Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise highlighted numerous initiatives and accomplishments during his 2019 State of the County speech, particularly the county’s ongoing actions to reduce the opioid crisis.
DeGise covered a lot of ground in his 20-minute speech, mentioning some big accomplishments during the past year such as the opening of the new High Tech campus in Secaucus, as well as the expansion of open space and new fields.
Right off the bat, DeGise took on big industry by saying that “we kicked FedEx to the curb for making it too easy for people to ship guns without proper safeguards,” and “we took on Big Pharma to court for its role in the opioid addiction crisis.”
“To follow that up, I will sign an executive order this month to create our first ever
Substance Abuse Task Force. It will study how we can best direct our resources to fight this plague more effectively,” the county executive announced.
We interviewed DeGise on camera to elaborate.
“I fell and broke some ribs, and I was given pills, a whole month’s worth, and you wonder why [pharma] is prescribing them in [large] amounts. I wound up flushing most of them down the toilet,” began DeGise.
The legal case brought by the county against numerous pharmaceutical companies is ongoing, but the county exec said that the companies can start to make “common sense” changes to alleviate the crisis.
“If we work together with the medical and pharmaceutical companies … then we can make sure that while many of these pills may be necessary in some cases, they shouldn’t be overprescribed and there should be a crackdown on the black market for them,” he explained.
While he didn’t yet reveal who will be on the task force, Sheriff Frank Schillari sent out a statement last night expressing his excitement to be part of the team.
“Drug abuse does not discriminate and it is taking its toll on Hudson County and our nation,” he began.
“I am proud to be named to the Hudson County Substance Abuse Task Force on behalf of the Sheriffâ€™s Office to help our communities put an end to this epidemic and support those battling addiction while on the road to recovery.”
On another note, DeGise said that the county dropped FedEx as one of its package shippers because it refused to halt deliveries to residents’ doorsteps of packages containing guns purchased over the Internet.
“I respect everyone’s right to have a gun if they have it legally. I think it’s just common sense that you keep it away from children, common sense to keep it away from people who have violent tendencies, mental illness, any kind of record with aggressive type of behavior. I don’t see why any American needs a machine gun.”
“But FedEx is dropping them on people’s porches. We think there needs to be more scrutiny. They have a responsibility that if they are going to deliver these weapons, they work with us on common sense [changes]. They chose not to do it, for that so we don’t use them anymore. I would hope that other municipalities, counties and states would join in that effort,” DeGise concluded.
During his speech, DeGise also touted bringing the county minimum wage up to $15 an hour, finding a successor to purchase Jersey City’s Casino in the Park, having the county public safety academy open by 2020 and detailing how “The Frank Guarini Justice Complex” – a new courthouse – will come together.
We streamed the speech live on our Facebook page and it can be viewed in its entirety below: