Monday, April 28, 2008

New Web Address

Dear Readers,

The Courier News is merging its website with the Home News Tribune, . Click on Opinion and then hit the Blog page...My picture will be there...The previous threads will be deleted but I will try to save the last two, " Two Rocks: A Man and A Nation " which is on fire right now and "Flemington Cut Glass" which is also a timely issue for the Boro and post them so we can continue our discussions.


Please backup your posts to "Word" so you can post them once I get this show on the road here at this new site. The discussion on "The Rock" is just fabulous too good to discontinue.

Tuesday update...

I believe you can now post directly on the new blog page. I have transferred "Flemington Cut Glass" Two Rocks: A Man and Nation" and a new thread, "Two Rocks: A Man and A Nation Part 2 to this new site. Part 2 is the entire thread as of Tuesday, April 29. So please continue that discussion on Part 2. There is now 1,000 word limitation but this restriction can be circumnavigated by entering your comments in segments.

In the meantime check info on the new site. It is very expansive and offers a lot of options for you to participate in a variety of forums and discussions, finding new friends in cyberpace as well as more news coverage, both local and national. Have fun.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Flemington Cut Glass

To everything there is a season…a time to come and a time to go. It seems it is time for Flemington Cut Glass to go.

Flemington Cut Glass, a Flemington institution, was opened in 1908 by Alphonse Muller and Charles McMullen. It is the oldest manufacturer of glass in the US. But it has not been faring well in today’s markets.
Flemington Cut Glass is being sold but to whom?

Fieldstone Development is seeking several variances in order to build some 71+ town houses there at the Flemington Cut Glass location. This past Tuesday, April 22, the board of adjustment began hearings on this proposal. The townhouses would include one, two and three bedroom units and would cover the expanse from Main Street to Broad and across Broad Street and would include their COAH requirements, once they are determined.

Fieldstone Development began presenting its case after the Boro Council last year declined its request to re-zone that property from commercial use to residential use.

This project could result in major changes in the Boro given the large influx of new residents on Main Street and changes in the tax structure. So this is a very big deal for us in Flemington.

The hearings have been a long time coming. The next one is on Monday, June 2 at 7:00 PM. They are open to the public who may question those who give testimony.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Rocks: A Man and A Nation

Despite that America is the rock upon which a nation of religious freedom was built, Americans have been losing footing with respect to freedom of religious expression for sometime. Due to the repression of political correctness, Christians have been cowed out of extending the simple Christmas greeting of joy. Hostility toward Christianity has swelled, often led by some committed atheist/scientists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris who maintain falsely that science and religion are not compatible, reducing religion to silly superstition and elevating science to the status of ultimate enlightenment.

Since September 11 anti-religious feelings have crested. Islamic radicalism has made Islam itself suspect of a violent creed. Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, inexcusably managed, has weakened its moral authority. Some Protestant sects have been criticized for overly active financial campaigns and preaching the gospel of wealth rather than the gospel of charity. And certain aspects of Zionism are cited as being at the root of Middle East tensions. All in all organized religion has been fired upon in such ways that perhaps we the faithful are now understandably, less faithful. Is nothing truly sacred anymore, we ask? Disillusioned, we begin to feel it is better to do without.

This week as I watched Pope Benedict, descended from Peter, the rock of Christ, I stood away from the firing line the laity now feels entitled to aim from and saw just a man, a spiritual leader, try to grapple with what I also agree is a world crisis. I too see people lost in sea of hedonism, governed by an immature moral relativism, a morality that has only one guideline beyond which you have no further obligation but to please yourself first, put yourself first. Yet high divorces rates, materialistic driven workaholism, substance/prescription abuse, isolation in our technology, obsessions with body image, health and diet testify that we are not a content people.

If we can transcend the errors that are made by man in man- made religious organizations, if we stop judging and hear the whisper of Benedict’s words, we realize his message is like a thunderclap even though he speaks low- keyed and resolutely. He advises that man needs to commit to principles to live by that are more powerful than what feels good at a given moment. Man needs to uphold values that are eternal and universal--- the value of life, all life, human dignity, love and respect for each other and the place in which we live. There is no freedom from our moral obligation when we enter the workplace. And furthermore, man has a guide if he would accept that helping hand.

Religious and spiritual principles are bigger and more powerful than anyone person who speaks on their behalf. The truth of these principles is their own strength. Their truth does not vary from person to person or year to year. Abandoning these beautiful tenets that pivot on the inherent sacredness of life and preserving it no matter the inconvenience, because the stewards have failed to reach the ideals is like abandoning our democracy because at times our political leaders have breeched its codes.

No matter your particular spiritual creed, Pope Benedict embodied in his presence and words that morality and spirituality has to exceed any interminable set of laws legislated by the state and that salvation is not found at the hand of the state in the form of giveaways. Salvation comes for within, from strength of character cultivated by daily fidelity to a set of principles that demand more results than our personal pleasure. We need to live courageously in consort with moral consciousness, to follow that internal moral compass even though this is very, very hard sometimes. This pitch is a tough sell these days to a tough audience, too sophisticated for such na├»ve nonsense. Yet Pope Benedict captivated thousands of us, didn’t he? The truth has a certain ring to it, perhaps.

On Sunday Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in the most famous sports arena in the world, Yankee Stadium. This was a very public demonstration of a particular faith, a faith that it is now politically correct to marginalize according to the illuminati of our country. No more, I hope. Religion is a rightful object of human need. May the public-ness of the celebration begin to free people from the repression they have been subjected to lately so we may dialogue again about needing more than diets, pills and health spas to feel whole again. Yankee Stadium was a very appropriate forum for the discussion to begin anew in the country that began as the rock of religious toleration for the entire world to emulate by a man who is the rock of one of the world’s great religions.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Beat Goes On

Sounds good, right? “… the task force is trying to develop a game plan for affordable as well as low, moderate and workforce priced housing in New Jersey in accord with the governor’s desire to create 100,000 affordable units in New Jersey within a decade,” (as per DCA Spokesperson Chris Donnelly, regarding The Housing Policy Task Force to the DCA, Department of Community Affairs).

Well, this would sound good to me-- developing affordable housing in this great unaffordable housing state of our nation, the nation brought forth to midwife the dreams of a decent life to those willing to work for it. It was too good to be true, alas.

For me it is like an anomaly in the harmony of nature when the ultra liberal New York Times sacrifices some of the precious real estate of its editorial pages to criticize the recommendations of The Housing Policy Task Force to the DCA on a project like affordable housing as “…a blueprint for rolling back environmental protections and allowing greater traffic congestion…”

The "Times" continues with, “The task force recommended, among other things, permitting sewer lines to be laid in environmentally fragile areas and making it easier for builders to construct access roads from their developments that empty directly into main roads, slowing traffic. The recommendations would also make it easier to build homes close to rivers and streams and even in flood hazard areas.”

The task force was assembled by Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Joe Doria who chose such neutral members as the Land Use Committee, which is chaired by the head of the Builders’ Association. So the results were predictable. The big winners here again are, neither you nor me, but builders and developers, our 21st century NJ aristocracy.

Perfect. Just perfect. A task force that recommends projects to give us more traffic congestion and flooding. Exactly what we in NJ need, more flooding, and more taxes to pay aid to flood victims. The beat goes on here in the good old Garden State.

As the “politickernj” comments suggest--- why not set about to redevelop some of our dilapidated cities instead of focusing on land that does not need or cannot support new development? Here's a starting place for that task force that ought to be marched back to the drawing board to develop some responsible and common sense plans to benefit NJ residents as opposed to the privileged few. We are right to expect some competency in lieu of greed.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Heeeeeeeeerrrrrrrre's Abbott

Temerity…that’s the word that describes the governor who out one side of his mouth has offered a 16% increase to the Union City School District to the effect of $20 million, bringing the amount of state aid up to $150 million while out of the other side of his mouth telling us that Flemington needs to share services or merge to become more fiscally responsible. So Flemington’s funding should be eliminated to prod it along.

Here’s Abbott, in the face of Union City School District. The sum of overtime paid to 3 school bus drivers in this school district, for the bus drivers’ cell phones and a superintendent’s newsletter, roughly $244,181 would virtually cover our loss in state funding. Flemington is fiscally wayward?! and

The Union City School District superintendent is paying a PR firm $55,000 to prepare a school newsletter. A well-run school would be its own PR. In Flemington we are skimping so the Union City school bus drivers can have cell phone contracts at a rate of $345/month as well as pay 6 hours in overtime each month for the bus drivers to charge their cell phones. And Flemington is inefficient. More likely, in my estimation, Flemington is out of the party boss loop and the protection it would offer. Hence, Flemington is a soft target for willy-nilly cuts.

If the governor wants to make up the budget shortfall through state funding cuts to municipalities, the cuts should be across the board cuts applied to ALL municipalities and we will settle for nothing less. This must be our message to Governor Corzine.

Furthermore the governor needs to execute more due diligence over Abbott before any state funds are cut to small municipalities.

A few weeks ago the pope proposed a list of modern sins. I hope fiscal frivolity is among the new top ten.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What We Want to Hear vs What We Need to Hear

The patient has not been doing well, feeling his aches and pains for weeks now, far too long. Nervously, he waits in his doctor’s office. The doctor enters with his charts and test results in hand. The doc wants to tell his patient what his patient wants to hear but the doc knows he must tell his patient what his patient needs to hear. Hiding the painful truth is not in his patient's best interset. With proper care the patient may recover.

Likewise, this week General David Petraeus has returned to Washington to report on progress in Iraq. Much of it was not what members of Congress wanted to hear. This time is telling in that his assessment is cast as giving form to the upcoming presidential debate on the question of Iraq and troop withdrawal.

Like the war or not, support it or not, we are in Iraq and our president, Congress and presidential candidates must deal with the issue. In my view General Petraeus is the right man for the job he has as top military commander in Iraq. With a Ph.D. from Princeton University in international relations, he can parry with the best of them. As a general, he has had innovative ideas and modest successes there, more so than others.

Alas, he is not telling the Senators on the Armed Services or Foreign Relations Committees what they want to hear…American troops can leave Iraq, if not now, then on such and such a date under such and such conditions. He will not commit.

Republican presumptive presidential candidate John McCain is on board with that assessment and tells us too what we do not like to hear. The troops cannot be withdrawn until we know that Iraq is secured. We will know it when we see it is the frustrating but probably correct answer Petraeus offers. The two Democratic contenders are saying the troops should leave, one wanting to start the process forthwith… one making the plan for withdrawal contingent on our dealings with Iran which instigates a fair amount of trouble throughout the region and notably in Iraq. Sounds like a reasonable consideration too.

Of course, Americans want their troops home. How to best achieve that without making Iraqi’s vulnerable to being victims of another massacre of the type we saw in Cambodia after our withdrawal from Vietnam or establishing fertile grounds for another Afghanistan to take shape as we did when America pulled out after the defeat of the Soviet Union is at the heart of the issue. Americans don’t want to hear about genocides or 9/11 attacks in the aftermath of withdrawing from an unstable Iraq either. Today’s Japan, Germany and South Korea are testaments to the national security and world- wide benefits achieved by extended American support after wars in contrast to popularly demanded but perhaps premature withdrawals. America needs to be careful not to be pennywise and pound- foolish. Patience is a virtue.

As the presidential candidates’ debate on Iraq centers on Petraeus’ assessments, it is our job to separate what we want to hear from what we need to hear to do right by Iraq, America and the world as we cast our votes.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 7, 2008

A Very Good Time

We cannot say it too often. Let me say it here. Thank you to the men and women who serve Flemington Boro as firefighters and thank you to the ladies’ auxiliary. At the end of the day these volunteers volunteer not only their time but their lives for you and for me. There are not enough “thank you’s” to be had for such a generous, selfless act.

My husband, as the former Fire Commissioner, and I were honored to receive an invitation to their annual Ladies’ Night Banquet held this past Saturday at the Copper Hill Country Club. What a happy time we had. Our firefighters and their spouses have a great sense of humor. The food was wonderful as were the lovely, long stem roses and door prizes each of us ladies were gifted.

Mayor Hauck, Council members Sandy Borucki, Erica Edwards and Mark Legato were in attendance with their spouses. It was a special night for the Borucki’s too in that Steve Borucki was cited for 30 years of service along with other volunteers… Yes, that’s right, 30 years!

Master of ceremonies was Fire Chief, Paul Kilinski, who among other awards given presented one to former Chief Bob Bogart for his service. I am sorry that I do not know all the names of the recipients of the awards given or of all the volunteers and the member of the ladies' auxiliary. My apppreciation for the work you do is no less heartfelt.

There was a lot of good eating, joviality but it took the King, the eternally sensuous Elvis, to get us on the dance floor with ladies’ choices like Unchained Melody and I Can't Help Falling in Love with You.

It was a very pleasant evening indeed. Many thanks to committee Chairperson Debbi Gilmartin for the terrific and successful event she organized.

These are our firefighters and I salute them. Please remember that the Flemington Fire Department is a volunteer organization and all donations are gratefully appreciated.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What's Next???

With the pledge of allegiance Mayor Hauck brought the special town meeting on the state funding cuts to order promptly at 7 PM. It was well attended with almost all the seats taken.

Here is a brief re- cap of what we learned.

To alleviate the shortfall in this year’s state budget, Governor Corzine has proposed among other things eliminating all state aid to municipalities having fewer than 5000 residents. Flemington is one such municipality and we would lose about $278,000 of aid money under this proposal. Were we to make up this shortfall in our local budget by a tax increase, this would roughly translate into a 4 cent increase in the tax rate, adding an additional $100 of taxes for a house valued at $250,000.

Assemblywoman and Flemington resident, Marcia Karrow, informed us that this proposal to cut our funding was a surprise to both parties and that members of both parties had objections to it. She suggested that Flemington file for extensions and hold off adopting its budget as long as it could while those in Trenton hopefully hammer out a better deal for us. Speaker of the Assembly, Joe Roberts, told the press this week that he too opposed budget cuts based solely on size.

One approach suggested by Boro council to deal with the shortfall in our local budget was to have residents assume the cost of garbage collection, some $20/month. This would save the Boro about the same amount of money lost through the budget cut. There are down sides to this option. We lose the tax benefit of keeping the fee for garbage collection as part of our tax bill and we residents absorb additional expense in the operation of the Boro.

A few residents suggested selling 90 Main in order to allow a commercial venture to locate there and broaden our tax base on Main Street. The Shoppes in Flemington due to open later this year will provide that benefit but they alone will not be adequate to offset the shortfall. Some residents felt that there ought to be cuts made in the Flemington budget which council contends is pretty lean right now due its zero based approach in putting the budget together. Residents wanted the school budgets reduced. Some residents expressed overall frustration with the continued increases in their tax bills in general.

There was no definitive resolution to the problem at this time.

Is there a fiscal crisis in NJ? On the one hand, citing that certain funds were still quite healthy, Ms. Karrow felt that some of the sentiment was contrived by the governor. On the other hand, as I see it, over the last few years the state budget has increased by several billion with no additional sources of revenue to cover these increases. So yes, in my view, we have an imbalance in the state budget to the effect of several billion dollars per year over a period of several years that needs to be reined in.

What to do? Boro council is still working on this problem but perhaps we can help ourselves by expressing our opposition to cutting state funding based on the size of a municipality. To this end, we can contact the Assembly Budget Committee (, and
the Senate Budget Committee ( ). We can also contact the governor ( ) and Joe Doria, the head of the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) ( ). It may help to also copy Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow (, and Senator Leonard Lance (

If there be cuts in state funding to municipalities, let them be across the board cuts. It is an equitable approach and it pressures larger cities that get the lion’s share of aid to become a little bit more fiscally responsible. And large cites cleaning up their finances needs to happen under any circumstance.

Remind our elected officials that we are under 5000, and we vote.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Town Meeting

By now I suspect most of you are aware that NJ is in serious financial trouble. The governor has offered some plans to address the issue that have not been well received and with good reason as far as I am concerned.

One such proposal eliminates state funding for small municipalities. For those municipalities with 5,000 residents or less, all funding will be cut. This means that under this proposal we in Flemington will lose about $276,000 of state funding. The gov’s rationale for cutting funding to small municipalities is that they can reduce expenses by sharing services such as schools, etc. which Flemington already shares with Raritan Township.

I challenge the governor’s justifications on several fronts. First, I am skeptical that Flemington and like municipalities are less fiscally efficient than Newark, Trenton and Camden, for example, shared services notwithstanding. These cities, peppered with heavy party boss affiliations, need to have their budgets thoroughly reviewed and reined in with an eye to achieving more frugality. Second, there is waste in Trenton that flaunts an arrogance of power directed at the taxpayer and his hard earned money. And I have spoken about this before. It seems unprincipled to cut our funds or tax us further while those in the big leagues are virtually pillaging our coffers. Just how much are taxpayers supposed to subsidize here? Last, is this even legal? Are we, in small municipalities, being given equal protection under the law?

Typically, such cuts are addressed by a cut in services and/or an increase in taxes. But of course none of these alternatives have been discussed yet here in the Boro. This coming Wednesday, April 2, Boro council is holding a meeting at the American Legion on Route 31 at 7 PM. I hope you will attend and learn what the council is doing to address our situation as well as to voice your concerns.

This meeting was again announced in the recent Boro newsletter. BTW: isn’t it terrific, the new format of the newsletter put out by Boro council? It is informative and well presented. Congrats to the council and, editor, Councilwoman Brooke Liebowitz, on a fine publication. I urge you all to grab a cup of coffee and read it. It is well worth your while.

The views expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Lives They Save May Be Their Own

Teach your children well.

That is one particular aspect of the numerous recommendations made by Teen Driver Study Commission that I heartily endorse.

It comes to pass in the life of every parent that right of passage for both parent and child when little Johnny arrives home, proudly waving his brand new driver’s permit at you. With trepidation we parents watch the count down to “D” Day, Driver Day. When it arrives, we draw in a deep breath and begin the journey to ultimate, mutual liberation that starts with our children driving a car --- we parents, the reluctant, and our little darlings, chomping at the bit.

Typically our children take the driver’s Ed classes at school and pass their written test there. Then, quite often, we send them off for some behind the wheel time with some pricey, professional driving school that all their friends supposedly flock to. They pass their road test and are good to go. So our little darlings think.

Not really, says I who had to slide into the passenger’s seat with my inexperienced daughters for the first time as they took control of the wheel of the family car. Sure that all my insurance was paid up, last confession heard, deep breathing or hyperventilation, if you will, we navigated our way down Main Street. The braveheart in me directed them toward one of those infamous Flemington traffic circles. Wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying, I talked them through it.

This is the moment that instructs the task at hand. Learning driving rules, how to turnover the engine, or even parallel parking do not a driver make. A driver is someone who knows how to address the various road surfaces and varied weather conditions, as well as driver and pedestrian errors. As any seasoned driver knows, being right does not necessarily prevent an accident or worse. As the ominous TV commercials rightfully remind us, we can be dead right. These too are the lessons we parents must teach our children because we are the coaches, riding with them, advising them in city and highway traffic, parking in tight squeeze situations, avoiding deer or even on techniques to keep them from locking their keys in the car---through rain, snow, sleet and the dead of night. This mastery takes practice and repetition. Phase 1 is rule mastery and Phase 2 is practice, practice and more practice.

Why these new guidelines now? Far too many accidents. Years ago in the absence of all these driving schools, dad or mom took you out to practice for hours. That was driver’s Ed, behind the wheel. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to learn how much things had changed when my kids got their licenses some 8 to 10 years ago. I knew brand new drivers who had not navigated a Flemington circle or the corner of Route 31 and Church Street but were ready to drive their good buddies on Route 22, a veritable war zone. You know the new driver ”Back Off World” machismo.

Practice has been sorely lacking in today’s driver training. Almost every teen driver I knew had an accident in the first few months after getting his or her license, luckily not a serious one.

I would not necessarily single out just one group of drivers in need of reform. We have seniors who need to be looked out for, cell phone users, regardless of the stiff new fines in play, and road rage in general seems more prevalent. A marked push for driver courtesy all around may reduce numbers of all those so-called proverbial ”New Jersey Drivers”. Although I am not convinced about the efficacy of all the recommendations submitted for review, I could not be happier about requiring probationary drivers to log in 100 hours of practice time, 20 of them being done at night. Absolutely, this guideline is right on track. Teach your children well because the lives they save maybe their own.

The opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of the author.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's about Time

" Open up your mind. Let your fantasies unwind."
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom of the Opera

Einstein once mused something to the effect that America suffered from not having enough taverns. He hailed from a culture that located taverns on almost street corner. These taverns filled nightly with repeat patrons to continue discussion on typically two topics, politics and religion. By contrast, in America these topics were deleted from polite parlor conversation. Einstein felt that lack of beer and banter left Americans rather naive in these two areas.

Well, I am second generation American, descended from the folk who hit the taverns and talked the forbidden topics. So it was not the least unusual for my twenty-something daughters, at Easter dinner, to bring up the fascinating speech presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, delivered last week on race relations. (See Obama’s speech )

In response to the revelation that his longtime pastor and friend, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made inflammatory remarks regarding white people and white America, Obama took up the task of defining himself in the context of the race issue.

It is about time we had some new ideas floated around in addressing this longtime stand- off between two groups of Americans.

I can speak as a minority member at times but I cannot speak as a black person. Both groups overlap in one area. Facing job discrimination as a female in the 60’s when women were only eligible to be nurses, teachers or clerical workers, I can tell you it is not pretty to be left out of the game. This discrimination cuts you to the bone as a person, your sense of self and worth. Why, you wonder, are you thought to be not capable? Worse, you question...Are you really not capable? Is it really true? These are strikes against you that can trigger the course of a lifetime of tragic personal loss that pervades the entire spectra of what it means to be a person. Nothing should snatch that away, our human dignity and sense of worth. It is death to the spirit.

Equally though ,as Obama points out, white Americans today did not commit these crimes. He noted that as children of immigrants, white Americans feel that America is not handing them any special privilege. I lived my life with two white males, my father and my husband. I watched these men work long hours, hold second jobs, transfer from state to state to keep the money coming to support their families. They worked, not in the" grass is greener" pastures imagined by hardcore feminists but in the heartless mines of corporate America. They did a lot of work they would rather not have had to do. I know first hand for the white male, it is no picnic working to keep food on the table. And it is hard to see the money they earned and need to support their own families, taxed away.

There are two sides to the racial tensions. I congratulate Barack Obama for having the spine to bring that point into the discussion. Race issues cannot be solved in the absence of honest dialogue, which may host more mutual understanding. Through mutual understanding, the tension may start to dissipate.

My young’ uns are virtually colorblind. They do not know the world Rev. Wright grew up in that molded his hatred and anger. Race relations will remain unresolved in the grip of that model. Newer, more colorblind images have to be allowed to enter the American portrait. Unequivocally, these images are found in the innocence and sincerity of a new generation that as I have said, are indeed colorblind. Our black brethren may take comfort in knowing that their white brethren have indeed heard their cry in the wilderness…we took action and it is seen in our progeny.

On the lighter side on race…below are some fun URLs on what is going with black fraternities nationwide. Our younger daughter’s friend, Greggy (wearing the back glasses) , recently came to family taco night and gave us a mini course on stepping. I have provided the URL’s. Stepping is a team activity that is done competitively with fraternities around the country. Greggy’s group ‘Dem Boyz’ has performed in movies and apeared on TV spots like Regis and Kelley. They have preceded bands at concerts like Usher. 'Dem Boyz' works with inner city kids also.

This performance may have been at Rider University. Be sure to turn up your volume. Have fun!

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

Perhaps it is nature’s way of informing that she is magic. This time of year we cannot escape the life’s lesson nature offers us. Each succeeding day we see her deliver beauty from the barrenness of winter. In Flemington it is first apt to be seen in the blossoming of the forsythia. There are so many forsythia bushes that bloom here you cannot miss this event. I have thought about this cycle of beauty that illogically emanates from that which is not so beautiful. Logical or not, inescapably, we see it in the seasons, as we do with spring that follows winter.

Spiritually, we live, each of us at one time or another, barren or void of joy. I recently went through the trauma of total double knee replacements after several years of painful decline in my knee joints. You lose some snippets of your life when you live several years like this, as I did so very young. Awake through the nights that followed, I worked to figure out where to put these legs that felt like painful logs until morning. No amount of support can take this trauma from you. Out of this barren angst blossoms some strength of character. So many people who are ill or traumatized health-wise know that out of illness and human suffering can come recovery and bountiful insight into our own humanness, blossoms of a different sort.

This cycle, reviving life from the barren, is evident in our social lives. This past week in the presidential campaign it surfaced that an acclaimed, dear acquaintance of presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, had made remarks some time ago that were potentially fatal to his campaign due to their close affiliation. Whether he ascends to the White House or not, from that deadly context, Obama gave a speech that I think brings hope in resolving race issues that have been deadlocked for years, new life to resolve on old problem.

This week before Easter we in our family usually visit family gravesites. So my sisters, my mother and I went north to clean up my father’s grave. We planted our lilies and hyacinths. We left a bunny and a note that we missed him quite a lot. The barrenness of his illness and his age were too much to overcome. This cycle of life after void is over for him as it is for us all eventually. As nature manages its perfect balancing act, perhaps he knows that had he lived, he is on the verge of becoming a first time great grandfather to the grandson/nephew/son my family will adoringly embrace this summer.
“ Something's lost and something's gained in living everyday…” as the song goes. Nature's balance is maintained.

Christian ideology recognizes that out of the barrenness of the mind, body or soul, comes resurrection, spiritual and physical, as it is celebrated this week with literal new life out of death, transcending physical death. Christian ideology believed or not, the idea of resurrection of the dead is consistent with the cycles of nature…life continues from what seems lifeless and dismal and not pretty.

Nature perennially instructs us that life is generated from sources that seem lifeless--- the cold earth, our broken bodies, our threatened social aspirations, literal death or our tried and tired spirits. At some point in our lives, as part of nature’s way with us, I believe that all of us navigate adversity, isolated, alone in desperation. At those moments like the French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre, we may wonder what is the point of our existence. How should we define ourselves? I know the answer for me but each I think goes the road alone here answering this quandary, maybe taking a lifetime to do so. Aware of this predictable cycle, I have learned that absolutely out of the barren comes the blossom, like the forsythia that blooms here each year out of the frozen ground. This is nature’s way. So when life seems to fail us, we have to hang on because it is nature’s way that from the depths of this lifelessness, life is renewed and regenerated in ways we often cannot imagine. Relief does not necessarily demand all the right circumstances coming together perfectly because barrenness is fertile grounds for regeneration. The loveliest wildflowers that yield the most savored honey grow in the ashes on Mt. St. Helens. Magic? Perhaps, no. Maybe we need to understand that what seems infertile to the naked eye is replete with an exquisite set of circumstances for great growth if we play our hand well. Maybe barrenness is not void of opportunity but rich with opportunity.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Help Protect Flemington

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Winston Churchill

Churchill is right. We have to know what is going in our own backyards, my friends.

In NJ we are at a point, a tipping point, in the areas of money management and morality. In NJ, they are overlapping issues. Money management and morality, or the lack thereof, are directly impacting Flemington, which is slated to lose all state funding even though NJ collects the highest property taxes in the nation. For us this most likely means that the Boro will either have to cut back on services or raise our taxes. So as conscientious citizens, we have no choice but to educate ourselves as best we are able in order to make judicious long-term judgments as voters to secure our financial solvency and restore some moral standards to state government. The time is now. There is no magic here in keeping our state operating properly, just accepting our civic responsibility to do the right thing and insisting our elected officials do so also.

How do we get informed? Coincident to the toll hike plan announcement, the book “The Soprano State” was released and sold out immediately. (It is back on the stands BTW…See for updates AND, see also the 5 star rating revues of the book on ). The book was thusly named by authors Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure because in the course of their investigative journalism, they concluded the workings of political party bosses were analogous to the mechanisms seen in organized crime. This is our state government, my friends. Also, check Bob Ingle’s blogsite daily for info on NJ state politics and political scams. See

While the book is excellent, words sting less than the pictures that show how this corrupt political mechanism plays out in the real world and the price citizens pay for it. Let’s take Newark. View the film, Street Fight and you will understand why I suspect that Governor Corzine resists cleaning up the political party financial abuses in Newark and Camden and Trenton. Therefore, he targets softies like us here in Flemington etc. to make up the budget shortfall. He attempts to argue that targeting small municipalities will make us more efficient. So we are to believe that Newark, Trenton and Camden are more effective in budgeting than Flemington? Here’s the real issue to ponder...How well would it go over if the Gov suggested Newark share its services in order to clean up its waste?

Street Fight is a documentary that received several awards in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award in 2005. (See / or This film documents the Democratic mayoral primary between 32- year veteran, Mayor Sharpe James, and newcomer, Cory Booker. It is not pretty to see in action in America the corruption and manipulation of struggling people in Newark, trying to get out from under the thumb of Sharpe James.

In the film, I viewed the scenes of the streets. Despite a few pricey building projects in Newark over 30 years, these streets look more dilapidated than when I used to ride through them, over 30 years ago. But still the Mayor has managed to get for himself a Rolls Royce and 2 beachfront houses on the Jersey shore in addition to his home. What has happened here? Why do people keep voting him into office?

The film is an all too real snapshot of the political landscape within the Garden State. It brings colorful pictures to the book Ingle and McClure have written with the intent of blowing the whistle on NJ political corruption, hoping to give NJ citizens a fighting chance to address this corruption with some facts and yes, our righteous indignation.

With the Governor Corzine’s current plan we will continue to bankroll the boondoggles of the numerous “Jameses” of NJ while our local municipal funding is cut. What manner of lunacy is this? Instead of letting the corruption continue to go un-addressed and receive our continued financing while robbing Peter (Flemington) to pay off the “Jameses” of NJ, the Gov needs to roll up his sleeves and do the job right or he is out of here.

We too have a job to do, my friends. We have to educate ourselves and let our elected officials know that we expect this corruption it to be eliminated before we even begin to look at cuts. As taxpayers, we are entitled to return for our investment. We are responsible for getting the job done too by voting out those elected officials who support the good old boy network or will not work diligently to change it. They are in Trenton because we voters put them there.

We must have a healthy skepticism of what we hear coming out of Trenton and do our own homework. Info on the Internet is just a finger’s touch away. We need to share with our neighbors what we are learning about Trenton and the corrupt state of our state. We meet. We protest. We write. We email. We work collectively. We do not let Trenton off the hook. We remember to dream like Cory Booker and know that the dream of a better government is well within our grasp.

Epilogue to Street Fight

Despite Sharpe James’ lengthy reign, Cory Booker did unseat the incumbent in 2006 and is currently mayor of Newark. He is making his mark nationwide as a promising political leader.

Sharpe James is currently on trial.

Please plan to attend the town meeting held by Boro council on the proposed budget cuts on Wednesday, April 2, 7:00 PM at the American Legion, RT 31.

Note: This film is about a Democratic primary in Newark. It is NOT my intention to suggest that the entire Democratic Party operates in the unseemly manner it did in Street Fight.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

From Many,One

Once again ‘tis the season when we enjoy that breathtaking performance, Riverdance, scarf down Irish stew or corned beef and cabbage and maybe even a green potato or two, washed down with maybe green beer or…we throw back a pint o’ Guinness. Aye, there, lads and lassies…we are all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

This little Polish/Russian kiddo grew up in the Irish/British town of Kearny. In this melting pot moment, as a community we celebrated St. Pat’s with the parades of waves of bagpipers and drummers in their clan tartans and their kilts, swinging in the March winds. There was no political statement intended, just community fun.

The melting pot speaks of America as a unique nation filled with the flavors of numerous ethnicities that blended into a one single, solitary main course, the great nation of America. And in those days we were first and foremost Americans and proud to be so. We were, from many, ONE: many ethnicities united philosophically under one American heart and mind and soul.

Unfortunately, over the last 30 years or so our college campuses have been unwisely populated with a team of professors, teeming with anti- American sentiment. They are harsh with America in their lessons to our students on college campuses. Collectively, in their radical viewpoints--- America is an exploitative capitalist, racist, sexist, militaristic, patriarchal blight on the face of the earth. Some of these professors sympathize with bin Laden or bask and regale in the glories of the former Soviet Union or China or North Korea, countries that somehow in their eyes have become beacons of human rights and moral rectitude…examples to be followed. (See “The Professors” by David Horowitz)

Even though many students are not blinded by this extremist anti- American bias they are being subjected to in classrooms what has trickled out of these extremist and perverse teachings into the mainstream of society are its progeny, politicized diversity and political correctness. Instead of a melting pot to be savored, America has become the United States of Victims and their endless list of grievances against America.

Political correctness tacitly assumes that Americans, because of their depravity, must shut their mouths and instead speak with a script imposed on them by the political correct police who believe at heart, we Americans, are just as these professors say we are. We, the people, have come to believe of ourselves that we, particularly white males, are exploitative capitalist, racist, sexist, militaristic, patriarchal blights on the face of the earth who are solely responsible for all the evils in the world. Accordingly, Americans should apologize to all our supposed victims on a daily basis.

Clearly, this is utter nonsense. This view is why political correctness never should be mistaken for a serious ethical guideline or assessment of social moral problems. It condones an ungodly, infantile prejudice against its own people. As a moral guideline political correctness lacks the evenhanded scholarly evaluation that needs to accompany any moral theory. Political correctness damages the people it is purported to help by stifling open discussion of their problems.

Based on this negative image of America, politicized diversity tends not to celebrate the special-ness of a specific ethnicity alone that can enrich us all. This dark side of diversity assumes that all but white males must fight against a racist, sexist, exploitative America to get these depraved white people to accept what by their nature, their inherent sinful nature, Americans will not do out of their sense of moral uprightness. Politicized diversity initiates social wars or refuses to let them end and make way for a new day. The politicized diversity crusader must cast as grounds for battle people’s differing ideologies or questions and fight the supposed battle for acceptance by the recalcitrant, ugly American, as opposed to addressing bona fide differences of opinion and respecting our celebrated freedom of speech and the right to our own opinions, which is true respect for diversity. I ask you---to whom is the racism and prejudice directed in America these days?

Are we really a racist, exploitative nation at heart? I think not. The greatness of America is not a function of skin color. America’s economic successes are a matter of the nature of market forces and their laws like supply and demand. Anyone who follows the history of political thought realizes that America evolved from the democracies of Athens and the citizenship concepts of Rome, the diminution of royal power in Britain and the Christian ideology that all men are created equal, all historical evidence to the contrary.

Has America sinned? Undoubtedly and glaringly. But let those nations and the peoples of those nations that have NOT sinned, cast the first stone… And those sins America has committed will never be overcome and the wounds will never heal if we remain in politicized groups that divide, clinging to ethnicity or gender as sovereign in their lives while refusing to join America as American citizens and contributing their talents to this great, albeit, not perfect nation. For those who have felt marginalized and want to join the club, as Bill Cosby points out…the battles have been fought and great progress made. These doors have been opened. Come on board.

No group has to prove itself as worthy because we are all worthy. And all we need do is treat one another the way we want to be treated, another bit of simple biblical wisdom. We do not need politically correct scripts to tell us what we may think or say.

Rather than divide ourselves with sex and skin color and other superficial differences, let us each be a peacemaker by beginning to recognize the unity we need as a nation in these challenging days. Let us use St. Pat’s Day, the day we are all Irish, to highlight our special backgrounds, while understanding in the grand scheme of things the true melting pot of gold America is and has been and will be.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mark Your Calendars and "The Blonde Guy" Joke

On Wednesday, March 19 at 6:00 PM the Hunterdon Coalition for Peace will sponsor a peace vigil marking the 5th anniversary of the Iraqi war on the courthouse steps. The coalition invites the public to attend and “inform our legislators of their desire to develop a viable plan for ending US involvement in Iraq”. For more info on the Hunterdon Coalition for Peace see Please call 908-806-3346 if you have any questions.

School budgets are coming out and budget meetings are scheduled. A public hearing on the Flemington/Raritan budget is scheduled or Wednesday, March 19, at 7:00 PM in the RFIS auditorium. The budget presentation is online at

The public meeting for the Hunterdon Central budget is also on Wednesday, March 19, at 7:00 PM in the library off Junction Road. For budget info see

A town meeting regarding the proposed state aid funding cuts for Flemington will be on Wednesday, April 2, at 7:00 PM at the American Legion, Route 31.

NOTE : There is a new cell phone law in effect and you can now be ticketed for driving and talking or texting to the effect of a $100 fine, I believe. So be careful out there.

And a little humor…

The Blonde Guy

An Irishman, a Mexican and a Blonde Guy were doing construction work on scaffolding on the 20th floor of a building. They were eating lunch and the Irishman said, "Corned beef and cabbage! If I get corned beef and cabbage one more time for lunch, I'm going to jump off this building." The Mexican opened his lunch box and exclaimed, "Burritos again! If I get burritos one more time I'm going to jump off, too." The blond opened his lunch and said, Bologna again! If I get a bologna sandwich one more time, I'm jumping too." The next day, the Irishman opened his lunch box, saw corned beef and cabbage, and jumped to his death. The Mexican opened his lunch, saw a burrito, and jumped, too. The blonde guy opened his lunch, saw the bologna and jumped to his death as well

At the funeral, the Irishman's wife was weeping. She said, "If I'd known how really tired he was of corned beef and cabbage, I never would have given it to him again!" The Mexican's wife also wept and said, "I could have given him tacos or enchiladas! I didn't realize he hated burritos so much." (Oh this is GOOD!!) Everyone turned and stared at the blonde's wife. The blonde's wife said, "Don't look at me. He made his own lunch !!!!
(Submitted by a friend)

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Flemington Gets the Ax

$275,000 and some change, my fellow Flemingtonians, that is the figure Mayor Hauck and Councilwoman Erica Edwards, after attending a meeting with other municipal leaders last week on this very issue, indicated at the Boro council last night that Flemington is slated to lose under the proposed budget cuts. Being a municipality under 5,000, we in Flemington are to get NO state funding this year if Governor Corzine’s budget proposal is allowed to stand. Zip, nada, nothing, zero, zilch. *( See correction below).

The governor, arguing that such a move will enhance the use of shared services, is almost insulting to me. Are we to believe that Flemington and Raritan for example operate with less efficiency than Newark, Camden and Trenton? We have a splendid shared school district and they have that fiscal nightmare of irresponsibility known as Abbott. Yet that money pit for billions of dollars is not under the microscope. Why is not Trenton et al being forced to economize? Too many party bosses with too much strength there, perhaps?

Don’t be fooled. There are plenty of ways to start to reduce NJ spending other than taking our state aid. Again, I ask you to take some time and cruise this site.

“The Soprano State” by Bob Ingle that sold out by the end of the first day it hit the stands is back in the bookstores. Here too you will be educated on waste and corruption in NJ. See also

In view of this prospective loss of state funds, the Boro budget has not yet been finalized. Boro council is hoping to set up a special town meeting in very early April for us to address this major blow to our Flemington budget. Of course, I will keep you updated on this meeting.

At this stage of the game, I cannot imagine that there is a citizen of the Garden State, soon to lose its Department of Agriculture ironically under this vindictive proposal, who is unaware of the overspending in Trenton these last few years. Yet “the in your face attitude” of Governor Corzine, still giving judges raises and pushing to increase paid family leave as if we could afford these upgrades, belies any serious ethical attempt to bail NJ out of the fiscal mess Trenton has made.

My fellow Flemingtonians I have formally studied all kinds of theories in ethics and there is not a one that morally justifies Corzine taking away our funding while he does not address the overspending and corruption at the center of this budget problem. And he is not doing so to date. I can make numerous arguments though as to why what he and his supporters are doing is unethical. But really so can you.

If we small municipalities allow Trenton to skim off the cream, keep our money to indulge its extravagant lifestyle with abandon, do you think we will have an easy time of it getting our state aid restored once we lose it? How long will small municipalities be deprived of funding, 75 years?

Stop the spending, double dipping. Dismantle the outrageous “perks for pals” lifestyle that is endemic to Trenton. ( Click on "Public Payrolls" by muncipalities). Upbraid the frivolous spending identified on the above- mentioned Republican website. After this is accomplished, then the governor might start to offer non- punitive and evenhanded proposals for paying down the debt that will not continue mushroom because the root causes have been uprooted.

We are, I believe, a reasonable people but we must also take responsibility to stop this pillaging of our coffers. I am a child of the ‘60’s. People power works. Our collective voice cannot be ignored.

Should Governor Corzine stubbornly continue on this unreasonable path, we ought to recall him from office for dereliction of duty. We citizens are entitled to responsible behavior from our governor, not punishment for demanding that Trenton clean up its act. As our state’s chief executive officer, he should lead the way.

Stay tuned.

* As per comments posted today by Linda Mastellone, on Wednesday, March 5 ,Councilwomen Erica Edwards and Linda Mastellone attended the NJ League of Municipalities Meeting on budget cuts for small municipalities. At Boro council Monday, it was my understanding that Councilwomen Erica Edwards and Mayor Hauck attended this type of meeting given the unified response to my question about a specific figure asked during work session. I did not understand that Councilwoman Edwards and Mastellone went to this meeting. I regret the error.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Flemington Loses

In spring the young man’s fancy may turn to love but this homeowner’s fancy turns to spring- cleaning. Dutifully I have my rugs cleaned each year. Using the same service year in and year out, we get to talking, the carpet man and I. He goes to the same beach we do each summer. So we compare notes on people and commerce at our vacation hotspot. This year though the talk turned grim, to the toll hikes. He said it well…”These taxes are taking food out of our children’s mouths. “ The phrase and sentiment haunts me.

NJ residents pay perhaps the highest property taxes in the US. There is plenty of money for double dipping pension pay offs. There is money for boondoggling, giving judges and their entourages raises to make them the most highly paid in the nation. There is money for driving school board members in Abbott districts to meetings in limousines. There is $1 million for Jeanne Fox’s (the wife of Corzine's campaign manager) defense against a whistler blower lawsuit against her and the BPU for an $80 million slush fund that was secretly established. I am talking here of the tip of the iceberg. (For other examples of NJ waste see "End Government Waste " at )

With the exorbitant property taxes we in NJ pay, how is it we do not have enough money for the taxpayers and our needs like hospitals, schools, senior prescription drug benefits or small municipalities? Why is it that Flemington as a small municipality may have its funding cut…is it because it is too hard to loosen the grip of party bosses from the bigger ones like Newark or Camden? (See Courier News,, March 7, 2008 “Small towns angered by Corzine cuts”) or

It turns out that the people some of our elected representatives pledge to serve upon taking office are themselves and their friends in Trenton. They do keep their promises to one another, this Trenton gang of marauders. Instead of using the swords honed of metal like the Huns did when they plundered the villagers, some elected officials and their party bosses slyly use legislation honed by greed to legalize their plundering of the state coffers. I cannot urge you strongly enough to read “The Soprano State” that details this culture of greed and corruption that has made Trenton a scar on the face of NJ, to borrow from the “DaVinci Code”. Also see

This literal highway robbery will take food from our children’s mouths and college from their future and jeopardize our retirement security. It will force NJ residents to move elsewhere so the tax base will continue to shrink making the tax burden greater for those who must remain here. This overspending and then borrowing to pay our debts is not a problem that can be relegated to armchair discussion with no action plan on our parts. We must be vocal to our representatives that we will not stand for this mistreatment.

Here’s a form of protest…let’s start to pay our taxes in pennies...that’s about all we will have left for ourselves when a state spends several billion more a year than it has with ne’ery a thought about the unconscionable burdening of its taxpayers as it promotes the wealth of that privileged class of state party bosses and their kith and kin.

Wisdom tells us that the fox will clean out the hen house rather than clean up the hen house. So NJ needs a physical Department of Justice occupation here in Trenton. We need a freeze on NJ legislation while federal attorneys take over Trenton and review NJ legislation for conflicts of interest, propose new legislation on ethics, eliminate legislation that is robbery in disguise and review all bond schemes that side step the legislature’s power of the purse such as those floated by the NJ Turnpike Authority.

We need judicial review and the impeachment of justices whose rulings disregard the state Constitution.

We need our governor at town hall meetings, telling us how he will preserve the services to the people we rightfully deserve in return for our tax dollar. This is not a charity organization, the state of NJ. We expect some bang for our hard earned buck. If the governor is not committed to an appropriate distribution of tax dollars and an ethics based budget, he needs to be recalled for dereliction of duty.

Ridding NJ of those who are bleeding the life out of it is the kind of spring- cleaning I would like us all to undertake.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Council Meeting Just Around the Corner" lit n up's Bright Idea

On January 11, 2008, after the re-org, lit in up posted the comment below.
(“The Re- Org That Wasn’t”, January 4, 2008)

lit n up said...

“Council Meeting Just around the corner"

Since the council meeting is just around the corner, I hope that the council has their act together. I hope that the bickering witnessed last time is over and that the council that worked so well together last year reemerges next week. I hope egos and attitudes can be set aside and that our elected officials will be grown up enough to do what is in the best interest of the borough residents, business and employees. I hope that personal preference is set aside and assignments are based on experience and merit. Just because we voted for you once, doesn’t mean we will vote for you again.

Joan, maybe you could do us all a favor, and give us a venue to share some our comments to council before Monday night.”

January 11, 2008 7:21 AM
Post a Comment

Let me apologize, lit n up. I did not see this comment until today when I was going through my posts and collapsing the comments. If there is any type of venue I can set up via this blog for Boro council meetings, I am only too happy to do so. Please tell me what you may have in mind here…

As far as getting info to Flemington residents, this blog is underwritten by the Courier News, a major central NJ newspaper. As an agent for this news medium, I have asked all Boro council members to sit with me and explain in more detail certain issues that are pressing in Flemington, as Councilman John Gorman did recently with water, a very serious local, national and international issue. I look forward to bringing more in depth information about Flemington to Flemington residents. We should take full advantge of the opportunity for information sharing and citizen input that the Courier News is offering our Boro.

On the flip side of the coin here, as a resident you offered information on state code regarding bike safety. Because of the info you provided on this blogsite, Mayor Hauck expedited a course of action that has resulted in an ad hoc committed organized by Cpl Chris Foley that is currently meeting to address the issue of visibility and bikers.

To fulfill your request, for instance, I am happy to reserve a post site on this forum totally devoted to Flemington residents in order to raise questions or make comments to Boro council, i.e. “Ask Boro Council”… Is this along the lines of a venue to bring questions to Boro council that you have in mind here, lit n up ???? Just a thought.

Again, lit n up, I offer my apologies for missing your request and, folks, this forum is open for ideas here, one and all. There is another council meeting just around the corner and I can set up a post site in a flash…Standing by and please

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pennies for Your Thoughts

OK. Readington is not Flemington. But from the point of view of discussion and the Washington Post that ran the story, the fine distinction is neither here nor there.

Last week in Readington, evidently some 29 merry pranksters, specifically 8th graders, coordinated and executed a plan to pay for their lunches with 200 pennies as a protest for the shortened lunch period. (See Below). Superintendent Jorden Schiff slapped them with a 2 day detention as punishment.

Well, you guessed it. Were I superintendent, I would have commended the students for their creativity, their ability to organize, and coordinate and make a point, perhaps a bit disruptive but not intended to be disrespectful or harmful while at the same time explaining to them---point made and that should it continue there would be consequences that were specifically spelled out.

In a playful way these students did what students are expected to do from time to time, namely... think on their own, act on their own, create and, yes, even challenge authority and take risks. They did so in a bemusing way. The road to educate is fraught with much disruptive meandering.

This repressively politically correct society has “dumbed” down creativity in thought and expression. Instead educators and politicians are generating a bumper crop of students who are to march to the cadence of good little test takers while we know in the depth of our souls that mindless obedience is not the stuff of American politics and ingenuity, necessities of life in this highly globalized world.

As a college student, I taught religious classes to high school students who were, of course, poked and prodded to attend by their parents. Come Halloween, they egged my car. The next class I came and laughed with them, somewhat impressed that they wanted to get a rise out of me. At least they were not sleeping in that class. We bonded then and there, they and I, and as I have learned once you have bonded with your students, the learning really begins for both teacher and student. In Readington, as I sit from a distance, I see an opportunity to bond with these little ones lost and a punitive, alienating relationship begun that may descend to the ranks of the younger students as they observe the consequences meted out for any bit of rebellion.

By protesting a shortened lunch period maybe the Readington Penny Gang was trying to tell the adults something they had tried to say in other ways but were not heard. I wonder.

Schools need to give their students a fair amount of latitude to express their viewpoints, political correctness notwithstanding. Superintindent Schiff says he punished these students to teach them how to express their views without being disruptive. I fear all he has taught them is that if you get on his wrong side, you will be punished. So, indeed, were I the superintendent facing this little gang of protestors, I would have met with them with respect and, given them kudos for their creativity and organizational skills, basic gutsy-ness, heard their complaints and addressed them, rather than pounding them for the very qualities that make us human and specifically good Americans. Also with a wink and smile, I would warn them very clearly----don’t push your luck here.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

MoveOn Moves on to Flemington

Under the broad umbrella of MoveOn, MoveOn.Org Civic Action and Political Action are grass roots organizations that are funded by citizens and designed to give citizens a voice and collective power to influence among things… candidate selection, legislators, media and national issues by alerting individual members of pending issues via the internet.

This Sunday MoveOn will be hosting an event in Flemington intended to cinch the nomination of Barack Obama for President of the United States. Nationwide, this Sunday, MoveOn members will be hosting meetings or Obama Parties, in their homes. These parties will be kicked off by conference calls featuring Halle Berry, Senator Ted Kennedy and popular Texas radio host, Jim Hightower. Then local MoveOn members, cell phones in hand, will dial up their cohorts in Texas hoping to lock in the nomination Tuesday in Texas.

The “Yes We Can” Obama Party in Flemington will be on March 2 at 4:oo 0’clock hosted by

Kathleen J---MoveOn member
At: Kathy and Michael’s in Flemington
Please bring a cell phone and charger

To RSVP and get more details click below,

So Flemington Obama fans here is your moment to have an impact…Move on to contact Kathleen and let her know you will be there, phone in hand.

For additional information on MoveOn check

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bulletin Board

Here are some highlights of Monday evening’s Boro Council meeting.

Two complaints have been filed under the stacking ordinance.

Meetings are continuing regarding the Boro sponsoring a bike race.

Red Vanilla opened and seemed to charm members who have had the opportunity to pay a visit there. It sounds like a terrific addition to Main Street. So be sure to check it out.

As per a citizen request, ordinances up for discussion and votes will soon be posted on the Flemington website…… Please note that agendas are already posted there.

Public hearings on the budget are over. Kudos to Boro council for keeping the tax rates steady for the time being. Pension funding is an issue here though.

Yours truly requested the budget be put online if possible or at least perhaps budget summaries.

Also if you remember, a few weeks ago, I posted here on this site and addressed Boro Council regarding biker safety issues with respect to visibility when bikers are riding at dusk. Upon request by Mayor Hauck I reported to Boro Council that---long story… short, Community Officer, Corporal Chris Foley, has been assigned to improve biker safety. I will together with Corporal Foley and other members of the community be meeting to scope out a plan. I also contacted the Executive Director of Hunterdon Hispanos, Kelly Ospina, who has offered the group’s website for columns on bike safety and whose group is already offering workshops on bike safety. Folks, bear in mind that many of these bikers do not drive so they do not realize they are not visible to drivers. Ms. Opsina is very excited to be on board with this project and we feel her assistance here is invaluable to helping us connect to the Hispanic community.

The Environment Commission was approved .

Boro Council passed an ordinance that requires knox boxes on businesses. These boxes contain entry keys. The fire department will have a master key. The anticipated value of this ordinance is to help expedite entry into buildings that are on fire and protect property so doors do not have to be broken down to gain access.

The parade ordinance was revised to grant an except for obtaining permits for gatherings of 25 persons or less for topics regarding the First Amendment. Notification of the police is all that is required for such a gathering, according to this new ordinance.

Council adjourned to executive session to discuss issues connected to the Hineline property on Main Street.

Please remember these are highlights and that minutes are posted online as well as the podcast.

Have a good one….where is the sun god???!!!!

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good News

Recently a reader forwarded this information to me and I thought it should be shared. Despite the long hard slog, there are accomplishments that we should know about given the presidential elections….

Did you know that

• 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in Iraq?
• The Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million Iraqi people?
• 3100 schools have been renovated,
• 364 schools are under rehabilitation,
• 263 new schools are now under construction and
• 38 new schools have been completed in Iraq?
• Iraq ‘s higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating?
• 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the re-established Fulbright program?
• The Iraqi Navy is operational? A. They have 5 –100-foot patrol craft, B. 34 smaller vessels and C. A naval infantry regiment.
• Iraq ‘s Air Force consists of three operational squadrons A. Which includes B. 9 reconnaissance and C. 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control), which operate day and night, D. And will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers?
• Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion? • The Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?
• There are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers every 8 weeks? • There are more than 1100 Building projects going on in Iraq? They include A. 364 schools, B. 67 public clinics, C. 15 hospitals, D. 83 railroad stations, E. 22 oil facilities, F. 93 water facilities and G. 69 electrical facilities.
• 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations? • 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?
• There are 1,192,000 Cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?
• Iraq has an independent media that consists of A. 75 radio stations, B. 180 newspapers and C. 10 television stations?
• The Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?
• 2 candidates in the Iraqi Presidential election had a televised debate recently?

OF COURSE WE DIDN’T KNOW! WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW? BECAUSE… OUR MEDIA DOESN’T WANT TO TELL US! Tragically, the lack of accurate unbiased reporting on Iraq has two effects: It undermines the world’s perception of the United States thus minimizing consequent support, and discourages American citizens. ---- Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense web site.

The above statements are attributed solely to the author…

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Good Thing and I am not Talking Martha Stewart Here

"...that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing." Thomas Jefferson

“Dear Friend,

Please allow me to share with you my concerns about Governor Corzine’s so- called asset monetization /fiscal restructuring plan also known as his toll hike/ driver’s tax scheme….

Early in January, Governor Corzine held a private briefing for legislators on his proposal. As the Governor and his Chief of Staff, former State Treasurer Bradley Abelow, rolled out the details, it became apparent how convoluted and dangerous the program will be: a seventy-five to one hundred year bonding scheme under the control of two highly paid, newly created not- for-profit boards that will borrow $41 billion dollars for both debt service and NEW spending and will cost nearly $200 billion to pay off. Further, with tolls for commercial trucking nearly tripled in the first six years, it is frightening to imagine how much traffic will be diverted to non- toll roads, like Routes 78, 80, 46 and 31 all of which run right through our District. This is simply one more consequence of the proposal that I find completely unacceptable….” (excerpt from a letter written by Assembly woman Marcia Karrow , February 11, 2008 that was distributed at the town meeting at Hunterdon Central, Wednesday, February 20, 2008)

Expanding on Asemblywoman Karrow’s concerns is that the toll hike increase on trucks and commercial vehicles will be an expense that will be passed onto the consumer in the form of higher priced consumer products. These businesses will not be absorbing these extra costs as a gesture of kindness to their customers, be assured. So the cost of living in general will also increase.

Another major fear here is establishing a state mechanism for borrowing money that is now taken out the hands of the people. The wisdom of the Founders prescribed that the power of the purse remains in the hands of the people through their elected representatives in the legislatures. We can vote the representatives out or into office as we deem fit. This mechanism for borrowing ends our power as voters to control the purse strings. I don’t know about you, but being a serf does not much appeal to me.

Now folks, there is so much wrong here I hardly know where to begin. Even in the mind of this ivory tower philosopher who avoids number crunching passionately, borrowing $41 billion to retire a debt while making more debt and paying close to $200 billion to pay off some $41 billion in the first place, only if the interest rate stays at 2 percent, mind you, for the next 75 years…well this is hardly sound business and is ironically offered by our businessman governor. Surely he jests …but he does not. This is why in a period of some 48 hours I saw about 100 people at a Border's book signing for the book dedicated to exposing the corruption in Trenton, “The “Soprano State “ and some 300 people at the Little Theater at Hunterdon Central Wednesday who are ripping angry, talking of taking to the streets with pitch forks. See for more info.

The bottom line here is that the state for several years now has been spending about $5 billion more than it has. Yet we see the spending increasing all the time. Seniors cannot afford this plan, our next generation cannot. I daresay neither can you. Yet we will be struggling with it, our children will be and so will their children. Not the hope for life we want to pass onto our offspring, is it? It says a great deal to you when a Republican delegation comes to town with little partisan talk, trying to impress on you that the ship of state is being sailed into a quagmire of unchecked debt. NJ, we have a problem. We cannot send a few soldiers into battle alone and think they will win the war against the political machinery well entrenched in Trenton that is at the root of it. These party bosses will not go quietly into the night. Assembly members, Marcia Karrow, Rick Merkt and Mike Doherty need to have the battalions of the taxpayers publicly behind them, showing this governor so cavalier with our money and our rights that we are putting our foot down.

For more information about budgets and NJ spending check ... Here, you can check government salaries and figures by municipality i.e. Flemington specifically.

There are budget cuts to be made that will not adversely affect you. Check, …click on End Government Waste.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Nature of Insanity

It all comes down to money, folks. Like power, it corrupts. But there is a little bit of insanity in the mix too…we taxpayers let it happen, shooting ourselves in the foot over and over when we vote.

Together with some friends my husband and I trekked up to the book signing at Border’s in Bridgewater to welcome and commend authors, Bob Ingle and Sandy McClure on their sell out book on the culture of corruption in NJ, “The Soprano State”. Could the timing be any better? Just as the governor’s toll hike plan has sparked our indignation, this excellent book, calling for overall reform in Trenton, is released. Ingle, political columnist for the CN and Friday afternoon guest of the Jersey Boys with his co – author Sandy McClure cite citation after citation and quip after quip about how our money is grabbed by the hands of the few and how we are cheated of the moral and diligent fiscal management we are entitled to as NJ residents. Judges, party bosses and elected officials think our hard to come by money does grow on trees. Just this morning the CN informs there is more money requested for that money pit known as Abbott. Here we see virtually no fiscal accountability for money disbursements and scant results for the BILLIONS already spent. Yet year round school, which has previously shown improvement in test score performance of migrant farm workers’ children, is not investigated to address education problems in low- income districts. We get virtually no bang for our buck with Abbott. But hey let’s just keep up the poor work here. Didn’t Einstein once say insanity was doing something over and over and expecting a different result? This is to say nothing about this obscene pension system! Would only the everyday citizen also get a pension for part-time work. Now this would be an improvement, wouldn’t it, folks?

Good News. The book signing was the most successful I have seen. There were perhaps 100 people buying and discussing and angry. Amazon is already low on the books that had just gone on sale yesterday.

This leads us to the town meeting at Central tonight about the toll hikes. It is being sponsored by a Republican delegation and they are coming to hear you. The meeting will run from 7:30-9:30 in the Little Theater off Junction Road.

Sty tuned for more on that.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Miracle of the Flying Pig

Lately in NJ we have been hearing a lot about flying pigs. Pigs generally do not fly, regardless of how NJ will eventually pay down its debts. But through the latest developments in the science of balloon-ology and the provocation of the Jersey Boys 101.5 FM, we witnessed the miracle of pigs flying over the Statehouse a few weeks ago.

Following the news, no one needs any more reasons to question the soundness of the governor’s toll hike plan so I will spare you further rants on that issue. Instead I will suggest you look into a meeting on the toll hike issue. There is one scheduled this Wednesday February 20, 7:30 – 9:30 at the Hunterdon Central Little Theater, Junction Road entrance. The meeting will be led by a Republican delegation, consisting of Assembly Republican leader Alex DeCroce, Assemblymen Mike Doherty, Richard Merkt and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande.

Here’s my pitch. We have had enough frivolous money management here in this “Soprano State” as Bob Ingle, author and political columnist for Gannett News/ the Courier News, writes regarding NJ. Note his book, “The Soprano State” hits the bookstores this week. Too many of us have had enough of the self- serving governance perpetuated by party bosses at the expense of the struggling taxpayers. The indignation of the taxpayer has been ignited, finally. Our disapproval was increasingly apparent at Governor Corzine’s town hall meetings to sell his toll hike proposal. Evidently, it takes a lot to get the taxpayer from his armchair complaints to a meeting. I think we are there. I hope this taxpayer backlash is the beginning of reform within NJ. Enough is enough already. It is high time to slash the benefits and perks for part time work that takes the ordinary taxpayer a lifetime of work to accrue and then watch as corporate America slashes these promised benefits for their retirees. It is an unacceptable state of affairs when our the younger generation must now choose between home or family because their dream of having both is financially out of reach while party bosses lavish themselves and their friends with our revenues through pay to play. It doesn’t grow on trees, folks. These are only a few taxpayer complaints.

It is time for us to collectively put our foot down...demand accountability and scrutinize…what happens in Trenton is felt around the state. In one way or another, it comes out of our purse. Your presence there lets our elected representatives know that we care about what they do with our money, we expect them to be responsible with our tax money and we will remember in the voting booth.

Hunterdon Central, 7:30 PM this coming Wednesday...let us start down a new path in our history, demanding fiscal responsibility… come if you can and help promote this change…

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Water 201: Solutions

As the discussion continues, attempting to address our limited water supply in Flemington, Boro council

-has imposed water restrictions that right now are not too bothersome---no watering lawns or running sprinklers, filling up pools. These restrictions are enforceable with penalties such as fines.

Boro council also

-seeks to find new wells, and

-hopes to reduce arsenic levels and bring them into compliance with new state guidelines. This will require building treatment plants that will process our well water, and

- over the last year has plugged underground leaks.

What can we do?

Councilman Gorman suggests that we be diligent with our water usage by

-fixing our leaky faucets

-apartment dwellers also notifying their landlords about leaky faucets…if the landlord does not fix it, residents should report the leak to Boro Hall, 782- 8840.

-replacing our commodes with low water volume /high pressure commodes, and

-reporting unusual running water to Boro Hall, 782-8840. See below regarding disappearing water.

Old commodes use 4-gallons/flush and the new low volume ones use 1.6 gallons/ flush. Therefore, the low volume commodes save 2.4 gallons of water/flush. Five flushes per day saves 12 gallons of water per day, 84 gallons a week, 336 gallons a month, 4,032 gallons per year. At 5 flushes a day per each family member, a family of 4 roughly conserves 16,128 gallons a year. High pressure/ low water volume commodes are a very easy and painless way to conserve water in the Boro. They will certainly keep cost down if we do not have to buy additional water from the American Water Company. And these commodes are not very expensive and are a home improvement that will pay for themselves.

Finally we have disappearing water. This is water that pours out from leaky underground pipes and is not registered on our meters. Flemington must reduce the amount of disappearing water to 10% of its supply. Here’s how we Flemingtonians can help. Anytime you are out walking or jogging and you see a water source or flow that is not usually there, call Boro Hall immediately at 782-8840 and report it. It may be a leaky underground pipe. The water department will be alerted and investigate it. Last year Boro council began plugging underground leaks that resulted in preserving a significant amount of our water. This is an ongoing project because our pipes deteriorate over time. This is another way we can conserve our precious resource.

I believe “Gardener Supply” catalog still sells rain barrels to collect rainwater that we can use on our plants. Every little bit of conservation helps here.

For further water saving tips checkout….

There are other water issues that Councilman Gorman apprised me of and I will inform as we go along here. Let’s give a tip of our hats to Councilman Gorman for giving the Boro his time and his invaluable experience and expertise on these water issues. Councilman Gorman was recently inducted by the NJ State League of Municipalities into its Elected Officials Hall of Fame, marking his 20 years of service in an elected office. Councilman Gorman has served on Boro Council for 21 years. Congratulations!

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Water 101: Problems

I don’t want to say how long a time it’s been since I sat pencil in hand taking notes but that is how it was as I sat for an hour with Councilman John Gorman this week trying to get a handle on the water situation in Flemington.

My interest was piqued at the re-org when Mayor Hauck announced that this year we would be discussing the exalted subject of high pressure/low volume commodes. We have reached new heights here in Flemington.

Seriously though, we Flemingtonians have known for some time that we have water problems that we need to address. The two main issues are supply and arsenic levels. Today I will focus on supply.

In the 1960’s Flemington evidently got its water from the South Branch River. For various reasons that source was deemed unacceptable in the 1980’s and Flemington dug its own wells. Flemington currently has five operant wells that feed into the blue water tower on Shields Avenue. Each night that tower is filled from these wells to approximately 1,000,000 gallons/day. Daily, we use between 600,000 to 700,000 gallons of water. The aim is to keep the water tower at least half full in order to assure there is enough water and water pressure. The demands on the water supply are increasing with increased building in Flemington and regulations made since 9/11 by Homeland Security. Homeland Security requires Flemington to be able to supply water should our best well be unavailable. Furthermore, no longer a matter of digging a well at our pleasure, the state now has rules and ‘regs’ that we must adhere to in order to begin digging another well. It is a time consuming process merely to get state approval now.

Thrown into the mix, according to “The Economist” is the global movement afoot in which a few companies are attempting to buy up water supplies and set in motion with water what we have seen with oil, namely the resources concentrated in the hands of the few and for all practical purposes controlled by these companies. So it is not optimistic to think we will continue to have the luxury of cheap water for decades.

Stay tuned for Water 201: Solutions

Monday, February 11, 2008

Boro Council Meeting

Just a few quick comments here.

During work session Richard Higgins did a marvelous presentation on railways and Flemington with fantastic graphics and excellent commentary. Noting the advantages of rail travel for students, seniors, the disabled and tourists, he drew the lines and connected the dots about tracks already laid down and those needed to be added for continuity. The immediate concern is of course parking. Folks, right now this is a back burner issue maybe on our wish list, more or less, but it is how new ideas get explored. A tip of the hat to Mr. Higgins for such interest and the work he did to make this informative presentation.

The budget meeting was held on Saturday and department heads presented their budgets for explanation and review. The next one will be held Saturday, February 23 at 8:00 AM at Boro Hall. All are invited to attend.

Reports were given.

Red Vanilla on Main Street is opening its doors on February 20.

Boro Council is exploring the idea of hosting a bike race.

Several ordinances were updated and moved.

The meeting was short and productive.

For more details please check the minutes on

Stay tuned.

On Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are perhaps the two freedoms that safeguard us best from the possibility of a too strong central government. We can express ourselves and we can report openly. Each of us has these freedoms and is entitled to engage in them at will. Despite the views expressed, elected officials are to uphold these freedoms for all as they execute the oath of office they take to uphold the Constitution.

Not having paid for our freedoms, many Americans treat them cheaply. These days our guaranteed freedoms are under attack, as I have never before witnessed. Our president for instance has tried to hamper free speech through manipulation---if you oppose the war, you are unpatriotic. And the price we have paid for that manipulation! This is one of devastating effects of suffocating free speech, trying to thwart others from expressing their views through negative labels, name calling.

Free speech has its limitations…you are not so free as to yell “Fire “ in crowded theatres as a prank, for example, and you are not allowed to make libelous or slanderous statements. These are against the law and of course people can take someone to court over such ugly activities. Libelous and slanderous statements violate moral law also because they are deliberate attempts to malign someone's reputation.

What hides behind this attempt to manipulate people to surrender some of their birthright and relinquish their freedom of speech is the attempt of some people to control others and validate themselves at the expense of tolerance and diversity. Stifling diversity in the name of diversity is hypocrisy.

If one cannot live peaceably and respectfully with divergent views, the words “I am an American”, from the president to the everyday citizen, are without meaning--- have no application.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Treats for the Sweet

" They do not love that do not show their love." William Shakespeare

What better way to show your love than with chocolate, the food of the gods. By open admission I am a chocaholic so I have a special place in my heart for holidays that center on chocolate. Here comes one this week, Valentine’s Day. Already I have made the trek to the red barn shaped Fudge Shop on Route 202 South in Flemington, a hub for chocolate delights that I have frequented for years. Here is my first line of defense to appease the craving. The Fudge Shop prepares much of its candy and does wonderful things with chocolate molds. One Valentine favorite is the heart shaped, chocolate shell filled with more chocolate candy. It comes in milk chocolate or dark in different sizes. You really need sweet tooth to meet this challenge.

The young man who waited on me this time around told me that on the day immediately preceding Valentine’s Day the Fudge Shop serves several hundred customers and even more around Easter. It’s easy to believe given that the shop does its own traffic control on Route 202 at times around these holidays. The chocolate displays are awesome with their molds and decorative red heart boxes in various and sundry sizes. And there are the chocolate covered fruits--- berries and pineapple that tempt you all the more. You cannot go wrong here.

Still I have also fallen for those Harry and David truffles you can snap up at Liberty Village…moist and creamy and reasonably priced as opposed to those exorbitantly priced Godiva’s. Years ago when my husband heard the price of a box of Godiva chocolates his response was---“I want to eat these not worship them”.

The movie “Chocolat” starring Johnny Depp opposite Juliette Binoche popularizes the tangy ingredient added to chocolate that seems to make it an aphrodisiac. The town’s people who frequent the newly opened chocolate shop have only one thing on their minds after a few bites. Whether it works or not, Lindt has a chocolate bar " infused with red chili ". And that little’s not bad. Not bad at all.

Now you know, it’s good for you, this dark chocolate. It is filled with those anti-oxidants that keep you heart healthy. Those lovely serotonins just blossom after a chocolate fix. That’s this year’s take on chocolate anyway.

Hearts and flowers and sweets for the sweet, where would we be without chocolate? Didn’t Ben Franklin say something like we know God loves us because He made chocolate?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Stay tuned.