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 The campaign team is comprised of motivated and intelligent citizens with a common goal: we want the Blue Laws to be repealed by the voters of Bergen County in November 2013.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