Letters to the Editor, March 19
Leaf Blowers and COVID-19
During this time of the Coronavirus causing the self-quarantine and the restrictions imposed by the government, state and the town of Montclair, I think it is imperative to ban the use of leaf blowers at this time.
Leaf blowers propel into the air clouds of dirt, dust and dangerous contaminants: volatile compounds, mold and fungal spores, weed seeds, insect eggs, pollen, molecules of the myriads of toxic chemicals people spray and sprinkle on their gardens, trees, and lawns, not to mention bird and rodent feces, and more. They very well could be spreading the virus as well. Personally, I do not want any of the above-mentioned things blown into the air and into my windows and not know the dangers that it might cause spreading the virus. Landscapers shouldn't even be outside let alone posing a health risk to the residents and themselves using these toxic machines.
The fact is it's better to be safe than sorry. This is a no brainer. Stop the use of leaf blowers now and strictly enforce it. Do not risk spreading the virus by allowing their use at this time.
I hope the appropriate action is taken to protect our community and keep every resident healthy and safe.
Cancel council meeting, rent control initiative during crisis
Dear Mr. Mayor and other members of the Township Council,
We are requesting a postponement of the March 24 meeting to consider rent control. As we all have vulnerable loved ones due to the coronavirus, it would be irresponsible to bring the community together at this time.
The ongoing coronavirus has made attendance at public meetings potentially hazardous to the health of attendees. There is no doubt that some who would like to attend the March 24 meeting will be discouraged from doing so by the threat to their health.
At a time when schools are closing and athletic events and other large gatherings are being cancelled, it seems irresponsible to hold a public meeting that might otherwise be well-attended. Montclair has survived many years without rent control. Cannot it do so for a few more months?
I am distressed by this matter appearing on the Township Council agenda at this meeting for two reasons: First, the appearance of this matter on the March 24 agenda was not made known to Montclair attendees of the Council’s March 10 meeting, nor through mention in either the Montclair Local or the Montclair Times. Moreover, we understand that the Township Council has retained a lawyer who has drafted a 17-page ordinance for the Council’s consideration at that meeting. Particularly in light of the fact that two previous referenda rejected the establishment of rent control in Montclair, it is hard to escape the conclusion that this is an effort to overcome the likely will of the voters in Montclair through a rushed and undemocratic process.
For these reasons, I believe the discussion of such an important matter should be postponed until the threat from the coronavirus has abated. Doing otherwise would reinforce the appearance that the Township Council is trying to ram through an ordinance that may not reflect the wishes of the majority of voters in Montclair and that deserves full and frank discussion by the Township as a whole.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of the above.
Why are we allowing Trump’s cruel treatment of immigrants at the border?
The Trump administration is rolling back policies that protect the environment, housing rights, health care, minority voting rights, women’s reproductive rights, public education and more. However, of all Trump’s horrible policies, his actions at the border are the most abhorrent.
Twenty five months have passed since the Trump administration implemented the separation of minors at the border (January, 2018). Since then a dozen children have died under Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) or ICE custody due to lack of resources, training or indolence. I would say lack of humanity. There were also reports of children being caged who were taking care of each other, given frozen sandwiches for lunch and dinner, not being allowed to communicate with relatives, spending months without knowing why they could not see their parents, and being drugged in order to stop the crying. Some were put in foster care, CBP and ICE purposely losing the information about who brought the children to the US, making the reunification difficult or impossible. Many immigrants were denied access to health care and many others were returned to Mexico where they have been robbed, raped and killed.
Why are we allowing all this?
Is it because of the normalization of family separation through incarceration? Is it because we consider immigrants not deserving of the same rights as Americans? If you are feeling outraged by this, there are plenty of things that you can do. First, register to vote on Nov. 5. Second, volunteer some of your time to work with organizations that work with immigrants. Finally, learn about the campaign to stop Essex County from renewing its contract with ICE. Please get involved; we are allowing horrible policies to be implemented by being bystanders.
Maria Eva Dorigo
Free the civil detainees
We have a national State of Emergency and Governor Murphy has declared a state of emergency for New Jersey. Essex County has canceled most if not all public, group events in an effort to keep residents as safe as possible. The county could take one further step towards public safety by temporarily freeing the 800 immigrants that it currently holds in civil detention in the Newark jail. This is civilian, not criminal detention; they are not currently being held under any criminal charges. Thousands of people cross our southern border fleeing countries that have become unlivable. ICE imprisons as many as it can find beds for, largely for the ‘crime’ of wanting a better life. Some wind up in civil detention, as the Trump administration has made applying for asylum increasingly difficult and for many, impossible.
Jails can become Petri dishes for all kinds of diseases. In 2018, the DHS published a scathing report on unsanitary conditions in the kitchen, cells and bathrooms at the Newark jail. The county says all those problems have been corrected. But aside from the $40+ million a year contract that the county has with ICE, there is still no need to hold people in civil detention during a health crisis. At the beginning of March, Iran temporarily released 54,000 prisoners as a precautionary measure; I’m pretty sure Essex County can deal with 800. In NYC there are thousands of people wearing ankle bracelets who show up regularly for their monthly ICE check-ins. Even the ankle bracelets would be preferable to doing nothing and waiting for the first detainee to get sick… and the next, and the next.
This is a humanitarian disaster waiting to happen. Our elected officials must take action before it does.