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An Open Letter to My Fellow Americans

tt138.jpgMy fellow Americans,

As the results of our Presidential election have settled in, the emotions and passions associated with those results still run high. Many of us, regardless of our preferred candidate, felt very passionately about this election. Now that the outcome has been decided, we must take the high road and embrace our fellow citizens as we attempt to move forward as a nation.

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Would New Jersey Benefit From Police Officers Being College Educated?

tt137.jpgShould police officers be required to have college credits or a degree? The Wickersham Commission and President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice recommended that higher education is a means to better professional policing. Research studies show police officers who have earned a college degree demonstrate better overall job performance and have greater advancement opportunities than their colleagues without a college degree.

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The NFL Misses the Point: By a Wide Margin

tt136.jpgThis month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and given the NFL history about this topic, they have once again let us down. I have talked about this in the past regarding the Ray Rice incident, and it seems that nothing has changed with the NFL's cavalier attitude toward domestic abuse. The recent revelations about New York Giants kicker Josh Brown are enough to make you sick. I have loved football my entire life, but it's clear that the NFL has no respect for its female fans.

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Maximum Benefits for Raising the Minimum Wage

tt135.jpgIt’s about the math, and it’s about the heart, too.

If you are a worker in New Jersey and earn the minimum wage, your pay is $8.38 per hour. Your daily wage is $67.04. If you work 40 hours per week, your gross pay is $335.20. Work 52 weeks, and you’re up to $17,430.40 annually. A tidy sum on which to get by if you’re single and very, very frugal, especially when you consider the federal poverty level is $12,082. Add a family to the mix, and it becomes darn near impossible to survive.

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Holding Schools Accountable

One of the hardest parts about writing a weekly column is deciding what topic I want to cover. Oftentimes it's easy enough to just go with the conversation du jour in our country, or expounding on a legislative initiative I am working on. However, this week I want to try something different. I want to share with you a piece that I read in U.S. News & World Report on reinventing our national education system. The author raises some thought provoking points, some of which I agree with and others I don't. I am curious to hear your thoughts on what the author lays out, so let me know what you think.

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The Color Pink: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

tt130.jpgIf you asked me, I would most likely have said: never. Watching professional football players wearing pink as part of their uniform. They have in the past, and I suspect some players will do so this entire month in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In what is one of the most visible and successful efforts to promote awareness, the appearance of pink ribbons or simply the color has become part of the cultural landscape in America. And, it appears that support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month had garnered support from a broad cross-section of the country, from professional athletes to your neighbor.

It isn’t difficult to understand why. Many of us have had a family member or friend affected by breast cancer. When I hear about it, the news stops me cold.  And while breast cancer is a scourge, I must add that in a time when there seems to be so much divisiveness throughout the country on numerous subjects, we finally have something that we can agree upon: We have to defeat breast cancer.

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Helping Veterans Reach Their Educational Goals

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What does it mean to be a "veteran-friendly" university? There is no clear definition of what is a "veteran-friendly" institution, because the educational choices that our colleges offer students take different shapes and forms on every campus. The diverse offerings of today’s higher education communities oftentimes make it challenging to identify who is doing it best.

Campus culture, location, academic rigor, student body makeup, size, and more, all play a role in constituting “veteran-friendly” institutions. Today’s colleges and universities need to define “veteran-friendly” in a way that addresses both the needs of the veteran student and the institution.

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Words Can No Longer Describe

tt128.jpgI have reached a point where words can no longer describe my frustration and anger at the present situation we find our country in with regards to interactions between the police and people of color. Unfortunately we are once again forced to face the clear and present understanding of the divisions that remain in our country between law enforcement and predominately minority communities. The idea that these interactions are turning into deadly encounters should frighten us all regardless of your race, class or socioeconomic condition. 

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Living the American Dream

tt127.jpgI still remember the day. I signed my name for what felt like a thousand times and wrote the largest check I had ever written in my life. But, it was mine. And, when the agent put the keys to my new home in my hands I knew that I had grabbed my piece of the American dream.

Home ownership has always been a symbol of financial accomplishment in our country. Oftentimes it has marked a rite of passage into “finally becoming a grown up” when that purchase is made. Unfortunately for many, the American dream of home ownership is becoming more difficult to attain. It is especially hard for those just starting out on their own due to the challenges involved in saving up for the down payment. Despite all of the positive aspects and advantages of home ownership, affordability for first time homeowners continues to be a significant barrier for far too many New Jersey residents.

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National Suicide Prevention Month: A Path to Hope & Help

tt126.jpgSeptember is National Suicide Prevention Month. It is a time when we pay particular attention to helping those who might be in trouble. The danger signs of a potential suicide are seldom as obvious as those with many other emergencies. If you grasp your throat, most people would conclude that you’re choking. If a person suffers a stroke, unmistakable signs that something is seriously wrong include a drooping face, inability to lift up both arms, or being incapable of completing a coherent sentence.

Suicides are different. Some victims exhibit few signs that something is amiss. Indeed, a potential suicide candidate might appear to be as normal as everyone else, until the tragedy happens.  

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