The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jerry Green: The 'motherf***er' video


Jerry disputes he said 'I run this motherf***ker'.
 
Friday evening, David Rutherford showed me the 'cease-and-desist' letter he received from Jerry Green's attorney. It appears to be exactly the same as the letter sent to Councilor Rebecca Williams.

Why all the bullying? What does Jerry have to fear from folks seeing and hearing what he said during a dust-up with Ricky Williams outside Barlow School on Election Day 2013?

David's two brief clips (49 seconds) are below. The language in dispute is in the second clip. You be the judge --





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 30, 2014

Jerry's 'M-F' video; Council defames itself; Rivers disrespects flag


Assemblyman Jerry Green puts up his dukes during the 'Motherf**cker' scuffle
on 2013 Election Day (from video by David Rutherford).
 
As we head into the weekend before Plainfield's Democratic primary, some sensational developments: Jerry bullies Rebecca over his 'motherf**cker' video; City Council defames itself; and Council President Rivers disrespects the flag.

JERRY BULLIES REBECCA

As you can read on Rebecca's Council blog (see here) and in today's Courier (see here), Assemblyman Jerry Green is trying to bully Councilor Williams regarding Green's intemperate 'motherf**cker' comments caught on camera last November and posted by Plainfield blogger David Rutherford at the time. (David has reposted the original clips today, see here.)

The comments occurred during a scuffle between former Plainfield firefighter Ricky Williams and Assemblyman Green outside a polling station last November 5 (as shown by the time stamps on Rutherford's clips).

Williams is alleging the video does not accurately represent the exchange that took place between them, and suggests it may have been 'dubbed' or edited in some other way.

See for yourself. I am posting David's two very brief clips below (total time is 49 seconds). The language in dispute is in the second clip --






COUNCIL DEFAMES ITSELF

As expected, a resolution 'disapproving' of Mayor Mapp's video was passed 4-1 at last night's special meeting. (For: Greaves, Reid, Rivers, Taylor; Against: Williams; Absent: Brown, Storch.)

The resolution passed after fourteen residents spoke on the measure -- most against it.

Those suggesting a wiser course of action for the Council pointed to President Obama's own use of the media to lambast recalcitrant Congressional Republicans and the NJ Legislature's Democratic majority website, where plenty of videos can be found calling out their legislative opponents.

Council President Bridget Rivers failed to uphold her usual high standard requiring comments be pertinent to the business at hand -- for instance she allowed former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs' rant on a 'boatload of Hispanic voters' and Mr. Muhammad's saying he's 'tired of hearing about what Jerry Green is doing'.

The Council's action has made it an object of derision and the dignity of the body has been defamed -- of its own volition.

RIVERS DISRESPECTS FLAG

What was unusual at last night's Council meeting was the manner in which Council President Bridget Rivers had the room set up.

Instead of those coming before the Council being seated at the end of the table opposite those presiding over the meeting, speakers were instructed to sit in the end chair of the table, next to Councilor Taylor.

Then I noticed that the flags -- the U.S. flag and the city's flag -- had been placed against the wall behind Councilor Taylor and framing her. The New Jersey flag was nowhere to be seen.

This was a blatant disrespect of flag protocol. The U.S. flag is not a decoration to be used to frame a shot for a sitting member who happens to be in a campaign.

The proper protocol is for the flags of the U.S. and the state to be displayed behind the rostrum, dais or speaker's table of the presiding officer(s) of the meeting. The flags should have been properly displayed behind Council President Rivers and Chairman Reid.

I was reminded of the Moscow show trials of the 1930s, staged by Stalin to eliminate dissent among the Soviet leadership. But of course, that was a tragedy. This was a farce.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Council snit turns Mapp video into hit


Mayor Adrian Mapp addressed the residents of Plainfield
on his agenda for the City.
 
In a sign it may have shot itself in the foot, the Plainfield City Council's snit over Mayor Mapp's PCTV video advocating his agenda for the city has turned the video into a hit.

The YouTube version of the video has picked up almost 200 views since I posted it to Plainfield Today yesterday, about half again the numbers of views before that point. (It is also broadcast on Plainfield's public access TV station, for which no viewership figures are available.)

Council President Bridget Rivers has called a special meeting for 8:00 PM this evening in the City Hall Library. The only item of business will be a discussion of the video and a proposed resolution disapproving of the video and referring it to the NJ Local Government Ethics Board.

What is all the fuss about? Check out the video and offer your thoughts.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Who's backing who? A guide to Plainfield's Dem Primary


Winning Plainfield's Democratic primary is
tantamount to election.

The list of who's backing who in the June Democratic primary shows a tectonic shift in alignments in the Queen City's political sphere.

In Plainfield, with its heavy preponderance of Democratic voters (about 10-to-1 over Republicans), the outcome of a contested June Democratic primary virtually signifies who will take office next January 1.

This year, three Council seats are up: the First Ward and the Wards 2/3 at-large seats are up on their regular rota. In Ward 3, the contest is to fill the seat of former Councilor (now Mayor) Adrian Mapp for the balance of his unexpired term.

Assemblyman Jerry Green, chair of both the Plainfield and the Union County Democratic Committees has fielded a hand-picked team -- which he imposed on the Plainfield City Committee without consultation or a vote.

JERRY GREEN'S SLATE

  • Charles Eke for Wards 2/3 at-large. Eke is currently a commissioner of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA).

  • Diane Toliver for Ward 1. Toliver is the wife of former PMUA commissioner Alex Toliver who helped engineer the $1 million payout to two former PMUA executives.

  • Gloria Taylor for Ward 3. Taylor, a retired school administrator, moved to Plainfield from elsewhere a number of years ago. She has been vocal against what she refers to as 'carpetbaggers' in Plainfield.
THE NEW DEMOCRATS

For more than a decade, Democrats concerned for Plainfield's future have rallied behind the banner of 'New Democrats for Plainfield', fielding candidates for council and mayor in an effort to move the city forward. This year's slate --

  • Rebecca Williams for Ward 2/3 at-large. The fiery incumbent, Williams was passed over by Jerry Green, no doubt because she refuses to kow-tow to the man known as the 'King' of Plainfield politics. Rebecca has been an energetic voice for ethical leadership.

  • Emmett Swan for Ward 1. Swan's eyes were opened to Plainfield realities when he bought a condo in the Monarch, former Mayor Robinson-Briggs' debacle on East Front Street. He soon realized that the incumbent had done little to actually address the needs of First Ward residents, especially regarding public safety and the development of the East 2nd Street business district.

  • Charles McRae for Ward 3. A long-time Plainfield resident, McRae has been active in school and neighborhood groups, serving in the Cedarbook School PTO and in the Cedar Brook Block Association, where he recently served as president. Charles also is a long-time member of the council-appointed Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, which reviews the annual budget and gives citizen input.
SIDDEEQ EL-AMIN

Retired Plainfield police captain Siddeeq El-Amin is also running as a Democrat for the First Ward seat. El-Amin is a longtime resident who has served as president of the board of Neighborhood Health Services, formerly known at the Plainfield Health Center.
WHO'S BACKING WHO

The earth moved when several well-known Plainfield figures announced their support of the New Democrats slate.

  • Lillian Jamar, doyenne of First Ward Democrats and a resident since 1956, came to the Council table recently to declare her support for the Mapp administration and appears in campaign literature endorsing Emmett Swan for the First Ward seat.

  • Retired City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, also a longtime First Ward resident, is endorsing Emmett Swan for Council in a letter being mailed to ward residents.

  • Dottie Gutenkauf -- who, with her late husband Joe, is considered by many the brains behind the Regular Democratic Organization -- has come out with a blog post (see here) in which she backs New Democrats Rebecca Williams and Charles McRae (she votes in Ward 3).

  • Dr. Harold Yood, retired Plainfield physician and watchdog known to all as 'Olddoc' also has posted his endorsements in the Democratic primary race (see here). He backs Rebecca Williams (he votes in Ward 2) and endorses Charles McRae for Ward 3 and Siddeeq El-Amin for Ward 1. A number of years ago Dr. Yood, a lifelong Republican, changed his registration to Democrat in order to have some say in Plainfield's local elections.
Endorsing Jerry Green's team are, besides Assemblyman Green himself, former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and Minister Mustapha Muhammad.


Full disclosure: In case there is anyone in Plainfield who still doesn't know, I am among the founders of the New Democrats club and am serving as campaign coordinator in this year's primary contest. -- Dan.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Council passes budget, moves to refer Mapp video to state ethics board


Title frame from Mayor Mapp's video.
 
The 2014 Plainfield municipal budget was only a co-star at Tuesday's special Council meeting. It could even be argued that the budget was upstaged by  several councilors' reactions to a video by Mayor Adrian Mapp about the need for progress in the city.

Several residents spoke during the public hearing, most to protest the Council majority's cuts to the budget -- specifically the elimination of funding for the Mayor's chief of staff and the public information officer. Only former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs and Jerry Green council candidate Charles Eke spoke in favor of the amended budget.

Councilor Storch addressed his colleagues before the vote was taken, saying that he was voting for the budget, but 'with a lot of reluctance'. He complained that as part of the Finance Committee (chaired by Councilor Reid, with Council Taylor as the third member), when they met to discuss amending the budget, 'everything seemed pre-determined'. It should be noted that Councilor Taylor took no part in the Council's public budget deliberations. Storch's comments jibe with rumors I have heard that several Councilors conducted a secret (illegal?) meeting to draw up the budget amendments.

All of this though was overshadowed by disapproval of a video by Mayor Mapp arguing Plainfield's need for a progressive agenda that appeared on PCTV, Plainfield's public access TV channel and was posted to YouTube.

Clucking like some sort of big bird, Councilor Taylor took several minutes to express her shock and dismay at such a turn of events -- all the while mugging for the PCTV cameras which were rolling to record the Council meeting. It was a performance to rival Claude Rain's famous 'I'm shocked, shocked' scene from the movie Casablanca.

Council President Bridget Rivers was so shocked she has called a special Council meeting for this Thursday to discuss the video, pass a resolution of disapproval and refer the video to the NJ Local Government Ethics Board.

That meeting will be held at 8:00 PM, May 29, in City Hall Library.

Was Mayor Mapp right to use the bully pulpit of his office to lobby for his position? You be the judge. Here's the video --





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Plainfield's 2014 budget may be adopted tonight


Plainfield City Council gathers tonight in a special meeting at which the 2014 municipal budget may be adopted. The expected formality follows upon the loooong special meeting last week at which each amendment was voted on separately. The witching hour is 8:00 PM and the place is City Hall Library.

Send not to ask for whom the bell tolls. You know.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day: Remember the Fallen, Honor the Living


The Veterans Memorial at City Hall was dedicated in 2001.
 
It's a shame that Plainfield's veterans were left in such a bind by former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, but the situation may provide an opportunity for the Mapp administration to show how to really address veterans' concerns.

As we take time on Monday to honor the nation's fallen, many will also be thinking of the needs of living veterans.

Plainfield's annual Memorial Day observances will center around the memorials at the flagpole at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue and the Veterans' Memorial on the grounds of City Hall. The brief ceremonies get under way at 10:00 AM.

While President Obama is focusing attention on the plight of veterans in the overcrowded VA medical system, Plainfield has its own issues in providing for living veterans -- specifically the long-promised Veterans Center in the Monarch complex (which also house the Senior Center).

By the terms of the developer's agreement which Robinson-Briggs negotiated with Glen Fishman's Dornoch Enterprises, the space was to made available to the veterans only after all the condos had been sold.

Once the market collapsed and Fishman began to rent units, the issue ought to have been forced, but nothing was done by the Robinson-Briggs administration to resolve the Veterans Center (or indeed, any of the other outstanding issues).

I am told that the space is now being used primarily for storage and not as a rental office. Perhaps it's time for the Mapp administration to take some action on the veterans' behalf.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 23, 2014

Jerry Green and 'Cookie Bill': Wrong kind of dough?


Bill Jerry failed to vote on would make it legal for
home bakers to offer their products to the public.

When it comes to dough, Plainfield Assemblyman Jerry Green evidently is only concerned about one kind -- and it's not cookie dough.

Word comes that the Assembly approved a bill (A-1244) Thursday that would allow home bakers to offer their goods for sale legally without using a state-inspected commercial kitchen (see Ledger item here).

I find no record on Jerry's legislative votes page (see here) that he participated in the vote. That doesn't tell us whether he was for or against it, but only that he did not vote.

While the bill will come as welcome news to two of my local favorite cookie bakers, we can only wonder if Jerry missed the vote because he was focused on another kind of dough.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Dems head into final stretch with community breakfast Saturday



Heading into the home stretch.

Plainfield's New Democrats head into the June Primary campaign's home stretch with a community breakfast at their headquarters this Saturday morning at 11:00 AM.

The New Dems have three candidates running in the June 3 primary opposite a team fielded by Assemblyman Jerry Green.

Rebecca Williams, running for re-election to the Wards 2/3 at-large seat heads up the ticket with running mates Charles McRae (for Ward 3) and Emmett Swan (for Ward 1).

Rebecca, whose sometimes fiery rhetoric has scorched Green on more than one occasion, needs no introduction to Plainfielders. A longtime community activist, she is well-known throughout the city.

Rebecca's most recent foray was to box the Council into renewing the PILOT for Liberty Village, exposing Councilor Gloria Taylor's willingness to play 'dirty politics' to recklessly expose the Liberty Village tenants to being put out on the street.

Charles McRae is a longtime resident and activist in the Third Ward who has served as head of the Cedar Brook Block Association and also on the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee for a number of years.

Emmett Swan, a financial and tax expert at PSE&G, is a relatively new Plainfielder and got his feet wet in organizing owners of condo units in former Mayor Robinson-Briggs' flawed Monarch condo development to demand the builder fulfill terms of the original deal with the city. Looking around, he saw that nothing had been done by incumbent Councilor Bill Reid to improve the lot of First Ward residents -- especially the long-stalled business district on East Second Street.

The entire community is invited to come out and meet and mingle with the candidates Saturday, beginning at 11:00 AM. There will be opportunities to volunteer for various activities as the campaign heads into its final week.

New Democrats for Plainfield headquarters is at 508-B Watvhung Avenue, directly across from City Hall and adjacent to the City Hall Annex. Parking available on the street and in nearby parking areas.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pharaonic Council to Mapp: Make bricks without straw


From ancient times, straw has been added to mud bricks
for stability and to aid in proper drying.

Plainfield's City Council met in special session Tuesday evening and passed a resolution containing its amendments to the Mapp administration's proposed 2014 municipal budget.

Ignoring warnings from the likes of resident Lillian Jamar, developer Mario Camino and Councilor Cory Storch that the proposed amendments would set Plainfield back, a Council majority made nearly a half million dollars in budget cuts.

I am reminded of the story in Exodus 5 (you can read it in the King James Version here).

After Moses and Aaron deliver Yahweh's message that the Israelites should be let go, Pharaoh not only refuses, but tells his overseers 'ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick'.

Not only were the Israelites to scramble to find a necessary resource on their own (bricks made without straw were unstable and did not dry properly), Pharaoh commanded that their production not be allowed to slip. In other words, they must get the same job done with fewer resources.

So much for the Israelites.

Except we all know that in the long run Pharaoh miscalculated and lived to rue the day.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Obituary: Donna Vose


Former City Councilor Donna Vose and her husband
Greg Palermo, MD, at Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Here is the obituary of Donna Vose, former Plainfield city councilor, longtime resident and healthcare activist.

 Donna Vose, 80, died at her home in Edgartown on May 16 after a long illness.

Born on  Martha's Vineyard, Donna  graduated from Saint Mary's Academy in Burlington, NJ, following which she attended Radcliffe College.  She obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing at the University of Florida, where she went on to teach psychiatric nursing.

While living in Florida, Donna was very active in the 1960s Civil Rights movement.  She was often one of only two white people marching in demonstrations; the other white person was her young daughter. She did an expose on the inequality of separate-but-equal, using photographs of the "colored" elementary school's decrepit facilities .  Following the clean-up of the school, she sent her son to attend it, where he was the only enrolled white student.  She opened her backyard pool to the American Red Cross so they could provide swimming lessons to children of color, because those children were not allowed to swim in the pool where white students took lessons.

Donna moved to Connecticut in 1976, becoming Executive Director and lobbyist of the Connecticut Nurses Association and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nursing at Yale University.  In 1980 she served as interim Director of Patient Care Services at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, charged with recruiting a permanent occupant for her position.  Her task complete, she spent the next 6 months in Paris, working on her French at the Alliance Francaise.  Donna returned to the United States in 1981 to become Director of Nursing at Passaic General Hospital in New Jersey.  She later served as Director of Quality Assurance at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  She finished her career in the private practice of psychiatric nursing in Plainfield, New Jersey, where she lived for 26 years before moving to Martha's Vineyard full-time in 2012.  In Plainfield she served on the boards of the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center and the Plainfield Health Center.  She was elected to the Plainfield City Council and  also served on the Plainfield Planning Board.

Donna enjoyed gin and tonics on the front porch, harpooned swordfish, her family boathouse on Edgartown harbor, sailing, garden parties, watching birds on her backyard feeder, shopping for the new season's Lillys, operas at the Met, the Plainfield Symphony, the smells of a salt marsh, travel to exotic places, learning to cook the foods she ate while traveling, and influencing world affairs from her chair in front of the television set.

She is survived by her husband, Gregory Palermo of Edgartown; her daughter, Julie Anne Rowell of Miami; her son, James K. Rowell of Edgartown; and grandchildren.  She is also survived by her siblings, Dennise Croft and her husband, Louis, of Hubbardston; Dianne Durawa and her husband, Thomas, of Edgartown; and Warren Vose and his wife, Anne, of Edgartown.

A memorial celebration for friends and family will be held August 30.

In place of flowers, donations may be sent to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
The address for Martha's Vineyard Hospital is: 1 Hospital Road, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Council will take up budget amendments tonight


Does the inscription on City Hall mock us?


Plainfield's City Council will finally take up its amendments to the Mapp administration's proposed 2014 budget at a special meeting tonight scheduled for 8:00 PM in City Hall Library. The meeting is twinned with another special meeting next Tuesday at which it is expected the amended budget will be adopted.

It appears a Council majority is prepared to make good on its threat to eliminate the Mapp administration's new hires -- in particular the Mayor's chief of staff and the public relations slot.

Marching behind the spurious banner held high by former Mayor (and newly revived Jerry Green cat's paw) Sharon Robinson-Briggs, the cry is to 'save money'. The bulk of the amendments fall under the rubric of one-time gimmicks put forward by the Council's budget consultants -- who shamelessly reversed their judgment of Mapp's budget between May's agenda-setting and business sessions.

I am reminded of something Robber Baron J. Pierpont Morgan once said: A man always has two reasons for the things he does, a good one and the real one.

The real reasons will hardly be spoken aloud tonight -- they appear to revolve around racially tinged personal animosity.

But the effect will be to try to undo the people's will in giving Mayor Mapp a mandate for change with 70% of the popular vote in the November election. Those who trumpeted in January that 'if he succeeds, the city succeeds' are prepared to cast possible progress to the winds in favor of a return to Plainfield's perennial pattern of dysfunction fostered by Assemblyman Green.

Sadly for the taxpayers, the Council takes no notice of the dangerous dynamic in which the city's finances are caught. If there is no improvement in our tax base (through new development opportunities), the continued sagging of our ratables will only mean pressure to reduce the delivery of city services. And the Council will be responsible.

Plainfield stands once again at a crossroads moment -- will we go forward ... or backward?


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, May 19, 2014

Partisan ploy tarnishes Plainfield NAACP's reputation



Campaign photo for Taylor and Eke posted to
Plainfield NAACP's Facebook page (since removed).
 

Screen capture of Plainfield NAACP Facebook page
taken on Friday, 5/16/2014.

 
Plainfield's chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Adancement of Colored People) has played an important role in the struggle for civil rights and educational equality, so it is sad to find its legacy tarnished by a cheap partisan ploy.

One has only to recall that Booker v. Board of Ed, the case of Plainfield's own Charles Booker, was argued before the NJ Supreme Court in 1965, resulting in the end of the system of segregation by 'neighborhood schools' (you can read the ruling here).

It was a shining moment for Plainfield's chapter of the NAACP. It was above partisan politics, and united white and black and people of all political persuasions in a common cause.

How different today, to find the local chapter in a sort of Babylonian captivity to the whims of a former mayor who uses the group's Facebook page to post photos in support of one Democratic faction (Jerry Green's) in the current Democratic primary contest.

The large photo represents a screen capture of the Plainfield chapter's Facebook page on Friday, May 16 -- showing pictures of Green's candidates and urging readers to vote for them.

By Saturday, the photos had disappeared, perhaps because some local chapter members complained to the state NAACP. But it was too late, the damage to the local group's reputation has been done.

For what good purpose?



Plainfield was part of national struggle for school desegregation.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Former Councilor Donna Vose passes


Word came Saturday morning that Plainfield's last Republican to hold elected office, former Councilor Donna Vose, had passed away Friday at her home in Martha's Vineyard.

I will post the obituary when it becomes available and a remembrance of Donna, who was a good friend of Plainfield and good friend.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

FOSH garage sale Sunday


Some folks offer free 'teasers'...

Plainfield's annual FOSH (Friends of Sleepy Hollow) garage sale is Sunday, May 18, from 9:00 AM t0 4:00 PM rain or shine.

Thousands of visitors are drawn to the Queen City for the annual outdoor rummage sale, in which individual owners and some of the city's nonprofits parfticipate.

A good place to start is at 1112 Watchung Avenue (the stone house) where proceeds benefit the Plainfield Symphony. From there all the way to Leland Avenue you will find a concentration of homes. Balloons mark each location. Maps are available at all particpants.

Besides the locations in the Sleepy Hollow area, there are some sales being held in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District.

Of particular interest to some may be the home on Hollywood Avenue (off Randolph Road, behind Muhlenberg Hospital) where military collectibles are being offered.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 16, 2014

Watson Coleman for Congress: No signs of Jerry Green support


Signs for Watson Coleman are popping up...
Noticed a funny thing passing by Plainfield Assemblyman Jerry Green's house at the corner of Prospect and Woodland Avenues Thursday afternoon: No yard signs for Bonnie Watson Coleman.

Green, who is chair of the Plainfield and Union County Democratic committees, is also a co-chair of Watson Coleman's Congressional primary campaign.

Watson Coleman lawn signs are popping up all over town, but not at 1460 Prospect.

Strangely enough, there are also no signs in support of the Green Team (Charles Eke, Gloria Taylor and Diane Toliver) running for Plainfield city council seats in the same primary.


Is Jerry sending a subtle message?



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Council and the Fiesta Wars: Parade sense and non-sense


Proposed route for September parade is more than twice
the length of the July 4 Parade route.
 

Plainfield's City Council engaged the Fiesta Wars this past Monday, passing resolutions approving the 2014 version of dueling September Hispanic Heritage fiestas to take place the weekend of September 12 - 14.

While there was a lot of back-and-forth over noise levels and whether the beer area would be roped off (it always has been -- these folks actually need to come to the fiestas sometime!)
, comparatively little notice was paid to the most striking innovation: a parade proposed by The Maree Group/Voluntad Productions.

Upon questioning, Rodney Maree said that the proposed route was from Rock Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue. Other details were sketchy at best.

Retired police captain Siddeeq El-Amin came to the mike to ask for more information on the parade proposal, suggesting it could be a 'fiasco' without proper planning.

Just a glance at the map indicates that the proposed route is more than twice as long as that of the Independence Day Parade, which steps off from Johnston Avenue and East Front Street and terminates at Madison Avenue and West Front Street.

Not only that, the proposed route would involve seven major north/south arteries -- Rock Avenue, Clinton Avenue, Grant/West End Avenue, Plainfield Avenue, Central Avenue/Grove Street, Park Avenue and Watchung Avenue. Compare this to only Park and Watchung Avenues for the July 4 parade. Besides these main arteries, many more side streets that feed into West Front Street would be affected.

No mention was made of how many floats or marching units were expected, nor arrangements for a staging area to assemble the parade elements or how it will be dispersed at the Roosevelt Avenue terminus.

As the July 4 Parade is a tremendous draw on public safety resources (not to mention overtime), an expense that is borne out of the city's budget, one has to wonder what the costs for this longer parade would be and how much the sponsors would have to pony up for police.

And then there is the question of cleaning up behind the parade. In the case of the July 4 Parade, a DPW crew comes along immediately behind sweeping the street and tidying up. How much will that cost the promoters?

I love a parade, and this could be a good idea. A proposed route along West Front Street makes sense, as the heart of the 4th Ward has also become heavily Hispanic.

But what does not make sense at this point is what the real costs are going to be to pull it off and what arrangements are going to be necessary so as not to turn Plainfield into a bottleneck for all north/south traffic in the entire western end of the city.

The Council seems ill-suited as a vehicle for solving this kind of problem. I seem to recall that after last year's festivals and the ensuing criticisms, there was a consensus that the administration would encourage all the parties -- including also the Special Improvement District and the Latin American Coalition -- to sit down BEFORE THIS YEAR'S EVENTS and reach some amicable agreements about who would do what, and when and where.

It is clear that has not happened -- though I am loath to fault the newly-installed Mapp administration, which has had its hands full just getting up and running, what with dealing with obstacles thrown in its way by a Council majority.

Nevertheless, the tangle of issues surrounding the city's new and popular festivals should be resolved by the administrative branch and not the legislative branch, methinks.

Let's hope someone irons out the wrinkles before September.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Gloria Taylor: Queen of Mean?


Jerry Green's handpicked Ward 3 Councilor Gloria Taylor.
 
Looks like Plainfield Councilor Gloria Taylor is vying with former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs for the title 'Queen of Mean'.

At Monday's Council meeting,
Taylor interrupted resident Flor Gonzalez as she began to speak during public comment by asking if the address Gonzalez gave was a residence, and then saying 'What? I don't understand you.'

As anyone who has been engaged in the community knows, Ms. Gonzalez has a long and outstanding record of service to both the Hispanic community and the community at large.

Flor has probably guided more people through the citizenship process than any other person or organization in Plainfield.

Flor has been concerned with the safety of downtown businesses and shoppers. (I remember in particular her help in organizing a community memorial for the wife of Mr. Lee, who was murdered by a youthful would-be robber inside their Front Street store a number of years ago.)

Flor is a former Plainfield Housing Authority commissioner.

Flor is no stranger to thousands of Plainfielders.

Flor is also a brave and committed public figure who has continued to serve all sorts of Plainfielders even while contending with breast cancer.

In short, Flor Gonzalez is a Plainfield hero.

But you would not know that from Councilor Taylor's haughty, schoolmarmish mien.


Taken together with Taylor's anti-Hispanic comments at an earlier Cedarbrook Block Association meeting, one has to wonder what exactly she is up to.

I noted that she did not make a similar challenge to her running mate, Charles Eke, who also spoke during public comment and who also speaks accented English.

Queen of Mean or just 'dirty politics'?


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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