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Friday, May 28, 2010

Blanco would frown on Robinson-Briggs' half steps

The late Council President Ray Blanco
with the late Mayor Al McWilliams.

It was welcome news when I read Mark Spivey's piece in Wednesday's Courier that Plainfield Mayor Robinson-Briggs was finally making nominations to the Hispanic Affairs Advisory Commission. Better late than never, I say (see story here).

It was a nice touch of Mark to put the late Council President Ray Blanco in the story's lede, since the ordinance was crafted and advanced to adoption by him.

There were, however, a couple of eye-popping items in the story.

The first was that Mayor Robinson-Briggs would nominate a non-resident to the Commission.

I can just hear my old friend and neighbor Blanco (we lived just doors from each other for over twenty years), "With an estimated 16,000-20,000 Latinos in Plainfield, you mean to tell me you can't find folks who live in Plainfield to nominate?" And he would not have been smiling.

The non-resident, of course, is Ms. Salavarrieta, who lives in Piscataway. Mr. Ortega used to sign himself in letters to the editor in the Courier as from Plainfield, though he lived in North Plainfield. I am told he has more recently moved to Plainfield. If he is a resident, well and good.

I certainly hope the Council reviews the resumes nominees must file with their nominations and gets clarity on any issues that have before they cast their votes.

The other eye-popper was to read that Mr. Ortega 'co-wrote the legislation that established the commission with Blanco'.

Anyone who knew the Emmy-winning documentary film producer Ray Blanco also knew that he was perfectly capable of doing the job himself and would hardly turn to anyone else for that kind of help.

So, while Ray surely would smile at the final starting up of the Commission, I doubt he would be as pleased over the half steps and self-aggrandizement that accompany the good deed.

Not to mention the bad karma they could incur.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rob said...

I hope the Hispanic community keeps Mayor Briggs' feet to the fire over the was abandoned wrongly in the first place. And, it would be a pleasure to see the Hispanic Community demanding the City Council keep the same pressure on Mayor Briggs over the issue as well..

Rebecca Williams said...

Hey, Dan,

Glad to see you're back! I served as Ray Blanco's campaign manager back in 2004 to become the city's first Latino elected official in the city of Plainfield. He was elected to citywide office in that historic campaign, and although he only served for 18 months before his untimely death, the establishing of the Hispanic Affairs Commission was one of the most important achievements of Ray's career. To see this part of our community ignored for the past 4 years would certainly have raised his "ire," to put it mildly. I hope that the current city council will look past political cronyism and make sure that the commission does not become a travesty of what Ray and the rest of us were envisioning.

Anonymous said...

Why is it necessary to live within artificial lines drawn on a map to understand and be able to act on the needs of a community?

Hey Dan: Name the five most active and in touch Hispanic leaders in the Plainfield community. Does your list include Ortega and Salavarrieta? If so, where's the problem?

Anonymous said...


Yes, we are all happy the commission has been finally activated. However, let's not misinform the public on its roots, its activation and its path.

The commission was the brainchild of Ray Blanco. Yes, he was capable to write this commission and more on his own. However, he wanted support and he did not find it among his friends in Plainfield.

At the time I was living in North Plainfield and he approached me not so much to assist him craft it, but to give him ideas what to include and to exclude. We worked on the legislation together, we took it to the council together and we got it through together. This was collaboration between two people interested in making the difference.

Carmen Salavarrieta was not nominated to the Commission. If you read Spivey's article carefully, "The commission's five nominees include city residents Norman Ortega, Silvana Mullen, Edgar Freire, Doris Cera and Darwin Rosario, Robinson-Briggs announced."

Finally, it should also be known that this did not happen out of the blue. Assemblyman Green, the Mayor and I have been working on nominating individuals for the commission since December 2009. We have been working quietly on this and other projects designed to integrate the Hispanic community in Plainfield. I know you frown on this because of your partisan and personal dislikes, but rest at peace when it comes to Hispanics and all residents of Plainfield. We will are and will continue to work toward an integrated, productive, safe and leading community for all its residents.

Norman E. Ortega

Ron said...

Because people need to live in the community. For too long, we've drawn outside of it to its peril and it's the reason you get yahoos like the Superintendent from out of town willing to rip the place off. Not everyone who lives outside of town isn't committed to Plainfield, but if she's going to thrive, we need more do-gooders within the city limits.

It should extend to everything from police to school board members to teachers. If there's a shortage, well that's just more reason to improve things so that it's not an issue but the status quo isn't cutting it.

Anonymous said...

I Like Eggs

Randy Schaeffer said...

Dan -

The mayor's actions and Norman Ortega's efforts in bringing the Hispanic Affairs Commission closer to reality are to be commended.

There is much that needs to be done to help our City positively respond to the needs and aspirations of our significant Latino community. One area that I hope the Commission members will examine is the degree to which our schools and community-based organizations are reaching out to limited or non-english speaking parents to make sure they are aware of the educational and health services to which their children are entitled.

Regarding Commission membership - the ordinance provides that the Commission's seven members shall be residents OR individuals who "serve as Chair of Plainfield-based Hispanic organizations that represent various communities throughout the City.

Randy Schaeffer

Anonymous said...

I feel sad for Blanco, being used as a political puppet here Dan. You have no shame.

Your administration never made any appointements and that was really spineless.

This Mayor got things started. About time! How about some praise instead of your daily mud slingling?
Oh I forget, you have a 5-year old vendetta.

Anonymous said...

There is no way that talk about the Hispanic Advisory Commission can take place without mentioning Ray Blanco. This was his initiative and he worked hard to get it passed. Thank you Dan for giving credit where credit is over-due in reminding us how this got started. I am rooting for the Commission because it's important to me as a Hispanic in Plainfield, and it was certainly of vital importance to Ray as a Hispanic leader in Plainfield. He is so very much missed - still.