Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Health officer's residency waiver on Council agenda

Councilor Gloria Taylor has declared her intention to vote 'No'
on the Health Officer's residency waiver.

Plainfield City Council meets at 8:00 PM Monday and will take up a residency waiver for Acting Health Officer Denise Proctor.

In her short tenure (she was hired in mid-May), Proctor has addressed two public health issues that had been festering for years under the failed 'leadership' of former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs -- the timely inspection of Plainfield's 325 food-service locations, and ensuring the public pools where our kids swim meet the state's health and safety standards (see my post on Robinson-Briggs' failure here).

A report by the Courier's Sergio Bichao (see here) found that only a fraction of sites had been inspected on a timely basis. Sites that had gone without inspection included school cafeterias, soup kitchens and a nursing home. Crown Fried Chicken on East Front Street was last inspected in 2009. And on top of that, many records for 2012 were missing altogether.

It was found by the city's new Superintendent of Parks & Recreation, Veronica Taylor, that there was no record the prior administration ever had the required Health Inspector's review and certification of the public pools. One pool -- Hannah Atkins -- was found to be defective in regard to a safety regulation and its opening in danger of being delayed until the problem could be corrected.

Despite the fact of such exemplary service in such a short time, Councilor Gloria Taylor has signaled that she will cast a 'No' vote when the waiver comes up.

The irony -- which evidently escapes the retired school administrator -- is that by her own logic, she should have moved to Paterson, in whose school district she was employed for many years. All her arguments about why hirees should move to Plainfield are just as legitimate when applied to her employment in Paterson. Yet she never for one minute resided in that city.

A further fact makes one wonder whether Councilor Taylor is just plain cruel and mean-spirited: She lives tax-free in a nice home and neighborhood on a comfy pension (fairly earned) and knows full well that requiring an employee to sell an existing home in this disadvantageous market to buy and move eight miles to Plainfield is over-the-top.

Former city administrator Norton Bonaparte did move his family to Plainfield from South Jersey when he came. Former Police Director Martin Hellwig never did -- continuing to live in Lake Hopatcong long after taking the Plainfield job under Robinson-Briggs and then commuting from Staten Island after questions arose concerning allegations that he and his wife, a foreign national, never lived together after wedding.

This is the second time Proctor's residency waiver is being put forward, this time after Council conducted a legally dubious 'interview' in executive session. The fact that Council President Bridget Rivers has moved it to the agenda seems to indicate that Proctor's waiver will be approved, despite Councilor Taylor's opposition.

City Council meets at 8:00 PM in the newly refurbished Council Chamber/Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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