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, 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,


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,


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,