One Step closer, Lawrence TWP Council budget meeting Feb. 21

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, N.J. – In continuing municipal budget discussions the Lawrence town council rejected a proposed job cut and a cut in all recreation programs as budget alternatives for the 2012 municipal budget on Feb. 21, allowing for further discussions on a tax hike to go to referendum for voter approval.

As a way to alleviate the current budget situation faced by the township, Municipal Manager Richard Krawczun, proposed his new alternative to the town council. The new alternative proposed a cut in 36 members of the township personnel along with totally eliminating the towns current recreational programs, which did not include the townships elderly care program. The proposed job cut asked for the dismissal of eight township police officers and emergency medical personnel along with many other essential services. Krawczun went on by adding that, “I’m not making these recommendations. As I’ve pointed out to many people, many times, when we look down the bench to put somebody in the game, everybody’s already in the game. We have no substitutes… I keep hearing, ‘Run it like a business.’ In order to do the service correctly, we need these people.”

The tax increase that was proposed in prior town council meetings would increase the current tax rate by $0.05 bringing taxes up from $0.84 to $0.89 per $100 of assessed property value. The $0.05 increase would just be enough to meet the year’s budget leaving the town with $154,000 of surplus funds. Krawzcun had also proposed an additional increase of $0.09 on top of the $0.05 increase, which would exceed the states 2% cap and would need voter approval for any further action. Krawzcun along with the proposed personnel cuts and tax increased spoke about the removal of sanitation services from the current municipal spending, but introduce the waste collection as a utility that would come to residents as separate fee monthly.

After hearing all of the current proposals the township council ultimately rejected the job cut, the liquidation of all of the recreational services provided by the town and the pushing the burden of waste removal on residents by making them pay for a service on top of their taxes. The Mayor, Jim Kownacki, responded to the proposal of laying off 36 s municipal employees by stating that, “Personally, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night.” The Mayors statement essentially rejected the proposals and motioned towards the tax increase referendum.

Other council members along with the Mayor added to the response of rejecting the proposed job and recreation program cuts along with the trash collection proposal by stating that they are essential to the function of the township. Councilman, Greg Puliti, responded to the EMS personnel cuts by saying, “ what do we use to protect our firemen, our police, and all road workers if there is a hurricane or something like that.” Councilman powers also added to the cut of EMS services by saying that even outsourcing the service is a “…It’s a short-term gain, long-term loss.” Powers also responded to the recreation program cut by bringing up the rise of obesity in the current younger generation, and that it will increase the onset of various weight related problems.

With the proposals rejected in this meeting the council unanimously agreed to move towards a referendum for the $0.14 tax increase, which will be up for further discussion in the next council meeting that will be held on March 6, 2012 at the Lawrence Township Municipal Chambers.

*Facts were verified by in-person attendance of the council meeting and supported using an audio recording of the meeting.*



The Societal Role of Journalism and Journalists…

Journalists play a crucial role in the every day lives of millions and even billions of individuals by bringing and relaying information in a substantially accurate, prompt and understandable manner. With the ever-changing demands of society, journalism and the journalist have made adaptions allowing for a constant flow of information; journalism is more of a 24/7 job than ever before. The societal role of journalist is to give the public what they want and need to thrive, essentially to serve in the best interest of society/public with maximum transparency on what is happening in the world around us. Through out the years journalists have played a key role in keeping government in check, this has been true in many cases especially in the United States, making sure that government doesn’t get out of hand and ensuring that public is safe from any wrongful governmental action. Watergate, Vietnam war, Arab spring, were/are some of the major historical events that journalists played a huge role in by bringing the truth to the public about flawed elected officials and the harshness and cruelties of war. Journalism matters because people now more than ever want to know what’s going on in the world and it is the job of journalists to provide this information on a regular and consistent basis or else important events and issues would never be addressed, take the occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab spring for examples. The occupy movement received little to no coverage initially and then with the help of journalists and bloggers the issue spread like wild fire, the same could be said about the Arab spring but this event was covered with great extent which garnered action by the UN and other nations to overthrow dictators and in still new governments. All of these are reasons for why I would consider becoming a journalist. You get to tell people the truth about what is going on in the world, how they could potentially be affected and give them some food for thought. You also get to inform the public and protect them for the dangers created by man, or nature, and act like a well-wisher for humanity it self. I for one fell in love with journalism because I love the news, whether it be watching the news or reading about the happening in the world and also because I love photography and photojournalism is one thing that caught my attention as a teenager.

Journalists be aware…

As a journalist your job is to serve the people by giving them what they need to know. Journalists basically tell it as it is, they inform the public about what really goes on in the world so it is essential to get the facts right. The backbone of journalism is fact finding, facts are what make up the one huge story for every one to digest in one sitting. Journalist basically do all the dirty work for society to bring them closer to the truths that may be hidden all over this convoluted world. Facts also show how credible a report is by being thorough with facts because it is the responsibility of journalists to be truthful which can be accomplished with multiple facts from many sources. Along the lines of fact-finding, fact and source verification is probably the biggest part of a journalist’s credibility, you just don’t assume that a journalist is making stuff up. The movie Shattered Glass is a perfect example of why you journalist do not state bogus facts and verify facts like crazy. . A great real world example is the whole Watergate scandal, which proved that fact finding and source verification prove vital in revealing what was going on inside of the government exposing the president for his wrong doing. It’s verification of facts is like a journalists works cited or bibliography, it shows that you did the work to see if your facts were valid and came from multiple sources as opposed to just one random source. Verification not only defends your facts it also helps in making your facts more accurate.

Accuracy is another important aspect of journalism, most of the time a journalist misses an important event, so to make up for this you would expect a him/her to get a source that was present at said event. Accuracy also plays into the crucial role in the truthfulness aspect of journalism, so accuracy matters a lot in journalism simply because inaccuracies leads to a misinformed and harmed society. The example set by the Watergate Scandal, and by the movie Shattered Glass, inaccurate facts can will harm a journalist reputation and credibility, the reputation of the journalists employer, and tarnishes journalism as a whole since it has violated one of its main principles of truth telling. All in all a journalist has to protect themselves from these huge aspects of journalism because if they are ignored then they have to pay the consequences of their own wrongdoing.


The importance of Journalism…

In the information hungry 21st century that we live in, it is only vital for a huge push of information created by individuals all over with the aid of evolving technology. With important events happening every minute, every second for that matter, it is essential for journalist to make even the smallest of instances important and bring them into the light for others to gain some insight because even the smallest disturbance or event could change the world for better or worse.

Who are journalist today?

Journalists change the world every day, hour, minute for the benefit of society as a whole. One great example took place close to one year ago in early 2011, where a 26-year-old Tunisian citizen, in a fairly rural town, set himself on fire in protest after being humiliated by a government official. This one act in a small rural town in Tunisia sparked a huge uprising in many Arab nations and lead to the invasion and fall of a dictator, all made possible by one daring individual, a person with a camera phone and many brave journalists who took it upon themselves to let the rest of the world know what was going on. With the technology available today there is a thin line between who is considered a journalist, but it can be said that a journalist can be anyone as long as they consider public interest, tell the truth, and be able to back their stories and selves up if need be. Journalists are essentially agenda setters, storytellers, which can range in the various mediums, from print journalism to photojournalism and beyond as long as they have the ability to get news out as it happens.

Where and where is journalism taking place?

As seen in the example of the Arab spring that looked at one region and at a specific time but journalism and news for that matter is happening everywhere, and all the time essentially 24/7. Just look at how many news outlets give you the ability to have access to breaking news stories at every hour of the day, CNN is a prime example since 1980, which served as a cable based news station that was on air all day and all night. Being a iPhone owner and having multiple news based apps, I am constantly woken up at night with updates from the Associated Press or from MSNBC regarding various major events happening either in another state or in another country half way around the world.

Why do we need Journalism?

Journalism is about making a difference and changes the world every day. Journalism give us what we the public need to sustain a sense of well being knowing what to expect and when to expect it, how to make educated decisions, and experience events with out physically being present. We need journalism to keep society in check and to keep it from going crazy because we as human beings have an interest in everything that is around us and that can potentially affect us.