Higher Cabinet pay
makes sense for N.J.
Due to criticism, a bill in the Legislature that would have given the governor flexibility to set the salaries of his Cabinet members has stalled. I understand the knee-jerk reaction to this, but I think it's important to consider all of the facts.
These are the people who run state departments and oversee thousands of employees who provide services throughout the state. This includes everything from making sure state roads are cleared during major snowstorms to providing support to our 600-plus school districts.
The bill would not automatically raise Cabinet members' salaries but would give the governor leeway to set the annual salary for his appointed department heads between $141,000 - the current maximum - and $175,000. This appears to be a major jump, but the maximum salary for Cabinet members hasn't been adjusted in more than a decade. In 1999, there was an increase over three years to the current level. If Cabinet members' salaries had increased 2 percent each year since then, their annual salaries would be at roughly $178,000 now.
Yes, these are public servants, but there is no question that the governor's top-level people need to be the best of the best. The potential for an adjustment in salary is one way to attract highly qualified candidates - many of whom are asked to leave good-paying jobs in the private sector - and to make sure they stay.
Arctic too vulnerable
for offshore oil drilling
On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Twenty-five years after the tragedy, oil still lurks under the surface of the sound's beaches - impacting wildlife and human lives.
Just four years ago, but already starting to fade in the public's memory, B.P.'s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 crewmen. Two days later Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving behind a gushing well that ended in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The Arctic Ocean may be a distant thought to many of us here in New Jersey, but the Arctic ice cap acts like the world's air conditioner by cooling the whole planet. It is ground zero for the devastating impacts of climate change - warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the world- and drilling there could only exacerbate the problem. President Barack Obama should halt drilling in this sensitive area, terminate existing leases and forgo any future leasing in the Arctic Ocean.
won't harm anything
I've read all the terrible things that supposedly will happen to the Pine Barrens if the gas pipeline were to go through. Fear-mongering terms are thrown around, including the big one -"fracking." I doubt many of the people throwing that term around even know what it means, or that the gas they currently burn in their kitchens and home heaters comes from hydraulic fracturing.
The proposed pipeline would be laid within the right-of-way of Route 49. Someday, Route 49 may need to be widened. Will these same people who oppose the pipeline lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent its widening? After all, it could likely affect a tree or even some grass.
Without question, we should all conserve our natural resources by using them wisely. But replacing the B.L. England plant with windmills and solar panels will not do the job. Someone needs to do the math and learn how many acres of windmills it would take to generate the equivalent electricity of the plant.
There will be no negative environmental impact to the Pinelands from the pipeline despite all the false claims to the contrary. Burning natural gas at the B.L. England power plant will reduce emissions by several orders of magnitude. The pipeline is simply the right thing to do, economically and environmentally.
too dangerous - fix it
I am pleading for officials to do something about the intersection of Cologne Avenue and Aloe Street in Galloway Township. The intersection has been the scene of way too many accidents. Recently an accident there took the life of a co-worker and friend of mine. While she fought for her life in the hospital, another accident almost identical to the one involving her occurred.
How many people must be victims? This intersection may have been safe when first established, but the traffic has increased drastically over the years. I travel to and from work through that intersection, and I am very conscious of the drivers entering the road on either side, fearful that I may be the next victim.
If this intersection is not altered or closed off to traffic in certain directions there will be many more injured and killed.
Let's stop sending
A.C. taxes to state
There is a very simple property-tax remedy for Atlantic City, which requires very basic and equitable changes in legislation to return the luxury tax, room tax and casino parking tax to the city.
Currently, the state takes the revenue from these taxes. Meanwhile, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority - a state agency - doesn't pay property taxes for hundreds of properties.
If the state equitably paid the city for its Tourism District, the tax issue would resolve itself. Everyone in the state benefits from Atlantic City. Why do we residents have to pick up the tab? Enough. State legislators must step up and direct the state to pay its fair share of taxes in Atlantic City.
Recently I experienced the terror of a fire at my home. I have three disabled relatives living with me. The fire was moving very fast, and the house would have been engulfed in no time.
Had it not been for three good Samaritans, none of them known to me, this fire could have been a disaster. One of the men happened to see the flames from Route 9, and as luck would have it, he was also a firefighter. I have no idea about the other two. The only thing I do know is that these three men decided to fight the fire and help someone instead of continuing on their way. So, guys, if you happen to be reading this, thank you so very much. You are heroes.
I also wish to thank the West Tuckerton Fire Company, the New Gretna Fire Company, the State Police and the EMTs. All of them were extremely professional and very, very compassionate.