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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Will rent and mortgage relief be a concern at Mayor's Facebook Live event tonight?

 


Rent, mortgages, credit card bills will be
on people's minds tonight.


It's the first of the month and folks in Plainfield like everywhere else are getting out their checkbooks.

It's time to pay bills. Rent. Mortgage. Credit Card. Auto loan.

Mayor Mapp will likely be peppered with questions from worried homeowners, anxious renters, and nervous consumers at tonight's Facebook Live event he is hosting.

Between last month and this, many Plainfielders have found themselves out of work -- laid off or furloughed -- and many will have trouble paying all the bills this month. And for the foreseeable future as long as the coronavirus pandemic has the US economy basically shut down.

While Mayor Mapp has been very good about keeping residents up-to-date on COVID-19 cases, and the state's shelter-in-place regulations, these other questions will be much on Plainfielders' minds tonight.

Gov. Murphy has taken steps to help.

Toward the end of last week, Murphy negotiated a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments with 40 banks and financial institutions. The banks promised not to start any new foreclosure proceedings for at least 60 days.

According to terms of the agreement, credit scores will not be impacted, there will be no late penalties, and it is expected that banks will add the missed payments to the end of the loan instead of requiring one big catch-up payment.

However, mortgagees will have to contact their lenders on their own and will have to show that their difficulties are coronavirus-related.

The situation with renters is a little different. Murphy has issued an executive order forbidding landlords to evict tenants for 90 days. Though he says it will stick, I suspect this will be harder to enforce. Once again, the first thing for tenants to do is get in touch with their landlords.

As for credit cards, he is asking card companies to reduce interest rates (fat chance of that!) and waive late fees.

Small businesses -- like the hundreds in Plainfield's Special Improvement District -- have also been impacted by the shelter-at-home decree.

Many stores and other small businesses have been forced to close. Many restaurants are having a tough time getting by on take-out orders. These businesses also have rents coming due. And their landlords may also have mortgages of their own to pay on their commercial properties.

Everyone is hurting and everyone is looking for help. Though the stimulus package passed by Congress last week will bring resources to bear on the problems, there will be a natural delay in getting programs up and running and then businesses will face the usual paperwork before finally getting aid -- whether loans or grants. In the meantime, some will succumb.

Mayor Mapp's Facebook Live event is 6:00 PM today (April 1). Go to the city's Facebook page here.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Johns Hopkins' tips on dealing with coronavirus


A representation of the coronavirus.

A tip o' the hat to retired Muhlenberg Hospital physician Ted Turner, MD, for forwarding this useful information sheet from Johns Hopkins University.



The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code.  (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.

* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own.  The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.

* The virus is very fragile;  the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat.  That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).  By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.

* HEAT melts fat;  this is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius for washing hands, clothes and everything.  In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.

* Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.

* Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.

* Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it can irritate your skin in the pure form.

* NO BACTERICIDE SERVES.  The virus is not a living organism like bacteria;  antibiotics cannot kill what is not a bacteria.

* Although debates are present it is best not to shake used clothing, sheets or cloth exposed to the virus .  While the virus is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only between 3 hours (fabric and porous), 4 hours (copper, because it is naturally antiseptic; and wood, be
cause it removes all the moisture and does not let it peel off and disintegrates); 24 hours (cardboard), 42 hours (metal) and 72 hours (plastic).  But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.


* The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or air conditioners in houses and cars.  They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness.  Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.

* UV LIGHT on any object that may contain it breaks down the virus protein.  For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask sun is perfect.  Be careful, sun also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin, eventually causing wrinkles and skin cancer.

* The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.

* Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.

* NO SPIRITS, ie VODKA, serve.  The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%.

* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be.  The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.

* you have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc.  And when using the bathroom.

* You have to Moisturize HANDS from so much washing of them, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks.  The thicker the moisturizer, the better.  Coconut butter and oil is perfect.


* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Coronavirus leads to innovations in Plainfield politics


Plainfield Progressive Democrats will hold a virtual
Town Hall on March 31 using ZOOM.


As Plainfield enters the 2020 Primary political season, the coronavirus pandemic is bringing with it changes in the way politics are being done.

Under New Jersey's stay-at-home and social distance rules, campaign events, in-person fundraisers, and door-to-door canvassing are out.

As of the moment, candidates are in the signature gathering phase for their petitions. Candidates must meet signature requirements to be on the ballot in June.

At least one candidate is gathering signatures online. Robert Graham, the PDCC's First Ward leader, has announced his run for the citywide at-large seat. He is gathering signatures via online service DocuSign -- a first as far as I know.

Graham will be running against Steve Hockaday, currently Ward 4 councilor, who has the party line for citywide at-large. Hockaday is running with Ward 3 incumbent Charles McRae, who seeks reelection.

In addition, the Plainfield Progressive Democratic candidates are holding a virtual Town Hall on March 31, at 7:00 PM.

The Plainfield Progressive Democratic candidates are David Rutherford for citywide at-large and Emily Morgan for Ward 3.

The Town Hall is being held on the Zoom platform, and will have a 100-person limit.

Interested parties may register here --

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_y4buPwGPQfm6oap2hzY6yw

Those who register will receive a confirmation email with login information for the event.

Gov. Murphy is considering whether to make the June Primary a vote-by-mail only election. More on that later.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Plainfield Business Administrator Wayne Clarke is gone


Mayor Adrian O. Mapp congratulates Wayne Clarke on his
appointment as Business Administrator, August 2019.


For the third time in three years, Plainfield is without a Business Administrator.

BA Wayne Clarke is no longer with the City as of Monday morning (March 23). There are conflicting stories over whether Clarke was fired outright or offered a chance to resign.

The move comes as Plainfield and the nation face an unprecedented public health crisis with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Mapp announced on Monday that Plainfield now has ten people diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus. That number is expected to rise dramatically as New Jersey heads into the surge phase of the pandemic.

Recruited by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp after the sudden departure of City Administrator Carlos Sanchez in July 2019, Clarke was appointed at the City Council meeting of the following month.

A Certified Public Accountant who had a career with Prudential, some eyebrows were raised at his appointment as Clarke had never worked in government before.

After a bumpy start where Clarke is said to have remarked at a staff meeting, by way of introducing himself, "I'm here to straighten things out," he seemed to have settled in to the job and the endless meetings it entailed.

With a tenure of just over eight months, Clarke was Mapp's shortest-serving administrator. (The Business Administrator position was created with the charter revision and replaces the former City Administrator.)

I am told that Clarke was on vacation at the time he was let go -- unusual for an employee in their first year, and an almost unthinkable circumstance given the dire crisis the City and the nation are facing.

Municipal Clerk "AJay" Jalloh is serving as the Acting Business Administrator.

Mayor Mapp's mettle is going to be sorely tested trying to find a qualified replacement in times like these.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Muhlenberg may be reopened to accommodate Coronavirus patients


Demolition at the former Muhlenberg Hospital in
preparation for conversion to apartments
began in December 2018.



Projected number of daily cases under
current Social Distance conditions.
Chart appeared in nj.com.



Twelve years after closing it down, the State of New Jersey is looking at the possibility of reopening Muhlenberg Hospital to accommodate Coronavirus patients.

Judith Persichilli, the NJ Commissioner of Health, said on Friday that an unnamed hospital in Plainfield was being considered for reopening to meet an expected crisis in hospital facilities as the Coronavirus pandemic crests in New Jersey.

As long and hard as residents of Plainfield struggled against the closure, the irony of the current situation is not lost on anyone. It's a shame that Dottie Gutenkauf did not live to see this day.

Persichili and a delegation from the Army Corps of Engineers were supposed to tour the facility on Saturday.

The former Muhlenberg Hospital site has been under development for more than a year now as part of a deal to bring 120 apartments to the former hospital buildings and a medical arts center to the Park Avenue side of the campus.

According to Persichilli's statement, the building has been gutted in preparation for conversion to apartments. She estimated it could be converted to a 200-bed hospital in 4-6 weeks (this sounds optimistic to me).

Under the current level of social distance in effect, the projection of active daily cases would be expected to peak at over 150,000 about the beginning of June. This would far outstrip the ability of hospitals to accommodate these patients.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp has videotaped comments on the possibility of Muhlenberg reopening -- view his video here.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Joe goes!


Joe Biden, whose campaign was moribund
three weeks ago, now leads in delegate counts.


Joe Biden had an outstanding night in the Super Tuesday II Democratic primaries.

Minutes after the Missouri and Mississippi polls closed, the contests were called by AP for Biden.

This was followed not long after by Michigan. Idaho came in much later -- for Biden.

North Dakota and Washington State will not be called tonight. North Dakota has mixed caucus and primary voting. Washington State is all mail-in ballots. These are the only two that may break for Sanders.

The delegate counts won't be known until the polls are 100% reported, but Biden has taken on a lead that may be impossible for Sanders to catch up to.

Reporters covering the exit polls were finding that Sanders' youth base failed to materialize in large numbers for him and that he had failed to grow his coalition -- both keys to a path forward for him.

I can understand if Bernie wants to hang on through the next debate and the next couple of primaries, but if they don't go his way, he needs to consider bowing out graciously.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, March 9, 2020

Plainfield schools prepare for Coronavirus -- and possible shutdown


The CDC test kits are in short supply as the Trump
administration tries to get its act together.


While in the chair at the barber's on Saturday afternoon, a Latino man and his two young sons took seats and waited for me to be finished.

The man and my barber, Oscar, chatted in Spanish while the boys were squirmy. But soon I heard the older boy -- he looked to be maybe 5th grade, 6th at most -- telling his father about the coronavirus and that the schools were getting prepared for its arrival.

He recited in detail all the cleanliness tips that are becoming ubiquitous -- don't touch your face, wash hands for 20 seconds, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and use hand sanitizer. Pretty amazing, I thought. Clearly he had been paying close attention. His delivery was matter-of-fact and he did not seem to be upset, just reciting a new regimen that we all must follow.

Then he told of the school's preparation for lessons to be continued at home, so that no days will be lost. He knew that the state required 180 days of instruction for the school year.

His little talk paralleled closely the letter released by Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell this past Tuesday (March 3) and posted on the District's website here.

I thought this all remarkable and if his fellow classmates are taking the crisis as seriously as this young man, we will be in good shape when the time comes.

The media were full over the weekend with updates on the (growing) numbers of cases in New Jersey, plus efforts by the State Education and Health Departments to mobilize schools statewide for possibly having to shut down if things get critical (see more here).

The call lies with the local Health Officer, Dr. Atif Nazir, and/or the state agencies.

Presumably, if we reach the point where the schools are closed, there will be other constraints on Plainfield residents --

  • canceling of sporting events and other large public gatherings;

  • voluntary quarantining of those who have been exposed to the virus, and

  • possible restrictions on the mobility of residents.
Then there is the matter of disruption to workplaces by the kids being home and someone having to care for them.

This all could have a serious impact on economies from local to national.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, March 2, 2020

PILOTs, people power plentiful Plainfield Council agenda meeting Monday


Gateway project at Park Avenue and Randolph Road
calls for a standalone drug store with drive-thru window.


Plainfield City Council has an extraordinarily full docket for its agenda setting session Monday (March 2).

PILOTs

Ordinance MC 2020-06 enshrines a PILOT for the residential project at 926-1019 North Avenue, immediately next to the Netherwood Station.

The Gateway project in the 1200-block of Park Avenue is up for a redevelopment agreement with 1204 Park Avenue Associates, LLC. The proposal is to subdivide the block -- currently a genormous parking lot -- into two lots, with a standalone drugstore with drive-thru lanes on one parcel and continue parking on the other (the lost serves for parking for at least a hundred students of JFK's Snyder School of Nursing. Though no PILOT is mentioned, expect one to be sought when the time comes.

Netherwood Village (825-855 East Front Street) is up for a PILOT. The owners plan to remodel the baths and kitchens and do exterior work to refresh the 75-year-old apartment complex. This project reminds us that once a PILOT is granted, it is likely to be in existence many years beyond the initial 30 granted as new owners take over, with new mortgages and plans to renovate. In fact, the city keeps a list of PILOTs, there are so many.

Lastly, a PILOT is being granted with Ordinance MC 2020-11 to Todd West Urban Renewal, LLC, for projects on the block bounded by Central Avenue/West Front/Madison Avenue/West 2nd Street. Plans include an 11-story building with a rooftop restaurant, a catering hall and retail space.

PILOTs have long been considered an essential tool in the economic development toolkit, but it is worth noting that Jersey City has decided to stop granting PILOTs going forward.

PEOPLE

City Council will be busy with matters concerning the appointment of people.

The Citizens Budget Advisory Committee is on tap. Each Councilor selects one member. The group shadows the budget process, making recommendations to the Council on improvements to both the budget process and the budget itself. Some are actually adopted.

Maher Janajri, owner of Queen City Coffee Roasters is being appointed to the SID's District Management Corporation.

Leslie Uslan is up for the Shade Tree Commission and Vicky Brown is being reappointed to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board.

Over at Municipal Court, Nidara Rourk is being appointed public defender. Ms. Rourk has an amazing resumé. She will certainly add to the city's legal staff.

A residency waiver is up for Brittany Claybrooks -- who also has an impressive resum
é -- in the Economic Development Department, where she will be an Economic Development Representative.

ODDS AND ENDS

The Council will be considering two contracts for grant writing, totaling $100,000. The larger of the contracts comes with a professional, detailed account of the work done and grants booked. The other one not so much.

The Finance Department is stashing $200,00 away in an Accumulated Absences Trust. This will help guarantee the City has fewer rude surprises when employees retire with large payments due for unused sick and vacation time.

The City will be bonding $408,500 for the purchase of radios for the Fire Department.

And to top it all off, the Council has ten resolutions honoring various groups and individuals -- including one to Dr. Harold Yood, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

City Council meets in an agenda-setting session at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Plainfield officials make InsiderNJ's African American Power List


Mural of Paul Robeson in the Robeson Room at
Raritan Valley Community College. (Image by Max Pizarro)

UPDATED. Congratulations to the Plainfield elected officials who were in included in InsiderNJ's 2020 African American Power List.

Assemblywoman Linda Carter (29), Mayor Adrian O. Mapp (#34) and Freeholder Rebecca Williams (#61) are in the main list, as well as North Plainfield council member Keiona Miller (98).

Included in the 'Honorable Mention' list are: Elton Armady, Steve Hockaday, Barry Goode, Ashley Davis, Charles McRae, Joylette Mills-Ransome, and former mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs.

Want to see the full list? Check it out here.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bernie wins big at Union Twp. Dems straw ballot


Candidate surrogates were (l. to r.): Sen. Dick Codey, Larry Hamm, Sue Altman,

Joe Signorello
, Mike Muller, and Andrew Cohen. Moderator
Nadège Ricketts and host Sen. Joe Cryan are at far right.


Surrogate
Joe Signorello makes his pitch to the crowd.

Nearly two hundred Union County Democrats crowded into the VFW hall in Union Monday evening as guests of the Union Township Democratic Club.

They were there as guests of the Union Democratic Club to conduct a mock presidential primary. After listening to surrogates for each of the candidates in the presidential race, attendees cast ballots for their choice.

The event was the brainchild of State Sen. Joe Cryan, whose home base is Union.

The event was moderated by Nadège Ricketts, president of the Union Democratic Club. After each of the surrogates made a pitch for his or her candidate, attendees balloted.

The surrogates were --



Candidate Surrogate
[Biden]
Sen. Dick Codey
[Sanders] Larry Hamm
[Warren] Sue Altman
[Bloomberg] Mike Muller
[Klobuchar] Andrew Cohen
[Buttigieg] Joe Signorello




Results of the straw ballot.




Bernie Sanders was the big winner of the evening, taking 60 votes or one third of those cast. Mike Bloomberg came in second with 33 votes (18.3%), and Joe Biden was third with 30 votes (16.7%).

Pete Buttigieg finished fourth with 27 votes (15%) and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar trailed behind. Tom Steyer did not have a surrogate.

Though hardly scientific, the poll was still a valuable tool for Democratic party leadership to gauge the sentiment on the ground for various presidential candidates.

Next up is the South Carolina primary this Saturday (February 29). Tuesday March 3 is "Super Tuesday", when 13 states hold their primaries simultaneously, with one third of the total convention delegates at stake (1,344).




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Will Ms. Hembree take her seat on the Plainfield Board of Ed?


A never-before-heard-of group is protesting
the seating of Willie Pat Hembree as a Board member.

Willie Pat Hembree was elected to the Plainfield BOE last November. However, she was not sworn in in January because of an interpretation of a state rule. She is being required to wait until 180 days after her retirement, which was on September 1, 2019.

This would mean she should be sworn in and seated in March, perhaps at the March 3rd Work/Study meeting. (The District's website has no agendas at all for 2020 online. What has happened? The District website was always totally up-to-date.)

In any event, a group calling itself Citizens for an Ethical School Board is circulating complaints against Ms. Hembree, the District and the Board of Ed.

The group, which does not list any members or spokespersons, alleges that Ms. Hembree filed a claim against the BOE on 9/6/19. This would apparently violate the state's rule that incoming board members can have "no interest in any contract with, or claim against, the board."

The group further alleges that the Board's attorney Phil Stern apprised some Board members of the situation. It is further alleged that these Board members kept the matter secret "until it was discovered by others" (the Board members not notified?).

The group further states that it has filed a complaint with the Union County Prosecutor's Office, where the Special Prosecutions Unit oversees election violations.

Further, the group claims a violation of the IRS' "return to public employment" policy -- even though Ms. Hembree would be a volunteer as a Board member, not an employee.

The amount of detail in the allegations would lead one to suspect that the information came from a source within the Board of Ed itself.

However, after all the huffery and puffery I suspect that any violations -- if pursued by a competent authority -- would be deemed insignificant and Ms. Hembree will be seated.

Am I wrong? We shall soon see.

One jarring note: the group uses the City of Plainfield's seal as its letterhead. This is a no-no. The city seal as a letterhead can only properly be used on stationery of an official of the city.

The Board of Ed Work/Study meeting is Tuesday, March 3, at 8:00 PM in the PHS Conference Room.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Union Twp. Dems host Presidential forum and balloting Monday


Union Twp. Dems are holding a forum
and mock primary Monday evening.

State Senator Joe Cryan and the Union Township Democratic Committee are hosting a Presidential candidate forum and mock ballot this Monday (February 24).

Representatives of all the presidential campaigns have been invited to attend.
The forum is being moderated by Nadège Ricketts, president of the Union Township Democratic Club.
 
Participants will gather to hear from spokespersons for each of the presidential campaigns and then participate in a mock primary, with actual voting machines.

With all the turmoil in the race, this is a wonderful opportunity for grassroots Democrats to weigh in. Though the results will not be scientific, public sentiment can help guide the NJ Democratic party as the race unfolds.

The forum will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at VFW Post #2433, 2012 High Street in Union. Parking on the street.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 21, 2020

UPDATED: Chairman Mapp calls on Union County Dems to back Bloomberg. What do you think?


Plainfield Democratic chair Adrian Mapp is urging
Union County Democrats to back Mike Bloomberg.

UPDATED with link to online story. Adrian O. Mapp, chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee has called on the Union County Democrats to back Mike Bloomberg in the June presidential primary.

Mapp made the pitch in an email circulated to the county party's trustees, who are the chairs of the county's 21 municipal committees. (Read more at InsiderNJ here.)

At this point, the state Democratic Party has taken no position on the candidates. While several individuals have backed Bloomberg (Rep. Mikie Sherrill, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, and Paterson mayor Adre Sayegh), there are also those who are calling for an open primary -- Essex County (see here), Hudson County (see here), and Sen. Bob Menendez (see here). Morris County Democrats will wait until March 15 (after Super Tuesday) to make their choice (see here). Gov. Murphy recently told a town hall audience he was not ready to endorse (see here).

Although many Plainfielders I have spoken with (and seen comment on Facebook) haven't made up their minds yet, I have yet to hear one person backing Bloomberg. Most frequent comments are that he is trying to buy the presidency, and people point to baggage, including his stop-and-frisk policy, which led to racial profiling by the NYC police.

Bloomberg did not perform well at Wednesday's debate and was put on the spot about NDA's (non-disclosure agreements) signed by former women employees and whether he would release them from the obligation to remain silent. He ducked.

In what I think is a brilliant move, State Senator Joe Cryan of Union is said to be holding a mock primary -- complete with election machines -- this weekend. I have reached out for more details, and if I get them in time will post them here.

I would think the state party would have thought of doing these on a county-by-county basis. Why wouldn't you want to know how the grassroots folks are thinking?

I will post this on Facebook on my usual pages (my own, The Buzz, and others).

Feel free to comment away!




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Plainfield board with life-and-death power publishes public meeting schedule


Licenses are color coded as follows: GREEN = Restaurants serving alcohol,
BLUE = Bars, RED = Liquor Stores, YELLOW = Clubs.

In early 2017, Plainfield's City Council voted to give up its prerogative to sit as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control Board by passing an ordinance creating a standing ABC board.

Over time, a funny thing happened: We no longer heard of the ABC Board or actions it has taken. These used to be the subject of intense public scrutiny and comment when the Council had the responsibility.



A search on the City website returned no information on the ABC Board.


There is no entry on the City website though all boards and commissions are supposed to be listed. In addition, while the land use boards (Planning, Zoning, Historic Preservation, and Shade Tree) have their documents on the website, the ABC does not.

The ABC's meetings and hearings are subject both to the "Sunshine Law" (requiring adequate public notice) and the Open Public Meetings Act.

Not only that, the ABC Board has quasi-judicial powers: Rulings made as a result of hearings have the force of law and can go so far as to put a licensee out of business (as with Clinton Liquors a few years ago).

So it is a pleasant surprise for the current chairperson, David Graves, to release a schedule for the year ahead --

  • Wednesday, February 19
  • Wednesday, April 15
  • Wednesday, June 24
  • Wednesday, July 15
  • Wednesday, September 16
  • Wednesday, December 16
All meetings are at 7:00 PM in City Hall Library, except for the December meeting, which is in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.

Liquor licenses are renewed annually in June (though the process can drag on because of lateness in getting paperwork in order, financial considerations, and appeals to the state).

The ABC Board works with the Municipal Clerk, who oversees the administrative aspects of license renewal, and the Police Division, which generates reports and recommendations for penalties for licenses. Among the reasons a licensee may be penalized are --

  • sales to minors,
  • not having employee documentation in order,
  • after-hour sales,
  • fights or other disturbances on the premises, and
  • sales or use of drugs on the premises.

In the case of proposed penalties, licensees have the right to an evidentiary hearing, representation by counsel, and appeal to the state, which may uphold, modify or overrule the local ABC Board's decision.

The next meeting, open to the public, is this Wednesday (February 19) at 7:00 PM in City Hall Library.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Olddoc (Dr. Harold Yood) celebrates his 100th birthday


Dr. Yood with Gerri Agurs and Martin Cox
at the 2016 PHS Hall of Fame inductions.

Plainfield's beloved Olddoc -- aka Harold Yood, MD -- is celebrating his 100th birthday.

His actual birthday is Februar 23rd, but family and friends will be gathering this Saturday for a party.

I first met Dr. Yood more than 20 years ago, when I started attending City Council meetings on a regular basis.

He was there at practically every session, asking the kind of probing questions that elected officials need, making them aware citizens were watching.

Dr. Yood grew up in the house at West 4th and Grant where his father practiced for many years and the family lived.

Except for his military service during World War II, Dr. Yood practiced his entire career in Plainfield and eventually became the chief of the medical staff at Muhlenberg Hospital.

I have always respected his take on Plainfield politics -- even in the worst of times, he has always been hopeful about the Queen City's future.

A lifelong Republican, he changed his party registration to Democrat a number of years ago in order to have some say in this heavily Democratic town.

He is a Plainfielder through and through and I hope you will join me in wishing him a happy 100th birthday!

I am honored to be an invited guest.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Illegal dumper caught in the act


Illegal dumper caught mid-afternoon Tuesday.
The man is standing next to the rear tire,
holding a pallet which he pitched behind the dumpster.

Like many other Plainfield drivers, I find the ban on left-hand turns from eastbound Front Street onto Somerset Street an inconvenience.

Also like many other Plainfield drivers, I sometimes shortcut through the Horizons at Plainfield driveway to the alleyway behind which comes out at the Halal market, where one can turn left onto Somerset Street and head into North Plainfield.

Doing so mid-afternoon on Tuesday, I encountered a truck blocking access to the alleyway.

Its driver was throwing wooden pallets on the ground next to one of the building's dumpsters. My photo manages to catch only his legs (by the rear wheel). He is holding one pallet and has pitched several on the ground behind the dumpster.

Who is the offender? Soriano Plumbing & Heating of Newark. License 12815. Phone: (973) 583-6473. See their website here.

Before I could get closer, the driver got in the van and left, driving through the "Do Not Enter" sign in the Horizons driveway.

I didn't see any PMUA markings on the dumpsters and guess they may be from a commercial hauler.

In any event, since dumping is a problem, wouldn't you think someone would mount a cam (especially since they are now so small) to monitor the dumpsters?




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, February 9, 2020

City Council business meeting Monday -- and yes, a tax increase is on the agenda


Detail from Ordinance 2020-08. Underlined text
indicates a tax increase will be coming.

Plainfield City Council's business meeting is Monday (February 10) at 7:00 PM.

The agenda is identical with last week's agenda-setting session, with the exception of the addition of a resolution memorializing the late Mayor Frank (Pete) Blatz, who served from 1968 to 1973 and recently passed away.

And yes, Ordinance MC 2020-08 will be introduced on first reading. This ordinance will establish a cap bank for 2020, and specifically says the 2020 City of Plainfield budget will be increased up to 3.5% over 2019's final appropriations (see image above).

No way around it folks, that sounds like a tax increase is coming.

City Council meets for its business session at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Did Chairman Mapp let a cat out of the bag?


Developer Frank Cretella owns the former main office
of United National Bank at 2nd and Park.


Besides dealing with selecting Primary election candidates, Chairman Mapp took time at Saturday's Plainfield Democratic City Committee meeting to review some of the many projects currently under way or soon to come to the Queen City.

One in particular caught my ear.

Chairman Mapp reminded those present about the fine new restaurant coming to Park Avenue. In the process, he associated it with the Stone House in Warren, Liberty House at Liberty State Park, and the Ryland Inn in Whitehouse Station.

Now those are all Landmark Hospitality properties, one of the companies of developer Frank Cretella.

According to reports in the press, the new DJBK restaurant on Park Avenue will be in the old Courier News building at 220 Park Avenue. It is a partnership between Cretella's Landmark and chef David Felton.

What Chairman Mapp said next is what caught my attention: "...it will be in the old bank building and will have a banquet hall seating 300."

First of all, the Courier News building has never been a bank. Ever. Secondly, the only descriptions of the DJBK restaurant say that it will have seating for 120 plus a 40-seat event space. Nothing that sounds like a 300-seat banquet hall. So, is Chairman Mapp talking about the restaurant in the Courier News building?

There is another possibility, and that is the old United National Bank (now PNC) building at Park Avenue and West 2nd Street.

The large parking lot Cretella says will be available for DJBK customers actually is part of the UNB parcel.

Ted's Appliances was located in between and was suddenly demolished last October and appears to be about to be incorporated into the already-existing parking lot (see story here).

And a lot of people have noticed demolition work quietly going on in the UNB building for months, with dumpsters being parked in the driveup window lanes to the rear of the building.

Add to this the fact that Cretella developed an old bank building in Ridgewood into a spectacular dining space, and you have enough of a hint to perk up one's ears.


Felina, the Ridgewood restaurant, features a rooftop bar (more here) and tables in the old bank's vault (see here).

 


The bank in Ridgewood that Cretella converted
into Felina's restaurant.



Even the vault was turned into a unique dining space.



Cretella once (10 years ago) talked of a rooftop bar on the United National Bank building (see my story about that here).

So, adding together all these intriguing morsels, did Chairman Mapp let the cat out of the bag on another Cretella Plainfield project?

Only time will tell, but it looks like a jigsaw puzzle may be coming together.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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