Dear Editor:

Senator Nellie Pou, of Legislative District 35, has yet to provide an answer to the thousands of public employees living in New Jersey explaining exactly why she is not willing to co-sponsor legislation that would bring fairness and affordable healthcare to all public employees.  Instead, Sen. Pou has deflected this direct question by reciting her "record of support for educators."  

Open your eyes, Sen. Nellie Pou. Thousands of police officers, firemen and women, educators, and other public employees rely on legislators like you to stand up for the "little guy", the blue collared men and women that are up at the crack of dawn until long after the sun sets providing vital public services that keep our state running 24/7 - 365.  While you have been busy sponsoring legislation that led to you acquiring a $56,000 part-time position with the Paterson Parking Authority, public employees have been living paycheck to paycheck due to the impact of Chapter 78, the law that makes healthcare unaffordable for public employees.  Are you aware that many public employees do not earn in one year what your part-time position pays you at the Paterson Parking Authority?    

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Sen. Pou, as we view it, you are at a significant crossroads. If you support or co-sponsor legislation that makes healthcare affordable for public employees, you would be double-crossing Sen. Steve Sweeney who vehemently opposes this legislation due to his vendetta against the NJEA.  More than that, however, you would be in a political mess because you would be jeopardizing the positions that you were appointed to by Sen. President Sweeney (Senate Commerce Committee Chair, and Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee.)  On the other hand, the cost of NOT openly supporting, or co-sponsoring legislation, that makes healthcare affordable for public employees angers the thousands of public employees that live, work, and vote for you in your legislative district. To make your dilemma even more complicated, the cost of not supporting the legislation that provides educational support professionals (ESPs) with important job security could impact over 1,300 Patersonians should the Paterson School District ever decide to privatize.    

Sen. Pou, the decision is yours.  Will you choose self-preservation regarding your political career?  Or will you side with the blue-collar workers that you "claim" to support for twenty-one years?  No pressure.

Sincerely,

John McEntee, Jr., President Paterson Education Association

Lakresha Hodge, 2nd Vice President Paterson Education Association