THE COMMUNITY VOICE: Letters to the Editor

Questions on Legalizing


Dear Mayor Diaz and Fellow Councilmembers:

As you have read, Governor Phil Murphy intends to introduce legislation in the New Jersey Legislature to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. I strongly disagree with the governor’s intention because I believe that like any drug such as alcohol and tobacco, marijuana has the propensity for addiction and will contribute negatively to the physical and mental health of individuals. These negative impacts will have real social consequences for at risk families especially in lower income and minority communities. According to NJ Senator Ron Rice, “We know there are negative factors that we will need to safeguard against, from children’s access to marijuana-infused edibles to motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired driving to the effect of marijuana on babies and the impact of legalization on communities of color.”

However, I am a realist and understand that the trend is towards legalization. A 2016 Gallop Poll states that, “public support for making it marijuana legal has reached 60% — its highest level in Gallup’s 47-year trend. To that end, there is a real possibility that sale and use of recreational marijuana will become legal in the Garden State in the near future.

One way that we on the Perth Amboy City Council can mitigate the negative consequences of full recreational marijuana legalization in our state is to consider ordinances that would prohibit any business that sells marijuana – medicinal or recreational – or weed paraphernalia within the boundaries of Perth Amboy. Already towns like Point Pleasant Beach and Toms River have passed such ordinances.

Therefore, I urge the mayor and the council to immediately convene a town hall forum to discuss the direction the people and municipal government of Perth Amboy will take when marijuana is legalized in New Jersey.

I will be willing to lead such a forum.


Fernando Irizarry

Rezoning Downtown Perth Amboy   

Last week my husband, Bob Sottilaro, and I attended the meeting regarding the rezoning plans for the future of Perth Amboy.  Several people spoke and raised important questions and suggestions.  The first question or problem that came to mind was how many section 8’s would be permitted in the apartments proposed above the stores? That also raises the question of how many children will live in these apartments and most importantly, where will they go to school? Our schools are already beyond capacity and the new schools being built will already be over crowded when they are finished.  Will people with children be restricted from renting these apartments? When young people have children, they will most likely want to move out of an apartment to a house.

There was much emphasis on “millenials” and college graduates and artists. This seems unrealistic. The cost of rent was brought up as was the large amount of illegal housing where people prefer to rent a room in a private house because they can’t afford an apartment. Someone mentioned that the owners of the buildings don’t maintain them properly and only care about collecting high rents. How many millenials, artists, college graduates, young professionals are currently living in King Plaza?

Last night Perth Amboy made the news again and I watched Ed Mullen and Larry Cattano speak about the fire on Commerce Street.  A resident said she didn’t realize there were 10 people in that house!  Fires seem to be happening more frequently.  Does the fire department have the apparatus to reach the higher stories of the existing buildings and the stories proposed on the other buildings? This also raises the question of water pressure, water pipes and sewers.  Was Middlesex Water Company apprised of this plan and what was their reaction? Can the water pressure be sustained in the case of a fire? Can the firetrucks move through the city fast enough given the existing traffic problems?

Mention was made of the police with a substation at the train station.  That was one positive plan mentioned. However, a friend mentioned that there used to be a substation but it’s gone, what happened to it?  Mention was made of police on bicycles and segues.  I haven’t noticed a police presence anywhere except at council meetings.  I used to notice cars patrolling the streets all around town.  We used to have police walking the streets. One place police should be visible in in front of the library where homeless congregate.

The plan focuses on residential density.  When people are jammed together, there is more aggressive behavior and problems.  The high rises at Stockton and Huntington were torn down because of problems.

There is a glaring omission of the Department of Public Works in the list of representatives.  This department will be responsible for handling garbage which is already a huge problem.

Parking was brought up several times.  Wilma Matey and other mentioned that the deck and parking lots are not being utilized.  Traffic is already a major problem. Linda Ferreira reiterated the problem with overcrowded schools and also brought up the hospital’s ability to handle more patients.

Several people mentioned that the city should fix what exists, improve education, attract stores that offer better merchandise. A suggestion was made by Stanley Sierakowski to bring in a Rutgers University Annex.  He also warned that the city could use eminent domain regardless of what residents want.

BJ Torres asked “who did the study”, they should be reviewed by the council and the residents of the city should be made aware of them.

This is an enormous undertaking and everyone should consider all the ramifications this plan will bring.

Barbara Sottilaro

Affordable Housing

Why was Huntington and Stockton building built back then? In 1964 President Johnson wanted to end the war on poverty, so he asked where can we put the poor people to live? One of his advisors had an idea: he told President Johnson “Let’s build high rise buildings about ten stories high and this will end our problem to house the poor.”

It’s kind of like a warehouse for the poor to live. They built these high-rises known as public housing and it had its problems with crime, drugs, and many other issues over the years. In fact, these public housing units never had a real answer to help the poor – just abuse by some that live there. I know only a few that grew up in affordable housing, and it became important to people to the community, like a Mayor or a School Board Member and so on. There’s a shortage of affordable housing around the country, and the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating those that control affordable housing under HUD from kickbacks to abuse from those that control the money trail.

Orlando “Wildman” Perez

New Perth Amboy History Documentary

PERTH AMBOY – “F. Luis Mora, An American Master in Perth Amboy” is set to premier on local Comcast TV Channel 34, and on Fios Channel 67/68.   This documentary was created & produced by local historian & businessman John Kerry Dyke.

Who is F. Luis Mora?    His full name is Francis Luis Mora, although he preferred to just be called Luis.  Today, many art experts & galleries refer to him as “America’s First Great Hispanic Artist”, and his paintings are on display across the country including in The White House.  His family roots go back to Uruguay, Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico & France.

The Mora Family immigrated to Perth Amboy by 1881, bringing a very young F. Luis.   His father, Domingo Mora, was employed by the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company as its Chief Design Director.   Domingo’s sculptures, designs & influence grace the facades of many Perth Amboy buildings, as well as important structures throughout the United States.     And Domingo’s great artistic ability was inherited by his son, F. Luis.

This documentary focuses on F.Luis Mora’s relationship with Perth Amboy and many of his great works that were created here. And of course, period images of Perth Amboy (including those from rare glass negatives) are including in this film.

Check the Comcast Channel 34 or Fios 67/68 schedule for viewing times.

John K. Dyke

Which Is It?

I was recently reading a “news” article that got my attention. The article was about a judge who issued a temporary restraining order halting the deportations of two Indonesian Christians. The article didn’t say, two Indonesian men who were in this country illegally, but instead decided to point out that they were Christian. All well and good.

The judge was acting on a complaint filed by the A.C.L.U. The complaint touched on many issues.

One was that these men were arrested while dropping their children off at school, I guess kicking their doors in at three in the morning would have been a better option.

The article went on to point out and that their children were U.S. citizens. Back to that in a little while.

Another was that deportation of these men violated their due process and didn’t give them the opportunity to argue their case for asylum.

Another point in the complaint was that they needed time to compile and present evidence that would permit them to file motions to reopen their removal cases.

So, let me get this straight. They are in this country long enough to have children of school age but need time to plead their case for asylum. I would think that would have been number one on their list.

And still another part of their argument was their removal would rip families apart. Excuse me, but when we put criminals that have families in jail for life no consideration is given to the fact that we are tearing families apart.

It was also stated that there was evidence of recent changes in country conditions that make Indonesia increasingly dangerous for Christians in this mostly Muslim country. It was pointed out more than once in this article that this was a case of life and death. That deporting these men was putting their lives in danger. If that is so, why are the lives of these Christian men in danger, I wonder?

When Trump signed executive order 13769 banning travel from 7 of the 51 countries that are predominately Muslim, it was labeled the “Muslim Ban” by the left. If it was a Muslim ban, why weren’t the other 44 countries included. Trump was immediately labeled anti-immigrant, even though he’s married to one.

The left consistently claims Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Then they claim that these two “Christian” men’s lives are in danger if deported. Well, which is it?

Joe Bayona

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TUES. Feb. 13
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