I accompanied NJN’s Michael Aron to the building entrance for what must be a bitter sweet moment, doing what he likes most – reporting on a political event but one hosted by a governor determined to end the very institution which has served New Jerseyans so well. Aron thought the legislature’s increasing concern over the plans for NJN might be cause for optimism. However, he said, “Some days I’m up, and and some days I’m down.” Even Aron, the Senior Political Correspondent and 30-year NJN veteran, has been given a termination notice effective about a week from now. Asked twice how WNET could create a viable New Jersey news organization with only some 15 employees and no office in our state, he declined to comment, but I guess the answer is obvious. Barring legislative intervention in the next few days, in-depth TV news reporting as we know it is coming to and end.
Those outside the Town Hall meeting with signs were predominately teachers and parents. They chanted “Kill The Bill,” and “Negotiate, Don’t Dictate.” Signs said, “Christie doesn’t want to improve education. He wants to fight.” and “If you can read this sign, thank your teacher, not Christie.” A parent explained he had two children in the Fair Lawn school system, one in high school and one a special education student. “Attendance at this rally,” he said, “is the least I can do.” He was disappointed that more parents did not attend.
Gene Kuffel, President of the Fair Lawn Education Association, was more blunt. He indicated that the teachers there have gone a year without a new contract. In spite of their willingness to negotiate, he said the Board seems more concerned with salaries for administrators than teachers and seems content to let Christie and legislators have their way. He added, “Christie, Sweeney and Norcross are having a menange a trois while public workers suffer.” He has two busses lined up for a road trip tomorrow to Trenton.
Fair Lawn police ejected from the building a small LaRouche group, including a woman who wants to run for Congress in the 5th District, while they were trying to sing their anthem. I have attended many a raucous council meeting in Newark where attendees can be disruptive, but the Council President usually uses the gavel and stern words to restore order, not the police. I guess Governor Christie demands a “higher standard.” Those of us outside the Town Hall have a different standard on so many issues.