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Thursday, August 11, 2005Past Issues - S | M | T | W | T | F | S
South Jersey

Commission must hand over money folks gave for 'Big J'

Consider these thoughts on the USS New Jersey and N.J. Battleship Commission: "Just because they got the site doesn't mean they can grab money that's been around. That belongs to the battleship foundation. We raised the money, and we're responsible for it."

These idiotic words belong to Assemblyman Joe Azzolina, R-Monmouth, chairman of the battleship commission. What he's talking about blows the mind of anyone with a sense of fair play and honor.

The state has already guaranteed $6 million out of general revenues for the battleship, and Senate President Donald DiFrancesco plans to introduce legislation asking for another $7.2 million. But that's beside the point.

About $1 million has been raised by the Battleship New Jersey Foundation. Summon up all of the brainpower you can. Where do you think money donated to the Battleship New Jersey Foundation should be spent? Maybe - say, just guessing here - on the USS New Jersey?

Azzolina, it seems, isn't so sure. He's still trying to decide what his battleship commission should do.

"We selected a site that the Navy decided not to use. I don't know where we're at right now. It's an official state commission, and there is no real reason for it to disappear. Maybe the state commission will be involved in the Camden operation."

We know where you're at. You're out of business.

Your job was to select the most appropriate site for the battleship. You blew that assignment.

South Jersey's Home Port Alliance can manage nicely all by itself. Just hand over the money that New Jerseyans donated for the ship.

Azzolina was gracious in defeat when the Navy announced that his beloved Bayonne had lost to Camden. He offered his congratulations. He was praised, and rightfully so, for his decades of hard work to bring the "Big J" back to New Jersey.

Unfortunately, it seems he is struggling with what to do with himself and his commission now that there's really nothing for him and his commission to do.

An idea: Hand over the money and fold the commission.

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