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Category: Opinion & Reader Forum



Dear Editor,

We are writing to respond to the statements and accusations made by four of our fellow school board members. These members make claims of “concerns” falling on deaf ears, personal agendas being moved by the majority of the board, and a lack of information sharing. We find these claims ridiculous and without merit.

All board members have the opportunity to participate in the decision making process, but they must attend committee and regular meetings to do so. Those complaining have refused to sit on certain committees because they “don’t like” other committee members, resigned from committees over disagreements, or simply refused to come to meetings. In one case, a member of the finance committee has not attended one meeting in the last 16 months, yet he complains he is not part of the decision making process.

These members have boycotted special meetings where we interviewed candidates for Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent, and then complain about and attack the candidates chosen. They claim this is the most important decision the board will make, yet they refuse to participate in the process. Worse yet, they complain and point the accusatory finger at everyone else.

We have welcomed input from every board member and understand that we won’t all agree on issues. Discussion and debate are healthy. Personal attacks and personal agendas are not. Lack of participation is not acceptable. These same board members claim to want a unified board, yet through their words and actions, they are the ones drawing the dividing line.

Over the last 16 months we have made a number of accomplishments for the School District. We would rather focus on these than on the political agendas of others. We have had zero tax increases in the last two budgets while still moving the district forward. We have increased educational programs and staffing levels, negotiated fair contracts with our Unions, improved technology and still achieved a budget surplus of $1.9 million. We are committed to moving forward in spite of the political attacks. We are here to do what is right for our schools, community and tax payers, not what is right for the greedy few.

George King

Paul Cateslli

Robert O’Malley

John Leadbeater

John Plaugic

Give it to me straight or just don’t bother


That’s what seems to be missing today.

Sometimes it takes the form of owning up to a flub at work – (and I’ve had my fair share) – or confessing to cheating on an exam, or publicly acknowledging that members of an organization held up as role models in society have gone astray.

Why, for example, did it have to take an act of litigation to compel the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to reveal that scoutmasters entrusted with the lives of youths betrayed that trust by preying on those in their care?

And why, in some cases, did BSA bureaucrats apparently ignore the warnings of colleagues and permit the alleged abuse to continue?

This pattern of deceit and cover-up is, sad to say, nothing new in a world that seems to feed on corruption in the body politic, religious spheres, sporting life and just about everywhere we turn.

Banks, once careful custodians of the nation’s cash, have extracted our money with big interest owed on their credit cards while blithely having handed out sub-prime mortgages based on flimsy collateral. Now all of us are paying the bills and financial bigwigs are pocketing bonuses, as usual.

When I was still in grammar school, I remember promises being made about America going to the moon and riding in electric cars. Well, we made it to the moon but we’re still grounded by gas-guzzling vehicles after GM sold out to the petrochemical industry.

Just once, can somebody be straight with us?

If you promise to do something and you don’t do it, can you at least admit it and explain what you intend to do about it?

Or is that too much to ask in a Presidential election year?

– Ron Leir


On last week’s issue on page 26, the gentleman in the photo are Brian Davenport (l.) and Christopher Brooks (r.)


Mary Pettigrew and Bob and Louise Hallenbeck are the volunteers at the thrift store located on the second floor of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington
on 663 Kearny Ave. The hours of the thrift store are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Dear Editor,

2012 has not been a banner year for the meat industry. Extreme drought has doubled the cost of animal feedstuffs. Undercover investigations documented male chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, their female counterparts crammed for life in tiny wire-mesh cages, pigs clobbered with metal pipes, and assorted farm animals skinned and dismembered at the slaughterhouse while still conscious.

A study of more than 120,000 people by the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed once again that meat consumption raises the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan, warned that routine use of antibiotics to promote animal growth in factory farms is causing “the end of modern medicine.”

No wonder U.S. per capita meat consumption has been dropping by nearly 4% annually!

October offers excellent opportunities for dropping animal products from our diet. The month kicks off with World Vegetarian Day and World Farm Animals Day on October 1st and 2nd, respectively. It continues with World Food Day on October 16th, and Food Day on October 24th.

Entering “live vegan” in a search engine brings lots of useful transition tips.

Kenneth Miller




Dear Editor:

As a lifelong Essex County resident and proud WWII veteran, I feel that Essex County is in need of a Veterans Memorial Home for elderly and sick veterans. According to 2010 Census data, there are 30,285 veterans living in Essex County. The veterans population of Essex County clearly provides a justification for a facility in our home of Essex County.

As of today, there are three New Jersey county veterans’ memorial homes in New Jersey – one in Paramus (Bergen County, veteran population 44,145); one in Menlo Park (Middlesex County Veteran Pop. 38,958); and one in Vineland (Cumberland County veteran pop. 9,810).

An ideal location would be the old Essex County Hospital, located in Belleville at the intersection of Belleville and Franklin Avenues.

We are spending billions in the far east – let’s spend some here to renovate this hospital with a grant to serve the veterans coming home!

Joe Fornarotto


Belleville/Nutley Chapter 2

Disabled American Veterans


Long may the Passaic flow … er, glow

The headline in Friday’s Star-Ledger read: “EPA to check for chemicals leaking into Passaic River.”

So, you might think, what else is new? Read it again. Note the present tense of the verb.

In addition to all the poisonous gunk dumped into the Passaic in decades past, the feds suspect that pollutants from a Newark industrial park may have “leached into the waterway in recent years.”

Poor Passaic.

This is a river for which I have great affection, having grown up along its banks in Down Neck, Newark.

We didn’t think about pollution then. Oh, we knew the Passaic was polluted; you could tell from the stench when the tide went out. We just didn’t think about it.

In those days, kids played unsupervised, and we played along the Passaic shoreline. It was especially fun at low tide.

We’d pick our way along the wet rocks, looking for curiosities that may have washed up. These included the occasional dead dog. Once, we also found an exotic animal: a dead pig. From whence it came was a mystery. Perhaps from Secaucus, where the pig farms were.

Using a tiny net, I fished for killies in the Passaic. I’d put them in a big jar of river water and take them home as pets. But when I transferred them into a fishbowl of clean water, they always died. Apparently, they thrived on pollution.

Chemical plants abounded in the neighborhood, too, but it was only a few years ago that I learned that one of them had been producing Agent Orange. Just a few blocks away from my home.

Throw in the asbestos that covered the pipes in our apartment complex’s laundry room, and I am surprised I have made it this far.

I am convinced that I am today a walking toxic wasteland.

But I look on the bright side. I am probably immune to most pollutants. And I never worry about electrical blackouts.

Because I glow in the dark.

— Karen Zautyk


In last week’s story about Roche, Nutley site, the amount cited for the tax abatement is incorrect. The actual amount of the abatement is $3 million, not $5 million.


Dear Editor:

I have been a volunteer at Oakeside Cultural Center in Bloomfield for many years and on Sunday, Sept. 9, I took part in its Bicentennial Tea where I acted as a docent for the afternoon. I must commend its Executive Director, Kim Reilly for accomplishing such a magnificent affair. I don’t think the Trustees of Oakeside realize what a gem they have in Kim as their Director. Without Kim’s expertise in preparing many days in advance for this tea, I think it would not have been the complete success it was. There were over 100 guests at this affair and I cannot tell you of one person who disliked it. The comments I heard all during the day were overly appreciative of the time they spent there that afternoon. I realize this was a one-time event to honor Bloomfield’s 200th anniversary, but several people said they would definitely attend many of the other affairs that will be offered at Oakeside in the future.

In closing, I want to tell you how proud I am to be a volunteer at Oakeside. My hope for Oakeside is that it will continue to provide the people of Bloomfield more and more special events as this one and it will continue to grow in popularity over the future years.

Joan L. Kimball

North Arlington


On The Observer’s issue of August 29, 2012, the Belleville Center landlord’s name was misspelled, his name is Charley Patel.

We need to call upon a real leader

What we need, ladies and gents, is a true world leader

A gentle reminder: Tuesday, Nov. 6, is Election Day – when Americans get to choose the next occupant of the White House.

This year, citizens can vote for the incumbent, Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee; or for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

This time around, there’s no third-party candidate of the stature of Ralph Nader or Ross Perot, for example, who’s thrown his or her hat in the ring.

And that’s may be our loss, since neither of the major party candidates has articulated – at least in the view of this writer – a clear vision of America’s future.

Instead, we’ve heard each candidate bash his opponent with the typical pronouncements of liberal and conservative rhetoric. We’ve heard Obama champion the role of government in helping rescue our sagging economy and, from Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, attacks on government spending and debt.

But there’s been little discussion about how America can be a player for good in a world beset from every angle with Herculean problems ranging from war to climate change to hunger to pollution, and beyond.

America can ill afford to stand alone on the global stage and our next leader must find a way to rally both parties and citizens of all stripes behind a movement aimed to uniting all nations in a common cause: cooperation for survival of the planet.

Pride in country can only go so far. America needs to broaden its horizons to win global partners for peace and prosperity for all.

– Ron Leir