Friday, December 31, 2010

REFLECTIONS ON PAST SNOWY NEWYEARS EVES.

As I sit and look out at the deep snow, memories of other New Years flash through my mind.

1948 was marked by the Blizzard at Christmas followed by the area paralyzing Ice Storm of New Years. In those years doctors made house calls, in fact they were on call 24/7. One was obligated by professional belief to respond to a patient's emergency even in the middle of the night. The answering machines did not instruct the caller to go to the emergency room. Instead either the doctor had a phone bedside or if there was an answering machine it referred to the Physician's Answering Services which were just starting up. One  was even "manned" by the Plainfield VNA, the other privately owned. 

When  the telephone wires came down that day I breathed a sigh of relief, I could not be reached and would not have to go out to a call. If the Hospital needed me the Police would have provided transportation.

The other memorable snow bound New Years Eve was in 1944.The 944-45 winter as one of the coldest I have ever experienced. In December 44. the 17th Airborne was still in England and I was visioning a short leave to visit Wales. Instead those damn Germans launched an attack resulting in the Battle of the Bulge.

Our Division received orders right after X-mas to get to France. That was the first Mass movement of a fighting Division by Air. I believe that I have previously posted a story about that time.

To make a long story short, On New Years Eve I had set up a small Aid Station with 4 medics to support A Company which had been detached to protect a B ridge over the Meuse River.  I had set up our station in a village house which was in the middle of an attached row of houses. I knew that gave us some protection form the Guns of Bed Check Charlie on their nightly overflight.

Early in December the 18th Airborne Corp which was headquartered in the same camp as our Regiment had flown in a plane load of Portuguese brandy. Our officer shad received a "ration" of one bottle each. I was able via a poker game to corner about 4  bottles and when we loaded the Jeep on the plane my bedroll contained those bottles. So New Year's Eve in France the officers of A Company and I celebrated with one of the bottles.

GOODBY 2010

Fine way to end the year with laryngitis. For one who has never found a microphone that hr did not like, that is catastrophic.

Notable in 2010:
  • Two budgets  passing in the same calender year.
  • A competent Director of Public Works employed. He resigned  9 months later.
  • The City Administrator was fired by the Mayor. The Council reinstated her.
  • PMUA ignored Council's requests for a meeting.
  • PMUA raises rates again and again.
  • The Supervisor of Recreation was unable to comply to Council's repeated requests for an appearance.
  • The Council amended the  FY2011 budget by underfunding the salary line for Recreation.
  • Council meetings lasted until midnight or later.
  • There was an astronomical rise in shootings and murders
  • The Director of Public Safety again restructured the Police Division.
  • The Superintendent of Schools was terminated.
  • The Director of Public Safety was suspended 3 days for an indiscretion.
  • A year of disasters both natural and man made.
  • California had its usual quota of forest fires, floods, mud slides an d earthquakes fortunately none of the later were major.
  • Unusual voter impact resulted in a Republican Governor, who is making waves both good  and bad.
  • Locally the same newly found independence among voters resulted in the election of 4 members  to the BOE who did not have "the power that be"'s support. Any positive results still awaits the test of time.
  • The same voter's interest at the Primary (the election that matters) unseated an impact Councilman.
  • There  is more which will come to mind about 3am New Years.
  • To all a Healthy, Happy, Personally gratifying 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

JUST POTPOURRI

What can a school system teach? That depends on what the professionals and the public wants.

In Thornville Ohio a rural red neck country community near Columbus, in conjunction with two other school districts there is a "gifted child" program that meets one school day a week instead of the regular classroom day. Among subjects taught in this class was chess lessons.


In this picture my 9 year old great grandson, Casey Patterson, is playing against an elderly person. For this particular game Casey was the winner! The third person in picture is my son-in-law Bob. 




By the way over the weekend we had an extra guest at the party.

Pamela, Mack, Andy (recording artist)
Camera phone technology has eliminated privacy. The above pix needs a little cropping which I will do if I decide to keep it in my files.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

REFLECTIONS ON A POST SNOW DAY

State Senator Lesniak is correct in his criticism of Govenor Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagnoto be out of the State at the same time. Their action makes a farce of the recent5 State Constitutional change creating the Lt.Gov. position to specifically avoids a situation where the President of the State Senate becomes the acting governor.

Whatever other role the Lt. Gov. has in the State Government is immaterial even if that is the slot from which the salary line  is derived. Someone elected to a post must fill that role. It is obvious that the change in the Constitution creating the Lt. Governors spot was not for the public benefit but political to permit the ticket with a individual that would pull in a large minority group's votes. Since this was dine  when the Democrats  controlled  both the Administrative and the Legislative branches of government it may have backfired.

If we are going to have a Lt. Gov. instead of that person being a coat hanger flunky a la the Vice President, perhaps we should vote separately for that office to elect the best qualified individual even if he/she belongs to another party. This works in other states.

I know that all who read this blog also read "Maria's". How many like myself are disturbed by the either lack or ignorance of accountability at the public school level and especially with the charter schools. The later require a large sum of  public funds which may since I have not done the math for any, cost more per-student's education  than public schools.   Are we the public getting our dollars worth from each charter school? If not we must have some means to be sure that each charter school program is exceeding minimal standards by a substantial margin.

Individual parental agendas should not be a restrictive or privileged user of resources in the public school or charter school venues. All children should have equal opportunity for quality education. It is up to us to make sure it is available and up to the children's parents to make sure they use it.

MONDAY NIGHT

Although despite repeated advice to stay home because driving conditions were dangerous and some still had not either dug out their car or open their driveway the Council held its meeting last night. It approved the budget as amended. Personally I felt that the eliminating the purchasing division was a mistake.

i along with the rest of you will have to wait to find out if Council  voted to participate in the solar  panel project. That would be another mistake. Also if they changed their meeting schedule to a reasonable one.

I do not feel that I was disenfranchised since I had no intention of attending this meeting before the storm hit. Monday was to be the last day my family would  be in Plainfield. However, their plans were changed for them  and in  my small house all couches and spare room became bedding areas. This arrangement may last another day since fortunately no one has a deadline this week to be back home.

The storm caused us to cancel reservations for dinner, and instead we had  a spontaneous 40th Birthday party at home for my oldest granddaughter. How time flies!

That brings me to fantasy "Oh Hell" . While I did win 25% of the games one extremely lucky individual did win about 42% and two others had a better overall average. My Mississippi River card shark and his accomplice were able to deal me hands where routinely 2s and 5s won tricks, whereas Aces were trumped.

It is true that luck is often better than skill.

Monday, December 27, 2010

SNOW DAY

If and/or when the Special Meeting scheduled for tonight to approve and adopt the  FY2011 budget takes place despite official request to stay off the roads One item on the agenda is the following::
RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION AND DELIVERY OF CERTAIN AGREE-
MENTS AND CERTAIN OTHER ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN CONNECTION WITH THE UNION
COUNTY IMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY’S RENEWABLE ENERGY PROGRAM

I have opined against our participation in this entrepreneurial enterprise since the three locations that will be used in Plainfield will not provide enough power to result in a material savings for those buildings and there is no guarantee that PSEG will purchase any excess.  The long term commitment may results in excessive costs after the initial promotional years. I hope the council is not seduced by the terms Technology, Green, and Savings. If their due diligence can prove that I am wrong then there should be no objection. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SPECIAL MEETING

Old man winter is messing up my family's travel plans, that means that at leas one more night of "Oh Hell"
Score after 7 games: 3 #1,1#2, 1#3, 1#6, 1#7(last) for shame.

If and when Monday's night Council meeting takes pace, there are 2 items that would be of public concern. One is the meeting schedule. If the Council has the degree of common sense that I and others credit them with they will return to the twice monthly schedule, if not the time  period between meetings will continue to create crisises of urgency.  moreover the present routine of meetings lasting until midnight or later is discouraging for public participation and I do not believe that is intentional.

The other matter is for discussion  RULES OF ORDER OF THE PLAINFIELD CITY COUNCIL: MS. ANNIE MCWILLIAMS, COUNCILWOMAN-AT-LARGE, WILL INTRODUCE REVISIONS AND/OR CORRECTIONS/DELETIONS AND ADDITIONS FOR COUNCIL’S CONSIDERATION (RELATED MATERIAL DISTRIBUTED TO  COUNCILMEMBERS ONLY UNDER SEPARATE COVER).

I certainly can not comment on something which has not been made available I presume that this is relating to the meeting schedule. The other subject would be the Public participation segment.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec 25, 2010

A wish that all of us regardless of religious beliefs
have a happy safe Holiday season
and that
2011 be a year of good health, good fortune,
and congenial for all



Madonna and Child
(1480)
Carlo Civelli
1435-1493

Thursday, December 23, 2010

QUICKIE

Congratulations and best wishes to Bibi and family on the birth of Lena.

However it would have been more in keeping with  Oz  if  Bibi  Lena had arrived at 12:01 AM Tuesday.

On that subject, Today's Courier Editorial is a masterpiece, a must read..http://www.mycentraljersey.com/cneditorial  enjoy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

PLAINFIELD IN OZ

For the  next 10 days people's interests will be directed more to personal affairs than community. Two important meetings will however take place just after Christmas weekend; The Council' special meeting to adopt the budget amendments and perhaps the budget.

Hidden on Tuesday during dinner hour (6PM) so that it would be convenient for the public to attend is the PMUA meeting. We have just received a mailing from PUMA noting that the residents solid waste charge will remain the same. BUT hidden in that charge and not itemized is a "Shared Services" charge per agreement with the City and PUMA. This charge which has nothing to do with our individual "garbage and recycle" service is hidden in the Solid Waste charge and not itemized.

Since by a questionable legal ruling the shared services charges are proportionally paid by every property owner although the formula is not public it is a property tax by inference since it is applicable and charged  also to those that have opt out of the PMUA system or have no solid waste service.

Both this "shared services" a municipal agreement and the Sewer service  should be tax deductible items which they are not since they are billed  by PMUA. Their legitimacy  has been challenged  but the court decision never moved to the second step of appeal. Sewer service was once on the Tax bill, It is a required municipal service and should be part of our taxes not something to be paid to an tax exempt authority..

The 2010 Council tried to meet  with the PMUA Commissioners but the later never  kept its commiment to the city to hold that meeting. That should be a priority for the 2011 Council and public hearing held even if the PUMA officials have to be subpoenaed to attend.

2011 will be a new year. Let the local government do it right.  Once again for numerous reasons that have been previously posted many times, the 2011 Council should return to the semi-monthly schedule More frequent and shorter meetings with enable the Council to be more responsive.

We are waiting for an official indication of the  termination agreement  with Dr. Gallon. Since it contained money matters paid for by our tax dollars,  it can not be a concealed matter   DR. E=MC² has  been posting another analysis of the PSS. His latest posting contains so many powerful statements that it should be required reading for Board members. http://www.dremc2.org/E%3Dmc2/Blog/Blog.html

For teh next week at best there will only be a sporadic posting of this blog.

CENSUS AND OTHER POTPOURRI

The 2010 Census figures are beginning to be released. The indications are that the State will lose one Congressional seat. That will mean that the districts will have to be redrawn. Which district will be eliminated?

My guess is that it will be the 6th-our district-since it is the most gerrymandered one in the State. The alternative would be the 12th the largest in the State in area with a major revision of the 6th. Under any circumstances we will not recognize the present 6th district two years from now.

We await the release of the municipality census to see if Plainfield did report over 50,000. That is important for funding.

Sadly, Assemblyman Green's bill A444, about school board membership pasted the Senate and now awaits the Governor's signature. I hope he has enough sense to veto it as it is and was meant to be punitive. There is still an odor that it may have been written to target one individual. If it is applies concurrently, Plainfield's Board will lose one of its more valuable members while those who have no concept of possible conflict of interests as well as those whose personal agenda run to increased political involvement or a narrow focus on certain aspects of education. SHAME SHAME, SHAME.

There were two significant remarks made Monday night that listeners may overlook the significance; The first was by the Mayor who said that she had the support of certain Councilor members when she decided on the firing, but tonight they had obviously changed their minds.

That is disturbing if some Councilors would accommodate an irresponsible action at the expense of the one remaining Cabinet member who was a positive influence in the city. We have been saddled with too many hacks in the past. It is also disturbing because it suggest that Jerry Green is actively calling the shots for those Councillors.

The other remark was by Council President McWilliams when after one of the harangues blasting the Council for turning David Wynn's job into a part time one reminded him that all the Council can do is allocate available funds within parameters established by the State and that it was the Administration that had the responsibility for determining layoffs or reclassifying jobs. She went on to say that if two unions would have voluntarily agreed for some adjustments in their contracts that some if not all of the layoffs would have been eliminated. And we wonder why our local administration has cut staffing to the bone even to the point where various divisions can not operate effectively or in the public's safety.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR

Has the Mayor as Chairman of the Board truly conceived of an pro tempore plan for the City Administrator's position during Ms Taylor's maternity leave? Or was the plan to have Corporation Counsel Williamson assume that role while an other attorney who was at the meeting would be Acting Corporation Counsel a last minute "solution"?

I had picked up accidentally some information. the source is privileged, which inferred that Ron West may have been contacted before the ax was dropped on Taylor. If so and if he would even have considered it is surprising since Jerry Green in his writings in no uncertain terms laid much of the blame of Muhlenberg's closing on West's shoulders. Certainly Mr. West's position on the Solaris Board as well as the puppet Muhlenberg Board can not endear him to any concerned Plainfielder.

Corporation Counsel Williamson has been the spokesman for the Mayor at Council Meetings especially during the Dasheild era. That was not as necessary since Ms Taylor could hold her own. But does that make him qualified to fill the roll of City Administrator? What is the criteria i the City Charter. Does years of legal experience and a degree in law meet those requirements or the alternative? The Charter reads:

4.2 City administrator; qualifications.The city administrator shall be chosen solely on the basis of his training, experience, and administrative and executive qualifications. Prior to his appointment, he shall have completed and received a master's degree in public or business administration and shall have had at least 2 years of actual executive experience in municipal administration or an equivalent combination of education and experience. At the time of his appointment, he need not be a resident of the city or of the State.

The other point is, who determines how long Ms Taylor must be absent from the Administrator's position. Can she fill it with a combination of part time home part time in the City Hall? Can she act as an active consultant to the pro tempore? My bet is that if she wishes she will b e out of the office only a minimal period of time.

One gets the impression that the "powers that be" are winging it in the same manor that proposing appointments for a vacancy that didn't exist almost took place.


COUNCIL POTPOURRI Dec.20b

Monday night's Council meeting was the final regular meeting for Councilors Linda Carter and Rashid Burney. Both have been dedicated Councilors and although at times I have felt that their votes were off base (mine), I have never questioned that their basic interests were that of the City. Both will be missed.

I hope that each one will continue in person and in their blog to participate in the Council and City's affairs.

I would return to a report on the Council Meeting, but since I had to leave the Council meeting early (midnight) I can not report on anything factual after the "Taylor" vote. However, after a short detour I shall make some comments.

For the next 6 or 7 days I will be spending more time with family than with a blog. That is one of the things that make this time of the year great.

Great ! no, it is not that I may not post a blog, although some anoni would claim that to be a fact. Rather it is an annual regathering of the clan which spreads to four generations. Not all will be here all the time and my grandson and family will not because like a good husband he accedes to his wife's priorities. They were here the previous weekend.

I must agree with my "diss-ers" in that I am weird. I like Fruit Cake and when the Lions Club sold them in the 50s i usually ended up with two in the freezer. The Plainfield Lions Club Fruit Cake sale was for years the big money raiser for its Boy Scouts and Blind Charities.

I also still hanker for a piece of mince meat pie with or without vanilla ice cream. Nothing of course could ever equal my mother-in-law's pie made with real minced meat. However for years no one has made even the "vegetarian" one.

To reluctantly return to local politics; If anybody thought that Plainfield's citizenship is indifferent to local politics they should have been among the 130 who packed the court room Monday night/Tuesday morning. Except for the 15 or so who came to shill for David Wynn the other 115 where there to make sure that the Council would act in the City's best interests.

The Council permitted everyone who wished to address it to speak even when the speaker was arguing against a matter that was neither on the Council's agenda or within its action capacity. Nor did the Council cut anyone off.

In view of the public outcry and without any evidence to the contrary, the Council could not have taken any action other than the unanimous one that they adopted.

What remains as a problem is Ms. Taylor's willingness under the circumstances to return actively for any prolong period as City Administrator. The Mayor has stated that she will not make her uncomfortable or be antagonistic. As I and others remarked that the difference between the City Administrator this year and the "I will get back to you"(not if I can help it) era was like Day and Night.

With a CFO finally committed for January, her job will be easier with finally a handle on financial controls. Because the previous two years have raised questions by the auditors of potential dangers, I for one hope the incoming Council will initiate a forensic audit of the past 2 to 3 years when there was no responsible individual in that post.

Due to the length I will post separately my concerns on the interim City Administrator post during Ms Taylor's maternity leave.

I

Time out!

To take your mind off the Mayor; play this and enjoy
http://tastelikepizza.com/item/2010/11/france-got-talent---frog-man

QUICKIE

It felt like a BOE meeting.last night when the executive session lasted 90+ minutes rather than the stated 45. The Council added the resolution reinstating Ms Taylor as City Administrator and voted on it after the extended public discussion which was either in support of Ms. Taylor or a large number protesting a downgrading of Recreation Supervisor Wynn's position to part time. The later subject was not on the agenda although it may be a matter of discussion Dec. 27 when there will be a public hearing on the amended Budget prior to adoption.

When theCouncil began consideration of Resolutions an indication of t he Concil's mood as evident in the unanimous vote to override the Mayor's veto of an Ordinance lowering the threshold to $17,500.00 from the State approved level for requiring bids on contracts.

At about 11:30pm Resolution 455-10 was taken out of turn due to the hour and by a 7 to 0 vote Ms Taylor was reinstated by the Council. Later today there will be more details by myself as well as in Plaintalker and Plainfield Today.

Since it was within 5 minutes of Dec. 21,2010, my old bones insisted that despite the amount of business that still had to be acted upon I should head for home. I too will look for days of reports form Bernice and Mark.

I must note that before 2AM Mark had posted on the paper's Plainfield blog site a report on the 'Taylor action."

(This was slightly reedited at 8AM.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

ADDENDUM MINI POTPOURRI

In the past two days I have written all that is pertinent to tonight's meeting and therefor need no additional comments about the agenda.

There is however some interesting data in the temporary budget for Jan. For example when compared to FY 2010 in FY2011 It has already spent with the January appropriation over 73% of the salary expenses and 100% of other expenses with 5 months to go.

Under insurance excluding Health and workman's comp listed as other insurances with the Jan. appropriation it will amount to 139.4% of FY2010. The salary expenditures for the"Office of Economic Development" will have reached nearly 94% of FY2010. There are many other similar abnormalities.

What significance there is to these numbers can only be determined if the proposed FY2011 budget is available for comparison. Thus these are just numbers that may make sense to the Councilors'

My flight of imagination seems to have hit a nerve with a few anonymous who have sent some "crappy" (to use their words) comments which do not merit posting. If she/he/they wish to make an honest point, sign your comment. Otherwise it has as much value as its signature; none

We will see all concerned citizens tonight at the Council meeting.

MINI POTPOURRI

I hope to get to the Library this morning (Monday Dec. 20) and review the agenda resolutions for tonight's meeting. If so I will post any additional comments to yesterdays blog early this afternoon.

I have had what is perhaps a wild thought but in contemplating Assemblyman Green's proposed law regarding members of the BOEs, that perhaps he would consider sponsoring one that would require a psychological evaluation of all candidates for any elected office in the state to be certain that there is no potential personality defect that might impair their proper functioning in office. To carry this thought further appointed or selected members of Boards, Authority Governors, commissions might also be subject to such evaluation.

Just a dream. We live in a world where too many given some degree of power often abuse it sometime out of ignorance as to ethics or conflicts and others who just sought the position for purely personal interests.

I was pleased to note that in yesterday's "Clips" Dan had a reference to "County Watchers" regarding the UCIA proposal for solar panels. I have previously noted that I felt it could not make economic sense for Plainfield even if PSEG had not placed all the possible solar panels on poles that it might need. The little KW that the three Plainfield installation would develop can not justify the potential risk if the "developer" goes bankrupt. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

That item is supposed to be on the special meeting agenda. If so I hope this Council will not make a snap judgement.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dec.19,2010

If something new turns up pertaining to the ""City Administrator imbroglio" after I have posted today's blog I shall post an addendum. I will like most of us have to wait for the media or the well informed insider to publish.

Somewhere I read that The Plainfield Democrat Committee will meet @7PM Monday to select a slate of three individuals that will be presented to the Council for the selection of the temporary successor to our new Freeholder Linda Carter. The person will hold office until the next general election. Since the Committee is composed of two factions perhaps they can arrive at 3 or even 2 candidates with a broad enough understanding of community affairs who would be acceptable to the Council membership. WE don't need a"he is a jolly good fellow team player" type but one who is cognisant in worldly affairs on the Council.

It is unfortunate that the Committee is meeting just 1 hour before the Council's meting as that
may limited those Councilors who are also City committeemen limited time at the party meeting.

If t he process is to work as conceived, the Council will have time to interview and choose the one they wish to represent Wards 1&4.

I had a chance to briefly review the Agenda and hope to spend some time rereading the actual resolutions Monday at the Library.

At present there are several items on the Consent agenda which is approved by a single vote. Some i feel do not belong there and should be voted on independently, by role call if appropriate.
One is a Resolution Honouring Laddie Wyatt the newly retired City Clerk. She does not deserve to be dumped in with "routine business". I am sure that this is an oversight.

Another is a Resolution overriding the Mayor's Veto of MC 2010-28 which needs 5 yea votes.

Not on the Consent Agenda is Resolution 437-10 which is improperly described as " Authorizing approval to execute the Fourth Amendment to the 2007 memorandum of agreement between the City of Plainfield and UMDNJ'S Lattimmore Clinic for the Diagnosis,Treatment and Case management of Tuberculosis for Residents-- in an amount not to exceed $25,000.00.

In the first place the "agreement is not by Plainfield with UMDNJ but rather by the County who then apportions out the cost to the various municipalities by some formula. Westfield is on the hook for $350.00.

The Council should kn ow how many Plainfielders are serviced by the agreement and if the same services are not paid for by Medicaid or Medicare.

Subject--Bibi Taylor

As one who has no inside track to city affairs information I have to rely on media reports. Friday evening Mark Spivey's post which I presume will be on the first page of Saturday's Courier quotes Assemblyman and City Democrat Chairman Green as opining that the Mayor should rescind her letter of dismissal of City Administrator Taylor.

I applaud Assemblyman Green for publicly remarking on the catastrophic effect the Mayor's precipitous action will have on the city. If, before the Council meets Monday night, the Mayor will follow his advice and can legally undo the process she set in motion Wednesday evening that may temporarily defuse the situation.

However, WE are still owed an explanation of the misdeeds that initiated the Mayor's action. In other words there should be a public hearing not private in executive session. If there are problems in the City administration they must not be swept under the carpet.

What still remains to be answered is who is to be the Acting City Administrator during Bibi's maternity leave? And will she wish to return to an active role in this city under the circumstances?

The Council's action Monday night can only have one result under present circumstances of public indignation. The long term effect can be nominal if all parties act rationally.

We have 60 hours to find out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A bit of knowledge that will not impact on Plainfield's future.

What is this? Bird's nest? Squirrel's nest? Bunch of twigs?


True or False: Is Mistletoe the "Kiss of Death?"There is a myth about American Mistletoe, the green-berried parasitic plant often hung in doorways during the holiday season to elicit kisses from those standing beneath it. Reputed to be the "kiss of death," it is said to be so poisonous that humans can be killed if they ingest the leaves or berries. This myth has been endlessly repeated throughout the years, reappearing every December in countless holiday safety reports on television and in print


Is it true? Is American Mistletoe (Phoradendron species), a holiday killer? Two physicians and researchers from Pittsburgh decided to find out. Dr. Edward P. Krenzelok (Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh) and Dr. Terry Jacobson (Carnegie Mellon University) examined data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers and found 1,754 reports of mistletoe exposure over a seven-year span. Curiously, not only had no one died of mistletoe poisoning, in the overwhelming majority of the cases (approximately 90 percent), the patient experienced no effects at all. Those patients who did have effects suffered only minor discomfort. Treatment at a poison control center or at home made no discernible difference in patients' recovery or outcome.

Most mistletoe ingestion is reported in children, often those under two, who finding a couple of berries or leaves that have dropped to the floor will put them in their mouths. Drs. Krenzelok and Jacobson found that such exposure was not dangerous, and that the children could be observed and treated for poisoning symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea, at home. They suggest that parents call their local poison control center and follow the advice given. The study did not indicate whether ingestion of large quantities of mistletoe might be more toxic, nor did it address the degree of exposure that might be toxic in pets (who might be inclined to eat a larger quantity than a child).

Causing at most only minor discomfort, American Mistletoe does not seem to have earned its reputation as the "kiss of death." Its European cousin, Viscum album, sometimes used in herbal remedies, is more toxic, but is not sold commercially in North America and is thus rarely encountered. (from eNature)

From Wikepedia:
Mistletoe is the common name for a group of hemi-parasitic plants in the order Santalales that grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub. The name was originally applied to Viscum album (European Mistletoe, Santalaceae), the only species native in Great Britain and much of Europe. Later the name was further extended to other related species, including Phoradendron serotinum (the Eastern Mistletoe of eastern North America, also Santalaceae). Viscum album is a poisonous plant that causes acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, and diarrhea along with low pulse.[1]


This picture of European Mistletoe is in the quoted Wikepedia article.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

ADMIN ISTRATION CRISIS

At last on Thursday evening after dinner  Mark Spivey posted on http://plainfield.injersey.com his report on the abrupt firing of the City Administrator. Although he was unable to interview the Mayor and apparently from his report "did not cite a reason or offer an explanation, only referencing mayoral "discretion".

That lack of reason in the letter of dismissal is not unexpected. Also unexpected is Bibi Taylor if being quoted correctly as saying that her Maternity Leave started on Tuesday after  Monday night's Council meeting. The mayor had snubbed the Council's request to meet that night and inform the Council of  any plan to operated the City during  Taylor's leave.

Without a statement from the Mayor there are no plans, The Mayor's previous administrative experience was  as President of the Plainfield BOE. That organization's track record is not one to give any citizen the slightest degree of comfort. In the past the Mayor has ignored provisions in the City Charter and Council's requests for accountability.The Charter never intended the Mayor to assume the role of Chief Operating Officer.

Of the two remaining  Department Directors; Hellwig in his role as Director of Public Safety does not demonstrated the qualifications of City Administrator nor has newly appointed Director of Administration and Finance Al Restaino who was director of Community Development a division of Public Works until his sudden appointment to the Directorship in November. The qualifications for City Administrator are specific in the Charter; Article IV 4.2

The Council has only up to December 25 to vote on negating the Mayor's action. The Council President sets the Agenda for its meeting. She needs no vote from the membership place a resolution retaining City Administrator Taylor on the agenda and she can place it wherever she deems it to be appropriate. There should be no waiting for another special meeting.  


More disturbing is the question of who would be acting in Ms. Taylor's capacity at Monday's meeting and during her maternity leave. Her honor by creating a crisis has this right"
3.7 Emergencies.
In the event of an emergency which represents an immediate, clear and present danger to the public health, safety or welfare, the mayor may assume the personal direction of any department, agency or instrumentality of the city government as may, in his discretion, be necessary to alleviate the emergency; and he may take such action as he may deem necessary or desirable to that end.

There is one weapon the Council has and that is its right to investigate any office or officer in the City Government. The Council can use its right of subpoena to require the individual to meet with it. It does not have the power of impeachment  of the Mayor or a Councilor.

Without decisive action by the Council we could be entering an era of Administrative Dictatorship. The public should be aware that any petition for recall requires the signatures of 1/3rd the registered voters and only authorizes an immediate special election  for that purpose.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT

 For those who do not read all the blogs I am posting the statement of Council President Annie McWilliams.
I concur and support her  statement and the anticipated Council action. The loss of City Administrator Taylor at this time would be catastrophic.


On the Removal of the City Administrator
As has been widely reported, a letter from the Mayor was filed with the Clerk's office shortly before 5:00 pm yesterday advising City Administrator Bibi Taylor of her separation of employment with the City of Plainfield.

The Council's main concern is the efficient and uninterrupted management of Plainfield. The City Administrator is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the City. Considering that the recent resignation of the Director of Public Works & Urban Development has left that role vacant and bearing in mind that the recently appointed Director of Administration & Finance and Certified Financial Officer are new in their roles, the City's management team is not yet positioned to run effectively. Furthermore, we have not yet adopted the budget and have relied heavily on the City Administrator's office in moving through this crucial process.

Plainfield needs now, more than ever, consistent and stable management. And we have always deserved the best. Mrs. Taylor has proven to be a true professional, very knowledgeable and thorough. To lose her at all, especially at this time, does not seem to be in the best interest of the City. However, this position is a Mayoral appointment. Understanding that, the Council has invited the Mayor to explain her decision and provide us with a plan of action. We need to understand why this action was taken and how the Mayor plans to meet the needs of residents without Mrs. Taylor as City Administrator. Based on the outcome of that discussion, the Council may consider a resolution disapproving of the Mayor's decision. If that resolution passes with 2/3 majority (5 or 7 Councilors), then Mrs. Taylor will be reinstated as City Administrator.

PLAINFIELD IS OZ

One day soon someone will publish a work of fiction titled "OZ, New Jersey". It has to be fiction since no one in his/her right mind could conceive the roles played by the City government and the City's BOE in Plainfield's day by day operations and finances.

Plainfield's city charter provides for a "part time Mayor" who will delegate the actual day by day operations to a full time professional "City Administrator" appointed by the Mayor with the consent and approval of the Council. 

Under the present Charter there are  3 Departments;
  1. Administration and Finances
  2. Public Safety
  3. Public Works and Urban Development
There is also the Corporation Counsel who is appointed by the Mayor with Advice and Consent. Up to  about 14 years ago that was a part time position.


During the present Administration now in her second term there has been either consistent vacancies in essential Directorships and/or fiscal control positions. There has been an overwhelming impression that the Mayor has had no desire to fill many of these positions. 

Until the present City Administrator was appointed this past February that position was occupied by an individual who seemed to be unprepared at Council meetings and was notorious for answering queries with " I will get back to you". Unfortunately there is little record that he ever did. 


The important Administration and Finance post was either unfilled or held by an individual of questionable background and/or experience. For the better part of two years the City Administrator  functioned as Director of A&F. The absence of CFO left all financial matters in the hands of individuals who could not meet State standards. The net result was found in the Auditor's Annual Report of financial irregularities that went uncorrected.


Until Jan 1, 2010 the Director of Public Works and Urban Development also held an elected political position in another community in the county. Under that Department is Recreation whose supervisor has acted as if it was his personal serfdom and repeatedly ignored Council's requests for appearances.


Director Brown appointed earlier this year seemed capable but has already resigned. Two things may have precipitated that move: an inability to get the Supervisor of Recreation to respond to the Council, and the recommendation of the awarding a questionable consulting contract by a panel  that included the director of Community Development , a Division in his Department. Budgetary restrictions hampered his ability to maintain the city's streets.


Instead of an well organized governmental operation  too many decisions involving finances seem to have been the result of personal action. This included placing the newly constituted IT Division directly under the Mayor's office.


Although the character of the Council has  changed in the last two years from a quick meeting rubber stamp to one that has become cognisant of its role in the City government it adopted during that period a change from the semi-monthly meeting schedule to once a month. Despite the fact that the meeting often  exceeded 4 hours and the Council was repeatedly faced with imminent deadlines when business was first introduced like the proverbial mule it has refused to return to the previous more efficient routine. 


This City's business is too complex to be grossed over at once a month meetings. Even if the "sub-committee format" was working the material still needed full Council consideration. And routinely although all sub-committees were suppose to present a written report at the Agenda Setting meeting only one consistently complied.

Too often the Council emulates Congress and votes on issues along political lines not on merit. When  this occurs the Council is abdicating its fiduciary responsibility to the people. It must not be afraid to act and act promptly when  its considers that there are irregularities. It can not afford the luxury of the once a month action meeting.


I mentioned the BOE in the opening paragraph. It and the PSS have been a disgrace for the city for years as far as money management and services to the students. At least one present Board member ha publicly spoken out but has as yet not offered any solutions. Too much money has been wasted on litigation and the payment of forced termination settlements.


If Plainfield had a different Mayor I would recommend the return to the appointed Board. However, this Mayor has shown a reluctance to fill Authorities and Commission vacancies thus permitting those with expired terms to continue to sit as holdovers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BLACK WEDNESDAY

7:45 AM This was posted late Wed, night, look for more comment later this morning

A late posting this evening in Plainfield Today states that the Mayor has fired City Administrator Taylor. We will await confirmation in the media with the charges leading to such an inconceivable action. If true it will be a sad day for this city.

It should be pointed out that until the Mayor files the notice of termination in the City Clerk's office the firing is not official according to the Charter, and there is a 10 day period before it becomes effective. The choice of the Director of Public Safety to deliver the message is fitting in view of his light spanking for a questionable use of a city vehicle earlier this year.

Bibi Taylor has impressed all who as outsiders watch her in action at Council Meetings. It has been a revelation to listen to her responses to Council's questions and her willingness to rapidly obtain information she did not have on hand. There has been not once the multiple "I will get back to you" replies that marked her predecessor presence at the meetings. She has clearly expressed the Mayor's position in public and acted accordingly.

If the Mayor's action is allowed to stand, Plainfield will be like a ship without not only a rudder but its engine in a stormy sea.

What should be done? I can conceive of three actions that should take place:
  1. According to the City Charter, the Council Monday night can pass a resolution which will negate the Mayor's actions. Five votes are needed but all seven should support that resolution. The Charter is specific in this matter. (Article III, 3.5 b))
  2. It is time for serious consideration of a recall petition .
  3. Instead of the apparent dormant investigation of the $20,000.00 radio fund, there should be a forensic audit of all fund expenditures authorized by the Mayor during her administration without accounting to the Council.
With this latest action in Administration and the sudden resignation of the competent Director of Public Works, there is no quality left in the upper echelon of administrative officers. Neither Director has the capability of assuming even temporarily the role of City Administrator. The Mayor during her civic career has not demonstrated that she has that expertise. Indeed, one must give serious concern about the possibility of the newly appointed CFO actually starting work in this atmosphere.

ONE THAT DAN MISSED

Not Dan's fault this was not posted until after 10 AM and consists of random thoughts.

Some of the TV weather pundits are predicting heavy snow Sunday night lasting into Monday. That raises a question of accessibility to the Court Room. Does the Council have a contingency plan if the public can not attend the Monday night meeting as a result of weather?This is important since there are matters that must be voted upon before the Special Monday 27 meeting. Or if the meeting must be cancelled?

If so will it be posted on the website if City Hall is closed? Or on the city TV station? What about residents that do not have access to either? Are there provisions for community announcements in the City's disaster plan? When was the last revision of the plan? Those questions have been asked before, but I do not recall any answers.

This will be the last regular Council meeting for Councilors Carter and Burney. I hope for the City's interests that both will be regular attendees in the peanut gallery at the meetings.

Once again the Council's one business meeting a month has resulted with it being faced to vote on a matter in this case the solar panel agreement under duress of an imminent deadline. Even if placed on the Special Meeting agenda the Council members will not have sufficient time to determine if it is advantageous for the City. My own uninformed opinion is that the limited gains of less than 90kw generated do not justify tying the city up in a long term contract with an expensive op-out.

I trust that the Council will have answers to my questions about the $25,000.00 Lattimore Clinic agreement before approving.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BUDGET & PUBLIC SAFETY

Among the committees reports to the Council was that of the subcommittee on public safety chaired by Councilwoman Rivers.But prior to her report there was a discussion about the Police Division regarding its budget and where there could be savings.

Public Safety Director Hellwig reported on the recent changes in structure of the police division which he hoped would help reduce criminal activities. He did admit that the results had not been as successful as he had hoped, but its was still early in the 60 day trial period. He remarked that he was planning further strategic moves using increased technology.

Hellwig broke down the number of individuals in the various units including 6 in the anti-gang unit, and 11 in the narcotics group, on ly 5 in the traffic group. He said that it would be possible to shift or concentrated more in one major group.

There was discussion relative to the rank-and-file numbers in the 151 member force.There has been a reduction in the number of Captains-the highest rank in the Department from 6 to 3. and that vacancies in the rank of Lieutenants would not be filled at this time by the fill in process from Sergeants as an economy move.

There was discussion of the budget about the fact the Police Department overtime budget line for about $650,000.00 is high, yet over $500,000 it has already been expended in less than 6 months! Mr Hellwig gave no answer to this except to say that overtime could be cut down at cost to other operations.

In answer to a question about who pays for the police who are working at road and utility construction sites he note they were paid by the vendor.

As to the police cars with flashing lights at the sites , we were in formed that the city receives $4.00/hour for their use. Council members right felt that this no wheres equated with the operational costs of the vehicles and the rate must be adjusted upwards to bring in revenue.

If given time for next fiscal years budget, this Department appears to be one where more effective use of funds can be obtained. Overtime seems out of control and the
inability to get fiscal concessions from either the Police or Fireman's unions are matters of great concern. It has become obvious that the "furloughs plan" had to be scuttled in favor of layoffs due to state requirements that all unions must agree on concessions.

Hopefully with a CFO on hand, the budgetary process can begin shortly after Jan. 1 , 2011 so that it will be ready prior to July 1. for introduction.

Mr. Ship's appearance was postponed until Monday's Council meeting. I have e-mailed his business "Highland Global Securities" and hope I do not have to wait as long as I have for the Governor or Director of Municipal Services to reply. I will post any reply whenever I receive one.

COLD SHOULDERED COUN CIL

For in depth review of the Council's Agenda Setting meeting those interested should, ney must, read Plaintalker (Bernice) and Mark Spivey's print articles whenever they are published, or better his  "blog" postings "Plianfield InJersey"http://plainfield.injersey.com/. That gives me the luxury to be editorial or opined.  Plus I do not have to be in a rush to post.

Th nature of Monday's meeting is not to act,but to decide what should be acted upon and to accumulate sufficient information to act intelligently, we hope. Perhaps 90 minutes were spent on the  proposed amendments to the to be adopted  FY11 budget. The amendments will be voted on next Monday  and the amended approved Budget will be voted in at a special meeting Dec 27 (Monday)  at which time the public will have  the opportunity to comment. At that meeting. there may be another item for vote but more about that later.

Today's Plainfield Today reports on the Mayor's non appearance  to discuss the plans for "covering the City Administrator's position during her Maternity LOA. This is a matter of Public Importance and should not be relegated to "Personnel (and personal) privacy restrictions.  It is an issue that I broached in this blog more than once weeks ago

Despite other blogs to give the "Devil (not my definition) her due" , there seemed to be confusion whether the Mayor actually received an invitation through the City Clerk's Office to attend the meeting. The period  between the November Council Business Meeting and the present was one of personnel changes in a staff depleted office which would lead to some minor errors. Be it as it may, The Mayor does get a copy of the Council Agenda early enough to communicate her unavailability or her acceptance. I consider that her non response to be a snub. Anyhow she will be invited to give a report next Monday.

The 90 or so minutes used to discuss the budget will result in no material changes in a $40-50  budget. Recommended TO changes  for efficiency should not be implemented until the CFO is in place, and he can evaluate how to restore good fiscal management to Plainfield's government. Too long have Administration and
the Council glossed over the annual Auditor's report about problems in purchasing and money management.

Among the resolutions approved  for action the  coming Monday was one  executing an amendment agreement "between the City and UMDNJ's Lattimore Clinic for the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Case Management of Tuberculosis. in the amount of $25,000.00 annually.
Some information on the clinic which  was State supported until 2007.

Waymon C. Lattimore Practice was established more than 3 decades ago and is part of the Ambulatory Care Services at University Hospital - University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. It is designated bthe New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services as a Regional TB Clinic, serving Essex and Union County. The Practice also accepts referrals statewide for patients with multi-drug resistance and complex medical management problems.
Location 225 Warren Street in Newark

The actual agreement is b etween the lin ic and the County, which then proportionally assesses each municipality for services. For instance  Westfield's fee is;
Westfield  Memorandum of Agreement between UMDNJ-Lattimore TB Clinic and the Town of Westfield were provided for Board review and approval.  The agreement sets a maximum cost of $350.00 for TB services provided to residents who have no insurance or those unwilling to apply for insurance.

My problem is how many Plainfield residents are served by this clinic; no data seems to be readily available. How many are nit eligible for Medicaid or Medicare? Are they residents of group homes? or "halfway houses" like the Park Hotel? Are they legal residents? I think we need an answer to these questions before we blindly commit funds that might be used elsewhere.

Please understand, I do  not advocate withholding health care from anyone in need regardless of citizenship and or ability to pay. This is a society responsibility. The question is what level of society(government) should accept the burden. Either State or Federal, not local community except in emergency.

THE BIG CHILL part 1

Councilor Reid remarked that  his constituents were under the impression that there as a feud between the Council and the Mayor. This was during a discussion about overriding her veto of an Ordinance  lowering the threshold requiring bids on contracts.

Perhaps that is why instead of heat in the City Hall Library the air conditioners  seemed to have been left open to conduct the outside ambient air into the meeting. Although the foyer was comfortably warm the Council room never reach a temperature that was comfortable without a coat.

The Council's business was over shortly after 11PM which gave ample opportunity for public comment and home by 12. Details much later today. Bernice will post the essentials early. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

FLASH---- The first crack in the Health Care reform

Federal Judge Invalidates Key Provision of Health Care Law

A federal district judge in Virginia ruled on Monday that the
keystone provision in the Obama health care law is
unconstitutional, becoming the first court in the country to
invalidate any part of the sprawling act and insuring that
appellate courts will receive contradictory opinions from
below.

Judge Henry E. Hudson declined to freeze implementation of
the law pending appeal, meaning that there should be no
immediate effect of his decision. But the ruling is likely to
create confusion among the public and further destabilize
political support for the law.

Judge Hudson wrote that the law's central requirement that
most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory
authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of
the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central because
insurers say they cannot afford treatment for expensive
chronic conditions unless healthy people have policies as
well.

AM POTPOURRI-12/13/2010

Monday morning; unfortunately I have had not time yet go over the subject matter or the body of the resolutions to be be presented tonight. The agenda gives little information out the resolutions other than a brief outline of the subject matter.

If I get a chance before the meeting, I shall go to the library and read the texts of the resolutions of interests. Since you can only comment at the end of the meeting, and that the resolution that are being discussed are       for inclusion in the business agenda,  At next Monday's meeting the public has the opportunity to comment on resolution and ordinances before they are voted upon at that time.

Among the resolutions that I would like further knowledge regarding is; one moving authorization to execute the fourth amendment to the 2007 memorandum of agreement between the city and humanity in the eighth that a more clinic for the diagnostic diagnosis and treatment and case management for residents with tuberculosis and amount not to exceed $25,000. I wonder if such support should not be forthcoming from Medicaid funds. I mean I need more information.

Another resolution to add to the that the professional services agreement  $52,000 for the Greenbrook walkway.. Again required the unexpected costs that arose from design changes? 

Another resolution from  the Urban Enterprise Zone is for  Rutgers to do a comprehensive economic relevant and growth study. Again I wonder what the reason for such a study at this time and when  was it done previously.A belated reading of yesterdays Plaintalker has provided me with most of the answers. The question is if this is in this belated FYI austerity budget, or can be applied for and inserted into the budget if funds are granted.? That would seem to be the case from the wording of the resolution.

Another resolution is for the execution and delivery of certain agreements in connection with the Union County Renewable Energy Program. This must have to do with the solar panel installation on selected buildings. There are two resolutions listed, one under Department of Administration and Finance authorize approval of professional service contract to to Block Box pictures and a similar resolution from the Department of Public Works and Urban Development  worded exactly the same.. One would assume that this is an administrative error resulted in duplication of this one resolution.DP

Once again on Saturday early morning there was a fatal shooting in Plainfield.   Incidents are cyclic in nature There was a report recently that  Newark and adjourning communities have also experience a marked increase in fatal shootings this year.

In the past years the Kennedy Fried Chicken spot has frequently been reported as a site of group disturbances and perhaps drug dealings. It is doubtful that a police presence would've prevented these shootings. It would just  be at another place and another time.

Perhaps aggressively rounding up and  incarcerating the the gang leadership, and  at the same time a greater effort has to be made to increase "free time activities" will eliminate these incidents. Director Hellwig said; "There's a very strong code of silence,''  More unlikely it is not a code of silence, but rather a silence  of fear. Increased police presence in the neighborhoods would perhaps reduce public fear so that people are more willing to identify those commit a criminal act. Only then by reducing fear will we be able to receive the needed public cooperation in reducing criminal activities. Perhaps Ship can provide the information and means  for effective local control.

I wish to thank the two anoni who sent me info on how to reach Highland Global Securities' web site. Unfortunately one of our computers would not permit me to pass beyond the home page. I have requested some information.

Any weird phrases or incoherent words are Dragon's not mine. I hope I caught all if not please let me know

Sunday, December 12, 2010

STUPIDITY or ARROGANCE

"If you attack stupidity you attack an entrenched interests with friends in government and in every walk of public life , you will make small progress against it". (Samuesl Marchbanks)


One would have thought that the Council would have learned a lesson from the "Drakeford affair". Yet Monday night one Jiles Ship a Director of Public Safety in the last days of the McWilliams administration is going to address the "Governing body on strategies to enhance public safety"


Ship's credentials obtained from Google from the best bio I could find,is:

100 Black Men of New Jersey, Inc. 2009

Jiles Ship Jiles H. Ship

Regional Vice President - Central

Jiles H. Ship started his career in law enforcement in 1985, first serving as an officer on the Edison Police Department, during which time he also served as an Instructor for the Middlesex County Police Academy. He recently served as the Director of Public Safety for the City of Plainfield, New Jersey. As Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Public Safety, he oversaw the Police Division, Fire Division and the Office of Emergency Management, having responsibility for 254 sworn personnel and 51 civilian employees and managing a budget of over $23 million. Prior to that appointment, he served in the State of New Jersey Attorney General's Office - Division of Criminal Justice as the Special Assistant to the Director and as an Administrator of Investigations. Following his tenure as Director of Public Safety for the City of Plainfield, Ship returned to the Division of Criminal Justice, where he currently serves as an Administrator of Investigations.

I tried looking up Highland Global Strategies and out of the first 10 listings in Google i received:
404 - "Component not found" for all.
(You may not be able to visit this page because of:

  1. an out-of-date bookmark/
  2. favourites search engine that has an out-of-date listing for this site
  3. a mistyped address you have no access to this page
  4. The requested resource was not found.
  5. An error has occurred while processing your request.)
We learned that he has been active in NOBLE (National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives) but I have not found any specifics that qualify him as an expert in solving municipal security problems.


When will our political leaders understand that we will not tolerate their employing old political allies as consultants.


Along those lines I have not read or noted in this agenda the naming of a new Special Counsel to investigate the $20,000.00 radio expense. Since the uproar about appointing former Corporation Counsel Drakeford has the need for the investigation vanished. If so then the maneuver was just political and not an honest attempt to rule out improprieties.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NOTICE

There would have been a blog today relating to Monday's Council Agenda. BUT the unexpected but anticipated arrival at 11PM of my grandson and family for a too short stay will preclude any more computer time than this for perhaps until late Sunday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

COLD MEMORIES

Too cold for these old bones. I am glad I am not living in Syracuse , NY. They have had over 3 feet of snow this past week. I had spent part of the winter of 1943 as an intern in Syracuse. It was one of the coldest I can remember. We had snow and ice o the streets from October on until I left i January 44 to go into service .

In those days the hospitals provided ambulance service and an intern-what is now termed a first year resident-rode the ambulance on calls. Also in those days interns either were not paid or received up to $50.00 a month in smaller hospitals like Muhlenberg. Because of the war 1944 had become an internship buyers market, and our group was the first at Syracuse to receive any money; $25.00 for uniforms.

When Helen and I left in January to come back to Plainfield where she was going to stay with a baby due in early March. Her obstetrician advised that since she was threatening to go into early labor, to fly to Newark and not take the train for the long trip to New York City and the train to Plainfield.

Because of snow storms it took us three days before we could fly out on the DC3 used by the airlines of those days. That great aircraft was not pressurized and flew at about 5000ft. Thus it was subject to turbulence from the topography, and over the "tri-cities" area of ten New York-Pennsylvania border we bounced and bounced etc.

For those who have no knowledge of the DC3. It was a great plane and the first truly successful passenger airplane. It replaced the trimotor Ford as the largest plane in the airlines. The DC3 as the C47 was the workhorse of the army in WWII. It was used for the paratroopers and towed the Gliders. Some are still flying in the third world areas.

I had not started to write this but the weather and Nancy's article in Plainfield Today about Muhlenberg brought back memories. After I returned to Plainfield for over two weeks before reporting to the "Field Medical School" at the Carlise Barracks, I work as an intern at Muhlenberg. Pro bono of course.

By the time the operating suites had been moved into the second floor of the colonnade building which also served as the admission building, The old operating wing had become the laboratories. To the right of the old Operating Suite building was the West wing which was the older patient wing in the 40s and far to the left of the Admission building was the East wing completed by the early 30s. the small wooden structure between the OR suite and what was the Admission building housed the Service Shop.

I am sorry that I was unable to attend the BOE/PSS budget forum and trust that other blogs will report about it.

This coming Monday the final Agenda Setting meeting of the Council will take place. I hope today that I will be able to get a copy of the agenda for that meeting and perhaps a chance to see the "book". I am sure that for the next two weeks there will be plenty of material for Plainfield bloggers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

TRANQUIL POTPOURRI

About 40 or so years ago #3 child was a student at BOSTON UNIVERSITY. Helen and I were wandering around downtown Boston and wandered in to the Pucker-Safrai Gallery where there was an exhibit by an Israeli artist, David Sharir. The net result was that we did purchase one of his lithographs "Orchard of Lovers" which has always been a favorite although not an oil.

Periodically he has another exhibit and we receive another catalog. Never could afford an oil painting though would have loved one.

Recently I received his latest portfolio catalog which are take from the book of Psalms. I have taken a liberty to copy his interpretation of the 23rd Psalm. This series are gouache and watercolor. The words of the Psalm are in gold letters around the border. The quality of colors did not reproduce well but you can have an idea of the beauty of his works. Enjoy'

Now isn't that better than writing about Jerry Green or Dagger Dan, or a dysfunctional government?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PORPOURRI ON TUESDAY'S BLOGS

A true potpourri today of a collection of unrelated thoughts. No, that is not completely true since each addresses a subject that needs correction or adjustment in order to have a better functioning society. 

In a recent response to an inquiry comment Maria noted that the BOE had not answered her OPRA request. She note that her lawyer and the BOE's  had a court date. A reader justifiably asked who is paying her legal bill. If the defendant is found guilty, I hope the court will order the  defendant agency and/or individual to pay all legal  expenses.

Dan has noted that Council members and other city officials seldom use their municipal e-mail address  while communicating on municipal matters. By preferring their private e-mail address they expect to keep such correspondence secret. A Ordinance  amending the city code  making using official e-mail address mandatory for all and any communication involving city matters. Penalties should be spelt out for violations.

Perhaps , Assemblyman Green  can offer legislation making it mandatory for  any authority and or commission to publish annually the salaries of its top perhaps 12 officials including all perks;insurance, meals, travel  and meeting expenses as well as bonuses.  I'll make book on the likelihood of such legislation being passed.

It has been a month since I e-mailed a letter to the Governor and to the Secretary of DOE. As of this date I have not received any reply. As Admiral David Glasgow Farragut said  "Damn the torpedoes",* Trenton adopts a "damn the public" attitude.

Does any one think that the Council will have learned from the marathon meetings in 2010 that they are hurting the public's interests and  return to the twice monthly set of meetings?

Once again Bernice calls attention to the Boards, Commissions etc. that are still on the books and do not function. Should not (note the negative expression) The Corporation Counsel's office prepare Ordinances eliminating the  nun functioning ones as well as Ordinances on the books to be sure that there are no antagonistic ones and eliminate those no longer viable.

On the subject of revising the "books" is it not time to change the city's TO so that there is reason for various divisions to be in various departments. Public Affairs and Safety should include the most of the divisions under  Health & Social Services, not Administration and Finance.

The Civilian head  of the Police Division need not be the Department Head who should have greater responsibilities  than  just Police and Fire.  When the Department was revised there was no intention of eliminating the position of Chief of Police. The Department head was not to be a civilian administrator of the Police Division.

Yet, there is hope in this world that some good changes  may happen. Yesterday the "Teachers Union" announced that they had a plan to modify "tenure" so that i2 t will b e easier to remove a teacher  who is no longer an asset. The exact method and causes were not  expanded upon. Perhaps they will be revealed at the State Senate hearings on "teacher tenure". Anyhow it appears that one of the intransigent unions is beginning to understand that they must adjust to the changing times.

It is with a qualified sense of relief  that I note the completion (I hope) yesterday of the Watchung Ave. repavement.. Relief because we were lucky to have beaten the hard freeze. Qualified  because there nay be some imperfections in the pavement that could be caused by the ambient temperature affecting the mix. I hope that Public  Works  can re-institute a preventive maintenance program.

I shutter every time  I drive down Mountain  Ave.  in North Plainfield a street recently repaved. There is a longitude crack in places an inch wide now  running the entire length of the street from Somerset to Rt 22where the two lengths of paving  abut. The simple practice  of Taring the crack when pencil thin would have stopped this impending disaster in the road surface.





* Battle of Mobile Bay, Civil War.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

POTPOURRI JUST TWO

Bernice in her Monday blog alerts us to a proposed (another) rate hike by PUMA.The Public meting will be held Dee. 28, 2010. at 6:00pm. Not only at the usual dinner time but in the middle of the Holiday season when residents may be otherwise occupied.

It seems that this is a new charge that will b e an add on to our bill which has two items; "Sewer" and "Waste" there is no mention of "shared services". "Shared Services" is,as I understood it, part of the Authority's agreement with the City.

The meat of the railroad meeting "However, certain service adjustments were necessitated in the Authority's "On-Call" bulky waste collection services in order to expand bulky waste collection service availability to all Plainfield property owners. This needed adjustment now makes bulky waste collection an integral component of the community "shared services" fees paid by all City property owners. Bulky waste collection is part of the Authority's comprehensive solid waste program service package being provided to our current customers and the proposed change will have no overall impact on these customers. Extending this service to all property owners and making it a part of the Authority's shared services fee is needed to help address a significant increase in illegal dumping being experienced throughout the City. "

Bernice also makes the point that there have been unfilled appointments to the Authority. Since the Mayor makes the appointments with "advice and consent" (supposedly with Council but another individual may be involved) the lack of such action is characteristic of the present Administration.

Sitting Commissioners hold office for a specific term and stay until their successor is seated. If no one is appointed the holdover can stay for ever. Until, all Boards, Authorities, Commissions etc. that are dependent upon this Mayor's appointing individuals to fill vacancies they can by inaction a life time position. There has to be a change in the enabling legislation to mandate and appointment within a specific time or let the Council fill the position.

Maria has questioned why I believe that an appointed BOE is preferable to the elected Board. Despite our Mayor's track record on filling vacancies,, my position has not changed.

It is true that in a corrupt administration the Board can become a victim of political manipulations. This is a lesser danger if the concerns of the citizens bring a large voter turnout for the regular election of City officials.

On the other hand the 10% plus or minus that participate in the school board elections can result in a Board composed of less qualified individuals that do not truly understand their fiduciary responsibility and lead to supervisory miss-management. Elected boards also tend to have members with a narrow self-agenda concept. Such a Board can be too easily influenced by the Fox that they have placed in the hen house.

Elected Boards, and this is not limited to BOEs, as well as appointed Boards too often forget that the professionals they have hired work for them. Instead too often well meaning individuals fall into the trap of "working for their employee". That professional calls all the shots with out any controls and that leads to disaster. We have had enough of such situations in the PSS.`

As Maria has aptly written, we need accountability in our elected and appointed officials. A board elected by a minority of at the most of 15% of the voters has no accountability to the majority. An appointed board derives its accountability to the person(s) that appoint the board. The "appointer" is accountable to those that elected that person, usually a majority of eligible voters. 

However, if the public exercised their right  of vote so that a majority of the electorate made the choices either system would work.

It has been suggested that the School Board elections  and  the budget  vote be held with the general election in November. That would increase the turnout but would expose that election to a more obvious political climate.  For multiple reasons, mostly logistically, holding the school elections at primary time would be impractical.

Thus, if we want an effective BOE we either have to have an electoral turnout of at least 50% or have it appointed by a responsible elected official with approval of the Council. Since we can not eliminate political overtones  lets us try to have quality.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BLUE MONDAY

THE Mack has expressed his hurts feelings in ways that cats do. It seems that in a recent post I featured his brother and ignored him. Mack is of course #1 cat and lets anyone know that. He has yet to find a human he did not like. Perhaps it is because he has a literary bent and absorbs knowledge by sleeping next to books?



However, even Mack can't solve the money problems facing all elements of this country's civil structure.

An article in the Sunday Times points out the fears of an other economic collapse because the states are no longer able to meet their financial obligations and have reached a limited of "borrowing. Municipalities have declared bankruptcy, and the states are faced with either defaulting on their bonds and other debt paper, or eliminating essential services, or imposing excessive unbearable taxes.

Similarly, and this lame duck congress will not face it, the Federal Government can't continue much less increase entitlements including unemployment insurance and at the same time not increase taxes. The problem is that borrowing is already at an all time high and the "Medical reforms" are going to make matters worse.

The employed middle class and retirees with fixed income can no longer cope with increase direct and indirect taxes. Among the latter are excise taxes on gasoline, sales taxes etc. The danger is that as the value of the dollar falls their will be massive inflation which will wipe out all savings.

The burden has to be spread over all. The wealthy 10% earners must be subject to pay an increasingly higher tax rate. Obscene bonus must be taxed at perhaps as much as 75%.
Unions must come to realize that They must make essential compromises on their existing contracts. They must not continue in their selfishness to force municipalities to reduce essential services to a point that the population is no longer protected.

Civilizations and nations have fallen when their economics are out of control. The latest example was the Soviet Union. The Maya civilization self destroyed due to exhausting its food producing resources. History is full of examples which include the ultimate weakness and fall of the Roman Empire.

Let us be clear, there is no form of society be it a democracy, a capitalistic , socialism or communism that is safe from disaster if the leaders and the people omit controls. No one can use their resources at a rate that is greater than the ability to replenish.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

DECEMBER 5, 2010

Sunday Dec. 5, 2010, Winter has arrived. Three feet of snow in Buffalo NY, 1.25 inches in Roanoke Va., Temperature here this morning in the 20s are more than an indication. Heavy snows in England that closed train service in much of the kingdom and completely north of Glasgow. Pictures of snow in Spain, suggest that perhaps we still have some time before we will be inundated by the rising seas from global warming.

On that subject, even before humans polluted the air there have been cycles of warming and a few centuries ago extreme winters.

The world of local blogging is dull this morning with the exception of two intermittent bloggers posting rebuttals.

Since I have no words of wisdom to share as of 8am, perhaps you too can enjoy this work of Peter Hurd "The Eve of St. John" reproduced on a JAMA cover. The story page can be enlarged by clicking on it.





Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday/Sunday Potpourri

Saturday's (perhaps late Friday) other blogs  are worthy of reading by all Plainfieldphiles.

Plaintalker II's post on the filling of the soon to vacant Council term of Freeholder elect Carter describes the process that has been customary over the years. I do not believe that it is specifically stated in the charter beyond the fact that the Council does the selection.

As has been mentioned before, several years ago the City Democrat Committee  mad a mockery of the procedure by submitting the names of the anointed  individual, his wife and their son. Guess who was chosen.. In fact two of the names  withdrew their names before the Council met.

I would hope Carter's letter of resignation would be in the Council's hands before the agenda meeting.  Her successor should be seated before the January organizational meeting..

The most profound thought of the month as quoted in http://plainfield.injersey.com/ in an article about a man beinng shoot twice in 10 days.
 "Obviously, there's something going on here," Hellwig said."

Councilor Burney has written a perspective blog concerning the response of the power unions int his time of crisis. In this day and age. It is not beyond imagination that Police and Education could be outsourced to private  vendors. AS of this moment I have not heard of any vendors  for fire protection.

We  hope that Councilor Burney continues to post his blog. I also hope  that his face will be in the public domain  in the Council meetings this new year. His input should not be  lost.

CORPORATION COUNSEL

The recent controversy whether attorney Drakeford should serve as a special counsel to investigate the authorization and payment of 20,000 to a radio station without the Council's  approval has raised the question of the role of the Corporation Counsel relating to the Mayor and Council.

Councilor Mapp in his blog wrote: It suggests that all appointees of a chief executive are allies of the chief executive and are therefore incapable of being objective and impartial. If one were to swallow such twisted logic, one might arrive at the conclusion that the current Corporation Counsel, Dan Williamson, is an ally of Mayor Briggs, who appointed him, and that, therefore, any opinion he renders to the City Council pertaining to her would be tainted by his allegiance.

Councilman Mapp's conundrum is a significant one when one considers that the office of the Corporation Counsel represents an item of approximately $800,000 in this year's proposed budget. In 2000 fiscal year salary and wages amounted to $396,272 and other expenses equaled $415,821.00. the exact breakdown of both items is unavailable in the budget documents provided to the public.

The city code states:
ARTICLE 4. CORPORATION COUNSEL IN HOUSE.
Sec. 2:4-1. Corporation Counsel.
a As provided by Charter, Section 4.7, there shall be a Corporation
Counsel, who shall be appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent
of the Council. S/he shall serve during the term of office of the Mayor
appointing him/her and until the appointment and qualification of his/her
successor.
b The Mayor, in his discretion, may remove the Corporation Counsel
whenever the Mayor deems that the public interest so requires.
And further provides:
Sec. 2:4-2. Corporation Counsel; powers and duties.
The Corporation Counsel shall be the chief legal advisor to the Mayor and
to the Council. He/she shall be compensated with a fixed annual salary as
established by ordinance. This section goes on to describe duties,and follows 
with other positions
Sec. 2:4-3. Assistant Corporation Counsels.
The Corporation Counsel may with the written approval of the Mayor and
the advice and consent of the Council, appoint bond counsel, and two 2
Assistant Corporation Counsels, to serve at his/her pleasure. The first
assistant shall be designated as City Solicitor and the second assistant as City
Prosecutor.
There is one more pertinent section:
Sec. 2:4-8. Special Counsel.
Whenever s/he deems the interests of the City so require, the Corporation
Counsel may, with the approval of the Mayor and within the limits of
available appropriations, appoint Special Counsel to assist him/her in the
preparation, trial or argument of any issue, or such other capacity as s/he
may determine. If the Corporation Counsel should be disqualified with
respect to any matter, the Mayor may appoint one 1 of the assistants or
Special Counsel, with the approval of the Council to represent the City for
and with respect to such matter.

This section further provides that the compensation of the above (except
Special Counsel) is established by Ordinance. No wheres in the code is it
noted if any of the positions are full time or part time.



If Ms Drakeford was the first full time Corporation Counsel, there has to be
an ordinance creating that position. And, it should be reflected in the codes.

But Councilor Mapp has raised the question, can the Corporation Counsel
represent both the Mayor and the Council in a difference of opinion?

I for one believe that the Council like the Board of Adjustment  and the Planning
 Board should have an independent counsel. I also believe that the whole structure
of the legal division should be studied to be sure that we are getting the best bang
for our buck in this time of monetary crisis.

I would hope that the incoming Council would create a politically independent
(diverse) citizens commission to make such a study.

(You will note that I was unable to overcome the formatting problems, sorry.)