Letters to the Editor, May 24


What does Packet know of courage?
To the editor:
   When the newspapers (The Packet, May 21) and the courts consider truthful testimony "a tactic," then those charged with crimes will always be declared guilty, regardless of the facts.
   Carol Knott and myself were subjected to a five-hour trial in Princeton Township. Numerous witnesses testified, costing local taxpayers perhaps $10,000. Citizens can feel protected from the mayor of Roosevelt and another peaceful protester. The Packet editorial stated that we should have had the courage to stand up for our convictions by pleading guilty. What does The Packet know of courage? Courage is defending yourself from false charges, knowing that you are almost certain to be convicted in Princeton Township. For a newspaper, courage is drawing your opinions based upon the facts that you uncover, not just buying into the government’s party line.
   Here are the facts: We were charged with "defiant trespass." The charges stated that despite being warned not to trespass on municipal property, we did so and we were arrested. Interestingly, we learned in court that the Princeton Township engineer told the police six weeks prior to the trial that we were on the public right of way of a county highway when arrested, not municipal property as police believed. Did the police amend their report when this crucial fact was brought to light? No. Were the charges dropped since we were innocent of the crimes we were charged with? No. Did The Packet report on these facts? No. Things work differently here. Instead, new charges were made up in the courtroom — "they were also told not to cross the road" — and we were found guilty of the newly fabricated charges.
   The prosecutor gave insight into the township’s motives in prosecuting this case when he stated that the town has had to spend a lot of money in deer-hunt related cases. The court’s goal was to make an example of us so that the protests subside. Why else have a five-hour trial for a petty misdemeanor? Shouldn’t the police and the courts be used to protect the public from harm, not embarrassment?
   Sadly, the only example that has been made is that Princeton Township officials feel that they are above the law. Princeton Township Administrative Code specifically bans slaughterhouses as a prohibited use in the township, and yet township officials erected a hidden slaughterhouse on public property at taxpayers’ expense. Did The Packet investigate this? No. Just as we were arrested for attempting to inspect the clandestine slaughterhouse to see if deer were being treated humanely, an officer from the Humane Society of the United States was falsely arrested while on private property for trying to see if the township was treating animals in accordance with state law. Did The Packet cry foul when this occurred? No.
   We must ask, because no one else will: What is Princeton Township hiding? As a newspaper, shouldn’t The Packet be asking some of the same the same tough questions that we are? And The Packet talks of courage!
Mike Hamilton
Pine Drive
Legislators must hang together
To the editor:
   In July 1776, as America’s leaders prepared to sign the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock sensed how fragile their unity was. "There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together," Hancock declared. Benjamin Franklin responded, "We must indeed hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall hang separately." That quote holds a special resonance for New Jersey today.
   That spirit of enlightened solidarity is sadly lacking in our State House. We face the undeniable need to close a historic budget deficit. Rather than rise to the occasion, Republican legislators seek to exploit our financial crisis for maximum partisan gain. Their latest maneuver held up passage of an early retirement bill for state employees. An estimated 2,200 state workers would take advantage of this bill, providing a compassionate way to trim the payroll, avert layoffs and save $46 million.
   Republicans proposed an amendment to give municipalities and school boards the chance to offer early retirement to their employees. The amendment effectively brought the bill to a halt. The next scheduled voting session is June 20, and the deadline to sign up for early retirement is June 14. State employees say they feel betrayed. They were promised this program. Some have already returned their paperwork. Others are poised to take advantage of it. The administration has raised the horrifying possibility that the state may lay off 2,400 workers if the early retirement program isn’t signed into law. It is irresponsible for Republicans to play with these employees’ futures.
   Republicans know that this move would wipe out any savings created by offering early retirement to employees. They know that increasing aid to municipalities is not a viable option at a time of budget crisis. What matters to them is another chance to paint themselves as champions, and Democrats as enemies, of taxpayers.
   My colleagues have thwarted Gov. McGreevey’s proposals to pare some savings out of the budget without presenting real alternatives. They’ve even hinted that the deficit is really not that bad! In fact, financial experts who don’t answer to the governor have presented an even bleaker picture than what was envisioned.
   The tendency of some lawmakers to behave as if the deficit is not their problem is most disturbing. They think that if our governor fails to close the deficit, he’s the one who looks bad. The taxpayers know the state is deeply in the red. Hard-working families know firsthand how essential it is to stay within one’s budget. The governor and Legislature share responsibility for balancing the budget.
   The deficit does hang over New Jersey. It hangs over the taxpayers. We all stand to lose if the budget cannot be balanced. It may force a shutdown of state government. That’s why we need to hang together, now more than ever. There should be no pulling different ways, in the words of John Hancock.
   I urge you to contact your legislators and demand that they work with their fellow legislators and the governor to solve this budget crisis.
Shirley K. Turner
15th Legislative District
Pennington Road
Post Prom Party was huge success
To the editor:
   We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Princeton and Cranbury communities for helping to make this year’s Post Prom Party a huge success. Over 400 students attended the "Mardi Gras" festivities on Saturday night after the junior-senior prom and a great time was had by all.
   Because of the generosity of the parents and community at large, we raised over $9,000 and were able to attain our goal of providing a safe and fun party for the students.
   In particular, we would like to thank the following local businesses, corporations and organizations for their contributions of money or gifts in kind to the 2002 Post Prom Party: Alchemist & Barrister, Alliance Homes, American Sew & Vac, Amica Insurance Co., Annex Restaurant, Ari/Tate Access Floors, Barnes & Noble, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, Borders Books, Caliper Corp., Chazzmatazz Formal Wear, Chevy’s, Chuck’s Spring Street Café, Corner House Foundation, Cranbury Arts Council, Cranbury Girl Scouts, Cranbury F.O.B. Lodge 68, S. Cole & Son Co., Conte’s Pizza, Flower Market, Forest Jewelers, The Gap, Garden Theater, Fowler’s Gulf, George’s Rosters & Ribs, Go For Baroque, Hair Experts, Halo Farms, Hoagie Haven, Hinkson’s, Image Photo, J. McLaughlin, Jazam’s, Jordan’s, Kinko’s, Kopp’s Cycle Shop, La Jolie Salon, Landau’s, Lindt Chocolate, Luttman Luggage, McCarter Theatre, McCaffrey’s, Mediterra, Metropolis, Merrill Lynch, Micawber Books, Nassau Street Seafood, NY Sports Club, Olive’s, PADA, P.J.’s Pancake House, Pink Nails, Phoebe’s, PNC Bank, Premiere Pizza, Premiere Video, Princeton Car Wash, Princeton Orthopedics, Princeton U-Store, Princeton Video, Robinson’s Fine Candies, Sam’s Club, Shoprite, Theresa’s, Thomas Sweet, Township of Cranbury, Village Silver and Wegman’s.
   The success of this evening is due to the hard work and generosity of many people and we apologize for inadvertently omitting any names. Many thanks for all the support and hard work that went into making the 2002 Post Prom Party a special night for everyone.
Carrie Strasburger
Okhee Hyon
2002 Post Prom Party Co-Chairs
Princeton High School
Moore Street
Keep main library in shopping center
To the editor:
   Patricia Haneline’s recent letter to the editor (The Packet, May 14), suggesting keeping the shopping center library as a branch, making possible renting the third floor of the new library for income, is an interesting idea.
   Here’s a follow-up on that. Everyone I talked to loves using the library facilities (however inadequate at the moment) at the shopping center. After all, over 70 percent had to and will have to drive to the downtown library, so now 100 percent drive where they have free parking and many stores, including McCaffrey’s, for necessary shopping. So, here’s the idea:
   Spend a million dollars or so fixing up the temporary shopping center site into the primary library. Get an option on some adjacent property for possible future needed building adjacent to the shopping center. Spend $4-$6 million to build a downtown branch with meeting rooms, computers, etc. Then, when digging starts and they hit the old spring that once made a lake, make a nice pond with lots of grass, a small park and fountains around the smaller downtown library. The he need for a major new garage is minimized including reducing discombobulation downtown.
   In sum, spend perhaps $8-$10 million now instead of $18 million, use the extra $8-$10 million for endowment to pay rent at the shopping center and have a reserve as well.
   Of course, this dreamy idea of creating attractive open space downtown, less traffic and catering to the interests of most people who want to use the library (and who have to drive) is likely beyond Princeton Future, Library Future and the protectorates of Downtown Future who probably wouldn’t move on such an idea. Still, it’s not too late to keep going at the shopping center while designing with openness Princeton’s one downtown park, pond and library branch.
   It’s a beautiful future.
Herbert W. Hobler
Tulane Street
Softball coverage was one-sided
To the editor:
   I was extremely disappointed at The Packet’s one-sided coverage, "Hun falls in Prep A softball final" (May 21), in which the victorious Lawrenceville team was not pictured nor barely mentioned as the victor in the contest.
   Not only is this unfair to the fine Big Red team and its star senior pitcher, Amanda Cmielewski, but it is short-sighted in not recognizing that your readership extends beyond the Princeton border, just a few miles down Route 206.
   How about the headline, "Lawrenceville wins Prep A state championship in softball"? The girls and their coach, John Schiel, deserved more from The Packet.
Patricia Lang
Benford Drive
West Windsor
Letter carriers make a special delivery
To the editor:
   On Saturday, May 11, mailmen and women from Mercer County, joining with their colleagues all across America, collected food donations as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. The donations left at mailboxes or brought to post offices were transported to the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative, the regional food bank, and from here the food is being distributed to local food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.
   On behalf of the Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative, I thank the letter carriers and the food drive co-sponsors — U.S. Postal Service, United Way and the AFL-CIO — for once again giving their labor, time and goodwill to this huge undertaking.
   The National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual food drive is the largest one-day food collection in the nation. In past years, this event helped collect millions of pounds of donated food across the country and tens of thousands of pounds of food right here in Mercer County. This year was no exception and due to the generosity of those who gave food, it took several tractor-trailers to transport all the donations to our warehouse.
   The nation’s food banks are experiencing a decline in food donations. At the same time, emergency food providers are facing an increase in need. In our service area, emergency food pantries report a 30-percent increase in the number of people seeking charitable food assistance since 12 months ago. The food collected by the letter carriers helps to fill the gap and stock their pantry shelves.
   Our heartfelt gratitude goes to the letter carriers; volunteers from the Mercer County Central Labor Council, United Way and Rescue Mission of Trenton; and all the people who donated food.
Phyllis C. Stoolmacher
Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative
Mercer Street