New Jersey

More critical than ever to restore COLAs to NJ public pensions

I am a retired teacher who still resides in New Jersey. It has been 12 years since any increase in the cost of living has been granted to the retirement benefit of a state pensioner. The freeze was instituted by the government of the day. Chris Christie to help the state economically.

The pension fund has not been properly maintained – or has been stolen – yet we civil servants have been sacrificed because of this incompetence. Unlike the state government, workers have always contributed in full.

Currently, several bills in the Legislature seek to end this freeze and restore the COLAs. Unfortunately, they rested in committees for over a year. Along with my brother and sister retired teachers, police officers and firefighters, I have written and called countless legislators to ask that the bills be debated and voted on. To date, I’ve only personally heard from State Sen. Vin Gopal’s office, D-Monmouth, with no encouraging news, but at least with a response.

Even the head of the committee where the legislation “sleeps” did not refer my application to its status. What a disgraceful way to treat a constituent who has given so many years of service to the children of the state.

With historic inflation in a state where living was already expensive, retired state workers are suffering. And, so far, in my experience, my reps don’t seem to care. I heard that some of them told retirees that if they couldn’t afford New Jersey, they should move to another state.

I’m switching to letters to the media hoping to see some compassion and movement from Trenton. COLAs are a lifeline for people on fixed incomes. Twelve years is a long time to drown.

Maryann Macdonald, Bradley Beach

The art of eliminating beach fees

The recent article “(Gov. Phil) Murphy Announces NJ’s ‘North To Shore’ Arts Festival in June in AC, Asbury Park and Newark” explained how the Governor hopes to “celebrate our diversity, our freedoms and our great economy, and our great talent…”


It would also be the perfect time for Murphy to announce an end to New Jersey’s repressive and economically discriminatory beach fees charged in nearly every beachfront town. Forcing visitors to Asbury Park and most public beaches in the New Jersey to buy and wear badges or wristbands does little to showcase our freedoms or diversity, and presents an image of a rogue state to the world, rather than a “great economy.”

I agree with the Governor that New Jersey is an economic powerhouse; so much so that I know the state government could cover the cost of lifeguards and beach maintenance by reimbursing the cities for them every year. This is a reform that could save money overall and possibly increase tax revenue through increased tourism.

The petition I started, “Make NJ Beaches Free” on, has over 700 signatures after just two weeks of winter and will gain momentum this summer unless the Governor takes this opportunity to do something wonderful that will not be forgotten.

Neil Vincent Scheck, Belmar

The most dangerous drug is not weed

Thomas Dellane’s recent op-ed calling for New Jersey police officers to be banned from using (off-duty) marijuana seems to reflect a surprising lack of knowledge about drugs.

The issue of drug use by the police is certainly important. Yet Dellane — the president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police — seems completely oblivious to the most dangerous drug of all: alcohol.

The number of deaths, violence, illnesses and lost jobs due to alcohol use disorders is a national crisis.

Dellane has every right to express concern about the officers’ use of marijuana. But it seems illogical to single out marijuana and ignore a drug to which more than 15 million Americans, including some police officers, are addicted.

Ed Marks, Millburn

Make George Santos and his ilk pass this test

Regarding the article “NJ One Step Closer To Home Improvement Contractor Licensing Requirement To Weed Out Bad Actors,” which outlines recent legislative progress:

This license currently being discussed by the Legislative Assembly seems like a good idea, if not swamped with bureaucracy before it even takes off.

But it also suggests a similar idea to me: what about licensing requirements for state legislators? In fact, how about doing it for Congress too?

Maybe we can avoid a George Santos fiasco, or the many other excuses we have for lawmakers. Qualification tests could include knowledge of the Constitution, explanation of prior conflicts with federal and state law, and references from previous employers,

Remember, while home repair contractors may deal thousands of dollars with their clients, members of Congress deal with millions.

Herb Skovronek, Morris Plains

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