Thursday, January 31, 2008

Main Street News and Blues and Whistles

Even though we still have Pfaltzgraff and Lenox with super great buys, no doubt we shoppers were unhappy to see Mikasa close it doors… but good news… peeping out the windows of the abandoned Mikasa building are Red Vanilla banners … …the shop with flavor… and through the windows there seems to be movement afoot within…

Red Vanilla is a home goods store enterprise that I never heard of… but low and behold in my “Tuesday Morning” flyer yesterday, it too is advertising closeout Red Vanilla merchandise….

So I am thinking Red Vanilla has hit Flemington...I do not have an opening date.

AND further good news… The Shoppes at Flemington being built behind McDonalds are well underway. The target date for opening, last I heard was, to be in time for the Christmas shopping season of 2008.

This shopping center will have ---New York & Co., Talbots, Payless, Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Limited too, Coldwater Creek to name a few…

The strip center next to the train tracks is gone…What’s happening there, I wonder?

On a slightly different note, Main Street continues to be more traveled in the early evening, with bike traffic and throngs of young people congregating by Bucks’ County Coffee House. I know I am still a ‘newbie” here just being a resident only twenty years but I do remember the days when Flemington police patrolled Main Street on foot. I do not see them nearly as often as I used to. But in light of the increase in activity, biker traffic and regular traffic around Main Street, especially in the evening, perhaps it would be a good idea to see more police presence, particularly around dusk when it seems so busy.

And BTW: Speaking of police presence, isn’t it wonderful to see Officer Chris Foley’s great smile again after that dreadful motorcycle accident this summer? I saw him for a few minutes after Boro Council a few weeks ago and he says he is feeling pretty good. Looks terrific and welcome back.

We have a spanking new fire truck still in the process of getting its bells and whistles as Mayor Hauck informs. It arrived a few weeks ago with Mayor Hauck and former Councilman Phil Greiner, former fire commissioner, there on hand as it drove down Park Avenue to its new home.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Wednesday night @ 9:39 PM…

FYI: Just finished watching the Reagan Library Republican Presidential Debate, CNN, moderated by Anderson Cooper on Patmedia channel 38.

Mitt Romney, John McCain, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee were the candidates who participated. It was a fairly meaty debate with the heel nipping at minimum, except for a tiff over “timetables” and Huckabee being shortchanged question -wise...and he was. All in all you should get good a feel on where the candidates stand on energy, greening, Iraq, the economy, health care and immigration. The candidates do take positions, surprise!

The Democratic debate will be on the same station on Thursday at 8:00 o’clock PM.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Knight in Shining Armor Syndrome

Honoring a request, I attended and spoke at the board of education meeting at Hillsborough Monday evening on random drug testing. A more gracious board of education you could not ask for. Many, many comments I have heard repeatedly over the years but here are a few I want to address.

It was only a very small minority but it was new to me to hear that drug testing is just the wave of the future. Just don’t give it a thought. No qualms about its effectiveness. I was sad to witness Americans abandon the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, few though they were. I do not have the patience for people with so little regard for the Constitution. As Ben Franklin says, they do not deserve it.

Personal surveillance technology will continue to march forward and invading our privacy will be less intrusive or personally repugnant, although I think the students who are marched before their peers to the nurse’s office to give urine samples will not feel it is not a repugnant experience. Just because it is not deemed so intrusive, is it any the less the suspicion-less search that the 4th Amendment is intended to prevent? Where will we draw the line?

The second is a point I hear repeatedly--- that parents fail so the school should step in. Let me start out by noting that I respect the education my daughters received at Hunterdon Central and I know that Hillsborough too is fine school district. But are educators the knights in shining armor they believe they are? Too often educators take on the air of superiority when telling parents that they see these clueless parents and they, more wise educators, can address these failures. Then all will be well. When schools take on the job of parenting, all they are doing is enabling slacker parents to slack off all the more, or to feel more incompetent. As a parent I say, these drug- abusing students have been in your care, educators, for very significant periods of time too. Maybe the failure here is equally yours and ours to share. So please be careful with the knight in shining armor syndrome.

To those who have suffered loss due to drug abuse, my heart goes out to you, however schools do not serve the students and their needs with a program that does not work. Random drug testing, stripped of all the emotion and wishful thinking, has been demonstrated to be ineffective by the comprehensive University of Michigan study that was released some nine months after the Joye vs. Hunterdon Central decision was rendered. It is not courageous to adopt such a program. It is foolish. Schools districts can pilot a voluntary program and evaluate it for themselves.

Hunterdon Central out-muscled its parents by telling us that random drug testing would be the beginning of the end of the problem here. It was vital to our salvation given the results of a survey selected and underwritten by Roche, a drug company, that stands to profit from en masse testing. Now Central back peddles telling us that it makes the school have a nicer atmosphere, more manageable. What a come down. On the flip side, schools also take parents to court to force them to put their children on drugs like Ritalin, very often just rambunctious little boys. So we put them on drugs at the school’s behest and then we test them later down the road in order that things go easier at school. There is something very wrong here, everyone’s dependence on drugs to get what they want.

Ninety six percent of pain patients do not get psychologically addicted to pain medications, even if they are physically dependent and need to be weaned off of them slowly to avoid the side effects of withdrawal. The overwhelming majority of students are not drug abusers. This shows that drugs are not simply an untamable temptress whose lure cannot be withstood. Substance abuse is a reflection of serious loneliness and emotional disconnect. The baby boomers have shifted from a child -centered culture to the “me “centered culture. Our children’s favorite toys--- the Internet and computer games, IPods, TV’s in their bedrooms--- are our technological babysitters. They push our children into further emotional disconnect and isolation day after day, hour after hour.

Our children are from split homes expected to deal with the loss of affection and stability that comes with rampant divorce. Our children are alone with working parents, too many times not needing the money but out there fulfilling themselves. They shower their children with material goods and the enlightened expectation that these children live up their potential, whatever that may mean. Students today are unmannerly or anti social. We see fourth grade students with migraines and pulling out their hair---little fourth graders. There is abject cruelty in light of the pressure to perform these children contend with today.

Our children are manifesting every manner of stress reaction thinkable. Suicide, cutting, substance abuse, eating disorders, pregnancy and promiscuity, cheating, rudeness. Parents are the demonstrated anti- drug. We can fix this. But instead of having our undivided attention, personal warmth, time and presence, supervision and rules, instead of cultivating the emotional bonds and connection and our protection, the boundaries our children can rely on, we want to offer them the comfort of a testing cup. It is simple. We can stay detached, mechanical and isolated while testing makes adults feel good and responsible, no matter that it does not work. We are detached and isolated from them too. You see, it is the drug that is to blame, temptress that it is, not us or our priorities. We are at its mercy, so very helpless. Baloney. How wrong can we be in addressing this problem? We can continue to ignore the devastating effects of the “me” culture by implementing a program that is shown not to have any effect while ignoring the answer that is evident. We can sidestep the long, hard slog. But in the end we cannot fool Mother Nature. Love, nurturing, emotional fulfillment that are basic human needs necessary to be met to have healthy children will never be realized by providing a testing cup.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bulletin Board

Thought for the day: " The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. " Theodore Roosevelt

January 28, 2008

-Boro council meeting is tonight. Work session begins at 7:00 o’clock. The regular meeting starts at 7:30. Those who wish to be heard regarding watering the planters should be sure to attend. Boro council seems very responsive to citizen issues so I am sure the trip will be worth your while. My opinion: If the issue is money, I hope Boro council finds a way to water the planters. Main Street could use more polishing not less. To invite business Main Street needs to be decked out…and if we could only do something about the appearance of those circles!?

-The State of the Union address is at 9:00 o’clock tonight. Please take the time and have the patience to listen and see whatever we shall see or hear. My opinion: The union is in deep distress, both at home and abroad. Thankfully, this is President Bush’s last address. He landed in stormy waters not all of his making but sailed us into other dangerous storms of his making. May the next master and commander be more seasoned in navigating us through stormy waters and lead us to calmer ones, at home and abroad.

-Please stay with the Lonegan issue. The corruption in Trenton with double dipping and pay to play in this failing economy is unconscionable enough but now there is reason to think under Governor Corzine's administration there is abuse and manipulation of our rights as American citizens as well. Steve Lonegan wants a federal probe into the matter. Maybe that's not such a bad idea.

See “Corzine critic says AG investigating him”

Bob Ingle who blogs “On Politics” for the Courier News makes some more interesting revelations here. See his post “ Are Corzine’s pig and pony shows stacked?” Seems the governor may be manipulating the questions during his town meetings on his toll hike, shades of Hillary and the Iowa caucus a few weeks ago. If so, Lonegan’s complaints about his right to dissent being violated seem all the more poignant and credible. My opinion: Folks, we must be vigilant and express our condemnation. Our Constitution is not going to be preserved by Tinkerbell throwing around her magic fairy dust. If Governor Corzine is cutting constitutional corners, he will do so until we “just say no”.

Visit Bob Ingle through the Courier News website,, Opinion section. Just click on his picture, below yours truly.

The Jersey Boys, 101.5 FM, are also hot on Governor Corzine’s trail here.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


To Boro Council

Please note comments under post "Save our Planters".


Friday, January 25, 2008

Save our Planters

I am sure I speak for many when I compliment Mrs. Edna Pedrick and her committee, the Beautification Committee, for their work beautifying Main Street. Every season the giant planters lining Main Street get a fresh arrangement of plants or flowers appropriate to the season. Of course to flourish, these planters need to be watered on a regular basis. Evidently the Department of Public Works will no longer water these planters and Mrs. Pedrick is looking for a way to address the problem. We do not want to lose this lovely d├ęcor on Main Street.

Please attend the Boro council meeting this Monday, January 28, 2008 at 7:00 o’clock at Boro Hall to show your support and help brainstorm to find a way to deal with this problem.

This meeting was cited in the ”Democrat” this week as being held on January 29. Mayor Hauck confirmed that it will not be held on January 29. The meeting will be held at the usual time on Monday, January 28.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Step in the Wrong Direction

"Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither."
Benjamin Franklin

One of the jobs of a nation’s schools is to educate its offspring in the values of that nation, entrusting them to the upcoming generation in order that these nationalistic values will be understood, cherished and preserved through word and deed. When I was a young student, I learned about the US Constitution. I learned Western history and came to realize that this simple document evolved after centuries of thought, debate, revolutions and bloodshed. Then French UN ambassador and now current prime- minister, Dominique de Villepin, was wrong when he argued before the UN Security Council during the build up to the Iraq war that democracy should not come through bloodshed. Democracy comes from those people who willingly sacrifice their lives in its name. Our Founders and centuries of their predecessors and successors have suffered and bled and died for the principles and protections spelled out in our Constitution. I was pretty much an ”A” student. I bought it all , hook, line and sinker.

Freedom of speech and the right to assemble are such important tenets of a free society that they are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, America’s version of human rights. Yet we have a US president who tries to disrupt the right to assemble and protest the war in Iraq, who accuses those who question his policies of being traitors. Today we read about a NJ mayor being arrested as he protested against the proposed toll hikes offered by our governor.

“Protecting Free Speech Demands Vigilance”


Too often in this new millennium when there are differing views, instead of having the benefit of debaters walking each other down a path that is rich with reason and issues resolved in favor of the common good (i.e. two heads are better than one), we may see overtly aggressive tactics to thwart debate, such as arresting Mayor Lonegan, removing dissenters from view. There are more subtle tactics to stifle dissent, lazy ones. Sometimes folks resort to labeling those they disagree with to discourage them from speaking. Dissent is dismissed out of hand because the label rather than reason is supposed to justify dismissing another point of view. The disdain ignited by the use of labels justifies the objection to a viewpoint the way the Jets and Sharks in “West Side Story “ justified turf wars by labeling each other with condescending terms like ”mick”, “spic” or "Polack”. A seemingly denigrating term is thrown at someone as if it were a full-blown argument for a position in and of itself, lazy debate. "Micks" and "Spics", Jets and Sharks, Republicans and Democrats land us mindlessly in the antagonistic worlds of them vs. us. Using the labels, calling people names, we all lose here just like “West Side Story”.

It is not just protecting freedom of speech that needs vigilance. Nowadays Americans must show vigilance in protecting the entire Constitution, particularly our most personal rights as human beings---our rights to privacy, assembly, freedom to practice religion, to dissent. Elected officials swear to uphold the Constitution. I hope Governor Corzine did with respect to Mayor Lonegan's rights. The governor must now convince me though. When elected officials do not obey the oath they take to uphold the Constitution, citizens must see to it that there are consequences.

Abiding by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is not optional. Violating the Constitution is against the law. Those who observe it are simply Americans doing nothing more than rightfully exercising their American birthright bought and paid for with another's blood. Perhaps that is why the document is so cheap to us today. It costs us nothing. So we must be very careful to realize that maneuvering to sidestep the Constitution is not enlightenment. It does not progress us to a better place. It is a regression backwards to the place people fought to escape throughout history. People are still fighting doing so in order to step forward.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Food for thought.

See Lou Dobbs “Our Leaders Have Squandered our Wealth”

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Sad Saga of School Financing

A few weeks ago Governor Corzine set in motion yet another school funding formula.

Where do I begin to tell the story?

Here is where I came in. Roughly speaking some 30 years ago or so our state Supreme Court judged that school funding based on property taxes was inherently unfair and failed to meet the state standard of thorough and efficient education as mandated by state code. What to do? What to do? This issue is of course intimately intertwined with the Abbott court case that followed in the ‘ 90’s, again about the equitable distribution of monies for education.

Well, I recall after that first court ruling that the Atlantic City casinos were sold to a skeptical New Jersey public as a source of generating revenues for these under financed schools as well as generating revenues for senior citizens. After all, those pushing these projects needed to overcome the great fear that sin would overtake us all and “the mob” would be now be legitimized with bona fide businesses. Viva AC or Sodom and Gomorrah, depending on your faith. What better way to appease the skeptics than to give these monies over to the dear underprivileged children or grandma? What happened to these monies?

Let me guess. The bulk of the taxed revenues does not go to school districts or our seniors. In fact it seems that some senior income more or less finds its way into the slot machines. More vice versa than what we were sold. Probably the only the truth is that Atlantic City was re-vitalized and offered many new job opportunities that were sorely needed.

Next came the Abbott ruling and millions and millions of dollars were poured into specified school districts that were to have the same per pupil dollars that more wealthy municipalities bestowed on their students. The money was gathered and spent…on limousines for school board members to attend board meetings in Newark and the like. Not that all districts were so corrupt. My younger daughter works in an Abbott district that took some very constructive steps such as reducing the student to guidance counselor ratio and adding a resource center to teach parents the math the teachers were teaching their children. But there was corruption. Millions of our tax dollars were wasted. Those who pushed for Abbott did not take responsibility for seeing that the money was used wisely. Students were not educated.

And what do you know? After all the money thrown at it, quality education is still not achieved. So enter President Bush with “No Child Let Behind”. Manufactured by those not in education, it has had mixed results. Untested, it was mandated nationwide with no piloting. High performing districts and under performing ones are both subject to it. Here is the bottom line as I hear from the teachers’ mouths. They are spending an inordinate amount of the teaching time with lowest performing students at the expense of all their students and they are teaching to the test. Good teachers are leaving the profession in frustration. Cooperating teachers are not accepting student teachers because they may lose time to teach to the test. State tests are being “dumbed” down so schools do not lose funding. This is an improvement?

This new NJ funding scheme is supposed to make the distribution of monies still more equitable by attaching the money to the child via school lunch free lunch program, as I understand it. First reports are that it will squeeze money from the pockets of districts very much in need. Sounds like a reasonable objection. Do these lawmakers really know what they are doing regarding improving education on a grand scale?

Amid much housing development in Raritan Township, years ago Flemington Raritan underwent a massive growth spurt. The school district, despite just finishing the construction of the Desmares school, was faced with needing yet another elementary school and probably middle school. A member of the Flemington Raritan District Advisory suggested the committee investigate year round school as a cost effective means of dealing with the persistently increasing tax burden. I served on that excellent committee and learned that year round school did in fact increase test performance because the year round schedule kept students in rough areas in school year round. It was also cost effective because as the population waxed and waned, the schedule prevented the need for new schools to be built and then abandoned.

The citizens here soundly rejected the proposal and went for the money-spending route. We now have two new schools, Everrits Road and the new middle school. And maybe we can afford that luxury here and this is an excellent school district that does not need major overhaul. But I cannot help but think areas like Trenton and Camden and Newark are not just ideals places for year round school to be adopted for not only the cost cutting benefits but for the social one of keeping the students in the school environment year round.

If only our state Constitution mandated our legislators operate in a thorough and efficient manner, living up to their the full potential when addressing this concern about education. Maybe we would see more innovation if we withheld our legislators salaries the way “No Child Left Behind” withholds funding from under performing school districts.

In the absence of any real pressure on our legislators to perform to their full potential, New Jersey will no doubt in due time have another school funding formula and students who still cannot do addition.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Are We Losing the Dream That Dr. King Dreamed?

" I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ' We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal '." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born in Newark and raised across the Passaic River in Kearney, I knew Newark before and after the 1967 riots. I worked and shopped downtown, as we referred to Newark. So I had frequently traveled through Central Avenue and the Third Ward, the home of the projects. These would be housing projects built by the government to provide more decent housing for the black community but ultimately turned into a hub of crime and I believe were eventually abandoned. The intentions of President Johnson's "The Great Society"were good.

During the days of rioting, I saw the National Guard roll out of the Newark Armory, jeep after jeep, into its streets. During and after the riots, I saw these soldiers with their rifles not slung over their shoulders but cradled in the crook of their elbows as they patrolled from roofs of apartment and office buildings. Here the impoverished morality of racism and its consequences gripped you. You could not escape it. It was something for this somewhat inexperienced woman to see: our soldiers poised to shoot…at people… as we moved about the city.

The 1960’s was a time of change and activism. The insistence to end racism was certainly one of the’60’s better legacies. Those who instigate for change are responsible for seeing that the change is for the better. Perhaps we '60's people have not done the best of work on other things we tackled. I am haunted by the concern that some of what we changed did not bring America to a better place. Today through the evolution of thought from the ‘60’s, our deeper moral codes have given way to a shallow political correctness. Instead of having courage of our convictions, treating others the way we want to be treated or being honest, we have buff body image and taking our Valtrex to prevent the spread STD’s as the moral virtues of the new millennium. A lot of us no longer seem willing to suffer inconvenience or discomfort to uphold American principles.

Instead of one of the most educated generations yielding diverse thought, we practice group- think from the university level to the marketplace. Deeper moral principles are permitted to falter and flounder because through the social pressure to be politically correct, we must surrender our moral autonomy to the one and only correct point of view, as if it were some sort of unchallengeable given. There is no questioning the president lest we be deemed traitors. Individual expression is no longer hailed. We are now an evolving collective, a trait we once abhored about communism.

Along with China, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, the US has been recently added as a torture site to a Canadian manual that was submitted to Amnesty International.
Did we take to the streets over Abu Ghraib or the torture issue in general or over the constitutionally dubious wiretapping until we prevailed? Now the CIA has destroyed tapes of harsh interrogations. There will be a hearing. Yawn.

In the ‘60’s our leaders inspired by their hearts with word and deed. Today, we have the inspiration of spin and spin- doctors. I wonder--- do we still have those hot- blooded American citizens who just insisted on changin’ the bad times? Can we be bothered to do the right thing, not the easy thing? Would American citizens push for racial equality today with the same intensity we did 40 years ago?

When he delivered his signature address, Dr. Martin Luther King perhaps did speak to the largest demonstration for freedom our nation had ever witnessed. In a dangerous climate through immense personal suffering, Bible in hand, he worked to unite blacks and whites with the dignity of the principles of love and forgiveness. After his death I witnessed a little of the stunning grief of his supporters in Newark as they marched in disbelief. It was indescribable. The sadness was suffocating at times. Not only does Dr. King deserve honor but so do the peaceful principles he invoked to change the course of our history. So do the courageous Americans who stood with him deserve honor. Still, I fear his death ended an era when people felt a personal obligation to protect America and the ideals it bespeaks at home and worldwide. There was a time when we all felt we should defend our country by demanding it follow through on its principles, no uniform required. I am concerned that the American dream Dr. King dreamed for all people may be in jeopardy.

To hear and see once again the “I have a Dream “speech visit

Click under UTube, lower left hand corner.

Or, read it at

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Update on Random Drug Testing

On the off chance that some of my readers are still following the discussion on random drug testing of students, while cleaning off my desk, I have just re- located this article of interest, "Study Finds No Sign That Testing Deters Students Drug Use." by Greg Winter.

It was printed in the NewYork Times on May 17, 2003.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Conflict within the Gem

"The true test of the first rate mind is the ability to hold contradictory ideas at the same time." F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love Flemington but I cannot say it was love at first site. Our family landed here in the throes of one of those corporate moves. We had resided in Houston for 10 years during the 1980’s oil boom that had seen Houston transform itself into one of the hottest spots on the US map. My daughters are Texans. But to stay employed we had to uproot and return to NJ, AT&T corporate headquarters. Like most parents we shopped school districts. Through the AT&T office grapevine the corporate brethren had informed us that Flemington had good schools. So we snapped up the only house we could afford in Flemington and settled in on West Road about 20 years ago. Here we faced the adjustment of going from Houston, an exciting new metropolis that took an hour to travel from end to end, to the then one traffic light hamlet of Flemington. For all the glitz and glitter Houston had to offer, you never saw anyone you knew if you went for a walk. Actually, if you went for a walk, you were threatened with heatstroke. True, there was great Texas beef, ---kicking music like Cotton-Eyed Joe, those tall, hunky, bruiser cowboys in their jeans and cowboy boots and hats. There is the incomparable, billowy, blue Texas sky but there are no foliage displays or change of seasons. Houston is hot and hotter. If it snowed a dusting’s worth, Interstate Highway 10 looked more like a demolition derby. So much concrete, hot and steamy after the rains. And those roaches, those Texas roaches! Flemington offered retreat into an intimate community and continuity in the lush green landscape of Hunterdon County, away from the maddening crowd.

On the one hand, Houston was basking in its growth and the opportunity to change into whatever it could, loving every minute of it. It was aglow with anticipation in how it could become more than it ever had been. On the other hand, Flemington, with its several generations of residents, rightly so was basking very much in its past and history, preserving what it loves about itself for the future generations.

I had tasted the excitement that the evolving world offered. Not love at first site, Flemington for me was a bit more of an acquired taste, more a love that grows after taking the time to see its subtleties, the rich texture of life in a community of people who take the time and make the effort to really care about you and about the borough, from its Boro council to its tireless cadre of volunteers like our firemen and Shade Tree Commission. Flemington functions like a brotherhood of sorts, at times fighting and squabbling like a family but still quick to help and assist, neighbor to neighbor and resident to resident, as we again witnessed with the outpouring of assistance after the Hunter Hills fire a few weeks ago. We Flemingtonians are not anonymous. In a myriad of ways so many of us are personally devoted to this little slice of Norman Rockwell Americana that embodies the very necessary humanistic qualities, albeit today often sidelined, that make it a stable community in which to raise a child. Now I too would not rush to change much about Flemington.

Life’s experience tells me that other cities should change to be more Flemington-esque. Other municipalities could benefit by adopting our ways such as the informality and personal touches we have at Boro council meetings, for instance. There everyone can speak and there everyone will be answered by a council member. This is no doubt the dream some Founder dreamed once upon a time.

But we, Flemington residents, are conflicted. We read the newspapers and catch the news. We can see globally how detrimental it is to a culture to rally to the past and not welcome or open our hearts and minds to the future. In the end nature mandates that we grow and adapt or we will surely deteriorate and die off. Flemington needs economic enhancement. In the face of developer’s aspirations for Main Street, we need to review our master plan. Flemington needs to preserve its environment and resources like our water. We cannot leave Flemington bereft of the opportunities that can better and protect the lives of its residents. So the question becomes---How do we the people of Flemington accommodate change while not ruffling the feathers of its beautiful plumage? Or put another way, those who are reluctant to change must be sure they are not crushing the pearls that will secure a continued good future for the residents of Flemington and those who champion and facilitate change must be sure they are not crushing the time-tested pearls of Flemington’s success. Never should we reduce Flemington to the level of a problem that needs to be fixed. It is a gem of a place to live. From time to time ,we just may need to buff it up here and there to shine all the brighter.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


A re-cap of Monday's Boro council meeting can be found in the "Comments" section of the last post, "Tuesday Humor". It is in response to a comment posted by "lit n up".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday Humor

This post is dedicated to Mediumpetey, my most dedicated blogger and to “lit n up” for that great handle.

MP, with respect to your penchant for humor, the material is mine but feel free to use it. It is at God’s expense but I doubt He would mind, good- natured “Joe” that He is.

Creation Humor

So there God is on His day off, like anyone else trying to unwind with a round of golf with Peter and Michael and Gabriel. Taking His sweet time God gets to the third hole and swings mightily. The ball winds up in a sand trap. The Lord meanders over. After taking in the view, the Lord starts to swing away. Sand sprays all around and onto to Peter’s brand new robes but Peter rather likes the Lord and patiently cuts Him some slack. When the dust settles a little, in the far distance the foursome sees some newly formed land. They shrug and let the Lord continue away as the sand swirls around them, getting all of them dusty even more. But then again they look hither and yon and now this new land- mass is divided into mountains and valleys. To their consummate relief, the Lord finally dislodges the ball onto a nice fairway and the game resumes. Finally, sighs Peter in relief, brushing himself off. Then more trouble. On the seventh hole the Lord lands His ball in the water. Let the spraying begin, thinks Peter. The Lord swings away, stroke after stroke. In the clearing the foursome can see rivers and oceans streaming and roaring through the newly designed land- mass. Then the Lord raises His club to dislodge the ball. Standing there in his new wet robes wet, Peter sees no relief in sight. Peter grabs the Lord by His arm before the Lord can swing and demands to know: “Are You gonna’ play golf or just fool around here?”
(Source: Frank Previte, avid golfer)

And…more creation humor

It was one of those great sunny days and always being interested in what we humans are up to, Yahweh accepted an invitation from some scientists to spend the afternoon catching up on their latest developments. They were sitting around in the grass with Yahweh, who was relaxing lazily against an ancient oak. They were just about to adjourn for cocktails when one of the scientists tells Yahweh that scientists think they too can create man. Now all ears, Yahweh really perks up and leans forward. Yes, the scientist continues as he explains that they have discovered DNA and so many of its secrets and can now even clone. I mean really what else is there to it?

“Well this is indeed news”, Yahweh agrees. “Care to make it interesting?” the Lord challenges. The scientist says sure. “First, let’s see what you can do”, Yahweh begins, “I’ll make a man and then you make one.” And the scientists eagerly agree to Yahweh’s plan, anxious to demonstrate their new prowess. So Yahweh reaches down and lifts up a fistful of dirt and molds and squeezes and, viola`, there He produces man. “Your turn”, Yahweh says as He leans back into the tree again. The Lord invites the scientist to try his hand at it. So one scientist places his hand on the ground. Immediately Yahweh leans forward and puts His Hand over the scientist’s hand, preventing him from scooping up any dirt. Leaning very close to the surprised scientist, Yahweh looks him directly in the eye with that divine magnetism penetrating the scientist to the core. “Make your own dirt,” said the Lord with a gleam in His eye.
(Source: Sarah Greiner)

For more humor…see…. See the Dentist. This was passed on by a good friend.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

From Opportunity to Entitlement

" Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. "
President John F. Kennedy

For me it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. On behalf of two inmates from Kentucky on death row, this week Washington attorney, Donald Verilli, argued before the US Supreme Court that death by lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment if the injection is improperly administered. Such improper administration of the three drug procedure can result in excruciating pain for the prisoner, he asserted.

Commenting on the case, a Rutgers law student notes we should be allowed to die with dignity. We are entitled in other words to die with dignity. I am with Dr. Gregory House (TV Show-"House") on this one. There is pretty much nothing dignified about death. Under the best of circumstances death can be painful, harsh, humiliating and undignified. Did these murderers feel any obligation to commit dignified, pain free murders? The best way to avoid a painful execution is not to murder anyone. How does some unattainable goal transform into an entitlement?

NJ has just eliminated the death penalty in favor of life imprisonment without parole. Do you hear what I hear? I hear the phantom voice of the “lifer” who says he is entitled to a violence free prison.

Then there is the case of the outsourced wombs.

Some Americans are using Indian women to bear their children for a fee. In America, which has made childbearing a market product, we have the sense that because we want children we are entitled to them. Some have the audacity to argue that outsourcing their pregnancy is a way to help these less fortunate women financially. Really? Make a donation. Support the Grameen Bank if you are inclined to help less fortunate women financially. Don’t prostitute them to the risky business of child bearing. On the flip side, being masters of their bodies entitles women to get rid of children that they no longer want to bear. Women may be masters of their own bodies but it does not follow from that that women are the masters of the body they carry. How does what we want become something we are entitled to?

Our American sense of entitlement spills across the border. The influx of Hispanics, a virtual weaponless invasion of sorts, brings with it a new attitude. One not seen in previous immigrants. Some of these folks see no problem with arriving here illegally and partaking of the benefits Americans work hard hours to accrue. They are entitled. They do lot like being reminded they broke the law of the land. What have they done wrong by entering America at will? Why is someone entitled to what another has just because he wants or even needs it?

Our current administration is entitled to disregard international conventions and circumnavigate the Constitution to conduct business as it sees fit. NJ lawmakers in Trenton are entitled to tax further our tattered state coffers with double dipping, pay to play. After all because they have the power, they are entitled to that money. How does the opportunity to serve entitle lawmakers to pilfer and pillage the law and the people’s resources?

Striving to be free of religious, racial and sexual persecution, so much of America is about opportunity. America dreamed of giving those huddled masses yearning to breathe free a hope that without the deck stacked against them through their own labor they could have a shot at a decent life. America never promised anyone a rose garden. It offers the chance of hope through sweat and toil and observing the rules of basic human decency. America promises nothing more. Somehow through its magnificent success, this land of opportunity has evolved into a country inhabited by a people with a sense of never-ending entitlement. Will America break from the strain of the insatiable entitlements we the people are placing on its shoulders?

(The above Links are offered to expand on the ideas mentioned in the paragraphs preceding them. Please feel free to visit them for a fuller understanding of my points.)

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Drearies

Avoid the drearies----

-Watch Mrs. Hughes again

-Make popcorn and watch a movie

-Make popcorn and do a puzzle

-Order pizza with some friends and watch football


-Make a cup of tea and snuggle in with a good mystery or love story

-Make a cup of tea and call an old friend on the phone

-Bake cookies

-Make a great pot of homemade soup and eat it with some great Panera bread

Stay tuned for “From Opportunity to Entitlement”.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Random Drug Testing: A Spector of my Past

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (Bill of Rights)

From a distance I have been watching the random drug testing discussion in Hillsborough these past few weeks. It was heartening to see the Courier News “Our Opinion” column address the very concerns I had years ago when I joined Mike Joye in filing a lawsuit against Hunterdon Central ("Is the medicine worse than the ailment?", Courier News, January 8, 2008, pp. A-8, or, click on “Our Opinion” under the 'Opinion' category). When introduced at Central, I was on the Hunterdon Central Random Drug Testing Task Force and worked intimately with the ACLU challenge. They were on my speed dial for a few years. I know from whence I speak here. I know how many students were tested based on suspicion the year before random drug testing was introduced, fewer than 2% of the population, probably under
1 and 1/2%. Over several years, we all traveled together to the state Supreme Court. We the parents lost by one vote.

Random drug testing of students weakens the strength of both the federal and state Constitutions. It weakens parental control to address an issue that may not be so desperate that it requires such a dramatic reaction by our schools. For instance, at one point Hunterdon Central, getting resistance from parents to come in and be present during the testing, opted to just eliminate the requirement that parents be present.

Hunterdon Central consistently argues random testing is a deterrent. It gives the students an out. Well I can argue that the traffic lights in Flemington keep out the pink elephants. You get my drift. How many pink elephants are there here in Flemington? What Central never produced was a shred of evidence independent of the drug company intervention we saw at Central or Central’s own claims to support this statement. Central offers the argument based on just, well, offering the argument. Let’s get some evidence independent of Central’s conjectures and independent of those drug companies and labs that stand to profit.

In 2003, the University of Michigan released the results of a survey of more than 600 middle schools and high schools. This INDEPENDENT survey indicated that there was NO STATISTICAL DIFFERENCE in drug use of students between schools that tested and those that did not.

This is the type of data that should be combed through before our citizens have to forsake any more rights. In the absence of such independent data, although I requested it as a task force member, I concluded that the big winner here is DATIA, The Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry. Google it. Parents have every right to insist on independent data to substantiate the claim that random drug testing is a deterrent. Be sure to know the source of that data. Weakening parental control and constitutional protections is a serious matter. The benefits need to outweigh the losses.

There is always the option of a voluntary testing progam that would respect everyone's rights.
Stay tuned.

Mrs. Hughes

What a day beautiful...enjoy Mrs.Hughes

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bike Safety

To all Boro Council Members,

I hope you can help here.

I was on my way home for Angelo’s with dinner about 6:30 Monday night. As I turned up homewards from Walter Foran, I traveled on North Main towards Thatcher Hill.

Shortly before I hit the Flemington Arms, in the dark about 30 feet ahead a kid on bike crossed my path. He was wearing a black ski cap, black jacket, black everything. He was barely visible. I am not much for imposing a lot of personal rules and “regs” with respect to people’s personal preferences but I ask you to consider requiring bike riders, and we have more and more of them in the Boro, to wear reflective vests after dusk.

I have good eyesight but to me he was hardly visible. He was just a child. I am hoping we can find a way to keep these riders safer.

I hope there is a way to address this problem before someone does get hurt.

Thank you for your consideration.

What Can Flemington Afford?

"The true test of the first- rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time." F. Scott Fitzgerald

All college students and their families would surely like tuition relief. We were surely one of them. The Greiner family did not see any expensive vacations or furniture, well, for years as we scrimped and saved to send our daughters to a state college. So I sympathize with the intentions of those state legislators who sponsored bills S78 and A4032, the intent of which is to allow illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates ( Is this fiscally sound or fair?

Perhaps I am putting the cart before the horse. It is hard to argue that educating our residents, legal or illegal, is anything less than good for our society. Perhaps these state legislators are begging the more general question--- what indeed should be our illegal immigration policy, statewide or nationwide? One almost immediately sees the strangeness of this question. Why do we need any illegal immigration policy? Illegal immigration is, well, illegal. But most of us are aware that the issue is far more complex. With respect to economics, there are, let’s say, short- term immigration issues and long- term immigration issues. Short- term issues are about the financial realities of the here and now. Long-term issues are about the financial realities down the road. “The Economist” , a weekly British publication, for years has argued in favor of the long- term economic benefits of immigration in America. Their line of reasoning maintains the increased population will mean more contributors down the road to our Social Security and Medicare programs. This is as opposed to the problem of the dwindling populations in Europe. European nations have fewer and fewer contributors to their far more expansive social benefit programs.

Roughly we see at least three classes of immigrants---Those who seek political asylum, those who are highly trained and migrate in order to work in the country with the greatest opportunity for technological advancement and those who are unskilled but are attracted by our newly expansive welfare and social benefits, not available during the influx of immigrants one hundred years ago. Those who are highly trained are high wage earners. The high wage earners result in net fiscal benefit for America. Those who are unskilled are the low wage earners. The low age wage earners result in a net deficit for the states they immigrate to.

Note the following information…“Based on federal, state, and local government expenditures and tax receipts, the NRC (National Research Council) estimated that the short-run fiscal impact of immigration was negative in both New Jersey and California. In New Jersey, using data for 1989–1990, immigrant households received an average net fiscal transfer from natives of $1,500, or 3 percent of average state immigrant household income. Spread among the more numerous state native populations, this amounted to an average net fiscal burden of $230 per native household, or 0.4 percent of average state native household income. In California, using data for 1994–95, immigrant households received an average net fiscal transfer of $3,500, or 9 percent of average immigrant household income, which resulted in an average fiscal burden on native households of $1,200, or 2 percent of average native household income. The impact of immigration on California is more negative because immigrant households in the state (a) are more numerous relative to the native population, (b) have more children, causing them to make greater use of public education, and (c) earn lower incomes, leading them to have lower tax payments and greater use of public assistance. For the nation as a whole, the NRC estimated that in 1996 immigration imposed a short-run fiscal burden on the average U.S. native household of $200, or 0.2 percent of U.S. GDP. “
(Excerpt From “Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration” by Gordon Hanson, Council on Foreign Relations, Council Special Report #26, April 2007 pp 22-23

In 1989-1990 NJ already was running at an additional $230 net fiscal burden per native household. With our burgeoning immigration population, what is it today? Anyone have any more recent figures?

Those who are concerned about the illegal immigration issue are often manipulated out of the discussion, accused of being racist. So with respect to this very serious issue, we are often coerced to dance rather than reason and resolve. Crossing America’s borders and entering without legal documentation is an illegal act. Numerous immigrants all over the world who want access to America have equally numerous stories of hardship. I am second generation American of Polish and Russian heritage. I know firsthand why immigrants kiss American soil.

We in Flemington are absorbing what we believe to be a significant, questionably legal population. We are out of land and have no room to expand. Our infrastructure, laid out years ago to serve a certain size population is being heavily utilized. Our apartments are meant to hold a certain number of renters. We have a fixed income senior population, folks who have lived here all their lives and should not be forced to move away due to rising property taxes to cover the school expense incurred by in influx of illegal immigrants. We have NJ citizens, paying their way, who would like to live here but cannot afford to due to housing prices and property taxes while illegal immigrants are living here and utilizing services they do not fully support financially.

People, children, public services cost money. This is why we have to take seriously the legality of immigration. How many can we accommodate here and how much does it cost? Cost is just one issue regarding the immigration question. This is by no means the end of the discussion and cost perhaps should not be the sole determining factor in guiding immigration policy. But it is a practical issue in the sense that we need to live I within our means. We cannot just throw all caution to the wind.Long time Flemington residents, who have built and carried the Boro financially throughout their lifetimes, on fixed incomes need to be taken into account too.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Re- Org That Wasn't

It is that time of year when local governments convene with the newly elected members and re-organize the council assignments. Likewise on January 3, Flemington Boro held its re-org in a manner of speaking.

Every council member very nicely summed up his or her last year, welcomed new members, thanked appropriate persons and talked of the high hopes for the upcoming year. Senior Democrat councilwoman, Sandy Borucki, and Democrat councilwoman, Brooke Liebowitz, were elected Boro council president and vice president, respectively.

Mayor Hauck then turned to that portion of the meeting that deals with the new round of council assignments. As best as I understood, the new Democrat majority had given a list of assignments to the mayor previously and advised they had discussed the assignments with him. The mayor indicated he did not think the list was up for discussion but more a matter of the Democrats informing him of the slate they would endorse by their votes. With four Democrats and two Republicans composing the council, the Democrats can automatically pass what they are inclined to pass, to put the mayor’s read of the situation in context.

Mayor Hauck also submitted his own list of assignments, citing NJ state code that asserts that the mayor appoints with the advice and consent of council. In other words, according to NJ state code, the mayor of a municipality introduces the appointments to council for its advice and consent as opposed to council members submitting a slate of appointments to the mayor, as was done by the Democrat council members. (See NJ State Code online---
See section (e).)

When making assignments on Boro council, Mayor Hauck explained that the prior year he established committees composed of members of both political parties to tackle issues in Flemington. He thought this approach kept all council members better informed on all matters for Boro council consideration. Based on his experience of years as Boro clerk, councilman and now mayor, he expressed concern about concentrating the bulk of the workload in the hands of two council members. (Four of our six council members have only one year’s experience or less.) Hunterdon County clerk, Mary Melfi was appointed to head the OEM again. This was the only appointment made that was publicly discussed. Mayor Hauck justified appointing Ms. Melfi who had earlier resigned, citing the devastating Hunter Hills fire last week and the need for an experienced person to handle this type of Boro job. Other prospective appointments were tabled until there was further review of the statutes under question by Boro attorney, Barry Goodman.

Mayor Hauck indicated that in accordance with state code, he was offering his own slate for acceptance or rejection by the council for the record but he indicated he did not intend to force the issue. His intent was to make his position on assignments known for the record. Republican councilwoman, Erica Edwards, wanted to know more about how assignments were traditionally made. Democrat councilman, Mark Legato, indicated he felt this was partisanship but conforming to NJ state code strikes me as just abiding in the laws of NJ. With only one Republican council member at the meeting, the Democrats could have handily passed their slate, overriding the mayor. (Republican Councilman, John Gorman,was absent due to illness.) I did not understand Councilman Legato's comment. Councilwoman Brooke Liebowitz wanted to reconcile the differences, explaining that she wanted council members to be satisfied with their assignments. She suggested the council convene and revisit the assignments together. This plan was adopted. Meanwhile, Boro attorney, Barry Goodman, said he believed at this point in time the mayor’s interpretation was correct but he wanted more time to research state code on this issue and particularly on the issue regarding the appointments to planning board before offering a final opinion. Mayor Hauck had indicated that planning board appointments were made by the mayor and did not require Boro council approval. There were no votes along party lines.

Then they all adjourned to attend the re-org dinner in honor of the re-org that wasn’t.

Again I invite Mayor Hauck and all council members to feel free to contact me with any topics they wish to share with the community. I will do my best to accommodate all requests.

All the best to Boro council in 2008.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What's Next?

Cruising around the Flemington website, the last week in December to my surprise I learned that this year Boro council meetings will be broadcast via our website.

In this day of “Tivo “ this and “Tivo” that and Podcasts and ipods, we are accustomed to watching or listening to what we want when we find the time. And that convenience in these hectic days surely has its merits. But, on the one hand as Heisenberg notes, deliberately observing the process changes the process. Hence there has been much ado about the wisdom of televising court proceedings. Not knowing who is observing them may discourage residents from speaking their minds. We live in a very small borough. There is no anonymity as there is in Congress with its televised broadcasts. It may on the flipside invite grandstanding. On another hand, Boro hall is no more than five minutes from anywhere in the Boro and interested parties can go to council meetings, express their views, ask their questions and discuss Boro business with council members, personally. Not possible when relying on a broadcast. On still another hand, watching broadcasts may invite more interest and increase attendance at Boro council meetings. Boro residents, observing Boro council operating with full transparency, will inform the citizenry and the citizens ought to see to it they are informed because actions taken by council members are predicated on the consent of those they govern, basic John Locke and the contract between the governed and those who govern them. We are entitled to be sure council is doing what we want it to do because the power to govern in Flemington, America comes from the consent of the people. Given the nature of this broadcast issue, so very discretionary, it might have been nice to see what the residents thought about nudging our Boro into a more technological, no- holds- barred venue. After all some residents like the bit of respite Flemington offers from the hustle of the technological age and settle here for that benefit, small town life and goings on. Years ago we voted on the color of our Christmas lights, red and green vs. all white as we prepared to decorate our little hamlet. The traditional red and green won out. We are like this in little Flemington, personal, but we are open to the new and exciting too.

When I asked my still councilman husband about this new broadcast development and how it came to be and what other members of council thought, he advised me that the issue of broadcasting meetings, its pros or cons, were never brought to Boro council during his tenure. So broadcasting Boro council meetings was just set up and announced on the website with no discussion on Boro council. This I do not understand.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The War of Unintended Consequences

Best movie I have seen in a long time. It is now at the American Cineplex on Route 202 in Flemington. I cannot urge you strongly enough to see “Charlie Wilson’s War.” It is especially a must see for those who because of limited time cannot read the books or watch the documentaries on our difficulties in the Middle East but want to understand more about our Middle East problems, some of their roots and the possible ramifications of early withdrawal from Iraq. It may be helpful in sizing up presidential candidates this election year. So, yes, I recommend a movie to help with our enlightenment. This true story deftly executed by director Mike Nichols is the picture that is worth the thousands of words needed to justify US responsibility in the Middle East and specifically Iraq and why we risk serious danger to our national security would we withdraw from that country prematurely.

On December 25, 1979 without much reason or provocation other than Cold War antagonism, Russia invaded Afghanistan. Under President Carter, the US responded lamely until the philandering, Texas good ole’ boy Congressman Charlie Wilson took interest and undertook action to arm the members of the Afghani mujahadeen with the kind of artillery needed to down the Russian choppers. During the so-called Cold War years, the US and Russia engaged in proxy wars in the Middle East. This war in Afghanistan was viewed thusly until Charlie Wilson gave into his qualms of conscience with regard to little Afghan children being maimed by shiny land mines and Afghan women being stabbed or raped by Russian soldiers.

In the recesses if his own moral consciousness, which was certainly an interesting trip to explore in and of itself, Wilson decided that this type of suffering of the Afghan people caught up in the proxy war between two super powers was not acceptable. He began a campaign to arm Afghanistan in order to level the playing field. It is all there, the sex and the freewheeling but not necessarily ineffective American style of world management we have come to expect in the US. We overhear the back room deals between enemies who work together as friends when necessary. We see the shock and awe of American military firepower. And again there is the inexcusable misreading of the possible bad outcomes of the US refusal to help re-build Afghanistan after the Russians pulled out and left the mess they created behind to fester. This is a lesson we need to get so we do not leave Iraq to the doom we left Afghanistan.

For those who blame 9/11 solely on American diplomatic failure, the role of Russia instigating turmoil in the Middle East should not be overlooked. The Russian invasion, the wasting of Afghanistan and Russia’s ultimate defeat were all pivotal in bin Laden’s successful attack on America. Believing that the Afghanis had defeated one super power, surely they could defeat another, bin Laden reasoned. Foolishly, in Afghanistan’s great hour of need and in the warmth of its great gratitude to the US, America abandoned Afghanistan. After the Russians left, Afghani factions fought within and then in 1996 ultimately fell to the Taliban which hosted bin Laden after he was invited to leave Sudan. Bin Laden entertained his recruits there and his lieutenants eventually struck us on 9/11. The rest of this history we are painfully aware of firsthand.

To make a good choice in November, we Americans need to understand and be informed about a world that is a world away from us on so many levels. Viewing this movie is a painless way to begin this fact gathering process. Charlie Wilson’s war has escalated into every American’s war. I urge you to take it in.

Because of the nudity, sex, violence and language this movie is not suitable for children.

Stay tuned.