The needler in the haystack.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Lively discussion at Charter Study Commission last night


Two guest interviewees at Plainfield's Charter Study Commission made for a lively discussion at Thursday evening's session. After being interviewed separately, both took the table to answer questions from the audience which included a half dozen young men and women from PHS who have recently become engaged with the political process.

James White, Township Administrator for the Township of East Brunswick represented the Mayor-Council option available under the Faulkner Act and Christopher Raths, Township Administrator for Roxbury Township explained the Council-Manager option that is also available.

East Brunswick's Mayor-Council form (sometimes called the 'strong mayor option') most closely resembles Plainfield's special charter. Under Roxbury's Council-Manager form, the Manager is the true executive for the municipal government, while the Mayor is primarily a ceremonial office and presides over the council meetings.

Both men have deep experience and were complementary in their emphases. Raths is a strong proponent and very capable explainer of the strengths of the Council-Manager form, while Smith found the Mayor-Council form quite workable.

Both jointly emphasized several points --

  • Local government works best when both elected officials and administrative leadership understand their role and function and 'play by the rules';

  • Local government works best when policies are jointly decided by all responsible;

  • Local government works best when those charged with executing policy do so professionally;

  • There will always be personality frictions -- the point is to manage them (no form of government will eliminate them);

  • Open communications are key to building good working relationships.
Raths noted that good managers learn to publicly take the blame for an issue or mistake, and give the Council credit when an outcome is upbeat. This complemented Smith's idea that 'we [administrators] live behind the scenes'.

Their upbeat views of their skill sets and their particular forms of government (each of which is an option for Plainfield) helped me to see more clearly how dysfunctionality in Plainfield's governance is only partly explainable by the limitations of its charter.

Fixing that dysfunctionality will mean more than just 'fixing' the city's charter, but I believe it can be done.

If there's a will, there's a way.





-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Charter Study Commission interviews two Faulkner Act officials tonight

 

Plainfield's Charter Study Commission continues its study and discussion of options available to the City with two interviews at this evening's meeting, both from representatives of two Faulker Act communities.

James White, Township Administrator for the Township of East Brunswick will explain the operation of the Mayor-Council option available under the Faulkner Act. Christopher Raths, Township Administrator for Roxbury Township will discuss the Council-Manager option that is also available under the Faulkner Act. You may learn more about East Brunswick here, and Roxbury Township here.

The Mayor-Council form (sometimes called the 'strong mayor option') most closely resembles Plainfield special charter. Under the Council-Manager form, the Manager is the rue executive for the municipal government, while the Mayor is primarily a ceremonial office and presides over the council meetings.

Last week, Dr. Ernest Reock, New Jersey's go-to guy on forms of local government gave a fascinating overview of the history of development of local government in New Jersey and a brief summary of the many choices of recommendations available to the Charter Study Commission.

Working toward a proposed submission of the final report by early August, the CSC will wind up its interviews within the next couple of weeks, to be followed by a Public Hearing to gather input from residents and then enter the final phase of deliberations and drafting the Commission's report.

Tonight's meeting gets under way at 7:30 PM in the City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Avenue. Parking and entrance in the rear. The public is most welcome and will have opportunities to ask questions of the interviewees as well as make general comments.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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mmm

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Did Sharon personally profit from $.5M Teppers basement project?


Wall left untouched, debris left behind ... questions, questions, questions...

Did Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs profit personally in any way from the breathtakingly incomplete Teppers basement 'rough out'?

The question came to mind when several photos and a video of the still-secret project that were taken a couple of months aga recently came my way.

One glimpse and I could see why former Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson reneged on a pledge to then-Council President Annie McWilliams to allow the Council and the public to take a walkthrough during the Council's June 2010 retreat (see reports here, and here).




This is 'roughed out'?
 

... an unfinished ceiling...


Is it any surprise the management views it as a storage area?
 


No roughing out here...
Everyone always knew that the $460,000 grant secured by Sen. Frank Lautenberg was to 'rough out' the approximately 15,000+ square foot basement, which has been deeded to the City in perpetuity as part of the Horizons at Plainfield redevelopment project.

However, several of the photos show apparently untouched walls and ceilings and piles of construction debris evidently left behind.

Among the questions that these photos suggest need to be resolved in this $460,000 matter are --

  • The proposed size and scope of the project;
  • Plan(s) on which the work was based;
  • The bid process, including advertising;
  • Fiscal controls that were put in place for the project;
  • Quality of materials used;
  • Quality of workmanship;
  • Speed with which the money was spent;
  • Proof of fiscal oversight of expenditure of funds; and
  • Speed with which the grant funds were drawn down.
Annoyingly -- though perhaps understandably, considering the City has yet to put the space to use -- one area is used as storage space by the building's management. And I am told that jacks supporting the extra weight from the laundromat in the front of the first floor have been installed, evidently without the required permission from the City.

With confidence in the Robinson-Briggs administration's performance at such a low point, this project seems to me to demand a forensic audit in order to uncover financial misdoings, if any, and resolve outstanding questions.

But first, the Council should demand a public walkthrough at the earliest possible moment. The taxpayers deserve no less.






-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Last minute changes to Plainfield's 2013 Budget deliberations



Per a notice from Plainfield Municipal Clerk Jalloh received by email Tuesday afternoon, the budget deliberations schedule is changed as follows --



DEPT / DIV

DATE
TIME
LOCATION
CANCELLED

Tues., May 28 CANCELLED
General Government / Capital
Budget / Other

Wed.. May 29 7:00 PM City Hall Library
515 Watchung Avenue
Joint Meeting:
Citizens Budget Advisory Comm
& Admin and Finance Comm
Budget Amendments Discussion

Thurs., June 6 7:30 PM Planning Conference
Room, City Hall
515 Watchung Avenue
Special Meeting: Possible Budget Amendments

Agenda-fixing Session

Tues., June 11 7:30 PM Council Chambers /
Courtroom
325 Watchung Avenue
Public Hearing on Amendments

Possible Budget Adoption
Regular Meeting

Tues., June 17 8:00 PM Council Chambers /
Courtroom
325 Watchung Avenue
The public is welcome at all budget deliberation sessions.




-- Dan Damon [follow]

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'Shakespeare In Bloom' this Saturday


When in bloom, the Shakespeare Garden is an irresistible
draw for painters and photographers.
Plainfield Garden Club members will host the group's annual 'Shakespeare In Bloom' event this Satuday, June 1, from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM at the garden in Cedar Brook Park.

Founded in 1915, the club is a member of the Garden Clubs of America and has taken on the responsibility of maintaining the Shakespeare Garden for the public's enjoyment since it was first laid out in 1927 as part of the Olmsted-designed Union County Parks system. The Shakespeare Garden was recently added to the NJ Women's Heritage Trail (see here).

The first week of June is considered the prime moment in the garden's annual cycle of plants in bloom, so you can look forward to spectacular flowers, herbs and shrubs. Members will offer guided tours of the garden throughout the event, pointing out to visitors that all the plants featured in the elaborate beds are mentioned in Shakespeare's writings.

Plainfield's Shakespeare Garden is one fewer than a hundred worldwide celebrating the playwright and poet who helped shape the modern English language.

In addition to tours of the garden, visitors will be treated to art exhibited by students of Plainfield's own duCret School of Art, New Jersey's oldest independent fine arts school; and cameo performances by members of the Edison Valley Playhouse company, at the end of Woodland Avenue in Edison.

As always, there will be heirloom plants on sale and refreshments offered by members of the club. For more information, check the Plainfield Garden Club website here.

The event is free and everyone is cordially invited. Because Cedar Brook Park's roadways are one way, the best entry is either from Rose Street or from Park Drive, off Park Avenue. Parking is available along the park's roadways.





-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Observances this morning


At the dedication of the Veterans Memorial, 2001.
 
Plainfield residents will honor men and women fallen in service to our country this morning at 10 AM at the City Hall steps.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

The most/least informative lawn sign ever?



Sometimes too much information is not enough.
 
Plainfield
Today readers may have noticed the sign above in their journeys around the Queen City.

I was quite puzzled by the first few I saw, since riding by at 15 mph or so, all I could really tell about it was there was a phone number at the bottom, but even that was so small I couldn't take it all in; the rest was a blur of text, text, text.

So, I finally pulled over on busy West 7th Street, put on the blinkers, and walked back to inspect the sign at 7th and Central more closely.

The sign is promoting the Plainfield Public Schools' summer learning camp and in English on one side, Spanish on the other.

It handles information as if it were a flyer to be held in the hand and read slowly, containing every bit of information to be conveyed. Nothing important should be left out. And everything is important, therefore everything should be included.

Unfortunately, when people drive by a sign they only get a moment to take in everything that they must know to decide if it's important to them. If they can't figure it out instantly, they won't spend any time on it.

Too bad, since this is a worthwhile program.

One final note: though you are told more than you need to know about the hours (to drop in?) for the Family Success Center, plus the cryptic '21st CCLC/SBYS', nowhere are the start/end dates for the summer camp given.

I hope they sent flyers home with the kids, because these yard signs aren't going to be much help; sometimes too much information is not enough.



-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Swag from Sharon's Sharpton event shows she fibbed


Swag at Sharpton event shows Sharon fibbed.
Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs went to great lengths to try and portray her Friday event with about 75 attendees and that included a visit by Rev. Al Sharpton as a 'community forum' and not a campaign event.

Swag and handouts made available at the event tell another story. The emery boards and flyers distributed at the event show that it was, indeed, a campaign event after all.



Be reminded of Sharon and sidekick Kim Montford as you file your nails.

The view from Planet Sharon, unencumbered by facts.

Handouts included her standard campaign flyer...

...and a flyer in Spanish with questionable spelling
and a crudely added indication of her ballot position.

The Plainfield Public Schools were very wise to cancel permission to use Washington Community School once they found out Mayor Robinson-Briggs had hoodwinked them about the nature of the event.

Now Robinson-Briggs must show the expenses involved in her campaign reports, including what she paid for renting Faraone's nightclub or, if the space was donated, the equivalent amount as an 'in kind' contribution to her campaign. That is, if she ever files a true account of her campaign activities.

Far as I can see, Sharon fibbed. Again.






    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Dems work while Sharon defends 2010 actions


     
    Plainfield's Democrats were busily working on plans for the final days before the Primary Election on Friday evening, while half a block away incumbent Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs summoned Rev. Al Sharpton to her aid in defending her actions regarding a 2010 WBLS radio broadcast. (For reportage on the Sharpton event, see Bernice here and my post here).

    After hearing from candidates Linda Stender on the situation with the Legislature, Adrian Mapp on his vision for Plainfield, and Linda Carter on the tasks at hand in Union County, the seventy or so assembled city committee candidates and supporters got down to brass tacks about campaign details. (Coincidentally, Sharon's event drew only a similar number.)

    Using a spreadsheet detailing every phone call made, door knocked on and lawn sign distributed, Assemblyman Jerry Green, led a district-by-district review of support for the Democratic ticket, for Adrian Mapp for Mayor, and for Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

    The review was used to highlight the few areas where the Regular Democratic Organization needed to tighten up support in anticipation of the June 4 Primary.

    As the meeting ended, some attendees at Sharon's Sharpton event arrived and were debriefed on how that program went.

    Saturday morning, volunteers on the Mapp campaign were out knocking on doors by 10:00 AM and plan to work through the holiday weekend.

    June 4, election day, is just a week from Tuesday.






    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Were Plainfielders unfair to Rev. Al Sharpton?


    Everything about the 2010 WBLS broadcast leads back to Sharon, not Sharpton.
    Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs asserts in an online story from the Courier (see here) that her community meeting this evening will --
    ...provide the community of Plainfield with accurate information. There’s a lot of stuff that has been thrown out over the last three years that was pretty unfair to myself and the Rev. Al Sharpton...
    Her Honor is referring, of course, to the huge flap caused by her misappropriation of funds given by Investors Bank for the 2010 July 4 Parade to instead cover expenses to WBLS for the broadcast of the August 1, 2010 community forum (which included a brief appearance by Rev. Al Sharpton).

    In the ensuing investigation, Sharpton was only referenced in connection with the event as a participant (as for Plainfield Today, you will find I have only referenced Sharpton twice [see here] but have many references to the WBLS investigation [gathered together here].)

    Investors Bank provided testimony in the Council's investigation that the $15,000 check had been cut for July 4 Parade expenses. Investors did not at any point say that it had given Robinson-Briggs permission to apply the funds to any other purpose.

    Former City Administrator Bibi Taylor testified concerning the Keystone Cops atmosphere surrounding Robinson-Briggs' attempt to scrape together the funding as a deadline for pre-payment approached (see my report here). The focus of everything is the Mayor's actions, Sharpton is not a part of the story.

    No matter where one starts in the whole WBLS broadcast fiasco, all roads lead back to one person: Sharon. And it is Sharon, not Sharpton, whose record is on the line.

    And Democrats will make their decision on June 4.






    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Plainfield Dems rally tonight


    Mayoral candidate Adrian Mapp smiles down on an iconic
    Plainfield street corner.
    Tonight's rally for Plainfield candidates on the Regular Democratic Organization's line caps a week of nonstop meetings in the runup to the June 4 Primary Election.

    Assemblyman Jerry Green, chairperson of the local party, will gather the troops for a pep rally as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and the final week of campaigning.


    The highlight of the local campaign is the contest between Councilor Adrian Mapp and incumbent mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who is running off the line. Fourth Ward Councilor Bridget Rivers is unopposed. This year, Democrats will choose party candidates for offices ranging from Governor at the top of the ticket (Barbara Buono is the nominee) to neighborhood District leaders at the local level.

    68 men and women are on the ballot for District representatives in Plainfield's 34 voting districts. Assemblyman Green, Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Senator Nick Scutari are also up for the party line, as well as Plainfield's own Linda Carter, who this year serves as Chairperson of the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
     

    The meeting gets under way at 7:00 PM at campaign headquarters on West Front Street (next to the Dunkin' Donuts). Guests and supporters are most welcome.



    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Last minute chance for organic produce deliveries

    Plainfield resident John Brinkley sent along an email noting that Honey Brook Organic Farms is willing to provide boxed produce to Plainfield residents, providing twenty residents are willing to sign up and participate in the program.

    More information is available on the Netherwood Neighbors website (see here), including a registration form.

    But you  must hurry -- the deadline is tomorrow.


    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Sharpton skipping Sharon's campaign event


    Robinson-Briggs has invited popular MSNBC journalist
    Rev. Al Sharpton to her illegal campaign event.



    The Rev. Al Sharpton will not be making an appearance at Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' hastily organized, poorly publicized and illegal campaign event slated for Friday evening at Washington Community School, according to a source.

    The event, which Robinson-Briggs is trying to disguise as a 'community forum' first came to public attention at last Sunday's NAACP candidate forum and was reported by Bernice.

    Though Robinson-Briggs has taken great pains to make sure the event is clearly NOT city-sponsored (no use of the city seal or listing of the city as a sponsor), there are clear indications that is is a CAMPAIGN EVENT and not a true community forum.

    Consider these facts --

    • The title: 'Partnerships, Priorities and Progress for Plainfield' echoes Robinson-Briggs Primary Election slogan;

    • The only 'hosts' are mayoral candidate Robinson-Briggs and PMUA employee Kim Montford, who is running on the same slogan as Robinson-Briggs for a Ward 1 committee seat';

    • A community videographer has been denied permission to tape the meeting, though it is supposedly 'public'.
    As a partisan political campaign event, the meeting would not be allowed on public school property, suggesting that Mayor Robinson-Briggs is trying to flim-flam the school district.

    My source suggests that Robinson-Briggs did not inform Sharpton that this was an illegal campaign event, nor that the circumstances surrounding his prior visit at her invitation (the $20,000 WBLS matter) led to an investigation of her conduct with regard to its financing, and that the Attorney General's office has yet to exonerate her from any criminal liability in the matter.

    Meanwhile, Sharpton's situation has changed greatly since 2010, when he was spent a few minutes at a true community forum (councilors and other mayors were present as participants). Sharpton has since become a popular journalist with MSNBC, which jealously guards the purity of its brand and would likely look askance at such damaged goods as Robinson-Briggs.

    So, one of Robinson-Briggs' last hopes for generating any forward momentum in her re-election campaign may come to naught.

    Would anyone be surprised?






    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Is Sharon fatally wounded by her no-show at debate?

    Sharon and Mapp were to debate last night, but she was a no-show

    Have Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' chances of re-election been fatally wounded by her no-show at Wednesday evening's mayoral candidates forum?

    The Plainfield Public Library's meeting room was packed to the gills with a crowd eagerly anticipating the first -- and only -- opportunity to see and hear the incumbent mayor and her challenger, Councilor Adrian Mapp, face-to-face.

    Organized by FOSH and co-sponsored by the Plainfield chapter of the League of Women Voters, the event was emceed by FOSH president Pat Turner Kavanaugh and guest LWV moderator Dawn Clark, who has filled that role at several Plainfield forums.

    When the appointed time came, the audience was asked to be patient pending the arrival of the Mayor. Kavanaugh gamely filled in the time with a series of 'community service announcements', several of which drew rounds of applause from the audience (especially notice of the FOSH plan to erect signs in honor of PHS Cardinals' two state championships). Eventually, however, Clark made the decision to pull the plug and the event was shut down about 7:30 PM. At that point, candidate Adrian Mapp announced that he was prepared to stay and answer questions from attendees as long as they wished.

    As some were making their way to the exit and others to the front to speak with Mapp, longtime mayoral go-fer Barbara James arrived with a note from the Mayor, explaining her absence was due to a medical condition (Bernice and the Courier were said to have been given copies, not moi).

    After all the titillation dies down, the burning question is whether Sharon's failure to show will be fatal to her re-election hopes.

    Bearing in mind the maxim that each person in attendance will influence between 10 and 20 others' perceptions of the events (and that was before the days of bloggers, FaceBook and Twitter), the negative fallout to Robinson-Briggs runs into the thousands. (Keep in mind that very few people were aware of her explanatory note, which arrived as things were breaking up.)

    Add to this the fact that Robinson-Briggs is not walking the districts door-to-door -- it is just not her style -- and she is left with appealing to niche groups that she has fallen back on before.

    Though she has called for a 'community forum' for Friday evening, that is a barely concealed campaign event and using a school facility as its venue is being protested (see my other post here).

    One local operative with years of experience estimates that Robinson-Briggs has only about $10,000 in funds on hand. That would be barely enough for printing and mailing just one citywide piece, with nothing left over for the final get-out-the-vote push which is so essential to winning an election.

    Even if she has backers secretly (and illegally) bankrolling many of her campaign expenses, there are limits to anyone's resources, unless of course they have a million dollars to spend to help a drinking buddy.

    Add to this that we are going into a long holiday weekend, the official beginning of summer, and many folks will not be focused on politics until everyone is back at work on Tuesday. That leaves Robinson-Briggs with precious little time to engineer any recovery of lost forward motion by her campaign.

    Are her chances fatally wounded?

    By her own doing, I'm afraid.





    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Robinson-Briggs to endorse Christie?


    Sharon and Christie ... perfect together?

    Is Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs preparing to endorse Chris Christie for governor?

    While Plainfield Democrats were noshing and swaying to the beat of a Caribbean steel band on Saturday evening at Councilor Mapp's home, breakaway candidate and incumbent mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs is said to have been busy schmoozing it up with her supporters at a fundraiser for Republican Assembly candidate John Campbell Jr. at Plainfield's BUF complex.


    Christie has crowed about several Democratic endorsements of his candidacy in recent days, and the Paterson City Council president's endorsement yesterday created quite a stir (see story here).

    Campbell's candidacy is just a mosquito-buzz of an annoyance during the Primary, but Robinson-Briggs could return to her GOP roots and endorse Christie for governor.

    The question is, how many Democrats are likely to vote for her for mayor in the Primary if she does endorse Christie?





    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Tonight's Mayoral debate: Clash of Titans?


    The 2010 fantasy-adventure movie could hardly top Plainfield politics.
     
    Will tonight's debate between Plainfield mayoral candidates incumbent Sharon Robinson-Briggs and challenger Councilor Adrian Mapp be a 'Clash of Titans'? You won't know if you're not there.

    The debate, originally planned by the Friends of Sleepy Hollow (FOSH) is now being jointly co-sponsored by the Plainfield chapter of the League of Women Voters. The two-candidate event is technically a forum, since the candidates will be answering questions posed in writing by audience members.

    The event will be the only chance voters have this election season to see the candidates face off.

    A debate planned earlier this month by Plainfield High School students got snagged in politics at the school district and never came to fruition. For that debate, a date was actually set and candidate Mapp showed up at the appointed time and place only to learn that it had been mysteriously cancelled.

    Cancelled by whom was never made completely clear, and when a campaign representative emailed school district officials -- including the students' faculty adviser Jeffrey Truitt -- they were not even given the courtesy of a reply explaining why the event was not being rescheduled.

    This is a sad comment on how adults in the school district are failing to be proper role models for our young people -- especially given that the students have shown an abiding interest in participating in the political process and expect to be out in force at tonight's forum.


    The forum gets under way at 7:00 PM tonight at the Plainfield Public Library, Park Avenue at 8th Street. League of Women Voters rules apply.


    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Candidate forum Wednesday is centerpiece of busy week


    With Democratic Mayoral Primary, 2013 budget, and
    Charter Study, Plainfield is at a crossroads moment.
     
    A candidate forum on Wednesday pitting incumbent Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs
    against challenger Adrian Mapp is the centerpiece of a busy week.

    With the June Primary just two weeks away, the tension is mounting for the two mayoral campaigns. Candidate Mapp, who is the Plainfield Democrats' standard-bearer, has been busy campaigning door-to-door across the city and blanketing voters with mailings. Those traveling through downtown will find it hard to miss Mapp smiling down from a billboard above the Plainfield Donut Shop at East 2nd Street and Watchung Avenue.

    The mayor, on the other hand, is not a 'hoofer', so the Wednesday forum (put together by the Friends of Sleepy Hollow with the assistance of the Plainfield chapter of the League of Women Voters) is one of her few opportunities to show her stuff to the voters.

    The forum gets under way at 7:00 PM Wednesday at the Plainfield Public Library, Park Avenue at 8th Street. League of Women Voters rules apply.

    BUDGET DELIBERATIONS TUESDAY & THURSDAY

    Budget deliberations tonight and Thursday will bracket the Wednesday candidate forum.

    This evening, the Council will take up the Department of Public Works and Urban Development. That will take place in the large meeting room of the Plainfield Senior Center at 400 East Front Street at 7:00 PM.

    Thursday evening, the Council will take up the Department of Administration and Finance, the city's largest department. That meeting will also take place at 7:00 PM, but the venue has been changed to the Plainfield Public Library (the Senior Center is having a billiards tournament).

    The Citizens Budget Advisory Commission members will be in attendance, and opportunity will be provided for residents to ask questions.
    CHARTER STUDY COMMISSION THURSDAY

    Plainfield's Charter Study Commission continues chugging along, with a meeting Thursday that will feature a presentation on the Faulkner Act forms of government by Dr. Ernest Reock. Dr. Reock, who is a professor emeritus at Rutgers and the retired Director of its Center for Government Services, is considered the go-to guy on the structure of local governments in New Jersey. It will be an interesting and informative evening, setting the stage for the Charter Study Commission's own exploration of Plainfield's Faulkner Act options.

    The public is warmly invited, and there will be ample opportunities for questions. The Charter Study Commission will meet at 7:30 PM Thursday in the City Hall Library.
    DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES MEETING FRIDAY

    [Note: This is a corrected post; the meeting is for PDO candidates and supporters, it is NOT a meeting of the City Committee as stated in error.] Capping a week of nonstop meetings will be a gathering of the Plainfield Regular Democratic Organization nominees Friday evening. Assemblyman Jerry Green, chairperson of the local party, will gather the troops for a pep rally as we head into the Memorial Day weekend and the final week before the June 4 Democratic Primary.

    This year, Democrats will choose party candidates for offices ranging from Governor at the top of the ticket (Barbara Buono is the nominee) to neighborhood District leaders at the bottom of the slate. 68 men and women are on the ballot for District representatives in Plainfield. Assemblyman Green, Assemblywoman Linda Stender and Senator Nick Scutari are also up for the party line, as well as Plainfield's own Linda Carter, who this year serves as Chairperson of the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

    The meeting will take place at 7:00 PM at campaign headquarters on West Front Street (next to the Dunkin' Donuts). Guests and supporters are most welcome.




    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Sharon breaks election rules, but compliments Mapp


    In knocking off Mapp's 2009 Mother's Day card,
    Sharon pays him the ultimate compliment.
     
    Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs seems constitutionally unfit to follow any rules and election rules are no exception; however, she still finds room to pay her opponent, Councilor Adrian Mapp, a compliment.

    As for the rules, folks around town report seeing Her Honor using her city-issued SUV to lug around campaign signs and materials and to attend campaign events. That's a no-no.

    The permission she has for a 24-hour vehicle is that it is to be used for City business and she gets it overnight because she is 'on call' 24/7, so to speak. It is not a substitute for her personal vehicle, which is the only sort of vehicle in which she should be hauling campaign mterials and signs. (I myself have seen her SUV with 'MG' plates parked in front of her campaign headquarters while she dashed in and out with materials.)




    Sharon gloms onto the President...

    As for complimenting her opponent, Councilor Adrian Mapp, consider that she swiped the Mother's Day mailer which has been a New Dems trademark for years. Mapp's Mother's Day card from 2009 is at the head of this post. As they say, 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' and I am sure the Mapp campaign thanks Her Honor for the compliment.

    Less flattering for Sharon though, are the circumstances around the Mother's Day mailer. When I first laid hands on a copy, I noted its surface flashiness first, and then on closer examination that it was really shoddily produced.




    What is that quote under Michelle Obama?....

    That is without even considering the strange 'quotation' beneath Michelle Obama's picture. Who is being quoted? Michelle? Sharon Robinson-Briggs? It's very strange and jarring.

    Then, I pondered why it would be delivered in an envelope, with a 46-cent stamp hand-applied? This is very odd.

    Campaigns are very sensitive to postage costs, the are a significant amount in the overall picture. I cannot think of when I've seen full-freight postage used for a mailing piece. The discount on bulk mailing can exceed 40%, and that's a lot of savings when you're doing thousands of pieces. If 5,000 pieces were mailed to identifiably female recipients from a voter list, that would come to $2,300 in 46-cent stamps. So why splurge?

    Could it be that one or more of her supporters are trying to skirt the ELEC requirements for contributions by buying postage with cash and then simply giving the stamps to the campaign with no record that they constitute a contribution?


    It certainly could, since at least two of her supporters might be embarrassed or embarrass Sharon if too visible. I am thinking in particular of former PMUA exec Eric Watson (he of the $1 Million Payday) and Malcolm R. Dunn, appointed by the Mayor to the PMUA Board of Commissioners (and the architect of Watson's 'payday').

    But to be sure there was no hanky-panky, we would have to be able to check Robinson-Briggs' campaign fund reports filed with ELEC which would show all the costs associated with the mailer, including the postage. Except that as of July 20 -- two weeks after the most recent report was due -- there is no 29-day pre-election report posted to the ELEC website.

    One more rule that Sharon feels she is exempt from?

    To paraphrase Leona Helmsley: Rules? Only the little people follow rules.





    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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