Greetings Friends and Neighbors…
It is only June, and boy it feels like this year so far has lasted a lifetime.
I want to begin by offering my personal thoughts and comments on the civil unrest that has arisen from the horrendous murder of George Floyd.
I was a young man in 1992 when the Rodney King beating was broadcast on TV. Since the advent of smartphones, it seems that videos like it have become a permanent and routine part of our shared national experience. Out of complacency and necessity many of us have become inured to them, and although we know that the violence they depict is horrendous we had come to accept them as a part of what it means to exist in America in modern times. The Floyd video was different. The calm almost casual manner in which that man’s life was taken in broad daylight on a otherwise unremarkable city scene was a surreal and sickening reminder of how both a black man’s life can be devalued and how far a police officer can fall from his sworn oath to protect and serve.
If you take that singular event and add to it other senseless murders of black Americans by police and self-deputized community militias in the past few months and recent years you start to piece together a pattern. A short and incomplete list of names is all you need: Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin. I could go on. The names are now well known, and the facts are indisputable. These people, these human beings, these fellow Americans, all had their lives ended prematurely and violently for being black, or even more dangerously, being black and poor.
That is why the protests continue and that is why I support them. Although the protests themselves can seem scary and foreboding, I find reason to be optimistic and even enthusiastic about their possibility to enact change. The protests that I have seen on social media and indeed the one I attended in Princeton were multigenerational, multicultural gatherings with Americans of all stripes in attendance. A more patriotic and American affair would be hard to imagine, for everyone is demanding just one single but elemental thing; that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for the oppressed minority be upheld and enforced by the law.
One of the important facts that I take from the murders cited above and of the ongoing unrest is that good governance and good policing matters. We can look to the cities of Newark and Camden and their success in having peaceful and productive protests. Those events were successful because the police in those two cities have in recent years (as a result of federal and state intervention and oversights) gone through radical overhauls and are now on a path towards a model of cooperative and community policing. So those two departments, instead of treating their people like an invading army, took off the riot gear and walked with them in solidarity.
Similarly, we are lucky in our town to have a Chief of Police and a police department that have been exceedingly careful and thoughtful in use of force and in being kind and considerate to every person they interact with regardless of color or creed. I am proud to work closely with the Cranbury Police and wholeheartedly support them.
There are at least two events planned in our community next week related to the above, both at Heritage Park. The first is building a Unity Circle/Mandala at Heritage Park on Tuesday, June 9th from 7:00-9:00 pm. This is an artistic way to represent our inter-connectedness as a community. Attendees will use colored powder to create this artwork at the Heritage Park fountain. Bring a spoon for the colored powder used to create the mandala. The second is a candlelight vigil on Sunday, June 14 at 7:30 pm. This event will feature speakers and a poetry reading. Organizers of both will be publicizing with more information.
In other updates:
The NJ Economic Development Authority has recently begun a second round of grant programs for small businesses in NJ affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. $45 million has been allocated for this second wave of grants, the eligibility requirements have been broadened for this second round and will include businesses with up to 25 employees, sole proprietors, home based businesses and non-profits. The applications will be accepted starting on June 9th. Please go to cv.business.nj.gov for more details.
Our annual fireworks display this year will NOT be on July the 5th. We will instead likely re-schedule our fireworks for later this year. We are working on a date and will let you know as soon as we have one.
Beginning June 15th the governor will allow outside dining for all restaurants in NJ. This is great news for the restaurants in our town. I am looking forward to seeing you all as we dine al fresco on Main Street and in the venues around our neck of Route 130.
I want to publicly acknowledge the work of some important members of our town government. I’ll continue to do this to recognize different groups important to keeping our town running.
Since the very beginning of the pandemic and shutdown, there have been a handful of township employees who normally work in our Township building who have been dutifully and without hesitation putting in the work necessary to keep our town running. Without their efforts the town government would essentially cease to function. And although everyone in our town government deserves acknowledgement, I want to single out today four women who have made this extra effort to continue to show up to Town Hall to manage our township business.
Jean as our deputy clerk has been doing her part to keep our committees, our website and our communications running seamlessly.
Debbie, as town clerk, like all of us has been adjusting to a new virtual reality that a few months ago would have seemed unfathomable. She has been tirelessly making sure that we all adhere to the law and that all of our virtual TC meetings get organized and run smoothly.
Erin, as our QPA or Quantified Purchasing Agent, has been making sure that we have the goods and services that we need to keep our town running and that we get our bills paid on time.
Denise, our Township Administrator, she is the one who makes sure that ALL the things in town that need getting done actually get done.
Finally, allow me to correct one final oversight that I, as a former Paramedic, am embarrassed to admit. In my recent letter to everyone after the Memorial Day Touring Parade I failed to single out the EMS group. They took time out of their Memorial Day to be part of the parade. It is comforting to know that these men and women will, with little concern for their own wellbeing, answer the call to aid. Although we all know that 911 is there for us, it is a fact that the EMS crews that run those ambulances are infrequently singularly acknowledged, so with that I want to thank them all for the work that they do.
Thanks everyone for listening,
Please stay safe, stay strong and stay in touch.
Mayor Matt Scott