Letters to the Editor, Nov. 5


No ill will intended in student’s speech
To the editor:
   We are writing in response to your articles of Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 regarding the April 2002 Student Council presidential election at Princeton High School.
   Your Oct. 25 article implies that our son, Andrew Porwancher, knowingly attempted to embarrass a special-education student by revealing confidential medical information during his election speech. Nothing is farther from the truth. Andrew has no personal knowledge of any medical condition, special-education needs or medication of any student in the district. His election speech was satirical in nature and he used a certain student’s name in a comical, not malicious, sense. Based on the evidence submitted to the court, Judge Solomon Metzger found that Andrew had obtained both the consent of the student named in his speech and the approval of the student council faculty adviser to deliver his speech. No ill will was intended, and if the named student or any other student was embarrassed or offended as a consequence of his speech, Andrew regrets this. Fortunately, the boys remain friendly despite this controversy.
   We agree that the district has an obligation to monitor student speech in the setting of a school-sponsored election, but the district delegated that responsibility to the student council faculty adviser and students understood that they could rely upon his approval in order to give their speeches. While the district now objects to the speech that was delivered, it bears responsibility for its delivery. We were dismayed that the district chose to punish speech it found offensive by discarding the votes of students from the sophomore class cast for our son. The district’s actions disenfranchised students who bore no responsibility for the speech, but thought that they were permitted a choice in the election of their representatives.
   We were also dismayed that the district placed the ultimate responsibility for the speech upon the student rather than the teacher who approved it. Students must be able to rely upon the instructions of their teachers if schools are expected to function properly.
   Our son could not be punished for giving his speech according to the superintendent, but was instead disqualified because he didn’t admit wrongdoing during his hearing with the superintendent. It is important to note that the student council faculty adviser initially denied approving Andrew’s speech, and Andrew did not feel comfortable discussing regrets or apologies before the facts regarding the student’s consent and teacher’s approval had been established. Andrew’s refusal to admit wrongdoing during this hearing was interpreted as evidence of lack of character. He never said and does not believe that it is appropriate to get a cheap laugh at someone else’s expense.
   We are gratified that Judge Metzger agreed that Andrew’s responses did not form a basis on which to disqualify him from elected office. We believe that the commissioner of education’s decision represents a fair compromise and resolution of this dispute. Andrew looks forward to working cooperatively with the district and with Laura Wieschaus as co-president of the Princeton High School Student Council.
Richard and Donna Porwancher
Andrew Porwancher
Prospect Avenue
Meter maid should exercise discretion
To the editor:
The following letter was sent to Princeton Borough Municipal Court Judge Russell W. Annich Jr.:
I write to you in connection with the issuance of a parking ticket to me on the early evening of Oct. 17, 2002 by what I believe to be an over-zealous meter maid. As I am sure that you are aware, a major topic of conversation among residents and merchants in Princeton is the absence of available parking. It is my belief that the actions of this meter maid, be they at the direction of a supervisor or on her own, further the difficulties confronted by residents and visitors in attempting to enjoy the downtown area. Needless to say, it is becoming more and more difficult to frequent the downtown area given the parking dilemma.
   Last evening, I arrived in Princeton at approximately 5 p.m. I felt fortunate to find a parking spot and deposited the only change which I had in my pocket into the meter, i.e., two dimes. There were already four minutes remaining on the meter and, accordingly, I now had 20 minutes of parking, give or take. The meter permits up to two hours parking at that location.
   I visited several stores and returned to the meter with the intention of taking advantage of the balance of the two hours by depositing additional monies into the meter and staying in town for dinner. As I approached my car, I noticed that the meter maid was looking at my license plate but had not yet written the ticket. I called out to her and said "Wait, I am about to put more money in the meter." She acted as though she had not heard me and started to write the ticket. Frankly, I could not believe my eyes. Even hardened police officers in New York City will not continue to write a ticket if they have been begged not to do so.
   You have not heard the best part yet, which is that in response to my query as to why she would write a ticket when I was about to deposit money in the meter, she responded "That would be meter feeding." This is an outrageous position. The meter, as I noted, is a two-hour meter. I had exhausted only 20 minutes of the time so that clearly, at least under any fair definition of meter feeding, I would be entitled to deposit more change in the meter up to two hours. I request that the meter maid be advised as to a feasible definition of meter feeding, or that the local ordinance be clarified.
   I am enclosing, reluctantly, my check simply because, as I suspect the borough knows, my time is more valuable than the $18. I forward this letter to you, however, with this explanation and with the hope that it will not go unheeded. Clearly, the meter maid needs some direction.
   I intend to write a letter to the Editor of The Princeton Packet to this effect.
David L. Bruck
Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith, Ravin, Davis & Himmel LLP
Cable TV committee deserves thanks
To the editor:
As chair of the Princeton team that negotiated the terms of the agreement with RCN that will serve as the basis for our new cable TV franchise, I would like to say thank you to the members of the team. Our negotiating team consisted of Deputy Township Mayor Bill Enslin, Borough Councilwoman Peg Karcher, Cable TV Committee member Peter Thompson and Ira Fuchs. This outstanding group of community-minded volunteers gave unstintingly of their time and energy in the negotiations that started in April of this year and were completed on Oct. 18.
   As a result of their efforts, RCN has committed to rebuild their Princeton system in 18 months, and to provide Princeton with a system that will give our residents high-quality, state-of-the art cable TV and associated service for the foreseeable future.
   The Princeton negotiating team was ably assisted by Steven Goodell, Esq., who helped us understand what was possible within the maze of federal and state laws that govern local franchising of cable TV.
   I also want to thank the RCN negotiating team, led by Tom Steel, for maintaining a cooperative and professional attitude throughout the negotiations.
   The township and the borough have now forwarded the proposed agreement to the Office of Cable Television, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which will review, modify or approve it. The municipalities will then hold public hearings on the proposed franchise, and then incorporate it into an ordinance for final approval by the BPU.
   All of the members of the Princeton team who worked on behalf of the Princeton community to bring about this new agreement with RCN for our future cable TV service have earned a well-deserved thank you.
Bernard P. Miller
Princeton Township Committee
Philip Drive
Senior housing backed at shopping center
To the editor:
The Board of Trustees of the Princeton Senior Resource Center enthusiastically supports the recent proposal to build a senior center at the Princeton Shopping Center. This location is highly desirable for its proximity to senior housing, public transportation, easy parking and shopping. To situate many important aspects of life in a central location offers easy access and opportunities for many social connections.
   Clearly, the current Suzanne Patterson Center renovation will offer a much-improved facility. However, for the longer term, we are eager to help work toward a new, thoughtfully conceived center that will enrich the fabric of people’s lives. We hope for the opportunity to realize this potential.
Billie Emmerich
President, Board of Trustees
Princeton Senior Resource Center
Dodds Lane
Audacious course at Medical Center
To the editor:
On Page 6A of the Oct. 18 Packet, along with lectures on breast cancer and cardiac hygiene, an advertisement for The Medical Center at Princeton offers a course on "How to Finish Rich."
   Can we conclude that poverty or a middling income have now been classified as medical conditions? Should they be treated in intensive care or merely at the outpatient clinic? The moral, social and political possibilities make one dream.
Joseph Dresner
Longview Drive
Magical evening with Chang-rae Lee
To the editor:
One week ago, the Princeton Public Library hosted New Jersey’s first community-wide read. Over 250 people came together to hear Chang-rae Lee, author of "Native Speaker," read a passage from his novel and answer questions in the auditorium of Princeton High School.
   It was a magical evening. Mr. Lee spoke about how he left a Wall Street job to enter a creative writing program for which he wrote the first draft of "Native Speaker." He talked about the plot of his novel and how none of the facts but all of the substance came from his life. He reflected on his writing method and the ways he develops characters. In answer to a final question, he discussed Korean American identity.
   More than any event I’ve participated in since moving to Princeton 10 years ago, this one conveyed a lovely spirit of community. The evening was free. It was thoughtful, funny, personal and literary. Women and men, people of different races and, yes, people with different accents in their speech, joined the discussion, many holding copies of the book in their laps.
   How fitting that our first community-wide book was selected by library readers in a school district where 55 foreign languages are spoken as native languages in homes. How appropriate that the book’s theme, about immigrants, is so central to the identity of our town and our state. And yet how universal that all of us know the feeling of belonging and also of being outside.
   Finally, what a great welcome for this new professor, who moved here in August with his family. I’m grateful to the library and its staff and look forward to future chapters from Chang-rae Lee, the new library and our ever-interesting and challenging town.
Nancy Ukai Russell
Allison Road
Pro Musica concert offers fitting tribute
To the editor:
Last Sunday at Richardson Auditorium, I attended a magnificent musical concert. Princeton Pro Musica dedicated a concert of "unfinished" music to John Slade, M.D., who died last January. He was the husband of the group’s director, Frances Fowler Slade, and memorial contributions to Princeton Pro Musica supported this concert. Dr. Slade was a champion for treatment of nicotine addiction and other forms of substance abuse, and his tragic death at the age of 52 left his life "unfinished."
   The Princeton Pro Musica Orchestra took to the stage first, performing Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, the "Unfinished." Their sound was incredibly warm and rich, particularly in the famous second theme. This short piece (only two movements instead of the usual four, hence its name) was beautifully performed, with excellent contrasts in mood and feeling throughout. The clarinet and oboe were featured in this work, and the performers were well-equipped for the task at hand.
   The other work on the program was the Requiem by Mozart, who didn’t live to complete his composition. The Requiem has been "completed" several times. The performance given Sunday was a recent reworking of the piece by Robert Levin. His completion of the score brings in some of the music that has been ignored by other editors, and gives excellent structure and coherence to the work. The soloists and Pro Musica chorus gave a crisp, clear performance. The Dies Irae (Day of Judgment) was stunning. The Agnus Dei had striking contrasts, well-emphasized by the chorus.
   This concert of unfinished music was a fitting tribute to a life cut short, and a first-rate performance all around. Bravo to Princeton Pro Musica!
Les Leathem
Oakwood Way
West Windsor
Library book sale breaks records
To the editor:
Thank you, Princeton, for making this year’s Friends of the Princeton Public Library Annual Fall Book Sale a record-breaking event. Sale proceeds will be used to help the library purchase books, CDs, and audio and videocassettes and to support programs for children and adults.
   Despite the cramped setting for the sale at the library’s temporary location in the Princeton Shopping Center, a wide selection of donated books appropriate for readers of all ages and interests was available. By the end of the sale, only a scattering of books remained.
   Our Ongoing Book Sale continues daily during the hours the library is open. Books are added frequently to the sale shelves located near the library’s entrance. Donations of good books in good condition are always welcome (except for encyclopedias and magazines). Because storage space on the site is minimal, please call (609) 924-9529, ext. 259, to arrange for handling large donations or for help moving books to the library.
   Princeton, you are definitely reading.
Barbara W. Freedman
Stuart Mitchner
Book Sale Coordinator
Friends of the Princeton Public Library
Put women’s health ahead of ideology
To the editor:
The Food and Drug Administration’s reconstituted Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs will meet in November for the first time in two years to begin considering a host of issues of importance to women’s health. According to recent press reports, the Bush administration is considering appointing ob-gyn Dr. W. David Hager to the 11-member committee. Dr. Hager’s demonstrated opposition to reproductive rights makes him highly inappropriate for this key position. Please urge President Bush to base his appointments on each individual’s qualifications to protect and promote women’s health, rather than ideology.
   Dr. Hager will not perform abortions, nor prescribe mifepristone (RU 486), and will not provide intra-uterine devices (IUDs), a widely accepted form of contraception. In August, Dr. Hager helped the Christian Medical Association write its "citizen’s petition" that called for the FDA to reverse its approval of mifepristone and pull it off the market, ignoring over a decade of international research that has established the safety and efficacy of this early abortion option. Time magazine cited two sources familiar with his private practice as saying that Dr. Hager has refused to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women.
   Advisory panels conduct studies and offer influential recommendations to the FDA. The Reproductive Health Committee will soon address issues such as hormone-replacement therapy for menopausal women, a controversy that some conservative activists have tried to use to raise doubts about the safety of birth-control pills. In addition, if appointed, Dr. Hager would be a member of the committee that could review the petition to pull mifepristone off the market — the petition that he helped author. Dr. Hager’s pending appointment is yet another unfortunate demonstration of the Bush administration’s preference for ideology over accurate science and medical research. Please urge President Bush and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to put the health and wellbeing of women ahead of ideologically driven recommendations.
Mary Ellen Marino
Hornor Lane
School celebrates successful Fall Fest
To the editor:
Town Center Elementary School at Plainsboro held its first annual Fall Fest celebration on Halloween day, Oct. 31. The celebration is a combination of fun activities and community service projects. The focus of the day is on sharing our own good fortune with those who may be less fortunate — very much in keeping with harvest traditions. Students learn how to become contributing and responsible members of society.
   The celebration included, among other things, the making of 200 meal bags, which consisted of cheese sandwiches, apples and juice boxes, and 350 goody bags. All of the ingredients were very graciously donated by Superfresh in Plainsboro. The meals and goody bags were then donated to local charities such as Mercer Street Friends, Rescue Mission of Trenton, HomeFront and Martin House Learning Center.
   McCaffrey’s in West Windsor was also kind enough to donate cookies for all the students to enjoy during the festivities.
   The Town Center Elementary School PTA sponsored the daylong event and would like to publicly acknowledge our appreciation for the support from Superfresh and McCaffrey’s and the 80 parent volunteers who assisted in the activities. It is events such as these that pull a community together and we are grateful.
Evelyn Turney and Ellen Hirt
Fall Fest
Town Center Elementary School PTA
Wyndhurst Drive
New institute may help in battle against autism
To the editor:
This week’s groundbreaking of the new $72 million Child Health Institute of New Jersey positions our state as a potential national leader in autism research, programs and services.
   It is encouraging to know that autism, a developmental disability that affects some 4,000 children in New Jersey, is among the diseases that will be a priority for the New Brunswick-based research facility. The construction of the institute will help to enhance New Jersey as a leader in this field.
   The New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community advocates statewide for people with autism. We are optimistic that increased research and funding will bring the breakthroughs needed to find the cause and cure of autism.
Paul Potito
Executive Director
Center for Outreach and Services for the Autistic Community