Fulop to GOP, Rutgers’ Campus Cannon, and More N.J. April Fools’ Hoaxes

By Brian Amaral
April 1, 2015

This is not an article about April Fools’ Day. April Fools’! It is! Boy, you should have seen the look on your face.

Pranksters and lovers of hijinks around New Jersey tried to pull one over on their friends and foes alike in the annual celebration of chicanery.

And some participants took the opportunity to make larger points about life in New Jersey: Taxes serve a purpose. The Rutgers bus system isn’t so bad. But Steve Fulop is.

Is Fulop running for governor? No. Well… maybe, but he’s certainly not announcing today, and not running as a Republican, and not hiring Michael Drewniak as his communications director.

In a “news release” with the dateline of Wall Street, the faux Fulop says: “Everyone knows Jersey City has always been just a stepping stone for me.”

The missive was sent by Joshua Henne, who served as the communications director for erstwhile Fulop foe Jerramiah Healy.

“Often, the best humor has more than a kernel of truth at its core,” said Henne, who works for a communications firm for progressive candidates and issues.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic mayor told the Jersey Journal: “We are sorry to see that Josh is still dwelling on his loss in the mayoral campaign and desperate for new clients. We’re even sorrier that he thought this was a witty April Fool’s Day prank.”

Perhaps the cruelest joke of all was from West Orange, which claimed in an Internet posting on the town's official website that it was introducing a “Pay What You Want” tax program.

That might work for Radiohead albums, but definitely not taxes. The post actually served as a pretty sharp satire of people who clamor for lower taxes.

“Residents no longer interested in the safety of their families or homes can now deduct payment for the police and fire department,” the mystery poster wrote. “Community members that plan on allocating space in their garage or backyard for garbage and recycling (and hopefully ok dealing with the smell) no longer have to pay the trash/recycling removal portion of their tax bill. Residents that already know how to read, or those who think books/enrichment programs are pointless can put those dollars back in their pocket and stop paying the library tax portion of their bill.”

Township spokeswoman Susan Anderson said the post was the brainchild of Perry Bashkoff, who does the government’s social media and who, last year, claimed that South Orange and West Orange were joining governments.

And Rutgers University — which last year jokingly claimed that it was changing its athletics mascot to a wonderful little bird — joked this year that it was doing away with its bus system. The bus system is the frequent target of complaints among the student body.

Jack Molenaar, the head of Rutgers transportation, said in a YouTube video that the bus system was going away, due to feedback from the student body.

“You can always walk, jog, or my favorite take a piggy-back ride across campus,” Molenaar said.

Other options: Horseback rides, ziplines, or being fired across the Raritan River in a circus cannon.

Karen Smith, a spokeswoman for Rutgers, said the idea came from a videographer, Cameron Bowman, after last year’s success. The prank might become a regular fixture.

“Hey, we’ve got personality, we’ve got a sense of humor,” Smith said. “With our social media presence, it’s a way to distribute the message.”

While some jokes had a dual message, some were just spit-takes. There was, for example, the jokesters at the Sayreville Police Department, who posted a picture of the bottom of a coffee mug. Written on the bottom were the words: “You’ve been poisoned.”