Blue Law Challengers Respond to LaBarbiera's 'Ridiculous' Comment

In a Letter to the Editor, Mitchell T. Horn responds to Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera's recent comment that Modernize Bergen County's Blue Law repeal argument is "ridiculous." Readers can weigh-in by taking our poll.


Editor's note: This letter from Mitchell T. Horn on behalf of Modernize Bergen County is addressed to Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera and the citizens of the borough: 

On behalf of the Campaign to Modernize Bergen County, lead by Mrs. Rosemary Shashoua, I would like to respond to the recent public comments calling our argument “ridiculous”. 

I would like to start by saying that this is an attempt to diffuse the situation and evolve the discussion from an emotional battle to a logical debate. We have the utmost respect for the residents of Paramus and their passionate desire to preserve the peace and quiet in their borough. We also think that the mayor of Paramus is doing an outstanding job and we would do the same thing if we were in his position (although we would probably use more tasteful language).

Our simple message to you is this: It is not “us” against “you”; we are all on the same Bergen County Team. We are actually both trying to do the same, which is to improve the quality of life in our area.

As a reminder that Paramus is not the only municipality in Bergen County; there are 69 other municipalities with approximately 900,000 people.

The media has generated excitement, which seems that Mrs. Shashoua is leading a solo campaign to destroy the quality of life of the residents of Paramus. The truth is that she has an entire campaign committee dedicated to enrich the quality of life in our county. The campaign team is comprised of motivated and intelligent citizens with a common goal: we want the Blue Laws to be repealed by the voters of Bergen County in November 2013.

Each of the campaign members has their own personal motivation. My motivation is convenience. I have been a resident of the City of Hackensack since 2008. I’m a homeowner, landlord, father, and a diligent tax-paying citizen. My idea of convenience is that I would like the option to purchase things for my family and to enhance my property on Sundays without traveling outside of the county. Like many of you, I use the weekends to get things done, such as embarking on home improvement projects and buying things that my family needs. It’s an inconvenience to have to spend time and gas traveling out of the county when I could very easily get anything I need right here if the stores were open.

This campaign is not strictly about opening up the malls so teenagers can jam up the parking lots and buy new sneakers. This campaign is about the mom who wants to go to the local Babies R Us to buy clothes for her growing baby. It is about the young couple that wants to go to Ikea to buy furniture for their new apartment. It is about the homeowner who goes to Home Depot to buy a snow shovel in the winter or a generator in October.

Also, there are thousands of people that don’t have cars. We should not forget about them. How would you like to take a bus out of the county on Sunday to buy goods because the local stores are closed? It doesn’t sound enjoyable but that’s what many of our fellow Bergen County citizens have to do. The Blue Laws create an unfair obstacle for them. You should be cognizant that the rest of us don’t all have the same options that you do. Don’t forget about the Jewish shoppers who can’t shop on Saturdays.

At the end of the day, this is America, and America is about jobs. Our political leaders should embrace ideas that will result in more commerce and more jobs. Some politicians get it. Governor Chris Christie understands this, so does President Barak Obama. Just think back to the 2012 election, one of the hottest debate topics was JOBS. It is actually hard to imagine a politician to take a position that opposes job creation. However, many of our local politicians oppose this job creation campaign, which is illogical.

We claim that if the Blue Laws are repealed, the local economy will generate as many as 5,000 new jobs. This assessment is rooted in fundamental economics. Incremental shopping hours per week will generate an increase in sales revenue. In order to support the additional sales revenue businesses will need to hire additional staff to register the sales and to manage the inventory.

We encourage Mayor LaBarbiera to engage us directly and come to a settlement. In fact, the voters have already generated some creative ideas in the debate on our Facebook page (Modernize Bergen County New Jersey: Repeal the Blue Laws) that can initiate the discussion:

1.     Amended Blue Laws that allow limited shopping hours on Sunday (such as Noon-5pm).

2.     Preserving the Blue Laws in Paramus while repealing them for the rest of Bergen County.

3.     Guaranteeing a portion of the incremental state tax revenue generated by Sunday sales is allocated to fund Bergen County Schools.

Leaders are responsible for clearing the obstacles that restrict commerce. In our view, the Blue Laws are obstacles that are inhibiting economic growth and job creation in Bergen County. Our leaders should step up to this challenge and clear this obstacle for us. The rest of the State and Nation have already come to this conclusion and now it is our turn.

Our argument is that if you repeal the Blue Laws, you will unlock the growth potential of Bergen County, create thousands of new jobs, and make it easier for the majority of residents to get things done on the weekend. That doesn’t sound like such a ridiculous argument to us.

In closing, we have one simple question for the Mayor of Paramus that we would like him to state publicly: In your best good-faith estimate, how many Sundays out of the past 52 weeks did you purchase: clothing, furniture, or electronics?

Mitchell T. Horn
Modernize Bergen County

Marge January 28, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I am not the mayor of Paramus, but in the last 48 years of my life, I have not purchased clothing, furniture, or electronics on a Sunday. And I am proud and happy to say so. I have survived very well. I also own a home, and I haven't had any NEED to get to Home Depot on Sunday either. This isn't the first time this "issue" has come up, Mr. Thorn. You have lived in Hackensack for four years, and Rosemary is from Morris County. But, we have been through this before, and the people of this county have voted. Isn't that important in America? Democracy? Majority rules? Governor Christie tried it too, and he has backed off. Any idea why?
Michael January 28, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Seems Mr Horn cannot manage his time well. Using the Jewish people is a red herring since they can do all thier shopping after SUNDOWN on a Saturday since many places are still open until 10 or 11pm. Mr Horn is looking to destroy one of the few times everyone can get a break from everything. Another thing is every town around Paramus opened up their streets would still be clogged from people trying to get from one place to another. Greed is a good word for Mr Horn.
Kim January 28, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Very well written letter, Mr. Horn! As a homeowner and single mother of a child with special needs, sometimes Sunday is the only day I can get out to make purchases, buy clothes for myself or my son, furniture for my home, or supplies to fix things in my home. It can be very difficult to get outside the county and because of their limited hours, sometimes I can't get there in time because of the distance. Going to Passaic County is too far for me, so I end up having to go to New York State where the taxes are much higher. I sure hope this law is repealed and we all have the opportunity to shop and work on Sundays if we choose to and when we need to. And @Marge, who has miraculously never had to do any type of shopping or make any type of repair on a Sunday, good for you. I hope your toilet doesn't break on a Sunday like mine did. That's an absolute NEED to get to Home Depot on Sunday.
Township Parent January 28, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I think it should be up to the residents of Bergen County. Let's take a vote and see.
B@B January 28, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Palmer Hardware in Oradell is open on Sundays. They have a full selection of toilet parts. I know this because my fill valve went on a Sunday too. I was also able to buy paint and drill bits.
Dianne G. January 29, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Regardless of what day, our environment needs a break.
Marge January 29, 2013 at 01:44 PM
Hey, Kim. It's not a miracle, it's called good planning. Sometimes I shop on Sundays--for food. Food is a necessity, Kim, NOT furniture. Where do you live that everything is so far from you? How many hours does it take you to drive out of Bergen County? You NEED furniture on a Sunday? You fix your own toilet? Wow. Sounds like a lot of excuses to me. Sounds like you're not very prepared for emergencies either. And you don't know me, you don't know my life situation. Maybe I have someone to take care of too, but that person doesn't NEED a piece of furniture or an article of clothing on a Sunday. As I have said before, the PEOPLE of the county have spoken out--more than once. We want to keep the blue laws. And sorry to all of you who don't like to hear it, but if you don't like it here, you are free to go elsewhere OR we can have another vote. That's the beauty of America. No miracles here, Kim, just common sense.
21st century concerned citizen January 30, 2013 at 12:04 AM
I very happily shop on Sundays in both Passaic and Rockland counties as well as place internet purchases. It would certainly be more convenient and less toxic to the air (as I drive to those destinations) if the Blue Laws were abolished in Bergen County. Paramus is not the capital of Bergen County and while I believe the Blue Laws should be abolished because we are living in the 21st Century, for a starter let each town in Bergen County make their own decision. As some of the comments state, why is Sunday a special day and not Saturday or Friday or Thursday etc. I have also mentioned that Grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores, gas stations etc are open on Sunday. Why should they be allowed to open and not other stores. If I see an article of clothing, or an electric appliance at a shop rite in Bergen County I can buy it any day of the week including sunday, but the mom and pop clothing store must remained closed. Doesn't make any sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I really have to question the logic of any argument presented to preserve the Blue Laws. This is not the 19th Century. People have jobs and demands that may prevent them from buying clothes etc for their family on days other than Sunday. So what do they do they drive to other counties. Doesn't make any sense in today's age. We are not a county of Puritans
21st century concerned citizen January 30, 2013 at 12:06 AM
I agree. Let's give the environment a break. Many people from Bergen County are driving many miles to other counties to shop on Sundays. They are burning gas and polluting the air. Let's abolish the Blue Laws so people can shop local
21st century concerned citizen January 30, 2013 at 12:07 AM
It should not be a county law. Let each town make their own decision
21st century concerned citizen January 30, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Kim You are absolutely correct and you should have the freedom to shop in your own town on any day of the week. For any of the people who do not understand your situation or who are challenging you right to shop for your family they are closed minded who have no concept of the realities of modern times. It appears that some of these people hibernate on Sundays in their homes. I wonder if they are so strict with Sunday that they do not even watch their TV or use electricity
Kevin P January 30, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I agree that it is time Bergen County gets into the 21st century. For or Against why not have it on the ballot? Can someone post where I can sign the petition please.


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