The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Kwanzaa

On Saturday, I attended the 14th Annual Plainfield Kwanzaa Celebration at Washington Community School. After bringing greetings to the people as an elected official, I sat back and watched this wonderful event. The principle of Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) was the focus for Day Two (yesterday). 

Today's focus is Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). The awesome Tamara Horn sang "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," and the Emcees for the day were MBa Heru Ahket and young Ryan Brown, from New Jersey Orators. Storyteller Mfundishi Jhuty Mes Hassan K. Salim also poured the libations for the ancestors. There were also performances by the Universal African Dance Ensemble, the Emerson Community Youth Theater, and others. Special thanks go to the Division of Recreation and a great group of volunteers for making it an awesome event. Below are just a few photos.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Millions March NYC"

March for justice and
Internalize the meaning:
"Black lives do matter."
Herald Square, Saturday, December 13.

Monday, December 1, 2014

World AIDS Day 2014:Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation

The theme for World AIDS Day 2014 is "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation." The link below will take you to the official government site, which lists activities and events:

The statistics among African American youth remain alarming--here is the CDC Factsheet (from February 2014):

As we voice our concerns about violence committed against our youth at the hands of the state, let us also keep in mind that there is another killer among us--we must work with our young people to "focus, partner, and achieve an AIDS-free generation"--the statistics clearly show the likelihood for youth to contract HIV/AIDS--70% don't even know that they are infected. 

As in the past, I have posted the IMPACT (Intensive Mobilization to Promote AIDS Awareness through Community-based Technologies) Initiative Statistics for Plainfield for the year ending 2013. 

Plainfield remains on the list of the Top Ten Cities with the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases (we are number 9). 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).

Further, as you can see from this chart, black women in particular represent 64% of women with HIV/AIDS cases (the fastest rising group): Female NJ Residents at Diagnosis

A couple of years ago, I posted a link to filmmaker Cyrille Phipps's documentary, Seen But Not Heard: AIDS, Sexual Politics, and the Untold War Against Black Women. Here is a link to the trailer for the documentary:

As you go through your day, talk to a young person about getting tested and about protecting herself/himself from HIV/AIDS. 



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

Indebted for life/
A moral obligation/
Love and care for vets.

Thanks to all our veterans for their service to our country. Thanks, especially, to those in our city of Plainfield. Today, we will honor veterans at a ceremony at City Hall, scheduled for 10:30 am, followed by a ribbon-cutting will at 12 Noon at the Plainfield Veterans Center, located at 400 E. Front Street. Below is an article from CNN--it offers insight into ways that we can help our veterans with more than the usual annual platitudes. The veterans were asked how they wanted to be honored and, as the story notes, “They encouraged a constant, creative and sensitive focus on veterans' needs, like improving access to jobs and health care, particularly at Veterans' Affairs facilities.”

We can help those service men and women in need of assistance by listening to them and doing what we can to truly honor them in a meaningful way. 



Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I want to thank all the voters who came out in support of me (and Senator Booker and Congresswoman-elect Bonnie Watson-Coleman) during the election. Thanks to your overwhelming support, I have been re-elected to a second term. Interestingly enough, for those of you who have been following the silly antics of the so-called "45th most powerful person in NJ politics"--you know him as Jerry "I Run This Motherf&#@er" Green--his "leadership" of the county party cost him votes in Plainfield.

UPDATE: I received MORE VOTES THAN ALL the Jerry Green-backed Union County candidates in the 2 Wards I represent (Wards 2 and 3). 
Here are the vote totals in those wards:
Rebecca Williams:      3,743
Sheriff (Joe Cryan):   3,610
Surrogate (LaCorte):  3,613
Freeholder (Estrada): 3,552
Freeholder (Hudak):   3,592
Freeholder: (Wright): 3,611

Jerry Green's stupid election tricks backfired on him, and likely cost his county candidates votes--I am sure they are looking at the numbers. I hope the county powers-that-be are taking notice of how Jerry Green is (not) running the county Democratic party. It's time for him to GO!


In addition, the team I endorsed for school board--Rutherford, Jeffers, & Bellamy--all won DECISIVELY. Congratulations to you all! 

And, finally, despite the dirty election tricks and lack of support he received from the Union County Democrats, Jerry Green, and the Freeholders (I received no support from them, either, at the behest of Jerry Green), Derek Armstead WON the Linden election and will be the next mayor of Linden, also making history as the first African American mayor of that city. Congratulations to Derek on a hard-fought and hard-won race.

Time for bed!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Remembering Pat Turner Kavanaugh

Having just returned from the memorial service held for my League of Women Voters of Plainfield colleague Pat Turner Kavanaugh, I offer again my deepest condolences to her family and Plainfield friends. I first met Pat over ten years ago, when I became a member of the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. We worked on a number of projects together over the years, and her work ethic and sense of community volunteerism is what I will most remember about her. Her obituary is published on the League's website. Click here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Joann Hollis, Community Leader and Councilwoman

I received word several hours ago that former Councilwoman and life-long community activist Joann Hollis passed away. My deepest condolences go out to my colleague, Council President Bridget Rivers, to Joann's beloved mother, Mrs. Marjorie Hollis, and to her entire family and other loved ones. I remember visiting Joann with a couple of friends a while back (before this last hospital stay), and how, even though her health was delicate, she kept her spirits up, sustained by her deep and abiding faith.

One of the last photos I have of Joann is one I took of her greeting "Santa" at the New Democrats Holiday Party and Toy Drive for the children of the Elm-West Residents Association, which our Community Service Team sponsored last December. Even though Joann said she was still feeling weak, she added that there was no way she would miss out on seeing the children of our community having a great time.

In looking at this photo, you can see that Joann's smile is broad and bright. She will be deeply missed. May she rest in peace.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Family Fun Day Rocked!

Getting ready for the Egg Toss
Jeanene Knorr (Crossfit 1280) & Hiroshi Powell (Chiseled Health & Fitness)
Family Fun Day in Leland Avenue Park (also known as Cook School Playground) was a great success, thanks to our Recreation Division (Supt. Roni Taylor and her staff--Nat, Carmencita, Chanel, Ahmad, and Phil), our Department of Public Works (Supt. John Louise, Lester Davis), the Parking Bureau (George and Regina) and the support of the mayor and the governing body.* I also want to thank Nadine and Crystal for the wonderful face-painting--the kids (and a few adults!) loved it. Mayor Adrian Mapp and Councilman Cory Storch also greeted the crowd, and
Board of Education President Wilma Campbell offered words of support for the shared services agreement between the governing body and the school district.

Crossfit 1280 and Chiseled Health and Fitness provided a free workout, along with fresh fruit, to make sure that we sweated off the hot dogs and other snacks. DJ Sunil provided fantastic music, and served as MC for the Limbo Contest, the Egg Toss, and the other games. The Interactive Sports Game Competition left me 0-6 against Cory in basketball, and I was 0-5 in football against my nine year-old competitor. The children were awesome, and were delighted to be presented with medals after the competitions. Below are some additional photos--more will be posted on Facebook, but I thought folks would like a little preview.

Kids and adults having fun
Charles McRae sampling the culinary expertise of DPW Supt. John Louise, Plainfield's hot dog griller extraordinaire!

"Plainfield Children First" BOE candidates Terrence Bellamy and David Rutherford with the young constituents they hope to serve!

*The one sour note came on Friday, when I received word that appointed Councilwoman Taylor wanted her name off the flier and website promotion for this event because, apparently, she said she had not been "invited." How ridiculous. This was a city-sponsored event, and she was certainly aware of it--all council members who sponsor events are a part of the events and are automatically invited--in fact, the governing body should be doing its part in spreading the word about our events. 1st, 3rd, and 4th Ward families came out to enjoy Saturday's festivities. Many of my 3rd Ward constituents who came to our Family Fun Day were stunned by how small-minded the appointed councilwoman showed herself to be. Are we supposed to "bow down" to Her Imperiousness? What a petty, mean-spirited position to take! The template for the 2nd Ward Family Fun Day event is the same template that was used for the 4th Ward Family Fun Day event--I don't remember her saying this when her name was placed on the 4th Ward flier. Her ridiculous posturing speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of her council meeting blathering for folks to "treat each other more nicely." In SPITE of such pettiness, we had a fabulous time!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2nd Ward Family Fun Day at Leland Avenue Park Saturday, Sept. 20!

This Saturday, September 20, from 12 noon - 4:00 pm, Councilman Cory Storch and I will be hosting the Second Ward Family Fun Day in Leland Avenue Park. We invite the friends and neighbors of the 2nd Ward to come out and have some fun--on tap will be refreshments, games, contests (with trophies!) and wholesome fun for the whole family.

As a special treat (click on the links) Crossfit 1280 and Chiseled Health and Fitness--both Plainfield-based gyms--have joined together to offer a free "parent/child fun workout" at the park! The temperature promises to be in the high 70s, so we should have fabulous weather to say a final goodbye to our last summer weekend and, at the same time, welcome autumn and the beauty of fall colors! 

So, bring a lawn chair, bring friends, and feel free to bring a dish to share!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rules of Order

Many people have reached out to me via email, this blog,* and on social media to complain about the harsh and unfair way in which they see the council act at our meetings. I know that sometimes my face betrays my displeasure, but I do not yell, and I have never attempted to shut down my colleagues' commentary simply because I disagree with it. Sometimes, folks don't like what I have to say, but I am always respectful, I don't raise my voice, and I try to be succinct in my commentary. I write this blog to make sure that my thoughts are accessible to those who do not attend council meetings or watch them on television. It is my fiduciary and ethical responsibility to those who elected me to be as transparent as possible.

The way in which we conduct ourselves as councilors is important--in the last couple of instances, the council president was completely out of line in trying to shut me down as I attempted to bring an ordinance before the city council to put on our agenda. She was visibly angry and rude. I don't know if she forgot the rules of order that we voted on, or whether it was a willful attempt to deny me the right to add to the agenda. Either way, all councilors are entitled to speak on every ordinance, resolution, or motion. Regarding the violation of the rules of order for the governing body (the consistent shutting down of speech rights, singling out councilors, and pounding the gavel on speech that one disagrees with) here are the excerpts:

11.7 Interruption: 

A Council member, once recognized, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it is to call a point of order or as herein otherwise provided. If a Council member, while speaking, shall be called on a point of order, he or shall cease speaking until the Council President determines the point of order; if in order, he or she shall be permitted to proceed.

11.8 Speaking on an Ordinance, Resolution or Motion, Time: 

No Council member shall speak on any resolution, ordinance or any other matter more than three times, or longer than 15 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time, and five minutes the third time without the permission of the President.

11.9 Questioning Administration Officials, Invited Guest, Time: 

Council members will rotate according to the roll call order to question anyone that appears before the Council. Each member will be entitled to five continuous minutes of questioning before the next Council member is allowed to pose any question or make any comments. A Council member may pass or yield their time to another member of the City Council once the President has approved it.

*I have received numerous comments on my previous post--some I did not publish, because I don't think terms such as "ghettofied" or comments about people's looks, hairstyles, clothing, etc., are helpful to the conversation about Plainfield's future. If you want me to publish your comment, please refrain from focusing on someone's looks, hair, avian qualities, etc.