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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pet Wellness Clinic today CANCELLED

TJ thinks it's a good idea.


Plainfield pet owners can bring their dogs or cats to a pet wellness clinic today offered by the Associated Humane Society, whose mobile unit will be stationed in front of City Hall from 9 AM to 4 PM.

Vaccines are $10 each, microchips inserted for $10 each and heartworm tests are $20 per pet. The AHS workers will also take appointment for their low-cost spay/neuter program.

For more information, call the Associated Humane Societies weekdays between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM at (973) 824-7080 and ask for Debbie or Scott.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Mister Blister starts outpatient therapy

'Get to work!'

Just an update for Plainfield Today readers on the prosthesis situation. 

I started outpatient rehab at JFK Rehab in Edison on Friday -- at last. There have been several start dates set up which had to be cancelled owing to the development of blisters from walking on the prosthesis.

But Friday we finally got under way, with an assessment by my rehab specialist, Sue, who has nicknamed me 'Mister Blister'.

'Everyone has a challenge,' Sue said, 'and yours is neither your attitude nor your ability, but your tender skin'.

So, at last I'm up and on it, picking up where I left off with the inpatient stint early in July. We will spend time improving my gait and the amount of weight I can put on the prosthesis (which will allow me eventually to abandon the crutches), as well as the strengthening of leg, lower back and abdominal muscles that enable that 'natural' looking walk.

I am looking forward to the computerized treadmill that watches your gait from several perspectives and 'talks back' to you in real time to correct your execution. Talk about feedback loops!

For now, though you'll see me scooting around town in my new (old) Mercury Mystique, which I am calling Big Ruby after her color and the fact that she's larger than Little Sir Echo, the stick-shift Toyota Echo I can no longer drive.

Ad astra!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Hidden Plainfield: Gambrel house ID'ed

The home sits on an uncharacteristically narrow lot.

Yesterday's Hidden Plainfield's gambrel-roofed home is at 1025 West Front Street.

This style, which was offered by most mail-order catalogs, was ideal for small plots and tight budgets. Basically the gambrel roof was mounted on a standard bungalow layout, but with the gambrel giving extra height to the second floor over the sloping roofline of the typical bungalow.

There is another, similar example on Plainfield Avenue, across from the Koinonia Academy (formerly Wardlaw-Hartridge). I have noticed it is more common in Roselle Park, where the lots are narrower and smaller and this was a developer's choice that allowed maximizing profits on a series of small lots.

Where shall we go next week?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hidden Plainfield: Exotic origin of a common NJ home

Extremely tall pines give this small home a stately appearance.
Today's Hidden Plainfield home is a comfortable gambrel-roofed structure which is given a certain stateliness by the extremely tall and elegant pines flanking the front of the home.

Gambrel roofs can be spotted on homes throughout Plainfield, usually of two differing architectural periods. (They are also the quintessential roof form for barns throughout the country as they allow for more hay storage on the upper floor.)

While they are sometimes found on large Victorians with Colonial Revival characteristics, they are most commonly found on smaller 1920s and 1930s homes and are often referred to as 'Dutch Colonials'.

Today's example may actually have been a pattern-book house and would have appealed to a homebuyer on a budget as the gambrel gave extra space to second floor rooms over a simple gable.

What may surprise some readers is that the roof shape is inspired by native structures of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) which were seen by Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese explorers and traders and re-imagined in European settings -- and hence descending to American usage (see more here).

Do you know where today's property is?

Answer tomorrow.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

NJ Wolves football season opens at Seidler Field tonight

Plainfield-based semi-pro football team the NJ Wolves kicks off its 2012 season at 5:30 this afternoon at Seidler Field against the Philadelphia Panthers.

This is the first of six games that will be played on the Wolves' home turf at Plainfield's Seidler Field. Adult admission is $7/person, children under 12 are free. Kick off is 5:30 PM.

The home schedule is --

  • August 11, 2012 ---- NJ Wolves vs. Delaware Punishers

  • August 18, 2012 ---- NJ Wolves vs. NJ Invaders

  • August 25, 2012 ---- NJ Wolves vs. NY Bengals

  • September 15, 2012 ---- NJ Wolves vs. Flemington (NJ) Generals

  • October 6, 2012 ----- NJ Wolves vs. NJ Longhorns
Check out the team's website here, and games on YouTube here.
-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Plainfield's New Dems in breakfast meeting Saturday


Plainfield's New Democrats political club will gather Saturday morning for a continental breakfast at duCret School of the Arts.

"We want to thank everyone for their hard work on the June Democratic primary," says chairperson Adrian Mapp, "and begin to lay plans for the fall campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama."

Members, friends and those interested in helping in the Obama re-election effort are cordially invited.

10 AM - Noon
New Democrats Breakfast Meeting

duCret School of the Arts
1030 Central Avenue
(Parking and entry in lot at rear of campus)

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Plainfield library closing for three weeks for improvements, new jobs program lab

As with the classic 'Boss' puzzle, there is no solution
without moving all the pieces around.

Major rearrangement of the Plainfield Public Library's main reading floor to accommodate a new Job Assistance Computer Lab will close the library to the public for three weeks, from Monday, July 30 through Monday, August 19.

While the work is being done, Plainfield Public Library patrons will be welcomed at the 40 other libraries in the MURAL program and the 25 other libraries in the LMxAC consortium. Those who use e-books will be able to download them by accessing the Library's website. Arrangements have been made for the Literacy Volunteers of America program to have access to classroom space at the Plainfield campus of Union County College. And, of course, DVDs will remain available throughout the renovation from the Redbox machine near the entrance.
For more information on programs and activities, see the Library's website here.

"The library is so heavily used," says Director Joe Da Rold, "that there just is no convenient time to make changes to the layout. To minimize disruption to patrons and to control costs, the Library has tried to group together projects that maximize improvements while minimizing downtime."

The new computer lab will be located in the corner of the main floor between the circulation counter and the College Place accessibility ramps. The addition of a 30-seat lab will allow the large numbers of patrons using the public terminals for job searching greater access for longer periods of time. The current 20 public-access terminals will then be more available for other patrons. The new lab will also provide a setting for the library staff to expand the offering of basic computer skills classes, which are heavily attended by Plainfield's senior citizens.

Those who have ever worked a '15/16' puzzle or a Rubik's cube will appreciate the difficulty of moving any of the Library's book stacks to another location. Da Rold believes patrons will be thrilled with the final outcome of the collection's rearrangement, which will finally bring all the nonfiction sections -- now scattered in the four corners of the building -- together.

This will advance yet another portion of the Library Board's master plan, making the collection more user-friendly while expanding computer and Internet-access, a main driver in library usage in recent years.

I am sure patrons will be as pleased with the outcome as they have been with the makeover of the Young People's Room, which opened to wild acclaim last year, proving that public libraries are on the cutting edge of changes in how information is accessed and used.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mayor's pool policy leaves kids high and dry

With the summer nearly half over, the Mayor gets the word out.

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' policy with regard to the city's swimming pools is leaving Plainfield's kids high and dry in the middle of a long, hot summer.

Belatedly, schedules for reduced pool hours have been posted on the city's website (see here, with the PDF flyers here). As you can see from the screen capture at the top of the story, the flyers were composed on July 23, nearly a month into the summer season -- and well after confusion about pool hours and openings were cited by Plainfield Today and Olddoc.

This, after Mayor Robinson-Briggs especially requested $100,000 for summer Recreation help (including the lifeguards) in May. The request raised a discussion at the time about why the Robinson-Briggs administration needed the money early, instead of waiting for the budget which was being worked on at the time. The Robinson-Briggs administration prevailed and the $100,000 was funded through a resolution.

So, how come we are finding out at this late date that Mr. Wynn does not have enough life guards -- in fact so few that our kids are getting about HALF the pool time of normal years?

Once again, I suggest Mayor Robinson-Briggs is 'Exhibit A'.

Robinson-Briggs simply refuses to hold Mr. Wynn and the Recreation Division to any reasonable standard of accountability -- whether in regard to making room for the Queen City Baseball League to have access to public fields or successfully recruiting enough life guards for a full pool season.

In the private sector, such continual failures to meet expectations would have dire consequences for the employees involved. But this is your taxpayer dollars, where the Mayor evidently sees it as her prerogative to reward her 'friends' (...and punish her enemies?), so don't expect any accountability.

My apologies to Ms. Nesbitt for once again laying the blame at the feet of Mayor Robinson-Briggs, but if she's the chief executive isn't she the responsible party?

As President Harry Truman used to say, 'the buck stops here (at his desk)'.

President Harry Truman kept this sign on his desk.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A smartphone app to report potholes, other issues

Someone has already created some notices for Plainfield road conditions.

It seemed Plainfield might benefit from a smartphone application that Minneapolis is deploying for citizens to report potholes, broken street lights and other non-emergency issues to the city's public works department (see story here), but checking it out suggests a broader use.

The application is developed by SeeClickFix, the brainchild of New Haven, Conn. resident Ben Berkowitz in 2008 (see website here).

Checking it out, it seems that the public is offered a tool to create areas to keep under watch, with the ability to pinpoint problems by adding a note about a condition and upload photos. In addition, the poster and any other person interested in that particular area can put themselves on an email alert system which will automatically send an email when new information is posted or an existing issues is corrected.

It would seem that while this is a great tool for a municipality that is concerned about improving its customer service record, the customizability of the evidently freely available public service would seem to make it ideal for use by neighborhood watch groups.

I will be checking it out further and suggest that those interested in neighborhoods and block watches take a look at the service also.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Plainfield house featured in 'Four Houses' tonight on TLC

Owners of the four houses in tonight's episode gathered in Plainfield.

John Stewart and Craig Bowman's spectacular West 8th Street Victorian is one of four New Jersey homes featured tonight on TLC's 'Four Houses' program at 10 PM local time. (You can view a preview clip here.)

The premise of this new reality show is simple: pit four homes and their owners against each other in a competition to win $10,000 and a chance at being included in a spread in
Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Here's how it works: The four home owners gather at each of the four properties. Three of them discus the pros and cons of the house they are in -- out of earshot of that home's owner -- and give each house a ranking for originality, style and livability.

At the end of the show, the house with the most points wins.

But there's plenty of dishing -- and fun -- along the way.

So be sure to check it out as John and Craig weigh in against their fellow contenders this evening.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Muhlenberg CAG meeting tonight

The Muhlenberg Community Advisory Group, charged with monitoring the conditions place by the state on Solaris when permission was granted to close Muhlenberg Hospital, meets this evening at 6:30 PM at City Hall Library.

Chaired by Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, the group includes broad representation of those interested in the Muhlenberg question -- including representatives of Solaris.

Without a viable buyer for a health-related purpose, Solaris/JFK has put a proposal for residential development of the campus on the table. There are also plans to convert Kenyon House into a stand-alone satellite emergency department (SED), which would allow development of the massive main Muhlenberg building separately.

With only one more year to go for keeping the SED open, the big questions for Plainfield are a secure, long-term future for the SED and the continuation of transportation support to the JFK campus from Plainfield.

6:30 PM
Muhlenberg CAG Meeting

City Hall Library
515 Watchung Avenue
(Parking and entry in the rear of building)

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Hidden Plainfield IDed: Seven Sisters

The 'seven sisters' along West Front and Albert Streets.
Yesterday's Hidden Plainfield, seven identical homes built adjacent to each other, are on the corner of West Front and Albert Streets. They were originally all identical, and were noticeable for including a one-car garage as an integral part of the plan.

By the way, what are the 'seven sisters'? A group of women's colleges in the Northeast? Greek goddesses? Seven historically dominant oil companies?

The answer is ALL THREE.

The original 'seven sisters' are the Pleiades (see here), daughters of Atlas, whom Zeus is said to have put in the heavens as a group of stars.

Seven American women's colleges in the Northeast were alluded to as the 'seven sisters' after the Pleiades: Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr and Barnard (see here).

In the 1950s, the dominant oil companies were also referred to as the 'seven sisters' (see here): Anglo-Persian (now BP), Gulf Oil, SoCal (Standard Oil of California), Texaco (now Chevron), Royal Dutch Shell, Esso (Standard Oil of NJ), and Socony (Standard Oil of NY, now Exxon/Mobil).

And a reader added a comment that seven mass-circulation women's magazines were also known as the 'seven sisters': Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, McCall's, Redbook and Woman's Day.

Where shall we go next week?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hidden Plainfield: Seven Sisters

Seven homes by the same developer, along two sides of an intersection.
Today's Hidden Plainfield is not a single property, but seven identical homes built adjacent to each other on the corner of two streets, one of them a busy thoroughfare. Though they have been individualized over the years, they clearly were built by a single developer, hence my moniker the 'seven sisters'.

Actually, there is an eighth home just out of sight of this picture. It sits on a somewhat larger lot and is considerably fancier than the others, with a Pennsylvania blue stone facade. I suspect it was the developer's 'model' house and was used to help sell the houses on the remaining lots.

Do you know where today's properties are?

Answer tomorrow.

By the way, what are the 'seven sisters'? A group of women's colleges in the Northeast? Greek goddesses? Seven historically dominant oil companies?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Total per pupil costs, Plainfield public and charter schools

New Jersey released its Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending on Friday (complete report is here). Here's Plainfield's total costs per pupil for the District and the city's charter schools for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years (where available).



Plainfield Schools





2010-11 $151,325,551 7,915.6 $19,117
Central Jersey Arts CS 2009-10 $4,493,124 344.6 $13,039

2010-11 Not available -- --
Queen City Academy 2009-10 $3,034,669 225.1 $13,480

2010-11 $3,194,989 232.6 $13,738
Barack Obama Green HS 2009-10 N/A -- --

2010-11 $1,582,475 110.6 $14,311
Union County TEAMS CS 2009-10 $2,921,541 214.5 $13,620

2010-11 $3,579,481 249.5 $14,344

The NJ average and median expenditures per pupil for the years in question --

AVERAGE PER PUPIL $17,787 $17,362
MEDIAN PER PUPIL $16,782 $16,609

The Barack Obama Green HS only began in 2010-11; no explanation is given in the state's data for why no 2010-11 figures are given for the Central Jersey Arts Charter School.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, July 20, 2012

PMUA Project: Use sewers to heat buildings?

Here's a thought. Could Plainfield's PMUA use heat from the city's sewers as a source of energy to heat or cool public buildings?

NPR recently did a news story on the small city of Brainerd, Minnesota, and its plan to recover heat from its sewer system to heat or cool buildings (see story here).

Seems the town's energy authority studied the temperature of fluids flowing through its sewer system for a year before concluding that the difference in temperature was sufficient that extracting the heat in a way similar to that used by geothermal heating and cooling projects could be economically feasible.

A similar method was used by the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The issue in Minnesota, though, is solving the problem of operating a system that uses 'contaminated' fluids.

Brainerd officials estimate there is enough recoverable heat to heat or cool several hundred homes in the city of 14,000.

For such an idea to be considered in Plainfield, part of the equation would have to be developing such a project as part of new development or retrofitting of older existing (public?) buildings, since new heating/cooling systems would have to be installed.

But why not look into it?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Rebecca starts a new blog


Irrepressible Plainfield Councilor Rebecca Williams advised in an email Wednesday that she has begun yet another blog. See her note below and check it out --

...In addition to my Confessions blog and my Council blog (both have new posts, by the way), I have started another blog--this one is just for fun--will touch on pop culture and politics, in addition to local stuff on occasion. I will be posting here on a daily basis, as there's always someone who needs to go sit down somewhere!

It's called People Who Need To Go Sit Down Somewhere, and can be found at:

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

[Recreated Post] Plainfielders invited to honor YWCA's 105 years of service to community

Taking its exercise program to the street is a form of
'guerilla marketing' that helps gets the word out.

[NOTE: This is a recreation on 7/18/2012 of the original post of 7/13/2012, which gremlins somehow ate.-- Dan] Plainfielders are invited to honor the YWCA's 105 years of service to community by becoming involved through membership, becoming a donor/supporter, taking advantage of a useful program, or all three.

Old-line organizations such as the YWCA and its sibling the YMCA have found it challenging to maintain the physical facilities they have inherited from past glory days and at the same time to provide relevant programming for new membership populations in the face of commercial competitors who have cherry-picked the traditional income and program mainstays.

The mobility brought about by automobiles since World War II has led many to seek newer, grander facilities that are far away from downtown locations with their parking hassles and other issues. Commercial gyms have made it difficult for YWCA and YMCA fitness programs to compete, whether on equipment, hours or cost -- thus undercutting the traditional mainstays of not just programming, but organizational stability.

For it was from the ranks of those deeply involved in the organization's programs that Board members were drawn, giving both fundraising clout and endowment potential.

Though the changes and the time have been hard, tough and scrappy organizations like both Plainfield's YWCA and YMCA have countered by reorganizing themselves, refreshing their board structures, re-imagining their target audiences, re-inventing their programs and reaching out to the community in new and exciting ways.

Plainfield's YWCA came closer to closing, with a very bleak future by 2008 amid threatening foreclosure by its lenders.

TWIN Program honorees.
A reorganization under the leadership of the Rev. Gary Kirkwood of Kings Temple Ministries has brought the 105-year-old organization back from the precipice.

Revitalizing old programs such as fitness and childcare have greatly broadened both the membership and program clientele. The famed TWIN (Tribute to Women in Industry) program is being expanded with a mentoring component, a computer lab and a grant to provide ESL services. And entirely new services are being offered, such as the opening of the Terrace Room Cafe (Monday through Friday, 8 AM - 7 PM) and special discounts for veterans.

You can read full details of these and other exciting developments in an anniversary appeal issued by executive director Kirkwood on the YWCA's blog (see here).

I plan to visit the YWCA soon and get a tour of some of the physical improvements as well as its innovative programs and will write the visit up. In the meantime, I hope you will join me in supporting this vital organization as it continues to serve the children and families of the Plainfield area into its second century.

A $105 contribution -- or any amount you can afford -- will be greatly appreciated and will help sustain this great organization. Contributions may be may payable to the YWCA of Central NJ and mailed to 232 East Front Street, Plainfield, NJ 07060.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Proof positive Mayor Sharon is an alien visiting from another planet

From the Mayor's 'welcome' on the city website.
It's summer and time to take a break from the rota of serious malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in Plainfield.

How about p
roof positive Mayor Sharon is an alien visiting from another planet?

Check out Mayor Robinson-Briggs' 'welcome letter' on the home page of the city's schizoid TWO websites (.gov here, and .com here), where you will be enlightened by learning that Plainfield is 'a 35 minute commute by railroad' from New York City, at least on the planet where she lives.

I hope one of Plainfield Today's helpful readers will alert New Jersey Transit to the error in all their Raritan Valley Line schedules.

As the Mayor is so fond of saying: GROWTH BY UNITY ... IN INFORMATION!

NJT's version of reality differs from the Mayor's ... somewhat.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dan's 2001 Toyota Echo is for sale

'Little Sir Echo' is available for his next owner.

Any Plainfield
Today readers looking for a good used car -- a 'station' car, a car for a departing college student, or a first car for a young driver?

Now that Dan has his automatic transmission wheels organized, his trusty stick shift Toyota Echo is available for its next owner.

I love this car and expected to drive it to 350,000 or more miles -- Toyotas just keep going and going -- and am sad to be parting ways with it.

Here are some details --

  • 2001 Toyota Echo
  • 4-door Sedan
  • Champagne color
  • 5-speed manual shift
  • AM/FM/CD
  • New clutch; water pump, fuel pump and brakes replaced/done in last year
  • New hub caps
  • Usual tiny dings plus one on passenger door where someone slammed an SUV door
  • Apx 175,000 miles
I consider it to be in very good condition.

Toyota Echos are highly desirable, and the 4-cylinder engine is surprisingly peppy; Carfax suggests they should sell above the Blue Book prices.

Car is available immediately. Parked in my drive at 661 West 7th Street.

Call or text me if interested at 908.448.7688.

Carfax report available.

Asking $2,000.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Why a forensic audit of Recreation is needed and what it night uncover

A rumored years-long fee scam might have netted
participants more than $100,000 in cash.
[Does Dan owe Rec an apology? Checking the pools out again Monday afternoon, it seems they may all be open or on the cusp. But who will apologize for Recreation's financial affairs?]

lainfield sweltered in 90-plus degree heat Sunday afternoon, yet only one of the city's three swimming pools -- Rushmore -- appeared to be open a third of the way through the summer pool season. Not a soul was on hand at Hannah Atkins and there was no one in the pool at Seidler Field though three or four fully-clothed teen boys were somehow inside the fence and lounging around the lifeguard's perch.

This failure of Recreation to deliver on one of the basic services expected of it is just one more indicator that things are out of control and there is no sense of accountability.

Annoying as the failure to provide expected services is -- brought to the public's attention by Councilor Williams (see here) and Olddoc (see here) -- there is an ugly story making the rounds concerning Recreation and money -- a lot of money.

Councilor Williams reports what might be a scam of charging vendors for the Parade and Concert venues inflated 'permit fees' per a notice being circulated by the Recreation Division. She has asked for the Council to be apprised of this and what it means.

Meanwhile, Olddoc tangentially alludes to yet another possible scam, this one involving 'permits' for soccer play at Rushmore Field.

And that is the ugly story that is circulating --

There are a good number soccer teams that have been using the ballfield at Rushmore for soccer games for a number of years, for exorbitant fees which have not found their way into the city coffers. In fact, there was a well-attended game taking place when I drove by on Sunday afternoon.

The story is that one person managed to book the field through permits with Recreation for the entire season since 2005 through this past fall. This person allegedly paid Recreation the merely stipulated fee but charged the teams an exorbitant fee IN CASH ONLY for playing privileges.

Estimated receipts ran to $20,000 per season, funneled to this person who made the arrangements with Recreation -- that would be upwards of $140,000 since 2005.

The teams finally became so disgusted with this treatment, especially when they learned that it far exceeded any legitimate fees for use of the field, that they threatened to go to the Union County Prosecutor with records detailing the ripoff.

This, evidently, was sufficient to cause Recreation to 'correct' the permitting policy, terminating the long-term arrangement that had been so profitable to one person. Now that the teams are being treated fairly, I am told they are reluctant to press the matter with the Prosecutor.

A question in search of an answer is whether anyone connected with Recreation profited from this alleged long-term scam.
While some folks have smiled to themselves every time resident Bob Darden calls for a forensic audit of the City, issues with the Recreation Division's finances suggest that a forensic audit is merited, long overdue and necessary to correct financial abuses.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Hidden Plainfield IDed: Modesty, with a view

An undiscovered neighborhood faces into the Park.
As yesterday's sole commenter wrote, the Hidden Plainfield home is at 1223 Rose Street, across from Cedar Brook Park's Shakespeare Garden.

The homes on both Rose Street and Arlington Avenue that face the park are a neighborhood waiting to be discovered. Mostly modest in size, with smaller lots, they are -- even by Plainfield standards -- highly affordable.

And having the park just across the street, mowed and tended to by the County, is like being next to a country club. It always surprised me when I was busy in real estate that so few folks looked into these homes when considering Plainfield.

Where shall we go next week?

Modesty, with a view.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hidden Plainfield: Modesty itself, but with a view

Modesty itself ... with a view.

Having wheels again means that Dan can go begin checking out Plainfield's interesting neighborhoods once again for the Hidden Plainfield series.

Today's home is modesty itself, simple and unadorned with a small room or two in the attic that would have been designed for expansion as needed.

What I find especially interesting is that the home is part of a neighborhood with a view that I consider among Plainfield's little gems -- though basically undiscovered by real estate professionals.

Where is this little bit of Hidden Plainfield? Answer tomorrow.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dan is back in the saddle again

Dan with his 'new' Mercury Mystique and the old stick shift
Toyota Echo in the background.

Plainfield Today readers were more than helpful when I posted that I would need to exchange stick shift Toyota Echo for an automatic a few weeks ago. Folks came forward with everything from offers of vehicles to tips on where to shop locally for a good used car.

Thanks to reader Craig, Dan is now saddled up with a ruby red Mercury sedan, and feels just as happy as Gene Autry loping along with his horse, Champion.

Craig had brought the car from Ohio to Plainfield to use as a 'station car' between his house and Netherwood Station, where he commuted into the city daily, and managed to put only 7,000 miles on it in two years.

With his job demanding more time, he relocated back to NYC and no longer needed the car.

It is a peppy V6, fully equipped (with even power mirrors?!), and in short what used to be called a 'creampuff'.

Needless to say, I'm glad to be back on the road.

Tomorrow you will see some evidence of that with the return of 'Hidden Plainfield'.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Saturday's exhibits, car show, firefighter BBQ will keep you busy

A scene from last year's Firefighters' Community Appreciation BBQ.

A pair of exhibits bookend a busy Saturday of Plainfield events this weekend --

11 AM - 1 PM
The Plainfield Public Library's annual summer invitational photo exhibit kicks off with an opening reception. This year's featured local photographers are David Beverly, Elizabeth King and Bernice Paglia. The exhibit runs through September 29th in the Room 2 Gallery at the Library, Park Avenue at 8th Street.
5 PM - 7 PM
Twenty-seven winners of this year's duCret Annual Spring Art Show will be honored at a reception opening an exhibit of their works at Swain Galleries. Students representing Plainfield, South Plainfield, Piscataway and other neighboring communities are showing 44 diverse works of art.  Besides oils and pastels and other traditional techniques, stained glass and some unusual art forms such as 3-D and graphic illustration. Swain Galleries is at the corner of Watchung Avenue and East 7th Street.
3 PM - 9 PM
The annual Firefighters' Community Appreciation BBQ. Plainfield's firefighter organizations, The Plainfield Vulcan Pioneers, FOA #207 and FBA #7 join forces to treat the community to a free BBQ in appreciation, giving back to the citizens of the Plainfield community, which they proudly serve. A family-friendly event; all are welcome. On Church Street, between East Front and East 2nd Streets. You can see a video of last year's BBQ on YouTube here.
11 AM - 5 PM
The Queen City Car, Truck and Bike Show will take place alongside Pollo Campero, at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and East Front Street. Trophies, food, DJ. Cars: $20, Bikes: $10. Look on Facebook for more info.
You'll be guaranteed a great time mingling and munching at these four events.

    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    PMUA ratepayer relief 'reform': Shadow or substance?

    Tuesday evening was the maiden meeting of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority's new executive director, former Plainfield corporation counsel Dan Williamson.

    Among the items at the brief (approximately twenty minutes) business meeting was a resolution presented by the PMUA's legal counsel Leslie London to submit a draft proposal for legislation granting ratepayers of local utilities authorities (such as the PMUA) a tax deduction on sewer rates as assessed.

    The argument of critics of the PMUA has been that before the authority was established and sewer rates were part of the property owner's tax bill, they were allowed to be tax-deductible.

    Ms. London underscored that the draft legislation was a proposal only, and the resolution -- which was adopted unanimously -- would only guarantee that the proposal would be forwarded to Assemblyman Jerry Green for his review and consideration.

    Mr. Williamson, who had promised when his impending appointment became public knowledge that he would undertake to address ratepayer concerns once he assumed the director's chair, appears to be making good on his word.

    It is fair, though, to ask whether this is more shadow than substance.

    Referring draft legislation to Assemblyman Green is painless as far as the PMUA goes, and needn't go any further in order for the agency to defuse ratepayer resentment over the issue. Score one for Williamson.

    As for Assemblyman Green, while he may simply read and ignore the proposal, he stands to also gain by at least introducing it as a bill into the Assembly. This would typically involve rounding up at least one co-sponsor (which should not be that hard to do since ratepayers of other local authorities would be affected) and having the bill logged in.

    Green would score a point with ratepayers for having done at least this much, whatever the proposal's fate in the Legislature (my guess is that it would not be referred to his committee), and that certainly would stand him in good stead when he is up for re-election next year.

    The real issue, of course, is whether any of this Kabuki theater means anything of substance to the ratepayers, since the tax deduction in question is a matter of IRS regulations and the NJ Legislature's writ runs only to matters concerning New Jersey.

    In any event, my hunch is that this new approach by the PMUA -- which was just as available to Mr. Watson as to Mr. Williamson, though differences in personality and approach may have governed their different tacks -- is likely to take some of the steam out of the anti-PMUA forces.

    Coupled with Mayor Robinson-Briggs' adoption of the age-old British parliamentary tactic of studying a question to death which Bernice (see here) and Olddoc (see here) documented this week (will the report be published in the famous 'Blue Book' format?), I can see the PMUA receding in political importance.

    Providing, that is, that rates are either held steady or reduced.

    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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