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Category: Opinion

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

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



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.



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!

Alphonse Petracco
Department of Public Safety


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


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


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


We couldn’t have made it without them

This is a thank-you note. Hurricane Irene turned out not to be the completely devastating direct hit that it might have been.
But Sunday-morning quarterbacks were heard griping immediately about “overkill”
and “scare tactics.”
Those same quarterbacks likely would not have still been around had the hurricane not lost strength and changed direction before it reached here.
I’m one of the people who turned off the TV pre-storm because I was tired of the 24/7
Irene coverage, especially by the forecasters, all of whom appeared to have a different
prognostication. (Don’t they all use the same satellites/ tracking equipment/data?)
Still, “overkill” is better than actual kill. And safe is better than sorry. And there are people among us who worked around the clock, for days, before, during and after the storm to keep the rest of us safe. Even at risk to themselves.
The first responders, especially the police and fire departments, in all our local communities deserve the highest commendation for their labors, and their dedication,
and their self-sacrifice.
These men and women have families and homes of their own to worry about, but when duty calls, they answer. Last weekend, they left their homes and families to protect
The local OEM members were busy even beforehand, days and days before, mapping
scenarios and danger areas and readying their crews for every possible kind of rescue. “What if?” is not idle speculation in their world. While you were out stocking up on
bottled water and munchies, they were huddled around desks discussing how to save your life.
Think about that. Think about them. And the next time you see one, say “Thank you.”
— Karen Zautyk


To the Publisher:
I would like to offer some advice to and information for the families of veterans to ensure that they get a proper military funeral for their loved one.
The first thing to remember is that it is the responsibility of the family to provide the proper documentation. Be prepared to have proof that the individual was in the service: a copy of discharge papers or Form DD 214.
Without one of these documents, the funeral director’s hands are tied.
Do not wait until your loved one is deceased. Find the paperwork now and put it in a safe place so you will have it ready when a funeral must be planned.
If you want a military honor guard at the gravesite, the funeral director must be notified, and there must be sufficient application time (at least 48 hours) and the proof of military service.
Also be aware of what military organizations, if any, the person belongs to.
State that you want to contact a military group to present honors at the wake. Keep in mind that the deceased person must be a current paid-up member of said group.

John Deveney
American Legion Post 139

Looking for the answers

Maybe, by the time you read this, someone may have discovered a possible explanation. Drug-induced psychosis. Alcohol-triggered mania. One of the multitude of terrors to which the fragile human mind is susceptible.
But, as of this writing, the psychiatrists were still trying to find some hint as to what anomaly in the brain of Carlos Campos Jr. led him to slaughter his parents. And a baby.
Granted, I have seen only the one photo, I have not seen the man in person, but examining  his mug shot, I see someone who looks lost. In those eyes, I see neither rage nor rampant evil. I see bewilderment. As if Campos is as confused as the rest of us who have been trying to come to emotional terms with the horrific murders in Harrison.
Please don’t misunderstand; I am not defending Campos. I have no sympathy for this person. It is just that one is desperate to seek explanations, even for the inexplicable. Perhaps, especially for the inexplicable.
Some reports say the homicides were triggered by an argument Campos had with his father. It would not be the first time lethal violence began with something relatively simple.
But did he have an argument with the baby? A 3-year-old is a baby.
It is thought that the child may have been killed last. She was found in her crib. Had she heard the screams of her grandmother, or had she — pray it was so — been sound asleep? Did the knife pierce her heart before she even awoke?
It helps, a little bit, to think, to hope, that she died quickly, oblivious to the bestial brutality.
What could possibly possess a man to stand over a baby, to gaze at this being of absolute innocence, and to then butcher her?
In today’s world, violence is all around us. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear of some murder, some frightening indication that, to some members of society, human life has lost all value.
But, always, we look for the explanation.
People cannot simply be that brutal, that evil, can they?
Last week, horror visited Harrison. In a typical Harrison house on a typical Harrison street, one that was daily filled with the laughter of children.
Parents are holding their children closer now, keeping those precious lives safe in the arms of love.
And all of us are looking for the answers, for the explanation, for the reason. Because, if we find a reason, as unjustifiable as it might be, perhaps something like this will never happen again.
But, deep inside, we know it will happen. Somewhere, some time.
Sometimes, although there are diagnoses, there are just no answers.

—Karen Zautyk