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[Editor's Note: At 7:02 p.m. on July 11, 2011, this story was edited for style, content and accuracy.]
One week after Independence Day, Americans living in the State of New Jersey are less free than they were one week earlier.
On June 30, New Jersey stopped funding its public television station, WNJN, which televised state legislative meetings - including budget hearings.
The same day, members of the Lakewood Township Committee followed in the footsteps of Governor Chris Christie by no longer funding the dissemination of public documents previously posted on the township Web site.
Those documents included all 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005 meeting agendas and meeting minutes of the Lakewood Township Committee, the Lakewood Planning Board, the Lakewood Zoning Board, the Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC), which oversees the largest Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) in the state, and the Lakewood Industrial Commission.
In a July 4 e-mail, a reporter for NJ News & Views informed Township Clerk Mary Ann Del Mastro of the missing archived documents.
The following day, Del Mastro acknowledged the absence of the documents from the township Web site.
"It is being worked on," she told the reporter.
Not soon enough.
Other public documents removed from the revamped township Web site included listings of all scheduled meetings during 2011, including the July 14 meeting of the municipal governing body.
July 14 is not only a scheduled 2011 meeting date of the Lakewood Township Committee, it is also Bastille Day.
On July 14, 1789, French citizens stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison where the king exiled enemies of the state with only his signature on a sealed letter.
The destruction of the Bastille gave rise to the French Revolution. Oppressed lower classes revolted against an absolute monarchy that heavily taxed them, while granting exemptions to wealthy, influential nobles.
The French monarchy of 1789 needed as much money as it could raise through taxation, following years of prosecuting wars against the British in North America - including the American Revolution.
Over 200 years later, history is repeating itself.
Government secrecy behind closed doors is still costing the public tax dollars.
In 2005 and 2006, government appointees that included lobbyists and their professionals convened in meetings at town hall that few members of the public knew about and fewer still attended.
All citizens pay the price for government secrecy.
Government appointees that convened in 2005 and 2006 made recommendations to update the township's Master Plan and ordinance code book, called the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), that are still being challenged in court at taxpayer expense.
The township code book is no longer posted on the township Web site.
An increasing number of Lakewood citizens have said they feel they have no voice in their government.
At the June 30 meeting of the Lakewood Township Committee, Fairways resident William Hobday told committeemen that the expansion of a neighboring non-public school located in a residential home that did not require planning or zoning board approval of the improvements, deprived him of his right to due process.
"Neighbors have a right to voice our opinion," Hobday said.
According to court precedent, planning or zoning boards must respond to public concerns during development hearings. Approvals by boards that fail to respond to those concerns can be challenged in state superior court.
Last year, residents of the home discussed by Hobday received township permission, not planning or zoning board approval, to install a trash dumpster on the property's circular front driveway, impeding township sanitation trucks from safely emptying it.
The township does not charge the school for sanitation services that are not free to other businesses.
Residents of the property also installed a trailer in front of the large parking lot entrance so youths could play basketball on it in privacy.
Neighbors publicly complained at meetings of the Lakewood Township Committee. They said they were not given the opportunity to express their concerns at meetings of the Lakewood Planning Board or the Lakewood Zoning Board of Adjustment. As a result, the dumpster was removed from the driveway.
The trailer was painted and improved in appearance, but not removed as well.
Despite those actions, the worst fears of Fairways residents concerned about increased parking and traffic at the home came true. Last year, the home became a scene of death and destruction that took a man's life.
On June 10, 2010, Shmuel Brachfeld, 30, a Lakewood mentor employed at the residence, attempted to exit the home's driveway by turning left onto Massachusetts Avenue over a solid yellow line.
He never made it.
Because the township permitted residents of the property to install a trailer on its parking lot, and because the county permitted visitors to park curbside on Massachusetts Avenue in front of it, Brachfeld could not see and did not wait for oncoming traffic to pass.
Motorcyclist Curtis Pierce, 48, a United States navy veteran employed as a physical fitness trainer, was not able to brake before impacting Brachfeld's vehicle. The collision caused Pierce to be ejected from his motorcycle. He was pronounced dead at Kimball Medical Center.
Before his death, Pierce lived with his elderly mother, Bonnie Pierce, in her Toms River home.
On June 14, 2010, Lakewood police issued a summons to Brachfeld for violation of NJSA 39:4-66(b), which states that "the operator of a vehicle emerging from an alley, driveway, garage, or private road or driveway, shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to entering or crossing a highway, and shall proceed to enter or cross the highway only after yielding the right of way to the traffic on the highway, if the traffic is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard."
In an October 28, 2010 municipal court hearing, Brachfeld, represented by attorney Steven Secare, pled guilty to the charge.
In legal papers filed November 8, 2010 in state Superior Court in Toms River, Daniel J. Carluccio, attorney for Bonnie Pierce, filed a wrongful death lawsuit that charged Brachfeld with negligence, carelessness and recklessness.
Last month, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.
In a June 20 interview, Carluccio spoke to a reporter for NJ News & Views.
"The litigation was very short-lived because the insurance company paid the entire policy and acknowledged the entire liability," he told the reporter. "My client agreed to accept that."
Carluccio said his client also considered suing the township.
"I'm told there was a lot of concern about the location of this school (on) a very busy road," he told NJ News & Views.
One year after the deadly crash, conditions at the home are still a concern to Hobday and other Fairways residents that live near it.
Following Hobday's comments at the June 30 committee meeting, a reporter for NJ News & Views revisited 1536 Massachusetts Avenue.
Somerset Development LLC is the owner of 1536 Massachusetts Avenue.
Although Somerset Managing Partner Raphael (Ralph) Zucker twice received zoning board approval to redevelop the property for dense residential development, the Fairways Homeowners Association and Hobday successfully challenged the approvals in state Superior Court in Toms River.
The reporter confirmed Hobday's account of another trailer installed on the home's parking lot, prohibiting youths from using it as a recreational playground, let alone visitors from parking there.
The reporter saw several boys playing ball on an undeveloped open field adjacent to the home, which may or may not have belonged to the home's owner.
One of the boys used his bat to block a ball from rolling into the road just as the reporter drove past.
The reporter did not observe an adult supervising the youths.
Even with planning board site plan approval of other non-public schools, safety issues at 1536 Massachusetts Avenue are being repeated throughout Lakewood, reducing the property values of residential and commercial neighborhoods in which they open, while increasing liability costs for all taxpayers.
During the July 5 workshop meeting of the Lakewood Planning Board, members heard two proposed site plans for non-public schools.
Although an application by Yeshiva Toras Menachem was originally scheduled for hearing at the same planning board workshop, it was rescheduled for the July 26 meeting.
The first application heard by the planning board was a proposed site plan for Bais Medrash of Asbury Park, Inc., located on Block 1081, Lots 8, 14.01 and 14.02, at the southwest corner of Salvatore Drive and Vermont Avenue, near the Lakewood border with Toms River.
Block 1081, Lot 8 is located at 1500 Vermont Avenue and is owned by Dominick Delia. The address is located near the D'Elia Funeral Home at Vermont and Route 70.
Located in the R20c zone, the 1.77-acre home and land were assessed at a total of $679,000 in 2010.
In 2010, the township billed Delia $15,671.03 in property taxes, according to the county clerk's Web site.
Block 1081, Lot 14.01, located at 1450 Vermont Avenue, is owned by Miriam E. Werner of Fairways East. The home and land at the address, located on a 1.1141-acre site in the R20c zone, were assessed at a total of $617,800 last year.
In 2010, the township billed Werner $17,420.08 in property taxes.
Werner also owns Block 1081, Lot 1402, a 0.458-acre vacant lot on Salvatore Drive assessed at $134,200 in the R20c zone.
In 2010, the township billed her for $3,097.33 in property taxes, according to the county clerk's Web site.
The township stands to lose far more than $36,188.44 in taxes billed to Delia and Werner by permitting their properties to be redeveloped by new owners as a tax-exempt school.
On July 7, a reporter for NJ News & Views inspected planning board documents for the school at the Lakewood Municipal Building. According to the documents, Bais Medrash of Asbury Park is located at 215 Tenth Street in Lakewood, which is owned by Zev and Rachel Mintz.
Zev Mintz is the owner of Zrm Management LLC, located at the same address.
The applicant was seeking a site plan exemption and a change of use for conversion of two single-family homes into a boys high school that will include classrooms, a 12-room dormitory, cafeteria and apartment.
The existing 2-story dwelling located within the front portion of Lot 8 will contain a Shul, a cafeteria on the first floor, and two offices and two classrooms on the second floor. The applicant proposes to build a kitchen and dining room in the building basement.
The existing 1-story building located in the rear portion of Lot 8 will be converted into a boys' dormitory, with 12 rooms designated as sleeping areas. The dorm building will be finished with stucco on the front façade and painted block on the rest of the exterior.
The existing 2-story dwelling on Lot 14.01 will be converted to include a rabbi's apartment, a library, a recreation room and two offices.
Only nine (9) parking spaces are required for the school, according to the site plan on file with the township Engineering Department.
The site is located in the R-20/R-12 residential zone on a 3.34-acre irregular-shaped tract at the Lakewood border with Toms River Township. The site encompasses land located on both sides of Vermont Avenue, including property adjacent to Harrogate, a business operated as a retirement community, and property adjacent to a majority of the homes located on Salvatore Drive.
In 2009, the Lakewood Township Committee rezoned the municipality to permit a Planned Educational Campus there. Under the ordinance adopted by the committee, a school located on any site at least three (3) acres or larger can receive a tax exemption for faculty housing and student dormitories also developed on the site.
Although professionals for the applicant testified that no school buses would be dropping off or picking up students at the school, that does not mean unsupervised students may not be leaving school property without permission.
There are no pedestrian sidewalks in the area, even on Route 70, where a Harley Davidson Motorcycle dealership is located one block away in the Highway Development zone and a flea market is located across the highway from the funeral home.
Even if there are no school buses to transport students to the class, that does not mean there will be no bus service in the area.
In April, Moshe Zev Weisberg, secretary of the Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC), which oversees the state's largest Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), discussed the possibility of expanding municipal bus service to areas of the township where there may be increased demand for it.
While municipal bus service may reduce traffic in areas of service, buses may also contribute to a greater number of motor vehicle collisions. They will also increase pollution wherever they travel through town.
Larry Butterfield of Salvatore Drive asked the planning board to address his concerns as a Lakewood homeowner.
"Is the board aware they're (also planning on) putting 90 units on the corner of Locust and Vermont?" he asked. "Where is it going to stop? I paid a lot of money for my house."
According to the county clerk's Web site, Larry L. and Inez Butterfield of 17 Salvatore Drive purchased their home new in February 2005 for $537,131.
In 2009, the Butterfield property was assessed at a total of $706,500. The following year, the township reassessed the property at a total of $530,000 - a loss in value of the total purchase price.
That loss in value will continue to drop, according to Butterfield, who indicated he may sell his property before it does.
"I've lived (in Lakewood) 69 years," Butterfield told the planning board. "Are you trying to run me out (of town)?"
Planning board Chairman Michael Neiman told Butterfield that the township committee has made schools a permitted use in the zone.
A reporter for NJ News & Views e-mailed a request for comment to Aisik (Albert/Isaac) Akerman, a member of the planning board before and after his election to the Lakewood Township Committee last year.
"Residents of Salvatore Drive told planning board members that the value of their homes and the quality of their lives would be reduced by development of a school adjacent to their properties, while business owners in the industrial park told Mr. Reinman, the director of the industrial commission, that development of a school in the park would increase the cost of their liability," the reporter wrote Akerman in the July 9 request for comment. "How do you believe the Lakewood Township Committee can address their concerns, as well as those of parents seeking to safely educate their children in a township with diminishing developable land?"
The reporter also asked Akerman if he supported appointment of a township committee subcommittee or panel to study the issue.
"Thank you for your comments," the reporter told Akerman.
He had none to give the reporter.
Members of the public continued to discuss the issue at the July 5 planning board workshop he attended.
Planning board Vice Chairman Stanley Banas told irate residents of Salvatore Drive that Lakewood was a growing town and that taxpayers moving there wanted schools for their children. He said the increase in population was the reason property taxes had gone down.
In 2009, following years of increased property tax appeals, Senator Robert Singer, a dual office holder who also served as 2009 Mayor of Lakewood, sponsored state legislation that enabled the township to reassess property values without having to inspect all properties in town.
In 2010, Singer successfully held off a challenge by Herschel (Harold) Herskowitz for the Republican Party nomination for township committee, but later withdrew from the general election.
According to media reports, Singer made the decision to withdraw based on a request by Republican Governor Chris Christie, who reportedly opposed Republicans receiving two public paychecks.
Earlier this year, a reporter for NJ News & Views made an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to see all 2010 correspondence discussing the issue between Christie and Singer; Christie and 2011 Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller, who is employed by Singer's legislative office; and Christie and Jackson Mayor Michael Reina, who reportedly gave up his part-time salary at Christie's request after accepting a full-time job with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) immediately following his re-election as mayor.
Christie's legal counsel denied media access to the requested documents.
Members of the public are continuing to demand answers from public officials. Some are challenging the answers they receive.
Inez Butterfield disputed Banas' assertion.
"My property taxes aren't going down," she said.
Banas assured her they would next year.
That is not likely to happen either.
In a March 4 letter addressed to Yisroel (Steven) Reinman, Director of both the Lakewood Industrial Commission and the LDC, Victor P. Iorio of Iorio Construction Company and Iorio Realty at 700 Vassar Avenue discussed 725 Vassar Avenue in the Lakewood Industrial Park. Iorio said the neighboring 218,000 square-foot commercial and industrial property was being sold to the Cheder School.
The planning board approved a proposed site plan submitted by the Cheder School at the July 5 workshop that calls for a boys school for grades 7-8 on the 12.848-acre site.
According to the state-required Certificate of Ownership of Applicant on file with the Lakewood Engineering Department, Mechel Gruss, Shimon Zeldes and Lakewood school bus owner Aharon (Aaron) Rottenberg are invested for more than 10 percent each in the Cheder School, which may receive transportation services to Vassar Avenue that Rottenberg may provide to the Lakewood Board of Education.
Although the Lakewood Board of Education recently voted to bar Rottenberg's Negba Bus Company from bidding on any school bus routes for the next two years, he may own other school bus companies still under contract to the district.
According to the Real Estate Affidavit also on file with the township, which a reporter also inspected through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), the owners of the Cheder School did not show proof of payment of all property taxes owed on Block 1601, Lot 4 in the industrial park.
From 2001-2005, the owner of the property received a tax abatement from the township on new construction there.
In 2005, Block 1601, Lot 4 was assessed at a total of $2,847,700.
In 2006, Block 1601, Lot 4 was assessed at a total of $13,199,100.
In 2010, Block 1601, Lot 4 was reassessed at a total of $11,199,100. However, the township billed the owner $0.00 in taxes that same year, according to the county clerk's Web site.
On July 14, the township committee is scheduled to hold a second reading and vote of an ordinance introduced on June 30 that could further reduce municipal revenue by approving a tax abatement.
In 2010, the site of the proposed medical office at 603 West County Line Road was assessed at $439,600 after being sold for $1 in 2009.
A medical office, as well as a school, may be eligible to apply for a tax exemption, according to the county clerk's Web site, which reported that the owners of 588 Route 70 in Brick, the location of a yogurt shop, were billed $0.00 in property taxes during 2010.
The property was formerly owned by Brick Medical LLC. In 2005, Joseph Dwek, sole owner of Brick Medical LLC, sold Block 685, Lot 1 to Brick Pioneer LLC, which redeveloped it.
Joseph Dwek of Brooklyn, NY, an executive of the Adjmi Apparel Group in New York, is the uncle of Solomon Dwek of Deal.
According to a May 10, 2006 report by the Asbury Park Press, Solomon Dwek used $60.2 million of his uncle's money to buy 129 residential and commercial properties since 2003, but didn't put the properties in his uncle's name as promised.
At that time, the Dweks reportedly agreed that the nephew would locate and buy properties in New Jersey that his uncle would pay for, either to produce rental income or to sell for a profit. Joseph Dwek asserted that in exchange for Solomon Dwek's services, his nephew could manage the properties and his uncle would then make charitable contributions to the Deal Yeshiva, a non-public school founded by Solomon Dwek's parents two decades ago.
Since 2003, Joseph Dwek said in court papers that he had donated approximately $2 million to the school. The school claimed $9.9 million in income in 2004, the newspaper reported, and paid Solomon Dwek and his wife $318,000 in salaries that year.
Joseph Dwek charged in 2006 court papers, reported by the Asbury Park Press, that his nephew did not rightfully own the New Jersey properties. Instead, the properties were either in the younger Dwek's name or corporations that he controlled, according to the uncle.
The arrangement between the two Dweks became so complicated that not even Solomon Dwek could determine at that time which properties were his and which belonged to his uncle, according to the court filing.
The county clerk's Web site reported that 188 Route 70 in Brick, which Joseph Dwek sold in 2005 for $2.5 million, is a 3.53-acre site in the B-3 zone. It was assessed at a total of $5,500,000 in 2010.
Route 70 between Lakewood and Brick is a densely-developed commercial retail corridor located adjacent to the Lakewood Industrial Park.
The proposed size of the Cheder School that will be located in a former industrial park warehouse on Vassar Avenue is likely to change, according to Iorio, who told Reinman of liability issues associated with the property's new use.
"My concern (is) the safety of the students/children expected to be schooled (there)," Iorio wrote Reinman. "It is anticipated that there will be approximately 1,200 to 1,500 students/children at this facility, which amounts to 40 to 50 school buses every morning and afternoon transporting students/children in and out of the industrial park."
Iorio said the increased number of buses and students in the industrial park created a dangerous situation there.
"Directly across from this proposed school is the main entrance and exit servicing a major United Parcel Service facility which has anywhere from 40 to 50 large trucks entering and exiting each morning and late afternoon," Iorio said. "(This poses) a potential traffic nightmare."
Iorio acknowledged his company, Iorio Realty, had brokered the sale of one of two industrial park properties at 410 and 510 Oberlin Avenue South to schools. However, he asserted that the size of each of the 35,000-square-foot properties was so small, there was minimal impact on other industrial park tenants.
The sale of any tax ratable to any size school costs taxpayer dollars the township no longer receives and establishes a legal precedent in the industrial park, where schools are a permitted use.
Iorio said that sale of 725 Oberlin Avenue to a much larger school would result in a significant loss of revenue from township tax rolls.
"At 218,000 per s/f with a tax rate of $2.308 per $100 that amounts to over $258,500 per year in lost revenue to the township," Iorio wrote Reinman. "Lakewood Township, like many towns today, has its budget problems and cannot afford to lose this ratable. Additionally, I expect this sale will negatively affect the surrounding property values."
Iorio told Reinman other industrial park tenants shared his concern about the pending sale to Cheder School.
"Any continuation of this trend will force existing companies to move elsewhere out of Lakewood Township, resulting in future dire consequences for all of the citizens of Lakewood," Iorio wrote.
He indicated those consequences would defeat the purpose of the UEZ program in Lakewood.
Instead of promoting safe, productive environments for commercial businesses in the UEZ, public policy may cause them to leave town, taking jobs and property tax payments with them.
According to Iorio, some of those companies considering leaving are Jerry's Marine Service, Utica Stone, Roben Manufacturing, Creative Film Corp., Red the Uniform Tailor, Harold Imports, Humble Warehouse & Distribution, Worthington Biochemical, Aviv Associates, and Imperial Tile.
"In light of the serious and clear safety problems in allowing a private school to operate at 725 Vassar Avenue (in) the Lakewood Industrial Park?I have retained counsel?to represent me and my legitimate concerns and interests in the above matter," Iorio told Reinman.
The industrial commission does not have the authority to tell schools where they may or may not open for business.
The Lakewood Township Committee does.
Committeemen are continuing to promulgate public policy that favors schools and housing over business and industry.
At the May 12 meeting of the Lakewood Township Committee, Vincent LoBello of Vince's Auto Repair, a registered tower with the Lakewood Police Department, discussed ordinances affecting his business that the township committee adopted in November.
LoBello charged that the amended ordinances not only affected his livelihood as a police tow operator, they may also be illegal.
"You don't care what problems you make (for us)," LoBello told committeemen.
According to LoBello, changes in the township ordinance require that he and other tow operators collect a $50 processing fee per tow that is turned over to the township, in addition to the reduced fee towers are now entitled to collect.
"I gotta collect it and get accused of paying police off," LoBello said.
He also said that being a registered police tower does not guarantee he will earn a fee for removal of all disabled vehicles.
"Many times, we're told another tower has shown up at the customer's request and can charge whatever they want," LoBello said.
He indicated taxpayers, as well as towers, lost revenue as a result.
"No money to the township," LoBello said. "Ha, ha."
Under revised township ordinance regulating police towers, LoBello said he and other towers received the reduced rate of $100 per tow and were not permitted to charge a storage fee for the first 24 hours of storage.
"Oh, happy day!" LoBello said.
If owners of the disabled vehicles do not claim them, the township, not the tower, collects a fee to junk them under the amended ordinance.
LoBello also said that registered police towers must be on call 24 hours a day and also provide services at no charge to police.
"We tow police cars out of the mud and bring gas to police cars that run out of (it)," LoBello said.
After almost half-a-century of being a registered Lakewood police tower, LoBello had had enough.
"Here's my two licenses, I don't need the blood money any more," LoBello said, then walked up to the committee dais and tossed two documents in Coles' lap, who then handed the papers to Deputy Mayor Steven Langert.
Resident Gerri Ballwanz asked committeemen about LoBello's action.
"What does that mean?" she asked.
It means one more business owner will not be paying revenue to the township.
That number includes township webmaster Duvys Media.
Duvys Media is located at 155 N. Oberlin Avenue in the Lakewood Industrial Park. According to the county clerk's Web site, 155 N. Oberlin Avenue is owned by Bnos Bais Yaakov Inc., a tax-exempt non-public high school.
Duvys Media is being paid $27,500 for its services, which are subsidized through the town's Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) program.
The state approved the UEZ program to bring jobs and commerce to urban municipalities, which in turn generate the UEZ fund.
Schools do not generate the UEZ fund through collection of a reduced sales tax or interest earned on loans paid back to the LDC.
In addition to providing web design and management services to Lakewood Township, Duvys provides Web design and management services for The Lakewood Scoop's Ride Share service.
Some drivers may be profiting from the service by collecting a fee from their passengers.
Duvys requires passengers and transportation service providers to fill out an online application that could be ruled a legal contract between all parties the municipality fails to regulate.
Despite a disclaimer on the Ride Share Web page located on www.thelakewoodscoop.com, Duvys may be liable for any injury, death or damage or loss of personal property resulting from the company's role in arranging unregulated transportation services.
So will Lakewood and New Jersey taxpayers, who must pay the cost of increased demand for insurance, police and emergency medical services to cover such loss, as well as the cost of litigation.
If government officials have their way, taxpayers may never know they are paying more than their fair share.
Duvys founder David Perkowski acknowledged the risk of accepting or giving rides to strangers.
"Please realize that Rideshare does not run background checks, evaluate driving history, drivers? insurance, or driver?s licenses," Perkowski told his readers. "As with other ridesharing venues online and offline, we facilitate ridesharing within a community that is mostly dependable, friendly, and honest. However, the characteristics of people vary and you are encouraged to investigate prospective travel partners including running your own background checks, and ensuring that all drivers? licenses and insurance are current and consistent with the information you expect."
That is not the public's sole responsibility; it is the responsibility of local officials that are supposed to regulate transportation services in Lakewood.
On July 7, The Lakewood Scoop reported that police issued a ticket to an 18-year-old student charged with hitchhiking on Forest Avenue and 5th Street at 10 p.m. the previous evening.
"Hitchhiking in New Jersey is illegal," Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson was quoted by the Scoop. "Some stand in dangerous places where drivers have to swerve to avoid them."
As more schools open throughout the township, more students will be seeking rides from strangers.
In a June 2 post on The Lakewood Scoop, entitled "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Lakewood Galaxy," by Aaron Joseph, the author describes his feeling of guilt and remorse at not stopping his car to give a ride to a student with his thumb out for one.
"Driving down 7th Street, at about 9:00 am a few mornings ago, I was startled to see a young Bais Yaakov high school student, full uniform regalia, trying mightily to hitch a ride," Joseph wrote. "As I drove on past without breaking, the student, who was standing a good few feet off the curb, stared annoyed through my car window, as if to communicate 'Chutzpa! You're going my way anyways.'"
Joseph sought to reassure himself he had done the right thing in passing the student without stopping to give him a ride.
"I calmed myself, no need to fret," he told readers. "I assured myself that the preordained ride will arrive momentarily, in shining armor (depends on make and model!) to whisk the hitcher along towards whatever (his) destination. Besides, even teenagers have brains enough to recognize danger. Don't they?"