The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Friday, August 5, 2011

City Hall Rotunda: Gigantic Desk Blocking War Memorial Plaque Should Be REMOVED

Names of war dead blocked by desk and other items.
 At last month's city council agenda session, I made a request to the administration to please have the huge, ugly "greeting" desk in the rotunda removed. I believe I called it a "godawful eyesore," which it is. I have posted photos below of the city hall rotunda. I have received numerous complaints about the desk and all the debris surrounding it. The desk blocks the huge bronze plaque that memorializes Plainfield veterans. Veterans have been among those who have expressed anger at the disrespect shown to their sacrifice. Nothing should EVER block a memorial.
Junk on floor, photos and Lucite directly nailed into plaster walls
The huge desk also looks as if it creates a fire hazard, as it juts out so far as to endanger safe egress in the event of an emergency (there is a table just opposite it, which is also filled with flyers). Outdated flyers and posters, Lucite stands nailed into the walls, a gigantic tacky banner hanging above the lintel, some sooty cloth flowers inexplicably resting on a small round table, and boxes of garbage all conspire to make our city hall look dingy, even seedy. This is not the image of professionalism that should greet visitors to our city. 

Another view
The administration, apparently, insists on keeping the desk there for "greeters" to direct patrons to the various offices. I don't think this is necessary--an updated board with names and office numbers would do just as well. I don't know who does the training for the individuals who sit at the desk, but I would hope that they are professionally dressed and present a demeanor that welcomes visitors--what I have seen (on occasion) in the past are somewhat disinterested individuals dressed in T-shirts and jeans who have been far more engaged with their cell phones (not even bothering to look up when visitors enter) and who have been clueless about how to direct residents. 

Faded, sooty cloth flowers with dingy tablecloth (?)
One thing that could happen is to have the desk removed and respect restored to the war memorial plaque. If the administration insists on there being a desk, perhaps a smaller lectern-style greeting post with a stool would make more sense. And certainly, we don't need to see two greeters sitting around, taking up space.

All best,



  1. I could not agree with you more council women. Please continue to make city hall a better place. I will continue o support and vote for a voice for the season and that voice is your's


  2. For such a classy building I always thought that the City Hall entrance looked junky. I know that's not a word, but it best describes the area and doesn't give Plainfield's City Hall a very positive look. The city as a whole needs to clean up it's act, so let's start with City Hall.

  3. Exactly right! This shows a huge amount of disrespect to all veterans and especially the families of those memorialized.

    Of course they would have to find other no skill patronage jobs for the cell phone greeters!

  4. Rebecca,

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I am surprised that the administration would be so disrespectful of its citizens who lost their lives so that we can continue to hold elections and speak freely.

    Why do we need greeters? I have been to numerous city halls, and none have greeters. Again, this administration has no concept of efficiency.

    If you need citizens help, please post what we can do. While this may seem like a small issue, it makes a tremendous difference in overall appearance and presentation of Plainfield to the public - but wait - I fogot, I am talking about this administration who doesn't appear to care about Plainfield.

  5. Pat Turner KavanaughAugust 5, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    Councilwoman: I suppose it's Freedom of Speech or something but I hate the bail bondsmen ads on the table. Doesn't set a happy note. And the empty holder for the AED device on the wall to the right of the City Clerk's door makes me wonder if someone stole it. I'm told that's not the case, but it sure looks that way. And why is the mayor's door locked? I have been in many municipal buildings throughout the state and never seen a locked mayor's door.

  6. Pat,

    I agree that bail bondsmen ads set the wrong tone--so do the "wedding photography" ads on the table, and other such anomalies. I think any such ads suggest an endorsement by the City of Plainfield--as such, they are highly inappropriate. In addition, they are quite tacky. Regarding the greeters, I was told that the mayor felt that Plainfield needs greeters to direct those who come into city hall and that seasonal workers and/or summer youth employees would be sitting behind the desk. If you have been to city hall, you can easily see (with an UPDATED board) where to go for various services. An additional updated sign stand with arrows can do wonders for those who are visiting for the first time. With our budget constraints, it is unconscionable, in my view, to pay people to sit and text on their cell phones. Certainly, we can find substantive, character-building, skill-building work for our young people to do during the summer and not just hire them to fill a seat. There is no justification, however, for blocking the war memorial, for the faded seediness of the dusty fake cloth flowers and tablecloth, or for the boxes and other debris making our city hall look filthy and garbage-strewn.


  7. @Rob - "JUNKY" is appropriate.

    The way City Hall looks now pretty much represents what Plainfield NJ has been going through since the "Honorrible" Sharon RobinsonBriggs took over -it is going DOWN!

    The recent celebration for our veterans was an insult to our soldiers. It lasted a few minutes and there was a measly carnation wreath barely standing by the memorial statue. So why would the mayor have any respect for the War Memorial Plaque?

    I saw those dust filled plastic flowers centered on a dust filled dingy white tablecloth -JUNKY!!! I am embarrased by all of the banners and cheesy framing of Sharon the Horrible's photo ops.

    Plainfield City Hall's rotunda should represent its citizens and not be an extension of Sharon's home.


    The next time volunteers get together to clean up the library grounds . . . perhaps they could run over to City Hall and possibly sweep out . . . Sharon . . .

    YEP I SAID IT!!!

  8. Anonymous at 7:26 pm reminded me--a library grounds clean up is due--I will put out a call. Also, it's a good idea to have volunteers help maintain our city's public spaces. I am sure that folks would be happy to pitch in to beautify. I wonder if the members of the city's Historic Preservation Commission gag or avert their eyes every time they enter city hall and witness the travesty of neglect that is clearly evident in the photos I posted.


  9. It appears that this blog post (and previous entreaties to the administration) has fallen upon deaf ears, as the rotunda looked exactly as pictured above when I went in for last night's city council agenda meeting. I guess there is no way to shame them into cleaning up the mess that is the city hall rotunda area. My gag reflex is on full alert every time I enter the building. The only oasis is when I enter the city clerk's office.


  10. So, Rebecca, the desk still blocks the names and the place (other than AJ's new office) still looks like a dump. What can we do?

  11. Public pressure on the administration to stop making our city hall look like a garbage heap is the only thing that could help--although this administration seems to think that the current appearance is just fine. I have written to them privately about this, to no avail. That is why I decided that I needed to blog about it. Take photos, print them, and bring them to the council meeting. Give them to the clerk, and he can distribute them to the council and to the acting city administrator. Call some Plainfield veterans that you know and invite them to come to the meeting to express their dissatisfaction with the way their sacrifice has been disrespected.