The needler in the haystack.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Plainfield gets (re)organized


Right after New Year's, Plainfield
gets re-organized to take care of business. Here are some important reorganization meetings --

CITY COUNCIL
Plainfield City Council reorganizes Thursday, January 3, at 7:00 PM in the Courthouse/Council Chambers at East 4th Street and Watchung Avenue. Councilors Adrian Mapp and Tracey Brown will be seated and Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs will deliver the annual 'State of the City' address. The agenda for the meeting is available online here.
UNION COUNTY FREEHOLDERS
The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reorganizes Sunday, January 6 at Noon in the Courtroom of Assignment Judge Karen M. Cassidy at the Union County Courthouse. Plainfield's own Freeholder Linda Carter will be sworn in as the Freeholder Chairman for 2013.
PLAINFIELD BOARD OF ED
Newly elected members of the Plainfield Board of Education will be seated at the Board's reorganization meeting set for Monday, January 7, at 8:00 PM in the Conference Room of Plainfield High School, 950 Park Avenue. As of today, the agenda is not yet available, but you can check later here.
All meetings are open to the public. Reorganization meetings are when routine organizational matters such as election of officers and the awarding of certain contracts (attorneys, engineers, insurance firms, etc.) take place.

Those who follow closely may be able to align some contract awards with contributions made to candidates' election funds (if you know the maiden names of spouses, in-laws, business partners and friends).

Note: the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority reorganizes annually at its February meeting.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

PMUA schedules change for 2013

Click on above map for a printable version.
 
Plainfield
ers by now know better than to assume the PMUA collection schedules will simply roll over into the new year, and 2013 is no exception.

GARBAGE COLLECTION

There is some reshuffling of schedules -- the PMUA cites a variety of reasons -- so pay attention. It seems that Zones 2, 7, 9 and 10 will be affected.

Mondays and Thursdays in 2013: Zones 3, 4, 6, 9, 10.

Tuesdays and Friday in 2013: Zones 1, 2, 5, 7, 8.

RECYCLABLES

The entire city will have a recyclables pickup on Wednesday, January 2. But after that point, each zone will see collection on a bi-weekly basis. Zones 3, 4, 6, 9, and 10 will have collection on the same day. Zones 1, 2, 5, 7, and 8 will have their collections at the same time. Be sure to print out or save your schedule from the newsletter you received in the mail and check to make sure your putouts are done correctly. You won't want to incur a fine for forgetting.
The PMUA 2013 collection schedule can be found on page 2 of the current newsletter, available from the PMUA website here. If you are accustomed to downloading the document from the city's website, do not be misled this time around: though the banner headline indicates you should click, you will find that it is not linked to any downloadable document.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Early New Years party and sale at Swain's today

 

Plainfield's
Swain Galleries is ending the year with an early New Year's celebration and sale today.

Visitors to the galleries will find light refreshments and beverage being offered between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. All Christmas merchandise is offered at 50% off.

Swain Galleries is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking in the Watchung Avenue lot.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Jerry Green and John Campbell in deal for mayor's race?

 
Imagine the look on Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' face when she arrived late at Sen. Ray Lesniak's Christmas party this past Saturday to see Assemblyman Jerry Green, GOP 'Kingmaker' John Campbell, his wife Wilma -- power behind the Plainfield Board of Ed, and son 'Little John' disappear from the party for a private confab with Lesniak.

'Now what the f*** is going on', the Mayor is said to have muttered.

What, indeed!

Jerry Green, as chair of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee has been dithering for weeks over whether he will give the Democratic line in next year's mayoral race to a candidate or allow a so-called 'open primary' where those interested run against each other and there is no official Democrat designated.

Both Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and Council President Adrian Mapp have announced their candidacies. Robinson-Briggs has gone so far as to open a campaign headquarters on Watchung Avenue, across from City Hall.

It seemed to those watching things unfold that Green was leaning toward not giving the line to either contender, opting instead for an 'open' primary.

As with any astute politician, it's all about control -- namely, control over contracts and jobs.

Green had originally picked Robinson-Briggs back in 2005 and the 'wheeling' of over $300,000 into her election campaign guaranteed work for several vendors over the next few years. However, Green has admitted in recent years that Robinson-Briggs pays him little heed and runs the show as she sees fit (or unfit, depending on your point of view). There does not seem to be much prospect she would be more respectful of his 'suggestions' if she were re-elected.

As for Mapp, while Green was grateful for New Dems support in getting President Obama re-elected, he is wary of Mapp because of his strong independent streak and the New Dems' identification with 'honest government' policies. On the other hand, Mapp is well-regarded in County circles as an informed and able elected official who is a man of his word. Green also keeps a wary eye on the New Dems who for years have mounted good government efforts and managed to dominate the Council for the past four years.

So, why turn to the Republicans for an answer to his dilemma?

First of all, this is not the first time Green has turned to the GOP. Robinson-Briggs herself was a Republican and a member of the GOP City Committee when recruited by Green to run for mayor.

Secondly, Green is notorious for not developing talented young men and women into leadership tracks. In fact, quite the opposite -- he is mostly content to retread superannuated retainers.

As for 'Young John' Campbell, he is a well-educated, personable young man. Completely without political experience, he nevertheless has had the sense -- considering it's Plainfield -- to register as a Democrat.

So, was the little private confab about getting Lesniak's buy-in?

And then, of course, there is the matter of what is in it for Weiner Lesniak, the Senator's well-connected (and pricey) law firm.

Can we expect to see Weiner Lesniak among those awarded contracts at the Board of Ed's reorganization meeting on January 7th?

Or will it have to wait for January 2014, when the City Council reorganizes and Green's presumptive candidate 'Young John' Campbell would -- he plans -- be sworn in as mayor?

Or will it be both?

Unless, of course, Plainfield voters have a different idea about how things should go down.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Plainfield Dairy Queen featured in tonight's '(Impractical) Jokers' episode

  
Plainfield's Dairy Queen store on South Avenue is the venue of one of tonight's pranks during an '(Impractical) Jokers' episode on TruTV (see more about the program here, and here).

DQ;s Donna Albanese invites all to a viewing party at the Dairy Queen outlet on South Avenue to see what the Jokesters have done to DQ's (unknowing) customers.

The show starts at 10:00 PM, so be sure to arrive early for a seat. Donna would also appreciate an RSVP by email to plainfielddq@comcast.net.

A special treat will be a Blizzard sale: Buy one and get one for 99¢.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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PMUA rate hearing tonight

 
Plainfield's Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) will hold its annual rate hearing this evening at 6:00 PM at PMUA headquarters, 127 Roosevelt Avenue (corner of East 2nd Street).

If the previous two years are any indication, there will be a copious presentation by consultants and proposed new rates for solid waste, shared services and sewer fees for calendar year 2013.

It remains to be seen if a rumored split on the Board of Commissioners about the rate changes will surface publicly or not.

A special meeting has also been advertised, set for 6:30 PM, which will take up ceremonial resolutions of thanks to departing Chief Financial Officer James Perry, who will retire as of December 31; and Commissioner Rev. Tracey Brown, who leaves her seat on the PMUA to take up her place on the City Council, effective January 1, 2013.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kwanzaa event Saturday


Brilliantly colored Kente cloth will be among items available.

Plainfield's Division of Recreation will mount the city's 12th annual Kwanzaa celebration Saturday, December 29, from 1:00 - 6:00 PM at the Washington School cafetorium.

There will be music, dance, poetry, African storytelling and a traditional candle ceremony. Attendees will also be able to shop an African market place of vendors offering crafts and other items.

The event is free and open to the entire community. Doors open at Noon.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays to all

EVERY BEST WISH

TO ALL

FOR THE HOLIDAYS

AND THE NEW YEAR!

Monday, December 24, 2012

(Map) Netherwood Heights luninaria display tonight


Map indicates areas for best viewing of luminaria.
 
Plainfield's Netherwood Heights neighbors offer their annual holiday gift of light to all for the 7th time this evening.

The historic district's annual luminaria display returns at twilight to light up the winding streets of the neighborhood. The map above gives you a good idea of where to drive or walk to appreciate the views.

For more information, see the Netherwood Heights website (here) or the article in today's online Courier (here).




-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Plainfield Crime Stats: 2011


2011 Plainfield crime stats, as tracked by NJ Spotlight.
 
Plainfield readers can check out a visual presentation of the FBI's most recent crime data on New Jersey -- the 2011 Uniform Crime Report -- in a visual format courtesy of the good folks at NJ Spotlight (see here).

You will notice that there is a two-year comparison, 2011 and the previous year.

What you will not notice is a separate entry for homicides, which are grouped under 'violent' crimes along with rape and aggravated assault.

Why can't we have more current crime data, mapped to the community, as reported today by Maria Pellum (see here)?

The answer is that we can, if the Robinson-Briggs administration wants to provide it.
 
Next question?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Elm-West Holiday Party today


Council President Adrian Mapp and his wife Amelia will host a party for children of members of the Elm-West Residents Association on today from 3:00 - 6:00 PM at the Elm-West Community Center. (Note this is a correction of my previous post. The center is entered via the driveway directly across from the 4th Street side of Shiloh Baptist Church.)
 

Unwrapped toys for any age and gift cards usable in area stores are most welcome. Donations may be left at the home of Adrian and Amelia Mapp, 535 West 8th Street (leave at rear door is best) until Noon today. You can call (908) 577-0630 for further information.


The party will include distribution of the toys and gifts and light refreshments. All are welcome.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Grapefruit juice - drug interactions can be deadly


A breakfast favorite can be dangerous to your health.
 
Plainfield Today readers who enjoy grapefruit or grapefruit juice and who are also on prescription medications for a variety of conditions will want to know about the potential deadly effects of interactions between many drugs and the tasty citrus fruit.

A story in yesterday's New York Times (see here) highlighted the issue and was called to my attention by a reader.

As it happens, I have been washing down my morning doses of five prescription drugs with a 6 oz. glass of grapefruit juice for months now -- and two of my prescriptions (Amlodipine and Losartan) are among those negatively affected by grapefruit.


Dr. David Bailey, a Canadian researcher cited in the story has studied the interaction for many years and has a printable updated list of 85 drugs available online (see here, PDF).

If you are taking prescription medications for a variety of conditions -- high blood pressure, diabetes management, urinary tract and gastrointestinal issues and many other treatments -- and also enjoy grapefruit or grapefruit juice, you will want to read this timely article and check your meds against the list.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Special Council meeting tonight takes up vetoed ordinances

Plainfield's City Council meets in a special session at 7:00 PM this evening in the City Hall Library.

The primary business will be taking
up the Council's response to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' veto of three ordinances unanimously passed by the Council on December 10.

The ordinances would assert Council control over permitting outdoor events such as carnivals, including the setting of daily permit fees, 45-day pre-event registration, and other conditions.


The ordinances were in response to the fuss stirred up by a carnival permitted by Mayor Robinson-Briggs on very short notice at Hannah Atkins Playground in October.


In order to rescind the Robinson-Briggs' veto, the Council will have to pass override resolutions by a two-thirds majority of the full governing body (5 votes).


Additionally, there are ceremonial resolutions of condolence for the loss of Joe Gutenkauf and DPWUD Director Jackson's uncle Clarence Walker.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Map & schedule for final storm debris pickup


Detailed map and schedule available on city's website.
 
Plainfield's Division of Public Works has posted a map and schedule on the city's website detailing the schedule of the final round of pickups for debris from Superstorm Sandy.

Visit the website here (it is item 1 in the rotating marquee), or download and print out the map and schedule here.

Remember, this is the no-questions-asked opportunity to put out properly sized debris from the storm, including branches, trunks and other tree parts that have been property cut up and stacked curbside.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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'Hanging of The Greens' tonight at YWCA

 

Plainfield's YWCA of Central Jersey celebrates an old tradition -- the Hanging of the Greens -- with a new twist at this evening's annual holiday open house from 6:00 - 8:30 PM.

J Rome, Plainfield resident and winner of ABC-TV's Duets show will be featured performing for the delight of guests.

There will also be building tours featuring the newly renovated child care wing and opportunities to meet the new Director and staff. Known as Tyler Tot Day Drop, the new Y-affiliated center features more classrooms, extended hours, expanded ages, and uniforms.

There will also be karate and fitness demonstrations, fingerpainting and other fun activities for kids, and door prizes -- including fitness memberships and more.

All are invited to this free family-friendly event. Holiday refreshments will be served.

The YWCA of Central Jersey is at 232 East Front Street, at the corner of Church Street. Parking is available in the YWCA lot on Church and on the street. For more information on the YWCA, call (908) 756-3500 x128 or visit their website, ywcacnj.org/.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Embarrassing tussle over Council presidency


4th Ward Councilor Bridget Rivers.
 
There is always maneuvering in December over who will be Plainfield City Council president for the upcoming year.

The role is important because the Council president controls what gets put on the agenda, as well as the conduct of the public meetings.

In all my years of Council watching, while rumors (often accurate) have been rife in the leadup to the annual reorganization, the process has been hammered out by Council members among themselves and not in open discussion. The winner and the loser(s), however bruised, have almost always united in a unanimous vote at the reorganization meeting, with a pledge to work together during the ensuing year.

All that usual decorum was unceremoniously brushed aside at last night's Council meeting.

Word in the street for week's has been that Councilor Bridget Rivers will be next year's Council president. This would come as no surprise considering the seating of Mayor Robinson-Briggs' pastor, the Rev. Tracey Brown, as at-large councilor (replacing Annie McWilliams), will give the mayor a friendly majority on the Council.

With the exception of the brouhaha over the October carnival at Hannah Atkins Park, Rivers has been a solid ally of the mayor.

With both up for election in 2013, there are even rumors that the two will campaign jointly for re-election.

So it came as a dismaying surprise when three residents came to the table to plump for Rivers -- including disparaging remarks aimed at Councilor Williams by the Rev. Jason Greer.

Williams said that she was unaware Rivers was seeking the office as she received nothing in writing from Rivers on the subject, hence Williams submitted her own letter to fellow Council members outlining her reasons for being considered for the presidency.

Councilor Reid noted that he intended to support Rivers at the formal vote which will be taken at the reorg meeting in January.

This would leave one to surmise that what actually happened was that Rivers assured herself of four positive votes (herself, Reid, Greaves and councilor-elect Brown), which would give her a majority and never solicited the support of Councilors Mapp, Williams or Storch.

Having a claque promote one's candidacy in such a fashion as was witnessed last night betrays an amateurishness and lack of gravitas that will be troubling indeed if it becomes the norm of conduct in the upcoming year.

But at least it would guarantee interesting meetings -- even if they resemble 'Housewives of New Jersey' more than a legislative body.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Special Council meeting Thursday on vetoed ordinances

 
Plainfield City Council last night set a special meeting for this Thursday evening, 7:00 PM, in the City Hall Library (see notice from Clerk's office below).

The principal items of business are to take up the Council's response to Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' veto of three ordinances unanimously passed by the Council on December 10.


The ordinances would assert Council control over permitting outdoor events such as carnivals, including the setting of daily permit fees, 45-day pre-event registration, and other conditions.


The ordinances were in response to the fuss stirred up by a carnival permitted by Mayor Robinson-Briggs on very short notice at Hannah Atkins Playground in October.


In order to rescind the Robinson-Briggs' veto, the Council will have to pass override resolutions by a two-thirds majority of the full governing body (5 votes).


Additionally, there are ceremonial resolutions of condolence for the loss of Joe Gutenkauf and DPWUD Director Jackson's uncle Clarence Walker.




CORPORATION NOTICE
CITY OF PLAINFIELD
NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING
PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 2, SECTION 2:2-10(A) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD, 1971, A SPECIAL MEETING IS HEREBY CALLED BY THE PLAINFIELD CITY COUNCIL AT 7 o’clock P.M. ON thursday, december 20, 2012 IN THE CITY HALL LIBRARY, 515 WATCHUNG AVENUE, CITY OF PLAINFIELD, for the purpose of considering and acting upon THE FOLLOWING:
  1. COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION CONVEYING DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILY OF MR. CLARENCE WALKER.
  1. COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION CONVEYING DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO THE  FAMILY OF JOSEF C. GUTENKAUF.
  1. COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION OVERRIDING THE MAYOR’S VETO OF MC 2012-21 AS UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNING BODY ON DECEMBER 10, 2012.
  1. COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION OVERRIDING THE MAYOR’S VETO OF MC 2012-22 AS UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNING BODY ON DECEMBER 10, 2012.
  1. COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION OVERRIDING THE MAYOR’S VETO OF MC 2012-23 AS UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED BY THE GOVERNING BODY ON DECEMBER 10, 2012.
Formal Action may be taken.
BY ORDER OF THE PLAINFIELD
MUNICIPAL COUNCIL
ADRIAN O. MAPP, PRESIDENT
/S/S/   ABUBAKAR JALLOH, RMC
     MUNICIPAL CLERK 
DATED: PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY
         DECEMBER 17, 2012.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Holiday violence strikes Plainfield

 

Violence struck Plainfield overnight Sunday as we enter into the height of the Holiday period.

About 2:15 AM, I am told, a man was shot at least twice in the 700-block of East Front Street. The man was taken to RWJ and is expected to survive. Police are still trying to determine if the shooting was gang- or drug-related. No word on whether ShotSpotter identified the gunshots and/or their location.

Also overnight the same night, a man was stabbed in the 200-block of West Front Street. The victim apparently knew his attackers but is refusing to cooperate with police.

More as details emerge.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Council sets agenda for 2013 reorg tonight



Plainfield City Council meets tonight at 7:30 PM in the City Hall Library to set the agenda for the 2013 Reorganization meeting.

The agenda can be found online here.

Reorganization meetings of the City Council typically include the Mayor's nominations to various boards and commissions as well as to municipal judgeships.

The Council also adopts its schedule of meetings for the coming year, rules covering public comment at meetings, and -- now that the City is on a calendar fiscal year -- must adopt a temporary budget appropriation for running the city government until the 2013 budget is presented, reviewed and adopted.

Among the standard issue items that I did NOT see in the materials provided was the designation of the depository for the city's funds -- which normally amounts to something on the order of $28-30 million, if I recall properly.

Now, what's THAT about?


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yuletide by Candlelight at Crescent Presbyterian today

 

Plainfield's Crescent Concerts offers its fortieth 'Yuletide by Candlelight' concert at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church this afternoon at 5:00 PM.

Over the years, the Crescent Concerts organization has grown to include the Crescent Choral Society, a volunteer chorus that presents larger works; Crescent Singers, a smaller hand-picked group that usually sings a capella; and outside groups and soloists presenting under the Crescent Concerts umbrella.

This afternoon's concert, a gift to the comnunity in the holiday spirit, is presented by the Crescent Singers.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at the corner of East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking available in the church lot on First Place, at Swain Galleries and on the street. Information: (908) 756-2468 or visit the website at http://crescentconcerts.org/.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Newtown tragedy underscores the importance of disaster planning


Police and teachers lead Newtown students to safety.
(Photo: Danbury News-Times)
 
Along with other Plainfielders, I am in shock over the senseless carnage yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. Our hearts go out to the families of those whose children were lost and also to the loved ones of those teachers and other adults whose lives were taken.

As the news and reactions took over the radio waves yesterday, one WNYC listener who was a middle school teacher called in and made a valuable point: Schools that have emergency plans -- including lockdowns -- and perform drills throughout the year do an invaluable service for the children in their care in the case of incidents like yesterday's shootings.

While I can remember fire drills as a student (and even more recently as a patient at Norwood Terrace), and thinking of them as a pain in the butt, they undeniably prepare us for unforeseen circumstances by giving us a framework for responding and maximizing the safety of all involved.

As stories begin to emerge of how teachers handled the situation while the school was in turmoil and how the students lives were protected and ultimately saved, we can acknowledge not only their bravery but the wisdom of the administration in having plans in place.

I have been told by Plainfield school district employees that we, too, have plans in place and execute drills for the students on how to deal with unforeseen emergency situations.

I hope that we shall never have to put them into effect, but trust that if ever needed the students will be thankful that they put up with all the times the exercises seemed without point.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Drake House tree lighting, plus gift-giving opportunities


Plainfielders have three opportunities to celebrate and help make the holidays brighter for our neighbors --

Drake House Tree Lighting tonight

The Drake House 16th Annual Tree Lighting is tonight at 7:00 PM in the Ballroom on the second floor. Unwrapped toys and new clothing are welcome to be placed under the tree. All are invited to join in the tree lighting and carol sing, followed by light refreshments. The evening includes a guest appearance by Santa.
Firfighters Coat Drive

Members of Plainfield's FOA #207, FMBA #7 and the Vulcan Pioneers of Union County are gathering new winter coats, hats and gloves for distribution to four of the city's public schools: Washington, Stillman, Clinton and Cedarbrook.

New, unwrapped coats, gloves and hats may be dropped off at Fire Division Headquarters, West 4th Street at Central Avenue during work hours through December 17. Please do not remove size tags from items. Distribution will be made between December 17 and 20. For more information or to arrange your donation, contact Lt. Roderic Carson at (908) 753-3436.

Elm-West Holiday Party

Council President Adrian Mapp will host a party for children of members of the Elm-West Residents Association on Saturday, December 22, from 3:00 - 6:00 PM at the Liberty Community Center.
Unwrapped toys for any age and gift cards usable in area stores are most welcome. Donations may be left at the home of Adrian and Amelia Mapp, 535 West 8th Street (leave at rear door is best). You can call (908) 577-0630 for further information or to arrange a drop-off time.


The party will include distribution of the toys and gifts and light refreshments. All are welcome.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Charter Study Commission blog launches


The Commission's blog has a distinctive look.
 
Plainfield's Charter Study Commission wasted no time in getting its blog up and running, under the editorship of commissioner John Stewart Jr., vice chair of the commission. You can follow the Commission's progress here.

The blog is set up to keep readers informed of the Commission's progress, including meeting announcements, agendas and minutes. Additionally, there are links to resources including both Plainfield's current charter and various downloads from Rutgers' Center for Government Services helpful in understanding the process.

There is also an option for leaving your contact information for the Commission -- giving them the ability to keep interested residents immediately informed about postings to the blog, meeting dates, etc.

You can read my report on the Commission's organizational meeting here, and previous posts here and here.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rahway example underscores outrageousness of PMUA $1M settlement



The $1 million severance package for former Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) executives Eric Watson and David Ervin came to mind at once when I read of the settlement made with Rahway's city administrator and redevelopment director Peter H. Pellissier (refresh your memory on the PMUA matter here).

Rahway's City Council on Monday agreed to a severance package of $163, 344, as reported by blogger Mark Hrywna on his Rahway Rising blog (see
here).

It should be noted that Pellissier has served since 1991 -- with the exception of four years -- and as redevelopment director was responsible for tens of millions of dollars of developmennt and redevelopment in Rahway over the years.


Despite bummers such as the failed Dornoch project (another development scheme of Plainfield's Senior Center developer, Glen Fishman), Pellissier oversaw many successful mixed use projects that have transformed downtown Rahway, plus an aggressive plan for the development of an arts district.


Given the value that Pellissier has brought to Rahway, the skimpiness of the $163K severance package contrasts sharply with the lavishness of the $1 million settlement on Watson and Ervin that was personally engineered by then newly-appointed Commissioner Malcolm R. Dunn and alternate Cecil Sanders, with help from Commissioner Alex Toliver.


(An interesting sidelight is that Pellissier's agreement was by a 6-0 vote of the Rahway City Council, with three members absent. Among the absent was 5th Ward Councilor Jennifer Wenson-Maier, whom Plainfielders will recall with varying amounts of contempt as Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' first Department of Public Works and Urban Development director.)


Nor are Plainfield ratepayers finished with unpleasant changes at the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA).


With a new alignment of the City Council after January 1 and the swearing-in of Robinson-Briggs' pastor, the Rev. Tracey Brown, as councilor at-large, we can expect the Mayor to once again move the appointment of Sanders as a permanent member and the demotion of former mayor Harold Mitchell to alternate status. Brown, who attended her last meeting as a PMUA Commissioners on Tuesday, will have to step down as she assumes her council seat, and that PMUA vacancy will also have to be filled.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Charter Study Commission's choices outlined


Plainfield's Charter Study Commission got to work Tuesday evening with its organizing meeting.

Special guest and consultant to the commission Dr. Ernest Reock, retired director of Rutgers' Center for Government Services, outlined the possible recommendation outcomes of the five-member commission's work --

  1. Keep the existing special charter 'as is';

  2. Recommend one of the Faulkner Act options;

  3. Tweak the existing special charter -- or write a completely new one; and

  4. Make advisory recommendations to the governing body.
If the recommendation is one of the Faulkner Act 'off the shelf' options, the proposal would go directly to Plainfield voters as a binding referendum and the Commission would be discharged. Passage of the referendum question would seal the charter change.

If the decision is to tweak (or completely rewrite) the current special charter, the governing body would have to petition the Legislature for the change. Upon receiving a 2/3 vote in each house, the change would need the governor's signature to take effect. The Charter Study Commission would remain in place until a change was either made or rejected.

The final possibility is that the Commission could make advisory recommendations to the governing body, leaving the question of adopting changes up to it.

Reock pointed out that the Commission has nine months from the date of the election's certification to get its work done, which has been shortened by the delays caused as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

The Commission is subject to the Sunshine Law, and its meetings will be open to the public, as well as making provision for public comment at all meetings. The work will proceed in several phases (studying Plainfield's charter, comparing other forms of government, drafting a final report) and include both public MEETINGS, at which the Commission will explain its work to the public, and public HEARINGS, at which the Commission will gather input and feedback from residents.

It is not anticipated that issues allowing for executive (closed) sessions will crop up. Because of the Sunshine Law requirements, subcommittees will be composed of two members each, and in the case of visiting other communities for fact-gathering the rule of two will also apply.

The Commission chose the following officers by acclamation --

  • Chair: Rick Smiley
  • Vice Chair: John Stewart, Jr.
  • Secretary: Mary Burgwinkle
  • Ass't Secretary: Marie Davis
  • Treasurer: Jeanette Criscione
Councilors Adrian Mapp, Cory Storch and Rebecca Williams were in the audience. Mapp and Storch thanked those who stood for election and congratulated the Commission on getting started; Mapp added that the Robinson-Briggs administration intends to put a $20,000 budget line in the 2013 budget proposal for the Commission.

The Commission's next meeting is set for Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 7:30 PM at City Hall Library.


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PMUA Board, Charter Study Commission meetings tonight


Two meetings of interest to Plainfielders tonight --

PMUA COMMISSIONERS

The Commissioners have scheduled a meeting for 6:00 PM this evening at PMUA Headquarters, 127 Roosevelt Avenue (corner of East 2nd Street).

I can find no agenda for tonight's meeting online.


The 2013 Solid Waster and Sewer budgets were introduced at a special meeting held at 10:00 AM November 20. You will note that was a weekday morning -- not exactly user-friendly. The public notice for that special meeting is online here, and appeared in the Ledger's November 19 edition. Not a whole lot of sunlight going on here.


The rate hearing for the 2013 rates is scheduled for Thursday, December 27, also 6:00 PM at PMUA Headquarters. The online notice is here, but it beats me how to interpret the 'correction' in rates the notice speaks of since the ad simply prints them both without identifying which is which.


Visitors to the agency's website (see here) will find it has undergone a quirky makeover. The page width is set unusually wide, meaning users have to scroll left to right to see both the rotating news/announcements and the home page. I find the menus across the top of the page nearly unworkable -- the options disappear when you try to move the mouse over the menu. These are improvements?

CHARTER STUDY COMMISSION

Plainfield's newly elected Charter Study Commission holds its organizational meeting tonight at 7:00 PM in the City Hall Library.

The five duly elected members will be sworn in. The Commission will organize itself with the election of a chair and other officers, the setting of a meeting schedule, and the adoption of rules of order.


I have been told that Ernest Reock has been invited as a special guest. Reock, whose nickname is 'Mr. State Government', is the state's expert on all manner of local government minutiae -- including charter study commissions. (You can read more about Reock here and here.)


Plainfield is one of three New Jersey communities currently undertaking charter studies. The other two are Springfield (more here) and Asbury Park (more here). In addition, Cranford is also considering undertaking a charter study (more here).


-- Dan Damon [follow]

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