CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Letters to the Editor
POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN ™
By Michael S. Goldberger
EDtv: Fanfare For The Common Man
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
David B. Corbin
The Westfield Leader
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Local Open Space Efforts Need to Focus On Preserving Parks for Future Generations
Open space has become a buzz word of the late 1990s, starting with the state, counties and now, of course, our local municipalities.
But while Westfield’s elected officials have indicated their support for open space initiatives, they have put forward plans to develop a section of the natural sanctuary that is Brightwood Park for a multipurpose athletic field, and for paving over the greenery at Tamaques Park.
We believe it is important to preserve our park land for all to enjoy. Over the past few years, much of the greenery inourtownshas beendisappearingwiththe building ofnewhomessuch astheLexingtonHeights Subdivision off Prospect Street in Westfield, or the developmentonDunhamAvenue.
Scotch Plains, though, has taken a different approach by derailing preliminary plans for a nursing home on the former Scotch Plains Zoo property. The township is still hoping to place a park there.
Open space has become a big issue in the county. Last year, all 21 towns applied for matching funds as part of the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ “Project Pocket Park” grant program. This year, many towns, includingWestfieldand Fanwood,areapplyingagain for funds. The program can be used to upgrade existing parks and playgrounds, or to acquire land to create a park setting.
The county’s effort follows the state’s initiative to preserve one million acres of open space and farmland over the next decade, which was approved by voters through passage of a referendum.
In such a densely populated area as Union County, it is important to preserve as much open space as possible. Let’s concentrate on rehabilitation efforts, rather thantakingawayfrom existinggreenspace.In addition to losing open space for a particular site forever, development can lead to overcrowding at public schools, which is currently occurring in both theWestfieldand ScotchPlains-Fanwoodschools,as well as increased traffic, parking problems and a strain on emergency services.
Wefeel ourgovernmentsneednot selloffanymore large parcels of land to builders. Let the developers focus on purchasing developed land where vast improvements can be made that help increase property values.
In terms of our existing park land, we are happy to hear of plans to upgrade many of the local parks, including Memorial and Sycamore in Westfield, as well as the dredging of 11 lakes operated by Union Countygovernment,withEcho Lakefirstup.Greeneryis great,butgovernmentmust putforththedollars to keep our park land in tip top shape.
The improvements planned for our parks through local and county funds, as per the Pocket Park program, willdefinitelyenhancethe qualityoflifeour communities provide for their citizens.
It is important that visitors to our communities are given a good first impression of the recreational facilities available to them.
So, let’s preserve what we have today for future generations to cherish tomorrow.
Those proud Spanish noblemen with their “castles in Spain” coined the term blue blood 200 years ago as a standard by which their nobility could be measured. Let’s analyze the origin and significance of this expression that has come to mean “an aristocratic or socially prominent and probably wealthy person.”
After the expulsion of the darkerskinned Moors, it was common practice for the “pure blooded” Castillians to prove their untainted Spanish ancestry by pointing to their veins. Their veins appeared to be blue in color beneath their fair skin, as compared to the veins of those people whose ancestors had mixed with the darker-skinned Arabs.
The blue blood idiom is still used today and connotes “a person who is descended from nobility or royalty.” On the other hand, if your veins clearly show as blue through your skin, perhaps it only means that you have varicose veins.
2 & 1/2 popcorns
We don’t know what to make of it. It has been 50 years since television became virtually commonplace in living roomsthroughout America,andyetwe’re still trying to figure out what to do with this terribly wonderful enigma, this omnipresent reflection of our lives. Does it rule us, or do we rule it?
And then again, maybe there are neither rulers nor rules. So it’s really not so surprising that True TV, the ratingshungry cable station headed by Dr. Whitaker (Rob Reiner) in EDtv, will try anything to win viewers — even if it means doing nothing. Well, almost nothing.
She’s not exactly sure why, but TV producer Cynthia (Ellen DeGeneres) has the hunch that just televising the everyday activities of some Joe Shmo will somehow touch a receptive nerve, perhaps please the vanity in Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Average.
“What do we have to lose?” she asks. “We’re already trailing behind the Gardening Channel. They’re watching soil instead of us.”
But who will be the common man — the ultimate everyman? Open casting at a singles bar in San Francisco unearths Ed Pekurny (Matthew McConaughey), a roguishly handsome video store clerk with much more smile than sophistication and even less ambition. When he’s asked what he studied during his only year at junior college, he muses, “Study? Yah, that would have been a good idea.”
They sign the likable lad. Television history is about to be made, or so hope the folks at True TV.
Unfortunately for director Ron Howard,notmuch moviehistoryismade.
While about 40 percent of the idea takes flight, the remainder of the premise is left taxiing on the runway, bogged down in the same story mechanisms that have fueled films about sudden stardom since time immemorial. But it’s a goodnatured try just the same, and not without its laugh-out-loud moments.
Things don’t bode too well on day one when Ed kicks off the show with a lesson in the joys of toenail clipping. Though a small core of curious observers is initially infatuated with the bold experiment, they can’t explain exactly why.
Director Ron Howard, deftly managing a decent, albeit overlong, script by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, humorously revisits the same set of diverse viewers (a gay pair, a black couple, four chefs, etc.) throughout the film to establish audience reaction to EDtv.
The applause meter eventually bears out Cynthia’s intuition. It happens when Ed vies for brother Ray’s (Woody Harrelson) sorely unappreciated girlfriend, the sweet, unassuming and very insecure Shari (nicely realized by Jenna Elfman). Bingo. With romantic conflict comes ratings.
The real-life soap opera that evolves becomes an entertainment phenomenon. Ed, his family, and anyone the overnight sensation comes in contact with become fair game for public scrutiny.
In A Star Is Born fashion, and with about as much dramatic subtlety, USA Today takes daily polls, asking galling questions like, “Is Shari Good Enough For Ed?” The Pekurny family’s dirty laundry is aired wholesale, the public champing at the bit for every sordid detail.
Mom Pekurny (Sally Kirkland), all these years the suffering cuckold, sees her martyr reputation threatened when the show’s popularity causes ex-husband, Hank (Dennis Hopper as Ed’s Skid Row dad), to come out of the woodwork.
Nothing is sacred, least of all anything remotely connected to sexual history, preference, or proclivity. Here the tale sullies itself in the usual bawdy aspersions and embarrassments, reminding of situationsthat haven’tbeenoriginalsince they were the groundbreaking trademark of TV’s “Soap” in the late ‘70s.
But theconventionaltreatmentdoesn’t embarrass as much as disappoint.
That’s because EDtv, despite all its comic impetus, hints that it has some answers to those perennial questions about our love-hate affair with TV first posited by Marshall McLuhan.
Alas, amidst the great technical effort True TV’s mobile crew exhibits in their cutting edge coverage of everyday Ed, no great insight is forthcoming. EDtv recalls but doesn’t approach the philosophical daring celebrated in Meet John Doe (1941), a classic paean to the common man starring Gary Cooper as the media-manufactured hero and newswoman Barbara Stanwyck as the disingenuous puppeteer who ultimately gains a conscience.
While Miss DeGeneres is no Barbara Stanwyck, she’s competently whimsical as the show biz exec answer to Dr. Frankenstein.
Other good performances that partially compensate for the film’s conceptual shortcomings include a very funny Martin Landau as Ed’s endearing stepfather; Woody Harrelson as Ed’s opportunistic brother; and Rob Reiner as the selfcongratulating station boss.
Just what is television’s real purpose? Is it to educate, perhaps even to enlighten, or is it just a modern delivery system for entertainment? And what hap
pens to us after we’ve had our fifteen minutes of fame? Don’t look here for answers.
For Ed, television is nothing more complicated than a newfangled update on the old fun house mirror, but with coming-of-age consequences. And of course, his odyssey through the looking glass has a romantic angle thrown in for goodmeasure.All verytypical.Allnicely predictable.
Filmgoers expecting something more profound from EDtv are advised to tune in elsewhere.
* * * * * EDtv, rated PG-13, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Ron Howard and stars Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, and Martin Landau. Running time: 112 minutes
Full-Service vs. Online Brokers How Do They Compare?
About 45 years ago I entered the world of investments with the purchase of three shares of Food Fair Stores at $45 per share. I was working after school as a part-time cashier and it seemed that this company was on the move.
Within six months the stock was trading at $90 and my interest in the market intensified. Starting an investment program back then seemed simple. You called one of the major brokerage houses, opened an account, placed an order, sent a check and 10 days later you received your stock certificate.
Today, selecting a financial firm requires you to understand the characteristics of the firm and how it fits with your investment style.Stockbrokeragehouses generally fall into three broad categories with a good deal of overlap: full service, discount and online.
Full service brokerage houses, such as Prudential Securities, Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter and Paine Webber, offer a full range of services. Although they serve all classes of investors, they cater to the affluent and businesses.
Jerry Rabadeau, Senior Vice President with Prudential Securities in Westfield, says that, “The full service brokerage industry has moved to asset allocation and portfolio management as a key premise, as opposed to trading individual stocks and bonds.”
Asset allocation, as I described in last month’s article, deals with the percent of your portfolio that is committed to fixed and equity investments. The full service brokerage industry has developed asset management programs that are key part of the asset allocation strategy.
Generally, participation in asset management programs requires a minimum investment of $50,000 to $100,000. In lieu of commissions, an annual fee is charged that can range from 2.25 percent to 3.0 percent of the value of the portfolio.
The asset manager or financial consultant is given the authority to invest and trade securities on your behalf. Periodic reviews are held with you on a quarterly or monthly basis to keep you abreast of the portfolio’s performance. Since the manager’s compensation is tied to the annual fee, there is an incentive for the manager to grow your portfolio. Recently, they have also offered programs which are a combination of asset management and trading.
Full-service houses also provide research, investment recommendations, cash management accounts and other services. Although they have web sites in which you can view your account and receive market information, they presently do not support online trading. This may change this year as several firms are now considering adding online trading to their list of services.
In May, 1975 industry deregulation allowed the creation of the discountbrokerage business. Discount brokers, as the name implies, charge less for trades than full service brokers. When this segment of the industry emerged, they offered limited services.
Their segment of the market is individuals and businesses making their own investment decisions. At first, services were limited. However, with time, the services offered have substantially increased. At first, trades were executed through brokers.
As the computer and telephone technology improved, trades could also be made through touch tone telephone. About four years ago online trading began to appear on the scene.
Discount brokers, such as Charles Schwab & Company, introduced e.Schwab, a system by which their customers could execute trades using a personal computer. And with on-line trading, commissions were significantly re
Municipal Alliance/PANDA Thanks All for Promoting Drug Awareness
The Board of the Westfield Municipal Alliance/PANDA (Preventing Alcohol, Narcotic and Drug Abuse) would like to thank everyone in the community who helped to make Westfield’s 1999 Drug Awareness Week a success.
We especially wish to thank our students, parents, school PANDA representatives, substance abuse counselors (SACs), nurses and other school staff, as well as our police officers, who participated in and organized all the school activities.
Our thanks to Girl Scout troops, including Washington Elementary School Brownie Troop No. 778, Daisy Troop No. 211 and Junior Troop No. 358, Franklin Elementary School Brownie Troop No. 613 and Junior Troops No. 294 and No. 689; Jefferson Elementary School Daisy Troop No. 264, Brownie Troop No. 522 and Junior Troop No. 870; McKinley Elementary School Brownie Troop No. 890; Tamaques Elementary School Brownie Troop No. 154 and Junior Troop No. 55; Holy Trinity Elementary School First Grade Brownie Troop No. 451 and Junior Troop No. 456, and Westfield Senior Troop No. 486, who tied ribbons around our community’s trees.
We also want to express our appreciation to the Junior Optimist Club for distributing posters to businesses and organizations throughout our town; Westfield’s Florists-McEwen, The Flower Box, Vance, Meeker’s, Scarlet Begonias and Williams Nursery for donating ribbons for our trees; the Westfield Memorial Library for setting aside books for parents and youth on family relationships and substance awareness; Caitlin Nish for editing our newsletter
and Falcon Printing for getting our newsletter quickly printed for distribution during Drug Awareness Week.
Ourthanksalsoto thestaffatRoosevelt Intermediate School, especially Principal Kenneth Shulack, Marie Koch, Mike Rivera, Ed Urbanowicz, Alan Rachel, RobAnderson,and BillWalen;theWestfield Intermediate School Peer Leaders, especially Lisa Venezia, Katie McCre, Lauren Federgrene,SeanDevaney,Emily Gross, Jackie Rosenberg and Erin Salmon; J & M Café for helping to make our Parent Workshop a success, and DavidDavis,Josh HoeyandTimFlannery for videotaping the workshop to enable us to bring it via Cable Channel 36 to those community residents who were unable to attend.
We also would like to thank the members of the Cranford, Garwood, Roselle Park and Scotch Plains/Fanwood Municipal Alliances for co-sponsoring the county-wide Alliance Networking Meeting and Parent Workshop with us during our Drug Awareness Week.
Special thanks are given to Betty and Al Riker, Gwen Cleaves and Willem Van Iperen for helping out whenever needed.
We also would like to take this opportunity to thank all those wonderful community residents, members of community agencies, organizations, churches, and merchants who volunteer their time and talents and contribute merchandise and money to enable us to continue many other projects in the community throughout the year.
Board Members Westfield Municipal Alliance/
PANDA. Two Maintenance Units Should Merge
To Allow Purchase of New Pumper
Your March 11 feature describing the Council’s denial of Westfield Fire Chief Paul A. Battiloro Jr.’s request for a second fire pumper once again fails to put an end to expenditures for duplicate heavy equipment in Westfield.
We are supporting two separate departments which are equipped with heavy trucks and road equipment. One set is installed on North Avenue and is used for town road and park maintenance. The other equipment is used by the Westfield Board of Education.
To go along with the double equipment is a double set of workers. Apparently, the employees belong to two different unions, and the units, therefore, cannot be combined.
During the tree-clearing necessary last year, the Board of Education unit was not utilized since it is only used for the Education facilities.
The time has come to combine the two maintenance units, stop buying duplicate heavy equipment and insist that the employees of the units agree to a joint contract. With the money saved, buying an extra pumper will become possible.
Chief Battiloro is a trusted and respected person. His requests should be reconsidered in the light of the unnecessary spending we are undertaking to maintain two like facilities in Westfield.
Barbara Zietchick Westfield
Students Demonstrate Success of Area Schools
I thought your readers would enjoy knowing that public school education is alive and well in Central New Jersey.
I am a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Educational Council. As such, I interview high school seniors who have applied to MIT for admission.
This year, of my 14 interviewees from this area, six were accepted by MIT. The institute also informed me that this was its most competitive year ever, with a total of 1,730 acceptances out of some 8,700 applications.
In short, only 20 percent were accepted. This means my rate was double the overall rate.
So, whateverWestfield,ScotchPlainsFanwood, Plainfield, South Plainfield and Metuchen High Schools are doing, I hope they keep it up.
Marilyn S. Gulotta Westfield Mr. Tyminski’s Letter
Called Self-Serving Editor’s Note: The following letter was written in response to a letter by Charles Tyminski that was published in theMarch4issue ofTheWestfieldLeader
and The Times. Mr. Tyminski was involved in a traffic accident that killed a pedestrian last month.
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Your letter to the editor and the citizens of Westfield was very self-serving and insensitive. You did not express an iota of sympathy, kindness or understanding for the family who had lost a loving daughter.
It is apparent that you are finger-pointing at everybody and everything for this terrible tragedy.
Dorothy Junio Cranford
Rescue Squad Receives Kudos From Family
We found out firsthand now great the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is, on the evening of January 18, when we really needed help. The volunteers who cametoour homewereextremelyprompt and well trained. They were also very courteous, efficient, and knowledgeable.
Since March is the squad’s fund-raising month, we thought this would be an appropriate time to thank the crew that was on duty that evening, as well as to shout our praises of the squad to the community.
The squad is staffed by volunteers who are not paid, and the only way it can keepoperating isthroughdonations,from you and me. The Rescue Squad receives nothing from the municipality or any other agency.
How comforting to know that these wonderful people are there to help us if we need them.
Edward and Gertrude Wood Westfield
By EUGENE REISS
Specially Written for the Westfield Leader and The Times
Elm Deli Operator Thanked for Service
The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce would like to express its sincere appreciation to Tim DeRubeis and his family for the many years of service Elm Deli has given to the Westfield community.
His commitment to serve delicious sandwiches at reasonable prices in a spotlessly clean environment made him a favorite choice for lunch for the downtown business community. Elm Deli was a gathering place where there was always a familiar face.
Elm Deli has been a landmark in downtown Westfield for so many years. It will be fondly remembered and missed by all. Tim’s generosity to those in need was an everyday occurrence in the Elm Street neighborhood. We are sorry to see Elm Deli go, and we wish Tim, Angela and Dennis the best in their future endeavors.
The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Manahan Thanks Writer and Publisher For Date Rape Article
Thank you very much to Michelle H. LePoidevin for the article which appeared in last Thursday’s Westfield Leader relating to my lecture at Westfield High School about the danger of date rape drugs.
It is my hope that the article will further educate both parents and students about this very significant danger which our young people face.
By copy of this letter I am also extending my appreciation to publisher Horace R. Corbin for his sense of community in providing coverage of this issue.
Thomas V. Manahan Prosecutor of Union County
duced and the number of online brokers increased. Charles Schwab has since transitioned to the Internet and offers a wide range of services but does not provide recommendations. Instead they and many of the online brokers provide extensive research by which the individual can reach their own conclusion.
Full service brokerage houses have the lion’s share of the business controlling $3.2 trillion in assets versus $4.2 billion for the online brokers. But the online brokers have more than doubled their share of all equity trades over the last two years. A comparison of costs for threefull-service brokersandthreeonline brokers are:
· A Sample of Online Brokers are as follows: Charles Schwab www.schwab.com $29.95 per trade up to 1,000 shares 3 cents per additional share E*Trade www.etrade.com $14.95 per market-order, up to 5,000 shares; 1 cent per additional share. Add $5 for limit orders or over-the counter stocks DLJdirect www.dljdirect.com $20 per trade up to 1,000 shares; 2 cents per additional share
Here’s a sample of fullservice brokers:
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter www.deanwitter.com Asset management fee; $40 per trade for $100,000 account, 56 trades per year. No online trading. P a i n e W e b b e r www.painewebberedge.com Asset management fee; $43 per trade for $100,000 account, 52 trades per year. No online trading. Prudential Securities www.prusec.com Asset management fee; 1.5 percent for $100,000account.Decreaseswith larger accounts. Fee is $24.95 per trade with no limit on trades. No online trading.
In summary, if you like making and executing investment decisions, are concerned about the cost per trade, have access to a personal computer, enjoy doing your own research and want to invest the time to understand business trends and market conditions then online trading may be for you.
If you want a professional to help you manage your financial plan, the fullservice houses would like to have your business.
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Eugene “Gene” Reiss, of Scotch Plains, is President of TurnAround Stategies, provides consulting services for businesses and individuals.
Letter to Editor on page 5
Michelle H. LePoidevin