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NEWS & EDITORIAL
Federal Election Laws Must Be Amended In Light of District 7, Senate Campaigns
In the past few months, we have witnessed one of the most fiercely contested primaries in memory in the Seventh Congressional District, not to mention the heated race for the U. S. Senate. Competition is good but distasteful campaigning by outside interests characterized this primary. The call for reform could not be any louder.
Unfortunately, issue oriented debating of qualifications, ideas and character of candidates have taken a back seat to negative campaign tactics and unlimited spending.
Particularly disturbing in the local Congressional primary has been the attempt by a third party group, the Council on Responsible Government from Virginia, which has admittedly sent out literature to influence the primary election. CRG, which as a political organization as described within Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Service code, does not have to disclose its financial contributors. Candidates, for instance, must file quarterly reports with the FEC of all contributions $200 or more, with a limit of $1,000 per individual.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) describes groups like CRG as issue oriented and therefore exempt from disclosing contributions. There are legal actions underway to prove that these groups are funded by candidates as a way to circumvent the law.
In our view, groups such as CRG have no business in federal races if they do not come clean by opening their books for the public to view. If an organization is not permitted by law to endorse candidates because of FEC codes for issueoriented 527 groups, then they should be forbidden from influencing an election as well.
Push pulling has also reared its ugly head in the primary races in both the Republican and Democrat camps of several Seventh Congressional candidates. This involves telephone polling aimed at influencing voters by painting a candidate in a favorable way by providing negative and misleading information about opponents. These calls are generally done by outside polling firms hired by the backers of candidates.
If organizations back a candidate, such as the prolife groups have for Mr. Ferguson and prochoice group Emily’s List did for Maryanne S. Connelly, they should be listed in campaign literature by the candidate and on the candidate’s Internet site. CRG is only deceiving Seventh District voters by hanging onto a loophole in the IRS and FEC codes.
The FEC and state election officials need to be given the directive to eliminate this loophole so that the source of future mailings can be quickly determined. CRG has claimed protection under the First Amendment to express its views on fiscal and social issues by portraying candidates in a negative light.
CRG was expressly created just last month — well into the primary race – to influence this election. It is
obvious the group did everything but tell voters directly to vote against Republicans Joel Weingarten and Tom Kean, Jr. We feel CRG and other 527’s should be labeled as political organizations within the guidelines of the FEC and, thus, required to provide full disclosure of their contributors.
Meanwhile, the Senate campaign saw Jon Corzine outspend his opponent Jim Florio, with Mr. Corzine pulling out all the stops with a $34 million expenditure compared to the $2 million Mr. Florio spent. He also has reportedly contributed $600,000 to campaigns around the state. His war chest gives new meaning to the term “deep pockets.” Something needs to be done so that no single candidate can buy an election with paid media spots. Some local markets, such as Union County, set limits on the maximum amount time per candidate. The major New York stations have no such rules, believing the cost alone for this market puts financial restrictions on candidates. Mr. Corzine’s daily advertisements have appeared on these channels for months.
Also displeasing has been the proliferation of campaign signs along major thoroughfares such as Route 22 and North Avenue. These signs are less informative than they are clutter. Interestingly, soon after they began popping up like mushrooms, the Department of Transportation (DOT) decided to mow the grass along Route 22 and in the process removed the signs.
What we had hoped to see in the campaign were demonstrations of leadership ability and discussions of issues most important to voters and to the interests of our democracy. We believe some of the important issues include: how to improve Social Security, health care, education, safety and the quality of life; how to revive integrity of leadership, protect individual freedoms, reform campaign financing and curtail the influence of special interests; how to best use your money, check government’s unbridled thirst for more, pay off debts, streamline operations and do more for less; how to enhance our country’s position in the shrinking, risky world.
Also important to voters is the amount federal dollars that come back to this district for transportation and other issues. New Jersey falls far short of other states in receiving federal aid. New Jerseyians only receive 69 cents back for every dollar fed to the federal government.
As the election cycle moves into the “general” category, it is important that issueoriented campaigns coupled with meaningful and extensive debates are the order of the day. These type of campaigns are the only way voters will be given a true picture of how each candidate not only stands on the issues, but how they would perform and represent New Jersey and Seventh District interests in Washington.
Letters to the Editor
By Milt Faith, Executive Director
Youth and Family Counseling Service
Frustrated Female Wonders About Type of Men She Chooses to Date
A frustrated female writes:
Why are men such creeps? Nearly everyone I’ve dated has turned out to be a loser. During the past year, I have dated four men, one worse than the other. “Bill” (disguised name) seemed nice at first, but then asked me to pay for dinners when we ate out, saying he hadn’t gotten paid at work yet or his funds were limited. Frank was a nice man, but wanted to redo me; he wanted me to wear my hair a certain way, wear short skirts, etc. He became angry when I finally put my foot down and said I would not change for anyone. Guy smoked pot and I almost got hooked on it until I realized that he did not have my welfare at heart. My last boyfriend was, and is, Mark. He really cares for me. but wants me to live with him until he divorces his wife and then he promises to marry me. I’m not sure I trust him because I have caught him in a lot of lies. A good friend of mine feels I should give up men until I figure out what I really want in a relationship. I am not a stupid person but I don’t know why I end up with losers.
I want you to promise yourself that you’ll put the brakes on your relationship with Mark until you get some therapy. The real question you have to ask yourself is: why do you become involved with a loser? You seem to have a need to interact with troubled, manipulative men. Bill manipulates you financially; Frank is a control freak; Guy wanted you to become involved with pot, and Mark lies and is married and has trust/ commitment/ honesty issues. Often, this kind of need, to be involved with dysfunctional persons, indicates 1.) codependency problems, 2.) poor selfimage issues, 3.) self defeating patterns of behavior. Use your intelligence to be alert to men who want to use you, relationships which you seek that make you feel uncomfortable. This is a sign that something is wrong, that you are distressed by some behavior. Therapy will enable you to understand your feelings and needs more clearly, and hopefully, will motivate you to seek individuals who affirm you, and with whom you can communicate openly from the very beginning of the relationship. Be careful that you do not keep repeating unresolved dependency issues.
A mother writes:
My husband and I are seeing a counselor regarding our children and how to develop better parenting skills. Unfortunately, he keeps saying “So how do you each feel about it?” whenever we discuss specific issues. We get nowhere. Could you please answer specific questions before I lose control of my anger; so far I swallow my feelings. My fiveyearold son is left handed and my husband keeps correcting “Johnny” whenever he uses his left hand. His father used to hit him and criticize him whenever he used his left hand and now he is righthanded. My husband and I disagree on TV viewing during school nights. He says no TV watching; everybody I know permits some limited TV programs; my children are good students and do their homework without being reminded. The list goes on and on; however, the biggest issue is that my husband insists he is right and disagrees with me in front of the children, making me feel humiliated. Arguing back would only cause greater friction. How would you resolve these issues?
This is a multiproblemed question. I do not feel it is appropriate to comment on your counselor’s alleged inactivity. There are two obvious problems. First, you and your husband need to continue in therapy. However, the focus must shift to marriage counseling. Any good parenting skills counseling must include the two parents’ ability to cooperate and share similar views and beliefs in applying appropriate parenting techniques. In this situation, your husband dictates his wishes (which seem related to his early background with his dad) and you withhold your feelings. If you are dissatisfied with your therapist, try to find another who will be more involved and focus on your marital relationship.
Secondly, I find children do better if they have comfortable dialogue with their parent( s), more of a give and take situation with parents explaining and discussing, yet remaining firm and consistent. In the situation of lefthandedness, there is nothing wrong with being lefthanded (I should know; I’m lefthanded) and your husband should refrain from correcting Johnny, which may contribute to possible other conflicts, i. e. feeling inadequate. About TV viewing, I state often that a child should watch some TV during the week (if the child has done his/ her homework and fulfills other responsibilities). The amount of time, and programs selected, should be worked out with the parents. Also, it is fine to withhold TV viewing as a disciplinary reaction if a child slacks off on homework, etc., but please put a time limit on this. Good luck!
A frustrated sister writes:
My sister and I have not talked to each other for over three years. When my mother died three years ago, my sister went into her home and took most of her jewelry, saying that she was the older sister and had first rights to our mother’s possessions. I was enraged and felt that although my mother foolishly left no will, her two daughters should equally share her
assets, whether they be objects, or money. It is now three years later and I received a wedding invitation from my niece. I don’t know what my niece knows, but I refuse to celebrate any event with my sister. Some say I should use this occasion to reconcile with her. I refuse! Your comment, please.
I do not believe that you should punish your niece by avoiding the wedding. She played no role in your dispute with her mother. Nor do I believe that you should necessarily use the wedding as a time for reconciliation. A reconciliation should take place separately with each of you motivated to work out your feelings of anger, forgiveness, and so on. The wedding should be a time for joy and celebration, and should be seen as an acknowledgment of loving feelings towards your niece. So, if you can, go and enjoy this special event. Often it is sad to see various family members hold grudges against other (innocent) family members — until the grave, and beyond.
A purveyor of perfume not too long ago introduced a scent which it trademarked “Poison,” a name that does not sound as if it would lure many buyers. On the other hand, perhaps this aroma, when worn by a certain predatory female specie, will lure their male counterparts.
Some men like to be strung along like hawks in the sport of falconry. It should not, therefore, come as a surprise that the origin of allure is the French word leurre, a falconer’s birdlike contrivance attached to a long cord and used for recalling trained hawks. This feathery device was used to feed the falcon during training. The falcon eventually associates the leurre with food. The English version of leurre, lure, is still used to describe a decoy employed in catching animals, especially fish.
Leurre also gave rise to the word aleurre, a compound which literally meant “to recall a hawk to the lure.” The English version, allure, is more broadly defined as “the power to entice or tempt.”
Visiting Health Services Offers ‘Compassionate’ Care to Daughter
I want to thank the Visiting Health Services of Union County for the outstanding and compassionate care they offer my daughter. When a loved one is ill, whether chronically or acutely, family members need reliable help with providing the amount of care needed to maintain a certain dignity and quality of life for the patient.
The staff at Visiting Health Services has proven to be those skilled, reliable and empathetic souls, so often needed by many of us. When I run errands, or get away for a small respite, I can leave peacefully, knowing my daughter will receive the best of care.
If I can help even one family find the quality care my family has found with VHS, I’ll feel as if I’ve said something more than “Thank You” and perhaps given back a small portion of the benefits VHS offered me. This notforprofit organization provides short and long term hourly care by certified home health aides, who are supervised by RN’s at no
extra charge to the patient. They offer personal care assistance like baths, showers, food preparation, shopping and companion care. They also offer mothers’ assistance and newborn care. They have a personal emergency response system, too. And if money is a problem, subsidizing is available to the eligible, and gifts certificates are offered so family and friends can help.
I think it speaks very well of this organization that patients look forward to seeing their aides. My daughter’s aides make her time with them more pleasant and more like a visit rather than a jobs or a “chore.” And I like that I can call VHS with a question and get an answer in a timely manner.
In a world that is driven by the mefirstmentality, it is soothing to know, the Visiting Health Services of Union County is motivated by the FlorenceNightingalementality.
Marion Campbell Elizabeth SPF LDA Thanks
All Those Making Year Successful
The Scotch PlainsFanwood Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) has completed another successful year of programs for the parents and students thanks to the dedication of volunteers, parents, administrators and teachers of the SPF school district.
It is only appropriate to express our appreciation to the Special Education teachers and community members who have found the time to facilitate our 1999/ 2000 programs. They are: SPF Special Education teachers Peggy Brown, Beth FordColucci, Laurie Feinberg, Ella Greenberg, Karen Kelly, Vicki PricePennino, Judith Shapiro, Director of Scottish Rite Learning in Scotch Plains and Elaine Sigal of the Enrichment Center in Westfield.
These professionals presented wonderful and engaging programs containing creative ideas on how we can help our children improve their skills in organization, studying, test taking, writing, and reading. Their enthusiasm for helping our children prosper can be demonstrated by an overheard comment from an audience member, “so these are the hidden resources in the district.”
As we being to plan our programs for next year, we need volunteers who share an interest in improving the success of our children. We appreciate any amount of time you can share with the association. Questions or comments can be directed by writing to P. O. Box 283, Fanwood, 07023.
Thanks for all of your continued support!
Karyn Steele Bernadette Lopez SPF LDA CoPresidents
Westfield Schools Math Supervisor Discusses Use of ‘Everyday Math’
In a letter that appeared in The Westfield Leader last week (June 1), a reader shared her concerns about the elementary mathematics program. It is important to hear different voices when major educational changes are being considered and I would like to take this opportunity to address the points raised.
The current math pilot is being extended for another year to determine whether this is the direction in which the district should go. It is only after teachers at all grade levels have actually used the materials in their own classes for the better part of a school year that we can begin to evaluate. We will continue to monitor this pilot closely, eliciting information from the various components of the school community, before making the final determination.
The Everyday Mathematics program has been in use for over a decade and is being used successfully all over the country. More than 20 New Jersey districts have adopted Everyday Mathematics; Berkeley Heights, Bernards Township, New Providence, Scotch Plains and Summit have used the program for more than five years. It has been modified and revised on the basis of extensive research and input from all segments of the education community. While I understand and agree with the underlying philosophy of Everyday Mathematics, I do not view it as a panacea. There is no single program that does everything well, but some are markedly better than others. Everyday Mathematics ranks among the top comprehensive elementary math programs available. Whether it is the best choice for Westfield remains to be seen.
The administration is attentive to the latest furor over standardsbased math programs, a continuation of the ongoing backtobasics controversy. Prominent mathematicians, educators, CEO’s, government officials and school board trustees are found in both camps. It is possible to find districts where these programs are loved, as well as districts where they are hated. What should be of paramount importance is: will it work here in Westfield, for our students, with our teachers? That is why we are including more people in the pilot next year.
Often there is a polarization between approaches when clearly each has something to offer. There is a place for rules, memorization, and repetition, just as there is for the development of critical thinking skills and problem solving strategies — students must be provided opportunities for both invention and practice. We are not abandoning one approach in favor of the other. Interesting problems provide motivation but cannot be solved if students cannot compute. On the other hand, the ability to memorize facts and procedures without understanding is not helpful when trying to analyze a new
problem. It is possible to emphasize conceptual development and student understanding without sacrificing skill proficiency.
In my presentation to the Board of Education, I explained that it would not be possible to attribute any change in test scores — favorable or not — to the new program after less than a year. Many districts have reported a rise in scores after only one year and I have no reason to believe that would not happen here; however, I prefer to take the more cautious stance that it might take as long as five years before one could validly conclude that the new program was the cause. Our evaluation of the program a year from now must be based on a multitude of factors.
When the NCTM Standards were first published in 1989, the greater emphasis placed on problem solving and reasoning was interpreted to mean that computational skills were no longer important. The revised Standards, published last month, affirm the need to strike a balance between the attainment and reinforcement of basic number facts and the building of conceptual understanding through mathematical investigations and explorations. Whatever math program we choose must enable teachers to achieve balance between skills and concepts.
Our goal is the improvement of the learning of mathematics for all students. The current elementary program, while adequate for some, fails to meet the needs of others. By continuing to carefully monitor and assess the pilot over the next year, it will be possible to make an informed, appropriate decision about the future of the elementary mathematics program.
I bring to my position as the math supervisor, personal experience and professional expertise as an educator, mathematician and parent. I have spent more than 20 years in the classroom and more than 10 years as an educational researcher. I have learned from a number of mathematicians and scholars with diverse points of view. Taking into account these differing opinions I have formulated my own beliefs and understanding about how to effect the improvement of student learning. I want all students to be successful in math — to be able to compute, solve problems, explain their reasoning, use calculators and computers as tools, have confidence in their ability to do math and see math as something that makes sense. We need materials that provide a broader view of what it means to know and do mathematics and which present a balanced approach to the teaching and learning of math. For that reason we are taking the time to look carefully at Everyday Mathematics, which has much to offer our students.
Regina D. Kiczek K8 Mathematics Supervisor
Westfield Public Schools
Letters to the Editor
Fanwood Rec. Commission Chairman Explains Dog Waste Signs in Parks
The Fanwood Recreation Commission recently posted signs that requested that dog waste not be put in the trash cans in the park. An unsigned letter to the commission threatened to not pick up the waste any more if this policy were to be enforced.
The point was not that we wanted it picked up. We need not be grateful for this since it is your lawful duty to do so. In fact, your dogs are not even permitted in the park to begin with. The reason for the sign was that the presence of waste in the trash that contains dog and baby feces is not only unsightly and smelly, it is also a health hazard that those in the Department of Public Works need not have to deal with. Take the waste home
just as you would if your dog went anywhere else in town.
In addition, one line in the gutless letter states “Do your jobs and provide receptacles....” How dare you! Each and every member of the commission is an unpaid volunteer who gives more in a week than you do in a year! This letter is a great example of someone who does nothing but complain. Have the guts to come to a meeting and discuss this.
Until then the law about dogs in the park will be enforced.
Dr. Fred Leahy Chairman Fanwood Recreation Commissioner
Covering Fanwood, Mountainside, Scotch Plains and Westfield, Union County, New Jersey (NJ)