems impossible in New Jersey.

ATLANTIC CITY – Our impression of Kathy Ireland as the stunning, untouchable supermodel has taken a big hit, as she showed off a talent at the Miss America contest that was less than appealing: burping on command. Ireland, a celebrity judge, proudly proclaimed to the pageant host that she could burp the alphabet. But, upon further pressure, admitted she couldn't, but gave her fans a huge belch. The pageant host – clearly impressed – then proclaimed: "You just made supermodels cool!" Uh, no.

NEWARK – New Jersey's ban on what is called teen-aged "gay conversion therapy" has received support from the courts – good news for self-conscious teens who just want to be left alone, rather than "converted." Several people, including two licensed therapists who make a living as purveyors of "sexual orientation change efforts," argued the ban violates their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. A similarly ludicrous argument is that road rage is "freedom of expression."

JERSEY CITY – The new school year has started off a wee bit rocky for a day care center where a substitute teacher's aide mistakenly served up water mixed with bleach to a couple dozen kids yesterday. ABC-TV reports there were 28 kiddies, ages 3 and 4, as well as two adults, sent to a local hospital. All were treated for minor ailments, like tummy-aches. Meanwhile, it remains unclear what ailments the day care center owners will be suffering – following the wrath of furious parents.

AT THE MALL – With a name like RadioShack, is there any question that the company is deemed obsolete? The retailer, which has desperately attempted to compete against the likes of Best Buy and the Internet, has never been able to dodge its reputation for selling boom boxes, landline telephones and plugs for items now being sold for a nickel at garage sales. RadioShack now says it may need to file Chapter 11 if it can't find another way to raise money. Perhaps changing its name is a first step to freshening things up. Perhaps "CD Shack" or "Sam Goody."

BAYONNE – The masterminds behind the $1.3 billion raising of the Bayonne Bridge are striking again – this time closing the span for the entire weekend. You better get over the bridge by 9 p.m. tonight, otherwise it will be out of service until Monday morning, forcing you to join the masses on the Goethals Bridge. Or, just stay out of Staten Island.


ROCHESTER, N.H. - A crushing defeat for Human's race. A candidate running for the New Hampshire state legislature – who changed his name to "Human" – was blown away in a primary race that only had 210 voters. If somehow elected, Human would have been representing the good people of Rochester, who now have politicians less than Human.


It was this day in 1885 that two "first-class" soccer teams somehow managed to score a collective 35 goals, marking the one day in history that watching a soccer game was edge-of-your-seat interesting.


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