Saturday, March 31, 2012

PERSONAL REM,ARKS ON HUB STEIN FIELD

Despite my negative blogs about the revisions at the Hub Stine field; it is the process that I am disturbed not the entire question about artificial turf.

AS I recall the football field and the track are among the best constructed in the state and the field drainage is good. If the Pro's have gone back to natural turf because of the injury situation, it would seem to me that it is a mistake to change the surface in this area.

I can accept artificial turf for a new soccer field if it will be a community facility because it will get high usage, and the wear and tear is greater under those circumstances. Also when there is a dry spell during baseball season the grass does suffer. using artificial turf may have an advantage but once again that should be documented through exhaustive research before committing. There has been reported increase injuries among infielders because of the increased speed of a ball on that surface.

But even pluses and minuses does not alter the fact that the process in reaching the point which this project is at was improper as evident by all comments and the remarks of board members themselves.

OZ OZ OZ

The past two days Plainfield has been the subject of two different negative news items in the Courier and the Star Ledger.

The Star Ledger's article on Thursday and its editorial on Friday once more makes the image of Plainfield the laughing stock it seems to want to achieve. The Ledger's editorial is copied below and clicking on it will increase its size to be readable.



The Courier has focused on the PMUA farce. On Thursday it printed what may have been in part a press release from Greens office since it was not written by any single staff reporter and the same article appeared in Jerry's blog verbatim.

Friday's paper carried Mark Spivey report on inte rview with Assemblyman and City Party Chairman Green in which he is now calling for an independent review of the PMUA. He is quoted as saying "From every report I have seen or received, the PMUA is an agency that has been out of control for some time" and "an expeditious review of the PMUA be undertaken by a team of independent experts".

The sad part is that in his role as almost permanent Chairman of the City Democrat Party he has an autocratic role in selecting candidates for Mayor and Council offices. It is true that in several recent primary elections the party line candidate has been defeated. However, it is extremely doubtful that there have been any nominees for Commissars of the PMUA without the tacit approval of the Party Chairman. Many have served in elective office or have been active in the local party.

The PMUA was the subject of a scathing report from an independent citizens committee selected by the Councilors from residents of each ward. Also do to public outcry the DOCA ia investigating the Million dollar award to the former executives. It is possible that this could lead to an in depth review of all PMUA actions over the years.

Assemblyman Green is quoted in his letter to the Mayor and Council "I am of the opinion that the city should not depend on the state of New Jersey or on any other level of government for investigation or review of what has taken place at the PMUA" This is in effect a collaboration of remarks earlier at the special Council meeting.

Add these two items to the Hub Stein field 3 to 5 million dollar revision and yes Plainfield is truly a dysfunctional community which needs outside help to aid the taxpayers and voters regain control. Not only do we have a Mayor whose governing conceptions could equal Bashar al-Assad if armed force were permitted, and a Council that puts personal agenda and party loyalty ahesd of its fiduciary obligations, but we also have a BOE/PSS that believes it has no responsibility to taxpayers or impacted residents.

Friday, March 30, 2012

WHAT THE BOE APPROVED

This is amended from an earlier post to include the September meeting.

FYI; in order that everyone knows what the BOE approved in August 2011 this is a copy from the posted minutes.

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF PLAINFIELD

IN UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

MINUTES of a BUSINESS Meeting of the Board of

Education Held on Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On page 41 of 47 pages is:

G. Approval of Architect Engineer

Strategic Plan Link:

Goal 3: Business Practices

To provide the overall efficiency and effectiveness of district and school operations

The Interim Superintendent of Schools recommends, and I so move, adoption of the following:

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the Tennis Courts at Hub Stine field are in need of an existing conditions study

and in order to move this project to the next step, architectural/engineering services are

necessary for:

Inspection of the existing conditions

Conclusions and recommendations regarding the existing conditions.

Develop an estimated construction cost based on the recommendations.

Develop a design and construction schedule based on the recommendations.

Issue a written report

WHEREAS, Forman Architects Engineers, of Zelienople, PA has the experience and expertise

to provide such services, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Plainfield Board of Education approves the appointment of Foreman

Architects Engineers at a fee of $4,300.00. The availability of funds for this item has been

verified and will be charged to account 11-000-262000-300A-31-0000 (Purchased Prof. &

Tech).

In September on page 64 of 67pages the BOE approved:

L. Approval of Architect Engineer
Strategic Plan Link:
Goal 3: Business Practices
To provide the overall efficiency and effectiveness of district and school operations
The Interim Superintendent of Schools recommends, and I so move, adoption of the following:
RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, Hub Stine Field is in need of two (2) turf fields for football and soccer and
architectural /engineering services are necessary for:
 NJDOE Schematic Approval Phase
 Construction Document Phase
 Bidding and negotiation Phase
 Construction Administration Phase
WHEREAS, Forman Architects Engineers, of Zelienople, PA has the experience and expertise
to provide such services, now therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Plainfield Board of Education approves the appointment of Foreman
Architects Engineers at a fee of 4 1/2% of construction costs. The availability of funds for this
item has been verified and will be charged to account 11-000-262000-300A-31-0000
(Purchased Prof. & Tech).


Transparency !!BS.These are separate resolutions; describing the proposed projects and the engaging the engineering firm for the jobs with no mention of bids being requested.

IIs there another document approved by the BOE extending the scope of the project? Where is the copy of the written report? Was it made public or even submitted to the entire BOE? Was there a published RFP for the projects?

All the above may be in existence but I am unaware of them and would like answers which I will post.

In the meantime; one does not need to go to BOE meetings sit through a confusing wordy agenda of 40 to50 pages most of it routine administrative material that is designed to discourage public participation in order to comment on BOE/PSS activities.

AS to the public commentary portion of the BOE meetings the majority of speakers at the meetings I did attend were school employees mainly teachers who had a complaint about some system action which impacted them.

MORE ON THE DOG'S TAIL

The question of what the BOE knew or did not becomes more convoluted.Please read a late posting yesterday of Maria's blog. Be sure to read the comments which contribute to the confusion. click on the link.

The School Board Adopted the Hub Stine Project in September

This particular issue has been a good example of readers comments clarifying incomplete and perhaps erroneous knowledge originally gathered secondhand through reports in other media. I always welcome correction of errors. I also have in the past suggested that on controversial subjects readers should periodically go back and see if there are any new comments posted.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

THE TAIL OR THE DOG?

When I wrote my blog “Transparency’ Wednesday evening for posting Thursday (today) morning I had not read Dr. Margaret Lewis’ comments posted in Maria's blog.

7:44 AM is right, I do make “ASSumptions” from what I read written by those who I trust to be factual and who attend meetings that I have been to and no longer have a desire to attend because there is too much show and garbage and too little acceptance of public input.

Be that as it may; Dr. Margaret Lewis, wrote;

“The Plainfield BOE did not vote on the 3 to 5 million dollar Hub Stine proposal and Board members indicated that last night (3/27/12) was the first time that they had seen the proposal”

And later, “An application was already submitted to the Planning Board prior to last night’s meeting and the Planning Board was scheduled to have a presentation made to it in and around April 5th or 6th 2012. The first phase of construction was scheduled to take place between May 21 and August 13 which means that the track should be available after that time. The second phase was scheduled to be completed by October 15th with all “loose ends” tied up by mid November.”

Does it disturb any one but I that an application for a multi-million dollar project has reach the state of an application to the Planning Board without BOE approval, must less knowledge?

Who gave the OK to proceed on this project at the level which it has obviously reached? Was it the Interim System Superintendent? If so that would once again be an example of the “tail wagging the dog”. Or a complete disregard of the fiduciary role of the BOE who is acting for the people of Plainfield as the employer of the administrative personnel in the school system

Or could it be another Dunn/Sanders type maneuver by a small Board group to present a fait accompli situation for Board action?

Both situations are unconscionable, and I would trust that the Planning Board will refuse to take action as this seems to be at this time an unauthorized project.

Perhaps since one of the items of this projects calls for “ seventeen (17) stadium lights, mounted on 70 feet poles and with up to 1500 Watts each.” that the entire thing is a subtle plan to negate the attractiveness of the JFK proposal for 600 apartments across Randolph Road where the hospital buildings now stand? Or am I giving too much credit?

TRANSPARENCY ???

Transparency:"frankness, openness, candour, directness, forthrightness, straightforwardness openness and transparency in the government's decision-making" Dictionary definition.

If I can recall the Grand Slam ran on a slate which promised "Transparency". The question are those successful Board Members typical politicians who forget their promises once elected?

What have we heard about a search for a System Superintendent? Is there one in place? If so why the lack of information?

Now out of the blue comes a plan to convert Hub Steins playing and practice fields to artificial turf. What is the rational? Nowadays, the only venues are where there is no or little sun. Domed stadiums are ideal, or perhaps in extreme northern climates. Neither condition is applicable here.

If the football field had poor drainage that could be an excuse but again that is not a factor.

I presume the Athletic department made its recommendation to the BOE for the installation. If so what are its reasons? The negatives as far as this lay person knows far outweighs the advantages if any.

Has the Board considered that Artificial Turf is by far the most expensive? What about the upkeep costs? If there are any savings from natural turf maintenance do the justify the long term cost?

From what I have read over the years the number of injuries on artificial turf especially to ankle and knee are far more numerous and more severe than on grass. Has that been taken into account? Also in baseball the ball travels at a faster rate then on grass which has the potentiality of increased sports injury.

We the taxpayers who want the best possible education for Plainfield's children feel that once again the BOE has acted as if the public need not know how or why their money is being spent

To read for the first time in a blog that this plan is in the progress and that the field is being closed for public use certainly is contemptuous of the public.

These are not personnel matters which rightly can be done without revealing names. Transparency, does the Board members know what it means?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

LINK TEXT

I did not know that the one lik needed a password to see, so here is the text sans pictures:

March 27, 2012 (Washington, DC) — Attorneys for the Obama administration and opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) squared off in the Supreme Court this morning over the law's most controversial provision: the mandate to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a penalty.

In the second day of oral arguments in the case, US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr, the attorney for the government, told the justices that the ACA merely regulates the timing of how Americans purchase healthcare. The mandate, Verrilli said, is perfectly acceptable under the Constitution's Commerce clause, which empowers lawmakers to regulate commerce.

Attorneys for officials from 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which are challenging the ACA, described the mandate in more dire terms, saying it is unprecedented and unconstitutional for Congress to compel someone to buy something, or do something, and to penalize them for inactivity.

Justice Stephen Breyer today called that scenario of unlimited federal power, as opposed to limited federal powers spelled out in the Constitution, "the broccoli possibility." That phrase refers to the argument that the individual mandate could open the doors for Congress to require Americans to eat broccoli.

The humor of a broccoli mandate aside, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the case has momentous implications.

Here the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act," said Kennedy, "and that is different from what we have in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way."

"Can You Create Commerce in Order to Regulate It?"

The arguments on each side of the legal battle are familiar ones. What was different today was how the high court justices forced the attorneys to defend their positions from their opponents' strongest attacks. Within a few minutes of Verrilli's presentation, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked him point blank, "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?"

Verrilli replied that the ACA does not create commerce but, rather, regulates an existing healthcare marketplace that at one time or the other encompasses everyone, whether they like it or not.

The healthcare market cries out for regulation, Verrilli said, because the cost of the uncompensated care received by the uninsured (put at $43 billion/year) is shifted to the public in terms of higher insurance premiums. The mandate cures that problem, he said.

The mandate also makes it feasible to require private insurers under the ACA to guarantee everyone coverage and to base premiums on "community rating"; that is, on age, geographic area, family size, and tobacco use, but not on preexisting conditions. Otherwise, Americans could wait until they were ill before they purchased coverage. This "adverse selection" of sick and expensive insurees would force insurers to raise premiums for a shrinking number of customers, which Verrilli said would wreck the private insurance industry. In contrast, the mandate puts healthy and sick people alike in the insurance risk pool.

Verrilli noted that his opponents in the case concede that Congress has the power to regulate the purchase of healthcare at the point of sale. What the ACA does is require advance purchase of something people inevitably need at some unknown point. Such a requirement, he said, does not create a precedent for mandates to buy cars or cell phones.

Several justices pounded on Verrilli's argument that Congress can regulate the healthcare market because everyone is in it. Justice Samuel Alito Jr asked why the government should not require everyone, including the young and healthy, to obtain burial insurance.

"Most people are going to need healthcare," said Alito. "Almost everybody. Everybody is going to be buried or cremated at some point. What's the difference?"

Verrilli replied that the burial industry is not plagued by billions of dollars in cost shifting.

Activity vs Inactivity

Paul Clement, the attorney for the 26 state officials, and attorney Michael Carvin, representing the NFIB, also came in for sharp questioning from the justices.

Clement, who was a solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration, said that the individuals improperly compelled to purchase healthcare coverage are largely the young and healthy, who will subsidize the cost of caring for sicker Americans. "Those people are essentially the golden geese that pay for the entire lowering of the premium," said Clement. His ally, Michael Carvin, said this forced subsidy was a "fundamental problem" with the law.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that societal subsidies in themselves have passed Constitutional muster — witness the Social Security program created during the Roosevelt administration. The government began taxing everyone so that the elderly could get a check in the mail.

"It was a big fuss about that in the beginning because a lot of people said...they're forcing me to paying for this Social Security that I don't want," said Ginsburg. "But that's constitutional."

Ginsburg asked Clement whether he was arguing that, given his opposition to the ACA's reforms of the private insurance market, the only permissible form of subsidizing healthcare was through a taxpayer-funded government program: "a government takeover."

"No," said Clement. "There are other options available."

For his part, Carvin continued to hammer home the point that the ACA oversteps Congress' Commerce clause authority by compelling inactive individuals to engage in commerce. He dismissed the notion that everyone is automatically an active participant in the healthcare marketplace.

"If being born is entering the market, then I can't think of a more plenary power Congress can have, because that literally means they can regulate every human activity from cradle to grave," said Carvin.

Justice Alito asked Carvin if distinguishing between "activity" and "inactivity" is just as artificial as distinguishing between "commerce" and "manufacturing," which the high court once did, but no longer does.

"The words 'inactivity' and 'activity' are not in the Constitution," replied Carvin. "The words 'commerce' and 'noncommerce' are."

Oral arguments in the landmark case began yesterday, with the court focusing on whether a tax law called the Anti-Injunction Act bars consideration of the ACA until 2015, when the Internal Revenue Service begins assessing a penalty for not complying with the individual mandate. The high court wraps up its oral arguments on the ACA case tomorrow with a morning session on whether striking down the individual mandate means the entire law must be voided, and an afternoon session on the constitutionality of Medicaid expansion under the law. The justices will issue a ruling sometime before July.

"Mandate Hangs in the Balance"

Today's proceedings suggest to healthcare-law expert Lawrence Gostin that a majority of the high-court justices could vote to strike down the individual mandate.

"I went into the hearing thinking the justices might uphold the mandate 7 to 2," said Gostin, faculty director of the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. "Now I think mandate hangs in the balance."

The court's 5 conservative members — Justices Scalia, Alito, Kennedy, John Roberts Jr, and Clarence Thomas, who did not ask any questions today — strike Gostin as a solid front against the mandate. "They really didn't give any indication other than skepticism," Gostin told Medscape Medical News. He called their questions to Verrilli "dogged and determined."

Kennedy, the court's reputed swing vote, "didn't indicate he might support the mandate," said Gostin. Rather, Kennedy baldly stated that the requirement could change the relationship between the federal government and the individual "in a very fundamental way," Gostin noted.

In contrast, "it's very clear that the 4 liberal judges (Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) would support it."

Gostin now envisions the possibility of a 5 to 4 vote striking down the mandate.