The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Plumbing inspection? Fuhgeddaboudit!



Quick! Write this number down: (800) 521-6310.

Store it in a safe place.

A reader's contractor checked with City Hall to schedule a plumbing inspection for a home renovation project that is nearing completion, only to report to the client that there was no telling when the inspection could be scheduled.

What?

The reader checked for themselves and found that there were only TWO problems. First, the computer network in the Inspection Division was down and nobody could say when anything could happen. (Didn't the City just pay $157K to get that part working?)

Second, there would be no plumbing inspections until there was a plumbing inspector.

What?

Seems the plumbing inspector, with more than 20 years experience in Plainfield, had had it up to the eyeballs and quit last week, without notice.

Like most New Jersey communities, Plainfield's plumbing inspector is a part-time position. While there is a steady stream of inspections to perform -- between home improvement projects and new construction -- there is not enough work to keep an inspector employed full-time.

Plumbing inspectors are licensed by the State and most spread their work week around as part-time employees in more than one community.

Plainfield generates, PT is told, between 20 and 25 inspections per week, on a two-day per week inspection schedule.

Like tax collectors and assessors, the world of licensed inspectors is a rather small one, with inspectors knowing each other and the quirks of the communities for which they work. As with any small, artisan-centered trade, the treatment inspectors get figures prominently in the chit-chat in which they engage.

Plainfield has been on a tear in its treatment of inspections personnel since the beginning of the Robinson-Briggs administration in January, 2006. The 'street cred' is near zero. With plenty of work out there for inspectors and Plainfield's reputation as an abusive workplace, the Administration has its work cut out for it in attracting a new inspector.

We'll see how quickly they're able to replace the open inspector's position -- and at what price.

For now -- plumbing inspection? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Meanwhile, that phone number?

It's for Porta-John. Keep it handy. If you're doing or planning a home improvement project you just may need it.

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What's with the Courier?



You may recently have noticed the banner above on the Courier's online front page.

What's it about?

You are being invited to help contribute content to the Courier's online edition.

Faced with declining readership for the printed editions and pressure on advertising incomes, newspapers everywhere are scrambling to reinvent themselves.

Staffwise, papers are trying to do more with fewer people. PT has commented before on the impact on local news with the broadening of reporters' 'beats'.

Plainfield used to have a reporter who did nothing but cover Plainfield news full time. Now, Christa Segalini, who has the Plainfield beat, is just as likely to file a story on another community (see her Somerville story,
"Judge dismisses Pathmark lawsuit", in today's edition).

The implications are that the reporter does not get the time to develop an in-depth knowledge of a community, its issues and its players, and instead must report mostly the surface action and rush along to the next assignment. It's not pleasant for the reporter. It's not helfpul to the reading public.

But if fewer people can only grind out so much sausage, what is a paper to do to fill the pages between the ads?

One tactic is to aggregate the news from other sources. By now you have noticed the growing number of stories that carry the (AP) designation. Generated by talented but faceless writers these stories often are about events at a further remove -- state, national or world -- or about odd, outrageous or weird topics.

Another tactic, adopted by the Courier's corporate parent, Gannett, is to syndicate the stories by writers at its New Jersey papers and share them. (Besides the Courier, Gannett publishes the Home News Tribune of New Brunswick, the Asbury Park Press, and the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill.)

Lastly, the Courier has turned to letting you, the reader, be both reporter and publisher. That is what the image at the top of the page is about. Clicking on the links will allow you to submit your own stories, photographs and event listings.

Will this revolutionize the Courier? Or will it lead to a new form of online 'refrigerator art'?

We will have to wait and see. Meanwhile, PT invites you to go check out the Courier's new gambit. Oh, did I forget to mention you'd be working without pay?



FURTHER READING

If you are intrigued by what is going on in newspapers' struggles to adapt to this new online world, check out (
"Can We Be Friends? Local Papers Building Better Relationships Online") at EContent. And sample some other newspapers' efforts to adapt -- as at the Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal and the Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times-Leader.

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 26, 2007

Signs of the times

SIGNS OF THE TIMES
February 2007

Eye-catching construction activity around town, presented for your amazement, amusement, or consternation -- your pick. Some of these are signs of more to come. Some you may hope are NOT signs of more to come. All are making for a different Plainfield from the one you knew even a short time ago.



West 4th Street, 600 Block

This surely gives a new meaning to the notion of a 'shotgun' house. It's an expansion of an existing dwelling, across from the old Plainfield Health Center.



Arlington Avenue, 900 Block

This new house towers over its neighbors. Makes you wonder how that got approved. The windows may meet code, but they appear as tiny punchouts in a slab of wall -- more like portholes than windows.



Emerson School construction, view 1

While school construction faces an undecided future throughout the state, Emerson is the only project under way in Plainfield now.



Emerson School construction, view 2

If the state welches on the rest of Plainfield's school construction, will the former National Starch property ever return to the tax rolls? You REALLY want to know the answer to that one.



East Front Street, 700 Block

How to develop a deep narrow lot? Putting the drive down one lot line and stacking them cheek-by-jowl? That's one solution, as in these new multi-families.



Belvedere Avenue, 900 Block

What to do when your house is on a hill, with a thousand steps to the front door? Take some of the hill away. The UPS guy will be thankful.


Myrtle Avenue, 1000 Block, view 1

This classic 1920s center-hall Colonial is getting a new neighbor. Scary looking construction entrance for the new foundation has swiped the soil right up to the foundation.






Myrtle Avenue, 1000 Block, view 2

Neighborhood rumor is that this will be Plainfield's first tear-down, with the gracious colonial to disappear and be replaced by another new unit on this spacious double-wide lot. Progress?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Council Schedule - Who Cares?



The City Council seems unable to decide on a schedule for its meetings.

For more than eighty years (PT has read newspaper reports from the early 1920s), the schedule had been ALTERNATE MONDAYS. One Monday an agenda-setting session, the next the business meeting, and so on, with fifth Mondays off.

In 2006, under the leadership of then Council President Ray Blanco, the schedule was changed to a ROLLING Monday and Wednesday setup. On a Monday an agenda-setting session and the immediately following Wednesday a business session, followed by a week with no meetings.

The reason given for this drastic change was that it was to accommodate Jenny Wenson-Maier, the Director of Public Works and Urban Development, who also happens to be a Councilor (and Council President) in Rahway, where she resides. It created quite a stir in a community where so many people who follow Council meetings also attend regular Wednesday Bible study in their churches.

There has been a great deal of dithering about whether to keep to this new schedule, revert to the traditional one or choose another pattern.

On the one hand, the new arrangement gives the Councilors time to spend with their families, as Councilor Simmons has pointed out. And to study up on issues under consideration, as Councilors Burney and Storch have mentioned.

On the other hand, the compression between agenda and business meetings makes life hellish for Municipal Clerk Laddie Wyatt and her staff. The Administration also seems to have problems keeping up with the changes requested in proposed resolutions and ordinances as can be seen in the unprecedented number of items withdrawn by the Administration after being published on the agenda.

There is another alternative. The City's special charter requires only a minimum of one meeting per month. It is conceivable, then, that the Council could meet once a month to set the agenda and once a month to conduct business. The advantage of such an arrangement would be that everybody gets -- theoretically -- the time needed to do the things they need to: the Council, the Clerk, and the Administration.

Does the public care?

That, dear readers, is your cue.

Go to THIS WEEK'S POLL (upper right-hand column) and register YOUR opinion.

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Exhibit: Landscapist Donna Grandé



Island Mist, 2006

Award-winning Montclair landscapist Donna
Grandé will be featured in an exhibit that opens with a reception this afternoon from 2:00 - 4:30 PM in the Plainfield Public Library's Anne Louise Davis Gallery.

Grandé has won numerous awards for her art throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maine. She is currentlly represented by galleries in Vermont and Maine, as well as by Art Forms Galleries in Red Bank.

This show, comprising forty works, focuses primarily on her landscapes in pastels, but includes some landscapes and abstracts in acrylic and oil.

Grandé, a member of the Art Students League of New York, studied at the NJ School of Visual Arts in Summit, Montclair State University and the Institute of Design in New York.

This afternoon's opening includes a reception to which the public is cordially invited. The exhibit will hang through April 21.

For more information, call Library Director Joe Da Rold at (908) 757-2305.

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hiring during a hiring freeze...and fundraising tactics

HIRING DURING A HIRING FREEZE

The cops fume that there is a hiring freeze and no promotions, and Mayor Robinson-Briggs hires yet another 'communications' person?

That would be Jazz Johson, just this week hired away from the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority. Word has it at a salary of around $65K.

And the budget the Council adopted was explained to us as having its savings over the Administration's proposed budget come to us by way of a hiring freeze. Hmmm...

Would be nice to know the exact tab for all these communications types, wouldn't it?

There's Tony Grey, who's supposed to be running PCTV-74, the cable station. And Cynthia Crawford, president of the Municipal Employees Union and wife of PBA president Andre Crawford, who is in charge of producing a newsletter (Have you seen it?). AJ, who was supposed to be minding the website is now in the Clerk's office (hovering around $70K). So, who's watching the website? No one, it seems -- but we're paying for having it anyway. Let's not forget Laurence Rice, who continues to publish his Tri-County News even though he's on the city payroll.

Should we include the Mayor's confidential aide Barbara James? If you want to communicate with the Mayor, you go through her, so I guess that counts. And what about Dr. Gerard Lee's outreach to the nonprofit community on behalf of the Mayor? There's a salary involved there, too.

Let's not leave out the erstwhile crew at the 'information counter' in the City Hall lobby -- including Piscataway resident Carmen Salavarrietta, who performed such a useful communications function for the Mayor during her campaign.

There's a whole lot of communicatin' going on here, but most of it seems to be involved in communicatin' your tax dollars away from the City treasury. How much, a quarter of a mill? Chump change, unless you're the chump, chump.

(Would it be immodest to point out that PT was the ONLY communications person at City Hall in his day, TOPPING OUT AFTER EIGHT YEARS at $65K, and that he was a City employee for three years BEFORE going over to City Hall? Of course, there is the possibility that all these people are doing a better job. Of course.)

Did I forget to mention MISSING TOYS at City Hall?

Word is that an EXPENSIVE COMPUTER (would $5,000 for a computer today be expensive? you betcha!) intended for PCTV-74 has gone missing. Or was never received? Surely someone is looking into it? And then there's an EXPENSIVE CAMERA. What's become of it?

Now mind you, these are the Mayor's handpicked people.

MAYORAL MODEL: JAMES OR BOOKER?



About that fundraiser last night for the 'Sharon Robinson-Briggs for Mayor' campaign committee.

City Hall is awash with talk about the invites and the pressure applied to get tickets sold. Word is they were produced in the Mayor's office, so that 'in-house labor' tag may be unintendedly and amusingly correct. (Hey! This is Joisey, not a Sunday School class!)

Where it gets James-like is PT is told that employees received calls from the Mayor's office, telling them to be sure and stop by to pick up their tickets -- quantities pre-prescribed.

Cory Booker, on the other hand, has eschewed this kind of old-school, political-machine fundraising.

PT will leave it to you, dear reader, to figure out the fundraising model being employed here.

Meanwhile, the cops are in complete turmoil. But that will have to be another post.


-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Alarm Grows Over Bush Drive to Iran War

Over the past week, former Bush officials and others have expressed growing alarm over the potential for the Administration to provoke a crisis with Iran and precipitate a military intervention by the US that could plunge the region from the Nile to the Hindu Kush into the conflagration of war. The list includes:

  • Hillary Mann Leverett, Bush's former National Security Council Director for Iranian and Persian Gulf Affairs
  • Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Secretary of State
  • Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner
Approaches by Iran in 2003, offering to meet with Washington and negotiate all open items, were kept secret by the Administration and only became public knowledge in recent days.

That proposal was delivered directly to Karl Rove, and it appears Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been dissembling about her knowledge of the offer. This suggests that the Administration has been planning on war or military intervention for years and did not want to be inconvenienced by Iran's willingness to sit down and negotiate.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne suggests that possibly the best way forward is for Congressional Republicans to confront Bush over his failure to take the Iraq Study Group's proposals seriously. It has become evident since January that the President has no intention of paying the least bit of mind to the bipartisan group's sensible proposals for a POLITICAL as opposed to a MILITARY solution in the region.

Folks, this is serious business. Check out the stories in-depth below. Then consider contacting our Congressional representatives to urge them to demand that the Administration find a NEGOTIATED solution to the tensions in the Persian Gulf.



C
ontact information for our representatives in Washington --
Sen. Frank Lautenberg
825A Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-8929
or
1 Gateway Center, 1st Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 639-8700
online contact form: http://lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/

Sen. Robert Menendez
502 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4744
or
1 Gateway Center, 1lth Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 645-3030
online contact form: http://menendez.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Rep. Frank Pallone
420 Cannon House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4671
or
67/69 Church Street / Kilmer Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 249-8892
email: frank.pallone@mail.house.gov

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

East 7th Street Fire




(Photo, Cheryl Alana-Bullock)


An early evening fire erupted yesterday in a multi-family property in the 400-block of East 7th Street. PT is told that sparks from plumbing work being done in the basement ignited the fire, which quickly spread up to the attic.

The photo was captured by reader Cheryl Alana-Bullock -- on her cellphone. Thank you, Cheri!

-- Dan Damon

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Two Cheers for Robinson-Briggs

The cheers are pouring in.

CHEER 1: PAID FOR BY 'SHARON ROBINSON-BRIGGS FOR MAYOR' CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE

(Click to enlarge. Set printer to Landscape if printing.)

The Mayor will host a mingle-drink-dance-nosh event tomorrow evening "in celebration of her 'Mayor's 1st Anniversary Gala'" at an unnamed club at 111 East Front Street. Tickets are $35, but you're on your own at the bar. Dust off your tux if you're going -- formal is suggested, putting Plainfield on a par with Thursday evening Embassy parties in the nation's capital. Miss Manners, please take note!

Since fundraisers for campaign committees such as the Mayor's are scrutinized by the State's Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC), invitations routinely highlight that public monies, employees, photocopiers, etc. were NOT used in the production of the mailing piece.

So, we are comforted to note the Mayor's committee complied with the following notice --


Too bad the Council will have to be late for the festivities, if they make it at all. Seems the planning did not take into account that they meet on Thursday this week because of Monday being a national holiday. Details, schmetails.


CHEER 2: NOT PAID FOR BY ANYONE, TO PT's KNOWLEDGE

Today's Courier runs a letter to the editor by former First Ward Republican-turned-Democrat Alex Toliver, in praise of Republican-turned-Democrat Mayor Robinson-Briggs and her 'tactful and tenacious' approach to life and governance.

PT reprints the letter in its entirety, but you will also want to check it out at the Courier's online site here --
Robinson-Briggs right for Plainfield

I think it's time that we in the city of Plainfield give our mayor, Sharon Robinson-Briggs, two thumbs up for what she has accomplished with her leadership since taking office, and for the help she asked for from our city Democratic leader and state assemblyman, Jerry Green.

Mayor Robinson-Briggs has had to overcome a lot with the many dark clouds and many obstacles placed in her path by the last administration. She has used a tactful and tenacious approach to help bring about what she saw as the No. 1 need, a unified city -- not the Queen City, but a city working together to be all it can be; a place that can and will take care of its own, old and young, poor and rich.

With Mayor Robinson-Briggs as our leader, we can now start to see new development in housing, city infrastructure, a cleaner, better-looking city with the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority and Plainfield public works working together. It is a safer city with the addition of much-needed police officers who have made our citizens once again feel safe day or night.

The fire department is one of the best in the county, and the Plainfield schools leadership has been left intact, as well it should be. Also a strong school board is working with our schools superintendent, and Plainfield City Hall and all of its offices are open to the public like never before.

It seems as if now Plainfield, with our Mayor Robinson-Briggs at the helm, has become a city to come to, not to leave. We now have a mayor for all of the people, a mayor who is giving her city her full-time attention on a part-time salary.

Never before have we had a mayor with an office always open to the people of Plainfield. After one year and all of the negativity from many of her naysayers, as a regular Democrat, new to politics, Mayor Robinson-Briggs is proving that she is right for our city. I give her many kudos.

ALEX TOLIVER
Plainfield
Two cheers! Two thumbs!

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scandalous conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital

The Washington Post has undertaken a series detailing Kafkaesque conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where thousands of military personnel whose bodies have been shattered in the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan are sent for treatment and recuperation.

How can a government which asks so much from our young men and women treat them this way?

Read the stories. If you care about the young people who have made such enormous sacrifices, consider taking some action.

Here are the stories so far --

Sunday: "Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility"
Monday: "Survivors of War Wrestle With Military Bureaucracy and Personal Demons"
Today: "Army Fixing Patients' Housing" -- under the glare of publicity.
.......... - "Hospital Investigates Former Aid Chief" -- and a personnel scandal to boot?
An organization that is trying to help these servicemen and their families with advocacy efforts and financial assistance is Operation First Response. Their website is here.

Here is contact information for our representatives in Washington --

Sen. Frank Lautenberg
825A Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-8929
or
1 Gateway Center, 1st Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 639-8700
online contact form: http://lautenberg.senate.gov/contact/

Sen. Robert Menendez
502 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4744
or
1 Gateway Center, 1lth Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 645-3030
online contact form: http://menendez.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Rep. Frank Pallone
420 Cannon House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4671
or
67/69 Church Street / Kilmer Square
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 249-8892
email: frank.pallone@mail.house.gov

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.


ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Eat for FOSH tonight




Dine

out
tonight.


Queen City Diner


will donate to support




FOSH


community outreach programs.




Where: Queen City Diner, 1324 South Avenue
When: Today, 3 PM - 9 PM
What to do:
  1. Print out coupon at the FOSH website.
  2. Organize a table of friends.
  3. Make reservation at (908) 756-7900.
  4. Remember it's BYOB.
  5. Go. Eat. Enjoy.
Those using Internet Explorer will not get the full graphic effect of this post. More's the pity.

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 19, 2007

Civil Unions everywhere but Plainfield?




Steven Goldstein and Daniel Gross reaffirm their Civil Union
in the office of Sen. Loretta Weinberg. Photo, New York Times.

At midnight, New Jersey's civil unions statute took effect.

In Teaneck, Garden State Equality's Steven Goldstein and his partner, Daniel Gross, reaffirmed their 2002 Vermont civil union in the office of Sen. Loretta Weinberg, at 12:08 AM becoming the first New Jersey couple to take advantage of the new law. Weinberg was a co-sponsor of the groundbreaking legislation.

Town halls in Lambertville (where the day is being marked as Precedent's Day), Asbury Park and South Orange were opened at midnight to allow couples to file applications for civil unions, for which there is a 72-hour waiting period, just as with marriage licenses.

Plainfield resident and Garden State Equality vice-chairperson Joan Hervey advised PT by email that she was unaware of any special effort in Plainfield to mark the momentous occasion.

How different from the day the Domestic Partnership Act took effect in 2004.



Mayor Al McWilliams celebrates with residents
Mark Newton and Sam Delgado as they register
their domestic partnership, July 10, 2004.

At that historic moment, Saturday July 10th, Mayor Al McWilliams opened the Registrar's office for Plainfield couples to register for domestic partnerships, which conveyed many, but not all, of the privileges of married couples. (Clarification: There were no actual registrations that day as the Registrar was on vacation and the clerical assistant who distributed information was not empowered to actually register applicants, who needed to return on the following Monday to complete the process. Thanks to reader PS who jogged PT's memory. The point that SOMETHING WAS DONE TO MARK THE DAY remains. -- DD, Monday, 6:54 PM)




Plainfield couples who registered that day were treated to a reception in the lobby of City Hall Annex.

Today being President's Day, the first opportunity Plainfield same-sex couples will have to register is tomorrow.

With one of the largest concentrations of same-sex couples in the state, wouldn't one have expected Plainfield to mark this historic moment in some way?

Nary a bang nor a whimper.



Today's coverage --

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Movie Nights Feature Old-Time Plainfield




Plaque in Green Brook Park marking the site of the
Revolutionary War
Blue Hills Fort and Camp.

The Drake House Museum is offering a movie series featuring
“Plainfield and Its Neighbors,” the production of Fanwood's Channel 35.

The Tuesday series begins tomorrow and runs through March 20.
The films are presented as part of the Elizabeth Keating Education Program.

Featuring rare photos and postcards (many from the collection of the Plainfield Public Library), film footage, and other archival material, is a must-see for all those interested in the history of the area.

The screenings are free and open to the public, and visitors are allowed to bring in snacks. All screenings begin at 6:30 p.m. sharp in the 2nd Floor Gallery of the Drake House, 602 West Front Street at the foot of Plainfield Avenue.

February 20 - Part One

Part One focuses on the early history of the Plainfield area, beginning in the 1740s, and features segments on the early settlements and the militia camp set up by Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War, the arrival of the railroad in 1839, and the history of Plainfield’s businesses, including its hotels, movie theaters, drug stores, and banks.

February 27 - Part Two

Part Two tells the story of Tier’s Pond and early parades and celebrations in Plainfield. Part Two also features segments on millionaire Samuel Rushmore, who placed a coffin on his roof as an act of political protest, the “Tinfoil Lady,” the true story of Moldenke’s Castle, and the death of “Negro Bill.”

March 6 - Part Three

Part Three focuses on the magnificent old mansions and private estates as they appeared in the 1920s. Viewers will learn the hidden secret of old Plainfield High School, and take a tour of old-time Route 29, the precursor of today’s Route 22, which ran from Somerville to Newark Airport.

March 13 - Part Four

Part Four shows the private “Plainfield” railroad club car that took commuters into Jersey City. Also shown is the construction of the Plainfield Post Office and the Madison-Park Renewal block that was demolished in 1965.

March 20 - Part Five

Part Five includes a tour of old-time Washington Rock, where George Washington viewed the movement of British troops during the Battle of the Short Hills. Also shown is the elegant, world-class Netherwood Hotel, which was visited by European royalty, and the ceremony honoring Civil War heroes who are buried at Hillside Cemetery, which featured many Civil War re-enactors.


View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Using Blogs: Where the hell am I?



A reader who went away on a trip to the Galapagos Islands has returned with a question about how to 'catch up' on several past Plainfield Today posts.


MY WAYS ARE NOT YOUR WAYS, SAYS THE BLOG

Our usual experience with keeping track of things over time is to start on page one, then go to page two, etc. Think of all those notebooks you filled with lecture notes back in school. Or keeping the minutes for your church or club. Or a diary or journal.

Blogs are different. Think of your newspaper recycle stack. If you're like PT, you pile the old papers until it's time to tie them up for the recycle put-out. And that means each day's paper is tossed on the pile ON TOP OF yesterday's paper. That's exactly how blogs are organized.

And if I want to see a paper from several days ago, I have to dig down in the pile to find it. With blogs, you just scroll down the main page.

NOTEBOOK, MINUTES, DIARY FORMAT
      • First entry
      • Second entry
      • Third entry, etc.

BLOG FORMAT
      • Most recent entry
      • Immediately prior entry
      • Entry before that, etc.

Main page? How in the hell do I know when I'm on the main page? And what OTHER kind of page is there?

Think of the MAIN PAGE as a week's worth of newspapers stacked up. Both Plainfield Today and CLIPS show the last seven entries on their main page -- that's usually a week's worth; but if PT happens to post TWO ITEMS on any given day, they are each counted singly. You'll have seven entries, but it will be fewer than seven days. Older than that, you click on the ARCHIVE links in the sidebar, or use the SEARCH box at the top of the page if you wants stories about a certian topic.

Here are visual cues --

The MAIN PAGE address bar
in Plainfield Today
The MAIN PAGE address bar in CLIPS

The OTHER kind of page? That would be a single post, story, or entry such as a picture story or link to a video, etc.

How do I know when I'm on a story/post page?

Here is a visual cue --

The address bar of a SINGLE POST in Plainfield Today

CLIPS works the same way, though PT never sends you to anything but the MAIN PAGE in CLIPS.


WHERE THE HELL AM I? AND HOW DO I GET TO THE OTHER PLACE?

So, you can always tell by looking in the ADDRESS BAR
whether you are on the main page or a single story page.

To go from the main page to a SINGLE STORY, just click on the HEADLINE of the story --



This is useful if you want to print a single story or email just that one story to someone.

If you find yourself on a single story page and you want to get back to the MAIN PAGE, just click on the blog name --



Blog bliss is being able to get where you want when you want.



Previous posts on USING BLOGS are on the OLD Plainfield Today --
  1. "Understanding Permalinks"

  2. "Searching a blog, or all blogs"

  3. "Posting a comment"

  4. "Emailing posts to a friend"
Also note that there is a search box at the top of every page. Blogger's search engine is pretty good--since it's based on Google.


View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Poll results: What to do about papers tossed in driveways?




This week's survey was prompted by a reader who returned home from a business trip to find his driveway littered with unsolicited and unwanted newspapers.

(See
"Those plastic bags -- Sales pitch? Invasion of privacy? Invitation to burglary?")



Chart of poll 'results'


Readers' 'Other' responses were captured by the 'poll widget' and are below, as captured.


  • (Blank)
  • (Blank)
  • Toss them out. They are just littering the streets.
  • (Blank)
  • (Blank)
  • i don,t like them in my drive way
  • (Blank)
  • Those
  • (Blank)
  • They should be charged with littering. Remember, Plainfield fines litterers up
  • (Blank)
  • Outlaw them. For some reason they throw 1 bag on my driveway and 1 bag on the
  • (Blank)
  • (Blank)
  • There should be a municipal ordinance prohibiting the distribution of any and all
  • Fine the company if the household has opted out and continues to receive them.
  • Don't permit it within the city limits of Plainfield. Charge violators for pickup
  • IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL


Clearly, readers who responded find them annoying.

But PT learned that this little 'poll widget' gadget isn't really suited to gather your input this way.

First of all, it seems to have a limited number of character spaces and anything typed in beyond that goes into the ether. Secondly, it allows blank input, which a real survey form would not.

So, it was an interesting experiment, but back to the drawing board.

If and when you see another 'survey' question, it will mean that PT has found a widget that truly does the job.

Thanks to all for their input!

You can view PAST POLL RESULTS here.

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Drake House Exhibit Celebrates Black History Month



Florence Spearing Randolph
Founder, Wallace Chapel AMEZ Church

The Drake House Museum's 2007 Black History Month exhibit, "Celebrating 150 years of Black American Heritage: 1857-2007," opens tomorrow afternoon at the museum, West Front Street and Plainfield Avenue.


Developed from the research work and private collections of Ethel M. Washington, the show features historic black and white photos of notable local Blacks who made significant contributions to the County’s cultural legacy. Many of the photos are featured in Washington’s book, Union County Black Americans, published by Arcadia in 2004.

Among the group of notables featured in the exhibit are Amos Noe Freeman (1810-1893), an Underground Railroad Operative born in Rahway and maternal grandfather to the famous portrait painter and illustrator Laura Wheeler Waring; the Reverend William Drew Robeson (1845-1918) founder of St. Luke’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church in Westfield and father of the famous Paul Robeson; the Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph (1866-1951), pastor and builder of the Wallace Chapel AMEZ Church in Summit and organizer in 1915 of the New Jersey State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs; John Matthew Shippen (1879-1968), America’s first professional golfer to play in a U. S. Open Championship and head pro/groundskeeper at Shady Rest (now Scotch Hills) in Scotch Plains, the first Black-owned golf and country club in the United States; and the Reverend William A. Everett Lattimore, Union County’s first Black Freeholder and the first Black mayor of Plainfield.

The exhibit is one of several Black History exhibits conceived and developed by exhibit designer and consultant Ethel M. Washington, owner of the Black American Arts and Decorative Arts
(BADD) Gallery. Washington is the History Programs Coordinator in the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

Washington, who holds a Museum Studies Certificate from Rutgers, received her B.S. degree from Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and M.A. and M.Ed. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has done post-graduate work at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Social Work in New Brunswick.



"Celebrating 150 years of Black American Heritage: 1857-2007"
Opening and reception, 2 - 4 PM. Sunday, February 18, 2007
At the Drake House Museum, West Front Street and Plainfield Avenue. FREE.
The exhibit runs through March 10. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons, 2 - 4 PM. Information: (908) 755-5831.
Arcadia Publishing: "Union County Black Americans", by Ethel M. Washington.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jersey Guys: Sen. Lesniak a 'gay Polack politician'



So, 101.5's bad boys have been at it again.

Yesterday, Union County's Sen. Ray Lesniak struck back at Carton & Rossi in a blistering OpEd piece in the Star-Ledger. (See his OpEd at the end of this post.)

This is not the first time the bad boys have embarrassed the station. In April 2005, the deadly duo conducted an on-air assault on Asian-Americans during the primary campaign of Jun Choi for mayor of Edison.

The outrage reached such a fever pitch that national attention was drawn to Choi's candidacy. Major advertisers, including Cingular and Bank of America, cancelled their advertising on the station, which is owned by Millenium Broadcasting.

After weeks of controversy, Carton & Rossi made a formal apology on air and Millenium agreed to put in place guidelines to enhance staffers' cultural understanding and prevent such outrages in the future. Word has it that there was also a financial settlement in the form of a contribution to an Asian-American charity, though PT cannot find confirming details.

You'd think Carton & Rossi would have learned their lesson, but apparently not.

It is not exactly clear from Sen. Lesniak's letter whether he was actually ON the program or
CALLED IN to respond to their gay-bashing. In any event, the deadly duo was way off base to suggest Lesniak is gay without any evidence, and to denigrate all Poles and accuse them of complicity in the Holocaust.


This photo, evidently taken at Sen. Lesniak's party
honoring a Polish rock group, is posted on 101.5's website.
It evidently forms the basis of Carton & Rossi's outrageous comments.


Sen. Lesniak is right on to challenge them. PT only hopes that the public reaction will equal that of the Choi incident, that Carton & Rossi will again have to make a public, on-air apology, and that a financial settlement by way of a contribution to a charity of the Senator's choice would certainly be in order.



Star-Ledger OpEd
An eruption of bigotry and hate on the radio

Thursday, February 15, 2007

BY RAYMOND J. LESNIAK

Call it an evolution of bigotry that went from gay stereotyping to Polish bashing to religious hatred. All played out re cently on New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio.

What started out as "harmless" banter morphed into the "Jersey Guys," the afternoon jock shocks, calling me a "gay Polack" politician and quickly turned into vicious religious hatred. The on-air incident demonstrated that starting down the road of bigotry only leads to the depths of hell.

Some may have thought it was funny when the 101.5 talkers known as Carton & Rossi "outed" me as gay because of a picture of me with what they said was a "flamboyant" male with red hair and a tight leopard-skin suit. Turns out this man, while certainly flamboyant, was a Polish rock star, and as a Polish-American state senator, I was hosting a party for the band after a concert in my hometown of Elizabeth.

At some point, my explanation resulted in the name-calling on air. I complained to station manager Eric Johnson that the word "Polack" was derogatory, an ethnic slur.

This set off a wave of Polack references from the shock jocks that were picked up and repeated by callers to the station.

The Polack bashing then took a particularly ugly turn when one of the 101.5 jocks said half the Polacks became Nazis to kill Jews, a senti ment that kindles hatred and opens old wounds that the Jewish and Catholic communities have worked so hard to heal, Poland being a predominantly Catholic nation.

As a recipient of the Man of the Year award from the Jewish National Fund, I'm well aware of the united efforts by religious and lay leaders of the Jewish and Catholic communities to combat anti-Semitism and promote respect among all religions.

I'm also a veteran and a member of the Polish Legion of American Veterans, most of whom fought the Nazis (I was not born yet). Hundreds of thousands of Poles were killed during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

Members of the 101.5 team ob viously never visited Normandy where they would have seen the American, British, Canadian and Polish flags flying side by side honoring the brave soldiers from those countries who participated in the D-Day invasion.

Or if they had visited Israel, they might have learned of the Hall of Righteous Gentiles, an integral part of the Holocaust Memorial in Israel that is populated by Polish citizens who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors.

From the Revolutionary War (Gens. Casmir Pulaski and Thad deus Kosciusko) to the war in Iraq, the Polish people have aided America's cause. No mention of that by 101.5 FM Radio.

My father, a brilliant man, had to quit school when he was 12 to do manual work to help support his family. There were no opportunities for recent immigrant families from Poland. And he had to endure the Polack putdowns so common in those days to keep his job.

I learned early, as a young child, what people meant when they called me or my dad a Polack. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't pleasant. To hear it repeated over public airwaves to an audience of thou sands, and to be associated with killing Jews, is unimaginably cruel and hateful.

New Jersey 101.5 FM Radio has combined ignorance with hate, an extremely dangerous potion.

Raymond J. Lesniak, a former chairman of the state Democratic Party, has represented Union County in the state Senate since 1983. He previously served in the state Assembly.



FURTHER READING

Asian Media Watch: "Coalition and NJ 101.5 FM/Millennium Reach Mutual Understanding"
Wikipedia: "The Jersey Guys"
Jersey 101.5 - "The Carton & Rossi page"

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Plainfield a Relay For Life site


Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society's premier overnight awareness, support, and fundraising event is coming to Plainfield.

Longtime Plainfield activities promoter Pat Fields is coordinating the entertainment and activities for Plainfield's BIGGEST VENTURE YET as a site community.
Shiloh Baptist Church and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. will host a kick-off meeting scheduled for Thursday, at Shiloh Baptist Church, 517 West 4th Street. Registration opens at 5:30 PM and the meeting starts at 6 PM sharp.

Folks, this is a big -- make that BIG -- deal. Everyone knows someone who has faced or is facing cancer, everyone knows how important it is to fund research and support.

Now is Plainfield's chance to step up to the plate. Come out and learn how you can help ensure that those who face cancer will have support, those who have been lost to cancer will never be forgotten, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.

This is an overnight, team event. You can learn more by visiting the ACS website or the new Relay For Life website.

What can you do? You can help to organize Plainfield's event (scheduled for June 16th and 17th). Come on out to the kick-off meeting and learn more about the event, how to organize a team that will walk in the event, help raise money, and have a great time camping out overnight.

All monies raised will be used IN UNION COUNTY for education,advocacy, research and family support.

As Pat Fields say, "I know you have the heart -- now just give up some (more) of your time. You will be overjoyed at what you accomplish!"

Call Pat directly at (908) 369-1152 to let her know you are coming.



KICKOFF MEETING. Thursday, Feb. 22. Registration, 5:30 PM. Meeting, 6 PM sharp. Shiloh Baptist Church, 517 West 4th Street, Plainfield. To register, call Pat Fields: (908) 369-1152. For PARKING info, call the church: (908) 754-3919.



View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Help Cat in Hat



(Click on image to enlarge.)

Reading unlocks the world.

There is no way around it. If you can't read, you lose big time.

And, for very young children, being READ TO reinforces both the IMPORTANCE and the FUN of reading.

YOU can help reinforce this life-changing truth by volunteering a half-hour to read to some of Plainfield's preschool children on Friday, March 2, 2007 (which is also Dr. Seuss' birthday, 103 and going!).

Call the school district's Read Across America coordinator Agness McLean at (908) 731-4360 x5381 today.

Do good and feel good about it.


(Click on image to enlarge.)



Online resources --

View today's CLIPS here. Not getting your own CLIPS email daily? Click here to subscribe.

ARCHIVED POSTS OF PLAINFIELD TODAY FROM 11/03/2005 THROUGH 12/31/2006 ARE AT
http://plainfieldtoday.blogspot.com/