Thursday, November 11, 2010

VETERANS DAY: REMEMBER ALL WHO SERVED

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation”.
~~~ George Washington, the First President of the United States of America

On Veterans Day, please remember to commemorate the remarkable men and women of America’s Armed Forces, for their patriotism, courage, and sacrifices and give support to our active military personnel valiantly serving to protect our country and preserve freedom in America and around the world.
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Restoring Veterans Day
Remembering America’s warriors is often an afterthought for many Americans.
It’s about time Nov. 11 is paid its proper respect.
November 04, 2010

Veterans Day, once a widely celebrated holiday, is increasingly forgotten by many Americans. One need only look at the poor turnouts at ceremonies on Nov. 11. With the percentage of citizens who have worn a uniform rapidly declining, appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans is correspondingly diminishing.

To help counter this trend, VFW has long promoted Veterans Day as an opportunity to educate the public as to the meaning of this significant time each November. This task can best be accomplished by explaining the five “Ws.”

Who. As a nation, we remember all Americans who served on active duty in the armed forces. While those who died always remain prominent in our memories, they have a special time of mourning reserved for Memorial Day. Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans.

What. Collective as well as individual contributions to the nation’s defense is what we are remembering. The outcome of any given military campaign is irrelevant here—it’s the sacrifices made at the behest of the country that are important.

Where. Across the land, the grounds of virtually every state capital and county courthouse host monuments, memorials and plaques honoring those who served. They date back as far as the American Revolution and are as recent as Iraq. But paying homage to veterans need not necessarily be in a public place. Every private home also should serve this purpose when appropriate.

When. For some Americans, remembering veterans is a daily act. But as a nation, it is essential that we preserve the integrity of November 11 as that one extra-special day for the American people as a whole to pause in private or demonstrate recognition in public.
Why. Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service. Millions of Americans’ lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. And acknowledging Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due. It’s our way of keeping faith with former defenders.

The 23.8 million veterans living today deserve the recognition. It is often forgotten that legislative battles were waged over this day and its earlier version called Armistice Day in 1926, 1938, 1954 and throughout the 1970s. Let’s not take its value for granted.

One final thought. This year is an especially poignant time to restore Veterans Day to its rightful place in society.

Though the war in Iraq is far from over, we reached a significant milestone with the end of offensive U.S. operations there. Put simply, the Americans in uniform did the job asked of them, and the 50,000 who remain behind will continue to do so.

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have fully joined the cavalcade of America’s veterans, VFW generations who span WWI to the present day.

Reprinted from the website of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States


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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 05, 2010 Presidential Proclamation

Veterans Day

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION

On Veterans Day, we come together to pay tribute to the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. Americans across this land commemorate the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve the liberty of our Nation, the families who support them, and the heroes no longer with us. It is not our weapons or our technology that make us the most advanced military in the world; it is the unparalleled spirit, skill, and devotion of our troops. As we honor our veterans with ceremonies on this day, let our actions strengthen the bond between a Nation and her warriors.

In an unbroken line of valor stretching across more than two centuries, our veterans have charged into harm's way, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice, to protect the freedoms that have blessed America. Whether Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard, they are our Nation's finest citizens, and they have shown the heights to which Americans can rise when asked and inspired to do so. Our courageous troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe have earned their place alongside previous generations of great Americans, serving selflessly, tour after tour, in conflicts spanning nearly a decade.

Long after leaving the uniform behind, many veterans continue to serve our country as public servants and mentors, parents and community leaders. They have added proud chapters to the story of America, not only on the battlefield, but also in communities from coast to coast. They have built and shaped our Nation, and it is our solemn promise to support our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen as they return to their homes and families.

America's sons and daughters have not watched over her shores or her citizens for public recognition, fanfare, or parades. They have preserved our way of life with unwavering patriotism and quiet courage, and ours is a debt of honor to care for them and their families. These obligations do not end after their time of service, and we must fulfill our sacred trust to care for our veterans after they retire their uniforms.

As a grateful Nation, we are humbled by the sacrifices rendered by our service members and their families out of the deepest sense of service and love of country. On Veterans Day,let us remember our solemn obligations to our veterans, and recommit to upholding the enduring principles that our country lives for, and that our fellow citizens have fought and died for.

With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service men and women have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2010, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

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Giving Thanks Through Service
Posted by Dr. Jill Biden on the White House Blog
November 10, 2010 at 06:00 PM EST

On the eve of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to write today with a simple message to our nation’s veterans: thank you. Over the past two years, I have joined with our First Lady to explore the issues faced by our service members and their families – while they are deployed and once they return home. In my work and travels, I am always inspired by the commitment of our military service members and truly grateful for al they do for our country. This Administration is working hard to care for our service members and veterans – making historic investments in health, family support, education, and economic opportunity for our veterans – but there is a role for every one of us in showing support.

The First Lady and I recently taped the following public service announcement together which I wanted to share:





On Veteran’s Day and every day, it’s our sacred duty to honor the service of those who sacrifice for our country – and we all can play a role. Through groups like MissionServe and opportunities at www.Serve.gov, Americans can find a way to help in their own communities. Please join me in this effort.

Thanks,
Jill

Friday, October 22, 2010

A BIRTHDAY WISH COME TRUE! CELEBRATING RINGO STARR'S "70th" BIRTHDAY AT NYC'S RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL


I WAS ONE OF THOUSANDS OF LUCKY BEATLE FANS WHO LIVED A DREAM COME TRUE WHEN I SAW JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND RINGO PERFORM LIVE AT SHEA STADIUM BACK IN '65 . NOW, 45 YEARS LATER, LUCK CAME MY WAY ONCE MORE WHEN MY DAUGHTERS AND HUSBAND SURPRISED ME ON MY BIRTHDAY WITH TICKETS FOR ALL OF US TO GO SEE RINGO'S "ALL STARR" BAND IN CONCERT AT RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL ON JULY 7th. NOT ONLY DID WE SEE MY FAVORITE BEATLE, RINGO, PERFORM WITH SOME OF THE BEST ROCK STARS IN THE BUSINESS, WE REALIZED A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE WHEN PAUL MCCARTNEY MADE A SURPRISE APPEARANCE AT EVENING'S END. THERE ARE NO WORDS TO ADEQUATELY DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED WHEN PAUL BOUNDED OUT ON THE STAGE, STRAPPED ON HIS TRUSTY HOFNER BASS GUITAR, AND STARTED SINGING THE WHITE ALBUM'S "BIRTHDAY" IN HONOR OF RINGO'S "70th" BIRTHDAY. IT WAS SHEER HYSTERIA AS PAUL SANG AND RINGO PLAYED ALONG ON HIS DRUMS AS IF THEY WERE STILL THE YOUNG LIVERPUDLIANS WHO TOOK THE WORLD BY STORM IN THE DAYS OF A BY-GONE ERA. TALK ABOUT BRINGING THE HOUSE DOWN! THE VIBRATIONS FROM THE CROWD'S DELIRIOUS SHRIEKS SHOOK THE HALL WITH SUCH INTENSITY, WE THOUGHT THE BUILDING WAS GOING TO COLLAPSE AROUND US! NO MATTER - WE WERE WATCHING HISTORY IN THE MAKING. HERE, TOGETHER ON STAGE, WERE PAUL MCCARTNEY AND RINGO STARR, THE TWO REMAINING BAND MEMBERS FROM THE LEGENDARY BEATLES PERFORMING "BIRTHDAY" LIVE - A FIRST SINCE THE SONG'S RECORDING. I WAS INSTANTLY TRANSPORTED BACK IN TIME AND COMPLETELY REVERTED INTO THAT 12 YEAR OLD GIRL ENGULFED IN THE WORLD OF "BEATLEMANIA" AT SHEA 45 YEARS AGO. I SCREAMED AND CRIED MY HEAD OFF ALONG WITH EVERYONE ELSE IN THE HALL - "WE LOVE YOU PAUL"! "WE LOVE YOU RINGO"! AND THEN THE SONG WAS OVER. PAUL AND RINGO EMBRACED, STOOD TOGETHER, AND LET THE LOVE WASH OVER THEM JUST AS THEY DID WHEN THEY WERE WITH THEIR MATES, JOHN AND GEORGE, "ALL THOSE YEARS AGO".

THE JOY AND POIGNANCY OF WITNESSING THE LAST MEMBERS OF THE "FAB FOUR" SHARE THIS BEAUTIFUL OCCASION WAS TRULY A MAGICAL, OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCE. IT WAS MADE THAT MUCH MORE SPECIAL BECAUSE IT WAS SHARED WITH MY DAUGHTERS, WHO, NOT SURPRISINGLY, ARE DIE-HARD BEATLES FANS. IT IS A MOMENT IN TIME NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN! IT MAY HAVE BEEN RINGO'S BIRTHDAY, BUT IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY WISH COME TRUE.

THANK YOU COURTNEY, KELLY, AND RALPH FOR GIVING THIS DEVOTED BEATLES FAN THE BEST GIFT I COULD HAVE EVER ASKED FOR! BEATLES 4 EVER - Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

http://www.examiner.com/beatles-in-national/ringo-starr-s-birthday-report-5-macca-surprised-ringo-and-sat-with-fans-more-pics-videos



































Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

NATIONAL POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY






Today all Americans honor our POW and MIA heroes, a unique group of our nation's Armed Forces who endured one of the most arduous and brutal aspects of war. As of August 2010, nearly 82,000 Americans who served in the military are still missing in action (MIA).

This is a time to remember and reflect on the cost of freedom. We must never forget the untold sacrifices made by valiant soldiers who went to war and suffered cruel imprisonment by the enemies or still remain missing with their fates unknown.

Let us take the time today to honor the valor of America’s POWs and MIAs and give continuing support to their families and loves ones.
________________________________________________________________


MISSING MAN TABLE & HONORS CEREMONY
Moderator:

As you entered the dining area, you may have noticed a table at the front, raised to call your attention to its purpose -- it is reserved to honor our missing loved ones [or missing comrades in arms, for veterans].

Set for six, the empty places represent Americans still [our men] missing from each of the five services -- Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard - and civilians. This Honors Ceremony symbolizes that they are with us, here in spirit.

Some [here] in this room were very young when they were sent into combat; however, all Americans should never forget the brave men and women who answered our nation's call [to serve] and served the cause of freedom in a special way.

I would like to ask you to stand, and remain standing for a moment of silent prayer, as the Honor Guard places the five service covers and a civilian cap on each empty plate.

Honor Guard:

(In silence or with dignified, quiet music as background, the Honor Guard moves into position around the table and simultaneously places the covers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, and a civilian hat, on the dinner plate at each table setting. The Honor Guard then departs.)

Moderator:

Please be seated ....... I would like to explain the meaning of the items on this special table.

The table is round -- to show our everlasting concern for our missing men.

The tablecloth is white -- symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.

The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of the missing, and the[ir] loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those captured and missing in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.

The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

The glass is inverted -- to symbolize their inability to share this evening's [morning's/day's] toast.

The chairs are empty -- they are missing.

Let us now raise our water glasses in a toast to honor America's POW/MIAs and to the success of our efforts to account for them.

Courtesy of:
NATIONAL LEAGUE OF FAMILIES
OF AMERICAN PRISONERS AND MISSING IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

http://www.pow-miafamilies.org/


______________________________________________________________
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 16, 2010

Presidential Proclamation--National POW/MIA Recognition Day



"Until every story ends" is a solemn promise to those who wear the uniform of the United States that they will never be left behind or forgotten. On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we pay tribute to the American men and women who never returned home from combat, to those who faced unthinkable suffering as prisoners of war in distant lands, and to all servicemembers who have defended American lives and liberties with unwavering devotion. As a grateful Nation, we can never repay the profound debt to our heroes, and we will not rest until we have accounted for the missing members of our Armed Forces.

We demonstrate our deep gratitude and admiration for our brave patriots not in words alone, but in our actions to bring them home. Each year, specialists in our Department of Defense scour foreign battlefields and burial sites, interview witnesses, and search national and international archives for information about those missing from the Vietnam War, Korean War, Cold War, World War II, and other conflicts. Their work will not be complete, nor our commitment fulfilled, until the families of those taken or missing in action can rest knowing the fate of their loved ones.

On September 17, 2010, the stark black and white flag honoring America's prisoners of war and those missing in action will be flown over the White House; the United States Capitol; the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the Selective Service System Headquarters; the World War II Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; United States post offices; national cemeteries; and other locations across our country. It is a powerful reminder that our Nation will never cease in our task to recover, remember, and honor the courageous men and women who have served and sacrificed so much for each of us.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2010, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day. I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Patriot Day Remembrance







Let us always honor the memories of the 9/11 victims, give support to the victim’s families and loved ones, and give thanks to the firefighters, law enforcement, rescue personnel, and members of our military services for their heroic efforts on that tragic day and in it’s aftermath.



I'll Light A Candle
by Karen Drucker

I'll light a candle in your memory
Though I don't know who you are
When I think about your family
I will wish upon a star
I pray that they'll find peace someday
I pray they'll make it through
I'll light a candle in your memory to honor you
I'll light a candle for America
May we feel peace inside
We'll hold each other closer
And wipe the tears we've cried
I pray we'll bond together
I pray that we'll pull through
I'll light a candle for America
For me and for you
We will light the world with our love
I'll light a candle for humanity
For the good that's yet to come
As we overlook our differences
And join now as one
I pray we'll come out stronger
In this world I'm dreaming of







Sunday, June 13, 2010

THANK YOU, GOVERNOR CHRISTIE!


Christie supports Roxbury school board member censured over protest
By MATT MANOCHIO • STAFF WRITER • June 11,
2010

ROXBURY — Gov. Chris Christie criticized the local
school district's tactics in censuring a member of
the school board, while also addressing upcoming
nominations to the Lake Hopatcong Commission
during a town hall style meeting Thursday.

"The whole idea I think for a public official is, you
should speak up," Christie said, referring to the
school board censuring fellow board member
Maureen Castriotta for appearing on Roxbury High
School property unannounced during a student
protest against the governor's school aid cuts. She
had criticized school officials for allowing the rally
during school hours.

Christie, of Mendham Township, spoke to a
standing-room-only audience of more than 200
people about his proposal to put on November's
ballot a measure to cap state and local property tax
increases at 2.5 percent with certain exceptions. He
also discussed his plans to disband the state
Council on Affordable Housing, returning the
obligation to build affordable units to municipalities
using a market-based approach.

In speaking about Castriotta, Christie was
responding to a question posed by township
resident Marie Felix at the Roxbury Performing Arts
Center on Eyland Avenue. Castriotta and fellow
board member Chris Rogers, both of whom attended
the meeting, had voted against the school budget
and against the censure motion last month.

Christie rhetorically asked the audience whether
school administrators would have allowed a student
rally critical of the New Jersey Education
Association.

"That protest was permitted by school officials
because it supported their political point of view,"
said Christie, who chided what he described as
bully tactics used by teacher unions who sought to
intimidate school boards.

He stressed his objection was with union leadership
and not with rank-and-file members.

Castriotta smilingly applauded the governor's take.
Schools Superintendent Michael Rossi and board
member Greg Somjen, both of whom supported the
censure, left the meeting together before it
concluded, and did not comment when asked if they
wanted to address Christie's criticisms.


The governor also addressed a resident's concern
about the cash-strapped Lake Hopatcong
Commission, which oversees maintenance of the
state's largest lake.

"Right now, I have to be honest with you, we don't
have the money for it," Christie said, adding that
should revenues pick up in the years to come, he'd
look to readdress the matter.

During a press conference following the town hall-
style meeting, Christie said he would make
appointments to the commission within the next
week. When asked whether he would nominate
Jefferson Mayor Russell Felter, who currently sits on
the commission, to be its chairman, Christie
wouldn't say, but praised Felter.

"I have great admiration for Russ," Christie said,
adding he's known Felter for 16 years. He said if
Felter was interested in working for the state "he's
someone who I would clearly love to have."

Later in the day, state officials announced that Felter
Advertisement was nominated to chair the Commission, replacing
Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish.

Christie's primary purpose in being in his home
county was to prod supporters of capping property
tax increases at 2.5 percent a year to write and call
Democratic leaders in Trenton to allow the question
to come up for a vote in the Legislature to put it on
the public ballot.

"They may not post it for a vote, so you won't know
whether your legislator voted yes or no," Christie
said. He said he wants every lawmaker to go on
record whether they support the ballot initiative.

'Those people who vote no on that are going to hear
from the governor in 2011," Christie said of the next
time statehouse elections will be held. He said the
only way property taxes could be increased above
2.5 percent is to address debt service, or if the
residents vote to raise them.

Regarding COAH, Christie said a bipartisan group of
lawmakers was working to eliminate it.

"I said one of my first priorities was to make sure we
gutted COAH," he said, later adding, "we're going to
have a funeral for COAH, respectfully bury it and put
it away forever."

Matt Manochio: 973-428-6627;
mmanochi@gannett.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THE VERDICT: CENSURE

"You know, so much of the time we're just lost. We say, "Please, God, tell us what is right; tell us what is true." And there is no justice: the rich win, the poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time, we become dead... a little dead. We think of ourselves as victims... and we become victims. We become... we become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law. But today you are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book... not the lawyers... not the, a marble statue... or the trappings of the court. See those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are... they are, in fact, a prayer: a fervent and a frightened prayer. In my religion, they say, "Act as if ye had faith... and faith will be given to you." IF... if we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves. And ACT with justice. See, I believe there is justice in our hearts."....from the movie "The Verdict"

Last night, eight members of the Roxbury Township Board of Education voted to censure me. The following are the links to related news story on the matter and the statement I made during the hearing:

http://www.dailyrecord.com/article/20100525/UPDATES01/100524110/Roxbury+school+board+censures+member+for+attending+rally

http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/2010/05/roxbury_school_board_censures.html
CENSURE HEARING ROXBURY BOARD OF EDUCATION
MAY 24, 2010

Firstly, I firmly and without reservation deny all the allegations of wrongdoing that have been made in what is a campaign to malign my character and to fetter my speech. As a member of the Roxbury Twp. Board of Education, I have not taken any actions which are inconsistent with my obligations as a Board Member or detrimental to the best interest of the district students, the Superintendent, the high school principal, and the Board of Education as a whole nor have I exposed the Board of Education to potential legal liability. As a Board member, I have been responsible to the State Board of Education for complying with state laws and regulations and, within the bounds established by Roxbury school board policy, to the voters of the district for carrying out their wishes in matters of public education.

In fact, I ask that the record show, that the Board has not submitted a single question to me to ascertain the facts prior to holding this hearing.

I will now state the facts that took place on April 27, 2010:

During the evening of April 26, media sources reported a statewide high school student walkout to protest school state aid cuts would be taking place on April 27 on school grounds during school hours. A community member also called me the morning of April 27 who had heard that our high school students would be taking part in the walkout and expressed concern about whether this would be allowed. This demonstration followed the student demonstration that took place before school hours on April 15th. The Board did not receive any communication from Dr. Rossi or John Moschella that a student walkout would be taking place, nor did I expect them to answer my questions, as they had never responded to my emails regarding the demonstration that had occurred on April 14th.
In any case, since the state aid cuts, the school budget election, and the ultimate defeat of the Roxbury school budget had been matters of profound public concern in Roxbury and state-wide, I drove to the high school the morning of April 27th and parked in the student parking lot at approximately 9:30 a.m. to see if the walkout would actually take place.
After I parked, I stood at my car. I observed the presence of news reporters. When the class buzzer sounded at approximately 9:40 a.m., I observed several hundred students filing out the high school’s front entrance into the roadway in front of the school. I immediately called Dr. Rossi’s office because I did not know if he was aware of the walkout and thought I should tell him. A secretary in the office answered and I asked her if Dr. Rossi was there. She said he was not so I told her I was at the high school and there appeared to be a student demonstration going on. She said Dr. Rossi was on his way over to the high school and I said ok, I’d talked to him when he arrived. From the parking lot, I then observed Principal Swanson, on or near a grassy median near the roadway in front of the school. I approached Mr. Swanson from behind and asked him why the walkout was being allowed to take place. He said it was because he could not accommodate the discipline for the number of students involved in the walkout. I asked if he knew about the walkout ahead of time and he said yes and I asked how he knew about the walkout and then ended my conversation with Mr. Swanson, and moved back to the parking lot area. At no time during my conversation with Mr. Swanson did I raise my voice to him, criticize or berate him, give any directives, or seek to involve students in my conversation with him. Moreover, at no time did Mr. Swanson tell me I have to leave the school grounds.

Shortly after speaking to Mr. Swanson, I observed a small group of students rushing towards the parking lot and Mr. Swanson instructing them to go back to the area in front of the school. I also saw a small number of students carrying anti-Christie signs chanting slogans and another small group yelling “Let’s Grill” while most of the other students milled around and talked with each other. I then noticed Dr. Rossi and Mr. Swanson talking with each other near the grassy median and approached them from behind. I said Mike, but Dr. Rossi didn’t appear to hear me so I said his name again. Dr. Rossi then turned his head but not his body and I asked him what was going on. He replied “This is not your business” in a nasty tone and turned his head away. I said, “what do you mean it’s not my business?” and he again turned his head towards me and said “You’re trespassing” again in a very nasty tone. I was upset and incredulous that Dr. Rossi was so antagonistic and confrontational and told him I was not trespassing, that I was a school board member, a long-time taxpayer and resident of Roxbury and my children went through the school system. I asked him who he was to tell me this was not my business and that I was trespassing. Dr. Rossi replied, “I am the Superintendent of Schools”. I then walked away from Dr. Rossi and Mr. Swanson. I stepped back to the parking lot and then observed Dr. Rossi walk away towards the high school. I never gave Dr. Rossi any directives or sought to involve students in my exchange with him.

When Mr. Swanson walked away, I moved forward again to the grassy median and stood and observed the students, the central office assistant superintendents standing near the far entrance of the school, the h.s. vice-principals monitoring the students, and a police officer near a police truck. While the group of students with signs gathered together and chanted slogans, they were video-taped by a newsman and the news reporter interviewed students. Another group of students sat on the curb in front of the school and one student periodically yelled out “I like Christie”. I then saw a student I knew since he was a small child and also whose family I knew well hanging out an upstairs window holding a small sign. I waved up to him and said hello. I then moved towards him and asked him if there’s any classes going on and he said yes. I then moved away and stood in the roadway near the group sitting on the curb and stood there for about 5-10 minutes.

I then moved back to the grassy median and I spoke to the reporter briefly before he left. I said hello and he said he would call me later. As time passed, I observed a Domino’s Pizza vehicle arrive and the police officer stopped it from entering. I saw a group of students attempting to go towards the parking lot to the vehicle but Mr. Swanson stopped them and said they could not accept the delivery. I did see one student walking back with what appear to be a pizza box and other food. I then saw the Domino’s pizza driver come over to talk to Mr. Swanson. She said she had orders to deliver but Mr. Swanson waved her off and said she couldn’t deliver them and not to take any more orders.

Not long after, most of the students went inside the building except for the students demonstrating and chanting .At approximately 10:46 a.m., the last of the students went back into the school building with the exception of a few who were cleaning up the litter that was left behind. I then entered my car and left the high school premises. At no time did I enter the high school building as a visitor from the time I arrived on the high school grounds until the time I left and therefore, did not violate any district policy or procedure and at no time did my behavior contribute in a negative fashion to the proper operation of the school and to student safety.

When I arrived home, I opened an email sent from the Governor’s Press Secretary with a statement that said “students belong in the classroom and we hope all efforts were made to curtail student walkouts”. It also included a statement from Department of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler that said, “Schools should enforce their attendance policies. They should not be permitting students out of class.”

Sometime afterwards, the reporter from the Daily Record who was present at the Roxbury high school walk out called to ask me my opinion of the walkout. I told him, as I always do when giving my opinion about school matters, that I was speaking on my own behalf and not that of the school board. I then stated my opinion, as an elected state official, about the student walkout because it was a genuine issue of public concern. This was also the case when I gave my opinion about the student walkout in subsequent interviews with another reporter from the Daily Record and with Fios news. At no time, when giving my opinion, did I publicly state that the administrators should be reprimanded for sanctioning the event and violating policy. I gave my opinion that the school board should review the matter and decide if school policy was violated and disciplinary action was required.

In closing, I want to again emphatically deny the accusations made against me as stated in in the Resolution of Censure by the Roxbury Board of Education. They are false and malicious, an attempt to violate my constitutional rights, and clearly in retaliation for my viewpoints on the student walkout which they simply did not want to hear.







Monday, May 17, 2010

Gov. Christie Leadership Style Is Just What NJ Needs: "Honest and Refreshing"

HEY GOVERNOR CHRISTIE, LOVE YOUR STYLE...YOU'VE GOT TRENTON COVERED AND I'M DOING JUST WHAT THE PEOPLE IN ROXBURY ELECTED ME TO DO!

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his "confrontational tone"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

VOTE "NO" ON THE SCHOOL BUDGET AND STOP THE MADNESS!















The following is an op-ed piece by Chris Rogers and myself which was published in the April 15th issue of the Roxbury Review and the April 18th @Issue section of the Morris County Daily Record.

SCHOOL ELECTIONS:
Vote 'No,' and stop the madness

By MAUREEN CASTRIOTTA and CHRIS ROGERS
April 18, 2010

Well, here we go again. Thanks to an 8-to-2 vote by the Roxbury school board, the proposed school budget will increase Roxbury residents' property taxes by yet another 4 percent, but sadly, our students will not benefit from the extra dollars. Why? Because the majority rule in the Roxbury school system has made "shared sacrifice" verboten.

Despite the fact that our school district's financial system and productivity are collapsing under the weight of a depressed economy, overspending and excessive employee salaries and benefits, never once has this blunted the demands of the
administrators and teachers union or strengthened the resolve of the school board to put on the brakes on the runaway train of reckless spending.

The very ones who are crying that Roxbury's school district is on the "brink of educational destruction" have now been given a second chance to help rectify their own part in bringing our schools to this precipice, but once again, their own self-interests have taken priority over working for the collective good of our school system and community.

Thus far, the Roxbury teachers union has not made any concessions to help alleviate the school district's financial burden. The teachers will get their 4.7 percent salary increase and not have to pay a penny toward their health insurance premiums.

And then we have our multiple layers of administrators, supervisors and directors. Although most have agreed to a wage freeze, there will be no cuts in their hefty salaries, or sensible elimination of administrative positions despite the demand by
the public to do so.

The school board is supposed to ensure the tax dollars spent go to places where they are most needed to improve student achievement, so how can they justify continual increased spending for the existing administrative positions without any data
proving this results in direct positive gains for our students?

In our opinion, egos, greed and arrogance have displaced the purpose we seek to pursue in education. The end result is the students, parents and taxpayers will be bearing the brunt of a school budget that will raise property taxes while eliminating teachers, programs and electives, and force the implementation of pay-to-play for sports and extracurricular activities.

As school board members, we voted "No" on this school budget. Now it's up to you to make your voices heard and assume ownership of your school system.

Cast your "No" vote on Tuesday and stop the madness.

Maureen Castriotta and Chris Rogers are members
of the Roxbury Board of Education. The opinions
expressed are their own.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thank you, Gov. Christie, for your political courage

“In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow.”~~~John F. Kennedy

Gov. Chris Christie speaks to Star-Ledger's editorial board about "day of reckoning" budget cuts

By Kelly Heyboer/ The Star-Ledger

March 17, 2010, 10:33PM
John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger

Gov. Chris Christie answers questions on his proposed budget during a meeting with the Star-Ledger editorial board today. Christie has hit the road to campaign for support of his budget.
A fired-up Gov. Chris Christie visited The Star-Ledger editorial board today to make his case for a proposed state budget that he believes will be the first step in solving New Jersey's financial problems.

The governor made no apologies for his plan to slash school aid, property tax rebate checks, municipal aid and dozens of state programs and departments. He said he is prepared to fight to get the budget through the state Legislature, even if it costs him re-election.

"I've got to fix it. Or I'm going down trying," Christie told the editorial board at The Star-Ledger's Newark office. "I think the public has just had enough."

Christie did not back off his plan to cut taxes to the rich. He said he will not call for renewing an income tax surcharge on families who earn $400,000 or more. The surcharge, which expired last year, would have raised $1 billion for the state coffers if renewed.

The governor said if Democrats legislators wanted the surcharge, they should have passed a bill before it expired last year.

But Christie saved his biggest criticism for the state teachers unions, including the New Jersey Education Association. Teachers may have to give up pay raises and contribute more to their health care plans if school districts can't make ends meet after the proposed state aid cuts.

"The teachers union has a choice here: Do they want to lose members? Or do they want to reopen contracts?" Christie said.

Christie said he suspects the leaders of the NJEA are "crass union bosses" who have little interest in compromising with Trenton lawmakers.

"Those people have been the bullies of State Street . . . and they're not going to bully me," Christie said.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

End Reckless School Spending in NJ : Support Governor Christie's Call To Action

Chris Rogers and I wrote the following op-ed piece which was published as a letter to the editor in the March 26th issue of the Roxbury Register:

Roxbury Register > Opinion

Two Roxbury school board members back Christie

Published: Mar 26th, 7:05 AM

EDITOR:
During his recent appearance on NJ 101.5 FM radio, Gov. Christie emphatically stated “it’s absolutely untrue” that a school board has to raise property taxes because the state froze aid in the amount of their excess surplus and said people should not stand for a school board that makes this claim.

What is really driving increases in school budgets, the governor continued, are negotiated contracts like the one in the Marlboro school district,where teachers received annual 4.5% salary increases for the next five years with zero contributions to health benefits.

We’re here to tell the good people of the state that, in our opinion, Gov. Christie knows exactly what he’s talking about and needs your support.

Let’s look at the facts in Roxbury, where the school board is indeed blaming the state for the anticipated increase in property taxes.

Fact: Roxbury teachers were handed a retroactive 4.3 percent wage increase for ‘07-’08 and a 4.7 percent wage increase last year, this year, and the next with not having to pay a dime towards their health insurance premiums.

This is thanks to the approval of an irresponsible contract by the majority of the school board, including two of the unchallenged incumbents regaining their seats in the upcoming school election.

With approximately 85 percent of the Roxbury school budget going into the pockets of it’s employees, it’s plain both the students and the taxpayers are paying handily for the action of the school board, not that of the Governor’s.

Fact: School boards are by law allowed to craft an annual school budget with a 4 percent growth in the tax levy.

Does anyone really believe the Roxbury school board wasn’t going to follow their customary practice of going to cap whether the state froze excess surplus or not?

Another fact: After the voters defeated the Roxbury school budget last year, the Superintendent and school board professed a $1 million budget cut would devastate the district.

So instead of listening to the voter mandate to make cuts that would give the public real tax relief, the majority of the town council threw up their hands to the “school cartel” in a showdown well orchestrated by the school board and central office administration and cut only $500,000.

The result? Not only did Roxbury school district end up retaining a 2 percent budget surplus of about $1.5 million, it amassed another $1 million plus in unused funds.

In our view, Gov. Christie took back state aid because, frankly, the school board could not find ways to spend the taxpayer’s money fast enough.

Again, the blame can only be placed on the shoulders of your local government officials, not the Governor’s.

So let’s be clear, Gov. Christie’s recent cut to Roxbury school district’s surplus funds will not raise property taxes any more than the district already intended to raise them.

What Gov. Christie’s executive order will do is: 1) close the budget gap on state spending without new taxation and more importantly 2) force Roxbury and other school districts to limit spending on those items that we “want” but the taxpayers can no longer afford.

Without question, there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way Roxbury school board views future school spending.

When it comes to it’s budget, the school board needs to remember the difference between “want” and “need”.

They must learn to cut items and positions that not only have seriously jeopardized the quality and stability of our children’s education, but also puts the squeeze on the taxpayers.

Everyone in the school district, including the Roxbury Education Association, needs to realize the well has run dry. The NJEA and its sub chapters cannot continue to hold school boards throughout New Jersey hostage.

If the teachers union and school establishment’s mantra, “it’s for the children”, is going to really mean something, then everyone is going to have to start giving rather than taking.

We urge Roxbury residents to rebuke the administration’s and school board’s usual scare tactics of threatening to cut items that will cause our kids and parents “maximum pain” and demand they work harder and smarter with the money they’ve been entrusted to oversee.

Let’s see budget cuts that will reduce entitlements and empire building rather than taking away from the classroom.

Lastly, New Jersey’s new leader, Gov. Christie, is taking bold action to try and turn this state around.

As NJ school board members and residents, we’re thankful that someone has finally risen to the occasion and is willing to take on the special interests groups rather than bow down to them.

We urge all NJ citizens to contact their legislators and tell them you expect them to take up the Governor’s call to action and support legislation that will finally end the reign of indulgent, reckless spending of our tax dollars by school boards and help regain the solvency and respectability of our state and it’s public education system.

Lastly, we are speaking on our own behalf and not that of the Roxbury Township Board of Education.
The opinions we expressed are our own and do not represent those of the board, individual board members, or district employees.

MAUREEN CASTRIOTTA
CHRIS ROGERS

Roxbury Board of Education Members
Roxbury Township

Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Open Discussion Across the Aisle

"Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate."
— Hubert H. Humphrey