Friday, November 30, 2012

Non sequitur potpourri:

November is going out with temperatures below average; however later this week we will have a heat wave and 60° is prognosticate. All of this brings you back to the roads. I am hoping somebody will monitor the life expectancy of Jack Frost Highway a.k.a. Leland Avenue. Most recommendations have been that asphalt concrete not be laid with the outside temperature is below 45°. As noted there can be modifications but it all depended on how well the pavement is compacted.

With the new budget being presented some time in 2013 I would hope that there is as adequate provision for preventive maintenance work on the new pavements. I also would hope that the road openings on the newly paved Watchung Avenue in South Avenue would've been sufficiently compacted and adequately repaved and sealed so that those road surfaces would not remain compromised and we get our 20 years life out of the pavements. The cost to the community will be much less if that is followed.

So much for the roads; I one month after Sandy the cleanup, the restoration of services continues. Plainfield has received a large grant from FEMA which I hope is being used judiciously and with accountability as to the issuance of contracts. Past experience has suggested that certain favorite vendors will find this money to be a pot of gold.

November has been the months of doldrums, perhaps as a result of the storm. However, there are certain subjects about which I hope to be making some intelligent (?) comments in the near future.

These will include Pres. Obama's selections for his new cabinet, the UN's recognition of Palestinian as a nonmember state and its significance, the reports about County government officials as well as some rumored local use of "government" equipment  post Sandy. I for one can expect any investigation by the County prosecutor to be more of a show show than productive.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

BELATED POTPOURRI



One month after Sandy the cleanup is still ongoing. So are the repairs to breaks in the PSEG and Verizon/Comcast utilities. I have no idea how many Plainfield homes still suffer from the loss of those utilities.

This was brought to my attention yesterday when at noon time I noticed a fire truck with red lights flashing parked on Cushing by Knollwood. About 2:30 pm a convoy of 3 large utilities truck pulled up and parked. They were not PSEG equipment but Verizon. One had a broken pole bound on its trailer. The fire engine moved onto Knollwood and a PSEG truck proceeded to the streets end where it seemed occupied. Since there had been a tree down it that area I presumed that service had still not been restored. .

How many single or small multiple residences in Plainfield are still off line?Once again the city is rolling the dice by pushing its road resurfing program into late November when the temperature is flirting with the lower limits that are safe to pour asphalt. Why can these projects be started earlier or scheduled to early spring when there is less chance of having to abandon completion.

Yesterday’s snow storm could have been a disaster if it were 4-6+ inches and required plowing. Sections of streets like Leland Ave between 7th and E3rd. that had raised manholes could not have been safely plowed.  

On a much lighter note; Sunday’s Star Ledger historic picture was an early 20th Century postcard of the Plainfield RR Station. A CNJ Camelback locomotive is in the background. In the explanation of the picture, the railroad and station is placed between E5th St and E7th St.  My mother a second generation Plainfielder never told me about any seismographic shift that had occurred in Plainfield. 

For those that never saw a “Camelback” steam engine; they were of the Atlantic type 4:4”0. Since CNJRR burned anthracite (“hard coal”) these locomotives had an extra large boiler which would obstruct the view of the engineer if he were in the traditional cab. Therefore the engineers cab straddled the boiler about mid engine; hence the name.

The CJRR serviced the coal fields in the Scranton/Wilkes Barrow area of Pennsylvania.

The habbit of UPS and Fed Exp. to leave boxes without ringing bell or in unusual places like by garage doors or side doors instead of front covered entrances no matter the weather is most distutbing. Not only is there a danger of theft but damage. I am aware of two boxes (not mine) being left out exposed to the snowfall yesterday. Unfortunately the carrier's agreement to the sender permit such delivery. And it is impossible to reach a service representative to register a complaint.  


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TO FILL THE SLOT




Since no successor to Annie McWilliams was chosen Monday night I reviewed the applicable legal documents.

The two documents that have to do with filling the vacancy on the Council would be the City Charter and of course the N.J.S.A. I have tried to emphasize the important facts in red.

The City Charter states:
2.4    Vacancies. A vacancy in the office of councilman occurring during a term shall be filled by election at the next general election to be held not less than 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy. The council shall forthwith fill the vacancy temporarily by appointment of a qualified person to serve until the qualification of the person so elected. A person appointed to fill a vacancy shall have the qualifications required of the previous incumbent and shall be a member of the same political party as such prior incumbent. In the event the council fails to fill the vacancy within 60 days following its occurrence the mayor shall forthwith appoint a qualified person to serve as above.

However this is not valid because the State Law reads:
NJSA 40:16-xhttp://media.bergen.com/designimages/orange_arrow.png
a. Within fifteen (15) days after the occurrence of a vacancy, the municipal committee of the political party shall present to the Governing Body the names of three (3) nominees for the selection of a successor to fill the vacancy.
b. Within thirty (30) days after the occurrence of a vacancy, the Governing Body shall appoint one of the nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy.
c. If the Governing Body fails to appoint one of the nominees within the prescribed time, the municipal committee shall within the next fifteen (15) days or forty-five (45) days after the occurrence appoint one of the nominees as the successor to fill the vacancy.
d. If the municipal committee fails to submit the names of the nominees within the fifteen (15) days after the occurrence, the Governing Body may within the next fifteen (15) days or a total of thirty (30) days appoint a successor from the same political party which had nominated the incumbent whose office has become vacant. 12/01
3. Procedure to be followed to fill vacancy where incumbent was NOT a nominee of a political party. [N.J.S.A. 40A:16-12]
4. Failure of Governing Body to fill vacancy in membership of Governing Body [N.J.S.A. 40A:16-13]
If a Governing Body shall fail or decline to fill a vacancy in the membership of the Governing Body by appointment within the prescribed time, the office shall remain vacant for the remainder of the term or until the election and qualification of a successor, as the case may be.

It would seem to me that in view of the Council not filing the post on Monday that the City Democrat Committee can now appoint whomever they desire. And that person can be sworn in at the December Agenda Setting Session.

THE SHOW GOES ON



Vaudeville is not dead! The Municipal Court a.k.a. chambers may not be the same venue as the Palace Theater or even the Plainfield Oxford Theater where in the Depression-era between the doubleheader movie showings there would be several acts. there would be a movie and a vaudeville show per admission. Of course instead of the vaudeville there could be a double feature with or without a "Depression glass or plate give away".

Nor were the acts last night even up to the level of the Oxford. The Council convened slightly late marked by the absence of the Chairman of Committee as a Whole, Reid. He was however present by screech phone. In his physical absence an acting chairman had to be chosen.

The Chairman of the Committee as a Whole’s duty is to read from a script the ordinances and resolutions to be acted upon. After three votes without a majority being reached by any nominee; Council President Mapp insisted that a Chairman be selected.  Councilman Storch assumed the role.

That would have been the highlight of the meeting if it were not for the resolution honoring Indira Bailey who had been selected as the 2012 – 13 Essex County teacher of the year. It is an honor for this city to have this second-generation Plainfielder as an involved citizen.

After that the meeting became humdrum as routine business was conducted. The ordinances redefining the zoning in the TODD passed without any discussion. None of the resolutions that included an additional $75,000 salary to the city solicitor which increased his reimbursement to $225,000 as acting Corporation Counsel since the resignation of Williamson merited discussion.

There was a brief exception for some clarification about the two resolutions relating to the installation of the prefabricated at concession stand at the Rock Avenue baseball field. After the first reading of the ordinances which concluded the posted agenda; five new resolutions that had to be added to the agenda for action were accepted by majority vote.  

Three resolutions had to do with the selection of the individual to replace Annie McWilliams as Council person at Large for the December meetings. They were to be voted in order and if one was selected by majority vote the remaining resolutions were to be removed by Council action.

During the meeting Reid often had time had trouble hearing what was being discussed and that apparently took place again.  When he voted ‘yes” for the first candidate Hattie Williams; she received the necessary four votes for election However,  during the public comment session Councilor Reid interrupted to say that he had not heard what was being voted upon and did not wish to vote for Williams. He had intended to vote for the third candidate Eke.

After the now disputed selection of Williams, the Council had voted to withdraw the two resolutions related to Gutenkauf and Ege. The Corporation Counsel correctly ruled that a Councilman had the right to change his vote before the meeting adjourned and therefore Williams’ election was voided.

The next Vaudeville date will be December 10.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ON THE AGENDA



One of the more important ordinances to be Paris this year is MC 2012 – 20. This has to do with amending zoning designations for land-use in the city specifically the areas which have to do with the downtown business district, the North Avenue historic district, the Cleveland Avenue entertainment and restaurant district the college district focused around the Union County College branch, and area parking. All of this is within various so-called transit oriented districts.

This is an important and well conceived document of zoning regulations. Buildings are limited to five stories and height. No building in that district may have residential units on the ground floor.
In view of the recent hurricane since all new buildings are required to have central heating and cooling perhaps there should be a provision for emergency generators to at least provide critical light the residential units and always and perhaps operated heating system.

There is a resolution number 457 – 12 which is related to the development plan by Frank Cretello developer for an area obsess on Second Street and Gavett place to adapt the property 152 – 158 E. 2nd St. which is a corner plot  as a landscape that plaza for public use.

As previously mentioned resolution 438 – 12 was resident appropriation of another $75,000 for city solicitor Minchello who’s been acting Corporation counsel since Williamson’s resignation. As been noted $150,000 has already been appropriated making the total $225,000 for the six months. No mention is been made about the City Solicitor’s budgeted salary. Is that still being paid? Nevertheless this observer is disturbed about the compensation for what is not a full-time position for the recipient.

OUR EMERGENCY RESPONSE:City administrators Eric Berry’s report on the hurricane is submitted for this it meeting.  Part of which I quote “police, fire, city Council members were instrumental in delivery of fliers to residents housed in emergency shelters and other locations. The Mayor traveled through the wards providing important information to residents on a bullhorn.” As is been noted no one has reported hearing the bullhorn announcements.

Unfortunately the emergency shelters operation is not reported. Apparently only one seven, Washington school, was fully effective. The senior citizen center’s compromise by a power failure and no mention of auxiliary emergency generators are mentioned. Nor, is the failure of Emerson school to be fully functional emergency shelter.

I believe that the above should be an essential part of a report on the emergency. I also think that budget should be made for provisions in effect to be used in a power failure or water shortage.
It has become apparent that although Plainfield’s preparation for such an emergency was lacking in several critical areas the response of police and fire departments as well as public works was most commendable.  

Never the less the still unanswered  question which has been  raised many times at Council meetings is whether there is a written plan for operation in emergency situations and what does it contain? Not until the Council (and the public) can review that plan as it existed on Oct 15, 2012 can we truly know what changes we need to make. This should include a comprehensive medical emergency plan in view of the lack of hospital facilities. Triage and primary care if the? ER? is unavailable.

Friday, November 23, 2012

THE MEALS AFTER



A beautiful “Leftovers  Friday” morning. Thank goodness mine is liomited to a doggie bag from dinner at my daughter’s.

Lost in Thursday’s  news was the report of a contract between PMUA and both North Plainfield and Greenbrook Township for bulk waste removal. Will the impact on our bill result in any reduction or a possible increase due to unbalanced labor costs? January is coming.

At the agenda setting session there was a discussion by the Christopher Payne; Director of Information Technology regarding the lack of showing the Council Meetings on the local television channel.   Payne noted that there are vacancies in both IT and media resulting from changes in the job descriptions to fit state specifications.

A resolution authorizing renewal contracts with CBS outdoor Corporation for two Billboards on E. 2nd St. on the roof of city-owned property will  not to be placed on the business agenda. The revenue the city will receive is  too miniscule to counteract  the blight on the city’s appearance.

There are four new resolutions for action at Monday night’s meeting;  one is an appreciation for the Salvation Army response during and after the hurricane.  The other three resolutions are individually authorizing the temporary appointment of Hattie Williams, Dorothy Gutenkauf, and Charles Eke as Councilperson at  Large to  fill the unexpired term of Annie McWilliams. The three will be voted out in the abovre order and if any one of the three receives  a majority vote the resolution relating to any remaining candidate will be will be canceled.