The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Facilitator Training for Plainfield Youth: 2:00 - 4:00 PM Today at Plainfield City Hall

TODAY, Tuesday, December 29, from 2:00 - 4:00 pm, Certification Training for young people who want to serve as Facilitators at the Plainfield Youth Summit will take place at Plainfield City Hall, 515 Watchung Avenue. Food will also be served to those in attendance.The city is providing Facilitation Training to our Plainfield youth to empower them with the essential skills and techniques needed to navigate and properly moderate conversations for the Youth Summit, which will take place on Saturday, January 16. Upon completion of the training, each young person will be provided with a Certificate. A prize will be given to the youth who brings the most the guests.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

UPDATE: Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration Today at duCret School of Art!

UPDATE: Come to the 15th Annual Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration, sponsored by the City of Plainfield, today, Saturday, December 19, beginning at 1:00 PM at duCret School of Art! African Storytelling, Traditional Candle Ceremony, Spoken Word, Cultural Dance Performances, and Refreshments! Shop at the African Marketplace! Doors open at 12 noon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dottie G. (1933-2015)

Dorothy (Dottie G.) Gutenkauf, April 2015
I first met Dottie a couple of years after I moved to Plainfield and got involved in a school board campaign on behalf of a mutual friend. After that campaign, I found myself on the opposing side of Dottie during a local and ongoing battle regarding Plainfield Democratic politics, even though we shared leftist sentiments on a number of non-local issues. In the intervening years, there were still areas of agreement, especially those revolving around LGBT issues and the fight to save Muhlenberg RMC. 

When I ran for city council as an independent Democrat for the first time 5 years ago, I was again on the opposite side, as Dottie supported my opponent. After I won, however, Dottie supported my efforts as a newly-minted elected official. During Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, I stopped by her house to check on her and Joe. She invited me in and we had a long chat about politics, Plainfield, Muhlenberg, and also about Joe, whose health was rapidly declining. 

Since that time, Dottie and I worked together on some local issues. When I ran for re-election last year, Dottie broke with the local powers-that-be and supported me. For that, I thank her. I also thank her for being committed to the fight for Muhlenberg, and for her strong support for the future of Plainfield.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Youth Summit Listening Session - Thursday, December 10 at Plainfield Library

On Thursday, December 10 (tomorrow!) beginning at 6:00 pm, the City of Plainfield will host another "Listening Session" for the Youth Summit on Education and Employment at the Plainfield Public Library. If the young people you know have not attended one of these listening sessions, I strongly urge you to bring them--and to come yourself--to be a part of the planning for this event, scheduled for early in the New Year. Many folks repeat the old platitude, "the youth are our future," but then don't bring them to events such as these.

The GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a public health and social action organization, will be facilitating the discussion and the summit.  It is imperative that young people be a part of the planning in order for this summit on education and employment to be successful for THEM. I hope that you will attend!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Moving the Plainfield School Board Elections Will Cost $115,000.00

I just got the figures from the clerk's office regarding the Plainfield BOE's desire to move the annual school board election from November back to April. When I heard about this, I contacted the clerk's office to get accurate information. Clearly, the costs did not come up in the discussion of this item, because several people evinced confusion about the cost. Yesterday, in conversation with some folks on Facebook, I had said that the number was upwards of $100,000.00. Well, folks, it is even higher than anyone imagined.

The projection is roughly $115,000.00. 

I was asked what the money was for. Well, it's to pay for the designing, printing and mailing of sample ballots and other materials to all of Plainfield's nearly 23,000 registered voters, to pay for the personnel, election workers for all 13 polling places for our 34 election districts, to pay overtime to DPW, police, clerk's office staff, the voting machines, and so on. I have pasted  below the email I received from the city clerk confirming this cost. The county clerk now has to add the county costs into her budget--which the taxpayers of Plainfield will have to pay for.

FACT: Plainfield is, indeed, the ONLY district in Union County that has voted to move the election.

FACT: Further, the costs for an April election must be COMPLETELY reimbursed by the Plainfield Public School District. That $115,000.00 could go to a lot of other stuff for our kids. Again, there has been no rationale given for changing the BOE election date back to April, other than the perceived idea that somehow "politics" would not be a part of it. Look back at the BOE elections over the past 12-13 years (well before the election was moved to November just 4 years ago), and you will see that political factions are always among those who participate--sometimes their teams win, and sometimes their teams lose. But to add $115,000.00 to Plainfield taxpayer woes just to have a special election is imprudent and morally unacceptable, given the realities facing our children and our community. Read Clerk AJ's email, below:

Councilwoman Williams,
Per your request, I have reached out to the respective entities to come up with a projection of cost for the April 2016 School Board Election.
Union County Clerk  - Responsible for the mailing of sample ballots, advertisement, and printing of ballots. (estimated cost $40,000)
Union County Board of Elections – Provide poll workers for each district, pick up and delivery of voting machines. (estimated cost $46,000)
Plainfield City Clerk’s – Required by State Statute to be open from the opening of polls to the closing of polls and act as first point of contact in municipality for election related issues.  Also required to hold evening voter registration hours prior to election. (estimated cost $6,000)
Police & Public Works – Overtime Cost (estimated $2,000.00)
Plainfield BOE Buildings & Grounds - Overtime Cost (estimated $2,000.00)
Keeping in mind that these are just estimated projected figures based off previous elections, I think it is safe to say that this election should in no event exceed $115,000.00.
Also be advised that I have been informed that the Board of Education is 100% responsible for reimbursing each entity listed above.
Abubakar Jalloh, R.M.C.
Municipal Clerk
FINAL NOTE: Remember that when Gov. Christie created a special October election for the Senate back in 2013, it cost taxpayers in the state over $10 MILLION.