Monday, November 30, 2009
Perhaps the city could pas an ordinance taxing each solar panel, could be a source of revenue. The other question is, who owns the poles? Is it PSEG or Verizon? From newspaper articles it seems that the state has abolished municipality's right for a pole tax.
While we are on the subject of State and taxes, did you read that the present legislature is attempting to pass a bill that would grant a pay increase to school cafeteria workers. Nothing like finding ways to increase the burden on city tax payers.
How much truth is there to the rumor of Dashield's leaving? Will "Bibi" be his successor? On a "acting base" of course until Council approves. I am sure someone "will get back to us" later on this matter.
Both "Bo" and "JG" have postings today. Bo notes the fact that State aid will be minimal compared to town's desires. He hopes the city budget is niot predicated on that aid. JG notes in time to forget about Republicans and Democrats but work together for the community's benefit. However he is still rebutting campaign attacks and continues to berate Bo.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The one bright light was Adrian Mapp's post Sunday in which he lists several changes that must be considered in this years budget. I especially like his suggestion of spending for a "forensic accounting" of Plainfield's finances. For at least two decades others and I have lobbied for a State independent audit which had been blocked several times by either the administration or Council in situ. The approval of both was require4d.
Along with Councilor Storch's recommendations previously posted, this promises to be a lively and perhaps unpopular budget month.
Due to a plethora of personal affairs that are occupying my time my postings may be sketchy and may be later in the day when posted, but bear with me.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
PLAINFIELD -- Plainfield's sewage and water utility may have to raise rates to compensate for more than a $1 million shortfall caused by a controversial Plainfield landlord who filed bankruptcy for nine of his properties.
David Connolly, who owns 30 residential apartment buildings in Plainfield, filed bankruptcy on nine of the properties. For those, he owes almost $400,000 in back utility bills. And the other 21 properties have acumulated more than $500,000 in late payments.
At a news conference at Plainfield's City Hall this morning, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs called the situation an urgent matter because the unpaid bill will have to be paid by taxpayers.
"He (Connolly) needs to take a good, long look at his assets and liquidate to make good on this bill," Robinson-Briggs said.
Plainfield Today, Plaintalker and Jim Pivnichny have posted comprehensive accounts of the important facets of the issue and the Council's reaction to Administration's proposal. I consider proposal a correct term since Administration does not seem willing or able to construct a comprehensive plan to meet the crisis, even though it was evident that the city would be in severe financial difficult a year ago.
The laying off of 11 to 15 low level employees will only be a drop in the bucket. Instead there should have been a hard proposal for percentage salary roll backs from the top level down. Whether this is done on a dollar basis or furlough days is immaterial.
Any layoffs must be spread over all areas of city employment, this may include the so called essential services where redistribution of manpower and a thorough review of overtime needs is imperative. Despite Mr. Dashields statement that we have done all that we could, he has not proven that that is factual.
Unions can not be expected to be philanthropic and voluntarily reduce members income unless they are faced with an "either or" ultimatum . Only then will be willing to "negotiate" in earnest. A smaller paycheck is always preferable to no job.
If Administration feels that negotiations have been thwarted by Union leadership and/or membership let it make public what it offered. There is a time when confidentiality in contract negotiations must be ignored. This is a community problem and all factors must be on the public table. Let the chips fall where they may.
However, layoffs, furloughs, salary cuts, perks givebacks are only a minor and temporary adjustment to the overall financial problem. The city has been derelict in not proposing and initiating long term solutions. If the Administration is incapable of doing so then the Council must run with the ball.
To one and all, may you enjoy Thanksgiving 2009.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The three Resolutions on the Special Meeting's agenda were (1)Introducing the 2010 FY budget, (2) and application to the state for $3.5 million in extraordinary aid (3) Authorizing the Administration to submit to the State Civil Service Commission a layoff plan involving 11 employees.
It was the last item that was the focus of almost 2 hours of comments and discussion by Councillors and the public although a large part of their time was devoted to the accepting of the proposed budget for Council action. The request for aid was passed unanimously with the acknowledgement that probably only a small fraction could possibly be granted.
The Budget was received by a 6 to 1 vote after Administration had made it clear that it was predicated on the 11 layoffs and if that resolution was rejected the budget would not be balanced. Council Preident Burney cast the negative vote explaining before hand that he felt it contained too many unanswered questions. Councilor Storch and others pointed out that once it became the property of the Council it was the Council's responsibility to produce an actual working budget for adoption.
The layoffs were the main point of controversy, apparently being directed at low level employees and the three members of the planning division. Dasheild proposed and presented figures that indicated that an outside consultant working 10 hours a week could effectively substituted for the work time of the two full time and one major part time division members at a considerable cost savings. He bantered about dollar numbers which Councilor Reid said did not add up. Moreover the dollars quoted were only salary for the employees and contract hours for the outsource which seemed to be based on an extraordinary low hourly fee.
In the public comments before the vote, all who spoke felt that the credibility of the figures quoted was questionable at best. Moreover the concept of outsourcing Planning was not in the city's best interests.
Dasheild, when asked about "give backs", furloughs, and other employee cost saving actions, spoke of vague negotiations with the "unions" over an undefined time period. He note that the unions had failed to get back to him with their plans. This was disputed by Union President Smith who said that Administration had failed to call a meeting to discuss the Union's proposal.
During the evening it became apparent that Administration had never presented to the Unions or the Council a "black and white" document listing the cost savings resulting from the 11 layoffs, and what across the board givebacks, furloughs, salary cuts could be used to save those jobs. No mention was made as to what the Administrative branch hierarchy contribution to alleviate the budget shortfall resulting from no layoffs. If there is such a plan it seems to have never been publicized or used as a base for union negotiations. Even worse there does not seem to be the documentation for a take it or accept the layoffs plan.
Corporation Council Williamson string object as improper to Councilor Mapp's proposed amendment to the layoff plan resolution as tampering with the "Administration's Resolution".
Even though it was noted that the resolution had become the property of the Council once it was received for action, and that it was solely the Council's and not Administration's responsibility to adopt , reject, or amend any resolution present to it his protests persisted.
The amended resolution exempting the members of the Planning Division from the layoff plan was adopted by a 4:3 vote.
The sad fact seems that after 5 months of this present fiscal year without a workable budget, administration does not appear to have devised plans that would consists of all possible ways of meeting the fiscal crisis.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Somehow the latter themes have been pushed aside by that which is to me more pressing issues. I do hope that time will soon permit me to resume the more balanced material I originally intended to post.
Tonight, however I intend to resume my attendance at the Council meetings. What happens in the coming few years will set the fate of our city. It is imperative that all discard self interest goals and adopt a policy of "what is best for all is best for me."
Are we up to the challenge?
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Mrs Campbelle's objection to the creation of nepotistic jobs was one bright light of fiduciary responsibility in Plainfield's other important tax money spender administration.
Unlike the Council , which this year for once has not blindly accepted Administration's funds request, but has questioned the legitimacy of figures quoted, the elected BOE has routinely without question passed every change in job titles and salary increases without it appears from reports any understanding of job description. The labels have changed on almost the entire PSS administrative organizational table without any public indication of the responsibilities, or conformity to State established standards.
Just as the City's Administration has failed in accountability, so has the BOE. Without the tireless efforts of Maria and Raz in exposing Palinfield's BOE and the PSS's leaderships deficiencies and improprieties the scandalous actions could continue unimpeded. We are indebted to those two who have accepted the watchdog role for which Plainfield's other bloggers do not the time. They represent the pinnacle in citizenship.
I for one know it is time for an open State audit of the operations of both City Administration and PSS. Will we get it? Perhaps not unless our Assembly representatives put pressure on the State BOE and the Attorney Generals office.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
In reading various newspapers and listening serendipitously to TV experts pronouncements I am getting some idea of the magnitude of the House Bill. I do not have access to the 2200 pages in that document nor would have time to read it or understand the verbiage. Thus I like all of us are dependent on others' analysis of its contents. Likewise the Bill on the Senate floor needs the focus of those paid to do so and for me their out of context passages for perusal.
One thing that I have learned which reflects on the ill advised "Task Force" mammography guidelines. Some where in the House bill there is wording that determines standards of care according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force guidelines. If this is true than a group of individuals that have had no contact in patient care are going to determine what care Americans get. If the mammography guidelines are an example, there will be a form of rationing of health care either by delaying implementation or restricting demographic groupings. This will be a case of expanding individual coverage at the expense of quality of care. I for one do not what that.
There are some important issues that differ in the House Bill and the one on the Senate Floor which faces a rocky road for passage;
Both would create a new government insurance plan to compete with but not replace private insurance plans. The Senate plan would permit states to opt out of the Federal Plan in favor of a State sponsored program. This provision is not in the House Bill.
On the abortion issue which will continue to be a stumbling block; the House would not allow anyone receiving federal subsidies to buy insurance to purchase a plan that allows abortions The Senate version would require private insurance plans not beneficiaries of federal subsidies to provide for abortions. This bill would also require States to offer at least 2 plans, one that would permit abortion, the other would not cover that procedure.
The Illegals could be covered under the House Bill which would permit the purchase of non subsidized federal insurance, whereas the the Senate version forbids the purchase of insurance by this group.
The House Bill imposes a 5.4% surtax on high income people. I am not sure of the effective level. The Senate proposes n excise tax on high-cost employer provided insurance plans. This will result in either (a) not offering so called Cadillac plans or (b) passing the cost on to the consumers.
The next 4 to 6 weeks will be vital as to what type plan emerges. will try to periodic post potpourri on what I learn.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I have little problem with the new guidelines proposed by the American College of Obstetrician s and Gynecologists. This specialist society includes physicians who have personal contact with patients an d their recommendations are the result of years of clinical experience. However the danger in any of these "guidelines are that insurance companies and regulators are going to use them as absolute without any flexibility. This will be especially true about mammograms. There has to be allowances in the Pap smear starting age to compensate to changes in sexual practices including the younger age girls are becoming active.
The new guidelines issued for Mammography by the United States Preventive Services Task Force are another kettle of fish.. The big danger is that the insurance companies are going to strictly implement them as a cost saving factor. One has to understand that the insurance companies bottom line is the driving force of 99.99% of their decisions. Despite their propaganda, they are not interested in saving lives but in controlling expenses.
The sad fact that the Preventive Services Task Force consists of beans counters who developed their suggestions from the collection of data, not patient contact. To them the possibility that for ever4y life saved by early diagnosis there may be 10 false positives. In other words the cost of further testing to confirm the findings and the rare intercessory surgery for the false positives is more valuable than the one life saved by early diagnosis.
No physician should consider a positive diagnosis as absolute without confirmatory teats before starting any therapy regimen. Even when the mammogram seems absolute positive and radical surgery is proposed there should be a confirmatory biopsy on the table before the surgeon proceeds. That only takes a few minutes.
Obviously all disciplines that are involved in patient care and diagnosis are again st this so called guideline and the specialty society are outspoken antagonists.
A little background on the United States Preventive Services Task Force. It was organized by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in 1984. This date means that the Democrats can put blame for this fiasco on Bush,, since its birth was in his administration.
Although it is financed by the Department of Health and Human Services it is supposedly apolitical. That said I don't believe that this new recommendation was motivated by a desire to aid in the cost cutting needs for the Obama health care program. I believe their motives are honest but they are substituting cold fact numbers for human life. That is not acceptable.
The public and professional outcry against this guideline has been so great that Washington has gone in to a major damage prevention spin. From my past experience as an IPA Medical Director the insurance companies will try to slip it in as the standard.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Out the window flew planned comments concerning the manifestations the new idiotic mammogram recommendations , about which the administration is rapidly spinning damage control and also remarks of the new Senate Health Care bill. Another day for both.
If the proposed budget that Bernice read in the Blue Binder has been prematurely submitted to the State then we are indeed in deep trouble. If it has not been, which I hope is the truth, then its accuracy is even worse than last year's with its 1.7 million costly error. How can PILOT revenue drop from 1.376K to 187K ? How can $95,337.06 from Liberty Village in 2008 become only $949.55 for 2010? If these figures are in that document which was to be presented to the Council are real than, once more the City Administrator has seriously failed in his duty to the municipality.
The other item is the report regarding the BOE meeting. Wilma Campbell is to be commended for her two negative votes. The rest of the board seems to have forgotten their fiduciary responsibility to Plainfield's citizenry who elected them.
Is there a job description for the "new" positions? Do they meet State standards? Are they needed? Did the BOE members really consider their action or did they blindly follow Dr. Gallon's recommendation. Do they realize that he (The Superintendent) is their employee and not their boss? It doesn't seem so.
I am extremely disturbed that the "walk on resolutions" were not introduced until after the end of public comment. That has all the appearance of a deliberate intent to circumvent public consent.
It is most unfortunate that Dr. Gallon by ill advised sleigh of hand maneuvers is jeopardizing all the positive changes that he has already put into motion to correct the ills of the school system .
Not only does the arrogance reflected in his quoted remarks , but those of the BOE President and her remarks disturb me, but I fear that in her new role as 4th Ward Councilwoman that the same attitude will affect the city's welfare.
I am equally sure that I am not alone in my concerns, but there will be those that will berate me for these remarks.
"Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy". J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Movie
(If there are any spelling errors that I missed or typos. please let me know so I can correct them. My spelling checker gave up after the second paragraph.)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Anonymous said...Rashid, What Old Doc is saying is that it is OK for him to criticize anyone and everyone. But you cannot do that. 8:21 AM (11/17)
Am I missing something? If you read this comment by an obscured savant disciple of Green's who interpreters my meaning as derogatory to the City Administration and the Assemblyman.
What I wrote: olddoc said... Rashid,let us get over the "Bush" kick and not continue to echo the Jerry Green and State party line to cover up their failures. You are interested in Plainfield and all your energy should be spent trying to right things here, That will involve County and State politics and perhaps you will soon be representing us there as part of the new wave, but the days of shifting blame for our city's problems is gone. 2:11 PM (11/16)
The Democrats should stop blaming Bush and the Republicans for Plainfield's problems. They don't blame Corzine , Lesniak and the Trenton Democrats including Green for the road to bankruptcy on which NJ is almost reaching the end. When it happens after the first of the new year they will blame Christie.
If Mr./Ms. Whatsis will read my old blogs he will find multiple criticism of Bush/Chaney's mismanagement and disregard of civil rights. If Whatsis has a face and name I will go into my pros and cons of the previous Administration.
Burney is trying to do his best to help Plainfield and I trust that his political ambitions will lead him to more influential political office. But I am damn tired of throwing the blame on the Republicans when the lilly white Democrats including Clinton had nothing to do with this mess.
One could go far back and blame today's problems with Iran on Carter's bungling the embassy hostage affair. We are still paying a price for that one.
However, There is an almost catastrophic situation here in Plainfield which has been created over the past two decades by our political leadership.. We are in it and we must direct all our energy to recover , even if it means biting the bullet.
Tit for tat, Mr Whatsis. please explain why you believe that the local administration's record for the past four years was so exemplary that there should be no criticism.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Have you noticed that JG's blog writer, probably as a result of the bad publicity generated by his Time to move on" post which gives the impression that his reelection was due to Plainfield's support and not the rest of his district, has written a corrective post embracing the 22nd District.. He may be right although it is difficult to get all the figures.
From JG's blog:
"Unfortunately, some bloggers do not see or understand this truth" ,
What "truth"your words?
"I hope that in the future, local bloggers can come up with ideas that can improve State government"
Have you done so yourself? If the bloggers came up with any except the 2009 Assembly should resign in mass
The small amount of information I have received about Monday's Council Meeting contained no surprises.1) The executive session kept the public waiting about an hour before they could get into the courtroom. Unfortunately inconsiderate. (2) Dashield was still not prepared to introduce the 2010 budget , now 5 months late.(3) an unacceptable layoff plan which was meaningless; lay off (eliminate) unfilled positions. (4) obfuscation of facts by administration.
Perhaps a petition of recall is in order before we have to endure another 4 years of incompetency and public disinformation.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
2-A time to give birth and a time to die,a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted"
70 Years ago, in May 1939 one of the students living on the East Range at the other end was throwing himself a graduation party. As I walked into his smoked filled crowded room with my "girl friend" I saw sitting on the desk at the far end of the room a strawberry blond who I thought was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was the host's date.
Helen claims that when I walked through the door she immediately asked somebody who I was.
To this day I don't know how I got the courage but I made a "walking date" with her for the next afternoon. From that date we became an item, and married 1 month to the day before Pearl Harbor on November 8,1941.
One war, nearly two years absence, and 4 children, 3 grand children, 5 great grandchildren later we remained an item. True it was not always "wine and roses" and took work but it was worth it.
Slightly more sophisticated and 4 children later
Sunday, November 8, 2009
However as the Mayor is quoted in Sunday's Courier to have said. "the bloggers don't know all the facts". If government is to be for the people by the people it is the responsibility for both Administration and Council to appraise the public from whom they receive their authority.. Granted that the privilege of confidentiality must be maintained but should not be abused.
We can no longer have "I don't have the answer but will get back to you" or "I will post it" and as far as the public has been concerned that has been the last bit of information. We who supply the funds either through our local property taxes or State or Federal grants which come from our tax money are entitled to a full accounting.
I am assuming that a budget will be presented Monday or at next week's meeting. A realistic budget based on the previous years actual figures with allowances for possible shortfalls or anticipated increases should have been presented to the Council before July 1, the start of the fiscal year. It will only be adopted after Council review and alterations, but it can be further amended at any Council meeting and probably should be as actual circumstances should be known. The Council must be given a fair chance to complete its fiduciary responsibility.
Last year's charade of 9+months on a monthly temporary budget supposedly based on 1/12th of the previous years actual is completely unacceptable. The excuse of having to wait for the State's extraordinary grant is farcical since it is always late and other municpalities have no problem introducing a timely budget. Likewise the stashing of budgetary funds in one slot to be moved later, in accordance with state statue "#00.00-00" not only completely circumvents the basic principles of budgetary but is an open invitation for fiscal malpractice.
I am sure that that anonymous cadre who seem to take pleasure in reminding me that "She won HAHA" or that I "chime daily" about Council meetings or that George Bush not Jimmy Carter or "not with that woman" Clinton is responsible for Palinfield's problems will take issue with this blog. Let anyone point out what has been positive in the past four years and I will post it. I am sure the negatives far outweigh the positives but I am always open to facts not fiction . I will accept a disclaimer similar to my usage when I can not be 100% certain of the facts.
I take comfort in knowing that there is an increasing number of civic activists who openly express either through blog commentaries or their own blog or by letters to the editor. These individuals represent a growing public interest in their community.
Friday, November 6, 2009
There is a possibility that due to illness in the family, I may miss a posting or two. If so we will be back.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
How can a responsible BOE in this time of economic distress when many of us have lost jobs or great portions of our retirement assets consider even a 1 cent increase in salary? Given the possibility that this was in their contracts which may not be true, those actions are a callus disregard of the tax payer and those who elected them into office.
There is no excuse for fiscal irresponsibility especially since the money involved had to at the expense of the children in the system. If the individuals involved have no concern about the students and for their own selfish interests would deprive school children of needed materials due to a lack of funds they do not belong here.
If no attempte was made to have anyone even those with tenure and contracts to forgo raises in 2009 the BOE has failed its responsibilities.
Like in the City Government we need a better explanation regarding these raises. Governing bodies have a responsibility to the taxpayer and one of them is fiscal.
- Robinson- Briggs 4906
- Jim Pivnichny 2103
- Debbie Dowe 391
- Corzine 6738
- Christie 967
- Daggett 281
However I think the message is clear to the local Democrat Party. Out of 8000+ registered Democrats slightly more than half voted for Briggs. If all the Republican s came out and voted for Pivnichny the 1000 Democrats and/or Independents also voted for him.
BUT the significant factor is that in the Governors race the vote was true to form. Local Democrats should not ignore the fact that there were 900 less votes cast for Mayor then for Governor, and I would assume that these represented an anti Briggs core, Briggs also received on 2/3rd the number of votes that Corzine did.
Yes, as HAHA wrote she won (easily) but the message is there; enough core Democrats could not bring themselves to vote for her and her Administration. I must retract my previous comment that the protest was not at the local level. The above numbers in true one party district is significant, and only old habits prevented a complete discrediting of the local Administration. If there is no change in policy there may be a complete revolt next time. Take heed.
I join Bernice Paglia and other concerned citizens in urging the Council to return to the time honored meeting schedule. If it is a too onerous strain on the members time, they should remember that no one forced them to run for office and I am sure that their involvement was in their desire to help their community. If that is true, they should consider the public interest when deciding how often to meet.
I for one believe that the time interval lets too much important matters slip under the table. If the Council really wants to keep the Administration on the straight and narrow path, if the Council really wants prompt answers then it must realize that the present interval between meetings lets too much "slip under the cracks".
There can be no excuse for the delay in the budget no matter what Dashields says. Anyone knows that a budget is not written in stone and once accepted can be amended at anytime to represent changes in income or unforeseen expenses. To not have a budget for 50% or 75% of the year gives Administration too much leeway in expenditures and the Council no capability of intelligently considering it.
11am; Apparently the Assembly vote was more in line with the Mayoral race in Plainfield with the exception that the Independent/crossover vote Pvinichny received did not vote, and the Assembly candidates received 10% less than Briggs. The answer, disenchantment with the local party leadership.