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.