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Category: Opinion & Reader Forum

Let’s get tougher on animal cruelty

Federal wildlife officials are hunting the sicko who shot a pilot whale that beached itself and died on the sands north of Asbury Park last month.
The whale had suffered a slow, agonizing death from starvation after the bullet wound
left it with an infected jaw and it was unable to eat. Experts said it likely took about a month for the creature to succumb.
Under federal law, the culprit could face a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. Now
that’s a suitable penalty.
Unfortunately, and invariably, when some pseudo-human is found guilty in a lower court of a crime against an animal, they get off with a minor penalty, such as a “sentence” of community service. Usually, something like having to work in an animal
shelter. Which is the last place I would put such a person.
The most recent egregious example of this wrist-slap judicial mentality comes from
the Bronx, where 30-year-old Cherika Alvarez, was convicted in August of animal
cruelty for leaving her pet dog to starve to death in her apartment when she was evicted from same.
The animal’s corpse was found six weeks later. Authorities said the dog had tried to
survive on a diet of ketchup packets and garbage, and then wood chips and splintered
plastic. And razor blades.
According to the Daily News, “The pup’s body had no body fat and was so emaciated
that his remains had to be scraped off the floorboards.”
Alvarez appeared for sentencing last month. Her penalty? Twenty days of community
service. And she’s not allowed to own another pet for three years.
Standing before Judge Robert Sackett, she sobbed: “I’m really sorry for what happened. I didn’t mean for it to happen. . . . I learned my lesson. I would never even hurt a cockroach.” (My suspicion is that’s because she’s one herself.)
Until the courts get serious about crimes like this and start handing down jail terms, such wanton cruelty will continue.
Jail is not going to stop it entirely, since some humans can never be deterred from
barbarism. But decent members of society will at least have the satisfaction of knowing
that the punishment will fit the crimes.
— Karen Zautyk
P.S. I have often been accused of liking animals more than I like people. To which, I
plead guilty. Because of people like Cherika Alvarez.

WE’VE GOT MAIL

To the Publisher:

As a member of the Harrison Lions club I have been collecting money during our annual White Cane weekend since 1993. I have seen many changes with membership and the economy. I am amazed at the generosity of local citizens as well as those
who come through Harrison each day using the PATH, local businesses and our roadways.
During these times of a tough economy, people are still very supportive. Their generosity allows our club to make annual donations to the blind, disabled, and various others in need.
However, what really is awe-inspiring to me is the enthusiastic help from the youth of Harrison. Since 1997 our club has enlisted the aid of our local young people and most recently their assistance has been the necessary help for us to reach our fundraising
goals. Without their help we would be hard pressed to raise the kind of funds necessary to meet our goals. Most of these students along with their parent members or other adult supervision enthusiastically raised funds as early as 6 a.m. and still
completed a full day of school. Most days we read about not so great events in the community. This past weekend has surely renewed my hope in the human spirit.

Nick Landy,
President of the Harrison Lions Club

Double-dog dare you, governor

 

On Friday night, the AP reported: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is reconsidering his decision to stay out of the race for the White House in 2012 and is expected to make a decision soon, according to several people close to the governor with knowledge of his thinking.”
“Soon” could have been after press time Monday, in which case, this column will be moot, so just skip it and check out Around Town or the police blotters.
But, on the off chance he is still wavering, or if he has said “no” for the umpteenth time, I am compelled to urge him to go for it. The sooner he declares his candidacy, the sooner the country will learn what this guy is really like, and the sooner he’ll get his ample posterior kicked. (No, I am not going the fat-guy-joke route; David Letterman seems to have that nicely covered.)
While oft denying ambitions beyond the governorship, at least for 2012, Christie has been feeding his massive ego with personal appearances hither and thither, always before audiences who see him as some sort of political savior.
Last week, the gov fielded questions from a smitten (as might be expected, considering the venue) crowd at the Reagan Library. One woman pleaded: “I know New Jersey needs you, but I really implore you, I really do . . . I mean this with all my heart. We can’t wait another four years to 2016 . . . please sir, reconsider. We need you. Your country needs you to run for the presidency.”
Cynic that I am, I wondered if she were a plant. If not, she appears to have the IQ of one.
New Jersey needs Chris Christie as badly as it needs Snooki.
The governor, well-practiced in pseudo-charm peppered with flashes of humor (thank you, ghostwriters?) has managed to manipulate a fawning national media. They have not yet discovered the bully behind the smiling mask.
When he is in the constant presidential-candidate spotlight, it would not be long before charm and humor are replaced by the nasty snideness and condescension with which New Jerseyans have become far too familiar. It is time the American electorate were treated to that side of the man.
The gov is fond of saying things like, “I’ll respect you, if you respect me.” But he appears to equate any disagreement with disrespect, and — poof! — civility vanishes.
So please, gov, go for it. Throw your hat in that ring. The American people are waiting to adore you. Or not.
A presidential run may not earn you the votes you think you deserve, but it would offer something far more valuable: a long-overdue lesson in humility.
— Karen Zautyk

P.S. On Sunday, the Star-Ledger noted that, if he declares his candidacy, Christie would have to “hit the ground running.” Shouldn’t that be ‘hit the ground waddling”? (Did I say there’d be no fat jokes? I lied.)

We’ve got mail

To the Publisher:

Never forget 9/11/2001.
Never forget Bush at that instant: seven minutes of dumbfounded silence.
Never forget the next-day words of Bush, “Go shopping,” and EPA director Whitman, “The air is safe.”
Never forget “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” the 8/6/2001 memo of actionable intelligence that Bush didn’t act on, allowing thousands of deaths.
Never forget where Bush invaded in response: Iraq, where Saddam truthfully denied WMD’s – not Afghanistan, where Osama went then and al-Qaeda still trains.
Never forget the PATRIOT Act trampling the Constitution: warrantless wire-tapping, torture, detaining people without charges, etc., etc.
Never forget two no-bid contracts: Cheney’s with his KBR and Halliburton to get Iraq’s oil, and Giuliani’s with his Motorola buddies for the FDNY’s and EMS’s bad radios.
Never forget on Election Day: these and other Republicans never got Osama; Democrat Obama did.

J. Andrew Smith
Bloomfield

The warning signs are all there

If Monday were not production day at The Observer, I might have just turned around and gone home.
Something was trying to keep me from getting to the office.
First, the Belleville Pike bridge decided to close to cars just as I approached it from the west. (Why, by the way, is it ever closed?  What sort of vessel is coming up the river? The Intrepid?)
From past experience, I knew this would not be a short delay.
So I turned right and tried to wend my way to Washington Ave., Only to encounter red flashing lights and clanging warning bells at a gateless RR crossing on a side street.
I didn’t want to take a risk, so I stopped. And waited. No train. Lights and bells eventually ceased and I headed for Rt. 21-N, exiting at the Lyndhurst Bridge.
My intention was to take Riverside Ave. through Lyndhurst and into North Arlington.
Riverside was closed. Barricaded.
I started up Kingsland Ave.,
Kingsland Ave. was closed. Barricaded.
Finally, and nearly a half-hour late,  I arrived at the paper.
I logged onto my computer, and when I checked my email, this is what I saw:
Messages in Inbox: 666.
See ya next week.  I’m leaving now.
— Karen Zautyk

We’ve got mail

To the Publisher:
Sept. 11 reminds all firefighters of the loss of 343 members of the brotherhood of firefighting. A small example of the family of the fire department brotherhood is shown in just the small town of Belleville.
They are brothers: James, Charles and Thomas Murphy; George and Mike Sebarra, Ralph and Carman Castalano, Tom and Joe Lamin, George and Harry Scott, Robert and John Willie, and Stanley and Andrew Depczek.
Fathers and sons:  John and John Baldwin, Joseph Sr., Tom and Joe Lamin Jr., Robert Sr., John and Robert Willie Jr., Joseph and Mike Cancellire, Ralph Sr. and Ralph Castellano, Patrick and Patrick Dunn Jr., William and William Hand, Mike and Tom Sebarra, John and James Zaccone, William and Timothy Buckley, Joseph and Frank Thalhimer, and Mike and Ed Carr, Ken and Scott Langlands.
Grandfathers and grandsons: Walter and Walter Bersford, and  James and James Salmon.
And last, my family: Grandfather Harvy Ziggler, great uncle Mike Carr, Uncle Ed Carr, and myself Firefighter Vincent Abbott.
All were and are a family and brotherhood protecting and serving Belleville. This is just a small sample of how firefighting is in the blood.

Vincent Abbott
Retired firefighter
Belleville

Corrections

 

A story in the print edition of  last week’s Observer about a proposal to  create a redevelopment agency in North Arlington inadvertently misstated the positions of the political parties.  The Democrats are opposed to the plan; the Republicans support it.

 

CORRECTION

The photo, as submitted by the Nutley-Belleville Columbus Day Parade Committee, that ran in last week’s paper was of Deputy Grand Marshal Al Dorso. A photo of the Grand Marshal, Joseph Cervasio, will be on our online edition this week. Click here.

 

R.I.P. Now take them to the basement

A decade after 9/11, some 6,000 human remains, representing more than 1,100 World Trade Center victims, are stored at the New York City medical examiner’s office. Despite all efforts, despite advanced DNA testing, they are still unidentified.
Of this I was aware. But what I did not know, until I learned of a protest last Saturday evening outside that office on E. 30th St. in Manhattan, was what the City of New York now planned to do with the remnants of all those lost human beings.
They are to be moved to the “basement” of the 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero. In order to pay your respects, you will also have to pay the $20 museum admission fee.
According to a story published Aug. 27 in New York Magazine, there would be “three distinct levels of access: for the public, for the families, and for the scientists who will presumably keep up the ID work.” Does this mean the families at least will be permitted to visit for free? Even so, their visits would likely be limited to the museum’s operating hours.
This decision on the eternal resting place was made in 2009, but I shamefacedly admit I had not heard of it. However, I am not alone. Some family members of victims have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to force the city to release contact information for all the WTC next-of-kin — this, in order to alert them to the planned move.
Some of those at the protest were asking that the remains be placed above ground in perhaps a “Tomb of the Unknowns.” A sacred place. A place under the open sky, and open to any mourner at virtually any time.
No matter how classy a memorial is placed inside the museum,  it will still be offensive.
Human beings, even unidentified ones, even just the fragile fragments of them, should not be part of some exhibit. This reminds me of the uneasy feeling I got when I first saw actual mummies at the Metropolitan. Human beings do not belong in  glass cases. They do not belong in public museums.
Keep the 9/11 remains at the ME’s office until all DNA-identification hope is gone.
And then give them a dignified resting place on holy ground.
— Karen Zautyk

We’ve got mail

To the Publisher:
Although Nutley was spared devastating effects from Hurricane Irene, we did experience flooding, downed trees and poles resulting in water and sewer issues and loss of power. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the emergency responders:  police, fire and emergency rescue squad who worked tirelessly through the storm to protect and insure the safety of our residents.
For days after the storm, Nutley firefighters pumped water from basements and performed countless safety checks on homes with gas leaks and extinguished pilot lights.  Police patrolled the streets to report unsafe conditions and provided aid to residents in need. The rescue squad responded to many stress-related calls. And despite working many extra hours helping our residents, policemen, firemen and rescue workers  provided help to our neighboring towns who needed assistance –  especially Fairfield, Little Falls and Wayne. I could not be prouder of them all.
Our department was also fortunate to work hand-in-hand with other departments including Public Works, Parks And Recreation, Public Affairs and Revenue and Finance’s code enforcement to provide the fastest and most efficient clean-up possible.  And a special thank you to PSE&G, which worked day and night restoring the power to our residents.
Watching the town come together – emergency personnel, township departments and residents who so readily helped their neighbors, especially the seniors –  makes Nutley stand out.
As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Our employees  and our residents proved that once again. Thank you all once again. Job well done!

Commissioner
Alphonse Petracco
Department of Public Safety
Nutley

WE’VE GOT MAIL

To the Publisher:
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11/01 approaches, I wish to share my story in memory of all pet owners who lost their lives.
My backyard in Harrison is an official National Wildlife Federation refuge. After the initial attack, we did not see or hear any wildlife for three days. It was as though nature sensed chaos and fear in the atmosphere and went into hiding.
On Sept. 14 at noon, a mourning dove came to our oak tree and for 15 minutes we observed it and heard its mournful call. It then took flight in a westerly direction. Shortly thereafter, the birds, etc., returned.
This event emphasizes the important relationship between humans, animals and nature.
Vivian Gazdalski
Harrison

 

To the Publisher:
On Sunday, Aug. 28, the full effects of hurricane Irene hit our town and the Lyndhurst Elks Lodge, in addition to the surrounding homes, sustaining  major  flood damage. We would like to thank the efforts of the Lyndhurst Fire, Police, and EMS in helping us to access our building via boats supplied by the township. All affairs have been cancelled for the lodge until further assessment of the flood damage can be ascertained and rectified. We would like to thank the residents of Lyndhurst for their continued support of our Elks lodge, and hopefully, we will be able to reopen our building within the next few months.

Bill Murtha
Lyndhurst Elks Lodge

 

To the Publisher:
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. During the month, my friends and I are Turning The Towns Teal by tying teal ribbons throughout Kearny to raise awareness for ovarian cancer.
“Ovarian cancer is known as ‘The Silent Disease’ as the symptoms are often vague and subtle. Presently, there is NO early detection test.
Today, awareness of symptoms is the most critical factor in fighting ovarian cancer which is why this campaign is so very, very important,” said Jane MacNeil, president of Turn The Towns Teal.
Cards that identify the subtle signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can be obtained at the Kearny Library and the Kearny Health Department during the month of September. Please pick some up and share them with friends, family or organizations that you belong to.
For more information or to volunteer, please visit our website, www.turnthetownsteal.org.

Jeanne Caldwell
Kearny

 

To the Publisher:
With the start of a new school year, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.
Traditionally, USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90% of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, only 15% eat recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, and one-third have become overweight or obese.  Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
But the tide is turning. In recent years, Hawaii, California, New York, and Florida legislatures asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options, and most U.S. school districts now do.  The Baltimore public school system offers its 80,000 students a complete weekly break from meat.
Last December, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act to replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options. In January, the USDA announced the first new school lunch guidelines in 15 years.
Parents should continue to insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items.  They can consult www.vrg.org/family, www.healthyschoollunches.org, and www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/.

Cory Baker
Kearny