Enter Postman

Another episode in my ongoing contretemps with the world. One more of these, I swear, and I become a Buchananite Public Choice theorist, Nancy MacLean be damned.

Online complaint to the U.S. Post Office, Bloomfield, New Jersey:

Your menu doesn’t allow me accurately to describe my issue. This is the second time I’ve complained about this. My mail is being misdelivered now every single day. Some days I get someone else’s mail. Some days I get no mail. Some days the mail is left on top of the radiator in the foyer of my building but not delivered to boxes. A debit card that was sent to my address last month has not arrived. There has been no improvement whatsoever in the mail service since my last complaint [March 3, 2017].

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

The Victim Who Wasn’t: or, The Continuing Saga of the Purloined Pillow

November 19, 2016

Pamela M McCauley
Victim-Witness Coordinator
Office of the Essex County Prosecutor
Essex County New Courts Bldg
Newark, NJ 07102-0000

Dear Ms. McCauley:

Over the past few weeks, I have been receiving correspondence from your office concerning State vs. Godfrey, Prosecutor File # 16-002030, Indictment # 16-0601832-I. The correspondence comes from the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy, and describes me as the victim in the abovementioned case. Unfortunately, the correspondence re State vs. Godfrey has all been sent to me in error.  I am not the victim in State vs. Godfrey. I phoned your office and left a message about this matter several weeks ago, but have not received a response.

I am the victim in a case of larceny involving a defendant named Michael Ramos (Prosecutor File # 16-002203). The alleged crime took place in Bloomfield in March of 2016. In your last correspondence to me regarding the case, the case had been referred back to Bloomfield Municipal Court for adjudication. I have heard nothing about it since. In any case, I lack the standing to receive victim impact information regarding State vs. Godfrey. To the best of my knowledge, the case has nothing to do with me.

Best wishes,

Irfan Khawaja


For previous installments in the series, see “Best Voice Mail Ever,” “Our Friend, the State,” and “Pissed, Dissed, and Out $89.18.

Some Questions for Professor Denbeaux

As readers of this blog have probably figured out by now, I’m organizing an event this Tuesday at Felician University regarding racial profiling by the Police Department and Municipal Court in Bloomfield, New Jersey.* The claim alleging racial profiling has been made by Professor Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University Law School, who’s the featured speaker at the event. (I invited the mayor of Bloomfield, Michael Venezia, to send a representative from municipal government, but he declined the invitation himself and declined to send a representative. I also asked the Police Director through the Community Policing Unit, but never heard back; asked one member of the Town Council, who eventually declined; and asked one member of the Bloomfield Civic and Human Rights Commission, who also declined.)

As I’ve said several times before, I’ve taken no public stand on the findings of the report. Neither has Felician University and neither have any of the sponsors of the event.** In fact, I don’t have a stand to take, publicly or privately. Mostly I have a bunch of questions. As the discussant/moderator of the event, I have the prerogative of setting the agenda for the discussion period following the talk, but there’s no reason to think that the discussion will revolve around my questions in particular. So I thought I’d throw them out there on the blog, as food for thought, and as some rough indication of what we might discuss at the event itself. I may add a few questions if I think of any later. Feel free to come up with some of your own in the combox.  Continue reading

Felician University Event: “Race and Criminal Justice in America” (Note time change)

(Note the change in the time of the event to 6:30 pm.) 

I’m the co-chair, with Dr. Edward Ogle, of Felician University’s Committee on Leadership and Social Justice (CLSJ). Our theme this year is “Race and Criminal Justice in America,” and I’m pleased to be able to announce our kick-off event: a presentation by Professor Mark Denbeaux, of Seton Hall University Law School, on his recent co-authored study of racial profiling in Bloomfield, New Jersey (“Racial Profiling Report: Bloomfield Police and Bloomfield Municipal Court“).

The event will take place at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 in the Education Commons Building at Felician University’s Rutherford, New Jersey campus (223 Montross Ave, Rutherford NJ, 07070). I will serve as discussant; all are invited and welcome. (Note: Felician University’s sponsoring the event does not necessarily imply agreement with the contents of the Seton Hall Report, or with Professor Denbeaux’s views).

The CLSJ had originally conceived of the event as a debate between Professor Denbeaux and a representative from Bloomfield Municipal Government, but unfortunately, despite a summer’s worth of invitations to Bloomfield (several invitations each to the mayor’s office, to the Police Department, and to Councilwoman Wartyna Davis), Bloomfield has not only declined our invitation but declined to acknowledge it altogether. (If any relevant party in Bloomfield government sees this, and thinks that I’ve been too hasty in making the preceding claim, feel free to contact me at khawajai at felician dot edu. I’m still open to participation by a representative of Bloomfield Township, but the date and time of the event should now be considered fixed.)

Here’s a video based on Denbeaux’s report, from Vice News. 

And here’s another video, an out-take from the first one, that opens in a new window. Here’s some press coverage of the report, from NJ.com. Some more, more, more, more, and yet more. (And one more, for good measure.) I neither fully agree nor disagree with Denbeaux’s report, and hope to blog it–as well as Bloomfield’s refusal to acknowledge my invitation–in the near future.

Postscript, September 1, 2016. Belatedly discovered this NPR interview with Professor Denbeaux. Hat-tip: George Abaunza.

Postscript, September 19, 2016: The time of the event has been changed from 6 to 6:30 pm.

Our Friend, the State

I’ve just received three letters in the mail that prove that in the end, truth and justice do triumph, and dreams do come true. These letters restore to me, through the beneficence of The State, two of the dearest objects of my heart’s desire–justice and a wife! They’re from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The three letters are all identical to one another; their having been sent to me in triplicate is, I suppose, symbolic of the bounty and riches of my new estate. I’m blessed thricefold. Continue reading

Feuer Frei! Thoughts on Guns and Policing (Updated)

Beneath the fold you’ll find a picture of me at Essex County College’s Public Safety Academy  in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, using the Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) there. (Is that click bait or what?)

Tasks accomplished tonight at the Academy:

  • I watched my friend and colleague Officer Bob Kish of the Bloomfield Police Department do his firearms certification, which he blew away, with a 93% rating (i.e., 56 out of 60 rounds he was required to fire under tightly timed conditions hit a randomly-appearing target at a distance of 1-25 yards; 80% is a passing score).
  • I shot a bunch of bad guys in the FATS. They died.
  • I learned that I am not a bad shot for a middle aged philosophy professor with a squint. I also learned that I am not a good shot for a police officer who has to operate in non-simulated circumstances.
  • I thought about the philosophical implications of it all (see below).
  • I mailed some letters.

Continue reading

“Driving While Black”: Vice News Comes to Town

No sooner do I praise my local police department, but Vice News comes to town to trash it.

Of course, this video is worth watching, as well. In the video, Bloomfield’s police chief mentions burglary, something I can speak to from first-hand experience. The question is whether the reduction in the crime rate has come at the expense of individual rights–or not.

Continue reading