The needler in the haystack.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Confusing advice on Park Avenue bridge work

Heading north you are told one thing; heading south another.
Plainfield's may be justifiably confused by New Jersey Transit's signage on Park Avenue.

As work progresses on the Park and Watchung Avenue bridges, time approaches for another switcheroo.

If you are traveling south on Park Avenue, NJT advises the underpass will be closed "on or about 7/02/15". Coming down Park Avenue the other way, the sign says "starting 7/16/2015".

It's been like that for days, but we can guess since the earlier date has passed and the underpass is still open that it will close next week.

Both the Park and Watchung Avenue overpasses are being reconstructed as pat of NJT's long-term capital improvements plan. With thirteen rail crossing, Plainfield has more than any other town on the Raritan Valley Line.

We are approaching the exciting phase when pieces of the bridge will be constructed at a location away from the streets involved and then trucked into place once built.

An engineering marvel awaits us.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 4 Mayor's Breakfast (photos)

Longtime community activist Flor Gonzalez
was Grand Marshal of the 2015 July 4 Parade.

Each year, Plainfield's mayor hosts a pre-parade breakfast on the Fourth of July.

This year was Mayor Mapp's second turn at hosting -- and his first as both mayor and chair of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee.

Dignitaries, Council members and community activists turned out to enjoy a light breakfast before setting off for the parade.

Enjoy the photos!

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, July 3, 2015

92nd Annual July 4 Parade steps off at 10 AM; Concert and Fireworks later

Longtime community activist Flor Gonzalez is this year's Grand Marshal.

Plainfield's 92nd annual Central New Jersey July 4 Parade steps off on Saturday morning at 10 AM and proceeds down East Front Street from Johnston Avenue to Park Avenue.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp has designated Flor Gonzalez as the Grand Marshal of this year's parade.

Gonzalez, founder and president of the Latin American Coalition, has been active in providing services and assistance to Plainfield's immigrant community for over thirty years, including citizenship classes for hundreds of successful applicants.

The Latin American Coalition has also organized Plainfield's first celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Gonzalez has been active in many community organizations, including serving as a commissioner on the Housing Authority of Plainfield. She is currently chairperson of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs (PACHA) and served on Mayor Mapp's Transition Task Force.

After years of delayed starts under the previous administration, Mayor Mapp's first parade in 2014 stepped off on time, to the delight of the crowd.

A free concert for the public will be offered at 5:00 PM in Cedar Brook Park. This year's lineup includes Tito Puente, Jr., with a Latin Jazz band, Blue Magic, and vocalist Viola Sykes. Host of the show will be Kenny Williams, with DJ Antione Qua.

Plainfield's celebration of the nation's Independence Day will conclude at dusk with fireworks, also at Cedar Brook Park.
These get under way about 9:25 PM.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Christie gets an endorsement. Is it good or bad news?

Christie (left) endorsed by Maine guv Paul LePage (right).

o, the day after Chris Christie announces (at last!) his presidential run, he gets an endorsement -- from Gov. Paul LePage of Maine (see here).

The question is whether this is a good thing for Christie, or a bad thing.

I heard the news on NPR, which played it straight down the middle in a just-the-facts-m'am style. By the next day, NPR had dug in a little deeper and posted an item on Maine lawmakers considering investigating their governor (see here).

Thing was, the buzz from Maine is that everybody thinks the governor is bonkers. Even members of his own party are talking about impeachment (see here and here). He has vetoed a record number of bills, and the Legislature has -- in a bipartisan manner -- overturned those vetoes.

LePage likes Christie because he appears to shoot off his mouth.

But will his endorsement do Chris Christie any good?

Not in Maine, I'll bet.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gannett leaves newspapers to fend for themselves

Gannett's bold new web graphic reminded me of the
classic Western movie line: 'First thing we do is
pull all the wagons into a circle.'

The Courier News, once a Plainfield-based regional newspaper, has been spun off with other Gannett newspapers into a standalone corporation

As of Monday, the Gannett Corporation's highly profitable TV stations and the websites and were handed off to a new entity named TEGNA (an anagram of sorts on Gannett), while the 92 newspapers ihroughout the US were given their walking papers as a "new" Gannett.

The news was broken by the Gannett newspapers across the county in chirpy stories on Monday, all reiterating hopeful-sounding talking points -- see the Courier's example here, and other Gannett papers like USAToday (here) and the Detroit Free Press (here).

The take on the split by other media was far less sanguine.

Poynter, the nonprofit media website, opines this is a throwback to an older Gannett strategy of the 1970s-90s: Buy up everything in sight andhope for a profit. (See Poynter's analysis here.)

In brief, Poynter gives the "new" Gannett points for having already moved its staff and newsrooms toward a digital-centric media experience (hence mycentraljersey,com) and considers having USAToday as a feeder for US and world news to the local papers  plus.

On the down side, Poynter notes that print advertising profits are a bummer, and will continue to be so.

Barron's, the business newspaper and website, sees a great upside for TEGNA, but less so for the Gannett newspapers, though it does note they are starting out debt-free.

Barron's quotes Gannett's new CEO, Bob Dickey, as saying "all of our attention is to be a digital company; the print platform will be there for some time to come, but it is not the future".

Meanwhile, with newsrooms whittle down to skeleton crews, and excellent reporters like the Courier's Sergio Bichao and Mike Deak stretched thin, in-depth, constant coverage of local news goes the way of the dinosaurs as Turnpike crashes, shootings and fires crowd out Page One.

It's a brave new world.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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