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Category: Opinion



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

We’ve got mail

To the Publisher,
The recent recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey by Cargill proves once again that our meat supply is not safe. The product has been linked to a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella that killed one person and sickened 76 thus far. With $108 billion in annual sales, Cargill is the world’s largest meat processor.
Salmonella bacteria are nurtured in the intestines of animals raised for food, and many strains are resistant to common antibiotics. The bacteria develop resistance through exposure to antibiotics used routinely to speed growth in these animals.
As a first step, the Food and Drug Administration must ban the routine use of antibiotics in raising animals. The European Union has adopted such a ban in 2006. The World Health Organization has recommended a worldwide phase-out.
But, the ultimate solution to Salmonella poisoning and a host of chronic killer diseases associated with meat consumption is to replace animal products in our diet with vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and grains. These foods contain all the nutrients we require, without deadly pathogens, antibiotics, pesticides, carcinogens, cholesterol, and saturated fats.
I found the websites www.tryveg.com and www.chooseveg.com most helpful in making the transition.

Kenneth Miller

Bank robbers I have known

Well, there was only one actually, at least that I’m aware of.
He was, surprisingly, a gentleman, despite having done hard time. (In my profession, you meet the most intriguing people.)
I was thinking about “my” bank robber this week after writing the story about the desperate man who allegedly had planned to rob a Chase branch in Nutley. The guy I knew had done more than plan,  but he didn’t get very far with the money.  A few yards, maybe.
The story as I was told it:
My long-ago acquaintance and three of his friends, with a history of petty thefts, decided to go big time and hold up a bank in [name of city withheld].
On the day of the crime,  the designated driver waited in the getaway car on a busy avenue in front of the bank,  while the other three members of the crew did the deed.
The hold-up went off without a hitch, no shots fired, no one hurt. The felons ran out and jumped into their car, expecting to speed away in an instant. But the driver, as new to criminal flight as his cohorts were to armed robbery, first carefully checked the traffic so he could safely merge.
What he saw in the sideview mirror was an approaching police car, a couple of blocks away, speeding up the street, lights flashing and siren blaring.
He panicked, floored it, lost control, jumped the curb and crashed into a telephone pole.
This naturally caught the attention of the cops,  who just happened to be on their way to another call and knew nothing yet about the  bank robbery.
They stopped to render assistance to the accident victims.
And then the bank customers came running out and identified the villains who had just robbed the place.
I heard the story years after the fact, when the man I knew (not the driver, by the way) had been out of prison for some time.  He was that rarity: a reformed criminal.  He had earned not only his GED but a college degree while behind bars and was doing well in his new law-abiding life.
Too bad that doesn’t happen more often.
 —  Karen Zautyk

P.S. Some day,  remind me to tell you about my friend the mercenary, who was the only American wounded at the Bay of Pigs – fighting for Castro.  You meet the most intriguing people  . . . .

We’ve Got Mail

To the Publisher:
Regarding the column “At cross purposes with nonbelievers” (Aug. 3): Karen Zautyk probably would not like having all Christians tarred with the radicalism of Timothy McVeigh or the Westboro Baptist Church. So why does she do it to atheists?
People who do not believe in a supreme being are not non-believers. We believe in love, kindness, generosity, service, compassion and all the virtues that people call good.
We also believe in reason, and in drawing conclusions based on facts. That is why belief systems that are based only on wishes concern us. Religions shape cultures. The more seriously you take any theology, the more dangerous and less responsible it becomes. Making God separate from us disconnects the vital connection between God and human values.
By contrast, living as a disciple of values that are common to us all checks excess and abuse. In other words, if we want a world in which people honor and love each other, we must act like it, whether we believe in a god or not.
If Ms. Zautyk wishes to criticize any group for pushing its beliefs on others, she should look in the mirror. In this country, theists have plastered their god on our money and inserted it into our pledge. Some Christians would like to place their nativity scene on every public lawn in the country.
People who honestly disagreed fought against some of these things, and won. Other cases will lose, deservedly. Just because there are radical atheists, just like there are radical Christians, is no excuse for bigotry.

Paul L. LaClair