The needler in the haystack.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Council's only November meeting is Tuesday


Council takes its only November meeting on the road.
 


Plainfield
City Council meets for its only November session Tuesday (November 1) at Clinton Elementary School, Clinton Avenue at West 4th Street. The combined agenda and business meeting gets under way at 7:00 PM.

Two discussion items are noted on the agenda --
  • "Best practices inventory"
  • "Loitering/Public nuisance at Park and 7th"

Four new ordinances are also on the agenda --
  • Execution of escrow agreements with prospective developers;
  • Authorizing sale of "sliver lots";
  • Amend violations and penalties of existing taxi ordinance; and
  • Amend speed regulations on certain streets.
The Mitchell-Humphreys contract is (once again) also on the agenda.

Parking at Clinton School is available in the lot on Clinton Avenue.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Robinson-Briggs' bonehead stunt puts NAACP non-profit status at risk


Screenshot of bonehead Sharon's post to the NAACP Facebook
page on Friday. It has since been removed. Click on image to enlarge.
 


Bonehead Plainfield
Ward 3 candidate Sharon Robinson-Briggs put the Plainfield NAACP's nonprofit status at risk in posting her political flyer to the group's Facebook page.

The infraction was caught by Councilor Rebecca Williams, who posted about it on her City Council blog Friday (see here).

But this is not the first time Sharon has pulled this trick.

As Rebecca points out, the NAACP Facebook page was used to promoted partisan political candidates in 2014 (when Charles Eke ran against Rebecca Williams for the Wards 2/3 at-large seat).

At that time, resident Alan Goldstein pointed out that the NAACP bylaws forbid endorsing partisan political candidates --

Excerpted from Article II Section 2d of the NAACP's Bylaw for Units:
"All political action shall be non-partisan and shall not endorse candidates for public office."

http://naacp.3cdn.net/38b26a596409a67f41_hkm6bvfl6.pdf


At the time, NAACP President Peter Briggs publicly apologized for the lapse and the post was deleted.

Though the current post has been deleted from Facebook, no apology appears to have been issued.

This present incident just underscores my reference to Robinson-Briggs being "Trumpish" at this past week's League of Women Voters forum.

Not only did she -- like Trump -- have vague program ideas with no acknowledgment of their true costs, and -- again, like Trump -- focus on her grudges and grievances, now she has added another Trump-like quality: disregard for the integrity of long-established principles.

Two thoughts come to mind: First, all of these are plenty good reasons to steer clear of Sharon Robinson-Briggs on November 8.

Second, maybe it's time for the New Jersey NAACP to clean house in the Plainfield chapter.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Friday, October 28, 2016

Busy Weekend: 1967 remembered, 7th Street cleanup, Halloween happenings


The Recreation Division's annual Doggy Howl costume event
is one of this weekend's many Plainfield happenings.


Busy Halloween Plainfield weekend --

SATURDAY

7TH STREET CLEANUP

Councilor Barry Goode's 'Clean The Queen' campaign is joined by the folks from Queen City Pride in a cleanup targeting Seventh Street.

Beginning at Plainfield Avenue and West 7th Street at 9:00 AM, volunteers will pick up trash along Seventh Street between Plainfield Avenue and Leland Avenue. Rakes, bags, gloves and water will be supplied.

Time: 9:00 AM to Noon.

DOGGY HOWL

Plainfield dogs and their pals get their chance for a Halloween Howl at the annual Doggy Howl costume event at City Hall.

Awards will be given for the best-dressed duos (dogs and owners).

This Recreation Division sponsored free event takes place in City Hall parking lot from Noon to 1:00 PM (awards at 12:30).

1967 REBELLION REMEMBERED

Frontiers International's Plainfield Chapter presents its annual Westry Horne Cultural and Heritage event Saturday, entitled "The Plainfield Riot Rebellion 50 Years Later: A Retrospective".

Plainfield was one of hundreds of US communities where such events took place between 1965 and 1968.

The program features several Plainfielders who were there -- including Agurs Cathcart, Warren Blackshear and Nancy Jordan. Attendees will be invited to share their recollections.

The event is free. Light refreshments will be served.

At Washington Community School, 426 Darrow Avenue, from 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM. Parking available in the Spooner Avenue lot and on the street.

SUNDAY

SPOOKY CEMETERY TALES

The Drake House Museum is holding a spooky Halloween treat on Sunday afternoon with "Halloween Adventures: Local Cemetery Stories".

Youngsters of all ages will enjoy these timely tales. The program is free. Light refreshments will be served.

The Drake House Museum is at 602 West Front Street (at the foot of Plainfield Avenue). For more information, call (908) 755-5831 or visit the website at www.drakehouseplainfieldnj.org/.

MONDAY

TRUNK OR TREAT

The Recreation Division's tremendously popular Annual Trunk & Treat takes place Monday in the City Hall paring lot.

There will be a costume parade. Prizes will be given for best family costume and for best trunk. The event is for children ages 12 and under.

Starting at 6:00 PM until the candy runs out. Awards will be given out at 6:30 PM.
For more information, call the Recreation Division at (908) 753-3097.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

League candidate forum: One looks ahead, one looks Trumpish


Sandra Matsen, former president of the NJ LWV, moderated the forum.


Charles McRae, the Democratic nominee.


Sharon Robinson-Briggs, running as an Independent.
 
 

Plainfield's League of Women Voters hosted a forum for the Ward 3 candidates Wednesday evening at the Plainfield Public Library.

Facing off were Democratic party nominee Charles McRae and former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who is running as an Independent.

Joylette Mills-Ransome of the Plainfield League introduced the moderator, Sandra Matsen, a former president of the NJ state LWV.

The candidates made opening statements citing their background, involvement in the community and reasons for running. The information is also available in their profiles on the League's website here.

Because there were no mikes for the candidates at their table, they took turns speaking from the podium, while the moderator worked without a mike. Plainfielders are great at improvising.

The candidates offered their views on a number of questions, some posed by the League and most coming from the audience. Topics included the standard "what will you do?", as well as issues such as dealing with Council friction, veterans' services, youth needs, the Muhlenberg Hospital campus, quality-of-life issues, economic development, senior citizen concerns and perceptions of Plainfield.

Things shook out quite quickly.

McRae, with his experience in reviewing the City's budget process and service on the Zoning Board, emphasized the progress being made under Mayor Adrian Mapp's leadership and his intent to work with the Mapp administration to push the city forward.

Robinson-Briggs was more Trump-like in her answers, often referring to wanting to provide FREE new or extended services, but with no clear plan for financing the costs of her wish list. She, also Trumplike, did not miss an opporutnity throughout the evening to take swipes at Mayor Mapp, Councilor Rebecca Williams and yours truly, all of whom were cited as having worked at cross-purposes to her when she was mayor.

Controlling costs were always a problem for Robinson-Briggs as mayor, who treated the city's funds cavalierly, to say the least.

McRae pointed out that, as a member of the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, he caught a $1 million+ error in the budget that Robinson-Briggs had submitted (he politely refrained from naming her, only saying it was during a 'previous administration').

When Robinson-Briggs said she wanted to see the city operate a youth center, McRae responded by asking why it wouldn't be better to work with existing agencies to expand or improve their programming.

He cited a list that include the Second Street Youth Center, the YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and the Washington and Emerson Community Schools.

When Robinson-Briggs protested that the schools charge for use of the buildings, McRae pointed out that the Mapp administration had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the school district, eliminating fees for use of the school properties. The exchange showed that Robinson-Briggs has lost touch with what is happening in the community since she left office.

Another example of her being out of touch came with her complaint about the new ABC Building Supplies warehouse going up on South Second Street, as part of a project that will also include a 90-unit apartment complex. She complained that it was taking place in a residential neighborhood (not exactly true: it's on the site of a former factory building) and sits across from a church (where she worships) -- completely ignoring that the church's pastor, a sitting Council member, was a passionate advocate for the project.

Robinson-Briggs also said sne wanted to see the city establish a "training center" for jobs. She made a good point that job fairs do not help those who have not got the skilss being looked for. However, she seemed to be unaware of the efforts already being made (for instance, by the Plainfield Public Library and Union County College) to address the issue. She had no answer for how such a facility would be funded, where it would be located or how it would be staffed. Trumplike again.

On the question of development of the vacant Muhlenberg property, Robinson-Briggs dodged the fact that as a Muhlenberg board member she never attended a single meeting during her two terms in office -- which included the period when JFK closed the hospital and its subsequent proposal for 600+ units of "luxury" apartments.

McRae emphasized his support for the efforts of the Mapp administration to come to a meeting of the minds with JFK that included a medical-related use for the property. He pointed out that the city does not control the property, which is owned by JFK.

As is usual with events that start at 7:00 PM, the audience bulked up as the evening went along, with perhaps 75-80 there at the end.

Though I am no fan of Robinson-Briggs, I went with the expectation that she would be more forward-looking and --with all her experience -- detail-oriented in her proposals.

Instead, she blew a lot of snoke with vague ideas and took pains at every turn to underscore her opposition to Mayor Mapp. Implied, though unspoken, was that if elected, she would guarantee that a rancorous Council -Administration relationship would continue. All very reminiscent of Donald Trump to my mind.

The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. The polls will be open from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

A lot is at stake in this year's election. Do your duty.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mayor Mapp continues anti-violence push with 'Peaceful Plainfield' program


The free two-part event takes place Thursday and Friday.



Building on the success of last winter's Youth Summit, Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the City of Plainfield are collaborating once again with the Grassroots Community Foundation to present a two-part program aimed at creating strategies for a more harmonious community. The title of the program is "Peaceful Plainfield: Strategizing for a Peaceful Future".

Drawing on the deep connections established with Plainfield youth by the Youth Summit, the program will expand the discussion by including thought leaders, community activists and business leaders as the community looks forward.

Both segments of the program are free and the public is warmly invited to attend.

The program is being coordinated by Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, president of the Foundation. For more about the Grassroots Community Foundation, see its website here.

THURSDAY: RECEPTION AND SHORT DOCUMENTARY

The program begins with a reception hosted by Mayor Mapp on at the Plainfield Public Library on Thursday evening (October 27).

During the reception, a very short documentary film -- Bullets Without Names -- will be shown. The 9-minute documentary chronicles the experiences of a young Black male survivor of a gunshot incident (more about the film at IMDB here).

Plainfield youth will have an opportunity at the screening to express their ideas about combating violence -- and especially gun violence -- in the community.

The reception runs from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

FRIDAY: STAKEHOLDER ROUNDTABLE

On Friday morning (October 28), the program continues with a roundtable discussion to which stakeholders have been invited.

The keynote speaker for the Friday portion of the program is Dr. Joseph Richardson of the University of Maryland, who holds  PhD from Rutgers School of Criminal Justice.

The roundtable will also include opportunities to hear from our youth as well as national and local leaders on how to mobilize and unify to combat violence in our community.

The Roundtable begins at 10:00 AM and runs to 1:00 PM.

Both the Reception and the Roundtable will be held in the Plainfield Public Library's Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room. For more information, contact Jazz Clayton-Hunt at (908) 226-2507.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fundraiser for McRae and Williams Tuesday


Rebecca Williams, Charles McRae and Linda Carter
are on the November ballot, Column A.
 


With two weeks to go in the 2016 election season, Plainfield Democratic City Council candidates Charles McRae and Rebecca Williams will be the guests of honor at a fundraiser on Tuesday evening (October 25).

Rebecca is unopposed as the Citywide at-large candidate, having defeated incumbent Tracey Brown in the June Democratic primary.

Charles also won his June primary race, defeating Alma Blanco. In November, he faces former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who is running as an Independent.

The cocktail reception is being hosted by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and First Lady Amelia Mapp at their home, St. George's Manor, 535 West 8th Street. It will run from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Rebecca and Charles are part of the Democratic Column A slate, which is headed by Hillary Clinton for president, Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress, and Plainfield's own Linda Carter, as well as Betty Jane "BJ" Kowalski and Sergio Granados for Freeholders.

Suggested donation for the fundraiser is $250. Checks may be made payable to "Rebecca Williams 2016 for Council", "Charles McRae 2016 for Council", or the "Plainfield Democratic City Committee".

Wednesday evening, the Plainfield chapter of the League of Women Voters will present the 2016 Candidate Forum between McRae and Robinson-Briggs. (By LWV rules, only positions with opposing candidates take part in the forums.)



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

McRae and Robinson-Briggs face off in LWV forum Wednesday


Candidates for the Ward 3 seat will take part in Wednesday's
Plaianfield League of Women Voters forum.
 

For ninety-six years, Plainfield's chapter of the League of Women Voters (LWV) has hosted candidate forums to introduce candidates to the public and provide an opportunity for them to discuss their views on issues of interest to the community.

The LWV will offer its 2016 Candidate Forum this Wednesday (October 26) in the Anne Louise Davis Room of the Plainfield Public Library. The forum starts promptly at 7:00 PM.

Charles McRae, Democratic candidate for the Ward 3 Council seat will face off against former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs, who is running as an Independent.

Each candidate has provided their background information and answers to questions posed by the League. That information is available online at the League's website here.

According to LWV rules, only candidates for positions that are contested take part in its forums, which means that Rebecca Williams, who is running unopposed as the Democratic candidate for the Citywide at-large seat, will not be part of the forum.

Come a few minutes early and take in the excellent exhibit of photographs of Plainfield life and people from the Library's extensive historic collection that is currently on display in the ALD Gallery.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Songs of Solidarity Concert in Newark Saturday


A free concert today as part of Newark's 350th Anniversary.
 

A tip o' the hat to Plainfield Today reader Bob Bender (Patty is the retired director of the Planfield Senior Citizens Center) for the following information.

As part of Newark's celebration of its 350th anniversary this year, a series of events, exhibitions and concerts has been planned for citywide throughout the year.

Saturday (October 22) will feature a concert entitled "Songs of Solidarity: Protest Songs from Newark's Past".

The free concert is slated to run from 4:00 to 6:00 PM at the Old First Presbyterian Church.

The program will feature the Rutgers University-Newark Chorus and the Newark Philharnonic Glee Club.

Songs will be drawn from Irish, African American, Jewish, Italian, radical and labor struggles from the Civil War era to World War II.

You can follow all the programs on Newark's 350th celebration website here.

Old First Presbyterian Church is at 820 Broad Street. Map and directions here.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tri-County History Fair Saturday; Park Avenue cleanup Sunday


Plainfield's stunning public library will host
Saturday's Tri-County History Fair.


Plainfield
offers two great activities this weekend --

SATURDAY: TRI-COIUNTY HISTORY FAIR
Those interested in African American genealogy will be pleased that the NJ chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society will be at the free Saturday event to answer questions and help with family research. The event is at the Plainfield Public Library from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The fair, hosted by the Plainfield Public Library, includes historical organizations from the Union-Somerset-Middlesex area as well as other vendors -- including Innovative Document Imaging, which converts documents to digital formats.

There will be a presentation on historical property ownership, as well as free antique appraisals. (Appraisals are by ADVANCE registration; call (908) 757-111 x136 Friday to register.)

Attendees will be entered in a drawing for free Ancestry DNA testing kits.

Twenty organizations will be on hand to share thier areas of interest.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots. For more information about library hours and programs, visit the library's website at www.plainfieldlibrary.info/.

SUNDAY: QUEEN CITY PRIDE PARK AVENUE CLEANUP
Queen City Pride (QCP) volunteers continue their enthusiastic cleanup efforts this Sunday -- focusing on Park Avenue.

The cleanup is slated from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Volunteers will gather at Park Avenue and Sloane Boulevard and work one side of the street up to Seventh Street and then back down the other side of the street to the starting point.

Queen City Pride is also taking down those annoying "We Buy Houses" and other illegal signs posted on telephone poles. So far the total is more than 350, with more being taken down every day. if you spot a sign, alert them by email at queencitypridenj@gmail.com and they will take it down.

You can follow QCP activities on their Facebook page here.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Monster Hillside Historic District estate sale


Maker's mark from highly collectible Shenango China
of New Castle, PA.
 

Longtime Plainfield caterer
and local Republican leader Sandy Spector is having a monster estate sale this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (October 21 - 23).

You will find Lenox china, Waterford crystal, collectibles, Tiffany-style lamps, furniture, women's clothing and much more.

Items from her catering business include Shenango vitreous china (highly collectible), table cloths in many sizes and colors, assorted glassware, flatware, hotel pans and restaurant equipment.

Here's the schedule --
  • Friday and Saturday, 9:30 AM - 3:00 PM
  • Sunday, 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM

The estate is one of the Hillside Historic District's magnificent mansions, at 1020 Hillside Avenue (corner of Evergreen Avenue).

For more information, see the website here.

You will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

N O   E A R L Y B I R D S !




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Free flu shots for Plainfield residents


2016 Free flu shots now available.


As we head into flu season, the Plainfield Health Division is offering FREE flu shots to Plainfield residents at a series of clinics at various locations in the city.

Here's the roster --

Wednesday, October 19 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Senior Citizens Center 400 East Front Street

Wednesday, October 19 5:00 - 7:00 PM
New Covenant Church 225 East 7th Street (at Roosevelt Avenue)

Wednesday, October 26 5:00 - 8:00 PM
St. Mary's Church 516 West 6th Street (at Liberty Street)
The flu shots are FREE on a first come-first served basis (supplies are limited).

No appointment is necessary, but you must show proof of residence (driver's license, City ID card, etc.). Vaccine is for ages 4 and up.

Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies and/or your doctor's office, but charges may apply.

For more information, call the Division of Health at (908) 753-3645.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Monday, October 17, 2016

City offers free help to avoid being hacked, ID theft


Uh oh! What to do now?
 

Ever found your Facebook account had suspicious or embarrassing messages sent to all your friends?

Ever gotten a call from a friend saying they had gotten a strange email from you and were checking whether you really sent it?

If so, you've been hacked.

Plainfield is offering a free opportunity to understand how it happens and how to guard against cyberthreats to your personal computer or your business.

Anyone who uses the Internet is vulnerable to have their address book hijacked, their identity stolen, and their business disrupted or even bankrupted by malicious hacks and frauds.

Anyone whose business depends on employees using computers and internet access needs this informative workshop to protect their business.

A free workshop on Wednesday (October 19) hosted by the City of Plainfield and presented by cybersecurity expert Chris Reid of Palindrome Technologies will inform and give you tools and knowledge to combat hackers of all sorts.

Chris will discuss the various types of cyberattacks you may experience and what harm they can do to you. He will also give you tips and techniques to avoid being hacked, and what to do if you are hacked.

There will be a question-and-answer period following his presentation.

The free workshop runs from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room of the Plainfield Public Library.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots. For more information about this program, call (908) 226-2502.

(Attendees will have time afterward to make it over to Plainfield Democratic Headquarters (31 Watchung Avenue) for the presidential debate-watching party, which begins at 8:00 PM.)




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Community debate watching party at Dem HQ Wednesday


The third (and final) presidential debate on Wednesday
pits Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.
 

Plainfield Democratic Headquarters will host a community debate-watching party on Wednesday (October 19) as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the third, and final, presidential debate.

Clinton and Trump will meet at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas for the final match.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace will be the moderator. Wallace will get a lot of scrutiny, as have the previous two debates' hosts. The format for Wednesday will be like the first debate, with six fifteen minute segments.

Those segments are devoted to the following topics --
  • Immigration;

  • Entitlements and debt (an attack on Social Security?);

  • The Supreme Court;

  • The economy;

  • Foreign policy; and

  • Each candidate's fitness to serve as president.

The watch party gets under way at 8:00 PM and the debate runs from 9:00 to 10:30 PM.

All are invited. Bring some party fare and/or beverage to share.

Plainfield Democratic Headquarters is at 31 Watchung Avenue (next to Antojito's Restaurant). Parking available in the public lot on Watchung Avenue.

See you there!




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Dem kickoff, Drake House event, cleanups this weekend


The Drake House is featured in "Four Centuries in a Weekend"
this Saturday and Sunday among other weekend activities.


Another busy weekend in Plainfield --

DEM HEADQUARTERS KICKOFF

The Plainfield Democratic City Committee will meet at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning to vote on adopting the proposed bylaws and to kick off the finall push for the November general election.

The meeting will be led by chairman Adrian O. Mapp. Candidates will be on hand. Coffee and donuts for all, and opportunities to sign up for campaign activities in the office and at the polls on election day (November 8). See my full post here.

Plainfield Democratic Headquarters is at 31 Watchung Avenue (next to Antojito's Restaurant). Parking in the public lot on Watchung Avenue.
DRAKE HOUSE EVENTS

This weekend is the annual Union County "Four Centuries In A Weekend", in which all of the county's historical sites and museums will be open with special programming.

Plainfield's own Drake House Museum will be open on Saturday from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM and on Sunday from Noon to 5:00 PM.

According to Historical Society president Nancy Piwowar, there will be  a lecture on each day at 2:00 PM on the role of African Americans in the Plainfield area in the Revolutionary War -- featuring profiles of Caesar, Robert Aaron, Ambo and others.

The Drake House Museum at 602 West Front Street (at the foot of Plainfield Avenue).
CLEANUPS CONTINUE

The weekend community cleanups continue.

Queen City Pride (see their Facebook page here) is joining with Councilor Barry Goode's "Clean The Queen" initiative this Saturday from 9:00 AM to Noon.

This weekend's focus is East Second Street. Volunteers will start at East Second and Richmond and work their way to end at Berkeley Terrace and East Second Street.

Gloves, rakes, bags and water will be provided (thanks to John Louise and crew!).

For more information, contact Councilor Barry Goode at (908) 295-2456 CORRECTED NUMBER: (908) 295-2486 or email Queen City Pride at queencitypride@gmail.com.
When you're done with all that, take some time to enjoy the fall colors -- leaves are coming into their prime colors over the next few days.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Thursday, October 13, 2016

JFK Medical Center for sale


Rose of Sharon Pastor M. LaVerne Ball was among Muhlenberg
supporters at Ma7 2008 hearing at PHS Auditorium.

JFK Medical Center, which closed
Plainfield's Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center in 2008, is looking for a buyer, according to a report in the Ledger (see here).

The 498-bed JFK covers Edison plus the former Muhlenberg's service area in Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties.

It is one of the last independent hospitals in New Jersey, and is falling victim to cost pressures in the healthcare sector arising from reduced payments to hospitals as a result of Obamacare.

Prospective buyers include New Jersey's three largest healthcare systems -- RWJ Barnabas, Hackensack Meridian, and Atlantic Healthcare.

Though JFK's long term outlook as an independent hospital has been rumored to be bleak for years, the move still comes as something of a surprise.

It is not clear how or whether this new situation will affect the redevelopment of the Muhlenberg campus, which will depend on a sale of the property by JFK (or its successor) to a developer.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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Taxi owners complain of unfair competition


Bright blue United cabs are one of four companies operating in Plainfield.


About thirty taxi cab owners and drivers, along with family members, came to Tuesday's Plainfield City Council meeting to bring their concerns over unfair competition to the Council's attention.

The group represented Plainfield's four taxi companies, which can be identified by their cabs' colors: Caribe (orange sherbet), Liberty (red), Queen City Yellow (chrome yellow), and United (blue).

Saying the four companies represent approximaely 100 jobs, they complained that unfair competition from unlicensed and uninsured "gypsy" cabs as well as North Plainfield's Soria taxis are undercutting their ability to make a living.

Soria has been the source of complaints for years, as their cabs both stop for street hails and pickup at various Plainfield locations (such as Supremo and Twin City), both in violation of the statutes.

Out-of-town cab companies may deliver passengers to Plainfield, but are prohibited from picking up fares within the city limits.

The fare structure for the Plainfield cab companies is regulated by ordinance, and one complaint is that fares are undercut by both Soria and the gypsies.

Council members listened attentively and seemed generally supportive, as did City Administrator Rick Smiley and Public Safety Director Carl Riley.

The problem, as Riley pointed out, is that the police must catch a driver in the act of picking up an illegal fare. When they see it happen, they take action, but there simply aren't the resources to dedicate officers to pursuing violators.

I wonder if the City could help by running a public awareness campaign to educate the general public on the benefits of using only legal and licensed taxis.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Council's quiet evening not so quiet after all


... To Inspire Zeal for The Common Welfare...


Tuesday evening's Plainfield City Council meeting was not quite as quiet s its agenda suggested.

With only five members present (Council President Storch is away and Councilor Toliver was absent), the group was at first unable to select someone as President pro-tem. Finally, after several misstarts, Councilor Taylor got enough votes to become queen bee for the night.

However, that meant that someone had to replace her as chair of the committee of the whole. Councilor Williams nominated Councilor Brown, who was elected and the meeting was set to get under way after Municipal Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh distributed the appropriate scripts to the players.

Councilor Barry Goode updated the Council and the audience on his "Clean The Queen" cleanup initiative, noting it will continue this Saturday (October 15) from 9:00 AM to Noon, starting at East 2nd Street and Richmond Avenue and ending at East 2nd Street and Berkeley Terrace.

An ordinance (MC 2016-16) adding two parking areas to Title 39 coverage was passed unanimously on second reading without comment from the public.

There were no comments from the public on agenda items.

Twenty of the 28 resolutions were adopted by consent.

Of the eight requiring votes, six were passed without comment, and one (344-16, calling for the purchase of 5 high-def dome cameras) was withdrawn.

Resolution 334-16, amending the 2012 contract with Mitchell Humphrey Software to provide a citywide customer service/property management software system, came under heavy criticism -- again -- from Councilor Bridget Rivers.

Among other things, she objected that the information supplied by the Administration as a result of her request at last week's agenda-setting session did not provide the details she had requested.

After torturing Director of Administration and Finance Ron West for several minutes, the matter was brought to a vote.

And defeated, with Councilor Goode and Williams for, Councilors Rivers and Taylor against the motion, and Councilor Brown abstaining.

Several people spoke during open public comment --
  • John Pritchard reminded all how important it was to bring back Muhlenberg Hospital;

  • Timothy Priano cited numerous issues with street and property cleanliness, dumpsters, and illegal apartments. He presented City Administrator Rick Smiley with a collection of illegal signs Queen City Pride had removed from telephone poles and urged the numbers be called and issued "cease and desist" warnings; and

  • Sal Carrano had questions about how NJ Water goes about notifyinng ratepayers of work on replacing lines from the street, citing several issues ranging from brown water to pipes bursting from not being able to handle the new pressure.
There was also a large delegation of Plainfield taxi cab owners and drivers who complained of unfair competition from gypsy drivers and North Plainfield's Soria cabs, which are picking up customers in Plainfield in violation of the law. I will take their issues up in a separate post.

The next meeting of the City Council will be a combined agenda and business session on Tuesday, November 1st at 7:00 PM at Clinton Elementary School, Clinton Avenue at West 4th Street.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

City Council meets at Emerson Community School tonight


Will there be any need for a gavel tonight?
 

Plainfield City Council takes its show on the road this evening. The October business meeting will take place at Emerson Community School at 8:00 PM.

While on paper, it looks like a slam dunk (most items are on the consent agenda), there is always room for an October surprise.

Emerson Community School is at East 3rd Street and Emerson Avenue. Parking in the school's small lot or on the street.

The next meeting of the City Council will be a combined agenda and business session on November 1st at 7:00 PM at Clinton Elementary School, Clinton Avenue at West 4th Street.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Plainfield Dems kickoff at HQ on Saturday


Part of the "A" Team: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
and Council candidates Charles McRae and Rebecca Williams.


Plainfield Democrats will kick off the November general election campaign at party headquarter, 31 Watchung Avenue, on Saturday (October 15).

A 10:00 AM meeting of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee has been scheduled, at which action will be taken on the proposed bylaws changes outlined at the last meeting on September 24 (see post here).

PDCC chairperson Adrian O. Mapp will lead a discussion of plans for support of the Clinton/Kaine campaign and the rest of the Column A team, which includes --
  • Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress
  • Linda Carter, "BJ" Kowalski, and Sergio Granados for Freeholders
  • Rebecca Williams for Citywide at-large Council
  • Charles McRae for Ward 3 Council

Attendees will also have an opportunity to sign up for Election Day assignments either working the polls or phoning from headquarters.

Coffee and donuts will be served and guest are warmly invited.

Plainfield Democratic headquarters is at 31 Watchung Avenue (next to Antojito's Restaurant). Parking available in the public lot off Watchung Avenue. Headquarters phone number is (908) 205-8984.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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