Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SPECIAL MEETING 11/29/2010

HALLELUJAH, there is hope for Plainfield!! !!!!!

In one respect I am glad that after vacillating I decided to go to the Special Council Meeting Monday night. Since the major issue was the "layoff plans" and a 1 hour executive session was to precede the Public meeting, I knew that I would be waiting in the hallway outside the Court Room for a period of time past the 8pm scheduled start.

The "company" was great and the friendly chatter made the wait worth while. I am not sure of the exact time,perhaps near8:30pm we were permitted to enter the chambers . As soon as the meeting opened it was moved and voted on to go into executive session. All except those who had received a written noticed of the meeting were again obliged to leave the room and wait in the Hall'

Then after about 15 minutes a bolt of lightning must have struck. The Council showed an unprecedented consideration for the public and decided to move the executive session to another part of the Police building. The mob could now sit and wait. The Council was concerned about the public.

I decided shortly after 9pm to return home,a wise decision since Plaintalker report the public session restarted at 10:30pm. This simple courteous act gives us hope that in 2011 the Council will listen to the public and be proactive.

More later.

Monday, November 29, 2010

CONFESSION

Often, I like most bloggers am denounced as being politically biased. I am reprinting an answer I posted in a reply to a comment to "A PAT ON THE BACK":
"Chris, To set the record straight, the only people that would call me a New Democrat would be JG or his disciples. I consider myself as an independent who frequently crossed the party line depending on the candidates. I was a registered Republican who considers Harry Trueman as one of our greatest presidents. I would like to think that I voted for Wendel Wilkie but the voting age was 21 then. I did vote for Dewey. Fortunately although the papers proclaimed him a winner in their bulldog editions, he lost."

Several years ago I switch registration to the Democrats since in Plainfield the only election that counted locally was the primary. At general elections I vote for whomever I consider the better person irrespectively of party. I wish all would do that."

Having been born in Palinfield at home at 401 Grant Ave. and, with the exception of 7 playboy years devoted to higher education plus a 2 year conducted tour of Europe into Berlin at government expense, I have been a lifelong resident of this city. I have retained a deep regard for the welfare of Plainfield and those of us irrespective of ethnicity or religion who dwell here.

I have little use for those who through egotism or self-serving agendas seek office on the Council or the BOE. I highly respect those who serve because they believe that Plainfield can become an urban utopia given a fair chance. I also admire all who participate as citizens in public meetings such as the BOE and/or Council. That also includes all who give freely of their time and expertise to various civic organizations and programs. The latter group can be the salvation of our youth if they are universal in their commitment and not bigoted.

I know full well that there are only so many hours in the week and we must be selective. However, given public support and a receptive political organization, Plainfield can rise from the depths.

Open Letters

Open letters: http://dpotpourri.blogspot.com/2010/11/weekend-potpourri_26.html
dr,emc2, I would hope that your last two blogs have been widely read. Each one is a concise essay on its specific subject.

Nat S., I did not post your last comment since as you wrote it was not related to this posting. However, I would submit that neither the GOP's exclusion of the wealth from high income tax payments or the social reformers entitlements without consideration of financing except for mortgaging the future represent a road to economic recovery.

A PAT ON THE BACK

Perhaps if I was egotistic I would crow about today's Courier's editorial which expresses the very concerns that I posted in an earlier blog this week. (http://dpotpourri.blogspot.com/2010/11/council-report-3.html

My complaint at Council and in this blog as well as mentioning in a blog on 11/20/10 on the perhaps ethical problem with the Drakeford appointment. Certainly it seems that this party divided Council did not consider such appointment to be inappropriate. Imagine the response of the Jerry Green faction in the Local Democrat Party if the investigation finds that some action violated the City Charter and/or Code.

Yes, instead of depending on an untainted lawyer if there be one our bumblers have once again left themselves open to ridicule and at the same time demeaning Plainfielders. Ms. Drakford must perceive that no matter how impartial she will be, any decision will be tainted by her 8 years in the McWilliams administration. She should refuse the appointment, and the Council should go out of the City and even the County if there can not be found any local attorney who has had no involvement with either faction.

How can this City ever recover if there continues to be a petty intra-party battle. We have had 13 years of failures that have been in part due to a political power struggle. It is time for those who feed the flames to step down and let an apolitical leadership govern.




MONDAY BLUES

Monday morning blues! I am still going to "opine" about the election results but just have not had the will to organize my thoughts. If I procrastinate long enough I can be writing about results not "what will be".

Never the less I do have a choice tonight; to attend the Special Council meeting or settle down at home with a good book. Yes, the printed word can have a greater attraction than the boob tube or a Council meeting of limited depth.

If all the items Council President McWilliams had instructed Municpal Clerk Wyatt to include in the notice made its publication it would have been a no brainier. However, from recent experience the executive session preceding the 8pm meeting time suggest that the latter will be delayed. The halls of either the Court House or the City Hall Are not conducive for waiting for the doors to open.

There can be no question that any layoffs will further cripple what city administration we have.Union rules demand bumping individuals down to jobs for which they may not be qualified. This has already happened in the recent entrenchment. Sure they can and will learn their new responsibilities but until that occurs there can be chaos.

Some of this could have been prevented by a string administration willing to damn the torpedoes and mandate furloughs and wage freezes. Our three strong civic unions must take blame because they have place their personal interests before the well being of this community. Once again the system is broken and must be reformed. A contract is a contract, but mandatory yearly raises is archaic in today's economy.

And again blame must be focused on the City's unwillingness to have responsible individuals overseeing its finances and portions of its day by day operations.

Plainfield is a municipality in transition. The evidence is glaring in the changes in the composition of the commercial area, the delays in maintaining the infrastructure which includes the abandonment of the above ground (see Plaintalker) road repairs and repavements, Most outstanding is the changes in demographics which in itself does not have to be a negative factor. The latest evidence that this is an ongoing process is the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church of Plainfield move to a new location replacing another of Plainfield's lost congregations.

If all 50000 residents showed pride in their community and joined in making it a new vibrant place to live and raise a family, once again Plainfield would be the Queen City of the 21st Century.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Council

Although I have repeatedly focus on the deficiencies even A irresponsible of Administration, I must also be critical of the Council. The bullheadedness of its membership in persisting maintaining the one business meeting per month has resulted in many of the problems that the Council has faced during the past ye year.

A lesson should have been learned in 2009 when "I will get back to you" left many unanswered questions which were lost in the overload of work facing Council at its monthly agenda setting session. Unfortunately the same routine persistent this year and consequently the Council would be faced with an emergency of expiring time deadlines which often required their action without adequate investigation.

One recent and note worthy example is the "Incubator" contract for a grant under stimulus monies that was reaching a deadline. Its original passage was accomplished despite some severe forebodings by various Council members. The inclusion of a $70,000 van to the vendor should have been a red flag for the entire grant. To date there has been no response to Council's request for data on the exact accomplishments of the vendor.

The reluctance of the Council in taking a strong position about The lack of a CFO and a Director of Administration And Finance early enough probably resulted in major fiscal problems that have been repeatedly addressed in The Auditors annual report.

It is true that despite initial incompetency at the state level ultimately due to the persistence of the Council members the Administration finally produced an acceptable candidate for CFO.

Despite the negativism of this post, I am encouraged by the leadership of I Council President res McWilliams' leadership and her understand the role which her office requires. We can only hope that 2011 will be marked by a Council which will not be sidetracked by intra-party conflicts with focus completely on the major problems facing the community.

Council can operate more efficiently by reducing its mental fatigue that results from its marathon session. Much will result from the selection of a replacement for Freeholder elect Carter, who will be sorely missed. Prof. Williams the new elected representative to succeed Councilor Burney will maintain the high standards and transparency that he tried to set.

I look forward to the 2011 Council being a positive force Plainfield's government

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Potpourri

Well the week that was is over and we're now starting the week that will be.

Noteworthy this past week was a flurry of blog posting by Assemblyman Green. At the end of this blog are two excerpts.

The one on the 23rd was remarkable because it identifies Counselor Storch as a "closet Republican". I suppose that is something akin to being an alter ego of the devil. But is it a fact?

Not withstanding in a posting as a rebuttal to my report on the Council meeting he chastises me for accepting as fact a statement made by a citizen addressing the Council. Jerry Green knows that every citizen has a right to speak on any subject as long as it is not offensive.

What Mr. Hagg objected to was a piece of legislation that appear to be affecting his position as a member of the Board of Education. Since this legislation was sponsored by Assemblyman Green with whom in the past at the local level he has had political differences , I for one felt that his remarks were justified in substance and not lies.

Once again Mr. Green blasts the Council "for doing nothing". It was not until this Council sent a letter to the state regarding a longtime vacant position of chief financial officer that the mayor finally appointed a qualified individual. It was not until this month that the mayor filled the vacant position of director of administration & finance. And we have just learned that an apparent superior Director of Public Works etc.after nine months of office submitted his resignation for "personal reasons". It would seem to me that any dysfunction In the city government, comes from the top of Administration.

Mr. Brown undoubtedly was frustrated by the apparent condoning the stonewalling by the Supervisor of Recreation of the councils requests for meetings. He must also have been upset by the "incubator" finagling along with the flunkies who came to praise it at the latest Council meeting even though the council had already voted to honor its contract and fund it. He may also had to accept responsibility for the belated seasonal starting of the repavement of Watchung Avenue.

Of course assemblyman Green claims that he has no input into Plainfield city affairs despite the fact that at her inauguration the Mayor acclaimed since she had had no previous elected office except on the Board of Education that Mr. Green was her mentor . The Mayor has never professed that she is no longer seeking his advice.

The Assemblyman's remarks regarding the council do merit an imminent opine blog. That will be next.



"The following letter is being sent to the 2010 Republican Candidates for Union Countywide Office. Ironically the one name missing from those referenced within the letter is that of Cory Storch - a closeted Republican in Democratic sheep's clothing". {11/23/10, Jerry Green's Page)`

"As usual Doc, when I received word that the Council allowed this issue to be discussed at a Council meeting with false information, it showed me that the Council is more adamant about listening to misinformation and lies than they are about running the City. It is obvious that they are not concerned about the public image of this City. We are going into the 12th month of this year and the Council cannot show me anything that they have accomplished, other than feeding into this type of nonsense".(11/24/10 Jerry Green's Page)

Typo corrections 10:30 AM 11/28

HIATUS.

Watched a great football game last night (sounds like twitter) so no blog this morning. Probably will do a combined one for today and Sunday late afternoon/evening. Incidentally Nevada beat Bosie State in overtime.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A444

This is the text of A444: Read it and opine.





Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. N.J.S.18A:12-1 is amended to read as follows:

18A:12-1. Each member of any board of education shall be a citizen and resident of the district, or of such constituent district of a consolidated or regional district as may be required by law, and shall have been such for at least one year immediately preceding his appointment or election, he shall be able to read and write, shall be registered to vote in the district, and, notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:51-1 or any other law to the contrary, he is not disqualified as a voter pursuant to R.S.19:4-1 and has not been convicted of:

any crime of the first or second degree;

an offense as set forth in chapter 14 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or as set forth in N.J.S.2C:24-4 and 2C:24-7, or as set forth in R.S.9:6-1 et seq., or as set forth in N.J.S.2C:29-2;

an offense involving the manufacture, transportation, sale, possession, distribution or habitual use of a "controlled dangerous substance" as defined in the "Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987," N.J.S.2C:35-1 et al. or "drug paraphernalia" as defined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36-1 et seq.;

a crime involving the use of force or the threat of force to or upon a person or property including, but not limited to, robbery, aggravated assault, stalking, kidnapping, arson, manslaughter and murder;

a crime as set forth in chapter 39 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, a third degree crime as set forth in chapter 20 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or a crime as listed below:

Recklessly endangering another person N.J.S.2C:12-2

Terroristic threats N.J.S.2C:12-3

Criminal restraint N.J.S.2C:13-2

Luring, enticing child into motor vehicle,

structure or isolated area P.L.1993, c.291

Causing or risking widespread injury

or damage N.J.S.2C:17-2

Criminal mischief N.J.S.2C:17-3

Burglary N.J.S.2C:18-2

Usury N.J.S.2C:21-19

Threats and other improper influence N.J.S.2C:27-3 Perjury and false swearing N.J.S.2C:28-3

Resisting arrest N.J.S.2C:29-2

Escape N.J.S.2C:29-5;

Assemblyman Green's Page

All heck did not break loose, however I have just had the opportunity to read Assemblyman Green's blog posted sometime late yesterday regarding my comments on a bill he is alleged to have sponsored. Assembly Bill 444, For The Record;

I am happy to learn that this was a cooperative effort by many in the assembly and not one focused at Mr. Abdul-Hagg. There are many reasons why I feel this legislation is misguided. not the least is that a concerned and active community citizen will become a victim of this legislation.

I do not know and have no desire to learn what indiscretion Mr. Hagg committed as a youth. I have know him as a model citizen for almost 2 decades. There can be no question that he had paid his debt to society many times over. If only 50% of Plainfielders had his commitment we could have an utopian society. I consider him to be one of the more valuable BOE members.

The Assembly's intent with this bill appears to be short sighted. If a criminal record disfranchises an individual from holding a BOE post, the same criteria should be applied to all elective offices. If the legislation was initiated by concern over students that too is misguided. Concern should be focused on those that have contact with the children; the professional educators at all levels.

Assemblyman, I apologize to you if I unfairly questioned your motivation. I would hope that you who have advocated 2nd chances accomplished through rehabilitation in a tolerant society, would not support
retroactively negative legislation. Perhaps, you can persuade your fellow legislators to revamp this bill to accomplish their ends without being punitive.

TURKEY DAY

To All: Enjoy your turkey. Enjoy the football games. Enjoy being with families and friends today. Above all drive safely. And finally rejoice there will be no Potpourri today. Unless all heck breaks loose I intend to do all the above. olddoc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

COUNCIL INTERIM REPORT #3B

We sideline bloggers rely on the investigative reporters; Professional Mark Spivey, retired Bernice Paglia and man about town Dan Damon for information emanating from City Hall and to a less extent from the BOE.

It was with surprise today that I read that Director of Public Works, Dave Brown had resigned after less than a year on the job . Once again the city is without an important department head. This is a complex department that includes not only the "City Yard" division but also "Recreation", Economic Development, Planning Division, Inspection Division, and The Office of Community Development whose head has been Al Restaino the newly appointed Director of the AFHS Department.

There is now in this Department, the Department head vacancy, as well as a Division head vacancy and another Division Head under fire. Could the ongoing Recreation conflict with the public fanned by its' supervisor's stonewalling of Council's and the latter's committee's requests for information precipitated Mr. Brown's short tenure?

COUNCIL REPORT #3

The one un-welcomed positive of t he marathon Council meetings is the wealth of material generated during those meetings. Even the amount that is not on the printed agenda can be overwhelming.

The Public Comment sections are often the source of the most interesting blog material. Ad an example: Monday night Board of Education Vice-President Rasheed Abdul-Hagg as a citizen called attention to a bill which has already been approved by Assembly and is now before the State Senate for consideration.

What is of interest in this bill is that it prohibits any person who has had a criminal conviction from holding a office on the Board of Education. No other elected office is targeted in this particular bill. The rational of the bill is not clear. If it is to protect children from pedophiles then it is completely misguided. BOE members in their office have no contact with youth. They are to oversee and set policy for the district. It is the professionals that are involved with day by day activity and have potential contact.

What makes this legislation of interest to Plainfield is that its sponsor is Assemblyman Green and strangely Mr Abdul-Hagg in his early youth was convicted of a criminal indiscretion. Since
he paid his time he has been an exemplary citizen and public advocate as well as a servant serving a previous term on the BOE.He is an outstanding example of " rehabilitation".

Mr. Abdul-Hagg has had political differences with the Chairman of the local Democrat Party. One can not escape the suspicion that this bit of legislation is pointed directly at Mr. Abdul-Hagg. If so it should fail in the Senate. If there is no legitimate reason the the bill's sponsor should be censured.
.
Resolution 401-10 appointed Jaqueline R. Drakeford ESQ as "Independent Counsel" to conduct and inquiry into the $20,000 payment to station WBLS and perhaps to Revereand Sharpton for services relating to the Mayor's special Anti-crime Town Hall Meeting earlier this year.

Both Jim. Pivnichny and I raised questions about the appropriateness of Ms Drakeford's appointment given he fact that not only is she a member and contributor to candidates of the local Democratic party. I further noted that she had served under the late Mayor Al. McWilliams as Corporation Counsel. That would suggest that her political affiliation is as a "New-Democrat. My concern was that she could be seen as biased. I felt that an Independent or Special Counsel from outside the extended local political arena should fill the position .

Both the Corporation Counsel , a Mayor's appointee, and the Council assured us that they had been convinced that Drakeford could operate without any preconceived prejudices.

COUNCIL report #2

HALLELUJAH !!!
Last night the Council approved the filling of the two important posts that the Mayor has felt was not needed in her concept of Municipal Government. At least until the Council finally brought sufficient pressure there had been not sincere attempt to fill either for years.

The position of CFO, a position that is absolutely needed to insure good fiscal management will be occupied by Mr. Ronald Zilinski, a highly respected recently retired veteran in the field. His appointment although retroactive to 1/1/2010 is for a four year term. That would be consistent with the Mayor's term in office.

He will be here for 28 hrs/ week and because he has retired as a CFO his stipend is limited to $15,000.00 annually.(bear with me). It was not made clear by the City Administrator or the Council if he is entitled to retroactive pay, or if it will be prorated for this year.

Additionally, by separate resolution Mr. Zelinski was appointed City Treasurer, a position provided in the City Charter/Code for a year starting 1/1/2010. which to my knowledge has not been filled in the past two decades. Since this job description and CFO overlap there is no administrative problem. The salary will be in addition to the CFO's $15,000 and be consistent to the range of CFOs in the State.

On the surface this action is an admirable one.

The other long vacant position filled was that of Director of Administration and Finance,Health and Welfare. Supposedly City Administrator Taylor has been filling this role along with her heavy responsibilities as the top administrative official in the City.

Mr.Alfred Restaino, a long time head of the city's anti-poverty agency, Plainfield Action Services, a division of the Department he will now head, was unanimously approved for the Directorship.
It is perhaps unfortunate that he is tainted with his involvement in the " Incubator fiasco" (more later) as one of the three of the committee that reviewed the RFQ-or was it an RFP have never been clear about it- and approved of the awarding the Incubator Contract.

On the Subject of the Department of AFHW, It is time that this bastardly conglomeration of divisions and the other two were reviewed and a reapportionment of responsibilities and oversight be accomplished. This dysfunctional structure was created in the Fury Administration for "personal reasons". The restructuring should be a priority of the new Council.

Another step in reinventing a congruous organization structure was taken by the first reading of an Ordinance creating a Division of Information Technology and Media in the Department of AFHW. This should have been done before any position was filled. The result of this slip shot actions was that by fiat the IT Manager was reporting directly to the Mayor. This is illegal by charter.

MYSTERY HELP

Mystery: This am when I opened my blog editor on the list of blogs that had been posted but could be reviewed and/or edited for corrections one of the last two previous postings was noted to have two comments.

Since I had never received any comments via my email-the normal route- for either posting or rejecting I chose to open one from the Posting menu. It was along and interesting letter from someone (there was no signature not even anon) which I would have posted. The writer noted he/she had left the meeting at 11:20 pm. That would have been the beginning of the Public Commentary section.

When I tried to check on this blog site neither commentary, the one I read and the one I never had the opportunity to read was posted or in my email. They have also disappeared from the site I originally noticed them.

My apology to whomever wrote those two. IF they would resubmit them attached to one of today's postings I will be happy to make them available to the public.

If anyone can explain what happened and why I would appreciate it.

COUNCIL REPORT #1B

Last night's Council meeting must have last ed well beyond the witching hour, since Bernice did not post her usual 2am overview. I, myself, will expect later this morning to write in more detail about the meeting, but during the evening one subject, Dornoch and Monarch, not on the agenda was broached three times.

The first happened early in the evening when the agenda was suspended when a Senior Citizen complained that although at present only a minimum number of units have been sold, the speaker mentioned 6, their cars when parked in the covered unused parking spaces were being t6owed away. There is not adequate parking space on Front Street near the building. The open Parking area accessed from 2nd Street in the rear is inconvenient and perhaps dangerous in inclement weather. That will be a real problem when it snows.

Corporation Counsel mentioned that he had contacted the towing company and informed them that their action was illegal and that they should desist.

Incident #2 occurred during the Public Commentary session when the Commander of Plainfield's local American Legion post complained that they were being denied access to the Vedtran's Hall for their meetings. Some one noted that teh pr esence of that facility in the building had been one of the Mayor's election campaign focal points.

TYhe space at present is being used as a sale s office. It is to be noted that that particular area was not to be turned over to the City until all units were sold. There is a question that shoulkd,. have been asked; Is the City paying Condo expenses for that area in addition to the Senior Center which has been turned over to the City.

During this discussion it was mentioned that as subject of the Executive meeting was a not specified legal action between Dornoch and the City. This item which will be on November 29th's Special meeting agenda presumably has to do with some $250k charge for completion of the Senior Center. A resolution to pay this sum was defeated early in this year pending information as to why it represented work that should have been included as stated in the agreement permitting Monarch's construction.

EARLY BIRD REPORT ; About Laddie

Guess what! I left at the stroke of midnight. There were only two more speakers waiting their turn.
Of course my report will be later today.

However, the biggest news was the announcement of Municipal Clerk Wyatt's retirement. Laddie as she is affectionately known to all who visited the clerks office is a true professional who took pride in her work. She was a friend to all who sought her advice, indeed a friend to all Plainfielders.

Just as I am glad I don't practice today, in her profession the stresses of today's economic and political times has made her calling to be no longer enjoyable but a burden. There comes such a time when one has to pass the torch on to those who do not know the good old times.

Laddie enjoy every minute of your retirement. BUT, do come and join us in the critique's chairs.

Monday, November 22, 2010

#1 MONDAY

Thank you Bernice for warning us about the last minute Executive Session preceding the scheduled Council Meeting. If there will be a delay in opening the doors to the public are we to blame the Council for a cavalier priority regarding the people? To paraphrase Marie Antoinette; "Let them stand". Or, should we regard this as another example of Administrative bungling? Either is an indication that Plainfield is doomed to be on the bush leagues.

With two out of three football teams that I follow having a bad weekend and the playground of my distant and relegated to memory youth having a disastrous weekend I was postponing my blog to later today. It was not to be related to the Queen City.

As an amend, a cover from JAMA:


Click on image to enlarge

Sunday, November 21, 2010

HEALTH CARE IN THE MEDIA

 This is from today's NY Times. This article echos my concerns about health care.

Consumer Risks Feared as Health Law Spurs Mergers

There also is an article in today's Ledger about the requirement for electronic records. Once again we are being seduced by "the state of the art" technology. An electronic record is of no more value than the check sheet records that have been forced upon the profession by the government and insurers. Yes it can be available to more people and perhaps a help, but it is the quality not the technology that makes a record valuable.


In  the 40's most doctor's records were on 5x3 cards and were abbreviations. The page size record evolved as a defense from malpractice suits. Documentation became important. It did not mean that which was on the paper was actually done or even asked. With new technology  hopefully voice recorded text records will make a record legible to all readers but confidentiality will be lost. There has also should be a line where the practioner's thought process can be kept private.


I am afraid that once more good intentions by dreamers can result in chaos.

 

 

 


Saturday, November 20, 2010

FOR MONDAY NIGHT

Several items not discussed  at the Agenda Setting Session on Monday's Agenda:
  • Appointment of Ronald Zilkinski as CFO retroactive(?) to 1/1/2010 for a 4 year term.
  • Appointment of Ronald Zilinski as City Treasurer from 1/1/2011 to 12/31/2011
  • Appointing  Jacqueline R. Drakeford ESQ as Special Counsel to conduct " an initial inquiry" into payments made in 2010 to WBLS. And, authorizing a professional service contract(??) . Ms Drakeford I believe served as Corporation Counsel  in the McWilliams administration, and has  been a contributor to local political campaigns.
  • First reading of Ordinance creating a Division of IT! Should have been done before a manager was hired.
  • Under "New Items" a resolution regarding the " Incubator" contract. This was not approved at the agenda setting meeting it will require a majority vote to be placed on the agenda.
 Other items of interest:
  • PILOT agreement for the "West Second Street Commons"  project.
  • The assignment of the Tax Abatement for "Netherwood Village Apartments" to the new owners. The previous owner " Connolly Properties" had failed to meet the required payments, which the new owners  have paid up. One wonders how many former Connolly properties were in default on tax equivalent payments. How  much is owed? Were these properties subject to lien sale?  

One more time I appeal without hope of success to the Council members to return to the twice a month business meetings. The present once a month often leads to the pressure of having to act as an emergency because time is expiring for the needed grant funds or other deadlines will occur before the next meeting. Plainfield  has too many problems to be solved in four week intervals.

Friday, November 19, 2010

HEALTH CARE

Things are bad when at 8pm I discover that my morning post was still in draft form.

I would like to say that I am late posting this AM because I was hoping that I would have a reply from my recent open letter to the powers that be in Trenton. Since, I am still frustrated I will shift to another subject; The Obama years at midpoint: 8PM, went off on a tangent about Health Care.

If anyone thinks that the concept of state socialism is the answer to all problems they have another guess, coming.One aspect that  I would focus on is the health care reform. It is probable that it is going to be one of the greatest calamities  this is a  that could possibly have the happen to the people in this country.

We have become a society that is dependent on "entitlements". The government is going to give us everything.

Remember that there is an old adage that you can get what you pay for, nut  that you never get something for nothing.  The reformers of health care are promising state of art care to the public; indeed to everyone without any reservation. That of course is a lot of bull.

Quality of care is depended on the availability and the use of quality resources. All of which costs money. The costs however is going to be met by reducing payments to a level that the health care professional can no longer survive and make a decent living.

With the increase in the paper work especially in affecting the primary care physician's office overhead, it is important that reimbursement match the rise in cost of living. I will not go into specifics but I am sure that it is obvious that the number of front office employees have doubled or even tripled in the past decade.

It is becoming difficult for a small one or two doctor practice to survive. Larger groups reduce costs by employing nurse practitioners and/or Physicians Assistants, who assume most of the hands on care relegating the MD to decision makers. The loss of personal relationships is detrimental to good health care. The patient used to be a "person " not a case number.

Unfortunately, Health Care has become a business, not a profession.. Both the government with rules and regulations and the insurance carriers with their restrictions, limitations and controls have contributed to this change. Those that pay the bill are determining what physician  and which hospital you can use. The public accepts this as a way of life.

To reduce the costs of the technical resources there will be increasingly strict restrictions on the availability to the patient. Nowadays whether for Medicare or a private insurance plan or HMO the doctor must write out and send a separate documentation for each procedure declaring why it was necessary for the patient well-being. Even for the simple blood test and/or a chest x-ray the physician must fill out what amounts to a requisition for the procedure. For MRI's and some referrals permission must be received from the carrier. Add to the fact that the requirements from various insurance carriers and the various government plans are not consistent so that they have to be met individually. All this is requires a dedicated employee's time.

Moreover, the decisions in 99% of the time are not made by your doctor or even a company "approver" supposedly a nurse who can negate a physician's plan of care for a  patient. Yes there are supposedly a plan for appeals and review but the system  makes that difficult.


For years all carriers have used a book of tables drawn up years ago by actuaries based on an artificially created system of DRGs (Diagnostic Related Groups) that determine reimbursement for hospital based on a  maximum length of stay. If it were for 5 days and the patient stayed six days or left after 3 days, the hospital would receive the same dollar  amount. This would encourage early discharges. If the hospital could maintain "hot beds" its cash flow would increase and it could survive on contracts with insurers that cut reimbursement.

Whether it is true or not I don not know. I have however been told that one area hospital has instituted a performance bonus system in which the physician gets points (Dollars?) for each day remaining that the patient is discharged before the  DRG limit. If true and I think it is creditable, I find that morally and ethically dishonest and that any physician participating should be censured.

Although reimbursement from Medicare especially to specialists has risen over the years it has not kept pace with the COL. This reprint is from a on line source, "Mediscape"
Editor's note: Later in the evening on November 18, the Senate passed its bill postponing a 23% cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians from December 1 to January 1.

November 18, 2010 — House Democrats introduced legislation today that would postpone a 23% cut in Medicare reimbursement for physicians set for December 1 until January 1, 2012, and instead boost rates by 1% in the meantime.
Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the committee’s ranking Republican member, unveiled a 2-part plan that also would spare physicians the massive pay cut for 13 months.
Under the senators’ bipartisan agreement, the Senate would delay the December 1 pay cut until January 1, and in the meantime craft another extension for the rest of 2011. The 1-month delay would be paid for with savings achieved elsewhere in the Medicare program. The financing for the longer extension has yet to be worked out.
Brendan Daly, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), told Medscape Medical News that the House would consider the 1-month Senate extension on November 29. The timing on the 13-month House bill has yet to be determined, Daly said.
Organized medicine has warned that if the 23% pay cut takes effect, many physicians will close their doors to new Medicare patients and even drop out of the federal program. To make matters worse, another Medicare cut of roughly 2% is scheduled for January 1.
Bipartisan Lip Service for Permanent Fix, Clash Over Financing
Organized medicine, along with the Obama administration, supports delaying the Medicare pay cut until 2012 — the so-called 13-month fix — as a way to buy Congress more time to devise a permanent solution to the Medicare reimbursement crisis. At its heart is the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that Congress created in 1997 to help control Medicare spending. The formula sets a target for annual Medicare expenditures on physician services based partly on growth in the gross domestic product. If actual spending in 1 year tops the target, Medicare is supposed to reduce physician reimbursement the following year to recoup the difference.
The American Medical Association and other medical societies argue that the formula is defective because physician practice expenses grow at a faster pace than the gross domestic product. They support replacing the SGR formula with one more squarely based on the Medicare Economic Index, which measures inflation in physician practice costs.
The SGR formula has triggered pay cuts every year going back to 2003, but Congress has postponed each one. However, the difference between targeted and actual spending accumulates from year to year, meaning the cuts keep getting bigger.
The notion of a permanent doc fix attracts lip service from both parties, but only a delay reaction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

THURSDAY AT DAWN

Thanks to Anons who pointed out that the position of City Treasure is spelled out in 2:6-10 of the City Code. Although there is no line spot at present in the City TO, in all probability all that will need to be done will be to activate the job. The duties and reporting slot are already spelled out in the Code.

I am trying to research N.J.S.A. 40:A9 -140.2 to learn if there is any difference between City Treasurer and CFO and the City Comptroller. I am still confused . The Comptroller can be the CFO if properly Certified. Also the City Treasurer if properly certified has the duties of a CFO but for some transactions he needs the Comptroller's consent. But the CFO outranks the Comptroller. Rather than print the State definitions one should go to State site.

Until I see Moday's night's agenda I would like to avoid any Plainfield post and try later today ot tommorrow to opine on the upcoming health care disaster, and also the recent national election. That is if outside pressures permit.

As a filler, a JAMA cover

A CURIOUS OLD MAN -HANS GEORGE SOEMMER 1811-1864

Perhaps he can find out what is going on in City Hall or why the Council is adamant in holding a single pair of marathon meetings a month.

CHAT.

As I write this, today is sort of a time out day while I attend to private matters. Of course after reading the news media and the other bloggers I may feel compelled to express an opinion.

When I first started this blog I intended it to be a melange without any specific agenda , hence the term Potpourri. This was to be a vehicle to share old memories some photographic others written; as well as commentaries on National as well as Local news and politics.

It seems though that for this past year the apparent dysfunctional government of Plainfield has occupied most of the time I have available to post. Indeed at times posting this blog has delayed my attention towards other and perhaps more important personal subjects.

Don 't misunderstand me, I enjoy the forum in which I can give vent to my opinions. In the old days I did this by frequent letters to the editor. The blog media is much more personally satisfying because I can "share we readers who have the opportunity to respond.(If only they all would discard the veil of anonymity).

As a small carrot to Potpourri , I am reproducing a recent JAMA cover with the explanation text. Clicking on the text or picture can enlarge to readable size.


The List

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GENERALITIES

DCA does have an impact.

Two important occurrences last night. One was the realization that the meeting would be over before midnight. Perhaps Council President Williams knew that she could conclude the meeting before midnight. Anyhow there was no need to even consider a temporary cure to a new date. Of course the shortening of the meeting was at the expense of skipping other items such as the special committee reports, including the awaited CAG report.

The other impact occurrence was the add-on resolution that will approve the funding for a "City Treasurer". Since no such position exists in the City's TO it will have to be created by an Ordinance. Although there was not one on the proposed first reading list, I would presume that it will appear next Monday. If so the Second Reading and voter will be at the Dec. business meeting. Since no such position exists the Mayor has the immediate choice of appointing Mr. Zilinsky as acting CFO but not City Treasurer until a permanent slot can be created.

The individual selected for this public will have to receive approval of the Council in open public session. I have subsequently learned reading Dan Dammon's Plainfield today Blog that the Council's interview with the candidate* was by speakerphone. That may be legal but without a visual component how can they be sure who they were interviewing?

Anyhow the Mayor, the City Administrator, and the Councillor's have escaped a $25.00 fine threatened by the Director of Community Affairs

The first hour of the delayed meeting was devoted to the recent killing spree with a heated public participation as was the next hour devoted to the Public comments on the proposed budget.

There was a common thread from all speakers; the must be no cuts in the Recreation " budget. No one even mentioned the question of funding. The State has a cap on budget increases.

I would contend that if the City would produce a comprehensive recreation plan with projected costs along with a viable security program we would benefit in the long run, new residents would be attracted along with better quality down town merchants. The net results would be increase tax income. I hope to expand on this at a later date.

Continued retracting services is self destructive. Residents that can will leave for communities that provide the service.

Other items that may merit a closer look is the the allocations of the $45,000.00 CSBG that Plainifeld Action Services will receive from DCA, Also how the 2011-2012 Program Year priorities were arrived at for the CSBG grants.

An in depth report on the not approved "Incubator" resolution can be found on Mark Spivey's blog and will probably be in print in the next day or so. Plaintalker also has factual report on the meeting's activities. Remember all this Monday night's meeting does is to put on the Agenda for action next Monday, the business meeting.

* added correction 9:42 am 11/17/10

Monday, November 15, 2010

PRLIMINARY COUNCIL REPORT

I left the meeting about 11:20 when there were only a few first reading ordinances from the Planing Board for approval in next weeks agenda. Since there were only about 10 citizens left for the public comment period, although Alan Goldstein was one I decided that my old bones should seek bed asap.

The meeting started late as usual (8:02 pm).The Council President before going into the published agenda started a discussion on the recent Plainfield murders. Director of Public Safety Hellwig made a few remarks. Then there were public comments until about 8:50pm relating to the crime situation and what steps individuals thought should be done to combat the problem.

One fact that intrigued me was that the Plainfield Police Department's role in the shoots appears to be ancillary to the Union County Homicide Task Force unit. This shift in authority may represent a Plainfield staffing decrease in expertise and numbers. Although not official this is an example of shared services.

At 8:55pm the Council recessed from the written agenda in order to have the Public Commentary on the submitted budget. More about this in a later post.

Once again the City Administrator admitted to a substantial error in the Fire Departments salary line. To correct this mistake and maintain the proposed "balanced budget, funds were transferred on paper from allocations of other Departments/Divisions. These funds have in part been already replaced b y Grant Funds and it is expected that all will. Councilwoman Rivers questioned where this City found "500,000.00" when there were layoffs and was told that this was money that was not available when the projected budget was drafted.

Of significance is a resolution (on the agenda) appointing Mr Alfred Restaino Director of Community Development as the Department of Administration, Financed,Health and Social Services. verbally added was the nomination of Ron Zilinski to be CFO/City Treasurer. The later title being a new one, although there is a first reading ordinance establishing a salary range for City Treasurer the position must still be created by ordinance.

Two Resolutions after considerable debate were dropped from consideration; The first was to execute a profession service contract with Powell Capital Markets Inc.. The City Administrator reminded the Council that in July it had approved of this vendor but that resolution had been modified to be more specific than this one. The City Administrator did clarify some of the jobs that this consultant would work on including Bond Ratings and debt flotations. In response to cost, which were not defined in the paperwork The City Administrator stated that the usual fee would be passed on the contract and not to exceed 20%. The tenor of the Council's reticence was a this one is written it could be an open check.

The other resolution that by a 4 to 3 vote was not placed on next Monday's agenda was approval of a new replacement agreement with "Incubator"

I will post later more about the meeting itself as well as the above resolution.

TONIGHT'S COUNCIL MEETING

First the good news, then of course the bad rest.

The budget is not due to appear until next Monday night. Whether it will be part of the regular agenda or a Special Meeting item I do not know. The Council President has the right to add any matter to the meeting agenda prior to the meeting. Once the meeting starts she needs the consent of the Councilors to add agenda items. Without budget subject tonight we may get home by midnight unless common sense prevails. Perhaps Bernice will bring a candle for her incantations.

As to the rest of the agenda, Bernice has already given a good overview of the new proposed Ordinances. I am concerned why a new position nowhere in the City's TO is being funded. Would the individual like the Director of IT report directly to the Mayor? Is this a substitute for the CFO/Comptroller? What are the duties? There are too many unanswered questions.

Resolution #B: Awarding a contract to Powell Capital Markets Inc.; On their site they do not mention that they "Design Cash Flow Modules", or " analyse preparation of capital projects and capital expenditure budgets" . They would do " innovative financing" and perhaps "credit financing rating". But I think again the Council needs more clarification is if this is out sourcing something which our present incomplete TO needs.
Since there is no dollar amounts listed in the data available to us and I presume the Council this is a blank check item.

Resolution #C:Authorize grant received for Plainfield Action Services from DCA Division of Housing and Community Resources for $45,449.00 probably found money. A great deal will go towards salaries of the various recipient agencies and may be reflected in the budget if they are municipal supported. The Garnts are due to expire Dec. 12,2010

Resolution #D: A reincarnation of the "Incubator Contract" granted earlier this year. The DCA had limited approval of funds to pay only one sub-contractor because the primary contractor was not on the DCA's approved list. There is a question about who approved the bids awarding of the previous contract and I hope that there will be clarification of the process before the next meeting.

POWELL CAPITAL MARKETS INC.

Until I have a chance to read the Resolutions up for discussion tonight I can not make any comments. I hope to be able to get to the Library early afternoon since I have a mid-morning appointment which will preclude my posting anything early afternoon. Meanwhile , perhaps this is of interest.

Curiosity can kill a cat or be revealing or even raise more questions. Because without the resolution available I wondered what "Financial Advisory Services" Powell Capital Markets Inc. would offer the city. So I googled and this is what I found from two references-

#1
COMPANY OVERVIEW

POWELL CAPITAL MARKETS INC is in the Security Brokers, Dealers and Flotation Companies industry in ROSELAND, NJ. This company currently has approximately 1 to 5 employees and annual sales of Under $500,000.

#2

About Powell Capital Markets Inc

Powell Capital Markets Inc is a private company categorized under Financial Advisory Services and located in Roseland, NJ. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $1 to 2.5 million and employs a staff of approximately 1 to 4.
Business Categories
  • Company Contacts

    We need more information about what this corporation is supposed to do for the City. Were there any RFPs or RFQs posted? I don't remember seeing such on the City site. Were there legal notices posted.
Addendum(7:30AM) : A quick glance at the Agenda for tonight's meeting including Committee Reports especially the CAG (Solaris health care impact). and the numerous Ordinances suggest that perhaps we may need to bring sleeping bags. Again I have not seen the "binder" but there are weird items for discussion tonight. As Plaintalker has pointed out the establishment of a salary range for City Treasurer is unusual since there is no position in the City's TO. Like the IT manager a position is being funded before it is created by Ordinance amending the City Charter. Is this an attempt to bypass the CFO?

NO REPLY YET

It has been two weeks since I emailed an open letter (posted in this blog) to the Governor and to the Director of DCA. AS anticipated although I had hoped that I would be wrong, as of this morning I have received no answer from either party.

Perhaps this story from the NorthJersey,com (The Record) would explain why. Read the full story and extrapolate why it costs so much to run this State.

"A career Democratic politician will collect more than $5,300 monthly after resigning from her part-time government job on the day she qualified for a state pension.

Susan Bass Levin, 58, told the Local Finance Board via BlackBerry on Oct. 29 that she would retire from state government Nov. 1, according to a copy of the message released by the board. That was the day she reached 25 years of New Jersey government employment, entitling her to early retirement and lifetime health benefits.

The Local Finance Board, within the Department of Community Affairs, oversees municipal and county spending. A spokeswoman for Community Affairs did not indicate Friday whether an immediate successor — to be named by Governor Christie — is in line."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ALAN GOLDSTEIN as GUEST

Just as yesterday I offered to an "ANON" the opportunity of my posting an amplification of his comment to one of my recent postings, I recently offered Alan Goldstein the opportunity to have posted his concern about the correctness of a block grant funds awarded to a local entity "Incubator".

When the Resolution was first offered for vote there were objections to various provisions that it was finally passed in modified form. What was never clear was if or how it was advertised, were any RFP or RFQ requested for "bids", and if there were any other perhaps better qualified bidders.

Mr. Goldstein has continually question the legitimacy of awarding the contract and Mr. Dunn made remarks at a special Council meeting that inferred that the contract had been fulfilled. Now this "Grant" is appearing again on the agenda for Monday night's meeting.

Mr. Goldstein's comments represent only his own findings and opinion and are posted here as a courtesy and a public service.

Alan Goldstein to me via email 11/13/2010
Okay Doc, here it is below. I hope your offer still stands and this could be up tomorrow or Monday before the Agenda meeting. The link at the end is for a scene from On the Waterfront.

Contender or Bum?

In an article about the WikiLeaks war document revelations appearing in last week’s ‘New Yorker’, journalist Steve Coll writes that “A democracy is strengthened when its citizens are confronted with the raw truths that follow from the choices of their elected officials”.

I’ve been battling for nearly four months to get the city government to do right by the community and take care that a Recovery Act-funded Community Services Block Grant totaling $268,000, tagged mostly for a job training program, be used correctly. Today I forayed out to the library on a beautiful morning when Plainfield looks so nice and inviting. At that wonderful place of knowledge it didn’t take long to realize, oh, what a fool I’ve been. Who would have thought that just when you think you’re winning on one front, another one opens right up? The enemy just keeps coming.

What an agenda we’ve got on store. New light is shed on the ‘understanding’ we came to with the Dept. of Community Affairs over the use of the CSBG. The City stimulated the economy by sitting on a grant and then turning most of it over under cover of summer quietude into a payday for the politically-astute who paddle the river of connections and campaign booty. Forced to backtrack, it looks like DCA did actually come down on the profiteers’ plans and would only approve certain spending, and only spending for services engaged in by Sept. 30th. The legitimacy even of this spending cries out for an audit, something I’ve asked of Congressman Pallone. And, wow, according to the City Administrator at the budget hearings, as of Nov. 4th DCA had only approved about $50,000, so it could be all the shakin’ and bakin’ has cost us around a quarter million of lost opportunity to create a program worth being proud of, instead of the insult it was conceived as, and the embarrassment it has become.

It looks now that our officials are making an end run around our right flank. If I read the agenda correctly, the plan is to abandon the CSBG front and reinforce the Incubator contract by opening a CDBG front so public money could still be profiteered and we won’t be any the wiser. Put some lipstick on the old pig, and another source of funds, and let’s get on with the job of stiffing the folks back home. Let’s not mince words though. The CDBG is creature of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and job training activities of HUD come under the Workforce Investment Act just like CSBGs. There’s just such effort going into siphoning off resources from the very mechanism that’s been put in place that should be receiving them instead. Call it a conflict of interest, or an ethics violation, or outright looting, and you wouldn’t be far off.

One has to marvel at the ‘profits-not people’ mentality that’s driven the score. Finding out who wrote this symphony will have to wait until the City fulfills a nearly 3-month old OPRA request for correspondence. I’d like to ultimately prepare a timeline for posterity and then we can give credit where credit is due. But this year’s award show is coming up, and I see on the agenda that our officials are making an effort to make it a good one. For Best Re-aim and Re-load, we’ve got the elevation of a new Director of Administration, Finance, Health & Social Services, a man who knows all the ins and outs of local government, with particular expertise in Nutley and Essex County. I give him the nod for his sheer persistence at finding a new way to get money to the Incubator, for his key role on the bid review committee, and his profession of ignorance as to how things came to be the way they have. His connections are great, and we probably couldn’t ask for any better at knowing ways for squeezing private profit from the public trough and directing City business to the right people.

Such choices our elected officials have to make! Sometimes they should do right even if they can get away with wrong. To do wrong intentionally is not a choice they should make. Are we contenders or are we bums?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0waNRaz6wU

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ABOUT AGENDA MEETING

Anon November 13, 2010 8:12 AM wrote in a commentary about my suggestion that the Council "Adjourn its "Agenda Setting Session"at 11PM to reconvene the next night if it appeared that it was going to go on for a prolong period of time. This is a prime example of why Plainfield is in such a mess.
I suggest letting the Council decide what is best for them. Focusing on things like how to run a meeting is the wrong focus.
Focus on results and hold them accountable to results. Not meetings-per-month.

I am flabbergasted by the stupidity show by this person who at least has the sense not to identify him/herself. I

If anon had taken the time to understand that my emphasis was on the length of the meeting is mentally exhausting that the Council itself cannot give the full attention to the deliberation that is involved with.

it is not the province for the Council to decide what is best for them, but what is best for the community that they represent. The format of the meeting is important if we are to have a true transparent democratic government. The ability of the public to have a participant role in an municipal affairs is paramount to good government.

If anon can explain otherwise I will be happy indeed delighted to post his rebuttal.

To the more pressing matters of the day, a review of the agenda for Monday night's meeting suggests that my suggestion will be a moot idea. There are no discussion items on the agenda. This portion of the agenda setting meetings is usually the culprit the results of the meeting marathons. None is on the agenda this time.

however, if as anticipated the budget review and acceptance is on the docket, then it will be a long meeting.

As to the agenda itself there is one resolution that stands out; this is to amend the resolution passed earlier this year funding a personal service agreement with the "Incubator". The original contract has been the subject of criticism especially by city activists Alan Goldstein. there is the question of the qualifications of the vendor. With the revisions are in this new resolution I cannot comment on until I have a chance to read the printed copy.

The other major items to be placed on the agenda are the appointment of Mr. Alfred Restaino as director of capital is administration and finance. curiously there is an accompanying resolution to execute a professional services agreement with with Powell Capitol Markets Inc. For financial advisory services. Is this supposed to be a submitted to for a CFO? this letter I should be the subject of some discussion.

Also, there are eight ordinances being presented for first reading. Six are from the Planning Board and two from Personnel.

Friday, November 12, 2010

MONDAY NIGHT IS A-COMING

Monday night, 11/15/2010 the Council will hold its delayed Agenda session. I have concerns whether the Council will be able to accomplish all the normal business that must have accrued in the past 4 weeks plus discussion on proposed amendments to the belated 2011FY budget.

If I may dare to make a suggestion; if the meeting is lasting beyond 11PM that the Council move to "adjourn the meeting to reconvene Tuesday night", or Wednesday which ever is more convenient.
This is a legal procedure and no additional written notice need be published. The reconvened adjourned meeting is part of the regular meeting.

I make this suggestion because I can not believe that any group that has been in session for over 3 hours can operate efficiently and effectively. The Council starts it executive session between 6 an 6:30PM so by 11 they will have been in session 41/2 hours.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I believe that I and all others who have served our country have earned the right to speak out on government affairs. To day is a day that expressed in the past our nations appreciation. But you do not have to thank anyone who served in the armed forces in times of combat. Just try to appreciate the trials experienced by them and those they left at home who often had no knowledge where or how their loved ones where.


These documents are 64 years old and time has faded the ink
I don't expect people to be able to read them but they should be enlargeable like pictures by clicking on them



In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Later that same year, on October 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first "Veterans Day Proclamation" which stated: "In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose. Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible."
************************************************************************************

We can not win a war in Afghanistan or even Iraq because we can not force our interpretation of Democracy upon people that have never had a taste of personal freedom. But we must not negate the sacrifices that many have made by forcing a political premature withdrawal.

On the other hand we can not accomplish anything positive if we act like the "Ugly American" in dealing with the indigenous population.

I may have had a conducted tour of Europe in 1944-45. My brother, also a physician served with the Marine Fleet Air Wing in the Pacific. While on Guadalcanal he was instrumental in organizing the air evacuation techniques that saved many a life. He made the Navy a career, I on the other hand could not wait to again be a civilian.

One of his sons spent two tours of duty in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, another served in the submarines.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

POTPOURRI TOLERANCE FOLLOW UP

On Monday I posted a blog titled "Tolerance". in which I mentioned the availability of education material for the school system that the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) would provide. The firs comment I received was from a Richard Keefe. who blasted the SPLC using untrue statements. I posted as a comment my reply with true facts.

A check with "Linkline" produced 20 Richard or Rick Keefes. Not one was a Plainfield area resident. Further googling opened a "blog" by Richard Keefe which is Anti-SPLC to the point that the false statements in his communication to this blog was repeated as fact.

It is obvious that the writer would destroy the SPLC if he could,perhaps because of its track record against the KKK and America First/Nazi like groups.

The individual may or may not be a member of the America First, KKK, Skinheads, Pseudo-Nazi movements, but he expresses a taint of bigotry that puts the other 19 individuals with a similar name into a defensive role.

IT & MEDIA (REPOSTING)

I owe all who read this blog an apology for the incoherent and error ridden original posting which I hope I have now re-edited. There was an external interruption that let me to post prematurely. 


The chickens have come home to roost.

This was evident last night during Chris Payne's presentation of what is termed IT and Media.. Mr. Payne PA seems quite knowledgeable in all asked technical and hardware aspects of what he is supposedly employed to do.

The big question however is what is his responsibility, his job description, and who is his boss.

This quandary is a result of two factors; one of which is the Councils own doing. The Council's refusal to go back to the shorter semi monthly meeting schedule has resulted in over-stressful long meetings which tend to produce metal fatigue and corresponding procedural errors and omission. Important actions were never follow through and forgotten under the pressure of urgent business.

The major factor that resulted in the quandary facing the Council last night was directly the result of the lack of proper research and preparation by the then City Administrator. When the creation of a division IT entity was proposed by City Administrator DaShields it had been apparent to some that he was enthusiastic about the subject but had little concept of structure and goals required. .He alluded that the "Division of Data Processing" was to restrictive to accommodate what he envisioned.

Instead of creating a division with a table of organization and a mission statement as to responsibility, goals, and place in the three departmental structure mandated by the city charter. The ordinance which was presented to the Council for adoption only created a position which had several title changes some permitted by state regulations and others that were unuseable since the were only reserved for state-level government. The ultimate name for what for the position with was Manager of IT.

The verbal response to whom the IT manager was going to report was the Mayor. At the time it was and glossed over without further consideration by the Council in its desire to create something IT.

The Council and in its enthusiasm for the new technology and their own impressions of what information technology connoted, I have set a salary range for a position in a entity that did not exist in this city's TO.

The Council  did  raise the question to whom this individual would report but never followed up on the organizational structure. There was vague assurance that the individual would report directly to the mayor. Although this would have required a change my ordinance in theis a city charter, no action was ever taken by the Corporation Counsel to provide the proper ordinance that would have created a division of Information Technology and Media.

Until last night it became obvious that the Mayor's decision to have the IT/media personnel before  report directly to her was contrary to the City Charter. It must also become evident that Information Technology and Media services are two separate matters and although they may be under the direction of one individual, they should require separate staffing. I would not rule out cross staffing because Mr. Payne is apparently quite capable of being an expert in both subjects.

The Council President McWilliams without  requested that a proper ordinance to create a section of IT and Media would be presented [she hoped] for the November business meeting. The second reading passing it would that be in December and because of the meeting dates could not be effective until the calendar year 2011.

There is a major problem facing IT in that that although a great deal of money was spent in 2006 or 2007 to upgrade the city's community network it was never completed. Every department and division apparently has different proprietary software that is incapable of communicating with the equipment of other departments. Many of the computers are so old they cannot accommodate up to date software. They will have to be at some expense  a  replacement of software systems that cannot be made compatible to operate in a networked.

Although Council members are idealistic and enthusiastic about what potential can be realized with a functioning IT network, they are completely unrealistic in its applications. Until any
desired goals can be reached an integrated functioning network has to be established and funded. There is at present little estimate available as to the complete cost.

This is going to take greater funds than are available at present. Along with the division enabling ordinance one of the first steps should be the production of a legitimate multi-year development plan.

It was must also be realized That Media and IT are two different animals. Also that of at least in IT the question of shared services must be moot one until we have the capabilities of being the provider rather than the supplicant.

IT is an important element in all government and business operations in today's world, but it is not the nirvana visualized by Council membership. Digital data can never replaced human input.

The Media part of this "Division" should be a separate blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

COUNCIL POTPOURRI

The penultimate Council budget hearings session was in some ways a very sad one in as much as it reinforced the impression received in previous hearings meetings that the City's administration is approaching a disaster in functional capabilities. The layoffs this past February involved the membership of the clerical and administrative unions. This created a serious problem in the Clerk's office.

After listening to City Clerk Wyatt's emotional presentation of the problems in her office caused by the loss of two trained clerks although her confidence is only one list that it was for the man who they will. The visiting youngster was probably picked up one of the traveling gypsy.( the italicized portion of the previous sentence is how Dragon interpreted several words I was going to say.) Although one trained individual was restored to the Clerk's office a second replacement had been bumped down from a position that had no relationship to the duties she now had to do. In effect she was useless for a period of time .

The essence of City Clerk Wyatt's presentation was that her office can no longer function in a manner that would allow her to meet its obligations.

One of the problems with layoffs in an union contract is for a laid off person with seniority the right to bump a person with lesser seniority from his/her job even if the bumper does not have the skills needed. This can be catastrophic iN a nerve center office auch asthe Clerk's domain.

The first hour was devoted to the IT presentation by the "manger" We are fortunate to have a person who appears quiet competent for such a position. However despite his enlightening presentation it quickly became evident that there was a problem about his status in the City's TO. This will be discussed in a post later this morning.

POTPOURRI TOLERANCE

Since the following was not consistent with the subject matter of today's blog I am posting this short addendum blog.

The increase in hate crimes and religious intolerance both nationally and internationally should be a subject of great concern for all of us. This includes the rising denials of the massive genocides of the Nazi and Soviet eras. As well as this generations disregard to those occurring in various African Nations.

One need only read the inside of newspapers and readers comments to know he validity of this concern.

The sad part is that often those who claim to be most devoted religiously are the greatest violators of their faith's teachings. Those that claim erroneously they are adhering to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence would destroy our way of life.

I can not forget that there is an old English idiom "People that live in glass houses should not throw stones". The subjects of "Intolerance" and "Bigotry" is one that all of us should take an introspective look. It would be a plus if the School System should take advantage of the programs offered for free by "The Southern Poverty Law Center". From their home page, "Our Teaching Tolerance program is working to foster school environments that are inclusive and nurturing – classrooms where equality and justice are not just taught, but lived. The program points to the future, helping teachers prepare a new generation to live in a diverse world".

All school districts in New Jersey should take advantage of this opportunity. It is the fact that although we trend to ignore it, according to the Southern Poverty Center's report on "hate groups' , New Jersey has an extreme large number of pro Nazi or KKK type groups. They are as great a danger to our freedom as the "Islamic Terror" groups.

COUNCIL POTPOURRI

Thank goodness for Bernice's report last night's Council budget hearings. She just gave me the opportunity to delve into random thoughts for today's blog.

one great improvement notice last night's hearings was the in depth printouts from each presenter that were also distributed to the audience. Council President McWilliams format and transparency in conducting these sessions is 1000 percent improvement over any and all that I've attended in the past 20 years.

The recurrent theme in all presentations was one of having already limited sources in personnel to properly fulfill the functions of their division and that further reductions or changes in time will really cripple any efficiency that they may have. I

Interposed during the discussions was the question of union concessions. City administrator noted that only two unions, one which was apparently the clerks and other employees of that nature, pedigree for any adjustment in their union contracts or in new negotiation. It was inferred that without complete agreement by all unions that no union individually would be forced to make adjustment. paragraph

Without specific finger-pointing it was implied that the city's two biggest unions, police and fire, were steady fast in their maintaining all clauses in their contracts.

There's recurrent implication that computerization would be the answer to all their problems. Forgot, is the fact that electronic record-keeping depends on the number and quality of the individuals inputting the data. There is no guarantee that a change in system would improve efficiency or accuracy.

I await tonight's session when information technology [IT] presents its budget review and request for the first time. What will be interesting is learning what this "entity" is supposed to do. How is it going to fulfill its mission.

In regards to Information Technology a review of the city's organizational chart which was posted recently in Maria's blog shows this to be like the Corporation Counsel and the City Administrator reported directly to the Mayor.

This organizational structure seems to be contrary to that defined in the latest change by ordinance to the city charter in the early 90s during Mayor Furry's administration with the Director of Public Safety's office was created. When the Council funded the provision of information technology and created by ordinance the title and charge to the individuals who would fill that office there was no mention or change to the city charter except a question to whom he would report. The Council must legalize by ordinance this change in the Table of Organization.

One of the great problems in the city and in this administration is the disregard for the provisions of the charter and state regulations.

Monday, November 8, 2010

RE CELL PHONE WARNING.

Further information and clarification on email warning. Thanks to the level head who took the time to check with Snopes about the validity of the warning. Sorry for any inconvenience.



Celling Your Soul

Claim: Cell phone users must register their numbers with the national "Do Not Call" directory by a given deadline to prevent their cell phone numbers from being released to telemarketers.

FALSE


Origins: Despite dire warnings about the imminent release of cell phone numbers to telemarketers that continue to be circulated via e-mail year after year, cell phone users do not have to register their cell phone numbers with the national Do Not Call registry before a soon-to-pass deadline to head off an onslaught of telemarketing calls. The panic-inducing e-mails (which circulate especially widely every January or June, since many versions of the warning list the end of those months as a cut-off date for registering

cell phone numbers with the national Do Not Call registry) grew out of a misunderstanding about the proposed creation of a wireless directory assistance service.

Cell phone numbers have generally been excluded from printed telephone books and directory assistance services. However, since the use of cell phones has burgeoned in recent years (to the point that many people no longer maintain landline phone service), several national wireless companies (AllTel, AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile) banded together and hired Qsent, Inc. (since purchased by TransUnion) to produce a Wireless 411 service. Their goal was to pool their listings to create a comprehensive directory of cell phone customer names and phone numbers that would be made available to directory assistance providers.

Someone made the wild leap of reasoning that the proposed creation of a cell phone directory was the equivalent of "giving cell phone numbers to telemarketers" and began the chain of wildly inaccurate e-mails warning cell phone users to register with the National Do Not Call List in order to prevent this fate. This warning was overblown, for a couple of major reasons:
  • The Wireless 411 service was to be strictly "opt-in" — that is, cell phone customers would be included in the directory only if they specifically request to be added. The phone numbers of wireless customers who did nothing would not be included, those who chose to be listed could have their numbers removed from the directory if they changed their minds, and there was no charge for requesting to be included or choosing not to be included.
  • The Wireless 411 information was not to be included in printed phone directories, distributed in other printed form, made available via the Internet, or sold to telemarketers. It would be made available only to operator service centers performing the 411 directory assistance service.
All of these points have been summed up in numerous media articles, such as the following from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
There is a grain of truth in the message making it believable, but it's wrong on two counts: Not all cell phone numbers will be listed in the national directory planned for 2006. And telemarketers will not have access to the directory. It is illegal for marketers using auto-dialers — and most do — to call wireless phone numbers.

Here's the truth:

A national directory will be compiled, but numbers will be included on an opt-in basis. If a cell phone subscriber does nothing, the number will not be listed. When the directory is ready, it will be available only as part of the existing 411 directory service, accessed by calling in and asking for a specific number. It will not be published in a book or on the Internet. And it will not be sold to telemarketers.

Cell phone subscribers can list their numbers on the do-not-call registry if they choose, but there is no deadline to get on the list, as the e-mail messages now circulating suggest
Qsent's Wireless 411 service still has not seen the light of day, and several states have since passed laws Cell phone requiring wireless carriers to obtain the consent of subscribers before listing them in directories. (A different company, Intelius, did offer a fee-for-use reverse cell phone number lookup service based on information obtained from non-phone company sources, but it operated that service for only a few months before announcing its discontinuation in February 2008.)

Cellular users can choose to register their cell numbers with the national Do Not Call registry, but doing so provides only a small additional measure of protection, since FCC regulations already in place block the bulk of telemarketing calls to cell phones. There is not (and never has been) a deadline to list one's phone number with the national Do Not Call Registry — it can be done at any time. (Contrary to previous statements, the FTC announced in October 2007 that Do Not Call registry entries will not expire after five years, so those who signed up when the registry went into effect in June 2003 will not have to register again in 2008.)