Thank you upon reelection
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Essex County for reelecting me to serve as your at-large freeholder. The privilege of serving in public office is one of the highest honors in our nation, and I am both humbled and honored to have earned your trust during my time on the board.
Without question, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year nationally – and specifically for Essex County. We are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has yielded over 30,000 positive cases in Essex County alone, and taken the lives of 1,942 Essex County residents. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives, and I pledge that as president of the freeholder board, I will work tirelessly to ensure that our county government agencies continue providing services such as food distribution, free and easily available COVID-19 testing sites, rental assistance programs and other forms of relief to our residents in need.
As we move forward into 2021, I wish good health and prosperity to all, and I will do all I can to serve the public while working toward a brighter future for Essex County.
Thank you for your continued support.
Brendan W. Gill
President of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
Stop the blower blitz
The Township of Montclair must ban leaf blowers. Mayor Spiller, are you listening? Please, ban leaf blowers throughout Montclair.
My neighbors and I are assaulted daily by a flood of leaf-blowing activity outside my apartment building. Every single day, including Saturdays and Sundays. Montclair property owners apparently have nothing better to do during a pandemic than hire workers to stand on their property creating a cacophony of noise, while polluting the air with toxins that are a result of blowing leaves around in circles.
Homeowners hiring landscapers using leaf blowers must consider this – these two-stroke machines harm the health of their neighbors, the workers using them, their children and the environment. Leaf blowers further speed up damage to the ozone, thus accelerating climate change. And by the way, while we are all trying to avoid contracting a deadly respiratory disease, these same property owners are contributing to killing us with the dust particles created by this unnecessary activity. Stress levels are high enough during this pandemic without the additional onslaught that leaf blowers create.
Montclair is not the liberal, progressive township it professes to be. It is populated with inconsiderate residents – commercial and private – where property owners believe it is their entitlement to reign over the rest of us with their privilege to pollute and destroy. The progressive alternative is leaving leaves alone. And if it is unbearable to the preciousness of your manicured lawns that are evident around town, buy some rakes and exercise.
Currently, as I write this, I watch outside my window four men congregate behind Moriarty funeral home pointing lethal two-stroke machines at a parking lot that, as far as I see, contains zero to few leaves. It is raining, yet leaf blowers are abundant on Walnut Street.
I wanted to take a moment to send a note of congratulations to all of you on your victories. I have to say that in an otherwise pretty dark and challenging time, you have shined a light both on and from Montclair. You should feel very proud of this incredible accomplishment.
These days it is exactly when it comes time to celebrate something that we really notice the circumstances we find ourselves in. You don’t have throngs of cheering fans from the stands or the victory parties with your teammates and peers and have to accept virtual versions of all of that. I know that it doesn’t feel the same.
I want you to know that I see that, and I understand it and I feel for you. But none of that changes the fact that you have won and are in fact the best soccer players now in the state of New Jersey! So I hope that you’ll humblebrag on social media until your friends roll their eyes at you and be excited about the bright futures that are ahead.
To the coaches and other leaders, thank you for leading these teams to victory. And to the parents, thank you for continuing to value the importance of athletics in the development of our youth.
Councilman Peter N. Yacobellis
Textbooks breaking the bank
We constantly hear the prospects of “free college” in this political age, but the inflation of college and textbook costs has skyrocketed throughout the years. According to a survey done by U.S. PIRG, students spend $3 billion a year of financial aid on textbooks. Textbook prices have risen three times faster than inflation, leaving the average student now budgeting more than $1,200 every year for materials.
As an undergraduate student at Montclair State University, I am always trying to find ways to cut corners on my textbook spending. I try to limit myself to about $100-$150 a semester, but ultimately spend about $300-$400 on textbooks for only one semester! Students pay enough to afford college and the amount of credits they can take, we don’t want to have to pay to do our homework.
The clear-cut solution is open textbooks, which are free to read, cheap to print and high-quality. They’re written under an open license, which means they’re free to share and professors can adapt them for their classes. Classes that use open textbooks have seen increased student performance and completion, probably because students read books they can afford.
Some schools, like UMass Amherst and Salem State University, have grant programs to help professors make the switch from traditional textbooks to free, open ones. These programs save students millions of dollars.
Montclair State student