The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Council recognizes Plainfield Rescue Squad, zips through agenda


Council President Cory Storch reads a proclamation honoring the
Plainfield Rescue Squad. Image courtesy of Fire Chief Tidwell.
(That's me in the front, too close to get a good shot of everyone.)

More time was spent at Tuesday evening's Plainfield City Council agenda-setting session on two "discussion" items than on the agenda for next week's business meeting. To everyone's relief, I think.

With Councilor Taylor absent, Councilor Tracey Brown was unanimously elected chair pro-tem for the evening's meeting.

Plainfield Rescue Squad board president Sue Kessen and the squad's leadership team made a presentation updating the Council and public on the squad's activities and contributions to the community.

When asked by Council President Storch what the squad wanted from the city, Kessen siad they hoped the city could help with grant writing. New communications equipment -- which would allow the squad to follow police and fire communications in real time -- is expensive, beyond the squad's financial resources, for which they would appreciate the help.

City administrators pledged their cooperation. How different from the days of Mayor Robinson-Briggs and Police Director Martin Hellwig, when the administration actively pursued the squad's dissolution.

At the end, Council President Storch called all squad members to the front and presented a unanimous proclamation from the City Council.

The other discussion item was a presentation by the Rev. Paul Dean on a "Black Men Run for All Lives" 5K run/walk slated for Friday, November 25 ("Black Friday", when holiday shopping traditionally begins) at Cedar Brook Park.

Municipal Clerk "AJ" Jalloh outlined the steps Dean's group would need to take for a permit from the County for the park's use and Public Safety Director Carl Riley pledged the Police Division's cooperation in smoothing the way for the event.

Those items out of the way, the Council then zipped through its agenda, with only minor questions raised, except for Council President Storch's close questioning of Administration & Finance Director Ron West on the audit findings concerning failure by some units to encumber every purchase before it is made. When pressed by Storch to publicly name the miscreants, West demurred, saying he would provide a list to the Council.

Storch also questioned a joint grant application by the city with Homefirst, the housing services nonprofit. This would be for a veterans housing support program at the former Dudley House property. Storch wanted reassurances that Homefirst had the necessary financial resources in place to provide the services and was not solely reliant on the grant. He pressed for a representative of Homefirst to come before the Council next week to answer questions -- stating that if he is not reassured, he will not vote for the resolution.

I noted with interest that the only ordinance on the agenda (2016-16) was to extend Title 39 traffic regulations to the parking lot associated with the old DYFS building at 7th Street and Park Avenue -- a welcome sign that that project is beginning to move along.

Council's business meeting is Monday, September 12, 8:00 PM in the Courthouse / Council Chamber, Watchung Avenue at East 4th Street.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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