Letter: Axing Blue Laws Could Create 5000 Jobs

In a Letter to the Editor, Mitchell T. Horn responds to Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera's recent comment that Modernize Bergen County's Blue Law repeal argument is "ridiculous."

Editor's note: This letter from Mitchell T. Horn on behalf of Modernize Bergen County is addressed to Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera and the citizens of the borough: 

On behalf of the Campaign to Modernize Bergen County, lead by Mrs. Rosemary Shashoua, I would like to respond to the recent public comments calling our argument “ridiculous”. 

I would like to start by saying that this is an attempt to diffuse the situation and evolve the discussion from an emotional battle to a logical debate. We have the utmost respect for the residents of Paramus and their passionate desire to preserve the peace and quiet in their borough. We also think that the mayor of Paramus is doing an outstanding job and we would do the same thing if we were in his position (although we would probably use more tasteful language).

Our simple message to you is this: It is not “us” against “you”; we are all on the same Bergen County Team. We are actually both trying to do the same, which is to improve the quality of life in our area.

As a reminder that Paramus is not the only municipality in Bergen County; there are 69 other municipalities with approximately 900,000 people.

The media has generated excitement, which seems that Mrs. Shashoua is leading a solo campaign to destroy the quality of life of the residents of Paramus. The truth is that she has an entire campaign committee dedicated to enrich the quality of life in our county. The campaign team is comprised of motivated and intelligent citizens with a common goal: we want the Blue Laws to be repealed by the voters of Bergen County in November 2013.

Each of the campaign members has their own personal motivation. My motivation is convenience. I have been a resident of the City of Hackensack since 2008. I’m a homeowner, landlord, father, and a diligent tax-paying citizen. My idea of convenience is that I would like the option to purchase things for my family and to enhance my property on Sundays without traveling outside of the county. Like many of you, I use the weekends to get things done, such as embarking on home improvement projects and buying things that my family needs. It’s an inconvenience to have to spend time and gas traveling out of the county when I could very easily get anything I need right here if the stores were open.

This campaign is not strictly about opening up the malls so teenagers can jam up the parking lots and buy new sneakers. This campaign is about the mom who wants to go to the local Babies R Us to buy clothes for her growing baby. It is about the young couple that wants to go to Ikea to buy furniture for their new apartment. It is about the homeowner who goes to Home Depot to buy a snow shovel in the winter or a generator in October.

Also, there are thousands of people that don’t have cars. We should not forget about them. How would you like to take a bus out of the county on Sunday to buy goods because the local stores are closed? It doesn’t sound enjoyable but that’s what many of our fellow Bergen County citizens have to do. The Blue Laws create an unfair obstacle for them. You should be cognizant that the rest of us don’t all have the same options that you do. Don’t forget about the Jewish shoppers who can’t shop on Saturdays.

At the end of the day, this is America, and America is about jobs. Our political leaders should embrace ideas that will result in more commerce and more jobs. Some politicians get it. Governor Chris Christie understands this, so does President Barak Obama. Just think back to the 2012 election, one of the hottest debate topics was JOBS. It is actually hard to imagine a politician to take a position that opposes job creation. However, many of our local politicians oppose this job creation campaign, which is illogical.

We claim that if the Blue Laws are repealed, the local economy will generate as many as 5,000 new jobs. This assessment is rooted in fundamental economics. Incremental shopping hours per week will generate an increase in sales revenue. In order to support the additional sales revenue businesses will need to hire additional staff to register the sales and to manage the inventory.

We encourage Mayor LaBarbiera to engage us directly and come to a settlement. In fact, the voters have already generated some creative ideas in the debate on our Facebook page (Modernize Bergen County New Jersey: Repeal the Blue Laws) that can initiate the discussion:

1.     Amended Blue Laws that allow limited shopping hours on Sunday (such as Noon-5pm).

2.     Preserving the Blue Laws in Paramus while repealing them for the rest of Bergen County.

3.     Guaranteeing a portion of the incremental state tax revenue generated by Sunday sales is allocated to fund Bergen County Schools.

Leaders are responsible for clearing the obstacles that restrict commerce. In our view, the Blue Laws are obstacles that are inhibiting economic growth and job creation in Bergen County. Our leaders should step up to this challenge and clear this obstacle for us. The rest of the State and Nation have already come to this conclusion and now it is our turn.

Our argument is that if you repeal the Blue Laws, you will unlock the growth potential of Bergen County, create thousands of new jobs, and make it easier for the majority of residents to get things done on the weekend. That doesn’t sound like such a ridiculous argument to us.

In closing, we have one simple question for the Mayor of Paramus that we would like him to state publicly: In your best good-faith estimate, how many Sundays out of the past 52 weeks did you purchase: clothing, furniture, or electronics?

Mitchell T. Horn
Modernize Bergen County

Concerned about Tax dollars January 28, 2013 at 08:58 PM
It will not create 1 job !! they will use the people they have already if anything it will put us in a bigger recession what about those mom and pop stores that have to pay time and a 1/2 or doubletime on sunday .... i support the blue laws and always will. believe me people are not starting home improvement projects on sunday afternoon You moved here knowing the laws so why are you complaining now ?
Johnson n Johnson January 28, 2013 at 09:20 PM
I love starting my home improvement projects on Sundays, it's the only day off I have from work.
JB Destiny January 28, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I bought on at least 2/3rds of the past 52 Sundays. Why, just yesterday I dropped almost $300 at Bed, Bath and Beyond alone. In Monsey.
Ruth January 28, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Well if Jews can't shop on Saturdays, Newsflash, i love my jewish neighbors but bergen county does not revolve around them , so that argument is pointless. They are not the only religious group living here. It's just going to create unnecessary traffic on rt.4 because people from the city will take advantage like they always do. We have all been living with this for years so why complain now. You knew it before you decided to build a family life in Bergen county and there seemed to be absolutely nothing wrong then. We can and should still be different, we don't need to be modernize with everything else like the rest of the country. This is one of the few things the sets Bergen county apart and I love it. I love the peace and qiuite I have on Sundays. I live right next to rt.4 and it's a nightmare always seeing traffic on Saturdays. I enjoy waking up on Sundays knowing I won't have to. If its not broke then don't fix it, not everyone is complaining.
Alex Thurber January 28, 2013 at 10:14 PM
This is simply a gut a gut feeling, but I believe changing the blue laws will ultimately enrich a select few, create a minor added convenience for a few more, but at the expense of the quality of life for the vast majority of Bergen County residents. Growing up here, it has always been such a real pleasure having the roads peace and quiet on a Sunday morning. The Paramus tax base stands to benefit the most. If Paramus says no, then that should be the end of the debate.
Keith Kaplan January 29, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Changing from an opt-out to an opt-in system does NOTHING to prevent Paramus from keeping all the Blue laws they want. In fact, since their blue laws are even more stringent than that of the County, they can keep them. But, why should the opinion of someone in Paramus be binding on someone in Teaneck or Hackensack? Shouldn't they get AT LEAST the same say in how THEIR town operates?
Esther Sandrof January 29, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Even if the county blue laws are lifted, Paramus will continue to maintain their own local blue laws. This will provide an competitive opportunity for all the downtown shopping districts that have been struggling against the Paramus retail juggernaut. Without Paramus in the mix, New York shoppers are unlikely to come, hence traffic will be manageable
JeffO January 29, 2013 at 03:55 AM
My number one problem with this letter relates to my number one problem with blue laws. The letter downplays the fact that blue laws impose the Christian "sabbath" (actually the Lord's Day) on non-Christians and non-practicing nominal Christians in what I believe is a blatant violation of the First Amendment's anti-Establishment clause: "Congress (or any legislature since the 14th Amendment) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." Ruth, from your comments I'm sure you would not object if Bergen County decided to prohibit stores from opening on Saturday and allow them to open on Sunday because -- Newsfash -- the world doesn't revolve around you either. Just because "not everyone is complaining" doesn't mean a Constitutional principle ain't broke here. And I say this as a practicing Christian.
Dwayne January 29, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Keep the Blue laws. The people that want to lift them haven't lived here long enough to appreciate why this area is in such demand by homeowners. If you want to shop that bad, take the trip to an area that is open. Maybe even to where you used to live.
Esther Sandrof January 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM
Dwayne - I've lived in Teaneck since 1967. I want to abolish the Blue Laws for economic and environmental reasons. First economic: our local businesses can't compete with Paramus. If our local businesses are open on Sundays when the malls in Paramus are closed, they could attract shoppers who would otherwise not consider shopping at downtown retail. The environmental benefit is that shopping on SubdYs would allow me to shop locally downtown rather than driving my car into Rockland or Passaic County.
Tee Smyth January 29, 2013 at 01:46 PM
@JeffO: The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that Blue Laws do not violate the Establishment Clause. Why? Although the laws may have been created with a specific religious intent, over time, the effect has devolved into something quite different. Leave the laws. I like the peace of Sundays.
Tee Smyth January 29, 2013 at 01:59 PM
But, Esther....why can't they compete? The Blue Laws aren't new. What's changed? Is this another Cedar Lane argument?
JeffO January 29, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Tee Smyth, I kind of like the peace of Sundays myself. But while the effect of blue laws may have devolved into something quite different for you, it really hasn't for those who observe a different day of rest.
mimi January 29, 2013 at 02:58 PM
I agree that Paramus should be able to keep their Blue Laws and let all the other municipalities vote to repeal them in their areas. It's the perfect solution and enables other business outside of Paramus to benefit while keeping Paramus quiet on Sundays. As for Ruth's seemingly inocuous comment about Jews not being able to shop on Sundays, I find it curious that she chose to focus on this very small group who were mentioned (last) among many other groups who are affected. It would be an even smaller group (Orthodox Jews) who don't shop on Saturday. Weak.
NC January 29, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Hello recession-depressed Americans! Here's a well-oiled economic machine we call Paramus that offers super retail and leisure space, tons of jobs, low taxes for lucky residents - everything you've asked for wrapped up in a centrally located, exciting and diverse social metropolis! Break away from the daily grind of making ends meet and enjoy your free time with friends and family, all while supporting the county and state you live in! There's just one thing - you can't go on Sundays, there's a little too much traffic... sorry. : )
Ruth January 29, 2013 at 04:27 PM
@jeffO yes I would object to them opening on Sundays because new flash I like my Sunday quite n real Christians take The Lord's day to be holy n scared just like Jews take their sabbath. A "practicing Christian" who revers God won't put his own constitutional rights above that of the will of God. If your a true christian ( becsuse there are only a few on them left) them "remember the sabbath day to keep it HOLY" applies to tge "sabbath" of christians on sunday. This country was guided on firm principles from the bible, but as time has passed we have become so self centered and selfish. Its all about my rights amd what i want to do as a person, we dont even care about out neighbors anymore. The woman who fought so had to have bibles and the lords prayer taken out of schools, did she do us as a country any favors by exercising her "RIGHTS". Can you jeff name a single school shooting before ger case was won in court. Open your spiritual eyes. At the end of the day, i womt be surprised if the blue law is repealed because we are in the last and evil days and things have to take their course. Nothing surprises me anymore, we are a selfish generation and anything that benefits only a selected few is good enough to become law. I am a God serving Christian and the blue law was an added plus when I moved to Bergen county. I can go anywhere particularly church in the area without having to fight through congestion
Ruth January 29, 2013 at 04:31 PM
@ Mimi please, they used Jews as an example to justify something and I took that pint to prove that in itself is weak
Ruth January 29, 2013 at 04:34 PM
I'm not against blue law repeal, so please state your own opinion without attack. I like the idea of limited hours on Sunday that option isn't as bad , but on the other hand other towns should have the option to vote for themselves not just Paramus. This is a discussion board not ATTACK BOARD
shimon baum January 29, 2013 at 04:52 PM
That argument was only one sentence in a long letter. You act like we all live in the country, the area is modern. Thank for the love Ruth but we don't need it. I thought the high taxes is what set Bergen County apart.
Esther Sandrof January 29, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Ruth - Have no fear. If the county blue laws are overturned, religious Christians will not be coerced to shop on Sundays. They can spend the whole day in prayer. This is America. In America, we value our freedoms. Likewise, nobody should be able to tell a small business owner that they can't open their business on a particular day. Furthermore, small business owners that are concerned about the cost of being open an extra day can choose to close on Mondays, when retail traffic tends to be low. It all seems very sensible. This is why every other county in the entire country, including the entire bible belt, have abolished blue laws.
Tee Smyth January 30, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Why should small business owners dictate quality of life? The business owner knew the situation when he/she opened shop in this county. The owner assumed the risk. The people have spoken more than once and they want the law. Leave the law.
Mark Lipkovitz January 30, 2013 at 03:30 PM
Why should small business owners dictate the quality of life? Why shouldn't a small business owner be afforded the opportunity to enjoy some sembelence of a quality of life?Has anybody done a cost/benefit analysis? Opening a business on Sunday increases the cost of doing business (overhead). The increased overhead is passed on the the consumer one way or another: labor, police, etc. It is difficult to calculate the difficulties encountered in running a small business in that environment. Decades ago many stores closed regularly on Wednesdays (West New York was one of those) and restaurants were closed on Mondays. Some still are. To tie in to the sentiments of others, did the folks who advocate for the repeal of the blue laws go house hunting on a Sunday? If so, wasn't it a pleasant, peaceful time to look? For the record, I grew up in Teaneck and have lived in Bergen county for most of my 61 years. I now live in Ridgewood.
Josh Hosseinof January 31, 2013 at 01:14 PM
That is exactly the reason Paramus opposes it so much - once people start going to the other towns in Bergen county on Sundays, they will start shopping there on other days of the week as well. The biggest opponents of cancelling the Blue laws are the big malls in Paramus, because they know that Paramus will keep their own blue laws until hell freezes over. So if they have to be closed on Sunday, they want everyone else in the county to be closed as well.
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:03 AM
As an Orthodox Jew living in Teaneck, I strongly support the blue laws. They are the main reason we moved and started businesses in the town.
zizi February 02, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Let there be freedoom..... Let the ones do business if this is what rings their bells........... Let the others stay home and enjoy their peaceful bliss......
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Keep the blue laws in the county, end of story
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Beth Rosenberg February 02, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Esther stop forcing your silly views on other
JeffO February 02, 2013 at 04:57 PM
It's not my intent to be judgmental about this, but I do find it a bit curious that this comment, in which "Beth Rosenberg" claims to be an Orthodox Jew, was posted at 10:03 pm on Friday evening. I also find it interesting that when you Google <"Beth Rosenberg" Teaneck>, the only hits you get are Patch posts made within the last two weeks, all stridently opposing the lifting of blue laws and many making the same religious claim.
shimon baum February 03, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Trust me as an actual Orthodox Jew, no Orthodox Jews moves to Teaneck for the blue laws. And what business did you start?


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