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DID YOU KNOW?

By SNOR

Did you know that some New Jersey municipalities can require a Municipal Court appearance for an unlicensed dog?

http://www.state.nj.us/nj/community/community/dog_licenses.html

“The owners of all dogs seven months of age or older are required to annually apply to the licensing clerk of the municipality in which he or she resides for a dog license. In order for the license to be issued, the owner must present proof that a licensed veterinarian has vaccinated the dog against rabies and that the duration of immunity from that vaccination extends through at least ten months of the twelve-month licensing period.”

As explained by the State of New Jersey Department of Health (http://www.nj.gov/health/vph/documents/dog_licensing_procedures.pdf):  “Municipal licensing fees are set by municipal ordinance and can range from $1.50 to $21.00 per dog. Licensing clerks also collect the following additional fees when the dog is licensed: $1.00 for each dog licensed that is forwarded to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and placed in the Rabies Trust Fund to support State rabies and animal control programs; $3.00 for dogs that are not spayed or neutered, which is forwarded to the NJDOH, Animal Population Control Program (APC) to fund the New Jersey low cost spay and neuter program; and 20 cents for each dog licensed that is also forwarded to the APC.”

A consolidation of New Jersey dog laws can be found at Michigan State University, College of Law’s Animal Legal & Historical Center (https://www.animallaw.info/statute/nj-dogs-consolidated-dog-laws).   There are laws about rabies control, licensing requirements, and dangerous dogs:  N. J. S. A. 2A:42-101 to 2A:42-113; 2C:29-3.1; 4:19-1 to 4:19-43; 4:19A-1 – 17; 4:21B-1 – 3; 4:22A-1 to 13; 23:4-25, 26, 46; 26:4-78 – 95; 40:48-1. 

I have to ask:  What about cats?

SNOR is a dreamer and world watcher who has more questions than answers.

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AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY’S LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER PROGRAM

By SNOR

Dedicated to Vera, nurse and volunteer, for the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better Program.  I don’t know her last name but think about her often.  Her compassion helped me to return to the world of the living.

After surgery, chemo, and radiation, I’m afraid to see what is left.

One of the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better volunteers (Vera) stands behind me.

She encourages me to look in the mirror.  I joke about my fears.  Is this me?

The face, my face looks puzzled. Hair grows like green sprouts on an old potato.  Signs of life emerge from brown, sunken skin.

In the small mirror, the face accuses me.  The makeup softens my face’s harsh lines.

Blush brings artificial health to my cheeks.  My colored eyelids distract from buried sadness.

I’m transformed.   Am I ready to pretend to be me again?  My heart absorbs life with each breath.

Goals for the future clatter in my head like chimes at the wind’s mercy.  Random.

Spring’s flower petals ride the wind’s waves.  Their delicate beauty blooms for only a moment.

I too am temporary.   Cancer cells that replicate can destroy me.

Each day is a surprise. Like a surfer, I risk the crashing waves.

The triumph is in the trying.

***

“The Look Good Feel Better program was founded and developed in 1989 by the Personal Care Products Council (at the time called the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, or CTFA), a charitable organization supported by the cosmetic industry, in cooperation with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Professional Beauty Association (or PBA), a national organization that represents hairstylists, wig experts, estheticians, makeup artists, and other professionals in the cosmetic industry.

All cosmetology volunteers who are part of the program attend a 4-hour certification class.

Look Good Feel Better is free, non-medical, and salon and product neutral. Volunteers and program participants do not promote any cosmetic product line or manufacturer. All cosmetics used in the group program have been donated.”  https://www.cancer.org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/look-good-feel-better.html

SNOR celebrates cancer survivors and those who inspired them to live again.

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unity-is-us

UNITY OF PURPOSE

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

Congressman Leonard Lance, who represents New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District (parts of Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union and Warren counties as well as all of Hunterdon County), issued the following statements about the decision to conduct Syria air strikes:

“The Assad regime is directly responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent.  Such crimes against humanity have been a scourge on the world for too long. 

“War should never be the first response.  We gave diplomacy a chance during the Obama Administration and the world community was told that the chemical weapons had been eliminated.  That was clearly not the case. 

“This response is measured and appropriate.  And the President was right to build a coalition with the British and French and to criticize the actions of Russia and Iran in enabling Assad. 

“War powers and Constitutional responsibilities should be addressed.  Congress needs to be involved in further action.”

Congressman Lance’s statement about “War powers and Constitutional responsibilities”  refers to the constitutional responsibility of Congress (Article I, Section 8, Chapter 11) to assert its explicit powers.  This will require a unity of action between the executive and legislative branches of government.  The separation of powers of the U.S. Constitutional specifically delegates to Congress the purchase strings to fund any military operation; however, the President remains the Commander-in-Chief.  There must be cooperation between the two governmental branches for the shared powers to function effectively with a unity of purpose.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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PRESIDENT TRUMP IS RIGHT. THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S ENDLESS INVESTIGATION INTO THE WHITE HOUSE IS ‘AN ATTACK ON OUR COUNTRY.’

By ROBERT ROMANO

“It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense.  It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

That was President Donald Trump’s reaction to the FBI raid of the residence and office of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Later, on Twitter, Trump declared, “Attorney–client privilege is dead!”

The President is right. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall… have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense,” but who will want to be a defense lawyer now that counsels can apparently be prosecuted for protecting their client’s legal interests, for example, by settling legal claims with potential litigants? The Fifth Amendment guarantees that no person shall be denied of liberty with “due process” and the right not to incriminate oneself, yet by denying Trump the right to keep private legal counsel, he is being denied due process and privileged communications could now be used against him.

Cohen settled such a matter with Stephanie Clifford a.k.a. porn star Stormy Daniels for $130,000 in Oct. 2016 before the election, which Clifford now says was to cover up an affair she had with Trump. Clifford had reportedly signed a non-disclosure agreement as a part of the settlement and she accepted the money.

Now, supposedly, federal prosecutors are looking into the payment as some sort of in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign. But to prove it, federal prosecutors would have to show that the payment was “in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate’s campaign,” per the Federal Election Commission’s definition.

In a statement to the New York Times in February, Cohen had said, “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” President Trump has since denied he was aware of the payment. But even if he was, candidates for public office do not cease to have legal rights to settle private claims unrelated to the campaign. Could the payment have been to protect the Trump campaign? Sure.

But it could have been to protect his marriage. His family. His professional reputation. There was no guarantee Trump would win the election. Disclosure of an extramarital affair could be damaging in a number of ways, and surely as Trump’s personal attorney, Cohen had the power to settle such a claim on Trump’s behalf before the election, after the election and in between. That’d be like saying Trump today could not settle a civil matter out of court in private because he has already announced his intent to run for re-election in 2020 because that would be an in-kind contribution. It’s preposterous.

Every American has a constitutional right to settle such legal disputes without courts getting involved. This was a civil matter.

A similar criminal complaint was brought against former Sen. John Edwards (D-Mass.) in 2011, and he was supposedly using actual campaign money to pay to cover up an affair, but nothing came of it. Edwards was found not guilty in 2012 of illegally obtaining donations. All other charges against Edwards were dropped after the jury came back dead-locked.

Cohen has been Trump’s attorney for 12 years. By seizing everything at Cohen’s home and office, that will surely include communications with Trump going back all those years. The matter was reportedly referred by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York.

It had nothing to do with Mueller’s “Russia” investigation — which seems to be about everything but Russia anyway — but if it turns up something that suits the Special Counsel’s investigation, surely it will be used by Mueller. It gives Mueller’s all the benefits of raiding Cohen without actually having to do it himself, and none of the risk.

In other words, if Mueller had something on Cohen to do with Russia collusion in the 2016 election, surely he would have gotten his own warrant to go after him. Instead, it was outsourced to another U.S. Attorney. Meaning, there was no collusion. Nothing to justify going at Cohen, so another pretext had to be developed for violating the President’s constitutional right to legal counsel. And even then, they may not have found what they were looking for, as now federal prosecutors are subpoenaing Trump Organization for documents related to the Clifford payment.

Which is not any surprise. The ends justify the means to these federal prosecutors and will do whatever it takes to take down Trump — which is what this is all really about.

The President explained, “I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now — and actually, much more than that.  You could say it was right after I won the nomination, it started.”

Again, the President is right. Long before the election, the FBI initiated its investigation in the summer of 2016, when the Hillary Clinton campaign, DNC-paid for Christopher Steele dossier by Fusion GPS appeared alleging that Trump was a Russian agent.

That was the document Comey produced to then-President Elect Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2017. By then, Trump and his campaign were under active investigation. Comey was setting the stage for a conflict between the Justice Department and President Trump.

That’s when the Justice Department crossed the Rubicon. It is hard not to wonder if former FBI Director James Comey was attempting to get fired all along?

Trump would later suggest that he thought Comey was attempting to leverage him with the dossier’s allegations and what turns out really was an ongoing investigation into Trump on the Russia question.

By Jan. 10, the story had leaked to CNN and soon the dossier was published by Buzzfeed.

Once Buzzfeed published the dossier the risk of exposure was ratcheted up — particularly the provenance of the dossier being paid for by the DNC and then pursued by the Obama Justice Department.

Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, it turns out, had never been to Prague as the dossier had alleged. And if he wasn’t in Prague, then he couldn’t have been there colluding with Russian agents as was alleged. The dossier was a fraud. And it had led to a national security investigation into the Trump campaign, the opposition party, in an election year.

Suddenly, the investigation was a race against time. Either Trump would be removed from office, or their hands in a bogus investigation would be revealed. They had to go all the way, if for no other reason, then to legitimize the original investigation.

By that time, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had already been recorded having the conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016 about sanctions by the lame duck Obama administration against Moscow. The FBI would ultimately question Flynn about the conversation on Jan. 24, 2017. That followed first the fact the conversation had occurred being leaked to the Washington Post and then the contents to contradict a denial by the incoming administration that sanctions had been discussed.

By Feb. 14, 2017, the New York Times was reporting that the Justice Department was actively investigating Trump and campaign officials for supposed contacts with Russian intelligence officials. When then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to come forward and say the story was fake, after telling Priebus it was false, that was the first time the White House was accused of “obstructing” justice. The episode might prove that an obstruction case was what they had in mind to be built all along. They just needed Trump to interfere with the investigation in some more substantive way.

In short, the Justice Department’s gambit might have been to carry over the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign into the new administration, deny to the White House there was an investigation into the President but in the meantime leak the fact that there was an investigation. It could have been bait, daring the President to intervene.

The end result, with Comey being fired, was then taken as the evidence that Trump had obstructed the investigation.

During the early months of 2017, Trump would ask Comey if he was under investigation, and Comey denied he was. When Comey was finally fired, something the President absolutely had the power to do, under recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump explained part of his reasoning included “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” Then, Rosenstein appointed the Special Counsel.

This was always an investigation in search of a crime in search of evidence. In that order.

It sure looks like the President was set up. And now, a year later, Mueller has not brought forward any case of President Trump colluding with Russia on anything. One-time campaign manager Paul Manafort was brought up on charges to do with his tenure advising former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the 2000s. Flynn pled guilty to lying investigators. One-time campaign advisor George Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying to investigators. So far, no collusion.

Instead, we’ve got Mueller putting the U.S. Attorney in New York onto the porn star case and ransacking Trump’s attorney’s office. Perhaps he’s preparing to get fired after finding nothing on the President, too, and so needs another U.S. Attorney to pursue the case. It never ends.

And in the meantime, it could be putting U.S. national security at risk.

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning called the raid in a statement a “trivial distraction in dangerous times,” noting that “the President is dealing with talks to denuclearize North Korea, the Syrian chemical weapons attack, trade issues with China and potential Russian encroachments into Ukraine. The distraction that Mueller’s headline-seeking antics create over trivial matters are no longer in U.S. national security interests. We need President Trump fully focused on the real problems facing our nation. It’s time for Jeff Sessions to swat the gnat that is Mueller and put the Special Counsel investigation to rest. Our nation’s security demands it.”

So, while the President is now dealing with real threats to national security, the Justice Department has been imagining for the past two years that Trump was a Russian agent. And when that proved not to be true, they’re resorting to the allegations of a porn star who is being accused by Trump’s lawyer Cohen of violating her non-disclosure agreement she took payment to enter into as a legal settlement.

It is hard to imagine how any other President except Trump could keep governing robustly while this absolute undermining of the office is continuing.

This is Constitution-breaking stuff. The Justice Department is utterly out of control. This is why the Framers thought there should only be one president at a time.

In Federalist No. 70, Alexander Hamilton wrote of the unitary executive in the Constitution as “essential to the steady administration of the laws” and to “the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy.” It was deemed necessary preventing factions within an executive branch vying for power and executing laws against each other, which was the plague of the ancient Roman Republic with its dual consul system.

In short, by crossing this legal Rubicon, Mueller and company have put national security in danger, the Bill of Rights in jeopardy and the office of the Presidency itself at risk. It takes on the appearance of attempting to overturn the will of the American people who voted to elect Trump in 2016.

Similarly, Justice Department memoranda from 2000 and 1973 affirm the idea that a president cannot be indicted for a crime by the Justice Department because “the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unduly interfere with the ability of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned duties, and would thus violate the constitutional separation of powers.” Only Congress can prosecute a sitting president via the constitutionally prescribed impeachment.

Yet today we have an ongoing investigation into the President by a part of the executive branch, a faction that has seized power, a malady that Article II’s unitary executive was supposed to cure. The investigation has always been an unconstitutional abomination the moment it was carried over into Trump’s Presidency, and now it is absolutely violating the President’s constitutional rights by piercing his attorney-client privilege. National talk show host and constitutional scholar and attorney Mark Levin on April 9 called the damage being inflicted on the Constitution by this investigation “irreversible.” So, yes, it is absolutely an attack on our country, and as the President stated, “an attack on what we all stand for.”

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties.  For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.  You can also read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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Candy Crush

LIFE LESSONS FROM CANDY CRUSH

BY SNOR

Life lessons learned from Candy Crush:

  1.  Players must risk losing sometimes to achieve the objective.
  2. There is a momentum to success and the opposite pull of continued failure.
  3. The game will reset if there are no more possible moves.
  4. Sometimes, there are second chances and new opportunities.
  5. Those with money can purchase power-ups that allow them to win more often.
  6. Patience and persistence are rewarded by colorful flashes of light and upbeat sounds.
  7. My family says that I’m addicted.  I say that I am competitive.

I can’t wait for Candy Crush time.  What will I learn today?

SNOR is a dreamer and world watcher who has more questions than answers.

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beautiful-chaos

DIRTY CLOTHES AND CASE LAW

By SNOR

I sort the laundry and try to organize the legal arguments in my mind. I overload the washer with clothes so that the mountain appears lower and more attainable.

Climbing to the highest peak, I try to catch that stray purple sock before it pollutes the white clothes.

My mind swims and swirls in the water’s swirling cycle. The legal brief left undone.

My thoughts scattered in the wind with the cherry blossom petals. Without the flowers, the tree looks barren.

I hide the monster’s rage behind a mask of makeup.

If I just could find the matching sock, would life make sense?  Or . . .

Would I drown anyway in dirty clothes and case law?

SNOR is a dreamer and world watcher who has more questions than answers.

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EQUAL PAY DAY IS TODAY

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

Equal Pay Day is today–April 10, 2018.  This date represents how far into the year the average woman needs to work in 2018 to be paid the amount men earned in 2017.   In fact, Valerie Wilson, the director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy,  has calculated that “For African-American women, Equal Pay Day this year will come on August 7. For Hispanic women, it will come November 1.”  (https://www.vox.com/2018/4/10/17220098/equal-pay-day-gender-wage-gap-today-explained-podcast)

Senator Kristin Corrado (R- Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) stated that “I am honored to stand with women across New Jersey in the fight for equal pay for equal work.  While we have made significant strides, there is still much more we can do. A person’s gender should not be a determining factor in their salary. That’s just common sense – and it’s something we should all agree on. Let’s continue to work together on a bipartisan basis to ensure pay discrimination becomes a thing of the past.”

Senator Corrado voted for the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act that passed the New Jersey Legislature recently. The name of this bill acknowledges former Senator Diane Allen’s struggles against wage discrimination while working as a television anchor.  Governor Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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London-chinese-new-year-2011-dragon-puppet

CHINA IS A PAPER DRAGON ON RARE EARTHS MONOPOLY, DUMPING TREASURIES

By ROBERT ROMANO

Two key arguments are often made by those warning of a trade war with China, which is that Beijing could inflict major damage by cutting off the export of rare earth metals and by dumping its $1 trillion horde of U.S. treasuries.

But on both of these China could be more of a paper dragon than the conventional wisdom would have you believe.

First, on rare earth metals. Jeff Spross at The Week argues that “if things do spiral into all-out trade war, it’s worth noting China has a nuclear option. I’m referring to rare earth metals. These are elements like dysprosium, neodymium, gadolinium, and ytterbium. They aren’t actually rare, but they do play crucial roles in everything from smart phones to electric car motors, hard drives, wind turbines, military radar, smart bombs, laser guidance, and more. They’re also quite difficult to mine and process. It turns out the United States is almost entirely dependent on foreign suppliers for rare earth metals. More importantly, it’s almost entirely dependent on China specifically for rare earth metals that have been processed into a final and usable form. Basically, if China really wanted to mess with America, it could just clamp down on these exports.”

That much is true. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. at present is 100 percent reliant on imports of rare earth metals, used in the components of some of the most important modern technologies we take for granted every day. And much of it presently comes from China.

Spross references a piece by Victoria Bruce at the Hill, writing, “The most recent 2016 Government Accounting Office (GAO) report called China’s monopoly on rare earths a ‘bedrock national security issue,’ and back in 2010, the GAO warned Congress that it could take up to 15 years for the U.S. to re-develop its own rare earth supply chain.”

On the other hand, China by no means has a total monopoly on rare earth metals. Although the U.S. has not mined rare earths the past two years, U.S. military ally Australia has been ramping up its production the past decade, and now is the number two producer in the world at 20,000 metric tons in 2017.

In fact, China has been losing global market share since its high-water mark of 95 percent of global production in 2010. Now it’s more like 80 percent, largely thanks to Australia ramping up production. And Australia has all of the elements we would be looking for, according to Geoscience Australia.

The U.S. consumed about 12,690 metric tons of rare earths in 2017, according to the USGS. It also reports about 1.4 million metric tons of reserves in the U.S.  Molycorp based in California since it went bankrupt in 2015 has been repurchased by MP Mine Operations LLC. Although there was some concern about Shenghe, a Chinese company, being a part of that deal, Chicago hedge fund JHL Capital Group and New York’s QVT Financial LP were also included, with Shenghe being described as a minority investor.

The transaction may yet attract a fresh review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States just to be certain in light of recent developments. In the meantime, while it might take MP Mine Operations some time to get back up and running, it is certainly moving in that direction. For example, just in December, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission transferred Molycorp’s old export licenses to MP Mine.

Elsewhere, in Idaho, for example, there are tremendous reserves of untapped rare earth minerals just waiting to be mined.

So, if worse came to worse, in the event of a Chinese embargo on rare earths, there are other producers who would likely respond to global market demand, much the same way the world did during the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. Efficiency gains were made, and production increased elsewhere. Eventually, accommodation was reached. The embargo was ultimately counterproductive for the embagoer and benefited everyone else.

Similarly, the oil price shock in the 2000s unintentionally fueled investment in the shale oil boom occurring in North America.

China is more than welcome to try to embargo exports of rare earths, but in all likelihood it would simply redirect global supply chains and be nothing more than a temporary disruption. It would also be embargoing its most valuable technology exports, so there’s no money in an embargo, either. Increased prices would simply fuel investment in alternative sourcing for the materials, leading to major investment opportunities elsewhere.

In the meantime, it might also compel Congress to take action

Much the same can be said of the $15.45 trillion U.S. treasuries market. China holds about $1.168 trillion, or about 7.5 percent. Again, if China wished to sell all of those starting tomorrow, they’d be more than welcome. Interest rates would probably temporarily spike, but markets would probably adjust, not to mention central banks. For example, if there were no other buyers, the Federal Reserve could conceivably intervene and purchase the bonds as a stopgap.

The bottom line is that the U.S. and frankly, global markets’ capacity to respond to price shocks that might be seen via rare earth embargoes or dumping treasuries, should not be underestimated. Sea changes of these sorts are investment opportunities for others. Whatever shortages are foreseen in the short run will be some other company’s boon.

China will do whatever it wants at the end of the day, but it must realize, the market’s invisible hand always wins.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties.  For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.  You can also read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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Cell phone GPS

PRIVACY

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

My cell phone knows where I am even if I’m lost.  There is a comfort but a fear the power of GPS (the Global Positioning System).  Is there a right to privacy?

The right to privacy against government intrusion illustrates how the U.S. Supreme Court creates individual rights when interpreting the Constitution.  https://constitution.laws.com/right-to-privacyStrict Constructionists of the U.S. Constitution and Amendments have cautioned the courts about creating rights and remedies not directly stated.   The first ten amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights.  The 1st Amendment implies the privacy of a person’s beliefs and religion. The 2nd Amendment protects the privacy of a home from soldiers.  The 4th amendment stops unreasonable searches of a person or his/her possessions.  The 5th amendment offers the privacy right of personal information (the right to not incriminate oneself) and the due process clause.  Furthermore, the ninth amendment allows for “unenumerated rights” (rights not directly stated) and legal precedent.

In 1890, Louis Brandeis and his law partner Samuel Warren proposed the legal right, which they called “the right to be let alone.”  “What Would Privacy Expert Louis Brandeis Make of the Digital Age?”  The Washington Post, Jeffrey Rosen, March 20, 2015.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/clash-between-free-speech-and-privacy-in-the-digital-world/2015/03/20/bee390e6-c0f8-11e4-ad5c-3b8ce89f1b89_story.html?utm_term=.a53bcccee3d6    Later in his legal career, Supreme Court Justice Brandeis altered his perspective on the right to privacy.

Still, I wonder what Justice Brandeis would think of the “cameras” watching us at all times.  Does technology invade our “zone of privacy?”  Does government impermissibly intrude in our lives?  Are we willing to give up the right to privacy in return for protection from terrorists?  My cell phone probably knows the answer.  I’d better ask it.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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Tree

TREES

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

The trees have been suffering.  Everywhere there are broken branches.   Trees have been ripped from the ground by their roots.  The weather is on the attack.  The old and weak are gutted by climate change.

Years ago, I served on Edison Township Planning Board’s Subcommittee to propose language for a tree ordinance.  It taught me an important lesson about patience and how long it takes for an Ordinance (law) be passed by Council (governing body).  My interest in trees became an obsession.  I was politely asked by my husband to not say the word “tree” in the house.  “Enough was enough!,” he shouted.  Despite the strain on my marriage, I’m proud of Edison’s Tree Ordinance and Tree Inventory.  It offers incentives to keep the old trees, plant new trees, gives credit for larger caliber trees, or pay into the tree fund (money can only be used for trees by the Township).  It is not perfect.

I learned that the tree ordinance could become a barrier to development.  One of the builders even explained to me that if the root ball of the tree is disturbed during construction that the tree will die just in time for the new home owner to be stuck with removing it anyway.  It shows how good intentions do not always lead to the best results.  At the very least, it should prevent the evil of clear-cutting the trees and thoughtlessly increasing impervious surface.  Is some law better than no law?

What about all the trees now damaged by wet snow and blasting winds?  The town will be responsible for some and residents for other trees.  It seems to me that everyone is cutting but not replanting.  Is there any hope for the trees?  Are trees a liability or necessity?

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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