The Morning Briefing May 31, 2012
SEASIDE HEIGHTS – State and local officials take the first of their summer strolls down the boardwalk today to inspect businesses, food stands, games, prizes, etc. to ensure everything is safe for tourist consumption. While they do this every year, it is still amazing that such items as “Fried Oreos” somehow get through the approval process. Or what about all those ridiculously offensive T-shirts sold on the racks that openly mock wives, husbands, penis girth, ethnicities, gays, sobriety and people with more than a third grade education?
TRENTON – With towns banned from increasing spending more than 2 percent each year, there’s been plenty of shenanigans to sidestep the cap. Local mayors and councils have been instituting some clever “user fees” that were formally funded in municipal budgets. The State Senate is onto the tricks, considering a measure today that cleans up all these loopholes. Great; but for no-frill towns who can barely afford the electricity bill, how can they continue to operate when such expenses as health insurance rise by 10 percent a year?
STATEWIDE – The state comptroller is reporting the state’s community colleges pad their president’s salaries with plenty of nice perks, such as housing allowances, country club memberships and even airfare for spouses to attend educational conferences. Oh, the horror. Before people start lighting torches and marching to the administration building, remember that these are educated, experienced administrators who could get double the perks if they worked in the private sector. Sure, score political points by stripping the goodies, but then see the caliber of presidential candidates willing to stick around a public junior college for more than a semester.
PROSPECT PARK – One resourceful elementary school teacher may have gone too far in her zeal to educate the minds of the future, apparently using some bogus documents to land her job back in 2006. The Record reports the woman had been on the job for six years before an audit showed she was never certified to teach in New Jersey. Ooops. The Wayne woman was immediately canned, and now will be learning the ABCs of the law, facing forgery and deception charges. Back in her old classroom, students are apparently learning the definition of “indictment.”
CAMDEN – Hey, do you know that people sell heroin in Camden? Yes, it’s true, as the cops are now touting that they’ve busted up a big drug ring. Twenty-five people were arrested; warrants are out on 16 others following a nine-month sting on Royden Street in Camden.
ON THE WEB – Amazon.com has had an amazing run avoiding the 7 percent sales tax in New Jersey. But by next summer, the world’s largest online store will finally have to charge the 7 percent sales tax on whatever New Jerseyans buy through the site, Bloomberg reports. Its been an epic battle for years, as traditional stores have been howling that Amazon.com has gotten a huge advantage by not having to collect sales tax. In this deal with the state, in which New Jersey could collect $30-$40 million annually, Amazon.com will be reaping millions in economic assistance grants from New Jersey to build a couple of distribution warehouses, creating a local, physical, taxable presence.
ON THE ROADS – All the debris on the side of major roadways in New Jersey has finally gotten the attention of state transportation officials, the Record reports. In fact, they’ve even given their campaign a name: “Clean Up NJ.” Jim Simpson, the transportation head, says his crews are fanning out to attack tall weeds, graffiti on bridges, busted tires and even the festering deer carcasses. So, when visitors come to New Jersey, they can complain about the miles of traffic, but they better not criticize us for being untidy.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY
It was this day in 1991 that the world celebrated its oldest bride – 102-year-old Minnie Munro. She landed a hubby 19 years her junior – ensuring a rocking wedding night that would last all the way through “Jeopardy!”