There's still much to do
for disabled Americans
When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed 23 years ago on July 26, 1990, it set a precedent for how individuals with disabilities should be treated. This landmark legislation allowed individuals with disabilities to access a life that included residing in their local communities and working alongside their neighbors.
But there is still a long way to go. A recent report issued by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, "Separate and Unequal: States Fail to Fulfill the Community Living Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act," outlines the country's shortcomings when it comes to inclusion, specifically, community living. Too many individuals with disabilities are segregated in nursing homes and institutions. Too many remain on lists, awaiting community-based services.
Communities are diversified when individuals with disabilities are residents. As the father of two children with developmental disabilities, and as the newly elected president of The Arc of New Jersey, I believe we should use the anniversary of this landmark legislation to look at our own local towns and neighborhoods.
Whether you're an elected official or an average citizen, use this occasion as a springboard to conversation about how communities across New Jersey can improve and reflect the spirit of the ADA.
Pinelands gas pipeline
is the wrong way to go
I am concerned about the proposal to run a natural-gas pipeline through our Pine Barrens. The Pinelands National Reserve is a treasure, and the proposed pipeline is a threat to the 17-trillion-gallon aquifer that lies beneath our pinelands.
The speed with which this project is moving is disturbing. It appears that this is a situation where money is doing more talking than reasoned argument.
If one reads the reports from the Pinelands Commission, one gets the impression that there is no opposition to this project. Certainly this is not the case.
We cannot allow business interests to shortcut the democratic process. We cannot allow the integrity of the Pinelands Commission, which is entrusted with preserving, protecting and conserving the pinelands, to be compromised.
The gas line will supply the B.L. England power plant in Beesleys Point. The costly decision to turn the coal-burning B.L. England plant into a natural-gas plant is backward-looking. Fracking and gas lines are not the way of the future.
Rather, for the sake of our children, we must continue to work on clean, renewable energy.
I want to be able to look my grandchildren in the eye and say that I was part of a solution rather than a perpetrator of selfish, wrong thinking.
In the July 19 letter - "Where do loyalties lie in Atlantic County GOP?" - the writer used his honorable status as a veteran to induce county leaders to endorse a particular candidate. I respect the letter writer as a veteran and his service to our nation. But please don't use your veteran status as a reason to support any political candidate or party.
role of race in U.S.
Regarding the July 16 Leonard Pitts Jr. column, "Blacks know what killed Trayvon," and the July 22 Jack White column, "Blacks still aren't at home in U.S.":
Both columns show a knowledge of some basic civil-rights history but a stunning lack of understanding of the current justice system and the socio-economic conditions in which minority families find themselves in the United States.
Many states, including New Jersey, have rules prohibiting attempts by prosecutors or defense lawyers to stack trial juries with members of one race or the other. Since the 1960s, there are many civil-rights statutes and court decisions enforcing the equal-protection clause of the Constitution for criminal defendants of all races. We live in a different country now than in the early part of the 20th century.
On the social front, schools and neighborhoods are integrated, and minorities are honored for their excellence in academia, music and sports and their heroism in war. Many hold elective office, including our current president.
But White sweeps away all of these gains and opines "for young black men, America is a country fraught with danger." He writes this as though the Ku Klux Klan still holds court everywhere in the U.S.
What nonsense. I have been a defense attorney for 38 years, and I can tell you this: When young men of any color hit the street for drug deals or gun running, they find their own trouble. No one is stalking them except for justified police surveillance. It is time for commentators to stop resorting to groundless pandering and propaganda.
People can't live
on minimum wage
Since 2009, the minimum wage in New Jersey has been $7.25 per hour. It is impossible today for anyone to sustain themselves on that wage.
The cost of living is on the rise, and poverty is at an all-time high. Don't you think it's time to increase the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour so people have a chance to survive?