The Morning Briefing June 21, 2012
TRENTON – Today is the day the state Legislature is expected to act on the proposed $32 billion state budget. The numbers work – if there is a revenue growth in New Jersey of 7 percent for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The Governor has concocted a very rosy picture of the economy, as his anticipated returns are about double of what is being projected elsewhere in the country. The numbers justify his plan to cut income taxes for us all. Let’s just pray the worldwide debt crisis miraculously avoids New Jersey in 2013.
TRENTON – In a state where it costs money to do anything other than simply breathe, it is amazing how people with low incomes are able to survive. Members of the Assembly Budget Committee apparently agree, considering a proposal today that would bump the state’s income tax credit by 5 percent, to $545. The state cut the credit to about $430 in 2010, affecting about 528,000 taxpayers who need every penny possible to live the dream in New Jersey.
PRINCETON – We’re not saying Gov. Chris Christie likes to eat, but he will be hosting a seafood bonanza today that would make it tough for someone on the strictest diet to hold back. Drumthwacket will be welcoming seven chefs from Atlantic City, Cherry Hill, Englewood Cliffs, Hopewell, Princeton and Stanhope – all vying in the "Jersey Seafood Challenge." The winner will represent the state in the "Great American Seafood Cook-off" in New Orleans in August. We can smell the garlic butter shrimp from here.
STATEWIDE – Getting busted for drunken driving in New Jersey should come with severe penalties, but state officials are rethinking the six-month mandatory license suspension. Not that people should get a break, but many people end up losing their jobs while they pay their debt to society. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would give these people permission to drive to work. But there would also be some installed device that would require a breathalyzer test to start the car. Similar tests would be required through the commute - perhaps a little over the top for first time offenders.
PLAINFIELD – It looks like the breathalyzer test will first be installed in a city fire engine, as the Plainfield fire chief was nabbed for drunken driving in neighboring South Plainfield, The Star-Ledger reports. He was busted in a city-issued car at about 1 a.m. yesterday.
NEWARK – It sure is tough to keep that make-up looking oh-so-perfect when the temperature is hitting 100 degrees. But for the people lining up this morning at a Prudential Center to register for “American Idol,” it’s all part of the sacrifice for greatness. Auditions are on Saturday; Newark is already planning road closures to accommodate the crowd of the talented and not-so-talented. The reality show’s competitor, “America’s Got Talent,” is also in Newark, where it begins taping July 2 at NJPAC.
FORT LEE – Ride-sharers at the George Washington Bridge are getting a break from Port Authority police; the Governor no longer wants cops to ticket motorists who pick these folks up. The Record reports that motorists get a $6 car pool discount on the bridge if they have passengers, prompting all this openness to hitchhikers. Cops aren’t impressed with the ingenuity, handing out 172 tickets this year in Fort Lee where this ride-sharing originates. There’s now talk of creating a designated area as a safe pick-up spot – a sensible plan.
EDISON – One intrepid Star-Ledger reporter was keeping his head above water yesterday, dropping by the offices in the Edison municipal complex, where the air conditioner has been busted since last month. No doubt, there were plenty of steamed employees sitting in front of fans, as the sun beat down. Seemed no one was eager to chat about the ongoing predicament. We assume plenty of “no-comments” and “not for attributions” and “please leave me alone,” but our man sweated it out and got his story.
NEWARK - We’re old enough to remember when The New York Times actually covered New Jersey. Back when David Halbfinger singlehandedly derailed Donald DiFrancesco’s gubernatorial ambitions and Andrew Jacobs created the national myth of Cory Booker through a series of articles that bordered on hagiography. It seems the Times has regained their interest in New Jersey with their latest series looking at halfway houses and one company in particular, Community Education Centers. After a 10-month investigation, Timesman Sam Dolnick discovered that halfway houses are populated by some bad people who maybe shouldn’t be in such a lax penal environment. But why would the Times focus so intently on an issue of so little interest to their readers with A1 above the fold placement? The Times points out that Community Education Centers has “deep ties” to the guy who runs the state and who may one day be president. If anything, the series shows that the Times is taking Gov. Christie’s presidential ambitions seriously.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1975 that it was no longer safe to go in the water. “Jaws” opened in theaters, just in time to scare the heck out of beachgoers.
To quote our favorite character, Quint: “Here lies the body of Mary Lee; died at the age of a hundred and three. For fifteen years she kept her virginity; not a bad record for this vicinity.”