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:
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.
The Monmouth County Democrats will hold a “mini-convention” this evening at the IBEW Local 400 Union Hall in Wall Township to formally nominate their slate of County and Legislative candidates for the June 2 primary.
Jeanne Cullinane is challenging Assembly Members Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon in the 13th legislative district
MMM has learned that Hazlet Board of Education member Tom Herman will be a candidate for Assembly in the 13th legislative district, challenging incumbent Republicans Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scanlon. Joining Herman on the Democratic ticket in the 13th will be Jeanne Cullinane, also of Hazlet, a political newcomer.
Monmouth County Chairman Vin Gopal has previously announced on his blog that Neptune Township Zoning Board Member Carol Rizzo will challenge incumbent Republican Freeholder John Curley. There has been speculation that Rizzo was seperated at birth from Rumson Democratic Chairman and former Democratic candidate for Surrogate, Michael Steinhorn.
Monmouth County Democratic insiders tell MMM that all Monmouth County and Legislative Republicans except Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Mary Pat Angelini will essentially get a free pass to election this year as Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal has been unable to recruit candidates or raise money for the legislative races in legislative districts 12, 13 and 30, or the County Offices of Freeholder and Clerk.
Gopal is expected to leave the candidate recruitment in LDs 12 and 30 to the other counties included in those districts. The 30th district, currently represented in the Assembly by Republicans Dave Rible and Sean Kean, has 12 towns in Monmouth County and two in Ocean County. Seven of the fourteen towns in the 12th district are on Monmouth County. The other seven are split between Burlington, Ocean and Middlesex Counties. The 12th district is represented by Republicans Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton.
Gopal’s trial balloon last December of making a second run for Assembly in the 11th himself( he ran in 2011) went over like the Hindenburg with State Democrats, other County Chairs and Special Interest donors who he had convinced that the money they invested in Monmouth County last year would lead to a pick up of Freeholder seats.
The legislators of the 11th and 13th districts have jointly written the Acting Commissioner of the NJ Department of Human Services requesting that the facilities designated to quarantine travelers from Western Africa arriving at Newark-Liberty Airport for 21 days to ensure that they have not contracted the Ebola virus be closed when the agency’s current agreement with the Fort Monmouth Redevelopment Authority expires on June 30th.
The letter, dated March 1 and signed by Senators Joe Kyrillos (R-13) and Jennifer Beck (R-11) as well as Assembly members Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), Amy Handlin (R-11), Caroline Casagrande (R-11) and Mary Pat Angelini (R-11) reiterates the law makers’ concerns expressed in a Februay 3 letter to Commissioner Jennifer Velez, Esq. regarding the lack of notice to the public and elected officials regarding the designation of the facility and the negative impact the facility could have on the marketing of Fort Monmouth properties.
Monmouth County Clerk M. Clair French address the Monmouth GOP convention. Chairman Shaun Golden in background. photo by Art Gallagher
An impressive crowd of over 400 Monmouth Republican County Committee members gathered on Saturday morning to nominate their candidates for State Assembly, County Clerk and Freeholder. The size of the crowd was impressive not only because of the weather but because the results of the convention were a foregone conclusion as there were no challengers to the incumbent Assembly Members, Freeholder or Governor Chris Christie’s nominee for County Clerk.
Free of any competitive tensions, the mood at Colts Neck High School was upbeat, friendly and proud among the grassroots leaders who came out for Chairman Shaun Golden first nominating convention. Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso noted both the size and enthusiasm of the crowd. “This crowd is almost as large as last year’s convention when we had a competition for the freeholder nominations,” DiMaso said, “We’re in really great shape and that is a testament to Shaun’s leadership.”