PLAINFIELD TODAY

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bernie wins big at Union Twp. Dems straw ballot


Candidate surrogates were (l. to r.): Sen. Dick Codey, Larry Hamm, Sue Altman,

Joe Signorello
, Mike Muller, and Andrew Cohen. Moderator
Nadège Ricketts and host Sen. Joe Cryan are at far right.


Surrogate
Joe Signorello makes his pitch to the crowd.

Nearly two hundred Union County Democrats crowded into the VFW hall in Union Monday evening as guests of the Union Township Democratic Club.

They were there as guests of the Union Democratic Club to conduct a mock presidential primary. After listening to surrogates for each of the candidates in the presidential race, attendees cast ballots for their choice.

The event was the brainchild of State Sen. Joe Cryan, whose home base is Union.

The event was moderated by Nadège Ricketts, president of the Union Democratic Club. After each of the surrogates made a pitch for his or her candidate, attendees balloted.

The surrogates were --



Candidate Surrogate
[Biden]
Sen. Dick Codey
[Sanders] Larry Hamm
[Warren] Sue Altman
[Bloomberg] Mike Muller
[Klobuchar] Andrew Cohen
[Buttigieg] Joe Signorello




Results of the straw ballot.




Bernie Sanders was the big winner of the evening, taking 60 votes or one third of those cast. Mike Bloomberg came in second with 33 votes (18.3%), and Joe Biden was third with 30 votes (16.7%).

Pete Buttigieg finished fourth with 27 votes (15%) and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar trailed behind. Tom Steyer did not have a surrogate.

Though hardly scientific, the poll was still a valuable tool for Democratic party leadership to gauge the sentiment on the ground for various presidential candidates.

Next up is the South Carolina primary this Saturday (February 29). Tuesday March 3 is "Super Tuesday", when 13 states hold their primaries simultaneously, with one third of the total convention delegates at stake (1,344).




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Will Ms. Hembree take her seat on the Plainfield Board of Ed?


A never-before-heard-of group is protesting
the seating of Willie Pat Hembree as a Board member.

Willie Pat Hembree was elected to the Plainfield BOE last November. However, she was not sworn in in January because of an interpretation of a state rule. She is being required to wait until 180 days after her retirement, which was on September 1, 2019.

This would mean she should be sworn in and seated in March, perhaps at the March 3rd Work/Study meeting. (The District's website has no agendas at all for 2020 online. What has happened? The District website was always totally up-to-date.)

In any event, a group calling itself Citizens for an Ethical School Board is circulating complaints against Ms. Hembree, the District and the Board of Ed.

The group, which does not list any members or spokespersons, alleges that Ms. Hembree filed a claim against the BOE on 9/6/19. This would apparently violate the state's rule that incoming board members can have "no interest in any contract with, or claim against, the board."

The group further alleges that the Board's attorney Phil Stern apprised some Board members of the situation. It is further alleged that these Board members kept the matter secret "until it was discovered by others" (the Board members not notified?).

The group further states that it has filed a complaint with the Union County Prosecutor's Office, where the Special Prosecutions Unit oversees election violations.

Further, the group claims a violation of the IRS' "return to public employment" policy -- even though Ms. Hembree would be a volunteer as a Board member, not an employee.

The amount of detail in the allegations would lead one to suspect that the information came from a source within the Board of Ed itself.

However, after all the huffery and puffery I suspect that any violations -- if pursued by a competent authority -- would be deemed insignificant and Ms. Hembree will be seated.

Am I wrong? We shall soon see.

One jarring note: the group uses the City of Plainfield's seal as its letterhead. This is a no-no. The city seal as a letterhead can only properly be used on stationery of an official of the city.

The Board of Ed Work/Study meeting is Tuesday, March 3, at 8:00 PM in the PHS Conference Room.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Union Twp. Dems host Presidential forum and balloting Monday


Union Twp. Dems are holding a forum
and mock primary Monday evening.

State Senator Joe Cryan and the Union Township Democratic Committee are hosting a Presidential candidate forum and mock ballot this Monday (February 24).

Representatives of all the presidential campaigns have been invited to attend.
The forum is being moderated by Nadège Ricketts, president of the Union Township Democratic Club.
 
Participants will gather to hear from spokespersons for each of the presidential campaigns and then participate in a mock primary, with actual voting machines.

With all the turmoil in the race, this is a wonderful opportunity for grassroots Democrats to weigh in. Though the results will not be scientific, public sentiment can help guide the NJ Democratic party as the race unfolds.

The forum will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at VFW Post #2433, 2012 High Street in Union. Parking on the street.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 21, 2020

UPDATED: Chairman Mapp calls on Union County Dems to back Bloomberg. What do you think?


Plainfield Democratic chair Adrian Mapp is urging
Union County Democrats to back Mike Bloomberg.

UPDATED with link to online story. Adrian O. Mapp, chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee has called on the Union County Democrats to back Mike Bloomberg in the June presidential primary.

Mapp made the pitch in an email circulated to the county party's trustees, who are the chairs of the county's 21 municipal committees. (Read more at InsiderNJ here.)

At this point, the state Democratic Party has taken no position on the candidates. While several individuals have backed Bloomberg (Rep. Mikie Sherrill, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, and Paterson mayor Adre Sayegh), there are also those who are calling for an open primary -- Essex County (see here), Hudson County (see here), and Sen. Bob Menendez (see here). Morris County Democrats will wait until March 15 (after Super Tuesday) to make their choice (see here). Gov. Murphy recently told a town hall audience he was not ready to endorse (see here).

Although many Plainfielders I have spoken with (and seen comment on Facebook) haven't made up their minds yet, I have yet to hear one person backing Bloomberg. Most frequent comments are that he is trying to buy the presidency, and people point to baggage, including his stop-and-frisk policy, which led to racial profiling by the NYC police.

Bloomberg did not perform well at Wednesday's debate and was put on the spot about NDA's (non-disclosure agreements) signed by former women employees and whether he would release them from the obligation to remain silent. He ducked.

In what I think is a brilliant move, State Senator Joe Cryan of Union is said to be holding a mock primary -- complete with election machines -- this weekend. I have reached out for more details, and if I get them in time will post them here.

I would think the state party would have thought of doing these on a county-by-county basis. Why wouldn't you want to know how the grassroots folks are thinking?

I will post this on Facebook on my usual pages (my own, The Buzz, and others).

Feel free to comment away!




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Plainfield board with life-and-death power publishes public meeting schedule


Licenses are color coded as follows: GREEN = Restaurants serving alcohol,
BLUE = Bars, RED = Liquor Stores, YELLOW = Clubs.

In early 2017, Plainfield's City Council voted to give up its prerogative to sit as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control Board by passing an ordinance creating a standing ABC board.

Over time, a funny thing happened: We no longer heard of the ABC Board or actions it has taken. These used to be the subject of intense public scrutiny and comment when the Council had the responsibility.



A search on the City website returned no information on the ABC Board.


There is no entry on the City website though all boards and commissions are supposed to be listed. In addition, while the land use boards (Planning, Zoning, Historic Preservation, and Shade Tree) have their documents on the website, the ABC does not.

The ABC's meetings and hearings are subject both to the "Sunshine Law" (requiring adequate public notice) and the Open Public Meetings Act.

Not only that, the ABC Board has quasi-judicial powers: Rulings made as a result of hearings have the force of law and can go so far as to put a licensee out of business (as with Clinton Liquors a few years ago).

So it is a pleasant surprise for the current chairperson, David Graves, to release a schedule for the year ahead --

  • Wednesday, February 19
  • Wednesday, April 15
  • Wednesday, June 24
  • Wednesday, July 15
  • Wednesday, September 16
  • Wednesday, December 16
All meetings are at 7:00 PM in City Hall Library, except for the December meeting, which is in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.

Liquor licenses are renewed annually in June (though the process can drag on because of lateness in getting paperwork in order, financial considerations, and appeals to the state).

The ABC Board works with the Municipal Clerk, who oversees the administrative aspects of license renewal, and the Police Division, which generates reports and recommendations for penalties for licenses. Among the reasons a licensee may be penalized are --

  • sales to minors,
  • not having employee documentation in order,
  • after-hour sales,
  • fights or other disturbances on the premises, and
  • sales or use of drugs on the premises.

In the case of proposed penalties, licensees have the right to an evidentiary hearing, representation by counsel, and appeal to the state, which may uphold, modify or overrule the local ABC Board's decision.

The next meeting, open to the public, is this Wednesday (February 19) at 7:00 PM in City Hall Library.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Olddoc (Dr. Harold Yood) celebrates his 100th birthday


Dr. Yood with Gerri Agurs and Martin Cox
at the 2016 PHS Hall of Fame inductions.

Plainfield's beloved Olddoc -- aka Harold Yood, MD -- is celebrating his 100th birthday.

His actual birthday is Februar 23rd, but family and friends will be gathering this Saturday for a party.

I first met Dr. Yood more than 20 years ago, when I started attending City Council meetings on a regular basis.

He was there at practically every session, asking the kind of probing questions that elected officials need, making them aware citizens were watching.

Dr. Yood grew up in the house at West 4th and Grant where his father practiced for many years and the family lived.

Except for his military service during World War II, Dr. Yood practiced his entire career in Plainfield and eventually became the chief of the medical staff at Muhlenberg Hospital.

I have always respected his take on Plainfield politics -- even in the worst of times, he has always been hopeful about the Queen City's future.

A lifelong Republican, he changed his party registration to Democrat a number of years ago in order to have some say in this heavily Democratic town.

He is a Plainfielder through and through and I hope you will join me in wishing him a happy 100th birthday!

I am honored to be an invited guest.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Illegal dumper caught in the act


Illegal dumper caught mid-afternoon Tuesday.
The man is standing next to the rear tire,
holding a pallet which he pitched behind the dumpster.

Like many other Plainfield drivers, I find the ban on left-hand turns from eastbound Front Street onto Somerset Street an inconvenience.

Also like many other Plainfield drivers, I sometimes shortcut through the Horizons at Plainfield driveway to the alleyway behind which comes out at the Halal market, where one can turn left onto Somerset Street and head into North Plainfield.

Doing so mid-afternoon on Tuesday, I encountered a truck blocking access to the alleyway.

Its driver was throwing wooden pallets on the ground next to one of the building's dumpsters. My photo manages to catch only his legs (by the rear wheel). He is holding one pallet and has pitched several on the ground behind the dumpster.

Who is the offender? Soriano Plumbing & Heating of Newark. License 12815. Phone: (973) 583-6473. See their website here.

Before I could get closer, the driver got in the van and left, driving through the "Do Not Enter" sign in the Horizons driveway.

I didn't see any PMUA markings on the dumpsters and guess they may be from a commercial hauler.

In any event, since dumping is a problem, wouldn't you think someone would mount a cam (especially since they are now so small) to monitor the dumpsters?




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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