The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Plainfield garden tour today


Friends of Library garden tour today, 11 AM - 3 PM.
 

Fans of gardens and gardening
will be delighted by today's garden tour hosted by the Friends of the Plainfield Public Library. The tour includes nine private gardens in the city and runs from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM today, rain or shine.

"These homeowners hve a passion for gardens and plants," says Library Director Joe da Rold, "and many feature unusual plants and garden ideas that can be adapted to other gardens."

Among the nine gardens are examples in the Sleepy Hollow, Vam Wyck Brooks, Broadway and Crescent Avenue neighborhoods. Many are in historic districts.

Additional treats include the Shakespeare Garden at Cedar Brook Park, which is approaching its peak, and a visit to the historic Drake House Museum, which is open from 2:00 - 4:00 PM.

Tickets for the tour are $30/person and can be bought today at the starting point, da Rold's home at 1404 Martine Avenue. Proceeds of the garden tour help to fund special programming at the Library.

The Shakespeare Garden, off Randolph Road in Cedar Brook Park is free. (You can also catch a cricket match on the adjoining pitch.)

The Drake House Museum at 602 West Front Street (at the foot of Plainfield Avenue) is open from 2:00 - 4:00 PM, and at other times by appointment.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jerry Green screws Plainfield (Part 2)


State Route 28 follows a complicated path
from Terrill Road to the Dunellen line.
 

The road to Hell, as Assemblyman Jerry Green may know, is paved with good intentions. The road to Plainfield is apparently paved with no intentions at all.

In the runup to next Tuesday's Democratic Primary election, I am taking a look at some of the ways Jerry Green has screwed Plainfield over the past two-plus decades.

Today: Roads.

With 121 miles of paved streets and road, Plainfield must constantly be on top of repair, resurfacing and rebuilding efforts to properly maintain this critical infrastructure.

What has Jerry Green, the "third most powerful man in New Jersey", done to help? Precious little, in fact sometimes even obstructing necessary road work.

STATE ROUTE 28

Under Mayor Adrian Mapp's administration, the City of Plainfield has tried to get the state to take over the maintenance of the city's only State HIghway.

Route 28 enters Plainfield from the east at Terrill Road as South Avenue and proceeds westward to Roosevelt Avenue to Fourth Street (one way west) to Plainfield Avenue to West Front Street and thence to the Dunellen line. The westbound portion on Fourth Street is matched by an eastbound portion on West 5th Street from Plainfield Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue.

All told, there is between seven and eight miles of state road within Plainfield itself. The maintenance of all of this is the sole responsibility of the City of Plainfield -- unlike every other State Highway, which is maintained by the NJDOT.

When the City approached to state to resume the care and maintenance of its roadway through Plainfield, it was rebuffed.

Did Jerry Green, the "third most powerful man in New Jersey", help? He didn't say a word in support of the city's plea for assistance.
COUNTY ROADS

There are five County Roads within the city limits, for which Union County is supposed to retain responsibility for upkeep --

  • CR 531 (Park Avenue)
  • CR 601 (7th Street, East and West)
  • CR 603 (Plainfield Avenue)
  • CR 611 (Terrill Road)
  • CR ^20 (Front Street, East and West)
Some work was done on some of these roads in recent years -- all of it booked when Sharon Robinsion-Briggs was Jerry Green's hand-picked mayor.

However, since Adrian Mapp took office in 2014, Jerry Green has seen to it that not one dollar of Union County money is to be spent on County Roads in Plainfield.

For calendar year 2015, Union County has announced a road repair program that will affect twelve towns (see county press release here) -- but totally excluding Plainfield.
CITY STREETS

Councilor Cory Storch was among those with foresight who, nearly a decade ago, proposed a long-term plan for the repair and maintenance of the city's streets, something which had not been attended to in thirty years.

A comprehensive assessment was undertaken by an engineering firm and the City Council agreed to fund a portion every year through bond ordinances.

That was until Jerry Green protegé Sharon Robinson-Briggs took the reins.

During her two terms in office, road repairs were repeatedly put off, and the long-term plan fell hopelessly behind schedule.

Work that was done appears to have used sub-par materials and/or been done in a shoddy manner.

I defer to Dr. Harold Yood (Olddoc) on road matters, but he has pointed out on several occasions the poor quality of work done on Watchung and Woodland Avenues.

And the work done on East Second Street was of such poor quality that the entire job will have to be part of a makeover, when it should have lasted for at least another ten years.
Jerry Green's road repair motto appears to be: Reward your friends, punish your enemies, and screw Plainfielders.

WHAT"S AT STAKE?

As Jerry Green sits at the top of the greased pole of political power, his main goal is not to get shafted.

Elected two years ago as the chair of the Union County Democratic Committee after the ignominious demise of former chair Charlotte DeFilippo, Green has got to prove his mettle in this year's primary election to have a chance of getting the chairmanship for another two years.

Make no mistake, there are sharks in these waters.

Meanwhile, the Plainfield Democratic City Committee seats, on which Green's power as county chair rests, are also up for a vote in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 2.

Green, who after more than twenty years was unable to field a full slate of committee candidates this go-round is facing a strong challenge from Mayor Adrian Mapp's Plainfield Democratic Organization. Not only have Mapp's forces reached out to the Latino community (Jerry has no Latinos on his slate), they have enlisted younger people in the political process -- where most of Jerry's slate is old hands with 40 or more years in the trenches.

A defeat for Jerry Green in the City Committee contest could spell the end for him as Union County chair as well.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If you are tired of swerving to avoid potholes in Plainfield's state, county and local roads, there is something you can do.

If you are tired of wondering when -- or if -- the streets on which you live and travel most frequently will ever get their fair share of attention, there is something you can do.

Whether you are a registered Democrat or an unaffiliated voter, your participation on Tuesday can make the difference in Plainfield's future.


You can vote for the candidates in Column C -- re-electing Cory Storch if you live in the 2nd Ward, and electing Barry Goode if you live in Wards 1 or 4. In every ward, you will have an opportunity to elect a male and female friend or neighbor to serve on the Plainfield Democratic City Committee. Those names will also appear in Column C.

If you are an unaffiliated voter (not registered in any political party) you may still participate in the Democratic Primary by signing the voter book at your polling place, thereby indicating your intent to vote as a Democrat.

If you have already voted by absentee ballot Thank You! If not, lay out your schedule for Tuesday June 2 and do your duty. If you're tired of being screwed by Jerry Green, now is the time to return the favor.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 29, 2015

Information needed on sex assault of 5-year-old Plainfield boy


Has the sexual abuser of a Plainfield 5-year-old escaped
justice? And if so, how?
 

A couple of years ago, a Plainfield
Today reader reported that a close family member of a powerful elected official had been arrested by Plainfield police in connection with a sexual assault on a 5-year-old boy.

The anonymous commenter alleged that the person in question had been arrested by Plainfield police and taken into custody. Later that same day, the commenter said, this person was lodged in the Union County Jail awaiting arraignment before a Union County judge on the indictable charge.

Then, the commenter said, the story got strange. According to the commenter the arrested person was never arraigned, was released from the Union County Jail and has never been prosecuted on the sexual assault charge.

I am hoping that commenter, who it seemed might be a Plainfield police officer, is still reading Plainfield Today blog and has perhaps kept some notes on the matter.

I have been bothered ever since about the possibility that the allegations were true and that the person has managed to be set free, perhaps to continue to molest that same child or even others.

In order to even try and pursue a public records request, I would need to know the dates involved -- or even a range of approximate dates. Public records requests without that amount of specificity are difficult to pursue to a successful conclusion. (I seem to recall the time I received the comment was late September.)

Any reader who can help in this matter can just leave an anonymous comment with the information. Please use the header: PLAINFIELD CHILD SEX ASSAULT.

Any help is appreciated and may help save a victim (or victims) of child sex abuse.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Jerry Green screws Plainfield (Part 1)


Jerry Green found this foreclosed property perfect for his
campaign pitch last year.

Since Plainfield Assemblyman Jerry Green is fond of mixing sex and politics and I am a sucker for metaphors, I though it would be interesting to have a little fun at Jerry's expense -- while discussing some serious topics -- in the runup to next Tuesday's Democratic Primary election.

Today: Housing, including Jerry's role in foreclosures.


JERRY GREEN: HOUSING POWERHOUSE?

As chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee in the Assembly, and a member of the Joint Committee on Housing Affordability, Jerry holds himself forth as a powerhouse in housing matters in New Jersey.

Truth of the matter is he is a toothless tiger when it comes to championing affordable housing in a state where both purchase prices and rents are among the highest in the nation. In 23 years in the Assembly, Jerry Green has not notched up one victory for affordable housing in New Jersey.
JERRY GREEN & FORECLOSURES

Not only that, when the nation teetered on the edge of collapse as the housing market imploded in 2008, nary a sharp word from Jerry Green about the bankers and their shyster products that got us in all that trouble.

Foreclosures in Plainfield were above the 800 mark, more than 10% of private homes in the city. Yet, as Plainfielders foundered in a sea of rising mortgage debt, falling home values, job losees and a depressed economy, what did Jerry do?

Through his puppet, then-mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, Jerry supported renting a tour bus to take speculators around Plainfield for a tour of "opportunities".

Got that? While people needed help coping with a disaster not of their own making which had befallen them, Jerry and Sharon were hawking those same properties as "investment opportunities".

True tenderheartedness beyond belief.
THE MONARCH CONDOS: MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR SECTION 8 SCAMS?

When Jerry Green and Sharon Robinson-Briggs foisted Glenn Fishman and his Dornoch Monarch Condos -- and Senior and Veterans Centers -- upon us, Jerry swore the project "would not cost Plainfielders a dime".

Building during the market's collapse and coming to market when prices had soured, the $350,000 price tag per unit that Jerry held out evaporated.

However, through the intense efforts of local realtors on the ground, about twenty units were eventually sold, though at discounts over the original asking price.

In violation of the developer's agreement, which stipulated "owner occupancy only", Fishman began renting the units out. Unable to sell them, he eventually sold off the units he owned (see my April story here), at an average price of $87,804 per unit -- leaving those who had bought units at two or three times that price effectively under water.

Whispers are that the new owner of the 40+ units is looking to rent them as Section 8 housing. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that those on hard times should get a break -- including help with housing costs.

But investors have found a way to scam the Section 8 program, lining their nests with exorbitant government subsidies while offering the least possible in services. Forget about amenities.

Owners of condo units at The Monarch now report stepping into the halls to be greeted by steaming piles of dog poop from renters' dogs.

Thank  you, Jerry Green.
JERRY GREEN: EVICTING THE HELPLESS

Lastly, consider the helpless.

For years, Jerry Green has opposed the YMCA's shelter and housing programs.

He has finally been able to witness the eviction of these residents, some of whom have been blameless and harmless residents of the YMCA for over thirty years.

Congratulations, Jerry.
WHAT"S AT STAKE?

As Jerry Green sits at the top of the greased pole of political power, his main goal is not to get shafted.

Elected two years ago as the chair of the Union County Democratic Committee after the ignominious demise of former chair Charlotte DeFilippo, Green has got to prove his mettle in this year's primary election to have a chance of getting the chairmanship for another two years.

Make no mistake, there are sharks in these waters.

Meanwhile, the Plainfield Democratic City Committee seats, on which Green's power as county chair rests, are also up for a vote in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, June 2.

Green, who after more than twenty years was unable to field a full slate of committee candidates this go-round is facing a strong challenge from Mayor Adrian Mapp's Plainfield Democratic Organization. Not only have Mapp's forces reached out to the Latino community (Jerry has no Latinos on his slate), they have enlisted younger people in the political process -- where most of Jerry's slate is old hands with 40 or more years in the trenches.

A defeat for Jerry Green in the City Committee contest could spell the end for him as Union County chair as well.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If you are tired of stepping out of your door to be greeted by the boarded up, weed-infested foreclosure on your street, there is something you can do.

If you are tired of seeing fresh dog poop in your hallway at The Monarch, there is something you can do.

If you see a homeless person panhandling downtown, there is something you can do.

Whether you are a registered Democrat or an unaffiliated voter, your participation on Tuesday can make the difference in Plainfield's future.


You can vote for the candidates in Column C -- re-electing Cory Storch if you live in the 2nd Ward, and electing Barry Goode if you live in Wards 1 or 4. In every ward, you will have an opportunity to elect a male and female friend or neighbor to serve on the Plainfield Democratic City Committee. Those names will also appear in Column C.

If you are an unaffiliated voter (not registered in any political party) you may still participate in the Democratic Primary by signing the voter book at your polling place, thereby indicating your intent to vote as a Democrat.

If you have already voted by absentee ballot Thank You! If not, lay out your schedule for Tuesday June 2 and do your duty. If you're tired of being screwed by Jerry Green, now is the time to return the favor.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Still a little under the weather


No post today, still a little under the weather.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

130 years of Plainfield clubs and organizations in new exhibit


Plainfield Elks Club in an undated postcard.
Building on the left has been replaced by
Investors Bank.
(Image courtesy Plainfield Public Library)
   
Plainfielders can get a glimpse of 130 years of local clubs and organizations in a new exhibit mounted at the Plainfield Public Library.

A special treat is a rare panoramic photo of African American Masons attending their 1937 state convention in Plainfield.

As would be expected in a community that was rock-ribbed Republican for much of its history, there are items from the Reform Club, which was a temperance organizaiton, and the Union Club, a staunchly conservative men's social club that catered to Plainfield's Wall Street set in the 1880s.

Clubs singled out for this exhibit include the Elks, Boy and Girl Scouts, the Laurel League, the Shakespeare Club and the Plainfield Camera Club.

The much-loved and warmly remembered Ric-Charles Choral Ensemble is also featured.

In all, 20 organizations are featured in this show -- the library has records of more than one hundred clubs and other groups -- and include photos, postcards, letters, programs and other memorabilia.

The exhibit is mounted in the display cases on both levels of the Library at 8th Street and Park Avenue. The Plainfield Public Library is an accessible building. Parking available in the 8th and 9th Street parking lots.

For more information about library hours and programs, visit the library's website at plainfieldlibrary.info/.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, May 25, 2015

No post today, had a touch of ptomaine


No post today, had a touch of ptomaine overnight. See you tomorrow.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Green's Plainfield caper turns Kobitz into 'loser'



Green turns Koitz into week's 'loser'.

Plainfield Assemblyman and Democratic chairperson Jerry Green has done something no one else could do.

Green has single-handedly turned Union County Board of Elections administrator Dennis Kobitz into one of the week's 'losers' according to PolitickerNJ's weekly rack up (see here).

How did Green do this?

He evidently persuaded Kobitz to allow a property of which he is co-owner to be used as the mailing address of the so-called "Union County's Committee" which has been paying for some of the trashy political pieces in your mailbox in recent days.

Kobitz, who was tagged by longtime Plainfield Democratic activist Dottie Gutenkauf (see here), is not happy and protests that his brother lives in the house.

Mayor Mapp called PolitickerNJ's attention to the matter (see here), calling for an investigation and for Kobitz to step down

But then Dottie turned up another -- and potentially more embarrassing -- connection: Turns out the original absentee ballot she received had been doctored to indicate the only choices for County Democratic Committee were members of Green's Regular Democratic Organization. Read her post on that discovery here.


After Gutenkauf protested, County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi -- bless her! -- ordered the misleading ballots be replaced by freshly printed (and correct) versions.

PolitickerNJ sums up the whole mess by dinging Kobitz, at least for this week.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Friday, May 22, 2015

Lily sale at FUSP Saturday


Benfica is one of several varieties of lily
being offered at FUSP on Saturday.
 

The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield is having a sale of lily bulbs on Saturday, May 23, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

On offer are seven varieties of lily bulbs offering a wide range of colorings and planting options -- from shady spots to pots, and some that are very fragrant.

If you're an aficionado, you'll recognize the names -- Benfica, London Heart, Manissa, Souvenir, Spring Joy, and Venetian. There will also be a "mystery" assortment of Oriental mixed varieties (all fragrant). In addition, there is a limited selection of Amaryllis bulbs.

The bulbs are from Holland and imported by a North Jersey grower. The lily bulbs, which retail from $2.50-$4.00 per bulb are being offered at $1.00 each -- a real bargain. The amaryllis bulbs are being offered at $5.00 each and normally retail at $10-$12 each.

FUSP volunteers Sandy Kaplan and Gayle Jones are in charge. Be sure to say "Hi!" to them and tell them you learned of the sale through Plainfield Today.

FUSP is at 724 Park Avenue, just off Seventh Street. Parking on the street and in the city lot across from the church.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rec to open Hannah Atkins pool Saturday


Hannah Atkins Pool will open Saturday.


Plainfield's Division of Parks & Recreation will kick off the summer season with the opening of the Hannah Atkins Pool on Saturday, May 23, from Noon to 5:00 PM.

"Mayor Mapp wants to be sure our young people are able to avail themselves of summertime recreational opportunities," says Superintendent Veronica Taylor, "and we are pleased to be able to open the Hannah Atkins Pool ahead of schedule."

Plainfield is unusual in a community of its size for having three community swimming pools -- at Rushmore Playground and Seidler Field, as well as at Hannah Atkins.

The pools are a considerable expense, according to Taylor, as maintenance and upkeep were let slide in previous years. In her first year on the job, she has had to deal with resurfacing issues as well as pump and filtration problems. The lack of a long-awaited pool cover at one pool has meant that DPW crews had to retrieve a number of dead squirrels that had fallen in over the winter.

Work is under way for prepping the Rushmore and Seidler pools for their June opening.


All Plainfield's pools have trained and certified lifeguards on hand when they are open, and Taylor has beefed up pool safety training.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mayor Mapp hosts Town Hall meeting Thursday


Thursday event is being promoted on the city website.
 

Mayor Adrian Mapp will host a town hall-style meeting at Plainfield's Senior Citizen Center from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on Thursday evening.

Mayor Mapp, department heads and various staffers will present an overview of recent activities and achievements in the center's large meeting room.

The public will have an opportunity to ask questions and raise issues.

Parking is a concern -- mind yourself not to park in residents' spaces in the Monarch parking lot.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rumors Belin-Pyles plans to reassign all principals


Disturbing rumors of possible personnel moves.
 

In a move that could prove disastrous for Plainfield's public school students, rumors are swirling that Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles is planning to reassign ALL school principals for the 2015-16 school year which begins in September. Belin-Pyles has the authority to make the moves, though the Board of Ed would have to confirm them by resolution.

It is not unusual for one or two principals to be reassigned at the end of a school year -- often because of the retirement of an in-place principal. Having a new principal in a building can mean that much of a school year is spent rejiggering everything to suit the new leader's sensibilities. And that can be hard on students, who are at the bottom of the pecking order, no matter how much the adults beat their chests and say "it's for the kids."

But to contemplate moving all the district's principals around raises important questions, the first of which is "Why?"

One principal is said to be "too close to the parents" -- a strange complaint, since the parents are among those paying the bills.

At any rate, expect to hear more on this subject.

The Board of Ed meets for its business session at 8:00 PM this evening in the PHS Auditorium, 950 Park Avenue. Parking available in the Stelle and Kenyon Avenue lots and on the street. There is an opportunity for public input at the meeting (see the full agenda here).


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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PHS Class of 1955 celebrates 60th reunion


PHS Class of 1955 at 60th reunion.
Photo courtesy Ted Turner, MD, '55 (click to enlarge).
 

Plainfield High School's class of 1955 celebrated its 60th reunion this past Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Somerset.

Congrats to all those who came out -- especially the adventurous ones in the upper rows!

And thanks to Plainfield Today reader, Ted Tuner, MD, class of '55 and retired Muhlenberg Hospital physician, who supplied the picture.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, May 18, 2015

Dottie Gutenkauf sleuths the election mailings


325-7 Trinity Place, Hillside,
from which the recent political mailers have been issued.
 

Plainfield Democrats -- who will be voting for a new City Committee on June 2 -- owe Dottie Gutenkauf a big thank you for her excellent sleuthing on the recent political mailers from "Union County's Committee" (see her post here).

Not only does Dottie point out the group is not registered with ELEC, she tracks down the owners of the address given for the mailer.

Turns out, according to Dottie's research, that the property is owned by two brothers who are county employees. One of them is Dennis Kobitz, the administrator of the Union County Board of Elections.

Any readers of Plainfield Today who have ever worked as a challenger at the polls, as I have, will recognize "Dennis" as the dude with the walkie-talkie who can be seen scurrying from poling place to poling place to keep order and make sure the rules are followed.

Is it a conflict of interest for him to be taking sides in the current election?

What do you think?


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Sunday, May 17, 2015

FOSH Garage Sale, Storch and Goode event today


Your friends and neighbors are supporting
Cory Storch and Barry /Goode.

 
Plainfielders face a doubleheader today -- nice day for it!.

The annual FOSH Garage Sale takes place from 9 AM t0 4 PM. Best bet is to head over to Watchung Avenue, where you will find several homes participating, and pick up a map of the locations.

While you're shopping, don't forget to drop by the Senior Center's crafts and rummage booth at City Hall parking lot -- it's part of the FOSH event.

From 3 PM to 6 PM, friends and supporters of Councilor Storch and Barry Good will gather for a fundraiser at the home of Libby and Peter Price, 966 Hillside Avenue. Bring your checkbook and have a good time!


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Plainfield TAP launches today


The logo of Plainfield's newest news site -- launching todya!

 

Joel Mercado, Plainfield born and raised, is set to launch the TAP Into Plainfield website today.

TAP, which began life as The Alternative Press, is a project of Mike Shapiro, who has grown the online community news website to now include 37 New Jersey communities -- with Plainfield being the most recent.

Joel announced on his Facebook page (see here) that today is slated to be "launch day".

Check out this new source for community news and events (here) and bookmark it -- I'm sure you'll want to come back often and support Joel's media business venture!

All the best, Joel!



Joel and his mom -- All the best for success!!



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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