What’s Wrong With Peter?

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As still another Manorhaven mayoral election approaches—and I once again carry petitions—I’m hearing the same old Peter Dejana refrain. So now I’m writing this letter to put that old sour song to rest once and for all.
After 9/11, anyone who raised unconventional issues about what had happened was met with the disdainful “conspiracy theory” comment. Whatever public relations expert came up with that phrase was brilliant, as it was the perfect put down.
Well Manorhaven has its own equivalent during elections and it is “Peter Dejana.” And it is a disparagement that isn’t true.
Last month when a neighbor asked me to vote for another candidate who was going to run, I said I liked Jim, and she immediately said, pejoratively: “Dejana.”
I asked her what was bad about him, and she said vaguely that he owns a lot of property to build houses. So I pointed down the street to both the lovely, modest-sized, two-family houses that Dejana built on the Rochedieu property, leaving plenty of lawn, in contrast to two monolithic houses on a neighboring street. She didn’t answer.
So what’s with all the hostility toward Peter Dejana? This is no rich boy who has had a life of luxury and has always had it easy.
My friend and neighbor, Pat DeBari, has known Peter since his family came over on the boat from Sardinia. They needed shoes, which Pat’s family shared with them. They were just
honest, hard-working immigrants with a big family. No rich anyone bankrolled Peter, which makes him someone who has fulfilled the American Dream. Is this why he is criticized? Jealousy?
He and Jeri live far from ostentatiously, and they give a lot of money to charity. I know the Senior Citizen’s Center is a recipient of his generosity, and apparently the Red Stocking Revue. I’m sure there are many more generosities, year in and year out. Shouldn’t we be giving the Dejana’s acknowledgment instead of criticism?
Ask the next person who makes a comment what their problem is with Peter, and I will bet they have no answer. Let me know.
— Fran Mienik

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