CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Local Resident Suggests Proposal For Federal Tax on Ammunition
I have a proposal in reference to the many killings that have taken place in the past several months. Simply put, it would be to place a heavy tax on all forms and types of ammunition.
I believe that this would place an additional obstacle in the way of gun proliferation and the continuation of more killings.
There is or has been a federal tax on whisky, wine, beer, gasoline, cigarettes, tobacco, telephone calls and probably many more. Why are all of these items taxed and not ammunition? Is there any good reason why ammunition should not be taxed? Many of these items have been taxed as a deterrence, some have been taxed as a luxury.
Certainly, the use of ammunition and guns is a luxury, and if a tax would help deter even a few killings it would be a great benefit to society. If the argument is that a gun is a means of protection, I say that a small amount of ammunition is all that is needed, say five or 10 rounds.
This would not be an exorbitant tax. If the argument is that the ammunition is required as a sport I say “OK,” but it is a deadly luxury and should be taxed heavily.
The funds derived from these taxes could be used to fund any type of federal computerized system to trace the sale of and the use of guns and ammunition.
William G. Williams Scotch Plains
Township Council Should Pass Resolution to ‘Reclaim America’
Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent to members of the Scotch Plains Township Council, with a copy sent to
The Times. The letter has been edited due to space limitations.
* * * * *
America ends one century and begins another with a question few people ever thought would have to be asked. Is the American experiment in freedom and liberty sustainable given the violence which stalks our society?
A Scotch Plains police officer told me today, “We are out-gunned.” Indeed we are. Whole arsenals of weapons exist in private hands in this country, enough for a small or a big war. And not just any guns. Guns which only one would expect to see on the battlefield. But it is more than guns in private hands which pose a clear threat to the public health, safety, and welfare and to the survivability of our country.
It is a mass entertainment industry which spews out one violent movie after another, one violence filled song lyric after another. It is disrespect toward teachers and other authority figures. It is the bastardization of the constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to mean anything goes anytime anywhere. It is public officials not acting up to their public trust.
It is the view that rights come first, responsibilities second if at all. It is a materialism without limit which only feeds the self-centeredness of individuals.
What can be done? What can you as a Township Council do? You can pass a resolution entitled, “We Must Reclaim America.” The resolution should include:
1. A condemnation of violence. 2. A call for the strictest-gun control. No one other than law enforcement officers, registered hunters, and registered gun hobbyists may own firearms.
3. The placement of metal detectors and other surveillance devices in all the public schools. This, of course, is a matter for the School Board to decide.
4. A call for an end to the filming of shootings and killings and other violence in the movies and on television and in “the news.”
5. A call for the cancellation of the “Jerry Springer Show” and others shows of this ilk.
6. Dress uniforms in public school as a way of establishing a sense of respect for authority. Again this is a matter for the School Board.
7. A community vigil against violence.
8. A call for greater parental responsibility, accountability, and involvement.
9. “Honor The Police Department Day.” All communities must reaffirm their support of their law enforcement officers at a time of growing cynicism about law enforcement.
10. A call for President Bill Clinton to hold a White House Conference on Violence in the United States and how best to end it.
The very survival of American society and democracy as we know them is at stake. Continued violence can only work to undermine public confidence in our ability to maintain law and order.
We have more people in prison and otherwise under the criminal justice system than any other country in the world. We have more homicides per capita than in most any other country in the world other than those countries suffering from civil and other war. More murders take place annually in New York City than take place annually in Japan! California spends more on its prison system than on its university system.
Still, there seems to be no end to the violence in the United States.
One resolution cannot do it. Nor can ten. But if every community passed such a resolution and took the steps called for in the resolution we would make progress and lead an increasingly frightened public to conclude that we still can make it as a country, as a people, as a society, as a democracy.
Dr. Steven Schoeman Scotch Plains
How Can Borough Take Dean Oil Builder Seriously in the Future?
The sensitive issue of rental housing development on the former Dean Oil site has arisen once again and deserves comment. A “concept hearing” had taken place on April 19 where the developer had stated his case and shared various thoughts on how the proposal was being handled.
I must admit that I was rather shocked at his flippant demeanor even after he had “stood up” the entire community by not attending the hearing at the Park Middle School with his revised proposal.
His reason, if I understand him correctly, was that there was some misunderstanding as to whether this site was being developed for low income housing and as a result, withdrew his proposal. We as a community feel very strongly about this issue and his reason should have been stated at that meeting.
While most of us agree that this site needs to be developed, this “concept hearing” proved to be totally fruitless. Had the developers done their homework, got a good night sleep, and looked under their collective pillows in the morning, they would have discovered that any rental housing, whether luxury or low income, is completely out of character with the landscape of the borough.
Instead, we as a community had to listen to references to the “fairy god
mother” and the almighty “L” word. How then, may I ask, can this community seriously entertain any future proposals from these people? How does one not question the intent of such a preposterous, short-sited proposal of rental units of any kind? I felt as if I had been violated but, of course, heard no apology. I would like to commend, however, Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly and the entire Fanwood Council for handling this matter in a gracious and professional manner.
What I feel would be responsible development would be to encourage business development at this site. If this proposal fails, then I would suggest that the town buy the property and keep it “green and clean” which is the philosophy of Governor Whitman and is more in line with preventing over development.
Make no mistake, any so called “development” revolving around rental housing would potentially represent a serious setback to revitalization and should be viewed with extreme caution and a more long-term perspective.
I have yet to hear any advantages of such a project by the developers who don’t seem to have in mind the best interests of the citizens of Fanwood.
John Licata Fanwood
Letters to the Editor
Editor’s Note: The following column is being run as a special ed-op piece in
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains and Fanwood.
* * * * * New Jersey voters this April showed overwhelming support for school budgets throughout the state, with 82 percent of the budgets approved. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that only a fraction of the state’s registered voters 13.3 percent went to the polls. This was one of the lowest turnouts in recent memory.
We live in a democracy a participatory democracy. It’s a disservice to democracy that so few people take part in school elections.
Consider what was at stake. A school board’s responsibilities are considerable from hiring superintendents to approving curriculum to deciding what texts are used in the classroom.
Beyond the school-book argument for participation is the pocketbook one. School budgets make up by far the largest portion of the property tax bill and right now the only part that comes up for a direct vote by the public.
An effective school board can have a dramatic effect on the quality of education in that community by assuring that education dollars are spent where they belong in the classroom.
With limited polling hours and little publicity, April elections draw scant attention in the community, except from those committed citizens who would walk barefoot through a blizzard to cast their votes. As a result, too few of us really study the budget and make our voices heard.
We in state government have worked hard to spark increased, informed participation by providing the public with unprecedented information. In recent years, we have re-instituted school report cards, published a comparative spending guide, and required districts to send sample ballots to every household each April. But as this year’s turnout proved it isn’t enough.
There’s a very logical solution to the problem. If you can’t get the voters to participate in April, get them to partici
By Christine Todd Whitman
Moving School Elections to Nov. Would Increase Voter Turnout
pate in November. I have proposed legislation that would move School Elections to November in order to coincide with the General Elections. School board members who are accountable to their communities in November will make better decisions the rest of the year.
When people take part in a process, they feel more connected to that process. They have a sense of empowerment, a sense of commitment, a sense of responsibility.
I know that some people are concerned about mixing partisan politics with public school issues by using the November ballot. The fact is that we already put non-partisan, public questions of the utmost importance on the November ballot.
It is there that we citizens decide whether to amend the State Constitution. It is there that we vote on important State investments such as open space acquisition and farmland preservation.
The November ballot has proved itself an effective means of asking the citizens’ support for fundamental public questions. And when the issue is as fundamental as the education of our children, we should work to gain the broadest public participation we possibly can.
I don’t know if moving School Elections to November will change the success rate of budgets. But I am convinced that it will change the way board members construct budgets and make other educational decisions. I am also confident it will change the way people look at their property tax bills, knowing that they had a voice in the process.
New Jersey deserves the best schools in the nation. New Jersey citizens want that. We also want our property taxes to stay as low as possible, and to feel confident that our taxes are being invested wisely.
Moving school elections to November will not solve every problem that confronts taxpayers or school boards. Not by a long shot. But it will get people involved. It will increase participation. And it will help us bring the public back into our public schools.
More Letters On Page 21
Scotch Plains Resident Calls Behavior Of Mayor, Deputy Mayor Arrogant
Lost in the drama and jubilation of Tuesday night’s defeat of the Democratic plan to raise taxes 6.5 percent in Scotch Plains was the continued arrogance of Mayor Geri Samuel and Deputy Mayor Tarquin Jay Bromley.
Despite overwhelming pre-meeting public opposition to the plan and after an
unconvincing, if not confusing, defense of their plan followed by almost three hours of one-sided public ridicule of the plan, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor still saw fit to vote for the tax increase.
Their vote showed disdain for the citizens of Scotch Plains and demonstrated an ignorance of their responsibilities as elected officials.
With over three years left in their terms, I can only hope that they learn from this experience and begin to listen more to the public and less to their misguided political advisers.
Timothy Deegan Scotch Plains
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