Christie Offers ‘Laser-Like Focus’ for Rebuilding After Sandy
To the Editor:
The governor’s laser-like focus on rebuilding the lives of residents impacted by Sandy is heartening. We are lucky that in one of our darkest hours, we have a strong and decisive leader to chart the path back to life as it was before the storm, and his handling of the immediate and long-term response will certainly be the hallmark of his legacy.
Yet even in the absence of Sandy and contrary to the near constant sniping of his Democratic critics, this governor has succeeded where so many of his predecessors had failed in laying the foundation for an affordable, prosperous New Jersey. After years of overspending, overtaxing and focusing on anything but our state’s business climate and fiscal well-being, we have in Chris Christie a leader who “gets it.” He understands that permanent jobs aren’t created by passing a lot of laws or spending other people’s money, they’re created when job creators believe that New Jersey is a safe investment.
For anyone to say that 75,000 private sector jobs created, $120 billion saved taxpayers by pension and benefits reform and the first meaningful limits on property taxes isn’t a record worth cheering is absurd. I encourage the governor’s critics to stop with the nasty, partisan posturing, leave the campaigning for the fall, and work with the governor to continue the progress.
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos,
Armed Guards in Schools? It’s Not So Simple
To the Editor:
How far will this nonsense about armed guards in the schools go? What about when the children are on the playground? Do we build 15-foot-high brick walls to prevent them from drive-by shootings? And what about the guy in the high-rise across the street with the long- range rapid-fire rifle who can shoot over the fence? And what about the windows? Even if we make them bulletproof, there are plenty of high-power weapons that can penetrate them. And what do we do about the nutcase on the “grassy knoll” who picks the children off as they exit the school bus, even after the walls are built and the windows redone? There simply is no way to protect all school children, all the time, as long as there are assault weapons available and lunatics with access to them.
And what about the cost? The Department of Education data of 2010 estimated that there were 130,000 K-12 schools in the U.S. If we pay the guard at the door $50,000, that amounts to almost $7 billion annually! Will the NRA pick up the tab? And what about the cost of the walls and the windows? Oh, and what about all those wide-open college campuses, where most shootings actually occur?
We need to outlaw the sale of high-power weapons nationwide. State-by-state laws like the ones being proposed are useless, since people can simply cross state lines to get what they want. If we simply reinstate the previous assault weapons ban, it would grandfather in all the current guns. What about a very high annual tax on all guns other than pistols, simple rifles or shotguns? They seem to be all one would need for self defense and/or hunting. If the owners don’t want to pay the tax, they could surrender the weapons to the government for a hefty bounty. Such a bounty of $500 to $1,000 per assault weapon would also bring in an awful lot of the illegal weapons as well. As we all know, there is no “honor among thieves” when $1,000 is involved.
Would such taxes and bans create a black-market underground in assault weapons? Absolutely. But a black market would also drive the prices sky high. The sick individuals who commit such acts are in need of serious medical/psychiatric intervention. And that is the other piece that must be addressed.
Kathleen McNellis, Ph.D.
Mental Health Care Needs Increase While Funding Decreases
To the Editor:
Recent events such as Hurricane Sandy and the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School have brought the subject of mental healthcare into the forefront. Unfortunately, the focus on mental healthcare and mental wellness usually only occurs after highly visible tragic events.
The fact is that while behavioral health treatment needs (mental health and addictions) have steadily grown, services and programs to serve this population have not. As CEO of CPC Behavioral Healthcare I can tell you that we have seen a steady increase in the number of people who have come to us for assistance with our last fiscal year totaling 8,339 people. This represented about a 7 percent increase over the previous year and the last few years have all seen increases from 4-7 percent. The increases are not limited to CPC as other area providers report similar increases. In fact the demand for services results in waiting lists for people to be seen.
With all the sources that fund organizations like CPC (both government and private) feeling the financial strain of the times, sometimes it seems like the importance of funding these organizations is being shuffled to the back of the pack. But the fact is that organizations like CPC are here all the time for the community and not just in times of natural or man-made disasters.
I know that many agencies and organizations along with CPC would like to do more if they had the means. Early intervention and detection of mental illness is extremely important and could potentially head off problems down the line for some people but not enough is being done in this area because of the cost.
Overcoming the stigma of seeking help for any emotional, mental, or addiction episode is difficult enough and much has been done to overcome that barrier, but we must ensure that access to those who seek it is not hindered. In the long run it’s in everyone’s best interest to invest in a solid, available system of care for behavioral and emotional healthcare.
President and CEO
CPC Behavioral Healthcare
2012 Challenging Year for Ocean, 2013 Time of “Need and Rebirth”
To the Editor:
2012, the year of the Water Dragon, has come to a close. What a challenging year it was defending the ocean.
Clean Ocean Action extends our sincerest thanks to all of you for your dedication. The wake of Super Storm Sandy leaves behind shattered communities and devastated debris-filled shorelines, but the strength, spirit, and tenacity of the people are of the coast are resilient.
Already communities are coming back, wiser and with more respect for the power of Mother Nature. Together we can come back even better than before. The inspiring support from around the state, nation and world has been inspiring; tales of volunteerism and generosity are truly remarkable.
Clean Ocean Action has also received an outpouring of support from many of you. Founders have also stepped up support to our plan to help restore the shore, and we are grateful for their support during this time of need and rebirth.
The work to restore safer and better will be extraordinary and your continued support is essential.
You all are the ocean’s first line of defense and are essential in protecting the water, marine life, and quality of life of New Jersey and New York. We wish you and your families a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to working with you in 2013!
Ever onward for a joyous 2013,
Clean Ocean Action
Two River Moment
New Jersey residents were served during the late 19th and early 20th century by many trolley companies, including Public Service, the Monmouth County Electric Railway and Jersey Central Traction Co., that provided transportation from town to town. Highlands had a trolley line, pictured here during the summer, about 1900.