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NAPD seeks man who allegedly passed 4 fake $100s

The North Arlington Police Department  is currently investigating an incident involving use of counterfeit $100 bills at a 7-Eleven on Ridge Rd. A man, approximately 6′  in height, 150 lbs., wearing a baseball cap  with a Seattle Mariners logo, a […]


W.H.A.T. presents ‘The Addams Family’ July 30-Aug. 2, including preview tonight at Angry Coffee Bean

KEARNY — Teen Drama, a theater company for teens celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer, in association with the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) presents the modern classic Broadway musical “The Addams Family” this summer. The smash-hit musical […]


Images from funeral procession for Jersey City police Detective Melvin Santiago

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Farewell to a brother in blue

On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]


State eyes raising part of Pike

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]


Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Photo by Lisa Pezzolla

Arrest in Bank Robbery

Michael Evans



By Ron Leir

At Nutley High School on Saturday, the Maroon Raiders were banging heads with the Irvington team on the gridiron but just across the street, another kind of activity was happening that had plenty of potential for violence.
At 12:05 p.m., Nutley Police responded to a silent alarm at the TD Bank on Franklin Ave., between Church and William Sts., and learned that a man had just robbed the bank and fled the scene.
Based on interviews with the several employees and at least one customer inside at the time, police determined that the robber drove into the bank parking lot, walked inside, grabbed a withdrawal slip and wrote on it, “Give me all your money.”
The man, who made no effort to conceal his face, then walked to a teller window and placed the slip under the glass window for the teller to read and then told her not to panic, police said.
“When the teller read the note, she gasped for air,” said Det. Anthony Montanari, the lead investigator in the case. “So the man again told her not to panic.”
At the same time, Montanari said, the man reached down to his pants, as if to suggest that he had a weapon.
The teller then gave the robber an undisclosed amount of cash and he left the bank, driving away in a beige Honda, after which, the teller activated a silent alarm, bringing police to the scene.
No weapon was shown during the incident, Montanari said.
“With the cooperation of witnesses, and with surveillance video, we were able to ascertain the make, model and registration of the vehicle,” Montanari said.
Assisted by Newark Police, Essex County Prosecutor’s investigators and federal agents, Nutley police officers and detectives located a 1995 beige Honda, believed to be the vehicle used by the robber, on Alexander St. in Newark.
Newark PD impounded the Honda.
A short time later, police arrested the suspect, Michael Evans, 49, hiding in a nearby rear yard. Police said Evans had cash stuffed in plastic bags and other items reportedly linking Evans to the robbery.
Montanari declined to say how much money was in Evans’ possession, nor would be identify the items found on the suspect.
“At the time of his arrest, Evans was dressed in a shirt very similar to the one seen in the (surveillance) video,” Montanari said.
The Honda has been transferred to the Nutley PD crime scene laboratory and police are seeking a search warrant to check the vehicle for possible evidence, Montanari said.
“No weapon has been recovered as of yet,” he added.
After complaining of chest pains, Evans was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, for observation and was later released to Nutley PD.
Evans’ capture was achieved within an hour of the robbery, according to Montanari.
Evans has been charged with robbery and theft, second degree crimes that are indictable. He is being held at the Essex County Jail on $275,000 bail.
Montanari described Evans as “a family man, self-employed owner/operator driver, who had financial difficulties and acted in desperation. He was very remorseful about how he had frightened the teller.”
Nutley Police Det. Sgt. Pete LoCurto, Det. Robert McDermott and Patrol Sgt. Pete Teine all played key roles in the investigation, Montanari said.
Nutley Police Chief John Holland said that police are trying to recover all the stolen proceeds from the robbery. He said he was thankful that none of the bank’s employees, customers or police were hurt as a result of a crime “that could have gone terribly wrong.”
And Nutley Police Commissioner Alphonse Petracco commended the department’s officers and community members for their actions and thanked Newark PD, FBI and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their help.

Storm’s Impact Still Lingers

By Chris Neidenberg

It wasn’t a trick and certainly no treat for many Belleville residents living on Branch Brook Dr. and Carpenter St., who were stuck without power for several days after the recent pre-Halloween snowstorm.
The township reported that many dwellings were still left powerless from the freak and blistering storm, which downed countless trees and power lines throughout North Jersey.
According to a spokesperson for Emergency Management Coordinator and police Capt. Victor Mesce, residents with  addresses in the lower address numbers  on Carpenter St. were still shut down through early Friday afternoon. She added that some Branch Brook Dr. residents had no current through part of Thursday.
“The power lost on Carpenter St. included some apartments,” said the spokesperson who had conferred with Mesce and requested anonymity.  “PSE&G has told us those properties would be restored by today.”
The spokesperson said that Thursday’s lingering Branch Brook Dr. outage primarily affected Audubon Pl. apartment complex tenants.
“My understanding is that everything (in the complex) is restored now,  Audubon’s property manager told The Observer on Friday.”
The storm formed quickly and caught states along the eastern seaboard, from North Carolina northward, off-guard as it churned up severe wind gusts and blankets of snow more commonly seen in these parts in January and February.
For the New York City area, it was the earliest major snowstorm on record since the Civil War.
PSE&G reported that at least 560,000 Garden State customers lost power from the storm, and an estimated 70 percent of them had electricity back up by Halloween morning. The utility was helped by a group of 91 local independent contractor crews, along with 60 crews from power companies in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
The two Belleville areas comprised a portion of the remaining group that experienced prolonged outages, due to various complicating factors.
About 8,000 customers were still without power in parts of Bergen and Essex counties,  utility spokeswoman Rene Esposito said Friday afternoon,  though she couldn’t provide The Observer a breakdown by municipality.
There were virtually no power outages remaining in Hudson County, she added.
Esposito claimed the utility met Gov. Chris Christie›s target to restore 99 percent  of lost power by Friday, leaving the Carpenter properties in the remaining – and unlucky – one percent.
We were able to reach officials in East Newark, Harrison and Lyndhurst on Friday, East Newark Police Chief Kenneth Sheehan said.  Absolutely no problems  were lingering in his small borough from the storm.
“We didn›t have any prolonged power outages,”  Lyndhurst Deputy Chief John Valente said.  “Everything was back up and running pretty quickly. DPW crews are still removing trees, and tree branches, lost from the storm.”
A spokesperson consulting with Harrison Town Clerk Paul Zarbetski added,  “Just a lot of branches and tree limbs still to pick up.”
Belleville, and many other area municipalities were also still coping with brush removal, as trees, limbs, and branches were strewn on properties – or awaiting disposal at the curb – six days after the storm’s fury.
At the sprawling Audubon complex – a mass of numerous two-bedroom units surrounded by green space – a female tenant explained she and some others were lucky to maintain full power throughout the crisis.
“Across the way from me on Branch Brook Dr., there were people who indeed lost electricity for days,”  the tenant said, requesting anonymity.
“It literally depended on what row your unit was in,”  she explained.  “And you can see parking lots virtually empty throughout the outage, a sign many tenants made temporary alternate living arrangements.”
The resident said that she personally knew a woman who had moved with her children into her mother’s house, to ride out the blackout.
She said that she felt fortunate to face  only minor inconveniences.
“Because my boiler was in part of the complex which lost power for days, I had no heat or hot water,” she pointed out. “I couldn’t wash my hair or take showers. I didn’t have any heat, but that was OK because I don’t like the heat.”
In addition, the woman said that she lost Comcast cable service and her landline phone due to the cable giant’s own problems with the storm tracing to a remote transmission source. This forced her to temporarily rely only on a cell phone, and watch broadcast channels for an extended period.
The tenant noted that she had heard some people without current expressing annoyance with PSE&G because the utility allegedly kept telling them they’d get power back by a certain date – only to encounter more delays.
It would have made more sense if the utility had provided a general time frame — say, by the end of the week — for when power would be restored, the woman said.
The tenant speculated that the major delays affecting Audubon stemmed from a heavy volume of downed wires, eclipsed by weakened snow-covered limbs falling from older trees scattered throughout the complex.
“I had felt the town and apartment management should have chopped many of these dying trees down well before the storm hit,” she insisted.
Esposito explained that while high winds were one factor, much of the downed wires resulted from branches weakened by significant volumes of snow,  combined with the added weight of leaves.
She noted that many properties falling within the remaining 30 percent of buildings encountering extended delays were serviced by a large number of individual power lines.
Ralph LaRossa, PSE&G president and chief operating officer, explained in a statement: “While we work to restore power to the greatest number of customers first, we still have a large number of individual service lines that go from the pole to customers› homes and businesses that are damaged as a result of falling tree limbs. The volume of these individual service lines presents a challenge to full restoration.”
Thus, Larossa says, “the utility prioritizes restoration by first addressing businesses and residences whose circuits service larger populations, along with institutional customers  providing urgently needed public services. Included in the latter group are police and fire stations, hospitals, schools, sewage-treatment facilities and TV, radio, and phone transmission outlets.”
We could not reach officials in Bloomfield, Kearny, North Arlington or Nutley by deadline. Kearny municipal civilian offices, excluding police, were closed Friday by a furlough day and a police spokesman could not be reached. Messages left with Nutley Deputy Fire Chief Paul Cafone, North Arlington Borough Administrator Terence Wall and Police Chief Louis Ghione were not returned. Bloomfield Township Administrator Yoshi Manale was unavailable for comment.

Former North Arlington Resident Runs for Awareness

Photo by Debbie Melamed/ Gunnery sergeant Dacey poses with his dog Isti on Blue Star Memorial Highway, Honoring Armed forces who served in WW2.


By Anthony J. Machcinski

It was Mohandas Ghandi who once said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Gunnery Sergeant James J. Dacey, a former North Arlington resident, has the indomitable will Ghandi was speaking of.
Dacey is in the middle of a 345-mile run from Camp LeJeune, N.C. to Bethesda, Md. in order to raise awareness and support for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“It’s my way of giving back to fellow service members who have been wounded,” explains Dacey.
The idea for this run started when Dacey was on duty in Afghanistan. The original plan was for Dacey to run across the nation, but after realizing the estimated time it would take, and the amount of time off he could take from the Marines, he decided to do a smaller run.
It was in Afghanistan that Dacey saw first hand what he would be running for.
“Some of the stories just blow your mind,” Dacey said, talking about different men he had met, including one who had a bullet sever his jugular vein, but luckily survived. It is these stories that keep Dacey driven to continue running.
“(When running), I think about where I’m at on the run and what I’m doing,” Dacey said.



Gunnery sergeant Dacey, pictured above, as he passes some landmarks on his 345 mile journey.

Dacey began training for the run while in Afghanistan. He started training by running 5-6 miles a day while pulling a tire along with him. When his unit returned home, Dacey went from a 185-pound tire up to a 225-pound one.
“My own belief is that you can train your body to do anything,” remarked Dacey, who runs about 17-20 miles every day during the run.
Even before the run began, many of Dacey’s friends doubted him. “Most people didn’t think it was possible,” explained Dacey. “Most people said to me, ‘You know your body isn’t going to be able to handle the abuse every day.’”
It was this doubt that continued to drive Dacey.
“Sometimes when people tell you that you can’t do something, you want to do it even more,” Dacey believes.
Even with all the motivation of thousands of wounded warriors behind him, running 17 to 20 miles per day has to get slightly monotonous. To combat the boredom that could make Dacey focus on the pain of the run instead of its main objective, he looks to older technology to help him.
“I don’t use an iPod, I use a cassette deck,” Dacey said. “It’s got the music I listened to when I grew up. I also brought pre-recorded books, a lot of Zig Ziglar and documentaries on Abraham Lincoln – anything to keep my mind off the people driving. They can be dangerous.”
With his own safety in mind, Dacey brought his mother, Debbie Melamed, with him for the long journey. While Dacey runs, Melamed drives a car a couple of miles ahead, scouting the road and letting Dacey know, via personal radio, what may lie ahead.
“I’ll wait maybe until he is on the run depending on the road to see that he’s going ok,” explained Melamed. “I’m like a mile or two ahead of him. We have radios if there is something he should come up to.”
While the terrain and sheer punishment on the body is enough of a challenge for Dacey, there has been one unexpected challenge.
“We’ve had a couple instances with dogs,” Melamed said. “It’s a learning experience.”
Wounded Warrior Project began when several veterans and friends created a program to provide items to wounded veterans as they recover from injuries incurred in the war. Thousands of wounded warriors are helped by the funds that the program raises each year. These programs not only help them recover physically, but mentally as well.
Dacey hopes to gain support for the cause by raising money for the project. As someone makes a donation, there is a count that shows how much money he has been able to make. As of November 6, Dacey has raised over $16,000 for the cause.
As Dacey continues his run, his mother, who has been able to watch the process first hand, continues to be moved by his actions.
“It’s hard for me to fathom the strength,” explained Melamed. “It’s been amazing to watch the whole process. I’ve had a front row seat and that’s been an amazing gift.”
Dacey will finish his run on Veterans Day in Bethesda, Md. To donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, go to wwpproudsupporter.kintera.org/gunnydacey.

New look for Broad St. in the making


Photos by James Ribaudo/ A planning consultant outlines the route of the proposed Broad St. streetscape project.


Visitors to a township open house check out renderings of the plan.


By Ron Leir

Coming soon to a shopping district on Broad St. in Bloomfield … it’s the North Center Streetscape project.
The township plans to spruce up part of its downtown retail corridor, stretching nearly three blocks, from the intersection of Pitt and Jones Sts. to Hoover Ave., encompassing a municipal parking lot on Pitt St. and about 40 shops.
Township Administrator Yoshi Manale said this section was picked for the improvements because, “it’s an area that’s grown organically, with store owners putting money into new facades and the owners felt a further investment by the township could help make it an even better place for residents and visitors to shop and eat.”
Manale said the township plans to spend $250,000 in local capital funds, supplemented by up to $100,000 in a discretionary grant from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to pay for design and engineering costs.
On Oct. 19 township residents were invited to an open house at the Bloomfield Public Library on Broad St. to get a preview of coming attractions from the planning consultants, Arterial Streets of Montclair.
Arterial has previously designed streetscape improvements along Broad St. in Newark, including the Broad St. Station Plaza and Penn Station exterior circulation improvements, Somerset County Regional Center Greenway, and Connecticut Convention Center Plaza & Streetscape.
Arterial Streets associate James Ribaudo explains some facets of the planned improvements, such as “corner and mid-block bump-outs,” curbside indentations that provide room for things like planters, benches and bicycle racks.
Asked about the proposed bike stands, Ribaudo says that members of the consulting team assigned to the streetscape project spotted “more than 50” bicyclists riding up and down that stretch of Broad St., some with baskets attached, going to and from the various shops.
And so, given the presence of 2-wheel traffic flow, another proposal is for “sharrows,” shared-lane markers designating a separate curbside lane for bicycles and an outer lane reserved for 4-wheel vehicles.
Installation of these lane markings, however, would require prior approval from Essex County since Broad St. is a county roadway, Ribaudo notes.
Then there’s the concept of “parklets”— mini-parks created by replacing several parallel parking spaces with space reserved for a patio, café tables and chairs, planters, trees, benches, sometimes decorated with artwork and/or sculptures.
San Francisco has made extensive use of this concept, with success, according to Ribaudo.
Ribaudo says these parklets would be designed as “temporary” setups keyed to seasonal use.
Because they’d likely be positioned in front of retail establishments, “we’d have to work out who pays for them,” Ribaudo says.
There has been some concern voiced by community members about the loss of parking spaces from implementation of the parklets and that would be taken under advisement, Manale said.
Folks who came to the open house were asked for their feedback on the project and one – Broad St. resident Geoff Gove – had a suggestion that the planners incorporate free short-term parking spaces at the U.S. Postal Annex just north of Baldwin St.
Resident Elizabeth Walsh said she was “excited” about the streetscape plan because “there’s a lot of potential not only to improve the quality of life for people living here but also to show people visiting that Bloomfield isn’t what they think it is.”
Walsh’s husband, Brian Nolan, agreed, adding that, “We plan to live here a long time and these improvements should make it even more likeable.”
The township hopes to begin work in spring 2012 and complete the job in several months and, if it’s deemed a benefit to the neighborhood, Bloomfield would likely look to expand the program, Manale said.
Meanwhile, the public has been treated to a mostly completed improvement geared to younger residents by the Bloomfield Board of Education with the Foley Field project: demolition of old bleachers; removal and remediation of contaminated soil; and installation of a new 8-lane, artificial turf track and field complex that allows the school district to host track and field events for the first time in a quarter century.
Bloomfield voters cleared the way for the project by approving a referendum authorizing the spending of $2,914,160 for the improvements this past April. Work began in June and is now done, except for a new “punch list,” items such as repainting lines on the track and evening out field gates, according to Michael Derderian, the district’s school business administrator.

Photo by Ron Leir/ A view of the new, improved Foley Field athletic complex.

Biggest of the change orders, approved by the school board on Oct. 4, was $69,523 for a new perimeter walkway. Derderian said that when the contractor pulled out old fencing bordering the walkway, workers had to extract footings for that fencing embedded under the walkway concrete and that, in turn, ripped up the concrete.
Other unanticipated work, Derderian said, included digging out deep footings for the old bleachers; drilling into bedrock to install sports lighting poles; installing an extra telephone pole on the berm between Foley and Memorial Fields to protect a future concession stand from power lines; installing a new steel scoreboard and supplying power to it; replacing topsoil with stone for the temporary bleachers site; restaking the north parking lot; installing additional field gates to ensure quicker egress; additional paving over heavy mud at the field’s south end to expand service road; and placing additional stone at the south end to mitigate heavy mud and/or soft soil conditions.
Still, despite nearly $188,000 in contract change orders approved, the project has come in close to the original budget projection, Derderian said.
The final portion of the project will be installation of new bleachers, concession stand and bathrooms, which, according to Derderian, will be done by the township with the aid of $750,000 in state Green Acres funding. The township will be responsible for maintaining those facilities under a newly signed 25-year lease agreement with the district, Derderian said.

‘The play’s the thing,’ in West Hudson


Photo by Ron Leir/ Gerald Ficeto (l.) and Mark Morchel anticipate the upcoming curtain-raiser for West Hudson Arts & Theater Company at the Arlington Players Club.


By Ron Leir

Citizens of West Hudson: Give me your ears! List’ and you shall hear of great plans to revive the state of public revels in the Town of Kearny.
And so, look to the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T., for short) for inspiration.
This group of volunteers is taking the lead in a public-spirited effort to return the performing – and allied – arts to a prominent place in the region.
Gerald Ficeto, a member of the W.H.A.T. founding committee who is a veteran area music educator (he’s directed Kearny High School spring musicals for the past decade) and professional percussionist with 45 years’ experience in the performing arts, says he and his colleagues “had a mutual goal of bringing live theater back to our towns (East Newark, Harrison and Kearny, in particular).”
Kearny has enjoyed a tradition of adult theater – dating from the old Half Penny Playhouse on Midland Ave. and the Arlington Players Club on Washington Place – and, in more recent years, the annual Kearny High School shows and Teen Drama summer theater program for younger participants.
The Half Penny has helped launch several noted thespians on their careers: Ken Jennings, who originated the role of Tobias in the Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” and Nathan Lane, featured in “The Producers” and “The Addams Family,” among other Broadway shows; are examples.
Arlington Players Club was converted to a private tennis club and Half Penny Playhouse expired around the mid-1980s.
W.H.A.T. has filed incorporation papers for nonprofit status with the state Treasury Department’s Division of Taxation and is awaiting certification from the IRS as a 501(C) (3) tax-exempt organization, according to committee member and attorney Mark Morchel.
Morchel, who performed at the Half Penny, will be directing the group’s inaugural venture, “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Place, Kearny.
The production is based on Frank Capra’s beloved holiday movie classic, with script adapted by Liz Zazz and original music by Jason Neri.
“The show will be presented as a 1940s-style live (simulated) radio broadcast in front of the audience, complete with live sound effects, microphones and a dozen actors playing a variety of different roles,” Morchel said.
There will be only one performance and tickets are very limited.
“This is quite a special event and we are hoping it turns into an annual tradition for W.H.A.T.,” Morchel said.
W.H.A.T. is currently in the process of planning its 2012 season.
The group is hoping to incorporate both adult and teen theatrical components, and eventually one for children, as well, possibly including a theater camp and/or theater workshops for kids. Additionally, the group plans to display works by West Hudson-based visual artists wherever it has its future performances. Poetry readings and musical recitals are also being contemplated.
Other W.H.A.T. founding committee members are: Margaret Berko, Kearny school nurse; Leo daSilva, Harrison High School music teacher and musical director; Linda Kraus D’Isa, public relations and marketing specialist; Joseph Ferriero, Teen Drama co-director; attorney Cecilia Lindenfelser, W.H.A.T. treasurer; Michele Sarnoski, Teen Drama co-director; Mary Pat Shields, Harrison High School fine arts teacher, and Kearny Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle.
Also helping as volunteers are Maureen Morchel, as registered agent, and attorney Thomas McKeon.
Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos called the group “an incredibly talented” array and said that the town would assist in helping find a permanent home. Reintroducing Community Theater in Kearny will be a welcome plus, the mayor said.
Doors open for “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” at 7 p.m. for a pre-theater Wine and Sweets reception. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. To purchase tickets or to make a donation to the group, call (201) 467-8624 or email info@whatco.org.
“In the fast paced world of today, there really is no better time than now to lend a hand and help the rapidly shrinking and under-funded world of the arts – it’s an investment in the community,” Ficeto said.


W.H.A.T. Factsheet Mission Statement:

To be a cultural resource that will enrich and invigorate the West Hudson community as a whole, while embracing, educating and entertaining people of all ages, cultures and abilities.
To stimulate, celebrate and enhance the understanding of theater, while fostering and inspiring growth and creativity in our members through a range of quality theatrical productions.
To act as a resource for the residents and businesses of the greater West Hudson area, and to enrich the cultural depth, education and vitality of the community at large.
To enliven and enhance the cultural life of the community and its visitors.
To contribute to the economic vitality of the East Newark, Harrison and Kearny downtown regions.
To secure a local facility/building to better facilitate W.H.A.T.’s performance and educational goals, and to provide fiscal and housing security for the future.
To develop an educational program to help potential performers and crew to increase self-confidence; to enrich their understanding and appreciation of the arts, and to prepare them for future opportunities at W.H.A.T. and elsewhere.
W.H.A.T. hopes to emerge as a significant arts facility known best for quality productions that seek to enhance the community as a whole, and foster a caring approach to theater and theatrical education within the West Hudson community.

In the dark



By Lisa Pezzolla

Last week brought us back in time as we brought out battery-operated radios (if you own one), candles, flashlights, and used wood and gas fireplaces to keep warm. It gave families time to talk face-to-face without the distractions of the television, cell phones and all the technology that we use on a daily basis. The storm brought kids out of the bedroom, game boards took the place of computer games, and the postal service became our e-mail.  What a culture shock? Each day we use our phones, computers and televisions in order to get news, forgetting the simple things in life like a book or a newspaper. Once again, technology shows us that without it, daily life comes to a stop. We need to remember the basics. One thing for sure we were all able to do was go out and pick up a newspaper to catch up with what was going on around town or read up on current news. It shows the strength of the newspaper. Even with our advances in technology, we can still reach you the old fashioned way!

Don’t discount Occupy Wall Street protests

The Occupy Wall Street (O.W.S) protests have affected individuals in wildly different ways.  If we take the nation’s pulse and describe the prevailing mindsets in their simplest terms, it becomes apparent that right-leaning types tend to question the movement, while those to the left generally welcome its emergence. But that’s the problem with oversimplification and blindly aligning with any single ideology. Such lazy thinking stifles compromise, allows for little nuance, and rarely gets at the truth.
If the message of the O.W.S. activists sounds jumbled and lacking in focus, the impetus behind the action seems valid. Not many will argue that the quality of life in these United States has decreased sharply over the past few decades. Lower salaries, dwindling benefits and vanishing overtime have now become the sad norm for the vast majority of working Americans. Unemployment now flirts with or tops the dreaded 10% figure nationwide, and this excludes the underemployed and those defeated souls who have given up the work search entirely. A demoralizing number of home foreclosures have sent many good, honest people back to square one, and the average college loan weighs in as heavily as a home mortgage – without the benefit of said dwelling when the balance is finally paid off.
To many, the situation seems bizarrely incongruent with the America that they once knew, or at least thought that they knew. Could this really be happening here in the richest of all nations, where the streets were once said to be paved with gold? The disparity seems all the more curious when it’s learned that only a few hundred individuals hold nearly half of the nation’s accumulated wealth. It’s not too much of a stretch for some to imagine such fat-cats – “one-per centers” in protester-speak – peering down at the struggling masses from their lofty mansions and arrogantly declaring, “Let them eat cake.”
In a country that has long stood for fairness, it’s easy to see why people have grown suspicious. Republicans and Democrats alike took part in the great bank bailout, yet hordes of middle-class citizens – the hard-working, self-sacrificing “cogs” that drive our nation’s economy in the first place – were allowed to go belly-up when they couldn’t make their mortgage payments. Sound a bit lopsided? It certainly does to the protesters. In fact, this is one of their favorite battle cries.
Those who lived during the Vietnam era may feel a sense of déjà vu these days. Back then, scruffy hippies in tie-died shirts decried the ongoing war in Southeast Asia on a number of grounds. To say that their brazen movement was questioned by the establishment would be like saying that Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman – a member of the infamous “Chicago Seven” – was a rebel. In fact, many were labeled cowards, bums, or traitors for questioning America’s role in the war. Now, nearly four decades  later, we realize that our nation was indeed involved in a politically questionable and highly unwinnable effort, just as the protesters had asserted. What if, this time around, the protesters have it right again?
Recently I overheard a group of middle-aged men discussing the O.W.S. protests. One man denounced the activists as nothing more than “spoiled brats.” Another said that the protesters “should get off their lazy butts and find a job.” Then, a more reasonable man spoke up.  “Come on guys, let’s be honest about this,” he said to his friends. “This thing [the movement] goes well beyond some punk college kids looking for attention. Life in America has eroded for most people since we went looking for our first jobs – you guys know that! If it keeps going like this, I doubt that a middle-class will exist much longer.”
To a rag-tag, disenchanted group that sleep in tents and refer to themselves as the “99%,” more valid words have never been spoken.

— Jeff Bahr


The Veteran

Let us never forget their sacrifices.
It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the veteran, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag.
Oh Lord, grant eternal rest to them and let the perpetual light shine upon them.

(Submitted on behalf of the North Arlington Elks)
Pete Blair,
North Arlington

Nutley Blotter: Under the Influence, Under Arrest

October 28
10.58 a.m. – Police stopped a vehicle on River Rd. that was attempting to get onto Route 21 South The officer observed the vehicle driving haphazardly and conducted a traffic stop. The officer found that 32-year-old Jennifer Tuscano of Nutley was unable to perform field sobriety tests and was subsequently arrested. Tuscano was found to be in possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription and was charged for possession of CDS. She was transported to an area hospital for a blood sample.
12:39 p.m.– A Nutley resident who had reported to the police that he had lost his ATM card later discovered that over $4,000 was missing from the account. Police are investigating.
1:45 – p.m. A Franklin Ave. resident reported that he paid a service man $6,500 for a boiler installation on October 17th, and that work has yet to commence. The resident asked for his money back, but was told the serviceman no longer had it and that the parts were on order. The resident was advised how to proceed with charges.

October 29
12:35 a.m. – Two Nutley juveniles being questioned reported that they were involved in a motor vehicle accident along Rt. 21 in Passaic. The two youths told Police that another motorist brandishing a handgun caused them to crash and that they fled in fear of the motorist. The incident was turned over to the Passaic County Prosecutors Office for further investigation. It’s unknown if it relates to the shooting involving the Nutley Police officer.
1:32 a.m. – Police were dispatched to a Cleveland Ave. residence after a woman called to report that her two daughters hadn’t returned home from school that day. After a short police investigation, officers were told that the 14 and 16-year-old returned home unharmed.
4:16 a.m. – Police questioned three young men who were spotted amongst the power lines between Milton Ave. and Wilson St. All parties checked out and were released on scene.
10:35 a.m. – A Franklin Ave. tenant entered into a shoving match with his landlord. Police called to the scene were able to diffuse the situation and advised each party how to proceed with the signing of complaints.
12:24 p.m.– A Hopper Ave. resident allegedly tapped into another tenant’s electric meter. Police arrested 56-year-old Thomas Stanley and charged him with theft of service.  Stanley carried a $5,000 outstanding Newark warrant and a $500 warrant from East Orange. He was subsequently turned over to Newark Police.

October 30
6:47 a.m. – A Franklin Ave. b usiness that was using a generator to support itself told police that the unit had been stolen. Police are investigating.
8:00 a.m. – Police were able to track down a fleeing motorist that allegedly struck several items, including a planter, street sign and garbage can at the intersection of Franklin Ave. and Harrison St. The driver was issued a summons for failure to report an accident.
10:52 a.m. – Police were called to an E. Centre St. residence in response to a burglary. Detectives are investigating.
11:36 a.m. – Police responded to a Harrison St. residence as a follow-up to a past burglary. The investigation continues.

October 31
9:35 a.m. – A Columbia Ave. resident reported that his 2008 Toyota had been damaged over the evening hours. Police are investigating.
10:58 a.m. – A Nutley Ave. resident reported the theft of a $500 ladder.
11:14 a.m. – Police responded to a Passaic Ave. location after a resident dropped an air conditioner out of the window onto a parked motor vehicle.  No injuries were reported.
11:57 a.m. – Nutley officers stopped a speeding motorist on Rt. 21. She was found to have a suspended driver’s license and was operating an unregistered vehicle. The car was impounded and she was issued several summonses.
1:21 p.m. – A traffic stop for a speeding motorist resulted in the vehicle being impounded for lack of registration, and the driver, 31-year-old Kareem Jefferson of Harrison, was taken into custody for an outstanding $500 warrant out of Ridgefield Park. He was later released with summonses after posting bail.

November 2
12:28 a.m. – Police were called to a King St. residence in response to a missing 15-year-old juvenile. She was finally located at a Belleville location with a friend and was removed from the missing person database on November 3 at 6 p.m.