Typically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.
The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.
The small hearing room that accommodated 60 was packed with the faces of brown and white people, while others filled the hallways and adjacent conference rooms. For the next three hours, this hearing would be the big show in this small town. And it didn’t disappoint.
At the outset of the hearing, the attorney for the mosque, sensing that the room was filled with opponents, made a simple plea to the municipal board members: “This is not a public referendum, it’s a question of law.”
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Have you heard the one about the fat Governor? Of course you have. You can’t avoid him. Chris Christie is huge. (Horrible pun intended.)
The obsession with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s weight has become a national pastime. Comedians (including myself), late night TV hosts and the Twittersphere love to talk and joke about Christie’s weight. It’s almost as easy as writing jokes about the despicable Donald Trump- who I believe if he was alive during the time of slavery would’ve been like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Django Unchained.”
But here’s my question: Why are well-known news journalists now asking questions like: “Is Chris Christie too fat to be President? Can he really survive the stress of being President if he is that big? Would he be the fattest President in American history?”
Do they really think they’re helping us determine if Christie would make a good president by fixating only on his weight? Does Christie’s waist size or daily calorie intake somehow tell us what kind of President he will make? Or maybe these journalists think we haven’t noticed Christie’s size and they are blowing the lid off the fat governor story?
And the really clever journalists – aware they are talking about the most superficial aspect of a politician – try to frame the issue under the guise of caring for Christie’s health. Do these journalists actually believe Christie isn’t aware that his weight is a health risk? Well, this recent statement by Christie should put this issue to rest for good: "My doctor continues to warn me that my luck is going to run out relatively soon, so believe me it’s something I’m very conscious of.”
I have a suggestion for the members of the news media: If you really want to help us determine if Christie would one day be a good President, stop focusing on his weight and instead focus on his record as Governor of New Jersey. Lets hear about the policies he has enacted, not the donuts he has eaten.
To be honest, during the news media’s discussion of: “Is Christie too fat to be President?” have you heard even one word about his record as Governor? I haven’t.
At least balance out the fat with some meat. Tell us about the good and bad of Christie’s tenure as Governor of my home State.
For example, New Jersey currently has a 9.6% unemployment rate. This is not only well over the national unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, but it’s actually the 4th highest in the nation only behind California, Rhode Island and Nevada. Why not ask the Governor about this issue?
And can you stop asking Christie about his weight long enough to inquire as to why he twice vetoed legislation that would have kept New Jersey as part of a nine state program designed to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
How about asking Christie why he recently vetoed an increase in the minimum wage for New Jersey workers? Or why in 2012 he vetoed a law that would have enacted marriage equality? Or why he killed a major public works project –which would have been funded primarily by the federal government - to build a rail tunnel that the independent General Accounting Office found would have reduced commuting time for New Jersey residents heading to New York City and would have also created thousands of jobs.
And also lets hear about Christie’s achievements, such as the law he signed placing a 2% cap on municipal tax growth. The result was New Jersey property taxes rose in 2012 on average of only 1.4%- the lowest in two decades.
And obviously Christie deserves accolades for not only his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but also for standing up to the Republicans in the House and pushing them into passing a Sandy relief package for New Jersey residents in need.
Of course, the problem with talking policy is that it’s boring. Policy discussions don’t get ratings or sell newspapers. But talking about Christie’s weight is easy. It ‘s like the political version of the reality show, “The Biggest Loser.”
Hopefully Chirstie will lose weight for the sake of his own health. But that’s between him and his family. However, the decisions Christie made as Governor impacts millions of people.
How about we make the news journalists an offer: You leave talking about Christie’s weight to us comedians, late night show hosts and people on social media. We have that covered.
Instead, why don’t you focus on Christie’s record as Governor. Deal?