A cruel afternoon at the Motor Vehicle Commission

I’ve had root canals. I’ve had gum surgery. But, when I went to get my driver’s license renewed recently, I knew real pain.

I had no choice but to appear in person. The letter I received from the state Motor Vehicle Commission contained a number of “skip the trip” urgings but they were countermanded by a contradictory warning superimposed on the renewal form: If you want your license, you had to do this thing live.

Good-bye, Mary Jo Patterson: New Jersey loses a great journalist–and I lose a friend.

Good-bye, Mary Jo.

Good-bye, old friend.
Good-bye, old friend. (Star-Ledger photo)

It was a crazy idea, I knew, and so did she–but it was the sort of crazy idea that drove young people like us to a profession like no other. Mary Jo Patterson and I, then both 31 and reporters at The Star-Ledger, would pose as young lovers in the New York neighborhoods haunted by the so-called “Son of Sam” killer. Be bait for the homicidal maniac and, in the process, snare a story like no other.

A Newark teacher offers a Thanksgiving lesson

Susan Palmucci and her daughter, Madison Cogdell, 12.
Susan Palmucci and her daughter, Madison Cogdell, 12.

Susan Palmucci is a Newark teacher. First grade at the Cleveland School. In the city’s schools for 24 years. But forget her job for a moment. Think of her in a way many people don’t think of teachers–as a woman, as a person who saw an immediate, emergency need and did what she could to help another person–another woman who happened to be the mother of nine, including one of Palmucci’s  students.

Good-bye to Joe Del Grosso–and, maybe, a lot more

Pallbearers carry Joseph Del Grosso's casket out of St. Lucy's Church
Pallbearers carry Joseph Del Grosso’s casket out of St. Lucy’s Church

Joseph Del Grosso, the president of the Newark Teachers Union for 20 years, was buried Monday after a funeral Mass at St. Lucy’s Church in what once was the city’s First Ward, its Little Italy.  It made sense to have the funeral there, and not simply because he grew up in the neighborhood before it was systematically destroyed in what had to be one of the stupidest decisions ever made by any government anywhere.

GUEST: Mayor Baraka, do something!

Mayor Ras Baraka
Mayor Ras Baraka

By Becca Fields

I admire and respect Mayor Ras Baraka.  From the first time I spoke with him, I heard a leader, a man of deep thought and action.  Then a high school principal, Baraka demonstrated  commitment, intelligence, and  a depth of understanding of the challenges facing not just Newark public schools, but the entire city.  And he clearly demonstrated his willingness to look for solutions “outside the box” and beyond the expected as he demonstrated by meeting with gang leaders as part of his  strategy to curb violence.

Christie cousin gets a Camden job

Kathryn Meeley
Kathryn Meeley

The state-operated Camden school district hired the cousin of Gov. Chris Christie’s wife to a $95,000-a-year administrative job in June. Kathryn Meeley, 32, the daughter of Mary Pat Christie’s  first cousin and a strong advocate for  charter schools, was given the position of chief of staff to the school district’s school support division.