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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Four organists in 'French Connection' program at Crescent

Organ program will highlight symphonic capabilities of
Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church's Adams organ.

The 97-rank Adams organ at Plainfield's Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is slated for a real workout next Sunday, March 8.

In its annual "Festival of Organists", Crescent Concerts will present four exciting organists in a program titled "The French Connection". Crescent Avenue's organ is particularly well-suited to show off the French organ repertoire, which displays the instrument's symphonic possibilities to full effect.

The participating organists this year are --

Archer is a noted activist for women organists and their music. She is director of the music program at Barnard College and serves as college organist for Vassar College.
Dr. Entriken, professor organ performance at New York University, is the organist and choir director of First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and founder of that church's Guilman Organ Recital series.
Domecq will be familiar to many Plainfielders as the former organist and choirmaster of Grace Episcopal Church in Plainfield, where he also led the Plainfield Girlchoir. He is currently organist and director of music at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Orange, and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers.
Kennedy is a third year student at Juilliard in New York, studying organ under Paul Jacobs. He is currently organ scholar at the Morristown Presbyterian Church.
The program gets under way at 3:00 PM, Sunday, March 8. Tickets are available at the door: $20/person, $!5/seniors, $5/students (ID required). For more information, call (908) 756-2468 or visit the website at

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue and is handicap accessible. Parking in the church lot on First Place, on the street, or in Swain Galleries lot.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 27, 2015

A law even a teetotaler can drink to

Now, here's a law even a Plainfield teetotaler like myself can drink to.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a South Jersey Democrat, has introduced a bill in the Assembly to offer a new kind of liquor license in New Jersey.

Touting it as a "common sense" measure, Burzichelli's bill would allow restaurants which have no standard plenary retail consumption license to sell alcohol to customers at their tables -- provided there is no bar on the premises.

This is an idea that would mke sense as Plainfield works at reshaping its downtown and Netherwood TOD areas. Standard liquor licenses are scarce as hen's teeth and a constant murmur goes up from developers over the high cost of trying to bring destination dining experiences to Plainfield.

Burzichelli seems to have given the matter a lot of thought (see the Ledger story here) and addresses cost differentials for the proposed licenses, a scheme for equitable treatment of those with existing licenses, and measures to leave control of licensing in the hands of local elected officials.

There wll probably be some who object to various parts of the bill. All I can say is that my experience from my drinking days would tend to support such a bill.

I remember as a young adult living in Pennsylvania that every establishment there serving liquor had to offer a "meal" -- which in many cases simply meant a platter of ring bologna slices, cubed cheese and some crackers. But they did it and were occasionally checked by anonymous inspectors.

I also remember being nearly tackled by a bartender in Alexandria, VA, when I was taking a course at George Washington University, and started to walk away from the bar toward the dining room with my drink in my hand. Not in Virginia, you don't, I was told.

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

The bill is not yet posted on the Legislature's website (here), so I was unable to see if Assemblyman Jerry Green is a co-sponsor, but it would be hard to think of him not supporting it.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Stendergate: Linda folds, but questions remain

Well. . . you see . . . I mean . . .

Two days seems to be the mode when Plainfield pols are in trouble. PolitickerNJ posted an item Wednesday evening that Assemblywoman Linda Stender is choosing not to stand for re-election in this year's legislative races (see here).

This comes on the same day as the Ledger reports that Linda took part in consultations with the architect designing the new "dream home" in Manasquan (see Ledger item here).

Funny thing, two days is the same amount of time it took Assemblyman Jerry Green to jump ship as a vice president for Westfield-based lobbyists The Alman Group (see my 2007 reporting here). Jerry was able to escape by the skin of his teeth; Linda may not be so lucky.

I learned Wednesday that the Stenders' Fanwood home, at 154 Herbert Avenue, sold in 2010 for $514,000, after only six weeks on the market.

In relation to the attempt to get Habitat to rebuild a shore home the Stenders are now claiming is Richard's primary residence, there must be some questions that need to be answered about the truthfulness of any declarations to Habitat about income and assets.

Not to worry, though. According to PolitickerNJ, Union County pols have agreed to let Linda keep her new $90,000 gig at the Union County Improvement Authority.

Will we ever get to the bottom of it all?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Charter School open house; Islam discussion tonight

Plainfield's newest charter school hosts an open house tonight.

Two events of interest to Plainfielders this evening -- an Open House for the city's newest charter school and a panel discussion on Islam in African American History.
Plainfield's newest charter school welcomes the community to an open house from 6:00 - 8:00 PM this evening at its new facility, the former St. Bernard's School at Emerson Avenue and George Street.

College Achieve Charter School will start in September with classes for Kindergarten and Grades 1, 2, 5 and 6, according to filings with the state. The Plainfield school is an outgrowth of California-based College Achieve Schools (see their Facebook page here).

Staff will host guided tours of the new school's classrooms and there will be a Gallery Walk reviewing curriculum examples, teaching tools and photos.

Refreshments will be served and a Kid's Kraft & Play area will be available.

For more information, contact Rochelle Nelson, the Founding Principal, at or (908) 625-1879. When visiting the school, please use the St. Bernard's parking lot on George Street, directly across from the church.
Members of Masjidullah Plainfield will present a panel discussion tonight titled "Islam in African American History".

Many are unaware that Islam in America goes back to the beginnings of slavery in the New World.

The discussion is free and open to the entire community. It will be held in the Anne Louise Davis Room of the Plainfield Public Library, Park Avenue at 8th Street, at 7:00 PM.

For more information, contact Maxine Salaam at (908) 337-0889 or Sherrie Umrani Muhammad at (609) 784-5689. The Plainfield Public Library is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

State looking into Plainfield finances?

Preliminary investigation turns up $41,000 missing...

Is the state finally looking into Plainfield's finances?

Despite the fact that
Assemblywoman Linda Stender's escalating troubles are crowding the headlines (thirteen news items today alone -- will that be an unlucky number for her?), there is also the ongoing situation of Plainfield's finances.

Although Mayor Adrian Mapp has been unable to convince a Council majority to back a forensic audit of recent years' finances, what little he has been able to dig up suggests there is much more to learn about fraud, waste and abuse in the Queen City.

Over the weekend, I heard from a trusted but non-governmental source that the New Jersey Attorney General's office has finally begun to make discreet inquiries about Plainfield.

Will a Council majority reconsider its stance?

Further revelations of financial misdeeds can only make it look more and more like a coverup if opposition to flushing everything out into the open continues.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, February 23, 2015


Assemblywoman Linda Stender represents Plainfield...

The facts are just starting to ooze out about Assemblywoman Linda Stender's husband Richard's efforts to get Habitat for Humanity to rebuild a Sandy-damaged home in Manasquan (see a Ledger story here). And yes, there may be a Plainfield angle.

I was surprised recently to hear Assemblywoman Stender described as being from Scotch Plains and made a mental note to look into that. I have known Linda, as she is called by everyone, since I was with Burgdorff Realtors in Fanwood in the late 1980s and have watched her star rise -- from Fanwood borough council to freeholder to Assemblywoman.

A Channel 9 news crew tried to get a comment from the Assemblywoman, to no effect -- see clip below (or here) --

Funny thing is that during her 2013 campaign, when all Plainfield's Democrats were united, Linda campaigned in Plainfield at several events and never once was there a mention of an address change, though the first Ledger story on "Stendergate" (see here) says she had listed her residence as Scotch Plains for that campaign.

The questions are sure to mount --

  • How can the Stenders qualify for Habitat assistance, based on Linda's income alone (she was recently in the news for snagging a $90,000/year job with the Union County Improvement Authority -- see here)?

  • Linda has quite an interesting salary history since she began the climb up the political ladder (see the CountyWatchers report here), all of which would have made the Stenders overqualified for Habitat assistance if taken together.

  • Was Richard a bona fide resident of Manasquan at the time of Superstorm Sandy (October 2012)? Union County voting records show him voting in Union County for the 2013 November election. The CountyWatchers blog asserts he only registered to vote in Manasquan in August, 2013 (see here) -- was that after he applied to Habitat to demolish the damaged home?

  • Then there is the question of whether Richard's income declarations to Habitat were truthful.

  • Richard owns a printing business, SVO Printing, which CountyWatchers pointed out in 2008 got a no-bid contract for printing the Union County Alliance's "Directions" newsletter, even though his bid was $50,000 higher than the next one. With that kind of markup, one has to wonder about his true income.

  • Then there is the matter of the Fanwood home. While it is not necessarily the public's business if the Stenders have split and live in separate domiciles, it does become relevant if they sold their Fanwood home. If they did, what became of the proceeds? If split between the two, would that affect Richard's eligibility for Habitat help? If held jointly, what does that mean?
Lastly, there is the political fallout. Linda was slated to run for re-election this year, along with her running mate, Assemblyman Jerry Green, who heads both the Plainfield and Union County Democratic Committees.

Scuttlebutt is that Green and Sen. Nick Scutari have already put together a "plan B", which would replace Stender with Fanwood's current mayor, the up-and-coming Colleen Mahr.

Jerry has taken a public position of "hop[ing] things work out for her", but observers of the political scene will recall that he has always smarted at the fact that through all these many years, Stender has consistently outpolled him in Plainfield. Could he secretly be rooting for her downfall?

Oh yes, the Plainfield connection?

Linda was in City Hall Annex a couple of weeks ago, wanting a copy of a death certificate, which I am told Registrar Barbara Wynne refused to issue. Did that request have anything to do with this "Stendergate" story?

Only time will tell.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Happy Birthday, Olddoc! (again)

From all of your fans!

A second Happy Birthday wish to Olddoc!

Making up for a premature call in January -- right day, wrong month.

Be sure to read his birthday thoughts here.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Decarcerate NJ event at Library Tuesday

An image for the Plainfield Decarcerate NJ event.

Here is the press release for Tuesday's Decarcerate NJ event at the Plainfield Public Library's Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room --

"Decarcerating Plainfield and NJ Youth" will be the theme of a panel discussion Tuesday February 24 at 6:00 PM.

Several local and statewide organizations are joining forces and inviting the public to participate: Plainfield Keep Youth and Streets Safe (KYSS) which was formed to call for an end to street violence in Plainfield; the statewide Decarcerate the Garden State, the Plainfield chapter of Peoples Organization for Progress and the Plainfield View blog edited by David Rutherford who is also a newly elected school board member are joining ranks to bring this discussion to town.

According to a Facebook event announcement, they have joined forces to co-sponsor a panel discussion on the impact of mass incarceration on the city of Plainfield and on the youth of New Jersey.  They plan to also discuss "the need for a unified movement to bring about the end of the destructive system of mass incarceration and the need for youth to be at the forefront of that effort." This event is absolutely free and open to the public.

A keynote presentation of a broad overview of the mass incarceration issue will be provided by Rev. Charles F. Boyer.  He serves as Pastor of St. James AME Church in Somerset, NJ.  He is a social justice activist with a focus of calling the Black Church back to its liberationist roots, particularly regarding mass incarceration.  He currently serves as Coordinator of the Covenant Project to Eradicate Mass Incarceration, a joint project of the Social Commision of theAME Church and the Payne and Turner Theological Seminaries.

He also mentors Somerset County Returning  Citizens, serves with the NJ Campaign Against Isolation Confinement, collaborates with various organizations as  such as theNJ Institute for Social Justice, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society’s Faith in Action.

Sabrina Lyttleton, a co founder of the Plainfield KYSS organization will speak on mass incarceration youth related issues, the school to prison pipeline and the need for youth involvement in the decarceration struggle.

Also speaking will be Steven Hatcher, a representative of the Peoples Organization for progress, who will give information about the Million Peoples March Against Police Brutality and Economic Inequality that will take place in July in Newark and Bob Witanek of Decarcerate the Garden State who will address the 6-point plan of action of the statewide group.

There will also be a representative from NJ Youth for Immigrant Liberation to address the connections between the issue of mass incarceration targeting impoverished communities of color and mass detention targeting impoverished immigrant communities and the need for coordinated struggle around the related issues.

Ms. Lyttleton states that the overarching theme will be educating those in attendance of "the heart breaking and astonishing injustices that are the reality today." Ms. Lyttleton states that explaining why and how Plainfield citizens, especially the youth, should and can get involved is a priority of the evening.

The organizers also hope to use the event to launch a survey of the youth of Plainfield and beyond about the attitudes, fears, and understanding of the mass incarceration issue.

KYSS founders sound off:

“This fight is personal” says Sabrina “I’m raising a son in a society that is designed for him to fail. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't fight for his rights? It’s every mother’s responsibility to protect their child the best they can. My involvement in this struggle is me protecting my child.

Nia Ali who previously spoke at the Tour de Decarcerate says “Learning all that I’m learning now….I feel like so much has been kept from me. ….it’s my responsibility to share with the generations after me so they aren’t kept in the dark”

KYSS has a facebook group at:

Decarcerate the Garden State has an active blog site at, a website at, and a group on Facebook at

More information on the event is at the Facebook event page

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

A clarification on Plainfield AA meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous has changed tens of thousands of lives.

This is a clarification of the recent post concerning Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Plainfield (see the post here).

A friend advised that whether or not the former Muhlenberg AA group meeting is disbanding, there are many other AA meetings available in Plainfield.

Alcoholics Anonymous of Northern NJ has a website (see here) with lots of useful information and links -- including a search for meetings by town or area.

A search for Plainfield turned up sixteen meetings, covering every day of the week (see here). Some are open, some closed. Some have speakers. Some are 12-step meetings. There are meetings for Spanish-speakers five times a week.

I don't want to leave the impression that the closing down of one meeting means there is no AA presence in Plainfield.

Far from it.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 20, 2015

PMUA law firm steps on own udder

Larry the cow says it is not wise to step on
one's own udder. (Image, Gentoo Linux Wiki.)

Mcmanimon & Scotland, the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) corporate counsel since its inception, was in the news recently for stepping on its own udder.

n dairy farming, it is considered bad form for a milch cow to step on its own udder. First of all, it annoys the cow, and secondly it hurts milk production.

Seems members of the firm, also long-time bond counsel for the City of Paterson, made $500 contributions to the campaign of mayor "Joey" Torres -- which is above the $300 ceiling in the city's pay-to-play ordinance (see story here).

When an RFP was issued for the bond counsel contract, McManimon & Scotland's submission was deemed incomplete because the required certification that it had not violated the local pay-to-play ordinance was not included. That led to the discovery of the contribution faux pas.

So, for this year, McManimon & Scotland will have to sit out being Paterson's bond counsel and forego the $33,000 contract.

Fortunately, the firm hasn't had the same sort of problem in Plainfield because it does no business with the city government, only the PMUA, which is an "independent" authority. Contributions to Assemblyman Jerry Green, who, as Green always reminds us "runs this mother...", would not count against the firm in its relations with the PMUA.

At least not up until now, when there is a new board clearly more willing to look into these matters.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Muhlenberg fallout? AA group disbands after 59 years

The Alcoholics Anonymous logo.

Is Plainfield suffering more fallout from the Muhlenberg Hospital closing?

Plainfield Today reader and Restore Muhlenberg activist Deborah Dowe relayed the following information in an email Wednesday evening --

...I remember when the Plainfield AA group was no longer allowed to meet at Muhlenberg but just heard that after relocating to Front Street, things were never the same and the group is disbanding after 59 years ... It is interesting that I learned this from a white woman, visiting Plainfield, who felt she had a need for a meeting...
Although this is not the only AA group in Plainfield (I know of a Latino meeting), it is sad to learn of the meeting's demise, and one has to wonder if losing its meeting space at Muhlenberg had a deleterious effect.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

PMUA deal said to anger Assemblyman Green

In 2013 Election Day scuffle with retired firefighter Ricky Williams,
Assemblyman Jerry Green is heard saying "I run this mother...".

Word in the street is that the accommodation between Plainfield mayor Adrian Mapp and a City Council majority that led to the replacement of Green allies Malcolm R. Dunn and Cecil Sanders as PMUA commissioners did not sit well with Assemblyman Jerry Green (he of the "I run this mf'er" videos).

I am told Green took to the phones to try and head off Council confirmation of Mapp's appointees -- in vain. But not before berating wavering councilors in his trademark bullying style. (Only those who have been on the receiving end -- as I and others have -- can understand what that means.)

Nevertheless, whatever the deal was, it stood -- the only "nay" vote was Councilor Taylor. (Councilor Brown, a former PMUA commissioner, abstained and Vera Greaves was not present at the January 26 special meeting.)

Whatever the agreement between the Mayor and the Council majority was based upon, one thing is for sure: Jerry Green's grip on the Council is not unbreakable. You have the evidence before your very eyes.

Does the accommodation mean that PMUA executive director Dan Williamson may find himself on the chopping block? That is one rumor. Does it mean that Gloria Taylor -- in toeing the Green line -- has improved her chances of being Council President next year (which she is said to covet greatly)?

Only time will tell.

Let's hope this accommodation is just the first and not the last time that Mayor Mapp and the Council have found a way forward, and that we all can get past the recent flap and concentrate on what's good for Plainfield.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mapp answers Plainfield Latino on ID cards

ID cards have been issued by Angels in Action
since November, 2013.

Plainfield mayor Adrian Mapp posted a response today on his blog (see here) to an Open Letter published a few days ago in the Plainfield Latino blog by Norman Ortega and Margarita Guillermo of the Tri-County Coalition (see that post here).

Ortega and Guillermo want the City of Plainfield to issue ID cards to any resident who wishes one, and they evidently wrote the open letter -- which is sort of an in-your-face move -- without having had any discussion with Mayor Mapp or the Council about the matter.

Ortega and Guillermo argue --

...[t]he City will benefit by fostering greater connectivity to important urban institutions, providing access to vital locations where photo ID is required, and creating a sense of unity within or identification with the city. Residents will gain access to everyday activities that we sometimes take for granted, such as ATMs, libraries, museums, schools, parking fees and signing leases...
There are two interesting things about this proposal: the first is that it echoes the arguments used by Carmen Salavarrieta and her Angels in Action organization when they started issuing "Plainfield Police endorsed" cards in November 2013; the second is that a photo ID does not apply to most of the "reasons" cited.

When the Open Letter first appeared on Plainfield Latino, I posted a comment to that blog attempting to correct the impression that a photo ID was needed for a library card (see comments at bottom of page here). The fact is, all one has to do is prove one is a resident and the Library will accept a piece of mail addressed to the applicant.

Let's look at the other "reasons" in Ortega and Guillermo's list --

  • ATM access -
    • I cannot see how an unofficial photo ID will help here; in order to access an ATM one must have either a credit or a debit card -- both require a Social Security number to open an account;
  • Museums -
    • HuH?! You pay, you get in. No questions asked.
  • Schools -
    • Do they mean to enroll? Far as I know, the public schools want a child's birth information and proof that inoculations are current;
  • Parking fees -
    • Fees? Meter fees? Parking permit fees? Parking violation tickets? The city is just interested in the money.
  • Signing leases -
    • Again, huh?! A landlord may want to do a credit check but may settle for the security and a month's rent in advance in cash.
The Ortega/Guillermo post also gets called out by other commenters for other factual misstatements.

In any event, the Mayor says the matter should be looked into by the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs (for a citation of their mission, see Bernice's previous post here), and further suggests the Council can appoint an ad hoc committee to pursue the matter.

Mapp says he would consider the proposal if the PACHA and the Council agreed.

I still wonder what difference it makes if the City issues a card which has no force in law.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Plainfield Symphony romps through history at free concert Saturday

Michael Avagliano will guest conduct this Saturday's FREE concert.

Under the baton of guest conductor Michael Avagliano, the Plainfield Symphony continues its 95th season with a romp through musical history at the annual free children and family concert Saturday afternoon.

The event is always spritely and provides an opportunity for youngsters to experience the sounds of a large orchestral ensemble and learn about the many instruments that combine to make these lush sounds.

Mr. Avagliano, the musical director of the Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra, has assembled a series of six pieces illustrating four periods in symphonic history -- Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern.

Selections will range from the Spring movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons to the Hoe-Down from Aaron Copland's 1942 ballet Rodeo.

Pianist Doris Lee, a 2014 Princeton graduate, will perform Chopin's Grande Polonaise Brillante in E-flat major as a representative Romantic period piece.

This is a great way to spend a family afternoon. The FREE concert is Saturday, February 21, at 3:00 PM at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church at Watchung Avenue and East 7th Street.

Parking is available in the church lot on First Place, at Swain Galleries and on the street. The church is handicap-accessible. For more info, call (908) 561-5140 or visit the PSO website:

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Has Pepsi abandoned Plainfield?

Shelves at Supremo have high-sugar Pepsi, totally out of diet. What gives?

Plainfield Today readers should know that in soda pop, as in computers, there are basically two religious options.

In computers, one is either a Mac or Windows devotee (unless you're a total geek and do Linux).

In soda pop, it's Pepsi or Coke -- well maybe, if you're from the South, we can include that prune-based beverage, Dr. Pepper.

I'm a Pepsi fan, Diet, not the full-sugar variety.

For some strange reason, there seem to have been no deliveries by Pepsi to either Twin City or Supremo for weeks. On Saturday afternoon, I snagged the last two 2-liter bottles at Supremo (see photo above).

All Pepsi's other brands, plus the high-sugar version have considerable stock on the shelves. But not the diet versions. Is there a message for Pepsi here?

And with a bottling plant just down New Brunswick Avenue in Piscataway, it's not a schlep. So, what's going on?

Pepsi lovers want to know.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why people get upset with media coverage of Plainfield

Three recent stories in the papers illustrate why Plainfield residents get upset with media coverage of Plainfield.

The first, from the Echoes-Sentinel, concerns the issuing of a summons to a driver from Plainfield for snow on their car roof while driving in Long Hill Township.

We all know there is a rule about snow on car roofs, but how many times have you heard of someone being busted for it? And having their name put in the newspaper -- as the lead item in a police blotter roundup story? Are we supposed to believe this was the only car in the township that day with snow on its roof?

I didn't recognize the name of the individual, but I wondered if it was a case of "driving while Black" in lovely Long Hill.

Today comes a story in the Courier (see here) that a K9 sweep of lockers and student cars at Ridge High in Bernards Township found weed and prescription pills in a student's car.

The student, who is over the age of 18 and therefore an adult, remained delicately unnamed in the story. Additionally, it says the amount of weed was small enough to be treated as a disorderly persons offense, but the pills could be an indictable offense. The story does not state at all whether the student was arrested or given a summons. My presumption is the student is white.

Now, let me ask you: If this were a Plainfield student, would their name have been mentioned by the media if they were over the age of 18? And their address? And would there have been a photo? And maybe a "perp walk"?

And let's not forget that just this past Monday the Courier ran a story (see here), listing Plainfield as the 11th most dangerous town in New Jersey -- making it "the most dangerous" in the Courier's service area. What good purpose did that serve?

So, even though we haven't been treated recently to rehashes by the media of the 1967 riot (thank God!), there still seems to be a subtle racism about how our community is portrayed by the media.

Or am I wrong?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Jaw-dropper at PMUA reorg meeting

An example of a pumping station, including views of the
exterior, the pump chamber and the electrical control panel.
(Image from SSWM.)

There was one jaw-dropping item on the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority (PMUA) reorganization agenda this past Tuesday evening -- at least jaw-dropping to me.

While the newly organized board took a pass on the clutch of professional services contracts for now, a resolution to award a contract for pumping station maintenance and repair passed unanimously.

Pumping stations are used to help control the flow of sewage towards a sewage treatment plant. (You can learn more from an excellent article on the Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management website here.) Plainfield's sewage system leads from the east to the west, where it flows into the PARSA-supervised portion of the regional sewage system.

Plainfielders with long memories will recall that before the establishment of the PMUA and its improvements to the sewer system, residents in the area of Woodmere Place and Leland Avenue regularly had their basements flooded with backed up sewage every time it rained. I often heard the blame placed on problems with a nearby pumping station.

Many will also recall that a number of years ago, an enhanced public parking area was developed on Myrtle Avenue adjacent to the Rock Avenue ballfields as part of an upgrade of the pumping station located in the area.

What surprised me was that PMUA Executive Director Dan Williamson explained the need for the contract -- which is not to exceed the Authority's $36,000 bid threshold -- by saying that the PMUA had no staff capable of maintaining or repairing the pumping stations.

It seems to me that pumping stations are pretty near to the very core of the PMUA's operations and not having personnel trained to repair and maintain these essential units -- after being in business twenty years -- is a cause for concern.

Sort of like saying that sharpening the pencils for an office needed to be outsourced because there was no one on staff who could handle the job?

More homework for the Commissioners, I suggest.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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