November 13, 2013

To the Editor:

Diane Ravitch’s recent Princeton speeches let down Princeton residents seeking thoughtful remarks on the state of education, who instead got inflammatory rhetoric.

Ms. Ravitch misrepresented the state of charters in New Jersey, and by implication Princeton Charter School (PCS). Unfortunately she declined our invitation to visit PCS before she spoke. Had she visited PCS, here is what she would have learned:

NJ Charters are Nonprofit Public Entities, Not Profit-Seeking Private Corporations: PCS and all New Jersey charters are school districts under state law and thus public entities. All are run by non-profit boards. Of the 87 schools chartered in New Jersey, only four are managed by for-profit charter management organizations. Our charters are subject to even more requirements than traditional districts. When New Jersey charters don’t perform, the state closes them.

PCS Does Not “Keep Out” minority and special education students: PCS and all New Jersey charters must and do accept all applications to enroll, and PCS admissions are determined by random lottery because of the overwhelming demand. Ms. Ravitch’s suggestion that we “push out” children who are more difficult or expensive to educate is unfounded.

PCS recruits for diversity and supports students: PCS students are incredibly diverse, representing many nationalities, races, and ethnicities from families with native speakers of 16 different languages. PCS has redoubled efforts to reach out to minority and lower income residents. Our parents and teachers go door to door and hold open houses in these communities to attract the broadest possible representation of students. Once enrolled, we provide support programs for every student in academic need, and free after-school facilities for families in financial need.

PCS fully supports special needs students: PCS has enhanced its special education services and classification policies. While other districts are busy declassifying students, PCS encourages the evaluation and support of all students with special education needs.

Rigor, assessment and accountability are good: Ms. Ravitch attacked President Obama’s efforts to instill in all public schools a well-defined, rigorous curriculum, testing to understand what students are learning, and more objectivity in teacher evaluation. PCS was founded by progressive Princeton parents and teachers who embraced these reforms, and makes no apologies for expecting the very best of our students and teachers.

Master teachers, not amateurs: Most outrageous was Ms. Ravitch’s blanket claim that charter teachers are “amateurs.” PCS recruits only highly experienced, fully certified teachers with a demonstrated record of excellence. Our teachers relish the challenge of helping all students succeed, and embrace testing to benchmark both student and teacher achievement.

The real ‘reign of error’ is Ms. Ravitch’s disingenuous attack on charters and teacher accountability on behalf of unions that oppose progressive reforms.

Even Ms. Ravitch concedes there are ‘good’ charters, and PCS is one of the very best anywhere. It is a shame she chose to electioneer on public property on the eve of gubernatorial and school elections instead of recognizing PCS as a model charter offering academic excellence for all, regardless of family resources.

Paul Josephson,

Hardy Drive, President,

Princeton Charter School Board of Trustees

To the Editor:

I want to congratulate Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon on their re-election to Princeton Town Council. Congratulations also to Princeton’s own Andrew Koontz for his re-election as a Mercer County Freeholder.

Our sincere thanks and best wishes go out to Barbara Buono, Marie Corfield, Ida Ochoteco, and Christian Mastondrea for the extraordinary efforts they put forth to represent us.

While the school board elections are rightly non-partisan, we want to extend congratulations to Andrea Spalla, Molly Chrein, and Tom Hagedorn for their re-election and election to the Princeton Public School Board and wish them all success as they and their colleagues work to provide the best possible learning environment for the school children of Princeton.

I want to give a special thanks to a number of colleagues who played a major role in helping get out the vote: Peter Wolanin, Sue Nemeth, Owen O’Donnell, Dan Preston, Doreen Blanc Rockstrom, David Cohen, all the members of the Democratic Municipal Committee, the PCDO Executive Board, and other friends and families around town who helped along the way for which there are too many to name here.

Finally, while we may not have won all the races we wanted to, I think we should be very proud of the ones we did, and the fact that New Jersey has its first ever African American Senator in Corey Booker! And how can we not be proud of the fact that “Marriage Equality” has become a reality in New Jersey, an issue that the PCDO took a strong leadership role on nearly four years ago!

As always there is much work for us all to do to make Princeton, the state of New Jersey, and America the best places to live.

Jon Durbin

President, PCDO

 

To the Editor:

At the public meeting of the task force dealing with traffic and transit issues in town, held last Saturday at the University, several attendees advanced the belief that the principal goal of the study effort should be broadened to become regional transit, focusing on a Princeton hub with lines radiating to other areas with reciprocal transit needs. The meeting showed that Princeton has the talent to contribute to such a challenge, in the person of Ralph Widner.

Although the transit element of this study focuses solely on the corridor from Princeton Junction to Nassau Street, Mr. Widner suggested what the beneficial impact on local traffic would be with a more comprehensive (perhaps partially light rail) transit network to include Plainsboro and West Windsor, even Lawrenceville and Montgomery. It appears that the zombie Dinky-devouring BRT scheme will soon be re-entombed, although another important element of a regional transit improvement plan could well start with a Bus Rapid Transit along Route 1, very logically connecting with the Dinky.

Rail costs seem daunting, however, considering that NJ Transit’s River Line cost some $100 million per mile (without electrification) to construct, and the tracks were already there, although it is a wonderfully useful service (I used it recently to go to Burlington to meet a friend for lunch). Shouldn’t we consider starting on a smaller scale? Like by determining the added traffic-mitigating benefits of improving service in the study corridor by converting the Dinky to light rail and extending it to Nassau Street and meeting more trains at the Junction? Already the Dinky carries a thousand riders — many not driving cars along Alexander — each way each day.

A while back I floated a plan to do just that and at what seemed to be at an unbelievably low cost, plus with financing identified. Let’s hear what the task force recommends and consider that as a reasonable first step in the still important broader plan to serve a Greater Princeton. If a new Dinky demonstrated that light rail in Princeton could be significantly more efficient to operate than the current Dinky, that fact could only bolster the arguments for adding rational light-rail extensions more widely, sooner rather than later.

Rodney Fisk

Birch Avenue

 

To the Editor:

Last Sunday HiTOPS presented the inaugural Princeton Half Marathon. We want to thank the many people and organizations that helped make this a wonderful community event for our town. An endeavor of this magnitude — 13.1 spectacularly beautiful miles, 1000 runners representing 26 states, 300 volunteers — was made possible because of the collaboration of many people and entities over two years of planning.

We thank Princeton University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Princeton Battlefield, and the Town of Princeton for allowing us to include their sites on the course. Mayor Lempert and the Town Council, Palmer Square Management, and the Nassau Inn worked early on with HiTOPS and the Princeton Police Department to plan and problem solve. The event would not have been as smooth without their collaboration, support, and counsel.

Arm and Hammer served as the cause sponsor, supporting HiTOPS in their goal to bring awareness about how health decisions made during adolescence affect the overall health of our community and the future success of our youth as they become adults. This event highlighting adolescent wellness truly involved the entire community of residents, merchants, police, churches, schools, organizations, sponsors, runners and their families. In addition to the seven distinct neighborhoods hosting water tables sponsored by NRG, it was thrilling to see so many people out cheering the runners and making the event fun and inspiring for everyone involved.

HiTOPS congratulates the top winners and each of the runners for going for their personal best. You are models of what community health looks like — happy, healthy, and enthusiastic individuals of every age, race, size, and ability.

For all of this, we are deeply and truly thankful and look forward to serving this community and bringing next year’s Princeton Half Marathon to you in 2014!

Elizabeth M. Casparian, PhD

Executive Director, HiTOPS

 

November 6, 2013

 

 

To the Editor:

The Arts Council of Princeton would like to thank everyone who attended the Annual Hometown Halloween Parade on Sunday, October 27. It was great to see so many new and familiar faces on the streets of Princeton — and in some amazing costumes! A big congratulations to the winners of our costume contest!

We would like to thank our supporters, sponsors, and partners — Novo Nordisk, the Princeton Public Library, Jazams, small world coffee, Palmer Square Management, Princeton Police, Princeton Fire Department, Princeton Public Works, N.J. State Council on the Arts, and the Town of Princeton. Also a special thanks to the Princeton University Marching Band who continue to make the Halloween Parade a fun and energetic event year after year.

Lastly, we send a special thanks to our volunteers, who help us fulfill our mission of “building community through the arts.”

On behalf of the Arts Council of Princeton staff,

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

 

To the Editor:

Princeton is well served by myriad volunteer organizations, many of which are recognized with official proclamations and fundraising galas replete with local news coverage. Others go about their service quietly.

The Princeton Hook & Ladder Fire Department recently celebrated its 2225th year of community service with no public acknowledgement by the governing body, an unfortunate but easily remedied oversight.

In addition there are 13 volunteer firefighters who are to be commended for a combined 535 years of public service:

Robert Higgins, 65 years (Engine Co. #1)

Bucky Cupples, 60 years (Engine Co. #1)

Eddie Moyer, 50 years (Hook & Ladder)

Kevin Delaney, 45 years (Engine Co. #1)

Roz Warren, 45 years (Engine Co. #1)

Peter Hodge, 40 years (Hook & Ladder)

Henry Shields, 40 years (Engine Co. #1)

Alfred Kahn, 40 years (Engine Co. #3)

Eric Karch, 35 years (Engine Co. #3)

Robert Toole, 30 years (Hook &Ladder)

Ray Bianco, 30 years (Engine Co. #3)

Scott Perone, 30 years (Engine Co. #3)

Otto Cifuentes, 25 years (Hook & Ladder)

Kudos and a heartfelt thank you to those who serve quietly with humility and valor!

Kate Warren

President, Engine Co. #1 Ladies Auxiliary

 

To the Editor:

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee congratulates Princeton on its recent designation by the League of American Bicyclists as a “Bike Friendly Community” (BFC). Princeton achieved the bronze level, the first of five levels awarded, joining only four other municipalities and Princeton University for recognition in this state. The BFC program recognizes the commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure, and pro-bicycling policies.

In Princeton, efforts to improve bicycling safety and accommodations have been made by Mayor Liz Lempert and the current Princeton Council, and by the prior Borough Council and Township Committee. On the recommendation from our Committee, “sharrows” were approved and installed on a network of roads to assist with safe positioning and driver awareness. Complete Streets resolutions were also adopted to ensure bike and pedestrian infrastructure is designed into any road construction and resurfacing projects. Other improvements and community rides are in the works.

We would like to thank the many departments and organizations that have included bike education and encouragement in Princeton. Their efforts contributed to our bike friendly recognition. These groups include our engineering department, especially our Bike Advocate, Deanna Stockton for her advice and encouragement; the Human Services Commission and Princeton Police Department for conducting the annual bike rodeo; the Traffic and Transportation Committee for their Safe Princeton Campaign and efforts to improve intersections and crosswalks; Whole Earth Center, Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association and Sustainable Princeton for providing incentives and encouraging cycling as an environmentally friendly and healthier mode of transportation; Mercer County for adopting a Complete Streets resolution, creating the bikeability map, and rehabilitating the Province Line Road bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use; West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Association for extending their education programs to Princeton, and collaborating with us on family rides and the Communiversity booth; Princeton Freewheelers for leading a variety of rides in our area for all levels of cyclists; and Princeton University for creating their own bike plan and being designated the first Bike Friendly University in New Jersey.

Our Committee will continue to work with the town to improve conditions for cyclists and encourage more residents, employees and students to choose biking for transportation and recreation. If you missed the mayor’s Community Bike Ride October 27th, other rides are being planned for 2014. Look for future rides and receive bike related news by visiting us at http://pjpbac.blogspot.com/ or by emailing pjpbac@gmail.com.

Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee:

Steve Kruse, Chair

Cedar Lane

David Cohen, Vice-chair

Terhune Road

Laurie Harmon

Spruce Street

Karen Jezierny

Mount Lucas Road

Anita Jeerage

Wiggins Street

Lisa Serieyssol

Olden Lane

Carolyn Sealfon

Chestnut Street

 

To the Editor:

We would like to commend employees of the Municipality of Princeton, and their contractor, ICUNJ, for their professional and courteous service during the reconstruction of the sanitary sewer connection from our building to the main beneath Park Place on October 28, 2013. As an initially simple project became complex in light of late-emerging issues related to an easement and concerns of an adjacent property owner, the town officials and their contractor bent over backwards to present and re-present options to minimize the unforeseen costs and impact of the construction. The Municipal Engineer even convened a conference call on a Sunday evening to facilitate our decision making. The execution of the project was a fine example of government in action and again made us proud to be residents of this town.

Jim and Galina Peterson,

Tina Clement and Jim Firestone

Vandeventer Avenue

 

To the Editor:

Now that the Borough and Township have merged into one Princeton, it is time for Princeton Council to review speed limits. Most Princeton residential streets are zoned at 25 mph, but there are some exceptions.

Terhune Road has three speed zones — 25 mph, 30 mph, and 35 mph. The section of Terhune between Harrison Street and Van Dyke Road is a residential area. The speed limit there is 30 mph and 35 mph. The high speed traffic on Terhune creates a barrier for many to walk to destinations in the neighborhood which includes Littlebrook School, the Princeton Charter School, Grover Park, Smoyer Park, and the Princeton Shopping Center.

Many safe street advocacy groups, including the National Complete Streets Coalition, Walk Boston, and Keep Kids Alive Drive 25, support speed limits no higher than 25 mph in residential areas. Children in a neighborhood should be able to walk to school and to parks. Pedestrians of all ages and abilities should be able to safely walk in their neighborhood.

Speed reduction results in a dramatic decrease in pedestrian fatalities. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, if a pedestrian is hit by a car:

At 40 mph 80 percent will die

At 30 mph 40 percent will die

At 20 mph 5 percent will die

Complete Streets are defined as roads designed to include pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as motorists. Complete Streets help build healthy, strong and vital communities. Please support 25 mph speed limits for residential streets in Princeton.

Carolyn Barnshaw

Terhune Road

 

To the Editor:

We would like to thank Mistral Restaurant for opening their kitchen and hearts for the annual dinner of the Mercer County Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on Tuesday, October 29.

Forty people celebrated the medical advances for the care of our children with cystic fibrosis (CF) and feasted on the fine food prepared and served by the superb staff. The food at Mistral was delicious and creative: salads, vegetables, beef, and fish were excellent and the flourless chocolate cake was amazing. The wines were purchased from Cool Vines.

Ten thousand dollars was raised to treat and cure cystic fibrosis. In March 2012 an effective treatment for 4 percent of the children was approved by the FDA. Testing is in the final phase for a treatment that will apply to 65 percent of the children. The research that went into this innovative treatment is now being used to address other genetic diseases. In 1996, children with cystic fibrosis had a potential life time of 20 years, if they were among the healthy patients. Today 4 percent of the children have to think about a career and it is the objective of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to have a treatment for every CF patient.

The Mercer County Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation raises more than $100,000 annually. Ninety five percent of this goes to research to treat and cure Cystic Fibrosis. We thank Mistral and we celebrate the generosity of Mercer County!

Co-chairs Mary Furey Gerard

Natalie Caricato

Talbot Lane

 

To the Editor:

On Wednesday, October 23, McCarter Theatre Center was proud to present a “relaxed” performance of The White Snake, the second play in our 2013-14 main stage theater series. British theaters coined the term “relaxed” performance to describe a performance that provides a safe environment for individuals with developmental challenges and their families. Last season McCarter offered its first ever “autism-friendly” production. Based on the success of that performance, as well as feedback we received, we worked to open our doors to a larger group of individuals with learning differences and other sensory and communication needs. The performance adheres to the same high artistic standards as our usual work, but small tweaks are made (mostly to the technical aspects of the production) to create a comfortable environment for those patrons who may have heightened sensitivity to sensory stimulation. For example, the lights in the house remain at a low level throughout and loud or sudden sound and light cues are scaled back. We allow people to exit and enter the theater as needed; we do not “shhh…” or tell them to be quiet; we have a quiet room where they can go to calm down and have an activity room where they can release some energy. We are planning other such performances and will continue to reach out into the community to promote this program.

We are honored to partner with Eden Autism Services, Arc Mercer and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton, all of whom provided invaluable assistance to alerting their communities to this event, arranging transportation and providing professional staff to assist during the performance.

I also want to thank the cast of The White Snake and my colleagues at McCarter who worked together to create a magical evening for the audience of 230 individuals. For many in the audience, it was their first-ever experience of live theatre.

For more information about the relaxed performance, check out the website: www.mccarter.org/thewhitesnake/4-events/relaxedperformance.html.

Thomas J. Muza

General Manager

 

October 30, 2013

To the Editor:

Now that consolidation has passed, it is time to expand beyond a monolithic one-party system and inject some fresh thinking into our new town government. This fall would be the perfect time to fill one of the two Princeton Council seats with a candidate who has fresh ideas and a broad-based background, namely, my good friend Fausta Rodríguez Wertz. She’s the best. She believes in a Big Tent which encourages expanded participation in the democratic process, transparency in all aspects of government, and rigorous fiscal responsibility. Republicans and Independents are concerned about the same issues as everyone else, such as public safety, schools, property taxes, and the general prosperity of our now united town. It is time to have an open mind and vote for the candidate best qualified for the job — Fausta Rodriguez Wertz.

Dick Woodbridge

Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

Consolidation has led to many challenges for Princeton’s governing Council. We want to congratulate its members, and especially Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon, who are now running for reelection. We were promised cost reductions, and indeed the current municipal property tax is $2.6 million below last year’s combined total for Borough and Township. It is even $750,000 lower than the corresponding number for 2008. Pat and Jenny have been deeply involved in the efforts that made this possible as well as in the many challenging actions necessary to accomplish the goals of consolidation. They have continued to lead specific aspects of the ongoing work, including putting all meeting documents online and publishing open meeting agendas in advance of meetings (ours is the first New Jersey municipality to do this). Jenny has also specialized in the effort to preserve neighborhoods, including the downtown area; and to create Advisory Planning Districts (Neighborhood Advisory Councils) to give residents a voice in decisions affecting them. Patrick has focused on upgrading Emergency Response procedures. He has understood the importance of working with neighborhoods to establish emergency communications and access to shelters and hospitals. Both are working on increasing availability of affordable housing, and improving and clarifying zoning and the Master Plan.

We need Jenny and Pat to continue their important work and their contributions. It gives us great pleasure to endorse their reelection.

Mary Clurman and Peter Lindenfeld

Harris Road

To the Editor:

With the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy right around the corner, it’s time for New Jersey to have a serious conversation about tackling global warming.

Environment New Jersey found that power plants remain the single largest source of global warming pollution. The five dirtiest power plants in New Jersey create nearly 65 percent of the state’s pollution, but only 35 percent of our energy.

New Jersey has traditionally been an environmental leader, but Governor Christie’s removal of the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — our best tool to combat carbon pollution from power plants — has moved New Jersey to the sidelines.

While in Washington D.C., the majority of Congress also sits on the sidelines, I want to thank Congressman Rush Holt for speaking out forcefully for federal action on tackling climate change. Thankfully, President Obama and his EPA have proposed a major new rule to curb carbon pollution spewing from new power plants. Because of the inaction here in New Jersey and in Congress, it is critical that the EPA moves forward to cut global warming pollution as quickly as possible.

Eric Bouchey,

Environment New Jersey Campaign Coordinator,

Trenton

To the Editor:

A new normal for our School Board has emerged in recent times. Princeton Education Establishment positions first, wider community interests a far distant second. Unfortunately, it’s easy for the present Board to say their interests and those of the community are the same, but that doesn’t square with a “stay out of our business” attitude. Nor does it begin to explain why the current Board is all about new wants, not core education needs, or why Princeton spends 36 percent more per child enrolled for the same student outcomes of comparable, high performing districts. What about alterative uses of these resources for wider community needs instead of ever increasing school taxes and expenditures that are already excessive?

Let’s try some new faces and, hopefully, bring in some new perspectives plus more reasoned approaches and needed comity between Community and the School Board. Elect Hagedorn and Khatri

John Clearwater

Governors Lane

To the Editor:

We are writing to share our enthusiastic support for Andrea Spalla, Molly Chrein, and Tom Hagedorn for School Board. Princeton is so fortunate to have candidates of their caliber and dedication. Andrea and Molly are current members of the School Board and have children at John Witherspoon Middle School and Princeton High School, but their commitment to the Princeton Public Schools goes far beyond the interests of their own children; they care deeply about the quality of education for all students, and they have advocated fairly and passionately for students, families, teachers, and administrators, whether it be in negotiating a new teachers’ contract, reexamining the school calendar, addressing new curriculum requirements and changes, maintaining our schools’ educational excellence under a strict fiscal regimen, or selecting a successor for superintendent.

We have had the good fortune to be neighbors of Andrea’s for the past 15 years and know her to be an excellent listener who fully considers options before making important decisions. We were so pleased that Molly and Andrea joined the School Board three years ago and we now welcome the opportunity to support Tom Hagedorn, an experienced educator and Community Park parent.

We encourage all Princetonians to reelect Andrea and Molly and to newly elect Tom on November 5.

Adrienne and Per Kreipke

Maple Street

To the Editor:

Princeton residents are fortunate to have Tom Hagedorn running in the November 5 election for the Board of Education. Tom has deep roots in the community, having come to Princeton as an undergraduate at the University. Except for a period in Massachusetts, where he earned his doctorate in mathematics at Harvard, he has lived here ever since.

Tom is a greatly admired professor at The College of New Jersey, where I also teach. He’s had an impact on the institution far beyond his own classes, currently serving as both chair of mathematics and director of the interdisciplinary first-year seminar program. He has an exceptionally broad educational vision, and he’s dedicated to helping all students succeed.

He will bring his vision, expertise, and dedication to our public schools. I know that he wants every child in our town to have the same support and success that he desires for his son, who’s a second grader at Community Park. We’re lucky to have such an outstanding educator and public servant standing for election to the School Board.

Michael Robertson

Princeton-Kingston Road

To the Editor:

I am writing to publicly add my support to the many who support Tom Hagedorn in the upcoming School Board election.

I am a product of the Princeton Public Schools and both of my children attend Community Park School. The quality of the Board of Education is something that matters deeply to me.

I have seen Tom working with the children and with the school administration as we worked together last year to coordinate the Chess Club at CP. As a volunteer chess teacher, he mentored each child with patience and humor, whether they were an advanced or a novice player. He is well organized and a practical thinker who follows through on commitments. He is committed to involving parents in the decisions the School Board will face.

Tom Hagedorn will make an excellent member of the Board of Education. I urge you to vote for Tom in the upcoming election.

Anne-Marie Maman

Moore Street

To the Editor:

I am writing to ask readers to vote for Tom Hagedorn as one of their choices for Princeton’s School Board. My husband is a person with a very vigorous sense of community responsibility. Listing just four of his current roles will give you a sense of this: he is the father of a second-grader at Community Park elementary school, a professor of mathematics at The College of New Jersey, Co-Chair of the TCNJ Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and the Program Director of TCNJ’s Freshman Seminar Program. In addition, he has volunteered at Community Park since our son started there, leading a Chess Club and helping to build the CP community garden.

Tom is a wonderful parent and a dedicated educator with seventeen years of experience both in the classroom and as an administrator. If elected, he would put his considerable energy to work on behalf of all the parents and children in our excellent Princeton Regional School District. His platform is simple and direct. He does not come with an agenda, but rather a pledge to listen to the needs of parents and children in the school district, and to act upon those interests. He is skilled at making things happen and effecting change when change is needed.

Julie Landweber

Chestnut Street

To the Editor

We are writing to urge the Princeton community to come out on November 5 to re-elect Andrea Spalla and Molly Chrein to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

We had the opportunity to listen to Andrea and Molly speak at the recent candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. Their answers were well thought out, insightful, considerate, fair and straight forward. We think they will make a wonderful contribution and continued service to the Princeton Board of Education. There, they showed us of their love and commitment to the education of our Princeton students and our community.

We know Andrea and Molly as leaders in the community, on the Board, and as long-time active volunteers in the public schools community. We have also had the privilege of serving on the Minority Education Committee board with Andrea Spalla.

We know they are the best ones for the job. Exercise your right. Please vote.

LARRY and FERN SPRUILL

Bayard Lane

 

To the Editor:

The role of a Council member is to understand the needs of the taxpayer and to be a fiduciary for the community. To do this, the Council member must prioritize issues, strive to build consensus, and work towards realistic solutions.

Today, the most important priority facing Princeton is to reduce property taxes and debt through improved fiscal management.

Residents have seen their tax bills multiply over the years. After consolidation, Princeton has $135 million in debt and spends 18 percent of its annual budget on debt service. Because of the current high interest expenses, Princeton cannot afford to make additional capital expenditures for the next six years. As a result, Princeton must forgo needed long-term projects or push these expenses into the current budget, which will drive taxes higher.

Council decisions are often made behind closed doors. Relations with Princeton University are strained. The police department is in flux.

As a Council member, I will strive to open Council meetings, improve dialogue with the University, and work to reduce conflicts in the police department.

As the first Latina in Princeton Council history, I will be committed to preserving Princeton for Princetonians — new and old.

Let’s make Princeton affordable for everyone: seniors, local businesses, the middle-class, and newcomers.

Please vote for me on November 5.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon deserve your vote for re-election to Princeton Council based on their tremendous service to the community leading up to consolidation, and their success in office during our first year as one Princeton. They share the fundamental values that are representative of Princeton while also having the intelligence and independence to help us find the best solutions to local challenges. They have already delivered savings promised by consolidation that lead to a very rare cut in the municipal portion of property taxes this year.

I’ve worked with Jenny on political and social issues for over a decade now. She has fought more than anyone I know for openness in our local political process, including competitive primaries, involving citizens in the budget process, and posting the agenda and meeting documents online. Jenny is also committed to representing and fighting for everyone who lives in Princeton.

Patrick was outstanding as a member of the consolidation commission both for his analytical depth and his willingness to clearly promote the benefits of consolidation to the people of Princeton. Patrick has carried through on his dedication to seeing consolidation succeed by serving on Council, and I trust him to continue working for our success.

When you vote for Council members on November 5, Democrats Jenny Crumiller and Patrick Simon are the right choice for Princeton.

Peter Wolanin

Spruce Street

 

To the Editor:

On behalf of myself and, I’m certain, the large number of attendees at the Sunday, October 20 opening reception and photography exhibition by photojournalist and essayist Mary Cross, I would like to sincerely thank Ms. Cross for providing a magnificent visual journey through Turkish mosques and tombs. The event was held in the Bernstein Gallery of the Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) of Public and International Affairs.

The photographs, taken in many Turkish locales, reveal Ms. Cross’s unique skill in capturing the genius of Ottoman architecture and in highlighting the importance of the mosque within each community. Sunlight and dusky interiors served to draw attention to intricate mosaic structures and vibrant carpets.

Ms. Cross was graciously introduced by Stan Katz, lecturer with the rank of professor in public and international affairs and the director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. In her remarks, Ms. Cross engagingly and humorously shared the challenges she faced in taking some of her photographs; challenges she and her intern deftly resolved through diplomacy and ingenuity.

Among the astute and appreciative attendees were Anne Reeves, the new president of the Princeton Middle East Society (PMES); Micaela deLigneroles former PMES president; Helmut and Eva-Maria Schwab; Paul Sigmund, professor of politics, emeritus; Ambassador Robert Finn, former ambassador to Afghanistan and Turkish scholar and linguist; John Burkhalter, independent scholar and artistic director of the Practitioners of Music; Hanna Rosenbaum and Fran and Nathan Scovronick. Mr. Scovronick is the Associate Dean, at the WWS.

LINDA SIPPRELLE

Nassau Street

 

To the Editor,

In his October 23 letter to the editor (A Plea … for Reduced Price Children’s Tickets to Princeton University Games”), Clark Reed states that he was surprised that reduced price children’s tickets were not available for purchase at a recent Princeton football game. While advance purchase youth tickets are available for other sports, youth tickets have not been available for football games since the opening of the current stadium in 1998. However, as part of a multi-year effort to harmonize pricing for the few sports events where tickets are required, Princeton Athletics plans to institute an advance purchase youth ticket price of $6 for the 2014 football season.

Princeton’s student athletes are appreciative of the many community members who come to cheer them on at their various competitions. We offer 38 varsity sports here at Princeton, and in the past year held 232 regular season games, of which 179 were free and required no tickets. Our student athletes are competing at the highest levels of their sport, as evidenced by the 13 Ieague titles and 4 NCAA championships earned in the last year.

Mr. Reed incorrectly states that Princeton University pays no property taxes. In fact, Princeton University is the largest taxpayer in Princeton paying more than $9.5 million in property taxes in 2013 in addition to a $2.475 million voluntary contribution to Princeton.

Kristin S. Appelget

Director, Community and Regional Affairs

Princeton University

To the Editor:

In an era when politicians of both parties crave the limelight, often at the expense of the public good (witness the Ted Cruz filibuster last month), how refreshing it is when a politician voluntarily moves away from center stage in the interest of what is best for the citizenry.

Such was the case with Mayor Liz Lempert’s decision last week to remove herself from discussions and decision-making on the PILOT negotiations between our town and Princeton University.

By voluntarily opting out of these town-gown negotiations, Mayor Lempert has defused an issue that had the potential to embroil Princeton in litigation for years to come and potentially put at risk a solid financial relationship between the municipality and the university.

Given that Mayor Lempert’s husband is an employee of Princeton University, there was a bona fide question as to whether she had a conflict of interest with respect to the PILOT negotiations. Although the Princeton attorney had reached the conclusion, pursuant to the municipality’s conflict of interest policy, that Mayor Lempert did not have a conflict with respect to PILOT negotiations with Princeton University, there is also a defensible argument that the mayor’s situation does present a conflict of interest. One could imagine a thoughtful New Jersey court coming down on either side of the argument.

In the face of such uncertainty, a decision by Mayor Lempert to remain involved with the negotiations and decision-making could have exposed Princeton to expensive and distracting litigation and might even have led to a diminished contribution from Princeton University, as that institution waited to see how the matter was sorted out in the courts.

In the last mayoral election, Mayor Lempert ran on, among other things, her vision for improving town-gown relations and her ability to execute on her vision. It cannot have been easy to step away from the PILOT negotiations. But it was the right thing to do for the people of Princeton.

Brad Middlekauff

Hibben Road

To the Editor:

Mayor Lempert’s recusal from PILOT negotiations with the University (Town Topics, October 23) is concerning on a number of fronts:

1. It appears that some Council members and a minority of the public pressured her into this decision, despite an unambiguous ethics/legal opinion from Council’s attorney that no conflict of interest arises from her husband’s position as a tenured professor at the University.

2. It means that two of the seven Council members will not be participating in one of the most important matters before the Council involving the largest constituent, thereby producing a certain level of disenfranchisement.

In her contest for mayor, Ms. Lempert indicated that she would comply with the ethics and legal rulings associated with University matters. The verdict is in and by all rights she should be free to represent the municipality in the PILOT negotiations. That a minority has pressured her into taking the high road of recusal is reminiscent of recent actions or inactions that took place in Washington D.C. to reverse the Affordable Care Act.

Mayor Lempert and her supporters need to more vigorously make the political case for her participation, and the minority Council members and citizens need to allow her to follow the lead of her predecessors who were faced with similar circumstances and prevailed in representing the municipality.

Michael E. Morandi

Battle Road

 

To the Editor:

My family and I are indebted to so many people who helped us last month during the final days of my late husband, Dr. Arnold Lazarus. The Princeton Police and Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad arrived immediately at the scene. Our special thanks go to EMTs Mark Steven and Cliff Doggi for their exceptional expertise and caring. Arnold was transported to University Medical Center of Princeton, where he tragically died despite the best efforts of the Hospital staff.

A special Remembrance will be held on Saturday, November 9 from 2-5 PM at the Unitarian Church of Princeton, 50 Cherry Hill Road. Those who knew Arnold are welcome to join us to celebrate his life.

Daphne Lazarus

Herrontown Circle

 

To the Editor:

The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association wants to convey a huge thank you to our community for its amazing support of our 38th Annual FEST: “Rockin’ In Our Wellies,” held on Saturday October 5 in a huge tent on our 930 acre reserve. Nearly 300 friends helped us celebrate the 60s and 70s, (a time when modern environmentalism, rock music, and pop-art emerged), with an evening of vintage music, food and general festivity.

New additions at this year’s party included electronic bidding on our silent auction, a zany photo-booth, and collecting and sending a truck-load of waste for composting (instead of sending it to landfill). We also saluted honoree Michele Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, for her dedicated service to New Jersey’s environment.

The generosity and hard work of our volunteers, sponsors, guests, staff, and donors helped raise more than $110,000 for the Watershed Association. These funds will support conservation, advocacy, science and education initiatives, which for close to 65 years have led to open space preservation, environmental policy and funding, water quality testing, and essential educational programs for children and adults.

We are grateful to our sponsors: Bloomberg; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Church & Dwight Co., Inc.; PSEG; Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc.; PNC Bank and PNC Wealth Management; Aegis Property Group; Farewell Architects; Hopewell Valley Community Bank; Jersey Solar; and W.S. Cumby. We also wish to acknowledge special help with this event from Camden Bag & Paper Company, McCaffrey’s Market, Princeton Record Exchange, and Aztec Graphics. By supporting the Watershed, they have done a great service to the communities in Central New Jersey.

Annarie Lyles, Lori Citrone, and Bill Carmean

Fest 2013 Co-Chairs,

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

To the Editor,

I ask your readers for their support as a Princeton School Board candidate. I need it as I am the last listed candidate on the ballot (Number 5)!

Education has been my life’s vocation. I am a 19-year Princeton resident and have worked for 17 years in public higher education as a mathematics professor at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The parent of a Community Park second grader, I’ve been involved in CP’s Edible Garden and co-organized its Chess Club.

I am passionate about educating the whole student and ensuring that each student is given every opportunity to fulfill their potential. Academics are a top priority, but our children’s success should not be measured solely by their test scores.

At TCNJ, I have served as coordinator of a college-wide program to improve student graduation rates. On the school board, I would use this experience to help solve the issues currently confronting the school district. I would work to 1) set specific five-year benchmarks to ensure continued progress on tackling Princeton’s achievement gap; and 2) help create a strategic plan for the Valley Road building to benefit the students and the community.

I would solve these issues through greater dialogue between parents and the community. While consensus may not be possible, I believe open discussions enable new innovative solutions. I also favor regular forums on education issues.

More information is online: www.facebook.com/TomHagedornForSchoolBoard.

I ask you for your support in this coming election.

TOM HAGEDORN

Chestnut Street

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Friends of Princeton Public Library, we would like to thank everyone who helped to make the “Beyond Words” benefit for the Princeton Public Library such a spectacular occasion. In particular, we would like to pay tribute to Audrey and Kenneth Gould, who continue to be remarkable supporters of the Library.

We would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the town of Princeton, especially Administrator Bob Bruschi, the Princeton Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Princeton Fire Safety Bureau, and the Princeton Health Department who gave advice and assistance. Essential to the success of the event was the generous support of our corporate sponsors: The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Glenmede Investment and Wealth Management, Princeton University, Howe Insurance Group, PNC Wealth Management, Bai 5, Tumi, Adams Party Rental, Mason Griffin and Pearson, Novo Nordisk, Drinker Biddle, Witherspoon Media Group, Avalon Bay Communities, Princeton University Press and Miele. Special thanks to Small World Coffee, Lindt, the Arts Council of Princeton, and the Terra Momo Restaurant Group.

Thanks also to the more than 400 attendees and to those who generously contributed but who were unable to attend. We are also grateful to all those who contributed to the silent auction.

We appreciate the support of Library staff members, particularly Leslie Burger, Janet Simon, and Tim Quinn, all of whom made significant contributions to the success of the event. We were backed by a marvelous Benefit Committee, in particular Pam Wakefield, Claire Jacobus, Liza Peck, and Betsy Sauder, all of whom worked tirelessly. We could not have done it without the support of these individuals. We would like to single out Sherri Garber, president of the Friends Council. Sherri deserves special recognition for her vision and her leadership of this extraordinary event.

Susan Kapoor, Ruth Miller

2013 Beyond Words Benefit Chairs

To the Editor:

On June 10, 2006 the Princeton Community said farewell to our loyal and contributing lifelong resident. Mr. Albert Edward Hinds lived to be 104 and within those years he contributed more to our town than any other person. I had the privilege to speak at his memorial service and at the end of the tribute I stated that a building, square or street should be named in his honor.

In 2007 the idea of recognizing Mr. Hinds became a reality when I twice went before the Princeton Borough Council with information about his life and rationale as to why the square should be named in his honor. With the support of James Floyd and residents of the Witherspoon Jackson Community, the members of the Council, headed by Mayor Mildred Trotman, agreed to name the square next to the Princeton Public Library the “Albert E. Hinds Plaza!”

A dedicated Hinds Plaza Committee headed by Wendy Benchley, later by Barbara Trelstad, was formed to suggest a fitting tribute to Mr. Hinds. Mr. Tom Nussbaum, a sculptor from Montclair, New Jersey, was selected to design the memorial gates and plaques. James Floyd presented the idea of an open gate to represent Mr. Hinds’ connection to his life in a segregated area of Princeton and his contributions and relationships to the entire town of Princeton. Mr. Nussbaum engraved symbols in the gates that represent Mr. Hinds’ life and contributions in Princeton.

On Sunday, September 29 the Hinds Plaza Memorial Gates and Plaques were dedicated. This is a public THANK YOU to the members of the Hinds Plaza Memorial Committee the members of the Advisory Board, the many donors whose generous contributions made the gates and plaque possible. In addition acknowledgments go to those who shared in the dedication of the gates and plaque: Mrs. Myrna Hinds Fuller; Mr. Hinds’ daughter and family members; Mr. James Floyd; Reverend Dr. Deborah Brooks; Mayor Elizabeth Lempert; Eric Broadway, Esq.; Mr. Tom Nussbaum; Minister William D. Carter, III; Ms. Barbara Trelstad; former Princeton mayors; Princeton Council members; the Historical Society of Princeton, for producing the audio portion of the memorial plaques; and the Princeton community residents and visitors.

Shirley A. Satterfield

Quarry Street