The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year's End: 2011 and the "Freshman Fifteen"

With Gabby, one of my youngest constituents

As my first year as a councilor comes to an end, I just want to thank you all, the good people of Plainfield, for your support in what has been, to say the least, a challenging period in my life. I am proud to have been a part of the city council that finally passed the Citizen's Campaign municipal reform ordinances (especially the one designed to end pay-to-play), and to have been able to assist my constituents in any way I could. I was going to write a review of my year on the council, but I figured that it would be easier for folks to just read past blog posts if they have any interest.

There is still so much work to be done to try to improve our city, and as the councilor for the Second and Third Wards At-large, I will do my best to represent your interests. As always, please continue to reach out to me via phone or email (or even Facebook, as a number of constituents do--lol), and I will respond and/or direct your query to the appropriate resource.

I had previously thought the term "Freshman Fifteen" referred to the weight gain that many students put on during their first year away at college--now I realize that it is possible that it could refer to pounds gained during the first year of any new endeavor...um, like serving on a city council (clearly the case in my situation)! So, my personal resolution is to drop my freshman fifteen--pounds, that is--and to focus on being a better public servant in the coming year. Wishing you all a safe and healthy eve!

All best,

Rebecca 


Thursday, December 29, 2011

PMUA Recyclables Pick Up Thursday, 12/29 AND Friday, 12/30

The PMUA representative I spoke with this morning assured me that recyclables would be picked up today and tomorrow, along with our regular collection, so please leave your blue cans and paper recycling out. Apparently, the authority was extremely short-handed yesterday. 

I have been in touch with constituents who have asked me about this, but anyone reading this post should let his or her neighbors know. Unfortunately, many people already dragged their cans to the side/backyard. 

Since we are in for another holiday weekend, it behooves the authority (in my humble opinion) to do all it can to publicize the late pick-up--perhaps a robocall to ratepayers letting folks know that they can bring their cans back to the curb. As of this morning, there was nothing on the web site.

All best,

Rebecca

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Getting to Zero: World AIDS Day, 2011

Poet Essex Hemphill, at right, with filmmaker Marlon Riggs
I want to start
an organization
to save my life.
If Whales, snails,
dogs, cats,
Chrysler, and Nixon
can be saved,
the lives of Black men
are priceless
and can be saved.
We should be able 
to save each other.

(from “For My Own Protection” 
by Essex Hemphill, 1957-1995)



The cities where I live and work (Plainfield and Newark, respectively) are among the top ten cities with the highest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the state of New Jersey.  At Essex County College, we are once again devoting this entire week to HIV/AIDS awareness and education—the Humanities Division (where I teach), the Urban Issues Institute, Student Life and Activities, Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center, and Rutgers-Newark RU Pride, have all come together to provide wide-ranging programming, with HIV testing continuing through tomorrow (Friday, 12/2) as our World AIDS Week Agenda.
   
Here are the newest statistics on HIV/AIDS for Plainfield from the state’s IMPACT (Intensive Mobilization to Promote AIDS Awareness through Community-based Technologies) Initiative (as of December 31, 2010). The IMPACT Initiative is “… a city-by-city community mobilization initiative designed to galvanize and support African American leaders to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in cities with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS.” (from the NJDHSS web site)


In addition, New Jersey continues to have one of the highest percentages of women who are infected with the disease.  More community-based efforts (such as those at the Plainfield Community Health Center on Myrtle Avenue) are needed to overcome the current barriers to HIV prevention and treatment. This requires that we all acknowledge the severity of the continuing epidemic, especially among those without adequate access to health care.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is “Getting to Zero,” and focuses on several targets: Zero new HIV infections, Zero HIV/AIDS-related discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths, and Zero barriers to HIV prevention and treatment services, while providing an opportunity to focus local, national, and worldwide attention on the impact of HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect the African American community in particular, which represents 54% of those diagnosed with the disease. As Bernice Paglia noted in her blog post on World AIDS Day, the emphasis this year is on testing—the Testing Makes Us Stronger campaign highlights the need for testing among African American men, but African Americans in general have less access to adequate health care, get tested less often, and when they do, it is often years after they have been infected.

We all have lost family and friends to AIDS—use this day to talk about someone who died of AIDS.   

All best,

Rebecca

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Native American Heritage Month Resolution

COUNCILMANIC RESOLUTION IN RECOGNITION OF NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH 2011

Introduced by Councilwoman Rebecca L. Williams:


            WHEREAS, Native American Indians and Alaska Natives were the original inhabitants of the land that now constitutes the United States; and
WHEREAS, Native American tribal governments were among those that developed the fundamental principles of freedom of speech and separation of powers that form the foundation of the United States government; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have traditionally exhibited a respect for the finiteness of natural resources through a reverence for the earth; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have served with valor in all of America’s wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War through the current conflicts, and often the percentage of Native Americans who served exceeded significantly the percentage of American Indians in the population of the United States as a whole; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans have made distinct and important contributions to the United States and the rest of the world in many fields, including agriculture, medicine, science, music, language and art; and
WHEREAS, Native Americans deserve to be recognized for their individual contributions to the United States as leaders, artists, athletes, and scholars; and
WHEREAS, this recognition will encourage self-esteem, pride, and self-awareness in Native Americans of all ages; and
WHEREAS, November is a time when many Americans commemorate a special time in the history of the United States when American Indians and English settlers celebrated the bounty of their harvest and the promise of new kinship; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield stands committed to ensuring that all citizens remain aware of the challenges that continue to face tribal communities and fully support the struggle by Native American Indians to have meaningful opportunities to pursue their dreams; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Governing Body of the City of Plainfield does hereby call upon its residents, employees and elected officials to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize Native Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.

As adopted by the unanimous Municipal Council of the City of Plainfield
this 21 NOVEMBER 2011

CITY OF PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY

Honorable Adrian Mapp                      Honorable Vera Greaves                           Honorable William Reid                      Honorable Bridget Rivers
                        Honorable Cory Storch                         Honorable Rebecca Williams
                                 
Council President
Annie C. McWilliams

                                                ____________________________________
Abubakar Jalloh, RMC
Municipal Clerk

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Public Purse

Of all debts, men are least willing to pay their taxes; what a satire this is on government.  
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
I have decided to write this brief blog post in response to the numerous questions and comments I have received about the city tax lien list--this goes for those who wrote to me the last time the tax lien list was published in the newspaper. In answer to those questions: 

1) No, my name does not appear on the tax lien list; 2) Yes, I pay my taxes on time (however, it is possible that some people on the list paid quarterly taxes a bit late--some of the sums listed--in the $2,000 range--look like a quarterly amount);  3) Yes, I pay my PMUA bill on time; 5) Yes, I agree that part of my ethical and fiduciary responsibility as an elected official is to pay my fair share--and to pay it on time, since I am held responsible for a budget that levies taxes on the residents I was elected to represent; 5) Yes, I agree that taxes are extremely high; 6) Yes, I am deeply, painfully aware that many residents are hurting--many of my friends are among this number--here and outside of Plainfield (see my note below).

I receive a small salary for the work I do as a member of the governing body--$166 per week after taxes, paid biweekly, for a total of $9,000--obviously, I use some of this to help with my taxes. By my calculation (when I add up the hours), this is a little over $7.00 an hour for the time I put into council work (agenda and public meetings; liaison and council committee meetings--I serve on a number of committees; constituent services in-person, email, and via telephone; block association meetings; research for constituents, and so forth.

I do not take the benefits offered (I pay for benefits through my job), since I view this work as part-time, which results in significant savings to the city--several hundred dollars per month. I hope this clears it up.


All best,

Rebecca

Note: Regarding #6, I would again note that the reform ordinances we just passed are designed to help with taxpayer relief by ensuring that the competitive bidding process is adhered to, and that we don't pay more for services through inflated, padded, pay-to-play contracts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vote As Well on the Sports Betting Ballot Measure!



Please don't forget to read and vote on the ballot measure on sports wagering:

PUBLIC QUESTION: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING LEGISLATURE BY LAW TO ALLOW WAGERING ON SPORTS EVENTS AT ATLANTIC CITY CASINOS AND AT HORSE TRACKS.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund has offered a summary and analysis of this question, which appears on the ballot to be voted upon in this year's general election, with reasons to vote "YES" and reasons to vote "NO."

The link below will take you to the home page of the Plainfield League's web site, where you will see it listed as "2011 Ballot Question Analysis":


Vote at your regular polling places. Polls are open until 8:00 pm.

All best,

Rebecca


Monday, November 7, 2011

I Endorse Democrat Cory Storch for City Council

 
I hope that you will join me in supporting Cory Storch for re-election on Tuesday, November 8--Cory is experienced, ethical, and fair--he has been a steady, thoughtful, and reasoned councilor, and we need him to help us move into the future.
 
It was Cory who introduced the Citizen's Campaign's four municipal reform ordinances (set for second reading and final passage at the November 14 meeting), which, among other good government legislative changes, will ban pay-to-play at the local level and bring competitive bidding for contracts to Plainfield. Click here for Cory's original post. 
 
The choice for 2nd Ward voters is to re-elect Cory to serve with a city council majority that understands its fiduciary responsibilities to the residents of Plainfield.
 
All best,
Rebecca
 
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's Time for Radical Change: Support Plainfield's Municipal Reform Ordinances


When I ran for my seat on the Plainfield City Council nearly a year ago, part of my platform was to work with my council colleagues to get pay-to-play reform passed in Plainfield. For a number of reasons, "politics" and an unwillingness to upset the status quo chief among them, prior councils had not taken up serious reform measures. Instead, we got weak excuses and double-talk, and nothing got done. These ordinances have the potential to change the way business is conducted in Plainfield, and to provide opportunities for other vendors to bid for contracts in a way that is ethical, fair, open, and honest. 

In a January 23, 2011 blog post, Time to Stand and Deliver, I reiterated my intentions to follow through on my campaign statements: 

As your new councilor, I want to restate my goals as your public servant for the next four years. My service on the Plainfield City Council will be focused on good government. We are all aware of the issues facing Plainfield, and my pledge to you is that I will do my best to make sure that all Plainfield residents can feel safe and secure in their persons and in their homes; that Plainfield will work seriously on economic revitalization; that residents receive a proper accounting of how our tax money is spent; that Plainfield passes the strongest municipal pay-to-play reform ordinance possible; that developers adhere to contracts they have entered into with the city (I am thinking here of the Senior Citizens Center/Veterans Center); and that Plainfield abolishes the "preferred vendor" status and opens true competitive bidding for all public contracts (which will save taxpayers money). 

In addition, on March 30, I wrote a blog post on one of the related ordinances regarding insurance reform: Insurance Reform May Save Plainfield Taxpayers Millions: The Citizens' Campaign Model Ordinance

This year, the governing body finally has enough votes to get four municipal reform ordinances passed. Councilman Cory Storch introduced these ordinances and, in two recent blog posts, has detailed how important the reforms are:

Eliminate the Invisible Tax on Plainfield Residents


It is estimated that New Jersey residents pay upwards of 15-20% more for services in the form of padded contracts which are often awarded to vendors in exchange for making  contributions to politicians. I hope folks will ask that their councilors support these ordinances, which have the potential to save Plainfielders money.

Now is the time to get it done. It is in the interest of Plainfield residents to urge all seven of your councilors to vote in favor of these reform ordinances. Hold us accountable. We have the votes to put these measures through, but I would rather it be a unanimous vote (all 7 voting in favor). That would clearly demonstrate that we are public servants in the best sense of that phrase. 

I will be voting YES.

All best,

Rebecca

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Answer is Thus

"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." --Malcolm X
 
This is where the torso of LYNCHING VICTIM James Byrd, Jr. was found.
James Byrd, Jr. (May 2, 1949 – June 7, 1998) was an African-American who was murdered by three white men, asserted to be white supremacists, during a racially motivated crime in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998. Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King dragged Byrd behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road after they wrapped a heavy logging chain around his ankles. Byrd was pulled along for about three miles as the truck swerved from side to side. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper. (Source: Wikipedia)


When demagogues (who purport to care about "the children") witness stunning ethical lapses on the part of adults who will go to the ends of the earth to avoid and evade responsibility and accountability for their actions;

when those demagogues toss around incendiary words as if they have no meaning (like the word LYNCH--last used so obscenely by Clarence Thomas as he whined about a "high-tech lynching" to divert attention from his proclivities toward sexual harassment and a well-known appetite for pornographic films) and also recklessly attempt to inflame the public through their divisive rhetoric and posturing;

when those demagogues metaphorically equate an elected official's ethical and fiduciary responsibility to be held accountable to the residents of a city to a lynching victim's agonizing torture and death, a profane and shameful comparison at best, and an insult to the memory of lynching victims in general, and a travesty and mockery of the especially painful historical legacy of black people in America, in particular;

when those same demagogues show willful disregard and contempt for the morality, ethics, and honesty of some leaders elected by the people in favor of championing the indefensible and contemptible actions of other so-called "leaders" who willfully obstruct the work of the governing body;

THEN it is time for us to call it as it is. Shameful. Obscene. Profane. Dishonest. Don't misuse language in service of questionable ethical behavior. The people deserve better. Our children deserve to see their leaders act in a morally responsible way.

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." --Winston Churchill*



All best,

Rebecca 

*This is one of my new favorite quotes, sent in a comment by a reader several months ago. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

THIS is a Lynching...

...because some people don't seem to know the difference.

Emmett Till, 14

...and this...


...and this...


...and this...


...and this...


...and this.


Reproduced below is "This Awful Slaughter," a speech by Ida B. Wells, the journalist and anti-lynching crusader.

The lynching record for a quarter of a century merits the thoughtful study of the American people. It presents three salient facts: First, lynching is color-line murder. Second, crimes against women is the excuse, not the cause. Third, it is a national crime and requires a national remedy. Proof that lynching follows the color line is to be found in the statistics which have been kept for the past twenty-five years. During the few years preceding this period and while frontier law existed, the executions showed a majority of white victims. Later, however, as law courts and authorized judiciary extended into the far West, lynch law rapidly abated, and its white victims became few and far between.  Just as the lynch-law regime came to a close in the West, a new mob movement started in the South. 

This was wholly political, its purpose being to suppress the colored vote by intimidation and murder. Thousands of assassins banded together under the name of Ku Klux Klans, “Midnight Raiders,” “Knights of the Golden Circle,” et cetera, et cetera, spread a reign of terror, by beating, shooting and killing colored in a few years, the purpose was accomplished, and the black vote was supressed. But mob murder continued. From 1882, in which year fifty-two were lynched, down to the present, lynching has been along the color line. Mob murder increased yearly until in 1892 more than two hundred victims were lynched and statistics show tht 3,284 men, women and children have been put to death in this quarter of a century. During the last ten years from 1899 to 1908 inclusive the number lynched was 959. Of this number 102 were white, while the colored victims numbered 857. No other nation, civilized or savage, burns its criminals; only under that Stars and Stripes is the human holocaust possible. Twenty-eight human beings burned at the stake, one of them a woman and two of them children, is the awful indictment against American civilization—the gruesome tribute which the nation pays to the color line.

Why is mob murder permitted by a Christian nation? What is the cause of this awful slaughter? This question is answered almost daily— always the same shameless falsehood that “Negroes are lynched to protect womanhood.” Standing before a Chautauqua assemblage, John Temple Graves, at once champion of lynching and apologist for lynchers, said: “The mob stands today as the most potential bulwark between the women of the South and such a carnival of crime as would infuriate the world and precipitate the annihilation of the Negro race.” This is the never-varying answer of lynchers and their apologists. All know that it is untrue. The cowardly lyncher revels in murder, then seeks to shield himself from public execration by claiming devotion to woman. But truth is mighty and the lynching record disc1oses the hypocrisy of the lyncher as well as his crime.

The Springfield, Illinois, mob rioted for two days, the militia of the entire state was called out, two men were lynched, hundreds of people driven from their homes, all because a white woman said a Negro assaulted her. A mad mob went to the jail, tried to lynch the victim of her charge and, not being able to find him, proceeded to pillage and burn the town and to lynch two innocent men. Later, after the police had found that the woman’s charge was false, she published a retraction, the indictment was dismissed and the intended victim discharged. But the lynched victims were dead. Hundreds were homeless and Illinois was disgraced.

As a final and complete refutation of the charge that lynching is occasioned by crimes against women, a partial record of lynchings is cited; 285 persons were lynched for causes as follows: Unknown cause, 92; no cause, 10; race prejudice, 49; miscegenation, 7; informing, 12; making threats, 11; keeping saloon, 3; practicing fraud, 5; practicing voodooism, 1; refusing evidence, 2; political causes, 5; disputing, 1; disobeying quarantine regulations, 2; slapping a child, 1; turning state’s evidence, 3; protecting a Negro, 1; to prevent giving evidence, 1; knowledge of larceny, 1; writing letter to white woman, 1; asking white woman to marry; 1; jilting girl, 1; having smallpox, 1; concealing criminal, 2; threatening political exposure, 1; self- defense, 6; cruelty; 1; insulting language to woman, 5; quarreling with white man, 2; colonizing Negroes, 1; throwing stones, 1; quarreling, 1; gambling, 1.

Is there a remedy, or will the nation confess that it cannot protect its protectors at home as well as abroad? Various remedies have been suggested to abolish the lynching infamy, but year after year, the butchery of men, women and children continues in spite of plea and protest. Education is suggested as a preventive, but it is as grave a crime to murder an ignorant man as it is a scholar. True, few educated men have been lynched, but the hue and cry once started stops at no bounds, as was clearly shown by the lynchings in Atlanta, and in Springfield, Illinois.

Agitation, though helpful, will not alone stop the crime. Year after year statistics are published, meetings are held, resolutions are adopted and yet lynchings go on. Public sentiment does measurably decrease the sway of mob law, but the irresponsible bloodthirsty criminals who swept through the streets of Springfield, beating an inoffensive law-abiding citizen to death in one part of the town, and in another torturing and shooting to death a man who for threescore years had made a reputation for honesty; integrity and sobriety, had raised a family and had accumulated property; were not deterred from their heinous crimes by either education or agitation.

The only certain remedy is an appeal to law. Lawbreakers must be made to know that human life is sacred and that every citizen of this country is first a citizen of the United States and secondly a citizen of the state in which he belongs. This nation must assert itself and protect its federal citizenship at home as well as abroad. The strong arm of the government must reach across state lines whenever unbridled lawlessness defies state laws and must give to the individual under the Stars and Stripes the same measure of protection it gives to him when he travels in foreign lands.

Federal protection of American citizenship is the remedy for lynching. Foreigners are rarely lynched in America. If, by mistake, one is lynched, the national government quickly pays the damages. The recent agitation in California against the Japanese compelled this nation to recognize that federal power must yet assert itself to protect the nation from the treason of sovereign states. Thousands of American citizens have been put to death and no President has yet raised his hand in effective protest, but a simple insult to a native of Japan was quite sufficient to stir the government at Washington to prevent the threatened wrong. If the government has power to protect a foreigner from insult, certainly it has power to save a citizen’s life.

The practical remedy has been more than once suggested in Congress. Senator Gallinger, of New Hampshire, in a resolution introduced in Congress called for an investigation “with the view of ascertaining whether there is a remedy for lynching which Congress may apply.” The Senate Committee has under consideration a bill drawn by A. E. Pillsbury, formerly Attorney General of Massachusetts, providing for federal prosecution of lynchers in cases where the state fails to protect citizens or foreigners. Both of these resolutions indicate that the attention of the nation has been called to this phase of the lynching question.

As a final word, it would be a beginning in the right direction if this conference can see its way clear to establish a bureau for the investigation and publication of the details of every lynching, so that the public could know that an influential body of citizens has made it a duty to give the widest publicity to the facts in each case; that it will make an effort to secure expressions of opinion all over the country against lynching for the sake of the country’s fair name; and lastly, but by no means least, to try to influence the daily papers of the country to refuse to become accessory to mobs either before or after the fact.

Several of the greatest riots and most brutal burnt offerings of the mobs have been suggested and incited by the daily papers of the offending community. If the newspaper which suggests lynching in its accounts of an alleged crime, could be held legally as well as morally responsible for reporting that “threats of lynching were heard”; or, “it is feared that if the guilty one is caught, he will be lynched”; or, “there were cries of ‘lynch him,’ and the only reason the threat was not carried out was because no leader appeared,” a long step toward a remedy will have been taken.

In a multitude of counsel there is wisdom. Upon the grave question presented by the slaughter of innocent men, women and children there should be an honest, courageous conference of patriotic, law-abiding citizens anxious to punish crime promptly, impartially and by due process of law, also to make life, liberty and property secure against mob rule.

Time was when lynching appeared to be sectional, but now it is national—a blight upon our nation, mocking our laws and disgracing our Christianity. “With malice toward none but with charity for all” let us undertake the work of making the “law of the land” effective and supreme upon every foot of American soil—a shield to the innocent; and to the guilty, punishment swift and sure. (Delivered at the 1st Annual Conference of the NAACP in Atlanta, Georgia on May 8, 1909).



Monday, September 26, 2011

Watch City Council Meetings on PCTV 34/96


At my first city council meeting, back in January 2011--a time of innocence.
Plainfield residents who are unable to attend city council agenda and/or business meetings are able to watch the meetings in their entirety on our public access channel, PCTV 34/96 Channel 34 (Verizon) or Channel 96 (Comcast). The meetings air every week at the following times:

Thursday evenings: 8:00 pm

Friday evenings: 9:00 pm

Saturday mornings: 8:00 am

The meetings also can be "DVR'ed" by those who have this capability. In addition, a DVD copy is kept in the City Clerk's office at 515 Watchung Avenue. These videos are available to all councilors and the administration, as well as to the public.

I am bringing this up because I have received feedback from residents who are unable to attend the meetings, and yet have some specific comments on what I may have said, or on particular council actions. Frankly, I cannot remember everything I may have said, even when I write notes during the meetings. I have gotten into the habit of reviewing bits and pieces of the meetings--not out of any narcissistic desire on my part to see myself on television. I watch parts of the meetings to recall correctly the exchanges between myself, my fellow councilors, the administration, and the residents who come before us. I find that I have to pay particular attention to the discussions that occur at our agenda setting sessions, as these sometimes go on for several hours.

I have to admit, I missed a portion of one agenda meeting on July 11 of this year, as I was on a flight that came in a bit late, but I was able to “catch up” on the discussion when it was aired over the public access channel. I was thus able to go into the following week's business meeting (July 25) knowing what was discussed in my absence, and knowing what my fellow councilors' views were. Certainly, all of us on the city council should be able to comment before voting at the business meetings, or to offer some additional feedback on items coming up for a vote before us, but I feel it is my obligation to make sure that I am aware of the discussions that occur in my absence without having the entire discussion discussed ad nauseum before voting. 

Several regular attendees of our meetings have said that the constant repetition shows a disregard for the public, as they think it is our collective duty to be professional and to be aware of all discussions, as we are public servants paid by them. I agree. On occasion, of course, it is possible that some among us will miss a meeting or a television airing, but it should remain a rare occasion. 

I hope that you are able to catch some of the meetings on television--it's certainly not as much fun as watching The Office, or Prime Suspect, Rachel Maddow, or some other more entertaining program,but it is important to watch how public servants, elected by you and beholden to you, act and vote on your behalf.

All best,

Rebecca

Friday, September 16, 2011

Library Grounds Clean Up Tomorrow!

Saturday, September 17, 2011, 9:30 am 
Volunteers Meet on Library Steps
Gloves, rakes, bags, and water will be provided
 
Neighbors Jim and Rebecca at previous clean up

Plainfield Public Library exterior
 
 
The Plainfield Public Library is located at the center of our city, and belongs to all of us. It is our obligation to ensure that our city's premier cultural and community resource is kept clean. We will gather on the library steps at 9:15 am to begin our work. If you have hedge trimmers, please bring them! We would also like to clean the weeds out of the sidewalk cracks, especially on the Park Avenue side of the library, so if this is your area of expertise, please assist us!
 
The Children's Library is set to open on Saturday, September 24, so it behooves us to ensure that every one of our little visitors is able to see our library at its finest--meaning spruced up, cleaned up, and dressed up! 
 
See you there!
Rebecca

 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!

Diego Rivera: No. 9, Nature morte espagnole (Spanish Still Life), 1915

National Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15 and runs through October 15. This year's theme is "Many Backgrounds, Many Stories...One American Spirit." 

When I served on the Plainfield Cultural and Heritage Commission several years ago, the commission sponsored a number of activities to celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture in Plainfield, including film screenings, musical events, a dance concert, and an evening of history, discussion, and reflection with a number of prominent Plainfielders, including New Jersey labor leader and former school board member Christian Estevez (also founding member of Latinos Unidos and currently serving as 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee), Flor Gonzalez, President of the Latin American Coalition, and Eva Rosas Amirault of the Bilingual Day Care Center.   

We also held a special tribute to the late Councilman Ray Blanco with a special screening of his now-classic 1997 film, Black and White in Exile, an important documentary on Cuban and Haitian exiles and the reception each group received, respectively, upon coming to the United States to seek political asylum.  I have provided a link below to the federal government's site, where you can find all kinds of great links on exhibits, history, and other important contributors to our American culture. 
All best,

Rebecca

Click here: National Hispanic Heritage Month      

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memoriam

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. 
                                                         -- Abraham Lincoln



Lincoln was writing a letter of condolence to the daughter of a close friend who had been killed in a battle in Mississippi during the Civil War. I chose this quote because I have been thinking this week mostly of the young children of those who perished, and wondering whether what was incomprehensible to them ten years ago is now more easily understood. I suspect it is not. Here is the link to the correspondence: Letter to Fanny McCullough, December 23, 1862

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fall Library Grounds Community Clean Up!


Saturday, September 17, 2011, 9:30 am 

Volunteers Meet on Library Steps
Gloves, rakes, bags, and water will be provided
Councilman Adrian Mapp with Vivi and Gigi at past community cleanup!
Hi, all--it's that time again! The Plainfield Public Library, our community treasure, is due for another community clean up of its exterior grounds. Those of you who could only access Internet service or use the free WIFI at the library during the past week because of the hurricane can certainly speak to how critical the library is to our city and its residents. 
As I have mentioned in the past, we, as a community, need to add to our priorities the protection and enhancement of the cultural institutions that are the life-blood of any city. Last year, one of the community service projects of the New Democrats for Plainfield Club was to assist in cleaning up the exterior grounds of the library for our children and all other library patrons. To that end, I hope you will join me, club members and all other community volunteers as we get out our brooms and bags to make the library look fabulous in anticipation of the exciting opening of the renovated Children's Library.
The Children's Library is set to open on Saturday, September 24 at 9:30 am, so it behooves us to ensure that every one of our little visitors is able to see our library at its finest--meaning spruced up, cleaned up, and dressed up!
We will gather on the library steps at 9:15 am to begin our work. If you have hedge trimmers, please bring them! We would also like to clean the weeds out of the sidewalk cracks, especially on the Park Avenue side of the library, so if this is your area of expertise, please assist us!
We will provide rakes, gloves, bags, water, and camaraderie. Hope to see you there! 
All best,
Rebecca