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 York, Massachusetts 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 is a member of the Surfrider Foundation South Jersey Chapter and lives in Bradley Beach.
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.
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.