Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Tis" Not to Blame

Contrary to some individual’s opinion I am not “blaming the Council” for our loss of MRMC. It is true that I have spent a great deal of wasted effort being critical of Plainfield’s governmental inertia and the apparent complete lack of concern over the Solaris plan to close Muhlenberg Hospital.

Although the Mayor and the Council have the fiduciary responsibility of protecting the welfare of Plainfield’s residents, it appears that in this incident they have abrogated that responsibility. How can they justify their inaction, or their elected office? We are due an explanation.

What has happened was not a sudden turn of events, but rather a well orchestrated plan;
• The encouraging the high volume surgical patient physicians to transfer operations to JFK.
• The 2007 dividing the Muhlenberg “campus” into separate lots
• The passage in 2007 of Senate bill #2790
• The transfer of the Diabetes Center to an Edison site inaccessible by public transport. Plainfield’s has a high ethnic proportion of diabetic susceptible individuals, many who are dependent on Medicaid or uncompensated medical care.
• Commissioner Howard’s statement before even a formal procedure on the CN took place that MRMC must go to preserve JFK.
• The absence of public access to Solaris financial data which would justify its claims.
• Solaris’s delay in filing annual federal financial reports.
• The 2002 sale of the busy and should have been profitable SurgiCare center in Watchung to the very physicians who also used Muhlenberg’s Same Day Surgery facility. Then complaining that these doctors were sending their patients to a place they owned rather than the hospital. That is either the height of management stupidity or diabolic planning. Take your choice.
• The list can go on.

With all these warning signs Plainfield’s political leaders buried their collective heads in the sand and boasted of a generalized protest resolution as being an answer to the inevitable. The Mayor does not act without her mentor's advice. The Council only acts on resolutions and ordinances originating in various administrative departments. I can not recall when any individual Councilman has introduced a substantive resolution for action although they do have that prerogative..

No, the Council most likely could not have stopped the juggernaut, but it could have and still may be able to take action that will counteract Solaris’s coup, which may still not be irreversible.

To that end we must have a cooperative effort by every one. Individual ego centric agendas and the desire to be "THE (WO)MAN" can only result in complete defeat. POP has the political savvy, the energy, and expert legal advice. Olive Lynch has the contact with a potentially viable replacement for the Solaris operation of Muhlenberg. The civic government has a legal authority which is invaluable.

The pooling of public and government resources, human as well as monetary, is essential for any possible success. With the use of all of our individual expertises and adequate funding there can be a reasonable chance to emerge from this crises with a rationally acceptable local hospital.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

SOLARIS VICTORIOUS

Whoops!! I had written and scheduled my blog for posting before reading my late email from Dottie Gutenkauf.

July 29th will be noted for a 2.1 earthquake in New Jersey and of course California had to have a bigger one 5+. But the greatest earth shaker was Commissioner Howard releasing the inevitable granting of Solaris's CN to completely finally Muhlenberg.

What is inexcusable is Plainfield's governing body's refusal to take a strong position and prepare for Commissioner Howard's ruling. Rapid response is indicated and waiting until an August 11th Agenda session with a vote a week later is locking the door after the house has been looted. Solaris has announced that Aug 13th will end Mulenberg's existence.

This is time for the mayor or Councilmen to act. A special meeting on 2 days public notice of the Council can be called by the Mayor if deemed necessary, or by the city clerk upon written request signed by a majority of the councilmen.

Two questions must be addressed at once; What can be done, and what is the City of Plainfield which has he responsibility of the welfare and safety of its residents, willing to do?

Is an Injunction to prevent immediate application of the CN pending an appeal the way to go. Or should there be a class action suit by the public against Solaris and DHSS? Or is a multiple counter attack possible? The Corporation Counsel should give legal advice.

I might go as far as to suggest consulting with POP's attorney.
Mid-week and there would have been no Plainfield news worthy of comment if Jerry Green had not become a blog publisher, jerrygreenspage.blogspot.com/. Welcome to the truth seekers and spin doctors, Jerry.

As Bernice noted we elder statesmen (I would have been one if the Council had accepted me to fill a vacancy years ago, but that was in the days when the city charter was followed) need a day or two for no brainers. Instead of a monologue I have revisited the not so blue Danube.

The first picture shows the Romanian shore at the down stream side exit of the Danube from the gorge between the Carpathian Mountains of Romania and the Balkan Mountains of Serbia. Up to the end of the 19th Century the cataracts made this portion of the Danube not navigable. After WWII a dam and locks were built to facilitate the up stream passage.

The second picture is north of Budapest where the Danube makes its great bend to ultimately flow between Hungary and Slovakia before entering Austria.

The picture immediately below of the famous Basilica in Estergom north of Budapest. The one below that is of a riverside town in what is now Serbia. There is a passenger station above a ramp to the quay which is presumably for river traffic.


Finally one of the locks on the river with some of the traffic that before the fighting in the breakup of Yugoslavia, traveled the Danube from above Vienna to the Black Sea.

Despite the Strauss waltzes and some of the pictures the Danube is anything but blue.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

FRIENDS AND FOES

Thank you Dapper Dan for posting the links to POP’s pro bono attorney Bennet D. Zurofsky’s letter’s to the State Health Planning Board and to Commissioner Howard of the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, the copy of the Brief on behalf of POP submitted June 10, 2008 to the State Health Planning Board, and above all Senate Bill # 2790 introduced by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak and passed in both houses around 6/11/07.

Senate Bill # 2790 although passed unanimously by voice vote in both houses only was approved by an 8 to 4 vote in the Assembly’s Appropriation Committee. It is unique in that it seems to approve financing one hospital (Solaris for example) to close another (could the intent have been Muhlenberg?) Certainly by the provisions of this law it would cost Solaris nothing as it abandons MRMC. In fact it even appropriates responsibility for outstanding debt interests and guarantees outstanding bonds.

Yes the Falsettos Facilitators of the Soprano State have made it the taxpayer’s responsibility to assume the costs of Solaris’s rape of MRMC.

For me, a layman, Atty Zurofsky’s brief is clear and pertinent to why the CN to close MRMC is inappropriate. In fact he points out that both the SHPB, and DHSS did not follow procedures or even do minimal due diligence. Of course I may b e prejudice since he uses practically verbatim my remarks at the June 6th hearing regarding the difficulty in public transportation to reach JFK from Plainfield. Mercie Atty. Zurofsky.

Seriously, it still appears that an appeal will be necessary. We cannot expect the attorney to bear all the legal expenses. It behooves Plainfield’s Government to get off its ***** and vote to support such action.

My concern also is that by the time the Commissioner issues her ruling on Solaris’s request for a CN, with the acquiescence of the DHSS there will b e no viable acute care hospital left. There must be legal actions that can be taken without further delay to preserve if not restore essential care services. If the Council will not act the private sector should and hold the Council members accountable.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Antiqua 1950ish

One of the perks of being put out to pasture is that you have time to fiddle with trivia and doing some virtual house cleaning. Over the years I had collected more than a thousand slides plus the usual snapshots. About seven years ago I realized that many of the older slides had so deteriorated that the images were being destroyed. So I tried to transfer most of them to discs. It is a sad fact that even electronic media deteriorates over time.

When I started my blog I wanted to share some of the "Voyages of Discovery" that we have been fortunate to enjoy. I call our trips in this country as well as abroad as "Voyages of Discovery" because, for those of us born before WW II, the world as a whole was a personal unknown entity.

Most Americans never traveled more than a few hundred miles from their homes . Although the DC3 had become the mainstay of American airlines prior to the war. their range was limited. The aircraft crossing the oceans were flying boats like the PanAm Clippers. For a short period of time the German Zeppelins carried a few wealthy passengers. Of course that ended with the Hindenburg disaster. Moreover dirigibles had an ongoing catastrophic history.

The only visual contacts with foreign countries was in the movies. Television was purely science fiction. Although during WWII many Americans were in far and sometimes exotic places, they were not there as tourists and conditions were far from ideal for sightseeing.

It was not until the advent of the 707 that long distance travel became an easy endeavor. Instead of spending a week, which could be uncomfortable, on a ship to cross the Atlantic, Europe was an overnight flight. Except for the costs, a week or two vacation in Europe became an acceptable alternative to the Jersey shore.

In the very late 50s , I am not sure of the exact year, my wife and I decided to Island hop the Caribbean Islands. We did not have the time or resources to hit all so we selected four or the former BWI islands as well as Curacao. The planes we that we were booked on were mostly DC6s among the largest prop engine plans of that era. We did fly from Antiqua to Barbados on the British Britannia which was the largest turboprop passenger aircraft ever built. Only 75 were ever in sevice. Unexpectedly, Pan Am replaced their planes with the 707 jets while we were in Trinidad and our subsequent flights were changed. I mention this to pinpoint the year for these pictures.

I hope you enjoy these four restored faded pictures of Antiqua 50 years ago. The street scenes are in St.Johns the capital. The building is the hotel in St. Johns that was used for the movie "Rain" which I believed featured Joan Crawford. I can be corrected, my feelings will not be bruised. The fourth photo was of a home in the countryside. You may be able to see a little girl by the outhouse



These pictures may lack clarity and often take a great of tweaking with nonprofessional software to be presentable. I would appreciate your comments about continuing to present similar photos on my blog. Thanks.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

S t Marks Venice

Saint Marks, Venice
The pictures inside were taken by available light and hand held camera




The final picture was on one of the arches.

Good old days

Angie Sullivan a patient dating back to 1946 emailed me this 1950ish Woolworth counter menue. Remember when Plainfield boasted four 5 & 10 stores



Back then an office visit was only $3.00 and a house call (whatever that is) was $5.00. Gas was undedr 30 cents a gallon.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

HOT TIMES PICTURES

If you need ice! These are pre global warming pictures

Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau
Tracy Arm south of Juneau.

PASCACK VALLEY & MRMC REDUX

Thank you “anonymous” for advising me as to the internet site for the ‘PASCACK VALLEY COMMUNITY NEWS” and the article you had assumed I had used as the base for my comments. I presume that the “Community News” is a weekly area publication not like the daily Bergen Record. Obviously I was oblivious to an important part of the story because a respected paper chose to omit those facts

I have reproduced the last paragraph of the Pascack Valley Community News article below so that we all have knowledge of HUMC’s plans.

Koller stated that the reopening of the full service community hospital, which will happen in phases, should be fairly rapid. “We are probably talking about 30 months to get fully operational on the hospital, once the transfer of the license… has taken place.” He said that patient rooms will have to be renovated, with the end objective being all single-patient rooms with private bathrooms. The revamping of the 120 bed community hospital, Koller said, is projected to cost HUMC an additional $60 million. (Italics mine)

I would hope that the costs of updating the rooms and facilities would not cost a prohibitive amount. The patient rooms in tghe "Main Wing" were designed to meet the minimum Federal Standards to qualify for funding. Those rooms would be ideal single patient rooms.

I find most interesting the plan for the reinvented hospital to provide what I have advocated as essential in today’s climate; only private rooms. This is a realistic evolution for what should be the standard of institutional hospital care.

In the middle ages the revolutionary “Hospitices de Beaun” founded by the Duke of Burgundy in the mid 15th century, provided one small short bed for two patients to share. Until after WWII most American hospitals had multi-bed wards. Muhlenberg’s East Wing built, I believe, just before the Depression had six bed wards for women on the first floor and the same for men on the fourth floor. Surgical and medical patients shared the same ward. That building was not air conditioned, and in the summer the temperature on the fourth floor under a flat tar roof often was over 100. I am sure that many of the patients there felt as if they had already reached Hades.

The semi-private room was a great advancement. The private room for the privileged had existed for years, but hospital charges were based on the 2bed accommodations. There are patients that like companionship and when well enough could enjoy that type of a situation. But for the majority, there was a loss of dignity as well as privacy. Often a sick individual was saddled with an inconsiderate roommate. Too often the other person’s visitors were noisy and too numerous for the room. Most of the time the “offenders” were innocent about their impact on the other patient, but that does not mitigate the negative aspects of semi-private rooms.

With the advent of electronic monitoring there is no medical justification to prevent single bed patient rooms. Sad to say, but if Muhlenberg had accepted that concept much of its census problems would have been eliminated. Yes bigotry has played as great a role in MRMC’s problems as has ‘illegals and uninsured”.

Any plans for a revitalized reborn Muhlenberg must require private rooms only.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pascack Valley and MRMC

"OldDoc, for a smart man, you need to read the article closer. The money to build a new hospital is coming from the hospital. Obviously, Hackensack has 60 million dollars to build. The state is more than happy to approve a hospital if it is "others peoples money". Solaris is out of money."

My favorite reader "Anonymous" sent me the above. I certainly missed the $60 million figure and still can't find it on multiple re readings of the Record's article. The only money mentioned was $800,000 for cosmetic purposes in an ER closed for a year plus $1 million for property infrastructure which had been neglected. Perhaps there was another article that I did not read.

If "he/she" missed the gist of my comments I have failed to communicate. I can not contemplate such a gaffe so will try again.

The State is committed to reduce an over abundance of hospital beds, not to authorize new beds in a region which by DHSS criteria even after closing Pascack Valley has a surplus of beds. There has to be criteria reasons to permit reviving the hospital. One of the main complaints of residents in that area was the abnormal long time for emergency vehicles to reach the nearest available facility.

The DHSS staff comments to justify closing MRMC uses unrealistic travel times to the four alternate hospitals which if possible could only be met under improbable idealistic conditions. There was no documentation when and how these most of times were developed suggesting that they are mathematical derivatives of distanced divided by an estimated 30mph. No consideration was given to road conditions, traffic patterns, time of the day, intersections etc.

There are standards, which can be looked up, for acceptable time to transport a patient to the acute care facility. Just as in the Pascack hospital situation, they can not be met for Plainfield area patients. Yet using fallacious documentation the DHSS staff justified their conclusion.

A review of hospital closing would probably show that Pascack Valley was an exception to the economic and ethnic composition of the population which the other closed hospitals served.

I reiterate the closing of MRMC contradicts the principles to be met in the state commission's report which DHSS should comply with. Solaris has never opened its books to justify the losses claimed.For Solaris to blame a reported 20% of its total MRMC admissions as a major factor in its financial problems is a cynical justification for its request.

If it was only a matter of downsizing that would be acceptable for both hospitals. If a greater reduction in hospital beds then could be met by a full serviced MRMC were required, they should come from JFK's.The operational loss due to medicaid, charity, and uncompensated illegals is due to state funding policies and is morally corrupt. I am sure that funds can be found but New Jersey is not called the " Soprano State" unjustifiably.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

DHSS FLIPFLOP

SOooooo!!! The State is considering the reopening of Pascack Valley Hospital as part of the Hackensack University Medical Center as a smaller full service hospital. To date no decision has been officially made about MRMC.

I would hesitate to raise the "ethnic issue", but Bergen County is an affluent 85% Caucasian area, which has a Democratic Party organization which delivers the same magnitude of votes a s Union County.

What is the criteria that has led to this decision? Certainly that part pf the state has a real surplus of hospital beds. It is unlikely that a large medicaid and uninsured patient mix led to that hospital's financial problems.

If Muhlenberg is to continue in operation as a realistic downsized full service facility it must be divorced from Solaris, and either be affiliated with an other but not directly competitive area hospital.

If and when the appeal occurs perhaps Solaris will be forced to open its books or a non biased accounting, and the true sources of its overall operational deficits determined. I for one believe that will be eye opening.

It may be political heresy, but if there is a financial problem operating JFK that hospital should share in the downsizing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A TOUCH OF AMERICA

I can not find many slides of America in my archives. That is unfortunate but probably most of the snapshots I took were in print media. That is sad because this nation is as beautiful as any other part of the world. For example; about 300 miles from Plainfield in the Valley near Lexington Virginia is the Natural Bridge.

How many have ever seen it, or visited the Luray Caverns? Who has driven the Skyland Drive when the foliage has changed? The Great Battlefields of the Civil War can be he objects of short vacations.

Today's Sampler: Virginia's Natural Bridge.


The Three Plans

I awoke this morning to a loud bang. What I thought was thunder must have been the second coming of the "BIG BANG". Wonders will never cease. The Star Ledger had on the first page of its Union County section an article about Muhlenberg Hospital titled "A 3-split over hospital's survival". My comments follow the article's discussion.

Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs supported by Assemblyman Green is reported to have stated that the city is seeking a buyer to keep the full service hospital open. From day one there has been no public communication either in the media or the puppet Council about any progress on this unrealistic approach. Apparently this is a verbal rather than operational plan.

She gave an explanation why the Council has turned a deaf ear to public requests for Plainfield joining a legal appeal. Quoting the Star Ledger "because it would undermine ongoing efforts (sic)to help the hospital, and would expose the city to hefty attorney fees". Perhaps the Administration would give us an complete itemized accounting of the fiscal years 2007 and 2008 actual legal fees including retainers.

POP's and the "Save Muhlenberg" group are taking a very proactive position in their plans for the legal appeal. The DHSS played footloose and fancy free with its own guidelines in issuing its analysis. No travel times stated were realistic, nor was the comments about the impact on the areas health care.

Although this group has not presented a specific alternate plan ,I believe that Diana Dawes has a potential contact.

Finally the 'Buy Muhlenberg " group has actively proceeded with at least one extremely interesting prospect headed by former Assemblyman David Schwartz. It has merit but again the local political powers have refused to consider its feasibility. Councilmen Burney and Reid have attended a presentation of the plan but again the Council has been mum.

Whether the plan to raise money by selling individual shares is realistic is questionable but at least is a positive direction. It would be most helpful if Schwartz could be more specific rather then talk in generalities. I would suppose that it is a question of which comes first. the egg or the chicken.

Although I retired from all active medical activity in 2001, I would be willing to assume a role as "Maven" with any bonafide effort to preserve a high grade health facility in Plainfied.

For those that do not know what a "Maven" is; A Maven is a Jewish Expression for a person considered to be an expert by concerned individuals who have little knowledge of the problem. Although the Maven, who either self proclaimed or erroneous perceived by the uninformed, may have little or any actual expertise is of little importance. He must be look up to for advice by those who would consult him. I believe I can qualify. ,

PHOTO NOSTALGIA PLUS

A touch of pictorial nostalgia

Niagara Falls about 1959-60




Skating in Ceaderbrook Park about 1958
Reminds me of a Currier and Ives print.

And two in color.


The East Range, University of Virginia, part of Jefferson's original college village. These are the doors to single student rooms, and each had a fireplace. In the winter students would stack firewood by the door which was safe because of Virginia's strict honor code. There were about ten rooms to a block.

For 4 years I lived in one of these rooms near the distant end. By that time they had been renovated from Jefferson's days to have a hot water radiator and in a small alcove on one side of the fireplace there was a washbasin with hot and cold running water and a medicine cabinate., such luxury. The other alcove served as a small wardrobe. Toilet and shower facilities were in rooms, with an entrance in the back, shared by two adjacent blocks or 20 students.

The University had about 5 000 students in those days and despite being strongly fraternity oriented it was a very heterogeneous institution and the non affiliated were not isolated. In my undergraduate years I freely associated with graduate students studying for their PHD as well as law and medicine. There was little class distinction.


The Rotunda at the head of the Lawn was the focal point of Jefferson's original University Village. It was partially destroyed by fire in the 19th Century and rebuilt by Stamford White. Until the late 30s it was the University library being replaced just before the war by a "modern building" which has been greatly expanded.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PLAINFIELD COUNCIL 7/21/08

Thank the Lord for Bernice Paglia and her Plainfield Plaintalker Blog. We are so fortunate to have a professional journalist give an accurate and unbiased report on municipal activities. Thus we amateurs can be erroneous without misinforming the readers if the latter also read Bernice’s blog.

With that in mind I must first correct an error I made yesterday when I referred to a $1,000,000 Resolution. Because of my concern about how and why this sum had been authorized to be used by a designated vendor, I had forgotten that this was a Bond seeking Ordinance. This raised several questions including why the city would be put into further debt to repeat a process done only 4years previously. Also is it appropriate to name a recipient for project funds in the enabling ordinance? That would mean if a more qualified vendor was available none of the so raised funds could be used for that vendor’s services. Sounds convoluted but I am not a lawyer and don’t understand the unique intricacies of legislation written by lawyers for lawyers.

Fortunately second thoughts resulted in the deferring of that Ordinance so it cannot be introduced before the sole August business meeting of the Council and not adopted before September. I am convinced that it will be completely rewritten before the Council considers it again.

Isn’t it remarkable that three Council members; Council President Gibson, Councilmen Burney and Simmons as well as Plainfield Mayor Robinson-Briggs, City Administrator Dashield, Corporation Counsel Williamson did not attend the meeting.

Could this be an indication of the true importance of the Council in the eyes of the City Officials and our political leaders? This gives credence to Interim Council President Davis’s post meeting remarks that (not verbatim) the Council is in sympathy with the community’s concern’s over MRMC but does not have the power to act” Wow!

The City Charter Article II The City Council 2.1 Legislative power “The legislative power of the city, except as otherwise specifically provided by this chapter, shall be exercised by the city council”.

I would think that nothing could be clearer or more legally binding. Where does it state that action cannot and shall not originate in the council? Do the Council members understand their fiduciary responsibility to the citizenry? Or could they be subservient to a third party’s wishes?

Of the 35 resolutions on the Agenda, 24 were on the Consent Agenda which is voted on as a whole without any discussion. The Consent Agenda supposedly contains only items deemed to be routine and non-controversial. Resolutions must be taken off the Consent Agenda and voted singly if requested by a citizen or a Council member.

Three resolutions involving the total allocation of almost 2.7 million dollars for road reconstruction were removed by public request for not qualifying on the “routine” criteria. It would seem that it is not an everyday occurrence to spend $309,607.05, $747,591.25, and $1,636,151.40. As expected they were approved on individual votes.

Two resolutions were removed by Council Member’s request.

Of these 2 resolutions #322-08 failed by a 3:1 vote since a majority is considered to be based on the total Council members, not just those present filling a quorum. This Resolution called for approval of “Qualified vendors and Service Providers. Since this was a list of attorneys to be used for specific legal actions and in some cases only one name had been submitted, there was a citizen's questions concerning (1) How was the potential “Vendors/Service Providers advertised? The reply was that it was posted on the city’s website. (2) Were the County Bar Associations made aware of the positions? Reply “no”.

I noted during the public comment portion of the meeting that the City’s web site is so current that the last agenda posted for the Council was in May. Indeed although the Council has passed resolutions regarding the public information including the website it does not appear that any money spent is having results.

The other resolution removed from the consent agenda failed by a vote. It was for an application for $100,000 to the Urban Enterprise Zone Authority for the Downtown Maintenance Administration. There were serious unanswered questions about funds available and subsequent replenishing.

The public participation portion was devoted to request to support the appeal process if and when the Commissioner of Health grants Solaris CON request. Here was no Council comment prior to adjourning the meeting.

In my opinion that is the least the Council can do, but another mo nth will now pass with inaction, unless a special meeting is convened to specifically address the MRMC problem.

I again expressed my concern that the Council has not taken strong proactive action to be prepared for Solaris’s fait accompli of removing all viable services and equipment from the hospital prior to the Commissioner’s action. Even if the CON is denied there will be nothing left to function as a hospital. The Council should pay heed to Pastor Martin Niemoller’s comments about not speaking out. Although this was related to Germany’s genocide the principle is applicable to all actions that affect the peoples well being.

THE BALL COURT

I will be posting my impressions of last night's Council meeting much later this morning Consider this as a "Please wait while I organize".

THE BALL COURT at CHICHEN ITZA


For the Maya this game was a serious event. The outcome supposedly resulted in the losing team being sacrificed as a penalty.

In the game for the future of MRMC against Solaris, Plainfield is represented by its Council. How they perform will determine Plainfield's fate. As of today the score is Solaris 1 Plainfield 0. The ball is in the Council's hands. Get going team!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tonight's (Monday) Council meeting will be interesting for two reasons. One is a resolution awarding a $1,000,000 engineering contract to Remington and Vernick. This contract despite its size by State law does not have to be put out for bids. Instead it can go to one of any approved vendors who have responded to a notice published in any media for bids and specifications. There is no restrictions on which bid can be accepted.The other item of interest is one that as of this moment is not on the Agenda. Strong Council action to counter the closing of MRMC. I anticipate strong remarks during the Public Comments part of the meeting. I have in previous postings made some suggestions for the Council,

Enough dark stuff. While preparing the photos for Sunday's Iona story, I found may interesting pictures of the Hebrides. here are a very few of the Inner Hebrides.

The coast of Mull.

Shore road Jura


The coast of Skye- Castle ruins in background

I promis more

Sunday, July 20, 2008

IONA : ST. COLUMBA

The Island of Iona one pf the smaller Inner Hebrides Islands is only about a mile from the coast of Mull and the Scottish mainland.

Saint Columba who was born in 521 of royal ancestry in County Donegal. His mentor was Saint Finnian. About 560 St. Columba had copied a psalter of St Finnian's who demanded to posses it. This apparently led to armed conflict between several Irish clans which culminated in the Battle of Cuil Dreme in 561.

This led to a synod which at first as going to excommunicate Columba but instead censured him "for causing thousand of unprepared souls to enter eternity"

In 563 Columba with 12 companions founded a monastery on Iona where he based his missionary activities to the Picts in Northern Scotland and the Scots in the south.It is believed that part of the Book of Kells was written on Iona in the 8th Century.

Vikings raided and looted the monastery several times from 794 and it was abandoned in 849. A replica of the 8th Century St. John's Cross is on the grounds as well as the 9th Century St. Martin's Cross (pictured below)'

A Convent Order of Benedictine Nuns was established on the island about 1208. The ruins of the nunnery are pictured below.

Most of the buildings were destroyed during the Reformation period, some as seen below have been restored and today the island is a destination for thousands of visitors






In various order from top left: The Sanctuary, The Nunnery ruins, Road leading to the church,The cloisters,Inside the church The Cross of St. John

Saturday, July 19, 2008

ENERGY ALTERNATIVES

Too hot to be hot under the collar. Unless something which requires comment takes place between post time and when I start to write this picture essay(!) "this will be all folks".

Even though for the last three days the price for oil has decreased, it is still excessive. Therefore I am offering several alternatives to the automobile.

These three are not gas guzzlers
Apparently the driver is carrying extra fuel. (Corfu)


Not a Mack truck,but only a little slower than the chain driven ones built in Plainfield in the 30s (Gaspe)


Potholes could cause severe problems with the "wheels" (Afghanistan)

If four legs are not available there is also the possibility that arm power will suffice.

The motor is for emergencies only (Patti Lulu 1950)

And for the man who could win a Nobel prize but not Florida;Fossil fuel savers
(Mykonos)

Friday, July 18, 2008

MRMC TODAY

Please POP and Courier publish Zurofsky's letter to DHSS.

Aside to Plainfield's Common Council; Make your action protesting the granting to Solaris its CON request a emergency priority for Monday's meeting. I have previously suggested a procedure that is available to you. The City Clerk and/or the Corporation Counsel will guide you.

The political time is right now. There is an impression that the Commissioner is wavering and if able would like to find herself in a position that she must approve post facto the Solaris request. Don't be wimps, take a strong proactive stance. The public will back you.

Insurance Companies and our Health

If anybody has any doubts about the concerns that the insurance carriers have about us as individuals read this. California fines two health plans $13 million - Los Angeles Times

Horizon , New Jersey's "Blues" plan is Anthem's equivalent. It is planning to make the Blue Shield a for profit plan. The insiders will "profit" at the expense of their policy holders. Aetna and Cigna, the big commercial companies in this state, have been found culpable in various states of inappropriately denying benefits or arbitrarily only reimbursing for lesser services.

Allstate, the good hands company, has been reported to have reneged on payments for hurricane damages in New Orleans and fire losses in California. Buyer Beware.



Comentary about Green's Laudation"

Late Thursday evening while watching the Mets win their 10th straight game and tie my son –in-law’s Phillies for 1st place in the National East, I was wondering if I had a subject for Friday’s blog.

I could question why tearing down the Elmwood Gardens would reduce crime, or just force the criminals to move elsewhere. Yes, it has been a hot bed for criminal activities arising from drug dealings. Perhaps a 24/7 police task force presence would be less costly and preserve living space for law abiding citizens. Undoubtedly that too would only result in the relocation of the drug dealers and the gangs. Perhaps the social workers can explain the reasons for the vandalism and why replacing the building would prevent it in a new project. All this can be subject for future discussion.

Fortunately that sage ANONYMOUS came to my rescue and sent the following comment which I received in my email and have below reproduced verbatim.

Before I give it the creditability of deserving an answer I must reflect on the uniqueness of the internet when compared to the printed media. No newspaper will publish a letter to the editor without verifying the writer’s identity and address. This is to protect the ‘paper” from legal action.

On the other hand in their on line editions every item has a pseudonym for identification and the “media” protects them from the public... The lunatic fringes that wish to exhibit their paltriness hide their identities with on line names or in the case of comments regarding blogger postings as “anonymous.

For goodness sakes, if you have anything worthwhile to offer, have the balls to take credit for your words. Of course if you are female you must remain in limbo.

The 1st amendment protect s your right to express your opinions without repercussions. It does not give the right of legal protection to those who would libel or slander.

To get back to today’s anonymous comments;

“Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Green's Laudation":
WOW - do I sense bitterness? Plan B was necessary all along, and that truth will play out, much to the bitterness of all you local bloggers.
You remind me of the Swift Boat Vets - nah to everything. "we were there" I am sure you would say.
Or did you have nothing to do with your time and indulged yourself in wild specuation?”

There was no bitterness expressed, just a legitimate question;” Why would any individual or group spend large sum of money to publicly praise someone whose actions or inactions were harmful to their “agency”?

Since a politician was the honoree of the Ad Could there not b e a question of political pressure?

I don't understand the reference to the “Swift Boat”. Kerry exaggerated his war time role for political gain. Does the shoe hurt?

Yes, for Jerry Green, Plan B was necessary, since there apparently was no real Plan A, and the magnitude of the public outcry had not been anticipated.

If this country is going to survive people must ask questions and get answers. Otherwise our civil liberties will be at stake.

There is no bitterness, Barnum said ' You can fool all of the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all of the time". Know which group includes you.
Thank you “ANONYMOUS” for giving me the opportunity for these remarks. Incidentally, bloggers and the media are not obligated to publish unsolicited comments.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

CABOT TRAIL 1948

This old photo of the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. was taken in 1949.

We had been married while I was in Medical School one month before Pearl Harbour. One war and three daughters later we were able to take a slightly belated honeymoon. Off we went in our new "fishbowl" Studebaker to tour eastern Canada. Many of the roads in Quebec, the Gaspe, Prince Edward and Cape Breton were gravel only. The design of the car itself was an item of great interest to the "natives".

The pristine beauty of this gravel highway has changed greatly since then. Not only have the roads been paved, but Cape Breton is now easily accessible via a causeway/bridge instead of a ferry.

We did revisit the Maritime Provinces ,skipping Cape Breton, with another couple in the late 60s. Along the way we found time to play several interesting golf courses including the one at the site of "Anne of the Green Gables" on Prince Edward Island. Since then Prince Edward Island has also been connected to the mainland by a bridge eliminating the large car ferry that also served as a railroad train transport.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NEEDED- COUNCIL ACTION

The City Council Agenda is never set in stone. It is true that the Agenda Setting Session's purpose is to decide what matters should be presented for action or discussion at the business meeting. One reason for this format is to prevent any member of the council or more importantly the public from being blindsided by unexpected Council action. However Parliamentarian procedure and the Council's own rules provide for any new urgent resolution to be introduced by unanimous vote of the members present for action at that meeting.

To be prepared for an injunction and appeal of the issuance of a CoN giving Solaris the legal right to do what it has been doing can not, should not be delayed beyond July 21, 2008. If it is already too late to prepare then the Council as the legislative body must authorize immediate action by the Corporation Counsel. There can be no other alternative.

It is a fact that the City Charter delegates the power to initiate resolutions to the Council and not the Mayor. There is no requirement for such a resolution to be submitted after passage for the Mayor's approval.The ball is in the Council's court.


Yes there are legal matters (considerations) involved. That is why the city charter provides for a Corporation Counsel who acts in accordance with the city's Administrative Code.

If the long haul and costs are unacceptable to the city, then Plainfield has no future much less than a present. Yes costs means an increase tax burden, but like big business in today's economic crisis for the community to survive as a desirable place to live, there may have to to be budget tightening, sharing of benefits , even temporary salary and position readjustments.

Council members in their reluctance to be proactive in preserving quality health care for this community have indicated concerns about potential political consequences. It is time for our politicians and influential party leaders to act in the community's interest.

Perhaps at Monday's meeting procedure can be altered , again by vote of the Council, and the Public Comment section of the Agenda be altered to permit the public to speak on the hospital issue before any resolutions are acted upon. If more than 30 minutes are needed , so be it.

Green's Laudation

Could one answer concerning the sponsors of the ad. praising Assemblyman Green's involvement in seeking alternative Health Care options for Plainfield be the possibility that all signers with the exception of Plainfield's Mayor receive funding or licensing from the State? Certainly that could not be the answer since if so there would be a suspicion of blackmailing.

POTPOURRI

Some day I will be able to teach my spelling checker how to spell; "lern" for learn"?

"Slightly red faced"; In my St. Michel post I stated that supplies had to be "packed animal brought up from the point where the jeeps turned around. I said that the trail was too narrow for vehicles. Memory does fade with years. The second set of pictures shows a TRUCK, albeit a small one, parked next to the Abbey. Also the "trail" above the jeeps shows distinct vehicular trackways. Despite what the Council will not accept, I can't always be right.

Any pharmacist will tell you that one of the requirements to be a physician is to be able to write in an illegible undecipherable manner. I have problems reading my jotted notes of the Council meetings, therefore my comments are perceptions rather than 100% factual. I suggest that they be read in concert with Plainfield Plaintalker.

Disbelief; I c an understand why some of the "signers" of Jerry Green's praise ad. would do so. by why would the Plainfield Rescue Squad thank him for making their job harder and more dangerous for the patients ? Why would the Neighborhood Health Service Corporation-Plainfied thank him for increasing the risk facing its maternity patients? Why would Trinitas, Overlook, and Somerville hospitals congratulate him on overloading their facilities? Why would MRMC congratulate him for helping it discontinue services in Plainfield? Who applied what political pressure? I would hope that each of the above parties would answer these questions.

Obviously the Council will stonewall any action against Solaris until it would be meaningless. .The window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

Will there be anything left of MRMC to close when the Commissioner of DHSS issues her approval of the CON. Solaris acts as if it has been done but I have not read any notice to that effect. s she waiting for thew public turmoil to die down? Or does the politicians think it to be advisable to use as much of the 120 day period as possible?

Anonymous do you have answers?

Tweaking photographs

I thought that I would play with one picture that was slightly faded. This is a town in Austria above Vienna on the Danube. The picture has been manipulated to give the effects noted in order. {Someday I will learn how to get the labels exactly adjacent to the picture)

Gamma adjusted

An oilpainting effect

Posterized



A watercolor effect

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

COUNCIL AGENDA SESSION 7/17/08.

Today’s Plainfield Plaintalker has a complete three part breakdown factual report of last night’s meeting. There is no way that I could possibly write a better more accurate report than that professional presentation.

Isn’t it too bad that the print media no longer sees fit to report on Plainfield’s governing body?

Although because of the late hour, nearly 11 pm when I left with two individuals still waiting to speak, I missed the donnybrook that ended the meeting.

DON QUIXOTE

My comments about the meeting will be segmental in approach, the first I would call the Don Quixote portion. It began with a request from Michael Moore President and proprietor of ‘First Thursday LLC to use the MILT CAMBELL park and city streets for a multiethnic group all day event that would have commercial sponsorships. The program outlined was nebulous and the council requested submission of analysis of pr4oject costs events and security expenses further

Next came a request from Councilman Storch to have the Council pass a resolution in support of the recently signed legislation call for insured care for children not insured. This was to be the first stage of a universal plan. The Councilman felt that in view of Plainfield’s Muhlenberg disaster this bill would help economically mitigate some of the newly created void. Although, some Councilmen questioned where the funding would come from, no one proposed any strong action to prevent or alter the impact of Solaris actions. That would seem to me to be a more logical action.

RESOLUTIONS FOR SPENDING FUNDS

Corporation Counsel submitted a resolution to “Authorize Approval to approve Qualified Vendors and Service Providers in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40A:11-2(6). This act is supposedly aimed at the “Pay to Play” situation in this Soprano State. The act only changes the field by setting ground rules on how vendors can be eligible for receiving lucrative contracts. The only requirement for public notification is that there can be a notice posted on the municipal website. No legal notice in the news media is required, thus requests to be listed may go unnoticed by potential applicants. On the other hand there is no restriction on notifying any vendor that there would be a short term posting of specific program on the city’s website. It must be noted that professional service contracts need not be opened to competitive bidding. What’s new?

Councilman Storch objected to this flaw in N.J.S.A 40A11-2(6).and stated that he could nor support this resolution unless there was a requirement for public newspaper notification.

The City Administrator under PUBLIC WORKS submitted several resolutions relating to (a) road reconstruction and (b) URBAN ENTERPRISE ZONE security cameras.

The road reconstruction resolutions included contracts for resurfacing West4th St. from Clinton Ave to the City Line. Also 2 resolutions to award a bid contract to JENICAR BUILDERS CONTRACTORSS CO..; One not to exceed $747,591.25 for FY 2006 Road Improvement Program Phase I and the other not to exceed $1,636,151.40 for Phase III of the same year.

In response to questioning why this seemingly reduplication of engineering estimates and plans for a program which would have been the second year of the 6year 2004 Capital Improvement Program which had been presented by the engineering corporation of SCHHOOR-DEPALMA. It was pointed out that the original estimates were done 4 years ago and these were for the 2006 work that is now schedule for 2009. Confused?

Also presented was a resolution to reject bids for phase II of the 2006 Roadway etc. b because of a lack of clarification relating to performance completion dates. This phase will be resubmitted for completion in 2009

The other major expense f requested was basically for a feasibility study for security cameras for the SID zone along with money for the cameras and $24,000 defray part of the costs for inside security cameras in SID participant’s business establishments. Assurance was give hat funds available would not have an adverse effect on remanding UEZ funds.

ORDINANCES

Two were presented for introduction:

(1) Bond ordinance to finance $1, 000,000.00 for Phase III (the 2006.year of the 6 year2004 plan) for 2010 road reconstruction. There was some discussion if the increased debt was not going to place an unbearable tax burden on the public.

(2) To create a Transit Oriented Development Netherwoods Zone and to rezone that area from “mixed” to allow 4 stories of residential over a ground floor commercial dev elopement. This ordinance was accepted for inclusion in the agenda despite Councilman Storche’s concerned objections to the ramifications of this ordinance.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

The final 30 minutes of the meeting was scheduled for Public Comments. Since several residents were still standing in line to speak, Councilman Storch moved to extend the period for another 30 minutes, later amended because of Councilman Simmons’ objection, to 15 minutes. Three subjects were the focus of comments; the Transit zone, road reconstruction and the lack of official support for action to keep Muhlenberg functional. Councilman Davis vehemently expressed his objection to the implication that the council had not actively opposed the closure again referring to an early ineffectual resolution. The public speakers were rather strong I their comments regarding the lack of serious office al support

I left just a few minutes before the shouting match which ended the meeting took place.

I would like to point out that for almost three months I have requested at each session without success that the Council take a strong proactive position relating to the Hospital. There are several actions that must be taken in the certain event of the granting of the CoN; (a) seeking an injunction, (b) instituting “Eminent Domain proceedings. and (3) immediate removal of the site from tax exemption status. The Council must bite the bullet.

COUNCIL AGENDA SETING SESSION- SUBSTITUTE

Monday July 14th's meeting start was delayed until shortly after 8pm while the council was in executive session. The public Agenda Setting meeting before a crowded room of standees lasted until after 10pm and the 30 minute public remarks time was extended to almost 11pm.

It was too late to even contemplate what was important. My comments will appear either late Tuesday or at the latest on Wednesday
As a sop, I have found on a storage disc more pictures of the Abbey St. Michel de Cuxa.





Another view of the Abbey, The foot trail,Jeep at turn-around waiting to take people to the town which in the view from the Abbey tower is in the valley.