Last year, the New Jersey legislature voted on a measure that prohibited the infliction of “sexual orientation reparative therapy” on young individuals of our state. This is the frequently torturous “treatment” designed to turn the gay straight. Although I abstained on the vote because of a potential technical issue, I vocally supported the initiative. Recently, the debate on this issue has re-emerged as several high-profile national and local Republicans have discussed both this issue and homosexuality. Their words demand comment.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, taking issue with policies prohibiting this “treatment,” justified his position last year by suggesting that homosexuality was simply a destructive lifestyle choice, which he went on to say was just like alcoholism. Perry managed to insult and infuriate the entire gay community along with every member of every family who has ever dealt with addiction issues – all at once. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon also vying for the Republican presidential nomination, suggested that being gay was a choice – as evidenced by supposed prison conversions. The most recent commentary came from Congressman Scott Garrett (R-5th District), who expressed a refusal to support gay candidates and said the Republican Party shouldn’t either.
These men each have a long list of substantial accomplishments and I bet I agree with them on most policy issues. But on the issues of homosexuality and addiction each of them has demonstrated a stunning level of closed-minded ignorance that – notwithstanding their apparent inability to genuinely embrace reality – most people of average intelligence would instinctively know to try to conceal.
Now that the 2016 budget debate is over, we must get back to the most pressing state issue of our time. The suggestion of some in the public worker sector that those of us who voted against the budget are in favor of our abandoning our commitment to ensuring their pensions is completely false. For any responsible elected official, and decent human being, it is imperative that we meet our commitments in a way that protects our pubic workers – and the NJ economy at the same time.
The reason we couldn’t make a payment larger than the $1.3 billion one included in the Governor’s budget has nothing to do with a lack of will or integrity. It’s about devoting as much $ as possible without inflicting massive, economy-killing, tax increases on an economy just now showing signs of real growth. Without economic growth there will be no chance we will be able to meet our commitments to the system in the many years to come – so ensuring growth is as important to public workers as anyone else. We don’t simply have a $1.8 billion deficit this year. We have a $6 to $7 billion hole over the next few years. Taxing the life out of our economy this year, with no plan going forward – and leaving us in a $2 billion hole next year as the Democrat’s proposed budget would – is bad policy, for all New Jerseyans.
But it is true as well that we can’t foster growth to the exclusion of our obligation to our dedicated public workers. And I can’t state that point vehemently enough. Our teachers and other public workers are decent, devoted, professional people. Generalizations to the contrary are without merit.
Governor Chris Christie reacted to the New Jersey Supreme Court decision that he has the authority to cut pension payments from the State Budget and that the political branches of government…the Governor and Legislature…not the Court…must “deal with one another to forge a solution to the tenuous financial status of New Jersey’s pension funding in a way that comports with the strictures of our constitution,” by calling for “all interested parties” to come together and solve the New Jersey’s pension and benefit crisis “once and for all.”
“This decision is an important victory not only for our taxpayers who simply cannot afford these unsustainably high costs, but for limited, constitutional government that recognizes the proper role of the executive and legislative branches of government,” the Governor said in a statement issued by his office, “The Court’s position is clear, as is mine, it is time to move forward and work together to find a tangible, long-term solution to make our pension system and public employee health benefit costs affordable and sustainable for generations to come. In light of today’s decision, I urge all interested parties to come back to the table and partner with me to finally solve this problem once and for all.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, the Assembly Republican Budget Officer, said,
The legislators representing Monmouth County from the 11th and 13th Districts want the New Jersey Department of Human Services to stop housing asymptomatic Ebola patients at Fort Monmouth at then end of this month when the current agreement to do so expires and they are calling on the members of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to reject DHS’s request to extend the arrangement.
Senators Joe Kyrillos and Jennifer Beck joined with Assembly Members Amy Handlin, Declan O’Scanlon, Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in issuing the following statement:
Starting in October of 2017 New Jersey drivers will have to get out of their cars, swipe their own credit or debit card and enter a PIN before an attendant can can pump gas into their car, according to a report at NorthJersey.com.
Consumers will no longer be allowed to hand their cards gas station employees due to new credit card security requirements, The Record quotes Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline C-Store Automotive Association (NJGCA), an independent gas station owners group, as saying.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon is offended by the argument that New Jerseyans are not capable of pumping their own gas without setting themselves on fire. But in order to get his legislation that would decriminalize consumer gas pumping passed he in inserting language into the bill that would require signs on gas pumps for the protection of the mentally challenged and members of the Jersey City Council.
“I am offended by people that argue that New Jerseyans are mentally incapable of pumping their own gas without setting themselves on fire. But I hear them. For that reason I am recommending language be inserted in the final bill that mandates signs at all self serve pumps, in bold red and blue flashing neon lettering, that reads “Do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, set yourself on fire!!” I think that should resolve these concerns” O’Scanlon said when introducing the legislation.
O’Scanlon’s bill, which mirrors a bill in the Senate sponsored by Bergen County Senators Paul Sarlo and Gerald Cardinale, except for the signage language, would decriminalize gas pumping by consumers and provide for self-service islands at New Jersey gas stations. Each facility would be required to operate at least one island full service for three years following enactment, and the bill also allows for gas retailers to charge a lesser price for self-service gasoline.
Rich Gerbounka, meet Sammy Hagar. Gerbounka is the 69-year-old former mayor of Linden who has been the most outspoken champion of red-light cameras in New Jersey. Hagar is the rocker who wrote the anthem for every frustrated driver in America during those horrible days when the dread double-nickel was the national speed limit: “I Can’t Drive… Read the rest of this entry »
New Jersey Natural Gas, the utility that provides natural gas to nearly a half million customers in Monmouth and Ocean Counties as well as parts of Burlington, Middlesex and Morris, is delaying many Jersey Shore residents from moving back into their Sandy damaged and reconstructed homes by up to 10 weeks.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said that a constituent contacted him with information that the contractor rebuilding her home said that NJNG takes 8 weeks to disconnect service pre-construction and another 8 weeks to reconnect the gas service after construction has been completed.
O’Scanlon reached out to New Jersey Natural Gas representatives who clarified that the average time frame for a disconnect is approximately 4 weeks, and the average time for a reconnect is 4-6 weeks. Disconnections and re-connections of gas lines are more complicated than for power lines, the utility’s representative said, thus leading to longer lead times. For this reason homeowners and contractors are encouraged to contact New Jersey Natural Gas early in their construction planning phase.
TRENTON — Republican members of the state Assembly Budget Committee on Wednesday criticized New Jersey’s largest public worker union of taking the easy road by shutting down pension talks and demanding full funding without offering any alternatives. The assemblymen, in a brief news conference following a budget hearing on Department of Education funding, leveled accusations of… Read the rest of this entry »
Government -sanctioned theft. That’s the phrase state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) has used like a ubiquitous bumper sticker to rail against red-light cameras. A story by njadvancemedia reporter Bill Wichert shows just how much “theft” was going on in the city of Newark. In five years, Newark collected $34 million from about 400,000 tickets doled out… Read the rest of this entry »