Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Wednesday, Mark Spivey posted this story on his blog.
"Plainfield schools officials denounce criticism of assembly involving Nation of Islam members" (click).
While the story may appear to be much-a-do about nothing there may be facts that are most disturbing and be symptomatic about Plainfield.
I recently posted a blog about the Southern Poverty Legal Centers report on the presence of Hate Groups in America. The SPLC for 40 years has fought for victims of racial and religious hate groups and brought many to justice, The KKKs, theSkinheads,The Neo-Nazis, the militant "American Firsts" to name a few.
Last month it published a list of over 1000 identified groups in the country. In breaking them down into categories SPLC identified one in Plainfield which at that time I chose not to name. That group is "The Nation of Islam"
It is not on the list as a Muslim group but because its leader Farrakhan has been an outspoken Anti-Semite preaching hatred of Jews Its dogma has been one of racial and religious intolerance, one of Black racial supremacy reminiscent of the Nazi's White racial supremacy.. (see the link to Wikeperdia below)
Yet Plainfield High School Principal Brian Bilal is quoted as saying; "What hurts the most with this whole thing - and this is just me personally speaking - is that what makes America great is that you have choices, and one of those choices is religion ... but nowadays, if a person chooses the religion of Islam, often times they're frowned upon based on the actions of extremists - which is awful."----"The principal said he personally had not fielded complaints or concerns about the assembly, but recently became aware that someone sent interim Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles an e-mail claiming that the event featured Nation of Islam "recruitment'' and prayer.
"It's absolutely false,'' Bilal said. "And for someone to cause this type of commotion, to me it seems like a bias attack on the Nation of Islam.''
Did Principle Bilal attend the "assembly "? If there were separate "assemblies" for males and females doesn't that reflect a religious element? Does Principle Bilal consider the objections that have been raised as part of anti-Islamic outbeaks against the Mosque in New York City or the proposed Bridgewater Mosque? Or is it just focused on one sect?
If the later to understand why SPLC branded The Nation Of Islam as a hate group read the Wikipedia article. (click )
The Nation of Islam mosque in Plainfield is not the only Muslim Congregation. Members of the Mosque on Grant Ave include many leading members of the Plainfield Community. Their religion is more traditional, and to the best of my knowledge do not advocate violence to any group or separatism from this nation.
Would Principal Bilia invite the Aryan Nation (click) to speak at a High School Assembly? They have the same right under the 1st Amendment.
I have urged the School District to take advantage of the Anti-Hatred and Tolerance programs that the SPLC provides without charge. Perhaps the District's leadership needs education.
There was a slight modification at 12:15AM. Also a Comment by Nat Singleton posted at 11:30 pm with which I am in 100% agreement.
Doc, I have not given up on the campus, I believe that the campus can be used as a facility that will benefit the city. Jerry, the least I can remark about the only two prospects you brought forth the better. But what happened to the encouraging one Olive Lynch’s group presented None of us know.
This is a moral issue as old as genesis when Cain asks if "he is his brother's keeper" and answered in the affirmative many times in the New Testament although it has been too often adhered to negatively. Rebecca Williams has given one answer in her latest blog. I have addressed that issue before but intend to repeat myself in my next posting be it today or tomorrow.
Since I most likely will have to wait to Monday to once again be able to write about the mundane issues that face this city, which requires less strain on the brain cells; I thought you might enjoy a bit of my perverted brand of humor.
Subject: 80 Year Old
The local news station was interviewing an 80-year-old lady because she had just gotten married for the fourth time. The interviewer asked her questions about her life, about what it felt like to be marrying again at 80, and then about her new husband's occupation. "He's a funeral director," she answered.
"Interesting," the newsman thought.
He then asked her if she wouldn't mind telling him a little about her first three husbands and what they did for a living. She paused for a few moments, needing time to reflect on all those years.
After a short time, a smile came to her face and she answered proudly, explaining that she had first married a banker when she was in her early 20's, then a circus ringmaster when in her 40's, and a preacher when in
her 60's, and now in her 80's, a funeral director.
The interviewer looked at her, quite astonished, and asked why she had married four men with such diverse careers.
She smiled and explained, "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Without planning and starting some action Plainfield will be doomed to be like cities of antiquity to disappear as a significant habitat for a vital vigorous population. Its process of deterioration which started 40+ years ago has taken the attributes of an avalanche. The closing of the hospital may have been the final step of abandonment of a future for the city. Talk will not alter the inevitable.
But if a dedicated core of thoughtful citizens as a unit plan and implement step by step a program to make the city attractive to a new permanent population, like the phoenix a new demi-metropolis will rise from the rubble.
A few areas that must be focused upon include basic issues of quality of life;
- 24/7 safety of life and property
- An attractive commercial center and local "store cells".
- Superficial beauty manifested by well kept streets and properties'
- A rapidly available heath care structure including short and long care facilities
- An education system dedicated to the student and focusing on all life preparation models.
- you add to the list
There is not one of us that has all the answers to even one of the problems. There are some that could initiate a trend of thought that would lead to an end point that might be doable. Yet even if we started by ridding ourselves of all our preconceived ideas and would be willing to listen an d perhaps accept other's thoughts we get nowhere unless we start with a central organizational committee that will refrain from trying to impose its individuals ideas on the working groups.
I for one with the exception of "health care" would not be comfortable working in any of the disciplines identified, yet like many, I have tangible thoughts which I hope would be considered.On the other hand I have definitive ideas about the issue of Health Care and the population. Some of my "solutions" will be impacted in ways that have yet to be determined by "Obama care".
Nat, you are wrong if you simple believe that as you wrote " "Here's the problem indigent care- ".. The problem is much more complex/ It is not simply a question of whether it is every one's right to have health care, or just a citizen's right but what is societies responsibilities to humanity. This should be (and will be this old philosopher's) grist for a blog.
Right now it is the question of who will initiate such a program. Should it be the Mayor or the Council. Both have the authority. Or should it be a spontaneous congregation of dedicated individuals or even sponsored by religious leaders. I would prefer that the process have official blessings without being contaminated by personal politics.
Monday, March 28, 2011
As to David slaying Goliath it happened when VCU "the team that did not belong in the tournament" beat the last remaining #1 seed, Kansas and made them look sad. All the going ons in the world fade in importance before such a momentous occurrence.
Well almost all. We will start next week with Plainfield's governance and go on to the popular uprisings in the Middle East as well as the nuclear disaster in Japan,
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Plainfield and its immediate surroundings have now become a health care deprived area. It is imperative that a facility capable of giving urgent critical care as well as necessary standard subsequent treatment be reestablished in this community. It is inconceivable that anyone with even the slightest sense of compassion can condone Plainfield' residents having to travel 20 or 30 minutes for obstetrical services or to a hospital for a heart attack or stoke when minutes count. The time lag is greater with the strain on ,and often lack of resources of support services such as ambulances and EMT.
So, what is the answer. The model of the non-profit hospital is a thing of the past especially in an urban situation.The alternatives could include a "political unit" supported institution, but that too is financially improbable since no municipality or county can raise funds sufficient for such an operation without an excessive tax rise which would not be permitted.
The only conceivable solution is for a "for profit" enterprise replacing the lost hospital. Unless it can be profitable that will never happen. The patient mix that led to MRMC's downfall by itself can not support any hospital. So what possibilities are there?
To begin with no matter who operates a facility here will need some subsidy whether local,or state,or federal. Moreover the services will have to be limited to the important time related urgent life saving care plus whatever speciality services that can operated at a profit. That will most likely be the more common surgical and orthopedic services as well as short term medical care. The hospital size will be limited, the number of 120 beds has frequently been mentioned and that may be reasonable.
Since one of the understandable problems was the sharing of rooms all patient care rooms should be for one patient only except in a health crisis. This should be applicable to all irrespective of ability to pay.
The rest of the existing structure can be used for what seems to be profitable short term rehabilitation services and convalescent care. Long term care may be a borderline subject due to low reimbursement plans (medicaid).
Since there is no longer an available local pool of physicians any hospital will have to be staffed by doctors under contract. That will also mean that there will have to be an ambulatory medical office oriented center which these individuals would also staff..
Also essential will be the emergency center separate from a 24/7 walk in facility. They should be two separate units. Their functions are different and the ER c an not operate efficiently when doubling as a routine treatment unit.
This is a sketch of one possible solution. There may be more. Although it is possible that no such model exists, we will never know if we don't look.
Who should do the searching? The logical party would be the Mayor. However experience over the past six years and present activity demonstrates that she is incapable of organizing and conducting such a search. Yet it should have community authority. Therefore I am suggesting that together the Mayor and The Council without delay form a non political oriented committee of capable community citizens to conduct such task. It need not be a large group. The talent is there in Plainfield and we already have activists involved who should be part. There are also many talented individuals in this city who have the time and would be happy to be involved if asked.
There is no time to waste on petty politics.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The fact is a simple one: that once the criminal act of closing MRMC was sanctioned by the then Commissioner upon its finality there was no longer the possibility of restoring the hospital we knew.The bricks and mortar remained but the essential human element that made the hospital a prime institution and left for other viable locations. Once new roots had been established there would be no return.
People will not acknowledge why Palinfield lost its health care life line. It was not for the lack of physicians or for a void in an affordable daily walk in center. That already existed although its location was not central. Nor was the Neighborhood Heath Center equipped 24/7 for the minor emergency care that a hospital ER can provide.
It is also true that the Mayor and Assemblyman must share a portion of the blame but not all. Their decision to keep the public in the dark until the bombshell blew was a political one. Perhaps although it is questionable that a public outcry before the Commissioner gave her blessing could have averted the disaster, we can not know.
However the true onus falls on three entities that allowed conditions to reach a state of no return.
The first was the Board of Governors who after permitting their Chief executive officer to make multiple bad business decisions committed the ultimate crime by accepting in the name of business efficiency a subordinate 'partnership" with an inferior hospital which both sides had professed to be rivals for patients. The handwriting was on the wall the day that union was completed.
The second and one most people do not consider was the hospital internal structure of semiprivate 2 bed rooms. There was pluses in that type configuration which reduced the cost per bed in construction and in delivery of routine services. It was a major stept forward from the 6 or more open bed wards of pre WWII construction. As reimbursement methods change there was now a two tier charge structure which the insurance carriers encouraged. However, no on e gave a damn about most individual's desire for privacy in times of stress.
The third and major destructive entity was the population of MRMC's natural service area. The abuse of the ER and the major inpatient load of Medicaid and non-payers may have been the major economic contribution. But the prejudices of affluent and insured patients who could not stand the possibility of sharing a room with one of the "rift raft" Plainfielders was a major contribution. Too may would rather go to Overllook or JFK than stay in Plainfield, irregardless of the capabilities of each hospital staff.
Fault finding is easy. The cure is hard. Can there be a cure? I believe so. Despite the fact that I have few of the answers I shall try to explore it perhaps tomorrow and Monday. albeit probably too superficially..
(Much later) The two late games were what makes college basketball and the tournament the best sports event of the year. Not only did the best college team in the nation-Ohio State- lost by one(1) point, but the team- VCU- that all the pundits blasted the selection committee for giving one of the four "play in" slots s now one of the remaining 8.
Thus Saturday's blog will be late.
Friday, March 25, 2011
My condolences go out to his family.
The Lattimore family and Plainfield have been bound together for more than 30 years in education, politics, religion, and public safety. The loss of one member of this family is also Plainfield's loss.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Alex Edache has left a new comment on your post "TRANSPARENCY AND DISCLOSURE":
I had no idea where I work is a requirement for running for a seat on the Plainfield Board of Education.I thought my background as a former teacher was more important. The truth is with the word count limitations I thought I should condense my experiences. I have many. I am proud to inform you I work in the Campbell's office as a part-time realtor,but my full time work is in the health profesion. I am an independent thinker and will continue in that same way if elected.I admire the courage Wilma has demonstrated to work for the betterment of the children of Plainfield.I will be happy to make my own contributions to the children also.I can only hope you will support my efforts.
Thank you Alex. I did not know that you had a word limit. That can cause difficulties in being transparent. .
I know you do understand the potential of a conflict problem in an authoritative position when your "boss" is a colleague. I am not implying that you are susceptible to coercion but the relationship should be out in the open.
Health profession is a broad field that can include anybody of physician, nurse practitioner, Physicians assistant, dental technician,microbiologist, health aid , EMT, or orderly to only name a few.
For those anonymous who would doubt my credibility, my CV had been printed in the biannual editions of Whoe's Who in America as well as the 'in the World" until about 2000 when I requested its removal since I was retired. For the past 2 decades I have also been what I would like to consider as a 'Civic activist" and for the past three years a "blogger" to help satisfy my frustrated ambition to have been a newspaper op-ed columnist.
March 24 click is not as a notable day in history as the 25th when in 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire happened. Yet in 1944 the "Great Escape" by British officers from a German POW camp took place. One year later was the date of "Operation Varsity". click .
To qualify for the free conducted tour of Europe that I was enjoying(?), I had to train on the obstacle course, go through the infiltration course and even, though a doctor, had to be proficient on a weapon. That I did with the BAR.
On March 24,1945 the Allied forces in Europe engaged in the largest airborne action ever.
Montgomery was in command of what was to be the first trans-Rhine advance on German soil. He was amassing a tremendous number of heavy artillery on the west bank. The initial crossing, after the heaviest artillery bombardment and air attack of the war, was to be made by British Commando forces.
Simultaneously, as the 17th seized the crossings over the Wessel River, the British Army and the American 9th would cross the Rhine on pontoon bridges to join these forces. “Varsity” was a well planned operation. Unfortunately for Monty, a few days earlier Patton’s forces were able to unexpectedly seize the bridge at Remagen and beat him into Germany proper.
Over a decade ago I wrote at my kids insistence some of my WWII experiences. This is an excerpt from that document:
Holland had been the first daytime airborne operation, but “Varsity”, using the 17th and the British 6th Airborne, was the first (and last) time that gliders landed in an area not previously secured by parachutists. Obviously, we were very lucky since my group missed the severe fire fighting.
For the first time the operation called for the use of a double tow of gliders pulled by C46s instead of the customary C47 single tow. My Jeep was in one glider and the medical supply trailer in the adjacent one. Four men plus a pilot and co-pilot were in each. I rode in the Jeep with my driver and two aid men. About halfway to the drop zone we ran into rough air and were forced to retie the Jeep's restraining ropes. That was difficult since there was little room and we had to lie on the jeep to reach down the sides. When flack appeared below and shrapnel flew around us, I was happy to have the Jeep's steel floor instead of just the glider's plywood floor under me. , we missed our DZ and landed on the wrong far side of the Wessel Canal. Since the Germans were waiting with 88mm cannon, every one who landed in our designated DZ was killed. One of the two medical officers for the 2nd battalion was a casualty.
The glider came to a stop in a plowed field. Before we could move, or even breathe a sigh of relief, the glider pilot and co-pilot dashed for the cover of the woods, climbing over the Jeep and us and out the door. During “Varsity” (Wessel), the glider pilots were to rendezvous and form a temporary infantry company, instead of heading to the rear ASAP. They defended an important cross road from counter attack.
We lifted the nose and drove the Jeep out of the glider over to the other glider with the trailer. Due to the plowed ground, we had difficultly lifting the nose and pulling the trailer out of the glider. While we were occupied, a German soldier came out of the woods dangling aluminum anti-radar foil from upraised hands. I could not be sure that he wished to surrender. I told my men to scatter, and to this day, I insist that they "scattered" in a straight line behind me. However, he was a youngster who was overwhelmed by the airborne assaults and had enough of the war.
We had no idea where we were. Nothing resembled what I had studied on the aerial photo maps. I showed the German where we wanted to be. He pointed out where we were; on the wrong side of the canal. He agreed to lead us to the canal and to a crossing near the farmhouse. I could see no other choice.
Being lazy, I “permitted” him to carry my heavy medical bag and field pack. With my “captive" as guide we took off in file, the jeep towing the trailer, supposedly in the direction of the Wessel Canal .
We reached what look like an overgrown brook and followed a dirt road on the bank for a short distance. Suddenly, we noticed American soldiers lying prone sheltered by the canal's near bank. It was our A Company whose Captain yelled out “Doc get down. We are in the midst of a fire fight”. However, we had heard no shots, so we went down the bank, waded across the ankle high "canal" and up the other side while the Jeep and trailer went over a little bridge. We soon reached our destination, a farmhouse that had been designated for use as our aid station where we rejoined Irby and the rest of the section."
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
For a lark I googled the title and to my surprise came up with a plethora of hits, this one has the complete story, including commentary. http://www.wondersmith.com/scifi/mail.htm You might enjoy the tale specially considering the Author is most remembered for his tales of India and the British Empire.
I am happy to post this because it is more in context with my original concept of "Doc's Potpourri then the overwhelming focusing on the unfortunate affairs of Plainfield. Tomorrow I will again wander from civil turmoil for a tale from WWII.
Whether due to voter apathy or candidate apathy in this community the so called non political elections have resulted in a board that many feel has been derelict in its fiduciary duty to the citizens and worse of all for the students.
Although I consider it to be a better alternative, an appointed board by the Mayor in Plainfield, if her performance with other appointments during her term are an indicator, could result in even a worse cataclysm.
Thus we a caught between the "proverbial rock and a hard place" in maintaining the status quo.
The one requirement that we must insist on is full disclosure by all candidates in order that we can be sure that there is no inadvertent ethical problems or potential conflicts of interests. The voter should be able to judge if a common workplace for several members of the Board could create a potential problem, or if a relative in a critical administrative position could compromise a Board members vote. Even a close relative as a teacher, administrator or student in a particular school to which a board member has a special affiliation opens the potentiality of undue impact.
None of the above may ever have a negative effect but the possibility may inadvertently exist.
Why do I mention this?
On March 12 Renata posted the first of three information blogs about the "trio ticket candidates"; Mr Alex Edach. which resulted in the following comment by of course anonymous
How much personal information should a candidate supply? Since there arose a question about "Transparency and full disclosure", I also submitted a comment Let us set a record straight since. that blogger has accused me of duplicity and nefarious insinuations.
I had written "If we are to have honesty in elections, full disclosure including any potential ethical or conflict issues is essential. To gloss over that fact is not in the public interests" to which Renata apparently took umbrage. The rest of the "discussions" should be read but rather then reprint I would hope you will hit the link.;
However since she as of 4:30PM 3/22/11 has not posted my reply which I have no record but alluded to it in a smirking comment I am reprinting a nearly factual rebuttal to the offending commentary: Unfortunately the formatting has been lost. Her remarks are in italics mine in standard type. The red emphasis is mine.
O’contrare*, I am responding to what you wrote, or rather what you didn’t write and therefore what was implied simply by you writing it in the first place. Duplicitous in the sense that you held back what it was you were questioning but put forth that there was something questionable. If that is not what you meant -- that is certainly how I read it. I don't know how one can respond to what I did not write or unless clairvoyant to thoughts that may never have occurred to me.
So Doc -- let’s us be frank here. Let’s dissect the conversation… You said: “If we are to have honesty in elections, full disclosure including any potential ethical or conflict issues is essential”.
That is what I wrote. You would question that we need to know everything, excluding his private life, about a candidate?
What exactly did you mean here? To write such a statement without any specific implies that you ‘perceived’ something posted (or not posted) exist. My question to YOU is WHAT is the missing information? What prompted you to write this comment? Once again you make an unwarranted assumption. Not every one is insidious or has a selfish agenda..
Then you said – “To gloss over that fact is not in the public's interests.” So the accusation here (at least to me)is that “I” somehow had decided to gloss over the facts. When all I did was post what was given, and although you may have probed – that is certainly your prerogative. I chose not to –that is my prerogative. I made no accusation, reread the first paragraph. Your blog is yours alone. What you post is your privilege. I made no suggestion that you withheld information Once again you take a remark out of context. The preceding sentence is important. But you were flip in your response to "Anon". Unfortunately, to read defamatory intent in every statement suggests a tendency to paranoia. I am sure that is not the fact.
And finally, I totally degree with your last statement – I think that the forums are EXACTLY the place to vet the candidates. This is what it is for… I consider the LWV forum a valuable tool in judging candidates. I attend most of them. But they are not the only venue for the public to judge. Many can not attend the forums. Do you dismiss the media; newspapers, flier's, radio, television as important sources of information? What is in the printed media can not be misunderstood as can the spoken word in the forum setting.
Renata, your style and use of the idiom in your blog is unique and quiet often incomprehensible to us old fogies, but you are what you are. Oh, By the way the correct spelling of " O’contrare" is "au contrair" which means "on the contrary, quite the opposite". It is French.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Once again it has been emphasised that the 2011FY budget as adopted a swell as the proposed 2012 budget does not cut funding to the Recreation division but instead transfers funds from the salary line into the program line in order that more part time seasonal workers can be employed and serve more than the reported 600 children.
Once again Mr. Muhammad challenged the numbers a s being false despite the Council President stating that these were the exact numbers supplied by Mr. Wynn himself. A more controlled Muhammad did interrupt McWilliams several times in his defense of David Wynn.
The most disturbing revelation was the disclosure of the verbal and printed propaganda directed at school students declaring that passage of the Commission Ordinance would mandate the closing of the Recreation Division and that their would be no spring or summer programs. McWilliams remarked that one citizen had called the Division about registering for Baseball and was told she could not because the Depart would be closed after April 15. There seemed to have been other similar incidents.
Despite the veto of the Commission which might have given
As improbable as it seems with the Chairman of the Local Democrat Committee ,an obvious important official in the County or he would not be the 3rd most important leader in the Assembly plus a city resident and former Councilor as a member of the Board of Freeholders , that the Mayor had no indication or even suspicion that Bibi Taylor was leaving for no less a County position. Just a week earlier the Mayor's spokesperson Acting City Administrator Williamson remarked at the Council meeting that Taylor's return was imminent.
Yet, one must take the Mayor at her word. Thus either she has been ostracised from the County (and local) Democrat machine or even worse this is an example her being as out of touch with popular political realities as have been the Middle East Dictators.
In neither case can she act efficiently as the head of this city's government.
Bibi Taylor by her apparently impetuous action has lost credibility as a person of principle. It is not that she elected not to return to a position from which the Mayor had embarrassed her with an out of the blue firing. Despite the Council's action in revoking that action, I could not conceive (and did so state) a person of Taylor's obvious pride continuing to work in such an unfriendly atmosphere.
The "New Jersey maternity leave benefits are 66% of your income or $559 per week in 2011 - whichever is less. If your income exceeds $42,000 per year, you hit the cap".
In Taylor's case that would be $7267.00 for the three months as a quarter of 13 weeks. In order to preserve that amount, to our knowledge she waited until the last second to give her notice. She has elected to punish the City's citizens to spite the Mayor. Yes, she could have given notice that at the end of her leave she intended to leave and give time for a search for a good successor.
What are Plainfield's options? By law Williamson can not serve in the Acting City Administrator's role for which he is ill equipped for more than three months. On April 1 or perhaps a week before depending when the Mayor appointed him he must vacate the position. There is no one else in the Mayor's "Cabinet" that has minimal qualifications to possible act as the Acting Administrator.
Ron West has been refereed to in the press as a possible candidate but he would be politically tainted by having been a part of the McWilliams' administration or IE: a New Democrat. He may be further repugnant to many due to his relationship with Solaris. There may be others but this will be at best a stop gap measure while an honest search with Council input for a new full time Administrator takes place. However, in times of crisis accommodations must be made.
The net result will be (1) No possibility of a timely adoption of a budget, thus Plainfield will once more be in a fiscal wilderness. (2) A rudderless city unless all of the opposition Council trio shows a desire to acknowledge their fiduciary responsibility and forgo petty party politics. and (3) an undesirable municipality for development or residency unless the Mayor abandons her antagonistic attitude to the Council and helps find a cooperative working situation with Council.
The Plainfield High Basketball team as expected ran out of steam in the 4th quarter against the concentration of statewide talented players. As runner's up the Cardinals merit the respect of all.
Later today will post "sunject unknown" at this time.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Of all sport spectacles the most exciting is the NCAA men's tournament. In what other sport can you find the lead to change hand three times in the last 10 seconds. The nearest event similar to that could possibly be the 1968 Heidie/Jets-Raiders 1968 football game.
Plainfield High's basketball team has an impossible task facing it tonight in the State Championship game. They have to defeat the #1 High School Team in the country. That is unlikely but anything is possible. Indeed even if they lose they must b e considered the best public school team in NJ. The Saint Anthony, Saint Benedict and other Catholic High Schools act as a magnet for the best individual athletes in the State. Those kids are auditing for college basketball scholarships.
Correction: It is March 24 not the 25th that I intend to post a brief WWII memories. The 25th is justifiably more famous because that is the date of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
To night we may have answers to some of the recent administrative and monetary problems facing the city.
In the world of Blogs there has been a void since the first of the year that is disturbing. Both Jim Pivinchny and Rashid Burney seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. Both have had much to offer in understanding and interpretation of Plainfiedl's problems. Come back you two.
The DPW has done a great job on Leland especially south of the RR tracks. There is only one that may have been missed in the northbound lane before getting to Cook School. Cushing Rd. has been restored to good condition especially on the western end. Unfortunately the recent heavy rain created havoc with the patches between Knollwood and Kevin .
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Posted: Mar 19, 2011 6:57 PM EDT Updated: Mar 19, 2011 6:57 PM EDT
Web producer: Sheryl Kornman
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - A one-time member of the audit team hired by the Arizona Department of Education to evaluate Tucson Unified School District's ethnic studies program has left the team after he was arrested and accused of conspiring to commit theft of educational services in New Jersey, where he lives.
The hiring of a Dallas contractor, Cambium Learning Group, was announced by Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal in a media release issued on Saturday.
Here is part of Huppenthal's release:
"As part of its investigation into the Tucson Unified School District's (TUSD) Mexican-American Studies program compliance with the requirements of A.R.S. § 15-112, that went into effect on January 1, 2011, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) recently contracted a nationally recognized independent educational firm, Cambium Learning Group, based in Dallas, Texas, to conduct an impartial, unbiased curriculum audit.
Upon learning one of the lead investigators, Dr. Steve Gallon, was involved in questionable activities while serving as a superintendent in New Jersey, both ADE and Cambium Learning agreed that the integrity of the audit team should not be called into question.
Cambium Learning Group assured ADE that Dr. Gallon is not and has never been an employee of Cambium Learning Group.
He is no longer working on the Arizona Audit Team selected to review TUSD's Mexican American Studies program.
"Further, it is ADE's understanding that Dr. Gallon's relationship with National Academic Education Partners has also been discontinued.
"National Academic Education Partners is a firm that partners with Cambium Learning Group to create and provide highly-focused, research-based school turnaround and transformation services that produce results."
"The Department was very pleased Cambium Learning Group immediately responded to the questions raised regarding Dr. Gallon," said Andrew T. LeFevre, ADE's Director of Public Relations.
"With this level of responsiveness, ADE continues to have full confidence in their ability to conduct an impartial, unbiased and thorough curriculum audit of TUSD's Mexican-American Studies program."
"The Cambium Learning Group's curriculum audit will culminate in a comprehensive, written report to ADE. Upon receipt of the investigative results, ADE will review the report and draw its conclusions concerning TUSD's compliance with A.R.S. § 15-112 and take appropriate action."
Our BOE is searching for a replacement Superintendent. Let us hope that the hold over members learned from the most recent farce.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
There is enough media and blogger outlets about Japan, Nuclear accidents and meltdowns, The armed suppression of the "revolution" in Libya and other "Arab" nations that I can take time off from that which has subordinated my original concept for "Potpourri". With that in mind I intend on March 25 to run a little egocentric WWII remembrance.
While on "memory events"; Three Mile Island happened 32 years and 8 days ago from today. Chernobyl occurred in April 25 years ago. Look them up in Wikipedia.
Friday, March 18, 2011
:#1 The mayor posts a notice on the City "site" announcing a special Council Meeting Monday March 21 at 7PM. citing a City Code "ARTICLE 2, SECTION 2:2-10(A)" which us poor citizens have no available copy.
The pertinent section of the City Charter reads;
2.6 - Meetings. (Skip to the part about special meetings.)
"Special meetings upon at least two days public notice may be called by the Mayor whenever he deems necessary, and shall be called by the City Clerk upon written request signed by a majority of the councilmen. The call for the meeting shall specify the purpose of the meeting, and no other business may be conducted at such meeting."
This elderly observer interprets the above as two distinct separate methods to call for a Special Meeting. The Mayor's call does need Council approval. If the Council disapproves they can do the Wisconsin Democrat maneuver by not showing up so that there could not be a quorum for action. Also remember a vote of 5 members is necessary on alterations to the budget.
However, the Notice itself is faulty' "Emergency Appropriation" by itself is an opened ended term and is not "specific" thus does not meet the requirements stated in the paragraph quoted above.
Additionally, unless there are uncommitted funds in the 2011 budget, there can be no "Appropriation". I believe that there can be a meeting to transfer funds from one line item to another. Councilor Mapp and Acting City Administrator Williamson should be more knowledgeable about this matter than a long retired internist.
Perhaps before the appointed time we will have clarification.
#2: Council President McWilliams late yesterday issue a press release stating the Council's position on the Recreation services issue. She announced a press conference at 6PM Monday. That is of course my meal time. Perhaps the City will supply refreshments.
Perhaps the Mayor will also hold a press conference bringing us up to date on the status of the all important Administration heads.
Correction:Having rechecked the agenda from the November 2010 business meeting I realized that I made an error, Mr. Restaino is Director of Administration and Finances etc. not "acting". Incidentally, the City site lists Bibi Taylor as holding that position, although she was named City Administrator in January or February 2010. Isn't it nice to have available correct information.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING
PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 2, SECTION 2:2-10(A) OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF
THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD, 1971, A SPECIAL MEETING IS HEREBY CALLED BY THE
MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD AT 7:00 P.M. ON MONDAY, MARCH 21, 2011 IN
THE CITY HALL LIBRARY, 515 WATCHUNG AVENUE, CITY OF PLAINFIELD, FOR THE
PURPOSE OF CONSIDERING AND ACTING UPON THE FOLLOWING:
1) EMERGENCY APPROPRIATION.
FORMAL ACTION MAY BE TAKEN.
BY ORDER OF THE MAYOR OF THE
CITY OF PLAINFIELD
SHARON M. ROBINSON-BRIGGS
/S/S/ ABUBAKAR JALLOH, RMC
DATED: PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY
However, the as yet unconfirmed "scoop" by Jerry Green that Bibi Taylor has taken a position with the County' is impetus for this brief blog.
It should be no surprise to any one, that a person with any degree of self pride would continue to work in the unfriendly atmosphere created by her 'honor'S" abrupt firing action in December. Unless the Mayor was caught completely with her pants down I also can not conceive that someone in the County/Freeholder/ Democrat Party or even the local branch was not aware that Taylor had applied for the County position. That would be most difficult to keep a secret.
Since there has been no evidence that there has been a search for a new City Administrator, or even a Director of Finance or a Director of Public works, we can assume that the Mayor is going to continue to ignor the Charter and personally "rule".
Acting City Administrator, Acting Department Directors can serve for only 90 days. Williamson's role for which he is ill equipped should be over by the end of March. Likewise the Acting Directors of Administration and Finance, and Public Works are approaching the end of their legal appointment.
There has been no evidence on the City site or by communication that there is a search for qualified i9ndividuals for any of the three posts. Once again the Mayor has continued to leave vacant positions that might put the brakes her concept of personal government. She apparently finds anarchy to work for her benefit.
Plainfield's Government is in an Atomic Meltdown. If the Mayor and all Councillors really care for our City they will act collaboratively to limit the damage.
We await a statement from the Mayor as to her plans. If she needs to include her Mentor so be it. The Assemblyman has to openly take an active role as the "third most important person in the Assembly". and the only influential party figure.
Add 9:15 AM: one of the serious fall outs will be that there is no way that even a draft for the 2012FY budget will be ready by July 1. In fact it will be months before any new professionals on board will be up to speed to submit a rational one.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Despite Mr. Green's protestations, as City Party Chair he has an intrinsic impact on municipal affairs and has an obligation to ensure that there is a collaborative effort between Mayor, and all Council members in this crisis time. If Christie has to supply emergency financial help let the city leaders jointly petition for same and our legislature leadership lobby for same.
Plainfield itself has a government that is in drastic need of reformation, not one by violence but through the democratic process of the ballot. For the past two or more decades democracy has been dead in Plainfield. A single party system led by a charismatic leader with the exception of a short interlude has rewarded the faithful with elected and/or appointed positions of importance within the city. Often the same individuals have been recycled from one post to another, all providing health care, pension and other extraordinary benefits Rightly or wrongly, that has been the voters' choice.
For the past three years there has been a conflict between two factions and personalities especially on the City Council that has led to a disorganized economically distressed community. Part is due to an increasing realization by Council members of their fiduciary responsibility and the resistance of an Administration to any interference in its concept of who runs the city. The results is of course a lack of collaboration based on turf protection and not public welfare.
What many will find as controversial is one onlookers opinion of the personalities of the players involved. It may be simple to first address in either order the Councilors and the Administrators.
Despite the fact that Administration starts with a single individual it has a greater impact on the totality of city government.
Plainfield's special charter envisioned the Mayor to be a part time position, more of a coordinator and overseer than a day by day operator. The actual city functions were to be entrusted to a professional City Administrator who reported to the Mayor and followed the broad policies presented by Administration. No Mayor has had the qualifications to fill a City Administrator's role, and until the present Administration the time required for such a post.
For the past six years the present Mayor has functioned as if it were a full time responsibility,as if she was the CEO and not the Chairperson of the Board. She has constantly not filled important Department directorships and fiscal control positions. For example. the CFO, the bastion of financial control, was vacant for years until the State finally threatened to fine all parties involved in the Government. The Directorship of Administration and Finances for a great deal of time has been unfilled. For the Mayor's first Administration the position Director of Public Works was filled by a person who was well connected in County politics. A highly qualified successor left after only a very short tenure. The only constant has been the Director of Public Safety. The Charter's rules on temporary appointments have been ignored more often than complied with.
Prior to 2010 the City Administrator was filled by an individual whose strength was in stonewalling. "I will get back to you"(never) was a routine response to questions from Councilors and Public. There was no transparency.
The present Administrator who is now on three months Maternity leave appeared to be doing a superlative job under most difficult conditions. Although many feel she will soon be back to work, I question, considering that although the Council overrode the Mayor's abrupt action of firing her for unspecified reasons just before the end of last year, that she will resume for any length of time that overwhelming position.
Due to the length of this posting, the role of Corporation Counsel will be dealt with separately along with the Council membership in an immediate forthcoming posting(s). All dealing with this subject should be considered one document.
However, by the very nature that the Corporation Counsel is appointed to serve for the term of the Mayor's office, that individual can not be able to properly represent the Council to which he gives advice in any conflict between the two branches. Indeed Corporation Counsel has frequently been the Mayor's spoke-person at Council meetings.
Since this is an impossible situation which no one person can be expected to cope with, it is imperative that there be a revision of the Charter to provide separate legal representation to the two branches of government.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the Council, I am forced to deal with personalities, a task that may be clouded by individual prejudices. I will try to avoid that as much as possible. But the City's biggest problem is that the Council is split in such a way between the two factions that too often the minority imposes its will on Council action. Too often purely politics takes precedence over the City's needs. Thus it is impossible to take the Council as a whole, but rather a collection of seven individuals meriting their own commentary.
The Council's youngest member and two term President, Annie McWilliams has brought a sense of maturity and leadership beyond her years. Her patience at the public commentary sessions is unbelievable. Her attempts to find solutions have often been thwarted by petty political positions.
The senior member in age is Councilor Reid. He often offers wise advice and is not beyond being critical of Administration as shown by his constant repetitive remarks that many of the city's problems were due to the lack of a CFO. He has also been critical of the lack of action to correct faults found in the annual audit. However, his position as treasurer of the City Democrat Committee, and his role in the Assemblyman's and Mayor's campaign often leads him to take a position on Council votes that is clouded by his political affiliation. Thus he can be counted upon to support the Administration on any vote involving the Council. Never the less he is a positive force.
Councilor Storch has been the longest serving "New Democrat" on the Council. He seems to take his fiduciary responsibilities seriously especially in the areas he has the greatest personal interest such as Plainfield's economic development. Since he has often been the focus of the Party Chairman's anger he is often the target of citizen's derogatory remarks. On balance he is a positive force for the Council.
Councilor Mapp, also an original " New Democrat", lends financial and regulatory strength to the Council. He undoubtedly serves as mentor to McWilliams. Often his analysis seems too pedantic which impacts on his effectiveness to the public. he too is a positive force.
Councilwoman Rivers unfortunately is too often abrasive and argumentative, She is too often very parochial in her relationships between the 4th Ward and the City as a whole expressing disregard for the East End especially the 2nd Ward. Until she understands that although elected from the 4th Ward she represents the whole city and is counterproductive by being devise. Rivers gives the impression that she will vote against any "New Democrat" supported proposal when there is a conflict with the Administration.
I consider her defense of the PMUA and its Commissioners refusal to appear before the Council as inexcusable. We can wonder if she has read the agreements between the City and PMUA as well as the enabling Ordinances. The Council does represent the people and should not be supplicant to an Authority that serves the people.
That leaves the two newest members; Williams is an avowed "New Democrat" yet she seems to have a mind of her own. Her recent vote that doomed the Purchasing Office was bewildering, but it did demonstrate that she will not be a rubber stamp.
Finally we come to Councilor Greaves. To date she seems to be often befuddled by the problems facing the Council. It is too early to determine what contribution she will make to the Council. However it has become evident that 99% of the time on controversial items she will side with the Mayor's position.
Until the Council as a whole requires the Mayor to enter collaborative discussions nothing positive will take place.
As noted this analysis will be found to be very controversial by many. I welcome their expressions within the ground rules of being provocative but not malicious.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
There is about a $10,000.000.00 increase in appropriations. Nearly 4 mil over 2009-2010 is for the Charter Schools. Most of the remainder is for salary and health care increases.
We were informed that there will be 1.2+ mil increase in State aid all dedicated to the Charter Schools, Special education students and I thought I heard Private (?) School tuition.
The Acting District Superintendent claims that the recently signed contract did not represent any increase in salary lines since it was just retroactive pay. I am confused since I would presume that the unionized workers were paid routinely at the old scale until a new contract was signed. Thus any new authorized back pay seems to me to be an increase. Of course I may have misunderstood and I am sure I will be corrected.
I also believe that the new contract calls for small increases this year and subsequent years. However I only saw it some wheres posted on Maria's blog.
The audience was reassured that every attempt is being made to not cut costs at students expense. One of the problems may have been poor fiscal control in the past, including working and non working executive salaries .
I left after the Public Comment period ended since the rest of the meeting would be committee reports and routine business. The BOE meeting is well orchestrated, unfortunately the public attendance could have be accommodated in the City Hall Library Room.
I plan later (much) today to ruminate on personalities involved in today's city government, and why we are in trouble.
The greatest catastrophe is of course Japan's earthquake and immediate tsunami. The number of dead will likely be in the 100000s of thousands when final accounting can be finished. This does not taker into account the imminent nuclear plants disaster due to the quake and tsunami.
In our Northeast there have been the destructive flooding most marked in New Jersey's Bergen and Passaic Counties.
Locally it was last night's Council meeting. This of course will require explanation. But first I must express my indignation that for purely political motivation a minority of three can continue to thwart any action of the majority. How can members of the majority political faction help defeat a vote to keep an essential division, Purchasing" functioning until the end of the present fiscal year? Both were unconscionable positions if the Councilors are placing the interests of the City first..
There is no question that available finances are extremely limited, and that priorities must be allocated wisely. That can be a subject of another post but for the time being let us focus on last night.
Credit must be given to Council President McWilliams for permitting 2 hours of public commentary before the resolutions were acted upon. There is no question that the full courthouse was the result of a personal campaign accompanied by printed material to prevent the overriding of the Mayor's veto.
There was no doubt that there would not be the five(5) votes needed to negate the Mayor's veto. In fact Council President McWilliams expressed the desire to withdraw or table that resolution which would in effect preserved the Mayor's veto. However, the Mayor herself expressed strong objection, insisting upon a vote perhaps wanting the satisfaction of being vindicated.
Thus, there was the prolonged commentary period that far exceeded the allotted 30minutes and often the 3 minutes per speaker. The unfortunate problem is that although comments are to be limited to resolutions and proposed ordinances first reading, forgotten was the vetoed Ordinance establishing Recreation Commission with definitive powers and the three emergency funding resolutions. Instead 90% of the remarks were personal testimony lauding Recreation Superintendent Wynn. This was excusable in that Wynn had been the focus for the past two years of citizen complaints at Council meetings, which had been the impetus leading to the "Commission" ordinance.
Once again several and especially one individual indulged in vicious inexcusable personal harangues aimed at certain members of the Council. Regrettably this was in the presence of many youngster waiting for the presentations honoring several excellent young athletes whose accomplishments reflect proudly on all Plainfielders. .
As expected the veto was upheld by the anticipated minority of 3 no votes. Unanticipated was the failure to at least provide the funding for Purchasing to continue to operate to end of the fiscal year. Funding for the Recreation division is also a necessity, but there remained a questioned of amount. Even if the Mayor's veto of the Ordinance had been over ridden that is a must. That could be addressed in a separate resolution. and there has to be a realistic compromise between the two political factions. Unfortunately I can see no indication of the "Mayor's party" yielding any ground.
It is now imperative that Council not wait for the April meetings which would be too late for both divisions to continue operations, but hold a special meeting within the the next 10 days and do what it should do.
Non Sequitor: For what it is worth in 2011 to date there has been:
- 1 Richter scale earthquake of 9.0 (Japan)
- 5 Richter scale earthquakes greater than 7.0
- 30 earthquakes registering between 6 an 6.9 including New Zealand
- 162 earthquakes registering between 5 and 5.9 including a recent one in China that resulted in fatalities.
- Thsi does not account for the thousands that are less than 5.0