web analytics

Category: Opinion & Reader Forum

World ending? Here’s a different spin

As you may remember, the Long Count of the Mayan calendar is predicting the end of the world – or at least the world as we know it – for Dec. 21, the ushering in of our winter season.

Just wanted to remind you, in case you like to plan New Year’s festivities in advance so you may want to get a pre- New Year booking.

I don’t mean to make light of such a dire prophecy – an omen they’re taking pretty seriously in some parts of Russia, as reported in Sunday’s New York Times.

Reporter Ellen Barry tells us that the warden of a women’s jail near the Chinese border had to call for a member of the clergy to preach to the collectively psychotic inmates. And, in a town near Moscow, residents were engaged in panic buying in retail shops.

So much upset was stirred that the Russian government has advised the comrades to put a lid on what they insist is ill-founded concern. So far, I don’t recall having heard similar reassurances from Barack Obama or even the sober-minded members of the Tea Party.

Still, it wouldn’t surprise me much to learn that people from any part of our ever-shrinking globe might be loading up the family automobile and heading for some bucolic spot – if one can be found – before we are lost for all eternity.

When Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the Air put out a live radio broadcast, “War of the Worlds,” in the form of news bulletins detailing a presumed invasion from Mars in October 1938, many in the U.S. and Canada believed the worst and headed into the streets before learning the truth.

Today, we have plenty of real-life crises – including the “fiscal cliff” dilemma facing Americans of every stripe – to keep us occupied, not to mention the ever-present powder keg of the Middle East, with a disastrous war in Syria, tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, the nuclear adventure in Iran, Egypt’s constitutional confrontation and, of course, religious zealots continuing to self-implode in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then, too, there’s the fighting in Kenya, threats and violence from Mexican drug cartels and Europe’s Euro Zone countries entangled in the debt crisis.

And, right here in the Garden State, we have the post-Sandy recovery effort to deal with.

Bottom line is, don’t put all your eggs into one Mayan basket: We’ve got a surfeit of potential world-ending situations to choose from – all equally deserving of our attention.

And that’s the point: Yes, it’s certainly important to pay attention to these hot spots around the world. But, instead of putting ourselves in a depressing stew over the world’s warts, we should seek out constructive strategies to positively deal with them.

Write a letter to your congressperson, take part in a demonstration, make a donation to a worthy cause.

But don’t hide under the covers and hope for better times coming. Take positive action as a responsible citizen of the world!

– Ron Leir


Dear Editor:

In this difficult time that when so many have suffered such an enormous loss due to the devastation from “Super Storm Sandy” it’s wonderful to know that there are people who are giving so much.

A group of Kearny firefighters have been spending their days off helping the victims of the storm. They send out an e-mail with an address and those who can, show up to work. I have a home that had so much damage to the first floor; it all had to be removed. Early in the morning, 14 firefighters and even one of their wives were at my door and within five hours my home was torn out and the damage removed. This is what they have been doing since the storm. They are not being paid, and they are not doing it for recognition. They are just giving of their time and of themselves. This is what they do. I believe that the people of Kearny should know this. I am a resident of Kearny and I am so very proud to know that these firefighters do this just because they want to help.

Jarlynn Hyde


Help Wanted! Freelance Reporter

The Observer newspaper is looking for a part-time general assignment reporter who will cover hard news stories as well as take accompanying photographs. Candidates must have a flexible schedule that may include nights and weekends. They must also be able to follow strict deadlines – stories must be completed two days after the event or interview. Knowledge of AP style is preferred as is previous newspaper experience. Send a cover letter, resume with references and at least three clips to:

The Observer

531 Kearny Avenue Kearny, N.J. 07032

Attn: Robert Pezzolla

You may also e-mail jobs@theobserver.com.

No phone calls please.


The Observer newspaper is looking for a part-time general assignment reporter who will cover hard news stories as well as take accompanying photographs. Candidates must have a flexible schedule that may include nights and weekends. They must also be able to follow strict deadlinesstories must be completed two days after the event or interview. Knowledge of AP style is preferred as is previous newspaper experience. Send a cover letter, resume with references and at least three clips to:

The Observer 531 Kearny Avenue Kearny, N.J. 07032 Attn: Robert Pezzolla

You may also e-mail jobs@theobserver. com. No phone calls please.

‘Tis the season: remembering those in need

Sandy has come and gone, having left in tatters an extraordinary number of homes and businesses, particularly along the Jersey Shore where many of us enjoy summer sun and sea.

Now those Shore folks are trying to pick themselves up and start over again and they need all the assistance they can get.

Everywhere, folks are responding – wherever the help is needed.

For example, The Star Ledger reported Sunday that a former Sayreville resident, Ed Kloskowski, is running the 200-plus-mile length of New Jersey as a way of raising funds for Sandy victims through Architecture for Humanity’s Restore the Shore program, Catholic Charities and the borough of Sayreville.

Elsewhere in the region, many communities are extending helping hands and Kearny is no exception.

Kearny Federal Savings Bank has undertaken a food drive at all of its 41 branches in New Jersey. The bank will donate its collections to the Community Food Bank in Hillside for distribution to Sandy victims.

In particular, there is a need for meals in a can, canned soup, shelf-stable milk, cereal, canned tuna, diapers, peanut butter, granola bars, canned fruit and canned vegetables and baby food (no glass jars, please.)

In this area, people can bring items to the bank’s branches in Kearny (614 Kearny Ave.); Harrison (534 Harrison Ave.); North Arlington (80 Ridge Road); Lyndhurst (307 Stuyvesant Ave.); or Rutherford (252 Park Ave.).

Over the past week, contributors brought in “a quarter of a truckload” of supplies, estimated Kearny Federal Vice President Georgiana McDonough. “Our first big amount came from a customer whose daughter was without power in Toms River,” McDonough recalled. “She brought in two dolly carts full of items.”

With the Thanksgiving holiday upcoming, the timing of the drive is especially poignant, McDonough said. “This year, there are going to be some people who are not going to gather around the Thanksgiving table because there’s no table to gather around. People have lost their homes,” she said.

At the Kearny branch of the Salvation Army on Beech St. much of the food pantry stock intended for the Thanksgiving needy ended up getting spread among local Sandy victims, explained Major Alberto Flores. “People were kind of desperate,” Flores said.“There was no power so food in the fridge was gone. We distributed food to about 60 people in need.”

There were also folks who brought in food and clothing for distressed residents of Monmouth and Ocean counties. One woman insisted on driving supplies to the shore areas herself, Flores said.

Now the nonprofit is gearing up to replenish its emergency pantry for the holiday and local schools are stepping up to fill the gap, Flores said. “Kearny High is coming Tuesday with its collections, Roosevelt School is in the process of collecting and also Franklin School will be participating,” he said.

“My wife (Brenda) and I are now in our fifth year in Kearny and we have a feeling of gratitude toward this very generous community,” Flores said.

Another local organization lending a hand is City of Hope International Church, which is associated with Kearny Christian Academy. “Two weeks ago, we opened our food pantry to help those in need, particularly people in Harrison who were hard hit, without power,” said church representative Marian Schreck. “We also gave them extra food, clothing and blankets.”

“We’re also continuing to meet individual needs as people let us know about them,” Schreck said. This week, for example, the church was preparing to give out more than 100 turkey meals to those in the community in need, she said. “And the need has grown over the course of the last two years.”

And, lest we forget, the Hudson County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which is developing a residential project in Kearny, has also been a booster for Sandy victims.

Last Wednesday, the chapter sponsored a fundraiser for Jersey City Sandy Recovery and raised “just under $3,000,” according to chapter co-director Greg Strid. The money will go to help downtown Jersey City residents affected by the storm.

The chapter is also acting as a facilitator for folks looking to contribute to the Sandy recovery effort, Strid said. “We get calls from volunteers and we’ve been putting them in touch with various organizations and letting them know who to call, what to bring.”

Strid said the chapter is awaiting guidance from Habitat International on strategizing the organization’s participation in rebuilding efforts in central and south Jersey.

If you want to help with monetary contributions, contact the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, P.O. Box 95, Mendham, N.J. 07945-0095 or visit sandynjrelieffund.org.

– Ron Leir


Skip the turkey this year

Dear Editor:

With his recent re-election, President Obama has won the power to pardon more turkeys on Thanksgiving. But so does every one of us, by choosing a nonviolent Thanksgiving observance that gives thanks for our good fortune, health, and happiness with a life-affirming, cruelty-free feast of vegetables, fruits, and grains. And here are more terrific reasons:

• You will stay alert through the entire football game.

• You are what you eat. Who wants to be a “butterball”?

• Your vegetarian kid won’t have to boycott the family dinner.

• You won’t have to call Poultry Hotline to keep your family alive.

• Fruits and vegetables don’t have to carry government warning labels.

• You won’t sweat the environment and food resources devastation guilt trip.

• You won’t spend a sleepless night wondering how the turkey lived and died.

• Your body will welcome a holiday from saturated fat, cholesterol, and hormones. Our own dinner this Thanksgiving will feature a “Tofurky,” lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, candied yams, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. An internet search on “vegetarian Thanksgiving” got us more recipes and other useful information than we could possibly use.

Cory Baker


A nation salutes you


This past Sunday marked Veterans’ Day, with the day of observance continuing over onto this past Monday. As a country filled with millions of individuals swamped and overwhelmed by many responsibilities, daily routines, and life callings we must, at least for this one day, take the time to truly contemplate the men and women who have served this country during our most dire of needs and those who currently do so.

Yes. Those who serve both previously and currently are ordinary people like you and me. However, in my eyes they are an exceptional kind, possessing a trait that lack. Their loyalty and allegiance to this great nation is present in all that they do.

Like many in this great nation I know of at least one person currently serving or who has served. These are our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and friends. When speaking to a veteran or a current serviceperson one quickly grasps a vital and unequivocal point –their love of America.

This point was made perfectly clear to me a few years back. I remember speaking with a good college friend who served overseas. While sitting at our university’s student lounge our group’s conversation slowly turned sociopolitical when one asked, “You probably believed in the war. Isn’t that why you enlisted?” My friend, ever so eloquent and articulate, simply something along the lines of, “It’s not whether you agree or not with war because , in reality, no one likes war. The issue has to do whether you will stand up for your country in good times and in bad. In a way it is like a marriage between you and your country.”

This conversation struck a cord with me. Since that day I somewhat started to comprehend the deep commitment those who have served and continue to serve have for this great nation without reservations.

These brave individuals risk it all –putting their lives on the line to protect their families, friends and a slew of strangers they will most likely never come across. Their love, respect and deep commitment for their country and everything that it stands for is admirable. Their devotion is complete, unconditional and long-lasting.

Because of all you have done and continue to do serving this country, I thank you. This nation thanks you.

-Jennifer Vazquez



Dear Editor:

Although it is important to show the grim reality, I believe that it is equally important to show in the media peoples’ efforts to help those in need after the devastating Hurricane Sandy. Having said that, I wanted to pass along this wonderful website created by my brother to try to support and help those in the Seaside Heights, NJ area. Please visit www.rebuildseaside.com to see all of the wonderful things going on and the great accomplishments due to the site’s success. It is close to 20,000 likes and has received an outpouring of support from business owners in the Jersey shore area, local musicians and people everywhere throughout the country. I definitely think it is worth a look…

A concerned Kearny resident

Laura Silva

We are Jersey strong!

Last week Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast, particularly Staten Island and New Jersey’s shoreline –every Jerseyans’ backyard. The images plastered on our TV screens of the devastating aftermath are heart wrenching. Every time I see people displaced from their homes –having lost everything –it truly breaks my heart. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so this reaction in particular, is to be expected from me.

However, this same teary-eyed, completely-in-awe response was also experienced when I witnessed the destruction that took place of our beloved shore. I was left breathless when I saw the image of a rollercoaster swept out to sea. I never though I’d have this reaction for a “place” but after much contemplation I realized that the shore wasn’t just a “place” for me or for other New Jerseyans. It is a way of life. It is a location that represents an avalanche of many things and holds vast memories.

The Jersey Shore is far more than just a name of a helpless attempt at reality TV. The shore is where you were taken as a child. Where you can, still, distinctly remember playing in a hole your dad helped you dig in the golden, hot sand. Where you roamed the boardwalk of Point Pleasant aimlessly as the sounds of games, laughter and music infused the air. It is a place that produced many sleepless nights filled with excitement and anxiety –for you and your siblings –in anticipation for the family trip to Keansburg’s water park. It is the place where, when you got older, you relished your independence by renting a house with your close friends for a few weeks during the summer months. The place where, every week, you would go with your friends to watch a local band play at the same bar. The place where, for some reason, a regular slice of pizza always tasted a thousand times better than any other pizza you’ve ever had. It is the place where many birthdays were celebrated in the well-known Atlantic City restaurants and casinos. A place where a piece of everyone’s heart was washed away when Sandy brought her wrath.

Though for some the shore is just a fleeting summer ritual, for many it is home. We must not forget that! But of course, we Jerseyans and the shore are much more than great pizza and sand. We are resilient. We are strong. We are not the Real Housewives of New Jersey, The Sopranos, The Jersey Shore or Jerseylicious. We are real. Though we may be the butt of many jokes, we are true hard-workers who are honored and privileged to be able to call New Jersey home –a state so diverse in people and natural beauty that we surpass many other states. (Just take a while to sit back and contemplate all of the wonderful things this tiny state has to offer!) I guess one can say that New Jersey is a prime example of how great things come in small packages!

We either came to this state because of all the greatness that it offers due to its proximity to two vast cities -New York and Philadelphia – or because many of our families have worked hard in New Jersey’s police departments, ports, factories and refineries for generations. Yet, many of us are immigrants who adapted this great state as one’s own and have grown to love New Jersey as our new home.

We are not an envious type. On the contrary, we have a great deal of pride and protectiveness for our own. Our neighbors’ and friends’ successes are ours. Perhaps, that is why we hold Bon Jovi and, who can only be described as the workingman’s poet, Bruce Springsteen, as staples of the greatness and talent that can come out of this small state.

Yes. The loss was tremendous. But we are resilient. When confronted with incredible hardships we always seem to come together. We are helping hands. We are shoulders to cry on. We are each other’s strength.

Therefore, we must stand united and proclaim to the world with full conviction, “Watch us. We will rise up victoriously!”

Tears will be shed. We will grief. But, we must not falter. We are strong. Better yet, we are Jersey strong!

-Jennifer Vazquez



In our West Hudson Arts and Theater Company article (published on Oct. 24, 2012, page 11) it was mentioned that W.H.A.T. was “conceived as a joint effort between (Gerald) Ficeto and the town of Kearny.” In fact, it was a collaboration involving numerous West Hudson residents and towns, not only Ficeto and not just Kearny, who all came together with a mutual end goal of bringing the arts and theater to the local communities.