Category: Opinion

Long Lines Continue To Plague NJ MVC Offices, And My MVC Experience Today

October 9, 2020

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The alarm sounded at 4:00 am and after only a few hours of sleep it was time to make the trek to the Bakers Basin, NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Office to renew a CDL. Those with Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) have to renew in person at a MVC office. There are also many others than need to do an in person transaction at MVC offices to receive their drivers license depending on specific situations.

Pulling into the parking lot a little after 5:00 am there were already a good amount of cars in parking spaces. I removed my camping chair from my vehicle and placed it in a line of about 100 or more already waiting that had already wrapped around the building. I took a seat and waited in line until I started to feel cold and took a walk around to warm up.

There is a portable restroom or “porta potty” but that is locked until about 7:30 am and there is no where for people to go until that time. Many go in the bushes behind the line near Route 1 since the porta potty is locked. So if you happen to make this adventure go easy on the coffee and liquids until you give your number for text messages.

Around 7:30 a security guard came out and explained what would happen. New Drivers got a ticket right away and go to the front of the line to be processed while the rest of us have to wait. A little after 8:00 am the line started to move as they handed out tickets to get inside to put your name in a computer that will text you when they are ready to bring you inside to process your paperwork.

I was number 87 in line (after all the new drivers already went) and I was checked in by 8:55 am. At 10:10 am I received my first text that they were almost ready for me and about 10 minutes later I had to wait in another line to start the process of 6 points of ID and other processing. At 11:05 I was finished processing and walking out of the MVC with a new Commercial Driver License that was Real ID compliant.

After my experience today comparing it to years past, all MVC employees were very friendly and helpful. The employees have to deal with this never ending back log during a pandemic and have to wear masks, and take other precautions. Even with all that, employees were seen busy at desks and handling paperwork inside. MVC employees should be commended for all they are doing during the pandemic to process all these licenses.

The problem is that if you don’t go early enough in the morning and get a good spot in line you may not make the cut off of how many licenses one MVC location can process that day. There is currently no reservation system other than waking up in the early morning hours and waiting it out trying to get a decent spot in line.

It is no secret that winter is coming and it was already cold this morning during the wait that will only get worse as winter approaches.

Here are some ideas maybe the Governor and MVC Commissioner can think about implementing:

  1. More portable restrooms that are unlocked so you don’t have to use the bushes.
  2. Cold, wind, ice and snow will be here soon. Plan on having multiple large tents in the parking lot or grassy areas for shelter.
  3. Create an online reservation system with the similar text messaging feature that is similar to the one that is in place now. Just that you can register online the day before to reserve a space in line and the system can give you notice before processing. How hard can it be to have 3/4 of the technology already in place and add an online reservation system?
  4. Hire more employees, add additional processing stations, new equipment and portable MVC units, extend hours until the backlog is worked though. This will still take months there is no end in site for the pandemic.
  5. There are special considerations for new drivers. There should be a special line and reservation system for Commercial Drivers who drive for a living.
  6. Paper forms, why should we have to use paper forms? Everything should be computerized and digitized because that is what you are doing anyway. Users should be able to go online and start the process of forms, capture a digital signature the night before while making an appointment the day before. The only reason to show up to the MVC is to scan and verify documents, make any final corrections to the already filled out online document, capture a real signature on a pad, and take a photo ID. This old system of paper forms is broken, time to modernize and streamline the operation. This technology does exist, the Federal Government uses it all the time, why can’t the State?

If the MVC implemented those simple 6 things the MVC experience and wait could be more palatable. Yes, we are in a pandemic but MVC was already having issues with Real ID for years and previous administrations, way before the pandemic. The pandemic just made this situation a lot worse and being used as an excuse for an already broken neglected system. It is time to step up, invest in MVC and make MVC great.









MidJersey.News Related stories on the NJ MVC here:

NJ MVC FAILURE: 1,000s Wait In Extreme Long Lines At NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Buildings, Complete Chaos as Fights Reported In Trenton and Edison

NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Disaster Day 2 After Reopening

NJ MVC Failure Day 3: South Brunswick Line Shut Down Before Even Opening Doors Today

Continuing Coverage: NJ MVC Failure Day 4, Hundreds Brave Tropical Storm Fay At MVC Agencies Around The State

NJ MVC Failure Day 3: South Brunswick Line Shut Down Before Even Opening Doors Today

Opinion: Due to total chaos and meltdown of the MVC, the head of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Should Resign

July 9, 2020

Other MidJersey.News stories on this subject here:

NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Disaster Day 2 After Reopening

NJ MVC FAILURE: 1,000s Wait In Extreme Long Lines At NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Buildings, Complete Chaos as Fights Reported In Trenton and Edison

OPINION

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Mismanagement and malfeasance of the Motor Vehicle Commission continues as people have been in line since at least 10 pm last night waiting for their drivers licencees and other paperwork that needs to be processed in person.

South Brunswick Police are reporting that the South Brunswick NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Office is closed and not taking any more customers today even before the office officially opened for the day. The number was set around 200 people that could be processed today.

If this were a “private” company politicians would be making headlines, demanding action, requesting congressional investigations and demanding people be fired. The head of the Motor Vehicle Commission should resign for not properly preparing for the influx of people after at least a 3 month shut down.

Furloughs at the Motor Vehicle Commission should have never even been considered and if anything more people should be hired and overtime given to employees to stay open until at least 6 am to 10 pm daily until this backlog could be worked though.

The computer system should be improved and more stations should have been purchased and even tents set up with temporary stations to be more efficient. Ever hear of “temporary employees” or “Temps” to temporally work at the MVC until this backlog is finished.

Remember you pay a lot of money for this “service” as a person who has a commercial drivers licence with endorsements I pay $80.00 to renew that licence and have to do an in person visit to renew. This is not a “free” service we are paying for this and demand better.

If this were a “private” company with such demand they would hire more people and set up more stations to work more efficiently. Politicians would scream and demand action.

Yesterday a first responder from Millstone wanting to get a “Commercial Drivers Licence” (to drive a fire truck) at the Freehold Location was turned away after waiting 18 hours in line, even though the Freeehold location’s website said it would process commercial drivers licencees.

Yesterday Tyler Eckel of Hamilton 17 along with twin brother and friend waited 8 hours and 15 min to get their first drivers licences at the Bakers Basin location after getting there at 530 am to wait in line.

The horror stories continue after people waited 10+ hours they were turned away since the MVC closed its doors at the end of the day.

Governor Murphy we demand better.


$$$ Paying More – Proposed State Tax On Real Estate And Personal Property Is In The Works Included In Assembly # 4175

GET READY TO PAY MORE!

June 3, 2020

ASSEMBLY, No. 4175

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–“New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Bond Act,” authorizes issuance of State bonds totaling $5 billion and authorizes borrowing from federal government.

The bill is sponsored by: Eliana Pintor Marin, Democrat, District 29, Essex County.

This is a new proposed tax in the State of New Jersey on personal property and real estate as the bill is written and will be tacked on to your already high property tax bill.

If this bill passes and signed by Governor Murphy, get ready for your property taxes to go up even more with this new state tax.

This is New Jersey and a new property tax will be started under the disguise of good intentions but will be anything but. This is just a way to get a foot in the door to add a State of New Jersey Tax on your property tax bill.

In the fine print of the 23 page bill:

Page 21, Under # 23 b.

“…there shall be assessed, levied, and collected annually in each of the municipalities of the counties of this State, a tax on the real and personal property upon which municipal taxes are or shall be assessed, levied, and collected, sufficient to meet the interest on all outstanding bonds issued hereunder and on the bonds proposed to be issued under this act in the calendar year in which the tax is to be raised and for the payment of bonds falling due in the year following the year for which the tax is levied. The tax shall be assessed, levied, and collected in the same manner and at the same time as are other taxes upon real and personal property. The governing body of each municipality shall cause to be paid to the county treasurer of the county in which the municipality is located, on or before December 15 in each year, the amount of tax herein directed to be assessed and levied, and the county treasurer shall pay the amount of the tax to the State Treasurer on or before December 20 in each year”

Page 22, Under 24

“…State Treasurer shall certify to the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury the amount necessary to be raised by taxation for those purposes, the same to be assessed, levied, and collected for and in the ensuing calendar year. The director shall, on or before March 1 following, calculate the amount in dollars to be assessed, levied, and collected in each county as herein set forth. This calculation shall be based upon the corrected assessed valuation of each county for the year preceding the year in which the tax is to be assessed, but the tax shall be assessed, levied, and collected upon the assessed valuation of the year in which the tax is assessed and levied. The director shall certify the amount to the county board of taxation and the treasurer of each county. The county board of taxation shall include the proper amount in the current tax levy of the several taxing districts of the county in proportion to the ratables as ascertained for the current year.”

Page 22, Under 25

This act shall take effect immediately

Download the entire bill at the following link below:

ASSEMBLY, No. 4175

Belmar Beach Is Open And Busy: So Far So Good, Don’t Screw It Up

May 16, 2020 Updated at 7:00 pm to change “beach access” to “beach badges” clarification on what the line that extended a couple of blocks was for. Remember photos and accounts at 1:30 pm is a “snapshot in time” and could be more or less crowded as the day progressed.

BELMAR, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A few moments ago (1:30 pm) a MidJersey.news corespondent has sent in photos from Belmar, NJ and the area appears to be very busy but manageable. The line to get “beach badges” was very long and extended a couple of blocks.

A couple of popular stores lines could be seen that were long but, for the most part it seemed that people were keeping social distancing as much as they could. Once on the beach it appeared people kept a far enough distance between beach blankets to maintain the six foot rule for social distancing.

From photos provided and on scene reports beach is pretty much at capacity and pushing the envelope for social distancing so I would avoid going to that location until things settle down.

Reminder that Governor Murphy has stated this past week if the virus numbers go back up he would take measures again to close beaches. So it is up to you to keep distancing to keep down the spread of the virus. New Jersey, this is yours to screw up if you don’t maintain distancing, hand washing, and take other precautions so play by the rules.

To Social Media Investigators and Haters: You Got The Wrong Guy

April 12, 2020

Performance Supply, LLC of Manalapan, NJ has no relation to “Performance Screen Supply” also of Manalapan, NJ

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

MANALAPAN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On April 10, 2020 MidJersey.news brought you a story about a company who was allegedly price gouging New York City for N95 masks made by the 3M Company. Since that time Internet sleuths, haters, arm chair quarterbacks and social media trouble makers took out their hate on a business in the same town with a similar sounding name.

For all the haters you are accusing the wrong business, if you Google Performance Supply Manalapan you get a similar sounding company https://www.performancescreen.com/ (note this is the good guy) Performance Screen Supply
600 Park Ave
Suite 100
Manalapan, NJ 07726


As accurately reported by Midjersey.news here is the company involved in the lawsuit from the April 10, 2020 story:

3M Files Lawsuit Alleging N95 Price Gouging in New York City Against Performance Supply, A Manalapan, New Jersey Company

From 3M’s 26 page lawsuit:

“On information and belief, Defendant Performance Supply, LLC is a New Jersey
limited liability company, with a principal place of business at Westbrook Way, Manalapan,
New Jersey 07726.” —-Note MidJersey.news removed the house number from the location.


People are assuming that if you just “Google” a name and it comes out similar it has to be the same business or person. They are wrong and need to do their fact checking from a number of sources not just “Google”

After I posted the story to Facebook and defended the accuracy of the MidJersey.news story of the name of the business on the “Monmouth County News” Facebook Group I received this message from Bob the owner of Performance Screen Supply of Manalapan:

As a news person you want to have your facts before posting and I was accused of being inaccurate by posters on the “Monmouth County News” Facebook group.

One poster has since removed the posts where I defended the name of the business because it sounded different with different addresses. After a lengthy debate where that person was getting information and I wanted to know the references I was told to just “Google it” I told the person in one post that if you can’t back your sources you are peddling “fake news” and asked again for more facts. I was then told that the poster did not have time so “Google”

MidJersey.news is committed to factual, accurate reporting and does not pedal Fake News.

Governor Murphy’s Bait And Switch, Leaves Some Trout Anglers On The Hook

April 7, 2020

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

OPINION

It is kind of interesting the first day of trout season was moved up to April 1, 2020 from the official opening day of April 11, 2020 creating a lot of hype to entice people to get outside and enjoy an opportunity in the outdoors, while practicing safe social distancing.

The hype of an early season, nice weather and the willingness to get out doors to escape the COVID-19 pandemic, many anglers purchased trout stamps and fishing licences bringing in cash to the Division of Fish and Wildlife. Then all of a sudden 7 days later the door was slammed shut on State and County Park lands with waterways that are now closed due to executive order.

Governor Murphy’s executive order left no exemptions for hunting and fishing on state parks or even county parks. This closed many miles of trout stocked waterways that licence holders have paid for though “trout stamps” as an add on to the licence fees.

The average fisherman spends $22.50 for a basic fishing licence and an additional $10.50 for a “trout stamp” allowing them to fish trout stocked waters. The investment is $33.00 before even tossing a line in the water.

Was that April 1 early opening date an April fool joke or a way to grab some quick money to solve a budget issue? This stinks like a dead fish.

As of right now as far as we can tell “Wildlife Management Areas” are still open for passive recreation. If that changes it will be posted on the Fish and Game website here

Remember to check out MidJersey.news story on safe fishing

Fishing licences, trout stamps, hunting and other licence options can be purchased from this link.

Current licence fees for fishing:

LICENSE and STAMP FEES
(Licenses are valid from date of purchase to Dec. 31 of each year)

All Around Sportsman (includes Resident Fishing,
Firearm Hunting and Bow Hunting licenses)
$72.25
Resident Fishing (Ages 16-64 yrs.)$22.50
Sr. Resident Fishing (Ages 65-69 yrs.)$12.50
Resident Trout Stamp$10.50
Non-Resident Fishing (Ages 16 and up)$34.00
Non-Resident Trout Stamp$20.00
7-Day Vacation Fishing (nonresidents only)$19.50
2-Day Vacation Fishing (nonresidents only)$9.00
Fishing Buddy LicensesInformation

Entire stocked water list here: https://njfishandwildlife.com/accesscnty.htm

CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOUR TROUT STOCKED WATER IS NOT ON COUNTY PARK, STATE PARK OR A LOCAL CLOSED PARK BEFORE HEADING OUT TO FISH. MANY MILES OF TROUT STOCKED WATERS ARE CLOSED EITHER BY EXECUTIVE ORDER OR LOCAL ORDERS

2020 SPRING TROUT STOCKING UPDATES / CHANGES4/6/20 – CLICK LINK FOR LATEST UPDATES

All State Parks have recently been closed. The following waters are trout stocked and will not be open for angler access. These closures will also affect angler access areas on rivers within State Park boundaries:

STOCKED BUT CLOSED TO FISHING:

D&R Canal
D&R Feeder Canal
Green Turtle Pond
Lake Aeroflex
Lake Hopatcong (State Park/ramp)
Lake Musconetcong (State Park/ramp)
Lake Ocquittunk
Little Swartswood Lake (State Park/ramp)
Mingamahone Creek
Ringwood Brook
Round Valley (Park area)
Sawmill Pond
Sheppard’s Lake
Swartswood Lake (State Park/ramps)
Stony Lake
Wawayanda Creek
Wawayanda Lake

4/3/20 – Catch and release fishing for trout began at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 1. Most trout waters will temporarily close to fishing again at 12:01 a.m. on April 11 and the season will re-open at the legal time of 8:00 a.m. on April 11 (the official Opening Day of Trout Season), at which time trout can be harvested within established regulations, including a creel limit of six trout per day where allowed. Gear restrictions on special regulated areas still apply.

Census 2020 Survey Is Arriving By Mail

March 13, 2020

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)—The 2020 Census count is underway and I received my invitation by mail today. As per the instructions I logged onto My2020census.gov and entered my code Census ID Code. There were some very basic questions of who was living in the home and birthdays. It was one of the easiest census forms I have ever completed and took less than two minutes to complete from start to finish, even though it says it could take an average of 10 minutes to complete.

The Census is counted every 10 years and many things from voting districts, financial aid, Federal, State and Local government services and more use this government data. A response is required by law and should be very easy to complete if you have received the invitation from United States Census Bureau.

Frequently asked questions of the Census Bureau:

  1. What is the 2020 Census?The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States, once, only once and in the right place. Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that this population and housing count occur every 10 years. Census data guide how more than $675 billion of federal funding is distributed to states and communities each year.
  2. Am I required to respond to the 2020 Census?Yes, you are required by law to respond to the 2020 Census (Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141 and 193). We are conducting the 2020 Census under the authority of Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141, 193 and 221. This collection of information has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The eight-digit OMB approval number is 0607-1006. If this number were not displayed, we could not conduct the census.
  3. Are my answers confidential and private?Yes. The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your information. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data. All web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy.Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information. Violating the confidentiality of a respondent is a federal crime with serious penalties, including a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. Only authorized individuals have access to the stored data, and the information you provide to the Census Bureau may only be used by a restricted number of authorized individuals who are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of your individual responses. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.For more information about how we protect your information, please visit our website at census.gov and click on “Data Protection and Privacy Policy” at the bottom of the home page. This page also includes information about the collection, storage, and use of these records. Click on “System of Records Notices (SORN)” and look for Privacy Act System of Records Notice COMMERCE/CENSUS-5, Decennial Census Program.
  4. Who should complete the 2020 Census questionnaire?This 2020 Census questionnaire should be completed by the person who owns or rents the living quarters or any other person who is at least 15 years of age with knowledge of the household.
  5. How do I change my answers?For questions where you must choose a single response from a list, clicking another response will change your answer to that response.If it is a “select all that apply” question, you may click on a selected check box to unselect the box and remove it as one of your answers.
  6. How long will the 2020 Census questionnaire take?The Census Bureau estimates that completing the questionnaire will take 10 minutes on average.
  7. How will the Census Bureau use the information I provide?By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics.
  8. Is it safe to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire online?Yes. For each online questionnaire, we are required to provide an explanation to respondents about the confidentiality of the data and the laws that protect those data (e.g., Title 13, U.S. Code Section 9 (a)).Per the Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015, your data are protected from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit your data. All web data submissions are encrypted in order to protect your privacy, even in the remote chance that your responses are intercepted.More information on this topic can be found on the Data Protection and Privacy Policy webpage (http://www.census.gov/privacy/).
  9. Will the results be published?Yes. By law, the Census Bureau can only use your responses to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in a way that could identify you or your household. The Census Bureau plans to make results of this study available to the general public. Results will be presented in aggregate form and no personally identifiable information will be published.Information quality is an integral part of the pre-dissemination review of the information disseminated by the Census Bureau (fully described in the Census Bureau’s Information Quality Guidelines at https://www.census.gov/about/policies/quality/guidelines.html). Information quality is also integral to the information collection conducted by the Census Bureau and is incorporated into the clearance process by the Paperwork Reduction Act.
  10. Do I have to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire for my household members?Yes, you will be asked to provide information for each household member.

New Jersey EMS System Has Needed Life Support For A Long Time!

January 26, 2020

Editorial by: PFANJ, Professional Firefighters of NJ

The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system in New Jersey has long been in need of revamping and overhauling. Since 2010, the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) has been working with the New Jersey State Legislature to enact critical changes to our EMS system that will help keep our communities safe. In fact, a law to rebuild the system was passed by the Legislature in 2012, but was vetoed by Governor Christie.

State Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr. (R-13) is taking advantage of the union-busting shut-down of MONOC – New Jersey’s Hospital Service Corporation on April 1 to advocate for swift passage of a bill he is sponsoring (S-617) that would fundamentally change EMS delivery in New Jersey. Make no mistake, this bill will impact the method in which emergency medical help is provided to every neighborhood and family in our great state. The O’Scanlon bill is not the lifeline the NJ EMS system needs.

Instead of strengthening New Jersey’s EMS system, O’Scanlon’s bill lowers standards. It takes highly trained paramedics out of advanced life support units and replaces them with lower-paid EMTs with significantly less training and life-saving capabilities. While O’Scanlon’s bill claims to allow more staffing flexibility, it merely gives hospital systems shortcuts to higher profits. Some of these same hospital systems are the very ones responsible for the dismantling of MONOC.

MONOC, which provided ALS service in New Jersey for 40 years, is being dismantled and shutting its doors on April 1, 2020. MONOC was run by a board of directors that included management from RWJBarnabas HealthHackensack Meridian Health and CentraState Healthcare System. These hospitals systems now will absorb MONOC’s service area. MONOC’s International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union EMS professionals will all lose their jobs and are offered no guarantee of employment in these takeover areas.

Senator O’Scanlon has stated that MONOC’s business model was no longer sustainable. One must ask, if these hospital systems were responsible for MONOC when MONOC collapsed, how will they effectively run this new EMS service?

The needed overhaul of our EMS system should be about giving the citizens of New Jersey the best possible emergency medical services available. The PFANJ and Professional Emergency Medical Service Association PEMSA – IAFF Local 4610 (PEMSA) have worked constructively in the past with Senator O’Scanlon on this overhaul, but more work needs to be done before this current and flawed legislation moves forward.

Paramedics know that hurrying through an emergency scene can lead to unintended mistakes. Deliberative care is always best for the patient and results in a better long-term prognosis. The same can be said for legislation. Instead of rushing to pass legislation like O’Scanlon’s bill that front-line EMS professionals are uncertain will help our communities, it is far more prudent to work with all stakeholders to create sustainable solutions that will have a proven positive impact on how EMS is delivered.

The citizens of New Jersey deserve the best emergency medical system the world has to offer. The PFANJ looks forward to continuing to modernize and increase professionalism of our state’s EMS system. We fear that the forced closure of MONOC and the rushing of O’Scanlon’s bill takes us in the wrong direction and makes us all less safe.

Don Marino
President
Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey

NJ Set to Enact Plastic Ban and 10 cent Paper Bag Fee Tax

Editorial, Opinion

December 5, 2019

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–State Senators Bob Smith and Linda Greenstein have proposed S2776 that bans several plastic items and adds a 10 cent fee tax to paper bags that are the alternatives to plastic.

The intent of the legislation by enacting a “ban” of items is the way to go but any “tax” should be eliminated from bill.

If plastic is really harming the environment lets ban it rather than tax it. Lets not tax the alternatives such as “paper” bags since they break down in the environment, can be recycled and composted and do not cause harm like plastic.

Lets make this bill about the “environment” and not about the money and fee taxes by eliminating the tax language on paper bags in the bill.

I belong to an organic CSA and for the past couple of years they have provided “Compostable” faux plastic bags as an alternative to regular vegetable bags. I tried to compost the bags in the summer of 2018 and they did not break down well and in the spring of 2019 I found them in the garden wrapped around the tines of the rotor tiller.

In the summer of 2019 the CSA ran out of regular plastic vegetable bags and the only choice was to use the compost bags so when I returned home I proceeded to start an experiment to see how long it would take to break down the “compostable” bag.

Results of the experiment is that paper bags break down and the faux plastic also breaks down but takes a little longer than paper to break down. Paper bag will also break down in the environment in a similar way not causing harm to the environment like plastic bags do:

Video final results after 3 months: November 21, 2019:

7 Weeks October 7, 2019

10 Day Compost Update, August 30, 2019:

Start of composting experiment August 20, 2019:

Composting video on how to compost:

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NJ Senate Bill S 4204 Will Harm “Independent Contractors” in Current Form

November 22, 2019

Opinion

When I started this website I was not going to write opinion pieces or editorials since this directly will harm me here is the first opinion piece:

TRENTON, NJ—I started in the “news business” around 1987 photographing for the now defunct Messenger Press in Allentown, NJ. I was in college at the time and brought some photographs into the Messenger Press to see if they would want to run them and they did, I was now “published” The editor told me to send them a bill for $15. Per photo for a total of $30.

For a college kid at the time that was pretty good money for photographs, I could get a tank of gas and a few rolls of film to keep me going. The editor liked my photographs enough to start sending me on assignments as a “freelance photographer” also known as “stringer” As I would find out this is how many entered into news organizations eventually working their way  up to full time employment or a regular part time employee of the news organization.

On assignments I would meet others from different media organizations and was offered additional jobs as a stringer at the time and ended up working for around 13 newspapers and magazines. As a stringer I owned the rights to my work so when a magazine such as Sports Illustrated called looking for a photograph of a football player, I would then sell my photo directly to SI.

Over the years I would generate enough income to have 1099 forms sent to me at the end of the year for non-employee compensation also known as a “independent contractor” I had to do  lot of things they did not teach you in high school or college such as, register as a business, learn accounting, learn to file taxes, open checking accounts, sales negotiations, contracts, inventory, equipment purchases, collect and pay sales taxes and many other things that it takes to run a small business.

A good majority of people working in the news business are also stringers or freelancers. Photographers, writers, editors, delivery persons, and the list goes on and on of all who are employed to bring you the news.

Over the past few years the news business has taken a massive hit from online publishing and the recession of 2007, and has never really recovered. Many newspapers are no longer published, some larger organizations merged, laying off and consolidating staff, many news organizations no longer send reporters or photographers out for a story, they rarely even use stringers as much anymore. Everyone has a phone with a camera so why not get the photographs for free though social media, and of course used with permission for a “photo credit” that pays nothing.

The news still needs to be reported but, larger traditional news organizations can afford to have several full time and part time regular employees. News gathering, editing and publishing takes a lot of time and most have staff large enough to cover the daily operation. When multiple events happen and there are not enough employees to cover everything, so editors reach out to the stringers. Not to mention stringers usually cover regular employees while they are on FMLA, out sick, on vacation, regular time off or a host of other issues when a regular employee would not be able to make an assignment. Other times stringers are useful are during “spot news” events a stringer can sometimes get there faster and able to cover a breaking news story while a staff photographer is tied up on an assignment.

One of the dangers to our democracy is that as we lose newspapers, magazines and other media, we also lose the watch dog that keeps government and others in check. Losing more freelance journalists will just accelerate the process.

Fresh out of college, a fresh start switching careers, or maybe as a second job just trying to make ends meet, being an independent contractor is a great way to try and make it.

New Jersey State Senate President, Stephen M. Sweeney has proposed Senate Bill S-4204 that restricts the ability of employers to use legitimate services of independent contractors and it appears this bill has been “fast tracked” to rush it though the legislature. It is understandable the Senator is trying to stop misclassification of independent contractors that should be bona fide employees and that is understandable. The wording with the current bill pretty much eliminates most independent contractors and will put them out of business causing harm to this already sensitive economy.

It is time to call and write your legislators to have them modify NJ Senate Bill S-4204 to keep private contractor’s jobs alive.

This issue bleeds over to other industries but I am writing on my experiences as a private contractor since 1987.

The State is after UBER, Lyft, delivery services and private trucking companies by having current private contractors forced to become employees of the company. The current version of the bill applies to most all independent contractors, if they pass a certain level that would require them to become a regular employee rather than be an independent contractor. This could include coaches, referees, fitness trainers, sports trainers, artists, photographers, sales, writers, photographers, entertainment, and the list goes on.

Use this link to find and write your legislature to save “Independent Contractor” jobs and appose NJ Senate Bill S-4204 in its current form.

https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp

I have worked 32 years on and off as a stringer/private contractor for news organizations and support our freedoms as Americans to decide whom and when we want to work. Private individuals acting as contractors should not be forced to become an “employee” of the organization and should have the freedom to choose who they want to work for. NJ Senate Bill S-4204 is a classic government overreach in its current form and needs to be changed.


DiMaso calls independent contractor bill ‘economically devastating’
TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Monmouth) issued a statement in response to legislation that would severely impact the number of residents working as independent contractors:
 
“I’ve had dozens of calls, emails, and text messages from people terrified about what will happen to their livelihood,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “How can we even be considering placing these sorts of economic restrictions on the countless New Jerseyans who are independent contractors? It is further troubling that we are pushing this through the legislature so quickly when it would have economically devastating effects to so many independent contractors.”