I was 17 years old and sat down at my family’s kitchen table with my father to have “The Talk”. Now this talk wasn’t about the birds and the bees but rather something more important. He said to me that now that I was driving he wanted to talk to me about my potential interactions with law enforcement. He never tried to scare me about what could happen if I get stopped, but rather how I should behave when I did. I remember this story because I recall having the same conversation with my oldest son when he turned the same age. The conversation centered around not making sudden movements or being combative on these occasions. No matter whether I thought I was in the right or not, the idea was to leave the encounter without it escalating into something far worse.
There are a lot of important issues facing our state these days. Many have been discussed and debated through my blog posts over the years. One issue that I take very personally is in the area of animal protection and safety. So, while some may not read much of this week’s post past the headline because it isn’t as important to you as it is to me, I invite you to indulge me on this particular topic. Perhaps you will see why I care about it so much.
There are an estimated 82 million cats in the United States, making them among our most popular pets. Yet, there is a “medical” practice that many from around the globe have deemed to be barbaric, out of touch and frankly an unnecessary procedure: declawing.
If you examine the boundaries of election districts, you cannot help but notice that somehow they seem rather oddly shaped, and their configuration is not necessarily a coincidence.
The practice of creating election districts to benefit a specific candidate or party goes back to the founding days of our country. (Indeed, the term, gerrymander, appeared for the first time in 1812 when a Boston newspaper applied the word to then-Gov. Gerry and the salamander-shaped district he created in an attempt to give his party an electoral advantage.)
The costs of campaigns and, more specifically, who is funding campaigns matter, especially when there is a veil of secrecy around donations. For that reason, I have introduced two proposals that would revamp and improve campaign finance and pay-to-play laws in New Jersey. My goal strikes at the core of what is often missing in campaign financing: greater transparency and broadening disclosure requirements.
No one ever woke up one day and said, “Today, I will become hooked on heroin.” However, for far too many New Jersey residents the pain of this disease is far too real. One of the most sobering experiences of my life was when I visited a heroin recovery support group. There, men and women, who continue to fight this sickness, shared with me their pain of addiction. I must admit I was not shocked by their stories, as my family has faced this scourge of addiction, but it did bring me right back to those difficult memories in my own life.
I listened to their stories of the intense high of heroin and how the feeling becomes so addictive that you will do anything and everything you can to feel that way again. How when you aren’t on it, your body aches and you cannot sleep or think clearly…or how your mind is dominated of thoughts on getting high again. I was told of the close calls with death and the abandonment of family and friends just to chase that high. They also shared with me their stories of immense regret and sadness, on how their lives had spiraled out of control…the fellow addicts they lost to this disease along the way and how they were seemingly powerless to combat their addiction.
Muhammad Ali’s accomplishments as a boxer have placed him in the pantheon of the most accomplished athletes in sports history.
But, the stunning boxing accomplishments of this force of nature in the end would be overshadowed by his stature as a civil rights activist and a bona-fide worldwide cultural icon who defies description.
Gone but never forgotten. It’s a phrase that we hear frequently, but I wonder if it doesn’t strike a different emotional chord with children who have lost a parent, particularly if that mother or father served in the area of public safety and died in the line of duty.
The uncomfortable truth is that nothing can replace a parent for a child. And the other uncomfortable truth is that after all the solemn remembrances, the surviving family, especially the children, must face the burden and expense of daily life.
For that reason, I am sponsoring a bipartisan proposal (along with my colleagues, Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr., M.D., Adam Taliaferro, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Diane Allen) to boost survivor’s benefits for children of law enforcement and firefighters who die in the line of duty.
Simple, sensible and smart. Those are three words that describe a proposal introduced by my colleagues: Assemblymen Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Tim Eustace and Assemblywoman Joann Downey that recently saw legislative action. And, in my opinion are the ingredients for a fair and broad-based approach to voter registration.
The legislation, A-1944, would register individuals to vote when obtaining or renewing their driver’s license. This doesn’t mean you have to vote, that’s a personal decision, but it will remove any possible question about your access to voting.
I had a conversation recently with a friend about mental health and the continuing need for funding to help those that require assistance. He felt that funding for mental health seems to lack the emotional attachment linked to physical health issues. If you see a person on crutches who walks with some visible disability, you take notice and often feel some degree of empathy. If you have a heart and you witness something similar, it tugs at your emotions because it is compelling. But you could pass 100 people on the street, many of whom might seem friendly or preoccupied, and not know that 20 of them are suffering. They ache emotionally inside, yet there is often no tell-tale sign of mental illness unless a degree of unusual behavior emerges.
Whether you like him, hate him or are indifferent, Donald’s Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is one of those catchy phrases that seems to grow in power if you keep repeating it. Certainly for the Trump campaign, that sound bite has become a successful mantra.
The Trump slogan and the Democratic response to it got me thinking a great deal about the war of words to which we’ve been exposed and, more importantly, what it says about each political party and those who support them.