Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 31
 
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
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Speeding Cyclist's Medical Condition Does Not Justify Threatened Lawsuit

(2 Letters)

Paper Recycling Receptacles Needed at Princeton Junction Train Station

JOANY D'AGOSTINO
Dorann Avenue

Bergen County Legislator Remembered for His Efforts to Help State's Poorest

LUCY MacKENZIE
Franklin Avenue


Speeding Cyclist's Medical Condition Does Not Justify Threatened Lawsuit

To the Editor:

Regarding your front page article, "Borough, Police May be Hit with $5M Suit" (Town Topics, July 25), I find myself amused, confused, annoyed, agitated, and did I mention amused? For those who missed this jewel of an article, Ms. Fahmie, a resident of Lawrenceville, plans to sue the Borough because, while being pulled over for speeding on her motorcycle, she told the officer that she was speeding home from Princeton so she could relieve her bowel. You see, she suffers from colitis, a rare digestive disease characterized by inflammation of the colon. Reacting with what appears to be quick sophomoric wit, the officer told her she could relieve herself by a nearby tree. Apparently this interaction was so traumatizing to Ms. Fahmie that it causes her "constant great distress." Dissatisfied with the severity of the Borough's action against the officer — a 60-day unpaid suspension — she is now planning to sue the Borough for $5 million.

A few observations:

1) If Ms. Fahmie was so distraught by this situation, imagine how humiliated she must feel now that her unseemly medical condition has made the newspapers' front pages?

2) While I agree that the officer's reaction was less than professional, and merited formal reprimand, 60 days of unpaid leave seems very severe to me. This is roughly equivalent to a 16 percent cut in pay, not to mention the impact it probably had on his future raises, promotions, etc.

DANIEL BROX
Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

I would like to thank Patrolman Basatemur for making our streets safer by pulling over Linda Fahmie, preventing her from further endangering our pedestrians when she was driving 17 miles per hour over the speed limit and in no state to be trusted operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, it appears that Ms. Fahmie has a medical condition (causing the need to use the bathroom) that she is unable to contain well enough for her to be a safe driver.

Although I have not seen the video tape and do not know whether the officer subsequently mistreated the driver in any way, it seems plausible that someone in her state would have been acting and driving in a way where we would want our police to be very vigilant. Does the 60-day suspension teach officers to allow drivers to dictate where the officer has to go? Or, should they just let drivers go when they have to go to the bathroom and claim a medical reason? Clearly, neither of those are good outcomes. Should he have taken her to the hospital? Maybe. Borough officials need to explain proper discretion in this case.

We drivers each have the responsibility of being in a state to be able to drive safely whenever we are on the road, including unforeseen delays. Perhaps for Ms. Fahmie some device (such as an adult diaper or a pot) is just as important as corrective lenses are for me. I urge her to take better care in addressing her medical problems so that she can drive safely.

Like Borough officials, I feel sorry for Ms. Fahmie's medical condition and for her distress caused by this incident. But, I am not willing to unreasonably sacrifice safety. I also feel sorry for people who lose their driver's licenses due to seizures or other medical problems. I am leery that a known medical condition can be used to justify speeding, but am especially concerned in this case because our police may be discouraged from effectively dealing with impaired drivers.

I am also concerned because I believe that any damages paid will ultimately come from residents' pockets and I am not sure that officials are adequately protecting my share.

Thanks again to Patrolman Basatemur for using good judgment in selecting this driver to pull over. Clearly, he exhibited the qualities that were evident when he was selected 2005 Princeton Borough Officer of the Year.

MIKE DUBIN
George Drive

Paper Recycling Receptacles Needed at Princeton Junction Train Station

Editor's Note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to the West Windsor Parking Authority.

To the Editor:

I am writing to formally complain about the lack of recycling receptacles at the Princeton Junction train station. Every single day as I get off the train from New York I watch as my fellow passengers stuff newspapers and magazines in overflowing trash cans mixed in with bottles, cans, and all other trash because there is no alternative.

About a month ago, I called the Parking Authority to ask about this and a nice woman said she agreed with me, and she'd pass on my comments. She assured me that with all the concerns over global warming, something should and would be done. Something was done. About a week later, a dozen or so brand new trashcans were delivered and lined up at the train station in brown cardboard boxes. I couldn't believe it. With just one call, I felt, I actually made a difference.

I soon realized I was wrong. The new trashcans were just that: new trash cans. Except now they have clear plastic liners so we can all see exactly how many newspapers and other recyclables are being carelessly tossed in with all of our other trash.

It's just deplorable that there are no provisions for recycling anything at this busy train station. How can this possibly be?

JOANY D'AGOSTINO
Dorann Avenue

Bergen County Legislator Remembered for His Efforts to Help State's Poorest

To the Editor:

A small but very brave state legislator died recently. Byron Baer, a state assemblyman from Bergen County for 33 years, spent that time in a heroic effort to help the weakest people in our state. Our work together centered on the poor farm workers from Puerto Rico who were brought here to do the work that New Jerseyans won't touch. Their living conditions are appalling, and many of them bring their children with them.

He introduced legislation, but the resistance was ferocious. He called me one day to say that he was going to south Jersey the next day to visit a large farm and see its working conditions. He felt that this firsthand information would be persuasive to his colleagues.

His next call was from a hospital. He was back in Bergen County, having been assaulted by a crew leader who broke his arm in three places and smashed all the windows in his car. He managed to drive home, and he was positively delighted. What greater proof did he need of his assertions?

He didn't know that the crew leader had been rushed back to Puerto Rico on the next plane.

He was one of a kind. I will never forget him.

LUCY MacKENZIE
Franklin Avenue

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