The Morning Briefing June 26, 2012
BELMAR – The next time you go into the local liquor store for a six-pack, that half-asleep guy behind the counter may have a second job – as a police officer. Today, the state is unveiling its "Cops in Shops" program, with undercover cops working in liquor stores to nab underage drinkers at the point of purchase. So, kids, the onus is on you to have some darn good fake IDs.
TRENTON – Mellow out, New Jersey! That is the message of the state Assembly, which passed a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. But the proposal still needs to get through the state Senate and past the conservative Governor. While it is obvious that late-night diner owners support such a measure, this proposed bill will soon be going up in smoke.
OUT TO PASTURE – Under the title of “it’s about damn time,” state lawmakers are going after ultra rich landowners in New Jersey who have been reaping enormous tax benefits by allegedly having working farms. Imagine this: beyond the 100-meter pool, through the manicured garden, past the climate-controlled garage with 10 classic cars sits a half acre or so of lettuce. And that makes such an estate a working farm – eligible for all the glorious tax breaks. Not anymore, says the state Senate, which is now requiring these farms to actually sell $1,000 in product each year. The bill heads to the Assembly next. Looks like martini-swilling Muffy will be opening a farm stand.
LONG BEACH ISLAND – One of the charms of the Jersey Shore are those propeller planes flying by with banner ads for drink specials and live bands. But then those damn Nazis have to mess it up. Some wacky group flew a plane towing a swastika banner over the weekend to help “educate” people about the benign roots of the symbol. The International Raelian Movement – which believes man was created by aliens – explains it was all part of its third-annual Swastika Rehabilitation Day celebration. Yeah, free speech and all. But we still don’t want to see it on our beaches.
EAST ORANGE – Wow, it seems like just yesterday that East Orange seceded from Orange, doesn’t it? Well, it was 150 years ago, and local officials will be announcing their plans this morning in City Hall to mark the moment with some flourish. Perhaps there will be a dramatic, heart-stopping reenactment of someone signing a document.
WOODBRIDGE – Mitt Romney is coming to the Woodbridge Renaissance Hotel tonight to say “hey” to Chris Christie and to fill a wheelbarrow with donor cash. He will also be welcomed by the Woodbridge Education Association, which will shrewdly be taking advantage of the national media to talk about the Mitt Romney-Chris Christie education agenda in the parking lot across from the hotel. It seems politics never sleeps – even when school is on summer break.
TRENTON – Teacher tenure could soon be as obsolete as those computers collecting dust in the school basement, as the state Legislature has sent the Governor a tenure reform bill for his Johnny Hancock. All signs point to Gov. Chris Christie supporting the law, which makes it harder for teachers to be awarded tenure and easier for them to lose it. Watering down tenure is the first step toward abolishing it. If you can get fired if you have tenure – as the bill allows – what is the benefit of tenure in the first place?
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1975 that Cher divorced Sonny Bono. And they seemed so perfect together.