Letters and Commentary

February 1, 2013
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The Rewards of Public Service are Many

To the Editor:

The Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce (EMACC) is to be commended and congratulated for its outstanding efforts on many fronts in support of our business community, including its recent 21st Annual Spinnaker Awards event. A massive undertaking with hundreds of guests, the festive evening celebrated volunteerism, public service and commitment to our community.

These attributes are more important than ever as we collectively continue to confront the challenges placed upon us by Super Storm Sandy, doing whatever we can to help our neighbors, our businesses and the area at large.

The EMACC has been especially pro-active in aiding the area’s business community. I congratulate all this year’s winners – Albert A. Zager, Esq., (Volunteer of the Year); the Guild of Creative Art, (Arts & Culture Award); Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar of Red Bank, (Community Service Award): Arrow Limousine, (Corporate Good Neighbor); Lunch Break, (Non-profit Organization of the Year) and the City of Asbury Park, (Economic Development Award). All exemplify the values and rewards of community service.

When I learned I was to receive the Spinnaker Award for Public Service this year, my immediate reaction was, “What did I do to deserve this honor?” The genius of our democracy is its participatory nature, the duty of citizenship – which is what so many Americans feel and bring to public service. Whether it is fundraising for a soup kitchen, volunteering as a firefighter or serving on a local planning board, the shared commitment to providing for the public good is strongly ingrained in the American character. Everyone chooses their own path to public service and no one is necessarily nobler than another.

I have followed a lifelong course grounded in my love of history, learning and the natural world, working to preserve our heritage and protect our fragile environment. I recognized early that it was through government that these goals could be best accomplished. When the opportunity arose, I offered to serve. When the offer was accepted, I was privileged to take my efforts to new arenas – first at the municipal and now at the county level.

Every day I am reminded of the enormous responsibility and high expectations that come with public life. Great as these obligations are, the rewards are more than equal to them. Every time we preserve another farm or parkland that protects drinking water for literally hundreds of thousands of county residents, I am rewarded. As I work to help transform Fort Monmouth into a vibrant combination of public recreational resources, housing opportunities and a new economic anchor for the county, as well as a port for our homeless veterans and veterans in need of services, I feel very fortunate. And as I work to support our unexcelled county high schools and continue to build our county library system and college programs, I get a true sense of personal fulfillment.

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

Owning and operating a successful business in Monmouth County for over 30 years has helped me understand the importance of connecting with one’s community. The EMACC does a superior job in connecting businesses to businesses, businesses to residents and helping cement the foundation of a successful county economy, despite the challenges we share and face today. Our county slogan is, “Monmouth County is the place people want to be.” That is true in part because of all the EMACC does every day.

My wonderful family, my public life and all the people I am able to interact with as a result make me feel truly fortunate. To be honored with the prestigious Spinnaker Award along with six exceptional individuals is beyond any expectation.

I promise to continue doing what I have always done in an effort to live up to this wonderful recognition. Now, it will be with a new sense of pride, purpose and responsibility.

I urge all residents to find their own paths of public service to lift our neighbors and our community at large. It is true that your own life will be greatly enhanced in the process.

Lillian G. Burry
Monmouth County Freeholder


We Need to Learn to Live With Water

To the Editor:

As Super Storm Sandy vividly revealed, many coastal communities, including those along Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay, were not properly prepared to deal with an extreme weather event.

From severe winds and floodwaters that led to many people homeless to extensive power outages – in part from flooded sub-power stations or fragile power lines – to faulty sewage treatment plants that discharged millions of gallons of raw sewage into local waters to hazardous pollutants such as metals and pesticides that washed into wetlands, New Jersey’s coastal disaster policy needs a lot of work.

While many coastal communities will never be quite the same as they were, moving forward we have an opportunity to not just rebuild, but to make them safer, sustainable and more resilient to the increasing likelihood of more intense storms.

First and foremost, people need to learn to live with and better manage water, not just try to hold it back with taller bulkheads.

This means improving local protective natural resources that have been so degraded or ignored in the past. We need to restore wetlands, safeguard floodplains, increase the width of beaches, build up dunes higher and vegetate them well with native plants and increase oyster reef restoration projects, which help to decrease wave strength. This natural safeguard system is sustainable and can be integrated into current artificial buffer systems to protect our coastlines during hurricanes and nor’easters.

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

Additionally, local zoning ordinances should be strengthened to reduce impervious surfaces and improve infiltration to reduce flooding. Electrical power systems, sewage treatment pump stations and other infrastructure need to be improved to deal with sea-level rise and stronger winds.

State and local governments need to work together to identify properties most at risk from floodwaters and revert them back to a natural state.

It’s clear we need a new perspective on emergency management based on greater environmental protection.

Joseph Reynolds
Bayshore Watershed Council


The Bayshore Watershed Council is an all-volunteer environmental organization made up of citizens, scientists, and policy makers from a variety of coastal communities along Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay. Meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 p.m. on the 2nd Thursday of every month in Keyport Borough Hall. The group’s website is www.restoreourbay.org.


Minimum Wage Veto Shows ‘Lack of Concern’ for Low-Wage Workers

To the Editor:

The New Jersey State AFL-CIO believes raising the minimum wage and including a COLA is a crucial first step to helping low-income workers in this difficult economic climate combat growing income inequality and address rising poverty rates in our state.

It is unacceptable to allow any more New Jersey families to fall into poverty because of political divisions regarding the minimum wage. Therefore, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO will aggressively support the initiative to place a minimum wage question on the 2013 ballot and win voter approval for a cost of living adjustment that provides much needed stability to working families’ budgets. On an issue of such great importance to our state, it’s time to let the voters decide.

While the governor expressed concern for how the minimum wage impacts the budgets of businesses, his conditional veto of the cost of living adjustment showed his lack of his concern for low-income workers, who continue to see their budgets eroded year after year by rising costs. The COLA is a permanent fix for calculating our state’s minimum wage and ensures that worker salaries are not dependent on the volatility of our political environment.

A Quinnipiac University poll issued on Jan. 24, 2013, showed broad, bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage. Voters support the policy 82 percent to 16 percent. Those numbers include 67 percent support among Republicans.

Charles Wowkanech
President, New Jersey State AFL-CIO


Two River Moment

Letters-aerial rumson inn 2nd view 1953

In 1953 the Rumson Inn was the large structure located at the foot of the Oceanic Bridge on Bingham Avenue. The restaurant eventually was replaced, first by the Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant and now by Salt Creek Grille.

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