The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sharon planning recall of Mapp?

The notorious 'Re-elect Sharon' banner hung on City Hall
was doctored to remove 'Re-elect'.

Former Plainfield
mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs has been nearly as visible since losing office as she was during her two terms in City Hall.

She and a tight-knit group of supporters are regular attendees at Council meetings, where she is given extra deferential treatment -- including extra time at the mike while others are not.

Sharon can also be seen at some public events, working the crowd. The recent capper probably was the National Night Out celebration at City Hall, where the stage was taken over by Her Honor and friends, turning it into a sort of 'Sharon Show'.

During the break at last week's Council meeting for an executive session to interview Health Officer Denise Proctor over the residency waiver, someone said to me they had heard Sharon was organizing a recall of Mayor Adrian Mapp.

The scenario would include launching the campaign after the first of the year -- an elected official cannot be recalled until after at least a year in office -- and include Sharon herself as the replacement candidate.

Do I see a movie here?

'Night of the Living Dead in Plainfield'?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

$37,500 check benefits First Tee youth program of Plainfield YMCA and Plainfield Country Club

Through First Tee, Plainfield youngsters learn golf and more
at the Plainfield Country Club's West 9 course on Woodland Avenue.
A youth golf and education program of the Plainfield YMCA and the Plainfield Country Club received a check for $37,500 Saturday at The Barclays golf tournament at the Ridgewood Country Club.

The check was a matching contribution by the PGA, the national golf association, to funds already raised by the local program.

Begun in 2009, the First Tee of Plainfield program was the first private country club in the country to offer the program, which brings urban youngsters to the club's public West 9 course to learn the game of golf and important life skills. The program also includes an element called 'Path to College', which helps encourage participants in the golf program to continue on to college level education.

The check was delivered at Saturday's event to representatives of the program, including Plainfield mayor Adrian Mapp, YMCA Executive Director Ravenell Williams IV and Paul Zoidis, chair of First Tee of Plainfield.

The program is offered to children in grades 4-12 and runs over a 9-week period that includes instruction on and off the golf course in addition to an intensive homework, fitness and healthy living curriculum. 'All aspects of the program are designed to teach core life skills and demonstrate to each participant that there is a ‘Path to College’, which is an underlying principle of The First Tee of Plainfield', said Zoidis.

A Committee of Champions has been formed to help market the program and recruit participants. The Champions Committee includes Bill Caster, PGA Golf Pro at the Plainfield West 9; Steven King, Founder, The Barack Obama Green Charter School; Kelvin Mason; Erica Phillips and Randy Wood, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of Plainfield.

For more information about the program, contact YMCA Executive Director Ravenell Williams IV at (908) 756-6060.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Birthday, brother Bill

My dad was the 'baby' of his siblings, and some of my cousins
in this photo were nearly his age -- not uncommon when families were larger.

My 'little' brother celebrates his birthday today.

I won't tell you how old he is, but living in Arizona all these years has kept him and his wife Barb youthful.

The group photo is of 'the cousins' -- my grandmother Damon's grandchildren (most of them) -- at Christmas 1946. Bill is at bottom left, sitting astride the sofa arm, Dan is beside him on the sofa.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Will new foreclosure law help Plainfield?

A private crew was cutting the grass of this Kenyon Avenue foreclosure
Sunday. Did the bank get the memo?

Will a new foreclosed properties law signed by Gov. Christie this past Friday help Plainfield solve its problems with vacant, foreclosed and abandoned properties?

The new law, sponsored by a South Jersey assemblyman sets stiff DAILY fines for creditors (banks and others) whose properties are in violation of municipal code (see Ledger story here).

How serious a problem is foreclosure in Plainfield? I know of no direct statistics, but RealtyTrac (see their website here), which follows the foreclosure process, indicates there are currently nearly 900 properties in Plainfield that are either foreclosed, in pre-foreclosure, being auctioned or bank-owned.

A browse through these listings will also give you a little insight into the scam that was being played out in the housing 'bubble'. Can you imagine a residence on Westervelt Avenue with a $615,000 mortgage? Or one on Myrtle Avenue with a $557,000 loan? How about a residence on Netherwood Avenue with a $582,000 mortgage? Or a Crescent Avenue property with a $1.8 million 'transfer value'? You get my drift.

I wrote previously about some South Jersey towns' efforts to set up a REGISTRY of foreclosed and vacant properties (see post here). These registries require owners of vacant and foreclosed properties to sign up (for an annual fee of $1,000, with penalties for delaying entry into the program).

The new state law gives municipalities the ability to assess fines up to $2,500 PER DAY per property for out-of-state creditors, an amount that ought to catch their attention.

The first benefit of having a registry, as I see it, is that many communities -- Plainfield included -- simply do not know just how many abandoned, vacant and foreclosed properties there are.

The second, more mercenary, benefit is help to the city's bottom line. If the cost to join the registry is $1,000 per property per year and there are 500 properties (for the sake of illustration) -- what would the income to the city be? Could Plainfield use an extra $500,000?

That's just the registry; the state law allows for the other penalties for failure to meet code requirements (lawns being one of the most obvious). With fines of $1,500 or $2,500 PER DAY, you can see where this is going.

But that's not all. Vacant and foreclosed properties also invite other issues and problems that impact the community -- squatting and scrapping, but also vermin infestations. In fact, in some communities the health officer has had to get involved because of public safety issues involving wild animals and insect-born diseases.

According to the Ledger story, the NJ League of Municipalities is preparing a webinar to help local officials get up to speed on this issue and put the state law into effect.

Let's hope some of our elected officials are paying attention.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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