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Out of the ashes...

April 19, 2010 1:52:36 PM PDT
Some light at the end of the volcano? We might finally be seeing some tonight. After European airports were shut for a fifth day, there's serious talk of reopening some or all of the airports tomorrow. That would end the estimated $1 billion loss for the airline industry because of ash from the volcano in Iceland.

The real costs go far beyond money. Hundreds of thousands of people are either stranded in a place they no longer want to be, or stuck at home and unable to get to where they want. We've heard so many nightmare stories from people affected by the volcano and the no-fly zone that has swept Europe. If everyone had a corporate expense account, then it wouldn't be so heartbreaking. But the money woes overwhelm the logistical ones. The folks who have spent their money on vacations, and then have to fend at an airport lounge for days - rather than get a hotel room - because they have no money left, well, it's very tough. On them. And the economy. And the airports. And everyone.

Tonight, they're lining up at the Air France office in midtown Manhattan, as the flights are likely to start taking off from here to Europe tomorrow. We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, I started playing Little League baseball when I was 8 - and it comes with a humbling story. I played right field, also known as nowheresville when you're 8.

But I knew enough to complain, and so I did. My coach quickly shot back - hey Bill if you don't like right field you can play bench.

Really? I said. (Such a sports maven I was!). Well, then, yes coach, I'll play bench. It took a year before the other kids on the team stopped razzing me.

The other thing I remember clearly about Little League was that we were never ever never ever ever ever supposed to throw a curve ball. Too hard on young arms - that was the admonition from adults who seemed to know what they were talking about, or at least they talked with such authority that they sounded like they knew what they were talking about.

Now, new evidence suggests that those coaches of old were right all along. And with Little League season beginning this week, we thought it good timing to send Michelle Charlesworth, with two budding future Little Leaguers at home, to report the story.

We're also looking at New Jersey's budget, and a fascinating contradiction emerging from Gov. Chris Christie's first term.

Turns out the Governor who has slashed spending and cut jobs ? especially teachers ? is paying a whole lot more for staff salaries than his predecessor.

In fact, an analysis by the Associated Press today shows that 34 people under Christie are now making six figure salaries, including the Governor himself at $175,000.

Under former Gov. Jon Corzine - who was paid only $1 per year - there were 17 people who made $100,000 or more.

Corzine's payroll last year was $7 million; Christie's is $8.9 million. We're trying to get a comment from the Governor about why he's slashing so many state jobs (1300) while raising salaries for his staff.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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