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The Jaffe Briefing - January 9, 2018

TRENTON - With the end of this session of the New Jersey Legislature, there were plenty of bills flying everywhere yesterday, furiously voted on and moved from desk to desk and chamber to chamber. When the dust settled yesterday, and exhausted lawmakers ran out of things on which to vote, here's some stuff heading on to the lame-duck governor's desk:
  • Say goodbye to the NJSPCA's powers to investigate animal abuse in New Jersey, as lawmakers want actual cops and prosecutors to handle the work. It is unclear why a non-profit would be armed with police powers in the first place, and state officials considered the NJSPCA to be rogue, private, gun-toting police force answerable to no one.
  • Amazon would be getting $100,000 a job if it builds its second mega-headquarters in Newark, with $5 billion in tax breaks, courtesy of your pals in Trenton and a very agreeable governor. Remember that Amazon has the final decision, no matter how many goodies are thrown at it.
  • In a complete no-brainer, state lawmakers unanimously voted to ban the sale or possession of gun "bump stocks," which crazy people would affix to semi-automatic rifles for speed killing. Get 'em out of Jersey.
TRENTON - As Gov. Chris Christie delivers his final "State of the State" address at 3 p.m. today, and lists his many glorious accomplishments over the past eight years, the big question will be: Are New Jerseyans buying it? Rutgers-Eagleton is out with its latest poll, saying only 5 percent of respondents say they will miss Christie, while 49 percent are happy to see him go. New Jerseyans - always a swell batch of people - do wish him well. Sort of, actually. Only 44 percent extend warm wishes, the poll reports. In the end, his Rutgers-Eagleton poll numbers put the governor at a 19 percent approval rating - the lowest favorability number on record. Christie, meanwhile, is convinced we will all miss him terribly. 
ATLANTIC CITY - Word that one of one worst flops in casino industry history has yet another potential new buyer has everyone buzzing, yet again, over the $2.4 billion Revel. The shuttered, six-year-old casino has been flipped and now sold for $200 million to a Colorado developer with big dreams of reopening this summer. The Revel will now be called the "Ocean Resort Casino," with investors envisioning it becoming a sports betting mecca if the U.S. Supreme Court allows it. Another big question: With the opening of the Hard Rock Casino next summer, will Atlantic City be able to sustain these two new casinos, as the seven others continue to recuperate?

DEEP SOUTH JERSEY - State corrections officials' ban on a controversial book was reversed before they could even justify it. Within hours of suggesting that Michelle Alexander's best seller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, be banned from two state prisons, the ACLU issued a missive calling the decision "ironic, misguided, and harmful." And not to mention unconstitutional. The department never really gave a reason for the ban, The New York Times reports. But you could see why: Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, our jails serve as a contemporary system of racial control-relegating millions to a permanent second-class status-even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness, she says.
VALE DE SALGUEIRO, Portugal - Hey kiddies, gotta light?  Some outsiders are questioning the parental skills of people in this Portuguese village, home to an annual two-day tradition of encouraging children, as young as 5, to smoke cigarettes. Locals think we should all calm the heck down, explaining this is a centuries-old celebration of the winter solstice. But no one can really explain why it calls for parents to buy packs of cigarettes for their children. The legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18, but nothing prohibits parents from giving kids smokes, for some reason. Guilhermina Mateus, a 35-year-old coffee shop owner, tells Reuters he has no clue why he gives cigarettes to his kids. "I really can't explain why."
It was on this day in 2013 that no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Officinal - [uh-FISS-uh-nul] - adjective
Definition: (Of, or related to) a drug or herb used medicinally
Example: After repeatedly toasting the new state Legislature, I needed an aspirin with strong officinal properties to ease my headache

Posted in Morning Briefing


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