Longtime Princeton Borough Councilman Chastises Princeton University in Farewell Speech


Longtime Princeton Borough Councilman David Goldfarb used his goodbye speech last night as an opportunity to criticize Princeton University for underfunding the town and using threats to advance the school’s agenda.

It was quite the swan song, and one more reminder that Goldfarb has always  marched to his own beat and been an independent thinker on the council.

“After 21 years, I’m retiring from the Borough Council for health reasons,” Goldfarb said at the start of his speech. “I’m fine, as far as I know. It’s my fellow Democrats who got sick of me.”

“Still, one never knows what’s around the corner, and I’d like to leave with a clear conscience,” he said. “I know that I have annoyed, angered, offended, and disappointed many people in this room and many other residents, staff members, and elected officials. I apologize, and I ask for your forgiveness.”

Then Goldfarb said he wasn’t quite finished annoying, angering, offending, and disappointing.

“I’d like to devote some of the few minutes that I have left to that non-profit educational institution across the street that shares the name of our town,” Goldfarb said. “During all of my time on the Council, its leaders have been unfailingly cooperative and responsible while asking for nothing in return other than to be treated fairly. Its students have devoted many hours to a large number of good causes in the community, and only a tiny fraction of them attract the attention of our police department or bother their neighbors. I’m speaking, of course, of the Princeton Theological Seminary.”

Goldfarb said the town is fortunate to have such a fine institution in the community, adding that the rest of the community would do well to adopt the seminary’s community values.

“I wish I could honestly say the same of Princeton University, but I can’t,” Goldfarb said. “With financial resources that dwarf those of virtually all other colleges and universities in the world, Princeton University still demands that the residents of our town subsidize it. On top of that, its president threatened to reduce its inadequate contribution in lieu of taxes if the town didn’t comply with the University’s wishes.

“When President Tilghman presented us with her ultimatum last year, we should have called her bluff,” he said.  “Instead, the leaders of our town capitulated, emboldening the University to make similar threats in the future. I hope that the town and the University will work together to restore the mutually respectful relationship that we enjoyed under prior University administrations.”

Goldfarb suggested a commitment from the university to leave the Dinky in place would be a good place to start.

“Finally, I’d like to thank the residents, my present and former colleagues, and the Borough employees for their many kindnesses over the years,” Goldfarb said. “Those who have thanked me for my service should understand that I did it because I enjoyed it and that I’m now content to leave the work to others. I congratulate Mayor Trotman on her retirement from office, and I wish everyone a happy and successful new year.”



  1. We would have hoped the end of a dynastic term would have been more graceful.

  2. The town should pay Princeton U. to be there. They funnel huge amounts of $ into town via the salaries they pay their employees. Do you think the stores and shops in town would exist, in their present form, without PU? I don’t. Take away PU and Princeton becomes Manville!

  3. This idea that the university does not “pay its fair share” to the Borough is, of course, ridiculous. The residents of the Borough (and, indeed, Township) free ride off of the massive brand equity that exists here solely because of Princeton University. Not only have many of the residents — especially the long-term residents — seen massive appreciation in housing values (even taking in to account the bursting of the national bubble), but they enjoy the psychic benefits of living in the only town in New Jersey with a name that is famous around the world. It is famous because of the University — nobody outside of this part of New Jersey has even heard of “Kingston.” People move to Princeton for that reason, and to associate with other people who live here for that reason. All because of brand equity built by the university. Never mind the jobs, the facilities, the opportunities. And, anyway, the Borough is expensive and obviously wasteful. Few alumni, even those who are Borough residents, give money to the university so that they can hand it over to the Borough government.

  4. My Dear and Fellow Commenting Characters and George,

    Can we not recognize that the University is the reason for our very existence but also hold that PU overstepped its bounds in demanding zoning approval in exchange for continued financial support, as Shirley Tilghman did? That residents can appreciate the University and acknowledge our dependence but also that we should retain power over major land use decisions?

    It seems that you believe that “improved relations with the University” actually means instant, total and smiling compliance with ultimatums and demands – otherwise, how would you suggest the Borough Council resolves disagreements such as whether to move the Dinky or not?

  5. Mr. Tweed Jacket,

    The Borough Council was not negotiating with the University. They appealed to and entertained every special interest group in opposition to the project rather than actively engage with Administration. The Council got distracted by the move of the Dinky and left millions of dollars on the negotiating table.

    (We must say, CONGRATS on the awesome handle! It’s too bad we disagree because you sound like a guy who likes to party!)

Comments are closed.