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Assemblyman Greenwald fights for reform

Group homes make moral, economic sense
The Star-Ledger Editorial Board
January 26, 2009 5:47AM

Financially, it's a no-brainer. But this isn't only an economic issue, it's a moral issue, too.

Assemblyman Louis Greenwald has introduced a bold bill to close five of the state's seven developmental centers and disperse most of the 2,861 residents into the community, to group homes or independent living with support services.

For decades, New Jersey has warehoused many of its developmentally disabled, tucked them into beds, given them three square meals and board games, and decided that was good enough -- even though research says most, if not all, would enjoy a better life among the rest of us. They are promised a better tomorrow, then stuck on a waiting list for community living that has doubled
in the past decade.

Greenwald's bill (A3625) would allow individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and doctors to decide what's best -- a move into the community or a room in a center. Either way, funding would follow them.

Greenwald's bill answers the major concerns of its detractors. If it turns out more than two centers are needed for more severely disabled individuals who want -- or need -- to remain institutionalized, additional centers will remain open. And most jobs won't be lost. Center employees, like others in this fluid economy, would be retrained, so they can provide services in the community.

Finding enough housing and fighting fear and NIMBY will prove challenging, but nothing that concentrated effort couldn't overcome. Sure, the time frame is aggressive, but the bill will get the state moving in the right direction.

When public policy wastes millions of dollars, it's bad policy. When that policy also prevents people from reaching their full potential, or needlessly separates them from those who love them, it's inexcusable.

Camden County clerk to succeed John Adler

Camden County clerk to succeed John Adler
Courier-Post Staff

Camden County Clerk Jim Beach was named to fill an empty seat in the state Senate on Thursday, and the longtime Democratic insider accepted the role with an outsider's message.

"Things just have to change in state government," said Beach after he was tabbed to represent the 6th Legislative District in Camden County. Beach succeeds John H. Adler, a fellow Democrat who earlier this week was sworn in as a U.S. representative.

Beach, who is to be sworn in to the Senate on Tuesday, said he expects to run in November for Adler's unexpired term. He would next face re-election in November 2011.

Beach, 62, of Voorhees, is a former freeholder and current co-chairman of Camden County's Democratic Party. He was appointed unanimously by an enthusiastic crowd of Democratic committee members and party leaders.

The retired educator called for a new direction -- particularly a harder line on state spending -- in a speech to more than 200 people at the party's headquarters here.

"I'd like to have your permission to take your ideas to Trenton," he told his audience. "It's about time we started thinking about ways to take the burden off the taxpayer."

Beach vowed to oppose any tax increase and said the state should consider a spending freeze and possible cutbacks. "That's what's going to have to happen," he said in an interview.

Beach, the county clerk since 1995, served as a freeholder from 1991 to 1995. He began his political career after responding to a mailing that solicited Democratic candidates from about 90,000 area homes.

"I certainly want to always keep in mind that guy who goes to work every day," said Beach. "I know the economy is in trouble, so we have to be very sensitive to everything we do and every penny we spend."

Reach Jim Walsh at (856) 486-2646 or jwalsh@courierpostonline.com

Adler says he'll waste no time tackling economy

Burlington County Times
Adler says he'll waste no time tackling economy
By: MELISSA HAYES Burlington County Times

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Adler said his first priority as a congressman
will be to address the country's financial crisis.

"I see so many families and businesses struggling right now," he said. "I
want to first give them hope and then restore the American Dream for those
who are willing to work hard."

Adler, of Cherry Hill, defeated Republican Chris Myers, of Medford, in
November to fill the seat vacated by Republican Jim Saxton, who retired
after 24 years.

Adler is the first Democrat since 1882 elected to represent the 3rd
District, which includes parts of Burlington and Ocean counties and Cherry

"I think our most immediate crisis involves Wall Street and mortgages and
people losing jobs," Adler said. "I am thrilled with my appointment to help
address the financial crisis."

Three busloads of supporters traveled from New Jersey to witness Adler's
swearing-in via closed-circuit television from a room in Longworth House
Office Building before heading to the reception.

Among the supporters was lifelong Republican Levon Nazarian, of Cherry Hill.
Nazarian, who lives in the same development as Adler, said November was the
first time he voted for a Democrat.

"I know he's a man of integrity and honesty. He's a good father, a good
citizen and a good friend," Nazarian said. "But more than that I know he
will fight hard for the people of New Jersey."

President-Elect Barack Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel joined Adler's

Emanuel, a representative from Illinois who stepped down Tuesday, offered
Adler and his supporters some advice.

"These are not easy times, but New Jersey did not send a congressman to do
easy things," he said.

He warned supporters that Adler would be forced to make hard decisions.

"You have to stand behind him as he makes the tough choices," he said.

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, of Hoboken, also attended the celebration
to congratulate Adler.

"I know based upon John's service in the New Jersey Legislature that he is
going to be on fantastic member of the United States Congress," he said. "I
can't think of having a stronger voice to add to a great delegation from New
Jersey than John Adler."

Homebuyers program helps first-timers in Camden County

Homebuyers program helps first-timers in Camden County
By Edward Colimore, Inquirer Staff Writer

Sharonah Duckett-Thomas was shopping for a home, not a house to flip for profit. She was looking for steady mortgage payments, not increasing rent.

But she had a problem.

Like many first-time buyers in Camden County, she needed help in overcoming a hurdle: the down payment and settlement costs.

Duckett-Thomas is among 178 residents who since 1996 have received support from the county's first-time buyer program, one of dozens of similar, federally funded programs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The social worker and Army reservist took a 32-hour course on money management and home-buying - and received $10,000 toward down payment and settlement costs. She moved into her Pennsauken house on Oct. 13.

The classes "really helped me budget and manage money," said Duckett-Thomas, 34, who works for the county Social Services Department in Camden.

"I have two children and now they have a home, not an apartment," she said.

Between $100,000 and $150,000 in federal funds is made available annually for the program, administered by Housing and Economic Opportunities Inc., a nonprofit in Westmont, said Beth Pugh of the county's Department of Community Development. The level of funding is expected to remain steady, she said.

Read the rest of the article online at the Philadelphia Inquirer.