Homeowner petitions township

Dear friends and neighbors, my name is Samuel Debnam (age 96), with my wife, Maurice Debnam (age 94) of 73+ years we are lifelong residents and homeowners at 448 Washington Ave, in South End Montclair. I graduated Montclair High in 1939. I enlisted in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II, joining the U.S. Army Air Corps as an instrument and propeller specialist on the B17 aircraft.

After discharge in 1945, I organized a successful business Debnam Caterers a family-owned business. We staffed hundreds of Montclair community members ranging all ages from youth and teens to adults who delivered services for weddings, birthday, and gala’s all over Essex County New Jersey. I was the first “Black member” and a former president of Montclair Kiwanis Club, Choir member, and superintendent of Sunday school at St. Paul’s Baptist Church. A committee member at the Washington and Park streets YMCA, 53 year member Montclair Eureka Lodge #52, lifetime member Montclair chapter NAACP, American Legion, member post 251 Montclair, one of the “Grand Marshals” for  the 2017 Montclair African American Heritage Foundation Parade and member of the Friends of New Jersey and Do-Drop Inn in Glenfield Park.

Ten years ago, the Montclair tax assessor advised me that my property 448 Washington Ave. 100 ft front and 150 ft deep qualified within the law for “minor-subdivision” making two 50ft lots. The “Minor-Subdivision” is to build the second house as a measure I considered as taxes continue to rise and so many Montclair residents, especially seniors find it difficult, if not impossible to remain in Montclair. Because I am on Social Security, I resolved to preserve the property and made the decision to subdivide.

I am asking for support to appeal the Feb. 26 planning Board rejection in a 4/4 vote that was not based on the merit of my application. During the Planning Board meeting, four dissenting board members, Carole Willis, Anthony Ianuale, Carmel Loughman, and Daniel Gilmer and sadly regrettably with the support of my Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renee Baskerville stood against me.

Their individual and collective rational was extremely prejudiced and biased towards my application, by interconnecting issues not in my application, to what they termed as “too many township subdivision variances”. The board’s determination is supposed to consider each application on the merit. In fact, the other board members acknowledged that our property’s original planning design specifically envisioned, and was set up to accommodate a future subdivision into two lots with a secondary dwelling. Without question, I am in hardship; Carole Willis said this is not a hardship, however, what more hardship could there be than losing our most valuable asset after 73+ years of marriage.

The dissenting four board members suggested I rehab and then sell; but, I ask them to please inform me, what bank would grant a property loan to a 96-year-old with an existing loan. The four dissenting board members who approved so many previous applications, they referred to, 44 Pleasant Ave. with eight one-family structures; 99 Claremont Ave. with four luxury townhouses; 92 Elm St. four dwelling units, and 14-16 Madison Ave. four new single-family dwellings, all were out of town developers applying for major subdivisions and none were hardships.

My wife and I have an undeniable hardship, Carole Willis and the other dissenting board members along with my Fourth Ward Councilwoman have denied my wife and me during the most challenging season of our life an opportunity to have our remaining life without being consumed by economic distress and hardship.

After serving my country and my community, I am turning to our community and humbly asking my friends and community members to please join us by voicing your support by signing our petition to the planning board to consider applications on the merit. Please contact us at kevinmali@hotmail.com so we may share our petition.

Samuel L. Debnam



President must stop blocking Hudson River rail tunnel

Each work day, along with tens of thousands of other New Jersey Transit customers, I anxiously check my phone for the latest updates about service outages, in hopes that the day will not get interminably dragged down just getting to and from the job.

It therefore bothered me deeply when in 2009, our former governor Chris Christie instead of serving his constituents, used his power to torpedo the desperately needed new railroad tunnel under the Hudson River, presumably to make a reputation for himself among national Republicans as a budget-cutter with a view toward  his later, ill-fated, run for president.

Now after the flooding damage from Hurricane Sandy we are reliably informed that the existing century-old rail tunnels will need to be taken out of service within a few years to accommodate large scale renovations without any practical alternatives for commuters or for Amtrak travelers, if a new tunnel is not built immediately.

It has been reported that President Donald Trump, who promised to be the “infrastructure president” when he ran for office, has now threatened to veto any Congressional funding bill that comes forward this month including funding for beginning the newly revised Hudson River Gateway tunnel project. His administration has offered no credible explanation for this stance other than his widely rumored desire to punish national Democratic Party leaders, such as Senator Charles Schumer of New York, and by extension, the residents of “blue states”, like New York and New Jersey.

Where have we seen this type of narrative before? Block our transportation and punish purported political enemies. That sounds to me an awful lot like the Bridgegate scandal forever associated with the departed and unlamented former governor Christie.

We deserve better from our government.

Mark Lurinsky



Confessing, venting, joking

Please understand I’ve never professed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. When people enter my writing into a computer, they’re certainty thankful for spell check  Though I don’t believe that I’m stupid, I did graduate from Montclair High School in the bottom third of my class. I’m not proud of that, but it is what it is.

In my favor I do believe that I have the ability to recognize BS when I hear it. Like others when it comes to politics I have many questions—many.

I’ve recently written Letters to the Editor to the Montclair Local on that subject.”Childish or is it Just Me “ on Feb. 1 and “Not taking Moral Higher Ground” on Feb. 15. The former on the Republican leaders childishly taunting Dems and the later on some evangelical support for President Trump.

I believe that the GOP leadership has sold a bill of goods to some followers convincing them that they are the only ones that truly believe in God and country. Ridiculous just like this. Some televangelists live “high on the hog” while some of their followers skimp and save in order to give them money for “God’s work.” I believe with all my heart that those particular so called ministers, deep down inside don’t believe in God at all. If they honestly did, they would think twice before doing what they do for fear that some day they will have to answer to St. Peter.

How come some Christian GOP leaders call those Dems working to help the underprivileged  “bleeding heart liberals?” Isn’t the bleeding heart a Christian symbol? And why was George Bush’s slogan while running for president “A compassionate conservative?” I guess he too believed thats rarity.

Time to lightenthings up a bit. I am now going to reveal a scam no one has talked about, I drink caffeine free diet Pepsi. While reaching for the bottle in a local market I noticed that regular diet Pepsi was in the exact same place. What? How can that be when they say they’re not charging for the caffeine in mine. It’s supposed to be free.

I notice these kinds of things now that I’m a proud graduate of Trump University. Professor Donald Trump told me himself that because I was smart enough to purchase the “executive package” I’m graduating with honors and am now considered a “Dusty Rhodes” scholar which he said was even more prestigious than that other one. He said he doesn’t lie, does he?

Answer— absolutely.  How many times a day? Really? But he just said on TV if he was at a school when gunfire broke out inside, he would go running into the school to help the kids even if he didn’t have a gun with him. Do you believe that’s true? Answer—of course not. If anybody truly believes that from him, of all people, I’ve got some prime swamp land to sell.

Back to reality. I was re-writing this letter on Feb. 26 the TV on at approximately 4:45 p.m. and I saw and heard Trump telling his hero story so I added it t the joke ending of this letter. Seems like part of the fictitious joke story doesn’t it. Sadly it’s not. Just par for the course in the world of President Donald J. Trump.

Vincent Tango




I have been writing letters to the Montclair Local since November 2017 voicing my professional opinion against legalization of recreational marijuana. It was like a breath of fresh air to read the opinion of New Jersey former top cop Colonel Rick Fuentes and New Jersey legislator Senator Ron Rice Dem, - Essex, insist New Jersey should say no against marijuana legalization.

I’m glad both men have indicated that the powerful pot industry is targeting minority and black communities, an area I’ve stayed away from in my writings so as not to give my critics the opportunity to label me as a racist.

Two strong arguments for legalization are tax revenues and the disparity of arrest between whites and people of color. My prediction is if this legislation becomes law it will compound this problem by establishing marijuana distribution centers in depressed neighborhoods affecting the youth of the black community in a negative fashion. Don’t let them use our youth as pawns in a Chess game.

In Colorado where marijuana is sold legally, use among kids in the 12 to 17 age group, leads the nation helping to affect brain development.

A lot of people will tell you marijuana is not dangerous, consider the source, are they the same people who are pushing for legalization of recreational marijuana?

With all do respect my credentials and experience in fighting drugs equals that of both Colonel Fuentes and Senator Rice. I’m proud to say I know both men. I also have great respect for Freeholder Brendan Gill. Brendan is a family man who is dedicated and well respected in the political community. It is my hope that Brendan, who was the campaign manager of Governor Phil Murphy has been reading my series of letters and passes them on to the governor for his consideration before legalizing recreational marijuana.

I have been approached by many readers who support my professional opinion on this matter. However, I’m disappointed in Montclair Councilman-at-Larger Bob Russo’s (no relation) politically motivated public announcement supporting legalization of recreational marijuana, when he has no knowledge or expertise in the area of drug abuse, addiction and enforcement.

Thomas J. Russo