Sunday, October 31, 2010

To The Governor

AN OPEN LETTER

Pending clarification or publication of DLGS Director Neff's communication to the Mayor and the Council, I offer this as yet not e-mailed open letter,

Dear Governor Christie and DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa:

There must be something wrong with our State Administration when a mid level bureaucrat can threaten to punish a municipality's "legislative branch' (The Common Council) for appealing to the State for help to remedy an intolerable situation.

The City Of Plainfield has been without a CFO for most of the present Mayor's 5 years in office. There has been no sincere effort to find a qualified individual whose appointment by the Mayor is subject to "Consultation and Approval" by the Council.

In the past 12 months in response to pressure mostly from DLGS, the two individuals the Mayor proposed included one who had no experience in the position and the other refused to give the Council requested information. Naturally, a responsible Council doing its due diligence could not approve either one.

After three (3) 90 days ultimatums for the Mayor to fill the post had expired without any action, in April this year the Council as a last resort petition the DLGS director to recommend, even appoint, a temporary qualified CFO to hold office until the City could find a permanent one.

There had been no response from the State so after citizen's repeated queries what was happening, a councilman contacted DLGS and after first being told there was no record of Plainfield'd communication was later informed it had been found. A promised reply within a week was never received until Oct.28.

Newly installed state Division of Local Government Services Director Thomas N. Neff warned this week that the mayor and all members of the Council that if the position was not filled in 30 days each individual would be fined $25.00 a day.

How can a member of your Government find reason to fine those who have petitioned for help as if they were guilty of a fault? How can a bureaucrat arbitrarily make it a crime for a local government body to do its fiduciary responsibility? If Director Neff demands are followed, the Council's right to reject an appointee they know is not qualified has been nullified.

No wonder New Jersey politics and reputation as the "Soprano State" has made it the laughing stock of the country, but it now is apparently being transformed from a Democracy to Totalitarian State.

I as a citizen am asking you to immediately counteract this injustice being forced on the members of the Council and the people of Plainfield.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

TIME FILLER

While I am awaiting an official response to newly installed State Division of Local Government Services Director Thomas N. Neff ridiculous ultimatum to Mayor Robinson-Briggs and the Council membership perhaps a little inconsequential information could be a welcomed relief.

This is from my email.

"Autumn Leaves

Sometime between now and the middle of November, the trees in North America's eastern broadleaf forests will reach their full fall glory. From Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and New Hampshire's White Mountains to the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, leaf peepers will bring traffic to a standstill on beautiful fall weekends. By the carful and busload, they'll come to gawk at the beautiful countryside.

But what will they be seeing?To begin with, leaf color arises from various chemicals within trees. It's the strength as well as the presence or absence of compounds like tannins, xanthophylls, and carotenes that determines fall hues in the scores of tree species found in the East.

Back in the spring and summer, when the millions of trees in these same woodlands were busily growing and producing food, their leaves were chock full of chlorophyll, and it was the chlorophyll that colored the forests varying shades of green. But chlorophyll is a mask, and once trees sense the change in the weather and start to stop chlorophyll production, the mask drops and the other colors of the leaves come to the forefront.

The fall colors can be so distinctive in some tree species that it's possible to identify these trees from a distance merely by noting their hues. The brilliant red leaves belong to the Red Maple, American Mountain Ash, and Black Tupelo, plus sumacs, blueberries, and Virginia Creeper in the understory.

Richer red foliage is typical of Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, and White Oak. Birches and beeches sparkle with bright yellow foliage, while Witch Hazel and Striped Maple are a less intense yellow, and walnuts, hickories and aspens attain a truly golden glow.

Of course, not all trees settle on a single color. Sugar Maples, for example, blaze in green, yellow, orange, and startling red, and Sassafras comes in various shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple.

If you want to enjoy the fall colors yourself, plan ahead and, if possible, venture out during the week as opposed to on a crowded weekend. No matter when you go, though, spend a little time outside your car. The trees are even prettier close-up, along a quiet trail or down a less traveled side road."

Since we havs had a warmer than usual fall and a sudden drop in temperature it appears that we will have a too short a foliage fall season this year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

IT SMELLS

What a bunch of feces! After six months in which the Dvision of Local Government Services conveniently misplaced the council's request for help in filling the position CFO they finally responded to correspondence from citizens as well as Councilman Storch by notifying both the Mayor and Council members that is if they had not appointed a CFO in 30 days the guilty parties would each be five $35 a day.

The political farce continues. The bureaucratic career politicians in Trenton, who have probably an allegiance to the Democrats administration that appointed most of them to their jobs once again refused to act responsibly and instead threatened to punish the petitioner as well as the "villain".

The Mayor without lifting a finger has become victorious, not vindicated. She can now appoint any flunky with any type of credentials that she wishes. The Council has been placed by our state government in an. untenable position. their right to approve or disapprove the Mayor's appointment has been taken away from them by state fiat.

We the citizens have once again been literally screwed by our state government.  I would hope that someone more erudite than myself would draft a protest document for signature by as many citizens as possible [and I will be one of them] and submitted it directly to Gov. Christie. This petition should include a request for his personal review of the fiscal situation and our city

In the meantime there is little that we can do as individuals, other than try to get increased publicity in all the Media especially the Christie haters.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ROADS

 Council man Storch posted a notice of the road repairs and ancillary maintenance projects in the second quarter area. I question the advisability of space is starting the Watchung Avenue repavement project in late October. It is well known that there are temperature levels at which below which asphalt repavement does not bond or cure well with the subsurface.

We should've learned from the Kensington Avenue disaster what happens when projects are begun at this latitude late in the calendar year. Before the Kensington Avenue project was even started I had questioned at a Council meeting the advisability of beginning so later the four. City Administrator Deshields gave assurance that the project would be completed before the weather deteriorated and the outside temperature dropped to a too low level. We know how long it took to complete that road project.

I also wonder why if a major segment of a row is the prepaid segments why one begins with that portion of the street that is relatively good shape whereas the segment from Woodland Avenue to Leland Avenue is a near disaster. It is true that this portion of the street is supposedly due to be repaid in the next cycle. What should be done first?

One of the problems we have had in Plainfield is the lack of preventive maintenance in our infrastructure. It is still not too late to budget for by applying for grants to stop the deterioration of our present road system. There are adequate guidance available please see the link posted here. (http://epdfiles.engr.wisc.edu/pdf_web_files/tic/manuals/Asphalt-PASER_02.pdf). I, there is no substitute for quote open ""a penny saved is a dollar earned"

Several months ago I called attention to the deterioration of Knollwood Court. This roadway built in the early 1950s has never received extensive maintenance. However, at the intersection with Cushing Road the pavement is undergoing progressive destruction that threaten its the integrity of both streets. At this point hot patch repair would be the only solution short of repavement of that segment.

At present we are probably four years behind on our six year plan for street pavements which was proposed at the end of a previous administration. Whether the delay its have been to poor planning, poor grant application, or excessive override unanticipated project costs that depleted available funds.

All I am asking for is that we forget the errors of the past and turn a new leaf. By paying attention to our aging infrastructure and establish a overall maintenance upkeep plan.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MORE POTPOURRI

Life is always full of surprises. So much occurs in this city, that unless one reads all the blog one will remain 75% in the dark. Just today Maria's blog in which she posts a communication from former Deputy City Administrator  Ballard-Fox about the PLI0Ts that exist in Plainfield.Ballard-Fox also clarifies the  intended use of  the P I LOT program for temporary tax relief. to bring new business into the community.

Ballard–Fox  also goes into detail about the  financial relationship between  UCAI and the city. It seems quite possible that because of relationships between city officials and the Executive Director of UCAI.. I wonder how many of the Council members are aware of the provisions in the contract. I also wonder how is it that if the city has not issued a certificate of occupancy which would require you CAI to pay its PILOT obligations.The facility is occupied now for several  years?years plus its stores are occupied.

Is a County Authority exempt from the laws by which we civilians must abide?


It is unfortunate but it seems to be a recurring theme in this administration to ignore breaches of contract and even reward them. An example is the recent payment to a  contractor for never completing a road repavement project. This contractor according to others also paved over the accesses to emergency water valve shut offs to residences.

But back to the PILOT programs. Does the budget proposal list every one that is current? How many are in default?  What is the impact upon taxpayers? What recourse is the City seeking. There must be including Park Madison  a million dollars outstanding that would reduce taxes if collected or permit better efficiency in municipal operations.

On the subject of  our Administration I am happy to note appointing an acting Director of Administration and Finance pending at the November meeting Council's approval for permanent appointment. Doesl.the individual's CV indicate, that although he has spent many years  in the City Administration that he meets the qualifications for the position.

Since the City Administrator in the very near future will be,on maternal leave, there'll have to be a qualified person in  an acting capacity in that role. If there is no such person will the Mayor assume the position?

With Solaris now planning to sell the Hospital site and building portion  of the Muhlenberg  Campus, has any one determined if there is an outstanding restrictions on the deeds to the property which were originally acquired by a non-profit group known as Muhlenberg Hospital. The for profit Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center was  established in the late 70s  or early 80s. The Hospital like the Foundation were chartered for the benefit of the people of Plainfield, not for the business entity  Solaris. Can or has anyone question the legalities of the proposed transaction? I for one would not oppose it if there is indisputable  evidence that it would be beneficial to the community.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BUDGET HEARING.

Shame on me, I left the Council's budget review session just before nine o'clock. It was supposed to last{both the latest} from 7 PM to 9 PM.  I had not fed my two cats who traditionally have their evening meal at eight o'clock or shortly before when they become too obnoxious. When I returned home both of them were waiting at the door, ready to trip me.{ That dragon can come up with the weirdest results}

Tuesday's night session was supposed to include the fire division the police division,single division, and traffic division. Sticking to the formula that Council President McWilliams has presented in her blog, the fire division took almost 50 min. minutes to complete its presentation and answer questions.

Significant gleamings from this presentation was the fact that the division is undergoing or will be a major restructuring in which there will be a transfer of personnel from the administrative service to "operational" service. There also are contemplated promotions to fill vacancies. It is anticipated that this change will cut significantly costs by reducing overtimes and acting position holders. Since the operational arm of the division has vacancies in its TO they have to be often filled with acting position holders which snowballs because it creates a vacancy below that position due to the departure of the slotted individual.

There are 19 members of the department who are eligible for retirement. Some have indicated their intention to do so, including department chief. There is some discussion about the procedure to select a new chief, based in part on an agreement signed in the McWilliams administration which would have eliminated the rank of Captain. However, administration never implemented that plan.

This also noted that the fire department often response to a health care emergency when the rescue squad and the EMT units are not available. There has been ongoing conversation with Muhlenberg foundation to fund any in EMS units and Plainfield. This would be in addition to the units supplied by Solaris.

I am not clear if there would also be provision for transportation [ambulance] for the patient to the appropriate facility. EMS/EMT units are not equipped to do so.

It was noted also that he was going to be needed a replacement equipment in a future. One of the engines dates back to 1975 and several to the early 80s. Since a last piece of equipment cost $800,000there is discussion would not be advisable to lease on a 10 year base new equipment.

The discourse was illuminating to the listeners, however at this point I cannot conceive what impact the Council will have on the budget. The city administrator said that no layoffs were anticipated, and that the Council itself could not initiate layoffs. The large decrease in the wage and salary line item would be due to the restructuring of the department eliminating overtime and multiple acting promotions.

The members of the CBAC were also given the opportunity to ask questions, but except for one or two appeared content to direct him in writing to the city administrator.

Although the subject of this meeting has been posted in several sites that interest citizens frequent, there was no member of the public other than the CBAC membership, two bloggers, and one reporter present.

BUDGET TONIGHT

Tonight the Council budget session is devoted to public safety department specifically the police and fire departments.

It is to be noted that in the proposed budget allocation for these two segments of Public Affairs and Safety shows a of $300,000 in salaries and wages for the police department and $500,000 for the fire department. Other segments in this department show little change; there is an additional $5000 budget (not in last year) for the auxiliary police. The salary and wages for the director is posted as $1700 more than paid last year (FY2010). This may be due to the suspension days imposed on the Director. There is a small 1% increase for crossing guards; the same as budgeted last year and a minimal decrease in other expenses. For and other divisions in this department the signal system has a decrease of$30,000 and the Fire Official $14,000.

It seems draconian to me that in this community which has a severe crime problem that the number of of officers to be cut is significant in the department which is already understaffed. Likewise the cuts in personnel for the fire department must increase danger and risk in this community.

One wonders what the administration's priorities are when there is an increase of $80,000 in salaries and wages and $134,000 in other expenses for "Information Technology" adding up to $240,000. I am not sure if this is justified by counterbalancing the loss of protective services

Of minor importance is the increase of $10,000 in 4 July celebration appropriation. I am sure the citizens would rather have a handsome police man or fireman stead of the fireworks and parades.

One of the difficulties for commenting on the budget is the documents supplied to the public' Under appropriate for each department and organization there are just two lines; one "salaries and wages" and the other "other expenses" without any breakdown for the outsider to understand what is being done'

The salaries and wages lines could be further broken downa sto specifics. To protect individual's privacy they must not be named however the position should be. It is quite possible to cut three jobs and increase one individuals salary by 33% and still look as if there is an overall cut in the unit of only one job. Likewise the other expenses bugett item that could be a wastepaper basket receptacle. Numerous other expenditure line including legal fees insurances etc. which are also covered separate would be of value.

I am unfamiliar about the term "Cap bank" . What does it mean what does it consist of ? I am sure that there are probably not more than a dozen Plainfielders that are familiar with the term.
Would somebody please enlighten me.

On the second page of the proposed 2011 fiscal year budget there is a item marked increase to the average home taxes. For this, the city taxe is $218.89; for the school taxe it is $204.78. There is disproportionate increase in the school taxes which with the county taxes make up lesson 50% of our tax bill and the taxes anticipated for the municipality. Percentage wise both increases are less than 1%; in actuality the school board increase is 10 times that of the public. Percent wise

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just Potpourri

My first review of the Mayor's propose 2011 fiscal year budget was on the anticipated revenue. I've come to the conclusion that this is an exercise in nonsense. Comparison is made between anticipated FY 2011, anticipated FY 2010 and the actual revenues in 2010. It is not a coincidence that the anticipated and the actual 2010 revenues match exactly except for the fact that they realized cash in 2010 actually $73,000 more than the budget anticipated. Whereas this year's anticipated revenues are 4 million short.

It does not take an Einstein to note that the 2010 budget, submitted two months before the end of the fiscal year when all grant monies and extraordinary funds had already been received, could not been produced by standard budget practices. It does not represent good financial activity.

This year's prepared budget does not anticipate grants and aid funds that are listed in last year's budget, therefore the shortfall in income. Not being chief financial officer it would seem to me that in preparing a budget which depends so much on anticipated funding from grants and governmental agencies that a guesstimate item which is equal to or slightly lower than last years last receipts would be legitimate and more properly indicate how much revenue must be raised from taxes to maintain the status quo.

In looking at the PILOTS it is noted that there are no anticipated funds this year from the Park Madison property and that the Meadowbrook Gardens contributed nothing in 2010. Also an explanation is needed why "Energy Tax Receipts"( 09 – 202] is 1.2 million greater than last year whereas Consolidated Municipal Property tax relief [09 – 20] is some 2.7 million decreased, making the total 0f section 9 State aid without offsetting appropriations some9.7 million less than last year.

Once again we are faced with comparing apples to oranges. If in one presentation you eliminate a major portion of income from grant money and governmental funding you are naturally going have a shortfall compared to an inclusive one. The 2011 can not be a legitimate representation of what our needs are. (dragon went wild here)

As an aside it should be noted that the increased school budget for 2010 11-11 will cost the taxpayers the same amount of money as that in the proposed 2011 budget. WE have ignored the impact of the School budget on our taxes. Is there a annual audit available to the public? When is it published ? What suits are against the PSS/BOE involving employees relationships? The name s can be redacted but the nature of the suits and settlements should be openly available. That includes legal fees. How c an a BOE continue to use a legal firm that ignores conflict of interest as in the Carter case?

Indirectly while on the subject of the BOE, isn't it unfair, Renata, to chide your readers for not attending the BOE meeting when the State of the District report was presented if there was no publicity that it was to be presented? You did not remind us and there is no record of having been posted on the BOE website.
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ONE WEEK TO ELECTION S

Until a specific subject becomes paramount my blog will be truly potpourri and not an essay.

It is now a week before election day. Perhaps there could be an upset in our congressional district which I find very unlikely. The election results are probably preordained. That does not mean that we should return the sitting freeholders and elect to Republicans instead. However the fact of the matter is that the Democratic County machine is too strong to be unseated.

The campaign has been so vigorous that I know nothing and even learned less about the Republican candidates. Of course I believe Carter will be an excellent freeholder unless she has become two completely a party player.

Her election will create a vacancy on Plainfield's Council which will have to be filled at the January 1 meeting.. The traditional way of filling a vacant council seat is by the party holding that seat. Traditionally three name are presented to the Council for selection of one. In the 90s the chairman of the local Democrat party made a farce of the selection process by submitting a husband, wife, and son's names. Before the Council could choose between the three both the wife and the son withdrew the the Council with just a single name to select from.

The mix of the three individuals selected will be very interesting and may be indicative of the counts of the party chairman's control at this time.

I noted in the newspaper today that Summit is suing its auditors, who I believe tol be the same firm that Plainfield uses, to recover the part of a $1.3 million scam by the vendors used to pay required funds in their pension plan plans. Fortunately, the insurance is covering $1 million. However, the auditors never picked up that the pension plans were underfunded. This is one point of concern in our community where are auditors have permitted by not threatening to resign for cause when Plainfield continued the improper fiscal procedures that they annually noted.

I don't know how many of you read in the paper and in Mark's blog his article on the Mayor's speech at the Shiloh Baptist Church conference. this quote is from that article.
"Robinson-Briggs said. "How much does it cost to save a life in Plainfield? I'm so sorry if others don't feel as strongly about this as I do.'' Robinson-Briggs also said she felt that people mischaracterized the broadcast as a payment directly to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who participated in it, saying that Sharpton appeared ""for free'' at the request of WBLS. The mayor further suggested that the council's investigation has political undertones - six of seven members of the governing body are "New Democrats,'' she noted,"

How naïve does she think thatg all of the people in Plainfield are? It is a known fact that Sharpton never accept this payment. However moneyis paid to organization or foundation in which he has a direct interest. It has been reported that they support him with the standard of life to which he has become accustomed. He is supposed to have an interest in the radio station.







































































































I

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wallpaper

Sunday, Oct.24: There are at least three males and one TV network that are sad this morning. My grand-son-in law because his beloved! Ynakees lost and my two son-in-laws because both
the Yankees and Phillies blew their league championship series . Then of course the Fox network that will broadcast the World Series. The two biggest markets have been lost. Who will want to watch a team from Texas play one from San Francisco ?. Not many in the East.

Mark's blog has no new items this morning, so I have no commentary this early in the day. Fortunately, for me a problem I been having of being unable to import pictures and other stuff from my computer to post on the blog has finally been partially solved.

The blogger server has produced a new editor which is supposed to make linking easier. Using it I and many others lost the import photo capabilities. The solution was to use the old editor for that purpose. I was pleased to learn that many many others using this service had the same problem and that I had not done something stupid.

For several weeks I had been trying to post this; This picture taken on the Ohio River many years ago is the one I use for my wallpaper. It is most appropriate this time of the year and does not block any icons. Anyone who would like to use it is welcome to so do.

I have a "clean" copy with the spots removed from this 30 year old slide somewhere(!) on the hard drive. If and when I find it I will post it.`

DRAGON WORKS

I had picked two sure shots to be playing in the World Series. The two best teams in Baseball with perhaps Tampa Bay being an American League alternate. It seems that I am not always perfect, as I write this The Yankees have bit the dust and the Phillies must win two more games without a loss to at least salvage part of my prediction.

We are now starting the fourth week of October and miraculously the sports calendar includes baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, college and confessional football. The leaves are coming down fast and it looks like our fall this year will not be as colorful as previous years.La  Nina has been blamed for a suspected upcoming heavy snow winter.

 With the recent announcement of a developer looking at the Muhlenberg campus it is obvious that the final nail has been hammered into the coffin which contains what was the premier medical facility in central New Jersey. For those who clamored to revitalize, reinstall the Muhlenberg hospital once it is slow that could never have happened. A hospital like Muhlenberg takes years to build up a functioning medical staff. All those physicians eliminate Muhlenberg their home at scattered elsewhere and were not going to again change the commitments they have to make as a member of a hospital medical staff .t to a new institution. The best we could have hoped for would've been a small functioning acute community hospital.

The developers plans would include a walk-in emergency type unit, plus if possible facilities for a well-organized group practice that caters to affluent or insured patient base. This is an unlikely happening for Plainfield.

In reading Maria's blog I noticed that according to the city clerk's office we have an acting Director of Administration and Finance. Was this appointment approved at that last marathon Council meeting after I had left? Or does the Mayor not have to have  Council approval for an acting appointment? The charade goes on.

I also noted in Mark's blog today that it at Thursday's meeting in the Shiloh Baptist Church that's the $15,000 money from a sponsor came after she had committed the city to spend that amount of money. It matters not that someone stepped up in an attempt to save her bottom, the fact is that the Mayor authorized spending municipal funds and amount that should have required Council approval.CC

Incidentally the Mayor referred to their opposition of six New Democrats on the Council. Since I don't believe that all of them have run under that label during recent elections I would appreciate if the mayor would expand on their history of affiliation. At least one of the present Council members was defeated in the primary elections by a new Democrat candidate. Another is the anointed city party member for the the freeholders office. the third ran as an independent during the primary election. Mayor there again seems to be some error in your mathematics.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I copied this from Dottie G's letter of the 23rd. I find this not unexpected news very disturbing.

THIS JUST IN: a developer met with Plainfield’s Planning Board this evening about a proposal to purchase the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center property. They discussed possible uses of the property, and members of the Planning Board made it clear that there must be a medical focus, including a full-service Emergency Room, etc. Apparently the developer has met with Solaris and there may be a tentative agreement for the sale of the property, although as far as we know nothing has been signed off on. The Nursing School would not be included in the sale. More discussion is planned for the next Planning Board meeting—Thursday, December 2, at 8 pm in the City Hall Library. WE WILL BE THERE! 


And from this Friday's(today) Plainfield Today: 


"According to Robertson, 'everything is on the table' from the developer's point of view -- including possible use as an assisted care facility with a nursing home component, residential apartments, a wellness center and/or an adult daycare center. These were given just as examples of the range of possibilities being explored, and Robertson noted the developer was also interested in exploring whether Summit Medical Group would be interested in using part of the facility."

Although the likely hood of the State ever even giving permission to reactivity any type of a hospital system in the Muhlenberg campus is most remote, once such deal as reported takes place there will be absolutely no known possibility. Plainfield and its area will have been completely abandoned for quality medical services, due to political and economic reasons, without consideration of humane or  moral values.

Certainly a "full-service emergency room" does not in any sense substitute for a facility that can render the level of critical urgent or emergency care that people in this area should receive. I think that a full description of what its capabilities are, what the staffing will be, and who will operate it, which informs ourresidents is in order. Will we get one? Probably not.


The fact is that Solaris by this sale will have completed the medical rape of Plainfield, gaining not only the highly profitable, Colon-Rectal Services,Vascular Surgical Services, as well as millions of dollars. There were other desirable medical assets of MRC that were transferred to JFK long before making public the plan to close the hospital. An ancillary result was our finding out that JFK catered primarily to patients that could support its existence via insurance or Medicare plans. 

In fact upon closing Muhlenberg, Solaris abandoned MRC's limited acute psychiatric care, as well as low income obstetrical services provided by the Neighborhood  Health Care Center, to other distant institutions.
 

It had been obvious to some that from the start Solaris never intended to accommodate the health care needs of the Plainfield area. With two hospitals close together there never was an effort made to merge the medical staffs, thus protecting the interests of those physicians who were using Kennedy as their main hospital. 

In fact there is no evidence that Kennedy gave even a damn about this communities health needs. That impression is supported by the fact that they have not lived up to the agreements which permitted the closing of MRC. 


There is also the appropriation by Solaris of tha endowment funds dedicated to the health of  Palinfield residents  for its own use. The  legality of this action has never been questioned by those, such as both branches of the City government, who have the power and resources to do so. 


Although much of the blame for today's lack of a local hospital has been placed on our Assemblyman's and Mayor's lack of aggresive opposition to the closure, the roots of the problem go back almost 3 decades.

Muhlenberg hospital was up to the 70s a nonprofit Association with the self-perpetuating Board of Governors. As a nonprofit Association it really belong to the people. It was formed by a few concern citizens after a train wreck and had its first location on Muhlenberg Place.

In the 70s for ill-advised financial reasons the Board of Governors created a for profit Muhlenberg Hospital  Corporastion and the Hospital itself became a nonprofit subsidiary which would benefit from income of independent for profit subsidiaries. Most of the later were  ill conceived and ultimately a failure. However the endowment funds were now the property of the "parent corporation which is the body that made the merger deal with Solaris as petitioners and became "secondary citizens". MRC became a loss leader for the Solaris financial books. There has been  no independent auditing of of  Solaris' books to account for any fiscal manipulations although some claim  that there were irregularities.

Be that as it may, Most of the blame must be placed on the Board of Governors that in its knowing what is best for you listened to poor advised from its employed managers. In all due respect to today's "blamers" it should be noted that one of the respected members of the Board in that era was the late Al. McWilliams. This was a period of hospital mergers for economic reasons and many like Muhlenberg/Solaris were ill conceived by one of the parties.  


I intend to expand my remarks in a few days.



Notice

Dragon last night was a mild disaster. It is a project in  development so I will post before noon about the MRC news.

Maria's blog has enough must read stuff today that you will not miss Bernice or me. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

DOLLARS AND SENSE

Once again a state authority has been found guilty of abusing public funds. The report of the $43 million excess spending by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority including bonuses for shoveling snow plus regular overtime pay, bonuses for birthday, excessive hundred thousand dollars of legal fees, excessive perks including the scholarship funds for employee children, high level health care funds, and other bonuses is one reason why strict controls over any municipal government or authority is necessary.


These abuses were found on auditing  the 2008 – 9 New Jersey Turnpike books. Abuses have also been found in this City's financial books in the annual audit. Due to the absence of a CFO, most have been uncorrected over several years . 

We now have a new budget to enact. Taxes will go up, jobs and/or essential services will be cut. The central financial positions are still unfilled. The only possible gainers in this ignoring standard fiscal practices and indeed State requirements could be by individuals connected with the administration of the city. 

Such profit could well be innocent,but it is at the expense of Plainfielder's getting the biggest bang for their buck. AS citizens and Councilors have suggested, we need  a forensic audit ,either by the State or an independent firm for at least the past few years to make sure that no dollars have been improperly spent. 

Counselor Burney has written in his blog that the Council's main functions (?)is to adopt and edit the fiscal year budget and to audit administration activities through approval or disapproval of resolutions plus creating legislation passing ordinances. This Council has been more active in questioning administration resolution then many of the previous councils, some of which acted as rubber stamps.  That has been true of some of the Councils that the Councilor has served on.

But even this Council has flowed hot and cold about correcting these deficiencies. It has taken some steps such as requesting the State to appoint a temporary CFO, but has not followed up on this course. Coupled with the failure  to override the Mayor's veto of a fiscal review ordinance raises concerns about the Council's commitment.

It is time for action, not political pass the buck talk.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GOOD NEW DRAGON 11

This was to read "As a klutz  who types with one finger on each hand" etc. I have posted this exactly as dictated with the hope that the computer will be able soon to differentiate between "to", "two",.and "too" or other similar sounding words and pick the right one from the sentences context.


as a clutzonce trash with one finger each head hand and often the left. Hand is faster than the right. So that I have to correct many words. Since it was supposed to be easier to dictate rather than type my way for many years I have tried various and sundry dictation program. I have given up every one of them because the error rate was almost 50%.

Low and behold a loan has become has come Dragon 11 supposed to be the greatest and easiest to use program. Sucker that I am I have of course purchasing program. For a week, I and another computer savvy person tried to install it. We continue to get an error 1606 which finally resulted in going into the head. Editor change a value from 8.0, to 8.0_. It seems that the program did not work with any older program that Microsoft seven for installation purposes. It's

The program was now install but we could not open it. After again contacting the vendor and trying to different recommendations included again going into the registry and. Register, we were still unable to run the program.

I was ready now to send it back for a refund. However, I thought that I would get one more shot by deleting the changes that I made in the registry and again repeat recommendation had been made change in the Reds. Lo and behold this is the first I edited dictation with Dragon 11.

You can make your corrections but perhaps this will be the way of the future for this individual. Of course having you know as Dr. mumbles and rightly so, there will probably be a prolonged period of training for the computer to understand me. The future does the look bright.

Once again little local news for, today,comment. Perhaps later I will find something twrite about, but for the moment this will suffice.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

POTPOURRI I

On Tuesday October 19, 2010 the most inconspicuous day on the calendar is Tuesday November 2 ,2010.

Outstanding in this Central New Jersey area is the absolute silence in the political field. In Plainfield the local elections for 2 Council positions are such a given that the two Republican Candidates will only give a pro forma performance at the traditional LWV Candidates' Forum.

Even the Freeholder races have generated little if any publicity. These offices are probably the most important political positions for county residents in New Jersey. Even more so than State Senator and Assemblyman as far as the economic impact on the taxpayer. There are Republican strongholds in the County, but obviously do not generate enough votes to counter the Elizabeth/Plainfield domination.

The important races for the two House of Representative's seats in Union County also are very quiet. Plainfield's 6th Congressional District will return Democrat Pallone, while the rest of Union County in the 7th Congressional district will most likely reelect Republican Lance. Obviously in this year of critical Congressional elections Plainfield voters are going to have almost no impact.

One can wonder if the non-campaigns being wagered are an attempt to keep the vote low and perhaps secure elections for certain power groups.

The recent rescue of the Chilean miners was an exercise that our National Government should learn. A commercial disaster unlike the BP oil well fiasco was not left to the proprietors to remedy but the Chilean Government immediately stepped in . The miners were not left to the bungling of corporation officials. Or to incompetent local, state and federal officials as happened in New Orleans.

It was a combination of engineering and psychological expertise of the Chilean Navy and  NASA  that produce the three Phoenix capsules. True #2 was used in the rescue  and will remain in Chile as an exhibit, but the other two will be on worldwide tour. One is at the Shanghai World Fair until Oct. 31.The rig that was used to raise the capsule was built in Austria.

Monday, October 18, 2010

TOO MANY OR TOO FEW BUT NOT RIGHT.

Sunday, October  17 the Courier finally had space to print an article by Mark Spivey that first appeared on October 13 in his blog. The subject was of course the extraordinary long monthlyAgenda Sessions and the equally excessive lengthy of the once monthly business meetings. Quoting from the article:
"Following a flurry of council meetings that lasted in excess of four or even five hours, many of which were adjourned well after midnight, Council President Annie McWilliams said Wednesday that the governing body is looking into ways to rearrange the meeting calendar. The plan likely will result in the implementation of a second agenda-setting meeting per month, McWilliams said.
"I am not yet in favor of returning to four meetings a month because it frees up time for (council) committees to meet," McWilliams explained via e-mail Wednesday. "While it has admittedly taken some committees longer than others to get going, the ones that have met consistently and really focused on key items have had great success."
The council early in 2009 voted to reduce the number of monthly meetings from four down to two: then-Council President Rashid Burney at the time called it an effort to instill "quality over quantity.""

Ever since the change was made in 2009 I have been, along with others, including knowledgeable individuals on  municipal affairs as "Dottie G", outspoken  at the Council Meetings and in this blog about the  need to return to the semi-monthly coupled meeting schedule. Our appeals to reason have fallen on deaf ears. Th Council which is suppose to represent the Public interest continues on its self-satisfying course. 

Months ago I even proposed that as a poor compromise  the Agenda Setting Session at least be split into two separate meetings. The above article is the first unofficial indication that even  such a move  which does not correct one of the great defects in the present schedule is at least being considered . But it in itself will not solve the pressing problems of business that face the Council.

The argument that the present schedule  permits  more time for Council Members to be more effective by holding frequent Committee Meetings ala  State and Federal legislative bodies is a fallacious one. Month in month out the only committee that produces a written report has been Mapp's Administration and Finance Committee. This report is as a rule the only one that appears in the Business Meeting documents. A few of the other Committee Chairpersons will give  a verbal report at the Agenda Setting Session some from written notes, none  of which appear published. Other committees activities are at best only sketchily verbally reported  and often the report is they are going to meet at the end of the month.

Very few items in these Committee reports are reflected in the Council's action discussion, and at most are only mildly informative of  Administration's concerns. Indeed the Council meets as a" Committee of the Whole" and does not vote the approval of a  sub-committee's recommendations but often as it should has an open and prolong debate on the subject.It is true that some like those involving the Recreation Division  have resulted in Council instigated  Resolutions or Ordinances, but that is  a  rarity.

There is another reason why the present routine and the  proposed change does not serve the needs of a municipality of Plainfield's  size and problems. Too often situations that require "urgent action" because time is running out is present at the last moment. Four weeks at best is too long a time interval for Council to need and act upon in depth consideration. Two weeks between meetings would remove that axe that is hung over the Councilors' heads. Two weeks could also shorten time for the Council to enact needed Ordinances.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

MONEY MATTERS

 Finally the proposed 2011FY budget was delivered to the Council along with proposals for layoffs and furloughs to help limit raises in taxes.No mention was made about the stated of negotiations  and/or status of the contracts with various city unions.

When there was evidence that the city would be impacted by the economic crisis especially in 2009 the Administration through then City Administrator DaShields reiterated that there were ongoing negotiations. The public was never informed of their status.  However all that were signed included annual raises of various natures.

The 2010 FY budget required the elimination of various positions, some of which further crippled essential already understaffed municipal offices. We were assured that the city’s financial well-being would now be preserved.  There were no restrictions on raises guaranteed by existing union contracts.

Apparently in our local union contracts all divisions in a Department must agree on downward revisions of the contract otherwise he changes cannot be implemented. Thus if a Division consisting of two employees refused to be bound by furloughs then such action cannot be implemented.  Obviously reduction of contract required raises would also be impossible.

Legislation, in the local case Council Resolutions, could be passed mandating furloughs. That has in many localities but by the above contract clauses would be unenforceable in Plainfield. Perhaps that is why there were no such action in 2010.

It is worth noting that only the Public Workers and Administrative unions in his state are prohibited from striking. The Police, Firemen, and Teacher’s unions are exempt by law and do have no prohibition against calling for a strike*.

Councilor Burney in a recent blog expressed his solution the job and economic crisis

There is nothing new in his proposition. An across the board percentage wages give up. True last year the Council and the Administration supposedly did do an insignificant give back, that was showmanship not conviction. We have had elimination in low level essential jobs and vacant important civic positions.  But, give back of raises and of benefits is dependent on the Unions.

In many jurisdictions, there has been a cooperative attitude between the municipal unions, their leadership and the municipality. Apparently after over a year’s negotiations there has been no union consensus to do so. Of course we are in the dark as to what was on the table.

It is a years too late but Administration with Council Support must legislate an across the board furloughs plan as well as changes in  health care benefits. If the Union rebels and threatens strike action, counter act by eliminating the villain section  or its personal .Other  units  over the country have met the same problem  and  solved it  using Draconian methods,

If the unions of the two Departments essential to Public safety too refuses, then at least  fire them all. There is sufficient room for temporary replacement. Or, the Governor could enact a state of emergency, and institute Martial Law, That would bring in the National Guard and conscript the reluctant workers.

What I am advocating is Draconian measures in times of financial emergencies, It should be the "social" as in society, responsibility of everyone to help ameliorate the crisis not to put pressure on others,

Less the reader thinks that I am not affected by our present financial crisis and am so wealthy that I can ignore it. consider why it is a fact that my taxable income the past few years has put me in a level that made me ineligible for Homestead return funds. 

How did I maintain such an unfortunate state? By controlling lifelong expenses such as no Country Club memberships, no vacation homes ownership, no excessive Atlantic City trips, I was fortunate enough to accumulated a nest egg of enough IRA retirement funds that when combined with Social Security to plan a comfortable post working years existence And I also actively worked  and enjoyed it  full time until over 70 and part time to 2000.

Those IRA funds however are taxable when withdrawn. And, Federal laws require  based on life expectancy tables a minimum amount being withdrawn  each year .Unanticipated was the recession and the collapse of the stock market with  the bankruptcy of certain bell weather  corporations compounded by the skipping or marked decrease in dividends by others,

My anticipated income was no longer a valid figure. Add to these facts  that I could care for my wife at  home during the last few years of her debilitating medical condition only by selling assets.  The later not only was subject to increased income taxes but also raised my income level as if it were new income not the results of savings.

Not only last year and this coming year there will be no increase in my Social Security benefits, my  income level from selling assets resulted in a increase in my Plan B charges so that the  usable funds I received monthly was a true decrease from previous years.

If you think I am complaining,  perhaps I am but I am not asking for sympathy. However, I resent anyone demanding a contractual raise  when so many of us in all ages groups   are having to do with less,  And everyone has to cope  with the  cost of living which  keeps rising in part due to increased municipal costs..

* Police, firefighters and teachers are not subject to contract imposition, but all other state and local government workers are. (Gerard J. Meara/Star-Ledger Guest Columnist)


Saturday, October 16, 2010

EXPLANATION

I had written a blog for today. I thought could be thought provocative but more likely as construed will be regarded  as contentious or at best controversial and "biased". by some.

However I am still unhappy not about its contents but rather the "structure" of the  essay. I am holding back on posting it and will probably  do several rewriting and revisions before I permit you  to tear it to pieces .If I can not be pleased with the finished product it will be back to the drawing board .

Meanwhile the Phillies over the Giants in 4, The Yanks over the Rangers in 5. If all is well Phillies will repeat in 7.. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

POTPOURRI FRIDAY OCT. 15.

It is a good thing that there is no Council meeting this week with Bernice  off to the great Northwest, Since Tuesday's marathon was so long the CN had little or nothing relating to the meeting and the Ledger's reporter was elsewhere. But all was not lost. Mark in his  new blog " http://plainfield.injersey.com/" (paste it} has at least three long articles relating to that meeting. (Note: Dan, include it in your guide in Clips).

To have good reporting present at meetings removes a burden from those of us who never learned shorthand, or were court stenographers. Too often we amateurs may miss or not hear some important  conversation or action. Never the less print copies are easier to archive  for retrieval.

As I have previously noted, I had left the meeting shortly after the verbal encounter between the Mayor and The Council President. When the Mayor claimed she represented 50,000 residents that may be true but she does not speak for that many. In fact she received less than 50% of the vote in the primary that counts.

This raises a greater question. Should an election where a  the overwhelming majority fail to vote or should in Ordinance or State or National statue be ruled in valid, 15% of the eligible voters select the membership  of the BOE. In a one party town unless it is a Presidential election year participation by 50% of registered voters is often  not the case.

I would suggest that in at least the School Board election a floor of 30% be the rule although it should be for those elections and all others at least50%. If the school board elections fail ti meet such a goal then it should be held concurrent with the November general elections.

If Democracy is to be successful there has to be significant electoral participation.

Back to the Council meeting; At the Public Comment time on Resolutions and First reading of Ordinances, I raise questions on R385-10 which authorized payment of $145,156.67 to the contractor who defaulted on the Kennsington Ave repavement as well as $33,000 to the Engineering firm that Administration awards all contracts to for oversight work. I could not see  justification for payment  for work that was never even near to completion. Since there was an unconfirmed 3rd person report that at least on Ever green Ave this contractor had sealed over water shut off valves to residents, something a conscientious engineering firm should not have allowed, why did either merit receiving taxpayer's money? There was no answer to my question/objection.I understand when that Resolution came up for vote only Councilor Mapp objected and  voted NO.

I am one of the sensible ones who agreed with Governor Christie in stopping the expensive New York tunnel project. Not that there is no need for  a tunnel but this one is basically a wrong boondoggle where as the original proposition for connection too Penn Station with additional platforms and pass through under the East River is sensible and  now the Feds and Amtrak propose  to build. Christie's goal is that tunnel which will be less expensive and more practical and equally beneficial to the Raritan Valley Line municipalities.

Of course there will be the usual anonymous blog blasters for this  position. We do post 99.99%  although it would be nice  if we knew that the writers were people not died in the wool party hackers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

 A filler until I write my post..
This is immortality.
Jake is not happy!

NORMAN ORTEGA SPEAKS

Norman Ortega asked me to publish his take on the public and the Council meetings. I do so since it is one concerned individual's impressions


Are we enablers?

No, we are not. We are backup dancers.

Tuesdays night's Council’s meeting was as interesting as any other, I presume. The Administration and the
Council performed a political posturing dance throughout the night. At some point the sparks and flares, in an
entertaining sort of way, delighted some of us.

This political posturing dance between the Administration and the Council reminded me of a Tango
Milonguero, with its melodramatic theatrics embroiled in its closed embraces, small steps and almost
syncopated foot work all choreographed to woo the audience.

I thought the performance was majestic and worth of an Oscar.

But no one was more mesmerized than the audience. After a long and unnecessary recess called executive
session, and soon after the grand finale with its sparks and flares, the audience was given its constitutional
right to join the dance in a section called public comments.

The audience's performance was fantastic, but expected. The audience has been backup dancing to this same
old tune for decades. They knew how to react when the lead dancers, the Council or the Administration,
improvised. Both sets of backup dancers moved like the initial phase of a Milonguero when dancers
theatrically struggle until their steps are harmonized to perfection. The bloggers are masters at this, and its
clearly obvious to behind whom they dance.

And while the bloggers and the audience are captivated by the political posturing dance and its eventual
participation as backup dancers for either side, nothing gets accomplished. In the end, like any theater-goer,
they leave the theater, with exception of the bloggers, with a sense of accomplishment, because they were
allowed to participate and dance. Yet they return to the theater soon after because in the end, even though
they had a good time and thought they received something through the political posturing dance, deep inside
its is well known that nothing was in fact accomplished.

And so, this epic and boring political posturing dance between the Council and its bloggers, the
Administration, and the voters as backup dancers for either side continues, while the brick and mortar
holding the theater falls apart.

I for once would like to see the backup dancers take the lead instead of dancing behind the Administration
and the Council. I would like to see the backup dancers and specially the bloggers from both sides demand
consensus, not undefined actions and confrontations. I would like to see, the backup dancers and the bloggers
demand a solution to specific situations by forcing the lead performers to dance their way to middle ground
(even if they in fact they hate each other) until the work to keep Plainfield Theater from falling is complete.

Voters and bloggers, instead of pandering to the Administration or the Council, join me and demand
consensus. Ask the Administration or the Council, whichever you support, to negotiate to middle ground.
Otherwise, nothing will be accomplished as it is happening now and it’s us, the voters, whom are going to
suffer the consequences dancing our way to rock bottom. "

I appreciate Mr.Ortega's thoughts. However I take exception to the insinuation that all of us bloggers pander to one side or the other. I trust I do not and Plainfield Plaintalker is a professional unbiased product. Maria's blog is the community's watchdog. None of these three have a political axis.

REGARDING THE COUNCIL MEETING

Prior to any discussion on Tuesday night's meeting there are some Parliamentary issues as well as the question of weather the Executive Sessions was in violation of the Sunshine Laws. 

I know that some anon wit will accuse me of "knit picking" or whining. But there is both a "right "and a "wrong"  If we are to have responsible government then attention must be focused on what is proper (or legal) or improper (illegal) procedures.

Focusing on the subject matter of the executive session which interrupted the agenda for two hours, I contend that it did not meet the criteria established by NJ State Statues and many other states. A discussion of position layoffs and/or furloughs is an economic one covered  in part by the proposed budget ( a public document) or legislative action. If it qualified under these criteria I will admit that I am in error. If by a stretch of imagination #2 qualifies were all the individuals involved given a "Rice notice"?
1-Disclosure would result in an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy, unless the person affected consents in writing.
 2-Personnel matters affecting employees of the public bodies, unless all parties request or consent to a public hearing. Prior to discussion of personnel, affected employees must be given notice, known as a Rice notice, which gives the employee the right to request a public hearing.
 3-Proceedings that could result in a suspension, civil penalty, or loss of a license or permit.

The public nature of the layoffs was confirmed during the meeting when a question of public access the the matter addressed in the resolution arose  and was adjudicated by reference to the proposed budget.
 
A misunderstood Parliamentary motion was used  when  action on the "ShotSpotter" Ordinance came up for  2nd reading. It was tabled indefinitely. There are three types of Tabling Motions;
  1. To Table Temporarily- that is to postpone action to a later time during the same meeting
  2. To Table Definitively- At specific date or meeting is set when the motion will be reintroduce for action
  3. To Table Indefinitely- Although this could in effect "kill" the motion  it does not. By motion it could be reintroduced for action at any subsequent meeting at any time 
The correct action would have  been to defeat the Ordinance by roll call vote. 

None of the above will improve the City's operation except that professionalism in government matters is better than amateurism.


I will have to defer my comments on Council's actions until I can read the media and accountable impartial blog reports since I had to leave at midnight and more than half the Resolutions and First reading Ordinances were yet to be introduced.

Suffice to say outstanding under unfinished business was the absence of any long overdue report on the request to the State to appoint a CFO. 

The verbal clash between the Mayor and Council President McWilliams over the question of Authority or Commission appointments reverted to a "she said/she said " status which accomplished nothing except to reinforce the perception that Administration regards the Council as an antagonist, not a partner int he City Government. 

In fact, unless I misheard, the Mayor told Mcwilliams that if she wished to contact her (Mayor) that she should  do it through the City Administrator.  And if I did mishear I shall blame it on mental fatigue from standing in the hallway for two hours.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

THE PEOPLE BE DAMNED #2


I have placed ultimate blame upon the outrageous 2 hour wait that we the people were forced to endure upon the Administration. That is a truth, but Council President McWilliams’ Council is equally culpable.

The insistence of having only one  agenda setting meeting and one business meeting a month has  not only resulted in meetings of such extraordinary length  that  is not conducive to rational discourse in the meetings later stages  Moreover only the foolish diehards have the stamina and perhaps stupidity to stay to express an opinion at the public commentary. By that time there is no one except fatigued Councilors to hear them. That raises a question if those Councilors are in mental condition to listen.

Why the Council has resisted all suggestions to return to the workable semi-monthly schedule is incomprehensible. Not only would the meetings be workably shorter, but the Council could not be rationally sandbagged with “it must be done now because next month will be past the deadline”.

With the two monthly meetings, Ordinances would only take 30 days of action instead of 60, before becoming fact. With more frequent meetings subjects like the appeal to the State for a temporary CFO would not fall through the cracks.  One could suspect that Council resolutions of this nature are only for show and no desire for implantation.

The fact remains that no one has forced any of the Councilors to assume that office. They are not indispensible. There is an understandable element of egotism involved in holding the office. However, there are other equally capable citizens who would willingly assume the burden if asked to run.  Thus if anyone finds a public friendly time commitment to be onerous they should resign.

Plainfield has a deliberate unorganized administration. If we combine that with a dysfunctional Council faced with emergent actions our city is doomed.