Marijuana legislation not the cure-all New Jersey needs, Sen. Chris Brown says

Do you believe a girl can transform into an ape right before your eyes?  As a boy going to the Atlantic City boardwalk in the 70s, I watched unsuspecting families part with their money after listening to carneys guaranteeing them a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The best one was on the old Million Dollar Pier where carneys promised, if you just hand over your money, you will see a girl turn into a real live ape. But as I learned at an early age, thanks to smoke, mirrors, and a second-hand gorilla suit, the carneys were selling an empty bag of goods.

Today, the carney-like promises we should just hand over our vote and legalize marijuana because it’s harmless, there’ll be an endless flow of cash to solve all of our problems, parents won’t have to worry because large marijuana companies won’t market to kids as they put drug dealers out of business, sounds great from outside the tent.  The question is, are these promises real or simply smoke and mirrors designed to get you into the tent?

So, before we enter the tent on a leap of faith to see if a girl can truly turn into an ape or if legalizing marijuana can live up to its promises, we should learn what’s happening in States where recreational marijuana is already legal.

When we peek under the tent, we quickly see experts found out the hard way marijuana is not as harmless as promised. In Colorado they’re experiencing a dramatic rise in marijuana related emergency room visits due to both inhalation and edible use while almost half of the children born at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center had THC in their bloodstreams at birth. Moreover, marijuana-related traffic deaths rose 62% while law enforcement found increasingly potent levels of marijuana in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes.  In Washington, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported fatal crashes involving marijuana doubled after legalization.

Researchers at Harvard and Northwestern found recreational marijuana smokers exhibited abnormalities in the shape, volume, and density of certain areas of the brain.  Other research shows chronic users are 60% less likely to complete high school, exhibit more negative moods, are at higher risk of heroin and alcohol addiction, and are seven times more likely to commit suicide.  It’s scary to learn the most thorough study to date confirmed smoking high-potency marijuana increases the risk of psychosis.

Citing this research every major medical association in New Jersey to include- the Medical Society, Nurses Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, the Mental Health Association, and American Heart Association – looked under the tent and concluded, “With the data on roadway dangers, negative effects on adolescent brain development and fetal development, risk of respiratory diseases and risk of other health conditions, we are compelled to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana due to overwhelming public health concerns.”

Once the NJ Association of Chiefs of Police peeked under the tent, they found the black market still thrives across the country because it’s cheaper to buy marijuana from a dealer who doesn’t charge that pesky sales tax, and since dispensaries have limited hours and locations, users buy from dealers who deliver anytime, anywhere.  While others who work as school bus drivers, security guards, and public safety workers often choose not to register at a legal dispensary in order to remain anonymous to keep their jobs.

With this discovery, the NJ Association of Chiefs of Police concluded legalization of marijuana is not the answer for New Jersey because it “will further burden our public health care system, increase organized criminal activity, and affect the welfare of our most vulnerable – our youth and adolescent population.”

As for the promise of an endless flow of cash, Massachusetts and California have the misfortune of missing their revenue projections after legalization by over a half a billion dollars. According to studies, taxes on recreational marijuana are neither a reliable nor a stable source of revenue.

With these overwhelming questions regarding our families’ health and safety combined with poor tax revenue raised in other states and the informed conclusions by medical and law enforcement experts in New Jersey, it’s lucky for us the vote for recreational marijuana was cancelled last month.  Without an open and honest conversation considering all of the facts, entering the tent based on a carney’s promise may be tempting, but it’s important to remember it may just be someone in a second-hand gorilla suit.

NJ Sen. Chris Brown



Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson

Open Letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Dear Jeff:

Amazon HQ2 may not have been embraced by New York City, but you’ll find that is far from the case just two hours south in Atlantic County, New Jersey.

Atlantic County is ideally located within a short distance of the major metropolitan east coast hubs of Philadelphia, New York and Washington, DC, with easy access by air, car and rail. The Atlantic City International Airport, designated the airport of the future, is equipped with one of the country’s longest runways and is currently underutilized. It is located next to the nation’s premier air transportation laboratories at the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center as well as the new National Aviation Research and Technology Park. These assets comprise a developing aviation innovation hub with a focus on air cargo and maintenance and repair operations. We are also home to one of six national test sites for unmanned aircraft systems that complement your Prime Air drone delivery service project.

Atlantic County is the center point of an emerging aviation industry in New Jersey. We have developed strategic partnerships with major aviation companies and institutions including Boeing, Lockheed, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Joint Base McGuire-Ft. Dix-Lakehurst, the National Institute of Aviation, General Dynamics and Thunderbolt Software. A new STEM initiative, in cooperation with Embry-Riddle, will help improve the skills of our local workforce and make it more attractive to potential employers.

Atlantic County also has access to more than 3 million workers within 50 miles to help support your labor needs.

We are a leader in the use of clean, renewable energy sources. The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm, the first coastal wind farm in the U.S., is located here and operated by the Atlantic County Utilities Authority. And Orsted, one of the world’s largest offshore wind companies, recently opened its first New Jersey office in Atlantic City with plans to develop the state’s first offshore wind farm.

Additionally, we offer an outstanding quality of life. We are the entertainment capital of New Jersey with nine casinos featuring world class dining, shopping, live concerts and performances. Combined with our 14 miles of pristine beaches, we attract millions of visitors and second homeowners each year. Our affordable housing and cost of living, low labor costs and available areas for redevelopment help make us an ideal candidate for your project.

Atlantic County is fiscally strong and solvent. Our Aa2 and AA credit ratings rank among the top 18% of counties in the country. And our net debt is less than 0.457% of our total debt capacity. We have received 19 perfect audits in as many years.

I encourage you to take another look at Atlantic County. I believe you’ll like what you see and will agree that we have much to offer you and Amazon HQ2.

Sincerely,

Dennis Levinson

Atlantic County Executive

 


 

Pixabay.com

Yes, Virginia…

This editorial was originally published Sept. 21, 1897 in the New York Sun after 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to editor Francis Pharcellus Church asking if there is a Santa Claus. It has become the most published editorial of all time. It is republished here courtesy of newseum.org.

Archive Newseum.org/Virginia O’Hanlon

DEAR EDITOR:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

 

 

 

Archive newseum.org/Francis Pharcellus Church

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


Your View

Atlantic County Freeholder District 2 candidate Maureen Leidy of Ventnor.

On Sept. 11, I attended the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting that was held in Ventnor to advocate for better flood management planning by the county, and addressed the board regarding the chronic flooding problem along Wellington/West End Avenue. I reminded the freeholders that Wellington/West End Avenue was recently re-paved, but the flooding continues and that spending millions for repaving every few years is not addressing the problem of flood mitigation.

Ventnor Commissioner and Director of Planning and Development for CRDA Lance Landgraf, was also in attendance and concurred with me that this flooding is a major concern for the Downbeach communities.

While the freeholders acknowledged my concern, they also clearly expressed that it is not a priority issue for the board. There is so much economic development taking place in Ventnor and Atlantic City, if people cannot get here, especially with the closure of the Amtrak line into Atlantic City, it is defeating the purpose.

The Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged at its Sept. 12 meeting regarding back-bay flooding that no actual mitigation will begin for at least 10 years.

The citizens living in the backbay region of this county cannot afford to wait 10 years. It is time that the freeholder board makes this a priority and looks into alternative solutions, such as concrete seawalls, a living shoreline or raising the road, possibly with new paving materials designed for flood-prone areas.

As a candidate for freeholder in District 2, which comprises the Downbeach and back bay communities, I can assure you this issue will be a priority and I will ask that a flood mitigation committee be formed to seriously and actively find solutions to this problem.

Maureen Leidy

Freeholder Candidate, Atlantic County District 2


Statewide bill in New Jersey to reduce plastic bags misses the mark

By JOHN WEBER

After years of having a number of bills in the New Jersey Legislature attempting to reduce single-use plastic bag pollution, one has finally moved but it is not the exact bill that Surfrider initially advocated for.

A bill putting a 5-cent fee on both paper and plastic bags statewide passed both houses of our legislature in late June. One cent of the fee goes to the merchant, and 4 cents goes into a state fund designed to remove lead paint from older housing.

Though it is encouraging that the NJ legislature has gotten serious about plastic pollution and is considering what could be the nation’s second statewide policy on plastic bags, good policy is what makes the difference in our fight against plastic.

Surfrider prefers a ban/fee hybrid model of statewide plastic bag policies. The hybrid model means a ban on the thin checkout-style plastic bags and a fee on paper and other bags. Also, like the successful California bag law, a fee of 10 cents would incentivize the use of reusable bags.

A concerning part of the New Jersey bill is state preemption of local bag laws. Under the state law, any action that a municipality has taken to reduce plastic bag pollution would be nullified and replaced by the state law. Therefore, any city that might have a stronger bill to protect their area from plastic pollution would be forced to comply with this law.

This is a critical moment in time for states to pass good policies on plastic bags on the East Coast. New YorkMassachusetts and New Jersey are all considering plastic bag ordinances which is a positive sign that grassroots activism has taken root at the state level. However, all three of these state bills have serious flaws that may lead to unintended consequences.

With the passage of the statewide policy in California in 2014 (and confirmed by voter referendum in 2016), we now have an example showing that a ban on plastic bags and a fee on paper and reusable bags is the best policy to truly reduce single use plastic bag pollution.

Though Surfrider would like to believe that the New Jersey legislature is concerned about plastic pollution and protecting our ocean, it is more likely they passed the bill due to the fees that generate income. New Jersey has a new governor with ambitious goals and a wish list of programs. In all likelihood, the legislature found this bill as a way to pay for some of the ambitious programs rather than taking a hard look at what plastic bag policy would disincentivize the use of plastic bags and make New Jersey a leader in the fight against plastic bags.

The governor has yet to sign the bill and the deadline for him to take action is Sept. 4. The Surfrider Foundation and other environmental groups are unified in our desire to have five changes made to this bill. If that happens by having the governor veto the bill and having the legislature pass a new bill with these items, or if the governor issues a conditional veto that the legislature then concurs with, either way we get a much stronger bill.

The (Surfrider) Chapters of NJ are actively encouraging the public to contact the governor and ask for these changes. Still no word from the governor’s office if he will sign, veto, or conditionally veto the bill.

John Weber

John Weber is a member of the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter and lives in Bradley Beach.

 

 

My View


By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY

In 1978, I was a green chip, a pioneer, a South Philly transplant sucked into the intoxicating world of casino gaming and the glitzy nightlife of America’s Favorite Playground.

Following years of a sluggish economy and increased competition, the Atlantic City Alliance will spend $20 million this year to project a young and vibrant image of the ever-evolving casino city. With the official opening of the new $2.4 billion Revel this Memorial Day and a “Do AC!” tagline, city officials and casino executives are hoping to generate the kind of excitement casino gaming created in the city more than 30 years ago.

Their efforts won’t compare with the summer of 1978, when Resorts International Hotel Casino was the only game in town. It was quite a spectacular year, not only for the soon-to-be mega-millionaires who took a chance on getting gaming legalized and opened the first American casino outside of Las Vegas, but also for the dealers, bartenders, waiters and waitresses, who greased the wheels of the money machine.

As thousands of people lined up on the Boardwalk in evening wear and sport coats, hoping for a chance to win it big at the tables or slots, the cocktail servers at the Superstar Theater were working hard for their tips.

Entertainers Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme may have had the privilege of throwing the first dice to ever roll legally in an Atlantic City casino, but they didn’t draw people to the theater, where older servers who had paid their dues during the meager Haddon Hall days paced the floor, staring at empty seats.

“Don’t worry,” maitre d’ Jack Bradley assured us. “The fascination in the casino will eventually fade, and this will be a good job.”

For some unknown reason, whoever made the opening night schedule decided that “LoBianco” should serve the head table. I had never served a banquet in my life, and, of course, there was no training program. Management was too busy figuring out how it was going to count all that money. In fact, it took several years before it even knew there were other facilities in the grand dame of Atlantic City that needed supervision. Former Gov. Brendan Byrne is still waiting for his dessert.

A week later, we were reveling in the dough. So were the owners. We called it the wild, wild West, where the money flowed as if a trainload of megamillionaires pulled into the Atlantic City station knowing the world would soon end and the only place worth living their final days in was the city by the sea.

The whales eventually found their way to the showroom with an attitude that shouted, “Entertain me!” As customers sipped complimentary bottles of Cristal, the superstars delivered. Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Johnny Carson, Jackie Gleason and Don Rickles all signed multi-engagement contracts and drew the best tippers.

I would end my Friday-night shift with $500 in my pocket and energy to spare. Exiting through the casino, I’d drop a $25 green chip on black or red before heading for the Boardwalk, where two blocks away the music of Evelyn “Champagne” King beckoned. The Chez disco rivaled New York’s Studio 54. It’s where I danced the night away with coworkers, casino executives and celebrities. When Donna Summer’s voice blared that it was my last chance for romance, I’d put on my sunglasses and stumble to the bank, where I deposited what was left of my tips.

This scenario repeated itself for months before things slowed down in September. I had earned enough over the summer for a big down payment on a brand new Fiat Spider 2000, a British racing green and tan ragtop that did 0-60 in 10 seconds flat. Although my tan started to fade, the cooler weather allowed me to recuperate somewhat, but the fun didn’t end.

The B-list performers entertained through autumn. That was the year Tina Turner made her big comeback after dumping Ike. She rolled on the river with her backup girls twice a night for 10 days, bringing down the house. Steve Martin was just starting to be a “wild and crazy guy” when he headlined on New Year’s Eve. Hearing “Auld Lang Syne,” I approached the service bar, ordered a tray of complimentary cocktails for the casino’s highest high rollers and a glass of Dom Perignon for myself.

Memories of those days will be etched in my mind forever. They were the days I made the most money I ever would, fell in and out of love several times, and met the man I would eventually marry.

La dolce vita lasted for seven years, until the shine of the casino industry started to tarnish. I traded in the sports car for a sedan and settled down to a quiet life far from the madness and glitz. After more than 2,500 shifts and 5,000 performances, I became quite jaded about entertainers and the price of a ticket.

Now, as I see the new television commercials and hear the radio spots beckoning the 20- and 30-somethings to Do AC!, I recall the late-night partying of my heydays in show business. Thoughts of those years bring a smile and I see myself dancing to the music in my mind.

This piece first appeared as a guest column in the Press of Atlantic City April 29, 2012.

Your View


By Glen Klotz

The battle with the State of New Jersey about Margate’s beach is over. Today, Margate finds itself with a new beach design decidedly not of our choosing.  Sadly, there’s not much the citizens of Margate can do about it. That being the case, we need to find a silver lining in this onerous situation.

It’s been said, If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Here’s my suggestion on how Margate can make the best of this unwanted beach situation, and do it with style.

Margate once had a boardwalk

As seen in the picture above, a boardwalk in Margate isn’t a new idea. It’s been 56 years since Margate had a still standing portion of its once citywide boardwalk. The infamous Ash Wednesday Nor’easter Storm of 1962 took care of that last remaining section of boardwalk that extended south from the Margate Pier. Since then, Margate has been without a boardwalk or any walkway along the beach.

Back when the Margate boardwalk existed in the early 20th century Margate’s beaches were admittedly too narrow to accommodate it and subsequently with no protection it was eventually swept away by large storms.

A lot has changed since then. For one thing, with periodic replenishment of Absecon Island’s beaches over the past 100 years, our beaches have widened dramatically, especially in Margate today. Hopefully, they’ll stay that way for a long time to come. We learned from our mistakes. We now build much better boardwalks and we know how to protect them.

A new era of boardwalk reconstruction on Absecon Island

Today, a boardwalk still extends from Absecon Inlet to Margate. There’s even a reconstructed section along Absecon Inlet just completed by the Army Corp of Engineers. Considering we’re in a new era of boardwalk reconstruction, I propose that Margate reconstruct its citywide boardwalk extending from Ventnor at Fredericksburg Avenue all the way to Longport.

This new boardwalk would be built in the dead, empty beach zone directly behind the newly built dune/berm. We should build it high enough to be above the dune/berm line so our boardwalk would give us the view and the sea breeze as it exists in much of Ventnor’s boardwalk today and parts of Atlantic City as well.

The current situation on Margate’s beaches is more than just annoying. It’s unreasonable and it’s harmful for many. Too much of the beach is now, unusable. The remaining areas near the ocean are hard to access for many. The solution for this is a new boardwalk built as a replacement for the one Margate once had.

Advantages of a new Margate boardwalk

Advantage #1: Margate would regain much of the lost sea view and breezes, now cut off by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers/NJDEP beach project.

Advantage #2: Better access to the ocean. A system of ramps from the street ends, like in Ventnor and Atlantic City. These ramps would make beach access easier for everyone, especially families with kids, seniors, and those with limited or no ability to walk.

Advantage #3: How about the simple pleasure of walking along and above the useless dead zone? A sit down on boardwalk benches? Bike riding, pushing baby strollers, roller-skating?

A new boardwalk would dramatically convert a now useless part of the beach – more than 50 percent of it in many areas – into a wonderfully useful public space.

Popularity of the boardwalk in Ventnor and Atlantic City

Today, if I want to see the ocean and horizon, I go to Ventnor’s boardwalk. Walking down to a street-end bulkhead in Margate is no longer an option. There’s nothing to see from the beach blocks in Margate, except for a mountain of sand. We need our Margate boardwalk back. This would remedy our degraded views and access to the ocean, beach and horizon. All of which are primary attractions for residents and guests.

We need to change with the times and move forward

Margate didn’t ask for the beach project and the changes we’ve endured over the past 18 months. However, we know they’re pretty much here to stay, barring a super-severe storm or accelerated erosion. So, instead of complaining, maybe it’s best to move forward and take advantage of the situation.

Present reactions to this story online are a clear indication that I’ve hit a nerve. At Margate’s next Board of Commissioners meeting 4 p.m. Thursday, April 5, this article will be presented, and early reports are that a group of locals are planning to attend to support the idea.

A new Margate Boardwalk would enhance our beachscape. It would create a valuable new asset for Margate’s residents and property owners. It would be a wonderful new attraction for our visitors. It’s an idea whose time has come…again.