Friday, March 11, 2011

Elephants in the Room not talking about the Elephants in the Room

I do my best to be fair, honest and accurate, even when if it'll cost me a friendly smile and hello from an otherwise friendly and familiar face, which is why I'd like to point out that some Elephants (Republicans) in the room at last night's Ocean Township Freeholder Candidate Forum didn't seem very interested, enthusiastic or concerned with seriously talking about some of the "Elephants In the Room".

For me those Elephants, in no particular are:
1) The cost of public schools, especially in Monmouth County's Abbott districts
2) firm Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion stances
3) firm opposition to NJ's confusing, backwards and not working Gun Laws

Bob Walsh, Howell Mayor and Freeholder Candidate, spoke of his township's budget, his big ol' town that is the second largest municipality in Monmouth County with 53,000 people and 62(or 64) sq miles, 400+ miles of roadway, some huge parks covering 110 acres with 20 soccer fields and 5 softball fields (and I've taken my dog over to another huge park with 4 or 5 baseball fields and a hockey rink)... and his township's budget is a "mere" $44 million. So I ask Bob, I say something along the lines of "Bob, you have a budget of $44M for above figures, what can the county do, or what should be done, to address the problem that Asbury Park, with 4000 or so students has a school budget of $96M, more than double your entire town! Or Long Branch with a school budget of $88M, double your entire town? Yet the County has schools like CHS and High Tech high that provide a great education at a much lower cost?" I had high expectations, or at least hoped that Bob would give some thought to the question and try to come up with a great answer. I like Bob - I wrote about him before and suggested he has a Christie quality to him, it showed in his response to me which was "Elect more Republicans!". Umm, ok Bob, I try to do that - and cute Christie like response that made some people giggle - but now I'm asking you, a Republican, what you could do about it? Fine, I'd elect a Republican, and then what, they deflect the answer too? I have to admit, Bob tells a great story, he's a likable guy and I really like him, but the Elephants in the Room have to think and talk about the Elephants in the room. We're pinching for $3 million of $469m on the ENTIRE county budget while we're spending $96M in one LITTLE town, and Bob didn't seem to want to really think about the question and think about a real solution to our school budgets or try seriously address the issue, I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but I expected different. And I get it, it's a state/supreme court issue that a Freeholder MAYBE can't really do anything about, but someone has to start talking, rally the locals, do something, or we're all just ignoring the Elephant in the Room that is sucking money from all of our pockets faster than we can earn it.

The second Elephant in the Room was 2A Rights/Right To Life which I'll combine since I asked them as a two part question. I'd hope that my own personal ad in the Lincoln Day Ad Book makes my own position undoubtedly and obviously clear on 2A rights. I asked George Newberry the questions a month or more ago and he gave me an honest, immediate and very positive answer on where he stands and he stands where Republican voters expect the Republican party to be. So I asked the same question to both Gary Rich and Andrew Lucas last night, along the lines of "Where do you stand or will you make a statement on your beliefs in the Right To Life? And are you a current NRA or GOA member? Where do you stand on 2A rights?"; I asked Gary first. Gary took a pause, a long pause, as if I was asking some difficult and shocking question. Maybe others didn't perceive the pause as being as long as I did, but I hoped for and expected a response to such a simple question to be like a natural reflex. Gary simply said he was pro-life and then Gary said something about firearms, I don't know what, he seems to know firearms exist, I don't think he understands that people (like me) actually have a real concern for our rights and expect Republicans to stand with us. Based on his answer, I guess he opposes NJ's restrictive and seemingly unconstitutional gun laws and stands with gun-owners, but the answer didn't seem clear and confident, I don't think Gary has ever been to a shooting range or otherwise seem a firearm aside from being presented as some evil weapon on TV, like most Jersians. I asked Lucas the same basic question. Andrew addressed the firearms half first simply saying he has respect for firearms having grown up on a farm where coyotes still roam and attack the livestock; he didn't explicitly say anything about the confusing maze of laws and regulations, lack of carry permits, one gun a month, etc, I'm not totally sure where he stands but I think he at least understands its a real issue. Lucas then told a very funny story about the birth of his child and confidently stated his is pro-life, which would make several local voters very happy to go vote for him.

I said it last night and prefaced my questions with it -- I know these aren't necessary issues that Freeholders have an immediate say over, but for me and many Republican voters who I can count on to vote in every primary, these are benchmark issues and SOME voters care about these issues as some gauge of Republicans who are asking for their vote. Overall, I still think we have four very capable, very qualified, very intelligent Freeholder candidates and I like what all of them have to say, I just wish a few would stop ignoring the Elephant in the Room.

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