Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PLAINFIELD'S DARK YEAR

2008 was the year Plainfield became an undesirable city to live in.

Plainfield's streets are in serious disrepair and are continuing to disintegrate due to poor counter measures. Leland Ave, especially north of the railroad bridge, has become a tire busting, alignment destroying, axle bending obstacle course. Watchung Ave is still a ride to challenge suspensions and springs. Woodland Ave and South Ave repaved within the past ten years are full of potholes and poorly repaired street openings.

Plainfield High School was designated as the states only "persistantly unsafe school"." It also was cited for continue failure to make adequate progress .

The mortgage foreclosure rate in Plainfield is one of the highest in the state leaving the First and Fourth wards with an overwhelming number of vacant houses. The other two wards have not escaped.

But primarily it has been Plainfield's Health Crisis , compounded by political ineptitude, which has had the greatest impact upon the city..

The closing of Muhlenberg Medical Center was symbolic of the low esteem that the state's political leaders hold for this city. The circus that marked the hearings that were held before the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services officially approved the fait accompli action by Solares reflected the lack of consideration that this Democratic State Administration has for the health of 100000 lower social status people.

Despite Jerry Greens own words in his Dec 29, 2008 blog; "This would put us in the position to reopen Muhlenberg Hospital, a hospital that should have never been closed.", it still appears that our political leadership failed us. Assemblywoman Stender ignored the problem, and Assemblyman Green efforts seemed to be directed at best to modifying what he knew would be the ultimate reaction. Neither one or State Senator Lesniak of Union County actively opposed the State's intent to sacrifice Muhlenberg for the benefit of Solaris.

Actions to produce supposed "buyers" of the Muhlenberg Campus were a cynical insincere introduction of supposed proposals by real estate entrepreneurs, not hospital operators. The few health system operators that showed any interest were give short strife. The whole story has never been made public, everything was behind closed doors. Any disclosures at this late date must be received with a degree of skepticism.

The city Council was outstanding in its lack of positive action. Proactive is not a known word. When legal action was begun the horses had already fled the stable, Again the scope would not alter the health care void that the loss of the hospital has created.

Although we have been assured by the Mayor that there is a viable acceptable interested party
whose identity must be kept a secret in negotiations with Solaris, I doubt that there will ever be even belatedly positive action. For one thing Solaris does not want even minimal competition, and the downturn in the economy has made an investment unlikely.

Where does it leave the Plainfield area residents in need of urgent critical care. They can ultimately be treated at Kennedy, or Somerset or Overlook . or at the newly renamed Trinty Regional Health Center. Regional because Plainfield's OB cases are being sent there. The twenty or more minutes that it will take to receive critical care means nothing to the unaffected ones who engineered this situation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PET PEEVES

To "Anonymous “A�" Your comment sent to "Americas Coming of Age" is not relevant to the subject of the blog. I will remind you that I have remarked about the BOE several times but I have not the time to attend their meetings. I also will not get into a discussion about the political affiliations of the board members. The idea of an elected board was to divorce it from politics which is inherent in a Mayor appointed board. Theory and action are two different facts.

If you wish to use my blog or others to make a political or personal attack please identify yourself by name and with an email address so that we can contact you if needed. Anonymity is synonymous with cowardice, and is well served in the newspaper forums.

I don't know how many people noticed that Caroline Kennedy during her recent press conferences used the term "you know" interspersed into her reply to every question. I am accustomed to hear this from athletes and others who have short circuited their education for other endeavors, and are not comfortable speaking in public. Certainly such grammar is not the mark of a Senator.

While I am on the subject of fractured English, I find Al Rokar's use of "we have got" irritating. He has been imitated by a group of lesser weather reporters. We have is sufficient. "Got" is pp of the verb "get" which means obtain or possess. In other words if you "have" you already "got" or if you "got" you "have" thus the combination is redundant.

AMERICA'S COMING OF AGE

Nationally the greatest story of 2008 was the Presidential Election and Obama's victory.

The election of a non-Caucasian to be President of the United States represents a coming of age and a victory for the American people.

Despite the resurgence of the KKKs, Neo-Nazis ,and other America First Hate Groups The majority of Americans have discarded ingrained sexual, ethnic and religious bias. An individual is being judged on that person's merits. We can only hope that the increasing economic crises does not cause a destructive attitude reversion. Moreover we must constantly be on guard that such heresy does not take control.

As a naive 16 year old I was perhaps not as upset as I should have been to find segregated facilities for Afro-Americans (that term did not exist then). Restaurants, washrooms, drinking fountains, schools, hospital wards etc etc was the way of life.

That was because similar prejudice existed up North although not as openly. Restaurants would deny service to "blacks", Hotels had no vacancies etc. Discrimination was not limited to ethnic groups, anti-semitism was rampant.The elite WASP community did not hesitate to use their position to implement restrictions on others. Even the depression had not changed that.

In Plainfield, the new Meadowbrook Village Garden apartments which were a model for New Jersey and perhaps the country would rent to only white Christians. The Plainfield Country Club continued its restrictions for decades after WWII. The Board of Governors of Muhlenberg Hospital was composed of PCC members plus a few from similar nearby clubs. The YMCA ran a separate facility on West 4th Street rather than accommodate Plainfield's small Afro-American community.

Of course time has a brought change. Regrettably the decedents of those who were victims have shown similar prejudices towards the new minorities as well as older civic groups.

There are nonsectarian organizations that are active today fighting all forms of racial and religious abuses. The Southern Poverty Law Center is foremost and along with the Americans United which leads the fight against religion impacting on education and government deserve our active support.

Although this election marked a coming of age for America, we must constantly guard against a small cohesive minority initiating hate actions and instituting an Ayatolla type government. The First Amendment was designed to protect us from a Theocracy which the religious right would have.

Photos for a Change

Transferring the picture from slide to electronic media can be a very tedious enterprise. At the present speed it will be a month before I can leave France for I know not where. In the meantime I shall share some of France with you. These are from the south and especially the Pyrenees.

A town in a valley below the train


Watchtowers that guarded the borders with Moorish Spain in the 15th-16th Centuries and later on with the Hapsburg Spain.
A view from hotel. You can see two levels of the road up from the valley beyond the red roof
Picking the crop-center

Monday, December 29, 2008

MEMO

To publish a list of 10 most has become a manifested chore popularized by a nighttime TV host. Guess who?

Both Plainfield Today and Plainfield Plaintalker are winding down their significant lists. Both are a concise overview of Plainfield's troubled year. I can not attempt such a feat. However I do propose to post in the next two days what I feel were the most significant stories (a) nationally and (b) locally. Perhaps right after the first I could add a (c) International earth shaker.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

BUDGET WOES #2

Kudos to Councilman Storch for presenting the problems facing the Council in trying to adopt the smallest possible increase in the budget for 2009.

Unfortunately, his last paragraph, in part quoted here "All budget decisions will be made knowing that the all important primary election is coming in June." implies that political expedience to remain in office not the economic and service as well as safety needs of the community will dictate the final budget.

However, he does included 5 valid options that could result in a tax payer's more acceptable budget. The positive ones require political decisions. His proposals are limited by the likelihood of legal action from the unions. However all union contracts would be abrogated by bankruptcy, a process I do not advocate.

It would be interesting to see if any of his suggested remedies are incorporated in the budget. At all levels raises should be put on hold. Department and/or division expenses should be maintained at present levels, and if possible reduced. Perhaps a reduction in personnel is in order. The work load efficiency of those remaining would have to improve. It can be done, and there must be a solution for those who refuse to cooperate.

A review of all property that is on the tax exempt list should be done, and those used for purposes that are not germane to the organizations non profit status or are for profit should be taxed.

I again repeat; because of the timing of the State extraordinary funding allocation, a fiscal year that does not coincided with the calender year is asinine.

This is a 7:30 AM slight revision of the original post.

RANDOM THOUGHTS DEC 28

This is my 2008 commentary about the Plainfield bloggers .

Both Bernice and Dan on their blogs are recounting in their distinctive styles the years 10 most significant stories relating to our Plainfield.

Bernice as usual is the consummate newspaper feature writer. She assembles her facts and intersperses pertinent questions that still need answers. Above all, one must read the many comments to each entry.

Dan also points out the problems referred to in his 10 most important stories. Unlike a reporters supposedly unbiased writings, Dan can be more politically yet accurately influenced. To the best of my knowledge, Dan does verify his facts and does not indulge in rumors or vindictive comments. However, he more than any other Plainfield blogger has been the focus of nasty political oriented attacks by Jerry Green's defenders.

Marie has been the watchdog for the school system and ethnic relationships as well as the city's appearance. There was a void when other commitments caused her to omit her frequent postings. To all of our relief she is back.

Councilmen Storch and Burney have been most valuable additions to the scene with their comments on local issues. Councilor Burney has most often posted items that should have been made available on the City's site. I welcome his sharing with us his excellent pictures.

Even Assemblyman Green has joined the ranks. The focus of his blog is still vague. He vacillates from a SMA presentation to just simple press releases. Since anything he posts that is not a press releases is of such unique content it is most welcome. I marvel as a blogger, how he can find the time form his load of official and personal duties can find the time to write even one paragraph.

As to this blog, it has been fun and time consuming to write. As the name implies it can be varied and not focused on any particular subject. AS I go through my almost 2000 slides and later on photographs from the last 60 years in an attempt to transfer them to electronic media, I would hope that readers would not object to my sharing ones I find interesting on my blog. I will also try to write some personal remembrances especially those of our city as well as commentaries on local, national and worldwide subjects. After all no one has to read it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DEER ME

This could be next year's greeting's card subject.

I wish I could take credit for this picture, but I can not. This peaceful scene was shot this weekend by our granddaughter-in-law Amber and emailed to me.

Believe it or not, the location was not in the wilderness, but right here inside Plainfield's city limits. Amber spotted the deer and took it through our dinning room window!

We are now enjoying a quieter home the last of two sets of two each great grand children have left along with their parents and grandparents. Amazingly we can't wait for them to come back for short visits. However our small ranch can be very overcrowded and my daily routine suffers.

A few more days and I shall be up to snuff and start posting.

Friday, December 26, 2008

DEC. 26 BOXING DAY

Boxing Day_ Dec 26th is a legal holiday in Great Britain and parts of the old British Commonwealth. The day has nothing to do with cardboard boxes or fighting. It is actual St Stephen's day. St. Stephen was probably the first Christian Martyr who was stoned to death about AD 34-35..

However in England it became the day gifts were given to those of lower social status than the giver. ie: The house owner to the servants, or to someone in need. It was a class distinction, one never received a gift from a servant. Christmas Day gifts were reserved to be among equals never from one of lower social status. To accept a gift from some one of lower economic status would de facto make you their equal.

For more information go to: "http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/boxingday.asp"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

SEASON'S GREETINGS

To All
A happy and safe holiday


Winter at Cedarbrook Park


Summer Schroon Lake, NY

The "point" upper left is about 3 miles from the camera site. The lower mountains upper right are about 6 miles away and the lake bends to the left for another 3 to 4 miles.

Monday, December 22, 2008

ANONYMITY IS GREAT

As my late Appalachian mother-in-law used to say "Great day ana morning" , for me MONDAY was a most unique day. At 7 pm I found a long comment about my blog in my email which I felt should be posted because the anonymous writer is under the misapprehension that I blog in concert with others who have a sincere concern about Plainfield as a community where anyone regardless of race or religion or other ethnic characteristics would like to live and raise a family.

I then checked other blogs and found the same comment by the same writer "Anonymous" posted on Plaintalker and Crescent Times. I am sure that Councilor Storch and Plainfield Today (Dan) also received a copy. I think that is a first, something like a mass produced email. Truly I am happy to be included in association with those for whom I have the greatest admiration regarding their honest concerns about matters that are deleterious to the community.

Anonymous apparantly is under the impression that being a (registered) Republican is an abomination. Thank goodness I do not have a Republican affiliation as charged. When I first registered as a voter over 67 years ago you were forced to register a party affiliation. That did not mean that when at the general election, I went to the polls I voted a straight ticket . I always tried to vote for (1) the best candidate in my opinion, or (2) when too often faced with two lesser caliber choices the one who seemed to be a lesser "danger" to good government.

In Plainfield for the past decade or so, the capability to make such a choice in local affairs was only available to the Democrats. In essence anyone who was a registered Republican was in effect disfranchised. I had to switch parties. Statewide and National that meant little. I would no more vote for an individual on the party ticket whose Religious Right Republicanism offended my sensibilities as I would today for an extreme leftist Democrat who practices the politics of ancient Rome by seducing the voters through government handouts (in Rome it was bread, and the Coliseum shows) to get the vote to stay in power.

I contributed to candidates of both parties , sometime to my regret after they were elected. However party affiliation, skin color, or religion was never a determining factor. If Anonymous reads my blog he will note that I consider Harry Trueman as the greatest President in office during the years I could vote, and a Republican Richard Nixon the biggest threat to our civil liberties until the arrival of Cheney/Bush on the scene.

To label Mapp as a card caryying Republican makes Anonymous no different than Senator McCarthy whose Crusade against "Communists" destroyed the lives of innocent people who suddenly became anti-American. McCarthy was a bigot with no respect for the Constitutional rights of others but who will also damn by innuendo and perceived association.

If I and others feel that Plainfield's political leadership has failed to provide properly for the welfare of the community as a whole and not for a few selected disciples we should express that concern, just as Anonymous can write albeit incognito his contrary opinion about Green's critics.

The elected BOE was in theory supposed to be free of politics and concerned only with the policy setting principles and overseeing the operation of the local education system. Unfortunately, there have been "slates" run at almost every election including ones supported or proposed by "New" and "Old" Democrats or occasional independent with self interest agendas. The fiduciary responsibility of the BOE as a whole is to select competent administrative personnel who will run an efficient system not hampered by personal BOE members agendas.

My comments about the BOE is based on what seems to be or not be happening here. To many changes in professional staffing over the years. Too much money wasted on buyouts. Too many years for the schools not to achieve the 40 or so points needed to satisfy the AYP. To many years not to reach a ridiculous low of 74% math proficiency in 11th grade or even 85% in language. The advertising for a basketball couch without prior notification the incumbent that a change was being considered, or never enlightening the public why. This are indications that the BOE is not fulfilling it role.

Does "A" remember that several years ago One of the School Superintendents and the then existing Board seriously considered purchasing and renovating the PNC building as a fitting site for the districts offices? Fortunately that idiotic enterprise was sidetracked. However perhaps even the thought of such an expensive non educational project to satisfy ego illustrates the caliber of leadership in the past. We have a new orginization in place. The year is only 4 months old. We should give them a chance.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

OTHER BANK NOTES

Plaintalker's Sunday blog on official Plainfield banks and some anecdotal remarks on local history once more points out slip shot management in both the city administrative offices and in the Board of Education.

At the Dec. 15th special Council meeting the subject of the official depositories was broached. During the post meeting public commentary period I did mention that there was no longer an institution known as the "Commerce Bank". It is disturbing that a resolution approval legal action should contain errors. We are already having to do with some kind of manipulation to make up for the error in the introduced budget which the Council approved.

Equally disturbing if the BOE's official depository lists the name of a nonexistent bank. Think of the possibilities for fraud.

Years ago the late Phyllis Mason pointed out the great multiplicity of bank accounts that the city held. Some were not even listed or had been forgotten. Again there was an open door for fraud. Whether this has been corrected over the years, I do not know. I think that it is important that there should be an official accounting of all bank accounts and their specific necessity or use.

I do not remember any plan for a financial plaza at Park and Front. When the buildings that compromised the Park-Madison plot were torn down int the early 60s or late 50s for redevelopment there were the following banking sites downtown. The first National Bank on the North side of Front St. facing Park Ave., The Plainfield Savings Bank on the southeast corner of Front and Park, The Queen City Savings and Loan on Park between Front and Second Streets, The State Trust Company on Park and North, Plainfield Savings and Loan to become Investors at 4th and Park, The Mid City Trust Company later United Counties Trust where Payless Shoes is today and of course The Plainfield Trust Company aka Plainfield National Bank later United Trust Company oat Second Street and Park.

The plan with the redevelopment of the Park Madison was for the United Trust Co. to build a modern building as the "corner stone" for the project. I am not sure if the State Trust and the First National had already been merged into the United Trust, but the 68 riots killed all redevelopment plans and the United National subsequently relocated its administrative a nd trust divisions to the new Bridgewater site.

I am sure that the above is not 100% correct so please make corrections.

Signs of the times; from today's LA TIMES "To cut costs, New Hampshire courts won't hold criminal or civil jury trials for a month. At least 19 other states have slashed court budgets and other state services."

While I don't suggest that locally we should cut court times, is it time to reevaluate the raises both by contract and non union employees in the 2009 budget with the intend to either freeze or renegotiate. Desperate time require desperate measures.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

RANDOMIZING DEC 20TH

Yesterday's storm contributed to a delay until today of our grandchildren's visit. This gave me time today to read the papers. Saturday's Courier had three items of Plainfield interest;

The most important one was that the High School had for the 6th straight year failed to meet minimal goals. It must do so this year after submitting and implementing a restructuring plan. It took Hubbard School two years to pass, Maxon apparently is now making "adequate progress" although still not in the clear.

We hope the new administration will be able to do that which previous ones that could order special expensive coffee for the Administrator's office was not able to accomplish.

Since there have been frequent changes in the professional portion of the school system without resulting in a system that Plainfield should be proud to have,the onus must fall on the elected board. It matters not whether this supposedly non political board is composed of "New" or "Old" Democrats or "naysaying" Greenphobic Republicans. What is important is that each member understands the function of a BOE and his/her fiduciary responsibility.

The other two item were editorial comments; One faulted the CABC for not making specific recommendations on budget cuts. I think that before blame can be leveled , it would be important to learn what was the charge given to CABC. Also what were any specific instructions received by the committee and what data they received.

The other was a justified criticism of the State Sports Hall of Fame nominating committee fpr continuing to overlook Milt Campbell. He should have been one of the first inductees.

Aside from the above the other Plainfield news had to do with criminal activities.

SWEET GRAPES

Bernice did kick up a storm with her long article about "kingmakers". I think she set a record for printable comments (10 at last count). If you have not read her blog, do so. After decades of reporting the Plainfield scene for the Courier she has the greatest font of knowledge about area politics. As a true reporter she has to the best of my recollection always been completely impartial.

Dan Damon in his Plainfield Today blog stated clearly what separates a blog from the uncontrolled forums that the Star Ledger runs. In the past I too have expressed my opinion about those who would hide behind "Anonymous" to launch vulgar attacks on others. If you have something valid to express be proud enough to acquaint the readers with the seer that wrote the document.

Instead of a long essay I have three views of harvesting the wine grapes in southern France. I have not had a chance to tweak these slides.
Looks loke a family gathering in the center
Man versus the Machine (below).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jerry's Back

HALLELUJHA, The Jerry Green Blogger we got to know in July and August when he was defending his failure as our Assemblyman to try to preserve Plainfield’s hospital facility is back.


No longer will we have to scan press releases that reflect his political powers, instead on Thursday Dec. 18 we were treated to two typical Green vituperative blogs. Like a cornered wounded wild animal he has turned to attack the author of Plainfield Plaintalker, Bernice Paglia, and John Campbell the subject of Thursday’s column. Dan must be humiliated since he was not worthy of your scorn.


I am happy that we will not be forced to read personal attacks from Green between now and the primary elections (June?) 2009. How do I know that? He wrote on this date “PS: Moving forward, I have no interest in getting involved in gutter politics in this election.” Green does however threaten to take legal action against anyone who makes remarks about him that he considers slanderous or libel


Green accuses Bernice of "spoon feeding John Campbell’s mouth", as if Campbell is not capable of expressing his own opinions. He demeans Campbell for not supporting Obama, and for trying to divide the Afro-American vote to support the Republican ticket. My memory may be short but I cannot recall that fact.


I do recall that Green started out on the Clinton bandwagon and when she lost New Jersey, as a good party member he came out in support of Obama. I also recall that Councilor Burney was beating the drums and bushes for Obama from the beginning.And most unusual, Green although holding(in his own words)"the 3rd highest ranking office in the General Assembly" did not attend his party’s national convention.


All in all after berating those who challenge him, Jerry Green fails to prove that he and his surrogate mayor have made Plainfield a better place to live in. In fact there are many intelectual concerned Plainfielders who wonder, with the sole exception of the County Offices on Park Madison,what you have done during your decades as local party chairman for Plainfield? You wrote " I am now able to be effect in getting things done, ushering solace, and achievement". Perhaps a recounting of you positive deeds rather then disparaging others may help us decide who will win the next local elections.


Bernice you have opened Pandora’s Box. The next 6 months shall be interesting.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it snow

A white Christmas may be in the books for this year.Already there is a layer of snow on the ground. With a significant snowfall predicted for tomorrow (Friday) night and more on Sunday and the 24th the odds seem to favor that possibility.

The sentimentalist will love it, those who plan to travel will hate it. As usual parents will worry. May it be a safe and happy time for all.

No random thoughts at this moment, rather four pictures of Alaska, whichj may be appropriate this season.

Glacier Bay
Birds and Ice- Tracy Arm
More ice floes- Tracy Arm
A Bald Eagle at Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau
You may see it on top of the gravel pile by enlarging the picture

and for all

May the Holidays and Holly Days be full of happiness
May the up coming year be free of worry and tragedy.


A colder Cedarbrook Park 70s

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

RANDOM THOUGHTS Dec.1 7,2008

Thank you Dan Damon for pointing out a quandary which the 2009 Council will have to face. This will be the first test for the newer members of the Council. I for one would not approve a financial document until I had sufficient time to digest all its ramifications. But then again I did not seek 10% annual return with Bernard Madoff'.

Incidentally, "loath" is an adjective meaning against or unwilling, "loathe" is a verb denoting dislike, abhor etc.. To loath is not hating. Dan does point this out in a response comment in his blog.

The annual reoccurring problems with the budget is one more reason that a return to a calender fiscal year must be a priority consideration for Mayor, City Administrator Dashield and the Council in the first half of 2009. The next fiscal year starts July 1, 2009. It is possible to b y ordinance make it a truncated one pending a 2010 calender fiscal year.

A loss from the return to the calender year, will be the ability to spend by special resolutions funds for 6 plus months until a definitive budget can be approved after the state allocations and anticipated grants are available. Why have a budget if one has already spent most of his income?

Our thoughts are with Councilor Reid and our hopes are for his speedy recovery from his present medical problem. His commitment and contributions to the Council affairs will be missed.

Congratulations to Plainfield High School Graduate, Eugene Monroe for being named second team All American offensive tackle while playing for a bad UVA team. Monroe is predicted to be one of the first two offensive tackle selected in the NFL draft. He has also has an excellent scholastic record at Virginia.

After Friday the 19th we will happily be inundated for the next 10 days but fortunately not concurrently with 4 great grandchildren, 2 sets of dotting parents, The "greats"'s grandparents, and sundry other " issues including spouses, significant others etc. Only earth shaking developments will be reason to post a blog, thus there will be a hiatus for all of the next week or so.

For everyone:
May the Holidays and Holly Days be full of happiness
May the up coming year be free of worry and tragedy.


Winter in Cedarbrook Park 70s

Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday's Council Meeting

At best this will be brief. I can't write shorthand, and certainly am not a court stenographer so I have to dash down notes in that well know doctor's handwriting, which even I can't decipher. For a lucid report please read Plaintalker.

Monday night the Council approved the sending out of an estimated first and second quarter calender year tax bill. This is actually the third (and fourth) quarter of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Of the three items that make up the bill, the School Tax and County tax portions will have to be based on the 2008 bills perhaps with some e minor adjustments. The estimated city tax will be done after the state aid is determined which may be by 12/31/08. This has been about 40% of the funds needed.

City Administrator Deshield gave a power point presentation describing where the revenues come from. If I heard right, in 2008 $48 mil. were from taxes, and 40% of the remainder funds of approximately $23 mil.was in state aid. Since approximately 15% of the city's revenues come from state allocations which are not made until late December would it not be logical to revert to the calender year for our fiscal year? Or is it to our benefit to make things complicated?

It would be my guess that this year the total raised by taxes at the same rate of 2008 could be substantially less and state aid may well be significantly less. Thus the true impact on our tax bill will not be known before Jan.1,2009.

At the public portion of the meeting mention was made of a possible Health care forum.hopefully with Sen Daschle the to be Obama's secretary Of Health. The subject would be centered on the acute care crisis in this city.

Besides the usual small group of public commentators, members of CBAC were out in force to present their side of the misunderstanding over their report. I hope that in the next budget process a well defined advisory committee will be able to participate.

Council President Gibson in his farewell remarks noted the economic problems facing all communities and that "cuts" will have to be made. He, correctly, urged that it not be at the expense of our core safety departments, Police and Fire. The 2009 Council should heed him.

This marked Councilman Davis, and Council President Gibson's last meeting. They tried to the best of their abilities to serve the city well.That is all we can ask of our elected public servants, . The 2009 Council should also be very interesting and I hope that there is greater public interest.

PMUA has scheduled a meeting Jan 20,2009 at 6pm- very convenient for the public- to discuss rate changes. With a crash in the recycle markets, a marked increase is inevitable.

ABOUT THE COUNCIL

Yes, Council President Gibson’s letter in response to a critical Courier editorial is not without merit. It gives validity to the comments he made after the CABC presentation. Unfortunately, there is still no appreciation of cause and effect.

He addresses the deficiencies in CABC’s product without considering why such a product was produced. Nor does he address why the committee was given only 15 minutes to present its case, which boiled down to a Power Point exercise.

To begin with, the CABC was ill conceived. Given that its proponent Councilman Burney was desirous of some citizen input in the Council’s budget review process, such a committee could have been effective if;
  1. -- It had been given a clearly defined charge.
  2. --The scope of its report had been delineated.
  3. --Unrestricted information had been provided
  4. --Adequate time had been allowed
  5. --The department presentations had been properly presented.
  6. --The Council membership understood what they were creating and not tried to restrict it through fear that the committee would usurp the Council’s prerogatives.
  7. --The CABC membership had any idea what they should focus on or how to proceed.

To fault the CABC because it dealt in generalities and not specific names is unjust.


A properly charged CABC with full cooperation of the entire Council could be a valuable asset in the budget setting process. More importantly the production of the annual budget lacks professionalism, and in itself often lacks specifics and has too many vague items.

The fault also lies in the city’s poor selection of responsible administrative individuals. It is apparent from the most recent fiasco that the vetting by the Mayor’s office has been inadequate and that the Council’s consent has been based on inadequate perusal of support documentation.

Which brings me to the topic of Council meetings, their format, location, and public convenience?

This year after a few years’ hiatus for personal reasons, the Muhlenberg crisis was the impetus for me to resume a two decade attendance at the meetings. Much to my amazement the dedicated and vociferous public attendance that I remembered was no longer evident. If there were a minion (10) citizens present that was a lot. I am sure that was in part the result of the weird meeting schedule in effect for over a year.

In addition the Council had instituted the practice to place almost all the resolutions to be acted upon into the consent agenda irrespective of the resolutions contents. Since there can be no discussion on Consent Agenda items during the 30 minute 3 minutes per individual public discussion prior to the Council action, public opinion was was obvious not desired.

There would also be no discussion by Council members at the business meeting on most items.Indeed, the focus seemed to be “let's get out of here as quickly as possible”

It is true that some Resolutions elicited some discussion at the agenda setting session which are held in an inadequate uncomfortable venue which is not conducive for public participation. Not only does the public have no opportunity to express an opinion prior to the council's decision to include the item on the business meeting agenda, but adherence to the 30 minutes , 3 minutes per individual, afforded the public for comments after the meeting has deprived some the opportunity.

I was amazed that when at the first meeting I attended I attempted to exercise my right to request the removal of a resolution from the Consent Agenda so that I could make a comment, the Council members did not know how to react. Although that right is specifically provided in the Council rules, they were going to vote whether it should be removed or not. It took another member of the public to instruct them on their own rules.

Such ignorance of their own rules is consistent with either a lack of fiduciary responsibility, or lack of commitment to the public. To schedule meetings for the Council Members convenience and not the general public isolates them from the people.

The proposed fewer Council meetings and more time for Committee meetings is self serving. Perhaps the Council can inform us when was the last time a standing or special committee presented a report at the public meeting? Who keeps attendance for committee meetings? If minutes are taken, where are they available for perusal?

I am sure there are meetings formal or informal, but they are all private and the public are not privy. That occurred for every meeting about the hospital and no formal report was ever submitted.

Change for change sake is not an answer. The tried and true formula worked well in the past; it is the discouragement of public participation that is today’s problem.

I will grant that here are those on the Council who appear to have genuine concerns, but let’s get back to basics and see why there may be problems that could be corrected. Above all accept the fact that there are members of the public that make constructive remarks which should not only be encouraged but also heeded.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BAILOUT

The bailout failure should come as no surprise. Did I not suggest the likelihood?

I would call attention to a comment by 'B-Bob" that I posted today to my Dec 9th or 10th blog about the automobile maker's bailout.

The writer makes valid points which we tend to overlook, but certainly played a prominent political role in the Southern Republican's opposition to lending GM and Chrysler money'

The foreign companies who are producing cars in the United States located their plants in Southern States where they not only received large subsidies but also were able to negotiate union contract wage levels that are at least 5/7th that of the Michigan-Illinois-Ohio plant contracts.That alone lowers labor costs by about 30% before other more favorable management labor fringes are included. It doesn't take a math genius to figure that out.

``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````The An other side of the coin is that the big three have outsourced the manufacturing of their money making lines to either the Southern foreign owned plants or to foreign countries such as Australia or Brazil.

Those Southern Republican's have not taken in to account the impact on the plants located in their state.

Obviously, I have no valid shareholder argument against bankruptcy in regards to Chrysler since it it privately held by a " risk investment" management group. They do not deserve a public rescue that was denied the stockholders of Lehman Brothers.

While on the subject of "High Finance", how could the watchdogs let the 50 billion Ponzi scheme go undetected. It is an axiom that "if it is too good to be true it probably is not". Yet the list of big investors is amazing. Greed seems to be the dominant factor that has led to the market collapse.

"NAYSAYING"

“NAYSAYERS”, seems to be a favored word of our local politicos. JG is constantly using it by innuendo to demean all who dare to criticize his actions.


Councilman Burney, apparently also considers anybody who expresses any negative opinions relating in any manner to President-elect Obama, or objecting to his own Council agenda as a “naysayer”. This seems to have become the ultimate derogatory word, replacing more common vulgarity expressions, but intended to discredit those that do not accept 100% his plans.


On Dec11 Burney wrote: From the beginning, Obama's message was one of change. We have to change not only the party in Washington, but Washington itself. Many before had promised change. Trouble was that it was usually the politician who was changed once they got to DC. Just look at George W. Bush's promise of bi-partisanship when he was running in 2000.”--------------Yet today, people today are criticizing the team he has put together. "Same old people" they say. "Where is the change?" the naysayers are quick to say. They continue to fail to see what the majority of the country clearly sees. That Obama will be the President and the President sets the agenda. He needs qualified and experienced people in DC to get his agenda through. And it will be his agenda that everyone will be pushing. It will be his goals and promises on the campaign trail that they will work towards. ------Change will come to America. Many will be uncomfortable, too vested in current ways. Much resistance will be put up, and we will hear words like "we just don't know enough about the plan right now" and "never been done before" and the classic line of status-quo: "we need to study this more".


Perhaps I am one of those despicable “naysayers”. I have been very critical of the Assemblyman’s handling of the Muhlenberg closing. I do not feel that he and our other state legislators tried strongly enough to buck Trenton’s bureaucracy in an attempt to save Plainfield’s hospital.


Yes I have written concerns that Obama’s administration is being overloaded with Clintonites. At the same time I expressed my hope and confidence that there will be a positive change from the egotism of the Cheney/Bush executive.


I wrote ON Nov 22:OBAMA WATCH: Despite the fact that the selection of his incoming leaders reflects a return to the Clinton Washington of old and new a true change, he has chosen wisely with perhaps, to me. One exception.--Obama is avoiding Carter's mistake of surrounding himself with people who had no concept of Washington and National politics. He continues to impress me as a very astute politician and certainly seems on the right road restore economic and social confidence in the United States. If his adviser's input is not too radical to create resistance, I hope Congress will not go off the deep end with their own, and to date destructive, agendas. ----My exception is of course, Hilary as Secretary of State.


On Nov. 23 I suggested that people should listen to a rebroadcast or read Obama’s reply to Bush’s weekly radio address.


And from my Dec. 5, blog; Tempering hope: Obama seems to be approaching his Presidency well prepared with strong personalities in critical positions. I have no problem with most of his choices except on close examination we are returning to an extension of the Clinton era. -------So much for campaign promises of clean sweep from the Washington politics of today. I supposed that means that there will be few carryovers in the grunt jobs from the Republican years. The political sacrifice of well functioning agency workers could be acceptable but regret able if it were not for the fact that patronage may apparently be going on full blast. To the victor belong the spoils. The danger is that any economy recovery will be short circuited by personal agendas.

Councilor Burney, I did not bash Obama, I expressed my concern that from a disastrous self-centered administration we might be going back to the morally corrupt, I did not have”, “Whitewater” Clinton White House.


I know you have been Plainfield’s strongest most verbal advocate for Obama from the start of his campaign, not a late comer. However don’t cast him as the 21st century Messiah. He like today’s discredited Illinois Governor is the product of the same Chicago Democrat machine. There are questions which state’s politics, New Jersey or Illinois, is more corrupt.


A comforting precedent is Harry Truman, a product of the Kansas City Prendergast machine who became one of our greatest. Presidents. Obama not only has a similar opportunity, but represents another monument of America coming to racial maturity. Would that not also be true of all ethnic and religious diverse problems.


Since this already is too long I intend on Monday to address my “naysaying” your council meeting proposal, which I would presume is a beforehand “done fact” . I hope also to comment on Harold Gibson’s letter and the overall interaction of the Council and public at the same time.


One supportative point, this is from the lead article in today's LA Times. Congress itself will be the biggest "Naysayer" and has the power to prevent Obama from being effective. The did that to Carter, Obama is wiser and is selecting tried and true Washingtonians. He has proven time and time again that he is a smart capable politian. That in itself will not make him a great President, but it helps.


NEWS ANALYSIS

Obama may bring change, but Congress will be the same

A larger Democratic majority is unlikely to change the political nature of the House and Senate, which have just concluded a typically unimpressive year.
By Janet Hook
December 14, 2008
Reporting from Washington -- The collapse of legislation to bail out the U.S. auto industry is a fitting end to this year in Congress -- and a warning to President-elect Barack Obama that even larger Democratic majorities next year won't guarantee smooth sailing for his ambitious agenda on economics and other issues.

Polarized, beset by crises, and preoccupied with ideological and regional politics, this Congress followed a pattern all too familiar in the past decade. It railed and wrangled over the nation's toughest problems, but in the end failed to advance solutions.-----(see article)