Tag Archive: speeding

Anderson’s “One Newark” Scheme: The Results Could Be Deadly

Normally the debate over school reform isn’t considered, at least in the immediate sense, a life or death issue. Deliberations concerning teacher tenure, educator workload, class sizes, meal quality, even building conditions can get heated, but rarely overlap with the subject of mortality. But this time things are different. As a former Newark resident and Public School teacher, I am writing to express my serious concern. Due to Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan, and its total obliteration of neighborhood schools, children will probably die. It’s sickening to contemplate. Unthinkable – but logically speaking, all of the pieces are falling into place for an unprecedented series of disasters to ensue.

For the uninformed, Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan has replaced neighborhood schools with a network of schools – charter, magnet and traditional – that parents “apply” to through a universal application. Parents list something like their top two or three choices and through a complex algorithm, students wind up with a school. Sometimes it’s a school they’ve selected, sometimes it is not. The school could be a block away, or on the opposite side of the city. Regardless, come this September, tens of thousands of Newark Public School students will be transformed into hardened commuters, traversing the city’s vast distances by bus, car, light rail and foot to get to and from school. Some daily student commutes will be more than 10 miles through a dense, busy and varied urban environment.

Students at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – will be forced to spend long periods of time in transit. Students will be at bus stops and on busses before sunrise. For those thousands attending after-school events like dances, club meetings, games and concerts, evening bus trips and long walks, sometimes in near-to-total darkness, will be the norm. And it should be pointed out that some games and concerts, especially in the high schools, can end as late as 9 p.m.

Students will be required to do this every day. They will be subjected to the elements during the pleasant, warm mornings of September and during the freezing rainstorms of December. Heat waves, cold snaps, traffic jams, neighborhoods with serious safety issues…all will challenge children and teens, and relentlessly so.

This isn’t a commentary to criticize Newark specifically, but let’s be realistic about this. It’s New Jersey’s largest, densest city. Even to an adult with a car, Newark is a huge, sprawling metropolis of broad, lengthy boulevards and steep hills. The sidewalks in some places are falling apart, and entire stretches of pedestrian walkways, even in the city’s bustling Central Ward, go without proper maintenance or snow removal for weeks at a time.

Add into this mix tens of thousands of overstressed commuters hurrying to get to and from work during rush hours and you’re just asking for catastrophe. Don’t take my word for it. Stand at any intersection along Springfield or Central Avenues at 8 a.m. and you will witness cars, vans and busses bolting by at speeds upward to 50 miles and hour or faster. Trucks blaze through yellow lights like Doc’s DeLorean from Back to the Future. Emergency vehicles regularly shriek down Newark’s avenues with a rapidity that, from the perspective of a confused Fourth Grader, approaches light speed.

Now I know that we all take our lives into our hands whenever we venture out of bed each morning. Every step we take is with God’s Grace, no doubt. But if this plan is implemented, the odds of a child coming into harm’s way, either through an accident or as a victim of a crime, will increase astronomically. Every day tens of thousands of children will be moving through and learning in neighborhoods far away from their homes, parents and guardians.

Many parents in Newark don’t have cars, because one of the main advantages of living in a big city like Newark, with its workable public transportation system, is that some can do without them. Additionally, many of Newark’s parents and guardians are low-income and desperately poor. In the case of an emergency, caregivers could take hours to get to school to attend to a child in distress. In inclement weather it could take longer.

These are all disturbing speculations, but they’re not the stuff of fantasy. There are many reasons to stop the “One Newark” program, but perhaps the logistical and perilous nightmare it will create for Newark’s children is the most compelling. We send our students to school to learn, not to die.

I hope I am wrong. But if I am not, the responsibility will lie completely and instantly with Superintendent Anderson and ultimately with the Governor himself. Children are not adults; they’re not independent agents responsible for themselves. Anderson has enacted this drastic, heartless plan and she will be held to its results

Mitt Romney’s Motorcade Chased by Orthodox Jews in Sunny Lakewood, NJ

The guy who displayed his American exceptionalism in his shorts, waving a flag, shouting Whooooo! The kids teetering on their tiptoes on their school bus seats to take a gander. The Orthodox Jewish wedding family that abandoned the bride & groom to rush Romney, scaling a fence to try to do it. Sounds like a wild day in the crimson communities of New Jersey for our man Mitt, whose motorcade was – AHEM – speeding today on both the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

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Pool reporter Holly Bailey of Yahoo News, filed this:

Romney arrived at Lake Terrace, the site of his fundraiser tonight, at roughly 3:35 pm, after what your pooler can only describe as a harrowing high-speed motorcade from Newark airport to Lakewood NJ. Hitting speeds of up to 90 mph at times, the motorcade made what had been scheduled as a 61-minute drive in roughly 45 minutes on a route that took us along the Jersey Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway and prompted your pooler to wonder many times if she would live to cover Romney’s remarks at the fundraiser tonight. The motorcade was escorted by unmarked police SUVs which at times flashed their lights. At one point, we passed a school bus where several little kids could been seen standing on their seats to get a glimpse of the motorcade.

Upon arrival in Lakewood, some unusual things happened. First, the motorcade passed a man dressed in American flag shorts running down the street toward the venue here while waving an American flag. “Whooooo!” he exclaimed, as your pooler’s van passed. Then, as we turned into Lake Terrace, the motorcade drove past an Orthodox Jewish wedding party that had been posing for pictures outside. Immediately, the family abandoned the bride and groom and began chasing Romney’s car in the parking lot, waving cameras. The candidate’s SUV drove around a corner to a back entrance, followed by at least 10 members of the wedding party who tried to run up to Romney’s car by were halted first, by a wood fence, which one man tried to scale, and then by Secret Service agents, who did not look pleased. “Oh you’re Secret Service,” one woman said, as she was asked by an agent to move back. “We just want to see Romney.”

Turns out, the wedding party will get a snapshot with Romney after all. We probably won’t get to see that, but here are some more pictures of literally the only people I’ve ever seen ever get excited about Mitt Romney.

Photos are by Charles Dharapak / AP.

Christie’s shifting stories make his traffic stop more of a story

Some people, including the Christie campaign, are saying Chris Christie got a speeding ticket, and so what? Ok, even if you take that tack, what’s the explanation for the shifting stories?

Contradiction # 1:

On how it was discovered that Chris Christie was US Attorney, this was the original explanation:

His campaign acknowledged Aug. 26 that Christie’s job as U.S. Attorney came up at the stop as Christie handed over his license and identification to the police officer.

After his campaign acknowledged the topic came up, the Chief of Police said this:

Lambertville Police Director Bruce Cocuzza: “He identified himself as a U.S. Attorney but I don’t think the officer on duty knew what that was,” he said.

So the Chief says Christie identified himself and the campaign says it was at the time of showing identification. But now, Christie says it wasn’t him, it was the one armed man… err tow truck driver:

Christie said that he had not identified himself as the U.S. attorney, but that a tow truck driver had recognized him.

No offense, but Christie’s name ID in 2005 probably registered just above mine. That’s like me saying that I got a flat on the highway and the tow truck driver fixed it all for free because he recognized me as a writer for Blue Jersey. This latest iteration of the story came four days after the initial campaign response. If it’s such a simple situation, what’s with the delay in between this latest update? That wasn’t the only change in the story made.

Contradiction # 2:

Originally we got this on how Christie reacted to the situation:

“He was agitated at the prospect of his vehicle being towed away,” said Cocuzza, a Democrat who ran for Hunterdon County Sheriff in 2007, told PolitickerNJ.com’s Max Pizarro in a phone interview. “He was worried about his family being left on the side of the road with no vehicle.”

[snip]

Cocuzza said that Christie did tell the officer about his law enforcement position.  

“He was a little loud at the prospect of being towed and then calmed down.”

But Christie disputed that report:

Lambertville Police Director Bruce Cocuzza reported that Christie got loud during the stop, but Christie described his demeanor only as “affirmative.” “I don’t think I got loud or abusive, but I certainly was saying ‘let me drive my car home and I will take care of the oversight on the registration on my wife’s car when the DMV opens up on Monday,’ which we did,” Christie said.

What a perfectly scripted talking point in response to this situation, well done by whoever wrote it for him. And Christie wasn’t done correcting the record.

Contradiction # 3:

On who got out of the car, when and why:

Christie also denied a report that Brown got out of the car during the stop and flashed her badge. She resigned as first assistant U.S. attorney on Tuesday after it was revealed that Christie had loaned her $46,000. Christie said only he got out of the vehicle, at the officer’s request.

I always thought you were supposed to stay in the car. And we weren’t done yet.

Contradiction # 4:

On whether the car was insured, first we got this:

New Jersey 101.5 FM reported this afternoon that Christie, now the Republican gubernatorial nominee, was stopped for speeding in what turned out to be an unregistered, uninsured vehicle, but was allowed to drive the car away.

The ticket clearly says uninsured vehicle, But now we have this update from Christie:

He was also ticketed for not having insurance or registration. He said the car, which belonged to his wife, was insured, but she had allowed the registration to lapse.

Way to throw your wife under the bus on that one. There’s also conflicting reports about whether he paid a $250 fine or $700 in fines. There may be reasonable explanations to some of these questions, but why the delay in correcting the record if it’s such a simple case of someone getting a speeding ticket? It’s not like people weren’t giving the campaign an opportunity to tell their side of the story. If Christie’s trying to make this story go away, or sell the idea that there isno story here, all the holes and differing accounts of what actually happened are in fact keeping the story alive.

Everybody’s got questions. Nobody thinks it’s going away.