Congressman Bill Pascrell holds summer town hall for local constituents

SOUTH BERGENITE

September 1, 2016

By STAFF WRITER

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. held his summer town hall at the Lyndhurst Senior Center and fielded questions from constituents in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties.

A key to effective government is county, state and federal government to work together so that more could be accomplished, Pascrell noted.

Although the current job market is “vibrant,” Pascrell noted that salaries and wages have been stagnant for three decades. The current unemployment rate is at 4.9 percent, down from 10 percent in 2009 and the county has seen 70 straight months of job growth. Efforts of congress must be on policies that help the middle class and working poor, Pascrell said.

“The government can help create an environment where people are paid for their value and their work,” Pascrell said. “That is critical.”

Pascrell also touched on the fight against ISIS, noting that Iraqi forces have taken back Fallujah and are fighting for other ISIS strongholds with the help of U.S. forces. In just this past year, 50,000 attacks have been made against ISIS, he noted.

Pascrell shifted his focus from ISIS to the Syrian refugee crisis, which has been a hotly debated topic in the United States, adding that blaming Muslims plays into the ISIS mentality. While remaining sympathetic to the Muslim community, Pascrell said the country needs to defend itself against potential threats coming in through airports and other borders and has a right to know who is coming and going. The U.S. has strengthened its vetting system for people coming into the country, even if it is not a perfect one, Pascrell said.

During his comments on Syrian refugees, Pascrell held up a photo of a two-year-old girl named Rama who escaped Syria with her family.

“You want me to tell Rama, to sit down and talk with her and tell her that you can’t come into the U.S. as a refugee because you are a Muslim, well get someone else to be the congressman then,” Pascrell said. “I will never do that.”

Though the main focus of the congressman’s talk was directed at national issues, Pascrell answered a handful of questions from Lyndhurst residents on local issues as well.

“All politics is local,” Pascrell said, quoting former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill.

Lyndhurst resident Marie Cush expressed concern about the DeJessa Bridge and its effects on commerce along the Passaic River. In January 2015, the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority authorized a study to be done on the DeJessa Bridge to determine potential options for replacing or rehabilitating the bridge, which connects Bergen and Essex counties. Cush contended that the river will never be a viable location for commercial use if something is not done and suggested the bridge be made wider to accommodate traffic.

Something should have been done “25 years ago” about the DeJessa Bridge, Pascrell said.

“We’re going to try,” Pascrell said, stating that he is aware of the flooding caused by the Passaic River in Lyndhurst and the river needs to be dredged.

Joyce DiMaggio, wife of Lyndhurst Commissioner Thomas DiMaggio, asked Pascrell if there was anything he could do to help flood victims, like her. Her flood insurance increased an additional $2,000 this past year, she said, adding it would take too much money to raise the home. The DiMaggio’s did receive some money to help offset damage costs but DiMaggio said what she is putting out in insurance payments has paid for what she received.

“Here’s a major problem – flooding is going to become worse and worse,” Pascrell said, advising DiMaggio to go to his office. “You’re going to get water where you never expected water before.”

Pascrell maintains that what goes on in his constituents’ towns is important.

“I work very closely with local politicians; I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans,” Pascrell said, stating, since taking office, no officials from the 35 towns that fall under his care have complained his office has not gotten back to him. “I want to make sure I’m available, and my staff is available.”

Email: [email protected]

Posted September 01 2016 at 12:47 PM Permanent Link

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