Letters to the Editor

August 2, 2013
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Buono’s Pick for Lieutenant Governor Running Mate

By Patrick Murray

What’s a guy got to do to get a major party lieutenant governor nomination in this state?

Barbara Buono’s pick of labor leader Milly Silva as her running mate means that women have been tapped for this post 80 percent of the time. Of course, there have only been five LG nominees in the state’s history, so …

The Silva pick, though, sends a message that is different from the other female LG nominations. Mainly, Buono is not trying to “balance” anything.

Gov. Chris Christie’s selection of Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno in 2009 was made in part to appeal to women voters, a segment Republicans tend to lose. It was widely expected that former Gov. Jon Corzine would pick a woman as a matter of progressive principles. Ironically, his initial inclination was to select Buono until a corruption sting netted dozens of public officials, leading him to choose Loretta Weinberg, who was seen as a squeaky clean veteran legislator.

Buono, on the other hand, picked someone who is just like her. Not just in gender, but in ideology and policy priorities – liberal on social issues, strong labor supporter, wary of education reform policies, etc.

The one thing Silva doesn’t have is political experience. And therein lies a key reason for the pick.

Some observers say this pick will help excite the Democratic base and perhaps bring greater labor support – in terms of both money and voter turnout assistance. This is true to some extent.

On the other hand, Silva’s lack of experience in elected or appointed office have led some – and not just Republicans – to call her “unqualified” for the position – whose main job requirement is to step in if anything happens to the governor. And that’s the point Buono is trying to make. There aren’t enough women who have been allowed to rise in the halls of power.

Buono already knew this, but this governor’s race reinforced her feelings about the party. It’s almost impossible for a woman to get ahead in the New Jersey Democratic Party unless it serves some ulterior motive of the party bosses.

Those who point to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver as evidence to the contrary should pay close attention to her run for U.S. Senate. There have been rumblings for months that her speakership is not secure after this election. Moreover, when she attacks Cory Booker’s “coronation” on the campaign trail, she is also attacking the party bosses – specifically her heretofore patron Joe DiVincenzo – who are willing to toss her aside when the mood strikes.

Compare Oliver’s relationship with Joe D to Senate President Steve Sweeney’s relationship with George Norcross. The men taken under powerbroker’s wings are close friends and confidants. The women seem to be expendable.

The Milly Silva selection is Barbara Buono’s way of playing “powerbroker.” She’s instantly elevated a young, charismatic labor leader to become a statewide political player. Buono hopes this selection will turn Silva into a force that the state party has no choice but to reckon with; that Silva will be able to build a solid base where other women have not been able to do.

There is one thing about Buono’s choice that is not unusual, though. Women tend to get nominated to higher office as sacrificial lambs – when everyone else has written off any chance of success. This seems to be another of those instances.

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Given the likely outcome of this election, it’s hard to escape comparisons to Thelma and Louise. By all accounts, Buono and Silva seem to be heading off a 30-point cliff.

In this case, though, Buono hopes that Silva will survive the crash and be able to demand the political support that she feels she’s been denied in her career.


Patrick Murray is the founding director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.



Another Argument for Preserving Preservation Funding 

By Lillian G. Burry

Drive north from New York into the Catskills and you find yourself in the sources of the Delaware River, where thousands of acres of open land protect the water supply of New York City. People in much of New Jersey have no such protected reserves.

For decades, we have paved and built and settled in our watershed and on top of our groundwater. Protection has been piecemeal, and the future ability of the state  – not only to grow but also to provide for the needs of our existing population and businesses  – is being challenged. We cannot afford to see our already scarce open lands paved over and lost. We must expand our efforts now. That means all of us, whether we have never seen a farm or walked through a forest – because we are all dependent on the same water resources.

We do have programs to do this. We have Green Acres that can purchase land and keep it open. We also have our Farmland Preservation program that provides the added benefits of preserving a historic and still vital billion-dollar industry, while protecting our water supply. Both of these programs preserve land piece by piece, in a race with developers to buy up the remaining open lands. And both of these programs are running out of money.

It is time for all of us to speak out to our legislators and let them know we need a permanent source of funding for farmland and open space protection, and when it is put on the ballot it is up to us all to vote a resounding “Yes” for one resource none of us can live without.


Lillian G. Burry is a member of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.



Support Builds for Palisades

By Michele S. Byers

Few places in America look just the same now as they did when European explorers first laid eyes on these shores hundreds of years ago.

The Palisades, a majestic 200-million-year-old stretch of rocky cliff above the Hudson River, is one of those rare places. The view of the Palisades awed Henry Hudson when he first sailed past Manhattan in 1609, and has inspired people ever since.

It’s no surprise, then, that momentum is building in an effort to protect the Palisades from an office tower that would burst through the tree line and spoil the unbroken panorama north of the George Washington Bridge.

LG Electronics USA, the South Korean electronics giant, proposes to build a 143-foot office building in Englewood Cliffs, where its American headquarters has been located for many years. The building would be four times higher than the local height ordinance allows.

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If built as planned, the building would give LG employees and corporate visitors a dazzling view of the New York City skyline … while spoiling the Palisades vista for everyone else.

Public outcry against the LG building design has grown in the past few months, as four former New Jersey governors and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added their voices to those speaking out against it.

The EPA, which earlier backed the project because it would use “green” technology, withdrew its support because of building height.  “This view is so important that the adverse impacts of construction of high-rise buildings cannot be condoned,” wrote EPA regional administrator Judith Enck.

In June, governors Brendan Byrne, Thomas Kean, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman wrote a letter to LG’s vice chairman and CEO, asking him to reconsider the design and spare the view. “The Palisades have remained a landscape of unbroken, natural beauty in a heavily developed metropolitan area, appreciated by generations of residents and visitors,” they wrote.

The proposed LG building, the governors added, would rise far above the tree line, interrupting an historic vista and setting a precedent for taller buildings on the cliffs. The Palisades were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1983.

Three influential papers – the New York Times, the Star-Ledger and the Bergen Record – wrote strong editorials urging a low-rise redesign. “Don’t spoil the Palisades,” implored the Times in its headline.

This isn’t the first time the Palisades have been threatened. More than a century ago, threats came from quarrying and advertising on the cliff face. In response, John D. Rockefeller Sr. and other iconic American families purchased and donated land to the newly formed Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Hopefully, LG Electronics will listen to these growing voices. The Palisades are a natural treasure, part of America’s history, and must remain unspoiled.

LG has a reputation as a good neighbor. In a 2012 sustainability report on LG’s website, the corporation’s executive vice president said it “strives to be an economically and socially responsible corporate citizen.”  LG should show respect for this American landmark by redesigning its project as a low-rise that stays below the tree line.

To learn more about the efforts to save the Palisades, visit the Scenic Hudson website at www.scenichudson.org/news/article/scenic- hudson-pressures-lg-preserve-iconic-palisades-views/2013-01-30and the Protect the Palisades Coalition website at www.protectthepalisades.org.

And for more information about preserving land and natural resources in New Jersey, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.


Michele S. Byers is the executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.



Two River Moment



The Allen House at 400 Shrewsbury Ave., Shrewsbury, was built about 1710. This undated photo shows the house, which served as a tavern at one time, in ramshackle condition. The house was given to the Monmouth County Historical Association as a gift in 1968. Following restoration, it was opened to the public in the early 1970s.

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