The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Plainfield Community Choir at Holiday Lights on Friday, Dec. 1!

On Friday, Dec. 1, the Plainfield Community Choir (of which I am a member) will sing festive winter holiday songs on the steps of City Hall at the annual Holiday Lights Celebration, which begins at 6:00 pm. Shiloh Baptist Church Musical Director Wendell C. Woods will lead the choir in song! Come celebrate the most wonderful time of the year! Come hear my beautiful contralto voice--lol!





Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Upcoming Community Forum: HIV Prevention in the Hispanic Community



On Saturday, October 14, 2017, from 12:00 - 3:00 pm, Iris House, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Latino Commission on AIDS, will present a community forum on HIV/AIDS prevention in the Latino community. The event will be held at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, located at 724 Park Avenue in Plainfield, NJ. Lissette Marrero, Luis Mares, and Raul Gonzàlez will lead the interactive discussion. The forum will also feature free HIV testing, free glucose and cholesterol screenings, free refreshments, and prizes and gift cards for attendees. Iris House kindly requests that attendees RSVP to Audria: arussell@irishouse.org or Charla: ccousar@irishouse.org or call (908) 342-3924. Click on the link to learn more about Iris House and its New Jersey programs: Iris House: New Jersey Programs Please come out for this important forum and share the information with our community! This event is sponsored by a grant from the Division of HIV, STD, and TB Services of the Department of Health for the State of New Jersey. 





Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tonight: Public Safety Community Session at PHS Cafeteria at 7:00 PM




This evening, Wednesday, September 27, at 7:00 PM in the Plainfield High School Cafeteria, Plainfield Vision 2025 will offer the first of three evenings of Community Listening Sessions focused on "Public Safety in Plainfield." Tonight's workshop invites the community "...to share your ideas on crime prevention, safety, fire protection and natural disaster preparedness," as stated on its Facebook page--click here. Residents are encouraged to come out and participate in an open workshop to share ideas for enhancing Plainfield's safety. 

I attended the "Childhood and Youth Education" session on Monday evening and participated with my breakout group on programs that we would like to see to enhance what already exists in the school system and in the city at large. Plainfield Vision 2025 is further described as "A citywide planning and community initiative to engage every member of our diverse community and create a road map for the future of Plainfield, NJ." You may click here to navigate to the City of Plainfield website for more information about the initiative. The city has also reached out to residents via robocalls, social media, and the press to get the word out. 

I was very pleased to see, among some familiar faces, dozens of new faces attending and participating. The facilitators are local residents--community activists, school personnel, and other folks who want to get involved. It is imperative that as many residents as possible participate in this process. The focus in not on what "shoulda, coulda, woulda" happened in the past 5, 10, 20 or more years, but on envisioning the FUTURE of what Plainfield can be as we move into the next decade. As I saw, some of the ideas can be implemented quickly, and others will take more time...but the process of hearing from and collaborating with residents will certainly help us move forward.

I have posted the entire schedule below--if you can't make it to all of the listening sessions, you can perhaps make it to at least one or two. 

It's your city, folks--I look forward to seeing you there!


Plainfield Vision 2025 Public Meeting Schedule

Meeting Topic with Date/Time & Location:

  • Health, Human & Social Needs:  September 20, 2017 - 7:00 PM, Hubbard School Cafeteria
  • Childhood & Youth Education: September 25, 2017 - 7:00 PM, Plainfield High School Cafeteria
  • Public Safety I: September 27, 2017 7:00 PM, Plainfield High School Cafeteria
  • Economic Development & Vibrancy: October 3, 2017 -  7:00 PM, Calvary Baptist Church
  • Public Safety II: October 12, 2017 - 7:00 PM, Cook School School 
  • Public Safety III: October 16, 2017 -  7:00 PM, Washington School 
  • Workforce Development & Adult Learning: October 17, 2017 - 7:00 PM, Washington School
  • Community Arts & Culture/Connecting Community:  October 23, 2017 - 7:00 PM, duCret School of Arts
  • Municipal Government & Essential Services Performance:  October 25, 2017 - 7:00 PM, Plainfield Public Library
  • Rose of Sharon Community Church - Community Playback: November 4, 2017 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Monday, September 25, 2017

FALL RECREATION ACTIVITIES - JUST A SAMPLING!



The Plainfield Division of Parks and Recreation has a number of programs available for residents of all ages, from children to older active adults. The fall schedule (enclosed with the DPW schedule) is mailed to households and listed on the City of Plainfield website--click here, as well as on social media and in fliers distributed at a number of local venues. Stop by the information tables at local events to pick up fliers with information on the programs. Check back, because new programs may be added. The fall programs include Coding for Kids, Zumba, Youth Basketball, Double Dutch, Zumba, Youth Wrestling, Archery, and Youth Dance. In addition, the popular Homework Helper after school program offers additional help from a certified teacher for students. Homework Helper, which is provided at Hannah Atkins Center (508-52 W. 3rd Street), begins on Monday, Oct. 2, and runs through May 31, 2018. The program is FREE to all children in the district--click on the flier for more info. The Adult Fishing Derby will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Cedar Brook Pond--click on the flier. Plainfield also has a number of activities in our parks, including the new Madison Avenue Skate Park! Take advantage of what the City of Plainfield has to offer for your leisure time.

 Do you have an idea for a program? Let staff know! Call the Division of Parks and Recreation at (908) 753-3097, send an email (see website for email address), or stop by between the hours on 9:00 am - 5:00 pm on Monday - Friday. The division is located in the City Hall Annex Building at 510 Watchung Avenue. 

 Volunteers are always welcome.





Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month Flag Raising & Celebration

Join us this Friday, September 15, 2017, at 6:00 pm for our Hispanic Heritage Month Flag Raising and Celebration on the steps of Plainfield City Hall. The official ceremony will be followed by a reception and celebration in the City Hall Library.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NAN PLAINFIELD TECH WORLD is here! Tech Job Readiness--Space is Limited!


Back in June 2017, the Plainfield City Council, administration officials, and some city residents attended a sneak preview of the new, 21st Century, state-of-the-art computer training facility, known as NAN Plainfield Tech World,* which is scheduled to open in September. Classes will run from September 5 - November 30, 2017. The program is housed at New Covenant Church, located at 225 East 7th Street in Plainfield. I urge those interested to fill out the application or to call for information ASAP, as space for the workshops is LIMITED TO TWELVE (12) STUDENTS for each of the 3 classes, for a TOTAL of 36. You may also opt to be put on a waiting list if the workshop is full.

Click on the NAN Plainfield Tech World icon on the city's home page (see red circled image at right), or just click on the link to be taken to the page to fill out the online application: PlainfieldNJ.Gov/NAN

The facility, scheduled to open in September, will start with the offering of the first three courses, as noted on the city's website:

1) Computer Basics and Digital Literacy
2) Intermediate Digital Literacy
3) Advanced Digital Literacy: Introduction to Creating a Website, Coding, and App Creation

According to the staff overseeing the program, after successfully completing these classes, "...students will be able to take additional classes at the Plainfield Library and/or receive vouchers to take Microsoft certification exams in Digital Literacy and Microsoft Office Systems...." In the near future, the program will provide training and certification in Cisco Systems through the creation of a Cisco Academy, to teach residents new media technology, routing, switching and networking IT skills so that they are even more prepared for tech jobs, which represent the future in job training. Below is a short video which explains the program a bit more. Please help spread the word so that our residents can take advantage of this exciting program. You may also call the office of Administration and Finance at (908) 753-3237 for specific information, and you may fax the completed application to (908) 226-2574.



*From the NAN Newark site: "Tech World is 1 of 6 (21) Century Learning Centers established in (NY, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland and Compton California via the leadership of the National Action Network and the Rev Steffie Bartley, NAN NJ Chapters Coordinator and Director. Tech World is focused on basic digital literacy, intermediated and advanced computer skills, coding, routing, switching and networking IT skills.





Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlottesville...and the #Klan President

The events of the past week have thrown into high relief the continuing moral failures of many in our nation--exemplified in the words of the disgraceful Donald Trump--who has decided that it is "okay" to equate the counter-protests of the Black Lives Matter activists and other anti-racist groups with the KKK, neo-Nazis, and the other white supremacist individuals and groups who injured and murdered American citizens in the name of white supremacy and anti-Semitism. Even bastions of corporate capitalism have denounced him (bad for business, bad for our country). As we have seen, these white supremacists have received encouragement from Trump, who seems to enjoy normalizing and fanning the flames of racial hatred and creating a moral equivalency between folks fighting racism and those who revel in its gory violence.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Outrageous. Unprofessional. Threatening. A Councilwoman's Rage.

I have written about this disturbing incident on Facebook, but I figured it would be clearer if I blogged about it.  
UPDATE: Please see the comment posted by Councilwoman Toliver's husband.


When people make threats on your life, you must take them seriously. The Public Safety Director and the Corporation Counsel are aware of what Councilwoman Toliver said to me when she approached my car last night (August 14), after the council meeting in the presence of some of my colleagues. She was out of control and she threatened me. 

Some of you may remember that I took her husband to court for his threat a few years ago suggesting that I should be beheaded: Click here. He offered to plead guilty in court to a disorderly persons offense, but I was hoping that the judge would find him guilty of more serious harassment, which she didn't because the bar for harassment was extremely high--she admonished him, however, and it was clear from her remarks that she believed me. You may also remember when he made a homophobic statement about me during public comment at a council meeting back in 2015, which was caught on tape and reported in the newspaper. Click here.  

Last night, his wife, Councilwoman Toliver, made a threat against me because she was totally out of order at a council meeting and I asked her to save an off-topic question for after our completion of the official agenda? The public safety division is aware and will be monitoring this outrageous and unprofessional behavior. 

Below, I have outlined what happened: 

During the meeting, I (as council president, running the agenda) allowed her ask what I thought was a follow-up question. However, she continued on for several minutes, going on a tangent on a matter that was far afield of the our published agenda. I called a point of order and told her that we could come back to her questions after we completed the agenda. At the end of the meeting, I asked her if she wanted to continue her earlier questions, and she said no, so we adjourned the meeting. Toliver confronted me AFTER the council meeting to complain (I was in my car, getting ready to go home), saying that I was trying to "embarrass" her. As she went on and on, I tried to explain to her that she was out of order (we follow Robert's Rules). She then said to me: "I WILL LET YOU LIVE...TODAY." I took that as a threat, as she certainly was not joking. I said, "You're threatening me...just like your husband did" (see above). 


I got out of my car and went over to Public Safety Director Riley to tell him that I had been threatened by Councilwoman Toliver. Then, Toliver tried to get in my face several times, saying loudly over and over, "What did you say about my husband?" I did not engage her--focusing on Director Riley and moving away from her--but she kept trying to get in my face. Councilwoman Rivers kept trying to pull her away from me, and finally Dir. Riley was able to get between where she was trying to get to me. 

Some of you may remember a case a couple of years ago when Councilwoman Toliver went out of control after a council meeting, becoming very agitated--she actually had to be restrained--and the she filed charges against a resident who she said was getting in her face--those who were present witnessed him being pushed by her. Needless to say, her case was dismissed. Ironically, she was resistant to our moving the regular agenda setting sessions to the city hall library, saying she didn't feel that it was "safe"--well, last night's meeting was at the council court chambers which abuts the police station--and SHE was the one who things "unsafe" with her threat. 

Regarding last night's incident, a police officer, our city attorney, Director Riley and a few others also witnessed her outrageous behavior as she kept trying to get in my face. After speaking with Dir. Riley as he walked me to my car, with his assurances that he had everything under control, I went home. 

Her behavior was outrageous, unprofessional, and threatening. It should not be tolerated.