The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Plainfield's School Board Elections to November

There are many reasons to consider moving school board elections (from April to November) in a favorable light--chief among them wider voter participation from a much higher turnout. In addition, there would be a reduction in the costs of holding a separate school board election.  

There are also some negatives, as expressed by those who are concerned about even more politicization of the local school board races--such as partisan politics playing an even larger role in what is, theoretically, a non-partisan race, with candidates aligning themselves with one or another candidate of a given political party. Also, candidates for municipal, county, or state office are not precluded from endorsing a school board candidate, which some feel could unduly influence voters. The state has some provided additional notes that are meant to assuage concerns about partisan politics--here is some info from the North Jersey News website:

The state Education Department on Thursday addressed a range of questions about the new process. It specified that:
  • School elections will be on a separate section of the ballot. School board candidates will not be aligned with any political party or partisan candidates.
  • A municipal governing body has independent authority to move the school election to November.
  • A district that changes adopts a November vote can revert to April, but only after four years.
  • A district that bypasses a budget referendum must still have public hearings on spending.
*Here is the link to some FAQs from the Department of Education on the new law:

*Here is another link to the "School Notes" page New Jersey School Boards Association (which supports the move): 

The members of the League of Women Voters of Plainfield (an organization to which I belong) will be discussing the pros and cons of moving the school board elections as well, although we have not taken a formal position.  I have been reading some of the articles and comments posted on some of the other blogs--please let me know your thoughts on the "pros" and "cons" of this legislation.

All best,


*These links are courtesy of the NJCU Library Blog, which has more links on this issue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Citizen Inquiry and the PMUA Petition

A petition has been circulating (online and by more traditional means) to have Governor Chris Christie look into the recent huge settlement the current commissioners voted to award to former Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority executives Watson and Ervin, who resigned their positions last year. 

I don't know how many residents and rate-payers have signed thus far, as the petition is being walked around neighborhoods in addition to the online form, which would add to the total number of signatures received. Dan Damon wrote a story on the petition last Tuesday (see here). At Dan's sites, CLIPS as well as Plainfield Today, readers can read and sign the online petition. 

The citizen movement DumpPMUA (see here) has more information and history about the settlement and other serious issues of concern to residents regarding the authority. It behooves all Plainfielders to read the petition, to become knowledgeable about the all issues facing our city. The city council's citizen-led PMUA Task Force, which was formed toward the end of last year to look into the operations and effectiveness of the authority, is expected to deliver its report to the council in March. I will post the report when it is available.

All best,


Saturday, January 14, 2012

MLK Food Drive Tonight: Celebrate with the Plainfield Community!

Adrian and Amelia Mapp have opened their home at 535 West Eighth Street to the Plainfield community once again with the New Democrats Community Servce Team's Fourth Annual MLK Jr. Holiday Food Drive & Potluck Celebration at 7:00 pm this evening. The food collected will benefit the Shiloh Baptist Church Food Pantry on West 4th Street. Tonight is also our kick off of Plainfield for Obama 2012, with a very special guest coming to Plainfield to encourage our efforts this year.  Please come out, bring some non-perishable foods to donate, and a small dish to share. I look forward to seeing you there--I hope you will enjoy my culinary surprise!