Friday, January 30, 2015

BLOG FOR FRIDAY



Snow called for today, but only a dusting to 2”, however tonight and Saturday will be extremely cold. The snow predicted for Sunday night and supposedly on Monday may also be light or up to 5” according to what weather reporter happens to be on your TV at the moment.

Neither amount will, as experienced   has shown, affect the Council meeting. If only we poor residents could also have a virtual attendance.

Thanks to AJ we will be able to look at the agenda tonight and perhaps the support material. Since the total package ran to some 80 pages for the last regular meeting I question how many Councilors will have read the entire package.

I have been puzzled by the lack of comments to the blogs about the Special Council meetings. Does that mean that the majority of the public accept any shenanigans as the price of being a resident? Or are they so browbeaten that they have become indifferent?

One of the great media changes, as Bernice noted, was that the print media non longer concerns itself with being the watchdog or even the voice about New Jersey politics.  That has become a task falling to the volunteer bloggers.

Most bloggers try to be impartial and objective in the accounting, but it is true that certain prejudices may color the reports. My experience is that those biases are justified by the events. It is up to the reader to form his/her own opinion from reading various accounts; and to react accordingly.

The comments to a blog are important, however there are those who use that privilege anonymously to be propagandists. Although I will post almost all I receive there are some to be rejected because of language or unacceptable personal attacks.

I will consider any long document at the writers request for posting as a guest blog. That is my choice not a right of the writer. Of course it can not be anonymous and I must have a phone number to confirm the writers identity.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thomas Kaercher Comments



This is a commentary that Thomas Kaercher sent to my blog  but was too long to accept and [post as a comment. I am taking the liberty to use it as a "guest blog"  since it fixes on three areas that I too find disturbing.

It was a dark and snowy night, a backroom deal was struck, and by all appearances Plainfield taxpayers got screwed again! 

First let’s consider the PMUA.  Is it a good thing that Dunn and sanders were removed as Commissioners? After their actions subvert the arbitration process that the PMUA was winning against Watson and Ervin’s frivolous settlement claim and along with Toliver to give them $1 Million of taxpayer dollars when they weren’t owed any money except their normal retirement benefits, Absolutely! BUT, their removal alone doesn’t guarantee and changes to the waste, abuse, corruption and fraud the PMUA has been perpetrating on its customers since its inception. To make any real change of the PMUA requires three reform-minded commissioners. Clearly the Council has been unwilling to support any of the reform-minded commissioner nominees Mayor Mapp put forth last year. The reasons for his are multifold from their having personal ties to people who benefit from the PMUA being run as it is today to that fact that Jerry Green has many politically connected special interests that have been rewarded with PMUA contracts. I sincerely hope the new commissioners will be willing to step up and work to change the on-going PMUA abuse of rate payers. But. looking at the new PMUA Board change is doubtful. Here’s why. Commissioners Brokaw and Mitchell have been taking illegal medical benefits from the PMUA since at least 2008. Based on the PMUA charter Commissioners are limited to $4,500 compensation a year. In 2013 Ms. Brokaw received $16,878 in medical benefits for herself and her husband. For the same year Mr. Mitchell received $22,826 in medical benefits for himself and his family. These benefits were in addition to their $4,500 in compensation. There is no chance they want to change how the PMUA is being run. Commissioner Tyndale, who is coming up on his first anniversary on the board commented after a recent meeting that he didn’t see any big problems at the PMUA. Mr. Tyndale, THE BIG PROBLEM IS: THE PMUA CHARGES ITS CUSTOMERS TWICE THE MARKET RATE FOR TRASH SERVICES AND ALMOST THREE TIMES THE MARKET RATE FOR SEWER SERVICES AND IN ADDITION TO THOSE OUTRAGEOUS RATES IT ALSO HAS INCURRED $20 MILLION DOLLARS IN BOND DEBT WHICH PLAINFIELD TAXPAYERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR! Aside from that things at the PMUA are fine. Hopefully Commissioners Graham-Lyons and Robinson will be committed to making major reforms at the PMUA, but they don’t have a track record as change advocates and it is unlikely the Council would have approved them if they suspected they would bring about change. And since they appoints go until 2019 and 2020 respectively and Ms. Brokaw’s goes until 2019 as well, these appointments Mayor Mapp will have to change the direction of the PMUA before his term ends in 2018.

Now let’s consider Mr. Watson’s appointment at Public Works.  It’s not only that he was the primary beneficiary of $1 Million Dollar theft of tax payer money that Dunn, Sanders, and Toliver orchestrated. It is that as Executive Director of the PMUA Mr. Watson was the primary architect of the abusive, corrupt, and wasteful organization it became. (See “BIG PROBLEM” above) As such he did not demonstrate that he was a very competent executive. Between the money he wasted as PMUA Executve Director on such things as $300 business lunches, the outrageous contract he had when he retired ($160K salary, 70 paid days off a year, a car allowance, an education allowance, medical benefits, and pension benefits) and the lion’s share of the $1Million dollar parting gift, I for one think the City of Plainfield has already paid him enough money to last a lifetime.

And finally to Mr. Mapp, who despite stiff opposition from the Jerry Green dominated Council, needs to be congratulated for bringing improved levels of professionalism and responsiveness to City Government. However, considering the compromises he has made in his appointments on the PMUA and in Public Works, the givebacks he has received from Council in return seem too small. Seeing as how in all likelihood with its current board the PMUA will be able to continue its corrupt, abusive and wasteful practices for at least another five years and we’ll have Eric Watson running Public Works for the next three years, I would have expected that he would have at least gotten funding for the forensic audit in return. Sadly no. We get a Vehicle Fleet Manager, which will get to pay for too and the same old Plainfield corruption which favors the politically connected at the expense of the citizens.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

TODAY'S BLOG



On the day after the 2015 “Blizzard of the Ages” I have time for some reflections about Oz politics and the weather predictions. Believe it or not there is a common denominator with the two; relating to predictions and results.

I never thought that I would find Councilwoman Taylor making a statement that I would agree with. However according to Plaintalker II; “Councilwoman Gloria Taylor, taking part by telephone, objected strongly both to Mapp's offering names at a special meeting and to holding the meeting itself on a stormy night.

"This is a fraud and not an acceptable way to do this," she said, calling it a "sneak attack."
"We have no knowledge of who these people are and should not be doing this." 

Apparently she had been left out of the loop, since experience suggests that the Resolutions and Ordinances up for vote are influenced by the City Chairman’s position. The occasional non-player vote happens only when there will be a conformity majority.  

The fallout from that meeting is yet to come. But there is one dominant fact; Self-serving politics dominates all phases of Oz’s government.

Just as predictable as politics is the fact that weather prognostication is not an exact science.  Equally true is that the visual media embraces predications about impending storms or extreme temperatures. Those happenings can be magnified into 24/7 constant report productions.

I find nothing wrong, in fact it is a public service to make people aware of impending danger. Fortunately the public reacted as it should by taking preventive action.

Our leadership did right; if they had not gone to the extremes that they did and we did have here the storm that hit eastern Long Island and New England it would have been a disaster. Leadership in that case would justifiably be held culpable.

Perhaps the villain was the weather watchers relying on one of two or more computer models, the “European Model” which in recent years has proven to be the most accurate one. There was some reference that the other “model” resulted in a lesser storm in our area, but government’s
reliance on the worse circumstances was correct.

Not until the actual storm formed was the exact location; 90 miles to the east determinable.  The American module suggested that but it had been wrong before. However, if there were more emphasis on that possibility too many would have been unprepared for life threatening conditions.  

Well let’s get back to the important normal state of life and try to prognosticate what will be the results in the Super Bowl when all the footballs are not affected by atmospheric conditions.      


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A COMMENTARY ON THE COUNCIL MEETING



Is it true?A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”(H. L. Mencken)


Both the weather pundits and I were way off base about Oz on Monday. I can excuse the weather prophets who with umpteen “models” to choose from opted for the “European model” which in the past has been the most accurate one. Of course most media experts did give themselves hedge room by noting that a change in the track would alter the results.


I am chagrined about my boo boo. I had remarked that the timing of the meeting suggested that the intent was to make it inconvenient for the public to attend. 

Regrettably we the people do not have the advantage to participate from home or work via conference phone as did two members of the Council. Without their “presence” there would not have been a quorum.


I would not be surprised that if the fortuitous snow storm emergency and the Mayor’s phone and text messages calling for the public staying at home had not been a contributor to poor public attendance; if the next “Special Meeting” was at midnight.


I believe that I had also remarked that if the meeting took place that there was a “deal”. I have recalled that on  1/13/14 after another “Special meeting “ with a long similar agenda I wrote  The absence of the Administration’s nominee for Director of Public Affairs and Safety and of course the “Deputy Police Director” suggests that the smoke filled room is in operation.”


At that time I believe that it was Siddeeq El-Amin that went under the bus.


Also at that time someone perhaps even the Mayor himself remarked that political expediency was important. In other words the results justify the means.*


Both Dan Dammon in his Plainfield Today blog, and Bernice in Plaintalker II have reported today, 1/27/15, on the meeting. Dan’s bog “Special Council Meeting: A lesson in compromise?” gives a pragmatic approval, to quote: “Plainfield's special Council meeting went ahead as planned Monday evening, with little snow falling and no fireworks. It was a model of what government can be about -- compromises in which all sides get something, but none gets everything they want.”


It is interesting that The new PMUA commissioners, financial analyst Michelle Graham-Lyons and retired Plainfield Fire Battalion Chief  Henry V. Robinson, who will take office just in time for the authority's annual reorganization on Feb. 10, are not those Mapp originally proposed for the position. Robinson was for the first time.


There are some serious considerations for this hoodwinked community; is the promised “forensic audit” a sham that will quietly be dropped as part of the deal? Yes administration has gone through the motion of asking for the funding. Will it be on the February agenda? Will it be in the budget? Or will the powers that be continue to block it? 

 
*The aphorism is “ The end justifies the means”