I saw this on the Cranford Families Facebook page this evening. The Zerbini Circus, a small family outfit that has the animal equivalent of a petting zoo (a camel being the largest) is now no longer welcomed at the Hillside Avenue School grounds due to “Public Pressure” to “protect the animals”.


A video is posted of a handler with an elephant.

The Zerbini Circus doesn’t have elephants. Elephants cost a fortune to feed, and the Zerbini outfit wouldn’t have the means to transport them anyway. They rely on vehicles and trailers. The Ringling Bros. could do the elephants because they traveled by rail.

This whole thing is stupid.

And no, I am not pro-animal cruelty.

But I am not okay with Raymond Lesniak, who could probably be accused of political cruelty for his decades of misrepresenting the needs of his constituents and wasting our money while enriching himself and his friends, telling us who we can and can’t have performing in our town.

He is not the arbiter of what is proper and improper.

Raymond Lesniak is ANTI-PETTING ZOO.

His phone call should not be euphemistically called “public pressure”.

Interested, I looked at the Zerbini Circus website. To see if they had a gap during the last week in June when historically, they would come to Cranford.

They don’t.

They will be performing in Fonda, NY.

You can see for yourself.


Coincidentally, I know Fonda, NY. It is about an hour west of Albany and they have a popular fairgrounds and dirt race track that is often busy. They also do things like demolition derbies.

And every August they have a huge fair that includes many things Mr. Lesniak would find reprehensible.

Like the judging of rabbits, pigs, cows and chickens of local 4H member children. The animals are kept in pens, cages and stalls for the duration of the fair so people can look at them and judge them for themselves (what this does for the animal’s self-esteem must be beyond psychologically damaging).

Racing piglets around a track.

Equestrian events including jumping.

Rodeo events, including calf roping.

If he got worked up about the Zerbini Circus, he’d have an absolute episode if he saw this.

Or what rural upstate New Yorkers would call it, “normal”.

So I am trying to reconcile this. The whole late June period the Zerbinis will be performing in upstate New York. I’ve never paid much attention to their schedule in the past, I would just notice when they would be setting up at Hillside. I’ve gone a few times and found it harmless and somewhat kitschy; and appropriate for little kids. In our travels, I have seen their ads elsewhere for local shows. One time I noticed one in Shippensburg, PA only a day or two before they came to Cranford. So they get around.

Did someone tell them they weren’t welcome anywhere in NJ?

And obviously, New York does not seem to think that they are brutal masters of their animals.

So we continue here in NJ with meddlesome and worthless politicians who are anti-fun, and come up with thin reasons for being that way.

I will remember this: If the wind was right in the evening, we could hear the ringmaster announce “Annnnd may all your daaaaysss be circusss daaaaays” from our back porch which was a considerable distance from Hillside.



You know they won’t. Not now. The state is too broke and Murphy would never push for it.

But Phil, we’re better than this, remember?

There was a fatality today at the Union toll plaza, a place many of us go through quite often.


More than a decade ago, Acting Governor Codey had the plazas limited to one way and the tolls doubled. Union plaza northbound survived so it could capture all of the people getting on 78 East, and several years later, 78 West. Too much money to pass up to leave the toll plaza only for southbound drivers coming off of 78.

It is horribly engineered. The northbound GSP from 138 to the plaza has some badly designed exits. The short, sharp ramp at 138. The disaster merge for 22 then the loss of a lane just before the rest stop. Next you have the confused tourists coming out of the rest stop and getting rattled at the mouth of the toll plaza because only the right four booths can get you onto 78 East, and the split there often freezes drivers. The crossing over between lanes 3 and 6 is maddening because people are trying to figure out how to get to 78 but all of a sudden realize they don’t (no wait, they do!) have EZ Pass.

The poor signage, poor design and high speed of the locals who know where they’re going make a dangerous mix for the unfamiliar driver.

Like many taxes in New Jersey, tolls were often supposed to be temporary. The temporary income tax started by Brendan Byrne is another example.

As PA has gone to high speed interchanges, perhaps NJ can move to them too. We can rip out the booths, fix the signage and lives will be saved.

Because you know fixing a toll is better than removing them.




Township committee

Two will serve three-year terms.

Patrick Giblin (D) — 4,157

Jean-Albert Maisonneuve (D) — 3,728

Andis Kalnins (R) — 3,452

Richard Buontempo (R) — 3,435

Board of education

Three will serve three-year terms. 

Rita Della Valle — 2,491

Lisa A. Carbone — 3,634

Kristen Mallon — 2,737

Kurt T. Petschow, Jr. — 2,995

One will serve a one-year unexpired term. 

Daniel DeMarco — 3,204



The Dem death grip on the Union County Freeholders continues, as it does with Sheriff.

And the winner of the Governor’s race is Jon Corzine’s Legacy.




I am mystified as to how Moran stays employed. Well, not that mystified, it is the Star Ledger that employs him and I wouldn’t call them the “smart money”. Here’s his 5 Reasons to Vote for Murphy. And it contains a whole lot of stupid.


Let’s look at the top five reasons voters ought to get out and pull the lever for Murphy.

1. Start with President Trump. In the final stretch of the 2016 campaign, Guadagno recorded a mass-distribution phone call urging voters to support Trump, and she is now spreading the same kind of bile on immigration. As governor, we could expect her to make common cause with him on big issues like taxes and health care. No, thanks.

Republicans in Congress are watching this race, one of just two off-year elections in the country. A sharp rejection of Guadagno, with a heavy turnout, would make it crystal clear that their alliance with Trump puts their careers at risk. In this dangerous moment of our history, that alone is a compelling reason not just to vote, but to rent a bus, and drive all your friends to the polls as well.

So, a participating in a robocall supporting the national party nominee is enough to damn Guadagno. Okay.  But I doubt Republican Congressmen are paying much mind to a non-congressional race in a hopelessly corrupt state where Republican emigration has been occurring for years. Someone also needs to remind Tom that gerrymandering is a thing and most congress members will get reelected.

2. Remember the Christie baggage. Guadagno has been 100 percent loyal to Gov. Chris Christie, even his cuts to Planned Parenthood and his veto of sensible gun-control bills.

Lieutenant, Schmeutenant, she should have gone rogue and rebelled. That would have been rewarded. Granted, Christie has been a disappointment. To me mostly because of how little he did. He talked a lot, but little has changed. Plus NJ gun laws are insane. Cross a bridge from PA doing something completely legal and poof, you’re in deep. Just ask Josh Huff.

Read this paragraph twice and tell me where it’s logical. I’ll wait:

3. Murphy is better on property taxes. Yes, Guadagno based her campaign on this issue until her recent lurch towards Trump. But her convoluted plan to pay a portion of property taxes for middle-class families is a fake. At a cost $1.5 billion, it is the most expensive promise made by either candidate during this fiscal crisis, and Guadagno offers no credible way to cover the costs. Wasn’t Murphy supposed to be the reckless one?

Murphy offers tangible help. He wants to increase aid to public schools after years of frozen funding, a boost he would finance with a modest increase on incomes over $1 million. School costs account for the biggest chunk of property tax bills, by far, so boosting state aid should help contain future increases.

You see, increasing aid to public schools fixes property taxes! By increasing state taxes! On the evil corporations and rich people who have the means and ability to flee the state! This is the opposite way to fix the problem, which is reducing costs and waste if you didn’t realize that already. A side question, which schools would get even more aid? Think Cranford will get anything significant? Ha.

Here’s the next one:

4. Corporate tax loopholes. Murphy would stop the outrageous giveaways to big corporations. That starts by closing a tax loophole, known as combined reporting, that allows New Jersey companies to shift profits to paper entities in lower-tax states, costing the treasury about $300 million a year.

Why does NJ need corporate tax subsidies? Because the normal tax structure is not competitive and companies will leave. Eliminating subsidies will increase the incentive to bail from the state. Subsidies with jobs in the state is better than no jobs in the state because everybody left.

I have said previously, I am not enamored by any candidate, but does this sound like a convincing case?

So, blah blah blah on marijuana… and here’s the big close:

There is more. Murphy would rejoin the regional pact to fight climate change by reducing emissions from power plants. He’d also stop pilfering funds dedicated to restoring toxic sites and green energy.

He has a more ambitious list of liberal goals, like free community college, subsidies for day-care, and tax breaks for the working poor. But he admits all that is contingent on a burst of economic growth, a tacit admission that we can’t afford it all unless circumstances change.

Yes, he has deep flaws, he’ll have to learn the job on the fly, and he may even be a complete flop. His alliance with public worker unions is toxic. It helps explains his backward attitude on charter schools in poor cities, his resistance to the cuts in platinum health benefits for public workers, especially for teachers, and his refusal, at least for now, to embrace the 2 percent cap on salary boosts for cops and firefighters.

With Murphy we’ll have more expensive electricity, or we’ll have to get it from PA, as power plants would likely scale back or close. But we’ll still be good with the grid and that big uptick in economic growth!

And even with a huuuuuuuge public pension gap we’ll still get free community college and more government handouts.  Where will that money come from? Where will the economic growth come from? The Amazon warehouses by the turnpike?

Here is the best sentence of the whole piece: “His alliance with public worker unions is toxic.” This was a trait that Corzine had that baffled me. He loved (literally, it turned out) the public sector unions. He didn’t need their money or was beholden to them to get elected. And he was so awful that a Republican beat him after only one term. In the private sector, a union unchecked can either drive their employer to bankruptcy or make them retreat to a friendlier business environment. With a public sector union, we are the employer. They will push until we are bankrupt or we leave for a friendlier environment.

So after Murphy’s carpetbombing of the Star Ledger with advertisements for over a year, I guess Moran felt indebted to write something nice.

We’re in for a long four years.

I’m rooting for gridlock.


A judge threw out the lawsuit filed by the purchasers of the Westfield house claiming that “The Watcher” letters scared them half to death and the sellers should be liable.


And I think that’s good.

Either it’s the silliest piece of low-grade stalking ever or it was an addle-minded hoax. I have long thought the latter.

With the suit ending, I don’t see any book or movie rights either. That is also good. It would make the Amityville Horror look like a cinematic masterpiece in comparison:


House Foyer, Twilight. Wife in business attire is sorting through the day’s mail. Menacing music as she goes past the gas bill, the electric bill and the ValPak(tm) coupons (gotta get the product placement in). Zoom in on hands and opener as they open the individual envelopes. Show the Watcher letter making its way to the top of the pile. Unsettling music becomes more frenetic. Wife opens the letter. Reads it. Zoom in on face as her eyes widen. Close up as she sets other mail on hall cabinet. She audibly exhales.

Wife: Great. Another letter from that dumbass weirdo.

End Scene.

In the name of public service, if you want to scam your sellers, start the threatening letters before you even make your offer. Make an at-the-asking or slightly above asking offer. Then do a few more letters before suing. Some minor physical property damage would be a plus to make it more convincing.

But even if you do that, I think you’ll still lose.

I have a minor interest in knowing what the Broaddus’ were thinking. I don’t think I would get a straight answer though. Only their lawyer would know for sure.

So long, Watcher.

“The Watcher” 1905?-2017

I was in the city the other day and walked through the PATH station on my way to what I know as the World Financial Center.

And I walked past all of the top drawer stores, and I was thinking about the plaza level of the old World Trade. The Duane Reade, the Tie Rack; stores like you would see now at Port Authority.

I am okay with change, and I understand that the demographic that works there now has different tastes (and budgets) than when I worked around there.

But I will remember picking out ties there, and buying toothpaste. And then it wasn’t there.


From My NYC Apartment Window

Yep. 10 years of this. Granted, 4 posts a year does not a decent blog make, but we’re still here, and the archives have some less cringe-worthy things. Thank you for reading and for your comments over the years.

In the years we’ve been here in Cranford, we’ve made some great friends and have enjoyed ourselves. The quality of life definitely has been more than acceptable.

We’ve had fun at the rubber duck races, the Memorial Day Parade (if it isn’t rained out), the 4th of July festivities, National Night Out, the Street Fairs, some of the Car Shows (they get old after a while), Float Night at the pools, Hanson Park Halloween, Santa by the Gazebo and checking out the Christmas lights where some blocks go all-out. And there are the smaller group activities, the barbecues, and the quiet evening with the firepit in the backyard.

It has not been perfect, but anyplace that seems like it is, is most definitely not. The struggles with big developers, the COAH nonsense and the corruption and inefficiency of Union County are issues that we have to deal with often. The slow pace of implementing flood control and the trials many on the north side have dealt with since Hurricane Irene have made some people anxious.

But overall, I think we’re better here than we would be in most places. I have enjoyed meeting the unpretentious and helpful people that are here, and there are plenty of them.

Will we still be here in 10 years? Maybe, but we’ll see if jobs and the property taxes necessitate a move. Cranford is still in New Jersey, which has all of its problems. But it’s a nice island to be on.