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THEATER Etiquette

By Joe Ferriero
Artistic Director, West Hudson
Arts and Theater Company

 

More than 11.5 million people will attend a Broadway show this year. Millions more will be part of an audience in community and regional theaters (including here in West Hudson!). The experience of live theater is unlike any other. Being part of the audience at a performance is similarly unique.

At the theater, actors can hear what’s taking place on the stage, as well as in the audience. When the audience laughs or applauds, the performers know their hard work has paid off. At the same time, they can also hear inappropriate noises and talking – a distraction to not only the performers but also others in the audience.

Working in both professional and community theater for years, I’ve become more aware of theater etiquette. Consider these suggestions when you see a performance:

Any noise or excessive fidgeting is disruptive. Turning off your cell phone is essential. Many are tempted to talk or text during a show. Not only is the light from your phone distracting, cell phones can interfere with the sound equipment. Also, please refrain from taking pictures or filming.

Obviously, one should NOT TALK during a show. A quick whisper, or audible reaction to something interesting is fine (after all this is live theater, not the morgue!), but keep conversations and comments to the intermission and after the show. Another thing: don’t sing along!

Introducing children to live theater is fantastic! But if they get noisy or fidgety, don’t try to quiet them down in the theater — take them out to the lobby.

If you bring candy to the show, unwrap it before the performance. If refreshments are served at intermission, refrain from snacking and drinking during the show.

These tips will surely add to your theater experience, for you and others.

Kentucky Care campaign renewed

PHOTO BY KAREN ZAUTYK/ With recently arrived Kentucky Care truck are (l. to r.) Observer GM Bob Pezzolla, Kentucky Care founder Gino Montrone and driver Kevin (just plain Kevin).

 

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

Once again, The Observer is counting on the generosity of its readers to help some fellow Americans who are mired in poverty.

Down in the mountains of Appalachian Kentucky, families lead a hand-to-mouth existence – when there is food to go in their mouths. Often, there is not. The people, children included, go to bed hungry.

We’d say the parents also go to work hungry, except there’s not much work to go to in that region of defunct mines. And what work there is usually doesn’t pay much.

According to census figures for Knott County, the heart of the region, the median household income was $20,373, and the per capita income was $11,297. More than a quarter of the families reportedly live below the poverty line.

What can you do about this?

A great deal.

Yesterday, The Observer launched its 5th annual Kentucky Care Project, through which readers can donate food (non-perishable), clothing, household items and personal items, furniture, toys, among many other things. All of this is needed.

Now parked in the lot behind out building at 531 Kearny Ave. is the huge 18-wheeler trailer that we hope will eventually be filled with your donations.

Last year, so many readers gave so much that two additional trailers were needed to take everything down to Kentucky!

Although this newspaper has been involved for five years, Kentucky Care was actually launched more than 20 years ago by businessman Gino Montrone, who wanted to give something back to America in gratitude for his own success. Montrone still oversees the project and provides the trucks.

On page 37 of this week’s paper, you’ll find an ad listing the kinds of items that are needed and requested, along with other Kentucky Care information.

Volunteers will be on site at The Observer parking lot to accept your items Tuesdays and Thursdays (Sept. 13, 18, 20, 25 and 27) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Just pull your vehicle into the lot, and we’ll help you unload it.

PLEASE NOTE: The collection will take place ONLY on the dates and between the hours noted above. Please do not leave items at or under the trailer at any other time. They could be damaged or stolen. Unfortunately, we speak from experience.

Your correspondent, also speaking from experience, has been astonished by readers’ response in previous years. There were days when there was nearly a traffic jam, with so many people arriving with donations. We thank you in advance for your help in 2012 to once more make Kentucky Care a success.

Roche’s pledges ease pain

Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Roche campus in Nutley

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

NUTLEY –

The township’s biggest taxpayer is trying to make nice before it packs up and bids farewell to an 83-year legacy.

To that end, Hoffman- La Roche Inc. (Roche) has pledged certain financial concessions to the township – similar to those made to its partner community, Clifton – to prevent Nutley from capsizing.

In June Roche announced plans to phase out its Nutley/ Clifton base of operations by the end of 2013 and transfer its New Jersey pharmaceutical research facilities to locations in Europe.

To ease the pain of its pending departure, according to company spokeswoman Darien Wilson, Roche has agreed to:

• defer demolition of one eight-story office building on its Nutley campus that was scheduled to be torn down this year. Wilson said that this building has been “out of use since earlier this year” and that employees who worked there have been absorbed elsewhere.

• hold off, for now, taking down additional buildings on the Nutley campus. Wilson said there are 40 buildings, “mostly on the Nutley side,” spread among the company’s 119-acre campus. Clifton’s portion of land is slightly more than half of that acreage, she said. Because the county line runs through the middle of the property, some buildings straddling that boundary line are situated in both Nutley and Clifton.

• waive a sewer credit it is owed. Wilson said that in December 2009, Roche determined that it had been “overcharged” on its sewer bills from the township for a fouryear period. The company “came to an agreement with Nutley that they’d reimburse us $750,000. We agreed to a tiered repayment where they’d initially pay us $250,000, with the rest to be paid at $50,000 a year over 10 years. To date, we’ve received $350,000.” Under the new agreement, Nutley is off the hook for the balance, she said.

• give up tax abatements previously granted by the township. Wilson said Roche had been extended an abatement on taxes paid to Nutley for several buildings “redeveloped or re-designed” since 2009. The five-year abatement, calculated annually at increasing percentages of the property’s true value, ratcheted up 20% each year, was to begin year 4 on Oct. 1. The overall value of the abatement is $5 million, Wilson said.

According to Nutley Finance Commissioner Tom Evans, Roche’s concessions mean that for 2012 Nutley can expect to collect $9.4 million in taxes from Roche for this year and an estimated $10 million for 2013.

Roche has also agreed to “maintain its tax base for Clifton at $4.5 million a year for the next two years as well,” Wilson said.

The Nutley concessions were hammered out during “ongoing dialogues” involving Roche Vice President Tom Lyon, who oversees the Nutley site, and township representatives, Mayor Alphonse Petracco, Township Attorney Kevin Harkins and Evans, according to Wilson.

“The next step (for Nutley),” Harkins said, “is to sit down with (Roche) to formalize the agreement, for approval by the township governing body.”

Harkins said the concessions are “meaningful in terms of providing tax stability for 2012 and 2013 and it gives us time to repurpose the site.”

Roche, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, will be phasing out its New Jersey operations over the next 15 months, Wilson said.

Currently, there are about 1,000 full-time employees – scientists, clinicians, engineers, attorneys, human resource and communications personnel – plus an additional 1,000 “part-time or contingency workers” remaining on site, including about 80 from the Nutley community, according to Wilson.

“Many commute from Pennsylvania, New York, from all over the New Jersey area, and even some from Connecticut,” she said.

“We anticipate having a small crew of employees doing maintenance and remediation of soil and groundwater,” she said, to deal with “pockets of contamination” resulting from more than eight decades of pharmaceutical manufacturing and research on site.

Over time, Wilson said, environmental regulations have changed and Roche wants to leave a clean site when it departs. She said the company has engaged TRC, a New Jersey-licensed site remediation professional engineering services firm headquartered in London, to direct cleanup efforts.

“We’d like to be complete (with remediation) by 2015 so we can sell the site,” Wilson said. “We have gotten quite a lot of interest (from prospective purchasers).”

To that end, Nutley officials have “discussed with Roche and Clifton formation of a joint commission to look to strategically develop the property in the best interests of both communities,” Harkins said.

“We’re going to work in collaboration with Roche and Clifton to market the property to attract new owners.” “We’re looking at the posssibility of funding that joint commission,” Wilson added.

Kearny High opened on time but it sure wasn’t easy

 

Photos by Ron Leir

 

Photos by Ron Leir/ Installation of HVAC system and related work proceeds on upper levels of Kearny High School.

 

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

It was touch and go for a while but Kearny High School – dealing with its ongoing construction – managed to open last Thursday as scheduled.

With about a week to go before the high school was to welcome incoming freshman for a half-day orientation last Wednesday, and a resumption of classes for all grades the next day, the school district asked the town’s building and fire code inspectors to check over “mostly hallways,” a few classrooms and the gym where construction work was being done in the school’s newer or “south” building abutting Garfield Avenue.

Mark Bruscino, director of plant operations for the Board of Education, said the inspectors voiced concerns about areas where the general contractor, Brockwell & Carrington, was doing mechanical work related to installation of a new HVAC system.

“They made some suggestions to deal with those concerns and we asked for a follow-up meeting,” Bruscino said. But, soon after that, Bruscino said, the inspectors returned with additional concerns about exposed drop ceilings and fire detection devices in both the south and north buildings.

In some cases, Bruscino said, the contractor has to remove sections of the ceilings “to see what’s there when he’s running the (HVAC) ductwork through.” And a ceiling-mounted smoke detector positioned near an exposed ceiling section may or may not activate if smoke and/or flames are permitted to vent through the hole to the floor above instead of being contained by an intact ceiling, inspectors warned Bruscino.

Additionally, Fire Dept. Subcode Official Brian Mulligan and Fire Inspector John Donovan told district representatives that they needed to provide a safe means of “egress” from the high school in the event of a fire – which meant devising exit routes that would steer students and staff away from any corridors or classrooms still compromised by construction activity, Bruscino said.

Expanding on those concerns, Town Construction Official Michael Martello, also the municipal administrator, said his inspectors declared the high school “unsafe – the building had been ripped apart (by construction) to no end, fire alarms were not operating, and there was no way to figure out how to get out of the building in case of fire.”

To remedy the structural concerns, Bruscino said: “Any holes we sealed up with sheet rock and fire-rated red caulking, which expands during a fire to wrap around and protect any PVC pipes from melting.”

To save time and the expense of calling in outside professionals on the heels of the Labor Day weekend, the school district – after consultations with the contractor – arranged for Brockwell & Carrington to handle all the ceiling- and alarm-related issues in the south building while more than 20 school custodial and maintenance staff were assigned to the north building, Bruscino said.

Bruscino said the job got done between last Thursday and Saturday, with a big assist from Assistant Town Construction Code Official Anthony Chisari, who visited the school several times, the most recent last Tuesday when he performed a final inspection and green-lighted the school’s opening.

Bruscino said that officials have arranged for safe passage for the building’s occupants and, as part of that arrangement, the school has shut off access to the south building’s basement hallway which leads to the parking garage but basement-level locker rooms “will be used, in conjunction with the gym above, which can be accessed through the mid-campus main entrance or from Garfield Avenue.” Also, Bruscino said that Martello “allowed us to open the weight room which can be entered by the outer doorway.”

Students from grades 9 to 12 who would normally be sitting in any of a dozen classrooms on the second and third floors – being equipped with HVAC ductwork – have now become the initial occupants of the temporary classroom trailers on the high school’s front lawn. Those trailer units have passed inspection, according to Bruscino.

Last Thursday, Martello credited the school district and the contractor for having “worked aggressively to get the situation under control. … They finished the drop ceilings and smoke detectors in the common areas (and) they have established areas where they’ve partitioned off hallways to make sure there’s proper egress. New exit signs have been put up or re-installed.”

As of last Wednesday, Fire Chief Steve Dyl said: “Many of our violations have been abated or corrected to the point where they can open the school.”

Asked for his assessment of the remedial process, Board of Education President George King said that he “had concerns about opening (on time)” and that while the board had been briefed periodically, “we’ll have to look at what transpired and what the time frame was” to fully evaluate the district’s response to the situation. “

On a (construction) project this big (a $37 million, 3-year job), there’s going to be bumps that come up,” King said, “but I do have confidence in our staff who deal with this on a day-to-day basis.”

Interim Schools Supt. Ronald Bolandi said the district did everything it could to cooperate with the town’s inspectors. “We’ll willingly jump through any hoops we have to jump through to ensure the safety of our students, teachers and staff,” he said. “In the middle of all this, I heard rumors about us postponing the (high school) opening two weeks. That was ridiculous. We did (the work). I didn’t hit the panic button. And the town and the contractor worked with us to get it done.” In other school infrastructure news, Bruscino said the district has applied for permits to start construction work at the old Napa Auto Parts property, 174 Midland Ave., where the board intends to move its administrative offices, thereby freeing up its existing space for additional classrooms at Franklin School. Bolandi said an underground oil tank has been removed and the soil has been pronounced clean at the Midland Avenue site.

And, on the personnel front, King said the school board will be meeting Sept. 12 to interview candidates for an interim high school principal and, “potentially, for an assistant superintendent.” King added that the board was “in talks with a potential (permanent) superintendent candidate.”

Port Authority sets up new $66 million command center

Photos courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey./ John Sisak, PATH’s operations analyst, Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.

 

Photos courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey./ Old H&M rail cars like this were still in use when PATH took over in the 1960s.

 

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent

Somewhere in Jersey City — for security reasons, the exact location is secret – the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has set up a brand-new, state-of-the-art, $66 million command center.

With nearly 200 video screens mounted on the walls and more high-tech gear sitting on desks, the place resembles a NASA control room. But rather than directing a moon flight, the staff manning all this equipment will simply be ensuring improved service on the PATH trains. Or, rather, not so simply.

It’s a vastly complicated operation, monitoring the 40-plus miles of track in the transit system- all its trains and each of the 13 stations. The purpose is to “build capacity without adding a lot of infrastructure,” a PA spokesman told The Observer. Over a five-year period, he noted, the agency plans a 20 percent increase in service.

PATH, which last year served a record 76.6 million riders, is on track to surpass that number in 2012. On an average weekday, the trains carry more than 250,000 passengers. All of whom will require less patience when the PA master plan comes to fruition.

The agency’s longterm goal is to drastically reduce the waiting time between trains: cutting the current 10 minutes to just four minutes.

A new, computerized signal system and the addition of longer, 10-car platforms – the Harrison station will benefit from these – are also part of the improvement project. As is overall security, with the aforementioned monitors keeping a watchful eye on not only the platforms but other areas of each station, along the tracks and in the tunnels.

The command center, staffed by some 40 employees, will become fully operational in January. It was previewed recently to mark the 50th anniversary of the Port Authority’s assuming control of what had been the old Hudson & Manhattan Railroad.

In a reference to its tunnels, the railroad was known colloquially as “the Hudson Tubes,” or just “the Tubes” – still called that by some older riders who remember the clickety-clacking trains with great affection. (Those riders, though, would likely not want to trade PATH’s recently added fleet of 340 comfy cars for yesterday’s rattlers.)

Believe it or not, “the Tubes” date all the way back to 1873, when the transit system was initially incorporated. Actual construction, though, proceeded at the pace of a sedated snail.

The first train didn’t roll out until 1907, with a test run from Hoboken to Morton Street in Manhattan. Regular service, between Hoboken and Christopher Street and then 23rd Street, began in 1908.

The system expanded in increments from Newark to 33rd Street with the Harrison station finally opening in 1913. But then came the age of the automobile, the construction of the Holland and Lincoln tunnels and the George Washington Bridge, and by the early 1950s, the H&M had filed for bankruptcy, although it continued operating the trains.

In 1962, it was the PA to the rescue, with the agency assuming control of the transit system and renaming it PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson).

The venture was part of a visionary development project. As noted on the agency’s website, “The planning of the World Trade Center enabled the Port Authority to eventually purchase and maintain the Tubes in return for the rights to build the World Trade Center on the land occupied by H&M’s Hudson Terminal, the Lower Manhattan terminus of the Tubes.”

There’s a tragic sadness about that, but we all must move on, have moved on, as a statement of strength and resilience.

Part of that moving on, figuratively and literally, exists now in the new PA command center. The location of which must remain secret. For security reasons.

Kearny man admits to bomb hoax

Last Thanksgiving Day – Nov. 24, 2011 – a man phoned the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to report that a bomb would be detonated somewhere in the City of Passaic at 5 o’clock that afternoon.

It turned out to be a hoax.

No explosive device was found, but the caller was. And he turned out to be a Kearny resident, according to authorities.

The culprit, 31-year-old Caesar Canchucaja, pleaded guilty to federal charges last week, N.J. U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Appearing Sept. 5 before U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler in Newark, the Kearnyite admitted to “knowingly providing false information indicating that damage by means of an explosive would take place.”

According to Fishman’s office, when Canchucaja made the phone call, he “falsely identified another individual as an associate of an alleged New York City bomb plotter” and reported that this reputed associate was planning to “blow something up” in Passaic that day.

Canchucaja, who is to be sentenced Dec. 18, faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The indictment filed against him noted that he also used the surnames Canchucaja- Luque and Canchucacaja.

Details on the arrest were not provided, but Fishman credited special agents with the FBI-Joint Terrorism Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the Passaic Police Department with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

– Karen Zautyk

Katrina survivor calls Belleville home

Photo courtesy Jaszmine Hawkins/ Jaszmine Hawkins

 

By Jennifer Vazquez

Observer Contributor

BELLEVILLE –

Hurricane Katrina struck roughly seven years ago. Aside all the physical damage to the Gulf Coast and all the lives that were, unfortunately, lost, Katrina brought with it a slew of survival stories and memories that will forever be engraved in the minds of those that experienced the catastrophe.

Even though, we, as New Jersey residents, live in a relatively safe region, in terms of the lack of geographical phenomena – such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes –Katrina has, nonetheless, impacted some Jerseyans.

Take Jaszmine Hawkins, for example. This charismatic, 25-year-old Jersey native lived through the unfathomable nightmare that was Katrina.

Hawkins was a college student in New Orleans’ Xavier University, barely commencing her freshman year. She was in her first days of her collegiate career when Katrina destroyed the city.

“I wasn’t even (at Xavier) a few days –I think I just had one class– then, the weekend came and that Monday the storm hit,” she said.

According to Hawkins, the emotions of those in the area were diverse. There were those that were panicking and an equal number of individuals who didn’t think too much of the upcoming “storm.” However, with the hurricane fast approaching, Hawkins and other students were asked by the university, on a Sunday, to buy all necessary items –such as food and personal hygiene products– with the ultimate goal for all to be back at the dorm by a certain hour since the doors would be locked and no one would be able to get in or out.

Since her dorm building had “a higher foundation,” according to Hawkins, the building was considered a safe zone for others in the university. Because of this, additional students were brought to “ride out” the hurricane in her dorm building.

“The people that lived (in the dorms) opened up their rooms to all the people that came to stay there,” she said. “But that night, early morning –when the wind started coming– they packed us like sardines in the back hall where there were no windows (in case of flying debris).”

However, Hawkins didn’t grasp the severity of the situation until she glanced out a window

. “It was 9 in the morning but it was so dark,” Hawkins recalled. “I remember looking underneath this door and seeing and hearing the wind outside. It was all gray and you couldn’t see anything. From my dorm room you could see the Super Dome, but that day, you couldn’t even see that.”

Water started rising quickly in Hawkins’ dorm building. She says that the water levels could have been caused by the damage the levees succumbed to, but doesn’t necessarily remember if the time that the water started rising in her dorm –which, she says, ultimately reached about four feet up with the time the levees gave way.

With water levels rapidly rising, Hawkins and the rest of the student body seeking shelter in her dorm building, were rescued.

“On the fifth day … we saw the police and fire department come by boat and pick up all the students,” Hawkins said. “What was supposed to happen…was that we were going to be transported to the Interstate, to higher ground, and there would be buses waiting for us.”

However, that was not the case.

“We were on the Interstate for another eight hours … and the military trucks finally came to pick us up and take us across,” Hawkins said. “Then we waited another three to four hours (for buses) … The buses came and they started dividing people…My roommate and I went to Southern (University) in Baton Rouge knowing that there was an airport there.”

After the evacuation, being caught in chaotic highway traffic, Hawkins and the others were taken to another university campus to rest for a bit and take showers. Despite their ordeal, they were asked to go on their way after a few hours. Up to this day, Hawkins is not sure why the refuge made everyone leave after a certain time.

“I don’t know whether it was to let other (evacuees) rest,” she said. “I just don’t know.”

After taking a plane back to her home state, Hawkins enrolled in Seton Hall since they were offering free tuition, for a certain time period, to students from the Gulf Coast. However, following many talks with her parents as to whether she should go back to finish her studies or not, Hawkins decided to give New Orleans another try, by re-enrolling at Xavier. However, her independent soul and artistic passion led her to putting her studies aside for the time being.

With all her ambition, drive and positivity, it is an absolute shock when one finally realizes that this optimistic, young and creative woman survived an ordeal that most of us – hopefully! – will never encounter.

“(Katrina) is part of who I am,” she calmly and confidently said.

Testing the ‘waters’ of controversy at Nutley’s Liquid Church

Photo courtesy: Liquid Church/ Liquid Church parishioners will let their fingers ‘do the talking’ during special polling services

 

By Jeff Bahr

Observer Correspondent

Liquid Church, a Christian worship group that adheres strongly to the principle “take church to the people” is forging ahead with a polling idea that might be considered risky on its very face. On four consecutive Sundays beginning on Sept. 16, Liquid Church will ask parishioners at its Nutley and New Brunswick venues for their views (via cell phone text messages) on such potentially explosive topics as:

-Can a Christian vote for a Mormon?

– How would Jesus handle hot-button issues such as gay marriage and immigration?

– Is the next generation of Christians moving beyond the “Culture Wars”?

– Do you have faith in God or government?

Operations Pastor Rich Birch believes that the idea of church taking its cue from its parishioners is one whose time has come.

“I think a lot of times there’s a popular notion that churches want to tell people what to believe and where to stand politically,” explained Birch. “We’re trying to stand that paradigm on its head – we’d love to hear from our people. So we’re trying to find a way to express the teachings of Jesus in a relevant way and we think this is one of those ways to do that – to try to engage our people and find out what they think.”

Such shared knowledge can go a long way in fostering a better understanding between groups who often find themselves at odds, according to Birch. “I think if we can get around and talk the issues through we can find some common ground… even within our church. This time of year politics is on the tip of everyone’s tongue – they’re talking about these things.

We’re trying to have a conversation as a church about that and how it intersects with our faith.”

Questions to be asked during the survey are predominantly of the yes/no variety, according to Birch, but the question about Jesus’ take on hot-button issues like gay marriage and immigration should elicit a more complex response from parishioners.

“That question in particular we’re looking to handle later in the series,” Birch said of the query that may prove most divisive. “As a church, we have spoken about the gay issue in the past… Not immigration so much. We’re going to reopen some of that dialogue and see what people think.”

This is the first poll of its type ever undertaken by the church, according to Birch. So far the feedback has been positive.

“We’re the first church that we’ve seen that has done this (live polling during services). The response has been real positive anecdotally,” the pastor said. Birch then told of numerous cards specially printed up to invite church members and their families to the polling services. “We ran out of them completely and had to get more printed…People were so excited!”

Polling answers will be returned live during each service, in “real-time” according to Birch.

“We’re going to ask the question and they’ll actually see their results live on the screen,” he said. “We’re also going to do a bit of a follow-up – a ‘what did we learn?’ post-it series for the press.”

Lead Pastor Tim Lucas knows only too well what can happen when people openly discuss potentially inflammatory topics, but he remains undeterred and fully committed to the idea.

“Growing up, I was told never to discuss three issues in polite company – politics, sex and religion. But this Sunday, we’re going to hit at least two … with the potential for all three!” he said in a press release.

“The Bible tells us to pray for all our leaders and that includes our Republican governor and our Democrat president. I’m hoping the Scriptures can lead us to bridge the partisan divide and find faith for the future of our country,” added Lucas.

The Liquid Church was founded by Lucas in 2001. It currently holds services in Nutley, Morristown and New Brunswick. Its unusual name traces to a biblical passage, according to Birch.

“The reason the name is ‘liquid’ is because Jesus at one point refers to himself as ‘living water,’ ” he said. “So we think that any spirituality should be refreshing – not dry and boring. We have about 2,500 people (parishioners) in our three locations.”

Like other houses of worship, Liquid Church is involved in social outreach programs to local communities, but it also makes a global impact by providing clean drinking water to dozens of communities throughout the world.

“It (the service) fits in nicely with the liquid name,” said Birch with a chuckle.

Live audience polling events will be held on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the following locations:

Nutley – John Walker Middle School/Sept. 16, 23, 30, and Oct. 7

New Brunswick – The Heldrich Hotel/Sept. 16, 23, 30, and Oct. 7

Morristown –Hyatt Hotel/ Sept. 16, 23, 30

Correction:

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