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

Could take law to get `Big J' funds



State Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, and a key player in getting the USS New Jersey located in Camden, had the $1 million question Thursday: "The money belongs to the battleship ... and the money will end up where it belongs. What else did we raise the money for?"

Indeed, where else would the money raised by the New Jersey Battleship Commission end up? Common sense dictates that the funds raised through the sale of commemorative license plates and other sources be used to restore the "Big J."

However, common sense sometimes needs a helping hand from politicians.

Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, and chairman of the battleship commission and the battleship foundation, doesn't want to give up the funds.

Instead, he promises the commission, which lost in its bid to bring the ship to Bayonne, will spend the money on the ship.

Two Assembly Democrats have a better idea. Robert Smith, D-Gloucester, and Joe Roberts, D-Camden, are co-sponsoring a bill to abolish the commission and give the $1 million to those overseeing the project in Camden.

It shouldn't take legislation to enforce common sense, but this time it just might.

Give Azzolina and the commission credit for the hard work they did. Without their efforts, the battleship would not be coming to New Jersey. While their tactics in trying to land the ship for Bayonne were, well, debatable, there's no denying their critical role in securing the ship for the state.

But, the Navy picked Camden over Bayonne. The fight is over. It's time to let go of both the emotional baggage and the $1 million.

Abolish the commission and let the Home Port Alliance take the lead in creating a magnificent battleship museum. Help it along by giving it the money New Jerseyans raised to restore the ship.

It's simply the right thing to do with or without a new law.



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