The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Easter Egg Hunt This Saturday at Cedar Brook Park!

Councilor Goode and I ran into the Easter Bunny last year!
This Saturday, April 8, the Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation will once again host the Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Cedar Brook Park. The hunt begins at 10:15 am SHARP (near the parkside grove behind Hartwyck) and continue until all the eggs are found. Activities include a petting zoo for children, kite flying, and games for kids. Come join the fun!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Union County Youth Employment Program - Deadline Approaching!

Plainfield Residents! Although this notice has been posted and shared, there are still some spots left for Plainfield residents--it is imperative that they be filled. The deadline for the Union County Youth Employment Program is approaching! If you are interested in starting your career, contact Winona Cleveland of Plainfield Action Services (908) 753-3519 or at to schedule an appointment! If you are between the ages of 16-24, are not currently enrolled in school, are a Union County resident, or are a veteran or spouse of a veteran, you need to apply. If you know a young person who meets the above criteria, have them call as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ready to Run 2017: Campaign Training for Women

Ready to Run participant (with pink hat) and Moderator Ingrid Reed)
This year, I was once again honored to participate in the 2017 Ready to Run Annual Conference (March 10-11 at Douglass College), sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), part of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. I have written about the CAWP in the past--they provide invaluable service to women in the form of campaign training to encourage more women to run for public office. I have served on Ready to Run panels in the past, and in 2015 I was one of three Faculty-in-Residence mentors for the week-long NEW Leadership Program run by CAWP. 

The two keynote speakers this year--one for each day of the conference--were Senator Nia Gill and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, Majority Conference Leader, both members of the New Jersey legislature. Also participating in this year's conference as our own freeholder, Linda Carter, who spoke on Friday night. The conference was sold out well in advance this year, no doubt due to a greater interest because of last year's election of a racist, misogynistic narcissist who gloried in the idea of assaulting women.

The Saturday panel I served on, "Finding Your Political Voice and Influence," was packed and had to be moved to a larger room because of the high turnout. Moderated by the great Ingrid Reed, Senior Fellow of New Jersey Future (and former Director of the New
Jersey Project at Eagleton), our panel focused on ways to become active in politics  and/or school board elections, and how to go about positioning yourself to be appointed to a public board or commission. As always, the panel included both Democrats and Republicans: Azra Baig, of the South Brunswick Board of Education, Lizette Delgado-Polanco, Vice Chair of the NJ Democratic State Committee, Judith Lieberman, Senior Counsel to the Appointments Office, Office of the Governor, Margaret Nordstrom, Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Council, Mary Melfi, Hunterdon County Clerk, and me (offering a look into local politics and community service).

I have known Azra for a few years, as we have served on previous panels together, and it was great seeing Lizette, whom I know from her work as one of the state's top Democratic operatives, as well as from her labor work in SEIU--with whom we have marched for years in support of immigration reform, DREAMers, the Fight for $15, and in support of the Earned Sick Leave Law, which was finally passed in Plainfield in 2016. 

Each woman brought her unique perspective to the panel, and we received great questions from the audience, which was composed of women of all ages, ethnicities, and from all walks of life. I met many young women who expressed interest in running for local office in their own communities--we all exchanged cards and talked about mentorship and what it means to commit oneself to public service. As the panel ended, I was able to hand out pink hats (made by a friend) to a number of women, who pledged to wear them to the next advocacy march, and to make donations to their local libraries. I look forward to continuing to work with the Center for American Women and Politics, and ensuring that we get more young women "ready to run!"

Monday, March 6, 2017

Community Service: LiVay Sweet Shop's "Homeless Period" Drive

This past weekend, Stacey Welch, owner of LiVay's Sweet Shop, performed another great community service by hosting "The Homeless Period" collection drive of sanitary napkins and other feminine products for donation to Covenant House in Newark. You all remember her last donation drive--collecting socks for our less fortunate brothers and sisters. I have written about the issue of the homeless period in the past--as you know, tampons and sanitary napkins are expensive and not usually listed as toiletry items, per se. Yet, they are among the most-needed items by women and girls in shelters. Thanks to Stacey and her team for being exemplary and outstanding community service partners, and thanks to all those who donated! Here is the link to the Facebook Page of LiVay's, where you can see the photos of the hundreds and hundreds of donations, along with those who made them: LiVay's on Facebook

I am re-posting below an article from Jezebel, written by Madeleine Davies, that I posted previously (on my other blog) about this topic. 


Of the all the extreme challenges faced by homeless people, the lack of access to menstruation products is one that, for many homeless women, is among the worst and most humiliating.

In many cases, homeless shelters will have both limited resources in regards to pads and tampons, as well as strict bathroom restrictions that make it increasingly hard, if not impossible, for women to keep clean while having their periods. Not only that, but, as The Huffington Post's Eleanor Goldberg puts it, "the fact that menstruation is a taboo topic to begin with means that people who are able help often aren't even aware that such a vast need exists."

It was that realization that motivated Joanie Balderstone and Rebecca McIntire to start Distributing Dignity, an organization devoted to "distributing pads, bras and tampons to women in need."

Feminine hygiene products are often overlooked during natural disaster drives (as a friend who volunteered during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath once told me, "All these poor women want is some goddamn tampons") and even in donations to women's shelters. 

From (via HuffPo):

Jeey Moncayo is a caseworker for Camden County Women's Center, where more than a thousand women in 2013 found safety from abusive relationships. She said most women escape their abusers in a hurry, arriving with just the clothes they're wearing. For others, their abusers, in fits of rage, have burned or thrown bleach on their clothes.
Mothers spend any money they have on their kids first. "The women's needs come last," she said.
In June, the center received 150 bras from Distributing Dignity. The women especially liked the option of feminine pads marked narrow, slim, and tween. "It sounds silly," said Moncayo, "but the choice is empowering."

Something to consider next time you donate. Another thing to consider: the government subsidizing tampons and pads.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2017

Tuesday, February 7th is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This year's theme is "I Am My Brother's and Sister's Keep. Fight HIV/AIDS." Here in the United States, even as we have seen some decreases, the statistics remain alarming for African American people and for Latino people. For getting tested in the Plainfield area, contact: Iris House (630 E. Front Street, Ste. 100 at 908-561-5057) Hyacinth AIDS Foundation (107 Park Avenue, 3rd Floor at 908-755-0021), Planned Parenthood of Central and Greater Northern New Jersey Incorporated (123 Park Avenue at 908-756-3736
), and Neighborhood Health Services Corporation (1700 Myrtle Avenue at 908-753-6401, ext. 1301). Click on the link for more sites in the area and in other communities: HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator

In addition, folks should be aware of the CDC's campaign to combat HIV/AIDS among Latino gay/bisexual men through its Reasons/Razones HIV testing campaign. Click here.

Below are some highlights--click here to be taken to the National Black HIV/AIDS Day web site.

"GET EDUCATED: The focus of NBHAAD is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV and AIDS in their local communities."
"GET TESTED: Testing is at the core of this initiative and is critical for prevention of HIV in Black communities. It is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7 of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV. This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV."
"GET INVOLVED: Getting Blacks involved to host and participate in NBHAAD events is another key focus area. Whether it is organizing a testing and awareness event at a local college, speaking about the importance of HIV prevention and treatment at your local faith-based organizations, or supporting a local AIDS service provider, it is key that you get involved."
"GET TREATED: For those who have HIV, the connections to treatment and care services are paramount. Seeing a doctor and receiving care, and taking prescribed HIV medicines helps individuals stay healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Without treatment, HIV leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and can lead to early death."

From the Centers for Disease Control website: "Led by the Strategic Leadership Council, this initiative [National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)] is designed to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among black communities across the nation." Click here for the CDC website: 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Town Hall on Public Safety: Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7:00 pm at Washington School

Please come out to the Community Town Hall, this Thursday, 1/5, at Washington Community School at 7:00 pm. I urge you to bring your concerns and help our community as we discuss positive solutions. As you are aware, our beloved city of Plainfield has been marked by willful violence over the past year, and especially in this past month. Cowardly individuals would prefer to destroy the lives of others by committing gun violence rather than try to work out their differences in constructive ways. The police become hampered in their efforts because many refuse to cooperate with authorities, and the cycle continues. 
The community becomes alarmed, especially those law-abiding, hardworking residents in the areas where these deadly crimes are occurring. Our young people become alarmed, and they are the ones who should feel most safe. All residents and stakeholders need to come together and work with law enforcement to root out the folks committing the violence, and to help our young people coming up.  We have community schools in Plainfield, which are designed to be a significant part of our community life, and which provide after school and additional recreational activities for our young people--I will be urging stakeholders and community organizations (especially 501 (c) 3 groups) to utilize our public spaces even more to provide their programs for young people--especially those of high school age. I will say more about these community collaborations in a separate post.

On a social media (Facebook) post the other day, someone asked me whether I would "mentor gang members and at risk youth." My response was, "I already do. I grew up around gang violence, I have lost family members and friends due to violence, and it's part of my commitment to them and their memory to do what I can in whatever way I can. It's part of my life's work." And that is how I have always operated. Those who know me know the truth of my life, and the work that I do. 

As the incoming councilwoman at-large in the citywide seat, as a mentor of young people--including those in gangs, as a teacher, and as a community advocate, I will continue to work with all those who seek solutions to the violence that is destroying some parts of our community.

Come out to help our community as we discuss positive solutions. Those who want to point fingers selectively need to instead focus on solutions, because negativity will not help our young people to feel safer, it will not help us move forward as a city, and the jobs that young men and women need will not materialize if businesses are concerned about moving to Plainfield. That, too, can be a vicious cycle.

The administration, our public safety officers, the city council, the school district, and our larger community will all be in attendance. We need to leave the "politics" aside, and really focus. This is going to take everyone--all of us--working together to get it done. 

All best,



Monday, December 5, 2016

Plainfield Town Hall: Thursday, December 8 at Senior Citizens Center

From the City of Plainfield:

This Thursday, December 8, from 7:00 - 9:00 pm, at the Plainfield Senior Citizens Center (400 East Front Street), Mayor Adrian O. Mapp invites residents to "A Critical Conversation - Questions for a Changing America," a Plainfield Town Hall Meeting moderated by Tara Dowdell, political pundit and principal of The Tara Dowdell Group. The panelists are: Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, City of Plainfield; Ari Rosmarin, Public Policy Director, ACLU NJ; Reverend Damaris Ortega, Pastor, United Church of Christ Congregational; Adriana Abizadeh, Executive Director, Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Christian Estevez, President, Latino Action Network; Todd Cox, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Ashley Vazquez, Plainfield High School senior.  

There will also be perspectives from other elected State, County and Local officials. Panelists will prepare with the following guiding questions in mind: Is there a reason for concern? If so, why? What are the powers or limitations of the Mayor or Municipality? What can be done locally to protect the rights of potentially impacted residents (i.e. the undocumented, LGBTQ, Seniors, etc.)? What is the difference between a Welcoming City and a Sanctuary City? How deep will the changes be to healthcare and social service programs, and are there options that communities can take to limit the impact? 

Each panelist will provide focus on the work of their organization, and how possible changes on the national level will have a local impact. They will share any strategies their organizations might be contemplating in light of the change in administration, and how local governments, houses of worship, community groups and residents can help shape their work around human, economic and civil rights.