July 1, 2020

To the Editor:

As I enter my final week as artistic director and resident playwright of McCarter Theatre Center I want to thank all of you who sustained our dream.

I came here in the summer of 1990 expecting to stay for 3-5 years, and I am still here 30 years later. Why? It’s very simple. I fell in love — with my staff and Board, with our audience, an audience Athol Fugard called “the best audience in America.” I fell in love with this beautiful garden of a town, graced by one of the finest universities in the world. Princeton became home — my artistic home and my personal and spiritual home.

The audience here believed in my vision of the classic repertoire seen as if new and new work seen as if it were already classic. They flocked to new work by Ntozake Shange, Nilo Cruz, Regina Taylor, Athol Fugard, Edward Albee, Danai Gurira, Chris Durang, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Ken Ludwig, and so many others. They supported my new work as well — from Betsey Brown and Having Our Say to this season’s Gloria: A Life. They reveled in the classics of Marivaux, Ibsen, Chekhov, and Shakespeare and cheered the finest actors, designers, and directors in this country and abroad. These artists created plays and productions that became some of the most frequently produced work in America.

We developed a nationally recognized Education and Engagement department to bring the healing magic of theater to all in our community, both those who could afford a ticket and those who could not — to those in shelters and challenged school districts, to those in senior facilities and half way houses. more

To the Editor:

I am publicly expressing my support for Dina Shaw for Princeton Council.

I have personally known Dina since first meeting her at Littlebrook, where she was very active in PTO leadership, and created after school clubs available to all kids, no matter their background or ability to pay fees. She took this leadership to JW where she strengthened the PTO and saved one of the biggest fundraising events in Princeton Public Schools, Super Saturday. While she was doing this for our school community, she was also a hardworking businesswoman, which comes out in her dedication, strength, and ability to get results. When she’s working on a project, Dina wants everyone involved; you ask her a question and she comes back with an answer. She doesn’t mind being in the fire and is eager to learn from everybody. more

To the Editor:

We love the festive atmosphere that has been created on Witherspoon Street. And we appreciate the continuing improvements — the concrete blocks, once stark, are now painted, and flowers have been added.

We have one suggestion, though — how about eliminating traffic after 6 p.m.? This shouldn’t affect merchants, and will improve the dining experience. In any event, keep up the very good work!

Meredith And Henry Von Kohorn
Library Place

To the Editor:

When deciding to vote for a candidate for any office, I make an assessment of their demonstrated values, the positions that they have actively taken over time, and their accomplishments. I tend to go on what is a known quantity based on a candidate’s engagement, knowledge, substance, consistency, and effectiveness. Leticia Fraga is just that candidate.

When asked to respond, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga offers suggestions and actively seeks solutions. She is sincerely interested in the entire community, but also has a unique sensitivity to those who meet the challenges of survival on a daily basis. 

It is both timely and significant that Leticia, as the first Latinx member of Council, is also Princeton’s police commissioner and liaison to the Civil Rights Commission. Her work with local events, in coordination with the Police Department, has facilitated meaningful and respectful community relationships. Because of her professional experience, she brings the same connectivity to her work with the Human Services Commission and the Board of Health.  more

To the Editor:

There are many Princeton residents whose families have, for generations, been the backbone and sustainers of their neighborhood and this town. These are the rooted families whose names may not be known, however, their services and struggles have engulfed every entity of Princeton.

One such family is the Broadway Family whose rich history and services, for four generations, have enriched, not only the Witherspoon-Jackson Community, but the town of Princeton as domestic employees, entrepreneurs, educators, lawyers, artists, athletes, and authors.

The history of a people is told through the written word, by oral interviews, and by taking a walking tour of noted places. What really brings the history of an individual, families, and a community alive and appreciated is to see their pictures displayed with pride and respect! Romus Broadway was the photographic historian for centuries of proud residents who lived in the Witherspoon-Jackson Community. When his many well displayed posters were viewed at various events, church services, schools, community programs, or showing a display for families who were celebrating a reunion, a conversation would start among persons who recognized themselves, their friends and family members.  Romus often spoke about the close and lasting friendships of those who lived in this neighborhood. “…we were Black, Italian and Irish and we all got along….” more

To the Editor:

I write in strong support of Leticia Fraga who is seeking a second term as member of the Princeton City Council. I can’t think of anyone better qualified, in terms of character and temperament, to advance a progressive agenda for our city.  Leticia has worked hard to expand human rights and inclusiveness in Princeton. She has shown courage and persistence when supporting some of our most vulnerable residents: older Americans, low-income people, and recently-arrived immigrants.  more

To the Editor:

David Cohen and Leticia Fraga deserve your support for re-election to Princeton Council. I have known them both for more than 12 years and admired their efforts on behalf of Princeton.

David brings his skills as an architect to his civic advocacy for Princeton.  He supports smart growth and has made it his special portfolio to work with many groups of contrasting points of view to seek consensus. It is challenging to plan for a town that we would like to be and not default to the town we were in the 1970s – but David brings his intelligence, passion, and hard work to the table every day in order to envision a safer, more equitable, more sustainable and beautiful Princeton. David has also shown his dedication to the cause of Princeton’s seniors and to advancing a more equitable relationship with Princeton University through his work on the local issues committee of the PCDO. more

June 24, 2020

To the Editor:

As outrage grew over the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Princeton Public Library issued a pledge: we would redouble our efforts around racial literacy. Now that we’ve had additional time to mourn and reflect, and witness the police killing of Rayshard Brooks, we realize that serving as a neutral commons for the free exchange of ideas is no longer enough. As Angela Davis said, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”

So our new pledge is to work with our community partners on an enhanced racial literacy we’ll call “anti-racist literacy.” We all have a part to play in this; since our mission centers on books and learning, our staff have started with suggested readings for adults, teens, and children. This is a small step in what we expect will be a long journey toward a broader understanding. We are grateful for your patience as we work with staff and partners on new opportunities for programming and while we review our policies and procedures to identify areas for improvement. We fully realize we will be judged by our actions, not by our intentions.

We know now is the time for all institutions, even those that have done good work on racial justice in the past, to do more to demonstrate a core truth: Black Lives Matter. Guided by our shared values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we will proceed by listening with humility and openness, then act with diligence and steadfastness. We will work with anyone who joins us in the goal of becoming an anti-racist society. And we will keep you posted on our progress.  more

To the Editor:

I’m writing to support David Cohen, a Democrat on the Princeton Town Council who is seeking re-election. 

I met David last year, when my neighbors and I attended a meeting of the planning board, on which David sits, to express our concerns about a developer’s plan to tear down a house at the end of our street and build two larger houses in its place. Our street has 25 or so modest homes on tree-filled quarter acre lots, and we were concerned both that the planned 4,500-square-foot houses would be out of character and that stormwater runoff would make the homes on the downhill side of the development vulnerable to flooding.

At the meeting, David — an architect by training — listened intently to our concerns and suggested several concrete solutions. Thanks to David, the town required the developer to adopt a more rigorous stormwater management plan and to create a conservation easement, preserving several trees on the property. 

Since then, I’ve learned that David’s conscientious approach is characteristic of his work in town governance. In debates over a proposal to limit FAR waivers, for instance — an effort to discourage tear-downs by limiting the size of new construction on smaller lots — David both articulated the importance of preserving Princeton’s affordability and demonstrated his willingness to listen to good faith objections about the measure’s unintended consequences. His approach to this issue — listening deeply, adjusting his position where he felt it was warranted, always keeping core values in mind — is typical of David’s decision-making.  more

To the Editor:

Princeton residents may not give much thought to County Committee — the bottom position on the primary ballot. Until recently, I too thought this is an inconsequential role. I learned differently as co-founder and president of the Good Government Coalition of New Jersey (www.GGCNJ.org).

In New Jersey, where politics are ruled by strong and bullyish political bosses, voters feel disenfranchised. Much of this can be traced back to one thing that is unique to New Jersey — the structure of our primary ballots, with a “County Line.”

On your primary ballot, you will see the County Line in column A, the one with the most candidates. Most people vote “down the line,” for all and only column A candidates. Candidates in column B or C have virtually no chance at winning the primary — and therefore the general election. The party bosses know this, and grant preferential ballot placement on “the Line” carefully. In many counties they strategically place challengers — often progressive, grassroots candidates — so as to hurt them the most: in column F following several almost empty columns, in the same box as another candidate with an opposing platform, or dividing a group of candidates running as a slate across several columns. more

To the Editor,

Princeton voters will decide whether to grant Councilmembers David Cohen and Leticia Fraga a second term. In making this important choice, I urge all voters to consider what each of the candidates brings to the table at this critical time for the Princeton community and for the Princeton government.

With a background as a professional architect, David has been instrumental in developing plans for affordable housing that are rooted in smart growth and thoughtful design that serves residents, neighbors, and the community at large. He was Council’s representative on the team that crafted the Climate Action Plan and has been a leading voice on implementation, including spearheading initiatives for safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, enhanced stormwater management, and resiliency planning for seniors and other vulnerable populations.

Leticia has taken the lead in ensuring every Princeton resident is counted in the 2020 Census, which will determine Princeton’s share of federal and state funding for the next decade. As liaison to the Board of Health as well as the Commissions for Human Services and for Civil Rights, Leticia worked across departments to ensure the municipality responds in a comprehensive way to the COVID outbreak, especially making sure Princeton’s most vulnerable residents are connected to services that keep them healthy, fed, housed, and safe. As the first Latinx councilwoman and first Latinx to serve as police commissioner in Princeton, Leticia brings an important voice to Council decision making. more

To the Editor:

Princeton is a place that is held in high esteem the world over. I am proud of so much of what we do and who we are. But there is room for us to do better. 

It is important for all of us to look around us, think about where we stand and identify all the things we can do to be a better community. Let’s look, for example, at the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the country’s, as well as Princeton’s fissures were amplified during the national lockdown and quarantine. Right here in Princeton, where some of the brightest minds are curated and some of the wealthiest people live, some of our neighbors were hungry, some were experiencing homelessness, some were finding it hard to pay their bills, and some were food insecure. The pandemic didn’t invent these social insecurities, it merely left them bare for all to see. How did we get here? I’m no social engineer, but I can see the glaring disparities in funding our priorities. 

The police department got $8 million and the human services department got a couple hundred thousand. My observation was validated at Council meeting on June 8th, when the health officer himself said that he has to use the police to do some of the work the health department needs to do because they don’t have enough staff. The health officer is essentially saying that he does not have the resources to hire and therefore help Princetonians in need. The fact that the police department is so well funded that they can do both crime fighting and assist with social services speaks to our priorities and in turn the problem.   more

To the Editor:

Many people run for elected office for reasons unrelated to public service — perhaps vanity, boredom, or personal grievances, to name a few. That’s why I am once again supporting Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council in the Democratic primary. I have zero doubts Leticia is running only because she wants to continue to serve the community. It’s refreshing to feel that way about an elected official these days. 

Now, I understand it’s foolish to assume anyone’s intentions but with Leticia, we have the receipts. Before being elected to Council in 2017, Leticia had served as chair of various commissions and boards, from the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund to the YWCA, Princeton Community Housing, Send Hunger Packing Princeton, and the Civil Rights Committee of Human Services. As a member of Council, she has continued to pursue issues related to health, equality, and social justice on committees including Human Services, Board of Health and Public Safety. (All even more critical now as we address the health and economic crisis caused by COVID-19.) more

To the Editor:

As mayor of the former Princeton Township, and as a former Princeton Council president, I ask my fellow Democrats to join me in supporting Leticia Fraga and David Cohen, candidates for re-election to Princeton Council in the Primary Election on July 7th.

Leticia and David have demonstrated their ability to serve the needs of all of our community as members of Princeton Council, and especially during the past five months as Princeton has sought to provide for the health, safety, and well-being of our residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leticia has strived to assure that we achieve social equity in providing services to those of our residents who are the least served and often the most needy. David has worked hard to help our municipality achieve our goals of environmental and fiscal sustainability. He has been an advocate for the increasing senior population in our community, and for well planned development of affordable housing. They are both progressive Democrats and are exceptionally well qualified to help guide our town through the changes that we will need to make both as individuals and as a community in an uncertain future.

Please join me in voting for Leticia Fraga and David Cohen in the Primary Election on July 7th, proven leaders for Princeton.

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

June 17, 2020

To the Editor:

With the July 7th primary election right around the corner, I am writing to support the re-election of my colleagues David Cohen and Leticia Fraga for Princeton Council.

With so many urgent needs in our community right now, the outcome of this race is critical. David and Leticia bring essential skills, experience, and focus to our Council — and their re-election will assure the successful continuation of key initiatives and goals.

David brings a wealth of experience as an architect and planner and plays an essential role in anchoring our work on new affordable housing as well as commercial development to bring in tax revenue. David is Council liaison to the Planning Board, all of the Affordable Housing subcommittees, the Code Harmonization and Master Planning committees, as well as IT, Budget, Personnel, the Bike Advisory committees, and to the Climate Action Plan. I share David’s emphasis on smart growth and sustainability.

Leticia’s unwavering commitment to our minority and underserved populations is daily manifest in her work on the Civil Rights Commission, and as liaison to the Board of Health and to the Human Services Board. I look to her for guidance and leadership in these areas. Now more than ever, her input is critical to guiding us through these difficult times and ensuring that the needs of our diverse community are prioritized in all of our work on Council. more

To the Editor:

Per the Town Topics report of the June 8 meeting of the Princeton Council [“Policing Issues Take Precedence at Council Meeting,” page 1, June 10], Councilman Dwaine Williamson was absolutely right and need not have apologized for his words or his justified emotions.

The irrational call for defunding our respected police force demands prompt and forceful response.  Addressing issues of policing with the absurdity of diminishing or even disbanding the very segment of our government that stands between lawful citizens and chaos cannot go unanswered. We have already seen the previews of what happens with inadequate police presence in cities across the country.

Defunding the police would lead to the opposite of the stated goals of its most vocal advocates and is counterintuitive. Unless Shakespeare knows what he was talking about in writing “Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” more

To the Editor:

Why must we live in the shadow of Woodrow Wilson?

Black and brown folks throughout the South have lived their entire lives in the shadow of statues and buildings named in honor of those who advocated for their subjugation and marginalization. As our society comes to terms with its racist past and present, those statues are finally falling. Buildings are being renamed. It is a first step whereby our society reckons with the reality that those held up as heroes are in fact the perpetrators of the horrors of our racist society. As a first step in healing the wounds of a racist legacy, it is long overdue.

Not only is it long overdue in the South. It is long overdue right here in our hometown. In Princeton, we see no movement from the University to reverse course and rename the Woodrow Wilson School. In 2015, the University took the mind-boggling position that Wilson’s legacy was complicated and nuanced, and we must see him in that light. Therefore, the University kept his name on buildings as well as its association with the school.

Wilson’s history is not complicated or nuanced when it comes to race. To say that Wilson was anything other than a racist is straight-up nonsense. Princeton University has an obligation to its students, faculty, and staff — as well as this community — to lift the shadow of Wilson by removing his name from the school. It is time for the University to fully and completely come to terms with its racist past and divorce itself from the legacy of Wilson and his racist views. If they cannot do it now, when will they?

Frank (Dean) Smith
Maclean Street

To the Editor:

At this point, it’s just under three weeks until the primary on July 7 (and you may have already gotten your vote by mail ballot). There are three candidates for two positions on the Princeton town Council. All three have strong supporters who have shared, on these pages and elsewhere, the skills and experience each of them have to offer if elected. In an ordinary year we assess candidates, often influenced by the opinions of friends and neighbors, and our feelings about the issues each candidate highlights and the problems they propose to solve. This is not an ordinary year. What strikes me about this one is the way in which the Council has pulled together as a group and addressed the many issues they expected to face, in the midst of a pandemic, and providing leadership while learning to conduct the business of the town  in an entirely different way.

For me this is a strong argument for re-electing the incumbent Council members,  David Cohen and Leticia Fraga. In addition to what they individually have to offer, they have been working through this unique time effectively with others on Council. When there is competence and collaboration, sometimes what we need most is continuity. This is one of those times.

Eve Coulson
Russell Road

To the Editor:

We are writing in support of Dina Shaw’s candidacy for Princeton Council. We know Dina through her volunteer work and her many years of involvement in our community. We have found Dina to be the kind of person that cares about our community and who knows how to unify people and bring all different groups to the table.

Dina reaches out and builds bridges. She has demonstrated warmth and consideration toward all residents of Princeton that we very much need at this time. People have written about her business background and of course that is incredibly important.

But she also believes in the things that we believe in — strong community, strong communication, and a get-it-done attitude. How do we make our town stronger; how do we reach out to all parts of our community so that everyone can be lifted up?  Dina brings the moral compass and spirit and energy that our town needs right now. Please join us in voting for and electing Dina Shaw for Council in the Democratic primary on July 7.

Fern and Larry Spruill
Oak Lane

To the Editor:

Princeton is a place that is held in high esteem the world over. I am proud of so much of what we do and who we are. But there is room for us to do better.

It is important for all of us to look around us, think about where we stand and identify all the things we can do to be a better community. Let’s look, for example, at the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the country’s, as well as Princeton’s fissures were amplified during the national lockdown and quarantine. Right here in Princeton, where some of the brightest minds are curated and some of the wealthiest people live, some of our neighbors were hungry, some were experiencing homelessness, some were finding it hard to pay their bills, and some were food insecure. The pandemic didn’t invent these social insecurities, it merely left them bare for all to see. How did we get here?  I’m no social engineer, but I can see the glaring disparities in funding our priorities.

The police department got $8 million and the human services department got a couple hundred thousand. My observation was validated at Council meeting on June 8th, when the health officer himself said that he has to use the police to do some of the work the health department needs to do because they don’t have enough staff. The health officer is essentially saying that he does not have the resources to hire and therefore help Princetonians in need. The fact that the police department is so well funded that they can do both crime fighting and assist with social services speaks to our priorities and in turn the problem.  more

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of Leticia Fraga’s re-election to Princeton Council. For a town that touts diversity, inclusion, and equity on its platform of behavior it is critical that the Council’s make-up reflect that core philosophy and belief.

As the only woman of color on Council, Leticia has targeted critical issues facing lower income residents while also demonstrating an ability to look at issues on a variety of other levels with balance, thoughtfulness, and insight.

Being both a councilwoman and a mom helps Leticia find solutions in creative ways to manage conflict and focus on the end result while navigating through the proper steps to get there. She understands the value of listening carefully and the importance of guidance and nurturing, and demonstrates that care in her deliberations and public discourse. more

To the Editor:

When the last banner will have come down from the protests prompted by the sadistic and public murder of George Floyd, communities across the country will need to take a critical look at their policing practices. Princeton is no exception.  Our demographic make-up and political leanings are not that dissimilar to Minneapolis.  That city has a population 15 times the size of ours and, therefore, presents many more opportunities than we do for interactions between police and its minority population.  That we have not experienced the kind of traumatic incidents the nation witnessed last month is simply a manifestation of the laws of probability.  The more these encounters take place, the more likely it is that these sorts of tragic incidents will occur.  The fact is few, if any, of us here in Princeton even today have cared to ask how the police in our town have treated our black residents. At some point, the laws of probability will catch up with us unless we get genuinely interested and involved with how we choose to police our community.

In the short term, the surest way to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic incidents involving police and the black community is to simply reduce the number of unnecessary interactions between the police and the public at large. Here in Princeton, traffic stops and nuisance calls are two areas in which we can effectuate change immediately. 

Do we really need cops staking out motorists on Mountain Avenue to make our streets safer?  Wouldn’t speed radars and cameras be in fact more effective at deterring aggressive driving?  Maybe we should impose higher summons to reflect the income levels here in town. Even better, let’s make a portion of the summons means-based.  more

To the Editor:

We have known Dina Shaw for close to two decades and wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for Princeton Council. Whether in the capacity of PTO President for Littlebrook Elementary School or JW Middle School, or in a board position at The Jewish Center, Dina has proven herself to be an innovative leader who has never wavered from tough decisions. While PTO President for Littlebrook she saw a need for, and implemented, a slate of after-school programming which continues to be extremely popular with children and fulfills a vital need for parents. In addition, while PTO President at John Witherspoon Middle School, she helped develop new and creative fundraising solutions, including reconstructing the dues collection process and designing sponsorship opportunities for local businesses which significantly increased the funds available for PTO activities.

Due to Dina’s extensive involvement in the Princeton community, we have seen her network expand significantly over the years and believe that this will make her an informed contributor to the Council should she be elected. Further, her approachable and inclusive style encourages diverse viewpoints. Dina offers a fresh voice to enrich the Princeton Council, with new ideas that are grounded by the long-standing principles we value such as education, smart planning for our community to maintain its unique character that we cherish, and support for a vibrant central business district that serves our needs. more

To the Editor:

Tomorrow evening the Planning Board is considering adopting a Green Building and Environmental Sustainability Element (GBESE) into Princeton’s Community Master Plan. Adoption of this element ensures the integration of sustainability and climate action in the development of community policies and land-use decisions.

A priority action of the Princeton Climate Action Plan (CAP), the GBESE affirms and reinforces the CAP’s mitigation and resiliency goals. This new element provides the essential planning foundation required to enable Princeton to meet its emission reduction goals and better prepared for the impacts of the changing climate.

Sustainable Princeton commends the Environmental Commission, the Master Plan Subcommittee, and the Planning Board for their diligent work on this major milestone and wholeheartedly supports the GBESE’s adoption into the Master Plan.

Sustainable Princeton

To the Editor:

It must have been a divine nudge that led me to check my Twitter feed in April to see a promotional “tweet” for a free online course titled “The Medieval Pursuit of God,” offered by Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). 

Spontaneity and curiosity caused me to click “enroll” as my stay-at-home circumstances felt very isolating. Yet, while I always dreamed of taking a PTS course, I had a nagging thought that the medieval period wouldn’t offer anything transformational to enrich my own faith tradition.

And then I learned about the fascinating life of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century woman who lived at the time of the Bubonic plague. Julian’s faith and dedication to church was foundational. At the age of 31, she had a miraculous recovery from an undiagnosed deadly illness through multiple visions of Christ on the cross. 

This transformative experience led her to become an anchoress — someone who “sheltered in place” for over 40 years in an apartment connected to St. Julian’s Church of Norwich, England. One of her windows faced the chancel of the church, another faced the main village street where town folk came to share their troubles and ask Julian’s council and advice.  more