October 9, 2019

To the Editor:

Thank you to all who came and enjoyed a delightful afternoon with Trinity Church members, guests, and choir. The Afternoon Tea, given to support the Trinity Church Choir’s upcoming 2021 tour of the U.K., was a happy and wonderful event on Sunday, October 6. Our guests enjoyed a delicious traditional English tea of savories and sweets followed by the choir singing Evensong in the beautiful church, rounding out a special and unique event. Thank you for your support for this exceptional choir.

The Trinity Choir Tea Committee

October 2, 2019

To the Editor:

Climate demonstrations like the Hinds Plaza gathering in Princeton may help prod our government to take action against global warming, but it’s going to take concerted follow up by all citizens to ensure that the U.S. moves away from fossil fuels in time to prevent irreparable harm to our Earth.

We have no time to wait before we pick up our phones, pens, and computers and remind our elected representatives that 70 percent of their constituents want action now.  We can even suggest a great place to begin — placing a steadily increasing fee on all oil and gas extracted from ground in the U.S. or imported into the country. Rising costs of fossil fuels will impel all sectors of the economy to develop new and cheaper sources of energy, and the fee revenues can be returned to consumers to make up for short-term price increases. more

To the Editor:

On behalf of The Petey Greene Program, we would like to thank all the many sponsors and ticketholders who helped to make our first public fundraiser on September 26 a success!

The evening’s guest speakers were Princeton native and Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle and Roger Durling, ED of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Peddie School trustee. Both speakers praised Princeton as a community that allowed for ‘big ideas’ and then supported those ideas with philanthropic support. The Petey Greene Program is one such ‘big idea,’ a nonprofit established by Princeton alumni in 2008 that trains university students to tutor incarcerated students in weekly one-on-one sessions. This academic enrichment greatly improves the odds for incarcerated students and at the same time awakens university students to the injustices of mass incarceration in America.  more

To the Editor:

Vote-by-mail ballots arrived in Princeton mailboxes last week.  In Column A of the ballot, voters will find highly competent and concerned Democratic candidates, including Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros for Princeton Council.

Mia and Michelle, who are ready to take on the responsibilities of Council members, have made public service a priority. Each has a vision for Princeton that includes sustainability, affordability, and socioeconomic diversity, as well as a robust and thriving local business community.

Currently a member of the Princeton Planning Board and its Master Plan subcommittee, Mia has served on the Princeton Environmental Commission, on Princeton’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, and on the Complete Streets Traffic Calming Committee. In addition, she serves on the board of Sustainable Princeton, the Resiliency Working Group for Princeton’s Climate Action Plan, and Princeton’s Municipal Green Team.  more

To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone who supported Send Hunger Packing Princeton’s (SHUPP’s) Fall Fest.  Our September 15th “Friendraiser” food packing event was an opportunity for the community to learn more about our program, which has provided over 140,000 supplemental meals to food insecure children in Princeton.  The event was well attended and our eager participants packed over 400 weekend meals for our elementary school children. We greatly appreciate the support of those who attended. Please visit www.SHUPPrinceton.org to find out more or make a donation.

Martha Land, Molly Chrein
SHUPP Board Members and Fall Fest Organizers

To the Editor:

One of the issues that Princeton residents in all parts of the municipality have voiced concerns about is speeding. Based on citizen complaints and their own observations, our police department deploys mobile signs that remind drivers of the speed limit and tracks how fast they are actually going. Through this citizen-driven process, we have collected a lot of data about the speed of traffic on different streets in the town. Speeding can be somewhat subjective; a large bus or truck on a narrow street can appear to be going substantially faster than it is actually going. And not every street that we collect data about appears to have, objectively, a major problem with speeding. But the collected data does reveal that there are definitely roads on which cars consistently go well over the posted speed limit. more

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Dafna Kendal’s candidacy for the Board of Education. I’ve known Dafna since our children started kindergarten together at Littlebrook Elementary School in the fall of 2012. I’ve long been impressed by Dafna’s commitment to the education and wellbeing of all of Princeton’s students; by her ingenuity in devising creative solutions to budgetary challenges; by her deep respect for our district’s teachers; and by her dedication to open, transparent communications with all town residents.

Dafna’s many achievements since she was first elected to the Board demonstrate the tenacity and vigor with which she approaches her role as a steward of our schools. Aware of the fiscal constraints facing our district, for instance, she established in 2018 an ad hoc Board committee on alternative revenue sources that secured approximately $800,000 in voluntary payments from the Institute for Advanced Study and the Princeton Theological Seminary, among others. A lawyer by training, Dafna discovered last year that the Cranbury Board of Education was not meeting its contractual obligation to fully compensate Princeton for special education services; as a result, our district will bill for the additional $150,000 for the 2019-20 school year. As an advocate of equity for all students, Dafna ensured that special education issues were added to teachers’ professional development topics; revised the district’s dress code to remove a prohibition on head scarves; and lobbied for aggressive recruitment efforts at HBCU [historically black colleges and universities], resulting in a marked increase in the hiring of teachers of color. Alert to the importance of Board transparency and community engagement, Dafna added opportunities for public comment at Board meetings and introduced the practice of emailing summaries of monthly Board meetings to all district parents and staff. And as someone both deeply aware of the extraordinary contributions of the district’s teachers and committed to safeguarding the district’s financial resources, Dafna skillfully led negotiations to extend all three labor union contracts through 2020, turning what could have been an acrimonious, costly, and time-consuming ordeal into a mutually satisfactory process. more

To the Editor:

The Choir College is missing its most promising option for continuing its programs: creating a contemporary/popular voice program.

There’s a huge demand for popular voice programs — we saw that in touring colleges with our son, who’s now a senior at Belmont University in Nashville, studying commercial voice with an arranging focus. (He was also accepted at Berklee College for a similar program.) Voice is the top major of Belmont Music students and was certainly the most common interest of those who toured Berklee when we did. There’s no comparable contemporary voice program in our area — so why doesn’t Westminster create one? It already has classical voice staff and can draw other staff from New York City and Philadelphia to teach pop, jazz, rock, and other styles. Offering a cappella performance, arranging, choreography, and teaching — a natural fit. Additional income can also come from workshops, camps, and performances, partnering with local universities and lower schools, and offering songwriting classes as well.

A popular voice program could fund keeping Westminster where it is. Why not have Westminster remain a unique and prosperous center for voice teaching of all kinds?

Ruth Greenwood
Grover Avenue

The writer is co-coordinator of the Princeton Songwriters group.

To the Editor:

We are writing to strongly support Greg Stankiewicz’s re-election to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. We’ve gotten to know Greg over the past few years and have found him to be a humble, fair, and compassionate steward of our schools. His first term started just as our children entered kindergarten together at Community Park School and we began paying much closer attention to the Board’s work — especially the challenges our district faces as a result of an increasing student population and aging facilities.

Greg has dedicated thousands of hours of volunteer time to his work on the Board, bringing his integrity, intelligence, and a commitment to equity to everything he has done. Whenever we came to him with a question or concern, we knew we could trust that he had the best interests of all of our children at heart. We want to highlight three of the many initiatives that have benefited from Greg’s time and expertise:

Greg joined the School Board Facilities Committee in January 2019 and became chair. In that role, he is helping to oversee the $26.9 million referendum. To increase transparency and public participation, Greg instituted bi-weekly public meetings and provided regular updates to the full Board and community. The first three projects of the referendum were implemented this summer: installing air conditioning at the high school gym; upgrading the electrical systems in all the elementary schools; and installing new HVAC units at Riverside Elementary School. more

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in support of Adam Bierman for Princeton Council and to report what I feel is the political chicanery that is depriving all of us voters, and Adam, of a transparent and open candidate’s debate. Let me put this in context.

Local Princeton elections have a proud history of having town hall type debates. These forums are a chance for the community to get together and discuss significant issues with their local candidates. They allow the aspiring contenders to gain insight, understanding and appreciation for their constituents’ concerns.

It is also a two-way dialogue where the candidates are tested for their speaking style, command of the issues, and grace under pressure when potentially unexpected questions are thrown their way.

There is no substitute for this face-to-face dialogue. It is real engagement; one cannot hide with a stale canned speech. In this isolating and digital age, meeting face-to-face is more important than ever to get the community pulse on issues that truly matter to people, like our tax rates, affordable housing, or how much the latest corruption/public health scandal at the River Road facility is going to cost taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the October 22 Princeton Council forum will not continue the open, transparent tradition.

Due to logistical issues, it will be held in the tiny Princeton TV studio with no live audience. The losers will be openness and transparency for the citizenry. Adam’s opponents, I have heard, were too busy to set a date for the event earlier. When they finally did set a date, no large venues were available. Could this have been a premeditated political calculation? Here’s a thought, does anyone else have a venue they want to offer for a robust, audience-filled debate?

P.S. I would like to thank Chrystal Schivell and the League of Women Voters for their support of our democratic ideals and the tenacity in finally being able to get this forum scheduled even without the voters.

Walter J. Krieg
Laurel Road

September 25, 2019

To the Editor:

Cokie Roberts, journalist and ABC television and NPR radio anchor and commentator, died of cancer this week after a legendary career. It is also as an exemplary human being and loving family member that we, and many others living in Princeton and Mercer County, will remember her and deeply mourn her death.

The two of us knew Cokie best as the sister of Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who served as mayor of the Borough of Princeton from 1983-1990. As she was dying of cancer, at 51, Barbara wrote a volume of poetry, An Unfinished Life, that included a poem about her sister reprinted below. She noted that it was written at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, November 9, 1989. Its title, “Cokie in the Hospital.” more

To the Editor:

Cokie Roberts was a classmate of mine at Wellesley in 1964. When I moved to Princeton, I became a political advisor and campaign manager for her sister, Mayor Barbara Sigmund. These two women, along with their wonderful mother Lindy Boggs, were so successful in the most competitive of arenas not because they were women but because they were good.

In Barbara Sigmund’s campaigns for U.S. Senate and Borough mayor, Cokie was at her side with humor, advice, and counsel. This family and their search for the good has changed Princeton in the last 40 years. Many of today’s Mercer County public officials came into public life because of this family. Cokie had a critical role in that transformation.

Your good deeds will follow you.

Beth Healey
Moore Street

To the Editor:

I was saddened to read in the media last week about the death of veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, and even more distressed to learn that the cause of her death was complications from breast cancer. Besides being a prolific journalist and a pioneer for women in the profession, Ms. Roberts also had a tie to the Princeton community. Her sister was Barbara Boggs Sigmund, founder of Womanspace and mayor of Princeton Borough from 1983 until her death in 1990. Sadly, Mayor Sigmund also died of complications from cancer.

With all that in mind and Breast Cancer Awareness Month fast approaching, I wanted to write to call attention to the great work of the Princeton YWCA’s Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC), located on Rosedale Road on the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s campus. The BCRC provides comprehensive resources and programming to those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, survivors, family members, caregivers, and “anyone in between.” Further, and most importantly for those with limited financial resources, BCRC programs are provided free of charge. more

To the Editor:

On September 14 and 15 a dozen volunteers attended STREAM School at the Watershed Institute Jacob’s Creek in Hopewell Township and Zion Crossing Park in Montgomery Township in order to learn how to conduct stream habitat assessments for the purpose of evaluating and documenting the health and water quality of a stream.

STREAM (Sourland Team of Resource and Ecology Assessment Monitors) School is sponsored by the Sourland Conservancy, the Watershed Institute, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and NJ AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador Program and partially funded by a 2018 Watershed Institute Grant.

The purpose of STREAM School is to cultivate a cadre of volunteer stream monitors, most of whom will monitor Sourland streams and track their health over time. The collected stream data will also be sent to NJDEP’s water quality-monitoring database, “Water Quality Exchange” (WQX). more

To the Editor:

As a Democrat, I have been laser-focused on the national political scene, working to do everything I can to make sure Trump is defeated in November 2020. But in New Jersey, November 5, 2019, is also an important election.  We must elect Democrats to municipal and state office who will counterbalance, to the fullest extent possible, the destructive policies of this Republican administration on our environment, on our voting rights, on the fairness of our immigration system and our elections, on our civil rights, on the very integrity of our political institutions.

In Princeton, two Democrats, Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros, are running for the two open seats on Princeton Council. I am an advisor to their joint campaign, and I strongly urge you to support them in their goal to ensure that Princeton is a fair, welcoming, well-planned, and environmentally sustainable community; one that is governed with transparency and accountability. Mia and Michelle offer a valuable combination of progressive politics coupled with practical wisdom and innovative solutions. more

To the Editor:

While it is difficult to say that there is a consensus on the butterfly mural being affixed to the building at the corner of John and Leigh, it is I believe fair to say that in general the W-J neighborhood is not against the use of public art.  What was stressed in the recent [HPC and W-J] meetings was indeed a consensus that the neighborhood wants to be involved in the concept, design, and application of public art projects at the beginning of the process.

My personal takeaway from the meeting was that most of the people who were not in favor of the mural did not necessarily have a problem with its application but rather thought that the first application of this sort should represent the African American experience; the basis for the historic designation.

It is my belief that the Latino experience and history in Princeton, while not on the same scale as the African American experience and history in Princeton, also has significance and I have no issue with it being expressed through the use of public art as long as there is community engagement and agreement on “the process.” more

To the Editor:

My girlfriend and I are frequent walkers of the D & R Canal…so beautiful, pristine, serene, lots of wildlife, turtles, blue heron, so calming. Unfortunately, there are many on the canal who do not know the “rules of the road.” I’m speaking to the cyclists. We are often walking while they ZOOM by from behind, on our right, on our left, in the middle without announcing themselves and practically sideswiping us as they pass.

Might I offer a suggestion…when we bike, anywhere, we use a bell or a yell signaling “on your left” to let the walker know we are approaching. It just seems like common courtesy to do this, rather than scaring the dickens out of the walker by zooming by at a high rate of speed.

I would like to see a sign posted by the D&R, to assist cyclists in this endeavor. Something like…”If you have a bell please use it to notify walkers, if you do not, please give a yell upon approach.”

Robert O’Brien
West Windsor

To the Editor:

We need someone on the Board of Education who looks for ways to avoid spending all through the year, not just in a mad scramble during budget season, when it turns out that revenues and expenses for the coming year are not going to balance.

The district’s ordinary personnel costs have been rising faster than the district’s ordinary revenues for years. One-time extraordinary revenues have let the administration and the Board avoid making hard choices, but that can’t go on forever.

We need Debbie Bronfeld to continue her efforts to get the growth of costs down to a rate the available revenues will be able to support, while continuing to provide a high-quality education to every student in our schools.

Please re-elect Debbie Bronfeld to the Princeton Board of Education.

Rod Montgomery
William Patterson Court

September 18, 2019

To the Editor:

Candidates for the Princeton Board of Education will meet in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Princeton Community TV on Wednesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. Monument Main, 1 Monument Drive, Princeton. Questions will be taken from the audience. Video of the forum will be broadcast on Princeton TV and posted at the League’s website www.lwvprinceton.org and on VOTE411.org.

The League is also planning forums for candidates for Princeton Council and the 16th Legislative District. Final arrangements will be made as candidates work out their schedules. Stay tuned: keep an eye on the League website and Princeton TV! You may send questions for the candidates to lwvprinceton@gmail.com. more

To the Editor:

My public life began when then Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed appointed me to the Cable Television Committee in the 1990s. The first task of the committee back then was to establish a permanent studio to serve as a location where local residents could learn to shoot, edit, and cablecast local access programming. Using funds collected from cable fees and made available to the committee by the governments of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, we able to acquire equipment and secure a few rooms in the Arts Council Building to be the first home of Princeton’s TV30. more

To the Editor:

Mark your calendars! Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, and the polls will be open from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. I write to provide Vote By Mail information and highlight the Democratic Party ticket in Mercer County.

You may apply for a Vote By Mail Ballot at the County Clerk’s office in Trenton, 209 South Broad Street, or by downloading an application at the NJ Division of Elections website at www.state.nj.us/state/elections.  Mail your completed application to the Mercer County Clerk (209 South Broad Street, PO Box 8068, Trenton, NJ 08650), up to seven days prior to the election or better yet, deliver it in person at the County Clerk’s office up until 3 p.m. on November 4. more

To the editor:

With the start of the school year, our thoughts turn to children’s learning and development. We know the importance nurturing children through reading and singing to them, engaging them in play with colorful objects, providing sound nutrition, and involving children in other activities that will enhance their early childhood development. That’s why I hope readers will join me in urging Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman to cosponsor legislation being introduced by Reps. Castro (D-TX) and Fitzpatrick (R-PA) that would bring early childhood development (ECD) to children all around the world. more

September 11, 2019

To the Editor:

We, the undersigned, representing Not In Our Town Princeton, a multi-racial, multi-faith racial justice organization, have concerns about the proposed purchase of an armored tactical vehicle by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office. This type of highly specialized vehicle costs about $300,000 and its usefulness is quite limited. In addition to the cost, we are most concerned about how it will be used.

Over the past generation, there has been a tendency for civilian police and sheriff’s departments to use military style tactics, weapons and vehicles. The change in policing methods comes at a financial and social cost to the community. This cost is both in the expense of tactical vehicles and equipment, but more critically, it is the cost of the disengagement of law enforcement from the communities being served, in particular communities of color. The people in the community and on the street are no longer known as individuals but are seen as dangerous and as opponents. More powerful weapons and equipment are requested to deal with those opponents. Innocent people are at risk and lives are lost from SWAT teams breaking into the wrong address and injuring or killing innocent people; citizens have died in standoffs in which buildings are destroyed or entire city blocks burned down. Once military-style weapons systems have been purchased, there is an incentive to prove the value of the purchase by using the equipment. And difficult situations such as armed standoffs and hostage negotiations, which require a range of exceptional skills and patience to defuse or neutralize, instead become an opportunity to use extreme force with little regard to the surrounding community. more

To the Editor:

I am a former board of trustees chair of Princeton Community TV, and am writing in support of the town continuing to fund the station. The bulk of PCTV’s funding goes toward supporting the creation of original programming that serves the local community. In these times when local media outlets are vanishing because they are no longer commercially viable, PCTV provides a unique outlet that will only become more important as other local sources of information dry up. The state of our democracy is already perilous, and we need to preserve (and preferably expand) independent, local voices such as those fostered by PCTV. more

To the Editor:

I am proud to write in support of Dafna Kendal’s candidacy for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Dafna has a unique ability to make decisions in the best interests of the students, while always being mindful of budgetary and tax impacts. Dafna has proven her commitment to our students and to the community during her recent term on the Board. Her many accomplishments demonstrate how deeply she engages in everything she does. It is impossible to enumerate all Dafna has done in a brief letter. Some of her achievements for the school district include:

Dafna was instrumental in the passage of the later start time at PHS, which has been proven to improve students’ health.

She fostered a fair and respectful relationship with the Teachers’, Administrative, and Support Staff Unions and led the contract negotiations which extended their contracts until 2020. more