UPDATE: For the full story in today's paper -- and more assorted commentary -- click here.
Does the death of Whitney Houston justify a gubernatorial order to fly the American and New Jersey flags at half-staff?
That is the Christie Controversy Of The Week. Gov. Christie announced yesterday at a press conference yesterday that flags would be lowered for one day -- Saturday, the day of her funeral -- to honor a New Jerseyan who was "an important part of the cultural fabric of this state."
I tweeted the news, and didn't think it merited more of a mention.
But it has now reached Controversy Level over the appropriateness of marking the death of a singer with an honor typically given to fallen soldiers and public officials. TMZ is calling the governor's office to ask about it. The Facebook page for the Newseum is blowing up about it. And on the Twitters, the gov's office number is being posted so people can register complaints about it.
Houston, who lived in Christie's hometown of Mendham, died last weekend due to what is widely believed to be a drug overdose. Her funeral is Saturday, in Newark.
Some background: The Governor has issued 42 executive orders to fly flags at half-staff. Of those, 31 were for the deaths of service men and women, two were for police officers, six were for public officials and one was for a Sept. 11 commemoration. Then there were two more that don't meet the traditional categories: Morristown High School baseball coach Harry Shatel (the state's all-time leader in wins) and Bruce Springsteen saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
And some more background: Federal code indicates that governors should fly flags at half-staff by order of the president and also in the event of the death of a member of the military or government official from that particular state.
Federal code makes no specification for the deaths of pop sensations -- but it doesn't forbid such memorializing, either.