Trees downed by storms

pose forest fire danger

As I drive every day to work at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, my eyes scan all the broken and dead trees left by the storms of June and October.

I was on a camping visit to Montana in July 1988, during the early days of the Yellowstone National Park fires. Together those fires formed the largest wildfire in recorded history of Yellowstone.

My camping guide explained that during the previous five years or so, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service had deviated somewhat from the traditional approach to fire management of the 1960s, when small fires caused by nature were left to burn the undergrowth and dead fall, thereby eliminating most of the fuel for larger fires in the future.

I believe that southern New Jersey is now in a very vulnerable condition for extreme forest fires should we experience a drought in the next two or three years. There should be some sort of task force convened to address this situation.

Along the lines of the Works Progress Administration, there could be teams of workers clearing the woods all over Atlantic and Cape May counties. Surely there are also people who would be interested in harvesting usable wood for fireplaces or mulch.

Would somebody please put this task on the agenda to investigate and come up with a preventive solution?



Gormley should run

for U.S. Senate seat

I would like to jump-start the political thinking for the 2014 U.S. Senate race for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The term of a United States senator is six years, and at Lautenberg's advanced age it is fair to speculate that he may choose to not seek another term.

Personally, I am tired of North Jersey politicians having a lock on the Senate seats. Therefore, I am suggesting that the Republican Party consider backing former Atlantic County state Sen. Bill Gormley for Lautenberg's seat should Lautenberg decline to run again.

Gormley compiled a legislative record of delivering for his district second to no one in the history of Atlantic County. As a member of the U.S. Senate, there is no doubt of his ability to craft legislation to benefit not only New Jersey but our entire nation.

Gormley is bright, articulate and an aggressive campaigner, and over his many years as an elected official, his sense of ethics has provided him with a spotless public record. In his youthful days, Gormley served our nation as a Marine Corps officer. In his mature years there is no doubt that he would serve our nation admirably, competently and with a sense of patriotism that is sorely lacking in Washington these days.


Estell Manor

What ever happened

to Sandy sales-tax break?

Shortly after superstorm Sandy struck coastal New Jersey, I remember hearing a newscaster on one of our local radio stations report that a bipartisan group of Assembly members proposed the introduction of legislation to temporarily suspend or reduce the state sales tax charged on labor and materials needed for cleanup and restoration of homes and businesses affected by the storm.

What happened to this proposal?



NRA is masterful

at playing on fear

"The only thing that can stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. No one is better than the NRA at coming up with simple canards designed to mislead the public. We'll soon see how many Americans are gullible enough to buy it.

Just think about the unintended consequences. When I take my grandchildren up on the Boardwalk to go on the merry-go-round, it would not make me feel safer knowing all the adults in the crowd were packing guns. Even good people lose their tempers. Are you likely to have more violence or less if lethal force were just a pocket away?

The other fear gun worshipers use to separate you from your good sense is to create a dangerous threat to something you highly value like an "attack on the Constitution." If the Second Amendment were strictly interpreted, the only ones with a constitutionally protected right to a firearm would be those serving in the National Guard - today's "well regulated militia" that the Second Amendment plainly states is the basis of the right to bear arms.

The "slippery slope" argument is another mind trick used to scare you and the standard choice for anyone with a losing case on the merits. It goes like this: If we regulate access to semiautomatic firearms or "cop-killer" ammunition, the next thing the evil government will do is take away your hunting rifle. Apply the same logic to setting the driving age at 16. What's to stop them from raising it to 25? Therefore there should be no driving age restriction. Logical, but absurd.

Ask yourself who benefits if you feel you need a gun to protect yourself. People who sell guns will sell more of them if they sell more fear. And people who are afraid want you to feel the same way. If you feel constantly under threat, then that slow simmering anxiety will soon become normal to you. Just replace it with the pleasure of holding a gun. You'll feel so in control. Personally, I don't share those fears. And the pleasure part has always seemed a bit creepy to me.


Ocean City

U.S. must rein in

banks, Wall Street

Languishing in Congress is H.R. 1489, the Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2011. It would return us to the days of the Glass-Steagall Act, Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 banking reorganization. Glass-Steagall returned chartered banking to stability, making possible immediate nation-building and long-term capital investment, by requiring the separation of commercial banking and investment banking.

Until Glass-Steagall's 1999 Wall Street-engineered demise, and the creation of NAFTA "free trade" to stamp out domestic production, we had an economy vectored for the future.

We should bring Wall Street to justice, and justice to the economy. Now is the time to enact H.R. 1489, before we run out of time.