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The Westfield Leader
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A& E and EDUCATION
NEWS & EDITORIAL
Scientists and inventors of the 18th and 19th centuries drew heavily upon Latin and Greek words to fashion new words to describe the products of their genius.
The evolution of the photograph is an excellent example of the scientific community’s penchant for creating neologisms, which are newly coined words, phrases or expressions. Photograph combines two Greek elements, phos, phot, meaning light and graph, meaning drawing or writing.
Stuart Flexner, in his book, “Listening to America,” has provided some excellent detective work about who coined the words associated with photography and how the innovators might have been influenced in their creation of these words.
According to Flexner, Englishman Sir John Hershel first introduced the words photograph and photography in a paper entitled “Notes On The Act Of Photography…”, which he read before the Royal Society on March 14, 1839. On the backs of two of the 23 photographs presented, he wrote “photographed February 17/ 39.”
Herschel may have been influenced by William Talbot Fox, another photographic pioneer, who introduced the word photogenic in his own paper, which was read before the Royal Society in January 1829.
Photograph may also have been influenced by heliograph, from the Greek helio = sun + graph = writing, which was coined by a French scientist, Joseph Niepce, to describe his photographic process developed in 1824. By 1862, photograph was shortened (clipped) tophoto.
There you have an etymological snapshot of the development of photography. We hope you got the picture!
Current Flap on Symbols Why Church and State
The current flap concerning a menorah and Christmas tree in Westfield is yet again another prime example of why government in any form should not mix with religion.
Separation of these two hotbutton subjects is the best and safest way to preserve everyone’s freedom and choice.
Stanley S. Kaplan Westfield Primary Elections May be Obsolete Ritual:
Is it Time to Modernize the System?
Elections don’t occur in January — at least those elections involving the public. Political parties reorganize at this time and set the stage for the coming year. Behind closed doors, important decisions are made.
Most candidates for the local primary elections are established during these early year meetings. Sometimes, it’s difficult for the parties to find volunteers willing to seek election and to serve, if elected. It may take as long as the election filing deadline in April before a local slate is set. Sometimes, no volunteer is found, and the position in the general election goes uncontested.
So, the primary election for local officials – held the first Tuesday in June — is often a nonevent. Two months prior, in April, school board elections occur. Few voters show up for either the primary elections or for the school board elections. Perhaps these two elections should be combined into one.
In New Jersey, as in some other states in the country, a citizen cannot vote in a primary election unless membership in a political party has been declared. When declared a member of that party, a citizen can only vote for a candidate in that party. If you like a local Democratic candidate for one office and a local Republican candidate for another office, you’re out of luck. It effectively keeps the Jesse Venturas out of office, too. If one chooses to remain unaffiliated, one is disenfranchised.
On the national level, the New Jersey primary also seems purposeless. Super Tuesday will decide Presidential matters for you before the truck unloads your voting machine in your hometown. The political system will have narrowed your choice for President down to two candidates from a pool of some 200 million citizens eligible for the top post before you have a chance to vote. Even when you do vote in the primary, it doesn’t matter.
It’s no wonder that big money and special interests take control of primary elections. Their game is simple: just make sure that the two survivors are their boys. Then, it doesn’t matter who wins in the general election.
Given the archaic primary election laws and obtuse school board election scheduling, voters don’t show up. Have these events become an obsolete ritual?
There are a few instances left in New Jersey where the primary elections may have some meaning. This year, the primary election may offer the public some choice in candidates for the United States Senate, for the United States House of Representatives and for New Jersey Governor in 2001.
There are very important primary election interests for us here locally. Congressman Bob Franks of Berkeley Heights is a leading contender for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. Millionaire Jon Corzine of Summit is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate. Scotch Plains resident Donald DiFrancesco (State Senate President) is a leading contender for receiving the Republican nomination for Governor in 2001.
Westfield residents Thomas H. Kean, Jr., Republican, and Michael LaPolla, Democrat, are vying to receive their party’s nomination for Congressman Franks’ seat in the Seventh Congressional District. Fanwood exmayor Maryanne S. Connelly is seeking to repeat as the Democratic nominee for the Congressional seat. If these matters come down to a primary election, it’s important for you to vote.
There are many good political leaders, and several of them are worried. Campaign financing seems out of control. Cynicism is growing. Public faith that government will make the right decision on behalf of the country is on the ebb. Voter turnout is at an alltime low. These trends threaten to undermine the political system.
Several things should be done in our view. Combine the school board elections with either the primary or the general elections. Nationally coordinate the timing of primary elections. Eliminate the party affiliation requirement for voting in the primaries. Eliminate special elections at odd times of the year for bond issues. Have all bond issues for all government and school systems occur on the same date so the public knows its total yearly commitments. Standardize the time and place for voting from year to year.
In our view, even special interests and those entrenched in the infrastructure ultimately are best served by “Government of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Letters to the Editor
Westfield Mayor Disputes Information Regarding Cost of Parking Deck
Local Attorney Has Nothing But Good To Say About Judge William Brennan
It is with some dismay that I read Councilman Matthew P. Albano’s comments regarding Municipal Court Judge William L. Brennan in your January 6 issue.
I am an attorney who appears before Judge Brennan and have nothing but good things to say about him. Judge Brennan is evenhanded and firm in conveying Westfield’s interest in safety on our streets, while keeping an open mind and listening to individuals who come before him.
Ruffled feathers regarding whether proper notice was given to members of the Council should not and does not
reflect on Judge Brennan’s excellent work on the bench. He does a job that merits bipartisan support.
We can all be proud of everyone the public has contact with in Municipal Court, including our Certified Municipal Court Administrator, Linda Chieffo, and our Prosecutor, Rafael Benencourt, in addition to Judge Brennan.
I would suggest that Councilman Albano pick a day and attend court unannounced, as anyone in town can. At the end of the day I am confident he will agree with me.
Francis M. Smith Westfield
I am writing to correct information appearing in your editorial of January 6 entitled “Government Needs to Work Together When Planning Long,Range Projects.” Specifically, I am referring to the statement that the proposed parking deck for downtown is “estimated to cost in the $20 million range.” This is incorrect.
No parking deck of the size contemplated for Westfield’s downtown could even begin to approach that cost. For example, a parking deck recently completed in a neighboring town, was budgeted for $7 million and came in under
budget at $6.5 million. We expect the cost of a Westfield parking deck to be in line with this figure.
A parking deck is considered by many to be of utmost necessity in order to alleviate the stress and aggravation associated with finding a parking space downtown for shoppers, commuters and merchants. It is important that accurate information be reported to the public so that the residents of Westfield can make a fair determination about the issues that effect our lives.
Thomas C. Jardim Westfield Mayor
Letters to the Editor
Reader Defends His Viewpoint About Tree Being A Religious Symbol
While Robert W. Sheehan’s synopsis of the pagan roots and early evolution of Christmas trees is historically authentic, his conclusion is anything but accurate.
Notwithstanding the primitive association of evergreen trees with ancient Egyptians and aboriginal Europeans, the fact remains that Christmas trees are today no longer universally regarded as being related to tree worship, the celebration of Saturnalia or the apocryphal birthday of Mithra, the Iranian mystery god.
In fact, as the very name strongly implies, Christmas trees are an integral part of — surprise! — Christmas. And, of course, Christmas, despite its tawdry commercialization, is a religious holiday which, unlike Flag Day, commemorates a religious event.
Therefore, any serious denial that a Christmas tree is today emblematic of a religious celebration can only be viewed as a grave departure from objective reality.
Unlike the Christmas tree, the Hanukkah menorah has always been integral to a holiday which celebrates events which are both religious and secular. Although Hanukkah memorializes the miraculous burning of one day’s supply of ritually pure oil for eight days, it also commemorates the great military victory in 164 BCE, of the Jewish Maccabees over the armies of Antiochus IV Epiphanes the Seleucid king.
The menorah, therefore, has survived as a powerful reminder of the triumph of justice and light over oppression and
darkness. Today, menorahs and Christmas trees, regardless of their advent, evolution and past and present religious associations, remain as enduring and beloved symbols of two great holidays of the winter season. Neither Jews nor Christians can legitimately lay claim to a monopoly interest in the five weeks which span Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Therefore, Mr. Sheehan’s apparent conclusion that the public displays of Christmas trees and Chanukah menorahs differ qualitatively is, quite simply, wrong.
Far more perplexing and disturbing than the elucidation of his faulty theory of the comparative value of the two holiday symbols, was Mr. Sheehan’s offensive reference to “certain people,” who allegedly banned nativity scenes “two decades ago.”
Unlike menorahs and trees, nativity scenes are not and never have been anything other than inherently religious objects. They are not even remotely subject to any over interpretation. The placement of any such objects on public property assaults the letter and spirit of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
Therefore. the “certain people” who “banned” (an imprecise and disingenuouslyused term) nativity scenes in 1791 were the Founding Fathers of the First Congress who wisely recognized that faith is a private matter which merits equal protection and respect, but which may never acquire the status of a statesupported religion.
On a separate, but related note, I was somewhat surprised to note that the printer’s error which converted my call for ethnic parity in the placement of holiday symbols on town property to a bid for ethnic purity was largely unnoticed by friend and critic alike.
Ethnic purity is an awful concept, support for which is largely confined to the sad fraternity of xenophobes like Milosevic and Buchanan. In sharp contrast, ethnic parity is nothing more than equal access to town proper for the display of symbols of both December holidays.
Robert Ratner Westfield
Reader Disagrees With Column Written by Westfield Mayor
I have the highest regard for Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, but find myself in disagreement with him on an issue addressed in his December 30, 1999, column in The Westfield Leader.
The Mayor recommends increasing municipal authority as a means of inhibiting subdivision and development. Ample authority for doing so, however, can already be found in the town’s zoning ordinances. By applying numerous criteria, the zoning ordinance limits and controls development.
These criteria include minimum lot size requirements, setback lines, use limitations by zone, limitations on percentage of lot coverage and undoubtedly several others that I am unfamiliar with.
If the zoning ordinance has failed to allow Westfield to remain a “special place,” fault may lie with the ordinance itself or with our zoning and planning boards that permit variances when uncalled for.
Certainly, from a selfish stand point, no property owner likes to see the lovely wooded, and oversized, lot next door lost to development. On the other hand, perhaps if we were the owners of that lot and had paid taxes, insurance and maintenance on it for years and could now use
the property to enhance a retirement or pay for college, we might resent being told how our property could be utilized.
You cannot own a minimum sized lot, develop it corner to corner with gardens, decks, play equipment, etc., and then complain when the guy next door decides to develop his property to the same extent. No property owner should be forced to subsidize a bird sanctuary for the benefit of his neighbors.
I realize that property owners readily seek to impose limitations on others to gain an advantage. An example are the property owners near North Avenue who opposed the ShopRite development. Despite buying property in close proximity to a commercial area, and presumably paying less as a result, these owners fought to drive ShopRite out.
Meanwhile, the rest of us who paid a premium to be distant from commercial zones lost an alternate shopping location, lost a sizable tax ratable and financed the town’s opposition. The entire fiasco benefited a few at the expense of many and was simply wrong.
If you buy next to an oversized lot, there remains the possibility that the lot may be subdivided and developed. If you do not like it, buy a bigger lot, plant your own trees and do not subdivide. The very American concept of private property should not be further eroded by empowering the town to decide what structures can and cannot be destroyed.
Finally, it is my understanding that the town over the past several years has sold off town owned lots for development. What apparently is good for the town is not so good for its residents.
Barry D. Friedman Westfield
Weinstein Says Views On Symbol Dispute Was Misrepresented
There seems to be some confusion as to a discussion that took place in the council chambers on Tuesday, December 21, 1999 between resident Keith S. Hertell and Mayor Thomas C. Jardim.
It refers to a letter addressed to the Mayor and council from Mr. Hertell asking about the absence of a process or policy that the Town Council does not currently have in place. The policy concerns the display of religious articles during the holiday season or any season, for that matter.
Unfortunately, the discussion that ensued and The Westfield Leader headline that week seemed to distort both the meaning and spirit of the letter that was read to the council. Mr. Hertell’s statement indicated the need for such a policy and that recognition and inclusion of all religions and cultures should have a place in our community, if so desired.
His letter also clearly stated that “this subject is not about religion or culture, but rather about a process which our elected officials should have in place, when considering the largesse of our community.”
To that end, I thank Mr. Hertell for his concern. We need to embrace ideas and suggestions from the public, not discourage them. That’s what our democratic system is all about. I wish to assure him and others, that this matter has been referred to the proper town committee where it will be discussed and looked into as it should.
Janis P. Weinstein Westfield Councilwoman Westfield Citizen was Right in Seeking
Holiday Display Discussion, Reader Says
The letters of Mr. Robert Ratner and Ms. Linda Helfand in this week’s The Westfield Leader concerning public displays of religious symbols were unfair to Keith Hertell. The comparison to John Rocker was an outrage. Mr. Hertell deserves an apology.
Not to quibble with Mr. Ratner, but the lighted trees in downtown Westfield are not a religious symbol, or at any rate, not a Christian religious symbol. Many Christians feel that lighted trees and Santas are symbolic of rampant secularism and commercialism that undermine the religious significance of Christmas — the celebration by Christians of the birth of the Messiah 2000 years ago.
I welcome the display of a menorah without doubt a religious symbol on town property during the holiday season. But if there is a menorah, there should also be a nativity scene of at least equal size and prominence. The town will doubtless pemit a creche to be displayed next year. To allow one but not the other would be an obvious violation of both the establishment clause and the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
But we can’t stop there. By permitting the display of any religious symbol on public property, evenhandedness requires the town to permit a display sensitive to the religious beliefs of other religious groups, whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu or any other. Perhaps there ought to be a Kwanzaa display; or an Orthodox Catholic display; or a Hindu display; or a Muslim display. Our religious liberty cannot and should not depend on the sensibilities of whatever administrator happens to be in office at the time. And that is the point Mr. Hertell was making.
The Constitution is clear on the prohibition of the promotion or establishment of religion by government. This prohibition protects the free exercise of personal beliefs by all members of American society. Mr. Hertell is right to point out that, if the town is to begin permitting the public display of religious symbols, a mechanism of public debate and process is needed to govern those decisions. That process was absent in the approval of the menorah.
Bernard V. Peterson Westfield
Many Needy People Could be Helped Through Community FoodBank of N. J.
Most of us celebrated the holiday season by feasting with family and friends. However, groups that traditionally feed the hungry, such as soup kitchens, food banks, Salvation Army, schools, Post Offices, houses of worship, etc., report record numbers of needy people.
Despite unprecedented prosperity, the hungry include the low income working poor, both adults and families, victims of corporate mergers, buyouts, downsizing, etc., disability, illness, Social Security and welfare recipients and retirees. This problem is yearround.
One of the easiest ways to feed the poor is via the Community FoodBank of N. J. “CHECKOUT HUNGER” program. You just hand the checkout counter cashier one or more of the $1, $2 or $5 tickets displayed in most supermarket checkout aisles and the amount will be added to your bill. This program pro vides food to over 1,500 charities statewide.
Volunteers are also needed in local supermarkets and elsewhere, so please phone (908) 355FOOD. The Community Food Bank address is 31 Evans Teminal Road, Hillside, 07025.
Many people donate some of the free turkeys they earn at their supermarket at Thanksgiving and in December. When Helen Stevens of Elizabeth, an employee of the A & P in Fanwood, learned that I was delivering my free frozen turkeys to Evans Terminal Road, she gave me two of hers. Customers also gave me some of theirs.
The Food Bank is especially grateful to anyone who chooses to donate cash, as it is used to purchase food. Mail a payment to the above address.
Maurice Fenichel Fanwood
Former Owner of Broad Street Home Speaks Up About Sale of Property
Your January 6 frontpage coverage of the Westfield Planning Board’s decision permitting Michael Mahoney to split up the last remaining acre of 1049 East Broad Street deserves some response.
I really don’t know why you refer to the historic 215yearold home as “the Bagger house.” Yes, my wife and I owned and loved the property for 30 years, raising our four children there, but we sold the old homestead and its large lot eight years ago to Kenneth and Francoise Pope.
The Popes spoke warmly of living there a long time, but circumstances do change. They sold out to Michael
Mahoney. When we left residing at 1049 East Broad Street, the structure and grounds were in good condition, not then needing many repairs. A building over two centuries old had to be wellmaintained and it was.
In a privately published booklet, The James Ross House, I outlined the long history and earlier ownership of 1049 East Broad Street. If that old farmstead is not now ruined by moving it around, it should be called “the James Ross house,” after the brave man who built it long ago.
Donald H. Bagger Mountainside
Exactly What are the Traffic Laws That Pertain to Safety, Reader Asks
Who has the right of way in the crosswalk? When I cross the street why do none of the cars stop for me, even when I am in the crosswalk?
Why are more people crossing in the middle of the block?
Who controls the intersection? Is it the traffic light that controls pedestrian crossing? When a car is making a right turn and people are crossing who has the right of way?
I called the New Jersey Safety Council and requested the rules and regulations regarding this law, but I received no answer. I also stopped at the police station and suggested that they contact the local papers and publish the law on pedestrian safety crossing. Do we in Westfield need more problems in the
year 2000 than we had in the year 1999 when two of our good citizens lost their lives?
Furthermore, I would like to know why on North Avenue, West there is a 35mileper hour sign in the middle of two school crossing signs? This street is marked as a school zone. If one were to take a driver’s test and answer the question regarding the speed of a school zone, I do not think 35 is the correct answer.
I know that North Avenue is a county road, but it is also a onefamily residential zone on the tax map, plus this sign is in the middle of two school signs. If this is a 35mile zone because it is a county road then why is the Kenilworth Boulevard a 25mile zone from one end to the other?
Edward Petz Westfield
Letters to the Editor
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)