Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I would like revisit a few of the subjects that I have made critical or inquisitive recent remarks.
Those with a legitimate interest in this City can take advantage of the comments option and submit the facts as they know them. I, and I believe that I can speak for the "big three bloggers", have never hesitated to post any comments that pointed out our errors. That is more than one can note in the Politicians blogger. My only exceptions are those that are abusive or offensive.
Yesterday,I questioned what had happened to the Dudley House. One answer was a commentator who wrote that it was dark and vacant. In 2009 the city had failed to meet certification or to renew its license in time to operate it that year. Dashields inferred that it was an oversight but that it would it would be cost effective for the city to turn that successful agency's operation over to a "non profit".By late August the Council was being assured that a certain nonprofit with a good track record had been selected and would be up and running by the first if the year. Either in December or January in response to a Council question we were informed that the original agency was no longer involved and a different agency was going to take over.
For some reason no inquiry or report on the status of Dudley House is on record. One more effective valuable asset in Plainfield has been allowed to die through administrative inaction or deliberate neglect.
Addendum 10:30AM-Please read comments to yesterday's blog
Will we learn of a viable candidate for the Director of Finance and Administration or the CFO. Administrations track record says NO. Perhaps next Tuesday we will learn of the States response to the Council request.
Time to BOE switch emphasis to the BOE. Recent posting of the emails relating to the abortive May BOE meeting, and the recent Courier article on the Gallon situation. Once again it seems that our school system is the victim of an inept Board and legal advice. True we are not aware of all the facts since some can be hidden and a few must due to the potential legal actions.
However the Board should make public a copy of Gallon's contract and the action taken at the meetings which were to determine his fate. In other words was he reprimanded, suspended with or without pay or fired? Since he is a public servant he should not be entitled to privacy if he has been the recipient of punitive action.
That also should be applied to all public employees especially in executive positions. The matter is not just between the the chief executive of trustees but belongs to the public who are by being taxpayers the true employers. The BOE for the School District and the Mayor for the City Government have that fiduciary responsibility to keep the public informed, not to bury it..
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
The story of Gallon & the BOE is in today's Courier. At best Plainfield's children will have been deprived of funds paid the suspended Superintendent for the 5 months up to the rescheduled appeal case. That should drag on indefinitely. I can question what are the terms in his contract that may have deprived the BOE an ability to act? Also the legal advice the BOE received on the contract.
Don't get your ----- in an uproar and enjoy the weekend.
Labor Unrest Empties South African Hospitals
Dr. Ruben Naidu, the hospital’s chief executive, noted regretfully that the patients being released prematurely were highly contagious. “Out in the community,” he said, “they’re going to spread the disease.”
The missing workers are a small part of a sprawling, nationwide strike by hundreds of thousands
of public employees that has paralyzed hospitals and schools across South Africa, undercutting major drives to combat AIDS and TB and to repair a deeply troubled education system.
At the tuberculosis hospital here, known as King George V, strikers brandishing whips and
sticks chased doctors and nurses off their wards. Some workers, fearing for their lives, hid in
locked offices. Services have not recovered.
And the strike seems to be intensifying. The Congress of South African Trade Unions, or Cosatu,
the powerful federation that is part of the governing alliance led by the African National Congress, threatened secondary strikes of manufacturing and mining workers next week if union demands were not met.
South Africa’s trade union movement has a storied history in the struggle against apartheid,
but this season of labor unrest has heightened a deep worry here that the country’s proud spirit of ubuntu — a generous human interconnectedness that flared during the World Cup — has taken a back seat to materialism.
Public employees have gotten a series of annual pay increases that have led to a near doubling of
government spending on wages in the past five years. This year, they are demanding an 8.6 per-
cent increase, more than double the 3.7 percent rate of inflation.
But the government has offered 7 percent. The workers also want a doubling of their monthly housing allowance to $137.
No one here maintains that public workers are lavishly paid. Their salaries are modest by first world standards. The union says their members’ earnings need to growto reduce the country’s income inequality, which, by some estimates, is the worst in the world.
But economists say that the rising public wage bill — particularly with no agreement from unions
that, for example, chronically absent teachers could be fired more easily — is squeezing out spending on textbooks, hospitals and roads, with no assurances that the quality of public services will improve.
In a nation where more than a third of the potential work force is jobless and more than a million of its 50 million citizens have joined the ranks of the out-of-work since just last year, rising pay for public employees also reduces the government’s room to hire more people, officials say.
This is teh 5th aniversary og the Katrina disaster to New Orleans. It might have been less if there had not been an ineficient politically corrupt administration, compounded by years of neglect and poor evaluation of the flood defenses. Once disaster struck it was evident that there was serious faults in the emergency disaster response plans. There also seem to be no coordination with the state.
Why is this important? In the past two years there have been repeated citizen's request at Council meetings about Plainfield's disaster and emergency responce plans. Dashield always gave some generalized answer but never has the plan been published. There is legitimately serious doubts that there exists a plan taking into account the loss of the hospital. Are there triage locatiopns and staffing. what, were and how will evacuation be managed? What are the plans for protection of people and property? What is the emergency communication setup, and how often has it been tested for operation? Perhaps the Council (and Administration) will give us a detailed report this month or have it on the agenda for discussion.
The recent posting on Maria's blog of the emails relating to the shenanigans of the May 7th Special BOE meeting that resulted in an attendance of 1. raised questions about the BOE Legal Counsel. I remember reading that at one meeting I believe in June that Hunt, Hamlin, and Ridley had been replaced as Counsel by Pickett and Craig. Among other appointments the Hamlin firm was appointed as Compensation Counsels. I have searched published minutes and can find no mention of any changes in legal representation or details of the contract, IE: retainers and fees for service. Apparently this never was a subject for vote at the public meeting.
That has to be made public knowledge. As is any such actions have to be considered illegal. Once more I wonder if a Christie Administration review and oversight of the Plainfield BOE/PSS might be in the best interests of the community.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Nothing that I have read since has changed my impression that once more New Jersey's children and residents are the true victims of power and political agendas.
Only 3 points are alleged to have separated New Jersey from Ohio. The missing of 4.3 points caused by human error was catastrophic. That in its self is inexcusable. But so was the Plainfield's loss of thousands of dollars for the 2009 FY due to a typo error. Locally that was ignored administratively by assuring that the money could be made up from a "surplus fund", and the problem promptly vanished into the unknown. There was no political damnation.
To be honest not providing the requested year's data is a visual attackable error. There were far greater loss of points that were due to failure to meet the same goals required in the "Race" that other states met. In New Jersey only 59% of the school districts agreed to implement Race to the Top reforms. In New York 100% of the districts signed on. Worse there was agreement by only 1% of the unions, by inference local unions not specifically NJEA although its leadership must have influenced the locals. That was a big loss of about 14 points.
Another 16 points were lost in the statewide failure to make progress in student and teacher data systems in comparison to other states. 14 points vanished by failures to make changes in the evaluation and certification of educators.
If the New York Times report is accurate any decrease in those 44 lost points would have put New Jersey in the select 10. Since these are subjective and not a hard core mistake they are being completely ignored by the political and NJEA opponents of Governor Christie.
Christie, as Governor of the State and responsible for the 1000 page(?) document sent to Washington rightly does not have the luxury of whitewashing mistakes . His Administration made that error. But consider that New Jersey would not have been on the bubble if much larger number of points were not lost by the State's failure to implement a student progress computer program, for a clearly expressed educational reform agenda, and the lack of programs support from enough school districts and the various teacher unions. Too, some of the blame should fall on the Corzine administration as well as the State Legislature for placing the State in such a negative position that New Jersey failed to make the cut for the first phase of the Race to the Top.
NJEA's unrelenting union position that seniority is more important that educational efficiency resulted in a major portion of the deficit. It is essential the deadwood be eliminated, on the other hand experienced high salary teachers have to be protected from being fired by a cost saving administration. How to rid a district of teaching under performers and inefficient or surplus administrative personnel is a problem that must be solved.
The fact remains that sufficient credit was not given to NJ for the gain between Phase 1 and Phase 2 scores. Only 4 other States made bigger score gains. A question remains about the arbitrariness of the various score components. They have to be artificially determined and the criteria could be faulty. That is not unknown in bureaucratic federal agencies.
The newly released tapes of the Washington hearings must be taken in context not convenient interpretation. The Commissioner of Education were away from their base. The material they had with them, among over a thousand pages of the document and support material did not contain the missing report the panel wished.
No Agency can be faulted for sticking to the rules. However, if Washington was truly interested in up grading educational levels an adjustment could have been made to correct a "clerical error". There is no evidence that such an intent existed. In that respect Christie is right.
Perish the thought that a division of the Obama Administration Department of Education could possibly be punishing a traditional Democratic State for electing a Republican Governor.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Yesterday three blogs caught my attention. I will comment on Bernice's and Dan's reports on the HPC in the next day or so. Education is the real news today and first my attention is locally and the next hone will be on the State. Meanwhile read the complete Ledger article and editorial. All that glitters is not gold.
Marie's posting of the emails pertaining to the phantom emergency BOE meeting although incomplete is a must read for every citizen interested in honesty in government. Perhaps the phrase "honesty in government' is an oxymoron.
There are several ethical matters that are outstanding. Some I called attention to at the time, including the Board's Counsel email warning of potential suits if they attended the meeting. I considered that to be a threat since one of the items was the discharging that firm as the BOE's legal representative. Hamlin's statement that there was a problem because he as the board's lawyer had not been advised of the meting is just bull. His firm is only a consultant not a voting member of the Board.
I find that Logan-Leach correspondence with Mark A, Tabakin of Weiner Lesniak suggestive of a premeditated plan to sandbag the Board members who seemed unaware that there was a plan to hire that firm. From these few emails there does not seem to be evidence of due diligence although I am sure the motions may have been done. Since there have been in the past talk of that firm's rumored overcharging the city for legal work with a subsequent adjustment that it would be even be considered without investigation if there was truth to those "reports".I am sure that these investigation reports will be made available if requested. Perhaps the BOE leadership may have been influenced by one of Weiner Lesniak's principles being the acknowledged political leader of Union County .
I would suggest that the BOE reexamine the continued employment of both firms in an legal capacity.
The emails from other board members that they would not attend again indicates that they put their own interests ahead of the fiduciary responsibility they sought when they ran for office. Shame, in the USA being at a meeting doesn't placed one in jeopardy. Only one's action at the meeting merits accountability. If they were afraid of Hamlin suing them as individuals all they had to do was vote no or abstain.
The BOE must openly prove that they are qualified to be entrusted with the operations largest financial burden.
9:AM; I may have erroneously inferred that Weisner Lesniak were the new BOE lawyers. I have been corrected by email and I am happy to post it. " I want to let you know that it appears in your post that Weisner Lesniak works for the district, they don't. They weren't renewed awhile back but they did send a letter of interest when the BOE recently advertised their need for a new law firm. This happened after the May 7th aborted meeting. The lawyers that were hired instead are Pickett and Craig of Roselle."
I apologize for the false information. However the fact remains that a member of that firm was advising, although unofficially by email, the President of the BOE prior to the May 7th meeting.
Unfortunately, I start will two Plainfield Crime stories. After 28 years a Plainfield murder has been solved. We can not blame or congratulate Public Safety Director/Police Director Hellwig for the closure on this case. It was previous police leadership who had not pursed it relentlessly.
On the other hand continued gang activity makes our streets unsafe The Administration's mammy pammy combative programs will not be successful. It is this writer's humble opinion that we need a "police surge" as many as possible bodies (poor choice of words- "units?) on the street, not almost two million dollars in exotic gadgets for temporary solutions. The long term will take planning for alternative activities and I see only wool gathering in that direction.
I grant that the presence of gangs is not this Administration's fault; the previous Administration was recorded as saying that Plainfield had no gangs (problems). The locals and especially their leadership must be rounded up and detained for a sufficient period to defuse the situation. Although the present war seems to be between two hispanic gangs no other gang must be ignored. Above all the Courts must be cooperative.
Originally, before the cat, I was going to write a tirade on today's health care which is now dollar driven not compassion moderated. Since there were too many tangents it will have to wait until I can better organize my concerns.
Purely potpourric, I had my Clothes Dryer Serviced by a very friendly technician who somehow happened to mention that he was Iranian, but a Christian. He had been drafted into the army for his mandatory service and had almost completed it when he was arrested as a spy because he was not a Muslim. He served 3 years in prison before being released due to no evidence but remained under observation. After about six months he was requested to report to the police for a few questions. That resulted in another 3 months detention before being released. He manage to escape through Turkey and received political asylum here more than 11 years ago. He is now a citizen.
This should be a tale for those who decry about life in the United States or would support a religious theocracy as their government.
Monday, August 23, 2010
About a year before the announcement that the hospital would be closed, Solaris as the successor owner of the Muhlenberg Campus quietly had the Zoning Board subdivide the property into if memory is correct five separate plots. The original large plot had been zoned I am told for Health Care related use. The new subdivisions now were individually zoned and could potentially be sold for non hospital related use.This premeditated action went unrecognized at the time by the Common Council members and the general public.
This Sunday the Courier published what we all knew was going to happen. Solaris is actively planning to sell the property to developers for non hospital use. The looting of the assets rightly belonging to the people of Plainfield and those who made the Hospital beneficiaries will now be complete. The loser again is the residents of Plainfield. The total of millions of dollars acquired by Solaris will never be known. What will be known is the loss of adequate health care in Plainfield.
What is now important is how the various parcels are zoned. Did the process years ago result in facilitating the dismemberment of the Campus? Can it now before sale be rezone to preserve the possibility of restoring a functioning hospital? The Mayor and I will add the Assemblyman owe us a complete honest evaluation.
The other building is the YWCA. There is a strong rumor that this facility's financial problems will cause it to cease operations within the next few months. This is probably the origin for the Mayor's trial balloon to purchase the building for $4 million.
Obviously the building will be up for sale. Is the property locally owned or does the national organization hold title? There can be no justification for a city purchase at such an inflated price. The property by being tax exempt has had the support of every taxpayer in the city and thus a de facto ownership interest in the property. If a local foundation or tax exempt charity is the title holder they could fulfill their moral obligation by transferring title to the City for $1.00 for transfer to my proposed "Recreation Authority".
In our fight against crime and gangs we are hampered by the lack of facilities for youth and recreational activities. This would go a long way of alleviating that need.
I propose that a Recreation Authority be established to oversee, coordinate and also independently operate recreation and youth activities in Plainfield. Abolish the Recreation Division of the City. Members of the Governing Board of the Authority should be drawn from present members of the Recreation Committee, various citizen groups and individuals deemed competent to give general direction to such a nonsectarian program. Church and ethnic sponsored groups would remain independent but their activities would supplement those of the Authority.
The above is only a broad incomplete plan, but I am convinced that it is doable if Plainfield wishes and would in a few years turn the city around. Talk is cheap but we must be willing to walk the walk.
The following two paragraphs excerpted from the "Violence Prevention Institute's " article is a professional statement in agreement with my repeated suggestions.
"Children often have unsupervised time. If this becomes excessive, children will search for something to do to prevent boredom. Gang activities can fill the excess time. Parents should be involved in coordinating and sponsoring activities for their children. More activities and parental involvement will decrease the strength a gang has in the neighborhood. Parents should form community groups that are willing to supervise children's activities. It is also important to know where your child is at all times. Make them accountable for their time and actions.
Gang activities appear exciting to children. Children, especially teens, like to take risks. Gangs provide many opportunities to take risks and find excitement. Make sure your children are involved in sports, clubs or other activities that provide healthy risk taking opportunities. Get children involved with community work to help make neighborhoods safe. "
This not gadgets is the true road to criminal activity prevention. $1,000,000.00 spent on these programs over five years will be more effective that "shotsound" gadgets.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
New technology may be fine but any single one that has been proposed is no more than an extension of Orwellian Big Brother Society without the required weekly 60/60/24/7 (seconds, minutes, hours. days), full time monitoring and immediate reaction . Otherwise these gadgets are just an other form of reactive equipment.
Even if we knew the timing of each shooting, does anyone besides Public Safety Director/Police Director Director Hellwig believe that "Shotspotter" would have prevented any of the four shootings Saturday night? Perhaps the reaction time might have been slightly better than a response to the 911 calls that must have come in.
Instead of Administration (and Council) being seduced by a controlled demonstration, they should review and seek more information from other municipalities that have used the various techniques.
One million dollars ($1,000,000.00) to be spent on gun shot detection , would be better invested in 2 or 3 "bodies" added to the on the ground presence. Even better would be immediate installation of long range plans to cut off the pool of new gang members by offering an attractive alternative in increased organized youth activities.
Perhaps this will be one of two subjects for Monday's blog.
Thank you Bernice for calling attention to the fact that the City's Internet Informational site continues to be a visual proof of why this city is a disaster zone.
Below is the entry posted on the City site pertaining to the structure of the Police Division. I was under the impression that earlier this year it had undergone its 2nd revision in the past few years first when the position of Police Chief was eliminated by increasing the number of Bureaus from 5 to 7 for better efficiency and then this year reducing the number Bureaus from the 7 listed to 3 to better fight crime. Who has responsibility for what?
It is notable that there are Captains listed who are no longer with the Department.
|Plainfield Police Division |
Police Director – Martin Hellwig
200 East Fourth Street
Plainfield, NJ 07060
The mission of the Police Director is to direct and administer the operation of the Police Division to ensure effectiveness and economy of operation for the benefit of the citizens of Plainfield. The Police Division's major responsibility is protecting life and property, preserving peace and preventing crime within the City of Plainfield. There are seven Bureaus within the Police Division.
BUREAUS WITHIN THE POLICE DIVISION INCLUDE
Criminal Investigation Bureau
Anonymous crime tips can be reported by calling 908-753-8477 or by emailing Tips@PlainfieldPolice.com
Some traffic infractions can be paid online by using the link below.
Commander - Captain Keith Lattimore
The mission of the Administrative Bureau is to achieve the objectives of the Police Director by providing economically effective and efficient administrative support. The Administrative Bureau is responsible for management activities, such as planning, research and development, recruitment and selection of police personnel, and coordination of police training.
Community Relations Bureau
Commander - Captain Michael Gilliam
The mission of the Community Relations Bureau is The mission of the Community Relations Bureau is to partner with other government and community organizations to help fix small problems before they become bigger by enforcing existing city codes, ordinances, and laws related to litter, trash, illegal dumping, junk cars, parking issues, graffiti, property maintenance, storage, zoning and occupancy.
Criminal Investigation Bureau
Commander - Captain Anthony Celentano
The mission of the Criminal Investigation Bureau is to investigate and attempt to solve all crimes committed in the City of Plainfield. The Bureau is composed of two sections: General Assignment and Youth. The General Assignment Section completes investigations of all crimes, prepares cases for court, serves warrants, conducts surveillance where law violations are suspected and makes arrests. The Youth Section investigates juvenile offenses, handles juvenile court appearances and carries out crime prevention programs, such as D.A.R.E. and Explorer Scouts.
Information Technology Bureau
Commander - Captain Steven Soltys
The mission of the Information Technology Bureau is to select, implement, maintain and support all technology in the 9-1-1 Center, Police Division and the Public Safety Computer Center.
Commander - Captain Edward Santiago
The mission of the Narcotics Bureau is to perform follow-up investigations and institute investigations into violations of narcotics laws. It performs follow-up investigations and institutes investigations in "victimless" moral offenses and crimes that occur within the City, i.e., gambling, prostitution and alcoholic beverage control violations.
Commander - Captain Siddeeq El-Amin
The mission of the Service Bureau is to achieve the Division's goals by providing the Police Director with efficient and effective support services. The Service Bureau's major responsibility is municipal detention property and evidence maintenance, 9-1-1 Center, fleet maintenance and records.
Commander - Captain Ruth Selzam
The mission of the Uniform Bureau is to sustain existing compliance with the law and community standards by voluntary compliance with the law, reducing or elimination of criminal opportunities, protecting life and property, enforcing laws and ordinances, responding to calls for service, controlling and influencing community elements that affect patrol operations and criminal activities. The Uniform Bureau is responsible for providing twenty-four (24) hour patrols for the City, conducting preliminary investigation of complaints and enforcement of laws and ordinances.
While on the issue of the correctness of information posted on the City site, the Calender lists without place or time for Thursday, Aug. 26,2010 " City Council Budget Deliberations". That may have been scheduled at the beginning of this year in anticipation of having Administration's budget in hand. Has Administration delivered a budget to the Council? Or, does one exist still only in the formative stages?
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Like all bloggers I have routinely received anonymous comments from supporters of both camps. Unfortunately some have been so vicious and personal that they merit only the cyberspace circular file.
Before JG's Aug 19th's thoughts appeared on my computer (1/20/2010) I received the following which I did not post. However in view of his Jan 19th's thoughts I feel I owe the individual a right of response.
Nat SIngleton has left a new comment on your post "COUNCIL MEETING #2":
Since I doubt that Jerry Green will have the courage to publish this response in his blog, I am sending this post to other relevant blogs in the Plainfield community.
This is from Jerry Green's Page of 08/19/10 http://jerrygreenspage.
'...I can understand why Dan is bitter, when the last administration lost, he lost his job that paid over $50,000/yr, his partner was let go from the PMUA...'
I don't normally respond to political invective. But when a person systematically distorts the facts -Jerry Green, I feel duty bound to correct those distortions.
Here are facts:
1. Dan Damon did not lose his job. He retired and was asked to stay by Mayor Briggs.
2. I was not let go from PMUA. I never worked for them. I served as a commissioner for approximately 8 years and received $400 per month for my time as did every other board member. When my term was up, I was not reappointed (I think this was illegal, as I thought my term had another year but why argue, I could be wrong.)
3. As to what I cost the citizens during that period of time in terms of trips, conferences, etc., I doubt if over a the period of 8 years that my total expenses exceeded $1000.00 ( I think they were much less but we did have a cell phone for a while.) This can be checked by an OPRA request, just make sure you request expenses for each commissioner and compare them to mine. I will bet no one has a lower expense record.
4.This year, I was asked, by a member of the city council, if I would be interested in serving as a commissioner(not Cory, Annie nor Adian.) My answer was no (who the hell wants all that grief)
but if they could absolutely get no one they could put my name forward.
These are the facts
I find it ironic that the Assemblyman's attacks are focused on real estate deals and activities when much of his "fortune" has come from his own real estate deals ,some with UCIA whose relationship with the County party machine is supposedly tainted. I would need more proof that monies received for the Plainfield schools were as a direct result of his influence in Trenton. I as a physician although long retired feel badly that there was not enough influence to preserve Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center instead of an inferior hospital in a population focus that had better access to other hospitals than the greater Plainfield area.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Yesterday's and today's local bloggers mention organizations that appear to be volunteer based but their local impact would be clearer if some information was freely available. What or Who is JSLP?. What organizations and unaffiliated individuals consists the nucleus of the "Youth Council"?
The same information would be of value about the Community/School Council. Is it a BOE (Board of Education) sponsored enterprise?
Thanks to Plaintalker II aka Bernice, we have a report on the too often ignored Planning Board's activities and decisions. This body can have an ultimate and permanent impact on Plainfield's future. The changes in the "commercial" plans for some of the center city redevelopment are interesting. Obviously the developer has a pseudo commitment for the proposed medical offices.
On the surface this seems to be a major enterprise that could be beneficial in a health care deprived municipality. It is not a substitute for a hospital but could be in some manner an acceptable replacement for physicians and facilities that have departed with the closing of the hospital. If possible more information is needed. If it is going to be a private mill competing for the Neighborhood Heath Center patient base, then it may not be an asset.
The Planning Board's impact is evident in its recommendation for implementing the " Shot Spotter" program at a cost pf $1,000,000.00. Despite the hypo for it, I still question its true effectiveness since it is proactive. I also have serious doubts that it can be a cost effective anti crime, anti gang measure. Would not that money be better spent on an increased emphasis on well run full time youth activities facilities and programs?
It is not November yet but the paramount political bloggers issue has been shifted from the actual Council candidates to proxy personalities with active participation by not only the faceless gutless anonymous defaming commentator, but also peripheral known participants. We can only look forward to two and a half months of pure mud slinging.
10:30 am: Just read in the online edition a 'letter?" re the Eagles Academy an organization dedicated to facilitating the reentry of youths into community life. See (http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20100819/GETPUBLISHED/8190339/Eagles-Academy) . Another organization we should have more info on. Perhaps the City site could devote an up to date page on all organizations government supported or/and volunteer/foundation based.
4:30 PM some typos noticed and corrected.
How many read the articles in the Star Ledger and in Thursday's New York Times? (paste this in your browser's address line--http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/20/nyregion/20jersey.html).
I am not an expert on remembering big numbers, but it seems that the State's Pension Funds are underfunded: "The state’s most recent report said that as of June 2009, the pension funds should have had assets of $112 billion to meet their future obligations, but had only $66 billion — one of the largest shortfalls, known as unfunded liability, in the country. The situation is probably worse today: The state is supposed to contribute about $3 billion a year to the funds, but amid huge budget deficits and spending cuts, it is in the second consecutive year of contributing nothing. "
"On Wednesday, New Jersey became the first state ever charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission, for illegally papering over the pension fund problems in pitches it made to bond investors. The case was simultaneously filed and settled with an order to the state to stop its deception. "
"New Jersey has seven state-run funds that pay pensions to 244,000 former state and local government employees or their beneficiaries."
Our City only funded 50% needed in 2009. I believe that the State operates the municipality's pension funding. I am certain Police and Firemen are affected as well as all State employees. Who can be assured of every receiving part or all of their anticipated retirement benefits?
The problem with the State since 2001 is that like too many individuals today a "credit card" and the State creates its own- is a license to spend while not planning to pay until long in the future. Governmental bankruptcy will create an economic crisis that will rival the 1930s
Both Republicans and Democrats in Trenton are responsible for New Jersey's plight. Yes the Feds have aided it. Entitlements are great but those that grant them have pushed the responsibility for payment on future taxpayers. In essence this is a Ponzi scheme of unimaginable proportions.
I can offer no solution. I don't believe that the "Tea Parties" are an answer. However we must be very selective in November and the subsequent years in whom we place in office.
Locally WE have the right to demand an accounting of city funds, accountable officials filling required positions, a public publishing of the annual audit especially those portions referring to improper actions.
The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services should be monitoring each municipalities compliance with its statues. It is obvious that no attention has been paid for years perhaps decades to Plainfied's fiscal management. IT is past time that no correct has been taken. Let the chips fall where they may.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The pitch is that not only will it be a money saving venture for the participating entities, Municpalities, Boards of Education, and others but will also be a source of income. The later was not emphasised by he two speakers from the UCIA lat monday night's meeting before the Council voted uibnamiouslty to participate.
Although questions were asked by Council members the vote to accept participation was unanimous. AS mentioned in Tuesday's Plainfield Today the speakers were not clearly audible although they swere using the "public microphone". One represented the vendor and the young woman I believe represented the legal office for UCIA. Most of remarks included the phrase "you know" in answer to questions.
My understanding is that this Resolution is on an agreement to be a participent but supposedly not binding to the proposeed 15 year contract to buy Electricity from a third party vendor. The pitch was that this vendor would sell the commodity "Electricity" much cheaper than PSEG. Numbers banty around were as much as 30% although I believe that 15% savings was the com mon denominator>Of the savings 50% would come back to the municipality. Sounds great.
However the rate guaranteed for the duration of the contract applied only to the commodity, "electricity" which has to delivered over PSEG wires. Moreover it applies only to the four municipal buildings that are satisfactory for solar panels placements
Not having done the mat, I wonder if a 15% saving on the commodity, electricity, generated in only 4 buildings that met the utility's requirement standards would be sufficient to sign a long term agreement. Remember all costs of delivery would soon be assessed by PSEG.
The 4.4 million bond refinancing agreement resolution noted that it was subject to conditions enumerated in attached exhibit A which was not available in the packet for public view. The City Administrator's explanation in reply to a question was not completely informative , however she emphasized that it had the approval of the State.
Republican Council candidate, Jim Pivnichny remarked on the number of resolutions appointing various legal firms as counselors. It was noted that the City's legal staff consists of one full time and two part time lawyers. The numerous firms used were needed due to their special expertise. An accounting of the total legal costs to the city for services rendered and also for settlement of suits would be helpful in understanding costs. Perhaps CBAC will find a comparison with other similar New Jersey Cities.
On the subject of Lawyers I must once again point out the anomaly in the Plainfield Charter as to the relationships of the Corporation Counsel with the Mayor and with the Council.
As you know the Corporation Counsel is the legal resource to the Council but attends the meetings as a member of the Administration. He is appointed by the Mayor, with Council consent, to serve for the duration of the Mayor's term or wish. Corporation Counsel serves at the Mayor's pleasure. n any conflict between Administration and Council it would e very difficult for the Corporation Counsel to represent Council's position. The Council could hire its own lawyer and provision must be made from available funds which might be difficult.
The Charter is defective, Council must have its own attorney. For economic reasons neither should be, as was in the past, a full time position. Therefore two salaries could be fitted in where one is now.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Councilwoman Carter reported briefly on the City and Neighborhood Services Committee, and Councilman Storch on "Economic and Community Development. My comments are clouded by some confusion due to difficulty in hearing some speakers over the sound system.
Rivers' report basically was a recommendation supporting the Safety Directors recommendation for installing the "shot sound detection system" I believe only in the 4th ward. The committee also recommended the installation of surveillance cameras. When queried about the expense of the "shot" detection system a figure of about 1 million dollars was mentioned.
Although the gunshot detection system is a technological wonder, it is reactive and although it may cut down the response time to a shooting it will not deter such incidents. AS a life saving measure taking into account the potential response time of emergency vehicles and transportation time to a treatment facility I fail to see how there can be a positive result.
The downtown cameras also have a negative component which may be overlooked. The will not be actively monitored but only used for a review of a "crime scene". They are not proactive deterrent. Equally important there has been no stating of their resolution. It is factual that most passive surveillance systems have such poor resolution then more often than not identification of perps is very difficult. Again potential value must be weighed against costs.
Carter was still trying to have a functional meeting with the Recreation Superintendent. She had visited the playing fields with members of the Recreation Committee and noted the work they had done as well as problems identified. She has another meeting scheduled with Committee members , the Recreation Superintendent and (?) the mayor for Friday afternoon. In the meantime the Council's Ordinance defining the scope of the Recreation Committee was on hold.
Storch reported on a Planning Board meeting where an amendment for the capital improvement plan s for 2011 was made to include the Children's Room and a Roof Replacement at the Public Library.
Tomorrow I will take up some of Council's actions.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
For the last four years there has been only sporadic fiscal controls since for the greater part of the time either or both the Director of Finance and Administration and/or the CFO positions have been vacant.
Administrations insistence on awarding contracts on "the fair and open" methodology rather than competitive bidding may not have been cost effective.
It was significant that Superintendent of Recreation Wynn again stonewalled the Council by "calling out" sick Monday morning and having an excuse for not complying with the Council's request to appear at last night's meeting.
It was again illustrated by City Administrator Bibi Taylor's again objecting to an Ordinance mandating the all bills be submitted to Council for review, not authorization, monthly. It is noteworthy that this Administration as well as previous ones have routinely ignored the Council's request for complete financial updates.
The continual Administration inaction in filling the vacancies in the positions of Director of Fiance and Administrative Services and the CFO is further evidence of this Administration's position itself above and not bound by the City Charter,
The ultimate incomprehensible position occurred with Corporation Counsel Williamson's unique and bizarre opine of a non vacancy in an appointed position.
The Council had just appointed its representative to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners when Council President McWilliams inquired of the Mayor who had made one of her rare appearances when she was going to appoint her member to the Authority.
The Mayor and her spokesperson the Corporation Counsel contended that there was no vacancy, the position was filled by the holdover,as provided in the Charter. The Charter states that Mayoral appointments made with the consent and approval of the Council shall hold office for the duration of their term or until a successor is appointed.
The intent of the "holdover position" is to maintain continuity and not to contravene the Charter. However Corporation Counsel Williamson maintained that the presence of the "holdover" satisfied the requirements for the office. In addition Williamson stated that this individual's name had been unanimously approved by the Council at the time of his initial appointment in 2006 but when submitted for reappointment the following year that Council had reject the nomination.
In reply to Council's request for information Municipal Clerk Wyatt in her role as "Clerk of the Council" stated that he had been initially appointed to fill a 3 month unexpired term. When the name was nest submitted for a full term the request for approval was withdrawn by Administration and no subsequent nominations had been made.
When Councilman Mapp commented that if the Mayor continued to ignore requirements of the Charter, the Council should seek legal action against her, Councilman Reid protested the spending of city money for lawyers over a non-paying position, Obviously he (Reid) was ignoring that the problem was not whether it was a paying or non paying position but Administration represented by the Mayor disregarding the law as written in the Charter.
Once again this Administration has shown that if not legally it is ethically and morally corrupt. -
This the first commentary about the August 2010 Council meeting. More to follow.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Wow. I was just thinking about this place the other day in relation to Millicent Fenwick (there's a name you probably haven't thought of in years). She was the only politician that I remember getting involved in trying to keep RVH open. I grew up literally around the corner from RVH (on Starlit Dr in Middlesex Boro) and have fond memories of the place. I even did a brief stint on the Middlesex Rescue Squad, so I'm aware of what a loss RVH was to the community. I was surprised to find your blog and comments here. Thanks for the memories.
10:00AM; NO POSTED AGENDA!
10:55AM: Is there a Council Meeting to night? Must the public go to City Hall to find an agenda. Or try the Library later in the day?
11:30 AM No Agenda posted. The Library did not have its packet by closing time Saturday. Perhaps a trip there will be in order. The Public be Damned.
Do laws protect society? If not why not? Punitive legislation is enacted daily by the Federal , State, local legislatures.Most deal with budgetary matters, the raising and spending of money, But two articles the last two days in the Courier point out the inability of the citizens to protect themselves from those who have little regard for civil rights.
The first had to do with the abandoned buildings, and especially those that are a safety hazard. The recent North Ave. collapse and subsequent $300,000 removal cost born by the tax payers pointed out the magnitude of this issue.
There may be Federal and/or State Laws that address this problem and what the community's legal rights in rectifying problems. The City must have on record Ordinances from time immemorial referring to prevention and treatment of abandoned property, including fines as well as a chain of authority with power to ameliorate the situation. .
The vague it is difficult to deal with it comments attributed to Administration and Councilman Storch in the paper are not satisfactory,
First every ordinance on our books that has not been revoked pertaining to this issue must be collected and collated along with any State and Federal laws. Any legal decisions that impact on this problem should be included. It should be the charge of the Corporation Counsel to obtain this material ASAP or sooner.
A separate Commission appointed by Mayor and Council shall b e given this material with the direction to review and propose "legislation"(Ordinances) that will give a workable solution to this problem. Among questions that must be answered and these are only the tip are; when does property abandonment legally begin? Criteria must be determined or codified if it exists. At what point in time is the owner of record (deed holder) freed of any legal responsibility for the property. Can dummy corporations protect their principles from legal responsibility.
The other problem is the one of a curfew. The Public Safety Director and Corporation Counsel have suggested that they( the laws) don't work and there are legal problems. Once again let us establish a specific Commission and supply it with all needed material and I am sure that this public group will come up with a plan to make our streets safe.
We have nothing but our time to lose by being proactive.
4:00pm: Speaking of time still no Agenda posted on our site!!!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Oh yes, we do have our heat waves and droughts, our rare blizzards and messy cold winter days. But we are blessed with four seasons, and only rarely with natural disasters that the rest of the country- and world- suffers from. WE should count our blessings. If only our political leadership matched that level.
I had written that no Councilor had showed up Wednesday night at the Muhlenberg memorial rally. I had left before Council President McWilliams' letter was read. Yes the Council had written to the Governor. Did the Council ever receive a reply? If so it should be read at the next meeting. If not a strong resolution and communication is in order. We can anticipate that the Mayor will never act positively when Plainfield's well being is at stake.
I hope the Council will insist and make public an accounting of the expenses for that Sunday's Town Meeting. Was there radio station paid? If it was news they should have been there in a reportorial status.
It is unfortunate that many of the readers take everything that Plainfield's bloggers write as racially and religiously offensive. Read some of the commentaries. This is a regrettable knee jerk super sensitivity attitude which may have been justified 40 years ago in Plainfield. but not today.
The four main Plainfield bloggers may not be African-American, I defy anyone to prove that they are racially, ethnically or religiously bigoted. One may have political overtones, but there are always facts to back up his postings. The other two are often dedicated investigational and reporting items that affect the community's integrity. I will state categorically that I have no reason to defend my belief that all are equal. For those who doubt these words, let the shoe fit and look unto yourself.
I probably will not have an opportunity to review for comment Monday night's Council Agenda. As of noon Saturday it was not on the city site, and even if it were, the Library closes at 1PM Saturday until 9AM Monday. WE need tighter control of how our tax dollars are spent (wasted?) and prioritize for community safety, health care, education and all those resources that make a town a desirable residential community.
Friday, August 13, 2010
T'was a dark and dreary morning, Friday the 13th. And it started out that way, Half way up the window the cord on the big shade jammed leaving only the bottom half of the window visible. Fixing shade cords now a days is not one of my forte.
Mark Spivey did not have a story in print in this morning's Courier. Cory Storch(who is Stokes?) has not yet posted an answer as promised by Dan to Jerry's 'Bridgeway" post. Lindsey Lohan, unlike normal mortals, has her jail time cut short.
An Israeli Arab is arrested in Atlanta as the Serial stabber just as he is boarding a flight out of the country. Somebody will make an issue about either (a) is is an Israeli, or (b) he is an Arab. No one will remark that there are Arabs that are Israeli Citizens and that none of these facts have the slightest importance or significance in that these stabbings were hate crimes and all the victims were black.
All in all if one could be depressed, there is enough news and non-news to haste n the disease. Forest fires in Russia, the air in Moscow is unbreathable, Floods in Iowa and thousands drowned in Pakistan. Earthquakes in Ecuador, unknown damage. An Iceberg adrift off Green land bigger than Manhattan Island, and this blog.
To cap it; this one of the latest JAMA covers is an allegory.
Do the bayonets symbolize the deaths that resulted from the freeing the slaves cause that he championed with his bloody Harper's Ferry Raid and the ultimate Civil War that accomplished it. That war probably had the highest casualty rate in history and was the prototype of modern warfare. What is your take?
Sadly as I write this there are Congressional Leaders advocating amending the 14th Amendment's first line"All persons born---in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof ,are citizens of the United States,-to exclude the children of "illegal immigrants" Is this not an ultimate and dangerous evidence of bigotry in our cosmopolitan society?
10:00 AM add: Today's Star Ledger has an article on the Youth Council's appeal Monday night a to The Council for support for more evening programs at the school gyms. In the articler ther eis the following statement: Police director Martin Hellwig praised the open gym nights, but doubted whether it would extract teens from gang involvement. “I think this initiative isn’t so much about addressing the gang problem,” he said. “It’s the issue of trying to get youngsters who are not involved from going that way.”
Is not that the hope ? Once again authority loses sight of the long term goal instead of a bandaid.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
(From todays New York Times)
In China’s Hospitals, Battlegrounds of Discontent
SHENYANG, China — Forget
the calls by many Chinese patients
for more honest, better-qualified
doctors. What this city’s 27 public
hospitals really needed, officials
decided last month, was police of-
And not just at the entrance, but
as deputy administrators. The
goal: to keep disgruntled patients
and their relatives from attacking
The decision was quickly re-
versed after Chinese health ex-
perts and academics assailed it,
arguing that the police were pub-
lic servants, not doctors’ personal
But officials in this northeastern
industrial hub of nearly eight mil-
lion people had a point. Chinese
hospitals are surprisingly dan-
gerous places to work. In 2006,
the last year the Health Ministry
published statistics on hospital
violence, attacks by patients or
their relatives injured more than
5,500 medical workers.
“The relationship between doc-
tors and patients is really tense,”
said a 25-year-old cardiologist at
Shenyang’s 4,000-bed Shengjing
Hospital. A 29-year-old neuro-
surgeon echoed that sentiment.
“I think the police should have a
permanent base here,” he said.
In June alone, a doctor was
stabbed to death in eastern Shan-
dong Province by the son of a
patient who had died of liver can-
cer. Three doctors were severely
burned in northern Shanxi Prov-
ince when a disgruntled patient
set fire to a hospital office. And a
pediatrician in Fujian Province
was injured after leaping out a
fifth-floor window to escape angry
relatives of a newborn who
had died under his care.
Over the past year, families of
deceased patients have forced at-
tending doctors to don mourning
clothes as a sign of atonement for
poor care, and organized protests
to bar hospital entrances. Four
years ago, 2,000 people rioted
at a hospital after reports that a
3-year-old was refused treatment
because his grandfather could not
pay $82 in upfront fees. The child
Such episodes are to some ex-
tent standard fare in China. The
government said in 2008 that more
than 90,000 disturbances occur
every year, and Chinese officials
at all levels of government are al-
ways on guard against unrest that
could spiral and threaten the Com-
munist Party’s power.
And doctors and nurses say the
strains in the relations between
them and patients’ relatives are
often the result of unrealistic ex-
pectations by poor families who,
having traveled far and exhausted
their savings on care, expect med-
But the violence also reflects
much wider discontent with Chi-
na’s public health care system.
Although the government, under
Communist leadership, once of-
fered rudimentary health care at
nominal prices, it pulled back in
the 1990s, leaving hospitals largely
to fend for themselves in the new
By 2000, the World Health Or-
ganization ranked China’s health
system as one of the world’s most
inequitable, 188th among 191 na-
tions. Chinese consumers were
footing 60 percent of the nation’s
health care bill. Nearly two of
every five sick people went un-
treated. Only one in 10 had health
Over the past seven years, the
state has intervened anew, with
notable results. It has narrowed
if not eliminated the gap in public
health care spending with other
developing nations of similar in-
come levels, health experts say,
pouring tens of billions of dollars
into government insurance plans
and hospital construction.
The World Bank estimates that
more than three in four Chinese
are now insured, although cover-
age is often basic. And far more
people are getting care: accord-
ing to the World Bank, hospital
admissions in rural counties have
doubled in the past five years.
“That is a steep, steep increase,”
said Jack Langenbrunner, human
development coordinator at the
World Bank’s Beijing office. “We
haven’t seen that in any other
Still, across much of China, the
quality of care remains low. Al-
most half of the nation’s doctors
have no better than a high school
degree, according to the Organi-
zation for Economic Cooperation
and Development. Many village
doctors did not make it past junior
high school, yet they are fully au-
thorized to prescribe drugs.
Primary care is scarce, so pub-
lic hospitals — notorious for rais-
ing costs — are typically the first
stop in cities, even for patients
with minor ailments. One survey
estimated that a fifth of hospital
patients suffer from no more than
a cold or stomach flu.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Despite we are in the eighth month of the Christie era it seems that at this time the new powers that be in Trenton have little interest in the Plainfield area communities' health care.
Although during the first 45 minutes of the rally the Mayor and the Council members were conspicuous by their absence, Assemblyman Green, Assemblywoman Stender and Freeholder Kowalski each briefly addressed the attendees.
For over 50 years close I had a intimate relationship with Muhlenberg. I was honored by my peers to be elected more times than any other physician to serve as the Staff President, to act as advocate for patient care and physician rights.
The buildings on Randolph Rd are not just a mass of brick and mortar, but a standing memorial to all those who were born, received care and died there, as well as those who devoted their lives to the care of its patients.
It is a memorial to warm human beings from Isaac the doorman to Jimmy Holmes the orderly who personally treated everyone who entered its portals as a friend. It represents the dedication of caring nurses, doctors, technicians and clerical workers to all who sought care. I can not ignore those members of the Auxiliary Twigs, among them my late wife, who in the 40s and 50s spent hours preparing surgical dressings for sterilization and use. When packaged sterile dressings became available, the Auxiliarians shifted their focus to volunteer duties in the hospital as well as fund raising to help in the care of the less fortunate. Sadly, today much of that loving commitment has fallen victim to legal obstacles.
Muhlenberg was the equal to any and indeed superior to most hospitals in this country, be it medical school or just community hospital. Among other top notch physicians, the Medical Staff included world recognized authorities in Neuro-radiology, Pathology, and Colon Rectal Surgery. The first Colon-Rectal Surgical Residency in the country. was assigned to Dr. Salvatti’s group's practice in Muhlenberg Hospital. Staff quality not the number of admissions was always paramount. Muhlenberg was one of the earliest hospitals to require board certification as a must for staff membership. Other area hospitals including JFK were years later in entertaining such standards.
In the years before Government programs, HMOs and profit oriented insurance programs turned Health Care into a business the hospital was a bastion of warm personal care. Believe it or not the doctors on that staff genuinely cared for their patients as individuals not a case number.
I consider the closure of Muhlenberg to have been a legally criminal action deliberately designed to deprive the population of this area of quality acceptable health care. It is rumored that Solaris plans to sell the property to developers for residential conversion, forever eliminating competition for JFK. this would complete the financial rape of Plainfield's health resources.
We will never be able to replace what once was but it is essential that we the people continue the pressure to reestablish a center for complete acute care within the structure that exists.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Once again events Monday night reflected how important to the town's actions within the law depends on filling these two position. The "Acting CFO" was unable to give a coherent explanation about an $10,000.00 item paid from the Capital Funds account for services rendered to Culture Heritage. She remarked that it was obviously an error and restitution from an operation line to the capital account would be made. Councilor Storch not Reid remarked that it may have been ab accidental error of picking up the wrong check book the fact remains that where there is smoke there most likely is fire. One wonders how many such instances the auditors may have picked up over the years?
The same issue of CFO was raised by Councillor Mapp when the Resolution addressing the 4.4 million Refunding Bonds came up. Could the City legally meet the conditions stated by the State
to these bonds. Reference is made to functions that only a CFO can fulfill. It was noted that this issue had been presented in March but withdrawn for an unstated reason.
On other business, former Councilwoman Hollis was unanimously recommended to fill the Council's appointment to the Housing Authority. Her sister Councilwoman Rivers properly reclused herself from that vote.
Although, action was not deferred on participation the UCIA Renewable Energy further information was request as to the City's potential liability. This item has also been on the BOE's agenda. Despite assurances that it will cost the City nothing and 50% of income generated by the solar panels would revert to the City.
There is a saying if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Caution is always advisable. It was noted that some municipalities in the county had rejected the proposal.
The Public Saftey director gave a brief overview of legal problems facing a city curfew. On the Housing Authority's properties, curfew regulations can be enforce since visitors are subject to questioning in as much a sthe Authority has a regulation prohibiting trespassing.