Letters and Commentary

May 24, 2013
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Christie Veto of EMS Redesign Bill Applauded

To the Editor:

What better way to mark national Emergency Medical Services Week (May 19-25) than to thank Gov. Christie for his veto of S1650/A2463, the so-called EMS Redesign Bill.

Twice in 16 months, Christie rejected an ill-conceived attempt to push out New Jersey’s EMS volunteers and replace them with a system of paid providers that would have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Nowhere did the bills outline how they would improve patient care.

These past few years have been difficult for New Jersey’s volunteer EMS community. A 2007 report falsely predicted imminent collapse of New Jersey’s EMS system, which triggered hysterical calls for immediate statewide EMS reform. We EMS volunteers have endured numerous financial and legislative hurdles, scare tactics meant to panic the public, blatantly false propaganda intended to besmirch the character of EMS volunteers, and decreasing volunteer rolls worsened by the tough economy. There was no system collapse, and despite all the anti-volunteer schemes, we’re still here.

The New Jersey State First Aid Council (NJSFAC) has always supported changes to the EMS system that lead to better patient care. In both vetoed bills, we objected to those portions that would have increased costs, bureaucracy and red tape, and ultimately pushed out the volunteers without improving patient care.

The 83-year-old nonprofit NJSFAC represents more than 20,000 EMS volunteers affiliated with 300-plus volunteer first aid and rescue squads throughout the state. In 2012, our members spent more than 5 million hours providing their towns with EMS service and answering more than 355,000 calls, saving New Jerseyans – and their insurance companies – more than $227 million.

We’d hoped the efforts our volunteers put forth before, during and after Super Storm Sandy would remind the bill’s backers how fortunate New Jersey is to have such a large, well-established, dedicated volunteer EMS community, and help soften their stance on this detrimental legislation, but to no avail.  One question to the naysayers:  When did “volunteer” become a bad word?

Howard Meyer
President, NJSFAC
71 Division Avenue
Summit, NJ  07901
908-790-8646 (office)


Tobacco Age-Hike Will Hurt Small Businesses

To the Editor:

I’ve always believed Dick Codey to be a respected statesman and a gifted legislator. I still believe that. (On May 20) the senator introduced a bill whose ultimate aim is good: Reducing the number of young people who smoke.

Senator Codey’s goal is one that all parents, teachers and common-sense individuals should embrace.

Despite my enthusiasm for the bill’s ultimate objective, however, I find that I simply cannot embrace yet another radical proposal infringing upon the rights and freedoms of adults in New Jersey, especially one which denies adults the ability to purchase legal products, while placing additional burdens on small businesses.

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

The current laws have already turned service-station owners and convenience-store clerks into police officers, checking the ID of anyone they suspect to be under 19.

In an age where young people can easily obtain fake driver’s licenses and other false identification, my members have already morphed from store clerks and gas attendants into untrained detectives and law enforcement officers, trying to stop illegal purchases.

Do we really want to further burden them by extending this gambit to people who can currently purchase tobacco products legally?

I cannot remain silent because this legislation would make it incumbent upon the owners and employees of New Jersey’s convenience stores to vigilantly police their customers to ensure that the law is being upheld. Our members have consistently partnered with legislators and local law enforcement to comply with rules and regulations aimed at taking dangerous mind-altering bath salts and synthetic marijuana off the streets, but this proposal burdens small business owners who make a living selling coffee, drinks, snacks, and newspapers that tend to accompany tobacco purchases.

My members offer legal products and services to the public. But for every necessary law, my organization has had to combat countless others that would impose an unnecessary burden on their establishments.

Just in the last few years we’ve had to fight legislation that would make them enforce vehicle idling laws outside their stores, turn their shops into plastic and glass bottle recycling centers, and impose a fee on their patrons for the use of plastic bags. And now, this measure would go a step further to impose penalties on the small businesses that sell legal products to legal adults over 19 years of age.

Senator Codey’s bill proposes only penalties for the seller of the tobacco product, not the purchaser. It takes two to tango. Why doesn’t Senator Codey propose penalties for those who violate the law and purchase cigarettes? Answer: Because the outcry from citizens of legal age to purchase legal products would be deafening.

If an individual attempts to manipulate a convenience store employee to unlawfully dispense a tobacco product, that individual should be held accountable for their actions. Looking at this issue from a broader standpoint, however, I find it distressing that a respected New Jersey legislator, who has always exerted leadership, is now following-the-leader and is embracing another nanny-state measure from across the Hudson. New Jerseyans have no desire to live in the “Nanny State” that New York is becoming – where people are told what to eat and drink and how to eat it and drink it. That kind of social engineering may pass as good government in New York, but not in New Jersey!

The Spirit of Shrewsbury

Besides which, can the Legislature truly embrace this idea with a straight face?  If our young men and women are old enough to vote, get married, serve their nation in the armed forces, and be legally adult members of society at 18, then there is no reason to delay their decision to purchase or not purchase tobacco products until 21 years of age.

The 26th Amendment demands nothing less, and neither should the citizens of New Jersey.

Many of us deplore the use of tobacco products. I am one of them. Yet it is the right of every adult consumer to decide which products to indulge in, and which to abstain from.

Only through education and awareness can the use of tobacco be combated. Failing that, it won’t matter if the legal age to purchase tobacco products is 21, 25, or 30 – grown men and women have a right to make choices without Trenton’s interference. Does anyone really believe that raising the legal age that allows a person to buy cigarettes will stop them from smoking?

Senator Codey’s intent is admirable; I stand with him to vocally assert that young people should learn about the very real dangers smoking imposes on one’s health. Yet I also recognize the people he’s trying to protect are lawful adults, who have a right to make any number of decisions for themselves, including the foolish choice to smoke. In the process it must be acknowledged that my members are not police officers, and should not be burdened with guarding our youth from making foolish choices.

Sal Risalvato,
Executive Director
New Jersey Gasoline, Convenience, Automotive Association


TRT™ Photographer Praised for ‘Extraordinary Talent’

To the Editor:

I have been a subscriber to your wonderful newspaper since its inception in 1993.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the extraordinary talent of your chief photographer Scott Longfield. Throughout these years, Scott has beautifully captured our picturesque Two River area.

What especially comes to mind are Scott’s remarkable photos of the fireworks, dolphins, birds, seals, flowers, and especially the mother goose and her goslings in the (May 17) issue.

It amazes me how Scott can portray these special moments in time so brilliantly.

Diane Kilzen
Fair Haven


Two River Moment


A juggler, dressed as a Keystone Cop, performs for children at the Sea Bright Fireman’s Fair in 1948. The location is on Ocean Avenue, near what is now the site of Dunkin’ Donuts.

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