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Archive for the ‘opinion’ Category

report_from_woodbridgeBy Mayor John McCormac

The “Summer of ‘09” looks to be the best ever in Woodbridge… which is why I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the great events and happenings coming to Woodbridge this summer.

Let’s start with Saturdays in downtown Woodbridge with the kick-off of the “bigger and better” open-air Farmer’s Market on Saturday, June 20, in the Town Hall parking lot on Main Street.  This season, the Farmer’s Market will feature more farm stands and vendors… cooking demonstrations by the chef’s at Wegmans… and dozens of special events for kids of all ages.  So, shop the Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and find out what “Woodbridge Fresh” is all about.

Wednesdays come alive with “Music on Main Street.”  Enjoy an assortment of free music on Main Street every Wednesday all summer long… from the Jack Goodman “Swing” Band… to the Tim Gillis Band… to the Woodbridge Community Choir… there’s a show for everyone.  And, return to the days of “classic cars” and “hot rods” when car enthusiasts from across the state start “Cruisin’ on Main Street” on Wednesdays in June, July and August.

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report_from_trentonBy Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski

The Obama administration deserves a lot of credit for the Federal Stimulus Program. This program not only gave a boost to the economy overall, but helped put many New Jerseyans to work making much needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure.  Unfortunately though, the bulk of that money has been designated for projects that do not satisfy local county and municipal needs.

Recently the Assembly Budget Committee considered the year’s proposed spending for the Department of Transportation and NJ Transit.  The good news is that the budget will now contain an additional $50 million to help counties and municipalities in the state pay for transportation improvements.

This much-needed infusion is a result of an effort I spearheaded with Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. and state Transportation Commissioner Stephen Dilts – talks spurred by my discussions with mayors and freeholders afraid that federal stimulus money was not going to filter down to key infrastructure projects in local communities.

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Voice of the People by James J. DevineBy James Devine

I intended to title this article, ‘The Anointed One,’ but a typo offered a much smarter name to go identify with the GOP establishment’s purpose behind its intended coronation.

I thought the argument of inevitability was ridiculous when Hillary Clinton used it in the early primaries last year. It is no less of a fraud when applied to the Bush-appointed media darling whose cloak of lovability dissolved once he bathed in the pool of political opportunism, which leads to a question: When did Chris Christie become the only Republican who can beat Jon Corzine?

It appears that Chris Todd Christie may not be able to beat Steve Lonegan in a GOP primary, which should be unsurprising given the popularity of liberal Republicans these days.

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 letter-to-the-editorBy Christopher Kosseff and Theresa Miskimen 

If you are experiencing increased levels of stress and anxiety, aren’t sleeping or eating well, and are worried over how the economic meltdown may be impacting you and your family, you may benefit from the local support groups conducted by mental health organizations throughout the state. 

Professionally-run support groups can play a huge role in helping us feel better physically and about how to cope with our immediate situation.  Support groups are designed to accomplish this by teaching relaxation techniques and by helping you establish a plan of action to manage better through a difficult period.  

Support groups are free and you can attend these group sessions anonymously if you wish; no registration is required.  While it may be difficult to accept, there is no stigma attached to attending.  In fact, one of the immediate benefits is that we learn that we are not alone, that so many others are facing similar circumstances.  

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 devineBy James J. Devine

Divorce and adultery are severe threats to the institution of marriage, as well as to the ‘nuclear family’ we once believed was ‘normal’ in America.

A group based in New Jersey called the National Organization for Marriage is not paying any attention to those problems however, because in politics as in marketing, sex sells.

I find nothing in anyone’s agenda about restricting or prohibiting homosexual conduct and that raises a number of questions.

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 letter-to-the-editorOn the evening of Friday, June 12, volunteers from the American Cancer Society will be joining forces with residents of Clark and surrounding communities in reach of a goal that is common to nearly everyone: the goal is to eliminate the human suffering that is caused by cancer. Relay For Life of Clark is a 14-hour event that will take place at Arthur L. Johnson High School, beginning at 6 p.m. and will continue throughout the night, ending at 8 a.m. 

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event. It is an overnight celebration of hope and survivorship. Teams camp out and take turns walking a track throughout the night, in honor of those who have fought cancer and in memory of those who are no longer with us.  Last year, more than 4,600 communities held Relay For Life events, raising $375 million. Funds raised through Relay For Life support the lifesaving work of the American Cancer Society through research, education, advocacy and patient – family services. 

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 Inside_the_StatehouseBy Assemblyman Joseph Vas

Six years ago when I ran for the Assembly, one of my objectives was to strengthen our public schools. For years, the Legislature sought a solution to the oft-controversial process of allocating state tax dollars to New Jersey’s 616 school districts. Whereas our State Constitution mandates a “thorough and efficient” education for all public school students, our goal must be to ensure that all students are adequately educated and prepared for the workforce. 

Until recently, New Jersey had systematically allocated state aid to two groupings—the 31 “Abbott” school districts and the 585 “non-Abbott” school districts. The Abbott designation arose from a 1990 State Supreme Court ruling that held certain school districts with high concentrations of poor residents and relatively low property value were entitled to special state aid. Abbott districts received about half of all state aid while educating only one-quarter of all public school students.  

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 mccormacRecreational Activities, Health & Fitness Programs, And Educational Events Showcase Youth Month 

By Mayor John McCormac

Just like kids growing out of their wardrobe, the 2009 Woodbridge Township Youth Month celebration has expanded with more exciting events and programs for kids and young adults than ever before.   

This year, our township-wide Youth Month gets started on April 2 with the Colonia High School Senior Class play “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and goes right through April 28 with the Student Works Art Show at The Barron Arts Center.  In all, more than 60 events geared to young people will take place at the Woodbridge Community Center, the YMCA, The Barron Arts Center, and Township libraries, parks and schools.   

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Bringing Home Help For Seniors

report_from_trentonBy John S. Wisniewski

It’s not easy being a homeowner these days. The economic crisis is hitting everyone hard. Rising property taxes, home maintenance fees and the ever skyrocketing cost of living are putting many New Jersey families at financial risk. And for senior citizens living on fixed incomes, the threat of loosing or being able to maintain a home during these trying times can be especially great. That is why I am working to ensure fairness and common sense in the New Jersey Senior Property Tax Freeze Program.

The New Jersey Senior Property Tax Freeze Program is in its 11th year of reimbursing eligible senior citizens and disabled persons for property tax increases, yet every day I meet people who are still unaware of this great program and its benefits. Under this program, eligible applicants are reimbursed directly for the difference between the amount of local property taxes paid in their “base year” (the first year they became eligible and filed for the program) and the amount of property taxes paid in the reimbursement year. So every year that you qualify, you will receive a rebate back for the amount of money that your property taxes have increased going all the way back to the first year that you joined the program.

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letter-to-the-editorBy Laurie Ehlbeck

The financial crisis that began on Wall Street and spread to Detroit and corporate America has officially found its way to Main Street. The tsunami battering our economy has now breached the largest and most important segment of our economy—America’s entrepreneurs. Small business owners are hunkering down, worrying about sales, cutting back on investment and growth plans, and even beginning to cut jobs.

The impact can now be seen all across the American landscape and in town after town here in New Jersey. Because not only are small businesses the major source of new jobs, they’re also the lifeblood of their communities. Small business owners support local charities, community groups, youth sports, television, radio, newspapers and more.

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letter-to-the-editorby Michele S. Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

It is a sad sign of how far we’ve become removed from the natural world that even our language is shifting away from biology and toward technology. The clearest example yet comes in the form of the Oxford Junior Dictionary.

The Oxford Junior Dictionary contains roughly 10,000 words. Aimed at seven-year-olds, it is understandably smaller than those dictionaries attempting a more comprehensive vocabulary.

London’s Daily Telegraph reported in December that a mother in Northern Ireland had compared the dictionary’s most recent edition (2007) to previous versions and found a number of terms from the realm of nature were left out. And they weren’t highly technical scientific terms, either. Among the deleted words were over 90 common plant and animal names like acorn, beaver, canary, clover, dandelion, ivy, sycamore, vine, violet and willow.

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devineBy James J. Devine

When one of a handful of Hispanic state lawmakers announced he would not seek re-election, the leader of the Middlesex County Democratic Party reportedly said, “nobody from the Latino community has shown an interest in that seat…”

Although South Amboy Mayor John T. O’Leary has been campaigning for the seat held by Assemblyman Joe Vas and he is likely to be given the ‘organization line,’ the Hispanic community should be faulted for not responding to the alteration in the political dynamics created by Vas’ indictment. By not even coming up with a single name for consideration as a 19th District legislator in 2009, the Alliance has forfeited its right to assert leadership of anything.

The mission of the Latino Leadership Alliance is to mobilize and empower Latino communities to obtain political, economic, and social equity. Without advocating the election of Hispanic representatives, they cannot do that. Latinos have not achieved a degree of representation in the Legislature that is commensurate with their share of the population or for the Hispanic community’s contribution to the state’s progress.

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letter-to-the-editorDuring March, Women’s History Month, the League of Women Voters of the Union Area is paying tribute to the achievements of women past and present in the communities where our members live—Union, Cranford, Linden and surrounding towns.

We are proud to take note of contributions by League members and other women in our towns, throughout Union County and everywhere in the nation. Members of the League work the year around to register voters, provide non-partisan voting information and educate citizens about important issues of the day.

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letter-to-the-editorBy Norma E. Blake

During the past year, over 100,000 New Jersey residents lost their jobs, adding their names to a list that was already well over 200,000. Many families in our state are facing economic challenges, some for the first time. Businesses, both large and small, are closing their doors as their revenue stream is squeezed by a lack of available credit and reduced consumer spending. As families and businesses cut their budgets, they are turning to their libraries to make up for some of those cuts and shave expenditures.

“As a small business owner, in these struggling economic times, every dollar counts,” Lisa Harper of A&L Harper Trucking Co. told us. “I learned that the Burlington County Library subscribes to a database through the New Jersey Knowledge Initiative (NJKI) that I was about to pay a couple of hundred dollars for. Since then, I’ve learned of other resources available for businesses at the library.”

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Defeating the De-Motivator

un-comfort_zoneThe sweet strains of a Puccini aria cut through the Saturday night clatter of the busy Italian restaurant in New York City, but it wasn’t coming from the aging voice of the Sicilian baritone who was hired to belt out favorites like Funiculi-Funicula.  It was a soprano whose crystal clear voice filled the room.  Within moments all the ambient noise came to a halt. Diners stopped eating and talking, busboys stopped clearing tables, the cooks even came out of the
kitchen.

Singing on the tiny stage was the skinny moon-faced waitress from Ohio. The Sicilian heard she studied opera, so he invited her to join him, but what began as a duet ended in solo as he too was mesmerized by the beauty of her voice. When she finished, the place thundered in applause and I saw tears of gratitude glistening in her eyes. She had hit each note perfectly.

If only she had done that when she auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera.  But she choked, flinched, allowed a seed of doubt to creep into her consciousness and thus her voice.

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