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

June 3, 1998

Battleship commission needs its sails trimmed

We nominate Assemblyman Joseph Azzolina, R-Monmouth, who also chairs the Battleship New Jersey Commission, as poster child for arrogance.

Sen. John Matheussen, R-Gloucester, and Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden, introduced a resolution asking the commission to consider having the ship brought to Camden as a floating museum.

Their effort got this response from Azzolina: 'I commend the effort, but it is for naught. The commission made the decision on Bayonne. There is no way you would be in time to change positions because anyone else can apply to the Navy for the ship and we could lose it altogether.'

Like his arguments for putting the grand old ship in Bayonne, it's little more than hot air, puffery to cover the fact his commission really didn't give other parts of the state a fair shake.

Perhaps that's because no commission member lives south of Princeton.

Matheussen correctly questions the commission's authority to decide on a specific location when it applied to the Navy two years ago. The legislation that created the commission limits it to 'assistance and advice' in planning and fund raising.

'The commission never had the authority to decide where the site was. It was only empowered to make a recommendation,' Matheussen said.

Prior to the scare tactic about losing the ship, the best Azzolina could come up with is that the battleship had to be in Bayonne because it was close to New York.

Yeah, sure, millions of people are going to leave the Big Apple and try to find Bayonne. How much of a cab ride is that, anyway? If they want to see a former Navy ship made into a museum, they can walk a few blocks from Broadway and visit the much bigger USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier.

The USS New Jersey belongs on the revitalized Camden Waterfront for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was built at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard by a lot of people who lived in South Jersey. This is the ship's home. This is where it should come back to.

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