December 16, 2015

To the Editor:

Thanksgiving is over, but like turkey sandwiches, our gratitude lingers on.

From the very first feast up in Massachusetts, Thanksgiving has been a community affair, and it still is. Without help, 2,100 needy families in Mercer County would have found hunger to be a distraction from counting their blessings.

But hundreds of HomeFront helpers stepped forward, some individually and some from businesses and congregations, to collect and deliver the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinners like the ones enjoyed by most other Americans. The clients cooked for their children in their own kitchens and served turkey dinners at their own tables, because HomeFront and friends believe in the home.

But we also believe in the community — and our volunteers and contributors of money and food, have renewed that faith.

So, thank you, neighbors and friends, you’ve done it again. You’ve shared love and encouragement that made each client family’s Thanksgiving celebration so much more sustaining than just one meal could ever be.

Connie Mercer

Executive Director, HomeFront

To the Editor:

To evaluate President Wilson one must weigh the following:

At Princeton he increased teachers’ salaries, required an honor code, a senior term paper, and promoted graduates to serve the nation.

As U.S. President, he helped create the Federal Reserve System, the Child Labor Law, the Interstate Commerce Act, and the Clayton Anti-Trust Act.

As a citizen, he was for slavery and the state’s right to secede. Wilson opposed women voting and their voice in family or business affairs. His relationship with Mary Peck was kept secret from his three daughters.

Wilson overcame dyslexia as a child and despite periodic strokes wrote volumes of American history.

This is a human being of many parts.

William Roufberg

Kendall Park, Retired history teacher, 

PHS, 1958-1988

To the Editor:

Fifty-three percent of New Jersey private-sector workers don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan. Since workers are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if their employer offers a plan, this means that many will be unprepared for retirement. This is a problem. In a recent Republican debate, Governor Christie said emphasis should be on solving problems through the private sector rather than government policies. The Secure Choice Savings Act would create a public private partnership which will help millions of New Jersey workers easily save for retirement. Just like a 401K, they can choose whether or not to participate, and can select their contribution level. This allows flexibility to accommodate any circumstance workers may face. Employees will be able to save money for retirement, and small businesses will be able to provide a benefit with very little effort. Only employees can contribute to their accounts, so neither taxpayers, nor employers, fund the program thereby not costing anything to those not involved.

As a senior in college who will soon enter the job market, I join AARP and the many legislators from both parties in support of this bill. Governor Christie should sign this bill which will secure a better financial future for all New Jerseyans.

Atif Ahmad

Princeton Junction

December 9, 2015

To the Editor:

Nassau Presbyterian Church has been resettling refugees in the Princeton community for over 50 years. Families have arrived in our community from Cuba (1964), Cambodia (1980), Vietnam (1984), Hungary (1989), Bosnia (1994, 1999), Sudan (2003), Burma (2006), and Iraq (2010). The effort has involved serving one family at time, providing support of all kinds, offering a brief stay in a church member’s home, building relationships, and celebrating the launch toward independence. We have witnessed family members in various careers: restaurant management, computer networking, dentistry, tailoring, library science, teaching, and more. Several families have joined in our effort to support subsequent families resettling. Together with Princeton Theological Seminary, our congregation is working with Church World Service (CWS) to receive a Syrian refugee family soon after the first of the year. We look forward to the next chapter of what has become an essential part of one congregation’s attempt to live out our faith, honor our heritage, and give glory to God.

The Rev. Dr. David A. Davis

Pastor, Nassau Presbyterian Church

To the Editor:

While I am not a resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, I would like to share some of my observations about the conflict over the proposal to consider the designation of the neighborhood as a historical district and one that is referred to as historically African-American.

As we learned from the presentation on November 30, the neighborhood was never exclusively African-American. There were Irish and Italian immigrants also in the neighborhood at various times, as there are now a number of Hispanic residents (whose needs interestingly were not represented at all at the “crowded” meeting last Monday).

Although there are significant buildings in that neighborhood that ought to be preserved and protected — such as the African-American churches; the Dorothea House for its significance to the Italian residents of Princeton; places related to Paul Robeson, an outstanding resident of the neighborhood, his birthplace; the African-American cemetery — much of the neighborhood can use a facelift. There are also some buildings that would no longer serve the needs of residents where a teardown may be the best solution. Let’s not preserve poverty and decay.

There are two arguments I would like to make against designating the neighborhood historical and favoring its African-American constituency.

1) Such favoring of the African-American neighbors, although it may sound politically correct in our time, could create hostility between the different ethnic groups that make up the current neighborhood. It is not a move toward “coexist” and respect, but one toward resentment.

2) Hearing from residents who already live in historically designated neighborhoods that the cost of repair and upkeep to maintain historically approved looks can become prohibitive and thus can lead to decline and deterioration, rather than preservation, would discourage people moving into the neighborhood and providing the facelift.

I would like to recommend that the Council and the mayor of Princeton designate historically valuable property protected in the neighborhood, look at each house not as a district, but as an individual case when evaluating whether it should be preserved rather than replaced with something new. Such a one-by-one evaluation could be sensitive to all residents of that neighborhood and may add to its revival rather than freeze it in time and space for the emotionally motivated reasons of a few.

Ilona Melker

Valley Road

To the Editor:

The December 2, 2015 meeting of the Princeton Historic Preservation Commission provided all in attendance with a comprehensive history of the formation of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. We learned about the complex factors that contributed to the settlement of this neighborhood. We saw with pictures and heard by first person testimony the experiences of those that have lived in this neighborhood. We also learned about families, individuals and organizations that were able to overcome adversities imposed by the “law of the land”.

I listened with a sense of pride about the role of the Princeton Nursery School (PNS) in shaping the lives of many in the audience who were representative of the more than 5,000 students that have attended PNS since 1929. The Wise Preservation Planning LLC described the work done by a large sector of the people living in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood in the 19th and 20th centuries as “menial.” It was for the children of these hard working parents that the PNS’s Board of Trustees provided “care for and help to develop the whole child, to enrich his or her physical well-being, mental development, and cultural opportunities in a child’s formative years.” Scores of PNS graduates have gone on to serve the community as teachers, attorneys, doctors, clergymen, scholars, community activist, and in countless other professions.

Another noteworthy historical fact is that from its inception, Princeton Nursery School was integrated. While the elementary schools in Princeton were not integrated until 1948, Princeton Nursery School opened its doors in 1929 serving the African American and Italian American families that lived in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. The late John Mathews spoke of the difficulty his cousin Margaret experienced in obtaining funding for the school because of its integrated student body. Margaret’s parents, Rev. and Mrs. Paul Matthews, and many of their friends provided financial support to the school.

Another historical milestone that intersected at PNS was in the hiring of Mrs. Simeon Moss, the teacher–nurse of the infant group in 1930. Mrs. Moss was a Princeton resident and had the distinction of being the first black woman to graduate from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore. And her son Simeon was the first black student to graduate from Princeton University.

The Princeton Nursery School’s mission remains constant; to provide high quality preschool and childcare for the children of working parents that is affordable for all. We celebrate the rich racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the families from Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and the greater Princeton community. Our student body and staff reflect this diversity. We thank past donors and volunteers for your support of our work. Your continued support will make Princeton Nursery School’s place in Princeton’s history and in serving children and families secure.

Wendy Cotton 

Executive Director, Princeton Nursery School

Dear Governor Christie:

Hi, I am in middle school in Princeton and I am writing to you on behalf of many kids about the lack of enough sidewalks in this state. Sidewalks are very crucial for child safety and health; therefore, I believe that we need more.

In terms of safety, most kids like me love skateboarding and riding their bikes around town and in their neighborhood. Many kids also ride their bikes to school. Unfortunately, in my case, when I was younger, I was sometimes not allowed to ride because of the lack of sidewalks. As I am getting older, I realize the reason for this and how it is still dangerous for kids to ride bikes on roads without sidewalks. Although I am allowed to ride now, it is still unnecessarily dangerous. On average, in the United States, 12 people a day are killed by the lack of sidewalks on roads. In 2006, New Jersey recorded 171 pedestrian deaths. Many of these came from the lack of sidewalks. According to the Federal Highway Administration, there would be 88 percent fewer road injuries with sidewalks on every road.

I think that we can agree that more sidewalks for our roads would be very useful for the people of New Jersey. So I am asking you, as governor of this state, if you would do everyone a favor and build more sidewalks.

Not only would this make riding around town safer, but it would encourage people to get out and exercise. One out of three kids is obese. There are two main ways to prevent people from becoming overweight: exercise and healthy eating choices. I think that exercise is the more important. Not only is it good for your body, it is good for your mental state. Because exercise is so crucial for losing weight, if we had more sidewalks it would be easier for practically everyone to exercise. The number of kids who are obese is growing and more sidewalks will encourage kids to go outside and lose weight. Instead of staying inside and playing video games, if kids felt safer, I guarantee they would exercise more.

I really hope you consider my request to make New jersey a safer and healthier place.

Aiden Silverstein

Talbot Lane

To the Editor:

On November 24, Princeton’s Council and Planning Board revealed how Princeton plans to meet its Mount Laurel affordable-housing obligations. A Fair Share Housing advocate had already suggested we add 1163 new affordable-housing units through 2025, and a court-appointed consultant suggested 424. Alas, the plan presented chooses the lower number.

In fact, the plan includes only 339 housing units plus 107 “bonus credits” we’ve earned in the past. Of those 339 units, moreover, 154 have already been constructed, including 67 units at Harriet Bryant House, which opened in 2007. Another 120 units are already under construction, including 56 units at AvalonBay and 56 at the University’s Merwick/Stanworth housing.

The plan envisions only 85 genuinely new affordable units: 40 added to Princeton Community Village, 5 (a 20 percent set-aside) of 25 homes on the Franklin Street parking lot, 10 of 50 homes by the Princeton Shopping Center, and 30 of 150 residential units added to commercial buildings along Route 206 near Herrontown Road.

The plan seems less about adding affordable housing than about surviving judicial scrutiny. Those 339 units are “new” because they haven’t yet been counted in meeting Princeton’s Mount Laurel obligations. Meanwhile, of Princeton’s 9,328 actual households in 2013 (the last year I have figures for), 1,461 (15.7 percent) had incomes below $30,000, while another 1,537 (16.5 percent) had incomes between $30,000 and $60,000. This means that 2,998 Princeton households (32.2 percent) would have (depending on family size) been eligible for affordable housing in 2013. Unsurprisingly, our various affordable-housing authorities have a combined waiting list of some 1,600 distinct applicants. The average waiting time is one-and-a-half to three years.

One bright side of this dismal picture is that more land in Princeton (including lower Alexander Street and the Butler Tract) could also support affordable housing. And once Princeton meets its Mount Laurel obligations, it might be legal to offer any additional affordable housing to Princetonians first. Furthermore, we need not limit the number of affordable housing units on any site to 20 percent of the whole. If the land is sold to builders to develop, the town could offer zoning benefits in exchange for 50 percent affordable housing. Incentives like tax rebates, fast-track approval, lower parking requirements, and permission for greater density could all help shape future development to our benefit.

Finally, these sites need not be sold to for-profit developers. Council should allow the community time to raise funds so non-profit groups could develop some of the sites. Then 100 percent of the new housing could be affordable.

Surely many of us share the Princeton Community Master Plan’s stated goals: to “Provide Princeton’s fair share of affordable housing,” to “Promote, preserve, and enhance Princeton’s unique community life,” and to retain Princeton’s “diversity” in age, income, and ethnicity. As we age, our incomes may decrease. Affordable housing is crucial because, sooner or later, you and I may need it.

Anne Waldron Neumann 

Alexander Street

To the Editor:

Ten years ago, within a week of each other, Eli Wiesel at Princeton University and the Dalai Lama at Rutgers University, responded to the question “What gives you hope?” with the identical answer: “Young people!” That has stuck with me all these years. At the time I was a little annoyed as their response seemed to remove responsibility from those of us no longer young, yet still working for change. Recently, I have every reason to be hopeful based on knowing these young members of our community. I met them through my membership in Not in Our Town, a Princeton-based grass roots group committed to racial justice.

Ziad Ahmed, a Princeton Day School junior, started redefy, an organization committed to countering stereotypes, and on Sunday, December 13, at the Carl Fields Center, Princeton University, redefy will host a day long program, #TheGenerationofNow. The event will focus on racial justice and the goal is to inspire teenagers and community members to become engaged in social justice work.

Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi are Princeton High School juniors, and founders of CHOOSE, an advocacy effort to “overcome racism and inspire harmony through exposure, education, and empowerment.” In their “Engage” program, working with Princeton school administrators and faculty, they are organizing the many personal stories they have collected so that teachers can use them in the classroom to bring up the issues of race, racism, and racial justice.

Tatianna Sims, a 2015 Princeton High School graduate, winner of a Princeton Prize in Race Relations and a Not in Our Town Unity Award, recently spearheaded a community Unity Walk and panel discussion. With the help of her student committee (and some support from the older generation) the event exemplified her mission of bringing people together to support youth, particularly those who feel disconnected from our community. Over a hundred adults and youth, including political, community, and student leaders of all backgrounds, walked and talked. Adults spoke about the importance of their own mentors; students spoke about the need to reduce stereotyping and wondered how they could be advocates for their peers. The panelists ranged from the first African American Princeton mayor Jim Floyd, in his nineties, to Princeton High School student leaders.

During the event Mayor Lempert announced the imminent establishment of a Youth Commission so that our younger voices can be heard in making decisions affecting our community.

So, what gives me hope? Young people AND not so young, in partnership!

Wilma Solomon

Tee-Ar Place

December 2, 2015

To the Editor:

Princeton has begun to recycle plastic bags and other used plastics — bravo! McCaffrey’s has collected “over 800,000 bags, about 200 pounds, since August 1” (see Nov. 4 Town Topics, pages 7-8). I applaud the coalition of McCaffrey’s with Sustainable Princeton and the Princeton Merchants Association that has made this success possible.

But the only fully responsible aim must be a substantial pre-consumer reduction of single-use plastic bags. Post-consumer recycling cannot curb the toxic manufacture of plastics: carbons and methane released into the atmosphere contribute to dangerous climate change. Recycled bags simply become plastic wood, temporarily saved from landfills. Merchants must also strive to reduce pre-consumer use of single-use paper bags (think of deforestation, flooding).

The coalition’s voluntary program (“Ask First,” “Bring Your Own Bag”) should immediately promote an agreement among all Princeton merchants to reduce the number of single-use bags (plastic and paper) distributed to customers — i.e., reduce consumption. The coalition should devise a method of measuring the reductions achieved; the method should immediately be publicized; a schedule for making periodic announcements of progress should be announced.

I propose that the coalition announce its numbers every six months (at a minimum): April and October 2016. A program without measurements is effectually non-existent; accountability to Princeton is mandatory. Without measurement and accountability, no program can be responsibly evaluated. Obviously, Princetonians need to know the merchants’ baseline for measurements.

Many people know that voluntary programs to reduce consumption of single-use bags have failed (increasing bag-recycling is relatively easy). Municipalities, states, countries around the world have passed laws or ordinances to achieve reduction (most recently, Britain [following Ireland and Wales] and, in New Jersey, Longport, the first, but not the last in our state). FYI: it takes twice as long to drive from downtown Princeton to Wegman’s, Whole Foods, or ShopRite than it does to McCaffrey’s.

The Longport ordinance (imposing a ten-cent fee per bag on customers who forget to bring their own and thus avoid the fee, which is thus not a tax) is similar to the one drafted by Princeton citizens four years ago — but still not put on the Princeton Council agenda. In February, 2015, Mayor Lempert authorized the expenditure of taxpayer funds for Princeton’s legal counsel to vet the draft ordinance; the resulting memorandum indicates that the ordinance, possibly modified, would be legal in New Jersey; Longport has now set the precedent.

I propose that, in fairness, we all assist the coalition’s voluntary program in proving its adequacy for a year from inception. If pre-consumer plastic reduction of at least 50 percent is not achieved by next October, the mayor should put the draft ordinance on the Princeton Council agenda; public input should be solicited, and a working group to achieve a satisfactory draft ordinance should be established. As the November 2016 elections approach, all candidates should make public their views on the ordinance.

“No man is an island”: Princeton, like every community, is responsible to the world.

Daniel A. Harris

Dodds Lane

To the Editor:

I read with utter disbelief the local media coverage of the radical Black Justice League invasion and occupation of Nassau Hall and the Princeton University President’s Office.

I wasn’t surprised by coverage and now our mayor accepting and rationalizing a bend the knee response. There wasn’t editorial comment or even mention of threats and intimidation used to press the League’s Demands. Nonetheless, I respect the news media’s right to report and comment on these events as they see fit.

That said, as a longtime letter writer and contributor to the media on issues of the day, I am dumfounded and angered by the lack of coverage of the courageous student group now advocating a return of true academic freedom and open dialogue to the Princeton campus. My concern is heightened by the fact that I doubt many in Princeton have even heard of, let alone read about, their request and cogent justification for a meeting with the president seeking redress.

I am a Princeton graduate, alumnus ’66, active for years in education locally, New Jersey-wide and sometimes nationally from pre-K to high school. Also I have held administrative, senior management, and Board positions at community colleges and universities offering varied curricula to equally varied student bodies. I was on the Princeton campus during the Vietnam War and present at SDS uprisings against the war as a Navy officer in uniform. Many fellow career officers were at the Woodrow Wilson School as well. We disliked intensely the protests involving verbal assaults on our officers and enlisted personnel. However, we understood that the protests were directed at our current national leadership and related actions taken in prosecution of the war. However, most of us kept focus on our assigned duties as directed by military leaders in execution of the orders of our president and commander-in-chief.

Despite these past events on campus, I find the current campus unrest more troubling. This time it’s not about demanding an end to an unbelievably costly and unpopular war. It’s an assault on the rule of law in our democratic republic, the very core values embedded in our laws long honored within the prestigious institutions that support and sustain our Constitutional government.

I view the Princeton Student Group advocating a return to true “academic freedom and open dialogue” as right. The University needs to acknowledge the legitimacy of their concerns. Their group is now the one bearing abusive burdens of hate and discrimination for their personal beliefs, both by faculty and fellow students.

John Clearwater

Governors Lane

To the Editor:

I attended the November 23 meeting of the Princeton Council, which among other issues, addressed the recommendations of the Open Space Task Force Committee on how to manage our open spaces and “passive parks,” in contrast to the management of the active sports and other facilities by the Town’s Recreation Department.

During the public comments period, there were several people who spoke with passion and knowledge about environmental issues, such as remediation of plastic bags (in our oceans and lands) and the benefits of dealing effectively with our fallen leaves. Our Mayor, Liz Lempert, has inspired me with her commitment to environmental issues, but she appears to be inhibited by other Council members who demonstrated little encouragement or reinforcement to those who have worked for many years on these matters.

Regarding the report of the Open Space Task Force Committee, the Town administrator suggested that more time was needed to hire a consultant to study the management of these issues, but this is not necessary, as these issues have been studied for many years. A thorough report was paid for and published in 2008, and the current report of the Open Space Task Force Committee, headed by Wendy Mager, director of the Friends of Princeton Open Space, was thorough and professional.

On a personal note, one of the Town staff members questioned me, “Who gave you permission to make Marquand Park an arboretum?” (the deed of gift from the Marquand family in 1953 and a subsequent consultant report designated the park as an arboretum). The Council liaison to the Task Force asked me, “When are the Marquands going to take the logs off my property?” and later declared that “Marquand Park is an eyesore.”

Please, in future elections, choose people to run on environmental issues, as well as other important issues facing the town. The current low level of environmental awareness is very distressing.

Pam Machold

Prospect Avenue, Chair of the 

Marquand Park and Arboretum Foundation

To the Editor:

Earlier this month, Princeton Special Sports and the Princeton Recreation Department sponsored the Arts for All! talent showcase featuring Princeton-area adults and teens with special needs. Although we suspected there was a ton of talent in this wonderful community, even we were blown away. Hosted by PHS junior Jack Lynch, our artists’ offerings included poetry reading, singing, piano, painting, 3-D puzzle sculpture, violin, guitar, trombone, and comedy — it was tremendous!

Student volunteers made the event both possible and very enjoyable. In addition to thanking Jack, who carried the evening as our host, thank you to Jimmy Britton, Olivia Browndorf, Callia Cordasco, Talia Fiester, Yannick Ibrahim, Manas Kaushik, Alex Kline, Grace Seward, Alex Vogel, Sydney Vogel, and Charlotte Walker. We hope you know that you really do make a difference.

Deborah Martin Norcross

Co-President Princeton Special Sports

To the Editor:

As chair of the Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee and as president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO), respectively, we are writing to encourage all Princeton Democrats to consider serving their community by getting more involved in the local Democratic Party or the local government.

We invite you to join us at an open house meeting on Sunday, December 13, from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Suzanne Patterson Center (behind Monument Hall) in meeting room 3 to learn more about the different ways that you can get involved.

This is an informal opportunity for Democrats to learn about the local political process and municipal elections. Topics to be covered include how candidates get on the ballot, the local Democratic party endorsement process, and the different Democratic organizations in Princeton.

Membership in the PCDO is open to all registered Democrats. The PCDO works to elect progressive candidates and has monthly, public programs to discuss issues affecting all of us on a local, state, and national level. Elections for the PCDO executive board will be held in January and we welcome interest from those who wish to learn more about the organization and to serve, either now or in the future. If you are not able to attend the open house, information on becoming a member of the PCDO is available at www.princetondems.org/join.

The members of the municipal committee are elected in each voting district, and you can get connected with the representatives for your voting district. You may email municipal-chair@princetondems.org if you would like more information about the municipal committee or running for local office.

As we mark the fourth year of a consolidated Princeton at the end of 2015, we also want to thank the members of the municipal committee and PCDO for their support of a transparent and vibrant political culture in Princeton that helps keep our government responsive to its citizens.

Peter Wolanin, chair 

Princeton Democratic Municipal Committee

Jon Durbin, president

Princeton Community Democratic Organization

To the Editor:

Few people can deny the positive power of student protests throughout our history — demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches decrying the evils of the Vietnam War, segregation, nuclear proliferation, to name a few, are all significant contributions made by our country’s justice-seeking youth.

However, I’m hard pressed to understand the significant societal value of the current student protest over Woodrow Wilson. Why this protest now? I first became aware of this movement several weeks ago when I saw an expensive full color poster on Nassau Street of Woodrow Wilson’s face alongside a statement that he made more than 100 years ago referring to the American Reconstruction (1865-1877).

Surely, there are many protest-worthy causes today, including modern day slavery or human trafficking.
Slavery statistics are hard to come by because slavery is ostensibly against the law and slave trading is performed in a shadowy underworld, but even by the most conservative of estimates there are about 50,000 slaves in the U.S.A. today with about 5,000 human beings sold here every year for forced manual and sexual labor. Ending slavery in the United States would seem to be a more deserving cause for student protestors, especially for groups whose history has been so blighted by this evil practice.

Anne Woodbridge

Palmer Square West

To the Editor:

Princeton voters who care about good government and gun violence prevention have an opportunity to voice their concerns now by emailing their two current Assemblypersons in the 16th Legislative District: Jack Ciattarelli and Donna Simon. Both of these Assembly members are paid to serve in the Assembly until January 11, 2016. Consequently, they both have a key decision to make this Thursday at the State House when the General Assembly meets to vote to override Gov. Christie’s veto of a key gun violence prevention legislation, S.2360.

Readers should realize that the governor himself created a political problem that was not there, and simultaneously failed to solve a gun violence problem. Once he received the legislation, voted unanimously in both houses, the governor turned a piece of good government legislation into bad legislation by adding 27 pages of changes to New Jersey’s mental health laws. In letters to the legislature, New Jersey’s mental health associations have opposed the governor’s changes. The governor did not hold hearings or approach mental health care policy from a thoughtful or caring manner.

This blatant act of political obfuscation was designed simply to enhance his presidential campaign opportunities, as we hear daily from New Hampshire.

CeaseFire-NJ, the oldest and largest gun violence prevention group in the state has called on both Assembly members Ciatarelli and Simon to override the veto this Thursday. We strongly urge all readers who care about stopping gun violence to make a difference by calling or emailing their two Assembly members Ciatarelli and Simon immediately and ask them to vote yes to override the governor’s veto of S.2360. Their emails are: asmciattarelli@njleg.org and aswsimon@njleg.org. The phone numbers are: (908) 450-7064 and (908) 968-3304 respectively. Calls are needed now. The vote is this Thursday, December 3

Dolores A. Phillips, MPH

Legislative Director, CeaseFire-NJ, 

Coalition for Peace Action

November 25, 2015

To the Editor:

I applaud President Christopher Eisgruber of Princeton for taking seriously the recent demands of the Black Justice League. A resolution has been reached that will provide the institution and the town with an excellent opportunity for discussion and action.

Princeton University is a beacon of learning, but it also has a dark history of discriminating — against African Americans, Italian Americans, Jews, and women, among other groups.

The idea that Woodrow Wilson’s name should be taken off buildings because of his poor record on civil liberties and civil rights will be explored, as it should be. Investigation and discussion of our American heroes and their feet of clay is well worthwhile. What are the criteria we should use to judge historical figures and how do we tally up the balance sheet of good deeds and bad in deciding to honor them? Is there a justification for negative actions that were “a product of their time”? How should we proceed in creating a democratic and civil society that gives everyone an equal voice and helps assuage the crimes and misdemeanors of our shared past?

These are questions begging for open discussion. All of us could benefit from cultural competency sessions. Many people would be interested in participating in a student-led discussion of freedom of speech. Socratic dialogue is what a university community is all about. If we do not listen, we cannot learn.

Scotia W. MacRae

Evelyn Place

To the Editor:

Having won election on November 3, it is an honor to continue serving the citizens of New Jersey’s 16th Legislative District as State Assemblyman.

Campaigning throughout the district is always a wonderful opportunity to share a vision — a positive vision keenly focused on reforms that will make New Jersey a better place to live, work, and retire. With this vision in mind, I remain, as before, wholly committed to providing leadership that is honest, independent, principled, and determined.

Congratulations to Assemblyman-elect Andrew Zwicker. I look forward to working in partnership with Mr. Zwicker to ensure that the citizens of the 16th Legislative District are duly represented and served.

We should all take a moment to express gratitude to Assemblywoman Donna Simon for her legislative efforts over the past four years. As a full-time legislator, Donna demonstrated steadfast commitment to public service by always finding time for constituents, working tirelessly, and fighting especially hard for many worthy causes.

Nothing serves the public good better than an involved citizenry. Let us constructively engage to meaningfully address our state crises and, in so doing, restore people’s faith in government.

Jack M. Ciattarelli

Assemblyman, District 16, Somerville 

To the Editor:

Every vote matters.

This past Election Day, all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly were up for election. In the 16th Legislative District, more than 34,000 votes were cast and less than 600 votes separated all four candidates. By the time all of the provisional ballots were counted, one incumbent won. I defeated the second incumbent by 78 votes, and my running mate Maureen Vella came very close.

People are asking how we did it, how I am poised to become the first Democrat to ever represent the people of the 16th Legislative District. It wasn’t gerrymandering or big money from special interests. And it wasn’t “rocket science.” (Sorry, bad science pun.) It was, quite simply, a democratic (little “d”) grassroots campaign. There was no “secret weapon;” the difference was you.

We created the largest grassroots campaign organization in the state. That meant we had volunteers from every town in the 16th District and from all around the state. Teachers, students, carpenters, lawyers, doctors, electricians, retirees — people from all walks of life turned out to support us. We knocked on 21,000 doors and made 78,000 phone calls. We received more than 700 contributions from individuals and we fought for every vote. Our team was tremendous, they poured everything they had (and more) into this race and I just don’t know the words to express how profoundly grateful I am to them and you.

Last Thursday, I was talking to a group of supporters and a woman I had never met came up to me and told me that my victory gave her hope, made her feel that her voice was heard, that her vote truly did matter. I’ve thought about that a lot since then. That’s what I’m going to do, be your voice, your representative in Trenton. There’s a lot to be done, from growing New Jersey’s economy, to protecting our beautiful environment, or making sure that every New Jersey student has access to the finest education system in the country. In each of these and in everything I do, I will bring an evidence-based approach to public policy.

It will be a tremendous honor to be your Assemblyman. I will work hard to make you proud.

Andrew Zwicker

To the Editor:

Princeton recently witnessed a powerful example of truth and reconciliation [also see “Formal Apology and a $175,000 Gift Mark Witherspoon Church Milestone,” Town Topics, Nov.18, page 7]. In connection with the 175th anniversary of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast announced that it is retiring the mortgage of $175,000 on the Paul Robeson house, righting a wrong committed over 100 years ago. In 1900, after serving for 21 years, the Rev. William Robeson, father of famous Princetonian Paul Robeson, was forced out of his pastorship at the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church by white members of the presbytery, causing him and his family financial and emotional hardship. Just as his son suffered for his leadership in the civil rights movement of the 20th century, the Rev. Robeson endured harsh consequences for speaking out against the discrimination experienced by Princeton’s African American community, many of whom were members of his congregation. His ouster also resulted in a significant loss in funding for Witherspoon Street Church.

The members of Not in Our Town, Princeton’s racial justice organization, whose mission is to speak truth about “everyday racism” and other forms of prejudice and discrimination and promote reconciliation with open, honest engagement and mutual respect, applaud the Synod, the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and Nassau Presbyterian Church for this bold move. We implore other institutions in Princeton to follow this example, face their histories relating to African Americans, publicly admit and apologize for wrongdoings, and take whatever steps necessary to rectify past mistakes and reach racial reconciliation.

Not in Our Town Princeton (www.niotprinceton.org) is a 501(c)(3) interracial, interfaith social action group committed to speaking truth about racism, prejudice, discrimination, to raising awareness of white privilege, and to seeking reconciliation, mutual respect, and open communication among diverse groups in the greater Princeton area.

Linda Oppenheim and Larry Spruill 

Co-chairs, Not in Our Town Princeton

To the Editor:

We have received several reports of door to door solicitation in Princeton neighborhoods for donations to the Crisis Ministry. We do not solicit door to door. Please spread the word to your neighbors and friends. If you would like to support us, please visit our website www.thecrisisministry.org for our mailing address or to make a secure online donation. We thank the Princeton community for its generous support of our work!

Carolyn Biondi

Executive Director 

November 11, 2015

To the Editor:

The municipality has begun a Bicycle Master Plan Study, which is being funded by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Community input is critical to create a successful plan for a more bikeable Princeton. Three public meetings will be held throughout the plan development process. The first of these outreach meetings will be this Thursday, November 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Room at 400 Witherspoon Street. I encourage all residents to participate!

The goal of the study is to develop a bicycle network plan that connects prime destinations within Princeton and that links to adjacent communities and regional trails. The plan will designate a specific bicycle infrastructure for each segment of the network. The intention is to make Princeton’s streets safer and more attractive for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.

At the Thursday meeting, staff from Princeton’s Engineering Department and Parsons Brinckerhoff, the study consultant, will provide an overview of the study process, gather public comments, and answer questions in an informal one-on-one basis. A Spanish language translator will be available at this meeting.

In addition, an online map is available to allow members of the community to provide input and comments at any time. For more information, please visit: www.princetonnj.gov/BPAC/bicycle-master-plan.html.

Liz Lempert

Mayor

To the Editor:

Last year United States taxpayers spent nearly $11 billion cleaning up litter across the U.S. That is ten times more than the cost of trash disposal. While we may not agree on how to reduce waste, I do think everyone agrees on this: litter is unappealing, unattractive, and expensive to clean up.

Litter ends up on our lawns, in our gutters, alleyways and is often carried through storm drains into our local waterways. The presence of litter in our community is not just an environmental issue, it impacts quality of life, property values, and housing prices.

One of the best ways to address litter is to provide positive examples of how to properly dispose of waste and items that may be recycled. The disposal and recycling choices provided set an example which others chose to follow.

Princeton University sets an excellent example on its pristine and litter free campus. Every single landfill bin is paired with a recycle bin, both bins are distinctly colored and clearly labeled. When an item is added for recycle collection, like single use plastic bags, it is collected at all bins, sending a uniform and consistent message.

Over the period of 11/13-5/13, a group of volunteers advocated that the Town follow the model set by Princeton University with respect to waste and recycling. At that time the Town had 81 landfills bins and only 6 recycling bins which were all going to landfill due to contamination. The dual bins model selected by the Town lacked clear labeling; the poor design allowed for the collection of debris and attracted cigarette butts, and the lack of distinct coloring confused people. Additionally, because only 7.41 percent of the landfill bins were paired with a recycling bin residents and visitors received a mixed message about recycling. Recently the Town added six more dual bins downtown. While this second set has a labeled blue top they appear to be as contaminated as the initial set.

In 2016 I would like to see funds we have been allocating toward green programs and some money from our tonnage grants be used to model Princeton University’s example. This successful model will decrease the overflow of landfill waste in the current bins, increase recycle collection and set the right example of proper disposal, all of which would greatly reduce litter downtown.

While I advocate for action by the Town on the issue of litter, I do feel that responsibility for litter downtown belongs to all of us. We can each influence the actions of others around us at home and in our community at large. Perhaps the next time we see littler downtown, we can each do something. The Princeton Community Collective has set up an Instagram Hashtag #DirtyDowntownPrinceton to engage and encourage residents to pick up/rescue litter, dispose of it properly and then share their story with an image.

By setting the right example we can all collectively contribute to a cleaner more beautiful downtown!

Bainy Suri

Founder of The Princeton Community Collective, 

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

When Eleanor Angoff passed away on Tuesday, October 27, Princeton lost a most sincere, effective, and fervent advocate for the housing needs of our community. On behalf of Princeton Community Housing (PCH), we express our condolences to Eleanor’s family and friends; we are writing to let others know how much Eleanor meant to our organization and to Princeton.

Whether it was the need for affordable housing for families or for market-rate senior housing, Eleanor worked tirelessly and diligently for over 20 years to make sure that our governing bodies understood the necessity of ensuring that Princeton was a town in which everyone — seniors, families, people who worked here in the schools or at the hospital, folks at every income level — could have a home. She was a prodigious writer of thoughtful letters to the local papers, an eloquent and persuasive speaker at numerous public hearings, and a role model and mentor for many on how to effectively advocate and lead.

For 23 years, Eleanor represented The Jewish Center on the Board of Trustees of Princeton Community Housing. She was a significant contributor to the work and accomplishments of our organization, whose mission is to provide, manage, and advocate for affordable housing opportunities in town. During her years on the PCH Board, Eleanor also chaired the Governance Committee and served as secretary.

Because of her expertise in and understanding of housing concerns, Eleanor was appointed to the Jewish Family and Children’s Service’s Advisory Board on Senior Activities.

In the mid-1990s Eleanor created and led the Princeton Coalition for Senior Housing in support of market rate senior housing in Princeton. She worked to meld the AARP, the Community Without Walls, the League of Women Voters, Princeton Community Housing, the Joint Commission on Aging, and the Senior Resource Center into a strong and effective coalition and led the effort to gather over 1,100 signatures on a petition.

Our fond memories of Eleanor’s one of a kind personality, effective leadership and steadfast advocacy help ease the sadness of our loss and inspire us to continue our mission and help the community to offer the variety of housing opportunities that are essential to maintaining the vibrancy and socioeconomic diversity that defines our town.

Rich Gittleman, 

President 

Edward Truscelli,

Executive Director, Princeton Community Housing 

To the Editor:

Thanksgiving is a time for giving — a time to demonstrate to your children and grandchildren the satisfaction of giving to those who are less fortunate. Yes We CAN! Food Drives, a volunteer group that collects food for the needy, is asking you and your family to donate a fresh or frozen turkey or a cash donation to help families share in the bounty of the holiday. Last year we collected 35 turkeys. Help us double that amount this year.

You can drop off your turkey or donation on November 21, from 9 to 1, at our Yes We CAN! booth at the West Windsor Farmers’ Market. On this last day of the market season, our volunteers will still be collecting fresh produce. In fact, this season, our group has collected 12,000 pounds of donated produce from generous marketgoers and farmers.

If you prefer offering a cash donation, our volunteers will buy the turkeys that day from a local supermarket. All turkeys will be distributed to families by The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County through its food pantries in Princeton and Trenton. The pantries provide free food for over 3,000 children and adults each month who are faced with the challenge of feeding their families with adequate and healthy meals.

The West Windsor Market is located off Alexander Road on Vaughn Drive, on the way to the train station.

Fran Engler

Yes We CAN! Food Drives