The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Good luck, Breana!

There was a story in Tuesday's Courier-News about American Idol's Plainfield contestant, Breana (Bindi) Liebowitz, who made it to Hollywood after auditioning for the show. The links to the news stories are below. In addition to being a very talented singer, I will remind folks that Breana is also a dedicated Plainfielder, volunteering and helping out in our city.

Here are a couple of photos of Breana and her mom, Ursula Liebowitz, and with Mayor Adrian Mapp, from our 2013 Holiday Party and Toy Drive for the children of the Elm-West Residents Association in the Fourth Ward. They donated toys and volunteered at the party to make it a great success. I wish Breana the best--I am sure that I am speaking on behalf of all of Plainfield!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Plainfield Snow Emergency News

Dear Plainfield,

Our Public Safety Director Riley has apprised us of the state of readiness for our Police and Fire Divisions, as well as the Office of Emergency Management, in terms of our storm preparation. Director Riley notes that the Department of Public Works has pre-salted the streets, and the city equipment and personnel are prepared and available. All police and fire equipment and vehicles are on stand-by and ready for response. Union County will be placing an additional ambulance in the city to assist in any needed emergency response.

In the event of a power outage, Emerson Community School (305 Emerson Avenue) and the YMCA (518 Watchung Avenue) will be available for residents. Emerson School has been designated as a warming center--Public Safety is ready to assist any residents who need help getting there. 

As all have been notified via the Plainfield Mass Communication System of the state of emergency, please remove your cars from the roads so that emergency vehicles can get through.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

For "The Kids": Moving Forward in a Positive Way

I posted some commentary on one of the other blogs earlier today, but figured I may as well put it here--with some additions and revisions.

Political Baseball Wars - Untruths, insinuations, & insults

I was feeling a bit under the weather last night. I didn't have the energy to even respond to the foolishness of a bunch of former seasonal employees (and including former mayor Robinson-Briggs) who sounded simply disgruntled and embittered as they went on and on in yet another orchestrated tirade about the former city league and against the current administration. Mayor Mapp made the administration's position clear a while back--click here.  

Of the approximately 12,500 people under the age of 18 (this includes babies) in our city, the "baseball wars" involve about 300--that is a pretty small percentage, in terms of the amount of resources in public dollars (about $30,000) that last night's "discussion" speakers felt should be allocated to a city baseball program--which would mean $100 per child. If we want to speak for all 50,000 residents who might want to participate in a single recreation program at $100 per head, that means that the city would have to provide approximately $5 MILLION dollars to the Recreation Division to properly and equitably meet those needs. Is that what is being suggested? How, then, can we equitably and fairly meet the needs of all the different sports leagues in the city? 
One speaker even seemed to suggest that he had committed fraud in the past, when he commented that he had signed up all the children in a given family whether or not they had paid the minimal fees ($25). This seems to me to be a clear violation of the law--we know that, under the previous administration, illegalities and fraud occurred in the Recreation Division--the fraudulent contracts for vendors for the 2012 July 4th concert, for one. Click here for one of the stories on past corruption. This type of illegal activity will not happen again, now that there is accountability through Community Pass--cash is no longer accepted in Recreation, and parents can sign up online as well as in person.

Another speaker even tried to insinuate (among other things) that the recreation division was "going after" basketball--this is not true, as you can see by simply clicking on the Recreation programs--kids are already signing up for basketball. It is unfortunate that these folks cannot work out their personal problems with each other and instead try to air out their disagreements to a public audience. When they spout non-truths and, at best,half-truths--playing to a television-viewing audience--they waste the time of the residents and the council.

As Old Doc noted in his blog post today (see here), Nancy Jordan (who used to run PAL) stood and spoke about how the two groups representing two baseball leagues were trying to resolve their differences--she said that she was hopeful. When she sat down, she was immediately blindsided by two speakers (who had been a part of the talks), who said they could not work with the other group. I witnessed from my seat the look of utter surprise on Jordan's face. The speakers went on repetitiously making the same old arguments that they made at the previous council meeting.
I have become weary of hearing these commenters continually state that they are defending "the kids," when in fact they are trying to defend an insupportable status quo that doled out patronage jobs for themselves and made (and continues to make) politically-motivated attacks on others. So, we see CLEARLY that this is not about "the kids," but rather about "childish" adults. 

Jason Greer, in completing his comments during this "discussion," said that he, as representative of the former Negro League folks, was reaching out to MLB folks for sponsorship and that they would just be having baseball clinics this year and would be focused on next year. They want to keep the identity that they have developed over the past three years, and they will build for next year. So, the children of Plainfield who want to play baseball are encouraged to sign up for QCBL which, I believe costs $85--which is less than the approximately $100 per child cost of the city league.  

That should have ended the discussion. Why, then, is the public's time taken up with this "discussion" item?  I knew from the moment I saw it on the council agenda that it would be a way to allow politics and bitterness (as the ridiculous attacks on Mayor Mapp, the recreation superintendent, and other employees can attest) to poison the atmosphere. I was not wrong--the usual folks came before the microphone with the same old tired attacks.

I, for one, am insulted by one speaker's insinuation that the 300 or so children who had signed up for the city league last season are would-be criminals who, if not for baseball, would be swinging bats and assaulting people. What a disgusting way to characterize the young people in your own city. He seems to subscribe to racist notions of inherent black criminality--notions that one would expect him to deride. This is offensive and insulting to these children as well as to their parents and caregivers. The subtle suggestion is that they cannot properly parent, guide, and teach their children right from wrong. Our kids deserve better. Their hardworking parents deserve better. 

Moving Forward in a Positive Way 

I would surmise that if the children who played baseball were asked, they would play baseball for a local league no matter what the name. I would further surmise that many of their parents will sign them up for the Queen City Baseball League, which will be operating this spring. They can sign up here.   Also, for those adults who want to VOLUNTEER as coaches and team moms and dads, QCBL welcomes them; they must have a background check, of course--it is free, but mandatory. 

The parents of kids who played in the city league last year would do well to sign them up for QCBL if they want to play this spring--as the speakers noted, the children should not go without baseball. It then behooves them to sign their kids up--if they have children, and to encourage others to sign up. They can also sign up for the baseball clinics that are going to be offered by the Negro League, I presume. Once I get more information on the Negro League--such as their website and sign up information for the baseball clinics, I will post it as well. I would add that anyone who would attempt to willfully poison the reputation of another league, or prevent other kids from playing in another league because of their (adult) foolishness, are modeling extremely poor sportsmanship to our children. If it is really about "the kids," they will sign them up at QCBL, the only existing league in the city, and let the kids play as they work out their non-profit status and get their new, independent league set for next season.

Councilwoman Toliver and Councilman Storch each offered to donate $100 to help those children whose parents might need some assistance in paying league fees, as did some other folks in the audience. The fees are needed to pay for uniforms, insurance, and other associated costs. So, the fundraising process can begin immediately. 

I know that I will be attacked for this commentary, Doc. I am used to it. If they really cared about "the kids," they would be volunteering on behalf of those kids. All the crocodile tears shed look really fake when one considers that those speakers were paid for their work--they didn't work for free. 

Regarding Hannah Atkins Park--the renovations and safety upgrades should be finished soon--one speaker even tried to turn that into a political attack--the children they purport to care about so much need safe spaces--and they are attacking upgrades and renovations that should have been dealt with years ago, when their favored mayor was in office? The political nonsense, seemingly egged on by one of my colleagues, is sad to see.

Recreation is designed to serve the needs of all the residents of Plainfield--children and adults (including our sizable senior population). That means serving the needs of 50,000 residents, including the 300 or so kids that used to be a part of the city league. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MLK Food Drive - Saturday, January 17th, 5:30 - Midnight

The Soup Kitchen, ca. 1937
Norman Wilfred Lewis (American, 1909-­1979)
Lithograph; Sheet; 21 1/2 x 17 1/4 in. (54.6 x 43.8 cm)
Image: 15 1/2 x 11 1/8 (39.4 x 28.3 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.118)

This is one of my favorite works by the great African American artist Norman Lewis (1909-1979). This lithograph was created in 1937, but in 2015, folks are still going hungry.

This Saturday, January 17, I look forward to seeing folks at the 7th Annual MLK Food Drive and Potluck Celebration, hosted by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and First Lady Amelia Mapp at their home. See the invite below--the entire community is invited. 

As one who has attended all the previous celebrations, I can attest to the fact that it is a wonderful event in a festive atmosphere, and brings in a lot of food for distribution to those in need in our community. In addition, the celebration provides an opportunity to enjoy the variety of potluck dishes (I will be bringing my holiday turkey meatballs in special sauce!) and to honor Dr. King and his legacy. 

This year, the proceeds will be donated to the Shiloh Baptist Church pantry. Of course, there are many other local food pantries in Plainfield and in Union County--if you click here, you will see a list of the pantries in Union County--for some reason, all of Plainfield's pantries are grouped under Linden. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Four More Years

I was affirmed at last night's council reorganization meeting as the at-large council representative for the Second and Third Wards of our city. Mayor Adrian Mapp offered a strong and positive "State of the City" address at the meeting which noted many accomplishments:  reduced crime and safer streets; fiscal accountability after 8 years of irresponsibility and incompetence under the previous mayor--including reconciling old capital ordinances and reallocating $653,000 for road repairs; and focusing on economic development. Click here to read the speech in its entirety. 

As I begin a new term, I look forward to continuing to serve you with honesty, integrity, and to the best of my ability.