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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Board of Ed reorganizes: Is pound of flesh next?

Board members Wilma Campbell, Rasheed Abdul-Haqq and
Keisha Edwards. Renata Hernandez was not available when photo taken.

Plainfield's Board of Education reorganized Tuesday evening amidst the hubbub over the arrest of Superintendent Steve Gallon III, with three new members and a returning member.

One question that came to mind is whether the demand for a pound of flesh is coming next.


First, CONGRATULATIONS to Wilma Campbell, resoundingly returned by the voters to the Board, and new members Rasheed Abdul-Haqq, Keisha Edwards and Renata Hernandez. I wish them all the best as they embark on fixing everything that's wrong with Plainfield's public schools. It is a tall order and they will need our wholehearted and critical support.

The first items of business at any reorganization are the election of officers. Lisa Logan-Leach was elected president, and Rasheed Abdul-Haqq vice president.

Recalling board reorganizations of past years, where regardless of differences between board members agreement was reached on unanimous leadership picks, a certain lack of classiness evidenced itself in the nomination of others (one of whom declined, the other being defeated). In my humble opinion, it would have been a sign of good intentions to have voted unanimously for the leadership team.

Hopefully things will improve as the Board gets down to work.


While residents and supporters may expect that the matter of Dr. Gallon's continued service as Superintendent would be taken up quickly and publicly, it does not seem that will be the case.

Members who were extremely vocal about the Gallon matter while running for office may now disappoint their supporters in having to abide by new rules. All the discussions of Dr. Gallon's fate, all the legal maneuvers surrounding his status now that he has been arrested for 'theft of services', all, ALL, ALL will take place out of earshot. Unless, that is, Dr. Gallon chooses the Rice option of having a public hearing.

Though it was certainly ballsy of him to show up for the reorganization meeting, I somehow feel he will decline to choose the Rice option to have his laundry aired in a public meeting.


News reports on the charges against Gallon, Kelly and Kemp have noted that while Gallon and Kelly were arrested and booked, Kemp has not (at least as of last night) turned herself in.

That leads to another question: Where is Kemp? She has not been seen for weeks, though there are inferences that she is still on the District's payroll.

There are whispers that she has absconded to Florida, though she continues to collect a paycheck.

The first order of business for the new Board should be to answer the question: 'Where's Angela?' and put to rest all the rumors.

District employees tell me that those who are suspended or on administrative leave must come to the Board offices ON A DAILY BASIS to sign in and recieve any assignment. Shouldn't the public be assured this is happening?

And why shouldn't the Plainfield schools have a 'rubber room' like they do in New York City, where suspended staffers must spend their time during work hours until their cases are settled.

Should the taxpayers be footing the bill for what appears to be essentially a vacation?


Since her election to the Board, I have made no secret of my belief that Lisa Logan-Leach is clearly Assemblyman Green's 'member' of the Board.

(She, along with the current mayor, Sharon Robinson-Briggs, were part of Assemblyman Green's first foray into Board of Ed elections.)

I certainly hope she is going to maintain her independence and be guided by her own lights and priorities and not those of Democratic machine politics.

That being said, sharp-eyed observers noticed last night that attorneys from the politically-juiced Weiner Lesniak firm were hovering in the room, like vultures about to pick over carrion.

The law firm, in which Union County Dem powerhouse (and sitting State Senator) Raymond Lesniak is a partner is often found in relation to Democratic-controlled contract largesse.

While the City of Plainfield has made no use of the firm (Lesniak vowed he did not want the business when the issue came up during Robinson-Briggs' first campaign for mayor), it seems more than a bit odd that developers who come before the City for approvals seem to find the only firm to turn to is ...
Weiner Lesniak.

Writing on his blog recently, Assemblyman Jerry Green railed against an unnamed person who implied his support of a team meant that they were 'his' (see post here) --
Someone has mentioned my support of a slate of candidates for the Board of Education. I made this known publicly and privately, that I supported these candidates PERSONALLY, as a Plainfield taxpayer, and that I did not publicly endorse them or have my name used within their campaign. I find it very insulting that when I go out of my way to offer support to a slate as a Plainfield resident, that all at once that slate becomes my 'team'.
The interesting thing is that THAT team lost. (It is also interesting that I never made such a mention -- the only time I mentioned teams was here).

So, it will be even more curious if the
Weiner Lesniak firm becomes the school district's new attorneys, or receives profitable piecemeal contracts.

Would it be the extraction of a 'pound of flesh', or just another example of that apparently universal law of physics in Union County whereby all atoms and molecules align themselves toward a certain, unspoken, mysterious, and invisible 'magnetic North Pole'?

Or maybe they were just well-wishers.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

So Gallon was dragged out in handcuffs! It's about time! Now WHEN is someone going to arrest Hellwig for his solicitation and theft of city time and resources?????

Bob said...

I teach accounting to adults in Woodbridge. I am so embarrassed when my colleagues and students keep asking me about Gallon and his harem. I'm so tired of this and hope they can fire him. If he is convicted of this crime, and he will be, can a judge order him to step down and save Plainfield from having to pay this fool to go away? I hope he is canned quickly so Plainfield and it's school system can stop being a topic of derision and jokes. I also hope this new Board will be open and honest with us.

Yep I Said It! said...

Puleeeease Jerry - It is time for you to just stop . . . You know, they know and everybody knows, if you put any kind of funds or support behind ANYBODY or ANY GROUP you now own them "LOCK, STOCK and BARREL!"

Anonymous said...

Was Lesniak's law firm performing pro bono work?

Rob said...

I am going to congratulate you on writing " ballsy " in your blog post. Because per Gallon.....he sure has a set the size of church bells. That man belongs in NJ politics, not the school system. ANY politician in NJ would NEVER have shown up at that board no matter what.. KUDUS've got a set any man can admire!