The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

South Second Street mixed-use project update

The new warehouse for ABC Construction Co. is moving along
briskly, with occupancy expected by the end of 2016.

South Second Street is abuzz with one of Plainfield's larger redevelopment projects currently in progress.

The mixed use project between Grant Avenue and Muhlenberg Place will include a new warehouse for ABC Supply Co. and 90 units of apartments in a complex to be called The Muse at Grant Avenue Station.

One of the interesting features of the project, to me, is that concrete from the former factory building that sat at the corner of Grant Avenue is being recycled to be reused in the construction of the two new buildings.

On-site concrete crusher is used to recycle concrete from
factory building formerly on the site.

A view of of some of the concrete, broken up into large chunks.

It used to be that concrete from buildings being demolished would be dug up in huge chunks and transported to landfills elsewhere -- out of sight, out of mind. I can remember seeing endless caravans of dumpster trucks hauling the stuff west on I-78 to landfills in Pennsylvania.

But times have changed.

Builders now often find it more cost-effective to rent crushers for use on the construction site, where the large chunks are ground down to pebble size and used as aggregate in the new construction.

It saves the developer money, eases pressure on scarce landfills, reduces the project's carbon footprint, and is in general kinder to Mother Earth.

ABC expects to be in their new building by the end of 2016, when to focus will shift to completing the residential portion of the project.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Plainfield Police Division moves closer to accreditation

Plainfield Police Division patch. 1869 is the year
of the city's incorporation.

Plainfield Councilor Rebecca Williams, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, regularly reports to the Council and the public on Police Division initiatives.

At a recent Council meeting, it was reported that the Police Division is "about 90% complete" on the 2-year-long accreditation process which is supervised by the NJ State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP).

Although reference is often made to the process including a review and updating of policies and procedures, there has been no in-depth discussion of what that means.

So, I decided to take a look.

The NJSACOP website is here.

On the website, you can open and view (or download) the following materials --
  • The 3-page survey every applicant police division must complete and file;
  • The 3-page profile of the agenc;y that must be filed;
  • The 29-page Manual describing the accreditation process; and
  • The 67-page Manual detailing the Accreditation Standards in 27 areas.

A list of the 27 standards areas that must be met
in the accreditation process. (Click image to enlarge.)

The next time someone airily waves a hand in discussion of the accreditation as though it was a 10-minute multiple choice quiz, you should check out the depth of the process.

What is intended is that the qualifying agency -- in this case the Plainfield Police Division -- has in place the proper policies and procedures to enable the division to "serve and protect" the public to the best extent possible under contemporary standards.

You will note that the prohibition of racially-based policing is among the first standards addressed.

A review also shows that areas that have been problematical for the Plainfield PD in the past (Internal Affairs, Extra duty (side jobs), and records control) are all addressed in the standards being set.

I suspect that much of the suspicion that Councilor Taylor has attempted to fan centers around past abuses in those areas (as well as civil service procedures) and that Director Riley's moves to bring the organization into compliance are meeting with resistance from those who have benefited in the past from the politicization of the Division under a prior administration.

It is well worth your time to check out these resources.

Meanwhile, Plainfield residents can look forward to the completion of the accreditation process next year. This will be followed by a review and reaccreditation every two years to make sure Plainfield stands among the most current, will-trained and cutting edge divisions in the state.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Doctor's visit, playing hooky today

Cloris Leachman as Nurse Diesel
in Mel Brooks' 'High Anxiety'.

Playing hooky today -- doctor's visit.

My favorite medical person though, is Nurse Diesel, Cloris Leachman's role in the madcap High Anxiety , Mel Brooks riff on 10 (count 'em) Alfred Hitchcock thrillers.

One of my favorites is the "no fruit cup" scene -- which you can view on YouTube here.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What happens if the Neighborhood Health Center folds?

Logo of the Neighborhood Health Services Corporation,
formerly the Plainfield Health Center.

What would happen to healthcare for low-income residents of Plainfield and surrounding communities if the Neighborhood Health Services Corporation (NHSC) -- the former Plainfield Health Center -- folded?

It wold be disastrous, for sure.

In January, 2015 I wrote a post (see here) detailing the financial pressures that Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) face because of the slow payment on the part of Medicaid managed care organizations and the State. Cash flow problems became endemic to FQHCs throughout the state.

You can view the Neighborhood Health Services Corporation website here.

A filing for Chapter 11 is supposed to give organizations an opportunity to restructure their debt and continue in business on a path to full recovery. (The Plainfield YWCA has also turned to Chapter 11 bankruptcy to keep itself going.)

The first outcome evidently was the shuttering of NHSC operations in Phillipsburg and Newton. (I am told by a source in Newton that the community was able to absorb NHSC's clients into the community's existing clinic structure; I do not know of the impact on Phillipsburg.)

The NHSC currently operates two locations -- Plainfield and Elizabeth -- plus two satellite sites -- at Washington Community School and Plainfield High School (these are for students only).

There have also been rumors of salary cuts and layoffs. The most startling of these is that longtime facilities manager Eugene Baucum has been let go. Those with long memories will recall that Baucum took the fall for others involved in shady dealings with the construction of the Myrtle Avenue facility, then known as the Plainfield Health Center. He did serious prison time as a result. After  his release, he was hired by the Plainfield Health Center, and the widespread belief was that he had a job for life because of his loyalty. Evidently not.

I have also been told that the NHSC has been on a "watch list" by its accrediting agency for years.

Guidestar, which is an online resource for information about 501(c)(3) nonprofits such as NHSC shows the organization's nost recent 990 filing was in 2014. 990 is the common nickname of the annual reports nonprofits must file with the IRS (taken from the form's number in IRS lingo). You can view NHSC's 990s here. It's free, but you must register -- a simple process.

The Foundation Center (see here), which also maintains a database of 990s, has no records of NHSC filings at all.

Besides all this, a Google search turns up a complaint from 2010 (see here), from a signmaker who claims to have been stiffed by the NHSC over two signs made for the Phillipsburg and Plainfield locations.

The most recent rumor puzzles me.

That is that the NHSC is under contract for the sale of its property to a developer, from whom it would then lease back the building. This is not an unheard of scenario, and can free up financial resources for an institution in such a deal.

We should remind ourselves that the NHSC property also includes an undeveloped area behind the adjacent Comcast facility that runs up to the Green Brook.

One interesting question about such a maneuver is the tax consequences for the City of Plainfield. Ownership of the property by a for-profit entity would remove the tax exemption that the NHSC currently enjoys. How would that be handled?

Unless there is news to the contrary yet to be released, things are not looking good for the future of outpatient primary healthcare for the area's low income residents.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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