Tag Archive: Highland Park

Buono speaks of unions

The video quality isn’t superb, and the audio skips a little. But not everybody we’ve elected to the New Jersey Legislature speaks to, or about, unionized public workers this way. This is Sen. Barbara Buono, who was guest of honor at a Highland Park PBA event, recognized for her legislative work. Buono is also a former Metuchen police commissioner, who instituted that borough’s community policing program.

Just in case you think that’s how Buono speaks only when she’s in front of a room of women and men in labor, here’s what she wrote last year, as across the country in Wisconsin, tens of thousands of workers and supporters rose up to protest a movement there to break unions by drawing back on collective bargaining. Here’s Buono’s speech from a few days ago:

A Real Victory For Parents Against Reforminess!

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman.

I can’t let this pass without noting that parents in New Jersey gained a major victory this week in the battle to reclaim public education:

The founders of Tikun Olam, a proposed Hebrew-language high school, and the founders of Hua Mei, a Mandarin Chinese language high school, both bowed out of this application cycle after multiple attempts to earn state approval.

“We are happy,” said Highland Park Superintendent Fran Wood, who has been a staunch opponent of charter school growth in the small town. “We feel there is not a need for the charter in this or surrounding communities.”

Wood and a group of vigilant parents and teachers from the affected communities argued charter schools would steer money away from the high quality public schools already in operation.

The story is much bigger than that: the parents of students affected by this charter banded together, put together a strategy, and stayed absolutely resolute in their fight. They documented the many problems with Tikum Olam’s application. They brought the issue into the national media. They refused to be cowed by the NJ DOE or the charter cheerleading industry. They forced their local politicians to be held to account. They formed a true grassroots resistance to the plan to take funds away from their children’s high-performing schools and put them into a questionable charter that was neither needed nor wanted.

This may not be over; it certainly isn’t over for other districts that have no say in whether or not charters can be shoved down their throats. But the parents in Highland Park have demonstrated how the destruction of public schools will stop: when parents, educators, politicians, and the community come together and say, “Enough.”

Save Our Schools NJ deserves great credit for organizing the resistance; Julia Sass Rubin of SOSNJ has been a tireless critic of unchecked charter expansion. However, if the parents of Highland Park ever decide to erect a statue to the woman who saved their schools, it will bear the likeness of Darcie Cimarusti. Tough, relentless, and fearless, Darcie is proof that one parent can make all the difference.

Julia, Darcie, Chris Rodda, Julie Woestehoff of PURE in Chicago, and parents all over the country – including, of course, the invaluable Leonie Haimson of Parents Across America – are showing the way. They refuse to be spoon-fed the pablum served up by the reformy movement. They resist giving into the parents-vs-teachers war the Billionaire Boys Club wants to wage.

The win in Highland Park is a victory for them all – and it’s merely one of many to come. This one’s for you, parents:

Good News for LNG Opponents

Last week, partly due to the Gulf oil spill, one of the 3 companies’ proposing Liquefied Natural Gas ports off the Jersey Shore, withdrew their application, Star Ledger coverage here

In June, Perth Amboy passed a resolution opposing a proposal from Liberty Natural Gas to run 36″ pipelines, buried 3 feed deep, by 2 schools, commuter rail lines, residential developments and oil tank farms!  The Home News got a couple of good quotes:

“It’s right through the heart of the city,” said Michael Keller, the city’s director of economic and community development. “Someday something will happen”…  

The majority of the line would parallel existing transportation and pipeline corridors and also would connect with existing natural gas infrastructure. Keller said the new pipeline off Asbury Park would go around Sandy Hook through the Raritan Bay before coming ashore in Perth Amboy, along railroad tracks at an old junkyard adjacent to the Robert N. Wilentz Elementary School on Second Street. He said the natural gas would travel through a 36-inch pipeline buried 3 feet below ground past the city’s train station, Hidden Village housing development, Edward J. Patten Elementary School and Harbortown housing development, under the Outerbridge Crossing, past the Kinder Morgan industrial property, and past Chevron, Hess and the northeast redevelopment area.

“Three feet down is ridiculous,” said Keller, who also questions if there would be any surveillance of the pipeline. In March 1994, a leak in a 36-inch Texas Eastern natural gas pipeline next to the Durham Wood apartment complex in nearby Edison sent flames shooting into the night sky that were visible from Pennsylvania to New York. Eight apartment buildings were destroyed and many people left homeless. One woman died from a heart attack… [S]aid Perth Amboy Fire Chief David Volk, whose department responded to the Durham Woods explosion. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.” Volk said with the pipeline only three feet underground the possibility of someone, or even a train derailment, splitting it open is real.

In 2003, a natural-gas leak leveled a three-story building on New Brunswick Avenue in Perth Amboy, Volk said… a gas pipeline through Perth Amboy is a “grave concern,” especially since there are many residences near the railroad right-of-way.”It’s an extreme danger. Why throw gasoline onto a fire? It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Woodbridge responded by staying on the fence.

John Hagerty, Woodbridge spokesman, said the proposed pipeline would follow the New Jersey Turnpike through parts of Sewaren and Woodbridge proper, but would not have an major impact on the township. “Our Township Council is aware of it. We have yet to take a position,” Hagerty said.

Highland Park Mayor appointed to UN Commission on Women

Promoted by Jason Springer: Thanks for pointing this out.  Here’s some links to stories about the appointment. Frank said she would stay on as Mayor temporarily to ensure a smooth transition.

Highland Park’s Mayor Meryl Frank has been appointed to the UN’s Commission on the Status on Women. The US is one of 45 countries currently on the commission. She will step down as mayor of HP.  She is currently one of two Democratic women mayors out of 19 Democratic mayors in Middlesex County. It is likely that council president Elsie Foster Dublin will replace her.      

Ironically that will leave no women on the council, unless the Democratic committee nominates a woman. I haven’t heard who is screening, but there’s no excuse for not at least screening one woman.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What’s on your minds today, Blue Jersey? Open Thread…