CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
Letters to the Editor
POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN ™
By Michael S. Goldberger
Waking Ned Devine:
A Rousing Comedy
One Popcorn, Poor • Two Popcorns, Fair • Three Popcorns, Good • Four Popcorns, Excellent
David B. Corbin
The Westfield Leader
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You won’t want to live anywhere but inpastoralTulaigh Mhor.Notafterspend ing 90 laughfilled minutes with its lov ably quirky denizens in Waking Ned Devine, director Kirk Jones’s delightful fantasyfarce.
Ay, lads and lassies, this frothy, heart warming tale about how a winning lot tery ticket affects an Irish village’s won derfully pixilated townsfolk will have you sauntering out of the movie theater sporting a suddenly acquired brogue and fondly longing for the travelogue beauty of the Emerald Isle.
Mind you now, this is no ordinary lottery ticket. Oh, sure, it’s worth 6.9 million pounds all right. But that’s hardly the most curious of its properties.
Though the newspaper assures that lucky ducat was purchased in this isolated seashore hamlet, not one of
Mhor’s 52 residents has yet come forward to claim the fortune.
no one among them is more founded by this unsettling circumstance than that scheming senior citizen, Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen), seconded by his verybestpal, MichaelO’Sullivan(David Kelly). Endearingly realized, these two
are the Leprechaun answer to Heckle and Jeckle.
At Fitzgerald’s, the town watering hole where all matters large and small are regularly settled over a pint or two, the locals begin feeling each other out. Everyone wants to get on the right side of the winner; silliness reigns supreme and
rampant flattery runs as freely as the Guinness.
Jackie’s initial attempts to flush out the winner are to no avail.
Sarcastically supportive wife, Annie, portrayedinclassical,patienceofasaint style by Fionnula Flanagan, also tries some sleuthing, but is equally tive. And then Jackie hatches a foolproof
plan: obtaining the names of the 18 most avid lottery players, he invites them all to a chicken dinner.
Lo and behold, at night’s end there remains one uneaten supper. Missing among the invitees is Ned Devine. fice it to note that a visit to old Ned’s
seaside cottage is cause for a smidgen of gallows humor. Alas, he is in no condi tion to claim his winnings.
What follows is a deliciously comical jaunt that sets out to answer that consuming, 6.9 million pound question:
how, oh how, to cash that ticket? Of course, you can leave it to Jackie to forge a scheme. But will it work?
When the young lottery agent from Dublin visits Tulaigh Mhor (pronounced Tullymore) in search of Ned Devine, it’s city mouse versus country mouse in a game of mistaken identity crisis. The comic contortions are priceless, laced with a novel sense of tensionfilled whimsy.
The buoyant screenplay is an inspired little bit of writing, penned with wistful spirit by director Jones. He captures that convivial aura that plays happy flip side to what the Irish call The Troubles. This is Ireland when the sun is shining. When the absolutely stunning scenery graphed by Henry Braham) isn’t smirched with civil strife. When man is
inherently good and the only evil person is the town witch (after all, no respecting, perfectly idyllic burg should
without one). While Shaun Davey’s nicely comple menting musical score contains nary a bagpipe, you’ll swear you hear them anyway.
Shades of John Ford’s The Quiet Man
(1952),one expectsthatMaureenO’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald will pop up at any given moment.
Thisisa bonafide,contemporaryfable. And although the charming story tends to sag a tad in the film’s mid portions, fine ensemble performances save the day. Supporting Messrs. Bannen and Kelly’s
high jinks are three nicely etched subplots which make whimsical use of the movie’s magical band of sup porting players. In each instance, a ser endipitous irony rules the day.
There’s the love story of winsome but unwed Maggie (Susan Lynch), oddly enough the mother of the village’s only child. She’d love to oblige marriage minded “Pig” Finn (James Nesbitt), if
only he’d forsake his olfactoryinsulting, hog farming ways.
Another sweet sidebar concerns a young priest hoping to gain acceptance among this idiosyncratic flock. And then there’s the loopy case of the aforemen tioned witch, a canny ne’erdowell who threatens to queer any strategy that doesn’t make her the major beneficiary.
Aside from the greedy hag, these are companionable folk, living among some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. Their story is enchanting. Spending time with them allows the viewer to bask in the illusion of a better world, where charactermatters andneighborstaketime out to care about each other.
Enjoyingtheirsaga couldgetyouthink ing about a real trip to Ireland.
Perhaps a winning lottery ticket will make that possible.
* * * * * Waking Ned Devine, rated PG, is a conFox SearchlightPicturesreleasedirected
by Kirk Jones and stars Ian Bannen, David Kelly and Fionnula Flanagan. Running time: 92 minutes.
The word “hallmark” has acquired the current sense of “any evidence or outwardproofof highqualityorgenuWestfield, ineness.”
Originally, however, it referred to a mark or impression embossed into gold and silver items to assure that they were genuine. This stamping took place at a London guild hall.
Such marks, still used today, were first mandated in the 13th century by King Edward I of England. Later, in 1721, the Goldsmith Company in Goldsmith’s Hall, London, stamped official marks on precious metal arMARKETING ticles made there.
These impressions became known as “hallmarks,” and this system of marking was later adopted by govthe ernment agencies.
The goal of The Word Sleuth auTulaigh thors is to make this column the hallmark of interesting and enterAnd taining essays on the history of words and phrases that make up the nating English language.
Debate to Begin Again as Towns Consider fasciThis Year’s ‘Pocket Park’ Grant Program
Get ready for another round of debates this year regarding our parks and fields. Last year, in an effort topreserveopenspace throughoutUnionCounty,the Board of Chosen Freeholders launched its “Project Pocket Park” program. The initial $1 million match ing grant program, announced by Freeholder Daniel P. Sullivan during his chairmanship in 1998, grew to $1.7 million with all 21 municipalities in the county participating.
This year’s Freeholder Chairman, Nicholas P. Scutari, has said the county will allocate another $1 milliontopreserveand upgrademoreplaygroundsin the county. Debates on how best to apply the funds were evident during discussions before both the Westfield and Fanwood governing bodies. Westfield originally sought a $100,000 grant to obtain land and createa parkontheformer ExcellentDinerlot.When development of a threestory building was approved for the site, a committee was formed by Mayor Thomas C.Jardimtodecide whichprojectsshouldbe funded instead. Republicans and Democrats each produced a plan for how to allocate the grant money before a compromise was met.
Meanwhile, in Fanwood, Borough Council mem bers went back and forth on whether the $125,000 it received from the county should be used to create a pocket park on a vacant parcel of Watson Road land. The property, which has been vacant for more than a decade, is the former site of Fanwood’s administra tive offices and fire company headquarters.
Debatesare healthysolongas coolheadsprevailin order that a compromise can be met. With a list of projects in the hopper from last year’s “Pocket Park” program,thisyear’sdebates shouldrunmoresmoothly.
Planshavealsobeen announcedbytheFreeholders to award grants for economic development to local municipalitiesfor downtownimprovements.Inaddi tion,anewscholarship programhasbeeninaugurated
for high school seniors who plan to enroll at Union County College.Thecountywill include$5millionin its budget for downtown improvements. With downconnivers town efforts underway in our towns, these funds should be seen more as an incentive to attract more local shoppers and businesses.
The board is making an effort to try to reach out to the municipalities. This effort actually started when Republican leaders on a previous board visited govthe erning bodies to discuss those issues elected officials wanted more information on.
Regardless of which party has the majority on the Freeholder board, we hope that this improved com municationeffortcontinues alongwitheveryattempt to lowerthecountytax rate.FormerCountyManager Ann Baran said that the county government must run more like a business. We could not agree more.
Whileonemightsay thatpreservingparklandshould be done by the towns themselves, often in the budget crunch there is not sufficient funds to pay operating costs,includingsalaries, alongwiththeneverending road repairs. County grants give towns an opportu nity to see their hardearned tax money stay in their backyard, and in surrounding towns to keep our recreational grounds up to snuff.
During this week’s county government reorganizational meeting, one Freeholder noted that theboard needstodomore toinformcountyresidents ofcounty services.Agoodstart isthecountyinforma tional booths at street fairs held throughout the year.
We also suggest that the board either hold some of itsmeetingsatmunicipal buildingsaroundthecounty or hold a few sessions under the “Town Meeting” format,whereresidents couldactivelyparticipateand learn more about issues such as passport services, veterans affairs, human services, including Welfare reform, as well as economic development and trans portation initiatives.
Appointment of Insurance Agent Has Become a ‘Political Circus’
I wish to take this opportunity on behalf of my firm, the Bollinger Group, to thank the Town of Westfield for lowing us to serve the town as its insur
ance agent and risk manager for the past 50 years. That service ended December 21 in what could only be described as a “political circus.”
50 years we have handled this job have done so with the goal of protect ing the assets of the town, its workers, property, equipment, funds, and its public officials. We took this job very seriously.
That evening I was proud to sit in chambers and hear a former councilman, who I worked with for eight years, tell the Town Council that he felt we should be appointed because we did a great job. It fell on enough deaf ears and our pointment was voted down.
I watched a councilman, who I have worked with for several years, look down atthefloorthe entireevening,voteagainst our appointment, and then come to me and say he was sorry and that this was “not his agenda.” I watched three others, whom I have only known for two years, fight in every way they could to make their fellow council people “on the other side of the aisle” stand up and review this as a nonpartisan decision, only to see the others make what everyone in the
knew was a purely political pointment. For 50 years this position was not made based on who you knew, who made the biggest contribution, who owed you a
but on what protection you could provide at the best cost available to the town for the protection of its assets. Those days are over.
I was asked during the meeting if I had made any contributions to any political party in Westfield. I am proud today to say I did not.
A current councilman told me several weeks ago that Westfield is changing. He meant the demographics. I think it’s a lot more. It’s not the cozy little town where all the people who choose to run for council try to serve the town, to do what’s right for the town, to make it a better place.
It some of their minds, it’s a political war, where they go to battle each day evening, for bragging rights. It’s
strategy sessions in the family rooms of cozy capes and big colonials throughout the town. It’s big time politics in the quiet haven you call Westfield. It’s the Hatfelds versus the McCoys, disguised as Republicans and Democrats. Why can’t they work together?
Voters in Westfield should demand better of their elected of officials. Forget our appointment as risk manager. It’s just one battle and a 50year ship. Demand other things that are more
important. Demand that they look for ways to solve the parking problem.
Demand that they make future pointments based on qualifications, not associations.Demand thattheystopplay
aling these political games with your tax
money. Demand that they do what’s right for Westfield. That’s why you elected them. It should not matter whether they are a Republican or a Democrat. All that should matter is that they care about Westfield.
Myfirmstarted itsbusinessinWestfield in 1922. For the past 50 years we have had a great job working for the town. It’s been fun. For that I am thankful.
Louis E. Lefevre Bollinger Group
The countdown to the new millen nium may have already started. How ever, I believe that the next 365 days may, in fact, be even more critical than the historic milestone that awaits us. ineffecFaced with a number of unique chal
lenges rangingfromenergyderegulation to schoolconstruction,stategovernment will be asked to make a number of tough public policy decisions this year.
The decisions we make today will determine just how well New Jersey Sufwill be able to embrace the significant
technological, demographic and eco nomic changes that will take place to morrow.
Recognizing this responsibility, eco nomic issues, including property tax re alllief,
will be one of the legislature’s top priorities this year. Although property tax levies have grown at the lowest rates in20years, propertytaxesstillrepresent a significant burden for most New Jerseyans.
Ihaveproposed aninitiativethatwould increase municipal aid by the rate of inflation so that municipalities can bud get accordingly and accurately and pass their efficiencies onto their residents in the form of property tax savings.
I am confident that this program will be oneoftheideas thelegislatureandthe administration will examine in 1999 as we work together to leverage the state’s thriving revenue base into direct prop erty tax relief. (photoNew Jersey, which has long suffered
beunder energy rates 50 percent higher
than the national average, is now at the forefrontof anationalenergyrevolution selfthat will end with a deregulated energy
marketplace. Building upon legislation enacted in 1998thatcut energytaxesandmandated a rate reduction, the legislature will be finalizinganinitiative inearly1999that willintroduce competitionintothestate’s retailenergyindustryfor thefirsttimein decades.
At the same time, the legislation will implement strong consumer and envi ronmental protection measures so as to ensure that lower energy rates and a greater choice of electricity and natural gas services — the benefits of deregulaand tion — do not come with unexpected costs.
Choice is also the hallmark for trans portation in the years ahead. New Jer sey roads are the most heavily traveled
in the nation, a statistic that underlies the need to heighten investment in both road improvements and rail line con struction.
It is for that reason that the state legislature must work in 1999 to protect theeconomic feasibilityoftheTranspor tation Trust Fund, the state’s financing agency responsible for millions in road and rail projects each year, and to renew its statute, due to expire in 2000, in a timelyfashion.
Every child in New Jersey, no matter where they live, has the right to be schooledina safeandeducationallysound facility. Finding the means by which to finance school capital construction projects that are projected to cost the state more than $5 billion will dominate the legislature’s education agenda in 1999.
Faced with a Supreme Court man date to fund 100 percent of costs re lated to new construction and repair projects by April 2000, initial plans have been drafted to dedicate some $2.6 billion for socalled special needs districts and $2.7 billion to nonspe cial needs districts.
I am confident Governor Whitman and the legislature will rise to meet this education challenge, just as we did last year in addressing the 30yearold edu cation funding dilemma.
Itisunderstandable thatevenanevent as momentous as the turn of the century would eclipse the year that precedes it. I believe,however,that 1999maybeeven more important than the muchbally hooed year 2000.
There is an opportunity this year to build upon previous reforms in areas from auto insurance to education fund ing. More important, there is the time now to lay the groundwork for a brighter, prosperous New Jersey and to fully prepare this state to meet the challenges of the uncharted century before us.
* * * * *
DonaldT. DiFracesco,aScotchPlains resident, has served as President of the State Senate since January, 1992. First elected to the Senate in 1979, he previFor ously served in the state Assembly from 1976 through 1979. He also just con cluded a 16year tenure as Township Attorney to the Scotch Plains Township Council.
1999: The Year New Jersey Prepares for A New Century
Letters to the Editor
Congressman Franks Succumbed to Pressure
Vote to Impeach
I couldn’t agree more with Robert Ratner’s letter (The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood, January 7) regarding Congressman Bob Franks.
I haven’t been able to figure out quite what Mr. Franks does. He certainly doesn’t provide constituent services; my letters always go unanswered, and my phone calls to his staffers are not re turned.
What’s worse is that, when push came to shove, Mr. Franks knuckled under to the radical right and the Christian Coali tion, who now seem to control the Re publican Party, and voted for impeach ment.
Not only is he ineffective, but spine less, as well. I can only hope that the electorate remembers in 2000.
I certainly will.
Victor S. Sloan Scotch Plains apProposed
Apartments at Dean Oil Site Requires New Look at Building Codes
I read the December 17 Times article on page 1 describing the plans for the Dean Oil site.
These plans, presented by John D. Mollozzi and Vincent Bontempo, and fa vorably received by the Fanwood Plan ning Board, are for building a threestory complexwith36twobedroomapartments.
At this point, outside of it not really apfitting into the residential area, I can’t
disagree with the board. However, what took me aback is that the developers are taking advantage of the building code that specifies 1.5 parking spaces per unit. And the Planning Board is accept ing this criteria.
However, this may be an oversight by the board, since Fanwood presently has no experience with highdensity hous ing, this highrise being a precedent.
This 1.5 parking spaces per unit allo cation may be fine for 10to 15unit dwellings with a combination of one and twobedroom units, but it becomes insufficient for high density, all twoWith bedroom units.
This parking problem comes to light when you analyze the plan. The ers plan to rent the apartments at $1,000
to $1,100 each. At that price, breaking the $1,000 rental affordability threshold
renting must make good money and, therefore,each obviouslyownstheirown car; 2) at that price and with two rooms, there will be many buddy/ room
mates sharing the apartments who also drive separate cars.
Underanalysis, then,at36apartments: 40 percent married with 2 cars. 40 percent roommates with 2 cars. 10 percent single with 1 car. 10 percent other with 1.5 cars.
relationThis totals 67 cars for a plan that allots
a maximum of 53 spots. Also, taking into account factors such as diversity (not all cars will be parked at once), visitors,
apdrivingage children, weekend ing and roommate partying, we are still
looking at a minimum of 67 cars. That leaves maybe 15 to 25 cars to park out on the street, in the Presbyterian Church parking lot, or in the municipal parking lot behind the stores, which is maintained at taxpayer expense.
Highdensity housing creates parking congestion. This is guaranteed. At the very least, the Planning Board should address the spot allotment to two parking spaces per apartment.
Highdensity housing is a new concept for Fanwood and its Planning Board. This requires a second look at the build ing codes, and, specifically, for this new issue of high density housing that Fanwood is now considering. It may be a timeconsuming undertaking to develop specific codes for new concept construc tion, but later is too late.
Kris Adams Fanwood Toy Drive Contributors
Thanked By Weichert
We wish to express our sincere apbe preciation for the many gifts donated to the 20th Annual Weichert, Realtors Toy Drive to benefit needy children.
The kindhearted generosity of the public this year helped us brighten the holiday season for many underprivi leged children and made this year’s toy drive the most successful ever!
Thousands of toys were collected at our 200 offices and distributed to local charities in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washingcockamamie ton, D. C.
We extend our warmest thanks to the people of the greater metropolitan area, and your community, for their continued support.
James M. Weichert President
Attack on Congressman Bob Franks Called OutofControl by Resident
The December 24, 1998 edition of The Westfield Leader carried a highly defec tive diagnosis and prescription by Dr. Ferdinand Gajewski in his outofcon trol attack on our highly respected gressman, Bob Franks, considering the
Clinton debauchery. In Congressman Franks, we have a man who sees his solemn responsibility to “Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States” as paramount to playingpolitical gamesoffollowingpub lic opinion polls.
To allow any person to be above the law is to set the stage for disaster — we all lose our freedom, step by step. More importantly, I see the danger of a large body of pseudointellectuals who feign a braindead condition when it comes to
their support of the liar, the cheater, the perverter of justice, Bill Clinton.
Instead,Dr. Gajewskiavoidstheproper diagnosis that we are being led by a
Concorrupt leader and a cadre of corrupt
Clintoniteofficials, andattacksthebreath of fresh air, a model of a decent Conroom gressman, an honorable man who insists on doing his duty as he was sworn to do it — protecting all of our precious rights and freedoms with equal justice for all.
In the end, our representative in Washfavor, ington, Bob Franks, shall stand much taller for taking the high road and not sweeping the unresolved problem under the rug, and for not showing our children you can get away with anything if you spin it enough.
Warren H. Victor Westfield Deadlines
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Helping at First Night developWas Such a Delight
Close to the 11th hour, I volunteered for First Night Westfield. I was asked to help the artists in Cafeteria A – the children’s room.
The second artist I offered to help said, “Sure,helpme paintthechildren’sfaces.” bed“Moi?,” I asked, backing away from
the suggestion. Then I set aside that “I’ve never done it before” mind set, sat down, and softened up some paint.
The next two hours were a delight – painting eager faces from three years old through seniors. I only had one child who looked at his butterfly nose and cheeks and had a long, drawn out “well” to my question “How do you like it?”
Oh well, back to the drawing board. Thanks Westfield.
Barbara L. Lukosi entertainWestfield
By Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco