LaPlaca is Labacka

Murphy Commits $50 Million to Virtual Learning

In his budget address this morning, Governor Phil Murphy noted an allocation to improve virtual learning for students facing more at-home instruction as school begins this fall:

“We are committing over $50 million to our public and non-public schools to help bridge the digital divide.”

Also, Murphy said:

“We will invest up to $250 million to support our schools in opening more fully for these students …

“… to provide subsidies to child-care centers so that more of them can reopen …

… and to expand direct subsidies to families so more of them can afford child care.”


‘A Tent Challenge’ and Other Weird COVID-19 Era Optics

Governor Phil Murphy’s revised budget address in SHI Stadium had all the dramatic resonance of Wink Martindale starring in The Hunger Games.

There’s something about the culture’s lack of an aesthetic center that COVID-19 has exploited in the worst possible way (see the Republican National Convention), rendering the pomp and circumstance of politicans’ staged events through an especially lurid lens.

Just when you think you can’t endure another zoom-style event, you get an inexplicable reenactment of the throne scene in The Phantom Menace.

In short, this revised budget address gave us yet another dreadful tour of surreality that would probably only delight the late Salvador Dali, as Steve Sweeney and Craig Coughlin perched on bar stools behind a governor who marched through the Roman encampment-like surroundings with a game show host’s sense of dislocation.

It’s not a criticism of those noble souls who attempted to “pull off” this event; only a statement about the weirdness of the hour.

“Woah, gonna take a quick time out; we’ve got a tent challenge here,” Murphy said at one point, presumably as one of the French fox hunt-syle teepees collapsed.


Williams Dismisses Tim Scott in Facebook Post

Union County Commissioner Rebecca Williams evidently wasn’t impressed by the speech last night delivered by U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), or his presence at the Republican National Convention (RNC).


Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo

Sarlo Supportive of Murphy’s Crisis Budget Plan

State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36), chair of the Budget Committee, sized up the terrain ahead of Governor Phil Murphy’s scheduled budget address at ten a.m. on Tuesday.

“Clearly COVID-19 locked our state down, which has caused significant pain, however, we are emerging better than a lot of other states in the nation,” Sarlo told InsiderNJ. “How do we rebuild our economy in a very quick manner? I understand there needs to be some borrowing.”

Murphy evidently wants to tap $4 billion from the $9.9 billion allowable by a law he enacted last month.

“We went through a very dark time in New Jersey, and I applaud the governor for the way he is handling this,” Sarlo said.


Malinowski’s and Kean’s Dumb Ads

These are epic times, so let’s take a look at two very insipid campaign ads in battleground CD7, which early appear to be tripping over each other in a quest for bipartisan banality.

Even as they attempt to supposedly define a narrative, they adhere so reverently to the same sphere of safety, they seem suspended in an equally ghoulish space.

In the interest of softening the blow for inevitably prickly politicians and their handlers, let us at the outset note that we are not attacking these two magnificent guys personally, but rather highlighting the strangely disconnected persona each campaign attempts to project in an attempt to plug a “real guy” into your living room.

First, let’s look at Tom Malinowski’s ad.

At his worst, the incumbent Democratic congressman’s seen as a creature of the bureaucracy who doesn’t really live here. So what we get is a dungarees-clad dude seen in his garage, as if he was just under the hood of a car, pounding nails or pumping a harley tire.

As he talks about working and getting things done, he straddles a chair, as if this posture supposedly conveys a man who means business.

It’s oddly dislocated, and seems to have the reverse effect of presenting someone who’s sitting down on the job. As for the candidate’s attire, the only wonder is why they didn’t go ahead and hang a red bandana from his back pocket.

Then there’s that ad by Republican challenger Tom Kean, Jr.

What we get here is the same guy who ran for federal office twice before, only now he seems slower and less sure of himself, as if the processes of past failed efforts have left him less eager to even act the part of an engaged participant in his own run for congress; as if the furnaces of fortune have melted the wax of will into a solemn, static and somewhat gloomy figure.

Kean, Jr. – the version of himself in the ad – tiredly and unconvincingly recites a few things he’s supposedly done, and inevitably stands uncomfortably in the proximity of apparently real people, before the final shot features him playing cards with his family just after the voice-over talks about him “working for all of us.”

This is a politician persona in the ad who is so dislocated, he evidently thinks working hard is playing cards.



georgia scott

Former Passaic County Freeholder Georgia Scott Dies

According to Passaic County, Georgia Scott, 74, has died.  Scott was a Democrat who was elected to serve as a Passaic County Freeholder in the 1996 election, educated at Rutgers and William Paterson University, and was an executive director of a number of charitable organizations.

As a freeholder, she served as chair of Planning and Economic Development.

She was also a trustee of the Passaic County Juvenile Justice Commission, a Member National Council of Negro Women, and more.

Passaic County expressed their condolences via social media.

Press of AC: Brigantine Mayor Simpson has Died

Brigantine Mayor Andy Simpson has died at age 62 from kidney failure, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Read the report here.

With algae bloom closing the lake to swimmers, local office holders and candidates are trying to portray themselves as chief protectors of Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, going forward.

DeCroce’s Early Voting Idea

State Republicans have joined the Trump campaign in a suit to stop New Jersey’s plans for a mostly vote-by-mail election.

BettyLou DeCroce, a GOP Assembly member from Morris County, has another idea.

She is proposing that New Jersey join the ranks of many other states and allow “early voting” at the polls. DeCroce says early voting would commence 14 days before the date of the general election.

Under her legislation, there would be at least one polling place in each municipality; large population areas would have more. This would be in-person voting, but spreading it out over two weeks could be a way to reduce crowds and the spread of COVID-19.

Over the years, Republicans have opposed early voting, but in the midst of a pandemic, traditional norms may no longer be that traditional.

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