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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sex for Sale, Neighborhood Ruined, Federal Dollars Squandered in Paterson, NJ

If what you read here about your tax dollars wasted and a neighborhood ruined concerns you, please consider sending a brief email to Paterson, NJ Mayor Jeffrey Jones, and Congressman Bill Pascrell:

Contact Mayor Jeffrey Jones at
Work:    973-321-1600

Contact Congressman Bill Pascrell at or here
Work:    973-523-5152 

Dear President Obama,

Your work as a community organizer has become famous. I write to you today on behalf of needy, inner-city citizens who could use a community organizer. We are helpless in the face of a corrupt businessman who has brought noise, crime, and sex work to our residential neighborhood in a notorious urban slum – a slum that the federal government has spent millions of dollars to rescue. Can you help us defeat abuse and corruption?

I write on behalf of the residents of Artists Housing in Paterson, NJ. We are a federally funded Section 8 housing project for artists. We are productive artists, painters, writers, and singers, along with other low income residents. We live in Phoenix Mill, a two-hundred-year-old textile mill. The government put this housing project here in order to rescue Paterson from crime and urban decay. The government also declared Paterson Falls, the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi, a National Historic Park and our neighborhood a National Historic Landmark District. We are a five minute walk from the Great Falls. The United States government has spent large sums of citizens' tax dollars here.

Phoenix Mill residents include elderly people, physically handicapped children, and families. We are majority African American and Hispanic, with some white residents as well. We are a block away from an elementary school, from the Andrew McBride senior housing residence, a Catholic church and a mosque.

We, the residents of Phoenix Mill, have been protesting against the Question Mark Bar for several years. Paterson okayed the placement of the Question Mark Bar across a very narrow, one-lane alley from our apartment windows. We feared that the Question Mark Bar would bring more crime to our residential neighborhood, and it has. Shortly after it opened, there was a shooting death in the street outside our front door. There has been increased traffic, noise until dawn, loud music, and street fights.

In April, 2013, the Question Mark Bar hung large, color placards of women's naked buttocks and breasts on its two exterior walls. These walls are on the direct route our children walk from the nearby elementary school. A man was stationed outside the bar with pink helium balloons. He was attempting to convince passersby to take the balloons and enter the bar. Passersby included decent housewives and children attempting to go about their day to day lives.

Phoenix Mill residents have repeatedly protested the placement of this bar in our residential neighborhood, a neighborhood where large sums of federal dollars have been spent in an attempt to rescue it from the crime, drug deals, and decay that the rest of Paterson has fallen prey to. Phoenix Mill residents have repeatedly contacted our mayor, Jeffrey Jones, with signed petitions against the noise, increased traffic, and street fights from the Question Mark bar. Now we confront the Question Mark Bar's in-your-face pornography and threats to become a strip bar – mere feet away from windows where little African American, Hispanic, and handicapped children attempt to sleep. Unfortunately, our local leaders here in Paterson have not helped us.

We need a community organizer who can rescue us from our city's squandering of federal aid dollars. Please help us.


  1. I read somewhere that one of the things Hitler did when he invaded Poland was to flood the country with cheap pornography. He felt that it was a great way of weakening the family, moral standards, and morale in general.

    If that is true that he did that, maybe that is an argument you could use?

  2. Very touched by this letter sent by someone born in Paterson:

    Growing up in Paterson in the 60's I knew we were poor but I thought we mattered, we had just as much opportunity to thrive and live a quality of life others had. It would be easy for those impacted to feel like no one cares.

    I'm hoping that I'm wrong, that people and politicians do have a vision for what Paterson will be as good as it was in the past to live and work in, and that there is a chance to take some corrective measures.

    I was born on River Street, grew up on Liberty Street near Hinchcliff Stadium. I continued to attend church nearby, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, until the neighborhood deteriorated and our pastor was mugged and the church relocated to a suburban community. The church had provided day care during the week for working families. I'm sure the spiral of impacts continued.

    Trickle down economics of the wrong sort.

    I also have a friend impacted by this. While I don't live in Paterson any more, Paterson never leaves you and I'm hoping you'll read this in the spirit intended - I'm proud of what Paterson was, what it could be, and that there's hope that others living there will feel the same way.

    Paterson and it's citizens do not deserve to die from social and political entropy.

    The bar is located across from the Phoenix Mills. Artists and writers are housed there and have to put up with the noise, crime, fights, and other disruptions to the quality of life. I have seen the impact first hand visiting my friend.

    The idea that there are families and decent people who have to put up with this is disturbing to me. If a woman was caught walking down the street like this she'd be picked up. I'm finding it hard to believe that this is appropriate for a neighborhood with families.

    How is this not contributing to the delinquency of minors?

    The area has been added to the Federal Registry. I saw it on News 12 and NJTV. I was so proud that we finally got some recognition. I used to climb on the first submarine. I roamed in around where the trains were built that helped build the Panama Canal, where the engines for the Spirit of St. Louis were built. I could go on for hours about the best Paterson offered the world.

    So is that picture the vision we have for Paterson now?

    How does the noise and impact that the bar is having on their “neighbors” continue?

    If they were dumping garbage on the ground, the Health department would shut them down.

    If the emitted hazardous waste the DEP would shut them down.

    Yet the crime, noise, and “visuals” that continue to be a burden on the surrounding area are not addressed....and the spiral continues.

    How do we fix the problem?

    I grew up in poverty and so this is not an email from some Nervous Nelly or a goody two shoes. I 've seen the best and worst Paterson has to offer and if I learned one thing it's that you have to fight for what's right. I walked past those same mills on the way to church as a kid. I roamed Paterson and developed into the man I became. I have seen the area deteriorate in the 60's and 70's, come back with renewed hope with the conversion of the old mills, and question which direction the area is headed.

    I'm asking you to take a stand. Make a difference in stopping the spiral down. Help people in tough enough straits to enjoy some quality of life, live there lives in as good an environment as possible and make Paterson more than a place to get a drink and a lap dance.

    This business dooms the Federal dollars spent towards refurbishing the Great Falls and surrounding area. Who will visit the area and spend money if this is what they see and they have to put up with.

    What kind of businesses will invest in the area other than more of the same. We lost the jobs when the factories left and with it families and with it the the character and spirit of the Paterson I knew.