Wednesday, June 30, 2010

FOR THE ASSEMBLYMAN.

I am flattered that another blogger is using the term "Potpourri".

I have just about 2o minutes of free time left for the computer.

I am upset that the Assemblyman misunderstood my comments when I noted an number of Democrats "made the sacrifice" to vote for the budget. That was complimentary to the party unlike the situation in New York where the legislature refuses to entertain any budget that the governor proposes. There is no attempt made to compromise in acknowledging the realities of these times.

COMMENT ON 2008 POST

Evert has left a new comment on your post "FYI Health Care Elsewhere":

Here's another scary addition: Recent research has shown that Norwegian doctors spend more time/resources on higher educated people than they do on the less educated ones...


My remarks: I am afraid that is true here also depending on insurance programs. Society and the gov ernment have made health care a business not a dedicated profession.

A FINAL FOR NOW

Some thoughts after reading today's CN to express before the kids invade.

Read the editorial; It is to the point. One of the greatest dangers to our country, state, and community is the fact that our elected officials are politicians. Their agenda first and foremost is to blame the other party for all the ills that have befallen us. There is no honest attempt to work for the benefit of the people. This is not germane to Plainfield, Union County, New Jersey or the nation. A prime example is the budget crisis in New York. At least in New Jersey just enough Democrats made the sacrifice to vote to pass the budget while the rest like our Assemblyman are blaming the Republicans for the absolute needed cuts in expenditures.

If only the elected members from both parties were not primarily interested in staying in office by passing legislation designed to curry favor from various powerful blocks such as unions or various industries. Forgotten has been the welfare of the political unit. It has been easier to mortgage our future than to be practical. The body political is facing foreclosure which will be the start of a real economic crisis that may rival the 1930s.

If only our elected officials were statesmen/women rather than party liners.

In the local scene, since I missed the Mayor's rally I am not sure what the program to fight the violence and the gangs is. I have failed to note anything active other than words.

There is a call for a voluntary curfew. Who will it apply to and how will it be enforced? Why not a mandatory one and enforce it. That plus increased police presence even reinforced by National guard if needed would be a temporary partial solution.

However, everything our officials and all civic employees have done has not only evaded the issue but magnified it. The first answer is judicial allocation of expenses. Every cut the City and the BOE has made has aggravated the issue.

Gangs are a substitute for activities that we no longer offer. We have eliminated various recreational facilities or curtailed time. Post school activities have been the victim of financial problems. Community sponsored athletics have to be expanded to be available to everyone. Community sponsored clubs and the open facilities for them are a must. That of course includes the Library.

By "Community" are not only referring to City Recreation division or administration, but non profit organizations such as the "Ys" and religious groups. Importantly there can not be exclusions based on religion or membership. These agencies may need municipal financial support above that which they can generate and it must be found.

If there are conflicts in the police division which some have suggested exists, do they impact on efficiency? If so what remedial immediate action is being contemplated?

Where is the money needed to be obtained? There must be a strict review of all expenditures to make sure that they are necessary and also that the methodology of awarding contracts is one that will guarantee the desired quality at the lowest costs. Is the Administration or the PSS willing to do this. To date there has been no evidence that this is a goal.

On the other hand we are held hostage of annual contract wage and benefit increases for all employees including high level. How can the teacher's association members be expected to agree to a freeze or roll back when the number of high level school officials earning over $150000 n early doubled from 10 to 19, and similar percentage increase were mandated to other unionized employees? How can the city's union's members grant roll backs when there was no obvious effort from the upper level?

It is the self serving interests that are destroying this community. Until we get our priorities right, we will have no effective weapon s to counter the gangs. We must think long term not patch solutions.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

PRE HOLIDAY POTPOURRI

My my! JG has been prolific the past 36 hours, 3 separate postings. Of course one was self laudatory and I can not fault him for that. One of the other two was apparently culled from other sources with duplication of statements and just a rote Democrat blasting the Republicans.

The most recent one is so full of criticism of others that it would take days to reply. It is ridiculous to blame the Council for not altering the BOE budget by transferring line item expenditures to save school libraries. That budget document is so large and complicated that I doubt if a CPA could understand it in a reasonable period of time. It is full of title changes and description alterations that allocated sums in the previous budget now are 0 and they have been replaced with new lines. And even if they sent it back to the BOE with changes, doesn't the BOE have the right to reject alterations? Finally the State is the ultimate authority.

Again just political crap blaming those Republicans for trying to cope with the mess that the Corzine government left as a burden upon the taxpayers of New Jersey. Is it possible that
the Assemblyman is included among the 16000 New Jersey millionaires benefiting by the action of the Republicans? Did he voted against the budget which could not have passed without Democratic supporters.

Once again he alludes to the future of Health Care in Plainfield. The fact is that it was the Corzine Administration that preapproved the deprivation of the 100000 area residents of critical quality health care and left them to face time consuming transportation in life threatening conditions to distant hospitals. The distance now faced would be acceptable in rural areas but is inexcusable in this urban milieu. Moreover the very population he professes to represent, the poorer economic levels were the ones most affected by the hospital closure.

However, one must accept JG's blog for what it is, a political vehicle no different that Bo's or those of the Councilors except in breadth of focus.

Regarding the BOE, Ranata Hernandez wrote in her blog that the BOE did not see the walk ins until 9:30PM, and they voted on them. Obviously the BOE does not follow any recognized Code of Parliamentary Procedure. A special meeting can only act upon matters announced in the public notice (and agenda) for the meeting. (See illustration from Sturgis)


The BOE should also be faulted for calling for that meeting on the same night and time of a previous scheduled Council meeting. Moreover no complaint should be made about the lack of public participation since the BOE is so cavalier in respecting the public's time.

By the way, no minutes of BOE meetings have been published since mid February. Have they been approved? If not, how can this new board approve something they did not participate in without exposing themselves to legal problems? I suspect that until Monday's night's minutes are published (after approval) we will have no knowledge of what jobs were cut or what "new" positions were filled.

But of course in Plainfield the BOE respect for procedures and "codes" is not unique. The Corporation Counsel's interpretation on behalf of Administration of a public or closed meeting certainly was in conflict with the "Sunshine Laws".

On a more pleasant note for everyone and especially myself; for the next 7 days I do not expect to have time to post to my blog. I will be spending the time with three younger generations of my visiting family. I wish everyone a safe enjoyable 4th.

MEMOS

Notes relating to Monday's Council Meetings now that I have had time to read the CN and Plaintalker II as well as Plainfield Today. It is most unfortunate that Maria could not attend the BOE meeting and it may be a long time before we learn anything accomplished there..

Relating to the PMUA. Since monies owed to the PMUA have been subject to Tax Lien Sales, why were the Connolly debts not included? If so considered as quasi taxes, must these debts be satisfied completely even under bankruptcy proceedings before any other obligations can be adjusted and met?

I thought that it was supposed to be a Council "Retreat" with City Administration in attendance. If Corporation Counsel provided the agenda it would then appear that the Mayor is holding this meeting with the Council.

I too find Corporation Counsel Williamson's opinion regarding the public presence at such meetings unacceptable, and perhaps illegal. Please read Alan Goldsteins' comment to my previous blog and in Plainfield Today.

The Corporation Counsels biased opinions again illuminates the need for Charter Reform and the provision of Council legal advisor.

Once again if only 4 out of 7 Councilors were present, who was absent and why? Attendance denotes commitment. However, Reid had announced that he would be unavailable, out of town. The other two have work commitments which makes the timing of such a conference questionable.

The postponement of the fiscal item discussion is a disappointment, but not unexpected since Administration continues to exhibit its unique fiscal approach of avoiding accountability.

From an article in Tuesday's times about the impact of "India's Right to Know" laws. An example given had to do with funds for housing improvements. In one village a woman with a substandard house had applied for a grant which was never approved for several years. In the meantime the well to do were receiving funds to make palatial homes. When she filed for a list of who had received such funds her grant was miraculously approved within days.

“The feeling in government has
always been that the people work-
ing in government are the rulers,
and the people are the ruled,” said
Wajahat Habibullah, the govern-
ment’s chief information commis-
sioner. “This law has given the
people the feeling that the govern-
ment is accountable to them.”

It seems to be a given that no matter what the form of governance the one universal given is that "power corrupts". The only difference it seems is that in Democracies when the corruption is too blatant and becomes an embarrassment, their head is not chopped off but the individual is given a consolation of an authority appointment.

Monday, June 28, 2010

MY NONE MEETING

I would liked to have posted a report on the Council meeting scheduled for 7PM Monday night, however for me it was the meeting that wasn't.

It may and probably did take place. When I will like the rest of the public have to find out in the other bloggers' posts and the Courier. Of the three agenda items of which I was aware the first was the annual renewal of liquor licences which could be routine if the establishments have fulfilled all their state registration forms and paid their taxes. There are usually a few that are incomplete but are given temporary permits. Every one has to be voted as a single item.

The second item on the agenda was the PMUA presentation/discussion which could be rote or prolonged and the third which I was most interested was the delayed to this meeting administration request for transfer of unused line items to unmet obligations.

The question the Council had asked that if Administration in June could find unspent funds to meet deficits in other line item budgeted expenditures could they possibly find money to restore the Library cuts? Once again the absence of a CFO and Director of Finances clouds this issue.

Unfortunately the Mayor had at the last moment scheduled a rally and a protest march against Plainfields outburst of gun violence and gang activity to start 30 minutes before the Council meeting. I must admit that the organizers of this rally did a great job' When I arrived before 7PM there were no parking spaces in the City hall lot aon 6th St. or Watchung Ave. There were cars parked in the empty lot on the corner. There were also two Senior Citizen's buses parked on 6th St.

By 7:30 the speeches in the City Hall Library were still going strong with no signs of abatement, so I left.

Today was also the first day of the oft rescheduled Council retreat with the second session to be Wednesday afternoon. According to the NJ Open Public Meeting Laws or Sunshine Laws any meeting of the governing body, or its committees attended by an effective majority of that body must be open to the public. There are specific exceptions such as discussions on pending legal matters, negotiations, personnel etc.

I understand that at the insistence of Corporationj Counsel that because today's focus was going to be on staffing matters and layoffs of specific individuals as effecting the 2011 budget process it had to be a closed meeting.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

POTPOURRI

A hot but pleasant weekend. Tomorrow back to serious stuff. The Council will hold its retreat in the afternoon and also on Tuesday. The two evening meetings could be important Whereas the BOE meeting will be in all likelihood decided "in camera" , The Council meeting after the routine liquor licenses are approved will be of interest. What the PMUA topic will be is an unknown. Also we will learn if Administration will make a stand on not restoring the library funding.

While on the Library, would someone explain to me how the PSS/BOE can consider not staffing school libraries? Money management is not a strong point for either the BOE or the City.

To continue yesterday's nostalgia; when I think how different the trip was then as compared to now. I wrote;. "Before the New York Throughway was built, the trip up to the lake was a long 8 to 9 hour drive. The best route included driving through the Essex Reservation, continuing north past the Meadowbrook nightclub and Pompton Lake to Suffern NY. We then drove north on Route 17 and turned off through Central Valley to Newburg. From there we took 9W to Albany.

Known land marks such as the cable cars at Cementon, a steep hill at Saugherties with a 45∘ turn at the bottom to cross the Esophus Creek, and Kingston helped make the trip less boring for us as kids.

Our car for most of the thirties was a Willys Knight. The Knight engine was unique and had a habit of having a problem with a gasket that would break and oil would leak into the cylinders and burn leaving a smoke screen behind. Many a trip we laid that smokescreen through the towns along the way. There were only a few garages one in Kingston, and another in Albany where spare parts for the engine could be obtained.


From Albany we could go by several routes to Glens Falls, either through Saratoga Springs or Cohoes and Schuylerville, the site of the Saratoga Battle Field. Route 9, a two lane blacktop road which followed the topography then ran north through Lake George Village and Warrensburg, Chestertown and Pottersville. Nowadays using the Parkway or 287 to the Throughway and the Northway it is no more than a 3 to 4 hours drive.

TO COUNCILWOMAN RIVERS

To Councilwoman Rivers, Please accept my apology for posting last night to my blog "CFO" a scurrilous comment by an "anon" . That commentary represented everything I rant against. Character assassination, derogatory statements and no proof. That commentary was supposed to have been trashed,I can not conceive how I hit the publish button.

I have deleted it this AM as soon as I read my email. I have posted a long reply written by another "Anon" at 11:59PM who says everything I would like to have posted except I was not going to give that person the satisfaction of acknowledgment.

Again, Please accept my most sincere apology.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

NOSTALGIA

Rob's note about being brought up near Schroon Lake brought back nostalgic memories of my childhood The is part of an excerpt from the prewar portion of my bio entitled "The Wonder Years" which I had written at my kids request.:

Schroon Lake was time non-specific until the mid 60s when my folks finally realized that without full time competent help they could no longer safely spend their summers there. It was part of my wonder years from age 9 through the second year of medical school, when I spent the month of August working as an extern in the outpatient medical clinic.

Schroon Lake was 10 miles long, and there was nearly another 10 miles of navigable river below a rickety
19th century iron truss bridge at the southern Pottersville end. That bridge provided access to a dirt road that led to the village of Adirondack and two girls’ camps on the eastern shore. Another dirt road followed the river, passing by a large boy’s camp joining the state highway to Brant Lake at the dam at Starbucksville. The state highway ran along the western shore through Schroon Lake Village north and ultimately to Canada.

At the turn of the century there had been a steam boat on the lake, however long before our time the boat had burnt and never been replaced.

The summer just before the crash, 1929, my brother had gone to Brant Lake Camp in the Adirondacks. While visiting the camp my parents purchased a home on the nearby much larger Schroon Lake.

This rather large house, with a beautiful view of the lake, was not intended for year around occupancy. The original owner, who owned a large bakery chain in NYC, also possessed a farm house in Olmstedville about 5 miles away. It was the first of three large adjacent homes on the east shore, the third one was owned by former governor Stokes of New Jersey. The vista from the porch was superb; there was a large island directly in front about a half mile from the shore.
We would often swim to it and back accompanied by some one in the rowboat.

In the early years at Schroon, there was no commercial electricity on our side of the lake. We used a Delco generator to produce DC current. There was a gas driven pump in a small lakeside pump house to send lake water up the hill to a reservoir, which was far above the roof of the house. Water flowed by gravity to the house for washing and flushing purposes. Our Drinking water was drawn out of a well on the hill next to the reservoir. It was my sister’s job to get the drinking water, a 5 gallon pail or two at time.

The Kitchen had a large wood burning stove for cooking. It also provided heat in the rear of the house and had coils for the hot water tank. There was also a fireplace in the living room with a deer’s head mounted over it. The only other provision for heat in the house was a kerosene space heater, which was in the living room. It sat on a metal sheet for safety’s sake.

Except for the back bedroom, which had a washbasin, only the first floor had running water. That bed room had a separate set of stairs to the kitchen. The rest of the second floor contained three large and one small bedroom plus a porch that ran the entire front of the house. It was enclosed with screens and supplied with heavy drop awnings in case of rain. There always were three or four camp cots out there and we kids slept out on the porch all summer. It had a “tin roof” and the sound of the rain on the roof was a soporific. The entrance to the porch was through a door from our parent’s bedroom, so most often we climb through the window of the other front bedroom which was used for guests or as a dressing room. In the 50s both Norman’s and our children slept on that porch and still talk about the "sleeping porch".

The bathroom was on the ground floor. We kids had a porcelain chamber pot for night usage. Sewerage was into a large cesspool about 25 feet east of the house closer to the last of the rental cottages.

Attached to the house was a large Icehouse where slabs of ice cut from the lake in winter were stored covered by sawdust? When AC electricity became available, we cooked on an electric stove, had a refrigerator, and an electric hot water tank replaced the wood stoves tank.

There was also a large two story garage on a terraced area to the right and back of the house. The first floor contained the Delco gasoline generator along with the bank of storage batteries for the house’s DC system. There was room for the motor boat and one car. The second story was also directly accessible from the hillside in the back. The rowboat and canoes as well as the floating dock equipment were stored there The heavy boats were transported from (or to) the garage on a “sled” pulled by a team of horses down (or up) the long dirt drive way and county road to a short steep slide to the lake front.

A local farmer, Mr. Bibby in Pottersville acted as caretaker for the property along with several other summer homes. He would “open the house” before we arrived and close it when we left. During the winter, he also stocked the ice house and added to the fire wood supply. When closing the house, it was important to drain the entire running water supply system. Kerosene poured into the toilet prevented breakage from freezing. The local doctor and the postmaster were also named Bibby,

About ½ mile before reaching our house there was a long point that separated the main body of the lake from a narrower 1½ mile stretch that passing under a rickety iron bridge became the Schroon River. The river was navigable for about 10 miles to the Starbuckville dam. This dam, owned by a lumber company, controlled the flow of water down to the Hudson River and therefore the level of the lake.

The distal half of Sand Point was a site for rental tents. The proximal portion and along the upper side of the road up to our property was occupied by a group of small cottages that rented by the week. Most of the renters came from the greater Albany/Schenectady area. The operators of the cottages also had a small store on the narrow lakeshore side of the road.

Across the lake about three miles north along the state highway was a large state operated public campsite, Eagle Point. Slightly more than a mile above that was another point, the location of Scaroon Manor resort. This was the location used for filming “Marjorie Morningside”. The lake here was about 3 or 4 miles wide and the winds often gave the novice resort boaters trouble.

About 2 miles beyond the house was the village of Adirondack. It had a small hotel and beyond it was Camp Redwing. The road wandered as a track around the lake joining the highway just above Schroon Lake Village

My first time in the lake I slipped out of my “water wings” and almost drowned but my brother saved me. I became a good swimmer and thought nothing of jumping out of my canoe in the middle of the lake and swimming alone pushing it towards the dock.

My brother had an Old Towne canoe, which was fitted with a sail and sideboards. I had a Kennebec canoe, slightly longer and narrower. Both canoes had been purchased in Cranford. The previous owner of the house liked to go in an old flat bottom inboard motorboat the 10 miles down the River to the dam, rather than the ten miles up the lake to Schroon Village. For the first few years we would put that boat into the water. It probably had a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour. Never the less several times, we cruised the entire lake. After a few years they purchased a steel heavy sink proof rowboat which could support an outboard motor. I had a bracket that I could attach to my canoe to hold an outboard motor. Unless running at the slowest (trolling) speed that motor would make the canoe’s bow rise so high that it was like a sail.

Across the lake was one of several area girls’ camps. We would paddle over there and watched them swim etc. Once a week these girls would have a campfire on a small point. Our family was welcomed at all of the lake camps for their shows and dances.

The last full summer I spent there was in 1940.

RESPONSE TO A RESPONSE

Too hot these past few days to be hot under the collar. So any blogging may have to wait over the weekend and the Council Special meeting.

Once again I call your attention to the comments posted in response to our blogs. I was torn about posting Rob's remarks sent earlier today related to an explanation meant for an anonymous regarding my not posting his remarks, and also comparing those who hide behind "anon" and the others like Rob who use a "tag".

Rob is exceptional, he has included enough material that he, like I, could be easily identified. He takes responsibility for his writings.More importantly his comments never consist of statements that may be true but can not be verified. Other reasons for not posting are comments that would make some of the candidates material in the recent election appear to be angelic.

For that Upstate New Yorker , some old unretouched slides of long ago; Schroon Lake from the east shore.






Friday, June 25, 2010

Jerry's Responce

Jerry, thank you for your so prompt response in your blog to my suggestions made earlier today. I and every one in Plainfield has to be relieved, indeed happy, that you are in communication with the Commissioner of Community Affairs regarding Plainfield's urgent need of a CFO.

I would not expect or even request that you reveal the depth of your conversations but I am sure that your standing in the party and the Assembly will have an appropriate impact.

I will take issue with you on the focus of your conversations with the Commissioner of Health regarding "ambulance service in the city of Plainfield". Unfortunately, that is only a small part of the rape of Plainfield's health care system by Solaris. The continuing removal of health services from the Muhlenberg Campus continues unabated. The latest is the transferring the mammography equipment to JFK. Plainfield, must have restored to it the basic capabilities for acute inpatient health care. Nothing less will mitigate part of the damage done by the closure of the hospital. That should be your 24/7 focus.

We always read with interest the press accolades that you receive. Your impact in many areas is well documented by those you have benefited. But, as we move on, we should always remember Hans Christian Anderson's tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes".

BOE &

Today was supposed to be a day of relaxation and personal affairs. However, the newspapers and I hate to admit it, other blogs especially Jerry's ignited the need to write.

Despite the impression that my blog may give, I do not hesitate to give credit and praise to Assemblyman Green when he is on target and not venting personal vendettas. This is from his today's daily posting:(bold face mine)
"I will be supporting Governor Christie’s idea of moving the school board election to a time where more people will get involved. Just the mere fact that this past week, Plainfield’s Board of Education voted to bring back a firm that has been a part of the leadership team for the past three years. It is clear as day that this current Board of Education is sending the message of ‘business as usual’ governance. When City resident Victor King was an attorney over at the BOE, his fee with about $100,000 a year. Within the last three years, our legal fee has been well over $1 million. You do the math!"

If only Green would be as concerned by the Plainfield's administration's management of the city's finances. I would think that he would encourage even use his clout at the State level to have the State appointe a temp CFO while the search here goes on.

I am still curiouc about the BOE's votes on the selection of legal representation.The use of the abstention privilege is too common on the BOE. According to the paper various board factions took that position on each of the three votes. The meaning of abstaining according to Wikepedia: "An abstention may be used to indicate the voting individual's ambivalence about the measure, or mild disapproval that does not rise to the level of active opposition. Abstention can also be used when someone has a certain position about an issue, but since the popular sentiment supports the opposite, it might be not be politically expedient to vote according to his or her conscience. A person may also abstain when they do not feel adequately informed about the issue at hand, or has not participated in relevant discussion. In parliamentary procedure, a member may be required to abstain in the case of a real or perceived conflict of interest." (again my boldface)

On the three positions at the BOE a no vote would have been proper and not affected the outcome. With the continued prevalence in the use of abstentions where there is not a conflict of interest issue, the closed ballot, although time consuming, would give those who wish anonymity the right to express their true position. In practicality the Abstention vote with out explanation can mean that "I am against it" but don't want to be on record.

Since the selection of legal counsels is important, I think we are owed an explanation as to why each firm was chosen.


Is there a message? Today is June 25,2010. The posted calender of events on the city site still does not list any Council Meetings. Does Administration wish to convey the implication that the Council does not exist?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

JUNE 25.

June 24 one of the most uncomfortable days on record, but felt good to these aging bones. When I read the history of the weather in the 20s, the 30s and the 40s I wonder how we survived. The Liberty Theater was the first building in Plainfield to have "Air Conditioning" as well as the first one to play a sound movie. The sound tract was on records and often was not coordinated with the film.

Rather than writing a blog for the 25th, I would hope you reread mine of the 24th, especially the comments. I am completely in agreement with 1:08PM.

Since I have a quasi moral obligation to post daily as a substitute for full time employment, I am including four photos which I hope I have not posted before. Three are mine, the last one was emailed to me from a French WWII association.

Saint Jean de Losne on the Saone River.
The start of the Burgundy Canal is in the center

Two Serendipitous Ground Covers
Spring time with leaves of the fall
Cushing Rd "woods" opposite Kevin
One of the Normandy Beaches June 6,2010
It was not identified but I believe that it is Omaha
How peaceful!

BOE ATTORNEY

A short commentary on the BOE's choices of attorneys; From my infrequent attendance to BOE meetings the impression impacted that the BOE's attorney's advice of procedure and legal issues was often distorted. And. that is not to mention the warnings that resulted in that ill fated Special Meeting.

Of course the new firm has to have some political connections with Plainfield especially if one of the principles was appointed municipal judge. However despise popular belief the words 'Lawyer" and "Crook" are not synonyms. This firms CVs are impressive even if taken with a grain of salt.

On the other hand, I am confused by the retention of the old firm who placed the remarkable rise in legal costs on "compensation cases' as the Board's Compensation Attorney. There may have been an abnormal increase in comp. claims. If so, I would hope that Board attention is focused on the number of different type claims are what remedial action is being taken for prevention.

As usual enactment of "transparency" is strangely missing when applied to the actions of elected officials in the Plainfield municipality.

CFO VOTE

If I gave the impression yesterday that I was angry so be it. If the resolution about requesting the state to provide a temporary CFO had been defeated by a 4;3 vote, I would accepted the results with regret but not with rancor. But to have such an important resolution fail because two Council members were not present at the only scheduled business meeting for the month is unconscionable.

It is true that there is on the present Council a division based on political factions which may not work for the benefit of the general public. Under Council President McWilliams there has been an attempt to make the Administration fiscally responsible. Council President McWillimas's chastisement of Administration was well deserved and commendable. Administration's track record in filling the posts of Director of Finances, and CFO indicate that this is of such low priority that the impression evolves that it is to Administration's interest to have those posts vacant.

I can understand and appreciate Councilor Reid's negative vote. I am convinced if Councilor Rivers had been present she would have voted no. Of the two Councilors originally elected as members of the "New Democrats" faction I am puzzled by Councilman Burney's negative vote especially in view of the party chairman's shifting blame on Burney's defeat from material originating in party headquarters to the candidate himself. And sad to say, intentional or not, Councilwoman Carter's arrival after the vote relieved her of the responsibility of having to publicly express an opinion.

If Council President McWilliams can be assured of four votes this matter should be on the Special meeting agenda. With this the subject in this blog shall be a moot one until the situation changes.

On a similar subject, the changes in the proposed draft ordinance to amend sections 2.6-7(e & f)) of the City Code should not be dependent on the opinion of a hostile Corporation Counsel. Unfortunately in conflicts between Council and Administration in legal matters despite the Charter the Corporation Counsel can not ethically represent both parties.

I would like to make it clear that I am not questioning Corporation Counsel Williamson's integrity. The fault lies in the city charter which ignores the dictum that "no man can serve two masters". The Corporation Counsel position is a Mayor's appointment. In controversy between the two arms of the city government he can only represent one side unless there is a possibility of arbitration. That is a fact of life.

On legal matters, the change of attorneys by the new BOA can only be a positive one. It would be of interest to know what are if any political encumbrances of the new firm. I can not conceive of any group of attorneys dealing in civic matters as being without some political ties. It is important that they can not impact on the local PSS's affairs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

POTPOURRI COUNCIL

Up to now almost all local blog interest has been focused on three items of interest at Monday night's Council meeting:(1) The Plainfield Public Library and budget needs,(2) The CFO position and the Council sponsored resolution that although a majority present voted for it was perhaps defeated due to the absence of two Council members. (3) The "Hispanic Commission" membership.

There was one resolution tabled until the Special meeting on June 28. That was the transfer of unused budgeted line item monies to other line items where the expenditures have exceeded their budget. At the Agenda Setting session the City Administrator was asked if funds could be found to restore those cut from the Library in 2010. Since there was no new information the Council tabled this resolution until the June 28 Special Meeting with the request that the Administrator give a definitive report.

Digressing, at this time I am not sure what are the subjects of the June 28 meeting other than that the PMUA is supposed to make a presentation(?). We will find out when the legal notice is posted.

I would have hoped that a form of the "CFO Resolution" could be reintroduced at the June 28 meeting rather than waiting until the July meeting which occurs after the deadline has expired. But there are some things that are too great an expectation from even this progressive Council and Councilor Storch's announced absence would again doom it to failure.

It is a shame that a minority vote in an organization can defeat important legislation because there are absences of voting members. The majority does not rule. One of the reasons that the Council voted to have only one business meeting a month was to reduce their "burden". Therefore with the present schedule a missed meeting has double the effect that it would have under the old semimonthly routine.

It would seem to me that that each Councilor's fiduciary responsibility to those who elected him/her would give them pause to consider being late or absent except under most unusual circumstances. I am not requesting justification but the attendance record of all Councilors at the beginning of a meeting or reasonably shortly afterwards might be of interest.

A previously tabled resolution awarding Remington & Verrnick $88725.00 for engineering work on the repavement of the short stretch of Watchung Ave from 7th St. to Kensington was passed. Councilor Storch voted no since these contracts are awarded by "the fair and open process" which can neither be fair or open since this method utilizes approved vendors and is not subject to open bidding. Republican 2nd/3rd Ward Council Candidate, Jim Pivnivchny, noted that this firm and its principle contributed substantially to the Mayor's Campaign Fund. (I may have misheard the target of the contribution and will welcome corrections). When queried if these contribution would be in conflict with the awarding the contract, Corporation Counsel Williamson intimated that he was unaware of such contributions but if they had taken placed he saw no conflict with awarding the contract.

During the Public Commentary portion of the meeting Pivnivchny asked what had happened to the $250,000.00 that is supposedly due to the developer for completion of the Senior Center. As I noted in a previous posting, it seems to have vanished into Administration's cyberspace. In reply to Council President McWilliams , Corporation Counsel said he was still in the process of "negotiating" with Dornoch.

Why negotiation, the question was the legitimacy of the charges.

On the subject of resolutions; Councillor Burney emphasized before his no vote on the CFO request to the State was that his objections was not to the resolves although he questioned the timing, but in effect to three of the "Whereas es"

Since the only part of the motion that has any legal implication is the "Be it Resolved etc. one should understand that "Whereas no man has walked on the moon in 2009" could be written into the resolution documentation and have no relationship to the motion. It would not impact on the action. The whereas portion is only an attempt to give justification and does not have to be accurate.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

THE HISPANIC COMMISSION

The 5 year hiatus in the format on of the "Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs" finally came to an end Monday night with the Council's approval of the 5 members proposed by the Mayor plus the appointment of Councillor Carter as the Councils' representative on the Commission. The appointment of the Administration's representative will complete the membership.

I have several nagging thoughts about which I spoke to Mr. Ortega. I am not convinced that the present commission is represented of the entire Latino Community, especially since there is evidence of a political fragmentation of that community. If personal agendas are allowed to interfere with unity of action, the Commission will just be another example of political window dressing. That, I am sure is not the intent of the five appointees.

The diversity of the Commission is compromised by the fact that two pairs of nominees have a common address. and one is family related. Again this is no reflection on the individuals but is to point out the danger of a lack of diversity among the membership.

My other concern is one of Semantics. The purpose behind the Commission is to be a voice for a large minority whose primary language is not English. I believe that concept was to be applied to those referred to as Latinos. Hispanic means Spanish speaking. I do not believe the intent is to exclude he Haitians whose native tongue is French based , or the Brazilians who speak Portuguese.

Thus, Consideration should be given to having the Commission's title reflect the depth of its interests.

REQUEST FOR STATE HELP

The most important resolution on the agenda was the Council's resolution regarding asking the State to appoint a temporary CMFO until Administration can find a suitable candidate. Of course the Administration opposed that resolution as the Council's usurping the Mayor's right to appoint officials.

Council President McWilliams pointed out that it was the Council's responsibility to be not only concerned but actively involved in the city's finances. The Council has the mandate to make sure that all controls are in place and not to do so would be a failure of fiduciary responsibility.

By Charter it takes a simple majority of the Council, not quorum, our 4 members to pass a resolution. Councilors Rivers and Carter were not in attendance at the start of the MONTHLY MEETING. Councilwoman Carter arrived at 9:45pm, however the vote on R191-10 was finished at 9:40pm.

I had predicated to my neighbors that the vote would be 3:2 in favor and the resolution would die due to a lack of a 4th vote. It was obvious that McWilliams ,Storch, and Mapp would rightly vote in favor of the resolution. It was also a given that Reid would vote No. Councillor Burney explained that although he was in favor of the resolution that he found fault in the "Whereas es" including the fact that there was a still open 3rd 90 day extension by the State expiring on July19 to fill the CFO slot, so on that basis he would vote No.

Assuming that Councilwoman Rivers would cast a negative vote that important vote on the resolution , Yea or Nay. would fall upon Councilwoman Carter's shoulders. We will never know what her position was for unfortunately she did not arrive at the meeting until after the voting.

The protagonists missed two opportunities to put the vote to a real test if that were their purpose. Or they may be unfamiliar with common Parliamentary procedure. By a simple majority vote the resolution could have been 'tabled" until the end of the meeting when it was known that Carter would be present and her vote counted rather than be a negative one by default.

The other procedure that apparently no member of the Council wished to evoke is based on the Parliamentary fact that action on any motion is not finalized until the meeting is adjourned. At any time prior to that moment a voting member of the body (Council) can request that a motion -passed or failed- be placed on the table for reconsideration by majority vote. Obviously no one wanted to make this an option.

What is ignored by both parties is that the proper management of the City's finances is the Public's concern.

June 21 Council meeting (I)

Again for a documentary accounting of last nights Council meeting read Plaintalker II, and the Courier probably the Wednesday print edition, the on line edition may have something posted later Tuesday. I am going to limit my blog to generalities rather than specifics.

Before the five members of the Council got down to business there was a presentation by Joseph Da Rold director of the library regarding the city's contribution to the Library's operations. He present three scenarios depending on the amount of funding the Library would receive. Ideally the Library to operate effectively as a treasured community resource would have budget of 1.9 million but that could be reduced to 1.6 million with changes in the health care benefits. If the FY2010 cuts are not restored the library would have to terminate 6 full time and 8 part time positions.

Mr. Da Rold stated that the present plans expressed by City Administration was based on a position that the Library was not part of the city government. In that case there would be a loss of up to 198 full timers, plus further reduction in hours. There was disagreement from the City Administrator ob that issue.

About a dozen passionate speakers addressed the Council on behalf of the Library. It is obvious that in cost cutting times an institution such as the Library has a low priority on the Administration's budget determination.

Plainfield in 2008 had two institutions of great social and community importance. Without them the city would have no attraction for potential homeowners. One Muhlenberg Hospital we permitted to be stolen from us. The other is the Library which is a regional resource. We can not permit it to wither away from lack of funding. Without a full functioning library, Plainfield will have no attraction for revitalization as perceived by the "Vision task force".

Continued later today.

This issue will be one reviewed on the 28th special meeting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

TONIGHT'S AGENDA ITEMS MEMOS

The $500000 to the Housing Authority is to rehabilitate 4 vacant foreclosed houses. I presume the average 125000 for each includes purchase from holder and the reconstruction. I also assume that any capital gain on sale will b e reinvested.

Mystery! Although the Council's resolution to request the State to appoint a temporary CFO, I could not find the resolution itself in the Library's bound agenda copy. We will find out tonight if it had evaporated, or if out of the air a CFO candidate will be presented tonight, or if the revised wording failed to make the book.

The longest portion of the meeting will probably be early if there is discussion on "unfinished business, and the two presentations.

TONIGHT'S AGENDA ITEMS

Items of interest on tonight's agenda:

The Mayor's request for "advise and consent" five community members to the "Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs" Resolution R192-10 Question, by naming the Commission "Hispanic" not "Latino" are Haitians (French) and Brazilians (Portuguese) excluded from membership?

Under unfinished business (discussion no action) two items; Proposed draft of Ordinance change relating to Council's control functions over the management of city finances" and appointment of Court Administrator(?).

Council Resolution requesting State to appoint a temporary CFO, there may have been changes in the wording from the agenda setting session wording. R191-10

Transfer of line item funds. This involves budget funds that were not used either because position was never filled or not expended due to lack of need. Last Monday the City Administrator was questioned to see if there were unspent funds that could be allocated to the Library. R193-10

R 210-10 to "Authorize Approval to enter into a contract agreement in association with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and the Plainfield Housing Authority in the amount of $500,000.00. This must have been discussed last Monday after I had left the meeting and at this time I have not read the resolution to comment on it. There is a fair amount of money involved and I was under the impression -probably wrong- that the Housing Authority was at least semi autonomous. I hope to see the resolution prior to the meeting.

There is enough on this agenda that any concerned citizen should attend the meeting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

THANK YOU Mr. ORTEGA

I decided Saturday morning to make this a weekend of relaxation and perhaps some TV sports watching plus sitting outside and reading a piece of non earthshaking fiction. I had no intention of writing a blog, instead to build up some intellectual stamina for the upcoming Council and perhaps BOE meetings.

As usual I checked on all the other Plainfield blogers via Dan''s "CLIPS" and as usual found Maria's to be informative and thought provoking concerning the legal cost we taxpayers absorb as part of the city operations, but more importantly the apparent cash cow the BOE has been.

I became very intrigued by "Plaintalker II"'s blog on the Hispanic Commission (ptalker2.blogspot.com/2010/06/more-on-hispanic-affairs-commission.html ). I posted a comment asking some questions and in turn Randy Schaeffer and Norman Ortega posted responding comments. I consider Mr. Ortega's long incisive commentary to be of such importance that I have taken the liberty of reproducing it:

Norman E. Ortega said... "The question is why now and not in 2006/7?" Oldoc, this is a good question and I believe I have the answer. At the time, the commission faced opposition from both sides of the political spectrum, old and new democrats- it also faced opposition from influential Hispanics, mainly Maria Pellum and Christian Estevez. Because of this, Ray crossed to North Plainfield and asked me for help in crafting and getting the commission passed. Since then, I have been deeply interested in getting members appointed. But at the time the mayor saw no need to do it. Why? Everyone including some Hispanics opposed it. I tried to introduce a version of the Commission in North Plainfield, but again, Mrs. Pellum and Mr. Estevez publicly prevented it.

In 2008, I co founded Angels in Action Foundation to address some of the issues affecting the Hispanic community in Plainfield and in December 2009 I moved to Plainfield. Soon after, Randy Schaeffer approached me, as if reading my mind and expressed interest in activating the commission. I began lobbying all interested including the Hispanic community. The Mayor and Assemblyman Green saw the importance and decided to join the effort and here we are- one step further.

Regarding the percentage of registered voters, this was a point of contention between Ray and me when crafting the commission. At the time, Ray believed that the commission should dissolve when Hispanics reached 45% of the population. However, I explained to him, that even if Hispanics reached 45% of the Plainfield population, they would have no participation, because more than likely, unless there was some kind of immigration reform, they will not have the power to vote. Thus, we settled for the compromise you see here. A bit sloppy on our part, but hey- until 35% of registered voters are Hispanic, the commission will stay alive. We are not even near that number.

Personally, I think this is a great step forward for Plainfield. As a member of the Commission, I will work with the community as a whole to address issues affecting not just the Hispanic community, but Plainfield as a whole. In an earlier post I read a comment asking the Commission to put the Mayor’s feet to the fire. This is not what the Commission is about. The Commission is about establishing meaningful relationships will all groups and individuals of this community. It’s about creating nurturing environments where positive ideas flourish so we can begin to address the issues affecting all of us. And this is just the beginning.

I too sincerely hope that this Commission will be allowed to succeed. Plainfield's future lies in improved relationships and respect among all its ethnic groups. Bigotry benefits only the haters and destroys the community.

Unfortunately, I am a political cynic and I hope that I am 100% in error. But in view of the recent local primary results, I can not ignore the timing of these appointments to a dormant commission. The fact that the Mayor and Assemblyman Green finally saw the importance suggests that it was not politically correct until June 2010. Also Mr Ortega's mention of opposition by Maria Pellum, who I as an outsider have always considered a committed dedicated Plainfielder, and also of Mr. Estevez , a favorite target of Gerry Green, implies that there is a schism in the Hispanic community that may prevent this commission from fulfilling its intended role.

I hope I am way out in left field but I will need positive reassurance when the Mayor's personal nomination and the Council's representative are appointed. Meanwhile Mr. Ortego make it work.