“It is tragic that the best advice one might give an addict begging for treatment is to get arrested.”
By Declan O’Scanlon
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon
There are many issues and challenges we face as a society that are ripe for spirited political debate. Addiction isn’t one of them. Governor Christie’s position that we must treat addiction as something other than a crime is exactly correct. Addiction – whether you buy the disease designation or not – is for some people a virtually irresistible, destructive force that compels the addict’s cooperation in his own destruction. That concept can be a difficult one to reconcile for those who have had the good fortune not to have battled addiction – their own or a family member’s. Unfortunately, that pool of lucky people is dwindling as the heroin epidemic continues to voraciously march through our streets and schools. Alcohol, while not the substance of the moment, continues its incessant march.
There is room for debate about exactly what addiction is. Cancer is unquestionably a disease – seeming to have a mind of its own and an unrelenting mission no matter the intentions or actions of its victims. Addiction, in many ways, is much more complicated. It is a condition whose progression depends on the direct, intentional participation of the afflicted. The fact that the addicted are complicit in their own destruction is both frustrating and confusing for all involved. It is easy for caregivers and loved ones to be sympathetic to cancer victims. Addiction is as likely to elicit anger, blame and scorn as sympathy.
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.
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 »
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 »
The 11th and 13th district legislators representing much of Monmouth County including the communities host Fort Monmouth sent a letter to Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Valez Esq. this afternoon asking for the legal and practical justification for quarantining individuals that may have been exposed to the Ebola virus at Fort Monmouth at a time when New Jersey is marketing the property as a place for businesses to grow, create jobs and to serve as an area for new housing opportunities for people who have not been exposed to Ebola.
The letter signed by State Senators Joseph Kyrillos and Jennifer Beck and Assembly Members Amy Handlin, Declan O’Scanlon, Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande was printed on Kyrillos’s letterhead. The letter can be viewed here.
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 »
NEWARK — Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Essex County legislators have been pushing for a renewal of New Jersey’s red light camera program on the grounds it reduces car crashes and promotes public safety. But the cameras also have generated millions in fines paid to the city, the state and the company that maintained the devices.… Read the rest of this entry »