Most bloggers understand an unwritten law about blogging: Don’t start off with a statement, proclamation or diatribe from a “higher authority” to promote a point of view. The reasoning is that it’s the author’s viewpoint that matters.
However, since I’m not a blogger I’m going to break that rule. This is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and I happened to read President Barack Obama’s recent proclamation highlighting the importance of this special period. I found it to be dead on and wanted to share a portion of it.
"Remember, guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” This maxim was said to me when I got my firearms ID and has been recanted numerous times by proponents of the 2nd Amendment when faced with the conversation on our country’s passion for firearms. And, the truth is that they’re right! Guns in the hands of those bent on destruction and malice towards their fellow members of humanity or themselves are a recipe for disaster. Additionally, guns in untrained hands have also been shown to have the same unfortunate and disastrous outcome. But, the gun itself is simply an object or a tool for that destruction. I think that is important that we attempt to understand the science behind why and how firearm violence occurs. This understanding is critical towards removing the emotion from the gun debate. Hopefully, this will allow us to move towards a position where gun-control and gun-rights advocates can agree on some common sense approaches to reduce its impact on our society.
The current plight of Atlantic City has ripple effects that go far beyond the shores of the Southern New Jersey coastal community. Its economic collapse has slowly damaged a region and created an environment where added investment into New Jersey’s gaming market has been chilled. As an elected official and a construction tradesman, I see firsthand every day how the lack of a comprehensive plan to rebuild and reinvent Atlantic City affects the lives of thousands of New Jersey families. This inexplicable lack of a plan also will limit what many of us believe to be a potential lifesaver for Atlantic City, the expansion of gaming and the ensuing resources that will be sent back to the community to hasten that reinvention.
One of the great privileges that I have been afforded during my current term in the Legislature is the honor of being the Chairman of the Assembly State & Local Government Committee. This committee has wide jurisdiction over various aspects of government services. The area that I have tried to make a particular focus of the committee is with regards to property taxes. No singular issue causes as much frustration and oftentimes anger for New Jersey residents then the seemingly endless struggle for our government to bring this issue under control.
One of the many reasons that I love spring is due to the return of baseball. Some of my fondest memories growing up center around the game, and spending time with my Dad talking, watching and most years lamenting the woes of our favorite team each and every spring. That rite of the season is something I truly miss.
And frankly, is there anything more American than baseball, which, to slightly mimic a famous comedy routine, has been “very, very good to us”?
We’re not the first, but this is one time New Jersey should be an enthusiastic follower.
I’m referring to Tennessee, which recently launched the country’s first animal abuse registry.
The approach is very simple. In Tennessee, if you are convicted of animal abuse, your name appears on a registry for two years. If you are convicted of animal abuse a second time, your name appears on the registry for five years.
The idea is particularly pertinent if someone plans on working with animals. Just as we place extra trust in teachers and law enforcement, so too should we ensure that those engaged in the handling of animals have a spotless record.
I told a friend that my next blog was going to be about poverty in America. He blinked rapidly in succession. “Big topic,” he said.
“Important topic,” I replied.
But he had a point. The immensity of the poverty issue continues to be nothing short of stunning. I confirmed this belief when I learned about the numbers.
Whether as a child, a teenager, or an adult, we have all sustained an injury or illness. It’s just a part of life. Sometimes these things are minor in nature; other times they are much more serious. When the serious times arrive, many of us are fortunate enough to secure quality health care services that we can afford. But for thousands of people across New Jersey, quality affordable health care remains elusive. It is something we as a state and as a nation can no longer tolerate.
Can you think of any subject where there is unanimous agreement that results in constant grousing other than on the subject of property taxes? Everyone complains, and I’m sure that you’ve never heard your neighbor say, “My property taxes are too low.”
But New Jersey residents, in particular, have solid footing for their complaints. We have the highest average property taxes in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation and the Fiscal Times. And, our residents have faced the gradual and tenacious rise of taxes for years. The average statewide property tax rose from $8,161 in 2014 to its highest level in New Jersey history at $8,353 in 2015.
Most of us recall the frequent admonition of our parents from when we were younger: Don’t hang out with the wrong crowd. They had a basic fear. Associating with the wrong crowd could unduly influence our moral and personal code in a negative fashion. And when we did dabble in the wrong crowd, in the back of our brain, we knew in this instance that our parents were right.