Democrats obstruct

GOP ethics measures

Regarding the April 26 editorial, "Campaign-finance reform/Yeah, right ...":

You are correct that there is too much finger-pointing and not enough action in Trenton to make government accountable. So why don't you join us in demanding answers from those who aren't getting the job done?

The Democratic majority in this Legislature has total control over what bills are posted for votes, starting at the committee level. Despite our repeated public calls for action, Senate committee chairmen Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and James Whelan, D-Atlantic, continue to ignore Republican measures to provide a pure, transparent government to New Jersey residents. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, who can force legislation through committees, has also neglected our bills to make government accountable at all levels in this state.

Van Drew is chairman of the Community & Urban Affairs Committee. He has, for example, failed to allow hearings on S2068, which would apply ethics standards to local and school officials.

Whelan is chairman of the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee. He has, for example, refused to allow hearings on S1917, which would close pay-to-play loopholes that benefit contributors who get public contracts worth billions of tax dollars. Whelan has also denied hearings on: S681, which would prohibit legislators from holding another elected office; S590, which would force elected or appointed officials to forfeit their public pensions if they are convicted of crimes touching their office; and S597, which would prohibit "wheeling," a practice parties use to evade campaign finance limits.

There are even more necessary Republican-sponsored ethics, accountability and transparency bills that are being neglected by legislative Democrats who aim to benefit from the status quo in an election year.

An election year should have the opposite effect on legislators: Those who are not willing to provide residents with an accountable, open and ethical government should be voted out of office.

SEN. TOM KEAN JR.

Senate Republican Leader

Trenton

Corrections officers

deserve a contract

As Police Benevolent Association Local 231, Cumberland County Jail Corrections Officers, approaches four years without a contract, it becomes difficult to understand why the officers and the county cannot reach an agreement. Corrections officers have extended concessions to the county to save money for taxpayers. The county jail has maintained 10 empty officer slots, and the county has saved a substantial amount of money in salaries and benefits on these open slots for more than 20 years.

The Board of Freeholders claims the budget is in the red and cuts, including layoffs, may be considered. This is rather perplexing since the county sold Cumberland Manor for more than $14 million, and there is money in the surplus fund. It seems like the same old political tune.

The county's corrections officers have once again become the focal point of a political agenda and are not seen as a priority. With its recently negotiated direct-service contract with Gloucester County, Cumberland County will generate $3.9 million by housing 150 Gloucester County inmates. Those new inmates that will boost the county jail population to approximately 550 inmates.

The county plans to hire 15 new officers. But, interestingly, the county has run the jail with fewer officers than its present complement while housing 799 inmates. The numbers don't seem to add up. PBA Local 231 questions the motives in locking in long-term commitments and taking on unnecessary costs. We only want to be treated fairly.

Cumberland County's corrections officers perform their jobs on a daily basis in conditions that are difficult, at best. They are dedicated, proud and will continue to perform their duties even as they enter their fourth year without a contract. The officers only wish to be recognized for their professionalism, dedication and ability to run an outstanding correctional institution.

We are exploring our options to move this matter forward in order for us to set priorities straight and be recognized for our dedication to the taxpayers of Cumberland County. We realize the county has many areas of priority; we only ask respectfully that the freeholders make us a priority as well.

VICTOR BERMUDEZ

PBA Local 231 State Delegate

Bridgeton

Parents should know

when child is depressed

I was stunned to read recently about teenage suicides. Where were the parents? Didn't they notice their children were depressed?

There's no easy answer to this, but parents should bear some responsibility. Don't families spend time together?

And teenagers, wouldn't it make sense to confide in a parent? Please, talk to your parents.

TOM MURPHY

Atlantic City