Saturday, October 31, 2009

ELECTION 2009

If the cause is important we must get out and vote. This year the Assembly and Plainfield Mayor's election is one of the most important in years.

For:
  • Good honest Government
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Adequate available hospital services
  • True transparency in government
  • To eliminate the causes of political corruption that make NJ the "Soprano State"
  • Delivery of needed municipal services efficiently and economically
  • Affordable retention of effective social services.
  • Upgrading infrastructure- roads etc.
  • Making the City attractive for gentrification.
  • Realistic planning for center city redevelopment and the railroad corridor.
  • Action not words to repair the loss of Muhlenberg
  • And others should be reason to vote.
Do not let the status quo continue because of lack of interest.You all did it in 2008. If you care about life in Plainfield, do it again in 2009.


Cook School November 2008


By the way:
Roanoke 1
Watchung 1
Tonight in the Philly bandbox.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FRIDAY'S POTPOURRI

World Series
son-in-law style

Roanoke 1
Watchung 1

A very interesting two hours Thursday night at Councilor Mapp's Forum. It was fairly well attended by a heterogeneous group of concerned citizens from all wards. Three candidates' forums in the past two weeks plus game 2 of the World Series may have saturated public interest before election, but the questions and Mapp's responses were spirited.

Among those in attendance were Assemblyman Green, who did address the group,as well as Republican Assembly candidate Vastine, mayoral candidates Dowe, and Pivnichny, and Councilman Storch. All except Vastine who is not a Plainfield resident contributed commentaries.

Although most of the period was devoted to the City's CFO problem some concerns were raised regarding the budget process, the road re pavement progress, the Senior Citizen's Center as well as the Dudley House status.

The topic of Muhlenberg Hospital was only briefly touched but there was discussion on the Plainfield School District's problems although it is autonomous from the city government.

However Muhlenberg seems to be a major election issue since Assemblyman Green posted Dottie Gutenkauf's recent opus in the Courier news regarding the "negative" involvement of his opponents prior to the closure of Muhlenberg.

In case you missed Plainfield Today's posting of the Alman's Group bio on Jerry Green when he was associated with them the following struck me as most interesting:
"10 years in management positions with a major food chain" Alman's Group blurb on Vice President Gerald B Green aka affectionately "Jerry Green" nine term Assemblyman and former Chairman of the Union County Board of Freeholders.

JG is a remarkable person. He doesn't boast about his retail grocery expertise. I wonder if that was concurrent with his years in the Assembly. Maybe Bo is right, it is the perception of what is unethical or quasi-criminal that is important, not the actual commitment of an illegal act. Even his Linden real estate dealings should be considered astute, an authority established by a government body that he once was chairman purchased his property and a small profit to the investor.

Plainfield's electorate turned out in record numbers last year. I hope all those that believe there is need for change locally and in the state will vote on Tuesday.

There could be a second "edition" today if significant news breaks. The Speaker of the House of Representatives introduced on Thursday for vote its Bill on Health Care .

LWV FORUM IMPRESSIONS

World Series Standings (according to my two son-in-laws)
Roanoke 1
Watchung 0

The League of Women Voters Candidates Forum;
These comments represent this observer's impression and are in no way verbatim.

The highlight of the 2 hour forum was the last 90 seconds when the final speaker Debbie Dowe had her turn and was able to delivery a passionate vehement vitriolic rebuttal to the Mayor's statement that she should be reelected because she had spent years in public service and that neither of her two opponents had spent any time in community service.

Otherwise the forum was as expected.

Assemblyman Green arrived 10 minutes late just in time for his delayed opening remarks/ He apologized being late because he was (and the exact remarks were confusing because of poor acoustics) in an important meeting with the Governor(?) in Linden.

All four candidates responded to each of the moderator's questions. Three gave well prepared non earth shaking responses to each question while the fourth kept attacking George Bush and Bo's Texas roots as the campaign issue. Green was so animated in his remarks that at times he appeared to be shaking as he spoke. He alone made the recent Gallon and the BOE a campaign issue, even though no question was connected to the recent controversy.

I think the two Republicans and Stender handled themselves well and stuck to their campaign issues.

When it was the turn for the three Mayoral candidates the Q&A format when as expected. The Mayor again recounted her progress in redevelopment downtown Plainfield noting the long approved yet not started projects as accomplishments. She also noted that the revision of the Police Department had resulted in a great drop in crime. The other two's responses were as expected a overview of what they would hope to accomplish given the chance.

Briggs answer to the hospital problem was they were continuing to have active discussion with possible operators of a new full service hospital but she would be unable to give specifics. If the two names of her last contacts were an example, and I again must note that I had difficulty hearing all remarks, but I believe she said "Patel and Ziglesteen???". The names are unimportant, if these are who our authorities are talking about the they are more entrepreneurial developers who are interested in the buildings and have no true hospital experience. Dowe did give a list of those she had contacted from the Federal Government down to stop or reopen the hospital. She also presented a letter of concern from Christie. Pivnichny siad he would seek professional consultation in obtaining an operator for a new hospital.

There was no question asked about the status of the road infrastructure. In response to the question of the CFO and other fiscal irregularities the Mayor said that they had been trying without success for two years to find a qualified individual and that the $40000 cash loss tin tax receipts was due to the previous administration appointing a tax collector "who could not be bonded". Dowe called for a state audit, Pivnichny noted that a certified CFO was of an utmost priority for administration to function.

I apologize for the sketchiness of this report. And if I seamed biased it is because I am. In both races the incumbents have failed the people of Plainfield and we need a change. Matters can not get worse and could improve.

The question of legitimacy of two PSS appointments; This is an issue that has become a political red herring being used by Assemblyman Green to divert public interest in the actual Assembly race. It is a serious issue and worthy of more blogging but is not germane to the November 3rd election.

LWV FORUM

Game one ended too late to do any report on the League of Women Voters Forum. That will be later this morning. As a compromise; Kenyon Ave winter late 50s. Those were the days.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WHAT IF

The political demographics of Plainfield and the 22nd Assembly district unfortunately almost guarantee that Briggs, Green and Stender will be reelected. This may happen despite all three have run campaigns of silence, relying on party loyalty and job beholden to the local and county party to provide a majority vote on Nov. 3.

In Plainfield's Mayor's race a divided opposition between two good candidates seems to provide a plurality for the incumbent. Any suspicion of fiscal misdealing or even criminal action remains vague, and no one in authority is going to announce an investigation this close to election. So there may be enough voters to invite the fox back into the hen-house.

So the question remains; what if after the election the US District Attorney or the State Attorney General's office announced an investigation into possible criminal activity by the City Administration in regards to funds would the incumbent be installed into office? The answer is yes. Will there be any investigation? If the Corzine administration and the Democrat control of the Assembly are returned to office the answer is probably no.

I believe that the only way we the people will get any accounting is through the ballot box. WE must vote the rascals out. Where there are three candidates for one office the third one will be a spoiler. The intelligent voter will consider a vote for Daggett or locally for Dowe a vote for the incumbent. It would be more effective to cast the ballot for the candidate that has the best chance to defeat the incumbent. We must think Plainfield and New Jersey before party. .

WEDNESDAY AM POTPOURRI

Motorcyclist killed in accident on West Front Street. An ambulance from Somerset Medical Center took the victim to an Area Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Courier News Headline Wednesday October 28.

From the description of the accident the man's initial injuries were indubitably fatal even by the time he was extricated from under the SUV. However. if he could have survived with prompt care were the time need for the ambulance to reach the scene and transport him to the hospital acceptable. I doubt it. Is this the quality of care that the Corzine Administration dictated for this 150000 population area acceptable? Perhaps the Assembly Candidates can break their silence and answer that question. Perhaps if it is not what remedial action both quick and long term they would strive to obtain.

I hope this question is asked tonight at the LWV forum. Would the Mayoral Candidates comment
tonight about the overall operation of the Administration's offices and what improvements for efficiency should be done?

Plaintalker has once again pointed out the need for impartial factual blogger presentation of meetings and actions of the various bodies that compromise our civic community. Although Plaintalker does an excellent job at the city government level this need is unfilled when the BOE and School District is concerned. Maria and Raz do their best but their involvement with their children open them to charges of prejudice. It is a fact that this early in the 21st Century the media whether in print, on line or in the airwaves can no longer cover in depth everything.

OLD MUHLENBERG STUFF

Since there is little new Monday politically in the papers or the blogs except for Jerry posting another union endorsement, the nurses. Again these endorsements mean you better give me what I want even if it is not in the public interests, time permits a change in pace.

Earlier I wrote about the General Surgical Staff at Muhlenberg in 1950. It was so long ago I forgot the title of the blog. I did not have time to recall those practicing the Surgical Specialties. So here goes

Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat:
Resident Consulting Surgeons (Senior staff members exempt from ward duties but actively practicing)
Robert Childers
Archie Paulson
Roger Cooley
Senior Attendings
Lucien Hirsch
Douglas Kramer
John Sheedy
Jerome Wolfe (eyes only)

Junior Attending
Albert Falcone

Orthopedic Surgery
Resident Consulting Surgeon
Harold Corbussier
Senior Attending Surgeon
E..H. Dogget
Elmer Weigel (F.A.C.S.)
Junior Attending Surgeon
Hugh Babbitt
George Marts
Assistant Junior Attending
William K. Goodspeed
Paul Kandra

Neuro Surgery
Senior Attending
Thomas S.P. Fitch (F.A.C.S.)

Genito-Urinary Surgery
Senior Attending
Raphael Cantini
Thomas Morris
Junior Attending
Nicholas Falcone
Ralph Ferencheck
Thoracic Surgery
Senior Attending
Paul Geary
Junior Attending
Philip Kunderman

Some highlights about these docs that some may remember.. Dr. Doggett's office was I believe on the corner of 8th and Park across from the Library. He has a large dog Great Dane or Boxer that stayed in his office with him. Dr Weigel lived on Inman Ave, and kept chickens. He had a side business of supplying eggs to members of the Surgical services who thought they were most beneficial.. George Marts had been a flight Surgeon during WW2 and had his own airplane. He and Hugh Babbltt had offices in what was once doctor's row destroyed for the High School. Dr Corbussier had served in either the Spanish American or WW1 wars and always rode a horse at the head of the 4th of July parade when it went down Park Ave.

Dr. Fitch was one of the few Neurosurgeons in the Central and Northern part of the State. he was very dignified looking with his goatee. He always complained about other physician's handwriting, his was so good that if one could decipher every third word one could understand what he was talking about.

Paul Geary was the only chest surgeon in the Plainfield- Amboy - New Brunswick area. In those days Chest Surgery was limited to lung disease, heart surgery, the main focus today was unknown. Dr. Kunderman started with Geary but moved to New Brunswick.

EJ. O'Brian a GP removed more tonsils annually than all the EENT guys. Jerry Wolfe was the only one limiting himself to opthamology. Cataract surgery. was touch and go, the patient after the operation had to lie flat in bed for days with the eye covered and a weight on the dressing. Afterwards they wore milk bottle thick lenses in their glasses. How times have changed.

Urology was a rough trade. The prostate operation at that time could best be described as brutal and the rate of infection post-op was high.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TWO QUICKIES

Today's Courier repeats the CFO situation. 90 days to find a permanent one. I hope that will be a job for a NEW ADMINISTRATION. How can the City Administrator or the Corporation Counsel NOT KNOW THE LAW? We thought what we were doing was OK or words to that effect is attributed to Dasheild in the CN article. INCOMPETENCY is the hallmark of the present Administration. If any voter votes the party ticket they don't give a damn about Plainfield.

Too bad we can't clone Bernice and send her to the BOE meetings . WE need some one with reporting skills to assist Maria at the BOE coverage. This most important and cost consuming self protective arm of the City administration suffers from Arrogance on the part of the professional staff and amateurism on the Boards part.

There must be a better format for the Board meeting, if needed they should be twice as off ten. I for one can not make the time to attend although I am interested in how the district is runned. If I had details from meetings I am willing to post as a third person with perhaps some editing.

RANTING POTPOURRI

Today's rant: Woodland Ave was paved about a decade ago after several "engineering" studies etc. Today I noticed that besides the poorly repaired entries into the pavement by utilities and other contractors that there is a linear crack the length of the street from Watchung to city line. Without preventive maintenance. That type of a crack is due to poor bonding of sections (strips) of pavement when laid. see article on asphalt pavements.

And who is responsible for the section by the commentary cemeterey?( My spelling checker wants to write its oen blog-commentary?)  The crack there is at least an inch wide. Road repairs has had almost no priority by all administrations for perhaps two decades. It seems to be non-existent now.

Any road repair is a waste of taxpayer's money, whether it comes from state or federal grants or local funds, it is our taxes that raised the dollars.

RANT #2-ABOUT POLITICAL ENDORSEMENTS; It would have to be one horrendous Democrat politician in New Jersey who could not get a union's endorsement. Endorsements by lobbyist reflect the cause that they are espousing. In other words when any group endorses a candidate they expect something in return. it is their interest that they are promoting and the voter should still consider each candidate on his/hers merits. Don't be sheep.

Case in point the "New Jersey Tenants Organization" a lobbyist obviously has had not interest in the Connolly problem or government impact in Plainfield ,Greens home town, on the correction of violations. Ask the tenants.

RANT #3: It appears that when the health care bill is ready for signature it is the small business that is going to be hit the hardest. The question of "opt out" has not been addressed, nor a bare bones level for the age group that does not use medical resources. Perhaps just catastrophic, which means entering the doors of a hospital or ER would suffice.

There is the slight problem of a mandatory cut of 20% in physicians payment in 2010. I would hate to see that applied to school teachers, police, firemen, postal]workers or any other job class especially if they are unionized. The doctors would not strike they would just opt out of Medicare. Unless a law was passed to conscript them they could do that. Then who would suffer, those over 65 of course. They are already going to be hit with increased premiums and no matching increase in Social Security.

RANT #4: I received my PMUA flyer Monday Oct 26. It was nive to read that ther ewas a board meeting scheduled for Oct. 6 and the public was invited. The late delivery cut be due to the bulk non address mailing just carrier route. An "anonymous" had previously commented in my blog about the Board Chairperson page. Are we being prepared for another rate increase?

Rant #5: Nothing nice to write about today.

Monday, October 26, 2009

POTPOURRI POLITICAL 10/26/09

A lost weekend as far as political happenings. The local incumbents continue to be invisible with thee exception of Jerry Green's posting of expected union endorsements and one unusual one(see his blog. I unfortunately missed the NAACP candidates forum, but hope some place to read an accounting. The Courier did publish a guest commentary by Dottie Gutenkauf which does merit commentary.

Dottie is 100% right, the Republicans did nothing to avert the closing of Muhlenberg or become involved with the Save -now Restore- Muhlenberg Coalition. If our incumbent Assembly representatives were unable , or unwilling to take positive action to prevent that disaster, how could not even candidates take any action.

Yes they too could have cried out in vain against The Commissioner of Heath and Human Services who stated her position before the farcical hearings. Assemblyman Green initial reaction was to cooperate with Solaris by forming a task force to facilitate the change over.

In Plainfield the Administration and the Gibson led Council refused to take any proactive action prior to the actual closure. Whose interests were they protecting? Certainly not the people's.

But this is only a portion of the real issue in this election. Will a local Administration that has exhibited evidence of disregard for legal process or honesty in communication to Council and public be returned to office. It is incomprehensible but may be realistic that patronage, nepotism, and blind party loyalty will bring about that result. It is also unfortunate that locally, as in the Gubernatorial race, we have a worthwhile independent candidate that will only succeed in syphoning needed votes from a legitimate challenger.

The Assembly issues are basically the need for change from the incumbents who are members of an entrenched Lesniak-DeFillipo County Democrat Machine known for its nepotism, patronage and questionable deals.

We need new faces in the Assembly who are not contaminated as of yet by the politics that make New Jersey the Soprano State. It does not matter if they are renegade New Democrats or Republicans. The old have too long abused the power they have been awarded.

So let us not try to obfuscate the real issues by clouding any non party Democrat Candidate as a "Bush Republican". Bush/ Cheneny despicable as they may have been are not the issue at local and state level. If our three incumbents have anything to say let us hear it now not on November 1 or 2 when the new blood have no time for rebuttal.

Incidentally, according to the Courier on 9/25/09, Green and Stender have boasted of the cut of 7000 state jobs. On the other hand the other day the media reported an overall increase of 50,000 since Corzine took office.

It is this humble commentator's hope that on election day ,the voters who cast their ballots will weigh all the positives and negatives and not just cast a party line vote.

PRO TEMPORE

Too much Jets, Giants, Yankees and a funeral. Perhaps sage comments will come by noon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SCHOOL VIOLENCE

In order that I could make sense out of the  figures posted in the Ledger I converted the numbers to cases per thousand students. I think that is more informative for comparison purposes then plain numbers. The data was then sorted by totals in descending order. If the figures are right Plainfield is  a disaster.

However the time period for this data was not printed and if  according to Raz's blog the reported number by Dr. Gallon had dropped to 17, again time period not stated, that could mean a real improvemnt in disciplinary control. Once again I caution that the validity of all figures must be questioned  as to accuracy as well as to the fudge factor and non-reporting.



 CASES OF VIOLENCE  IN DISTRICT PER 1000 STUDENTS



District
Enrollment
Violence
Vandalism
Weapons
Substance
Total
UC Ed Serv. Comm
303
3.96
0.00
13.20
3.30
56.11
Plainfield
6462
2.27
7.43
3.56
0.00
33.74
Roselle Park
2013
1.54
7.45
2.48
2.48
27.82
Mountainside
740
1.89
0.00
1.35
0.00
20.27
Linden
6122
0.93
2.61
2.12
5.06
18.78
Garwood
413
1.45
0.00
2.42
0.00
16.95
Hillside
3161
1.11
2.21
1.90
0.00
14.87
 Union Township
7816
1.04
2.18
1.02
0.00
13.31
Keneilworth
1354
0.89
0.74
0.00
0.74
10.34
UC VoTech
1187
0.42
4.21
0.00
1.68
10.11
Berkley Heights
2835
0.25
6.00
0.35
0.71
9.52
SP-Fanwood
4333
0.53
2.54
0.69
0.92
9.46
Springfield
2049
0.49
3.90
1.46
0.49
9.27
Clark
2327
0.21
6.02
0.00
0.43
8.59
New Providence
2194
0.32
1.37
0.00
3.19
7.75
Summit
3800
0.39
2.11
0.26
1.05
7.37
Elizabeth
21303
0.23
1.31
1.27
0.70
5.26
Rahway
3872
0.23
1.55
0.77
0.52
4.91
Roselle
2818
0.35
0.71
0.00
0.00
4.26
Westfield
6150
0.18
0.49
0.16
0.98
3.41
Cranford
3712
0.00
0.54
0.27
0.81
1.62







Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time Out

Time out---

Pont de Gard, and Baux en Provance


I may post something substantial later today check back late afternoon , if you wish.

SERIOUS RAMBLING THOUGHTS POTPOURRI

4:34 pm -10/23/09 Just read Jerry's latest posting. I am certainly happy that an out and out political lobbying organization with an avowed single goal which you can read on the Internet, has found time to endorse JG. This is not the ACLU, or Sierra but a group formed to advocate a specific legal goal. This is the best JG can post? What are his answers to Plainfield's problems? Get rid of the Bloggers?

4:45 pm-10/23/09 In today's Plainfield Today Dan asked where have the roads gone. The question should be where has the money gone? What road improvement's had the Council authorized by resolution in the last four years? what funds ere received from the state or budget allocations and used for or divert to other projects?

As to the status of certain streets. It is no surprise. At a Council meeting in late 2008 September or the end of August, when the City Administrator announced that the repaving of Kensington Ave would begin in answer to my question was it not too late in the year for asphalt pavement projects and were there specific temperature ranges to be worried about. His response without hesitation was that the job would be completed before it got too cold. He just forgot to say what year.

To learn more about road pavements go to: (http://epdfiles.engr.wisc.edu/pdf_web_files/tic/manuals/Asphalt-PASER_02.pdf)

Again I think that the contracts must be re-examined since the contractor has obviously been in default, and there must have been a certified bond placed.

At least when the election is over there may be time to review Plainfield's road maintenance program

11 pm Finally got around to reading the inside of the Ledger since there is usually nothing ab out Plainfield. Surprise (1) along article about the BOE, and (2) a chart of Union County School Violence.;

The article on the investigation of two "coordinators" quotes Green as saying "The superintendent has so much power and there's not too many things the board has control over". Once again our hypocrite Assemblyman in looking for a pigeon to divert attention from his own self and alter ego mayor distorts half truths as if they were facts.

The School District Superintendent must have complete control over the day by day educational process. However he has to have BOE consent for general principles and the BOE in its fiduciary responsibility has to approve the hiring of every Supervisor, principle, teacher, teacher's aid etc. I am sure that they also approve of every dollar spent for conferences either individually or as a lump budget item. It is the Board of Education 's members obligation to do due diligence in hiring and also to be knowledgeable about NJ state mandates. They can not create a position out of air without DOE approval. The BOE has the ultimate power and the Superintendent is responsible to it.

IN the city which Green conveniently ignores, The Mayor's office and administration is completely separate from the Council. The Mayor can and does make administrative appointments with only those specifically mentioned in the City Charter with consent of the Council. There is even a mechanism which has been used by various Mayors to circumvent Council approval by the term acting or temporary. However even that is restricted by time limits that seem to be ignored.

In the City's case where the Council has to grant approval it is dependent upon data submitted by Administration and assurances of Corporation Counsel that everything is complete and legal.
There is no vehicle for Council members to do background investigation.

The other item in the Star Ledger on page 33 there is a table of "Union County school violence" from DOE figures however the time period is not stated.

The data below is disturbing
District Enrollment Violence Vandalism Weapons Substance Total
Elizabeth 21303 48 28 27 15 112
Linden 6122 57 16 13 31 115
Rahway 3872 9 6 3 2 19
Plainfield 6462 147 48 23 0 218
SP-Fanwood 4333 23 11 3 4 41
Westfield 6150 11 3 1 6 21


I can not conceive that there has not been 1 case of substance abuse in this district. Either it is n ot looked for or not reported. The source of the data used by the State DOE is also absent.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A welcomed change in pace

I think you will enjoy this clip of two of the greatest entertainers.
James_Cagney_And_Bob_Hope.wmv
4116K Download

HYPOCRISY JG STYLE

"Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" Those words uttered by Joseph N. Welch the defense attorney for ther Army at the McCarthy Trial began the end of the Senator's career.

Hypocrite State Assemblyman, Speaker pro Tempore of the Assembly the self proclaimed third most powerful member of the Assembly, Chairman (in perpetuity?) of the Plainfield Democrat Committee Jerry Green should heed those words.

A problem of non certified in New Jersey school officials have become the subject of an investigation by the County Superintendent and the State Department of Education. This is how it should be , The results of their investigation may result in punitive action against the BOE and even the Plainfield Superintendent if there has been some illegal or even improper action.

Once the State and County offices complete their report it should be made verbatim public. Non sequetore names can be blocked out.

Our white knight Assemblyman Green has come charging to the Citizens' rescue by demanding an investigation by the Attorney General! (This sentence has had a syntax correction at 4PM to content and meaning is not altered)

OH THE HYPOCRISY: Green has shown no concern or at least made no public statement about the latest fiasco involving the Briggs Administration.

In the past weeks appointments to positions that the State does not recognize . The absence for over two years of a CFO needed to certify financial absences. The alleged use of a rubber signature stamp belonging to a person no longer filling what was an illegal appointment. The lack of details being provided to the Council. The submission to the State of a preliminary Budget that the council had not even seen much less accepted. The request for extraordinary state funds without Council approval. The prolonged non submission of the Administration's proposed budget despite next meeting promises. The obscuration of the Dudley House situation. Oh the list can go on and on. Non has called for the Attorney General to investigate Plainfield's Administration.

That may be understandably, since Jerry Green has repeatedly denied that he has any influence in the municipal affairs despite the fact he has often been seen entering the Mayor's Office probably in his role as her " Mentor".

By now even the most dedicated, most faithful, even minor beneficiary of Plainfield's Administration or Green's position in local politics must see the light. If you must vote, vote for the prospect of honest government at the City and State level. I can find no good reason to suspect a Republican gain in Freeholder's would make any difference. There the system needs a change.

HEALTH CARE FOCUS TODAY

Again one of those days with little "local" political news. WE voters find the silence of one slate to be overwhelming.Those who cam offer any explanations of past errors or programs for the future are trusting that they can ride on the coattails of national party figures who seem to be making a successful push to reelect Corzine.

However in DC there have been developments in the Health Care Reform. For the present the Admiistration has taken a low ball position. But in the Senate a voter on Wednesday resulted in a major party defeat.

The present medicare law calls for a 20% reduction in physician reimbursements followed by 5% annually. With many primary docs unhappy with their present reimbursement with greater decreases any have to drop out of participation. Since one of the alternate "Public Option" plans calls for tying payments to the Medicare formula the likelihood of a boycott by MDs is a certainty.

To remedy this problem the Democrats proposed a separate bill to void the proposed Medicare cuts and even raise some payments where there were gross inequities. In order not to effect the dollar limit place on HC reform this was to be a separate action without a provision for raising funds. Instead there was supposed too be some witchcraft formula that claimed the dollars needed would come from other savings.

60 votes in the Senate was needed to pas this bill. However at least 13 Democrats voted against the bill which failed by a 57:43 vote. The objection was the lack of a funding provision.

Meanwhile in the House Pelossi is trying to pass a bill with a public option provision tied to medicare, claiming to have over 200 votes of the 216 needed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

THANK YOU

Thank you,Thank you,Thank you to Dr. Gallon and the Plainfield BOE. Thank You to Jerry Green. Thank you to Mark Spivey, and to the Courier.

Earlier I had complained about a lack of material for my blog. Well after reading today's Courier that has changed. One long article and one editorial sufficed.

Once more the Plainfield School System has exemplified what is wrong in our city. The annual change in job description with the creation of titles that may sound exciting but can not be defined in the State's requirements for specific organizational structure has created a problem. Once more tailoring a position for nepotism purposes may have backfired at the taxpayers' expense.

Once more the BOE has failed to do due diligence in filling a position. Once more it seems that the BOE and administration show no restraint on "perks" for administrative employees. All they have to do is pass the cost on to the taxpayers by increasing their budget or deprive students of needed study materials. Conferences are more important than proper distribution of text books.

Thanks to Jerry Green for once again rising to the defense of his constituency by naming names and pointing fingers when an investigation has not been completed. On the other hand it seems that he has had no problem or at least no comment about what may seem to be illegal< if not only improper, activities in the City Administration. Of course he has said many a time that he has no influence in the city government. His only commitment is to his duties for the 22nd Assembly district and as "Speaker pro Tempore" whatever that may be.

Thanks to Mark Spivey for his in depth article on the school system problem, and to his editors for finding the space to print it. Mark. in compensation for this plug I will accept a bottle of one of those wonderful beers you write about on Wednesday .

Above all Thanks to the Courier Editors for todays editorial why the Republican 22nd district Assembly candidates should be elected. I hope enough voters read it.

Unfortunately there is no thanks to Dr. Gallon who may have disrupted all the gains he seems to have been making in the school district to find cushy jobs for friends. I hope he can prove that I am wrong in this last comment.

INDIAN SUMMER??

What is a poor blogger to do? It may be too early for Indian Summer, but it feels like it is here and has a lethargic effect. The Democrats keep quiet, that is the locals. On the State level all the heavy hitters, Billy Boy, Bidden, Obama get their pictures taken with Corzine while they spout his virtues. Reverend Jackson surprisingly endorses Corzine who just happened to contribute I believe $85,000.00 to the preachers church last year. The PBA, FMBA, and teachers are protective of their pension benefits and automatic contract raises. No they are not supporting Christie.

SO! As I write (?) this blog I have nothing to complain or approve? Without material I am forced to post a few more Eldridge Street photos.

The first one is the Cantor's Lectern (correction 9:45). In the Orthodox and Conservative Synagogues most of the Service and Prayers is sung or "chanted" by the Cantor who assists the Rabbi in the Service.
This was taken from the Sanctuary floor looking up at the Rose Window on the Street side of the Building. It is the rear of the Sanctuary and shows in the foreground the Women's balcony and benches
The present Congregation holds its services in a small sanctuary in the basement. This is looking towards the Ark which holds the Torah that are read on the "table". The young man is great grandson Casey.
Another view of the Women's Balcony at the side of the Sanctuary.

The Women's Balcony: In traditional Eastern European Orthodoxy the main floor of the synagogue was for the men. The women and children sat upstairs in the balcony. In some of the newer synagogues the separation is side by side with low partition. This separation is also carried out in Jerusalem at the Western Wall where a fence separates the men from the women.

To read more about the role of the Cantor go to: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantor_%28synagogue%29). Sorry I still have trouible embedding links.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantor_%28synagogue

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A VIEW FROM THE PAST

Since Tuesday was an escape from OZ in the Media and in the Blogs I had time to return to a subject I have always liked, photographs.

Dan Damon had remarked that he had lived as a youngster in the area near the Eldridge Street Synagogue Museum which is now a National Landmark and would be interested in some more pictures of the interior.

The Synagogue was built in the late 19th Century by Jews who has emigrated from Eastern Europe. It was the first one in the United States not built by Sephardic Jews of Spanish/Portuguese descent or Western European Jews, and was an outgrowth of one of many small "storefront shules" that were in the lower East Side of New York.

Since Orthodox Jews believe that on the Sabbath and holy days the Torah commanded the day to be set aside for worship for the Lord rested on the Seventh Day. Thus it was forbidden to use any mechanical device or form of transportation. They had to walk to their place of worship. For the extreme orthodox in that era lighting a gas lamp or fire was sacrilege. Today the switching on a light would be the equivalent.

With the changing demographics of the postwar era the Jews had migrated away from the Bowery lower east side area as have the large Italian population that had also settled there, Today that part of New York City is one of the largest Chinese Cites in this country.

The Synagogues Congregation had dwindled to only a few members and the building had fallen into almost total disrepair. It took several decades and millions of contribution dollars for a dedicated group to restore most of the building to its original elegance.

With that sketchy and perhaps slightly inaccurate background here are the first three of some pictures taken under difficult lighting conditions and unfortunately without a tripod.

The first picture is of ceiling of the Sanctuary with a skylight around one supports for a smaller chandelier. If you look closely you will note that the ceiling is covered with stars to represent Heaven.
This view is from the Women's and Children's balcony looking forward toward the Ark which hods the Torah Scrolls. You will note that the large windows in the front are clear glass (actually composed of glass bricks) The original stained glass windows were partially destroyed by a hurricane that hit New York many years ago. There are plans to ultimately when enough funds become available to replace with stain glass. Unfortunately there are no accurate descriptions of what the original windows looked liked.
When the building was being built the Congregation had limited funds and only a few wealthy patrons. They were able to obtain wooden pews from a church that had lost its congregation to the migration of ethnic populations that continues to this day in this country. The origin of the pews explains the unique wood cutouts in pew's ends.
There will be a few more posted in the future when time permits.

MEDICARE FLASH

Reprinted from today's Times:

The basic Medicare premium will shoot up next year by 15 percent, to $110.50 a month, federal officials said Monday.

The increase means that monthly premiums would top $100 for the first time, a stark indication of the rise in medical costs that is driving the debate in Congress about a broad overhaul of the health care system.

About 12 million people, or 27 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, will have to pay higher premiums or have the additional amounts paid on their behalf. The other 73 percent will be shielded from the increase because, under federal law, their Medicare premiums cannot go up more than the increase in their Social Security benefits, and Social Security officials announced last week that there would be no increase in benefits in 2010 because inflation had been extremely low.

This is only the tip of the iceberg since it refers to Part A only. Any Part B and Medigap insurances premiums will also rise as will the "drug coverage". It seems that even if the rumored "death provisions" in the proposed Health Care Plans does not exist, the Government itself is pricing health care out of the elderly's capabilities.

BACK FROM OZ

More notes about the "Special Meeting; The third resolution that was not voted on but I do not remember it being withdrawn was "Authorizing the submission of a Kids (sic) Recreation Trust fund grant application for equipment in the mount of $23,250.00 and the acceptance of the funds if awarded the grant.

This Resolution had been on the October Regular Meeting agenda but was tabled for lack of Specifics. At the earlier agenda setting session held at Hubbard School a large delegation of parents from the Queen City Baseball league had protested this resolution since not only were they never informed about the possible availability of funds, but that the Division of Parks and Recreation had sent out a circular soliciting applications for players in youth baseball leagues that would be In competition to their volunteer supported enterprise.

On the 13th, the City Administrator was only given vague answers to question of specifics from McWilliams and others. The promise for specifics was answered in the resolution presented last night.

Outstanding was that there was still no mention of the Queen City Baseball league and only one of the city's two "Pop Warner football teams was to receive any funds. No explanation why the other was not mentioned. This Resolution too was not acted upon because of the phrase "as evidenced by A/City Finance Officers Certificate" (verbatim).

As a point in parliamentarian procedure, once a resolution appears on the agenda it is no longer the property of the proposer but belongs to the Council. The proposer can not unilaterally withdraw it, but can request with explanation the Council to vote to "table it indefinitely". The presence of that resolution and action with reason must appear in the Council minutes.

The original call for Monday;s night meeting was a Council working session on Economic Redevelopment. This " bull ***" idea exploring session should have been of interest to the City Administrator and the director of "Public Works and Urban Development" but they both rapidly exited as soon as the business session concluded.

It was noted by Councilwoman Carter that the many previous plans for economic redevelopment which were gathering dust should be reviewed for matters that may still be viable.

The "Burney Council" should be applauded for taking an intuitive in an important area that this Administration has neglected. Although the Planning Board and the Planning Division has taken some limited steps in this direction their has been no concentrated effort since Ballard-Fox' s departure.

AN ALTERNATIVE HEALTH PLAN

According to ROSS DOUTHAT published in the Tines on 10/18/09, there are three major problems plague American health care. The cost of premiums is eating up an ever larger share of take-home pay. The cost of our public health care programs is eating up an ever larger share of the federal budget. And millions of people who need insurance are priced out of the market.

If a Baucus type bill passes into law, we should expect a significant decline in the number of Americans without health insurance. But for Americans who have employer-based insurance — still the lion’s share of the working-age population — premiums could climb more swiftly than ever. That’s exactly what’s happened under Massachusetts’s recent reform, the best state-level parallel to what Congress is attempting.

If you’re a wavering moderate who’s concerned about the uninsured, then, whatever bill emerges from this month’s negotiations might seem like an opportunity that won’t come round again.

But any lawmakers voting “yes” should have no illusions about what they’re voting for. This version of reform probably won’t make health care more affordable for most Americans, or place the system on firmer footing for the long run. Indeed the rising costs will call for more radical changes.

One such approach is the eventual endgame that liberals pushing a “public option” are aiming for: a federal takeover of the health-insurance sector, paid for by rising tax rates, in which the government guarantees universal access while using its monopoly power to hold down costs.

Douthat notes that there’s another path, equally radical, but more in keeping with the traditional American approach to government, taxation and free enterprise. This approach would give up on the costly goal of insuring everyone for everything, forever. Instead, it would seek to insure Americans only against costs that exceed a certain percentage of their income, while expecting them to pay for everyday medical expenditures out of their own pockets.

Such a system would provide federal funded universal catastrophic health insurance, in other words, while creating a free market for non-catastrophic care. This option may be this country’s best resolution of the health care crisis. It may be well worth trying before going down the road of failure.

OZIAN POLITICS

New Jersey is known for its unique political climate. Never the less there has probably been nothing anywheres that equals Oz's Administration.

Where is Oz? Not in Kansas but located in the extreme western corner of Union County, N.J. For those of us who thought that this was the location of Plainfield, think again. No one in Plainfield's Administration could plan the financial shenanigans that has been the policy of this city of Oz for the past few years.

On Monday night, October 19, 2009 there was a special meeting for the purpose of passing two resolutions allocating funds for the legal defense of Plainfield policemen in two separate actions.
These had been deferred from last Tuesday's regular meeting because Councilor Mapp had questioned the legality of the Financial Certificate.

Corporation Counsel Williamson requested the withdrawal of the first Resolution asking confirmation of Sandra Cummings as 'part time CFO. His reason was that the State had informed Administration that there is no provision in the law for a "Part-Time CFO, or an "Acting CFO", only a CFO or a "Temporary CFO". Apparently correspondence had been ongoing all this past week between Trenton and Administration.

Williamson informed the Council that it was only late Monday when he received verbal approval from the State for the Mayor to appoint a "Temporary CFO" for a period of 90 days, however the person to be named had left was not available to sign her part of the agreement.

When he proposed that the two appropriation resolutions be voted on and the attestation would be attached Tuesday , the Council led by Mapp unanimously strongly objected to such proceedings as being illegal. Therefore those two resolutions were also withdrawn and no vote was taken on a third resolution, which I will address in an other post.

During Corporation Counsel's convoluted explanation it was revealed that a letter had been sent from the State addressed to the Mayor and the "Members of the Council" . For some reason that letter had not been forwarded to the City Clerk's office for distribution. Williamson could give no explanation why the letter had never reached the Council. When asked if he could produce the letter for distribution and review he was unable to do so since it would not be proper into go to the Mayors Office without her knowledge.

Finally, responding to the Council's insistence, he agreed to try to reach Mayor Briggs by phone, The Council then recessed for 10 minutes until CC Williamson returned. announcing his failure to contact the Mayor.The net results was the no actions taken.

During Last Tuesday's regular Council meeting it was mentioned that although a preliminary budget had not been ready for Council Acceptance, in order to meet the Stat e deadline, the City Administrator had submitted, without Council's knowledge or approval, a copy of the yet to be submitted budget and a request for extra-ordinary aid to the State.

The legality of such action is at best doubtful, and may be criminal. Also it is possible that various people have attested to financial matters during this period. It would take an in depth review by the State or The US district attorney if federal grants are involved to pinpoint all irregularity and if they were made out of ignorance or in order to hide violations from the Government. No Democrat Administration is going to touch this prior to Nov. 3rd elections.

No matter how Administration's representatives try to gloss over the CFO deal as an innocent error, the budget doings can not be so construed.

Needless to remark the well attended audience sat in amazement during the proceedings. They seemed so bewildered that no one made a comment on this matter during the 'Citizen's Participation" portion of the meeting

I as an individual can not conceive the present Administration being allowed to remain or be elected for another term without a complete explanation of facts. We are owed accountability and assurance that any violations were at best minor. It is still not too late.

Monday, October 19, 2009

POLITAL POTPOURRI 10/19/09

I knew that i was insignificant and not worth the time of the day. Although I am a registered Democrat albeit with a Centralist Republican heart, I would have thought that one of the three local candidates would have given me the time of the day and replied to a simple question. Oh well, I hope that perhaps the moderator at the League of Women Voters will find the time to pose these questions to the respective Candidates.

Perhaps I should not feel hurt since none of the three chose to be quoted in the Courier. One would think that they are running a campaign of silence based on their record which we are being reminded about daily in negative mailings regarding their opponents. Of course with Robinson-Briggs she/he has no record of positive accomplishments to remind us, thus silence is golden and let the best machine win.

I will give the Mayor credit, she at least, is not blaming Bush for Plainfield's problems. That has been left to the Assemblyman whose third most important position in the Assembly has been stymied by the Democrat control of the State ans Federal Governments, as he has reminded us.

Why is it that the two adjoining Metropolitan News Papers with traditional Democratic leanings have endorsed Corzine, whereas the two whose roots are embedded in this state have claimed that his reelection would be bad for New Jersey. The Gannet group came out strongly for Christie, rightly pointing out that Daggett is likely going to throw the election into Corzine's hands. The Ledger endorsed Daggett but I think that was due to reservations about Christie's non specific plans. On this issue I think the Courier editorial gives a good explanation.



Once again I appeal to my readers to forget party line traditions and loyalties and give all candidates an honest evaluation. Then vote for the one that you unquestionably believe will be best for our society's immediate needs.

You have less thab two weeks to keep an open mind.

Potpourri subject.

I hope no one takes my recent comment in Cory’s blog to mean that I am anti-union. The Unions filed a needed role against the abusive of powerful employers and companies. In the government arena they also protected employees from political harassment.

They ended the abuses of the “sweatshops’, the unsafe and serf like conditions of the coal miners, the worker’s hazards in the steel industry and exploitation in many other industries, service fields, and white collar jobs.

Unfortunately, at times, union leadership has become disciples of “power corrupts” and has been able to have their membership receive benefits that in the long run are detrimental to the public or business interests. In the health care field they have never hesitated to put the union’s interest above patient’s safety. Whatever their motives have been leadership has needed constant gains to maintain them in power.

Another example of the latter is the strong non yielding position of the local Mack autoworkers union that obtained contracts which were too costly to permit the company to maintain its Plainfield Plant. We know the plant had become outmoded and needed revision, but the local’s stance was one of the deciding forces for the Hagerstown relocation.

On the “government side” the workers are protected by civil service regulations and in the case of the teachers by tenure. Both justifiable designed to protect firing of employees in order to hire less expensive replacements have also made it difficult to replace those that have become incompetent. Moreover, in this severe economic crisis most have shown no consideration of the public’s welfare but continue to accept increased benefits.

The saddest part is that with all the protection these unions have they have although prohibited by law not hesitated to strike and endangering the public welfare and d safety rather than using the vehicle of arbitration.

Arbitration however can also become a weapon when it has become loaded to favor one party. In NJ considering the number of individuals employed in the various levels of government making this segment the biggest voting bloc in the state, the legislature will make no attempt to remedy matters.

That said when reading in the Ledger that during Corzine’s watch the number of state employees increased by 50,000 one can understand why it is the unions interests to support the incumbents. Human nature being what it is, I don’t blame them.

I hope no one takes my comment in Cory’s blog to mean that I am anti-union. The Unions filed a needed role against the abusive of powerful employers and companies. In the government arena they also protected employees from political harassment.

They ended the abuses of the “sweatshops’, the unsafe and serf like conditions of the coal miners, the worker’s hazards in the steel industry and exploitation in other industries and white collar jobs.

Unfortunately, at times, union leadership has become disciples of “power corrupts” and has been able to have their membership receive benefits that in the long run are detrimental to the public or business interests. In the health care field they have never hesitated to put the union’s interest above patient’s safety.

Another example of the latter is the strong non yielding position of the local Mack autoworkers union that obtained contracts which were too costly to permit the company to maintain its Plainfield Plant. We know the plant had become outmoded and needed revision, but the local’s stance was one of the deciding forces for the Hagerstown relocation.

On the “government side” the workers are protected by civil service regulations and in the case of the teachers by tenure. Both justifiable designed to protect firing of employees in order to hire less expensive replacements have also made it difficult to replace those that have become incompetent. Moreover, in this severe economic crisis most have shown no consideration of the public’s welfare but continue to accept increased benefits.

The saddest part is that with all the protection these unions have they have although prohibited by law not hesitated to strike and endangering the public welfare and d safety rather than using the vehicle of arbitration.

Arbitration however can also become a weapon when it has become loaded to favor one party. In NJ considering the number of individuals employed in the various levels of government making this segment the biggest voting bloc in the state, the legislature will make no attempt to remedy matters.

That said when reading in the Ledger that during Corzine’s watch the number of state employees increased by 50,000 one can understand why it is the unions interests to support the incumbents. Human nature being what it is, I don’t blame them.