The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Services for Joanne Hollis

Joanne Hollis, while serving as Councilwoman for Ward 4.

Former Plainfield Ward 4 Councilor Joanne Hollis' obituary appears in Wednesday's Courier (see here).

Services are as follows --


Thursday: 7 - 9 PM
Friday: 9 - 10 AM


Friday: 10 AM

All at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, West 3rd and Liberty Streets. Condolences and remembrances may be left on the obituary webpage. Arrangements are by Judkins Colonial Home.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Plainfield cops indicted in fraudulent overtime allegations

Police misconduct tarnishes the Division's image and corrodes
the public's trust.

Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park announced a 39-count indictment against two Plainfield police officers Monday, alleging a fake overtime scheme that is said to have netted the pair $11,000 in unearned payments.

You can read the reports in the Ledger (here) and the Courier (here), which are based on a detailed press release issued by the Prosecutor's public information officer, former Plainfield beat reporter Mark Spivey.

I had been hearing for months that Internal Affairs was looking into overtime irregularities involving the two -- Sgt. Leslie Knight and Lt. James Abney. One of the allegations that was in circulation is that both officers billed the city for overtime while serving as members of the Planning Board, which is a volunteer activity.

It is also rumored that both turned down an offer to make restitution and take a penalty of suspension and/or demotion.

The allegations date back to 2012 and 2013, during the term of former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. In the United States, indicted persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Followers of Plainfield Today will recall that I have posted several times over the Robinson-Briggs years of morale issues in the Police Division arising from favoritism run amok and political retribution against those who protest (see a sample list at end of this post).

The total involved in Monday's indictment -- $11,000 -- does not seem that large: split between two people over two years, it comes to about $50 per week each. Chump change compared to the lifetime salaries (and pensions) the two will lose if convicted. Plus losing the right of public employment forever.

One interesting angle on which to speculate: If the duo refused an offer of restitution, was it predicated on believing that Mayor Robinson-Briggs encouraged or approved their actions? If so, will Her Honor be compelled to offer testimony at the trial? That would be a reason to schlep down to the County Courthouse.

Nevertheless, it's a sad day for Plainfield and the Police Division.

Here is a sample of past Plainfield Today stories on police morale, favoritism and political punishment --

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Princeton votes to hire former Plainfield administrator Marc Dashield

Former Plainfield City Administrator Marc Dashield.
Is that fan mail he's checking?

Princeton's Borough Council voted unanimously Monday evening to hire former Plainfield City Administrator Marc Dashield as its new administrator, according to reports in the Star-Ledger (see here and here).

Dashield, city administrator for two years during Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' first term escaped the Asylum at the end of 2009 (see my post here) to Montclair, where he served as town manager until the Princeton appointment.

No one ever doubted that Dashield was a talented administrator, but the gyrations he was forced to perform while serving during the 'bizarre and largely incompetent reign' of Robinson-Briggs (to quote a recent Courier editorial, see here), subjected him to nearly constant criticism from Council, public and bloggers alike.

Dashield told former Courier reporter Mark Spivey at the time of his departure for Montclair that he would --

... miss working in the Queen City ... "I enjoyed it because there was always something new, different and challenging, ...[t]here was always something going on, always some challenge to deal with, and I think that's what I'll always remember...
I don't know if the irony was intended, but the descriptives accurately reflect the actual situation on the ground.

Dashield was picked out of a field of fifteen candidates interested in replacing Princeton's retiring administrator. He is expected to take up his new duties at the end of October, after giving the Montclair folks proper notice.

Congratulations Marc, from Plainfield -- pathway to the stars.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Plainfield Board of Ed campaigns stir

Signs for Jerry Green's BOE slate are so crowded you have
to get out of your car to read them, but they do include row numbers.

The independents' slate is more legible, but missing the ballot IDs.

Plainfield's 2014 Board of Ed campaigns have begun to stir, as evidenced by the signs seen sprouting around the city in recent days.

Assemblyman Jerry Green, chair of the Plainfield and Union County Democratic committees, has mounted his own slate of three candidates: Michael Horn (4), Norman Ortega (5) and Tania Center (6). In fact, the city's Democratic headquarters on Park Avenue in the Masonic Building is full of signs for the BOE candidates and nothing else at this point. It's a sad commentary on the fate of Plainfield's originally nonpartisan BOE elections.

Horn chaired the 2014 Citizens Budget Advisory Committee and Ortega created a stir a number of years ago with a series of letters in the Courier about Plainfield issues when he was a resident of North Plainfield; he has since moved to Plainfield and served briefly as a member of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

An independent slate of three with no political affiliation is also running, and includes David Rutherford (2), Carletta Jeffers (3) and Terrence Bellamy, Sr. (7). David blogs regularly at PlainfieldView and is well-known around town.

The last of seven candidates vying for the three open seats is incumbent Dorien Hurtt (1), who is running solo.

Plainfield voters will select three candidates to serve on the Board of Ed at the November 4 general election. Plainfield was among a vast majority of school districts to move its election from April to November when the state offered the opportunity. One of the 'sweeteners' for the districts in the change of date was that citizens were no longer given the opportunity to vote on the school budget for elections held in November if the proposed budgets stayed within a cap.

CORRECTION: Mr. Horn was a member of the 2014 CBAC, not the chair -- Dan.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Former Councilor Joann Hollis passes

Ward 4 Councilor Joanne Hollis in 2005.

Word came Friday afternoon that former Plainfield Councilor Joanne Hollis has passed.

Joanne served as Councilor for the 4th Ward in the early 2000s, and as a longtime Commissioner on the Plainfield Housing Authority. For many years she was employed by Kings Daughters Day School and was a tireless champion of West End causes and concerns. Joanne was also the sister of current 4th Ward Councilor and Council President Bridget Rivers.

My condolences to Joanne's family. I will post funeral arrangements as they become available.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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