The media should focus on Italian-American models; North Bergen must find space for a state-of-the-art kindergarten | Letters

Focus on Italian-American models

Italian American Heritage Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the contributions that people of Italian ancestry have made to society.

I am disgusted by the constant portrayal of Italians in the media as criminals and mafiosos. Films, performances and print that stereotype Italians as violent and vicious murderers and gangsters damage the image of all Italians.

Young people of Italian descent desperately need positive role models. While young Italian Americans should adopt and emulate the positive and vital attributes of their countrymen who have contributed to the betterment of society, the entertainment industry continually bombards them with unscrupulous characters as role models.

I’d bet most young Italian Americans in Hudson County have no idea who Dr. Michael Conti, Louis T. Scialli, or Monsignor Santora were. However, unfortunately, they will be able to tell you all about the infamous careers and nefarious deeds of notorious Italian-born underworld figures.

Young people of Italian descent should focus on the good deeds that Italian Americans have done: people like Dr. Michael Conti, a humanitarian and philanthropist who practiced medicine from his office on Fourth Street for half a century ; Lucy DeStefano, an “educator of educators” who served the Jersey City School District for about 50 years; Tom “The Turk” Favia, the legendary basketball coach who brought championships to James J. Ferris High School; Louis T. Scialli, who transformed the Jersey City Education Association from a local union into a world-class labor organization; and Monsignor Gerard Santora, the “Priest of all Priests” who has pastored the Holy Rosary for some thirty years, dating back to the start of World War II in Europe; Holy Rosary Church flourished during his tenure as pastor.

Forget gangsters and fictional characters from a Mario Puzo novel or screenplay. These characters are the exaggerated and overrated minority. Focus on the positive contributions that Italians/Italian Americans have made to our community.

John Di Genio, Jersey City

Use 2 acres for a state-of-the-art preschool

The North Bergen School District’s enrollment is 88% Hispanic.

Since 2001, North Bergen youth have attended public preschool in 17 trailers (aka “Temporary Classroom Units/TCUs”), though Mayor and State Senator Sacco (former Director of Elementary and Secondary Education ), told the community that the permanent preschool facilities were under construction.

TCUs are not expected to be in service for more than five years.

These TCUs operated in violation of protective regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres, which state that Braddock Park is restricted to recreational use.

North Bergen has reneged on multiple promises to remove its preschool from Braddock Park while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in penalties and expenses related to keeping it in the park.

Now North Bergen plans to redevelop three very large plots of land located on River Road (36.5 acres), Bergenline Avenue (area unknown) and Tonnelle Avenue (7 acres), for more housing and shops.

If North Bergen cannot remove its preschool from Braddock Park and place all of its preschoolers in neighborhood elementary schools as it has promised the public, the New Jersey Department of Education, and the DEP, two of those acres can surely be used to build a state-of-the-art preschool and parking lot.

Otherwise, 21 years of environmental and educational racism will continue, negatively affecting all residents.

The State of New Jersey must enforce its regulations and put an end to these injustices and abuses.

Robert Walden, North of Bergen

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