To the Editor: Sucking the Garden Dry

Why is New Jersey the butt of jokes across the United States? Why do most Americans equate New Jersey with urban blight, snarled highways, and endless landfills? Why do New Jerseyans suffer from such self-loathing?

Perhaps it’s because we know that, at the end of the day, we exist merely to serve our out-of-state neighbors. New Jerseyans have no sense of self-identity, no sense of pride, and certainly no unity of purpose. Doesn’t it strike anybody as odd that our two most noteworthy cities, Camden and Newark, are crime-ridden, dilapidated slums of Philadelphia and New York City? Or, even more tellingly, compare our lovely capital of Trenton with its counterparts in Harrisburg and Albany. Makes you all warm inside, don’t it?

The most recent evidence of self-destruction comes to us from, of all places, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, a state entity whose mission is to foster economic development and pride in the Garden State. Recently the EDA conducted a review of local marketing services firms, with the goal of creating a shiny new advertising campaign to encourage renewed business investment here in New Jersey.

Over a dozen talented agencies submitted detailed proposals, hundreds of man hours were expended, and the best and brightest in our government made a thorough review. And in their wisdom, the EDA picked a winner: Fleischman-Hilliard Public Relations, whose corporate office is located in — drum roll please — St. Louis! That giant sucking sound you’re hearing is hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees on its way to Missouri.

Does the EDA really want us to believe that New Jersey doesn’t contain any qualified advertising agencies? Even worse, doesn’t the EDA — whose only reason for being is to utilize public relations to change consumer perceptions about New Jersey — understand the immeasurable PR damage caused by awarding a state contract, designed to improve the state’s economy, to an agency on the other side of the Mississippi?

I am the director of client services at Princeton Communications Group, one of the agencies that vied for this contract. There have been several major campaigns awarded this year, which we did not win, but those were awarded to New Jersey agencies, so I have no issue with losing out on a pitch. In this case, I just felt it ironic and sad that this specific contract should go out-of-state.

Until New Jersey learns to put its own interests first, it will continue to be the real and perceptual whipping boy of its neighbors. "Trenton Makes, The World Takes" used to be a statement of pride; now it is merely an illustration of the purpose and prosperity of New Jersey headed southbound on the Turnpike.

Michael Keeler

Princeton Communications Group Inc., Pennington

Critical Standard: Nurses to Patients

I want to call attention to a "quality of life" bill pending in the New Jersey Legislature. The bill has to do with setting reasonable nurse-patient ratios. Proper ratios could profoundly improve both the New Jersey nursing profession and patient safety. At this writing, nurses are required to handle too many patients. Because of this, quality care suffers and their work becomes susceptible to errors, which in turn, may impact patient safety.

Andrea Aughenbaugh, CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association, believes that this bill, currently languishing in the committees of the New Jersey State Senate and Assembly, deserves to be "kick started" and acted upon. It is designed to require minimum staffing levels — patient-nurse ratios — for all hospital shifts. By setting minimum staffing ratios on all levels for all shifts, it is felt that nurses will truly be able to deliver quality care, and that patient safety will be vastly improved.

Sponsors of the bill in the Senate (Joseph F. Vitale and John O. Bennett) as well as those in the Assembly, (Loretta Weinberg and Herbert Conaway Jr.) join with NJNSA in seeking quick action.

A nurses is a dedicated professional. To ask him or her to deliver something other than the best possible care to each and every patient is simply unacceptable. This bill sets a critical standard that will allow us to safely deliver quality care to our patients. Together we can make this happen.

Sharon R. Rainer MSN

Associate Director, NJ State Nurses Association (NJSNA)

Thanks

THANK YOU for the nice write-up, "Qualifying Competitive Advantages," in the November 12 Survival Guide. IMC-NJ had a very nice turnout of 30 for our dinner with Jaynie Smith. Her talk was very provocative and well received. We also had 15 attendees at our afternoon Proposal Writing workshop. This success was undoubtably due in part to your writeup.

Steven L. Georges

VP, Public Relations, IMC-NJ, 4 Caitlin Court, Princeton

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