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Vol. LXV, No. 44
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
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Princeton Residents Given Early Halloween Greetings From Township Policeman’s Union

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

Some Examples From the Experience Of Consolidation in Another Town

Anton Lahnston
Chairman, Princeton Joint Consolidation/Shared Services Study Commission



Phillip Dressing
Chairman, Seneca Falls Village Dissolution Committee

Consider Griggs Farm, Other Township Costs Before Voting for Consolidation

Sheila Siderman, Jerry Palin
Bouvant Drive, Princeton 08540

Borough Council Member Questions Consolidation Commission’s Reasoning

David Goldfarb
Charlton Street

Borough Members of Consolidation Commission Elaborate on Crucial Benefits of Shared Services

Ryan Lilienthal, Alice K. Small, and Patrick Simon
Princeton Borough

Voters Should Not Believe False Promises The Saving of Money Is a Consolidation Myth

Ronald Nielsen
Humbert Street

We Should Chose a Mayor Who Reflects Our Commitment to Democratic Values

Mildred Trotman
Mayor, Borough of Princeton

Yina Moore Can Best Serve Princeton Because She Knows the Real History

Shirley A. Satterfield
Quarry Street

Supporting Candidates Who Believe Government Has a Constructive Role

Mary and John Heilner
Princeton

Township Resident Voices Support For Jachera Because She’s Prepared

Teri McIntire
Dempsey Avenue

Republican Candidate for Borough Council Weighs In On the Subject of Consolidation

Peter Marks
Moore Street

Candidate Has Unwavering Commitment To Doing Right for Princeton if Elected

Jill Jachera
Hodge Road

Yina Moore, “Homegrown Resident” of Princeton Has Worked to Preserve Diverse Community

Bernadine Hines
District 6 Committee Woman

Democratic Mayoral Candidate: “What Matters Moving Forward Are Policies I Will Promote”

Yina Moore
Green Street

Letters in Support of Candidate Jill Jachera As a Strong Voice, Seasoned Professional

Robert Gleason
Spring Street

Owner of a $1.2 Billion Company Discusses an Inconvenient Truth

Dinni Jain
Olden Lane

Barbara Trelstad Has Worked for a Princeton That is Diversified in Housing and Population

Daniel A. Harris
Dodds Lane

Based on Current Budget Picture, Don’t Expect Borough to Keep Taxes Flat If No Consolidation

Peter Wolanin
Co-chair Unite Princeton, Spruce Street

Weighing In on the Side of Consolidation: “The Moment for Princeton to Show the Way”

Sheldon Sturges
Cameron Court

Borough Business Owner Remains Concerned By Issue Of Governance Consolidation Ignores

Leo Arons
Chambers Street


Editor’s Note

We regret that due to the quantity of mail concerning the mayoral election and for and against consolidation, along with mail on other issues, we have not had space enough for everyone’s letters. We have done our best to make sure all points of view are fairly represented.




Princeton Residents Given Early Halloween Greetings From Township Policeman’s Union

To the Editor:

Many residents of Princeton Borough and Township received early Halloween greetings in the form of a scary letter from the Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 387, the union representing the police rank and file in Princeton Township. Unlike the usual “trick or treat” request from kids, this letter was intended to trick you into voting against consolidation.

As a former mayor, deputy mayor and current police commissioner of Princeton Township, and a member of the Consolidation Study Commission, I intend to put this scare tactic to a well deserved rest.

First, the policeman’s union, PBA Local 387, does not speak for either Princeton Township or the Princeton Township Police Department. Like all unions, PBA 387 speaks only for it’s union members. Without depreciating the many good things that the members of PBA Local 387 do as volunteers, especially for the youth of the Princeton community, we all know that unions exist to protect the jobs, wages, and benefits of their members.

The letter claims that Princeton will not have sufficient police presence after consolidation with a force of 51 uniformed police officers. When the police departments were studied by the Consolidation Study Commission, working with the chiefs and senior police officers in both municipalities, our primary concern was the safety of the lives and property of our residents. For that reason, under the consolidation plan there will be no reduction in police staffing during the first year of consolidation. The plan describes how, over a three period, the force would be reduced to 51 officers, while maintaining the same number of patrol officers on the streets as before consolidation, and re-instating services such as community policing and a traffic division that have been reduced or eliminated as a result of budget constraints in the two municipalities. It is important to note that by the date when consolidation of our police department would be fully realized in 2015, many of our current police officers would have served more than the 20 year requirement for retirement at more than 50 percent of their six figure salary. Some will have served 25 years and will be eligible to retire at more than 70 percent of their salary with health benefits paid for life.

According to the letter, a department of 51 officers would be less than the national standards of 66 for a community of the size of a consolidated Princeton. But it neglects two facts. First, the number of 66 is a national average that is heavily weighted by cities that have large, high density populations. Second, Princeton University has a large Public Safety organization, supervised by police professionals, who provide the first level of policing services for the campus population of about 7,000 students, faculty and staff. When the number of Princeton University Public Safety patrol employees is added to the 51 police officers in the consolidated Princeton community, the total far exceeds the national average for a community of our size. Moreover, we are very fortunate that Princeton is not a high crime area. Most of the crimes in the Borough and Township are traffic violations and quality of life crimes, with the occasional more serious crime, and the proposed staffing is more than adequate to handle the anticipated workload.

As police commissioner and a member of Princeton Township Committee for the past nine years I have been a consistent supporter of our Police Department through both good and bad times. 1 admire the dedication, professionalism, and services that the women and men of our department provide to Princeton Township. And, I fully believe, as the scary letter says in closing, “The Princeton Township Police Department will continue to serve you to the best of our abilities.”

Don’t fall for scare tactics. Vote for consolidation on November for better government, stronger neighborhoods, savings in municipal spending and improved police services. Vote to UNITE PRINCETON!

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

Some Examples From the Experience Of Consolidation in Another Town

To the Editor:

A question often asked during meetings about consolidation is, “Where has this been done before and what can we learn?” Fortunately there is Seneca Falls New York – a community that voted in March 2009 to consolidate and on December 31, 2011 will complete its transition to consolidation.

Seneca Falls and the Princetons have some differences. Princeton has 30,000 residents, Seneca Falls, 8,000. In Seneca Falls the larger population is located in the “Village” (75 percent) and not in the Town outside the Village (TOV), which is 25 percent. Also, as mandated by law, only village residents were allowed to vote. Although our towns are not identical, consolidation in Seneca Falls focused successfully on many of the same issues Princeton is discussing. It is worth hearing about a few of their experiences.

Police Service — Degradation of police services was the biggest concern in Seneca Falls Village. Much energy went into investigating detail, developing options, and presenting them to the public. The Commission developed three options and, of course, some rejected all choices. Ultimately the Commission endorsed the one-town police option, and the transition is going smoothly.

Impact on Taxes — Some Village residents expressed a belief that the tax benefits were overstated and could not be realized. They stated that the process would degrade their services and would not reduce their taxes. The very good news is that the tax savings for village residents during 2012 will be greater than anticipated.

The Village’s Historic Heritage — Loss of identity was an early issue in Seneca Falls. The Village is the birthplace of women’s rights, the home of the Women’s Rights National Park and the Women’s Hall of Fame. There was great concern that the Village would experience diminished credibility. The Commission gradually mitigated those concerns. The larger community will remain “Seneca Falls” and the historic district and the Village’s history are secure.

Maintaining Service Levels – In addition to public safety, residents had serious concerns about degraded trash pickup and street maintenance/snow removal. Over time residents’ concerns were displaced by well thought out town-wide service proposals. Maintenance of current levels of essential services was one of the Commission’s key success factors.

Recognizing the Need for Change – There is a vocal minority in Seneca Falls that wants things to stay as they are. They say, “It isn’t broken, don’t change it.” But the majority of citizens understood that by uniting they were able to find efficiencies, maintain or improve their municipal services, and find savings to pass onto taxpayers.

What can the Princetons learn from Seneca Falls?

While Princeton and Seneca Falls are unique, the road to consolidation has many commonalities, whether we look at services or cost savings. If Princeton consolidates, we will be a leader in New Jersey, following in the footsteps of other communities in other states. If we are to avoid rising taxes, we must change how we provide services and look to successful communities like Seneca Falls for inspiration.

Anton Lahnston
Chairman, Princeton Joint Consolidation/Shared Services Study Commission



Phillip Dressing
Chairman, Seneca Falls Village Dissolution Committee

Consider Griggs Farm, Other Township Costs Before Voting for Consolidation

To the Editor:

Princeton Township seems to have a history of not doing all its homework when it comes to planning. When we moved to the Township twenty-seven years ago we learned that, because of a lack of careful research, the Township was about to zone far larger areas for high-density housing than required by the predecessor of the Council on Affordable Housing. Developing Griggs Farm eventually cost the Township millions of tax dollars because the market-value housing could not cover the cost of the affordable housing while excessive building costs required the “market-value” housing to be sold below cost. A new municipal building was built because we were told that it was not feasible to renovate the Valley Road building; now discussions are ongoing as to uses for the Valley Road building. This is only a partial list of how inadequate planning has added to the tax burden of the Township.

We are now being told that since the Council on Affordable Housing no longer exists, there is no reason to consider the effect that consolidation would have on a future requirement to zone for high-density housing. It is naive to assume that groups who fought to override local control of planning and sustainable growth will not continue to press for new legislation. Since abolishing the Council, Governor Christie has had to veto an attempt by the legislature to supersede local planning. We cannot be assured that a future governor will do the same.

The Princetons are at particular risk for anti-zoning lawsuits because of new jobs created by the growth of the University and the enormous profit potential for builders of high-density housing. While the Borough has little space for new housing and would not be subject to “builder’s remedy” lawsuits, the Township still has large tracts of available land. High-density housing results in a need for increased school capacity and other services, leading to increased taxes and a loss of open space. How would the new Princeton fare should lobbying result in a new form of the Council on Affordable Housing? Apparently the supporters of consolidation prefer to ignore potential problems rather than placing all the issues on the table.

Given the miniscule savings in taxes projected by the proponents of consolidation and the unknown potential impact on our future taxes and quality of life, we urge you to vote against consolidation.

Sheila Siderman, Jerry Palin
Bouvant Drive, Princeton 08540

Borough Council Member Questions Consolidation Commission’s Reasoning

To the Editor:

Having served on the Borough Council for 21 years and on the Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission for the past 15 months, I question the reasoning behind the Commission’s recommendation to consolidate.

Should we consolidate to save taxes? Borough residents would save more by sharing police services than by following the Commission’s plan to consolidate. In either case, the total projected savings would reduce Borough property tax bills by less than one-and-a-half percent; that reduction would come only after several years of transition.

Should we consolidate to eliminate squabbling? Disagreements between the Borough and the Township kept the public library downtown and produced a less expensive and more attractive design for the community pool complex.

Should we consolidate because we’re all the same? Most Borough residents paid more for smaller homes because they place a higher value on living near the center of town than most of their counterparts in the Township. The Township has more than twice as many voters as the Borough. Who is more likely to be sensitive to the issues that affect the success of the downtown?

Should we consolidate to improve the delivery of services? The Commission claims that the services now delivered to Borough residents would be maintained in a consolidated community but only garbage pickup would be extended to the former Township. How would elected officials in a consolidated Princeton explain to residents that brush is picked up every two weeks on Westcott Road but only four times a year on Brookstone Drive? Services must either be extended at a higher cost or reduced for current Borough residents.

Please vote “No” on November 8. I believe that the entire town will be better without consolidation. I am confident that the Borough will be better without it.

David Goldfarb
Charlton Street

Borough Members of Consolidation Commission Elaborate on Crucial Benefits of Shared Services

To the editor:

Having exhaustively examined consolidation as Princeton Borough representatives on the Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission, we believe that merging the municipalities offers crucial benefits to Borough residents as outlined in the Commission’s report, including: cost savings, enhanced services, and more effective and accountable government. These benefits help explain why five out of six Borough Council members, plus the Mayor, support consolidation.

A snapshot of Princeton Borough shows a town struggling to keep the tax rate steady and maintain service. Over the past few years, the Borough has dipped into its capital surplus and raised parking rates to avoid tax increases. Despite these efforts, Borough services continue to shrink. Recent examples include police force reductions from 34 sworn officers to 30, and the cutting back of solid waste pick-up from twice to once a week. Services have diminished in spite of the fact that we began receiving a substantial increase in annual contributions from the University several years ago.

The Commission has conservatively identified $3.16 million in annual savings on existing municipal services from consolidation. The Commission also proposed extending municipal residential garbage collection to the Township, at an estimated annual cost of $1.18 million. The combined reductions in property taxes and private spending on garbage collection will benefit residents of both municipalities.

Consolidating the Princetons offers opportunities for enhanced services: a merged and restructured police force will include a reconstituted traffic and safe neighborhood unit. Reconfiguring public works, engineering, sewer operations, and recreation maintenance will make possible a more effective and efficient use, distribution, and management of staff to better serve the community no more snow plows or street paving stopping half-way down streets divided by an arbitrary municipal boundary, and better flexibility to plan for a sorely needed upgrade of public works facilities.

Consolidation critics worry that Borough residents will lose their voice and representation in a merged municipality. The cornerstone of this anti-consolidation concern rests on the assumption that Township residents hold a single point of view, which is always different from and hostile to the interests of Borough residents Yet, in fact, Borough and Township residents seamlessly integrate in community life from civic and political groups, to religious and recreation organizations. Moreover, the Borough and Township share thirteen joint agencies. These activities call into question the assumption that Borough and Township residents have different values; and that Township residents lack the capacity to understand Borough concerns.

Nonetheless, contentious issues do arise in our community from time to time. With two governing bodies, this frequently leads to extensive and expensive standoffs that further polarize our community. We are very confident that such issues can be addressed more effectively within a consolidated Princeton.

Consolidation offers the opportunity for a more collaborative, effective, accountable government, in addition to cost savings and enhanced services. We believe these goals can be reached, and the Commission’s study provides a blueprint for doing so.

Ryan Lilienthal, Alice K. Small, and Patrick Simon
Princeton Borough

Voters Should Not Believe False Promises The Saving of Money Is a Consolidation Myth

To the Editor:

The real “myth” in the Consolidation debate is the belief that combining the municipalities will save us money. This myth is promulgated by every pro-consolidation advocate except the mayor of the Township. To his credit, the mayor has repeatedly stated that, after transition costs (now publicly estimated to be $1.7 million), there may be NO net savings. He is a member of the Consolidation Commission with the credentials (CFP, CIMA) to make that claim authoritatively.

Supporting evidence surfaced during the October 26, 2011, meeting of the Commission, when it was publicly revealed that the original estimate by municipal employees of the transition costs of IT (computers and communications) substantially exceeded $1,000,000, but that amount had been reduced by the Commission to below $200,000 on the advice of the consultant, on the basis that the State had previously rejected another municipal merger reimbursement application because it deemed the cost too high. Thus our $1.7 million cost estimate, which includes only the reduced amount, may be substantially understated - by well over $800,000 in the IT category alone. And the reimbursement amount we receive will be much less than 20% of the actual transition costs, even if our leaders can convince the State to pay it.

We have been deceived by false promises before. For example, the Borough garage was presented to us as a money-making venture. But with debt service, insurance, and all other costs included, it is losing money. The politicians, however, report a profit by commingling the garage loss with parking meter income. The difference between parking meter income and reported income is a garage subsidy which we would receive if the garage did not exist or were privately owned.

If consolidated, our government leaders will try to hide any loss, as they did with the parking garage. However, if they are unable to conceal it, they will blame it on “inflation”, “deflation”, “unexpected transition costs”, or any other handy excuse. Only the prospective mayor, the current Township mayor, need not resort to such subterfuge, because he has already warned us of this possibility. In either case, we cannot expect our taxes to decrease during the 5-year transition period.

If controlling the cost of living in Princeton is important to you and you believe the warnings of the Township mayor, as I do, you should also vote NO on consolidation.

Ronald Nielsen
Humbert Street

We Should Chose a Mayor Who Reflects Our Commitment to Democratic Values

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage Borough voters to support Yina Moore, the Democratic candidate for mayor of Princeton Borough. I have known Yina for many years. She is an exceptionally well-credentialed candidate with a deep knowledge of planning, a long history of service to Princeton, and a firm commitment to Princeton as an inclusive community. She is as knowledgeable and open to new ideas as she is hard-working and responsible.

If we consolidate, the next mayor of Princeton Borough will be the last mayor of Princeton Borough. Whatever the outcome on consolidation, which I support, I would hope that we chose a mayor who reflects our abiding commitment to democratic principles and values.

Mildred Trotman
Mayor, Borough of Princeton

Yina Moore Can Best Serve Princeton Because She Knows the Real History

To the Editor:

The controversy regarding the possible displacement of the historic and needed Dinky, whether or not to consolidate, the relocation of the medical center that started in a farmhouse, the demise of the Valley Road building that served many children in the Township; overcrowded and expensive townhouses and apartments in an area that was Jackson Street where residents were displaced to make a thoroughfare, mega mansions in the historic and quaint sections of Princeton, proposed demolition and rebuilding of houses that residents along Witherspoon Street will not be able to afford, the closing of a drycleaners in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood because the rent was increased. It all shows both a lack of knowledge and disregard for Princeton’s historic facts.

When one talks about how John Witherspoon would have difficulty understanding the concept of two Princetons there has to be an understanding of how Princeton was when he was traveling from Tusculum to Nassau Hall. There were no same houses, same schools, or shared services. Princeton was a segregated and Jim Crow town — separate housing, separate and unequal education, and because of segregation there were few to no shared services.

We have been hearing a lot lately about the YWCA. We know how much the YWCA has done and how their national motto to “Eliminate Racism” is a major factor. For those who talk about the history of Princeton or wish not to talk about past injustices, it might be informative for them to know that the YWCA that I attended while growing up was the “Colored Y” located on the corner of Green and Witherspoon Streets because the YWCA was segregated until the 1950s.

When there is a reference about someone serving the underserved and underprivileged in Princeton, it is important to know that the reason our families and the many immigrants who have come to Princeton are and were referred to as “underprivileged” is because these residents were the ones who served the privileged of Princeton and have always been put in the position of being underserved. That is certainly an eye opener — the privileged are serving the underserved who serve them!

Everyone who is not at least two generations in Princeton could serve Princeton better if they know the rich and real history. There would be more harmony in this historic town if there were more respect, understanding, and equality. Then, and only then will progress be attained!

I support Yina Moore for mayor of Princeton Borough for her knowledge of Princeton’s history, her extensive background and achievements, her national and global experience, the depth she brings to community issues, her sensitivity to a broad range of opinions, and her problem solving approach to the concerns we face in Princeton today.

Shirley A. Satterfield
Quarry Street

Supporting Candidates Who Believe Government Has a Constructive Role

To the Editor:

We are writing to support the three Democratic candidates for Borough positions — not because they are Democrats, but because they have by far the most relevant professional and life experience for these jobs.

Yina Moore, running for mayor, has been on the Planning Board for 11 years, and the Boards of Corner House, the Princeton Nursery School, and the Library Foundation. She was a member of the John Witherspoon School Site Committee, the Site Plan Review Advisory Board, and Young Achievers. Yina has worked tirelessly to support local businesses. Her professional career has been devoted to public transport, town/regional planning, infrastructure and related financial issues. Co-chair of Princeton Futures for five years, she was born and raised in Princeton, and has lived here most of her life. She has pledged that if consolidation passes, she will ensure that Borough residents are well represented in the transition.

Barbara Trelstad, for Borough Council, has served on the council for four years and is liaison to the Planning Board. Prior to that she served on the Environmental Commission, the Shade Tree Commission, and the Site Plan Review Advisory Board. Barbara has also been on the Boards of the Arts Council, Adult School and the Friends of the Public Library. Barbara’s appreciation for the role of the arts in the community was honed while working at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers for 17 years. She has lived in Princeton for 30 years and three of her children attended public school here.

Heather Howard, for Borough Council, is a Lecturer in Public Affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and Director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network. She served as New Jersey’s Commissioner of Health and Senior Services from 2008-2010, overseeing a cabinet-level agency with a budget of $3.5 billion and staff of 1,700, responsible for public health services, regulation of health care institutions, senior services, and health care policy. Previously, she served as Governor Jon Corzine’s chief policy counsel, as associate director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and as senior policy advisor for First Lady Hillary Clinton. Heather is on the Executive Board of the Riverside School PTO, which her son attends, and serves on a number of health care boards.

All three candidates are life long progressives who actually believe, and have demonstrated, that government has a constructive role in the functioning of a community. Please join us in voting for them on November 8.

Mary and John Heilner
Princeton

Township Resident Voices Support For Jachera Because She’s Prepared

To the Editor:

The election for Mayor of Princeton Borough is about two residents. It is as simple as that. And, as much as our Democratic party bosses want to harp on the dramatic “Chicken-Little” theory about one being a Republican — it still boils down to the fact that they are two people who own homes in Princeton and who are eager to serve our community.

Borough voters will have to make a choice between these two residents and will take many things into consideration, including each candidate’s political affiliation. However, there is another important thing that they should take into account — if consolidation passes, the new mayor will be sitting across the table from Township Mayor Chad Goerner.

Now, that is a big deal. Mayor Goerner has been working on the consolidation issue for the past five years. He has been a powerful force locally, a strong advocate at the state-level and a key member of the Consolidation Commission. Rest assured, Township residents feel very well-represented if consolidation passes, because we have the A-team working on our behalf.

However, the new Borough mayor will only have 12 short months to get up to speed and negotiate all matters specific to the Borough. So, the real question for Borough residents is this — who do you think will best represent you as a homeowner during those discussions?

Yina Moore still stands by the idea that there needs to be more discussion about the issue, and says that she still does not have enough information on issues of representation, asset distribution, and other alternatives. If this is her understanding of facts just days before the vote, how long will it take her to get up to speed?

Conversely, Jill Jachera spent months researching the issue, utilizing her legal knowledge to wade through piles of consolidation reports and met with both anti and pro consolidation advocates, business and community leaders, borough officials, and numerous residents. In early October, after hearing from Mayor Goerner at a public presentation that he shares her goal of a zero-based budget approach, she made a decision and came out in favor of consolidation. Needless to say, Jill is clearly up to speed and will be ready to hit the ground running on day one.

Because I live in the Township, I do not have a vote — only a voice. I would like to use it in support of Jill Jachera.

I have been volunteering with Jill’s campaign since June, and would like to share what I have learned about her. She is an incredibly bright woman. She is a quick study and razor-focused. She listens before speaking. She is a hard-worker. She is an intelligent delegator. She is deeply community-minded. She is a fierce advocate for what she believes in. She is an incredible mother. She is a good friend. She is confident, yet modest. She can laugh at herself. And, she is open-minded. Mostly, I learned that if consolidation passes, she would well-represent Borough residents in those very important 12 months.

Teri McIntire
Dempsey Avenue

Republican Candidate for Borough Council Weighs In On the Subject of Consolidation

To the Editor:

I find unpersuasive the argument that consolidation represents the best hope of preserving our downtown neighborhoods.

Proponents’ financial case, presented without the hype, goes something like this. Eliminating staffing redundancies saves $3.16 million per year, of which $1.18 million will be used to provide municipal trash collection in the township. The remaining $1.98 million will be largely devoted to paying transition costs and to funding the Borough’s alleged operating deficit. Increased taxes will be necessary to fund the rebuilding of what many consider to be a shamefully neglected infrastructure, but the tax increases may be mitigated by the elimination of duplicate facilities and any realized net consolidation savings.

Leaf collection in the Township is evidently so expensive that the Consolidation Commission did not even bother to estimate the cost of more frequent Township pickups (currently less than once per month v. 40 times per year in the Borough).

Borough residents enjoy and expect frequent free pickups of household debris (e.g. mattresses), but there is evidently no provision in the consolidated budget for extending such pickups to the Township.

These assumptions raise questions of simple fairness. Borough residents are not alone in feeling squeezed by rising taxes. I doubt that Township residents will: permit $1.2 million of the projected staffing savings to be used for a service many Township residents do not value (curbside trash collection); permit staffing savings to be used to fund Borough budget deficits; agree to pay two thirds of the cost of a joint police force, half of whose patrols would be dedicated to downtown neighborhoods; or agree to share the costs of a program that collects leaves and castoffs (and perhaps trash) in the Borough but not in the Township. It’s more likely that Township residents will use their voting majority to find ways to shift to downtown property owners the full costs of any special services that downtown residents receive.

Given the recent furor over tax increases and the misguided tendency of most voters to view new “ratables” as net positives, cost shifting will probably mean downtown service cuts, loosened downtown zoning, and the construction in downtown neighborhoods of the very apartment blocks, parking garages, and office towers feared by many consolidation proponents. In fact, the only certain outcome of consolidation is that the elimination of one entire set of municipal zoning restrictions will enfeeble resistance to transformative downtown development and set the stage for accelerated growth.

Some of us deny the inevitability of an urban downtown and envision a happier, unconsolidated future. An alternative is suggested by the $2.1 million in savings projected by eliminating 13 of 79 existing police positions. Setting aside the very real questions of appropriate staffing levels, pension obligations, and termination costs, I suggest we ask whether Princeton can afford public servants whose annual per capita cost is $161,538 ($2.1 million divided by 13). It seems obvious that less generous compensation and benefits packages are the only certain path to stable property taxes – and that we can follow that path without abandoning the zoning protections afforded by an independent Borough.

Peter Marks
Moore Street

Candidate Has Unwavering Commitment To Doing Right for Princeton if Elected

To the Editor:

It has been an incredible honor over these last many months to campaign for the office of Mayor of Princeton Borough. In my discussions with residents and students in town and on campus, I am again reminded of the reason I chose Princeton to be my home. We are a breathtakingly diverse, scenic, bustling, and imaginative community and I consider it a privilege to live here. But, through my campaign, I have become even more deeply concerned that our community is threatened with a broad array of challenges that threaten the sustainability of our unique quality of life. I am running for Mayor to fight for Princeton’s future. I believe our community deserves a government which represents the best of who we are. I believe a Mayor should have an open door policy to hear and deliberate every reasonable point of view. I believe a Mayor should have the vision and experience to solve problems proactively. I believe a Mayor should seek to build bridges and not moats between our various constituencies. I believe a Mayor should behave with a standard of professionalism that reflects well on the community. Despite attacks on me by desperate political operatives, attempting to distract voters from the plain fact that this is a race about Princeton and not about party label, I am proud to have run a positive issue-based campaign that has united Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. I pledge to each of you to bring an unwavering commitment to doing right for our Princeton if I have the privilege to serve as your Mayor.

Jill Jachera
Hodge Road

Yina Moore, “Homegrown Resident” of Princeton Has Worked to Preserve Diverse Community

To the Editor:

As a “homegrown resident” of Princeton, Yina has the passion for our town and her finger on its pulse from many perspectives, including issues involving public education, infrastructure, public financing, diversity and housing and development. She has the community’s interests at heart, including mine — the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood.

Yina is experienced, energetic and engaged. Those are the qualities I want in my mayor. She is actively involved in the issues affecting residents all over the Borough. She talks to citizens to seek varying perspectives and opinions, does her own research, consults with experts and has creatively developed solutions to a myriad of problems. Her leadership roles have prepared her for the task of moving Princeton forward for everyone’s benefit.

Unlike her opponent, Yina has been proactive in the plight of our entire community and its neighborhoods. She has worked to preserve our histories, address resident needs, help businesses, improve the quality of life, and promote measures to sustain a diverse community. I want a mayor with the experience to be effective on her first day in office.

Ms. Moore has been active in community efforts over many years and continues to be involved in many meetings working towards the creation of more affordable housing, ensuring a fair and equitable tax system, providing more public spaces, and increasing business opportunities. We need a mayor who knows how to develop fair and equitable win-win solutions, not one whose positions are typical of Republican mantras that protect the interest of the wealthy while ignoring the less fortunate and middle class. Sound familiar? A vote for Jill Jachera is a vote against the interests and preservation of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, the Western section, and all of Princeton Borough.

Bernadine Hines
District 6 Committee Woman

P.S. Contrary to assertions that supporting letters have been written by Yina Moore with random signatories added, this letter was indeed penned by me. I’m an educated person with my own opinions and can do my own writing.

Democratic Mayoral Candidate: “What Matters Moving Forward Are Policies I Will Promote”

To the Editor:

I am writing to ask for the support of Borough voters on November 8. I bring extensive leadership experience and service to the Princeton community that has already produced a record of measurable and tangible results. My record is your assurance that I am not only able, but am committed to delivering on behalf of the citizens of Princeton.
I recognize that the decision about a change in our municipal boundaries is complicated. I also hear from many citizens who have concerns that not all of their problems are solved or will vanish if the two municipalities consolidate. Issues touch upon voting power, long-standing institutional arrangements and civic identity, views about how to deliver governmental services most efficiently, and about affordability. I feel strongly that voters need to make up their own minds based on how they weigh the competing factors at stake. To that end, I have shared my own questions and thoughts about additional lines of research with both the commission and members of the group opposing consolidation. I have done this openly. Consistent with my belief in transparency, I was well aware that the Preserve Our Historic Borough cc list included supporters of my Republican opponent. My position has been and remains that the issue is one for each Borough voter to decide.

What will matter moving forward are the policies I will promote. What defines those policies are the values exemplified in my volunteer work in the community over the past 15 years. Some of the initiatives I have led included creating an age-in-place zoning provision; zoning designed to preserve the history, character and affordability of neighborhoods; land use-based transportation improvements, and local business marketing tools and programs. I led the negotiations to gain neighborhood endorsement for an expanded arts center. I led the community processes that built consensus for more residences in the downtown, increased availability of managed parking, commercial space for local businesses, a grocery store, and a community plaza; outlined a neighborhood sensitive plan for Witherspoon Street; and rezoned the hospital site for residential use – just to name a few.

I want you to know that I will work to achieve efficiencies and savings in the Borough or in transition to consolidation, while ensuring Princeton’s sustainability as an inclusive and affordable community. I will strive for an amicable and efficient working relationship with the Township. I will be a mayor who stands for the same issues of fairness, equality of opportunity, and receptiveness to diversity that are the core of the Democratic Party in the national political debate.

For those of you who may be undecided or are considering voting for my Republican opponent, I ask for your support. I contend there is a role for government in our lives. I believe our municipality should exercise its role in regulating land uses, in encouraging sustainable practices and historic preservation, and in promoting equitable tax policies. My opponent’s vision of Princeton is deeply rooted in the Republican Party’s national platform.

If you would like to meet me and our Democratic team before the election, please come for coffee on Saturday morning, November 5, at 9:30 a.m. at 187 Library Place. For more information, please visit my website at www.yinamooreformayor.com.

Yina Moore
Green Street

Letters in Support of Candidate Jill Jachera As a Strong Voice, Seasoned Professional

To the Editor:

It is with great pleasure, that I’m endorsing Jill Jachera for mayor of Princeton Borough. Jill has 23 years experience as an attorney specializing in employment law and litigation. She has been on the YWCA Board for ten years and was YWCA Board President from 2007-2009. As is known, the YWCA is an international membership of women of different faiths, ages, experiences, and ethnic origins—working as an association to empower women and eliminate racism in order to achieve the common vision of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people

Jill will be a strong voice in support of all Princetonians, Her focused strategic leadership and vision will engage, encourage and empower all citizens to make Princeton the best that it can be. 

Beverly T. Elston

Quarry Street

To the Editor:

I can think of many reasons why voters should support the election of Jill Jachera on November 8. But to boil it down to one word I would choose, “expertise.” For too long our Borough government has distinguished itself by an absent-minded approach to governance.

Sky-high tax rates reflect an expense-heavy and business-as-usual approach to budgeting. Delays, indecision, and cost bloat afflict every major project brought before our Borough government. In the last 12 months alone the Borough has been hit with over $1 million of legal claims for litigation matters with Borough employees. As a seasoned and experienced professional and an employment attorney, Mayor Jachera would improve on this sorry track record.

Robert Gleason
Spring Street

Owner of a $1.2 Billion Company Discusses an Inconvenient Truth

To the Editor:

For the last eight years I have been running a $1.2 billion company with 5,000 employees. For the better part of this year, my company has been preparing for how to handle an imminent period of slowing growth. While we continue to make investments for the future, we are looking hard at our expenses, asking “do we really need to do everything we have been doing?”

Any opportunity to save 3.5 percent would be met with near giddy enthusiasm.

The Consolidation Commission has concluded that the INITIAL savings from consolidation could be as high as $3.2 million or 6 percent. Opponents of consolidation have questioned this number and have suggested that such savings would only be $1.9 million or 3.5 percent. To some, 3.5 percent may seem paltry but in mature companies or local governments, a 3.5 percent decrease in expenses is ridiculously difficult to achieve. And in my experience, there is usually more savings AFTER a consolidation when there is greater flexibility to review expenses from the bottom up. I believe either the $3.2 million (or $1.9 million) in savings will be just the beginning.

As hard as times currently feel, they are likely to stay this bad (or get worse) over the next few years. Property values are likely to stay relatively flat or even decline as will support from Federal and State sources. Sadly, in government as in business, though revenues are under pressure, expenses will certainly grow — most of our local expenses are labor related and grow by set formulas. The rest is just math. Slowing revenue coupled with rising expenses equals the need for more money — this is the real “inconvenient truth” of the next few years.

We have been protected from these increases because our towns kept taxes down by using surplus cash to fund shortfalls. As those surpluses deplete, our taxes will go up. Having been insulated the last couple of years, tax increases are likely to be meaningful. As taxes continue to rise with property prices staying flat, Princeton will become less affordable to many people. There are other options. We could increase the number of new taxable properties. Opponents of consolidation within the Borough often mention the new units in Palmer Square and coming units in the old hospital. Ironically, to preserve our historic Borough could ultimately require more development with significant compromises since the Borough really doesn’t have space. Additionally, new “taxable” properties don’t come without increasing expenses either. There will likely be more kids to educate and new owners will require all the services the rest of us enjoy, all at a cost.

Even with consolidation, we likely face financial pressures greater than those seen in a generation and our problems won’t disappear. But I believe consolidation represents our best option to slow expense increases. To me, the alternatives represent a much greater threat to “our historic Borough”— increasing property taxes which make Princeton less affordable or increased development which will make it less of the town we all love.

Dinni Jain
Olden Lane

Barbara Trelstad Has Worked for a Princeton That is Diversified in Housing and Population

To the Editor:

I write to support Barbara Trelstad’s bid for re-election to Borough Council, and I urge all Borough residents to vote for this outstanding candidate. In these difficult times, Barbara offers both a vision of Princeton and tested experience in municipal office — it is not enough, nowadays, to have “lived in Princeton for a long time.”

Since the outset of her public service she has worked for a Princeton that is both diversified (in housing and population) and sustainable (in environmental policies from trees and storm water-management to matters of infrastructure). She has done so with a scrupulous attention to detail and a shrewd sense of consequences.

In recent years she has worked to ensure that new zoning for acreage presently occupied by the Princeton University Hospital and Merwick will provide for 20 percent affordable housing, thus encouraging young and non-affluent people to settle (as well as work) in Princeton. She opposes “golden ghettoes.”

She has also helped craft zoning regulations for the new Arts, Education and Transit neighborhood that will require experts to conduct traffic studies so that decisions can be made on a sound practical basis. As an invaluable member of the Princeton Regional Planning Board, she has always stood for strong environmental protections and has worked to compel Princeton University to revise parking lot design, surfacing, and plantings.

Barbara, like her running mate Heather Howard and the Republican contender for Mayor, Jill Jachera, has staunchly favored consolidation of the Borough and Township. If Princeton residents approve consolidation, hers will be an important pragmatic and carefully considered voice in shaping the implementation of that vote.

Barbara’s range of civic experience is a significant qualification. She has served on the Shade Tree Commission and the Site-Plan Review Advisory Board, as well as the Friends of Princeton Public Library and the Arts Council. She “knows” from the inside how Princeton Borough and Township have been managed. If she is re-elected and consolidation is approved, she will offer residents hands-on experience of how committees interact. No start-up time will be needed for this indefatigable servant of the diversified and “green” public interest.

Immediacy of know-how is a prime value in this election. If consolidation is approved, Borough Council and Township Committee will have exactly one year to manage rearrangements already projected and new ones which will surely emerge.

Vote for Barbara Trelstad: you will not be disappointed.

Daniel A. Harris
Dodds Lane

Based on Current Budget Picture, Don’t Expect Borough to Keep Taxes Flat If No Consolidation

To the Editor:

Let me set the record straight. The last point in the Unite Princeton ad last week should have said: “The Borough is spending from its capital fund this year in order to keep taxes flat. Without consolidation, tax increases, fee increases, and/or service cuts will eventually be needed to close the gap.”

This is based on the report of the Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission which states that in 2011, the Borough is projected to spend more than it takes in by approximately $1.3 million (in the range of $1.0 to $1.6 million), and that the capital fund is being used to cover the difference. That is the point we were trying to get across, which is that based on the current budget picture we cannot expect the Borough to keep its taxes flat if we fail to consolidate.

I and the many other volunteers who are contributing our time to Unite Princeton are passionately in favor of consolidation as the best way forward for our community. We want all Princeton voters to be aware of the facts, and to make an informed vote in favor of consolidation on November 8.

Peter Wolanin
Co-chair Unite Princeton, Spruce Street

Weighing In on the Side of Consolidation: “The Moment for Princeton to Show the Way”

To the Editor:

Working together is wise. I believe that consolidation is wise. This is the moment for Princeton to show the way in New Jersey, a state paralyzed by too much home rule.

I believe that we can listen to each other, plan together, invest together and care for each other in ways that live up to the better parts of our nature. We are a generous and good-hearted community. We care about affordability. We value safety, fairness, and sustainability. We have enjoyed having the Princeton Public Library and Albert E. Hinds Plaza with its new farmers market right here in our downtown. The whole town did this together. 

It was a “consolidated” effort. We have all benefited. 

If you believe that by working together we can achieve even better results, then I ask you to please vote to consolidate on November 8.

Sheldon Sturges
Cameron Court

Borough Business Owner Remains Concerned By Issue Of Governance Consolidation Ignores

To the Editor:

Reading the opinion of some who find no difference between the Borough and the Township, I’m reminded of a European acquaintance who, having lived for some years on Palmer Square, moved into the Township just a mile away. After a suitable period I asked him how he liked his new home. “Oh, I love it,” he replied in all seriousness. “I’ve never lived in the country before.”

I, now having lived more than 10 years in the Township after 20 in the Borough, can appreciate the distinction he was making between the inner directed life of a small city and the outer directed life of its suburbs, a distinction that creates a different mind-set and different priorities. It is a distinction that raises questions of governance that have been addressed more than once in thoughtful letters but ignored by those who would prefer it didn’t exist. If there is any persuasive argument that would reassure those concerned with loss of representation, I haven’t seen it.

Much too much has been made of the issue of efficiency, I think. Having a single governing body would, no doubt, simplify the decision-making process in cases that now require two voices, and consolidation of services would remove costly redundancies. As desirable as that sounds, there are crucial times when in the search for efficiency, diligence, and thoroughness are at risk, and having two voices and two viewpoints are the only protection against serious error. Also, there may be redundancies that make our lives safer and more secure. Those ought not to be lost, regardless of the cost in efficiency.

Outweighing my concerns would be a clear showing of benefit to the communities involved. But even the report of the Consolidation Commission fails to present a fully convincing case. The savings they cite in support of consolidation could easily be overwhelmed down the road by “unanticipated costs”, some of which have already been pointed out. One needn’t question their objectivity to fault the result. A team of experienced professionals would have found the complexity of the project demanding.

Finally, I know some of my Township neighbors see good reason to consolidate. And I admire the carefully crafted and aggressive campaign that encourages that view. I might even agree, looking through my Township eyes, but my loyalty still lies with the Borough. I see little upside there, and far too much to lose. I will vote no.

Leo Arons
Chambers Street

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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