Now Pascrell, 74, should announce his retirement and save the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission a lot of work. Doing so would eliminate all controversy over naming a state highway after him.
Barney Frank, 71, the Massachusetts Congressman from Bayonne, announced his retirement after the Bay State announced their new congressional districts. Frank said he didn’t want to raise the money or do the electioneering necessary to get elected in his new district.
Pascrell announcing his retirement prior to the new congressional districts being determined would be a selfless act of public service. The rest of New Jersey’s congressional delegation would want to name a more prominent road after him. The Resdistricting Commission’s work would become easy and appropriate, as the district to be eliminated should be from North Jersey where the population has declined vis-a-vis the rest of the state.
If Pascrell announced his retirement, the bill to name Route 19 after him could be fast tracked in the lame duck legislative session. Governor Christie might even sign it, despite the fact that Pascrell was a Corzine caddy, second only to Frank Pallone, during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
If Pascrell does not take this opportunity to retire, the question of the appropriateness of naming public facilities after sitting office holders should be hotly debated. Every member of the Assembly Transportation committee except Burlington County Assemblyman Scott Rudder voted to release the Pascrell naming bill to the full Assembly. Rudder said that naming a road after a sitting office holder was hypocritical and that the state has more pressing issues.
Rudder is right, but there is a stronger argument against giving away the names of public facilities. In these difficult economic times, we should sell and resell the names of our roads, bridges and buildings, with all of the proceeds going to either retire debt or build new facilities, thereby avoiding new debt.
There is precedent for this type of revenue generation. Former Governor Brendan Byrne’s name was taken off the Meadowlands Arena in favor of Continental Airlines and later Izod who both paid handsomely for the naming rights.
Glassboro State College was renamed Rowan University after Mr. Rowan donated $100 million.
The State and New Jersey’s counties and municipalities could benefit greatly by selling naming rights to businesses and philanthropists.