The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

March on Washington for Jobs and Justice 2013

Lest we forget amidst the glamor and glitz, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a march for jobs and freedom. Today's march is a march for jobs and justice--the full title of the March is important, as it speaks to the continuum of the work that must be done to fulfill our nation's promise. Former presidents Clinton and Carter will speak, as well as John Lewis and a number of others. President Obama is scheduled to speak at 3:05 pm. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Very Special Meeting

The Acme Windows truck in center background. I guess he is stuck.
Bernice's Plaintalker II has a story she wrote Wednesday about the upcoming Special Meeting (scheduled for Monday, August 26). One of the items, which deals with a layoff plan, falls under the category of "exigent circumstances," in my opinion, so it is important to settle this. However, the other Special Meeting item is one that was already voted on--just 3 days ago, and yet has been placed on the agenda as well for a "re-vote," with no explanation. The vote to allow the night club Los Faraones to hold another 3-day festival (within 2 months!) of liquor, beer, food, and rides under the dubious umbrella of a "cultural festival" failed, as it did not receive the requisite 4 votes. I posted the following comment to express my extreme displeasure--this sets a bad precedent, in my opinion, and upends the whole idea of representative government and the notion of being a duly elected council member:

Heineken Fest.

I guess that a council vote is NOT a council vote. The vote to allow Mr. Garcia to hold his 2nd three-day festival within 2 months failed. Apparently, the will of Mr. Garcia outweighs the will of the council. How is it that he has more power than the council? He can just have the council hold a special meeting to "re-vote" in his favor. This is unconscionable. I guess that for any vote that fails, all the business owner has to do is whine about it and then the council will hold another meeting so he he can get his way. Why, then, am I given a vote on the council? If the petition from 15 business owners whose livelihoods are negatively affected by Mr. Garcia's profit-making "cultural festival" is ignored, and a failed vote can be taken within a week to produce Mr. Garcia's desired outcome, what exactly is the point of being a duly-elected member of the governing body? Mr. Garcia is clearly a more effective councilor than I. For the city council to ignore the other 15 tax-paying business owners to grant Mr. Garcia's wishes smacks of favoritism and special interest. I find it appalling. 

It makes a mockery of the council, in my opinion. A filthy, garbage-strewn, urine-filled
Heineken fest later that evening.
dump of a parking lot--that's what the other tax-paying businesses had to face in the wake of his last event. I guess my question of what kind of city we want to be has been answered.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Radical Change is Needed in Plainfield: MENACE TO SOCIETY

Earlier today, I offered a response to a post about the Clinton Deli and Liquors license hearing that Bernice Paglia published on her PlainTalker II blog (see her stories here and here and here). I am putting some of my commentary here, on my own blog. I sincerely believe that the liquor license (which is a privilege, not a right!) for Clinton Deli and Liquors must be denied by the governing body at the Monday, August 19th meeting.

As I stated at the council agenda meeting, I feel that the owners of this liquor store are a MENACE to our city--a menace to our youth, and they are a menace to the folks in the 4th Ward who want a decent place to live. Mr. Naicken argues that he owns other businesses in this city and pays taxes on them, but I don't know what the amount of properties he owns has to do with giving him yet "another chance" to break the law some more--the fact is that a denial of the liquor license doesn't mean that his business would close--the establishment will remain open--it just means that it cannot sell alcoholic beverages. It would remain open to sell the groceries, cigarettes, deli foods, and other sundries.

These folks had scores of violations in 2011, when I first came on the council and attended my first ABC meeting. By 2012, the violations were even more serious and egregious. 

According to Bernice's story, which can be verified by the Police Division, "Police reported 254 calls to the premises in the 2011-12 term for incidents including sale of alcohol to minors, drug possession, fights, assaults weapons offenses and sale of loose cigarettes. The most disturbing report to city officials and police was that drugs were found on several occasions 'beneath the ice cream freezer' within the store, where ice cream and candy were sold to children." Imagine the amount of police resources that are being poured into this single establishment with 254 calls! 

Since that term, there have been over 100 more--we placed stringent conditions on this store--many of which the owner has ignored. Three of our sworn officers from the Plainfield Police Division provided alarming testimony regarding this store--are we to disregard our own public safety servants, who have urged that this business not be allowed to sell alcohol?

The owner has shown contempt and disregard for the law here in Plainfield, and the fact that BOTH THE OWNER AND HIS DAUGHTER WERE RECENTLY ARRESTED AT THE STORE FOR SELLING ALCOHOL TO A MINOR AND DRUGS (!!!), respectively, shows that they feel they can do whatever they want.It is OUTRAGEOUS to even consider allowing these individuals to continue to endanger our kids and our community!

We are ethically bound to uphold the laws of Plainfield and the administration is bound to implement them--what are we saying to the police and to the folks in that neighborhood who are struggling to keep their kids and other young people safe? Right before I came on the council, 16 year-old Spencer Cadogan was murdered not too far from this place--I am not suggesting a direct connection, but the environment fostered by the owners permitting drugs to be sold in and out of Clinton Deli & Liquors definitely contributes to the sense of lawlessness in the area. 

What are we to tell the brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and other residents who have to walk past this menace, who risk their lives going into a place where drugs are sold? What are we to tell the police who are smacked down for trying to do their job? What happens the next time (because there WILL be a next time--given the 100+ calls to this place) drugs or a gun are used in this place and the offender decides to SHOOT the cop rather than get arrested? What happens if a child is shot? This is serious business. 

I do not feel any sympathy for a business owner who willfully breaks the law. This was his THIRD chance--he shrugged it off contemptuously! These  violations (selling alcohol to minors and selling drugs in their store) are not minor--they are extremely serious, which is why they resulted in the arrest of the owner and his daughter. They cannot claim that they "didn't know" that these criminal activities were against the law--THEY WERE ACTUALLY PERPETRATING THEM!. 

I hope that residents will come out to the meeting on Monday to make their voices heard on this. A denial of the liquor license is the only way we can protect our defenseless residents and youngsters in that neighborhood from the greed and lawlessness of the owners of that establishment--who don't care about the illegal guns, the illegal drugs, selling alcohol to the children in the community--they show contempt for the lives and safety of Plainfield youth. They have shown contempt for the residents, their children, our police, and the city council.

We need to sincerely and honestly consider what kind of city we want to be: one that puts our children and other residents in harm's way, that allows this business to recklessly disregard the safety of our citizens?  

Although we only need 4 votes, it is my sincere hope that when this comes up at the council meeting on Monday, we have a 7-0 vote in favor of the denial.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Teacher, Scientist, Progressive: RUSH HOLT FOR SENATE

Tuesday, August 13
Polls open 6:00 am - 8:00 pm.

Tomorrow, August 13, is the day of the Special Primary Election for the U.S. Senate. I am supporting Rush Holt to fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Rep. Holt has served the state of New Jersey well and, as the 12th-District congressman (which includes Plainfield) and the ONLY true progressive in this race, I am proud to endorse his candidacy. Rush has also received the endorsement of the National Organization for Women, among other groups. Look at the respective records of the candidates running--as legislators and leaders, do their records reflect improvements in the lives of the working people in their sphere? Rush has a record of accomplishment as a legislator--take a look at it below.

As we consider who to vote for in this extremely important election, we should be sure to vote on issues, not on empty rhetoric, glitz, and inspirational quotes. You should consider who will best serve the state and who is the strongest supporter of saving Social Security, fighting the excesses of Wall Street, helping to create effective and progressive legislation to deal with global warming, the environment, education, health care, the economy, and other issues of  great concern to Americans.
Click here to read Rush Holt on the issues.

All best,