The Morning Briefing June 15, 2012
FREEHOLD – Maybe it was all a huge misunderstanding when an off-duty Freehold cop took some laminate flooring from a Home Depot in 2010. Perhaps he just wanted to see what the floor's color would look like in direct sunlight, from the store's parking lot. Or maybe he wanted to make sure it wouldn't rattle in the back seat of his car on the ride home. The do-it-yourselfer was nabbed when he showed Home Depot a receipt from a previous purchase. The cop – now fired from his $99,402-a-year job - is looking at 18 months behind bars, where there is plenty of laminate flooring he can compare with the selection at Home Depot.
TRENTON – State lawmakers are trying to throw some roadblocks in front of teens seeking driver's licenses – now advocating a plan that would require the kids to have a learner's permit for at least a year, log 50 hours of practice time behind the wheel and – get this – have their parents take "driver orientation classes" in their oodles of spare time. Such a move, says the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, would decrease road fatalities by 3 percent. Wow; imagine how those stats would change if these new rules also applied to drivers over the age of 80 - although it may be difficult to get their parents to attend the mandatory class.
TRENTON – Here is a nice factoid for the Governor's YouTube videos: New Jersey added about 17,600 jobs in May, many of which are summer jobs and the work created by the newly-opened Revel casino, Bloomberg reports. The Governor says New Jersey led the nation in job growth for the month and is responsible for one-fourth of nationwide job growth. (Hear that, Romney?) Likely at the bottom of the press release, in a very, very small text size, is the fact that state's unemployment rate grew for the second straight month. But, hey, hey, hey, it's still the "Jersey Comeback"! Right?
ATLANTIC CITY – When some casino workers leave for work today, they may not be back for a couple of days, and will likely return with some interesting stories of "mom's night in jail." The local labor union is telling media that about 50 casino workers will be blocking the entrance to the Tropicana tonight and will be likely arrested. But don't worry, Atlantic City is the place with the "get out of jail free" cards. This publicity stunt is all part of an ongoing feud between the union and the Trop over an unfunded $1.3 billion employee pension plan.
TRENTON – With just two weeks remaining before the state budget must be adopted, Democrats are again trying to force through their so-called "millionaire's tax," – hitting people who earn more than $1 million with extra taxes, Philly.com reports. Such a move has two benefits: it enrages the Republican governor and is designed to raise $800 million to offset property taxes for seniors and those who earn less than $75,000. As an added plus, Democrats get to play the part of Robin Hood – which looks real nice come voting time.
IN THE MEDIA
It looks as if Mercury Public Affairs is throwing one of their junior staffers under the proverbial bus, after a PR stunt went very, very wrong, reports Gawker.com. The employee, working on the Wal-Mart account, apparently posed as a reporter to infiltrate a closed press conference coordinated by a local union critical of Wal-Mart. The PR staffer apparently signed in under a bogus name as a college journalism student. She then apparently asked a lot of pointed questions and tape recorded the interviews. It all went terribly wrong when she attended a second anti-Wal-Mart press conference and handed out business cards from her PR firm. (Duh.) She's been fired; Mercury Public Affairs and Wal-Mart say they knew absolutely nothing about this scheme. (Duh, again) Apparently, this junior staffer devised what appears to be a complex strategy all by her lonesome.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1992 that shattered the fleeting political career of Vice President Dan Quayle, who told a Trenton boy in a spelling bee that potato is spelled "potatoe." To mark the moment, here is the video. We still cringe.