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Stop pretending that detention helps

One of the usual commissioner (freeholder) justifications for maintaining the ICE contract is that “we can keep them close to their families.”  

Last week 54 detainees were removed by ICE from the Essex County Correctional Facility.  According to WNYC News (9/23/20), “It’s unusual to see 54 immigrants removed at once. ICE said five were immediately deported while 49 were taken to staging areas to prepare for deportation.” Essex County, as the commissioners have told us repeatedly over the past several years, has no control over who ICE moves in or out of the jail.

And the $40 million a year that Essex receives from the ICE contract? Quoting Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. from The New York Times (10/14/19), “Government cannot fund itself entirely on property taxes, so it is important that the government find other sources of revenue.” Joe seems very clear that the point of the contract is money (and lower taxes for Essex County).

The commissioners should stop pretending that immigrant detention is helping the immigrants.  It’s not. The county should also stop collaborating with Trump and ICE. Crossing a border in hope for a better life should not be illegal. No one is illegal on stolen land.  

JIM PRICE

Montclair

Montclair Library, we need you now

I am a longtime user and supporter of the Montclair Public Library. Libraries are in my blood, but I feel as if I need a library transfusion right now.

One of my fondest childhood memories is going to my local public library with my father. That experience helped make me into a voracious, eclectic, lifelong reader.

I volunteered in my middle school library; I worked in my college library.

One of the first things I did when my family moved to Montclair was get a library card and sign my kids up for story time at the library. Then I helped in my children’s elementary school libraries, and I finally became a librarian in the public schools and public library.

As a semiretired librarian, I have seen the value of libraries in many settings and to many segments of the populations. Children and adults, the rich and the poor, the educated and those seeking knowledge, the skilled and the unskilled all flock to the library.

Like all those people, I miss our outstanding library that provides me with both knowledge and entertainment. I read at least one book a week and often two or three. I look forward to browsing the new-book shelves for both fiction and nonfiction. I miss the helpful staff behind the circulation desk. 

This is a challenging time for public institutions where people gather and mingle. We all want to be safe.

However, when almost every other public library in our area is physically open for at least limited

in-person borrowing, why has our library not announced its reopening? If there is a problem, perhaps we, the library’s patrons, can help. 

Please, let us in on the plans. We would be most grateful.

We love you, MPL, and we really need you right now.

Aileen Grossberg

Montclair

Concert was a delight

Milles mercis (a thousand thanks) to the Montclair Early Music group for last Sunday’s superb free outdoor performance of “A French Masque” at the Avis Campbell Gardens.

The 40-plus-person audience was seated around the performance area in 21st-century COVID-19 style – all masked, on their own folding chairs some distance apart and a safe distance from the stage area.

And they were treated to a delightful performance of select French masques, instrument studies and traditional French folk songs performed in the late Middle Ages as a complimentary offering to a local prince.

This generous concert also featured a special performance of such popular tunes as “Frere Jacques” and “Au Clair de la Lune” by four winners of the annual elementary recorder contest held earlier this year, sponsored in part by the American Recorder Society. These young recorder players received free lessons, via Zoom and then in an outdoor setting, by Montclair Early Music founder Julienne Pape.  

What a delight to be transported away from the plight of current events into the beauty of another impressive time and place.  Thanks to Julienne Pape, president and founder of Montclair Early Music; Francesca Silvano, historical dancer; and music director Jason Priset, on the faculty at Montclair State University (just two weeks with the group). Stay tuned to www.montclairearlymusic.org for upcoming performances going into the Christmas holiday season.

Wilma A. Hurwitz

Montclair  

Debates more important than ever

President Trump and former Vice President Biden [are scheduled to] go head-to-head in two more debates in an attempt to show all voters why they are the right candidate for the job. Debates are a long-standing tradition in the U.S. election system, as they allow the constituency to ask candidates questions they might not otherwise find the answer to. They also give the candidates a chance to provide clarification on their policy points. In a time of divisive politics are these really necessary?

The 2020 election cycle has been a strange one from the beginning, with a sitting president running for a second term and countless members of the opposing party entering the primaries, engaging in spirited debates and competition until all but one dropped out. 

Joe Biden, at 77 years, would become the oldest president ever, should he win in November, Trump is not far behind at 74. Trump has been trying to capitalize on Biden’s age and make him seem old and senile, frequently referring to him as “old Joe.”

The debates of 2020 are vital for both candidates in different ways. Even though Trump is seen as being the loser of all the 2016 debates, he won the election. He knows what kind of rhetoric is needed to mobilize his voters. Debates are the best place for the president to spread this rhetoric to the whole country.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is interested in the debates for a different reason. Approximately 38 percent of voters think he has some form of dementia (Ramussen). For Biden, the debates are necessary to prove that he is of sound mind and body. A stellar debate showing would help this. 

Debates are one of the few times during the election that voters can see the candidates unscripted. A weak showing, on the other hand, would solidify Trump’s claims. If Trump continues in his typical debate fashion of not following proper procedure, being unscripted and making wild accusations, his mental acuity could be called into question as well.  

As of early September, about 3 percent of likely voters were undecided about whom they will support (Quinnipiac). Both candidates know that these undecided voters could determine the race and want to win those votes.

If the 2020 election were not one in which the lucidity of candidates was in question, the debates would not be relevant. However, the debates are what could win the election for either candidate. Should Biden do well, he proves that he is fit to serve as president. Should he do poorly, Trump will continue to question his acuity. Both want to sway the voters who have not made a decision; the debates and mental state of both could be what sways them. 

Kathleen Emanuelli 

Montclair