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>Verizon to stop paying some local tax?


Friday, November 14, 2008 7:22 PM

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Verizon is telling New Jersey towns that it will stop paying local taxes on utility poles, wires and other equipment because people are using other means to communicate.
Municipal leaders in cash-strapped towns say the loss of revenue could force them to shift the costs to homeowners.

The Record of Bergen County reports Verizon is using a 1940 state law to argue traditional telephone use has slipped significantly as people turn to cable and the Internet for phone services.

Verizon says the law requires the company to pay taxes on landline equipment only when it is the dominant provider. The company says it is losing more than 35,000 residential phone customers a month due to competition.

The state attorney general is looking into whether Verizon is following the law.

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>What about teacher’s aides?

>Just about every school in town has almost as many teacher’s aids as it does teaches. What do they do?Guard the kids so they don’t leave class, hand out paper, take kids to the bathroom so they don’t get lost. Give me a break.This is like a teacher’s nanny.Our classes don’t have 30-35 kids.If the teachers can’t handle 20-25 kids then they need to find another job.The concept of teacher’s aid is a joke.Put money into books and other worth while things and stop wasting money.


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>NEW PARKING COMMITTEE TO BE FORMED – Submit Letter of Interest by Nov. 25

>The Ridgewood Village Council is looking for people to serve on a Parking Committee, with a membership from the following groups: commuters; property owners; tenants, and employees in the Central Business District; as well as shoppers and those who frequent the restaurants in the Village of Ridgewood.

All persons wishing to be involved with the Parking Committee should submit a letter of interest, indicating which group listed above they represent, no later than November 25, 2008 to: Mayor David Pfund, Village of Ridgewood, 131 North Maple Avenue, Ridgewood, NJ 07451

Examples of topics to be covered are: Rate Changes and Redesign; Multi-Space Meters; Long-Term Parking; Stacked & Attended Parking; Public & Private Parterships; Permit Parking; Hours of Meter Operations; Easy Park Devices; Parking Garage or Decks; Financial Stability of the Parking Utility; Way-Finding Signage.

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>Palisades Virtuosi Presents West Meets East Concert on November 15, Featuring World Premiere by Sunbin Kim

>Ridgewood, NJ – The critically-acclaimed Palisades Virtuosi presents West Meets East, the second concert of their 2008-2009 season on Saturday, November 15, 2008 – 8 PM at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, 113 Cottage Place in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The evening will begin with a pre-concert talk with the performers and commissioned composer at 7:15.

This evening of Asian and Asia-related works will feature the World Premiere of a new work commissioned by the Palisades Virtuosi from Sunbin Kim (winner of the ASCAP Young Composer Award). Other works presented will be Empress Of The Pagodas from Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite (arr. for trio by the Virtuosi), Poems of a Bright Moon by Maria Grenfell for trio, Memories of Anatolia for clarinet and piano by Godfrey Schroth, Pagodes from Debussy’s Estampes for solo piano, Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon by Jian-Zhong Wang for solo piano, Sonata Cho-Cho San (based on Puccini’s Madama Butterfly) by Michael Webster for flute, clarinet & piano and Theme & Variations from Sonata for Flute & Piano by Ikuma Dan.

Tickets for this concert are $20 and $15 for students and seniors. This also includes a post-concert meet the artists reception. For reservations or other information, please call 201-488-1149, or email reservation requests to the Palisades Virtuosi at [email protected].

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>Economic crisis shakes Ivy walls

>While financially sound, Princeton rethinks spending

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PRINCETON BOROUGH — The shaky economy has prompted Princeton University to re-examine its long-term spending plans, including the timing and scope of several construction initiatives. Less money may be spent on raises, the school said.

University officials this week released a statement about spending changes in light of the economic downturn, including plans to adjust the 10-year, $4 billion capital plan.

“Certainly we are not immune,” said university spokeswoman Cass Cliatt, referring to the national and global economic crisis. “But at the same time, Princeton’s economic planning and strategy over the past decade has helped protect us in some respects.”

Cliatt said there has been no determination about which construction projects will be rescaled or delayed.

“That’s something we’re assessing right now and we have to look at a variety of factors,” she said. “Of course, the projects already in progress would have priority to continue. It’s the projects on the horizon that will be assessed.”

That could put a question mark over one major project — the initial building in the arts and transit neighborhood — that was announced by planners in September.

The project would comprise a large performing arts building with reflecting pool and two extensions that would “embrace” the community in front of Forbes College.

“There have been no decisions yet,” Cliatt said.

In Ewing, at The College of New Jersey, the financial crisis is on the university’s mind, but school officials do not plan anything in the near future.

“We have all been reading and hearing about the national and international liquidity crisis. Fortunately, to this point, The College of New Jersey has not seen significant impact from this recent turmoil,” President R. Barbara Gitenstein recently told the university board, a university spokesman said yesterday.

“In addition,” the president said, “by refinancing variable rate bonds to fixed rate bonds this past spring, we have avoided disruptions and higher costs in our long-term debt. In sum, please rest assured that the college remains financially sound and fully capable of meeting its operational and financial obligations — short term and long term.”

Officials at Rider University did not respond by deadline yesterday to questions about any spending changes because of the economy and its effects on the school.

Princeton’s response to the economy mirrors what some other top-flight schools also have considered.

Earlier this month, officials at Harvard University announced they are bracing for spending cuts in the anticipation that federal grants will be harder for students to obtain.

Both Ivy League schools plan to pump more funding into student financial assistance, with Princeton’s Office of Financial Aid estimating it will spend an extra $3 million or $4 million toward helping students cover tuition expenses.

“We recognize that our students will be experiencing greater need as a result of the circumstances in which they and their families find themselves because of current economic conditions,” stated Provost Christopher Eisgruber, “and we will be stepping up to meet that need.”

Eisgruber and other officials such as President Shirley Tilghman first revealed the budget adjustments at two forums earlier this month in front of the Council of the Princeton University Community, according to Cliatt.

There, Tilghman said she instructed the Office of Financial Aid to ensure every student request for financial assistance is met, and to see that no student leaves Princeton because of the inability to pay tuition.

The university, however, will not change its five-year, $1.75 billion fundraising campaign launched last year, Cliatt said.

A separate initiative known as the bridge-year program, to be funded through financial aid, also is not expected to change, she said.

The bridge-year program provides funding for a year of enrichment experience abroad for students admitted to Princeton but have not started their freshman year.

In terms of financial stability, “Princeton is incredibly financially healthy,” stated Carolyn Ainslie, the university’s treasurer and vice president of finance.

Part of that analysis is based on the university’s endowment performance. This year, the endowment accounts for 48 percent of the operating budget income. At the end of the last fiscal year in June 2008, the endowment was at $16.4 billion, she said. While the endowment has climbed sharply in the past two years ending in June, the recent market slide has taken a bite out of those returns, university officials said late last month.

The efforts at Princeton and Harvard mirror what’s happening elsewhere in the country. Dartmouth College is looking at reductions in spending after its endowment lost $220 million.

“These are hard times,” Eisgruber stated. “No institution, including this one, can be entirely insulated. We are in the process of looking at our budgets and our operations to find the right ways to adjust for what we are seeing.”

In addition to construction delays at Princeton, the pool for merit salary boosts will likely get smaller.

“We do not expect at this time that it’ll have any impact on the way we approach staffing,” Cliatt said. “Effectively, this will affect raises.”

Contact Lisa Rich at [email protected] or (609) 989-5692. Staff writer Kevin Shea and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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>N.J. tax shortfall swells to $5B

Gannett State Bureau– USEL

The struggling economy has left a projected $1.2 billion shortfall in the state’s budget this year, and the gap could grow to a $5 billion deficit next year, Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration announced Wednesday.

Tax collections for October were $211 million off target, the second straight sobering month for New Jersey. The news prompted state officials to triple the $400 million shortfall estimated a month ago to $1.2 billion.

Corzine said his administration had already prepared for the original $400 million shortfall and will ask his cabinet to make $600 million more in cuts and renegotiate large contracts to keep the state afloat.

“We have to get the end result of revenues and expenditures being balanced,” Corzine said. “And we will.”

Corzine said the state is in good shape to handle the current deficit but didn’t say how he would address the $5 billion hole he estimates will loom for the fiscal year 2010 budget, which will have to be introduced early next year and adopted in June.

“The budget, we’ll take in due course as we put it together for February,” Corzine said.

New Jersey, like nearly every other state in the country, faces a budget shortfall aggravated by the national economic problems. Through the first four months of the fiscal year, total revenues are off by $258 million, paced by deficits in income taxes ($153 million), sales taxes ($85 million) and real estate transfer taxes ($26 million).

Corzine said it’s “not unsurprising given the continuing sharp decline in the economy and ongoing recession.”

Corzine hinted at ways he will address the shortfall — budget cuts, renegotiated contracts with outside vendors and consultants and delaying equipment purchases — but wouldn’t discuss specifics.

Public employee contracts won’t be included in the negotiations, but Corzine said there have been preliminary discussions about a potential work force reduction.

“We’re not anticipating that, but we’re not taking it off the table,” Corzine said.

The Legislature is scheduled to consider at hearings today some of the economic stimulus proposals Corzine pitched last month such as business and job-creation tax breaks and grants and food, heating and legal assistance for low-income families.

Reach Gregory J. Volpe at [email protected]– USEL

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>Roger and me

> My Word is My Bond

Roger and me Posted in November 12th, 2008
by Deborah Lipp in Books, Collectibles, Roger Moore

I met Roger Moore last night. For like a second. He was autographing books at Bookends in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The line went around the block. Actually, there were two lines: First to buy the book, next to get it signed. No autographs of books bought other than from that line that night—your receipt was your ticket. No personalized autographs. One autograph to a customer.

I guess, with a line around the block, all this was necessary, but it was very impersonal and kind of an emotional let-down. I’d been looking forward to this event for weeks.

Moore was friendly and charming, of course, winking at little kids and smiling. But it was an assembly line of the highest order and none of it felt real. But what the hey, I met him and I have an autograph. Life is good.

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>Math Team Doesn’t Add Up

>Letter to the Editor of the Ridgewood News

7 November 2008

Math Team Doesn’t Add Up

Why the lack of balance in the choice of external advisors to the Mathematics Planning Team charged with unifying K-5 math curricula in Ridgewood Public Schools (RPS)? Perhaps the outcome is pre-determined, since the controversial program ‘Connected Mathematics’ is already being implemented in our middle schools.

The four external advisors are Ms. Schultz of Montclair State, Dr. Rosenstein of Rutgers, Mr. Daro of Berkley, and Dr. Posamentier of City College. Schultz, Rosenstein, and Daro have made careers of promoting ‘reform math’ including TERC and Everyday Math. The resulting lack of mathematical skill and fluency has sent scores of Ridgewood parents to Kumon, tutors, and various other supplementary curricula.

Rosenstein is only advisor that can be considered a mathematician. However in the words of Prof. James Milgram of Stanford University, one of the country’s leading mathematicians who is also working on issues in math education, Rosenstein “hasn’t been active in mathematics since the 1970s. In view of his very strong preference for reform curricula, a view shared by far fewer than 1% of the professional mathematicians
in this country, it is inappropriate for him to be the only ‘mathematician.’”

Milgram continued “Daro has been central in at least two of the biggest failures out there, the 1992 California Math Standards that precipitated the math wars, and the current Georgia Math Standards. As far as I can tell he knows very little mathematics.”

There is reason to be hopeful that Posamentier will provide moderation. According to Milgram “Posamentier is very level headed. I trust his judgment.”

Reform math isn’t all bad – It has many good ideas that now supplement traditional math textbooks, consistent with recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. However, it appears that the math-fad pendulum will remain nailed to the extreme in RPS unless Dr. Posamentier can moderate the others.

John G. Sheehan, Ph.D.

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>‘The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.’

>Dear Friends,

We owe no greater gratitude than that belonging to our nation’s veterans. These service members have sacrificed their lives, comfort, and safety to fight for the continued security of our democracy. From World War II through Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the current War on Terror, our veterans deserve the best that we can give to them.

As President Calvin Coolidge said, ‘The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.’ We must take pause more often to thank those who sacrificed their time and in some instances, their lives, so that we may live in freedom. We are fortunate to have these brave men and women share their histories and memories, which are really pieces of themselves. While we can never repay their heroism, we can learn from their experience and thank them for their sacrifice.

I am so very proud of the Members of our Armed Services, and I am very proud to have the privilege of representing them in Congress. I salute our veterans, their families that stand with them, and those who currently serve our great nation. They have fought on the behalf of our country and now it’s time for us to fight for them. Rest assured that I will continue to work to protect and provide them with the security and support they need.

Scott Garrett
Member of Congress