15, 1998 |
plan for battleship gets torpedoed
By ALAN GUENTHER
- The battleship USS New Jersey should be moved as a tourist
attraction to the Camden Waterfront, U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli
said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview.
But the Democratic senator's proposal was
swiftly torpedoed hours later, when a state legislator said the
Camden-Philadelphia area did not attract enough tourists to support
'It's going to Bayonne,' said state Assemblyman
Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth. The assemblyman chairs the USS New
Jersey Battleship Commission, which has already raised $3 million
to restore and locate the historic ship in North Jersey, where
it is expected to draw more than 300,000 tourists from the New
In response to local problems, Torricelli
promised to provide $1 million in federal funds to repair a dike
and solve flooding problems in Logan and Greenwich townships
in Gloucester County.
Nationally, Torricelli said parents should
be allowed to save up to $2,000 a year, tax-free, to help pay
for the education of their children in public or private schools.
And he said a proposal to lower the legal
limit for intoxication to .08 percent blood-alcohol content may
be too strict.
'Some people tell me that with a single glass
of wine, a small person, not accustomed to drinking, could be
found in violation of the law,' Torricelli said. 'If that's true,
then we've gone too far. Before this is settled, there is a scientific
inquiry here that is not yet complete.'
He also opposed recent efforts to extract
more money in a court battle with the tobacco companies. An earlier
settlement agreement won important concessions, he said. Advertising
aimed at children would have ended. The government would have
won more than $300 billion from the industry. He said he feared
efforts in recent weeks to extract at least $500 billion may
go too far.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the state's senior
Democratic senator, supports the tougher controls on alcohol
and tobacco. Torricelli admitted Tuesday that he has been unable
to smooth over a public feud with Lautenberg. He called their
chilly relationship 'unfortunate' and declined further comment.
In general, Torricelli reported that the United
States is in the middle of a prolonged period of world peace
and economic prosperity. But those good times could easily end.
To maintain its progress, the United States
needs to invest more in its schools and universities, assuring
that people have access to high-quality education.
And he said he was appalled at the lack of
direction and purpose in U.S. foreign policy.
'We are not using our true potential to manage
international events. We're watching economic and political developments
in Russia and hoping for the best. That is unforgivable.
'If Russia returns to dictatorship and military
aggression,' he warned, 'our children will have a right to never
forgive us. It will be one of the great squandered opportunities
of all time.'
Acknowledging today's deadline for filing
income tax returns, Torricelli called for a simplifying of the
federal tax code.
He also said families should be allowed to
save up to $2,000 a year, tax-free, to help pay some of the costs
of educating their children. The money could be used to buy computers
or supplies - or pay private school tuition.
The proposal requires no expenditure by the
federal government, he explained, but parents would be given
a tax break for the money they put aside to help their children
In regard to federal spending, Torricelli
said he didn't break a campaign promise last year when he cast
the deciding vote against a constitutional amendment to require
the federal government to balance its budget.
He said he voted against the Republican-sponsored
amendment because it would not have allowed the federal government
to incur debt if a war broke out or if the economy turned sour.