May 14, 2014

To the Editor,

I wish to reaffirm my support of Jo Butler and Bernie Miller for Princeton Council. I know Bernie is running on a “slate” that does not include Jo. However, I don’t think that Bernie is worthy of two votes, which is what he’ll get given his running mate’s 100 percent agreement with him for most of their service together on Township Committee.

Princeton residents deserve diverse viewpoints on Council rather than candidates hand-picked by an establishment for the apparent purpose of turning Council into a Princeton version of a Soviet politburo. Voters who want to maintain a semblance of democracy in Princeton should support Jo and Bernie on June 3.

Alain Kornhauser

Western Way

 

May 7, 2014

To the Editor:

On behalf of the board, staff, artists, members, and volunteers of the Arts Council of Princeton, we would like to thank everyone — including 40,000-plus visitors, 200 vendors and over 40 performance groups — who helped make the 43rd annual Communiversity Festival of the Arts such a spectacular event on a gorgeous spring day. As a nonprofit, community-based organization that relies on community support, we are very grateful for the collaboration and support that allowed us to produce another hugely successful event.

When the Arts Council plans Communiversity Festival of the Arts, we envision a “town meets gown” celebration with something for everyone: diverse music and dance performances, outstanding artistry and crafts, creative children’s activities, delicious food, and participation from numerous local merchants, nonprofit organizations, and campus groups. By all accounts, we achieved our goal. We would like to thank the Arts Council staff and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make the overall event a triumphant success. We also appreciate the extremely talented artists and performers who participated in many creative activities including the Streetside Studios and the Mono-thon, Paint Out Princeton, children’s art activities, performances on stage and street, chalk painting and all the many forms of creative expression that make the event unique and memorable.

We would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to: the students of Princeton University, University President Chris Eisgruber, and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs; Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Administrator Bob Bruschi and his staff; the Princeton Police Department; Princeton Fire Department; Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad; Princeton Regional Health Department; Princeton Public Works Department; the Princeton Clergy Association; the Princeton Merchants Association and Chamber of Commerce; Event Planners Harper McArthur and Stacy Ducharme; and our major sponsors: the MINI Delaware Valley Dealer Group, Bai Brands, AT&T, AvalonBay Communities, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Palmer Square Management. A complete list of all our generous event and in-kind sponsors can be found at www.artscouncilofpriceton.org.

Cindi Venizelos,

President, Board of Trustees

Jeff Nathanson

Executive Director, Arts Council of Princeton

 

To the Editor:

The Princeton Community has a unique opportunity to take another step to strengthen the leadership at the Council level in the primary election on June 3. The skills and experience of Sue Nemeth along with Bernie Miller are exactly what Princeton needs at this time.

What do I mean? We have an opportunity for new leadership that genuinely has a vision for a united Princeton. During her tenure on Township Committee, Sue Nemeth consistently demonstrated her leadership in — and advocated for — long range planning and progressive zoning. Bernie Miller has just helped to lead a very successful dialogue with Princeton University for a long-term voluntary contribution to the community — filled with vision and mutual support. Both Bernie and Sue have demonstrated — time and time again — the fiscal responsibility critical to achieve the results desired for a consolidated Princeton. For example, Sue, as a committeewoman working on the Community Park Pool and Bernie, more recently, with Princeton University.

The concerns we all have for the long term viability of the Central Business District are top priorities for both candidates. I am very encouraged by their positions. I also believe that the heart of our community is the working relationship between our Council and our staff, along with hundreds of community volunteers. Nemeth and Miller have both worked very hard over the years to build a relationship that is authentic and highly productive. Please join me in supporting them to ensure our future through stronger leadership.

Anton Lahnston

Elm Road

 

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that the Princeton Council Democratic Candidates Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters last Wednesday evening coincided with Princeton’s monsoon season, as the weather no doubt deterred many from attending. I did attend and urge all voters who were unable to attend to view the video online when it becomes available. The winners of the June 3 primary will impact all of our futures and our votes should be shaped by the fullest knowledge of the candidates and issues as we can muster.

Full disclosure, I am a volunteer with Jo Butler’s campaign for reelection to the Council. Initially, I was motivated by my distaste for the “slate” of Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth running against Butler. I thought it would be fairer to have a contested election with three candidates running independently rather than attempting to use what are presumably Miller’s very long coattails to replace Butler with Nemeth, Miller’s former colleague on the Township Committee. In politics, however, fair doesn’t matter, winning does. Getting to know Jo and her positions on the issues and commitment to the future of Princeton have persuaded me of the critical importance of her continued service on the Council. My negative reaction to the tactic of a “slate” has been supplanted by my positive commitment to Jo Butler’s continued fine service to the town.

The performance of all the candidates at the League of Women Voters’ Forum only reinforced this opinion. At one point, Miller stated that his model of local government worked to achieve consensus. Butler countered with an important distinction between democracy and consensus. Democracy includes dissension; all parties should strive to immerse themselves in all aspects of an issue and present the best arguments for their position. There is a vote and majority rules. A desire for consensus should not be used to mute the full airing of all differences.

Jo Butler’s dedication to delving into the details to make the best choices was evident in the discussion of how to set capital budget priorities. While Miller and Nemeth spoke in generalities about infrastructure and public safety as priorities, Butler championed the importance of the Council reviewing all capital budget proposals, not just those on a short list the town administrator had culled from a larger pool of projects. No doubt this would be a more time-consuming and cumbersome process, but decisions would be based on the largest possible knowledge base.

In her closing statement, Butler reiterated her commitment to fiscal responsibility, to closely reading all contracts and to working with a legal oversight committee to ensure the best advice at the best price for the town. Miller’s final words urged us to vote for Nemeth as well as him. Do we want a hard worker who diligently examines all options on Council or do we want those whose commitment to “consensus” might well discourage diligent oversight and hard choices?

Joanna Dougherty

Witherspoon Street

 

To the Editor:

The primary election on June 3 gives Princeton Democrats an opportunity to select candidates for November’s general election. The ballot in Princeton will be headed by Senator Cory Booker seeking a full term, and will include candidates for The House of Representatives, and three candidates for Princeton Council.

Princeton Democrats made the inclusion of three Council candidates possible by joining the Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) in record numbers this March and by coming out to vote overwhelmingly for Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth to be on the Democratic line of the ballot.

It is now the job of all registered Princeton Democrats to endorse the PCDO members’ preference and to vote in the June 3 primary for Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth.

In light of current attacks on voting rights around the country, we should value our right to vote all the more and exercise that right in numbers that represent the true composition of our town.

If Princeton Democrats vote in numbers reflecting the views of the voters who voted for consolidation of the Princetons only two years ago, they will vote in the majority for Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth to continue the work of consolidation and to ease the operation of the Princeton Council in taking the town forward into the future.

Julia Coale, Joe Stonaker

Nassau Street

 

To the Editor:

In the Democratic primary for retiring Congressman Rush Holt’s seat, progressive Democrats risk having their voices drowned out by party insiders who wield tremendous power over an anachronistic peculiarity known as ‘the line.’

This peculiar feature of New Jersey elections allows Republican and Democratic county organizations to place primary candidates on the same ballot line as local down-ticket candidates. In this race in particular, two strong, progressive Democrats will face the challenge of overcoming the conservative and undemocratic line. They are New Jersey’s Deputy Assembly Speaker and frequent collaborator with Rush Holt, Upendra Chivukula, and scientist/educator Andrew Zwicker. They are candidates who are eminently qualified, and arguably more aligned with the educated, progressive values of voters in the district than the two candidates backed by the Democratic organizations of the most populous counties in the 12th District, Mercer and Middlesex.

While the other candidates talk the talk of progressive values, they have records and connections that would suggest otherwise. Voters beware. While primaries should be about competition and democracy, the line gives an advantage to back-room leaders exchanging favors behind the scenes. In Union County, which makes up a considerable section of the 12th District, the candidate who received the line was literally handpicked by just three Union County political insiders.

The risk this year is that the winner of the primary will ultimately be decided by the five or ten party insiders who get to allocate the county line, rather than the hundreds of thousands of voters who will be represented by the candidate for potentially decades to come.

For voters to make their voice heard in the June primaries, they will have to scour their ballots to search for the preferred candidate outside their local party line. Unfortunately, most voters just vote down the line without doing their own research.

This institutionalized advantage of allowing the county parties to award the line to the candidate of their choosing, via back room deals, not only promotes corruption but is inherently undemocratic. Voters should decide who represents them, not party heavyweights.

While some of the political machines may not want to acknowledge more progressive candidates like Chivukula and Zwicker — and have even tried to force them out of the race — it’s important that their voices are heard so that the line is not the big winner this year.

It’s a great irony that if the well-loved progressive champion Rush Holt were running for Congress in this primary, he too would probably be brushed aside by the establishment insiders, in much the same way Chivukula and Zwicker have been treated.

When Democratic voters go to the polls on June 3to vote in the 12th District primary, they should vote according to whom they think is best for the job, not who has the ‘line’ on their ballot.

They should study the candidates, and vote for themselves.

We are, after all, the Democratic Party.

Zachary Israel

Franklin Park

 

To the Editor:

Princeton Council’s recent adoption of a modest financial contribution agreement between the town and Princeton University missed a few things and begs the question: what’s Council’s plan next time?

The present agreement was unveiled on a Thursday and adopted the following Monday. That’s too short a period for meaningful public review or comment.

Whatever the merits of the present agreement, its seven-year term guarantees that the issue won’t be addressed again soon. A shorter term, perhaps with optional renewal, would have allowed future governing bodies more flexibility in dealing with the changing role of the University in the community.

The University’s role is changing: it’s becoming ever more dominant in the local economy. On the drawing boards or with shovel in ground, the University currently has many hundreds of millions of dollars in planned development. That development will bring substantial new demands on local infrastructure and services. But the new contribution agreement does not index the University’s contribution to that development or its consequent demands on the town.

The University’s finances are also changing. Once, PU’s income was heavily based on tuition and gifts. Today, much of its income comes from a rich load of intellectual property developed by its staff, protected by patents, trademarks, and licenses, worth billions of dollars. As one PU professor recently said, the University is a “hedge fund” operating as an educational institution. In future, it would be useful to develop a contribution agreement that is indexed to the University’s cache of intellectual property. After all, the intellectual property was developed by persons who live and/or worked in Princeton, and to whom the town provided tax free services.

Council might create a study commission to explore these and other issues in advance of the expiration of the present town/gown agreement. The commission members could come from a broad spectrum of perspectives and not be tied to the agenda of particular politicians who too often feel beholden to Nassau Hall. Such a commission might broaden and deepen the scope of review necessary to address the town/gown financial relationship in a transparent, thoughtful, and equitable way.

Roger Martindell

Patton Avenue

 

April 30, 2014

To the Editor:

The Milepost 3 (MP 3) marker of the Princeton branch stands alone on the University campus near Blair Arch, a lone perhaps forgotten testament to the former length of the rail line built in 1865 by the Camden & Amboy Railroad. That marker is now over one-half mile from the end of active NJ Transit service, the latest truncation and one of four undertaken by the University over the years, each with common themes — University expansion, student safety, and greater inconvenience to the daily commuter.

As president of the Camden & Amboy Railroad Historians, with a 34-year railroading career that followed graduate work in transportation management, I have a special interest in the Princeton Branch. The branch was created when the Camden & Amboy Railroad realigned its route between Trenton and New Brunswick in the 1860s to handle Civil War traffic. I have written about the subject for a national publication, and led several tours to MP 3 over the past five years for rail historians from around the country.

Recently I read that Dinky ridership has declined 10 percent since the relocation of Princeton’s station 1200 feet away from the convenient 1920s-built structure. The NJ Transit report also states that, “The ‘Dinky’ decline appears to correspond with the start of free shuttle buses operated by Princeton University between Princeton and Princeton Junction.” The decline came at the same time as Northeast Corridor ridership was record-setting with a 10 percent increase in ridership for the same reporting period.

I must conclude the station relocation and this free bus service are the major reasons for the decline in Dinky ridership. A January 9 article in Planet Princeton reported that in October of 2013, the free bus made 2,288 trips and averaged just over 4 passengers per bus trip. In addition, the bus’s time-keeping during the winter mouths was pitiful. These are hardy positive developments for Princeton mass transportation.

The reasons for the station relocation have been well-reported, including our governor’s public role. His private role is suspect, given the multi-hats he wears with both the University and NJ Transit. (His handling of a more recent scandal involving another transportation link crossing a river casts suspicion on the administration’s involvement in the Dinky’s latest service cut!)

John Kilbride

West Windsor

 

To the Editor:

Things related to the developer’s initiation of demolition of the former Princeton Hospital site are moving right along. My hope is that they are not going to be moving “wrong” along.

At the Princeton Town Council meeting of April 7, a Harris Road resident told the council that he had filed an Open Public Records Act Request three times to review Dr. Ira Whitman’s original report, which had been referenced at the March l0 council meeting — which referencing would thereby make the original report a public document. (Dr. Whitman, for those who may not know, is the Licensed Site Remediation Professional (LSRP) hired by the town to “evaluate environmental issues at Princeton Hospital associated with the [lately-disclosed] medical-waste incinerator, and with demolition of existing structures as the site is re-developed into a multi-unit rental apartment complex (Whitman’s LSRP Report from March 2014).

In response to the resident’s comment, municipal attorney Trishka Cecil said that since the report was a draft, it is not subject to the Public Records Act. But can there really be an “original draft” — as it was referred to — especially if Dr. Whitman referenced it while negotiating with AvalonBay and its consultants? Once the information has been shared with AvalonBay, does not the original document become a public document that is no longer deliberative or confidential in nature?

At the March l0 council meeting, council member Simon asked who had permitted this negotiations by Dr. Whitman with AvalonBay, and he requested a copy of Whitman’s initial unedited recommendations. Why doesn’t the public also have “the right to know” what was contained in that same report? After all, it contains material related to the public health, safety, and welfare of all citizens, including the many children who live in, or attend schools in, the hospital-site neighborhood.

After the negotiations, Dr. Whitman downgraded his original recommendation and deleted lead from the substances designated for soil testing related to the incinerator. Lead, as Whitman acknowledged, was “negotiated away” by AvalonBay, even though it is a known byproduct of medical-waste incinerators.

Local candidates have been campaigning for openness and transparency in government; sadly, it may be that the newly-formed Town of Princeton is a long way from achieving this. Depriving the citizenry of potentially critical information which may directly affect its well-being sets a terrible precedent. Precisely what doesn’t our local government think we should see?

I quote Councilman Lance Liverman. He hoped that AvalonBay would have “come to the table and said, ‘We don’t have to do this, but we’re going to do it” and “… We need more testing.” I, too, hope that a desire for rigorous inquiry and truth-seeking will prevail and that it will prompt the council to release to the public all information contained in Dr. Whitman’s original report.

Linda Auerbach

Lytle Street

 

To the Editor:

I was a member of the Recreation Board for a number of years and am familiar with the workings of this excellent organization. The problems surrounding the design and construction of the Community Park Pool were especially difficult and led to all kinds of accusations and misrepresentations. It was the appointment of Jo Butler as liaison to the Board from Borough Council that made all the difference and allowed solutions rather than endless disagreements.

Jo Butler was very important in this process. She brought a fresh perspective and an open mind to pool problems. She is smart and, with a long work resume, a practiced problem solver. Jo operates as a thoughtful listener and an open minded consensus builder. Apparently these traits were necessary for the final resolution of what had been an endless and difficult process. I have noticed that Jo has relied on these same traits as a member of the newly consolidated Princeton and I certainly hope she is able to continue her excellent work.

With these points in mind, I urge Princetonians to vote for Jo Butler on June 3 for council.

Beth Healey

Moore Street

 

To the Editor:

Since 1991 I have considered myself a resident of Princeton, not of Princeton Township or of Princeton Borough. Honestly, I never got it — the donut and the hole never made sense to me. It seemed like a waste of time, of money, and of energy. Now that we are One Princeton I am looking to elect council representatives who are fully committed to a consolidated Princeton.

I believe Sue Nemeth and Bernie Miller are those representatives. They are good listeners, who are available and accessible. They understand the wisdom of compromise. They are willing to say yes but also have the strength to say no. Sue and Bernie balance sharp intellects with practical common sense. They are committed to enhancing Princeton’s business district and to strengthening its neighborhoods.

I encourage Princeton voters to support Sue Nemeth and Bernie Miller in the primary election this June.

John J. Burns, M.D.

Baldwin Lane

 

To the Editor:

I enthusiastically support Bernie Miller and Sue Nemeth for Princeton Council and wish to congratulate them on their strong showing at the PCDO candidates’ debate and poll on March 30, and the Democratic Committee vote the following evening. As the top two vote-getters, they have earned favorable ballot placement and the use of the party banner in the primary election on June 3.

Bernie and Sue have been making the case very clearly that it is time for Princeton to move forward as one town, leaving old divisions behind, and finally working (twice as strong) to face our challenges and promote a robust future. One of the best examples of their problem-solving skills, is the way they negotiated the Princeton Ridge development while serving together on Township Committee. They worked with the environmental community, the developer, and nearby residents to craft a compromise solution which resulted in a scaled back version of what was originally proposed, and created an open space preserve in the process. They did this by listening to and respecting all parties, and working for the benefit of all of Princeton.

I am confident that with this kind of leadership, we can finish the task of consolidation and move on to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Bernie and Sue will promote an atmosphere of respect on Princeton Council. They will encourage thoughtful debate, followed by decisive action and political resolve. Please join me in voting for Miller and Nemeth on June 3.

Margaret Griffin

Park Place

 

To the Editor:

I know I am not alone among the 30 local residents attending the Saturday, April 26 meeting of the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood committee who would like to extend thanks to former Princeton Township Mayor Jim Floyd for organizing and leading this important effort. This truly grass roots group meets frequently to discuss issues affecting the community. As a former Quarry Street resident, I’m committed to working towards a positive future for the Witherspoon/Jackson area and its residents.

These meetings are events that should not be missed by elected and appointed Princeton officials as well as residents concerned about Princeton’s future. Mayor Floyd was assisted at the meeting by the always gracious Shirley Satterfield and Minnie Craig. Topics discussed included affordable housing, parking, and traffic.

Sgt. Paul Murray, of the Princeton Police Department discussed the need for new ordinances to address parking and traffic problems post-consolidation. Christie Peacock, Affordable Housing Coordinator on the Princeton Housing Board, provided an overview of affordable housing in Princeton. Kip Cherry noted the importance of attending the Monday, April 28, meeting of the Princeton Council where the Capital Budget would be presented. Omar Nishtar, a resident of Griggs Farm, observed that owning affordable housing is preferable to renting because it motivates a desire to maintain and improve the property.

Among attendees at the meeting were Larry and Fern Spruill, who have single-handedly created the highly successful group “Committed and Faithful Princetonians” whose goal is to prepare young men and women for academic and social development leading toward a life of high achievement. Also in attendance were Kate Warren, Affordable Housing Board Member; Ross Wishnack, Chairman, Human Services Commission; former Borough Mayor Marvin Reed; Sam Bunting, liaison to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Sue Nementh, candidate for Princeton Council; and Hendricks Davis, who was involved with the Consolidation and Transition Task Force.

Princeton Councilman Lance Liverman provided insight on issues discussed. Princeton Housing Authority Commissioners, including the highly esteemed Hank Pannell, who helped establish the Pannel Learning Center that was named in his honor, and Alvin McGowan, were also among the attendees.

Kudos to Mayor Floyd for continuing to organize these important and constructive meetings.

Linda Sipprelle, Commissioner

Princeton Housing Authority, Nassau Street

 

April 23, 2014

To the Editor:

I am writing to express our deep appreciation for the exceptional work of local first responders following the explosion at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro Thursday night [April 10].

Thank you to the Plainsboro police and all the fire companies and ambulance crews that responded — including Plainsboro, Princeton, Princeton Junction, Monmouth Junction, Kingston, Kendall Park and the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory — along with the county fire coordinators for Mercer and Middlesex. We also would like to thank the local Plainsboro officials, the Middlesex County Fire Investigation Unit, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, who continue investigating the cause of the explosion.

We are grateful to these groups for their rapid response, expertise, and effective collaboration with our physicians, nurses, and other staff. There was a tremendous sense of teamwork as everyone involved responded with skill and compassion in the midst of a challenging situation.

The collaboration between all first responders at the hospital that night helped us to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients and visitors, as well as the injured staff member.

Barry S. Rabner

President and CEO, Princeton HealthCare System

 

To the Editor:

When I arrived home Friday night [April 11], I couldn’t help but think about the preceding 24 hours and the many powerful emotions I was feeling. The first was sadness for our staff member who was injured in the explosion Thursday night, her family, and our staff. My second emotion was pride and appreciation for all the amazing people I work with. We were faced with a crisis situation, but because of the many competent, brave staff and physicians, this disaster was so much less than it could have been. I was amazed by the quick thinking and bravery exhibited by all. Everyone did what they needed to do, including our patients and their families.

It is truly difficult to put everything in perspective at the present time, but we all continue to learn from these situations. I was struck by how well we do the things we do and I want to acknowledge and thank all the staff on telemetry and throughout the hospital that were here Thursday night, as well as the staff continuing to help and support our organization. I feel such a sense of pride and appreciation and want to recognize all who are part of this amazing organization.

I went home feeling, “I am in the right place with the right people!”

Kathleen Ryan, BSN, RN, BC

Director of Nursing and Peri-op Services

 

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Education Foundation, its Board of Trustees and Advisory Board, I am sending gratitude and sincere thanks for our most well-attended and successful spring gala and silent auction on April 5. Special thanks to our many attendees as well as our lead community sponsors: OnePrinceton, Georgeanne Gould Moss and The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, and the W. Bryce Thompson Foundation for their support of the Princeton Education Foundation.

We’re also grateful to Princeton University for the donation of the beautiful venue, Frick Chemistry Laboratory. Thanks, too, to the Princeton High School all girls a cappella group, The Cat’s Meow, for treating guests to a surprise mini-performance high above the crowd. Resounding thanks to our community tasting station sponsors who ensured that guests enjoyed an outstanding array of gourmet tastes, and to our silent auction donors for adding a fun spirit of competition to the charitable event.

The gala committee and volunteers were many. Together, this group of committed parents raised nearly $55,000 and produced a fun, well-attended community event to benefit the Princeton Education Foundation, our children, and the Princeton Public Schools. Raising awareness of the Foundation’s work was a key goal of the gala, and it was achieved with resounding success. Please look for our ad thanking our sponsors and supporters [Town Topics, April 16]. Meanwhile, names of friends, supporters, and volunteers follow here with sincere apologies if we’ve omitted anyone:

PEF Corporate and Community Sponsors: OnePrinceton, Georgeanne Gould Moss and The Gould Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, W. Bryce Thompson Foundation, Anne Skalka and Associates, Bai Brands, LLC, The Bank of Princeton, PNC Bank, Dennigan Cahill Smith, LLC, Beatrice Bloom, Weichert Realtors, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., Jon Craig Tyl DMD & Michael P. Fogarty DDS, Greg’s Landscaping, Lear and Pannepacker, LLP, J.B. Redding & Son, Inc., JOYcards, Inc., Princeton Air Conditioning, Inc., Ellen T. Nita, State Farm Insurance Agency.

Community Tasting Sponsors: Alchemist & Barrister, Bai Brands, Chez Alice, Eno Terra, IQuisine, Jammin’ Crepes, Lula Cellars, McCaffrey’s Markets, Mediterra, The North End Bistro, The Pind, The Peony Pavilion, Riverhorse Brewery, Small World Coffee, Thomas Sweet.

Gala Committee: Rebecca Balaguer, Jeff Bergman, Lakshmi Bhamidipati, Caroline Cleaves, Amy Craft, Pooja Datt, Anne Desmond, Jean Durbin (Co-Chair), Jon Durbin, Lynne Glass, Jeanine Hillesland, Janice Kioko, Nicola Knipe, Bill Madden, Jean-Anne Madden, Shazia Manekia, Pam McClean, Jill Morrison, Ed Normandin, Grace Normandin (Co-Chair), Owen O’Donnell, Shilpa Pai, Jan Pierce, Barbara Prince, Archie Reid, Lawrence Roth, Suzanne Roth, Adrienne Rubin, Ronica Sethi, Aman Shergill, Hilary Steiger, Monika Suri, Todd Wachtel, Wendy Wachtel, Alan Zetterberg, Heidi Zhang.

Auction Committee: Arthur Cucchiaro, Julianne Hagarty, Mike Hepler, Kerry Herbert, Tim Herbert, Bill Madden, Jean-Anne Madden, Julia Madden, McKenna Madden, Shazia Manekia, Barbara Prince, Aman Shergill.

Jean-Anne Madden

President Board of Trustees, Princeton Education

 

To the Editor:

Our new Superintendent of Schools, Steve Cochrane, did not directly address the question raised in your April 16 mailbox [“Former Board of Ed President Discusses Reported Mistreatment of District Student”] regarding the troubling suspension of a disabled six-year-old boy.The suspension came after the boy’s teacher and other school personnel misguidedly interpreted as sexual misconduct his rocking back and forth and attendant bumping of his groin area — behavior professional therapists diagnosed as stemming from school related anxiety, likely a consequence of a motor disability so severe he could not write.

The ensuing actions by educators evidently ill-equipped to distinguish disability from willful misbehavior indicate a punitive bureaucracy operating willfully itself and without checks once it is set in motion. The school ignored pleas from the boy’s parents for intervention with the disability until it was ready to suspend him; it appointed an evaluation team comprised not of outside experts, but of only some of the staff responsible for the decision to suspend.

When the parents took the district to court to have the boy returned to school, the judge found against the district for misconceived and unwarranted treatment of a child and authorized his transfer to a different district school. That treatment by district staff — by those to whom we entrust our children’s care — terrorized a little boy, possibly for the long term, and traumatized a family.

Mr. Cochrane, who was not superintendent when the case unfolded, is in an ideal position to initiate an objective and transparent assessment of what went so terribly wrong and institute measures to prevent its happening again. It is to be hoped that his revisiting the circumstances, the errors in judgment, and the defensive closing of the ranks by school personnel, will alleviate his stated worries about exposing “allegations” [Topics of the Town, April 16] that, according to the judgment of the court, are facts and about revealing the identities of his staff, already published in the court’s decision.

Parents in the district need to know schools will enlist independent experts to assess and intervene in the face of odd behaviors and will not countenance, let alone support, runaway malfeasance on the part of professional educators. They need to know their children will be safe when they go to school.

Susan Sugarman

Parkside Drive

 

To the Editor:

Not in Our Town is a Princeton-based interracial and interfaith social action group united to advance the cause of racial justice. We are supporting the YWCA Stand Against Racism Day this Friday, April 25, and encourage all of us to take our own stand against racism on that day and every day. From the highly disproportionate number of men of color who are incarcerated today to the seemingly innocent but nevertheless harmful comments that are made, racism still exists, and we all can do something about it.

• Get together with a neighbor or co-worker of a different race, ethnicity, or religion.

• Consider how your social or faith group can be more inclusive.

• Get involved in one of the many multi-cultural programs offered in the town.

• Be an active member of your child’s school parent association and add your voice to make sure all children are receiving the best the school has to offer.

Started by the Princeton and Trenton YWCAs in 2007, the national Stand Against Racism Day now has thousands of participants who share in a vision of eliminating racism and who celebrate the richness of diversity. The Princeton YWCA is holding a public event at Hinds Plaza and the Princeton Public Library, starting at 5:45 p.m., with a focus on racism and immigration.

We also encourage participation in our Continuing Conversations on Race, held the first Monday of the month, October-June, 7 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library, to further engage with others on issues of concern related to race and racism.

Our hope is that Princeton continues to grow as a place where the ideals of friendship, community, and pride in diversity prevail and where everyone is safe and respected. Join us in standing against racism today and every day.

Wilma Solomon, Larry and Fern Spruill, Ann Yasuhara, Barbara Fox, Nancy Strong, Joyce Turner, Marietta Taylor,

Linda Oppenheim, Ted Fetter,

Rev. Megan Thomas

April 16, 2014

To the Editor: 

A recent issue of U.S. 1 told a story that should concern every member of the Princeton community. It is a story of demeaning and harmful behavior directed at a six-year-old child with special needs by the very people whom the community trusted to care for children.

If you ever thought about what it might be like to be caught in a version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, you only need to read the story of a boy suffering from a developmental coordination disorder known as apraxia. The essence is that a first-grade child with special needs was treated as a pariah by Community Park school staff. They interpreted his self-stimulating behavior as sexual deviancy, ultimately suspending him for it, despite evidence and testimony from the child’s therapist, psychiatrist, and other health professionals to the contrary. Anxiety, like that provoked by school staff when repeatedly accusing the child of willfully bad behavior, simply made his problem worse. Suspending the six-year-old from school made it much worse. The family ultimately had to go to court to request relief. After hearing testimony from the experts, the family and the school system, the judge’s published opinion chastised the system for having caused “irreparable harm” to the child and, in violation of both state and federal law, for failing to create an educational and behavioral plan for the child. The judge took the extraordinary step of ordering the district administration to place the child in a different Princeton school where, happily, he is now prospering.

Mistreatment of a single child in a school community should be a concern to every citizen who expects its schools to act in a professional and caring manner for every child, especially those with special needs. A system that failed one child can be failing other vulnerable children at this very moment. The community expects and deserves the school system to initiate a professional and impartial investigation of the event and, if need be, hold people accountable. I have no doubt that the vast majority of teachers, counselors, and administrators want to educate, not harm. However, when things go dreadfully wrong, as they did in this case, the system has to analyze itself. It needs to open a transparent investigation of what went wrong, who was responsible, and how to make certain it will never happen again. Repeated attempts by the boy’s family to initiate such an investigation have fallen on deaf ears at the district level. It is time for the school system to do the right thing.

Can such “irreparable harm” happen to another child who has been entrusted to our schools for care? We will never know unless the school system undertakes a true investigation so every parent knows that this will never happen again.

Joel Cooper

Prospect Avenue

Editor’s Note: The writer is a former member and president of the Princeton Regional Board of Education. Prior to running the letter, Town Topics sent it to Princeton Public School Superintendent Steve Cochrane, whose statement is included in the story on page 5.

 

To the Editor:

The Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale, held at Princeton Day School every spring, is a complex undertaking, and we would not be able to make it a success were it not for our dedicated board, volunteers, and book donors. This year was the sale’s 83rd consecutive year, and we raised a record amount for college scholarships. From high school students to friends, spouses and children of alumnae, and also to those who have no connection to Bryn Mawr or Wellesley colleges but simply love books, we say thank you.

Elizabeth Penick Romanaux

President, Bryn Mawr Wellesley Book Sale

 

To the Editor:

The remodeling of the Garden Theatre in connection with the forthcoming change in ownership [“The New Management of the Garden Theatre Has Plans That Include the Town and University, page 3, April 9] seems to present an excellent opportunity for installing an induction-coil based loop system, which would much enhance the movie-going experience of hearing impaired people whose hearing aids are equipped with a T-coil. I strongly urge that this possibility be explored forthwith.

Richard E. Quandt

Springdale Road

 

To the Editor:

Family Guidance Center’s 2014 annual fundraiser was a huge success thanks to the community’s support! Family Guidance Center honored Christine Lokhammer, PNC Wealth Management Team of Princeton, with the Mary Jo Codey Award which was presented to her by Mercer County Executive, Brian Hughes. Janssen Pharmaceuticals hosted the event, with over 220 people in attendance. The evening raised over $30,000 for the agency’s programs and services and a fantastic time was had by all.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our event sponsors: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Walsh Benefits, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s Real Estate, Michael Klein & Patricia Cronheim, PNC Bank, W.B. Mason, CFS Investment Advisory Services, E&K Insurance, EisnerAmper,  Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Inter-Networx, Impact Office, M&T Bank, Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women, Perez + Radosti Associates, P.C., Jeffery and Joan Robbins, Brennfleck’s Lawn Service, Hartsough, Kenny, Chase, & Sullivan, Lependorf & Silverstein, Dr. David Barile, Lewis Parker, CPA, Roddenbery Associates, Sims Metal Management, and Valcopy Inc.

Family Guidance Center serves over 5,000 individuals annually in Mercer County through its programs in outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment, debt management and housing counseling, family preservation services, and special education programming. For more information visit the website at www.fgccorp.org.

Jeffery Robbins

Executive Director, Family Guidance Center, Hamilton

 

To the Editor:

A great day was had by all on Saturday, March 29 at the seventh annual Living Local Expo held at the National Guard Armory in Lawrence. A regional effort organized by Sustainable Lawrence, Mercer County, and the Green Teams from Lawrence, Ewing, and Hopewell, the Expo was a wonderful event for the public. In spite of the rain, 100 vendors and more than 1,500 visitors participated in the event that was organized and run by more than 20 volunteers.

The Expo featured a farmers market, cooking demonstrations, music, businesses offering energy-conserving products and services, home energy auditing companies, car dealers, health organizations, schools, numerous local nonprofit organizations, and more.

At the Expo the new booklet “Tips for Greener Living”, written by two area residents, was released. The booklet is available for $2 in the Terhune Orchards farm store or via the Lawrence, Hopewell, and Ewing Green Teams.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this event a success and to all the visitors who attended. We hope the kinds of sustainable ideas that were learned at the Expo will translate into actions in people’s homes, lives, and businesses.

Pam Mount

Terhune Orchards,

for the Living Local Expo Committee

April 2, 2014

To the Editor:

Since 2007, the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association has teamed up with volunteers to pick up trash and debris near area lakes, rivers, and streams, removing more than 12 tons to date.

I hope that many in Princeton will join this year’s cleanup on April 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Turning Basin Park off Alexander Street.

Almost every day there seems to be a crisis related to water in the news. The majority of our waterways here in central New Jersey violate clean water standards for drinking, swimming, and fishing on a regular basis.

Together we can work to stem the tide of water pollution. By taking individual action to recycle and dispose of our trash properly, we can help to keep our water and environment clean and healthy.

Sophie Glovier

Drakes Corner Road

 

To the Editor:

On Sunday afternoon, March 9 at McCarter Theatre, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) of Mercer and Burlington Counties held a benefit reception and performance of Cirkopolis, presented by Cirque Eloize. The event raised over $47,000 to benefit abused and neglected children served by CASA volunteers in Mercer County.

One hundred and fifty guests enjoyed delicious desserts and the interactive magic of Anthony Salazar during the pre-performance reception. They also bid on an array of silent auction items that included a week in Kennebunkport, Maine and an overnight stay at the Philadelphia Zoo. Of course, the magical performance of Cirkopolis by the Cirque Eloize troupe of dancers, acrobats, jugglers and other “athletic artists” amazed our attendees of widely varying ages. The entire experience was a tribute to our dedicated community volunteer advocates and the children they serve.

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties is an independent, non-profit organization committed to speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in both of these counties. The organization’s advocates, appointed by the Family Court judge, help ensure that these children’s medical, dental, mental health, educational, and recreational needs are addressed.

We extend our sincere thanks to our generous event sponsors: Our lead sponsor was DiversityInc at the High-Flyer level; Eckert Seamans was a Juggler sponsor; and Fox Rothschild LLP and Richard and Andrea Stine were sponsors at the Dancer level, while Princeton Orthodontics contributed as a Strongman Sponsor. We could not have held such a successful fund-raiser without our event committee, led by co-chairs Susan Smotrich and Cindy Hollender, and members Amy Decker, Amy Heffern, Susan Paterson, Debbi Roldan, and Andrea Stine.

We’re grateful for the continued generous support of so many, support that enables us to continue to help foster children achieve what is their basic human right — to have a safe and permanent home and family of his or her own. To learn more about the opportunity to be a CASA volunteer, visit www.casamercer.org or contact Volunteer Coordinator Leontyne Anglin at (609) 434-0050.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Director of Community Development

CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties

To The Editor:

Thanks to the generosity of the Princeton Community, the Alchemist & Barrister (A&B) can point to another successful St. Patrick’s Day celebration and fund-raiser.

Our annual St. Patrick’s Day Party and LongBeard benefit raised $2000 for our new charity, The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. We are very proud to assist in this exceptionally worthy effort to fight hunger in Mercer County. Our fundraising efforts focus on the food bank’s Send Hunger Packing program that provides nutritious food for school children on weekends and holidays.

Throughout 2014, the A&B will celebrate 40 years in business and community commitment. We are very grateful to all who participated in making this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration so successful: our LongBeard contestants, guest bartenders, staff, and patrons.

Arthur Kukoda

Executive Chef/Owner,

The Alchemist & Barrister Restaurant & Pub