HILLSBOROUGH: Ciattarelli’s an advocate in fighting wagering parlor in Hillsborough, he says

To the editor:
Last week I wrote a letter condemning our state legislature’s unrelenting efforts to push legalized gambling into our homes and communities, including forcing us to locate an off-track betting parlor here in bucolic Hillsborough.
What I failed to say is that we do have one voice in the Legislature that is still fighting for Hillsborough families: Our own representative, Jack Ciattarelli.
Mr. Ciattarelli, a longtime Hillsborough resident, represents Assembly District 16 and has been clear in his opposition to the proposed OTB. In fact, he was not in the Legislature when it voted unanimously to take away home rule when placing OTBs in New Jersey towns. He did not flinch when all other voices were saying, "Oh well, we have no choice here." In fact, he and Assemblywoman Donna Simon introduced a bill in May to permit towns to reject OTBs and reverse several of the unjust provisions the Legislature slipped past us in 2011 (see Assembly Bill 3127, introduced May 15).
For instance, A3127 would eliminate the existing five-year exemption OTBs have from paying property taxes. Must be nice to have that kind of exemption! It would also restore home rule — a town’s ability to decide whether an OTB should be located in their town. This just makes sense — shouldn’t our town officials decide what is right for Hillsborough? There is no "greater good" advanced by an OTB — only the propping up of a failing and outdated horse racing industry in New Jersey.
I like what Ms. Simon and Mr. Ciattarelli say in the bill: "Fundamental fairness also dictates that a municipality be empowered to deny the siting of an off-track wagering facility within its boundaries." It’s an amazingly simple concept, but one that has little support with the rest of the Legislature.
Will A3127 be enacted into law? Perhaps. Perhaps our government will recognize that local communities should have the right to chart their own destiny, the right to preserve their unique character.
It is abundantly clear OTB does not fit with Hillsborough’s rural and family-oriented community. Nor is Hillsborough the right place for the elements that come with gambling — bookies, organized crime, petty theft and desperate and financially devastated gamblers.
I appreciate Mr. Ciattarelli’s advocacy for Hillsborough’s families and future. Join me in opposing the locating of the OTB in Hillsborough, be alert to a public hearing soon on the betting parlor and visit our Facebook page, "Stop OTB Hillsborough Now."
Brian Tarantino 
Hillsborough 