December 3, 2014

Visitors to the new Dinky station will have noticed the covered bike stand at the entrance from the campus side of the platform. A peek inside reveals ten shiny new white bikes available for rent courtesy of the bike sharing service Zagster.

In conjunction with Princeton University, Zagster has launched Princeton’s first bike sharing program. For an annual membership fee of $20, members of the University community and Princeton residents will be able to rent bikes by the hour. The bikes are free for the first two hours and then $2 per hour after that. They can be rented by the hour or by the day for up to $20 for a maximum 24-hour rental.

Zagster members must be at least 18 years old. Bikes can be accessed by creating a Zagster account via the Zagster Mobile App, (available for iPhone and Android), or online at:

Designed to offer a convenient and healthy way to get around town, the bike sharing program was inspired by similar programs in Europe. “When I was a student at Imperial College in London, I took a trip to Paris and saw the advent of the VЋlib’ program there; I wanted to do something similar in the states,” said Zagster co-founder and CEO Tim Ericson.

Launched in 2007, the Parisian system is now the world’s sixth-largest bike sharing program, second only to those in China.

Zagster was founded in Philadelphia in 2007 as CityRyde and is now headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Ericson began talking with Princeton University about the possibility of a program in Princeton. “We were one of the first bike share companies in the country and we helped bring the concept of bicycle sharing to the United States,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We don’t normally launch a new program in November but the University wanted this to coincide with the opening of the new Dinky station and that made sense. We hope that by the spring, the bikes will be there and people will know about the program. This is a great first step in a broader campus and community-wide bike initiative.”

The new Arts and Transit neighborhood has been the draw. “With great new transit connectivity via rail and bus, and with students on campus who prefer two wheels to four, the Zagster program will enable sustainable, healthy, and convenient transportation options for all,” said Mr. Ericson.

To rent a bike, riders simply log in to their account, enter the unique ID number of the bike they wish to use and the app provides an access code for the lock box mounted on the back of the bike. Riders can use the code throughout the duration of their rental to lock and unlock the bike anywhere along their trip. Once the bike is returned to the Zagster location at Princeton Station, the touch of a button ends the rental and releases the bike for the next rider.

“At the moment there is just one pick up and drop off location and so a bike might sit around outside your office all day but we’ve priced the rental so as to take this into account. As the program grows, more stations will be added around town,” said Mr. Ericson. “That’s how it has worked in other cities — we started with 50 bikes in Detroit and now have three times that number with more locations for pick up and drop off. Lyon, France, a city that had no infrastructure for bicycles, now has one of the largest bike share programs and we are confident that bike sharing will take off in Princeton and you will see a lot more Zagster bikes in the coming year.”

The Breezer Uptown bikes are made in Taiwan and assembled in Philadelphia. They are known for being lightweight and of durable construction, specifically designed for city riding. All bikes come with carrying baskets and an attached flexible lock.

“The addition of Zagster to our transportation options will help us make progress in meeting the University’s sustainability goal of 500 fewer vehicles on campus by 2020,” said Kim Jackson, the University’s director of transportation and parking services, in a press announcement of the new program. “When people have options like Zagster, it makes it easier to leave a car at home, which reduces congestion, pollution, and emissions on and around campus. We’re pleased to offer the bike rental program and we hope to expand it in the future.”

Currently, Zagster has hundreds of bikes deployed in more than 30 cities/towns in more than 20 states. Zagster has partnered with leading brands, including General Motors, Hyatt, Novare Group, Quicken Loans, Yale University, Duke University and others. For more information, visit:


In a memorial service of music, readings, and recollections, Princeton philanthropist William Hurd Scheide was remembered last Saturday not only as a champion of civil rights and a patron of the arts, but also as a loving father who enjoyed making his children laugh and reading Dennis the Menace comic books.

Nassau Presbyterian Church was nearly full as friends, family, and colleagues came to pay their respects to Mr. Scheide, who died November 14 at the age of 100. Among those in attendance were Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber, Representative Rush Holt, and McCarter Theatre Artistic Director Emily Mann.

“He was a registered Republican but we all knew in his heart he was a classic liberal Democrat,” said Louise Marshall, Mr. Scheide’s daughter. She recalled her father’s appreciation not only of J.S. Bach but of jazz greats Bessie Smith, Bix Beiderbecke, and Benny Goodman. Ms. Marshall’s younger sister Barbara Scheide, who joked that her father referred to her as “opus two,” recalled a portrait of Bach that hung in the house.

“That is the man who writes my Daddy’s music,” she was known to say as a small child, a statement that amused Mr. Scheide. He used it, she said, when  promoting the Bach Aria Group, which he founded in 1946.

The Scheide house was filled with books “in every room,” Ms. Marshall said. And while her father was a strict grammarian, “he could always make up nonsensical syllables that always made us laugh,” she said, reciting a few to laughter from the audience. “As a father, we knew we had a very funny man in the house.” Among the favorite memories of Mr. Scheide mentioned by his children were his attempts to balance on two rafts at Lake Dunmore in Vermont, where the family had a summer home.

Mr. Scheide’s son John, who not only spoke but played the recorder during the service, was visibly moved as he thanked members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Chamber Players for their performance of a movement from a Schubert string quintet. The service of readings and music, which was planned by Mr. Scheide some two decades ago, included music by Schubert and Bach, played by the NJSO ensemble and several other musicians.

The Rev. David A. Davis, pastor of the church, spoke of Mr. Scheide’s “stunningly generous and lasting philanthropic life” and quoted Mr. Scheide’s wife Judith as saying he was “Presbyterian in his bones.” Ms. Scheide’s brother, the Reverend William Dalglish, noted that the wealth Mr. Scheide inherited from his father and grandfather was used not to lead a privileged life, but to help others.

“He was created by God to be a faithful manager of everything that God had trusted to his care,” Rev. Dalglish said. “And Bill understood that his responsibility was to manage it — manage it responsibly.”

Mr. Scheide was a 1936 alumnus of Princeton University. The service included one verse of the school’s anthem, “Old Nassau.”

Mark Laycock, former conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and a favorite of Mr. Scheide, spoke of him as “a courteous, honorable, and faithful man,” adding, “A great man never really dies, but always lives on. Thank you, Bill.”


November 26, 2014

Food service workers in Princeton’s public schools are threatening to strike, claiming that the new company hired by the district to provide food for students and staff has taken away their health insurance and sick day benefits.

Several food service workers appealed to Superintendent Stephen Cochrane and members of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) at the November 18 public meeting, which was held at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center in anticipation of a large number of attendees. The Board is in the middle of contract negotiations with the teachers’s union Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA).

Angela Clark who serves meals at Littlebrook Elementary School told the Board: “We do our best, we work hard, and this new company will not budge and doesn’t want to give us any benefits we had before. That is why 20 of us have voted to strike. We don’t want to do it, but it may come to that unfortunately. We are here to ask for your help.”

In June, the BOE unanimously approved a $61,245 food service contract with Nutri-Serve Food Management, Inc. for the 2014-15 school year; existing cafeteria staff were offered jobs with the new contractor, which replaced Chartwells School Dining Services. Chartwells had been serving Princeton’s schools for the previous 15 years.

Princeton Public Schools introduced the new food service provider as one that enables children to make good food choices and also promotes healthy eating for their parents.

According to a union representative, however, Nutri-Serve, which serves more than 80 other districts around the state, was unilaterally and unlawfully changing the terms of its contract with the employees.

“It’s a terrible thing,” commented Bridget Guarini, who has worked at John Witherspoon Middle School for over a decade. “We’re here working for the kids each and every day and I don’t think it’s fair that we have to come in to work even if we’re sick. We’re not asking for anything we didn’t have before, and we didn’t have too much before. We can’t make a living, and it’s not fair to us.”

Members of the Board sat in silence as workers expressed their feelings.

Princeton resident Dafna Kendal chided Board members for causing division between staff and administration, between teachers and parents. “Tonight I feel like I’m in a Dickens novel,” she said. “The lunch aides are asking you to help them, please have some humanity. They make $9 an hour and we’re not going to pay them for the day after Thanksgiving when school is closed? They are begging you to help them, please help them.”

At the end of the meeting, Superintendent Stephen Cochrane pointed out that Nutri-Serve and not the Board of Education is responsible for negotiating with its workers. “We care very deeply about our food service workers and we value very much the work that they do each day with our children, but we do want to clarify that the Board is not in negotiations with the union,” he said.

After the meeting, Mr. Cochrane sent the following message to parents: “This week we learned that the union representing our food service professionals is negotiating portions of its contract with Nutri-Serve, our food service provider. We care deeply about our food service workers, many of whom have been helping in our schools for years. As the men and women who work in our cafeterias are not employees of the district, the administration and Board of Education have no official involvement in the negotiations process. We are, however, hopeful that the contract will be settled quickly and in the best interest of all involved. In the meantime, Nutri-Serve has assured the district that there will be no interruption to the preparation and service of quality food to our children.”

Asked by email if there was anything the Board or he, as superintendent, could do in response to the plea from the food service workers, Mr. Cochrane said that he had “reached out personally to some of our food service professionals to get a better sense of their concerns. I have also been in touch with Nutri-Serve, and I remain hopeful that the issues of primary concern can be settled soon.”

Board member Patrick Sullivan expanded on Mr. Cochrane’s comments in a statement to Town Topics yesterday: “Nutri-Serve provides cafeteria services to the School District, and Nutri-Serve contracts with its employees through the 32 BJ Service Employees International Union. The Princeton Board of Education is not a party to that contract. While the negotiations between the 32 BJ SEIU and Nutri-Serve are ongoing, there is nothing that the Board of Education can lawfully do to influence the talks between those parties. We do care very much for our food service workers and are hopeful for a quick and fair resolution between their union leaders and the management of Nutri-Serve.

PREA representative John Baxter said that, while he wasn’t in a position to comment on the specifics of the dispute, he expressed support for the food service workers “in their right to a fair contract and a living wage.”

“If what I’ve heard is true, that the workers have lost their sick days, I am certainly very concerned about the health hazard this may present to students who are served by these dedicated workers,” said Mr. Baxter. “Fewer or no sick days certainly increases the likelihood that a food service worker will report to work when he or she is sick and should be home.”


Representatives of the teachers’ union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) and the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) sat down with state-appointed mediator Kathy Vogt, Esq. last Thursday.

Ms. Vogt helped bring both sides together in negotiations for the 2011-14 contract, which expired June 30 but continues in operation until the terms and conditions can be agreed upon. She met separately with each side.

The mediator was called in after a long series of bargaining sessions had failed to reach an agreement. Things got so bad that on October 2, the meeting was brought to a halt when members of the PREA negotiating team walked out.

Negotiations had stalled repeatedly over the issues of health care and salary increases, the most significant stumbling block to forward movement being a profound disagreement over the intent and impact of NJ law Chapter 78. The crux of the issue is whether premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining under the Chapter 78 law. PREA contends that, after this year, premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining.

The union has announced that as of December 1 its members will stop donating their time to non-paid extra-curricular activities and volunteer work. The action would affect some after-school student clubs and student trips, activities to which teachers contribute their own time as opposed to activities for which they get paid.

On its Facebook page, the union posted an open letter to parents explaining the action to not “perform or participate in activities, including their planning, for which we are not compensated and that extend beyond the school day.”

Princeton’s teachers will, however, continue to write letters of recommendation for students.

The mediation session came after parents had expressed disapproval of the BOE’s ongoing failure to come to an agreement at last week’s meeting, which took place in the Performing Arts Auditorium at Princeton High School because so many parents and teachers were expected to attend as had been the case at the meeting in October.

“I am dismayed by the contentious negotiations between the Board and PREA,” said resident Abigail Rose at the meeting. “This prolonged process has led to diminished morale among teachers and has had a direct impact on student learning and extra-curricular activities. I urge the Board to fairly prioritize, recognize, and compensate our outstanding teachers, both to keep those already here and to continue to attract the best.”

Resident Amy Goldstein expressed anger at the Board for jeopardizing children’s education. She suggested that such parental displeasure had resulted in the failure of the only incumbent to be elected in the recent election. Addressing the entire membership, she said “Princeton is not happy with you, you need to listen to your teachers and to your town.”

However, one local resident suggested a possible solution to the negotiation stalemate. “I don’t see the money to satisfy all the economic desires of the teachers,” said Rod Montgomery. “With costs going up while revenues do not, the only way to survive the squeeze is to make teachers more productive.” He asked whether technology might be used to make that possible through increasing class sizes and perhaps having students teach each other.

After Thursday’s mediated session, BOE negotiator Patrick Sullivan said “While we just began the process with the mediator, we were encouraged by the tone of discussions, and both sides were able to frankly exchange not only their views and positions, but also on the reasoning that underlies them.”

Chair of the PREA Negotiations Team John J. Baxter was less positive (see his letter in this week’s Mailbox). “There was no indication of any change in the Board’s positions at the meeting on the 20th,” he said. “The mediator, of course, needed to use that meeting largely to acquaint herself with the teams’ positions and the major issues.”

Two more mediated sessions are planned for December 9 and January 14. “We are confident that we will continue to make progress on the issues on which we still remain apart,” said Mr. Sullivan.

Mediator services are provided by the state at no cost to the district, but if no agreement is reached in mediation, a fact-finder would be called in at a cost of $1,500 per day. The cost of a fact-finder would be split between the two parties.


More discussion is in order on the future of the Witherspoon Street corridor, the mile-long thoroughfare between Valley Road and Nassau Street. At a meeting Monday night, Princeton Council decided to allow additional time for debating the merits of coming up with new zoning as opposed to leaving the current zoning of the street as is.

The consolidation of the former Borough and Township has allowed the opportunity for creating a new vision for the street, but the question is whether new rules are necessary. Planning director Lee Solow presented a comprehensive capacity study at the meeting, going zone-by-zone to explain the limits and opportunities associated with each section of the street. There are eight zoning districts in the corridor, most of which have been in place for more than 30 years. Some of the designations are complicated, with the floor-to-area (FAR) ratios not representative of how much square footage is actually allowed.

The capacity study included a look at individual lots to calculate the maximum building potential, using information from the tax assessor’s office. Parking requirements are controlling development possibilities, Mr. Solow said. The existing zoning allows for more density than is actually dictated by the requirements.

Witherspoon Street is home to the close-knit Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, several businesses, and the former Princeton Hospital, currently being demolished to make room for the 280-unit AvalonBay rental complex. The corridor was first discussed at a meeting last September, during which several area residents and business owners spoke out, some in favor of leaving the current zoning in place and others hoping for new designations that would be more restrictive to developers. Still others were interested in further development.

There were fewer members of the public taking the microphone at Monday’s meeting, a situation that caused some comment. “I’m concerned that there are not many members of the neighborhood here tonight,” said local resident Kip Cherry. Ms. Cherry added that the area is “going through an evolution,” and stressed the need for maintaining its character.

Former Borough Mayor Yina Moore summarized comments made about the issue at the most recent meeting of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood association. Calling the corridor a “very important spine of the community,” she said “There is a real concern about developers buying multiple properties.”

Ms. Moore mentioned the possibility of incompatible designs, absentee ownership, and increased gentrification, among other negative results. She urged Council to take a form-based approach when looking at the zoning “to really bring the neighborhood into conformity,” urging that the zoning limit financial institutions, encourage more owner occupancy, and limit businesses to the first floor of a building.

Marvin Reed, chair of the town’s master plan committee and former Township mayor, also weighed in, urging Council to be aware of the fact that properties are being purchased on Witherspoon Street with the idea of further development. The town should have solid policies in place before potential developers make applications. “The existing zoning, while confusing, isn’t so bad,” he said, expressing views of neighborhood residents, adding that there is a strong emphasis on saving the area’s historic character.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller asked Mr. Solow what the potential is for developers coming in and putting in large buildings out of scale with the neighborhood. “There’s a real threat there,” Mr. Solow said. “There’s also a real opportunity.” He added that while the current zoning is complicated, it has worked.

“We embarked on this because the current zoning is confusing to the lay person,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “Does it work well enough for us to be okay with it, or do we go to the next step? We want to do this only if we’re putting something together that’s not already there, such as a form-based code.”

Council president Bernie Miller said he thinks there is a need for more dialogue and more input from residents. “I’d like to hear more before I say ‘Let’s get a visioning statement’ or go one way or the other,” he said.

Council decided to hold another public discussion of the situation at a future meeting, probably in early January. Councilwoman Jo Butler suggested inviting some of the architects of an original study of the corridor done by the organization Princeton Future when that meeting takes place.


November 19, 2014
ALL ABOARD: Like many Dinky users on Monday, Conductor Bob Gibbs is all smiles as the new Princeton station opened. Commuters found a cherry electronic message board welcoming them to Princeton University and enjoyed free coffee inside the waiting room. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

ALL ABOARD: Like many Dinky users on Monday, Conductor Bob Gibbs is all smiles as the new Princeton station opened. Commuters found a cherry electronic message board welcoming them to Princeton University and enjoyed free coffee inside the waiting room. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

In spite of having no heat in the waiting room, commuters were happy to be able to find shelter from Monday’s inclement weather and enjoy the free hot coffee that was available when the Princeton Dinky Station opened at its new permanent location on Alexander Street.

The Dinky had been out of service for a week, during which time commuters used bus links like the University-operated TigerTransit and the FreeB as well as other means to get to and from Princeton Junction.

Commuters who had negotiated their way from town Monday were generally pleased by what they found. An electronic message board welcomed them to Princeton University, familiar ticket vending machines were located under a canopied platform, and a new waiting room can accommodate 167 people with bench seating inside and more seating built into the exterior walls outside. And while there are no restrooms on the platform, there are restrooms available inside the new Wawa store nearby, which will be open 24 hours a day beginning Friday, November 21. The taxi stand has already relocated to the new Transit Plaza and there is short-term parking out front as well as at the north end of the Princeton Station parking lot, although parts of the lot remain closed or occupied by construction vehicles as work continues.

Workers in hard hats had been out in numbers at the station site Sunday in preparation for Monday’s opening. Sidewalks were swept, panels were attached to the exterior and the heating panel inside the waiting room was being worked on.

Work continued Monday morning as passengers arrived to board the first trains to and from Princeton Junction. Some appeared unsure as to the extent of changes made. One asked uniformed conductor Bob Gibbs whether extra stations had been added to the route. They have not. The most significant change is to the station’s location, some 460 feet south of the old station site with its stone buildings on University Place.

One traveler expressed her disapproval of the move. Lynn Nadeau was en route to Boston Monday morning after visiting her son Teddy Nadeau and daughter-in-law Kristen Thoft. “I first took the Dinky in 1958 when I came to Princeton to visit my high school boyfriend. I remember walking to Pyne Hall. It really has changed,” she said. No stranger to the controversy surrounding the Dinky move, Ms. Nadeau expressed the opinion held by many in the town. “I was against it. I feel that the town was railroaded (no pun intended) into the move; it’s a longer walk for commuters.”

The new Princeton Station is part of the University’s $330 million Arts and Transit project with more work anticipated as new arts and performance spaces are constructed and the old train station buildings are turned into a restaurant and cafe between now and 2017. The Arts and Transit neighborhood will include the Lewis Center for the Arts, as well as art gallery, dance, and music rooms for students.

“Things have been going well so far,” said Princeton University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristen S. Appelget who had been on hand since 5 a.m. “It’s a cold and damp day so people are happy to have a place to go indoors; we’ve had passengers here for every train and we’ve seen a lot of suitcases so it appears that Thanksgiving travel has begun.”

Even as commuters settle in to using the new station, lawsuits filed by residents and the Save the Dinky group designed to stop the station move are making their way through the judicial system. The suits question the legality of the contract between New Jersey Transit and Princeton University as well as zoning changes and site plan approval for the project.


The death of prominent philanthropist William H. Scheide last Friday morning, November 14, has inspired numerous tributes from members of the many organizations in Princeton with which he was associated. Mr. Scheide, who was 100, died at his home on Library Place.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, November 29, at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street. The service will be simulcast in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall, on the Princeton University campus.

Mr. Scheide was known for his contributions, intellectual as well as financial, to music, civil rights, and the preservation of rare books and manuscripts. His generosity extended to many local institutions including Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1936; Princeton Public Library; Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts; the Institute for Advanced Study; Centurion Ministries, Isles, and the Princeton Recreation Department, to name a few.

“Bill was a unique individual, a person who made a real difference in the world,” said Leslie Burger, executive director of the Princeton Public Library. “We have lost a true philanthropist, Renaissance man, passionate supporter, and most of all, a dear friend.”

“I shudder to think where we would be were it not for the support of Bill and Judy Scheide,” said James C. McCloskey, founder and executive director of Centurion Ministries, a Princeton-based non-profit organization which seeks to free wrongly convicted individuals from prison. “He was a giant of philanthropy for his entire life. He really uplifted the lives of countless people over the decades, a lot of whom were the nation’s disenfranchised. And he was a modest man who shunned the limelight.”

In addition to his wife, Judy McCartin Scheide, Mr. Scheide is survived by his daughters Louise Marshall and Barbara Scheide, and his son John; three stepchildren, Carol Taylor, Mary Holmes, and Kate McCartin, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Born in Philadelphia into a wealthy family whose fortune came from Standard Oil, Mr. Scheide was the only child of John Hinsdale Scheide, an 1896 alumnus of Princeton University, and Harriet Hurd. The elder Mr. Scheide was a pianist and his wife was a singer. They started their son with piano lessons when he was six years old, beginning a passion for music that continued throughout his life.

Mr. Scheide majored in history at Princeton University and earned a master’s degree in music from Columbia University. He was a renowned Bach scholar who founded the Bach Aria Group in 1946. For the past seven years, the Scheides celebrated his birthday by sponsoring annual concerts by leading ensembles and orchestras, benefitting local institutions. The most recent, “Ode to Joy,” included the Westminster Symphonic Choir, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and several soloists. A piece Mr. Scheide composed as an undergraduate was included on the program.

“Bill was a good friend to me and to the [Westminster] Choir College,” commented Robert Annis, dean and director, Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts. “He served on Westminster’s Board for 27 years, nine of them as chairman. A renowned Bach scholar, he was a frequent lecturer and engaged leader who underscored his belief in the mission of the College with generous support. Westminster was honored to participate in his 100th birthday concert in Princeton in January, 2014. He leaves an inspiring legacy through the lives of our students who are serving the world through music.”

Another of Mr. Scheide’s passions nurtured from childhood was his collection of rare books and manuscripts. He is the namesake of the Scheide Library at Princeton University’s Firestone Library. In a room built to replicate the original home of his father’s collection, the library includes the first four Bibles ever printed, an early 14th century manuscript of the Magna Carta, an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, several musical manuscripts by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and Wagner, and Emily Dickinson’s recipe for chocolate pudding, according to the Princeton University website.

“People always talk about the treasures of the Scheide Library. But the reality is that the real treasure was Bill himself,” said Karin Trainer, Princeton’s University Librarian. “He was a great collector. But what set him apart was that he was a great sharer. He collected with a scholarly passion, but he really wanted other people to be as enthusiastic as he was and understand why they were important. And that’s not true of all collectors.”

Mr. Scheide made the collection available to all. “He wanted it to be for the newest Princeton undergraduates and the world’s most eminent scholars and musicians, who were regular visitors,” Ms. Trainer said. “The collection was always open to students at Princeton Adult School, for example. He would take out his copy of the Gutenberg Bible or the Declaration of Independence and get them to understand why these things mattered. He delighted in that.”

Mr. Scheide was also committed to social justice, funding the landmark 1954 case that desegregated public schools. “He was an extraordinarily moral and ethical man,” Ms. Trainer said. “I’m very struck by the fact that this is the 60th anniversary of the settlement of Brown v. The Board of Education. Bill underwrote much of the legal fund that fought that case for what became the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.”

Princeton University awarded Mr. Scheide an honorary doctorate of humanities in 1994, calling him an “advocate, scholar, student, benefactor, and friend.” The Scheides were regular hosts during the annual University reunions of the “Old Guard,” who were alumni of classes celebrating 66 years or more. “You always knew it was Reunions because the Old Guard tent would go up on the Scheide lawn,” said James Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum.

Mr. Scheide was a loyal patron and contributor to the Museum, especially in times of need. “One of the extraordinary things about Bill and Judy was how often I found myself turning to them as what we would call angels,” Mr. Steward said. “I could so often call them to step up if a project wasn’t going as well as expected. They understood that sometimes the most worthwhile projects are the harder ones.”

The Arts Council of Princeton was another beneficiary of Mr. Scheide’s support. “Bill was a pioneer in many ways, serving as a staunch supporter of the arts and civil rights,” said a statement by the Arts Council’s executive director Jeff Nathanson, president Cindi Venizelos, and advisory board co-chair Peter Bienstock. “Bill understood that the primary goal of a community arts organization such as the Arts Council of Princeton, should be to bring together people of all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or socioeconomic situation, in a shared creative environment. He was a consistent supporter of the Arts Council’s mission of “building community through the arts and we hope each and every one of us can, in our own small way, embody his passion and continue to further his legacy.”

Contributions in Mr. Scheide’s memory may be made to Centurion Ministries of Princeton and Isles, the Trenton-based community development and environmental organization.


Parking around the John Witherspoon Middle School (JWMS) was hard to find Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t just because there was a swim meet and a football game in progress. More than 130 people turned out to welcome guest speaker Robert Pariss Moses to the school to inaugurate a series of programs at the Princeton Public Library, JWMS, and Princeton University marking the 50th anniversary of the events in Mississippi during the summer of 1964 С the Mississippi Summer Project or Freedom Summer as it became known.

But although he was expected to reminisce about his part in the 1964 campaign to register African Americans in Mississippi to vote, Mr. Moses launched into a conversation with the young people attending. Instead of the lecture podium on the stage, he chose to stand on the floor of the auditorium directly in front of the stage and invited the middle schoolers to join him in conversation. As their elders watched and listened, the veteran teacher gave everyone a lesson in history and in pedagogy.

One of the most influential black leaders of the civil rights movement, Mr. Moses initiated and organized voter registration drives, sit-ins, and Freedom Schools for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He led the campaign to bring a thousand volunteers С primarily enthusiastic young white supporters — to Mississippi to encourage African-American voters to register to vote, to provide education via summer schools, and to convene a more representative delegation to attend the Democratic National Convention.

Today, Mr. Moses runs the Algebra Project that he founded in 1980 to improve math education in poor communities. His book, which he co-authored with Charles E. Cobb, Jr., is titled: Radical Equations: Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project.

Co-sponsored by the library, Not in Our Town Princeton, Princeton Public Schools, Princeton University, and the Princeton Garden Theatre, Sunday’s event was introduced by Tim Quinn of the Princeton Board of Education and Janie Hermann of the Princeton Public Library.

Taneshia Nash Laird, founder of the Baker Street Social Club, introduced the speaker, who was so well known to the audience that many stood to applaud him before he began to speak.

Ms. Laird said that she had been so nervous about introducing the iconic figure that she had asked her pastor how she should go about it. “Humbly, like the man himself,” was the reply.

The conversation between Mr. Moses and the students centered on the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution, which begins with the words, “We the people.”

In classic Socratic manner, Mr. Moses explored the concepts of “constitutional person” and “constitutional property” with the middle-schoolers. He asked them to think about the Preamble’s words. “Who were the ‘we’ when the country first got started in 1787?” he asked.

In less than one hour, with patience and encouragement, Mr. Moses and the young students explored the meaning of the Preamble and the exclusion of women, Africans, and Native peoples from the collective “we,” as well as chattel slavery; the Civil War; the implications of The Constitution’s Article 4, Section 2, Paragraph 3 (The Fugitive Slave clause); constitutional amendments 13 (abolishes slavery), 14 (addresses citizenship rights), and 15 (addresses voting rights); and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Circular 3591 (concerning peonage and debt-slavery), which he urged them to “Google” when they got home; Brown v. The Board of Education, among other aspects of United States history.

Describing American history in terms of balancing two opposing ideas of constitutional person and constitutional property, Mr. Moses said that the country had lurched forward after the Civil War and backwards since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. After Freedom Summer the country is now in a “third constitutional era,” he said and asked students to think about the kind of country they will create in 30 years time. “Who then will be the ‘we’ in ‘We the people,’” he asked.

He urged his listeners to learn the Preamble and recite it; to think about it as “something we do.” In other words he suggested the Preamble not as a record of history but as a living document that could be “enacted” for each new generation of speakers, encompassing a wider group as time goes on.

Asked afterwards why he had chosen to focus on the constitution rather than reminiscence on his past, Mr. Moses explained: “The country is at a point of choice, democracy is unstable and huge forces are operating. As we shift from industrial to information-age technology, we need a deeper understanding of the Constitution and the force that it has.”

Thirteen-year-old Denzel, an eighth-grader at JWMS described Mr. Moses’s talk as “inspirational. “I learned a lot,” he said, adding that he would be “Googling” Circular 3591 as Mr. Moses had suggested and that he was eager to learn more about the work of Douglas Blackmon, the Pulitzer Prize winning author cited by Mr. Moses for his book Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Mr. Blackmon’s book examines how the enslavement of African-Americans persisted deep into the 20th century.

Traveling Exhibition

After Mr. Moses’s talk, the audience enjoyed a reception and viewed the traveling exhibition, “Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Exhibit for Students,” from the Wisconsin Historical Society, which has one of the nation’s most extensive collections of Civil Rights material.

“Risking Everything” features 70 photographs, manuscripts, diaries and other primary source materials documenting the Freedom Summer volunteers’s efforts to integrate “all-white” businesses and to register residents to vote. It shows residents and volunteers who came to Mississippi from all over the United States and the opponents they faced. Having toured major museums and libraries throughout the year, the exhibition is making a last stop in Princeton, the only stop in New Jersey.

The exhibition will be on display at JWMS through November 23 before it moves to the Princeton University’s Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding where it will be on view November 25 through December 5.

Upcoming Events

Freedom Summer programs continue Thursday, November 20, at 7 p.m. when Princeton residents and others share their memories of Freedom Summer and civil rights events a Freedom Summer Panel Discussion, moderated by Shirley Satterfield and members of Not in Our Town, in the library’s Community Room.

Princeton Garden Theatre at 160 Nassau Street will screen the documentary film Freedom Summer Sunday, November 23, at 1 p.m. Director Stanley Nelson captures the volatile months of Freedom Summer and Mr. Moses’s campaign to bring a thousand volunteers–primarily enthusiastic young white supporters–to Mississippi to encourage African-American voter registration, provide education and convene a more representative delegation to attend the Democratic National Convention.

Tickets for the 1 hour and 53 minute film are free, but limited, and may be reserved through the theater’s website,

For more information about library programs and services, call (609) 924-9529 or visit


November 12, 2014

The preservation of the historic Princeton Battlefield is the first project of a national initiative launched Tuesday by the Civil War Trust. At a Veterans Day ceremony held under the towering battle monument in front of Monument Hall, the Trust’s president James Lightizer announced that the non-profit organization will now add Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields to their list of historic sites in need of stewardship.

“It’s the right thing to do. And no one else is doing it,” Mr. Lightizer said of the initiative, known as Campaign 1776. The Trust was asked by the National Parks Service, their frequent partner, to take on the additional sites. “You don’t say no to your biggest partner,” he said. “If we don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.”

The Trust has over 50,000 dues-paying members and has saved more than 41,000 acres of American Civil War battlefields. While those sites will remain the organization’s primary mission, the 10,000 to 15,000 acres of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields in need of protection and interpretation will become an important part of the Trust’s mission, Mr. Lightizer said. A fundraising campaign is underway to preserve 4.6 historic acres on the Princeton Battlefield. The goal is $25,000, to be raised by January 3, 2015.

The Princeton Battlefield has been the focus of attention recently because of the Institute for Advanced Study’s plan to build faculty housing at a location historians say touches part of the original site where General George Washington defeated the British. Last week, Princeton’s Planning Board unanimously approved the Institute’s latest request to build 15 units. Opponents of the plan say they are waiting for findings of fact and plan to appeal the decision.

Last summer, the National Park Service granted the Battlefield Society $47,100 for an archaeological study of the battlefield. The focus is a 4.6-acre site which was owned by the D’Ambrisi family on Stockton Street, next to the park. The property was acquired for $850,000 by the State of New Jersey with assistance from the municipality of Princeton, Mercer County, and Friends of Princeton Open Space. Battlefield Society president Jerry Hurwitz, who spoke at the ceremony, said it is believed soldiers were buried in a mass grave on the property.

Another speaker at the ceremony was Jack Warren, executive director of the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. “Many of our Revolutionary War battlefields were lost long ago, buried beneath the concrete and asphalt of Brooklyn and Trenton and consumed by the sprawl of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia,” he said. “Those unspoiled landscapes that remain are reminders of the struggle to achieve independence and create a republic dedicated to the liberty of ordinary people. No organization is better equipped to lead us in this work than the Civil War Trust — the most effective historic land preservation organization in the United States.”

On hand for the ceremony were Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Council president Bernie Miller and Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller, municipal engineer Bob Kiser and new municipal administrator Marc Dashield. “Reading about a battle in a text book is one thing. Standing in a battlefield is something else altogether,’ said Ms. Lempert before thanking the partners in the new initiative. She expressed special gratitude to Princeton resident Kip Cherry for her role in the acquisition of the D’Ambrisi property and her efforts toward historic preservation.


The School Board election lived up to the old adage about not counting your chickens before they hatch. Last week’s coverage of the election for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE), in which four candidates competed for three seats, had incumbent Afsheen Shamsi keeping her seat on the Board and challenger Connie Witter failing to obtain one.

That’s what the snapshot of the unofficial numbers from the Mercer County Clerk’s office showed right before Town Topics press time.

But subsequent counting showed that Ms. Afsheen and Ms. Witter had received exactly the same number of votes. For a day or so, the two were tied at 2496 votes but after provisional ballots were counted by the Mercer County Clerk’s office, Ms. Witter was found to be ahead by just two votes.

Yesterday, November 11, the Mercer County Clerk’s office posted the official results for the Regional School Board of Princeton as: Afsheen Shamsi 2,515, Connie Witter 2,517, Justin Doran 2,642, and Fern M. Spruill 3,025.

Ms. Shamsi is thus off the Board after serving one three-year term. Ms. Witter is in.

Four candidates had competed for three 3-year BOE seats. Ms. Shamsi was seeking re-election and two vacancies had resulted from the departure of Dan Haughton and Tim Quinn, each of whom had served two full terms.

Ms. Witter, a mortgage underwriter working with first time homebuyers, did not attend the pre-election Meet the Candidates panel discussion held last month by the Princeton PTO Council and Special Education PTO at John Witherspoon Middle School. About 40 parents turned out to hear the candidates, but only Ms. Shamsi and Ms. Spruill were there in person; Mr. Doran had to attend a business meeting but sent along answers to a set of questions that had been distributed in advance.

Several parents expressed their dissatisfaction with the BOE over recent contract negotiations with the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA).

Ms. Witter’s views may be speculated upon from the responses she gave in the run up to the election to questions put to the candidates by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area (

“Within these past 18 years, I have become quite acquainted with the teaching curriculum, programs and youth-related activities,” wrote Ms. Witter, whose three children attended Princeton Public Schools. “Like any parent, I have made sure that my children have taken part in so many of these opportunities. They have all attended college; one remains and my two eldest are currently pursing professional careers. Being a part of this School Board would allow me to give back to a community that has given my family and I so much.”

Asked to prioritize the three most important challenges facing the district, and how she would address them, Ms. Witter responded: “First: continuing to find and adopt great programs that will serve to inspire and empower our students to be as successful as possible. Second: finding creative ways to cut down school costs. This could be achieved by seeking out avenues to increased grant funding. One approach is to create a committee designed to proactively reach out to retired professionals and alumni who want to give back to the community. Third: developing a good relationship between the Board of Education and the PREA. If we remember who we are here for, listen to each others opinions, and make decisions that are best for the students, teachers, and community we will be able to ensure that we are achieving maximum efficiency and productivity.”

As for the Board itself, Ms. Witter suggested that BOE and PREA members would benefit from sensitivity training programs that “create a cohesive environment that nurtures and supports our students.”

The Bag Question

On another election matter, it may be of interest to Princeton readers to know that the County Question proposing a 5 cent fee for single use plastic shopping bags in an effort to induce shoppers to use recyclable bags, was favored by Princeton voters even though it was rejected county-wide. In Princeton 4274 voters said Yes and 2385 said No.


Princeton Council Monday night voted to introduce an ordinance that would limit the early morning opening hours for some Princeton businesses that border residential neighborhoods. The approval, which required a vote from Mayor Liz Lempert in order to break a tie, came after public testimony from business owners who said the proposed ordinance was unnecessary, and residents who expressed their support for it.

This was the third time the topic has come before Council. Since last summer, members of the governing body and municipal staff have met with members of the business community, including the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), to try and craft an effective ordinance.

The original premise was that businesses 200 feet away from houses in residential zones would be affected by the measure. But that buffer has been removed. The revised ordinance would apply only to establishments located directly adjacent to homes in residential zones.

Those businesses would be required to close during the hours of two to five a.m. “This does not preclude 24-7 businesses; it just limits them when they are located right next to a residential neighborhood,” Mayor Lempert said. “It would help preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods.”

Exempted from the ordinance would be those establishments such as pharmacies and other places offering medical care. Restaurants with liquor licenses and businesses in educational zones patronized by Princeton University students, who tend to stay up later than town residents, would also be unaffected by the measure.

City planning director Lee Solow said in his introduction of the ordinance that most businesses in town open after 8 a.m. and close by 9 p.m., with some exceptions. Hoagie Haven on Nassau Street stays open till 2 a.m., while the CVS down the street is open till 10 p.m. The CVS on State Road and the Wawa market on University Place are open 24 hours. Neither would be affected by the ordinance.

The ordinance has been a topic since plans were announced to turn the former West Coast Video store on East Nassau Street into a 24-hour, 7-Eleven convenience store. Mayor Lempert stressed that the measure is not being created because of that plan, citing other situations that prompted similar issues.

She pointed out that a jazz club was proposed a few years ago for the site that is now the Bank of Princeton on Route 206. Nearby residents expressed concerns at that time about late night noise and traffic. The ordinance is a response to such situations, “an attempt to strike a middle ground and be fair to both sides,” she said.

Robert Bratman, owner of the property where the 7-Eleven is proposed, said he thinks the ordinance is being created in response to that plan. “It’s safe, it has security cameras,” he said. “If anything, this type of store is a solution to these problems.” Quoting someone at a previous meeting who said “this is an ordinance looking for a problem,” he urged Council not to vote to introduce the measure.

Lou Carnevale, who owns the property adjacent to Mr. Bratman’s, also expressed his opposition. Both buildings have been vacant for several years.

PMA president John Marshall proposed that if the ordinance is passed, additional exemptions be applied to the Central Business District, Princeton Shopping Center, and the Cliff Town Center on Route 206. Richard Ryan, owner of the Ivy Inn on Nassau Street, said, “I’m confused as to why this is even being talked about. We’re creating a law that says nothing.”

Residents of the tree streets were the most vocal about passing the ordinance. Stephen Griffies of Maple Street said he supports the measure. “I don’t think it’s an onerous ordinance,” he said. “It’s mild, to be frank.” Others who live in the neighborhood spoke of late night noise, especially during the summer months, and urged Council to vote in favor of the proposal.

A full public hearing on the ordinance will be held at the meeting of Council on December 8.


November 5, 2014

Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman became the first person of African American descent to represent New Jersey in Congress as the Representative for the 12th District.

After Rush Holt announced in February that he would not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives, the main candidates were Ms. Watson Coleman and Republican Alieta Eck.

While the final numbers for the Senate race were not in at press time, results for 110 out of 170 districts showed Ms. Watson Coleman with 72 percent of the votes and Ms. Eck with 25 percent. The numbers in Princeton were 4611 for Ms. Watson Coleman and 1391 for Ms. Eck.

Incumbent Democrats Bernard “Bernie” P. Miller and Jo Butler were the only candidates for two three-year term seats on Princeton Council. Mr. Miller received 4754 votes and Ms. Butler received 4726.

Four candidates vied for three 3-year term seats on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. At press time, incumbent Afsheen Shamsi looked likely to be re-elected after serving one 3-year term. She had 2248 votes. The other winning candidates are Justin Doran with 2324 votes and Fern M. Spruill with 2685. The fourth candidate, Ms. Connie Witter received the least number with 2219 votes.

The race for the U.S. Senate seat was won by the Democratic candidate Cory Booker who beat Republican candidate Jeff Bell. At press time with 153 out of 243 districts reporting, 61 percent of the electorate had voted for Booker and 37 percent for Bell.

This year’s ballot had three public questions to be voted on, two constitutional amendments and one County Question.

On public question number one, a constitutional amendment that would allow courts to order pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case, thereby changing the current constitutional right to bail such that an accused person could be held in jail even before his/her trial and, in some situations, even without a chance to post bail, 64 percent of voters voted yes and 36 percent voted no (for 204 out of 243 districts reporting).

On question number two, which would dedicate state funds for open space, farmland, and historical preservation, 68 percent voted in favor while 32 percent voted against (for 204 out of 243 districts reporting).

The County Question, proposing a 5 cent fee for single use plastic shopping bags in an effort to induce shoppers to use recyclable bags, received 39 percent of votes in favor and 61 percent of votes against.


The wisdom and kindness of the Dalai Lama came up more than once at Monday’s special meeting of Princeton Council with Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber. Council members were also joined by University Vice President and Secretary Robert K. Durkee and Community and Regional Affairs Director Kristen Appelget.

The special meeting took place in Monument Hall and members of the public were asked to comment before Mr. Eisgruber and the Council got down to conversation on topics ranging from the impact of University expansion on the character of Princeton; community service by students; lengthier train commutes between Princeton and New York City; student representation on Council; public safety; and possible future stress on the town concomitant with University expansion.

Mayor Liz Lempert kicked off the proceedings by congratulating Mr. Eisgruber on his first year as the University’s 20th President (he was appointed April 2013) and welcoming him to his second public meeting with Council; the first was last December. The meetings are designed for discussion of areas of shared interest and concern.

Ms. Lempert cited last week’s visit of the Dalai Lama to the University, which was attended by students, faculty, and members of the public, in which the Tibetan leader spoke about “building trusting relationships to work at disagreements with mutual respect.”

In his opening remarks, Mr. Eisgruber welcomed open channels of communication between Town and Gown and then launched into a description of the University’s campus planning process currently underway. Details of the plan can be viewed at:

Noting that the University has doubled in size since 1965, Ms. Lempert asked how the town could retain its distinctive character in view of future campus expansion. “We have both grown and developed since I was a student at Princeton from 1979 to 1983 and the character of the town matters to the University,” offered Mr. Eisgruber, adding that as time goes on, the University will continue to add areas of study and would need to engage in conversation with Council as “we move forward.”

Council President Bernie Miller raised the possibility of additional stops on the NJ Transit rail line between Princeton Junction and New York City. If new stations were added, this could potentially result in a longer commute between the two. Mr. Miller asked whether there was anything the University could do to make sure that the accessibility to New York City that Princeton now enjoys isn’t diminished. Mr. Eisgruber agreed that this was a shared interest and would consider the possibility, suggested by Mr. Miller, of talks with NJ Transit about increasing the number of non-stop or limited-stop trains between the Junction and Manhattan’s Penn Station.

Prompted by a question from Heather Howard, Mr. Eisgruber provided an update on the handling of sexual assault on campus. In September, the University announced changes to its sex and gender discrimination and sexual misconduct policy following an investigation by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR), which had told the University that its current procedures failed to meet the requirements of applicable federal laws, including Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

“We now have a set of practices that are fair to both accuser and accused,” said Mr. Eisgruber, adding that in addition to the changes made to comply with law, “bystander intervention” programs were being considered.

At one point in the proceedings, Jo Butler asked whether Mr. Eisgruber had read the New York Times Sunday Review article (“The Missing Campus Climate Debate” by Evan J. Manderynov) criticizing universities for their stance on climate change and suggesting that endowment investing such as that which influenced the demise of apartheid in South Africa could be used by universities to effect change.

Mr. Eisgruber said that he had read the article over Sunday morning cereal and, as on similar occasions when media directed criticism to the nation’s universities, had felt that he was being addressed personally. However, he added, there is a protocol for such issues, involving a committee and the Board of Trustees, to assess concerns with respect to the University’s mission and values.

In this case, he said: “The analogy to South Africa is wrong. We all have a responsibility to sustainability.” The University’s duty, he said, was to tell the scientific facts of climate change “rather than take a political stance with endowment dollars.”

To Patrick Simon’s request to predict where there might be future stress for the town as a result of University expansion, Mr. Eisgruber spoke of the need to expand the University’s computer science programs for which more space and re-use of existing space would be needed. He also anticipated the growth of the student body. “We turn down more students today than ever before and our capacity to help socio-economically disadvantaged students will grow as the student body grows,” he said. “This is where we will have to work together.”

This March, Princeton University offered admission to just 1,939 (7.22 percent) of the 26,641 who applied for the class of 2018. Applications have been rising for the past decade and it seems inevitable that the student body will increase from its current number of some 5,200. The impact of such growth is among the items being examined by Urban Strategies, the firm hired by the University to manage its strategic planning process. Since freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, it seems likely that more student housing will be needed.

Mr. Durkee pointed out that Urban Strategies will be engaging the Princeton community via a new website and blog which will “seek comment from anyone who would like to be involved.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Jenny Crumiller asked Mr. Eisgruber to give his personal opinion of the Dinky station relocation, the University having announced Monday that the new permanent station is to open November 17.

As a Dinky user, Mr. Eisgruber anticipated that once all of the construction was over, the new Arts and Transit neighborhood would be an improvement. “I’m excited about it,” he said.


The Princeton Planning Board is due to vote on the Institute for Advanced Study’s amended plan to build faculty housing on its land close to the Princeton Battlefield State Park when it meets this Thursday, November 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Witherspoon Hall.

The Planning Board had been expected to vote on the issue at a public hearing in September but the vote was postponed after hours of often contentious discussion by both supporters and opponents of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) plans.

The Princeton Battlefield Society has vehemently opposed building on land which, they attest, is part of the historic battleground, the site of General George Washington’s counterattack against the British during the 1777 Battle of Princeton.

Lawyers for the IAS and the Battlefield Society have locked horns repeatedly on the issue, which has received much press coverage since members of the Princeton Planning Board unanimously approved the Institute’s building plan in March 2012.

The plans had then to be approved by the D&R Canal Commission, which came down against the proposal in January 2013, on the grounds of encroachment on a stream corridor.

Members of the Princeton community have written numerous letters to the editor on the subject. At the public hearing in September, Witherspoon Hall was filled almost to capacity with people sporting “I support IAS” buttons on one side and “Save the Princeton Battlefield” on the other.

The Planning Board’s October meeting was cancelled.

The IAS plans to build eight townhouses and seven single-family homes on a seven-acre parcel of its campus. Having amended its original plan after the Canal Commission review, it is now coming back to the Planning Board for approval of amendments that include slightly smaller lots that are a third of an acre further away from the stream.

According to the IAS, the plans now to be considered satisfy the Commission’s requirements.

According to the Princeton Battlefield Society, the changes constitute a new plan and should be reviewed as such. Battlefield Society attorney Bruce Afran has argued repeatedly for a new full-scale review of the IAS proposal.

Battlefield Society members have opposed the development from its inception and filed several lawsuits in support of its aims to stop the Institute from building.


October 29, 2014
FOR THE DALAI LAMA: To show his respect and support for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Geshe Chogkhan Thubten Tandhar sported a placard in response to the protesters who had gathered outside Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym yesterday.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

FOR THE DALAI LAMA: To show his respect and support for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Geshe Chogkhan Thubten Tandhar sported a placard in response to the protesters who had gathered outside Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym yesterday. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)

Security was tight as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet visited Princeton University Tuesday.

According to University spokesperson Martin Mbugwa, some 4,200 people were in attendance at Jadwin Gymnasium to hear the Tibetan spiritual leader discuss the importance of compassion and kindness in academic life.

The venue began filling up around 8:30 a.m. with campus police and members of the Princeton Police Department on hand. Barriers had been erected to direct visitors as they entered the building. Inside, they were guided through airport-like security, asked to remove cellphones and metal objects, and pass through scanners.

Protesters and supporters of the Dalai Lama were separated and corralled by barriers into areas outside the gymnasium, which had been transformed into an auditorium for the occasion.

A gorgeously colored and richly embroidered silk hanging above the stage looked incongruous against the orange and black sports banners suspended from the domed roof of Jadwin Gym.

The Dalai Lama’s first appearance in Princeton was at the invitation of the University’s Office of Religious Life and The Kalmyk Three Jewels Foundation, which promotes Kalmyk tradition around the world. Originating in the Kalmyk Republic of Russia in the Northwest corner of the Caspian Sea area, the Kalmyks helped bring Tibetan Buddhism to the United States in 1951. There are members of the Kalmyk community in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

As the Tibetan leader came to the stage, shortly after 9:30 a.m., the entire audience, which had been waiting for the best part of an hour, rose to its feet. Dean of Religious Life Alison L. Boden accompanied the Dalai Lama, whose name is Tenzin Gyatso, and an interpreter to the stage.

The religious leader stood by the podium as Ms. Bowden introduced him and said that marshals would collect questions from the audience for His Holiness to answer. “We welcome the world’s most spiritual and compelling voice on a host of issues,” she said. “We are eager to receive his wisdom.”

Signaling his wish that the audience be seated, the Dalai Lama received immediate laughter and applause as he donned an orange Princeton baseball cap. Without an interpreter, he addressed the audience: “Brothers and sisters, I feel that it is a great opportunity to talk with many of you, students and faculty. Someone asked me if I had been to Princeton before. I told them no, I had never come because I had never been invited. I’m not here as a tourist, however, I am here as a Buddhist monk; my daily prayers, my body, speech, mind, is dedicated to serving others.”

He spoke about being almost 80-years-old. “At age 16, I lost my own freedom; at 24, I lost my own country through circumstances beyond my control.”

Addressing the importance of developing compassion and kindness, alongside the intellect, in an academic environment, he said: “The world has been made a lot easier because of science and technology, but along with progress has come problems, even here in America there is still a lot of poverty.”

AGAINST THE DALAI LAMA: Protesters, carrying placards against what some Tibetan Buddhists describe as the Dalai Lama’s persecution of religious groups, gathered outside Jadwin Gym yesterday during the visit of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet to Princeton University.(Photo by L. Arntzenius)

AGAINST THE DALAI LAMA: Protesters, carrying placards against what some Tibetan Buddhists describe as the Dalai Lama’s persecution of religious groups, gathered outside Jadwin Gym yesterday during the visit of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet to Princeton University. (Photo by L. Arntzenius)


But while the affable scholar/monk shared his thoughts with the audience inside, protesters outside could be heard chanting “False Dalai Lama, Give Religious Freedom.”

Carrying banners that read “Dalai Lama Stop Lying,” the protestors claimed that the Dalai Lama discriminates against those who follow another form of Buddhism, as represented by Dorje Shugden.

Similar protests have accompanied appearances by the Dalai Lama in California and in Germany, so it was no surprise to the University or the municipality. The protestors had announced their intention beforehand.

Almost as many Tibetan supporters as protestors also made their feelings known by dancing, drumming and singing directly in front of the entrance to Jadwin Gym. One man Geshe Chogkhan Thubten Tandhar wore his support and respect for the Tibetan leader (see photograph) by way of a placard around his neck that read: “Long Live Dalai Lama, the Apostle of Compassion and The Soul of Tibet.”

The morning event was open to the University Community as well as members of the public with free tickets (two per applicant) made available in mid-September.

Later in the day, His Holiness met privately with a select group of students and faculty to discuss the meaning of service as expressed by the University’s informal motto, “In the Nation’s Service and in the Service of All Nations.” This event was by invitation only and was described as being an opportunity for “continued reflection.”

The event was covered extensively by some 30 media outlets and was simulcast to the Princeton community at the Princeton Public Library.


About 40 parents turned out Monday for a moderated Meet the Candidates panel discussion at John Witherspoon Middle School.

They had come to hear the four candidates, Justin Doran, Afsheen Shamsi, Fern Spruill, and Connie Witter, who are vying for three seats on the Board of Education, present their views and answer questions from the floor.

Only two of the four candidates showed, incumbent Ms. Shamsi and first time candidate Ms. Spruill. Mr. Doran had a business meeting and was unable to attend. He sent along his answers to a set of questions that had been distributed in advance of the meeting. Ms. Witter was a no show.

Ms. Shamsi is the only candidate already on the Board. She is seeking election for a second term. The two other vacancies stem from Dan Haughton and Tim Quinn, each of whom has served two full terms.

School Board Candidates’ Night has been sponsored by the the Princeton PTO Council and Special Education PTO for some 16 years.

Designed to offer the community a chance to listen to and ask questions of candidates before next week’s election, Tuesday, November 4, the event was moderated by former Board member Walter Bliss, who read Mr. Doran’s responses in his absence. After giving brief opening statements, each candidate read their responses to the pre-distributed questions and then took questions from the audience. Topics ranged from mainstreaming for special education students, Princeton’s achievement gap, the common core curriculum, to which Ms. Shamsi and Ms. Spruill read their previously written answers, and Mr. Bliss reading for Mr. Doran.

For Ms. Shamsi, one of the challenges facing the district is the pressure to get high grades and the effect that less than perfect grades have on students. . “We need to teach our children resiliency,” she said, citing a district study conducted by former Superintendent Judy Wilson showing that only 25 percent of students at PHS reported feeling happy with themselves.

Ms. Spruill spoke about inclusiveness and the need for electronic access for all students and their families.

The first question from parents concerned a perceived lack of communication between teachers and district administrators, found to be especially troubling given the current ongoing contract negotiations between the district and the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA). Ms. Shamsi agreed that a better job could be done by the district in this regard and commended new Superintendent Steve Cochrane for his “listening tours.”

One parent who had attended two recent meetings, asked why Board members seemed to ignore the people in the room. Ms. Shamsi, as the only member among the candidates, responded that the Board is “listening” and while she was unable to comment on current negotiations she reiterated budget constraints and a $1.6 million short fall.

This prompted a conversation on rising enrollment because of new construction in Princeton and the impact this might have on class sizes.

Malachi Wood, a teacher himself, asked Ms. Shamsi about her reported interest in raising funds for the district from public/private partnerships, which brought up the stellar work done by the Princeton Education Forum in raising hundreds of thousands for Princeton’s schools.

Parental frustration with the school Board over the recent contract negotiations was a constant undercurrent, which one parent expressed thus: “We have to settle this now and give teachers what they are asking for; as a board member it’s your job to get creative and find the money, whether through public/private partnership of whatever.”

The Candidates

An Institutional Equity Trader with the Royal Bank of Canada, Mr Doran has five children in the district. He describes himself as a sports enthusiast and was an active member on the Board of Princeton Little League for many years.

Ms. Shamsi, who has served on the Board of Education since May 2011, has a son at Princeton High School and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in strategic communications at Columbia University. She serves on several board committees including external affairs, personnel, facilities, and student achievement, and has helped develop the district’s communications plan and update its crisis communications plan.

Ms. Spruill, who has worked and volunteered in Princeton for many years, describes herself as a community volunteer. Her family has lived in the town for generations and she has served as chair and vice-chair of the district’s Minority Education Committee, from 2007-2011. “I have seen the schools evolve and I understand the district’s strengths and its weaknesses,” she said.

Ms. Witter, a mortgage underwriter working with first time homebuyers, has three children in the district.

For a Q&A with each of the candidates by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, visit:


A serenade by an a cappella group and individual tributes from members of Princeton Council marked the final meeting that Bob Bruschi, longtime municipal administrator, attended before his last day of work this Friday. Mr. Bruschi is retiring after 15 years serving first Princeton Borough and most recently the consolidated Princeton.

Mr. Bruschi and new administrator Marc D. Dashield sat next to each other at Monday’s meeting. With such a lengthy agenda, Mr. Bruschi clearly had his work cut out for him. But first, there was a surprise performance by the coed a cappella group “Around Eight” from Princeton High School, doing an energetic version of the Pharrell Williams song “Happy” with lyrics specific to Mr. Bruschi and his career.

Following the song, Mayor Lempert and members of Council took turns expressing their wishes to the departing administrator. “I very much appreciate your dedication and professionalism as well as the heart you brought to the job,” said Patrick Simon. Jo Butler echoed Mr. Simon, adding, “particularly the incredible hours you dedicated during the transition to consolidation.” Lance Liverman commented to Mr. Bruschi, “A lot of the success of Princeton today has to do with you.” Jenny Crumiller said, “I’ve always admired your Council-wrangling skills. They’re supreme.”

Mr. Bruschi thanked them, adding, “It really has been a joy working with you. We all have our differences of opinion, but that’s what makes Princeton a great place.” He gave particular praise to the municipal staff.

Then it was down to business. Among the topics on the agenda was a new policy for events held in Princeton on Sundays, something that leaders of local clergy have voiced concerns about, particularly in relation to the annual Communiversity each April. The event was traditionally held on Saturdays but was switched to Sundays last year after a request from local merchants.

Mr. Bruschi said he has met with church leaders and the Arts Council of Princeton, which sponsors the event. Speaking for municipal staff, he said, “We preferred the Sunday date. It’s easier for staff to work and to get volunteers on Sundays, because there are so many other activities on Saturdays.” Since Communiversity is held late enough on Sundays to not affect church attendance and parking, clergy members are “on board” with holding the event on Sundays, he said.

Members of Council voiced concerns about the size of Communiversity and the crowds and traffic it produces. The event has been drawing about 40,000 each year. Arts Council director Jeff Nathanson said no one wants the event to grow bigger. Last year, clergy leaders and their members were frustrated with traffic and parking because of a breakdown in communications, he said, but this year an effort will be made to alert churchgoers a month ahead of the event.

Regarding other Sunday events such as the half-marathon sponsored by Hi-Tops, Mr. Bruschi recommended urging the organization to find a different route from the one that currently circuits through Princeton. “It’s very difficult for us to manage,” he said. “The problem is several crossings that come into the middle of town.” A route crossing over Route One into West Windsor, or to Lawrenceville, would be preferable.

A memo Mr. Bruschi sent to Council on October 10 detailed a Sunday events policy that would allow only community events sponsored or co-sponsored by the municipality to be held on Sundays, unless Council approves the event. No vote was taken on the proposed policy.

Also at the meeting, Council approved a resolution asking Mercer County to install safety improvements for the pedestrian crossing of the D&R Canal on Washington Road. A West Windsor man and his eight-year-old son were injured at the site earlier this month while walking their bikes across the road south of the Carnegie Lake Bridge. The improvements would include warning lights, a crosswalk, and signs.

The meeting included a public hearing for an ordinance that would create a board of parks and recreation commissioners to oversee the maintenance of the town’s open space, currently under the purview of the recreation board. The ordinance is part of the harmonizing of policies of the former Borough and Township into a new code for the consolidated municipality.

The new board would have seven members and two alternates, and would operate similarly to the commission that oversees the annual deer culling operation, Mr. Bruschi said. Council members Crumiller and Liverman spoke in favor of the ordinance. It will be voted on by Council at a future meeting.


October 22, 2014

When the Spring Street Garage next to Princeton Public Library opened a decade ago, the technology used for payment was considered state-of-the-art. But not for long.

“We were at the cutting edge, we thought. But that cutting edge lasted about 30 minutes,” joked Bob Bruschi, the town’s administrator. Mr. Bruschi was speaking to members of the Princeton Merchants Association Tuesday morning about parking, a hot topic among those who patronize local establishments and those who run them.

Along with Mayor Liz Lempert and the town’s Assistant Engineer Deanna Stockton, Mr. Bruschi was at the meeting to get feedback from merchants about some parking innovations being considered for the garage and other locations in the central business district. The topic will be on the agenda at the next Princeton Council meeting on Monday, October 27.

“Technology has changed so much,” said Mr. Bruschi, who recalled that parking meters cost six cents an hour when he was growing up in Princeton. “We’re at the point now where we know we need to make some decisions. We’re very excited over the options, but we’re also nervous about them.”

Anyone who parks in the Spring Street Garage knows the frustration of getting caught behind a line of vehicles trying to exit when the gate malfunctions. Whether to upgrade the present post-pay infrastructure at the garage or switch to a pre-pay system is the main question, Ms. Stockton said in her presentation. “The post-pay infrastructure is a very easy system, as long as it works,” she said. “Pre-pay is more difficult, but there are advantages.”

Among the options with pre-paying are bulk coupons for merchants to offer customers, and the ability to make payments, validations, and adding time through cell phones and computers. While the pre-pay option would be cheapest for the municipality, keeping the post-payment option is “in the mid-range,” Ms. Stockton said. “It’s just a matter of switching out the technology.” The most costly option would be hiring people to take payments in booths, as in the Palmer Square garage.

Mr. Bruschi said the technical abilities of people who park in town are being considered. “Are they savvy enough? We do have an aging population,” he said. “Would we drive people away if it was too advanced?”

Joanne Farrugia, who owns Jazam’s in Palmer Square, said she has concerns about the more technologically advanced option. “We still have customers who don’t get it about getting their parking validated,” she said. “You just want to keep it as simple as possible.” Others in the audience expressed similar sentiments.

There are 1,100 single-head meters, seven surface lots, and three parking garages in Princeton. Multi-space meters have been installed on Alexander Street and at the temporary Dinky train station, and more will be added when the new Dinky station opens next month, Ms. Stockton said.

The Spring Street Garage is a priority because of its aging technology. Asked whether they would favor upgrading the post-payment system or switching to a pre-payment initiative, most at the meeting raised their hands for the former. A few more indicated they were undecided.

“I understand wanting to keep it simple,” said Mr. Bruschi. “But we also want to be able to grow this as people become more technologically savvy.”

At the close of the meeting, Mr. Bruschi, who is retiring at the end of the year after 15 years on the job, was presented with a gift from the Princeton Merchants Association for his service to the business community.


Prompted by the repeated failure of the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) and the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) to negotiate a new contract for Princeton’s teachers and other staff, two concerned Princeton residents have formed a new group.

Attorney Nicole Soffin and public relations consultant Jennifer Lea Cohan created Community for Princeton Public Schools in an effort to “promote awareness, connection and support for the Princeton Public Schools.”

“[The group] was launched in response to the confusion and curiosity many people feel about the current negotiations between PREA and the Board of Education,” said Ms. Cohan, who is urging those interested to attend an inaugural community gathering in front of the School District’s Administration Building at 25 Valley Road, today, October 22, between 4 and 5 p.m.

The gathering is timed to take place prior to tonight’s second bargaining session between union representatives and members of the school board.

The first bargaining session, on October 2, had lasted less than an hour before members of the PREA negotiating team walked out. At that time, PREA Chief Negotiator John Baxter and PREA President Joanne Ryan cited the District’s failure to “put a counter proposal on the table.”

Negotiations have stalled repeatedly over the issues of health care, salary increases, and a profound disagreement over the intent and impact of N.J. law Chapter 78.

The crux of the issue is whether premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining under the Chapter 78 law. PREA contends that, after this year, premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining. But, according to the District, increases in healthcare costs have been “imposed by State Law Chapter 78” and the union’s demands are “simply unaffordable.”

Such entrenchment provided the impetus for Ms. Soffin and Ms. Cohan, who said that today’s Community for Princeton Public Schools gathering, which will take place without a speaker or a formal program, is intended in “support of a positive resolution to the negotiations.”

“Public education affects the vibrance, safety, property values and prosperity of a community,” the group said in an email to supporters. “[Princeton] has a legacy of respect for public education. Your show of support, either physical, virtual, or both (#comm4pps), is essential to continuing this legacy.”

Using email and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, the group is spreading word of today’s gathering to local media, PTO groups, School Board members, the Superintendent of Princeton Schools, as well as community organizations and others.

In anticipation of tonight’s bargaining session, Mr. Baxter said yesterday that he was hoping for progress. “We enter the session prepared with proposals to do our part should the Board agree to negotiate premium contributions or an equivalent proposal,” he said, adding that he was looking for answers from the Board in advance of the public meeting on October 28.

In an email, yesterday, District representative Patrick Sullivan commented: “The goals of the board’s negotiations team have not changed since these negotiations began. We want an agreement that 1) is fair to and affirming of our teachers, whom we value; 2) is affordable for the duration of the new agreement; and 3) ensures the sustainability of the high quality of programs, staffing levels and class sizes we all value for the children in our public schools. We hope the PREA will work with us to achieve that, within the limits of what is possible and compliant with the laws of our State.”

The Board of Education is due to meet Tuesday, October 28, at 8 p.m., at which time Princeton residents are expected to put some difficult questions with respect to Chapter 78, the schools budget, and other matters (See Letters to the Editor, page 14).

Following next week’s board meeting, the two sides will have the help of a state-appointed mediator in their search for common ground. Kathy Vogt, Esq. assisted with negotiations for the 2011-2014 contract which expired June 30 but continues in operation until the terms and conditions of a new contract can be agreed upon. She will work with both sides on November 20.

For more information on Community for Princeton Public Schools, contact:, Facebook (comm4pps), Twitter & Instagram, @comm4PPS.

As the former Princeton Hospital building is steadily dismantled, officials are keeping a close eye С or ear С on decibel levels. AvalonBay, the developer building a rental complex on the Witherspoon Street site, has an acoustical consultant on hand, while engineering and health officers from the municipality and Mercer County continue to monitor the sounds of crunching concrete.

While complaints have been lodged by a number of area residents, acceptable noise levels have not been exceeded so far. But that could change once the largest of the buildings come down. “They’re sort of acting as a shield for the neighborhood right now,” said Bob Kiser, the town’s municipal engineer. “So it remains to be seen how things will work out once they get started on those buildings.”

Depending on the weather, that could happen within the next month. Excessively cold temperatures could halt the demolition because the misting operation being used to help control dust could freeze, Mr. Kiser said.

Princeton’s health officer Jeffrey Grosser said most of the noise issues reported by residents have had to do with work on the parking garage, where removal of the upper level concrete floor deck is being replaced with a new concrete deck. “That was addressed through some noise dampening walls they had purchased, which worked pretty effectively,” he said. “There were also some blankets in use. But obviously with the larger structure coming down, that will change.”

Council member Jo Butler said that she and fellow Council member Jenny Crumiller have been contacted on a number of occasions by residents bothered by the noise. “But Bob Kiser and [health officer] Jeff Grosser have been terrific, really getting out there and working with the county,” she said. “I really think they’re doing their best.”

Mr. Grosser, Mr. Kiser, the town’s construction official, and land use engineer Jack West have been meeting at the demolition site every Monday with representatives from AvalonBay and Yannuzzi Wrecking and Recycling to go over the progress, Mr. Grosser said. At the most recent meeting, the issue of an odor was raised.

“My initial evaluation was that it was due to some kind of exhaust from one of the machines,” Mr. Grosser said. “I haven’t heard anything else. There were no odors on Monday when we were out there.”

Demolition work on the former hospital site, to make room for the 280 unit rental property, began September 22. Three of eight buildings have already been razed, leaving another five to be taken down. The overall project is expected to take another six months, according to progress reports from the town.

Should noise levels become extreme once the larger buildings are dismantled, “we will take readings and appropriate action if we have to,” Mr. Kiser said. “We would have to document it and then go back and determine what can be done to reduce the noise. If necessary, I’m sure our attorneys will be dealing with it.”

October 15, 2014

Princeton resident and NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman, 62, issued an apology Monday via a statement read during the NBC Nightly News broadcast by Anchorman Brian Williams.

“While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed,” the statement read. “We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal. As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those exposed to the virus may develop symptoms up to 21 days after exposure. The NBC crew’s exposure was considered to be “low risk.”

The voluntary quarantine required Ms. Snyderman and the rest of her team to stay in touch with local health authorities for the remainder of the recommended 21-day period after a camera man they were working with tested positive for the disease and the team returned to the United States from Liberia where they had been reporting about the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia.

The American camera man, Ashoka Mukpo, a 33-year-old photo-journalist from Rhode Island, is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he is reportedly receiving an experimental drug and recovering.

Ms. Snyderman’s Monday night statement was in response to the New Jersey Department of Health’s upping the quarantine from voluntary to mandatory status late Friday after news broke that Ms. Snyderman had been spotted outside a Hopewell restaurant.

The change came after local reporter Krystal Knapp reported the alleged sighting on the online news media outlet, Planet Princeton. Ms. Knapp had received a tip that Ms. Snyderman was sitting in her black Mercedes outside of the restaurant last Thursday afternoon; a man had been seen getting out of the car and going inside the restaurant to pick up a take-out order. Another man had been seen in the back seat of the vehicle.

“Unfortunately, the NBC crew violated this agreement and so the Department of Health today issued a mandatory quarantine order to ensure that the crew will remain confined until Oct. 22,” said Health Department spokesperson Dawn Thomas on Friday.

Of the trip to the restaurant, Ms. Thomas observed, “The NBC crew remains symptom-free, so there is no reason for concern of exposure to the community.”

The voluntary quarantine agreement violation as reported on Planet Princeton was picked up Friday by websites that cover the media industry, including and Mediabistro.

Health Officer’s Report

At Monday night’s meeting of the Mayor and Princeton Council, Health Officer Jeffrey Grosser updated the council on the NBC team and the status of the quarantine.

After describing the disease in some detail and then the situation that had brought Ms. Snyderman and members of her team into self-quarantine in Princeton, he said, “The virus now has Princeton ties. The NBC team violated their agreement with the Princeton Health Department. Currently they are symptom free. Princeton police have been charged with policing the isolation area.”

Mr. Grosser, who became Princeton Health Officer just six months ago, explained that initial testing had determined the NBC team to be at “no risk” for the disease. But, he continued, a second test by the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) had changed that assessment to “low risk,” and the team had been asked to self-monitor for 21 days. “Low risk,” Mr. Grosser explained, means being within three feet of an infected person. The second risk assessment was “erring on the side of caution,” he said. “For low risk exposure it is typical to have monitoring by a public health nurse.”

While expressing the need to support Mr. Grosser’s efforts to protect the community, councillor Heather Howard asked whether the costs of extra hours for the public health nurse might be reimbursed by the state. Mr. Grosser said he would look into it. Jo Butler asked him a hypothetical question about the alleged NBC team’s visit to Hopewell for take-out food: “If prior notice had been given to the health department, would he have approved?” He responded to the effect that this sort of question had come up when the self-monitoring agreement was put in place. “Public places were to be avoided. Food could have been delivered. It wasn’t necessary,” he said.

According to reports on CNN, the Ebola virus has been contracted for the first time by someone inside the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Sunday that the first known transmission of the disease in the United States had occurred when a nurse at a Dallas Hospital, who had worn protective gear during her “extensive contact” with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for Ebola. The nurse is reported to be in stable condition. Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died last Wednesday, October 8.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports more than 8,300 people have contracted Ebola during the current outbreak. Of those, more than 4,000 have died. In spite of these figures, it is said that the disease is “not very contagious,” and “difficult to catch.”

People are at risk if they come into very close contact with the blood, saliva, sweat, feces, semen, vomit, or soiled clothing of an Ebola patient, or if they travel to affected areas in West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia) and come into contact with someone who has Ebola.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, fever, and unexplained bleeding. WHO estimates that some 416 health care workers have contracted Ebola, and at least 233 have died.

Ms. Snyderman joined NBC News as the chief medical editor in September 2006. She has reported on wide-ranging medical topics and has traveled the world extensively, reporting from many of the world’s most troubled areas.


While concerns about the town’s handling of possible exposure to the Ebola virus (see accompanying story) dominated Monday night’s meeting of Princeton Council, there was additional business on the agenda. The governing body passed resolutions to accept a 2013 audit, the first since consolidation, and to approve a related corrective action plan. Also approved was a resolution to officially oppose the Penneast Pipeline Project, among other actions.

Mayor Liz Lempert said she was pleased with the results of the town’s audit. Discussion was led by Robert Morrison of the Highland Park firm Hodulik & Morrison. Mr. Morrison said there were only minor concerns with the report, which did not affect the fairness of the financial statements.

In response to a recommendation that data entry privileges for financial accounting software be modified to limit them to authorized personnel, the municipality said there is new software in place that allows only Kathy Monzo, the town’s director of finance, and Sandra Webb, its chief financial officer, to have access.

It was also recommended that reports of parking costs by credit card be obtained and checked against the amounts paid by credit card companies to make sure parking revenues are obtained in a timely manner.

Members of the Princeton Environmental Commission delivered a presentation about the “Leave the Leaves” initiative, which encourages property owners to use fallen leaves as mulch and ground-cover rather than piling them up at the curb for pickup. Piles of leaves can cause safety concerns for drivers, said Stephanie Chorney, PEC member. Having the town pick up the leaves “is not sustainable, and it increases energy consumption,” she said, adding, “It hauls away rich nutrients.”

The PEC recommends mulching leaves with a mower, spreading leaves on the garden to hold in moisture, using leaves to control weeds, and creating a “leaf corral,” a circle of wire fencing to help contain leaves. Robert Hough, the town’s director of infrastructure and operations, said the mega-storms of recent seasons have prevented his department from documenting whether professional landcapers deal properly with leaves, but they hope to do more in the future. “I think you should tell them that Princeton customers want that kind of service,” said Council member Jo Butler.

Resident and environmentalist Steve Hiltner commented that an ordinance dealing with the dumping of leaves needs to be strictly enforced. Mayor Lempert said educating the public about the issue is important and Council will work with the PEC on the problem.

Council approved resolutions to allow United Bow Hunters of New Jersey and White Buffalo Inc. Wildlife Management Services to control the herds of deer in certain areas. Also approved was a resolution allowing the Rodgers Group to develop a strategic plan for the Princeton Police Department.


Diane Landis was in a meeting with Mayor Liz Lempert Monday when the good news came through in an email: Princeton has been awarded silver level certification by Sustainable Jersey, the statewide non-profit organization that helps communities become more energy efficient and less wasteful.

“It’s very exciting,’” said Diane Landis, the executive director of Sustainable Princeton, speaking before Ms. Lempert announced the news at Monday night’s Princeton Council meeting. “A lot of effort has gone into this. It’s been a real collaboration between us, the different municipal departments, and Sustainable Jersey.

“It means that we are moving in a coordinated fashion as a town to address sustainability in different departments of the municipality,” she continued. “We are in good company. There are a number of municipalities that have received this certification in New Jersey. It has really grown. It’s so important to keep moving on the initiatives so we can stand out and have the kind of town we want.”

At the Council meeting, Ms. Landis said 160 communities across the state earned certification. Princeton is one of 27 to attain the silver status.

The town’s forming of a “municipal green team” last October was key in helping Princeton move from bronze to silver certification. A total of 350 points are needed to secure the designation, and Princeton submitted 420 points. “We were approved for 34 actions in 19 different categories,” Ms. Landis said. “These actions can range from forming a municipal green team to having a tree inventory, or a fleet inventory [of vehicles].”

The team met the submission deadline in September. It was reviewed by Sustainable Jersey and sent back for revisions. “We had to redo about 100 points,” said Landis. “It’s very technical. We had to do things like go and take a photo of the drop box at the police department where you can put the old drugs; stuff like that.”

The process has also been helped by changes in attitude by the public. “Since we applied for the bronze level three years ago, there is much more interest in sustainability,” Ms. Landis said. “People are really seeing through the lens of being sustainable, and that’s helped us move our agenda forward. We’re not asked so much anymore, ‘Why should I do it?’ Instead, it’s ‘How do I do it?’ ”

Sustainable Princeton is housed in Monument Hall, formerly known as Borough Hall. The non-profit organization got $15,000 in funding from the town last year, Ms. Landis said.

Ms. Lempert was elated by the news of the silver level. “This is not a trivial process,” she said Monday afternoon. “For each level, you have to do a substantial amount of documentation, which Sustainable Jersey helps us with. We got credits for several things, like the Farmer’s Market in Hinds Plaza. It’s another way for us to learn from other communities and for them to learn from us about best practices.”


October 8, 2014

Representatives of both the teachers’ union, Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) and the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE) failed to reach agreement when they met for a “bargaining session” last Thursday, October 2. The meeting was brought to a halt when members of the PREA negotiating team walked out.

“Tonight’s bargaining session lasted less than an hour. The Board refused to put a counter proposal on the table,” said PREA Chief Negotiator John Baxter and PREA President Joanne Ryan in a statement to Town Topics following the meeting.

“The parties reached a point where it seemed that further discussion was not leading to progress, and PREA terminated the meeting,” stated BOE representative Patrick Sullivan in a similar summation of the Board’s position. “The issues in this negotiation come down to salary and benefits, but the real issue from the Board’s point of view is the sustainability of the quality education we provide to our students,” said Mr. Sullivan.

The meeting was one of two scheduled by both sides in advance of mediation sessions with Kathy Vogt, Esq., a state-appointed mediator who has been called in to help forge a new contract for Princeton’s teachers.

Talks with Ms. Vogt are due to take place on November 20. “Ms. Vogt was the mediator during contract negations for the 2011-14 contract,” said BOE Secretary Stephanie Kennedy. That contract expired June 30, but continues in operation until the new contract terms and conditions are agreed upon.

While negotiations have stalled repeatedly over the issues of health care and salary increases, the most significant stumbling block to forward movement is a profound disagreement over the intent and impact of NJ law Chapter 78.

According to the PREA statement, “The Board has now refused to move for two consecutive meetings, despite significant movement by the association. There is no evidence that the extraordinary attendance and comments at the public meeting last week had any impact, other than to increase the Board’s obstinance. They continue to maintain their position on Chapter 78 and refuse to bargain premium contributions for years two and three.”

Not only that, the statement goes on, “[The Board] refused to make a counter offer on salary.” and “has not increased its 1.8 percent salary offer since April.”

From the perspective of the teachers’ union, the Board is insisting that “PREA members accept lower health care benefits to fund any additional salary increase above the 1.8 percent offer,” even though “PREA members have already saved the Board $700,000 in premiums this year.”

The crux of the issue is whether premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining under the Chapter 78 law. PREA contends that, after this year, premium contributions are subject to collective bargaining. In support of their position, they cite 12 other New Jersey school boards that have negotiated new rates for years two and three of a new three-year contract. As far as the union is concerned, the Board is failing to comply with NJ State law and using “highly questionable interpretations of the statute, in order to get something for nothing.”

But, according to a BOE statement provided by Mr. Sullivan, increases in healthcare costs have been “imposed by State Law Chapter 78” and the union’s demands are “simply unaffordable.”

“The PREA’s current proposal for salary increases and healthcare givebacks is far in excess of the maximum tax raise we could ask taxpayers to pay by law under the 2 percent cap on tax increases. As fiduciaries for the children and for this community, we cannot pay what they are asking us to give.”

To do so, the statement goes on, would “jeopardize” the quality of Princeton’s education and lead to cuts in programs and teachers, and to increases in class sizes. Any agreement would “involve looking at salary increases coupled with health plans that save money for BOTH sides, and we cannot negotiate salary in isolation to health benefits.”

From the perspective of the BOE, the teachers’ union is asking for a “counter-proposal” on salary only, “while refusing to propose any benefit plan other than the status quo, or to discuss any of the Board’s offers on health benefit plans that would save both sides money.”

A second bargaining session is due to take place October 22.

“We hope to arrive at a solution, but in order to do that, both sides need to work together and work within the confines of what is prudent, sustainable, and best for our children and our taxpayers,” said Mr. Sullivan.

Mediator services are provided by the state at no cost to the district, but if no agreement is reached in mediation, a fact-finder would be called in at a cost of $1,500 per day. The cost of a fact-finder would be split between the two parties. According to BOE negotiator Patrick Sullivan, 40 percent of school negotiations in New Jersey go to mediation.

“We are hopeful that Ms. Vogt can assist us in coming to agreement,” said Ms. Kennedy. “As yet, no fact finder has been called upon. That would only occur if the mediator can not get us to a point of agreement.”


SNYDERMAN BACK FROM LIBERIA: NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman returned from Liberia on Monday after a cameraman on her team tested positive for the Ebola virus last Thursday. Her co-worker is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Ms. Snyderman and the rest of her team were described by NBC News President Deborah Turness yesterday as "feeling well and in good health." They will be staying in their homes monitoring their temperatures twice daily and staying in touch with the local health authorities for the remainder of the recommended 21-day quarantine period.

SNYDERMAN BACK FROM LIBERIA: NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman returned from Liberia on Monday after a cameraman on her team tested positive for the Ebola virus last Thursday. Her co-worker is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Ms. Snyderman and the rest of her team were described by NBC News President Deborah Turness yesterday as “feeling well and in good health.” They will be staying in their homes monitoring their temperatures twice daily and staying in touch with the local health authorities for the remainder of the recommended 21-day quarantine period.

Princeton resident and NBC News Chief Medical Editor and Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman had to be flown back from Liberia where she had been reporting on the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia when a cameraman on her team tested positive for the disease last Thursday.

The cameraman, named as Ashoka Mukpo, is the fourth American to have contracted Ebola in Liberia. The 33-year-old photo-journalist from Rhode Island was hired as a second cameraman on Dr. Snyderman’s team on Tuesday of last week. When he felt unwell on Wednesday, a routine temperature check showed a higher than normal reading. The help of Medicins Sans Frontieres doctors was immediately sought and he was tested for the disease and found positive for the virus on Thursday. By Sunday, he was on his way home to the United States on a specially equipped jet from Liberia to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. He is the second person with the Ebola virus to be treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

According to NBC News President Deborah Turness, the cameraman had worked in Liberia for the past three years and had recently been covering the epidemic for U.S. media. The rest of the crew, including Ms. Snyderman, are being closely monitored and show no symptoms or warning signs. As a precautionary measure, they are being quarantined for 21 days.

Ms. Snyderman has been reporting on the precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the disease. The strict safety protocols include wearing plastic suits, gloves and goggles when visiting hospitals where victims are being treated and at other times spraying shoes with bleach, monitoring body temperature at least twice a day to check for elevated temperature that is one of the first signs of the disease, and washing hands frequently with a sanitizer.

On Monday, she was seen on NBC taking the precautions that she said have become “a way of life” in Liberia, where officials are vigilant about monitoring people’s temperatures at the airport, at hotels, and for those traveling between towns.

“Greetings are done at a distance, no handshakes, no hugs,” reported Ms. Snyderman. “For healthcare workers, layers of protective equipment are required. It’s a painstaking process.” The medical correspondent was shown visiting a patient in a local clinic and then removing her plastic protective suit, gloves and goggles afterwards. The removed items were hosed down with a bleach solution before being incinerated. “It’s a meticulous process,” she said.

Ms. Snyderman and the rest of her team returned to the United States Monday. All were ”feeling well and in good health,” said NBC News President Deborah Turness in a statement sent to staff members on Tuesday. “While they are deemed to be at low risk, we have agreed with state and local health authorities that our team will not come to work, and they will stay at home taking their temperatures twice daily and staying in touch with the local health authorities for the remainder of the recommended 21-day period.”

“Sadly this epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, adding to the social disintegration of Liberia,” said Ms. Snyderman before she left Liberia. “But we start this 21-day quarantine with the firm belief that we will come out the other end okay and we believe that our co-worker is also going to be fine. We want the eyes of the world to remain on Liberia,” she said. “And we will be back to continue to cover this story.”

American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were infected in July while working for Samaritan’s Purse in Monrovia. Last month, Dr. Rick Sacra was diagnosed with the virus after working at a local hospital in Liberia. Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan is currently being treated for Ebola at a hospital in Dallas.

Eli Waller

Eli Waller

A Virus Closer to Home

A Mercer County preschooler is New Jersey’s first confirmed death linked to the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) a serious respiratory illness that has swept the country the last several weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 594 people across 43 states and the District of Columbia have been made ill by this virus since mid-August and it has been detected in four people who have died.

Mercer County officials reported that tests results showed that four-year-old Eli Waller, who died in his sleep on September 25, had the virus.

The child, a student at Yardville Elementary School in the afternoons, had gone to bed with what appeared to be “pink eye,” or conjunctivitus. Apparently, he showed showed none of the typical signs associated with the disease such as coughing, a runny nose, body and muscle aches and, sometimes, fever. A second student at the school, who has shown such symptoms, has been tested for the virus, which is spread through close contact with infected individuals, objects and surfaces. There is no vaccine.

So far, nine cases of ED68 have been confirmed by the New Jersey State Department of Health, in eight counties: Burlington, Camden, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Sussex. Princeton’s Health Officer has posted links to the New Jersey Department of Health on the municipal website, where you will also find the fact sheet, “Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) Frequently Asked Questions:”

For more information, visit the NJ Department of Health:, and the CDC: