The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

NNO continues: Ward 2 Challenge events tonight




FOSH has made special efforts to maintain the historic
Netherwood Station's appearance as a gateway to the Queen City.


Plainfield's week of National Night Out activities continues this evening with the Ward 2 Challenge events.

Under the leadership of the Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) and the Crescent Area Neighbors group, Second Ward residents are invited to plant flowers at the historic Netherwood Train Station, help paint the fieldhouse bathrooms at Seidler Field or work with youngsters on a poster-making activity.

Participants who register are also invited to an after-party at the YMCA, Watchung Avenue at East 6th Street, where there will be refreshments and opportunities to use the YMCA's new fitness facilities.

This year's NNO steering committee has encouraged each ward to engage in a challenge effort to increase community participation, develop networking contacts and encourage the development of new block associations and neighborhood watches.

Judges will be monitoring the activities (anonymously), and awards will be made at the citywide National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 7.


-- Dan Damon

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Plainfield case breaks ground in historic preservation law




The Abbott Manor nursing home on Central Avenue.

The July 26 ruling in Plainfield's Abbott Manor nursing home case was the first time a New Jersey court "
has declared the validity and importance of historic districts, and described what their effect should be on land-use applications," according to William Michelson, attorney for the city's Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. The historic district sued the City and its Zoning Board of Adjustment and the nursing home's owner, CPR, over a 2005 decision of the Board granting variances for expansion of the existing nursing home.



Plainfielder Bill Michelson was attorney for the Historic District.

The Van Wyck Brooks Historic District has never objected to the presence of the nursing home, in a converted late Victorian mansion, which in fact predates the creation of the historic district. What was objected to was the massive scale of the proposed addition and its impact on the surrounding area.

In an email Monday evening to VWB district members, Gerry Heydt, president of the historic district's association, wrote --
...[Superior Court Judge Walter R.] Barisonek gave a 1 hour and 40 minute oral decision in which he thoroughly went over the issues brought out in the transcripts of the hearings. It was obvious that he read the transcripts cover to cover. He quoted numerous statements by the expert witnesses of both sides, citing page numbers, as well as quoting from both the 2002 and 2005 Board of Adjustment’s resolutions. The Board of Adjustment's 2002 denial of the nursing home expansion will be reinstated.
The historic district's attorney, Bill Michelson, a Plainfield resident with a private practice in Fanwood, has written a summary of the case from which some highlights are excerpted below.

To begin with, in Michelson's opinion, Judge Barisonek was influenced by two things --
...[o]ne is that he examined the model which showed clearly how massive it would be, as compared with surrounding properties. The other is that the other intrusions into the district (notably the 1950s-style apartments across the street), including the old Abbott Manor addition, all pre-dated the creation of the district in 1982.
He continues that Barisonek found the Zoning Board had been --
...so overwhelmed by the federal court settlement, and Rother's [the owner's] threat of further litigation, that it simply lost sight of all the proper criteria for deciding the case. He blamed part of this expressly on Rother's planner, Peter Steck, who … told the Board what its obligations to the handicapped supposedly were, under the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988.
Michelson summarizes briefly the judge's review of both federal and state issues and case law pertinent to the case (those interested can find Michelson's summary here and contact info at the end of this post), concluding that Barisonek "summed up by saying that, aside from the desirability of nursing homes, every piece of evidence and piece of testimony in the whole case was negative to CPR's application."

Two aspects of this case may be determinative of future litigation in historic districts finding themselves in similar circumstances --
  • First, as pointed out by Michelson previously, a New Jersey court has declared the validity and importance of historic districts, and described what their effect should be on land-use applications; and

  • Secondly, that the court went further than Michelson did on one point: that an "inherently beneficial" use may cease to be so, at the wrong location.
This is an important victory not only for the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, but for those districts statewide which find themselves similarly situated and faced with development proposals which would alter the character of the neighborhood.

Though the developer has further recourse in the courts, including appealing to the New Jersey Supreme Court, Barisonek's careful and detailed analysis will surely give them pause.

A victory for the little people.




-- Dan Damon

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Lodi trailer park residents trash town's redevelopment grab

As a sign the Supreme Court's Paulsboro ruling is going to dramatically shape the future of redevelopment projects in the state, consider the low- and fixed-income residents of the Costa Trailer Court on busy Route 46 in Lodi.

As redevelopment gains speed in Plainfield, concerned property owners may draw some comfort from this David v.Goliath story.

The Lodi residents, some of whom have lived in the trailer park for 40 years, have been engaged in a four-year battle over a proposal to replace their homes with a gated 250-unit senior housing complex with 112,000 square feet of retail space.

The ruling holds that the town "built too weak a case in declaring the properties blighted," according to a recent Ledger story, and leaves the door open for the town to modify its redevelopment plan.

However, the story, continues, the town evidently does have the stomach for any more. [Read more here...]



Star-Ledger - 7/25/2007: "Lodi trailer park residents beat back eminent domain"
-- Archived here.

Putting the thumb on the Union County taxpayers' scale



Someone -- Charlotte DeFillippo? Ray Lesniak? -- is costing Union County taxpayers a pretty penny for job hanky-panky.

No, not the Cryan kind.

The kind that comes from picking the son of a former Union Township mayor to head up the County's Weights And Measures Division -- responsible for seeing you are not being ripped off by gas pumps or produce and meat scales throughout the county.

So far the County has had to settle with two employees who were passed over so the young man could have the job -- for a total of $550,000 -- plus legal fees which have yet to be fully tabulated. (The plaintiff's legal fees, which must be paid by the County, amount so far in this phase, to $34,000).

The story is in the Ledger [see more here...]

By the way, the head of the Division of Weights and Measures reports to Plainfield city councilor Harold Gibson, who, in his day job, is Union County's Director of Public Safety.




Star-Ledger
: "Rejecting employees remains costly"
-- Dan Damon

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What! You never left one in a library book?




I know some of these things are sneaky, but I remember being coached on a couple of them by my mentor when I was breaking into real estate.

What? Tricks for getting your business cards out there and -- hopefully -- used to generate business.

If you dole out business cards like medication -- one every four hours and one before bedtime -- you are missing what they can do for you.

Even in the age of email. Even in the age of card scanners.

Sunday's Ledger ran a story from the Newhouse New Service on business cards [read more here...].

What didn't make it into the paper -- the best part -- is the list of tips. Well, some of them are good.

THE LIST
  • Print a team's sports schedule on the back. Fans will keep them handy and keep your name in front of them.
  • Print a special discount offer or coupon on the back. People will keep it because they intend to use the coupon.
  • Send a business card in every piece of correspondence -- letters, invoices, even you electric bill. Sooner or later, those cards will be used.
  • Scan your card in and use it as a graphic for when you exchange link with other websites. The other site can use your graphic as the link.
  • Place them in library books as if you used them as bookmarks.Visit bookstores, place them in books related to your business.
  • Have your spouse, family and friends carry some of your cards with them in case they meet someone who might be interested in your product or service.
  • Wear them: Use them as name tags at events instead of the usual "Hello, my name is..."
  • Ask neighborhood businesses if you may display your cards near their registers.
  • Tack them to bulleting boards at supermarkets, retaurants, retail stores and the library -- any place that has a bulletin board.
  • Place some on the table when you leave a restaurant.
SOURCE: Linda Elizabeth Alexander, business communicator, www.write2thepoint.com/

Plainfield Trivia Question: 'Si' Newhouse, founder of Advance Publications, parent of the Star-Ledger and the Newhouse News Service is related to what well-known Plainfielder? (**See bottom of page.)




Star-Ledger
: "Business cards thrive in era of electronic communication"
-- Dan Damon

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**Mrs. Miron, of Miron's Furniture, formerly on East Front Street, then on Rt. 22 as Miron's Ethan Allen Gallery, was his sister.

Ingmar Bergman, last great Swedish humorist




Max von Sydow plays chess with Death.

Word comes that Ingmar Bergman has died at his home in Sweden.

My late friend Moose Mattson, at one time an Augustana (Swedish) Lutheran pastor, used to refer to Bergman's dark, existential flicks as 'Swedish humor'.

Whether or not you can see the justice of the remark, Bergman made an enormous contribution to film. Think of the chess game with Death during the Black Plague in 'The Seventh Seal'. How funny is that?

Three obits below...my fav is the Los Angeles Times.

Wouldn't you expect it?



Ingmar Bergman Dies --
-- Dan Damon

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Bond pays for paving Plainfield streets




Recent work on Kenyon Avenue by the Old High School.

With 110 miles of streets, Plainfield's City Council is continuing the aggressive 15-year road repair and rebuilding program it began three years ago, after an engineering study laid out the condition and need for repair for every single street in the city.

The Council has approved floating a $7.4M bond issue to cover the next series of streets. Work done involves milling and repaving. In some cases, new curbing and street trees are installed.

Streets on the list for this bond issue are --
  • West 8th Street
  • Brook Lane
  • Court Place
  • Evergreen Avenue
  • Fayette Place
  • Gavett Place
  • Kensington Avenue
  • Maplewood Terrace
  • Netherwood Avenue
  • North Avenue
  • South Second Street
  • Stilford Avenue
  • Watchung Avenue

-- Dan Damon

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National Night Out events get under way tonight




Plainfield's 2007 annual National Night Out observance gets under way tonight with the Ward 1 Challenge event at Milt Campbell Field (see complete schedule below).

This year's co-chairs are Tiffany Wilson, assistant Union County prosecutor assigned to Plainfield's CP unit, and Linda Carter, councilor for Wards 1 and 4 at-large.

As Tiffany wrote me recently --
This year the committee wanted to get back to the roots of National Night Out without sacrificing Plainfield’s traditional Citywide Block Party at City Hall. The Ward challenges are meant to be a fun way to get people involved in the National Night Out message closer to their actual neighborhoods. We hope this will increase communication and collaboration locally. Not only are the Wards challenged to have the most participation at their neighborhood driven events and at the August 7th main event, but they get extra points if they conduct a community service project. They are also challenged to help others in their ward begin block associations. This is just a long winded way of saying that I disagree with you that Plainfield’s celebration has moved away from resembling its “National cousin”. I believe we are actually moving back towards the National intent of increasing neighborhood communication and neighborhood watches. We hope to do this while increasing participation, community collaborations and awareness. These are all things the National movement is striving to achieve.
I hope you will find a way to participate in this year's events!




2007 National Night Out Events --
  • Today. July 30. 6 - 9 PM. First Ward Community Day. Games, food, activities, voter registration. Bring canned good or non-perishable items for food bank. Milt Campbell Field, East 3rd Street. Info: Alex Toliver, (908) 922-6060. Rain date: Wednesday, same time & place. FREE.

  • Tuesday. July 31. 6 - 8 PM. Ward 2 NNO Challenge. Planting at Netherwood Station. Painting bathrooms of the Fieldhouse at Seidler Field (North Avenue, across from Netherwood Station). Poster making at Seidler Field. Rain date: Wednesday. All Welcome. Those who register can attend the Celebration Party (see below).

  • Tuesday. July 31. 8 - 10 PM. Ward 2 NNO Celebration Party. Registered participants who helped in the evening's activities are invited to a party at the YMCA, 518 Watchung Avenue.

  • Thursday. August 2. 3 - 8 PM. Ward 4 NNO Challenge: Grant Avenue Block Party.

  • Thursday. August 2. 3 PM. Ward 4 NNO Challenge: 'Unity in the Community' Day. Pool open. Music, games and more. Basketball game at 5 PM: Harlem's Rucker Park Players v. NYC Street Ballers. Rushmore Park, West 3rd & Rushmore Avenue. Rain date, Monday, August 6.

  • Friday. August 3. Ward 3 NNO Challenge. Cleanup at Baptist/Methodist Cemeteries, Plainfield Avenue (10 AM on Friday and Saturday). Clothes drive. Block Party and Neighborhood Tour at 6 PM, starting at 130 Pemberton Avenue.

  • Saturday. August 4. 11 AM - 3 PM. NNO Bike Rodeo / Youth Day. Sponsored by the Plainfield Police Division and the National Night Out Committee. At Library Park. FREE.

  • Saturday. August 4. Dusk. NNO Youth Event: 'The Pursuit of Happyness' (movie). At Library Park. FREE.

  • Sunday. August 5. 7 PM. Rose of Sharon NNO Community Celebration. Neighborhood March, Program, Refreshments.'Give Neighborhood Crime and Drugs a Going Away Party.' Rose of Sharon Church Parking Lot, 825 West 7th Street. All are invited.

  • Tuesday. August 7. 6:30 PM. National Night Out Block Pary: A Going Away Party for Crime and Drugs. Music, food, community information tables. At City Hall, 515 Watchung Avenue. All are invited.

-- Dan Damon

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

1st Ward Community Day tomorrow


Community Day features games, more

PLAINFIELD: The 1st Ward is hosting a Community Day event tomorrow (Monday) from 6 to 9 p.m. at Milt Campbell Field.

The event includes card tables, bingo, baseball, music, face painting, poster contests, voter registration, food and soccer.

The raid date for the event is Wednesday (August 1) at 6 p.m. Milt Campbell Field is located at 201 Chelsea Blvd.

For more information, contact Alex Toliver, First Ward committee leader, at (908) 922-6060.


Transcribed from the Ledger print edition; not online -- DD.

I think this is a National Night Out event. The article doesn't make it clear, but the paper can only print what it gets. Come out, whatever.

-- Dan Damon

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Morristown's Cresitello pours gas on immigration debate




Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello
(Photo, United Patriots of America)

Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello strikes me as the kind of guy who would shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theater if it would get him front-page coverage.

Well, Saturday's rally did, in Morristown's Daily Record.

Granted, what to do about illegal immigration and about illegal immigrants who are already in this country, is a vexing -- and vexed -- question.

But it's not as simple as Cresitello and the nativist crowds he whips up make it out to be.

Truth to tell, though, the counterdemonstrators did not win any prizes for yelling during the national anthem, as Fred Snowflack points out in his Fred's Blog --
...the counter demonstrators did themselves no good by constantly yelling and heckling. That accomplishes nothing. They also yelled during the National Anthem. That was pure stupidity and just hurts their cause.
Nevertheless, Cresitello seems out of step with most Jerseyans. To wit: a story about the most recent Monmouth University/Gannett poll in today's Courier paints a picture quite different from that of Cresitello --

...almost two in three state residents (65 percent) said most illegal immigrants who have worked in the country for at least two years should be given a chance to apply for legal status. Only 30 percent said they should be deported, according to the poll.

Frank Argote-Freyre, director of the Monmouth County Chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, said the most significant figure in the survey was the number of residents who favor an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"The poll indicates that those who advocate draconian measures, such as massive deportations, are out of step with the majority of New Jersey residents," he said.

He noted the poll showed about 57 percent of state residents believe illegal immigrants are more likely to take the kind of jobs that Americans do not want. Some 35 percent said those immigrants take jobs away from Americans.

"It used to be that you could get teenagers to shovel the snow from your driveway in the winter," Argote-Freyre said. "Many of the teens on my block are playing computer games or pursuing other electronic diversions in the winter. Inevitably, every morning in the aftermath of a big snowstorm, several men with only a minimal grasp of English will knock on my door and offer to shovel my driveway."

Everyone who cares about the future of the country, about the fate of immigrants, about social justice, and about enforcing the law should be engaged in the discussion.

However, Cresitello does nothing to help the discussion along by
[taking] the time to refer to the protesters across South Street as "Communists and Marxists"
as The Ridge Nightfly notes.

The country has a problem because it never really enforced the southern borders properly for the last twenty years.

But, as far as local enforcement of immigration laws goes, Cresitello ignores that the courts are beginning to assert localities do not have jurisdiction here.

A good, old-fashioned case of demagoguery if you ask me.

And most New Jerseyans aren't buying it.



Daily Record (Morristown) - 7/29/2007: "5 arrested at Morristown immigration rally"

Ledger - 7/29/2007: "Anger of immigrant debate bursts forth at rallies"

Courier - 7/29/2007: "Poll: Jerseyans support illegal immigrants already in U.S."
Bloggers --
-- Dan Damon

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Plainfield Health Center receives grant



The Courier's local section has a front-page story on the Plainfield Health Center receiving a $48,000 grant from the Horizon Foundation for NJ.

According to the story, the grant will be used to upgrade computer equipment (said to be 15 years old!) and --
...enhance operations and services, and support the expansion of the health center into two new service areas, Newton and Phillipsburg.
PHC provides invaluable health care services to residents in the tri-county area and anything that helps it strengthen its organization and improve the delivery of services is certainly good news.

However, rumors continue to circulate that the organization is in fiscal difficulties and that layoffs and restructuring are in the works -- perhaps even as early as August.

Let's hope that is not the case.



Courier - 7/29/2007:
"Plainfield Health Center receives $48,000 grant"

-- Dan Damon

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Ray Blanco would smile...and splutter




New housing on West 7th Street, near Ray's house.

While there are many 'big picture' activities that are beginning to take shape a year after my friend, neighbor, and Plainfield City Council President Ray Blanco's untimely death, there is one smaller and closer to home that I think would please Ray and make him smile...and splutter.

For years, a tract on West 7th Street just down the block from Ray's house that had been slated for residential development sat vacant and overgrown with weeds behind a chain link fence.

Not exactly attractive. And this throughout the housing boom.

A year later, construction is well under way for a very pleasant and upscale-looking cluster of single family homes massed to look like a couple of mansions.

Unlike the previous vision for this development property, there are no outlets onto busy West Seventh Street. Thank God! The units facing in that direction present pleasant and attractive (if a bit high from the street) front facades, with steps down to the sidewalk.

All the access from the new complex is from a private drive that bisects the property and enters Spooner Avenue. Across from Ray's driveway.

I can hear him spluttering now, rushing to a meeting, maybe even uttering an expletive or two, as he waits in HIS driveway for the traffic to empty out of the new development's driveway before he can hit a left and make his getaway.

But he would still be happy the project was finished.

And that would make him smile.



Remembrances and reflections on Ray's life and contributions --
-- Dan Damon

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Roselle Park looking worse over 'Good Samaritan' arrest

Just when Roselle Park officials probably thought it couldn't get more embarassing, guess what?

On Thursday, Bob Braun's Ledger column took up the matter of Monica Montoya, the Good Samaritan, roughly pushed to the ground, cuffed and arrested by a cop investigating a pedestrian accident in which Montoya had helped as translator for the cop.

The story has been riddled with confusion on the part of the police and Roselle Park officials from the beginning.

However, Braun's column raises the heat several notches.

After acquiring the accident report and the patrol car video, Braun raises several points where the officer's statements are contradicted by the plain evidence of the video tape.

Having Braun on your case would be bad enough, but this morning's Ledger bears the news that Union County Prosecutor Ted Romankow is getting in the act.

Roselle Park officials ought to detect a message in here somewhere.

Meanwhile, is there anyone out there who thinks Ms. Montoya should not be compensated for her 'pain and suffering'?

I certainly hope not.



Background --
-- Dan Damon

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Fanwood scores as Homeland Security threat hotbed

This just in.

Picking up the AP feed, today's Courier reports --

Congress sent President Bush legislation Friday to intensify anti-terror efforts in the U.S., shifting money to high-risk states and cities and expanding screening of air and sea cargo to stave off future Sept. 11-style attacks.
And the New York Times chimes in that the bill is --
a measure intended to tighten security on air and sea cargo and allocate federal money where the threat of attack is deemed greatest.
The bill will cut in half the current minimum guarantee to each state, and allow the DHS to make discretionary grants based on certified needs.

Among the changes that may be in the wind are grants such as one to the Fanwood Rescue Squad, also reported in today's Courier.

I reprint the brief item in full --
Rescue squad gets $10,533 federal grant

The Fanwood Rescue Squad will receive a $10,533 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The grant will be used to support the squad's operations. -- Staff report

Got that?

Over and out.



Background --
Congress: "Congress sends security bill to Bush"
Fanwood: "Rescue squad gets grant"
-- Dan Damon

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Eminent Domain: Plainfield owners can learn from Somerville Pathmark




Plainfield businesses concerned about how eminent domain proceedings would unfold if the City attempts to excercise the 'taking' procedure in advancing any of its redevelopment plans can gain some understanding of the process from a story in today's Courier.

In Somerville, where Middlesex County ├╝ber-developer Jack Morris has been attempting a redevelopment of the Downtown Somerville Shopping Center for two years, Pathmark has fought the project every step of the way.

Why not? They evidently have a profitable business in a building they consider far from 'blighted' and which they believe does not contribute to the neighborhood's 'deterioration'.

They also believe their lease is worth far more -- $3.4M -- than the $1.6M value the town has set.

On Friday, Pathmark was served with an official 'declaration of taking', meaning the borough is now effectively the owner of the lease.

The difference between the two parties will have to be settled in a further court proceeding. [Read more here...]



Eminent Domain - Somerville: "Somerville seizes supermarket's lease"

-- Dan Damon

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Judge: Wear chicken suit or serve time




Painesville, Ohio's municipal judge Michael Cicconetti is my sort of guy.

Three men who solicited sex from an undercover cop in the small Ohio town were given a choice: 30 days in jail or take turns wearing a chicken suit and carrying a sign saying 'No Chicken Ranch in Painesville'. The reference is to Nevada's famous bordello of the same name -- where, by the way, it is NOT a crime to pay for sex.

Since the sentence is being carried out today, there is a chance you will get a peek on this evening's news programs. Or maybe it will show up on YouTube.

Painesville lies astride US 20, the main drag through the area in which I grew up, lying about halfway between Cleveland and Ashtabula and about a mile south of Lake Erie.

The judge has had other interesting sentencing ideas, but you'll have to read the story...I don't want to be a spoiler.



Of chickens, creches and pigs --
-- Dan Damon

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Report: Retiree health care plans 'time bomb'

If you or I were doing it, it would probably be called misfeasance or nonfeasance.

Today's Bergen Record points out (as I said yesterday) that the failure to adequately fund New Jersey's retiree health care obligation began a long time ago --

New Jersey used to save up for future retirees' medical costs, just as it does with pension costs. Saving money, or "pre-funding," makes financial sense, because it saves taxpayers big dollars in the long run -- just like making a bigger down payment on a house saves on interest down the road.

But Governors Whitman and later McGreevey raided the funds set aside by their predecessors to balance the budget and pay for tax cuts.

Now, officials say the state simply doesn't have the spare cash to set aside for the future.

And you know who's being asked to foot the bill.

It might, however, have been years more until the state was called to account, except for the change in accounting rules which is beginning to affect how states calculate -- and publicize -- their future obligations --
In 1992, new accounting rules required private companies to calculate the costs of the long-term retirement benefits. The rules did not require companies to actually fund the future obligations, but they might as well have: When companies figured out how much they owed, they started scaling back retirement health benefits.

Now, state governments are also being required to calculate and disclose the costs of health-care retirement benefits, and the numbers are just as alarming. Like private companies, state and local governments are not required to pay toward those estimated future obligations.

Working the same story, the Ledger's Dunstan McNichol comes up with an estimate of a $69 billion unfunded obligation and points out the role of Gov. Whitman in starting down this slippery slope --
Until 1994, the state banked funds to cover the future cost of the health insurance provided without charge to retired public employees and teachers who put in at least 25 years on the job.

Then-Gov. Christie Whitman suspended the prefunding, and used the $400 million that had been saved to help balance one of her first state budgets.

At the time, the bill for post-retirement health insurance was $247 million.

Since then, the annual cost for health insurance coverage has risen by almost $1 billion, and the tab is projected to top $2 billion per year by 2012, according to the Aon report.

Michael Morfe, the Aon executive in charge of the actuarial study allowed as how state officials could either avoid doing advance funding or adopt a plan and stick to it --
"Advance funding is not required," he said. "Pay as you go can continue to be maintained."

That strategy, however, adds billions to the ultimate cost of paying the retiree expenses, Morfe's report shows.

If lawmakers boosted payments enough to pay down the liability over 30 years, he noted, the full tab would actually end up being only $37.3 billion measured in current dollars, not the $69 billion cited in the report.

Where is Jimmy the Greek when you really need to get the odds right?



More information and resources --
-- Dan Damon

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'Heart Gallery' project touches Jerseyans' hearts



Two years ago photojournalist Najlah Feanny Hicks started the Heart Gallery project to help find adoptive families for some of DYFS's older and harder-to-place children.

The Star-Ledger gave excellent coverage to the project and the photo portraits made by participating photographer volunteers opened at the Liberty Science Center. A website was developed for the project and a partnership with NJ Adopt. As a result, 141 of the 346 kids profiled have been -- or are in the process of being -- adopted.

Today's Ledger profiles a new iteration of the initial campaign, in which one hundred permanent and nurturing homes will be sought for children who have been in the foster care system the longest.

The exhibit is expected to make stops across the state.

To volunteer as a photographer, offer a venue for the exhibit or make a contribution, go here.



More information and resources --

-- Dan Damon

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Help for wallflower walls




Decorating Plainfield's big Victorian houses and vintage mansions can sometimes be a challenge -- especially when it comes to wallpaper.

Sometimes there is a small space -- say a foyer between the outer Victorian double doors and the interior first-floor hall -- where something truly bold would give it some punch.

Or maybe a 35-foot living room, in which an ordinary tepid wallpaper would induce a Valium-like haze. Not exactly what you want when having a couple hundred friends over for drinks.

Enter Studio Printworks, a Hoboken business that handprints what I would call 'artisanal wallcoverings'.

The Ledger profiled them in this morning's business section (read more here...).

And be sure to check out their website here.

Be forewarned though -- not for wilting wallflowers or shy violets.



More info --
-- Dan Damon

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Government employees elsewhere prosecuted for theft. Not in Plainfield?



While Plainfield seems to have swept the disappearance of over $3,000 in cash from the Tax Collector's office under the rug, others jurisdictions are less forgiving.

The Ledger's breaking news blog reports that a clerk from Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi's office, charged with stealing $3,500 in the course of her duties processing County IDs and passports, will appear in court this morning to be arraigned on the charges. If convicted, she would face a stiff prison sentence.

Meanwhile, up the road a piece in Paterson, a former Passaic Valley Water Commission employee faces up to 10 years in prison for taking a mere $800 in bribes in the performance of his duties regulating service to multi-family properties.

As I asked a year ago ("ALL CRIME IS NOT EQUAL?"), 'Have you heard of any criminal charges forthcoming in the missing $$$ from the Tax Collector's office? Does being the 'special friend' of a pol mean getting special treatment?'

At one time, I was told, the city had hired 'forensic accountants' to investigate the case of the missing moolah. So why can't 'CSI: Plainfield' get to the bottom of the missing money and do a little prosecutin'?

Too close a friend of people-in-power?



Ledger (breaking news): "Government clerk in court on charges she stole on job"
Ledger - 7/27/2007: "Water employee admits to bribery"
Plainfield Today: 7/7/2006: "All crime is not created equal"

-- Dan Damon

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'Ledger Litter' relief now a phone call away




Many consider Thursday's 'Ledger EXTRA' a nuisance.


The Ledger has come through on its promise to make it possible for homeowners to stop deliveries of its Thursday 'Ledger EXTRA' driveway-delivered shopping circulars.

Though some of my neighbors love the ads, coupons and other offers, many people consider it 'Ledger litter'.

Well, now you can get it stopped if you want. The snapshot above is of the wrapper on this week's delivery. You can clearly see the number for 'questions concerning delivery': 1-888-782-7533.

One less thing to complain about.



Background info --

-- Dan Damon

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Historic District KOs City, developer in court




The Abbott Manor nursing home on Central Avenue.

The Van Wyck Brooks Historic District was victorious yesterday in its suit against the City of Plainfield and developer CPR over expansion plans for the Abbott Manor nursing home on Central Avenue.

Superior Court Judge Walter R. Barisonek, reading his opinion from the bench, ruled that the 2005 decision by the city's Zoning Board of Adjustment was 'arbitrary and capricious' and that the city was within its rights to deny the developer zoning variances to build a 60-bed extension to the existing facility.

Historic District officers point out the district has never opposed the nursing home per se, which has been in operation for at least 60 years in a former Victorian mansion, but only its expansion.

The case has dragged on for nearly seven years and, though yesterday's ruling might be definitive, the developer may still appeal Barisonek's ruling to the state's Supreme Court. That, however, would be a calculated gamble, as Barisonek took great pains to address each issue in great detail, citing case law that advocates deem persuasive and definitive.

The group's attorney, William Michelson, a Plainfield resident with a practice in Fanwood, will be providing further information on the legal details of the ruling shortly.

I'll post news as it becomes available.


-- Dan Damon

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

This may be the 'new' Plainfield website folks!




City Administrator Marc Dashield is no longer
identified as Carlton McGee.


Finishing my morning posts, I had a chance to take another peek at the City's website -- seems this may be the real relaunch.

But is it 'new'?

I'm thinking more like what Muhlenberg's thrift shop would call 'gently used'.

But, hey, if the stuff is there, that's better than the last 10 months.

Please, make that PLEASE, toddle on over and give a gander.

AND come back and log on your comments -- appreciation, questions, suggestions, puzzlements, whatever. Just click on the 'comments' link at bottom of the page, type, ID the little puzzle characters, and hit 'submit'.

-- Dan Damon

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PSO Children's Concert in PCTV-74 loopland



Plainfield's public access channel -- PCTV-74 -- may be suffering from a dearth of community-supplied content.

That might explain the very frequent replays of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra's free children's concert from April 15, 2007.

The concert -- pleasant enough in itself -- has been airing quite regularly for the past couple of weeks --
  • Monday to Friday: 10:00 - 11:00 AM
  • Monday to Friday: 5:34 - 6:34 PM
  • Saturday: 3:34 - 4:34 PM

Besides running the station, the city is supposed to be encouraging community programming by --
  • purchasing and maintaining equipment to be available on loan to the community to tape programs,
  • offering training workshops for community organizations and individuals interested in producing programming, and
  • making use of all media -- newspapers, radio, web, flyers, etc. -- to promote availability of training, equipment loan and how to submit programming.

Now that the website is (sort of) fixed, you can at least access the station's contact information. However, if you click on the link to the PCTV-74 Schedule you will be startled to find that you are not taken to a web page, but to an Excel spreadsheet -- which you will have to download, save to your hard drive, and then peruse by opening Microsoft Office.

All those who do not know or have access to Excel, please raise your hands.

You may stay after class and help wash the blackboards and clean the erasers.



More info --
-- Dan Damon

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Music for All Seasons gets arts grant





Music for All Seasons, a Scotch Plains-based nonprofit whose mission is to bring world-class musical performances to nontraditional audiences, was awarded a $42,190 grant by the NJ State Council on the Arts in its most recent round announced on Tuesday.

Founded by Plainfielder Brian Dallow and his wife, the author and pianist Rena Fruchter, MFAS has for years brought musical performances to audiences ranging from children in hospitals to nursing home and prison audiences. Their longtime friend Dudley Moore was an avid supporter and proselytizer for the organization and its mission.

Kudos to Brian and Rena!

Other Union County recipients of NJ Council on the Arts grants --

Union County College
$9,840
UC Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs
$185,268
Kean University / Premiere Stages
$24,075
Union County Arts Center
$44,530
Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company (2 grants)
$59,227
Westfield Symphony Orchestra
$44,593
Westfield Young Artists Theatre
$49,500

For information about the New Jersey Council on the Arts, visit its website here.


-- Dan Damon

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