August 13, 2006

Homeland Security Should be Number One Priority

Recently hundreds of American lives were saved using surveillance tools that critics have called illegal, and threatening to our civil liberties. Realizing that one third of Newark Liberty Airport lies in Union County and that we are the home of the most dangerous two miles on the eastern seaboard, I really don’t care much who is listening to my telephone conversations.

Just a few short days ago NJ Senators stood in the Port of NY and NJ claiming that the current administration has made incompetent security choices and aren’t putting the interests of the working families first.

Well, it seems to me that if the current administration wasn’t doing their job we surely could have had a plane or two exploding over the port taking a countless number of lives on both the ground and in the air along with part of a tank farm, a cat cracker and a piece of down town Elizabeth.

With campaign rhetoric sounding like he is the new kid on the block, candidate Bob Menendez says that America needs to be given a new direction where homeland security is concerned. His buddies say he is just the guy to send to Washington to do the job of ensuring America’s interests.

Somebody please tell me what he has been doing in Washington these past eight years; shouldn’t he have been looking out for New Jersey’s interests and her hard working families?

Certainly these are dangerous times and it wouldn’t take much for Union County, as we know it, to be a fond memory. It is important that we have the best of the best giving their undivided attention to Homeland Security/Emergency Management measures ensuring that in times of crisis UC is prepared.

The Dir. of Public Safety, Harold Gibson, is a county employee earning a salary of $109,793 per year. Currently he is being considered to replace the late Plainfield Councilman Ray Blanco. Council members have the responsibility to look out for their towns during times of crisis and Mr. Gibson’s county department is also an integral part of the county’s emergency management plan, so we must question his ability to be in two places at once, should a countywide emergency occur.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management issues directives, “how to” guidelines, provides training courses and sets the requirements and standards for departmental workers at the county and municipal levels. The office ensures that these standards are enforced as a division of the Dept. of Law and Public Safety/Office of the Attorney General. Position descriptions on the state’s personnel website list prior emergency response experience, specialized certifications and educational levels necessary to qualify for a variety of positions in county offices of Emergency Management. Grant monies help fund these offices with qualifiers attached in some cases to insure that the grants are used as intended including the hiring of qualified employees.

The UC Division of Environmental Health and Emergency Management writes an Assessment and Improvement Plan which outlines areas of concern, progress and existing services for handling both natural and man made environmental situations in the county. Though some changes and improvements have been made since the 2004 report, more can always be done to ensure the daily safety of county residents.

Probably the single most important department of county government because it has the potential to impact on the lives of all county residents, funding should never be an issue, regulatory compliance should always be without question, staffing second to none and deployment at the ready on a moments notice.

After all isn’t providing for the health and welfare of the residents what county government is intended to do?