Cross Posted from My Blog: http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…
As the nation continues to pull out of the most devastating economic downturn in a half-century, New Jersey lags behind. From most credible points of view – statistically, academically, and though plain observation, The Great Recession never ended here. Instead, it continues to grind on under the completely inept, arrogant leadership of a largely absentee governor in hot pursuit of national office. Here in the Garden State, joblessness, poverty, deteriorating social services and a dangerous wealth gap continue like it’s still 2008.
Tip O’Neal, the late, great speaker of the House of Representatives once said “all politics is local.” Upon considering his famous phrase, I began to think how my local legislators (I live in the Princeton area, or District 16) are reacting to this ongoing crisis. The State Legislature is absolutely the most powerful governmental entity in this state – and any state. While frequently divided, if a state legislature has enough political will, I can quickly take the reigns of power and direction from a governor and make him or her bend to its will. Only the legislature has the power to raise taxes, spend money, and make law. Any governor, however much in possession of personality or constitutional authority, has little or no clout in the face of a determined legislature. And let it also be said that the New Jersey legislature has the ability to impeach and remove the governor or any of his appointees.
So with Christie on his constant interstate adventures, who is minding the store? Well, it’s not the legislature, and especially not the lawmakers in my district. And if I could point out any legislator who is more out of touch, more uninterested in directly tackling the state’s numerous and very serious problems, it’s Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon. When it comes to politicians who seemingly operate on a form of cruise control to nowhere, she takes the cake.
Just consider three bills she’s either sponsoring or co-sponsoring in the current legislative session. Now before I go into the bills, allow me to explain why I’m not nitpicking. Proposed Bills mean a lot to legislators and their constituents. Bills are the only solid, tangible indicator of what a particular politician seeks to achieve. Legislators can make speeches and all kinds of promises during campaigns, but only through their bills do they really have any chance of implementing actual ideas. So these proposals really ‘count’ and ought to be considered as the most genuine reflection of what a politician is contemplating and has to offer.
Again, Simon’s interesting ‘trinity’ of bills amply demonstrate what makes her faulty clock tick.
First, there is A3104, or more straightforwardly (and I’ve named it) the “New Jersey Gun Control Repeal Act.” This bill is perhaps the most radical, most right-wing, most reactionary proposal of the entire legislative session. It’s right out of Alabama. The bill would effectively eliminate most if not all forms of gun control in the state. It would enable county officials to undercut gun control laws by having the power to issue firearms identification cards, but that’s not the most extreme part. The bill, if ever passed, would transform the New Jersey into a “shall issue” state for people seeking to get licenses to carry concealed weapons. Under the bill, any person qualified to purchase and own a firearm (again, which would be a simplified process on the county level) would be entitled to pack heat.
So basically, if Simon’s bill were brought to lawful fruition, New Jersey would quickly be transformed into another version of Florida, complete with nonstop daytime shootouts at convenience stores and weekly household massacres. Oh, and of course, there’s the ever-present possibility of another Newtown slaughter.
Firearms aside, Simon’s also turned her attention not to pressing issues like cancer research at Rutgers, or student poverty, but to one of the most imperative issues today: Parents who face the nightmare of a court ordering them to pay for their kids’ college education. Yes, she actually wrote a bill, A4070, addressing this predicament directly. It would bar N.J. courts from ordering any parents to pay for college. I’ll call it the “Good Look Kid, You’re On Your Own Act.” Though her party ostensibly champions the notion of “Family Values,” apparently Simon thinks that this personal form of parental betrayal ought to be enshrined in law itself. You can’t make this stuff up.
Then there’s the icing in the cake. A bill so perceptibly ridiculous, so hideously unnecessary, so completely silly, that it more than demonstrates her aloofness from the everyday concerns of residents. Again, does the bill fund our ailing highways and bridges? Does it enable the students of Camden to learn in a decent environment by requiring its schools provide heat? Is this a bill that aims to bring billions of dollars to Atlantic City so that coastal community doesn’t literally fall into the sea? Nah. Simon’s ‘best’ bill, A3012, bans bestiality. Yes, you read that correctly. Simon’s not concerned with the chaotic gun violence in Trenton. She’s apparently not losing any sleep over the horrendous, months-long delays for families applying for Medicaid. No, she wants to direct the state’s attention against the real enemy: people who French kiss their dogs. Now I’m not a person who advocates bestiality – but there was one time that my dog Dusty greeted me at the door and licked my face. So for all I know, depraved pet owners like me could be in Simon’s crosshairs.
Donna Simon. Yes, she’s thinking outside the box. Far outside of it. Really, miles away from it. She’s floating away from the box, to the point where it’s become a visible speck. Perhaps she’s laughing, perhaps not, but the joke is on us. As New Jersey continues to flounder, Simon and her pals remain focused on complete and utter nonsense. They get away with it because we let them.