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Page 4 Thursday, July 9, 1998 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION

Letters to the Editor


By Michael S. Goldberger


Yentl Goes Oriental

OnePopcorn,Poor •TwoPopcorns,Fair •ThreePopcorns,Good •FourPopcorns,Excellent

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The Westfield Leader

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Horace R. Corbin


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The complexity of various printing methods can certainly cause indigestion unless, of course, you have a copy of BamberGascoigne's book"HowToIden- tify Prints." We shall attempt to imprint the several printing systems on your mind by explaining their word origins.

Intaglio is an Italian word that comes from the Latin word talea, meaning to cut. It is a form of carving in which the picture or words to be printed are incised below the surface of the material being carved. Examples of intaglio printing include engravings and etchings.

Relief (bas-relief), on the other hand, is an anglicized version of the Italian word bassorilievo, meaning low relief. In this form of printing, material is cut away so that the printed surface is raised and inked. Examples of relief printing in- clude block printing, wood cuts, metal type and rubber stamps.

Planography is the official term used todescribelithography inwhichtheprint- ing surface is neither incised nor raised. This word combines plano, which is de- rived from the Latin word planus, mean- ing level, and graphy, also from Latin, meaning writing.

The question remains as to why the "bas"in "bas-relief"ispronounced"bar." The probable answer is that it was one of those folk inventions in which the "ss" in bassorelievo was dropped to ease pro- nunciation.

2 popcorns

"Hey, that's the same guy who played Kocoum in Pocahontas."

Such was the astute observation of my 12-year-old daughter, Erin, the second generation in our clan to be raised on Disney. She was referring to Shang (voiced by B.D. Wong), the dashing male lead in Mulan. One would think that the limitless world of animation would be immune to the hazards of typecasting. But here's the hot news flash: Disney recycles, and recycles, and recycles. Hence, the same brush strokes for Shang as for Kocoum.

Apologists pointing to the Bering Straits theory of North American migra- tion may argue that these Asian- Amerindian doubles do indeed have an anthropological connection. But more likely than not, the Mouse Factory big- wigs are simply convinced that little girls swoon most for heroes with cheek- bones like Silky Sullivan's. And when you're serving a segment of society that thinks nothing of watching the same movie several times a day anyway, rep- etition is easily mistaken for artistic virtue.

In this cookie cutter rehash, Buena Vista plops a heroic Chinese girl smack dab in the way of plundering Huns. Her mission impossible? Uphold the family honor by saving China from the invading hordes. No more, no less. That's what this women's libber gets for not attract- ing the right guy and marrying well in the first place.

Now a bit long of tooth, the stunning renaissance at Disney that began with

The Little Mermaid (1989) has come to a natural end, its formula worn thin. Of course, even Rome went on for a while after its fall. So, expect a few more stencils like this before the redoubtable Disney reinvents itself.

No cute pots and pans or architectural gargoyles come-to-life in this variation on the financially successful theme. In- stead, the bulk of the funny business is handled by Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy), the ancestral dragon with a poor track record for righting family ad- versity. Previously unable to bring her family honor via the dating game, indi- vidualist Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) disguises herself as a man and joins the Imperial army in place of her sickly father. Assuming the sidekick role, Mushu seizes the opportunity to seek his own redemption.

Wisecracking Mushu prattles on in a running commentary while the cross- dressing title character makes like a com- bination G.I. Jane and Yentl. AKA Ping, she/heis indomitable...butgentle.Aregu- lar war machine...yet understanding. But most of all, as singer Helen Reddy might have extolled, she is Woman! And cer- tainly, she doesn't need a man to define her worth.

Amazingly, this Chinese Joan of Arc's fellow troops aren't aware of the gender bending that's going on in their very own midst. Having proven himself, Ping is just a great guy. A heckuva warrior. In short, a real man's man.

Making these contradictory points, the producers go overboard. So intent on

saying and doing the right thing, Mulan's

script aspires to a political correctness that eclipses all common sense. Once assailed as the last bastion of male chau- vinism becauseofstereotypesperpetrated in classics such as Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, Disney's knee-jerk stance comes off as a disin- genuous ploy motivated more by market- ing concerns than artistic considerations. But even more disconcerting is the rather curious insertion of Mr. Murphy's soul brother dragon. His verbal shucking and jiving in the name of comedy is curious if not downright embarrassing.

Too much of Mulan disappointingly qualifies as just nice enough. The only adequate drawing hardly explores the Oriental possibilities; the connect-the- dots direction breaks no new ground, and the musical score is a mere ghost of Disney hits past.

Trying to teach values as well as enter- tain, this latest bit of didactic Disney has become awkwardly skewed, the watered- down victim of opinion poll decision making and formulaic plodding. And despite the wonton flavor, Mulan still boils down to the same old soup.

* * * * * Mulan, rated G, is a Walt Disney Pictures release directed by Barry Cook andTonyBancroft andfeaturesthevoices of Ming-Na Wen, B.D. Wong and Eddie Murphy. Running time: 86 minutes.

Hopefully This Go Around With Teachers Union Will Produce a Quick and Fair Settlement

On June 29, a bill that will have an enormously positive impact on down- town Westfield passed the New Jersey State Senate. The bill, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger, of Westfield, and known as State Assem- bly Bill No. 747, will return one-sixth ofthesales taxrevenuegeneratedwithin downtownbusinessimprovementzones (up to $100,000 per year) to that mu- nicipality to be used for improvements within a special business improvement zone.

As all can see, Westfield's down- townisclearlybooming, asmanyofthe persistent retail vacancies are now be- ing filled. Much of this success must be attributed to the work of the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC), which has brought a clarity and focus to ef- forts to improve both the appearance and activities to promote Westfield's central business district.

The passage of Assembly Bill No. 747 is vital to Westfield's continuing efforts to improve its downtown into a thriving shopping, entertainment and eating destination for Westfield's resi- dents and visitors alike.

The rationale for Assembly Bill No.

From the Desk of Westfield

Mayor Thomas C. Jardim

Assembly Bill Will Return Sales Tax to Municipalities

747 is clear. Special improvement dis- tricts are funded through an assessment of the property owners located within that district.

However, experience in municipali- ties in New Jersey and elsewhere has shown that special improvement dis- trict (SID) assessments cannot be in- creased beyond a certain point, as even- tually, the special assessment can price properties out of the market, creating a decrease indesirabilityand,eventually, vacant storefronts.

On the other hand, well-supported special improvementdistrictsprovidea high investment return, both for the municipality in which the special im- provement district is located and the state in the form of increased sales tax revenue.

For example, for every dollar spent by the SID in Red Bank, there has been $85ofprivate investmentoverandabove the SID assessment. In Englewood, there is a $1 to $96 ratio of private investment to SID assessment. Al- though figures are not yet available for Westfield, a walk downtown surely demonstrates that the investment that we have made in our central business district through our SID is beginning to pay off.

Thus, rather than diluting the state sales tax to support particular down- towns throughout the state, Assembly Bill No. 747 would actually have the effect of increasing overall the size of the sales tax pie.

One caution with respect to Assem- bly Bill No. 747 is needed, however. Like most spending measures, the bill is subject to annual appropriations be- ing made by the New Jersey Legisla- ture. This means that any sales tax revenue returned to Westfield must be used to provide additional services or, better still, one-time, "bricks-and-mor- tar" items that do not require ongoing appropriations.

As Trenton could pull the rug out from under us at any time, we must not become over-reliantontheseadditional dollars.

The next step for Assembly Bill No. 747 is approval by Governor Christine Todd Whitman. At our Town Council meeting of July 7, I asked the Town Council to go on record to urge the Governor to sign Assembly Bill No. 747 into law as soon as possible. Pas- sage of this important piece of legisla- tion is vital to the success of the cultural and economic heart of Westfield – our downtown. Last week's decision by the Scotch Plains-Fanwood

Boardof Educationtocallan impasseonsalarycontract negotiations with the teachers union, known as the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Education Association (SPFEA),hopefully,does notindicatethatnegotiations will travel down the same road as they did during the previous collective bargaining session two years ago.

It took17monthsbefore thelastcontractagreement was reached in September, 1996. As part of the last agreement,teachersreceived salaryincreasesof3.92, 3.34,and3.59 percenteachyearover thecourseofthe three-year dealwhichwasretroactive toJuly1,1995.

One important element of negotiations is that both management and employees are on a level playing ground.Whiletheunion maystagedemonstrationsor picket in front of schools before classes start or after school, the Board of Education may impose a "last best offer" contract after lengthy bargaining. Two bills before the New Jersey State Legislature, how- ever, would remove the public employers' ability to declare a "last best offer" on teachers contracts.

The New Jersey School Boards Association has opposed giving up the "last best offer" measure, stating that the association believes its loss would unfairly tip the balance of negotiations to the teach- ers' side.

We agree. The teachers have ample opportunity to reach a fair settlement with the Board of Education through the collective bargaining system.

There are also bills pending to make benefits such as sick leave negotiable. Another pending bill would limit teacher salary increases to 1 percent more than a rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI.) The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) strongly op- posesthisbill,believing thatcappingsalaryincreases would effectively "destroy the collective bargaining process."

While we believe salaries need to be competitive with similar districts in the area, it is important that teacher salary increases and benefits be in sync with private sector jobs.

It is our hope that the current bargaining sessions willproduce acontractbeforeschools openthisfallto keep the education process moving forward. The last contract producedanumberof tacticsthatwe,frankly, foundobjectionable.

For instance, as part of a request by the SPFEA, teachers did not attend Back-to-School Nights and opted not to decorate their classrooms in an effort to force their bargaining position with the school board. Educators chose not to work Election Day. Public employees have the option to take off any holidays when schools are in session. The union took advan- tage of this option in an effort to demonstrate to the school board its displeasure over the course of con- tract talks.

We want to emphasize that negotiations, which began in January, are still in the early stages. The request for a third-party mediator from the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) should not necessarily be taken to mean that the district is in foranother lengthy,knock-down,drag-outbargaining session.

It should be noted that even if SPFEA members begin the school year without a new contract, they are still covered under the old agreement. Any pay raises would be retroactive to July 1.

Over the past 15 to 20 years, teachers in New Jersey have made substantial gains in salaries. In addition to tenure, competitive salaries and benefits, staffers can also earn additional education degrees at the district's expense and move into a higher salary bracket.

In general, New Jersey teachers score quite well when salaries are compared to the national average. According to statistics from the United States Depart- ment ofEducationforthe 1994-1995schoolyear,New Jersey had the highest starting salary at $30,000, and tiedwith NewYorkStatefor thehighestaveragesalary at $47,000.

Entry-level salaries for Scotch Plains-Fanwood teachers are currently $34,400. A master's degree with 30 credits is worth a maximum average of $66,000 this year. With more than 60 veteran staffers retiring over the last three years, the new contract, we expect, will address lower-end scale salaries.

In Westfield, beginning teachers earn $38,500; $41,300 with a master's degree, and $57,900 maxi- mum with a master's and 30 credits.

Summit teachers were lower on the starting range this year, with salary figures spanning $35,300 to a maximumof$48,000. Teacherswithmaster'sdegrees started at $38,500 and rose to a maximum of $58,098 with 30 additional credits.

Beginning Cranford teachers earned $35,000 this year, rising to a maximum of $52,090. The salary range for Cranford teachers with graduate degrees is $39,350 to $65,000.

Onethingwe wouldliketosee changedisthetiming of the annual NJEA convention. The convention, currentlyheld inNovember,mightbetter beheldinthe summer — such is the case with the National Educa- tion Associationwhichjustheld itsconventioninNew Orleans — or perhaps during winter break. We don't believeadditional timeneedstocome outoftheschool year for this purpose.

Intermsofthe newcontract,ourhope isthatthenew agreement will be reached sooner, rather that later, so that the coming school year will not be disrupted with the bargaining process. In the interest of a timely contract agreement, we encourage both sides to keep their bargaining tools at the table and their eyes on academic goals.

Publisher's Note

This past Sunday morning I was sur- prisedandpleasedto noticethatthedown- town trash containers in Westfield were emptied in the vicinity of our Elm Street office. To be sure it was town-wide, I walkedafewblocks. Theyallwereempty.

Someone in government is to be con- gratulated for taking action on this long- standing and aggravating weekend prob- lem. I understand that Mayor Thomas C. Jardim, FourthWardCouncilmanLawrence A.Goldmanand TownEngineerandPublic Works Director Kenneth B. Marsh con- ferred on the subject last week.

Presumablyapermanent fixisinplace. It is a great first step in assuring the quality of our downtown for everyone.

Letters to the Editor

Blood Donors are Critically Needed As Hospitals Face Short Supplies

There have been several articles in the newspapers recently regarding the critical shortage of blood. Blood sup- plies at blood banks always run dry during the summer months because va- cations and other activities occupy the time usually spent by donors.

Hospitals have to delay surgery, he- mophiliacs and people with other ail- ments requiring frequent transfusions to survive, and accident victims' lives are jeopardized. Blood banks and hospitals report that their supplies are the lowest they have ever been.

I have donated, via the auspices of The Blood Bank of New Jersey and other organizations, approximately 10 gallons (80 pints). I am usually in and out of the facility within an hour.

I wish that I did not think it necessary to make my next remarks public, but I am convinced that it is my only chance of effecting a change, if possible.

I recently donated at Union Hospital, where I have been dozens of times. Whereas there previously was always a minimum of four staff members con- ducting the operation, this time there were only two. Although they were ex- perienced and excellent workers, they were overwhelmed. I watched a number of would-be donors take one look at the backed-up crowd and leave.

I asked staff members why only two staffers were sent and I was told that it is done that way everywhere these days. They told me that whoever calculates the budget for The Blood Bank of New Jersey determines how much expense will be allocated for each activity.

I have not seen their operating budget but I am suggesting that, if at all pos- sible, they find a way to alter their priorities.

Please note that only 3 percent of eligible donors ever bother to give The Gift of Life. If you are able to, why don't you help someone in need. For informa-

tion regarding where and when to donate please telephone your local blood bank or the American Red Cross.

If you telephone The Blood Center of New Jersey (973-676-4700) I suggest you ask how long it will take. But please call now or as soon as you can.

Maurice Fenichel Fanwood

Realtors Thank Leader and Donors For Support of Recent Towel Drive

On behalf of the Greater Union County Association of Realtors Community Ser- vice Committee, thank you to The West- field Leader for the publicity given for our recent collection drive for tired tow- els, toiletries and linens.

The response generated by your pub- licity was overwhelming. We had people from Union, Middlesex, Essex, Morris and Somerset Counties visiting our of- fice with their donations.

Many took the time to express their gladness that the committee was doing this worthwhile project and that these items could be put to good use by the recipients.

Wehavepreviously heldtwodrives(plus an extra for the overflow after the drive ended) and we thought we had been blessed then with the number of items given.

This year far surpassed our earlier collections and we can only say thanks to each and every person who made the trip to us. We tried to individually thank each visitor but some left items at our door when we were closed, so we want to make sure that all know how much their thoughtfulness was appreciated.

The agencies benefiting from the do- nations were: Robert Wood Johnson Health Care Facility, Holy Trinity Pan- try, Heart for Humanity, Homeless for

UnionCounty throughthePlainfield"Y," Park Hotel for Homeless, First Congre- gational for homeless shelters, and the Cranford Family Care Association.

Each time our Community Service Committee holds a drive, we find that community members are most generous and we say a big thanks to them and to our Realtor members for their donations and support, and to your newspaper for pub- licizing our efforts.

Carol Hyman Executive Vice President

Westfield PTA Council Lauds Residents' Support

Of School Budget

On behalf of the Presidents' Commit- tee of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Par- entTeacher AssociationCouncil,Iwould like to thank the citizens of our commu- nity for voting "yes" on the school bud- get in the recent election.

Your support of the budget will en- able the children of this community to continue getting an excellent education, and we thank you for that support.

Mary O'Connor Corresponding Secretary

Westfield Chamber Announces Car Show In Downtown July 16

The Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce, celebrating its 50th an- niversary this year, will sponsor its second of four 1998 Westfield Clas- sic Car Shows next Thursday, July 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will be held on Quimby Street in downtown Westfield.

"We have a strong following of classic car owners who look forward to showing their cars in Westfield," commented Darryl Walker, Cham- ber Vice-Chairman.

The Westfield Classic Car Show is free to the public, and offers family fun and entertainment, according to Chamber Executive Director Debbie Schmidt.

Many stores will remain open un- til 9 p.m. that evening. "DJ Stickshift Eddie" will provide musical enter- tainment, and six trophies will be awarded to the cars in various cat- egories, including "funkiest" and "farthest distance traveled."

The other Classic Car Shows will be held on Thursdays, August 20 and September 17. Quimby Street will be closed to traffic from 5 to 9 p.m. for the events, and there is limited space for 60 cars to be displayed. For infor- mation or to enter a car, please call (908) 654-4100.

Councilman Goldman Praises Changes to Westfield Zoning

The Laws and Rules Committee intro- duced a comprehensive overhaul of Westfield's Land Use Ordinance at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday. The new ordinance is hundreds of pages long and is the product of many persons' work efforts over a period spanning several years.

Within the complex document are sev- eral interesting changes which serve to advance various initiatives which are underway in town. These changes and their benefits merit highlighting.

Downtown improvement efforts will be served by the elimination of office space as a permitted conditional use on the first floor in the central business district. Except for existing uses which are grandfathered, in the future, the groundfloors ofdowntownbuildingswill be restricted to retail, service-oriented businesses and restaurants.

Office use will be on upper floors only. This change is intended to enhance busi- ness in retail stores by increasing foot traffic. Retail businesses feed upon the customer bases of other retail businesses. There are also aesthetic benefits because offices on ground floors are generally shrouded by darkened windows.

Rehabilitation of the Central Avenue corridor will be enhanced by a change which permits gas stations along that street to include canopies (similar to the Mobil Station on South Avenue) in their renovation plans. Some gas station own- ers have been seeking to do this for several years, but renovation plans have been thwarted by the terms of the current ordinance.

Facelifts of properties along Central Avenue are welcomed improvements to the "gateway" to our downtown.

Improved signage. As part of our con- tinuing efforts to update the look of West- field, pylon, or tower-type signs of the

kind used by car dealers and gas stations along Route No. 22, will no longer be permitted in connection with new devel- opment. This will prevent commercial areas along major thoroughfares in town from taking on a highway look, as older commercial properties are put to new uses.

These and other improvements are being implemented as tools to promote responsible, yet progressive, develop- ment in Westfield.

As an adjunct to the new Land Use Ordinance, and as work continues on revising Westfield's Master Land Use Plan and on preparing a formal Down- town Improvement Plan, the town is very fortunate to have the participation and input of two talented individuals who are relatively new to Westfield gov- ernment, but each of whom has valuable experience to offer.

Martin Robins, a second-year mem- ber of the Planning Board, who was voted its Chairman this year, brings to the Planning Board a distinguished pro- fessional career as a governmental plan- ner and policy analyst. Most notably, he is one of the primary architects of the current public transportation system in New Jersey. He is a long-time Westfield resident, and I was very pleased to rec- ommend his appointment to Mayor Tho- mas C. Jardim last year.

Mr. Robins crafted a solution to a controversial aspect of the new Land Use Ordinance. A revised coverage area ratio plan was designed with the laud- able intent of maintaining consistency in terms of lot coverage within neighbor- hoods. However, its implementation could have also dashed the intentions of numerous home owners throughout the town to build additions to their homes. A "grandfather" provision will permit ex- isting owners who bought their proper- ties under current zoning regulations to improve their homes within the present guidelines for a period of several years.

The second individual is Michael La Place, the Executive Director of the DowntownWestfieldCorporation,which administers our Special Improvement District.

Mr. La Place, a professional planner, fills a long-existing void in Westfield municipal government. Several of his ideas pertaining to the central business district are receiving continuing atten- tion by the Planning Board.

I believe that the new Land Use Ordi- nance preserves the small-town charm of Westfield, but at the same time ac- commodates the realities of modern life. The advent of the ordinance is an under- heralded, positive step forward for the town.

Lawrence A. Goldman Westfield Councilman, Fourth Ward
Copyright 1999 - The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains-Fanwood