By Kristopher Seals OP/ED
For over a month now, several sectors of the government have been hampered by a shutdown due to an impasse between Democrats and President Donald Trump, as well as several Republicans.
The lack of funds has caused national parks and attractions to close, as well as leaving thousands of federal workers without work and thousands more forced to work despite not being paid. Many have called out sick, leading to slower services, as those who do come in have to do the work of maybe five other people. Also, the quality of the work goes down, as it is human nature to not give 100% effort when you are making 0% of your money. Last but not least, programs such as food stamps and even Section 8 may run out of funding. Fortunately, social security, Medicaid and Medicare are safe, as those programs receive mandatory funding.
By now, you likely know that the reason the shutdown has lasted so long is because President Trump insists that any new spending bill include at least $5.7 billion for physical barriers along the southern border, a.k.a. his campaign-promised “Border Wall.” However, not only have Democrats balked at the idea, but they have even stated that all talk of border security should be addressed after a funding bill is passed.
Forgetting whatever side of the wall you may be on, this is a classic case of an immovable object meeting another immovable object. I know there’s supposed to be an irresistible force in there, but nothing is moving.
So, therein lies the question, how do we end this shutdown, get people (and their bills) paid and/or back to work, and programs funded? Fortunately, I have some ideas, and both sides can actually win and save face.
Solution #1: Have a bunch of rich people pay for it.
ATTENTION BILLIONAIRES … DO YOU WANT TO HELP END THE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN? DO YOU WANT TO SHOW OFF YOUR PATRIOTISM TO THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH? DO YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF PAYING THE TAXES YOU’VE BEEN PAYING? THEN SEND A CHECK TO THE U.S. TREASURY AND PAY FOR THE SOUTHERN BORDER WALL!
Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Waltons of Wal-Mart, Larry Ellison, Sheldon Adelson…there are SO many who can contribute to this lovely cause. Sure, it would only take $5.7 billion to open the government, but why stop there? The wall has to be maintained, which will cost roughly $35 billion annually, but our President doesn’t have time for rational financial allocations!
How about the world’s richest man and founder of Amazon - which officials in Newark wanted SO badly - Jeff Bezos? (Well, maybe not, since wifey is about to make like Thanos and take half.) How about Mark Zuckerberg? If you can’t secure Facebook from potential terrorists, why not at least try to secure the border from potential terrorists?
Come on, guys. If James Dolan put the Knicks up for sale, the going rate right now is $5 billion. If Dolan said he’d sell the team for $6 billion, before he finished his sentence somebody would have signed a check.
You want to know who could REALLY use some good publicity right about now? Saudi Arabia! With that whole Jamal Khashoggi thing, they might be looking to buy some love right about now. I mean, since they run like 8% or more of our economy, they surely have $5.7 billion laying around.
Our rich coalition can even put their corporate logos on it. In fact, how about putting a tower on it, and let telecommunications king Carlos Slim pay for it? Imagine the business he’d rake in with cell service in a relative dead zone? Besides, if he fronts the money, then “Mexico” paid for it, am I right?
Don’t worry about the wall being effective. President Trump promised a wall, not an effective wall. If he gets the money, the shutdown ends, and these people still get out of paying taxes. Who cares about the rest, right? It’s the time honored tradition of throwing money at the problem - literally.
Now I know some people are saying, “If they get out of paying taxes, that money will be taken out of the tax pool!” But I ask, how much of their money was REALLY in the tax pool? There are rules on different taxation schedules for capital gains, losses on the balance sheet, etc. Hey, Trump himself said he marked off over $900 million as a loss at one time. Basically, YOU might be paying more than these people do when it comes to taxes!
Besides parting with the money to begin with, the main reason that rich people hate paying taxes is because they can’t direct where the money goes. They don’t like the thought of it going to welfare programs and stuff like that. In my scenario, they know EXACTLY where it’s going, and that is to a border wall, which echoes their wonderful gated communities that they like so much. The point is, building walls is a rich people’s thing, so why not let them do it?
Come to think of it, President Trump, you can join in too! You’re a billionaire, right? Hey, like with Trump Tower, you can put the name “TRUMP” on the wall in lights so bright, you can see it from space! (Well, maybe not. For a while, I always thought I was the only one who thought the reason that he didn’t want to show his tax returns was because they would show he wasn’t an actual billionaire. I put his net worth at around $800 million based upon depreciation and other things. Then I saw an episode of “Family Guy” and Seth MacFarlane has it at $700 million. He was the one who gave clues about Weinstein and Spacey long before anyone else did, so I’m inclined to agree with his estimate.)
The next thing is, who builds it? How about…illegal immigrants! That way, you put them to work and get a contribution to the nation since they’re not paying taxes. Plus, you know where they are and can monitor them, thus reducing crime. Now, you might be thinking, wouldn’t they do a shoddy job? To that I say, have you seen the US Army Corps of Engineers? They’re the ones behind the levees in New Orleans. Yeah, even at their worst, the illegals will likely do a better job.
With that, you might now be thinking, “Well, if they build it, they’ll let in more illegal immigrants!” To that I say, if the illegals building the wall have TRULY embraced the “American Spirit” of capitalism, then they’ll do everything in their power NOT to help others. If new illegals gain entry, it’ll be harder for the old ones to get food and housing, etc. So, as like other selfish Americans, they’ll make sure that they don’t have to share!
At present, illegals can’t complain about others illegally crossing because, if one gets robbed by another, they can’t exactly go to the cops. Otherwise, they’ll get deported too. Now that they’re working on the wall, they can selfishly keep things for themselves without others coming over and messing it up.
Lastly, if they don’t want to build it, maybe President Trump can get the Amish to do it. I mean, he did win the state of Pennsylvania in the last election, while Hillary Clinton was so busy campaigning in the “state” of Philadelphia.
Solution #2: Have a “WALL”
If the President can’t get a physical wall, then maybe he can get another “Wall.”
What’s one thing that Democrats and Republicans agree on? Blindly throwing money at the military. What’s another thing they agree on? Jobs. How about combining the two?
Allow me to introduce the “Western Auxiliary Longitudinal Legion” aka “The WALL.” You calculate the distance from one end of the border to the other, and you place a ton of personnel per square whatever, watching it and stopping anyone from gaining illegal entry. Where do we get the personnel from? Simple. Pull them away from whatever war we are fighting that we should not be fighting in the first place. This uses existing military funds, and does not add to the burden.
Also, you’ll need staff to handle administrative things, blue collar work, etc. Guess what? That means jobs for civilians as well, and jobs makes voters happy.
In this scenario, Democrats win, because they did not allocate $5.7 billion for a physical wall, while President Trump wins because he gets a “WALL” and successfully fulfilled his campaign promise.
Solution #3: Simple Math
Whatever the 2019 military budget the Senate agreed to - $5.7 billion = 99% of the budget still intact. (Seriously, why can’t they just do this instead? I find it odd that Democrats are holding the line on $5.7 billion, but have no qualms about spending a ton on the military.)
Or… whatever President Trump’s proposed increase to the military is (keep in mind, this is just the INCREASE - not the actual budget, but just the INCREASE) - $5.7 billion = 99% of the increase still intact.
By the way, the reason I’m not giving any numbers is because they are all over the place. You hear figures like $686 billion, $716 billion, $892 billion; the numbers keep trending toward a trillion dollars. It’s basically pencil politics; you know, when they fill in a number in pencil, and then erase it whenever they want more.
And there you have it. Three feasible solutions for such a feeble problem. One more thing. Whether you agree with a wall or not, I find it peculiar that when the banks ran the world’s economy into the ground a decade ago - not just America, but the world mind you - they got a bailout of over $700 billion. It’s like, spending $5.7 billion on an irresponsible wall…No. Spending well over 100 times that amount to bail out irresponsible banks…Viva la avarice.
Let us know what you think at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: Two things. First, I do not support a border wall, because it is impractical and simply does not make sense on SO MANY levels. One key reason is that if you saw the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” the climax saw Americans fleeing to Mexico and asking for help as the effects of global warming ravaged the world. Secondly, with that said, I do feel that more needs to be done about illegal immigration, as for how often Democrats mention protecting illegal immigrants, they never mention protecting LEGAL immigrants for whatever reason. It is simply unfair for one group of people to follow the rules and pay taxes, etc., while another group does not have to follow the rules, pay taxes, etc.
Every year, Local Talk's editorial staff selects the stories of the year from Nov. 1 to Oct. 30. However, this is a list of what our readers thought made headlines in the past calendar year.
Local Story of the Year: Newark’s Ongoing Water Crisis.
(Notables: Newark’s Flirtation with Amazon, Newark Regaining School Control, Orange’s School Board, The Botched Response of Elected Officials to the November Snowstorm, The Adenovirus Outbreak, The Sussex Avenue Homeless Shelter, University Hospital, The NJSIAA Playoff Format, The Concerned 44 and Seton Hall, Sports Betting Legalized, NJ Transit, The Brick City Lions)
National Story of the Year: Christine Blasey Ford (and others) vs. Brett Kavanaugh.
(Notables: Immigrant Families Being Separated, The Parkland School Shooting, Hurricane Florence, The Russia Probe, Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, The 2018 November Election, California Wildfires, The MAGA Bomber, The Death of George H.W. Bush, LeBron James signing with the Lakers)
World Story of the Year: The FIFA World Cup.
(Notables: The 2018 Winter Olympics, The Murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Russia’s Possible Involvement in Sergei Skripal’s Death and American Politics, Several Countries Locked in Trade Wars with Donald Trump, The Plight of Migrants, Jair Bolsonaro Elected as Brazil’s Next President
Local Person of the Year: East Orange Mayor Ted Green, who has kindled a new way of thinking in his city.
National Person / Woman of the Year: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated the political machine to usher in a new era of leadership in government.
Man of the Year: WWE Superstar Becky Lynch, who smashed stereotypes to show that it’s not about being a man or woman, but having the mentality to be the best.
Activists of the Year: Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, and the rest of the students who fought for gun control after several people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed by a gunman.
Team of the Year: The Central Florida Knights, who went undefeated for the second straight season, despite not being allowed to play for the College Football National Championship.
Legend of the Year: Aretha Franklin, the undisputed greatest singer of all time.
(Notables: Stan Lee, Burt Reynolds, Barbara Bush, Penny Marshall, Bruno Sammartino, John McClain)
Movie of the Year: Black Panther, the superhero movie that presented minorities in a brilliant, brave, and noble light.
Meme of the Year: People turning to dust, like when Thanos performed “The Snap” in “Avengers: Infinity War.”
BONUS: “What the #$%! was that?!” Moment of the Year: Former St. Benedict’s star J.R. Smith not knowing the score in the NBA Finals.
(Notables: Titus O’Neil’s “World-slide” at the Greatest Royal Rumble, Serena Williams’ tantrum at the US Open)
By Local Talk Staff
On Tuesday November 20th, 2018, the Enough Is Enough Coalition, a Grassroots anti-guns and antiviolence organization, celebrated 25 years of hosting its Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner for families who have lost a loved one to guns and violence.
The first Memorial Dinner was held in Atlanta, Georgia in 1993 at the West Hunter Street Baptist Church in memory of 13-year-old Tiffany Harderson who was shot and killed by a stray bullet in Decatur, Georgia. EIEC Founder Thomas Ellis II felt that it was a way to bring families together for healing, comfort, prayer, strength, and love. He thought that a Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner for the many families affected by guns and violence would be a great thing.
Minister Ellis has been holding the dinner ever since. The only year he did not hold a memorial dinner for families was in 1998. On New Year’s Eve 1997, Ellis was shot multiple times and left for dead on the streets of Atlanta, 3 1/2 years after he started Enough Is Enough. Throughout 1998, he was recovering from gunshot wounds himself, but the next year he picked right up where he left off, and began holding the memorial dinner throughout Essex County.
This year’s 25th Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner was held at St. Matthew UMC Church in Newark. It was a success, and several other the people attending thanked Minister Ellis for his vision and continued effort.
One of the greatest parts of the dinner is the Hugs and Love session. That's when everyone goes up and hug someone they do not know, and just says a few words of encouragement to uplift the spirits of everybody in attendance.
Each year, the Enough Is Enough Coalition President gives away Honorary Member medals for those who have been supporting the group’s mission and standing up against guns and violence. This year’s Honorary members were Elizabeth Police Department Officer Williamson, Queen Hatari of Common Unity First, and several of their members. Pastor Ralph Bunch Terrell of St. Matthew UMC was also awardee of an Honorary Medal for his Outstanding work in and out of the community.
The theme of this year’s dinner was “Longevity,” and being able to last for years and still be effective; the race is not given to the swift, but he who endures until the end.
Ellis explained to the crowd, “If a person was arrested and locked up for 25 years. that's a long time. Some people have been married for 25 years, that's a long time. Others have been on their job for 25 years and looking to retire now, that's a long time. Giving back to the community, and holding the Pre-Thanksgiving Memorial Dinner for families who have lost a loved one to guns and violence for 25 years, now that's a long, long time. If you have a car and it's 25 years old, it's a classic. Enough Is Enough Coalition has been doing what we do for 25 years, so we are a classic example on what you can do if you just trust God.
Ellis also told the crowd that God is the “Is” in Enough Is Enough, and with him all things are possible, and we do not move until we hear a word from the Lord.
The Omega Psi Phi RO Lamda, Lamda, and the Omega Psi Phi Upsilon 5 Chapter were the servers at the event. For the past 8 years the Omega Brothers have been coming out and volunteering their time serving at the memorial dinner, and they do a wonderful job.
Another special part of the dinner is the “A Taste of Peace” project, which is a cook-off where several contestants can enter their favorite cooked dish into the contest. There’s a first, second, and third place prize awarded to the winners and their three judges.
This year’s 1st Place winner of “A Taste of Peace” was Ms. Tanya St. Ange. She made a curry goat and rice dish. The 2nd Place winner was Queen Hatari, who made a macaroni salad, Finally, the 3rd Place winner was Mr. Robert Lewis, who made a Veggie Lasagna. All the dishes were great, and everyone had a chance to enjoy some award winning dishes.
Special thanks were given to Vonda's Kitchen for cooking a turkey stuffed with apples, and Nubians Restaurant for cooking the other turkey, Local Talk Newspaper, Perry's Funeral Home, Bishop and Shanique Speight, Newark Council President Mildred Crump, West Ward Councilman Joe McCallum, Colosseum Gym, and St. Matthew UMC Church along with others for their overwhelming support.
By Dhiren Shah
About two years ago, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and the Newark CEDC announced the opening of a Newark Community Storefront in the South Ward with a bang.
With good intentions and grant money, they trained new entrepreneurs to start their own business. Slowly and gradually they opened Storefronts in all five wards under the banner Newark Shoppes. The first two still have the same name as Newark Community Store Front. That first store in the South Ward had 12 entrepreneurs, but now has only three.
The East Ward Newark Shoppes has already been closed. We received two complaints about wrongful dealings by the Newark CEDC. That’s the reason I visited all five stores, including the closed store in East Ward.
Even the Central Ward spot is not doing good. The image does not look like one combined store, and there is no traffic.
The North Ward has Hispanic entrepreneurs and only three are left at that place. They are barely surviving.
The Newark CEDC, as per our first talk two years ago, got about $35,000 per entrepreneur as a grant. This is from my recollection, and may not be verbatim, but they are now not so transparent, so it is harder to find out the facts.
Karen Baldwin, owner of KayKay Jewels in the West Ward, was a businessperson beforem and her family is also in business. So, she knows how to manage and unite other cube owners in the storefront and work easily between the group. Their group kept the store in good shape, and it seemed like a walk-in business environment.
After two years, the West Ward lost about 9 business owners, but they are getting business now, as the community starts to know them.
Under the program, the first six months they received FREE rent, furniture, façade and setup. After six months, they pay reduced rent.
I would not call this program a success, as the majority of the owners went out of business. Put yourself in their shoes; what a dream they have seen, and what a nightmare they got in return. Also, having to sit for a whole day without any traffic is tougher on the new entrepreneurs.
Rather than failing at trying to sprout new entrepreneurs, those mom and pop stores that are currently out there need some boost. They are already entrepreneurs, but they do not get any help from the city or city agencies.
The Community Store fronts are: Closed - East Ward at 124 Polk Street, North Ward at 216 Bloomfield Avenue, Central Ward at 744 Broad Street, South Ward at 790 Clinton Ave., West Ward at 989 South Orange Avenue.
Mayor Baraka has announced many times and even in his mailer for the election as a success, but this is a false claim by Baraka. We have received two complaints, as they have compared being an entrepreneur living in Newark and working in New York. One was doing good in New York, but the Newark CEDC showed what turned out to be a broken dream, and she has more problems in her life now.
By Dhiren Shah
East Orange Mayor Ted Green was elected last November and took the oath of office on January 1, 2018. So far, he has maintained what he has promised to his constituents and Local Talk. Green is still easily accessible to his constituents and works with the employees like part of the family. So, I have decided to interview him before his 100 days in office on April 10, 2018.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome Mayor Green to this interview.
Ted Green: Thanks for interviewing me and always thinking about the city. We have been in office for 77 days. We are pushing hard and working hard, not just myself, but the employees and the city council. We had some snowstorms, but folks are very happy to see black tops on the streets. Those DPW workers did an outstanding job. Our police department and fire department, they joined hands with us and made sure that when folks woke up they could get around the city.
We are very eager in terms of redevelopment in the city of East Orange. I was part of the push up till now, but I can’t take all the credit for the redevelopment; there was a group of people that was consciously working on the redevelopment. Sussex Avenue was a blighted area for years, the place where I grew up at. I was able to have a role seeing that project come in, with a ground breaking coming pretty soon. We have another ground breaking on Walnut Street. All over the city you will see redevelopment, ground breakings, ribbon cuttings. We had a ribbon cutting at a restaurant today, Green Apple on Central Avenue. It gives us an opportunity to embrace businesses who want to come to city of East Orange. $700 million in private and public money is going through the city of East Orange. Our initiative is to push this even further.
DS: What are you doing to change the teen street area?
TG: Valerie has played a role in getting that jump started. Roger is the acting individual in that role. We are working with the council, we have developers now for the Greenwood Section and you will see development there, single family homes coming to that area. Although we are focused on the entire city, our main priority is that area. We feel that if we get that up and moving and develop that area, it’s an overall push throughout the city. The 4th ward and 5th ward for a long time were kind of isolated, and growing up in that section, friends I grew up with who have hung in there and stayed down there, we want to make sure that there are better living conditions and see the redevelopment blooming in the teen streets.
We are working with the city council to rename the streets instead of 17th or 18th streets. We’re going to come up with some different names. We believe that if we can change the image with the redevelopment, we can change the perception. We welcome anyone who wants to invest in the city of East Orange, want to come in with a plan, and the plan has to make sure that it coincides with what we are doing throughout the city.
DS: You are talking about the teen streets, but what about the 4th Avenue area, which is a mostly Muslim community?
TG: That is really included in the Greenwood development. All that ties in with the 4th ward, 5th ward. 4th Avenue will be a landmark also.
DS: Are you doing anything for the Ampere train station?
TG: We are going to set up a meeting with our governor and lieutenant governor. People are focusing around the transit village piece that is up by Shop-Rite. We want stops by 4th Avenue, by Main Street, the front of city hall, and the stop by Evergreen Place. We have money slated for transit village, but we are looking to get more money slated. We are here only for 77 days. We are going to look at what type of money out there. Torricelli even gave me a call and talked me how viable East Orange is going to be.
South Harrison Street is booming, with Blackstone and other developers who are investing in East Orange. Even single houses, people are investing in them. We have an auction coming up, that we are excited about. I can tell you, from day one, all of us rolled up our sleeves and started to get things done. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but people here love this city. The biggest challenge we have is trying to get major restaurants.
DS: On Main Street, are you making any façade improvements?
TG: We have a 90% occupancy rate on Central Avenue, but Main Street unfortunately is not the same. We went out to each and individual store and we are trying to bring it up to where Central Avenue is. We are trying to make sure that Main Street is one of the premier places in East Orange.
The whole thing behind Cicely Tyson performing arts school was for folks to come out, see a show, and go to Main Street and dine and eat with their families. I think after this Novus development piece goes in hand, we will see that. Even if they come from New York, they are able to eat, dine, go to a show, and guess what, the city profits from it.
DS: The main problem with the Cicely Tyson school is that they close that door on Winans Street.
TG: We always had, and we are continuing conversations with the school, school district, and the superintendent. But right now, we are not at par with main street yet. I believe that we have a partnership and always had a partnership with board of education. I don’t see no reason why they would refuse us having access of that entrance going forward. Once the Main Street corridor really blossoms, it will help businesses around there, and there will be no problem with the school opening the doors. Some of the teachers and the district can come out and eat during their lunch time.
DS: Connie Jackson told me that the crime went down by 19%. How many murders have you had in 77 days?
TG: We haven’t had a murder. I have to commend the East Orange police chief and the entire police department; they are the professionals. If there is any disturbance in the city of East Orange, they are investigating it and getting the job done.
DS: Murder, rape and assault are the main violent crimes.
TG: Yes. I tell you the truth, we’ve had some, but we found out they were not from East Orange, but from outside the city. We have addressed them.
DS: East Orange is a place where many artists were born. Are you planning to promote new artists?
TG: We already have MACFest, and that has been very successful. A lot of events took place prior to me coming in, and I look at those events and the programs that are very viable to the city. We want to enhance them. The other day, Cicely Tyson school had a jazz concert. We are embracing all those folks they are culturally based in the city. We are not pushing back on anything that’s positive.
DS: Mayor Green, I’d like to suggest having a contest between the areas for the best clean area award and we will publicize it in the newspaper, full page, with the photos of that area.
TG: We would love for Local Talk to partner with us. We have five wards, and we’ll pick groups from those wards, and give a certificate, plaque. That’s a good idea. We will work on it.
We are cleaning our city up on Earth Day, April 21st. I do believe that when your city is safe, and your city is clean, everything kind of borders around that. As I say from Day 1, I am rolling up my sleeves to help. I will be out that day. We do believe that with that initiative, when people drive through East Orange, they are seeing now. We are not there at 100% yet, but we are driving cleanliness and neatness and bringing folks together to be part of this initiative. If you live here, you love East Orange, then help us to keep East Orange clean.
DS: East Orange has very high taxes.
TG: East Orange is a bedroom community, but we are looking at it. Over the last five or four years, the council and the administration had taken a strong position. There only has been a 1.2 percent increase. The increase can come from the county, board of education, but we work really hard not to raise taxes. That’s why it is so important for all of us to bring in the tax ratables, to bring businesses to build houses. We want to relieve some of the pressure off our residents.
DS: If your ratable increases, do the taxes come down?
TG: We have to look at the budget and some of the services. Our police department, each year we have a bargaining union, and they have a certain percentage we have agreed on. Health benefits goes up, we have people who have retired. So, when we look at our budget, we have to anticipate certain things. But we look at all aspects of what we need to do.
My goal is to never increase taxes. I believe that we have relationships with state and at the county level. We’re looking to do shared service with other municipalities. We are trying to cut costs with street sweeping by getting it done in house. As a homeowner here, I feel what other people feel. Even tenants feel it because landlords have to go up on rent to meet their costs.
By Dhiren Shah
On March 7th and March 8th, a major nor’easter snowstorm handicapped the daily routine for New Jerseyans with blizzard like conditions. A few thousand people lost power. From 15” to 24” the snowstorm made life a little harder for everyone.
At this juncture, Governor Phil Murphy criticized JCP&L and other utility companies for not restoring the power in time. Coincidentally, I took the interview of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) President Joseph L. Fiordaliso, who has been an Essex County resident throughout his life. He was a native Newarker and is right now living in Livingston, and also a former mayor of the town.
Dhiren Shah: Welcome sir to this interview. What is the duties of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and Commissioners?
Joseph Fiordaliso: The Board of Public Utilities’ mission is to provide safe reliable service to the consumers and the citizens of the State of New Jersey. We regulate all investor owned board of companies. We regulate the energy companies and distribution companies like public service JCP&L, Atlantic City Electric, Rockland Electric. We also regulate some telecommunications. Also, we regulate clean energy laws for the state of New Jersey.
DS: We heard many complaints that all the public utilities companies charge extra here and there. If you call, then obviously they give you credit, but why isn’t it systematic, that the consumer doesn’t have to worry about anything?
JF: They can only charge what we have approved. Some of these charges are some of the taxes involved and benefit charges to help provide funds for clean energy benefits. They cannot charge without our permission. That part of the regulatory process.
DS: Some of the audit companies on the large bills, they audit them and if they can save money for consumer from their bill, they take 50% of the savings.
JF: If they make mistakes, obviously they have to correct it. If a particular consumer has a specific problem, they should contact the board of public utilities.
DS: All the utility companies’ billing habits is to charge more and then give so many discounts and trying to confuse customers. How can they be made to give straight billing, or at least explain in detail where any phantom costs come from?
JF: We try to make over the years, make the bill as understandable as possible. Sometimes a bill is confusing, I admit that. We work with the energy companies, so your monthly bill is self-explanatory as possible. We have strived for that. If there are specific people who have these issues, we have to know about that. I can tell you I have a little trouble reading the bill. That’s why I pay what they ask me to pay.
DS: What kind of changes will you bring to improve the quality of public service?
JF: We will continue to abide by our statutory duties, regulating the industry. I think you will see Governor Murphy’s clean energy program.
DS: The utility industry is changing. Our honorable Governor Murphy brought changes to offshore wind energy the beginning of this month. The order directs the state Board of Public Utilities to write regulations governing how utility customers will subsidize an effort to develop 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind generation along the Jersey coast by 2030. The current plan is only 1,100 megawatts, why 3,500 megawatts now?
JF: We will work towards a goal of 3,500 megawatts. The advantage is that we are providing cleaner energy. The more megawatts we have, the cleaner the energy.
DS: How many megawatts is the state of New Jersey utilizing?
JF: I understand what you are saying. We are going to replace the energy that is dirtier. We are working to minimize the effects of climate change. In 2000 we have 6,000 units of solar energy; now we have 100,000 units. So, we work towards these goals to improve the quality of life and improve the economic development to the state of New Jersey. What scientists tell us tis hat climate change is real, and that will affect the way people live. We have a moral obligation. I am not going to be around to see the dramatic effect of climate change, but my grandchildren will be. So, it is important that we do whatever we possibly can to minimize the effects of that change.
DS: Governor Murphy talked about a “green” New Jersey. What is the difference between a green NJ and Garden State?
JF: “Garden State” is what we produce by all the vegetables and fruits. A green state means reducing the amount of carbon in the air. Greener means generating energy that does not pollute the air.
DS: What about the multiple buildings that are going up? Are you going to restrict that?
JF: Well, it depends on what kind of building you are making. What kind of light bulbs you are using, what kind of energy saving programs are you using. The cheapest energy is the energy you do not use, and thus you do not pollute the air. So, energy efficiency is extremely important.
DS: When you talk about lights, LED lights create a lot of rays and waves, which might impact the quality of life in our bodies. What is your opinion about it?
JF: I don’t know that anything is proven scientifically. Sometimes, we become conservative about it without knowing the full story. If it is proven scientifically, then it has to be visited.
DS: You talked about climate change. President Trump does not believe in global warming. What is your take on Global Warming?
JF: I think climate change is real.
DS: How people can contact BPU?
JF: Our general number is (800) 624-0241. (Cable TV: 800-624-0331, 609-341-9177)
DS: Thank you very much for your time.
By Walter Elliott
NEWARK - The 2018 Mass in memory of Roberto Clemente here at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart Jan. 13 was different from its previous editions in at least two distinct ways.
First, the memorial mass honoring the late Major League Baseball Hall of Fame baseball player and humanitarian Saturday afternoon was where Councilman Luis Quintana and State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz announced that part of New Jersey Route 21 will be renamed the Roberto Clemente Memorial Highway.
Second, there was more security around and in the basilica. "Local Talk" counted 11 Essex County Sheriff's Officers and Newark Police officers - including a sheriff's officer staying within arm’s length of Mass Celebrant Bishop Manuel A. Cruz.
"There was an interruption last year," proclaimed Quintana among an estimated 200 celebrants, "but there is no stopping us now."
Quintana, in the last half of his sentence, was referring to more than Ruiz's announcement of Newark's part of Route 21 becoming the Clemente memorial highway. The dean of the Municipal Council and former interim mayor is hoping the highway naming will be the start for future honors for the late Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder.
"We are pressing for Major League Baseball to permanently retire Clemente's No. 21 like they had with Jackie Robinson's No. 42," said Quintana. "It makes sense: 21 times two equals 42."
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig retired Robinson's "42" from future wearing by any player April 15, 1997. Selig signed the order exactly 50 years to the day when Robinson (1919-72) took his first at-bat with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
When Robinson stepped up to the Dodgers' home plate at Ebbets Field that day, the former Montreal Royal and Kansas City Monarch broke a five-decade "gentlemen's agreement" among club owners that kept non-white ball players out of the MLB.
MLB and minor league players refrain from wearing No. 42 with one exception. Since 2004, every ball player on April 15 wears that number in tribute.
"42" has a permanent place in every ball park or stadium. That number can still be viewed at soon-to-be-demolished Newark Bears-Eagles Riverfront Stadium from Broad Street.
Route 21, which runs immediately east of the stadium's back wall, is to be renamed after Clemente pending warmer weather later this year.
"We're just waiting for the weather to break," said Quintana. "The funds have been raised, the honorary street signs have been paid for and printed."
Route 21's length in Newark - 5.68 miles from U.S. 1-9 South at Newark Liberty International Airport north to the Belleville border - will be renamed in Clemente's honor. The Clemente Highway name will be co-billed with "McCarter Highway" - the latter after attorney, New Jersey Attorney General and PSE&G founder Thomas McCarter (1867-1955).
Gov. Christopher Christie (R-Mendham) signed the joint State Legislature Resolution June 30, 2016. Bills S-1462 and A-3417, sponsored by Ruiz and Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin (both D-Newark), were approved by their colleagues.
Quintana and Ruiz are among a group who want to nominate Clemente for a posthumous Alfred Nobel Peace Prize for the Norwegian Nobel Committee's consideration.
Such an awarding would be unprecedented for the Nobel Committee. They had considered a posthumous Peace Prize to the assassinated Mohandas Gandhi in 1948.
It and the Swedish Academy of Sciences have otherwise considered only living people as eligible in its 118 years. There were three individuals who died, the last in 2011, before awardees could notify them; they were still awarded.