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Public Statements

Garrett Gazette - September 4, 2007

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Garrett Gazette - September 4, 2007

Dear Friends:

As Congress returns from the August district work period, I am continuing my full-court press to stop the FAA from pursuing its airspace redesign proposal that will increase air noise and traffic over North Jersey communities.

As you may recall, in July, I offered an amendment to the federal funding bill providing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with its annual budget. That amendment, had it passed, would have prohibited the FAA from using any funds to execute the airspace redesign project. In the coming weeks, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the FAA reauthorization bill. I intend to offer an amendment to that bill prohibiting implementation of the airspace redesign project as well.

And, I am actively lobbying members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about the adverse impact the airspace redesign project would have on so many communities. Though we are up against the powerful airlines lobby, I am hopeful that when they see how devastating the proposal would be for so many families, they will be persuaded to provide support and assistance to our cause.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett

Member of Congress

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: The Horrible Crimes of Michael Vick

Today, the Bergen Record published an op-ed I wrote about the high-profile dogfighting case of celebrity football star, Michael Vick. This is a terrible crime and I can only hope that all the publicity will help to put an end to this horrific animal cruelty. In case you missed my op-ed, it is printed below:

I find the crimes to which Michael Vick has pled guilty truly disturbing, particularly as a dog owner. It is horrific that any human being would take the life of or even harm a helpless animal. What makes Michael Vick's crimes more egregious is that these atrocities appear to have been committed simply for the pure pleasure of it. The multi-million dollar football star certainly didn't do it for the money.

Viewed in the most positive light, this high-profile story has done good by raising public awareness about this type of cruelty. In fact, it has led to increased law enforcement activity against dog fighting. Hopefully, this will deter those who already engage in animal fighting, as well as those planning to engage in it.

Animal fighting is currently a crime in all 50 states, in all but two as felonies punishable by imprisonment and stiff fines. Sometimes these laws not only prohibit keeping, owning or possessing the dogs but also watching them fight. Animal fighting is also already a crime under federal law.

Anyone who breaks these laws should be punished accordingly.

Behind the vote

Some have asked why I voted against a bill to make these current federal crimes prosecutable as felonies. Simply put, my vote was to keep federal officers, courts and law enforcement dollars focused on the crimes against which only federal legal resources can be used. When Congress thrusts federal prosecutors, federal law enforcement and federal courts into the business of duplicating state criminal law enforcement, it decreases their ability to pursue crimes that are only prosecutable with federal resources.

Terrorist crimes, illegal immigration, racketeering, Internet child pornography - there is more than enough criminal activity in the nation to keep our federal resources not only fully engaged, but often overwhelmed.

My vote was certainly not to condone crimes against animals, as some have implied for political gain. In fact, I support the criminal statutes already in place.

My vote was to stop federal law enforcement from further creeping into state criminal statutes. Regrettably, with each passing year, Congress seems to expand the reach of federal law, overlapping significantly with state law in ways that diminish our ability to marshal federal resources to fight criminal activity.

When we allow federal law enforcement to pursue federal crimes and state law enforcement to pursue state crimes, we can take a bigger bite out of crime overall.

Vick should be prosecuted and punished for his crimes. And as we can see from the daily news reports, justice is moving swiftly to avenge Vick's victims. The Commonwealth of Virginia is bringing state charges later this month, and Vick will face additional felony punishments.

Dog fighting and animal cruelty are felonies in Virginia with animal cruelty charges holding penalties of up to five years in jail for each animal killed. Furthermore, the NFL has suspended Vick from playing indefinitely, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has given the Atlanta Falcons permission to recover $22 million of Vick's signing bonus from the contract he signed in 2004.

Vick was held up as a leader and a role model, and now he is a national disgrace. I only hope that the young people who looked up to him can learn a positive lesson about caring for animals from this horrific story.

Vick's shameful story should be broadcast far and wide to remind those who mistreat or torture animals that these crimes don't pay.

I find his cruel acts toward animals heinous and disgusting. But, while the bill against which I voted makes for a good sound bite, it does little to make Vick's crimes or any animal fighting more punishable. It does, however, make it less likely that other terrible federal crimes will get the attention that they require.

CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT'S OFFICE COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU:

Congressman Garrett's staff will be holding Mobile Constituent Service Hours in a number of Fifth District towns this week. The Congressman's Constituent Service Officers are trained to act as your liaisons with Federal agencies. But, it's not always easy to make it out to one of the Congressman's district offices - in Paramus and Newton - to meet with one of them, especially when you are dealing with government red tape. These Mobile Constituent Service Hours sessions bring the Congressman's office to you. So, if you are having trouble with a Federal program, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, or more, please feel free to come by. And, please bring copies of any relevant paperwork with you to facilitate their work.

Wednesday, September 5th

Midland Park

10:00 am to noon
Library, 250 Godwin Avenue

Wednesday, September 5th

Upper Saddle River

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 376 W. Saddle River Road

Wednesday, September 5th

Emerson

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Emerson Borough Hall, 1 Municipal Place

Thursday, September 6th

River Vale

10:00 am to noon
Municipal Building, 406 River Vale Road

Thursday, September 6th

West Milford

10:00 am to noon
Borough Hall, 1480 Union Valley Road

Thursday, September 6th

Rochelle Park

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Rochelle Park Library, 151 W. Passaic Street


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