JAMES W. FIRESTONE
To the Editor:
With regret I inform my friends and supporters that I have decided to withdraw as a candidate for Princeton Borough Council. Your help and encouragement along the way was wonderful. My decision is based however on my increasing personal and family responsibilities.
I would have liked to have run to gain an opportunity to represent a new point of view on Council. I can only hope that my work over the past year will help the Council to change its direction, which encourages our town to turn itself into a city over night, or at least over the next decade. If you as citizens are not careful and vigilant, that is exactly what will happen to you: You'll end up living in a new city with tax responsibilities that you didn't count on.
And, yes, for a short time Princeton might appear to be a better place, with vibrancy and growth more evident as though they were both good in themselves. But, in reality, unless that growth is carefully planned for, and with a University that takes its share of the burden seriously, and not just as pseudo giving window dressing, the results will lead to a Princeton that most of you didn't move here for, which was to live in a great town. It will also lead to a town where middle income people and the poor are squeezed out.
Princeton can't continue to take on the burden of all the townships around it (who refused to let their own downtowns grow), without losing something vital, which is easy access to its own downtown. That was what was principally wrong with the redevelopment scheme (beside the lack of competitive bidding, the sneaky way it was put through the Planning Board, the farce it made of our democratic process by eliminating the right to petition, and the multiple appearances of a conflict of interest rampant throughout). Yes, as a result, pretty soon you won't be able to go to your own downtown without going into a garage. Is that what you as Princetonians really want?
Well, if it is not, I encourage you to participate in the democratic process to change the course of the next events. Continue to try to stop that project at Phase II. Concerned Citizens are still trying to do that to save the short-term metered parking uptown. This November, instead of letting one group rule in their vision for the downtown, don't be afraid to vote for the individual.
And, don't just be critical. Instead, ask more of yourself. Participate more. Become involved again, and bring your ideas forward to preserve the dignity of our neighborhoods and our diversity. Our town needs better ideas than an excuse like saving the Pine Barrens from sprawl by embracing Smart Growth here where you could ruin the functioning of a great town.
Feel free to stop by our porch at 13 Vandeventer. Both Tina Clement and I intend to stay involved in our community and thank all of you who helped us bring to the town's attention its various needs that were not being met. You honor us with your friendship and by stopping in.
To the Editor:
Two weeks ago, I received, via U.S. Mail, a packet of documents from Patriot Media "explaining" their ongoing (and long overdue) system conversion in the Princeton area (and announcing what appears, at first glance, to be a rate hike, if I understand the way they have packaged and priced their various services).
I found the cover letter of that packet rather patronizing and bordering on the offensive. I don't enjoy being told (in red ink, no less) and I quote that "you will need to take action or you will experience a loss of service. We are asking that you schedule a convenient appointment time on the date specified on the enclosed form..." Convenient for whom? Not for me I won't be in Princeton on the specified day.
The entire tone of this letter and its attachments has this "take it or leave it" feel to it that I found quite disturbing. Patriot seems to have forgotten who is the customer in this situation.
Be that as it may, I tried to call the Patriot Customer Service number to reschedule this "convenient" appointment.
In fact, I called four times, on different days and at different times of day. After navigating a four-level menu delivered in a rather officious tone, I was asked for my phone number; I entered it, and was told it was a non-existent number. Then, as if by magic, a human appeared on the line; I explained the reason for my call and was told that I needed to talk to a "different" Customer Service department. I was switched to that number and was told by a recording that my "approximate wait time" was 20 minutes.
All four calls were essentially identical, except that the "approximate wait time" varied from 15 minutes to 25 minutes. I guess Patriot assumes that my time is worthless, and I find this insulting. I'm the customer whom Patriot is asking to spend between $500 and $1,000 a year, and they ask me to stay on hold for 20 minutes to be allowed to do so? They've gotta be kidding. (The first time I was on a cell phone.)
A week ago yesterday, I sent them an e-mail, similar to this letter, addressed to email@example.com. To date, no answer. But this morning, there was a voice message on my Princeton phone (the "non-existent number," see above) demanding that I call back immediately or lose my cable and internet service. For the record, I don't have cable internet service.
RCN's customer service was terrible, but if first impressions are any indication, Patriot's is a lot worse.
If Patriot cares to have me as a customer, they will have to mend their ways, or, satellite TV, here I come.
T. A. DOLOTTA
To the Editor:
New Jersey residents stand to get hit with a double dose of negative fallout from President Bush's shortsighted policy decisions affecting energy production and environmental protection.
Last month, the Bush administration gave final approval to rules changes in a dubiously named "Clear Skies" environmental initiative that will actually make it easier for aging, coal-burning power plants in the Midwest to avoid installing improved clean-air equipment on their smokestacks. This federal action wipes away a previously established Clean Air mandate requiring 17,000 power plants, refineries and factories to reduce their pollution emissions.
As a result, power plants and other high-polluting facilities in the Midwest can continue to belch contaminants into New Jersey's air space. It's an intolerable situation for New Jersey, where 17 of the state's 21 counties rank in the top 100 of counties nationwide for poor air quality.
But what adds insult to injury for New Jersey residents is the fact that President Bush's relaxed air pollution rules will do nothing to help address the weaknesses that were shown to exist in the state's electricity delivery system during the recent massive northeast blackout. As the blackout demonstrated, the problem in the electric delivery system is one of transmission, not supply.
For New Jersey residents, it's the worst of two possible worlds: polluted air and more blackouts. Thanks to President Bush, New Jerseyans may soon find themselves coughing in a state of darkness.
To the Editor:
On our recent trip through the American prairie, we had to stop at Lubbock, Texas, to take care of an ear infection. Our old map showed the medical center in the center of town. No, it was not there any longer. It had moved out of town, away from easy reachability, was now some driving distance away for the elderly, an expensive taxi ride in a large new complex of buildings. The name: "University Medical Center." We asked, "Is there a medical school in Lubbock?" "Oh, no," was the answer. "There is some technical school. The students like to learn how to use all those instruments." How practical as long as they don't use some instruments for the first time on my eardrum.
What do I learn as we returned to Princeton? Our medical center is now the "University Medical Center." Are the leaders of the Princeton and Lubbock medical centers singing from the same hymnal? Did they use the same consultant to come up with that? I can't believe that Princeton paid $700,000 to come up with this idea when we could have gotten it for free from Lubbock, Texas (plus their idea to have a highway around town so that no more trucks can go through Lubbock now do you hear that, Princeton?).
Does Princeton University plan on having a medical school now? "Oh, no," was the answer. "There is some medical and dental school up north somewhere. They send their kids down here to learn something in our hospital." How practical as long as a dental student does not try his first body cuts when I come in with an appendicitis.
But isn't it a bit misleading to call it "University Medical Center" here in Princeton, known primarily for its university, without saying that it does not have anything to do with our university? Shouldn't the name be "University (not of Princeton) Medical Center"?
Such complexity in a name calls for an acronym. My friends suggested "U-MedCaP" for University Medical Center at Princeton, but "U-noPri-MedCaP" for what it really is. I totally rejected U-noPri-MeCtraP and am willing to pay a $5 price for the best acronym anybody will come up with.
And how about the substitution "of" Princeton with "at" Princeton and the plan to move out of town to a larger area? Industry has seen cycles from dreams for bigness in good years reverting to strategies for small specialty operations in lean times. And the only available large areas I know are along Route 1 in West Windsor, mainly on the other side of that difficult-to-cross road but still with a Princeton address, mind you. Do we mind? Are the people of Princeton stakeholders in this venture after all those donations and the thousands of volunteer hours provided by the local residents? Or did we hire new management to look after what industry calls "shareholder value?" Who are the shareholders? What is value for them? Including senior living central to Princeton in the Merwick area?