Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IT ANON

More thoughts on Monday's Council IT workshop.

One thing mentioned that has an urgent and valid need, is the need for all computers to be on a single network. I am not a technical person but for years I have had a Mac and a PC capable of talking to each other. I am sure that the disparity in hardware in the city is not an unsolvable problem.

Was not cable installed about three years ago with the idea of placing central servers in the third floor of the Lattimore Building? If it was not done I thought that there had been a contract for such a project. We do not need to go to the expense for WiFi or other exotic equipment. Certainly being wireless has advantages for home networks or for the laptop users away from base. But does it have the security of a wired proprietary net? In an entity where personal information is stored, security should be the number 1 priority.

The concept of Council members obtaining their material via Internet or Email or having committee meetings electronically will disfranchise every citizen who does not have equal access. To permit citizens to make their comments electronically at meetings instead of in person would without the availability of expensive specialized equipment deprive even those present at the meeting appropriate input.

I agree that time and travel expenses could be saved by the use of teleconferences. The capability and equipment for visual as well as voice has been available for many years. The phone and cable carriers can supply it today; at a cost. Although nice and convenient would it not be similar to the automotive CEOs flying to DC to request public funding?

Despite the tenor of this writing I am not against IT and a slot in the city's TO to accomplish what is needed. However, much that was desired at that meeting would be common place in the worlds of Buck Rodgers or Flash Gordon but is not practical for the early 21st century Plainfield.

We do need a manager who is both technically versed to maintain a system as well as to b e knowledgeable in what is needed in hardware as well as software to meet our needs. Perhaps no one such person exists, although I believe we can find him/her. The biggest danger of rushing into a field where we should have been years ago is that we can create unwittingly a new source for patronage or pay for play contracts.

The Administration and Council should determine what we basically desire and need. What we have on hand and can be used must be identified. Then with due diligence the process should be consummated. In the meantime , and as part of the process we must be sure to enforce all the good management procedures that we have available. For years the auditors have pointed out failures, yet many have remained untouched.

MONDAY NIGHT AT THE COUNCIL

Whoopee!! we are now legally operating with a budget. Apparently the State on Friday accepted the submitted version which was approved last night.

However, the routine special meeting was not without turmoil. Councilor Mapp supported by Storch, McWilliams, and Carter objected to not having seen the revised budget even unto the call for the vote. As matters turned out, Bob Swisher of the auditing firm Suplee, Clooney had brought copies which were still on the clerk's desk in a brown paper wrapper. The Council then went into a 15 minute recess to "study" the document and after reconvening passed the 2009 budget. With two months remaining in the fiscal year it is now inconceivable that the city with the help of deferring a $2.5 million pension plan payment will not meet the goals of this fiscal year.

Starting July 1 ,2009 with the 2010FY the deferral will have to be paid back over the next 15 years at an annual interest rate according to Administrator Dashields of 8%. Yet to be figured out is the true impact on the tax rate for the coming years.

After adjourning the official meeting, the Council opened the Information Technology working session. Notably was the absence of City Administrator Dashields. Except for perhaps six citizens the chamber also cleared out of spectators. I am unable to give a complete report since I also had to leave shortly after 10PM. During the time I was there after Council President Burney's dissertation on what he perceived to be the goals for the city in IT, the other members expressed their opinions.

Although the city in the past three years is supposedly spent hundreds of thousand dollars on "IT" upgrades there seems to have been little to show except a voice over capable telephone network. Councilor Burney focused on (A) fiscal controls would be better because it would be easier to centralize purchasing which now seems to being done separately by various divisions, and (B) the various offices computers would be able to communicate with each other, (C) The public could use Internet methodology to pay taxes and/or get information needed from various city departments without physically visiting City Hall. This also included participating in Council meetings via the Internet. (D) Council members and various administrators using video conferences instead of meeting here or travelling to outside locations. (F) There were other possibilities mentioned by other Councilors including centralizing records for access.

My impression, for which I am sure I will be criticized, is that there is as of this moment no idea what is practical and what is not. I am not sure if there is a concept that IT is just another tool in good management, or whether it is considered to be the ultimate answer to everything that is wrong. When it comes to computers the adage "Garbage in, Garbage out" holds true if the tool is not properly used or programed appropriately.

What is forgotten is that for years "pen and paper" was all that was needed for good fiscal control which boils down to management. The city used to have centralized purchasing, somewhere perhaps due to the lack of continuity in a CFO the individual departments started to act independently. Additionally per Councilor Mapp when the city did purchase proprietary software for fiscal controls they only bought one of the modules not the whole system. Whenever that was done, it certainly could not have been a good management decision.

During comments on the availability of records, Assistant Municipal Clerk Abubakar Jalloh noted that the only resolutions that were on computer file in the Cerk's office where those that originated through that office. all others that came from various departments had to pass through the city administrators office and although the Clerk's office prepared the Council's agendas they never received a computer ready copy of the resolutions. To me that is inconceivable that this could occur.

Even though computers in the various sections of city government cannot talk to each other does not excuse poor management. Information could be hand transmitted via disc. Granted that takes a minimal amount of effort. However that has not been done. The fact that the computers themselves cannot network is a reflection on poor administrative decisions as to vendors and consultants, as well as lack of controls over purchases.

This is an old problem which present administration has not been able to solve. The creation of a position of Information Technology director or whatever title is given will not automatically correct these deficiencies unless the proper qualified individual is hired. The position is needed but will this or any future administration use due diligence to select that person. The recent track record has not been encouraging.

The other items will be dealt with anon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

HOLY JERUSALEM and some remarks.

Perhaps Monday's Council activities-adopting amendments to the proposed 2009 budget which is about 303 days late, leaving 62 or there abouts to complete this fiscal year. The IT informational study should be of interest unless it has been prepared by someone who has
a vested interest.

I am sorry that I have not had time to cleanup these slides of Jerusalem take n a few months after the Yom Kipur war. The first three are panoramic views from adjacent high points including the Mount of Olives.



Above and below ruins outside the medieval walls. The lower one may but probably not includes part of the excavated wall of the "David city.
A favorite of mine;in the center the "Western Wall of the Herold destroyed by the Romans, The Dome of the Rock Back center and the path to the Dome which is still closed to the Israeli Jews.
I did leave before the IT talk fest was over. Perhaps, I will write about it later today.

Suffice to say after 298 days the charade of forming a budget is over. If administration does its job we will have 2010's on file by Aug/ 1, only a month late.

To TSB,your blog on Mapp is political balderdash. I may comment on the judge's decision after I read the papers today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

STUDENT PRINCE

Too hot to wrack one's brain(?) for an essay. Instead it was easy to go back to the 60s and visit the Prince's University town. Heidelberg Castle from the town, part in ruin and part open to tourists, including but not shown the world's largest wine cask. Also from the Castle views of the highly polluted Neckter River.




The white stuff in the river is not ice, it is from the chemicals in the water that foamed up be;low the dam.

RE: 4/19/09 Post Hiatal

Anonymous 1:03 said...in an April 26, 2009 comment to my April 19, 2009 post "Post Hiatal" remarks on the 65% rise on my PMUA bill from 2003; "You have to remember that fuel and disposal costs are also up. The survey that was sent out should give ideas on how rates can be stabalized. You have to admit that the city is cleaner now."
I no longer have the survey , but if my short term memory serves me right one of the proposals included cutting services in half. That is not stabilizing rates.

Yes fuel and disposal costs have risen and summer 2008 was an anomaly for fuel costs. Perhaps a floating quarterly fuel surcharge based on percentage changes in fuel cost over a specified base could be workable. Granted, rates do have to reflect changes in disposal facility charges.

What PMUA does not state is what part of our bill for "garbage" reflects those costs and what part reflects increased wages and % increase in executives' compensation.

When I see the litter and paper in the gutters of downtown streets, and the trash thrown out of cars in frony of my house, I can not agree that the city is cleaner in the past 5 years.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

A SCHOOL VISION

In a comment on yesterday's "QUESTIONS ASKED;QUESTIONS ANSWERED" post I received the following commentary form Anoni 4:05:
"I agree with your questions regarding the charter schools. The only difference, I see, in the charter schools is that there is more parental involvement, and teach accountability. Maybe all the schools should be small charter schools. Then the ones who have real issues can be dealt with, and the kids who want to learn can be in a positive learning environment."

There should never be a question of teacher accountability in the school system. The oversight for that is the school's principle's responsibility. That official is answerable to the Superintendent. The BOE should only set general policy and monitor the professional application of the same.It's responsibility is to the community, not to the Superintendent, to make certain that the system performs with the highest efficiency producing the best possible product.

Parental involvement is important and should be encouraged with appropriate response. This does not mean unacceptable interference by parent or Board member. On the other hand, any administration that takes a "Cheney position of I know what is best for you ignorant clods" should not be in charge of the system. Without two way communication the system is doomed to failure.

Money however has been the unfortunate driver of all school districts. It has resulted in a sterile mold that provides only the minimal elements of education designed to get the student into the world with a piece of paper called a diploma after at the most 14 years in the system, preferably 13. That includes Kindergarten. Only affluent school districts can offer a wide spectrum of "culture subjects" which is unfortunate and has resulted in the core course only urban school system.

To change that must be the goal of government oversight. Fiscal accountability for ever dollar in the system's budget is an absolute. Then even systems like Plainfield's can expand its student exposure to meet the needs of all students from the gifted to the slowest learner. The "Arts" are as important as the "ABCs". Those are goals that the Charter schools seem to be striving to provide.

We have busing of children to various schools. A restructuring of the system so that perhaps after a certain grade the system can offer different types and levels of instruction that will exceed the minimal requirements can be done efficiently in the system without the need of "Charter Schools". Ideally large buildings like the Middle Schools and High School are not compatible with this vision even if divided into different "schools" but some accommodation can be made until utopia arrives.

I thank the person who wrote the comment. If my remarks are not clear I will expound by comment. I do hope that those who have influence in the political and educational world would attempt to initiate action that will restore the high level of education that I enjoyed as a youth.

I would also like to comment on the process for action on the defeated school budget. Council President Burney has done a public service by posting the state's communication so we can understand the process. The State has made one requirement that this community fails to follow in all budget presentation/ The proposed budget must be compared not only with the previous years, but more importantly with actual expenses. It would be ideal if this was for the past two years then any abnormality would be apparent.

Friday, April 24, 2009

HEBRIDES, SCOTLAND, ATLANTIC OCEAN

I made a tactical error Friday night and watched the baseball game. The result was that by the time I had finished my nightly chores; Fixing the coffee pot for the morning, cleaning the cat's litter box, giving their expected treat for being good? cats, putting out the garbage, oh you know the drill, it was late. After my nightly email check and reviewing any new blog postings it was approaching the witching hour. I had time to write something short for Saturday AM and felt cheated without posting new pictures.

Those I went back into a previously visited album on the Hebrides and selected these four. If they have been posted earlier I apologize.
This is a sea view of one of the largest Inner Hebrides Islands, Mull.
Kilran Bay on the Island of Colsonay i the Outer Hebrides is where Queen Elizabeth had to wade ashore to visit her subjects.
Two inhabitants of Canna in the Outer Hebrides
This is an obviously abandoned shepard's cottage, called a block house, on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides

QUESTIONS ASKED; QUESTION ANSWERED

A pair of "THANK YOUS". The first is to Assemblyman Green for a reply to my question about $3million mismanagement by the school district during the Howard stewardship. There is no question that the school district has suffered from sloppy at best or incompetent management in the past few years.

That Howard was unaware of the "errors" is no excuse. As Harry Trueman when President said, "The buck stops here". This is not only true of all CEOs be he Superintendent of the School District or the head of the local government. Ignorance is no excuse. In the $3million case blame also falls on the Board who it seems were negligent in their fiduciary responsibility as evidenced by their apparent poor choice in hiring the leader for the district and approving superlative personnel who were not up to the job. There have been too many rumors of patronage etc. filling important positions in the district in the past. To date I have yet to hear any complaints against the present school administration except mine about Dr. Gallon's vocabulary.

JG's Ps is also helpful. If we don't show need or abuse the use of outside funding we don't deserve it. I agree.

The Charter Schools are an element that introduced an unknown into the school budget process. Their need, impact on the system and productivity still needs to be evaluated. Are the public being asked to support unfairly a few individuals who receive special education not available to all.? If it is good why are the course s not available in the public system? I think we need more info on the purpose of the Charter School anomaly and the history of the schools in Union County and specifically Plainfield. (this paragraphy was added at 7:40 AM)

The other accolade goes to Council President Burney for the manner in which he has kept the public informed about protocol in dealing with the Councils legal requirement on the School Budget. 99.99% of my questions were answered and I forgot what the 0.01% was.

His (Burney) commitment to the position of Council President is outstanding. Although as an individual I can not agree with all his actions Plainfield's Council is in dedicated community hands. If only he would go back to the old schedule.

LONDON TOWER

Four oldies. London's Tower Bridge, and three views of the infamous "London Tower". Not a single building but a fortified castle/prison.





April 24 Musings

The returns are in and 91% of the electorate -Plainfield's that is-sat on their tush (politically correct) and did not vote. The majority did turn down the "school majority" and supposedly it is now in the Council's lap.

One wonders what that body can do. Just a little more than 2 months remain in the present City fiscal year and as to date we have been spending money without a guide to follow. Reminds me of my personal budget, but I do know how much money I have before I spend it then at the end of the month I can make a budget for that month and pat myself on the back for adhering to my budget. In all fairness the Council, Administration has never given the Council a definitive budget to approve. The only working document was an erroneous preliminary budget that created money management problems that were to be solved by number manipulations.

Secondly the Council's hands are probable tied by expenses mandated by the State. The changes in Abbot funding increases the local tax problem. Thirdly, I would doubt if any member of the Council is sufficiently cognisant of BOE matters to justify any budget trimming or elimination of jobs.

What the Council can do is question salary and perk ranges and the administration structure. Educational programs should not be eliminated that includes those in non core subjects and post session activities. If we can not offer an interesting experience to students how can we expect to retain them in the system?

While we are venting on the public involvement in Board of Education matters, I have found the following comment in Jerry Green's Page dated 4/8/09 ;" Adrian Mapp and his team have a resounding reputation for poor management skills. Take for another example, the $3million in which the School Board mismanaged a few years back. The Board accumulated over $3million in unearned salaries, and tried to hide it. These monies should have been returned to the State. This behavior was borderline criminal. I was able to bring resolve to this issue in working closely with the State to remedy any criminal allegations. For some reason, Adrian Mapp and his team are bent on trying to embarrass me, rather than trying to work with me to resolve problems and foster solutions."

Before I am accused of attacking JG, I am just asking for information about something he wrote that pointed to management problems in the pre Gallon era. I know the Assembly man has damned those who do not deal in facts and $3 million is a lot of money. I for one would appreciate learning what are unearned salaries and how the money was appropriated. Also what criminal allegations were there and how did he remedy them?

I have read the Mayor's posting on the ARRA funds. A breakdown on the distribution amounts and process suggest unfortunately that much is political flimflam.Although the overall amounts of monies available are greater than previously much of it is substituting one source of grants for usual funding that the state was cutting back on. A prime example is fun s for the infrastructure; roads and bridges etc. If not syphoned off on the way down these funds would just replace grants that the States usually make.

I find nothing wrong with the City's wish lists.("Shovel Ready" project list). I do however question abouts the "roadS: What are the parameters about the West4th St. rehabilitation if it is only 4 times that of the short Somerset St.job.I hope the Cushing Rd-Terril Rd. intersection is on the list it is an extremely dangerous one.
The reconstruction of South Ave which was done within the past decade by an unmentionable administration raises the question of whether damages were ever sought from the contractor, the engineers or bonding agency. If not why? Did the city sign off as a satisfactory job?

There are other 'projects" that either have already had resolutions passed for grants supposedly available or for use of enterprise zone funds that are in the shovel ready list.Some include the Tepper basement,the firehouse floor which I believe is in the proposed budget,the Salt Storage Facility,the vehicle wash,and others.

The status sheet on current grant applications does not different from those for existing grants or new money from ARRA applications.This can be misleading.

Isn't interesting that the four comments to Council Presidents Burney's blog on the school budget were from the three independent civic bloggers and Bill Hetfield who once was a candidate for mayor but as a dastardly Republican. Patting myself on the back, those who care for Plainfield do not hesitate to express themselves.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BOSTON

Old historic Boston including "Old Ironsides" and Sam Adam's grave.as well as Old North Church and Fanuille Hall




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

BOE ELECTION REDUX

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this blog. All of a sudden my browser could not find Jerry Green's Page. All the other links on 'Clips" worked fine yet this one was not accessible. I even tried to reach it through my bookmarks and no results. Before I blame this on Dan, I must say that similar weird happenings are not a rare occurrence on my computer.

So as of 3PM I have not had the opportunity to check and see if JG or his writer had posted his take on the election. Nor was I able to go back and review the times where his blog made specific remarks about the New Democrats mismanaging the BOE affairs over the past 12 years. At 5PM I was able to open his blog, but by that time this posting had gotten too long so I urge any doubters to look for themselves.

Why was I attempting to retrieve JG's oldies? The answer is simple. Two anonymous commentators to my BOE ELECTION blog have accused me of interjecting politics and above all attacking Green into the supposedly non political BOE elections. Perhaps they should read his pasty postings when available. Or could it be as many years ago Dick Cavett a TV host and comedian remarked "It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear."

But the point is Jerry Green as an individual in his blog supported one specific slate of candidates. The opposition slate on form R! has reported receiving $1052.00 i contributions. The Green supported slate only manged to acquire $582.42 in contributions, less than 50% of the so called "New Democrats" slate. However, BLMK managed to find a source for a $5,000.00 loan which went to Strategic Message Management in Cranford for "Election Mailing". As of this date the source and amount of funding for the computerized "telemarketing election message that I received on April 20 has not been identified. I am sure that will be in their final report on contributions and expenditures.

If the source of the loan(s) has any connection with the leadership of the present and only elected City Committee than I have serious reservations about an ethical violation. Is this an attack on Jerry Green? No, unless the shoe fits.

10:02 Anoni wrote:" We need someone to blame. Do we need to actually talk about issues and solutions? No. Let's blame. That is much easier.
You go, Doc. You lead the charge and start blaming - let's see, what do we blame this on? Machine. Sure a perennial favorite. J Green. Perfect Doc. Money. Yes...must be some pay to play here. Just say it Doc. We don't actully have any proof but you must say it."

He(?) is absolutely right; in suggesting that there may be some "pay to play" or money involved in the BOE. As long as contracts are issued on a preferred provider system rather than competitive bidding there is the possibility that this could be an issue. As long as there is the slightest rumor of patronage or nepotism in filling school jobs the political connection can not be ignored.

But I don't believe that I have ever made such charges as factual. I have stated my dislike for a supposedly nonpolitical entity which a political organization has supported a slate. I am and have always been an advocate for an appointed board. Then if there is to be finger pointing we know where the buck stops.

Anoni 10:23 wrote: "By blaming one side only you fan the flames of what rut Plainfield is in, and has been in for many years. You openly blame Green, yet stick your head in the sand on the other truth. If you had driven past McWilliams, Mapp, Storch, Damon, Rivers, etc - all these New Dems had the stock blue/yellow ticket on their lawns. All followed in lock step into BOE politics. It will be interesting to see how much money each of them have given. In fact I would make that a requirement - All Plainfield elected officials must disclose ALL monies - no matter how small - how much have each of them given. I wonder if they will do that - and I don't mean the official only - I mean the household."

I don't think that I exonerated the other "slate" from their role in making the BOE elections political. I have repeatedly stated that the intent of BOE elections was not to have slates that in small turnouts could impose on the system agendas that are not in the public interest. I am happy that there are others who would like financial accounting or the transparency that all politicians love to proclaim but do nothing to accomplish that goal.

Nor 10:30 do I believe that as you claim I have spread any falsehoods. There is no legal entity as " New Democrat City Committee" only a slate up for election in the primary. Estevez as an individual has a right to proclaim who he is supporting, if he has done so as a member of the BOE he is out of line.

You concluded your comments with:"Without honesty, and honesty includes the whole truth, you are degrading the political dialogue in Plainfield, and thus are equally to blame for where we are. That is assuming you want things to change."

I can take umbrage in that accusation. As Shakespeare wrote in "Much Ado About Nothing "I thank God I am as honest as any man living that is an old man and no honester than I" I can only comment on what is available and question what I do not know. In order to to reach the whole truth, I rely on you and others to answer my questions. I feel that for all citizens to protect the civil liberties granted us under the Constitution it is our duty to protest against political bossism.

Photo Potpurri 2

Just a few spur of the moment pictures collected on whims over the years. The first one is our flower bed in front of the rose trellis where we lived on Kenyon Ave up to 1972.
This single tulip was transplanted from a bed by squirrels into a wood patch on Cushing Road. Once we had lots of tulips, my favorite flower, but years ago they became Deer food.
This Magnolia tree graced the front of my office on Park Ave. Unfortunately the tree became a casualty of the drought in the 60s while we were on vacation in Europe the person I left in charge strictly adhered to the ban on watering. It was such a beautiful tree in bloom and such a mess when the petals started to drop.
Finally a rose is a rose etc. This bush succumbed years ago to the elements. But we enjoyed its blooms for many years.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BOE ELECTION RESULTS

Now that the BOE election is on hand as I write this memo, I wonder how much money each of the candidates spent to get their name before the public. Is there an accounting for funds spent for school board elections? If so is there a limit. With two slates accounting for 6 of the those ruining for a 3 year term and 2 for thew unexpired 2 year term if my math is right that leaves one unsupported candidate for each slot.

Since school board elections are supposed to be free of politics the field should be level for all. Yet one slate managed to send out fliers and on election eve had a computerized telephone solicitation. I am sure the later was not inexpensive. Are we entitled to be appraised of the funding source? Could or did it impact on the election? Perhaps Wednesday morning when the votes are in we will know.

BARKSDALE, GILBERT, LOGAN-LEACH and PETERSEN
11:30PM The votes are in and two of my four lost. In view of the money spent by the winning slate I am not surprised. Yet how did the phone campaign affect the results? Was that worth the expense?

Now that the machine has 3 of the 4 contested seats on the BOE, with the professional effort that was used will the Old Democrat leadership acknowledge that they have turned the BOE into a political arena? Will the chairman continue to bash those members of the board who have run independent of him? Time will tell.

Barksdale, and Logan-Leach represent continuity. Brenda Gilbert is known for her strong opinions and I feel will be a constructive force as will I hope Petersen with her education background. Barksdale an opposition candidate was the biggest vote getter with less than 900 votes out of the approximate 1000 ballots cast.

Again a BOE election attacked (should be attracted the inhouse spelling checker often has a mind of its own-sorry)) too few voters for the importance of the position. Even with the addition of the absentee ballots the total number received by Barksdale and Logan r will be less than they received in 2006.Does that reflect a lack of public interest? Or could the small turnout be related to the voting hours? It would be nice if somebody could come up with answers that might increase public participation.

Well now for the next nine weeks we can have the real stuff.

8:00AM; I wish to correct a possible mis-interpretation. The fact that both L:ogan-Leach and Barksdale received less votes than they did in 2006 is not a true reflection of voter tuurnout but could be a reflection on the number of candidates running for office. When the total ballots are counted then w comparison can be made with the past 4 years.

Personal

Sometimes we receive an Email from a child that makes us feel as if we, ourselves, have just received an award. This Sunday we received this from our son who is on the Columbia Presbyterian staff .

"The Dominican Medical Association (many of my patients are from the
Dominican Republic) honored me at their annual Gala last night. I was
the only non-Dominican chosen, although the president said I had a
"Hispanic heart" in his introduction! It was one of the nicest things
anyone has ever done for me, and we were deeply moved."

(The inscription on the plexiglas "trophy" reads as follows)
Dominican Medical Association
Board of Directors
XII Anniversary Celebration
This Award Recognizes
Andrew Yood, M.D. Psychiatrist
In recognition of your commitment,
support and years of service in the
Psychiatry field and the community we serve
Executive Committee 2009 - 2010
April 18, 2009
New York
I am sharing this not only because I feel that we too have been honored but also this is an example of an ethnic group that can see outside the box. I believe his "Hispanic Heart" is a tribute to the values my wife and I tried to impose on our children. Too bad all of us cannot escape clanism and treat others as equals.

Yom Hashoa

The city calender notes April 21 not as the BOE election day but as Yom HaShoa

Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura ("Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism"), known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed as a day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. In Israel, it is a national memorial day.This date was chosen by Israel to commemorate the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Although the day was created to make sure that the world does not forget the systematic slaughter of Jews by the Nazis, It could also be a memorial and a remembrance to the millions more innocent humans who were also exterminated by Hitler's and also Stalin's cohorts as well as the Chinese Communist Government because they were infirmed or "a subhuman race" such as Gypsies or Poles, or just a political or economic threat.

60 years later there is an increasing number of bigots who will claim that the horrors of genocide never occurred. Unfortunately those American soldiers who liberated the concentration camps are themselves passing into history. Although there exists film and written evidence to document the horrors the deniers claim it is just a plot perpetuated by Hollywood and other propagandists.

Holocaust Days were introduced in order to highlight the result of hatred and racism, so as to never again allow a genocide to happen again. However, despite us having these days to reflect on the result of hatred and racism, we have still allowed in recent years genocides to happen in the former Yugoslavia, Rwuanda and currently in Darfur and Zimbabwe. And we still do nothing because it "does not concern us".

The United Nations was also established just over 60 years in order to stop hatred and racism, and in 2001 held a Human Rights, Anti-Racism Conference in Durban South Africa. However, rather than try and halt human rights abuses around the world, whether in the forms of sexism, racism or homophobia; the UN as its sole human rights objective, again began a battle with Israel by effectively defining it as a racist state.

This year the UN is again holding a human rights conference and has invited the Iranian President Ahmadinejad to be the key speaker. Mr Ahmadinejad has actively denied and supported others who deny the Holocaust occurred and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, at the same time as developing nuclear weapons. Given this fact and that Iran together with Libya have prepared the conference, we should be concerned that the Arabic World and their supporters will again try to make its sole target Israel.

For this reason a few countries such as Italy, the USA and Australia have supported Israel in boycotting the Conference.

Only through actively showing that the world does not support anti-Semitism or any form bigotry be it ethnic, racism, homophobia, or religious hatred can the world help to defeat these evils. All major religions world wide profess tolerance and brotherhood, let their "preachers" expound what they profess.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BOE ELECTIONS

Tomorrow is the BOE election day. Don't be among the 88% of Plainfield's electorate who can't be bothered to chose the second most important elected body in the city.
"NO VOTEE;_NO COMPLAINEE".

Unlike Plainfield Plaintalker who vows to be non political in all electoral contests, I have no reluctance to post positives and negatives about candidates and even if I may not mention them by name I may give enough pertinent information that they could be identifiable.

Before I go into my discourse I must state that the author of "Plaintalker" in all the years I have known her as a professional and now as an avocational reporter has always been accurate, non biased, and above all never taking quotes out of context to slant in news stories her own agendas. She is still a must read for honest facts despite the comments to the contrary by others.

I do have definitive selections although I am not going to name names I will state that three come from the two slates and the other is an independent who I admire with one reservation; he has crossed my line by mixing religion into school policy. The BOE supported that misstep so all were guilty. However he is a most respected concerned individual and should be considered a good public servant. And it is a truism that no one is without baggage.

Of the other three, one is a "whoo" and as such can not be half bad, another has an educational background that makes that person an ideal board member and the last also has a qualifying professional curriculum vitae.

You now know how my wife's mail ballot and my own vote are to be. Let me not influence you unduly. You must make your own educated not party choice for that which is best for the community's children.

PHOTO TRIO

A trio from the Intracoastal Waterway; Clamming in the Carolinas (2) A scene with anchorage,note the horses. (3) Marsh with waterfowl.


Ye olde Muhlenberg

As Bernice has noted, for some unknown reason that even though the political campaign is beginning, a degree of ennui has seemed to be infecting the bloggers.

For some time I had intend when I felt that there was little of importance for commentary to post segments of a personal history of Muhlenberg Hospital from 1946 to the 90s. Today’s segment has to do mostly with the organizational structure of the medical staff plus a few remarks about the Hospital itself.

In 1946, at the time I was first admitted to the medical staff, there existed departments of pediatric, obstetrics, orthopedics, surgery, medicine, pathology, and radiology. All except pathology and radiology had four Senior Attendings, four Junior Attendings and a number of Clinical Assistant Attendings. None of the senior surgeons were board certified, and most of them also practiced general family medicine.

Physicians were admitted to the “staff” by vote of the Medical Board and approval of the Board of Governors. That meant they could treat patients in the hospital. The level of treatment or surgery they could provide was called “privileges” All staff members had minor surgical including T&As and uncomplicated obstetrical privileges. Only the Senior Attendings on the surgical services could perform major operations.

All “Attending Physicians” both Senior and Junior served three months a year on the Ward service without compensation. The Clinical Assistants were the younger newer members of the staff and those who were never promoted to one of the “exalted” attending positions. These doctors manned the outpatient clinics. The period of service varied depending on the number in the department, but was never less than one month. Supposedly the Senior Attendings also supervised the work in the clinics. All these clinic services were supplied pro bono.

The patients in the hospital were ‘”covered” by first and second year interns who rotated through the various disciplines. They actively treated the ward patients under the supervision of the attending who made daily rounds.

The house interns also initially treated the patients who arrived at the ER. Since the physicians who were on “service” were also on call for the emergency room if the problem was beyond the intern’s capabilities or if the patient requested a private doctor. The latter was a source for increasing the doctor's practice. It was expected that
if needed they could arrive within 15 to 20 minutes .

The Medical Board, the governing body of the medical staff, consisted solely of all the Senior Attendings. Only Senior Attendings were entitled to be called for consultations. Therefore, the position had an economic value. This structure began to break down in the 50s. The Senior Surgeons had abnormally delayed the granting of full surgical privileges to two well trained Board Certified Physicians. Up to this time the only other physician who had Surgical Board certification had been forced to limit his practice to a non threatening sub specialty. This hierarchy was unable to prevent these two new physicians from receiving consultation requests from their peers. One had retained privileges at the New York hospitals where he had trained, the other had received privileges at a Newark hospital, and they took their patients to the hospital where they could perform their surgery.

One, a good golfer, was also a popular member of the PCC. The backlash from influential citizens forced the granting of privileges to both. The other, who was Jewish, received his privileges at the same time.

Consequently, training and proficiency regardless of hospital rank became the criteria for granting privileges in all departments. Now proficiency and ability was the criteria for a physician's capabilities in the hospital.

Sadly in the past 60 years I have somehow lost the ability to recall the names of all the doctors on the staff during those years. Suffice to say, some were real characters. There are a great deal of anectodal stories to be told about those individuals and others who made Muhlenberg the great institution until the end of the century.

On the whole the staff of the fiftys was quite a congenial group of individuals. We all enjoyed eating lunch crowded around two small tables in what was then a very small auxiliary run “Service Shop” located at the junction of the corridor connecting the then two main wings; The East Wing (newer) and the West Wing (old), with the corridor from the main entrance.

That entrance was in the building with the columns off the circular drive on Randolph Road. To the right was the old "West Wing" a three story building shaded by trees that cooled it in the summer. Private and semi private rooms were located here. To the left was the pre-war four story "East Wing". The three buildings were connected by an inverted "T" corridor with ancillary buildings attached to the long arms. These I may describe in the near future.
The entrance building contained business offices on the first floor, the operating rooms on the second floor and intern quarters on the third floor.

Probably the most important assets of the hospital in those years were Issac the doorman, Otto the orderly and of course Carrie the OR supervisor and her husband Dave who drove the hospital's old Packard ambulance with Otto acting as his assistant stretcher carrier.



Sunday, April 19, 2009

post hiatal

The world hasn't ended since I last posted something of substance. Indeed today I am reverting to a potpourri of unrelated but to me significant items.

My virtual cap is off to the mayor of an area community which may be Lebanon but I do not remember. As reported in the Courier, I believe on Thursday, he refused to let his municipality take advantage of the 50% deferral in the pension plan payments as proposed by the Corzine government. The mayor called a "Ponzi scheme". While it may not be a true Ponzi type operation it does postpone at an increase cost the payments that are needed to keep the plan solvent.

Of course financial honesty never has bothered any politician whether it be the Democrats or the Republicans ala Whitman when it come to jiggling figures so that they look good and do not have to face the piper.

When it comes to finances how many noticed that Citigroup claims to have posted a large profit this past quarter. The old adage that figures don't lie bur liars figure could not be truer.

What Citi did was to forget the first month of the quarter of the their fiscal year, December when they had a tremendous loss for which the government has allocated to them billions of dollars. Instead the quarter they reported started in January. Nobody has ever denied that innovated financing is not a profitable enterprise. How many Ponzi plans have surfaced in the last few months?

Circuitously this could lead us to the City's 2010 budget since there is little more innovative figuring that can be done to our yet as not passed 2009 budget for the year ending two months and two weeks from now. The New Jersey Courts have upheld the validity of mandatory furloughs for State, County, and Municipality employees to meet budget crisis.

Will Plainfield's Administration and Council have the guts to use such draconian measures, or layoff clerical workers? Perhaps some accommodations must be made in the police and fire divisions to prevent any more short staffing then that which has occurred over the last few administrations. A serious look at the Police Department where despite expert recommendation's the n umber of top level officers has increased in the past few years. Having multiple divisions instead of charging a smaller group with more responsibility may be fine but not if it results in an unbalance ratio of brass to grunts.

I noticed when I received my current PMUA bill that it was the same as the first quarter one, That raised a question, has the recently approved rate increased not been implemented a sod now, or did the PMUA initiate the raise before the public hearing? I am confuse d, are you?

Anyhow that caused me to review of my PMUA bills that I could find for the past 6 years. The statements show the following charges and breakdown. While there could be a variation in water use as represented in the sewer charge it would not be significant and the garbage portion should be static. What is of interest is that although 2005 through 2007 the rates were stable for each of the past two years there has been an annual increase around 20%. Certainly the 65% increase from 2003 is much more than the rise in the cost of living, and astronomical when compared to the Social Security's COLA adjustments.

YEAR---TOTAL ---- %+---GARBAGE----%+-----SEWER-----%+
2003 ---213.52-------------115.67---------------------97.85---------
2005 ---237.96----1.44%---133.02-------15.00%----104.94---10.31%
2006 ---244.32----2.67%---133.02--------0.00%----111.00----5.77%
2007 ---246.44----0.00%---133.02--------0.00%----113.42----2.18%
2008 ---291.99---18.48%---159.65-------20.02%----132.34---16.68%
2009 ---353.29---20.99%---191.45-------19.92%----161.84---22.29%

6 year -------------65%-------------------- 65.51%-------------- 65.40%
(I have not taken the time to learn how to transpose an excell document to the post)

Apparently,the public outrage is justified. Perhaps the Authority should publish the annual total reimbursement received by its top officials and Commissioners.

My innovative spelling of Saturday in yesterdays post bypassed my hiatus "proof reading". It can happen to all of us, but shouldn't.

SUNDAY PICTURES

In 1929 just before the CRASH my folks purchased a "small" summer home on Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks My brother had spent that summer at a camp on nearby Brant Lake and they had fallen in love with the area. They finally sold the property in the,I believe,mid 60s. I spent my summers there every year until Medical School and Helen, from right after school closing to a few days before the new school year. Some day if interested I will write a post about the lake.

The photos were taken in the 50s. I was lucky to catch the float plane which was taking sightseers from the nearby vacation spots.


Eagle Point a state campsite is 3 miles away, the lake bends and narrows just above that point.
About a mile beyond the point separated by a bay is another point which was the venue of Scaroon Manor a large popular summer resort for young unattached New Yorkers. The film Marjorie Morningside(?) was filmed there.
A path in the woods on the property
White Birches and the lake

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photo Fillers Staurday

A while back when going through slides from thee 70s and 80s I ran across these from the 70s or early 80s. Some will recognize the Great Swamp. Perhaps the majority have never heard of this ecological treasure within 20 miles of Plainfield which can be reach off Long Hill Road between Meyersville and Harding Township.

Approximately three decades ago there were serious plans to use this area for a fourth metropolitan area airport. Through the efforts of environmentalists including Sierra Club this rare natural resource was made a National Wildlife Refuge.

Imagine what may have happened if the airport plan had been consummated. The refuge is the water basin source and reserve of The Passaic River. The River's flow would have been drastically altered. Without the swamp reservoir the areas along the river bed would be subject to the periodic floods that reoccur in the Dakotas and along the tributaries of the Missouri River.

Look up the info on the Internet and take a trip to enjoy nature.





Filler For Sarurday


One of my daughters' job description apparently requires her to forward several E-mail non sequiturs daily. Some strike me as humorous and others contain a great deal of information. Still others my computer refuses to let me read, Senior censorship. Anyhow when a hiatus keeps one from posting words of wisdom, words of silliness are a great substitute. This is a recent list.


Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter


This one I caught in the SGV Tribune the other day and called the Editorial Room and asked who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.


Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
No, really? Ya think?
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Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!
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Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!
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Miners Refuse to Work after Death
'good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!
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Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

See if that works any better than a fair trial!
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War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!
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If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Ya think?!
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Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Who would have thought!
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Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain;
Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

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Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?
Oklahoma's new construction program!
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Man Struck By Lightning:
Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!
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New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger
Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!
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Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That' s what he gets for eating those beans!
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Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Do they taste like chicken?
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Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!
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Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Boy, are they tall!
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And the winner is ....
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Did I read that right?

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